On the Anniversary of General Hospital: Night Shift’s Finale, an Idea for a *New* Spinoff Featuring Characters From All My Children and One Life to Live
John Paschal/JPI (2), Howard Wise/JPI, Soapnet/Courtesy of the Everett Collection, ABC/Courtesy of the Everett Collection
On October 21, 2008, the Soapnet series aired its last episode.
It’s been a dozen years since Soapnet wrapped General Hospital: Night Shift after two seasons (and almost two decades since ABC drove a stake into Port Charles). Since then, the audience for serialized dramas has proven over and over again that, uh, we ain’t goin’ nowhere. So perhaps it’s time — arguably it’s even past time — for the networks to consider working their lineups back into a lather… starting with ABC’s.
Were it up to us, General Hospital would get a third spinoff — but one that is really more of a continuation of All My Children and One Life to Live. By way of introducing the new canvas, we’d move Chloe Lanier’s “late” Nelle Benson to Center City, the rough-and-tumble town between All My Children’s Pine Valley and One Life to Live’s Llanview, to lay low as she catches her breath and plots her next move. While doing so, she’d be faced with the mother of all conundrums: Does she seize the chance that she’s been given to start over as someone new, or does she look for a way to get back to Port Charles and son Wiley?
While bartending at a Goal Post restaurant to pay the rent on her room at the boardinghouse once owned by the late Myrtle Fargate, Nelle would be taken under the wing of its new proprietor, a widowed Ellen Dalton (once again played by the wonderful Kathleen Noone), who’d introduce her to social worker Dixie Martin (Cady McClain, ultimately available since her stint as Days of Our Lives’ Jennifer is said to be temporary) and her husband, Tad (Michael E. Knight, available since he’s only on recurring status as Martin on General Hospital). In them, Nelle would find the kind of nurturing and acceptance that she’d never known in life and wonder who she could’ve become if she’d had parents like them. She’d also have to wonder if it was too late. Could she still become the kind of person that the Martins would have raised?
More: Where *is* GH’s Nelle?
In Nelle’s corner every step of the way would be Tad’s son, Damon Miller. No stranger to poor choices — remember his fling with his girlfriend’s mother? — he’d empathize with Nelle’s angst over her mistakes and assure her that it was up to her whether her future was as checkered as her past. (Since Finn Wittrock, who originally played Damon, is now the toast of Hollywood, his role would have to be recast… perhaps with one of The Young and the Restless’ Fens, Max Ehrich or Zach Tinker?)
When not trying to steer Nelle down a straight and narrow path, Tad and Dixie would double-date with their oldest friends, the Hubbards, Jesse and Angie (whose legendary portrayers, Darnell Williams and Debbi Morgan, would have to reprise their roles; non-negotiable, that!). It’s a new world for both couples; they’re all dealing with the changes that come with midlife and not being the wild, impetuous kids that they once were. In particular, Tad would wonder who he is if not the cad of his youth. Cue trouble in 3, 2…
Visiting ex-wife Brooke English (once again Julia Barr) at her new workplace, The Banner, the Llanview-based newspaper that she’d be trying to help modernize for publisher Viki Buchanan (the estimable Erika Slezak), Tad would run into editor-in-chief Kelly Cramer (Gina Tognoni in the role she originated). At first, it would be awkward — her brother did once steal Tad’s stepgrandson, after all. But once they’d marveled at the number of bizarre circumstances in which they’d both found themselves over the years, sparks would fly — the kind that would make Kelly question whether she wanted to be any man’s “other woman” and Tad question whether he would ever really stray from Dixie again. Had he learned nothing from his fling with Liza Colby?
Meanwhile, Jesse and Angie would be discreetly going through the unthinkable. After having been returned to her following his “death,” he would find himself in failing health — and neither his wife, nor son Frankie nor any of the doctors in Pine Valley would be able to figure out why. Desperate to spare his parents another heartache, Frankie (perhaps The Young and the Restless’ former Tyler, Redaric Williams?) would reach out to a doctor in Port Charles, one with a reputation for thinking outside the box. His new mentor? None other than Leisl Obrecht, under whom he’d study during a crossover storyline. Of course, while in Port Charles, he’d hear from new pals Michael and Willow all about the she-devil who’d nearly stole their son. He might even glimpse a photo of the troublemaker. “Wow,” he’d say. “She looks a lot like… ”
Mm-hmm. The new girl in town, the one who’s gotten so chummy with his parents’ pals, the Martins. Would he expose Nelle? Or would he take her at her word if she swore that she had put the past behind her — even if doing so meant that she’d never see her little boy again? And what if Frankie didn’t feel right about keeping such a whopper of a secret? Would Nelle deny her growing feelings for Damon and make a play for the doctor?
While that story played out, Kendall Hart (Alicia Minshew, natch) would throw herself into her work at Fusion the same way she has been since the authorities gave up looking for her husband, Zach Slater, who boarded a flight to Los Angeles and… as far as anyone knows, vanished. She’d still employ a private eye to search for her true love, but in the meantime, she’d have now-teenage daughter Gabrielle to raise. The last thing on her mind would be romance.
That, naturally, would only make her P.I. more protective of his fragile client. And that P.I.’s name? Oh, haven’t you guessed? Rex Balsom (John-Paul Lavoisier), who’d deny his own growing feelings for Kendall for so long that he’d end up getting an altogether-wrong-for-her rival in cousin David Vickers (the one and only Tuc Watkins). Would Rex invent new “clues” about Zach’s whereabouts in order to push David out of the picture and log more quality time with Kendall himself? Could he do that to someone with whom he’s falling in love? And how long a riot act would Kendall and mom Erica Kane (special guest star Susan Lucci) read Rex when they found out?
The possibilities of this All My Life mash-up would be endless, right? And this sketch of an idea is only that: a sketch. A real soap writer would flesh it out with even more former favorites as well as the new generation that would keep the story going and going and going…
What do you think? Would you tune in to give All My Life a try? General Hospital viewers might watch to see what trouble Nelle gets into, and once she was “resurrected” back in Port Charles, the story would and could just continue with All My Children and One Life to Live characters. As you work your way down to the comments to share your thoughts, stop off at the photo gallery below; it’s full of gorgeous and rarely-seen photos from the entire ABC run ofAll My Children.