Deep Soap: GH’s Sonny & Brenda Reunite as ATWT’s Luke Loses Reid

Vanessa Marcil Giovinazzo (Brenda) and Maurice Benard in General Hospital (ABC)

Vanessa Marcil Giovinazzo (Brenda) and Maurice Benard in General Hospital (ABC)

Sonny and Brenda Finally Reunite

It finally happened.  After a month of thinking about each other, and staring at each other’s  phone numbers, ‘General Hospital’s‘ Sonny and Brenda finally came face to face Tuesday.  It was kind of like two people who dated in high school finding each other on Facebook. The chemistry was still there even though everyone is a little older and heavier — and by everyone I mean Sonny.  It was a case of two actors transcending writing that managed to suck every bit of drama out of the most anticipated soap scene in years.

If there is one thing that ‘General Hospital’ does better than any other show on television it’s musical montages juxtaposing violence with emotional content. Unfortunately, what must be the seventieth rip off of the famous click-boom sequence was uncharacteristically poorly directed.

While Brenda (Vanessa Marcil Giovinazzo) climbed over an adorable St. Bernard who was blocking her in an elevator, her fiance Murphy (Brad Rowe) was accosted by the Balkans who are out to get her. They pointed their guns at him as she climbed out of the elevator and came face to face with Sonny (Maurice Benard).

It should have been a moving, heart-stopping moment.  Instead the three sets seemed miles apart from each other.  Murphy did not appear to be anywhere near Brenda.  The slow-paced editing minimized the tension. Finally, Sonny and Brenda found themselves standing next to each other.  It was hardly a surprise since Sonny deliberately rented a room in Brenda’s hotel and spent the previous hour talking to a dayplayer who provided him with sage advice about love and life.  It was Sonny’s Flee, Stalk, Stare tour.  Brenda, in the same restaurant as Sonny, failed to notice him for nearly an entire episode.

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Meanwhile, the Balkans let Murphy go because they liked his movies, I guess.  The show did not bother to explain why.  Sonny and Brenda retreated to her hotel room. They talked about how they had each other’s phone numbers and e-mail addresses but somehow could not bring themselves to contact each other. I screamed at the TV because that has been the whole problem with this storyline. There are absolutely no obstacles to the two of them being together.  Brenda has admitted that she is not in love with her fiance.  Sonny is single. There is no story.

But then, they started talking and they still had that It Factor.   Benard came back to life as an actor.  Marcil Graziano had something to do besides be adorable. They wordlessly conveyed that they were two people who are not complete without each other, even though they often bring out the worst in each other.  Then, the dialogue began to match the emotions of the scene.

Sonny: Our last unmarried date. You wore that red dress, and you had the flower in your hair. The way you’d drive me crazy and break my heart and make me the happiest man alive. I used to love, you know, the way you you kind of…I mean, the way you would look at me, and you’d smile. But then, you know, I’d say to myself, that was, you know, a long time ago. Those were just memories. And you went your way, I went my way. So I needed to come to Rome to just know what it would feel like to see you again.

By the end of the episode, Sonny’s verbal tics notwithstanding, I was dying to see them kiss. Sometimes you can go home again.  I hope this is the true beginning of their love story, not the one good scene in yet another predictable mob plotline.

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Reid Dies

This is the second to last week of  ‘As The World Turns.’  The show is officially in wrap-up mode.  In contrast to the end of ‘Guiding Light,‘ who were so impoverished that they lacked sets and dialogue, ATWT is doing its best to go out on a high note.  These final episodes are bittersweet.  The resolution to what has been the most popular storyline of the series final few months, the Ried/Noah/Luke love triangle, made it clear that everyone will not be living happily ever after.  Reid (Eric Sheffer Stevens), attempting to persuade a doctor in Bay City to release a donor heart to the ailing Chris Hughes (Daniel Cosgrove) was in a horrific traffic accident.  Fatally injured, he used the last moments of his life to bequeath his own heart to Chris.

The scenes worked symbolically.  ATWT is dying.  The dialogue references to both ‘Another World’s‘ setting, Bay City, and Springfield – home of ‘Guiding Light‘ – were sad reminders that the era of P&G produced soaps is ending.  The fictional universe that linked the three towns will cease to exist. The show had the good sense to bring back John Dixon (the incomparable Larry Brygmann), to perform the operation.  Seeing him and interact with Bob (Don Hastings) in the midst of a medical crisis was a welcome reminder of the show’s glory days.

However, I wish that the show had not gone this route.  The bitterly ironic organ donation is one soap device that needs to be retired.  It was powerful when B.J.’s death allowed Maxie to live on ‘General Hospital’ all those years ago.  Since then it has been used so many times that it has become just another daytime cliche. It is impossible not to read this as the show sacrificing its gay couple to save a far less popular straight character, even if he is a member of a core family.

Though the show has come a long way from the days when Luke (Van Hansis) and Noah (Jake Silbermann) were not allowed to kiss, Reid died without having slept with Luke.  The couple will not get to ride off into the sunset together.    Yes, it gives Van Hansis meaty material to play, but I wish that the show had let the death of matriarch Nancy Hughes (Helen Wagner) be the show’s final tragedy and crafted an interesting, edgy version of happily ever after, perhaps with Noah and Reid impulsively eloping in a state where gay marriage is legal.

The opinions expressed are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Comcast.

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