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Sunday, November 11, 2012

The return of AJ Quartermaine

The story of Michael’s parentage is very unique.  It is sort of an anti-baby-switch or anti-who’s-the-daddy or combination of the two.  Everyone is fully aware of who his real father yet instead of being given back to his father he was given to someone else.  Something tells me though that we are about to see that switch take place.

AJ has done some really horrible things and he is not what I would call a good guy.  Carly and Sonny can be pretty nasty themselves.  Pointing fingers and yelling “he started it first” may seem a little childish but in this situation I think it definitely holds some weight.  Because the beginning of this story line started in the ‘90s, there are many layers to why everyone did what they did.

I like Carly’s explanation to Michael this past week that she was young and stupid.  She certainly was.  She started the chain of lies because she wanted to keep her lover Tony whom she had stolen away from her mother.  It was selfishness on her part that she decided to make AJ think he had fallen off the wagon so he would be shipped to rehab out of state.  Other issues did come into play such as her conflicts with the Quartermaines whom she saw as controlling.  AJ being an alcoholic probably didn’t help either.  In my opinion, Carly never really cared about AJ although he at one time had feelings for her.  She didn’t want to be tied to him.

Sonny’s part in all of this was pure mobster.  He felt AJ took his child away from him when Carly lost Sonny’s child after a spill down the stairs during an argument.  At this time in GH history, Sonny wanted nothing more than to be a father.  This was something that never seemed to work out for him (he didn’t have his super sperm or kids popping out of the woodwork at this point).  Sonny decided to take what he wanted from AJ so he hung AJ from a meat hook and got him to sign away his rights to Michael.  This has aways been my perception of things.  I’m not saying Sonny doesn't love Michael but he didn’t become his father honestly.

As for AJ, I feel that Guza went in a really odd direction with the character and he wasn’t suppose to be as bad.  AJ was the black sheep of the Quatermaines.  He was very flawed and a bit of a bad boy.  Things such as shooting Alan in the back though was not something I think AJ would ever do.  I also felt Billy Warlock’s portrayal of AJ changed the character.  When Sean Kanan plays AJ, he’s the black sheep of the family because he is a screw up and does reckless things.  With Billy Warlock, AJ seemed like the black sheep of the family because he wasn’t as tall, blond, and golden as Jason.  Sean Kanan’s AJ is what will be making this current story work.

Although AJ, Sonny, and Carly are the stars of this tale, Michael has always been at the center of it.  He is the prize that everyone has been fighting over all these years.  Michael has had a rough history in Port Charles.  His character profile is a bit of a mess.  It’s filled with things such buying a gun as a teenager, shooting someone, being shot in the head, ax-murdering, bar fights, prison time (which lead to him being sexually assaulted), and dating a striper (which helped him get over his assault naturally).  I have seen fans posing the question of whether the character of Michael could be redeemed as a result of all this.  Being Sonny’s son was not easy on this character.  Would Michael has been better off had he been raised with AJ as a Quartermaine?  I feel that the story that is being unfolded is an attempt to answer this.

It feels as though the current creative team is taking some of the poor choices from the past regime and working them to their advantage.  Guza’s placement of the mobsters as good guys is being held up to a mirror.  Sonny, Jason, and Carly’s lifestyles are being questioned and we are having a look at their flaws.  This is what I want for these characters.  They were once very interesting characters to watch and dissect.  It was sad that Guza had reduced them to what some fans refer to as “The Mob Three” or “Unholy Trinity.”  GH should have never become a lite version of The Sopranos.  This story line is going to change things for the characters that are involved for the better.

Michael has finally learned that Carly and Sonny did some very bad things that set in motion AJ’s actions and some pretty traumatizing experiences for Michael himself.  The rose colored glasses have been yank off his face, thrown on the floor, and stepped on.  Chad Duell and Laura Wright did an outstanding job in the scenes where Michael asks Carly for the truth.  The expressions on their faces said it all.  A little bit of both their worlds had shattered.

