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Sunday, March 23, 2014

The Exit of AJ Quartermaine

Recently TV Guide reporter Michael Logan announced that Sean Kanan was making the hop from General Hospital to The Bold and the Beautiful. Kanan sited his decision to leave was base on dissatisfaction with the story line given to his character AJ Quartermaine.

I was unhappy when I heard the news. I like Kanan in the role of AJ. I think he is handsome and a good actor. I was delighted when he returned to General Hospital and loved all the story potential. Unfortunately a lot of the story that I wanted for AJ was never told for whatever reason.

I had hoped that he would get back his son Michael who was taken from him years ago. I wanted him to find a Monica for his Alan. That never happened though I think given time it might have eventually.

A lot of AJ’s story was started then stopped. Being off our screens for three months didn’t help either. While it’s easy to point fingers, I understand that a lot of the time there is a reason things change too. I don’t think this situation has a bad guy.

Kanan states that his departure from General Hospital was a mutual decision. He was unhappy so the choice was made to write him out. Kanan contacted Bradley Bell and was offered a contract to return to his role of Deacon on The Bold and the Beautiful.

Though I am disappointed, there is a positive way to look at the situation. When was the last time a soap actor was able to do a soap hop like this? I applaud Kanan for making this kind of decision and calling it what it is, a career choice. He could have easily said he was leaving to spend more time with his family or that he was moving to Tennessee.

General Mobster?

I’m not worried about Kanan. He made a smart move in my opinion. The part of that saddens me the most is how this may affect the show. A story line that I care about is getting interrupted or may not play out now.

I am concerned that with the exit of AJ Quartermaine that General Hospital may morph into General Mobster again. While some will argue that Jason Morgan’s exit left a void in the canvas, I disagree. The ratings of the show went up after Jason was “killed off.” The departure of the character forced the show to become less dark and less mob focused. General Hospital was feeling balanced again.

Lately it has been feeling a little less balanced though. Huffington Post’s Ed Martin published an article entitled "General Hospital’s Amazing 50th Anniversary Celebration Ends With a Few Troubling Story Choices” the same day that Kanan’s exit was announced. I don’t agree with everything that Martin says in his article but I do agree that General Hospital needs to get over it’s obsession with Jason Morgan. The “criminal as a romantic lead” is what turned the show into a misogynistic mess.

General Hospital needs Jason Morgan back like an innocent victim needs a bullet hole in the chest. It is not this character’s departure that has negatively affected the show. Personally I think the exit of good guy Damon Spinelli hurt more. Spinelli was a nonviolent man. General Hospital is in desperate need of these kinds of leading men.

It has been revealed to the audience that Jason is in fact alive and on ice. Robin Scorpio Drake has left her family to save him. We know that Steve Burton isn’t returning to General Hospital right now as he just recently resigned a contract with The Young and the Restless. This means if Jason is going to be returning anytime soon, the character will need to be recast. A recast would be a good opportunity to bring the character back as Jason Quartermaine, the golden boy before the brain damage. The good guy.

AJ isn't a good guy. He’s a nice shade of grey. He is someone that has made a lot of mistakes and is now looking for atonement. He had been mostly redeemed when Kanan first took back the role. As opposed to being a killer, he is an alcoholic with a tendency to behave like an obnoxious frat boy.

I’m not sure how Kanan’s exit will be handled. Whether the character is killed off yet again or slips into a coma, Sonny needs to pay. There have been plenty of times that Sonny could have (and should have) faced the consequences for his immoral lifestyle and violent actions. If another opportunity for this to happen is missed, it will be one tease too many for the audience.

I like Maurice Benard. I get a kick out of him as a person and I understand his popularity. However Sonny Corinthos was never meant to be the hero of General Hospital. When former head writer Bob Guza reconstructed the show to revolve around Sonny (rumored to be an odd attempt to mirror the show after The Sopranos), a lot of the depth the character had was removed.

The Sonny I remember from the ‘90s was deeply flawed. Anyone who dared to love him paid a price for it. He had a troubled childhood and wanted a child of his own to give the love that he was never given. Unfortunately having a baby was never in the cards for Sonny. At this point, Sonny did not have surprise children popping up every other day so he stole Michael from AJ.

