Embracing the undead.
When "Port Charles" premiered in 1997 as a spin-off of "General Hospital," the intent was to put more focus on the happenings at the actual hospital than was seen on its parent show. And that is what happened – for the first few years at least. As the show evolved, supernatural storylines were introduced, including vampires, angels and life after death, much like ABC’s earlier gothic Daytime drama, Dark Shadows. Not only did "Port Charles" buck traditional soap stories, it also switched from the standard open-ended storytelling techniques in 2000 to 13-week story arcs. It did 12 of these arcs before the 30-minute daily was canceled in 2003.
(June 2, 1997 – October 3, 2003)
Livvie Locke (Kelly Monaco) and Caleb Morley (Michael Easton)
Rafe Kovich (Brian Gaskill) and Alison Barrington (Erin Hershey Presley)
Kevin Collins (Jon Lindstrom) and Lucy Coe (Lynn Herrington)
Cast and characters:
When "PC" started, the Irish Catholic Scanlons got top billing, with brothers Frank (Jay Pickett), a paramedic, and Joe (Michael Dietz), a first-year intern at GH. Their mother Mary (Patricia Crowley) had a brief dalliance with Sonny Corinthos’ (Maurice Benard) father, Mike Corbin (Ron Hale), before marrying Victor Collins (Nicholas Pryor), father of Kevin. The other interns at the hospital were the main focus during the first few years, including Julie Devlin (Lisa Ann Hadley), Eve Lambert (Julie Pinson), Karen Wexler (Jennifer Hammon) and Chris Ramsey (Nolan North). They were led by Dr. Ellen Burgess (Debbi Morgan) as they dealt with various acts of terror by deranged intern reject Greg Cooper (David Holcomb) and the General Homicide murder mystery, based on a novel written by Kevin.
Also important were Kevin, Lucy and Lucy’s best friend, Scott Baldwin (Kin Shriner). Together, they had a daughter, Serena (Carly Schroeder), of whom Lucy was the surrogate for her friend Dominique Stanton (Shell Danielson), Scott’s dead wife. More characters were introduced and many original ones were killed off as the show went into supernatural territory a few years into its run. Livvie was introduced as Kevin’s daughter, and with her came Alison, Jamal Woods (Kiko Ellsworth), Ian Thornhart (Thorsten Kaye), Rafe, and Jack Ramsey (Brian Presley). Then, in 2001, vampire Caleb Morley came to town and changed everything.
The show began as a two-hour primetime movie when a group of first-year interns arrived at the hospital only to be thrown into an intense hostage situation that involved performing brain surgery on veteran "GH" character Audrey Hardy (Rachel Ames) with a power drill. From that moment on there was never a dull moment at the hospital. Explosions, serial killers, illicit drug use and kidnapping were just a few of the issues dealt with during the early years.
"Fate," the first in the succession of story arcs kicked off with over one million viewers, but the supernatural events didn’t begin until the second arc, "Time in a Bottle," when Karen and Joe traveled through time and fell in love. And then in "Tainted Love," which began in June 2001, Caleb – and vampires - hit Port Charles.
One story arc, "Naked Eyes," showed a thought-defeated Caleb's return to town as rocker Stephen Clay, with his band, The Stephen Clay Experience. Later, during the arc "Desire," a new vampire king was in charge. Joshua Temple (Ian Buchanan) was obsessed with making Alison his wife, which forced Caleb and Rafe to work together.