Ode to General Hospital’s Spinelli!
Spinelli & The Blonde One. (Soaps.com)
General Hospital’s Damien Spinelli, aka ‘The Jackal’, is one of my favorite current soap opera characters and he’s probably the most non-traditional soap character I’ve ever witnessed. Spinelli’s character is similar, in flare perhaps, to the brashness Anthony Geary gave to Luke Spencer. Portrayed by Bradford Anderson, the character is said to be a mix of Sean Penn’s Spicoli, a character from “Fast Times at Ridgemont High,” and Seth Green. Spinelli was actually introduced in a story line that took on the topic of the use of medical marijuana. He provided Alexis Davis (Nancy Lee Grahn) with marijuana during her chemotherapy weeks while she battled lung cancer. A bold move by the writers, I thought. Spinelli has since been distanced from that storyline.
Damien Spinelli is a lovable character who talks in a mesh of internet jargon with a Shakespearian delivery. There are a lot of “thou arts,” and 25+ scoring scrabble words when he speaks. At times, you may need a translator to understand what he is saying. The character is responsible for the nicknaming of almost every character you could encounter on General Hospital. Most notably, Jason Morgan (Steve Burton) has been renamed as ‘Stone Cold’ by Spinelli, which not only fits his hit man status but also covers the brain injury inflicted upon Jason which resulted in his having muted emotions. Spinelli has developed a great trust and friendship with Jason and this relationship has allowed Jason’s character to develop a gentler, more reflective side.
Spinelli has enhanced other GH characters, as well. It is fun to watch the confusion his speech creates on many of the regulars, especially Sonny (Maurice Benard, AKA ‘Mr. Sir’) and Jax (Ingo Rademacher, AKA ‘The White Knight’). “I’ll take that as a no,” is a common response to a Jackal ranting. My absolute favorite interactions are with Mac Scorpio (John York) and Mac’s horror that Maxie (Kirsten Storms, AKA ‘The Blonde One’ AKA ‘The Mouthy One’ AKA ‘Maximista’) is involved with him. Who could forget Maximista’s pre-wedding dream sequence scenes where a crazy Mac yammers on and on about how he should’ve killed Spinelli when he had the chance? Spinelli has renamed many inanimate objects as well as people, such as calling his favorite drink, orange soda – ‘the nectar of the gods’.
The Spinelli character has brought the use of computers and the Internet into Daytime where it is oddly, rarely mentioned. It is difficult to find The Jackal without his computer, or holstered in his bag, at the ready for a quick reconnaissance query or to divert power to a stalled elevator. Coming from an Info Technologies background, I must say, I only take a mild annoyance in the fact that Spinelli’s computer seems to be able to find a wireless signal anywhere and has an internal battery that never runs down. I struggle at times getting my home connection to work and have about 20 minutes of battery life maximum now.
At first, Spinelli’s incredible cyber skills and hacking ability was the main focus for his character. He is an expert hacker, able to break the defenses of almost any system connected to the Internet. He uses these skills to assist Stone Cold primarily and at one point Maxie who needed him to rewrite an article she had failed to backup at Crimson. While doing this, his computer is hacked. An incredulous Jackal eventually discovers this was done by FBI Agent Winifred (Senta Moses) who is also a computer nerd and seems actually to be the female version of The Jackal. A brief flirtation occurs and Winifred becomes ‘The Priestess’ to Spinelli. His interactions with Winifred almost lands him in jail for life, as he is in reality caught up in an FBI sting operation geared to take down Sonny. Eventually, Stone Cold comes to the rescue and Spinelli’s heart returns to Maxie. He might have had fewer problems in jail.
My heart goes out to the Spinelli character too. His love for Lulu was never truly returned and the love Georgie Jones (Lindze Letherman) held for him he didn’t realize until just before she was murdered. He was actually accused of having killed ‘Fair Wise Georgie’ after finding her body and calling for help saying, "someone beautiful has died." Currently Maxie, his love interest, cheats on him - most recently, with a psychotic killer who she had just met! The guy deserves better.
I have to admit I had all but lost my interest in General Hospital, a show I’ve watched semi-regularly since the Luke & Laura Ice Princess days until Spinelli arrived. He gave the show a needed kick in the pants. Not only does Bradford Anderson’s spin on this quirky character give the show some needed energy and humor but it has managed to enhance other actors and their characters as well. I feel that today’s Jackal is a bit watered down from the original as he went from a side story into the main stories but I’m still invested enough to see where this curious character is going to go. Just please ABC, don’t give us a dark Jackal – I couldn’t stand to see his character make that kind of turn, even though he works for mobsters and killers.