Sunday, November 21, 2010

Sunday Surgery: Soap Opera Genetics

With Thanksgiving around the corner, I thought I'd talk about the families on soaps and how important they are for the storytelling aspect of the show. Most soaps are built around a central family (or two) and then branch off from there. Even if newbies are introduced, they either are a long-lost something, a distant cousin or come in with their own brood pretty quickly. (ie: Ford Brothers, OLTL) Rarely do you get a character not related somehow to someone...either from the past or present. 
General Hospital are full of them right now. After wiping out the Quartermaines, Cassadines and most of the Scorpios on GH, we saw an influx of characters that just didn't have much to do but hook up with Sonny or chase Sonny or fill the world with toxic balls. Here's a list of characters that have no family in Port Chuck right now: 


and, although Matt has a brother Pat, we all know how that's been going. While it's true that soaps do need a few floater characters, GH seems to just have a glut of them. Why they haven't written some of these people as being related is beyond me. Abby could be Coleman's sister. Claire and Diane could have been related. Jason who is actually a Q, hardly interacts with them, even after making some kind of peace with Monica. We were so happy when Luke finally shared a scene with Carly people were tweeting about it for the whole day!  Hell, that shouldn't be something that's unusual--that should be he norm!!! Of course, this all contributes to the disjointed feel of GH--- Brenda's back in town and doesn't mention Emily or Alan's death. Isn't she Brooke Lyn's godmother??  Steven moves back home but has little to do with his sister (maybe if Audrey were around still that would help?) Carly not only never sees her mother, she never mentions her anymore. Poor Cousin Lucas evaporated long ago. 

The Davis clan started to gel and then...disappeared. They'll be on again for Turkey Day, but it's been a noticeable absence for Kristina. I guess Michael has Abby to talk with now. Perhaps she'll turn out to be related to the patient Theo Hoffman coming in December? I'd love it. 

So, as we watch the Thanksgiving show this week and get all happy about the group scenes, remember this is how it always should be. Not once or twice a year. If they continue to break the family chains it's going to become even less of a shell than it already is.
I know you're waiting for me to talk about Sonny, who's now the head of the main "Familia" in town. Problem is? Rarely are their true family scenes. He has so many baby mamas, they can't all seem to get together at the same time. Sonny also lost his sister and brother..and hardly ever sees his father. Ergo, Sonny doesn't even have an orbit of his own.

I guess having a lot of unattached characters makes it easy to insert and not have to connect the scenes. You can write day after day of 1-3 characters just talking to each other. 

Have a turkey leg, eat some stuffing and if you are so inclined, watch the Oct 5th repeat that is on Thursday. No GH Friday due to football I believe... Tues/Wed should be the best days to catch some good old soapy stuff. At least we know our Q's will do the traditional pizza day.


AntJoan said...

Karen, I agree that we're all heartbroken that heartless Guza saw fit to kill off the members of our favorite families--the family dramas ARE the heart of the soaps, and we're all starving for more.

However, I disagree that all new character should somehow be related to someone. We've had more long-lost children, sisters, brothers, etc., than I care to remember, and it's not realistic at all.

Too many characters related to everyone else is not like real life. However. the free-floating characters you mentioned should all have friends and families of their own, even if they only are mentioned, now shown. It is not realistic at all for someone to land in Port Charles and have no former life, no friends, relatives, etc.

Anonymous said...

How true! Every word you wrote is a truth about the show and a major reason as to what is wrong with it. Everyone should be attached to a family in some way. The current families should be large and involved with each other. Diane should be a Cassadine or even a Quartermaine-- a beloved niece of Edward's.. I think she and Edward could have great chemistry with their wit and dry humor.

When there are no "real" families, no married people, case in point the only "married's" on the show are Carly and Jax, Maya and Ethan and Robin and Patrick--- None of them are happy, except maybe Ethan and Maya but they really don't want to be married and we'll never see any "married" moments anyway. I miss the days of married but have adventure, romance, angst, friendships and love.

Groups should and can be shown more than 2-3x a year.. OLTL does this often and with ease, several times a week, weekly. They have events just about once a month. Why can't GH?

Guza can't tie stories together or even weave them together to make them work thru out the canvas. There's no reason for fragmented stories, but it seems he can only write for one or two characters at a time--- the ones that catch his interest for that time and it is sad.

I am a Sonny and Brenda fan and have been since their inception. There is no reason why it should have taken 4 months for them to get together. There is no reason why she should have come back this way. Why couldn't Brenda come back trying to take over Crimson-- Thus giving Kate something to do, along with Sonny, Jax and Carly? ASEC still coul have been a part of things but, make Brenda strong and happy.. Not sad, secretive and sullen. This Dante connection is just Guza playing with his shiny favorite without really thinking of the story that should be told and that could really be written by itself.

Guza is wasting time and energy along with wasting the opportunity for good ratings. Brenda doesn't need to be shoved down anyone's throat to enjoy her come back. 2-3 days a week is enough, like back in the day of the Labine's who wrote that way.

Let's hope for families, weddings, babies, adventure, friendsips and romance n 2011-- along wit a new headwiter to steer things into the right direction.


love4dogs said...

Epiphany used to have a son, Stan, that worked for Jason...of course, he was killed off.