Sonny ruthlessly hung AJ on a meathook and taunted the recovering alcoholic with a bottle of booze for days until he signed away his parental rights. Yet in the decades that followed somehow Sonny ended up the hero of this story while AJ was the villain. Where were the repercussions for Sonny misdeeds? Where was the payoff for the audience?

The payoff was what I, as well as others, was looking forward to when AJ was resurrected in 2012. I think we can still get that payoff. In order to do that Michael needs to become a Quartermaine and turn his back on Sonny. Most importantly though, Michael’s anger towards Sonny needs to last.

I don’t know if General Hospital plans to recast AJ in the future. There are certainly a lot of talented actors that could play the role. I think killing off the character would be a waste so soon after bringing him back from the dead. I’ll be anxiously awaiting to see what happens.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Social Media and Soap Fans

The below article was originally posted as a comment on Carolyn Hinsey’s blog entitled Have Soap Fans Changed? It is written by fellow soap fan Michael Grasso. You can follow Michael on twitter at @MPGrasso.
I definitely feel that social media has impacted how fans react to soaps. When I was first introduced to daytime, I was 11 years old and the year was 1991. My aunt would give me the occasional Soap Opera Digest, Soap Opera Weekly, or Soap Opera Update (she bought them all). When I got to be about 16 she and I started talking more in-depth about the stories. Our show was GH and Jason and Robin were everything. She was the girl with no future and he was the boy with no past. Over the past couple decades, we’ve discussed the stories, the ups, the down, the twists, the turns – and aren’t limited to 140 character questions or critiques. Since joining Twitter and since having attended a few fan events, social media has really connected me to the soap community. In college I’d have to set the VCR, watch my soap after class, and talk to my aunt about it when I was home for break. Now I watch it on Hulu Plus on my iPad. When something intriguing or funny happens, I’ll pause it, take a screen shot, and I can tweet it to my followers and sometimes we’ll engage in conversation. It’s so great because now we can tweet at the actors too and get them involved. Jen Lilley from Days, for instance, is phenomenal with her fans on Twitter.
Unfortunately, not all social media is used in this way. We’re in a fast paced world. We crave immediacy. We’ve lost our attention spans. We feel entitled and think we deserve things or that we are owed things. As the world has gotten quicker, the pace of the shows has been sped up, and the story arcs have gotten shorter in what may be an attempt to hold people’s attention or get them to experience a quicker payoff. I get it. I do. But the thoughtful critiques and constructive criticism of yesterday are nowhere to be found and so many people are mean and rude from the comfort of the internet’s anonymity.
People seem to want their show their way or else. That just doesn’t make sense. I am not a writer! I can’t trust myself! We have to trust the writers and have faith in their vision. They know better than us because they know what lies ahead when we don’t. For instance, with Lulu and Dante’s baby – when the truth about Maxie came out, I thought that’s it, story’s over. But, nope, that portion was over but we still had the whole storyline with Britt. And then when Elizabeth was on to Britt, I though, oh no, she’s done now. Nope! We discovered Dante was the father but Lulu remained in the dark. This story has gone on for well over a year because there have been a series of story arcs within it. Fantastic! Us fans want that payoff. We live for it. We watch for it. When it happens, there are no words! We want it so bad that we want it all the time. But you know what? If we all got what we wanted, there’d be no reason to tune in tomorrow. It’s the writer’s job to give us what we want every now and then, but mostly to give us what we need to hang along for the ride. We have to accept that characters, even our favorites, will sometimes do things we don’t agree with. That’s okay. That’s life. Is not a reason to quit watching!
I will say that no fan truly means to be unsupportive. Everyone has their favorite show, their favorite family, their favorite character. People will naturally vent, critique, argue, etc. The difference is now we do it in a public forum to strangers. Our conversation skills are often lost. Our manners are often lost. It can resort to online bullying on occasion and that’s not cool. Actors have a job to do. And actors are not writers. I have no problem tweeting an actor to compliment them or praise their storyline. But if I’m not feeling a storyline or I don’t think the actor did a great job, that is not my place to call them out publicly. It makes me crazy when fans feel they can speak disrespectfully to the people that bring us our shows. Ron Carlivati, the HW for GH, is on Twitter and that is a blessing. The old regime at GH was removed from the fans, or at least came off that way. Ron loves good feedback and constructive criticism. But the things some people will tweet him are just plain mean. In a lot of instances, it seems that we have lost the art of communication.
I think there are a couple of reasons things get vicious. One is that we are back down to only four network soaps. No one wants theirs canceled. And everyone thinks their opinions are the right opinions for the show. We are more sensitive about our shows now and we are more defensive. Part of this is due to ratings. If you ask the fans, good story will propel the ratings. If you write it, they will come, right? Sometimes other things must happen from a production side. Budgets must be tightened, stunt casting might be needed, poor storylines may have to be dropped immediately. Sometimes decisions are made from the inside that those of us on the outside don’t understand. Unfortunately, sometimes that’s when tempers flare and negativity spreads like wildfire.
I think another reason for the negativity is that it’s a lot harder to be a soap fan these days than it used to be. When I was a kid, Fox wasn’t even a network. We had only three prime time networks. The options for TV viewing was finite. Now there is cable and there are hundreds upon hundreds of options. And where soap schedules have stayed the same (5 days a week, 52 weeks a year), network television shows have seen their seasons shrink from 35 down to 18-22 episodes a season. And when you bring in cable, they’ve managed to create even shorter seasons of 10-15 episodes a season. Anyway you slice it, it takes time to keep up with a soap. It makes sense that if it’s not going the direction you’d like or your favorite actor leaves that you’d threaten to throw in the towel. But at this point it comes down to choice. I’ve eschewed a lot of prime time programming. I do American Horror Story. I do the new Dallas. And I do American Idol. That’s really it. I’m tired of giving promising shows a chance only to have them get canceled after one season or even after just a couple of episodes. Honestly, I’d rather devote my TV time to GH or Days – shows that I’ve grown up with. There’s something special about that, something magical. It might not be the choice for everyone but it’s the choice for me.
Don’t get me wrong. When Becky Herbst was let go a few years ago, heads were going to roll! Thankfully, that decision was reconsidered and she was retained. We weren’t so lucky with Kelly Sullivan. To this day, there’s an absence on GH since her character was killed off. She was one of my two favorite characters so watching her leave was hard. The show recovered though. I was reminded that it had been on the air for decades before her and could possibly on the air for decades after her. It’s just the nature of the business. Never did I threaten to quit watching or leave though. There’s enough drama on screen between mob wars, botched paternity tests, fake diseases, and all the lying, cheating, and stealing! It’d be nice if we as fans could rise above the drama and be kind. We don’t have to agree but we don’t have to be mean.
Soaps are like life – not everything goes how we would want it to at times. But if they can make us laugh, make us cry, and make us think, we’ll keep tuning in tomorrow to enjoy the ride. It was Agnes Nixon who taught us that.

