Cancelled Soap Finds New Life On the Internet
NBC/Courtesy of the Everett Collection
It turns out those General Hospital medics aren’t the only doctors in town!
Soap fans are quite used to characters having twins — usually of the evil variety — but what many don’t realize is that for years, General Hospital had a doppelgänger of its own: When the ABC sudser hit the airwaves on April 1, 1963, another show bearing more than a passing resemblance to it was also launching its first episode over on NBC. Now, thanks to a television channel specializing in classics from the past, a website and a whole lot of love from fans, The Doctors is being discovered by a whole new generation of fans. Better still, thanks to the soaps’ loyal devotees, two all-new specials focused on the men and women of Hope Memorial Hospital will soon be available!
During its nearly 20-year run, many a familiar face spent time on the NBC soap, including Alec Baldwin (Billy Aldrich), Ted Danson (Dr. Mitchell Pearson), Julia Duffy (Penny Davis) and Kathleen Turner (Nola Dancy Aldrich), to name a few.
The show began to find a whole new audience when in 2014, Retro TV began airing reruns five days a week. But the 30-minute soap’s new life really took off with the launch of WatchTheDoctors.com, a subscription site through which, for $2.99 a month, visitors can watch eight years’ worth of storylines unfold. Better still, the channel and site have been staging periodic reunions featuring many of the most popular stars discussing their time on the soap and what they’ve been up to since.
Most recently, Retro partnered with former Guiding Light and As The World Turns publicist Alan Locher for a reunion featuring former cast members Jonathan Frakes (Tom Carroll), Anna Stuart (Tori Powers) Frank Telfer (Luke Dancy) and others, including Nancy Stafford, who described her role in one of The Doctors’ most outlandish stories thusly: “I played a mother and a daughter, and the mother had taken a magic serum” which served as a fountain of youth. Before long, mom Felicia had shipped young Adrienne off to a mental facility, only to eventually die of old age once the serum lost its effectiveness.
The storyline involved three hours a day in the makeup chair and, as happens when one takes on a dual role, twice the material to shoot each day. “I almost had a nervous breakdown before it was all over,” admits Stafford, “because it was so intense!”
But perhaps the most exciting development for fans of The Doctors is yet to come: On Friday, October 2, and Friday, October 9, at 8 p.m. EST, Retro’s Facebook page will host a virtual watch party offering a sneak peek of the special Where Are They Now, featuring exclusive interviews with daytime legends Elizabeth Hubbard (Dr. Althea Davis) and Kim Zimmer (Nola Dancy Aldrich) as well as a plethora of other actors who passed through Hope Memorial’s hallowed halls during its run. Then, on Friday, October 16, the full-length special will debut exclusively on WatchTheDoctors.com.
The special will kick off a new series called In the Waiting Room, which will feature further interviews with and updates on cast members from the classic soap. Meanwhile, look for more episodes from the final years of the soap’s original network run to be added to the lineup in the near future.
Retro TV airs The Doctors at noon and 7:30 p.m. weekdays, with same-day episodes also available for streaming at 4 p.m. EST on MyRetroTV.com. While you’re here, check out five more cancelled soaps we want back in the photo gallery below.