General Hospital’s Got One Very Big Problem, and the Latest Elizabeth ‘Twist’ Is Just the Tip of the Iceberg
The good news is, there’s a really, really easy fix.
It was nearly six months ago that General Hospital kicked off their Liz-centric mystery by having her wedding ring mysteriously transport itself from one place to another. Last week, Violet suggested that perhaps the nurse was actually responsible for everything going on around her.
The tot may have proved herself the smartest person in Port Charles, but she put the pieces together months after most viewers had come to that conclusion. Others had completely stopped caring given how little forward momentum the story had, what with constantly being pushed to the backburner.
Unfortunately, Elizabeth’s story isn’t the only one on the canvas which has major pacing issues.
There’s an old saying: It’s the journey, not the destination. But what if the road takes so long to traverse that we stop caring where it’s going? Worse, what if when finally we arrive, it turns out to be not the Grand Canyon, but a really big pothole?
General Hospital has an amazing cast who could entertain us by reading the phone book. Scripts often crackle with energy, and we’ve loved a lot of the stories being told (including some that others hate, like the Nixon Falls saga). But there are so many characters fighting for our attention that storylines often wind up being pushed aside — sometimes for days, but often for weeks at a time — while others take center stage.
The Bold and the Beautiful has a similar problem but chooses to deal with it in a different way. Yes, characters occasionally drift into the background mid-story (as is currently happening with Paris and Carter), but more often, they simply vanish for long periods when they’re not in current plots. (Think Katie, Wyatt, Flo… )
Which is a better solution, only viewers can say.
Credit: ABC screenshot
Then there are the payoffs… or lack thereof. Fans spent years wanting to see Peter pay for his sins — and all the pieces were in place for a fun murder mystery — only to have him die in Anna’s arms after being conked on the head by Felicia. Not terribly satisfying, given the time we invested.
Elsewhere, Sonny’s return from Nixon Falls lacked any real emotional punch because the show failed to play the one beat — Jason and Carly sleeping together in her husband’s absence — which would have pushed this story into high gear. Cameron Mathison first appeared as a recast Drew back in August, and yet has had no actual story to play. And don’t get us started on Austin, a character who daily leaves us wondering why in the world the show killed off Roger Howarth’s Franco, a character in whom we were invested and whose death served no real purpose, in order to have the actor return in this ill-defined role with no actual storyline.
A truly great soap opera storyline needs to be well paced as it leads the viewers to a worthy payoff. Ideally, said payoff spirals the characters into the next arc of the story and the whole process begins again. All the pieces are in place for General Hospital to do exactly this, but the screws need to be tightened a bit.
In essence, all the show needs to do is shorten the journey and, as we approach our destination, make damn sure it was worth the trip.
No matter the story, we love the residents of Port Charles… so much so that we ranked our top 30 all-time favorites!