I’m glad that Carly admitted to Michael what happened when he asked her.  Let’s face it this all happen 15 years ago (realtime not soaptime) - why drag out the lie even longer.  Also if Carly would have lied to Michael, she would have only dug herself in deeper.  I also feel that in telling the truth to Michael, there has been given room for him to forgive her.  I don’t want him to hate her but I want him to have an honest view of her.

Carly has never been very good at admitting when she is wrong.  While I love when characters have flaws, this is an annoying one to have.  Her admitting what she did to AJ is good first step in her overcoming this.  I still want Carly to be a bad girl but I want her to be more self aware.  I want her to realize that her actions can be selfish and cruel.

Sonny doesn’t know AJ is alive yet and Michael hasn’t spoken to him about what he now knows.  I’m really looking forward to these scenes especially after their recent scenes together at the boxing gym.  Sonny, still numb from the news of Jason’s death, told Michael he wanted better for him than the mobster lifestyle.  He told Michael that he would never be his right hand man and that he wanted him to live a safe and happy life.  I suspect Sonny may be put in the position to let go of Michael or lose him forever.  If you love someone, set them free.

As for AJ, I’m looking forward to him gaining some power and developing a relationship with Michael.  This has been a long time coming and really seems to be more on path with how I imagine the story would go when I first started watching years ago.  I don’t see AJ as a hero but I see him as someone who is very flawed.  I love that AJ is now aware and sorry for his past misdeeds.

I also love that this story isn’t stand alone.  It is connected to a lot of the other story lines we currently have on campus.  I can see it creating movement in the budding romances between Starr/Michael and Carly/Todd.  It’s nice to see the contrast in the parent/child relationships here too.  I have always been a fan of Starr and Todd’s relationship.  He’s very protective of her and doesn’t want her to be like him while she understands he does bad things but loves him anyways.  I can imagine Carly and Michael eventually getting to this point.

There is also the impact to the Quartermaines.  This is a huge step in rebuilding the mass destruction that was done under Guza and JFP to this beloved core family.  With AJ back and Michael hopefully turning Q, this means a lot of interaction with Monica and Tracy as well as ghost Alan pop ups. It would be great if they could return a few still living cousins also.

By bringing back AJ, Ron Carlivati and Frank Valentini have captured soapy goodness.  This has created a hug character driven umbrella story.  It’s really giving this fan what she wants.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

General Hospital - My Likes and Dislikes Part Deux

A few months ago, I blogged some of my likes and dislikes of General Hospital’s current state of affairs.  In my blog I had made reference to the following quote from Tristan Rogers:  “The underlying philosophy of GH had always been one of ‘hope.’ In this General Hospital there was none.”  The quote was taken from an article entitled The Going of Guza.  I had referenced this quote not only because it came from the very insightful Rogers but because I think it did a great job a summarizing what General Hospital had lost and needed to get back.  I am quoting it again now because I feel General Hospital has gotten its glimmer of hope back.

In looking back at my previous list, I was pleasantly surprised to see there has been a lot of movement in the story lines.  Over all I feel like the show now has good balance and tone.  Below is what I am liking, disliking and on the fence with:


The Return of AJ Quartermaine - So happy to see someone tell Michael the truth about his mother and “father” finally.  This is HUGE and is going to have a lot of impact on a lot of characters.  AJ is not squeaky clean by any means but Sonny & Carly really did him and Michael wrong.  Love that time wasn't wasted having AJ tell Michael about the meat hook incident.  Michael didn’t want to believe him of course but I hope he starts asking some questions of his parents now.  Michael insistence to place Sonny, Carly, and Jason on pedestals has always seem unbalanced to me.  The kid needs lots of therapy and needs to have his eyes opened a bit.  I actually think that deep down Michael knows Sonny and Carly aren’t saints but just doesn’t want to admit it.  And let’s face it, his past experience with AJ was a bit traumatic.