DeVanity Season Four, Episodes 3-4

The final episode of DeVanity will be available this Thursday. Make sure you’re all caught up! Check out my reviews of the third and forth episodes by clicking on the links below. A link to the webseries is available and the bottom of the articles.

Episode 3 Review - Rocky Mountain High

Episode 4 Review - Son of a Bitch!

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Daytime Emmy Pre-Nominations: My Thoughts & Picks

The 2014 Daytime Emmy Pre-Nominations have been announced. You can see the full list here.

I’m usually pretty excited when I see the pre-nominations but become less excited when I see the final cut. Mostly because the final nominees are very predicable. The list looks different this year though. It seems less obvious who will get a nomination. Which is a good thing in my opinion.

One thing that stood out to me was that the pre-nominations seemed a bit younger than they have in past. A lot of the popular soap veterans who normally make the cut were not on the list this year for varying reasons. No Susan Flannery, Peggy McCay, Erica Slezak or Anthony Geary. While these actors are a talented group, not having them listed makes room for some other deserving actors who usually don’t make the list.

I have seen some disappointment in the lack of pre-nominations for the One Life to Live and All My Children cast. I disagree that these shows were shunned. I honestly don’t think that many submitted. I am very happy with the young actors who did earn pre-nominations.

Things will no doubt change after the lists are whittled down to the finale nominations, but here are my picks from the pre-nomination list.  It was hard to pick just one out of all the great actors so I divided it into three categories ( I could have picked even more but restrained myself.):

Outstanding Lead Actress

My Pick- Maura West

Since West’s Ava Jerome sauntered into Port Charles, it has been hard to keep one’s eyes off the femme fatale. West has created a truly original character, one that I have never seen before on daytime. Not many actresses in primetime or film would be able to handle this character but West does it with a coy ease.

