Deep Soap: ‘General Hospital’ and ‘Bold & the Beautiful’ Say Goodbye to Their Stars

Steve Burton (ABC)

Requiem for a Black T-Shirt

I have so many mixed emotions about the death of “General Hospital’s” Jason Morgan. Love him or hate him — and I did both, often simultaneously over the course of what will be looked back upon as the Jason Morgan decades  — his departure forever changed the show. I was disappointed with how rushed the exit story was. In one day, Jason got his baby back (although Jason still does not realize that Daniel is his son), reconciled with Sam (Kelly Monaco), was shot in the back by Duke (Ian Buchanan), and pushed off the dock into a watery grave. Given that Steve Burton  is leaving on good terms with the show, surely he could have stuck around another couple weeks to have a longer, more satisfying reunion with Sam. I am happy, however, that he accepted Daniel before he found out that he was his biological father. It went a long way towards redeeming the character from his monstrous treatment of Sam during her pregnancy.

I hate that Duke (if he is indeed Duke) has turned out to be a one-dimensional villain. If he really is Duke, even if there is some crazy “he was brainwashed Manchurian-candidate style” explanation for why a man who worked hard to leave the mob is now to determined to run it, shooting the show’s leading man in cold blood pretty much destroys all audience sympathy for him. Why bring back a beloved character just to destroy him? If he turns out to be an imposter (I suspect it’s pretty easy to hack into the Port Charles Police Department’s server and change the photo of Duke’s fingerprints and, as many fans have pointed out, his behavior would be in character for the Anna-obsessed psycho Faison), then why does he seem to have Duke’s memories? And what’s the point of bringing back to play someone other than Duke? If the answer involves the same rogue government organization that was responsible for the existence of the Two Todds on “One Life to Live”, I will roll my eyes and scream at the television screen. This was obviously a hastily put together story. Duke’s return was not even possible until Buchanan left “Days of Our Lives.” Joe Scully was initially the guy who killed John McBain’s sister, who, by sheer coincidence, was plotting revenge on Sonny by having his son film a reality show about her. Then the plan became that Trey (Eric Valdez) was supposed to con Kristina into marrying him for vague revenge-y reasons. Now it’s that Duke was forcing Bernie to siphon all of Sonny’s money into Kristina’s accounts. Joe was supposed to kill her so that Trey would inherit all of Sonny’s money, which he would then give to his Dad (Because he wouldn’t want it for himself?) who would then give it to Duke. Why was Duke working with Jerry? Why didn’t Duke just have Sonny’s money transferred directly into his account? None of it makes sense.

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I have, however, thoroughly enjoyed the aftermath as everyone who cared about Jason learned of his death. Instead of overwrought sobbing and the rending of garments, there has been subtle acting, and well written scenes that acknowledge how much he meant to people who cared about him without lionizing him as a saint who died too soon. Everyone’s reaction has been in character. Sam’s choice to assume that Jason is alive, investigate his appearance, and even use her diving skills to search for him makes sense. She knows how many times Jason has survived near death experiences in the past. Sonny (Maurice Benard) and Carly’s (Laura Wright) scenes dealt with the strange almost polyamorous relationship that the two of them had wiht Jason for so many years. I was especially impressed by Liz and Spinell’s conversation, in which the two characters whose only connection is Jason were able to comfort and reassure each other. Monica (Leslie Charleson) was heartbreaking as she learned that yet another Quartermaine had died.

Based on  spoilers that Ned (Wally Kurth) and Skye (Robin Christopher) will be returning to the show for Edward’s (John Ingle) funeral, I fear that Edward may die of a broken heart upon learning the news. (By the way, Sean Kanan returns Monday, October 29.) We may end up with a tearjerker of a double funeral

I also appreciate that Joe Jr. died along with Jason. Port Charles is now down to just one mobster, Sonny. The cops now outnumber the criminals. It’s going to transform the show, although cynics might argue that McBain is simply going to replace Jason as the omnipotent man in black.

One final GH note: people tuned in to see Jason’s swansong. Last week, the show was the highest rated network daytime program in Women 18-34 (0.8), the show’s best performance among young women in a year and a half. It was also number two in Women 18-49 (1.1) behind Y&R, its best performance in the demographic in a year.

Susan Flannery’s Farewell

The Bold & the Beautiful” should take a break from twenty-something love triangles more often. The past two weeks, which have focused on the return of Stephanie’s (Susan Flannery) cancer, have been spectacular.

Flannery, who is retiring, agreed to stay with the show after her contract ended so that the writers could craft a satisfying exit. Executive producer Brad Bell and his team just may have crafted the best farewell storyline in daytime history. Stephanie, after learning that her lung cancer had returned and she had no chance of survival, decided to host a party to celebrate her life. Each day she has delivered an invitation, and the news that she is terminally ill, to someone new. It’s the perfect excuse for two decades worth of flashbacks focused on their relationship. It’s both a treat for fans and a tribute to the Emmy winning actress who has been with the show since its first episode. This is how every show should write off veteran characters.

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

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