I think this return will force Sonny and Carly to reflect on some of their past deeds.  They both need a good look in the mirror.  What they did to AJ and, as a result Michael, was really horrible.  Nobody knows what Michael’s life would have been like with AJ as a father but with Sonny as a father it was pretty rough.  I suspect things such as being shot in the head and raped in prison probably wouldn’t have happen had he grown up in the Quatermaine mansion.  The most that probably would have happened to Michael is that he would have grown up a bit of a spoiled jerk.

It is really nice to see Sean Kanan in the role again as well.  He looks like he could be Michael’s father and Jason’s brother.  I have loved Billy Warlock in other roles but he never felt right to me as AJ.  Warlock just has too much of a nice guy vibe for me.  He seems more like a guy who will help with the dishes and drive your kids to soccer practice than a hot, regretful one night stand.  Kanan just makes a better sexy bad boy type in my opinion.

The Luke/Tracy Friendship - I love the banter between these two.  I also enjoy seeing them scheme together and poke fun of each other’s relationships or lack there of.  They have great chemistry and great dialog together.  I’m happy that instead of focusing on dark and serious story lines for them, there is focus on the mischievous aspects of these characters.

In fact I could really extend this to all the friendships that are popping up in Port Charles right now.  Sure some of them are more like frienemies, such as Carly/Sam and Monica/Tracy, but I am loving not see so much back-stabbing and hating.  It’s fun to watch some of these characters just hang out and talk.

Todd and Carly - Both Blair/Todd and Carly/Jax where great couples that I loved.  That being said, I am really enjoying Todd and Carly together right now.  I think the actors have great chemistry with each other and the characters fit together well.  In the past these two characters have been rather dark so it is nice to see the light and fun moments between them.  They are both on the not-so-nice side and I can see them as a possible villainous pairing or as scheming partners.

Blair is on her way to Port Charles which could lead to an interesting triangle of sorts.  I like the idea of Carly and Blair as friends too so I’m curious to see how it all plays out.  Maybe the gals can gang up on Skye together.

SpinEllie - I know Spinelli hangs out with and works for the mob but he has a gentleness about him that I think makes it possible to label him as one of the good guys.  I like to see a nice guy not finish last for once.  It is great that the current girl-boy-girl triangles on General Hospital feature guys who aren’t hitmen or godfather types.  Also Ellie is adorable and likable.  It is so much fun watching Ellie and Spinelli geek out on one of their dates.  I was hoping that a character like Ellie would be brought on the show and am not disappointed.  I am getting a kick out of Maxie’s reaction to this new situation.  I like to think it is a dose of her own medicine.

More Hospital - As a whole now we have the follow characters that work at the hospital: Epiphany, Patrick, Steve, Liz, Sabrina, Monica, Britt, and Ellie.  What’s better yet is that we actually get to see them at the hospital.  This is great!  It’s just weird not having that much hospital in a show called General Hospital.

Liz and Sam and Jason’s exit - All three actors did a great job with their scenes when the baby switch was revealed.  I particularly loved Liz’s confession to Jason and the layers that were given to why she did what she did.  I know that some fans are not happy that she didn’t end up with Jason and that she switched the tests but I think that this was Liz’s rock bottom and now we’ll get to see her built back up again.

I was happy to see Sam and Jason get their baby back.  Babyswitches are common in the soap genre and not particularly my favorite story lines but this one played out well.  I liked that Liz and Sam didn’t attack each other in the end.

As luck would have it Steve Burton’s exit happened right as Jason’s story line was getting really interesting for me.  I’m glad that he was shot and kicked into the water.  It seemed fitting for the character and better than having some awkward scene of him leaving town when it didn’t make sense.  No body was found so he can return later.

Jasam and Liason have never been my favorite couples but in the end I found my self rooting for both.  I think this is largely in part because there was a shift from Jason being the focal point of both relationships.  The stories became more about these two women and their flaws.  It became more relatable for me.

Sonny the Family Man - Sonny trying to get through to his angry daughter and telling his son that he wants better for him than the mob, is the Sonny I want to see.  I would much rather see Sonny challenge his daughter’s shady suitor to a boxing match than challenge his rivals to a shoot out.  I still want Sonny to be tough but I want to see his softer side more.