Who Will Win - Eileen Davidson

The Daytime Emmys have been in love with Heather Tom for the last few years. I wouldn’t be surprised if she wins three times in a row. This year though I think she has some very tough competition and Davidson could spoil her winning streak. Davidson managed to give Days of Our Lives a good shot of adrenaline with her feisty performance and established herself as a daytime powerhouse in the process.

Dark Horse - Arianne Zucker

Zucker’s subtle yet powerful performance this year as a bad girl trying to be good all while hiding her love for a priest has been one of the best things to watch on Days of Our Lives. She was able to create powerful chemistry with her co-star which mere expressions. Her winning would be a welcomed surprise.

Outstanding Lead Actor

My Pick - Jason Thompson

Thompson was my pick to win last year (he lost to the equally talented Doug Davidson) but I think he actually had even better material to submit this year. My favorite part of the Robin’s return story arc was his powerful performances. Nobody emotes like this guy.

Who Will Win - Billy Miller

Emmys love dead children story lines and I suspect that is what Miller submitted. Personally I found Deliah’s death to be well-played Emmy bait and I would prefer not to have the bait taken. None of that of course is Miller’s fault and he rocked the material he was given. His win would certainly not be unwarranted.

Dark Horse - Roger Howarth

With the big character switch, it seemed a bumpy year for Howarth and his co-stars. But he managed to top many "Best of the Year" lists and he had many great performances in 2013 despite some controversy. If he submitted scenes with the equally captivating Maura West, he could easily win.

Supporting Actress

My Pick and Who Will Win - Jane Elliot

Just give her the Emmy now.

Dark Horse - Kelly Sullivan

Sullivan may have her share of critics but I’ve always loved her portrayal of crazy Connie Falconeri. I was surprised when she wasn’t nominated last year. It was a huge oversight in my opinion which of course means she might just take home an award now that she not even on General Hospital anymore.

Supporting Actor

My Pick - Bradford Anderson

I’ve made the argument on Twitter that I felt that Anderson was more of a lead in 2013 than supporting. Nobody agreed with me. Perhaps his amazing performance just had my full attention. In the scene where Ellie confessed that he was baby Georgie’s father, he managed to go through every emotion possible in a matters of minutes.

Who Will Win - Scott Clifton

I think of Clifton as more of a lead than a supporting actor but either way he is a very good at what he does. Last year he tied with Billy Miller for Outstanding Supporting Actor.  Lightening could strike twice for Clifton.

Dark Horse - Blake Berris

Berris is probably a sweet guy in real life but boy can he play a creep! He manages to play baddie Nick Fallon with a sort of erie calm. Never dull to watch. If Berris is nominated it would be only his second nomination, the first being in 2009 for Outstanding Younger Actor.

Outstanding Younger Actress

My Pick - Kelley Missal

Though One Life to Live’s reboot may have quickly come and gone, it gave Missal a chance to show off her acting chops with some edgy material. I’d even go as far as to say she was the star of the show. Missal played troubled Danielle Manning in a way that made the audience care about her even when she was misbehaving. She added depth to her story lines even when there wasn’t any.

Who Will Win - Kristen Alderson

I feel the audience is still learn who Alderson's new character Kiki Jerome is and I’ve just recently started to like Kiki myself. Regardless of any opinions about the new role, Alderson has had some good material to work with as well as screen partners.

Outstanding Younger Actor

My Pick - Bryan Craig

Craig may be a new comer to daytime but he can hold his own with daytime veterans like Maura West, Maurice Benard, and Laura Wright. As the youngest Corinthos brother Morgan, Craig has managed to evoke relatable elements and understanding into his bratty character.

Who Will Win - Chandler Massey

Emmy’s just like Massey. He has been the shoe in for this award for the last few years. I have a feeling he could take home a third win.

Dark Horse - Corbin Bleu

I was impressed at the way that Bleu was able to hold his own in scenes with vets such as Ericia Selzak. He managed to create a likable good guy that wasn't boring. I hope we see him on another soap soon because he’s a great leading man.

Please left a comment to let me know your thoughts on the pre-nomanations and who your excited to see on the list.