I remember in the ‘90s that Sonny really wanted to have a family.  It was something he seemed to want more than anything.  This was before Guza decided to give Sonny so many lovers and messed up little children.  I’m not sure how accurate my memory is on all of this but I imagined Sonny being a lot different than what he ended up.  I had imagine a father who was still a mobster but was protective of his children and didn’t let them come anywhere near the business.  I wanted him to have more of a nurturing soul when it came to his family yet still be brutal when it came to the business.  I’m starting to see glimpses of this Sonny now.

I like seeing his interaction with his baby mama Alexis.  Maurice Benard and Nancy Lee Grahn have great ease and comfortableness with each other that really shows through in their scenes.  They seem like a divorce couple who have managed to become friends.  It makes me want to see them play house a little.

I also think that with recently losing Jason (and Kate for that matter) and the return of AJ, we are going to see Sonny do some reflecting on his life.  Would Jason and Michael have been better off without him?  Should he hang up his mobster hat?  Is he such a nice guy after all?  Should he let Michael go be a Quartermaine? I can see some really interesting stuff coming out of all this.

Lulu and Dante baby story - This story had me happy, excited, and then crying when it was revealed that Lulu would not be able to carry a baby to term.  I like that we get to see this couple go through this together.  It is being played as Lulu and Dante not being able to have kids instead of as just Lulu not being able to have kids.  This is a couple that is going to weather this storm together.  The story seems very real and I wont to see how they get over all the bumps in the road ahead.

On the Fence:

Trey/Kristina/Michael/Starr - I actually like Trey now.  It was nice seeing his vulnerable side come out in his interactions with his father and when his mother cruelly told him that she wished he was dead.  

The Trey/Kristina relationship still has potential but I’m not quite feeling them yet.  Michael and Starr are cute together but they haven’t been given much in terms of story line to move their relationship along.  It would have been interesting to see a Johnny/Starr/Michael triangle but I’m not sure how that could ever happen now.  I do want Starr to be less vanilla.

As far as this young adult cast goes, I like all the characters individually well enough but haven’t been wowed by any of the couples yet.  I get the feeling that there is a love triangle in the future but I not sure that would make much impact with things currently the way that they are.  It does seem there may be some other excitement thrown their way though which should hopefully help.

The DID Story - I’m really enjoying Connie and Kelly Sullivan is a riot.  However while I feel like we are being given a lot of fun and interesting scenes with this story, I’m not sure where the heck it is going.  The reveal that Johnny and Connie were married at the Kate and Sonny non-wedding was great soapy stuff but not all the pieces are fitting together for me quite yet.  Is there suppose to be romance developing between Connie and Johnny?  Are we ever going to find out exactly why Connie can’t stand Sonny?  Wouldn’t Johnny be better off if he just confessed?

Duke Lavery - Duke’s got me a little confused right now.  It’s really too early for me to have a really opinion on this story line but I’m scratching my head at a lot of things.  I’m not really sure if I should be convinced that this is the real Duke.  It is great to have Ian Buchanan on the canvas again though.


Dr. Keenan’s exit - I really like Nathin Butler and would have rather he were revealed to be a Jacks brother.  He is attractive and talented and I think they should have found a way to keep him on the show.  Plus I really liked the Liz and Ewen pairing.  His exit also seemed a little clunky to me.  It would have had more impact if Liz and Ewen were further along in their relationship.

The Exposition - General Hospital has been doing a lot of explaining lately.  While I understand some exposition makes sense and is necessary, such as in situations when veteran characters are brought back, there seems to be too much of it.  There has been exposition at times when a characters action would have easily told the story instead.  A good example of this was when Jason told Sam that their baby wasn’t dead.  There was a hold episode of Jason relaying the past events to to Sam.  I would have prefer a few quick sentences, some hugs and kisses, and then a quick rush out the door to find the baby.