Brenda was just a name at one point and then came on as Julia Barrett's sister. She was involved with Bill Eckhart, Bobbie and Luke's cousin

The ruination of the Quartermaines is so awful, they had to bring in Maya, who is actually NO relation. And wasn't she going to be bringing a sister with her?

Anonymous said...

I miss the families on GH. In a time where everything seems uncertain we need some comfort on TV. For me, who has watched GH since childhood, that means characters and families we know and love. Random and newbie characters being shown at the expense of long-term, established characters doesn't bring that same feeling or loyalty to the show because the same depth of connection isn't there. There hasn't been the time or the connections for the characters to be developed. When we get to that point, there seems to be an influx of new characters and we start over again. I find it very discouraging. Yet I watch in hopes that things will change.

I totally agree about Jason and Monica. I would love to see them interact more. I love their scenes together.

Also, I see Sonny's arrival as the beginning of destroying the families. Characters were destroyed to prop the mob (and Sonny) being the good guy (like AJ, Tony, Mac, etc). These characters were either severely back-burned (because they looked inept) or killed.

I don't understand why Guza doesn't get that we want balance and families shown more.

Lori said...

Wow November sweeps is almost over... oh wait... GH didn't actually have November sweeps this year. Jee, how did I miss that? (hehehe) I see a small glimmer for next week that we will get something that looks like the Thanksgiving episodes of years gone by.

On a brighter note we are less than 30 days until Jerry Jacks returns!

nance24 said...

and to add insult to injury they show us an episode on Thanksgiving that is practally new. Why not go back quite a few years and show us a classic Thanksgiving episode??

Frisco said...

Tracey said she wants a wedding at the Q mansion with "family and friends".

Do you think we will see the following family and friends at the wedding?:
- Bobbie, Luke's sister
- Ned, Tracy's son (even a mention of him)
- Brooklyn, Tracy's granddaughter who is currently in Port Charles
- Micheal, Tracy's great nephew and Luke's great nephew!
- Jason, Tracy's nephew
- Nicholas, Luke's former stepson and Tracy's colleague on the hospital board.
- Alexis, one of Luke's supposed good friends
- Jax, one of Tracy's old friends

Heck, I'd be surprised if we see Alice and Monica. No doubt newbies Siobhan and Maya will be there. They might even find a way to work in Brenda...if she is not too busy doing yoga.

Watchintele said...

Hello All, has been a while!

Couldn't agree with you more about the disconnect that GH has been suffering through for so long.
However, what I find more disconcerting is the fact that Guza seems to think that it's okay with fans that he plans to marry Luke & Tracy on Laura's birthday?!? They made this show. GH wouldn't exist if it wasn't for them. So why would you piss all over their history? (Sorry for the language)

Instead, he seems to think that the incessant revisiting of Sonny & Brenda's past in every scene they are in is what viewers want!?!
Don't get me wrong, I like that history is being tapped into, but it doesn't have to done in every scene. We get it. They love each other, they want to be with each other, but they don't work together.

Since there have been a number of Laura mentions, I just have a bad feeling that she'll return to see Luke & Tracy getting married.

So much more to say, but I digress.

Hope all of you have a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday south of the border.

Anonymous said...

What a treat to see that photo of little Georgie, former Maxi, Mac, Felicia, Tony, Bobbie and Lucas, plus the great A Martinez! Characters we loved, but who have either disappeared or made unlikable or so rarely seen you have to think of their names.

Bad enough the constant influx of single newbies, but worse, that they can only last so long because Bob will make us hate them in no time. I swear he does not know HOW to make a character lovable. Look what he has done to Tony as Luke. Once one of best actors in daytime and easily the main icon of daytime, his character is now this pathetic drunk begging for tidbits from Tracy and telling her she is his soulmate! The first time he said that, something clicked off inside me. I no longer care about him if he can't honor his real love and the story that put GH on the map. It's been awhile since he did anything near an Emmy scene, much less had a story where he has any actual purpose.

But he isn't the only one. Anytime a character checks in, they are soon revealed to have a jarring past or nasty present agenda--it took about one day for us to see what Claudia was and there was no way to like her after that. Drop-dead handsome Mac is still a good guy, but on so little that it barely matters. Alexis is a fan favorite but Guza cares not at all. He still barely uses her except to demean her. JJ is the natural heir apparent to Tony's crown, but so far the stories are hardly worthy of him.

I still have a few favorite actors on GH, but it is hard to watch when there is so little continuity and so few connections. So I enjoy OLTL these days, where I have fewer faves but there are a lot more family and friend connections and stories that have real direction and are interwoven, with good anticipation factors.

mosbp2003 said...

I DVR'd all of last week's episodes of OLTL and GH...I watched all 5 episods of OL over the weekend and deleted all 5 episodes of GH. I just can't take anymore right now and I need a break!

Mamaspat Ole said...

I always DVR AMC and OLTL and Days but GH I catch here.I miss those folks in the pictures so bad that was true Soap material.Most of the time I FF thru AMC and also Days but never OLTL.So keep up the good work Karen I will continue to read up on GH and it is sad that Tony Geary is no longer the actor he was with Laura.At least to me yall don't get your drawers in a uproar.Im just saying he was better with Laura he had depth.

Anonymous said...

I agree. Geary seems to either be phoning it in half the time, or doing the silly comic relief stuff that honestly doesn't work because he seems too old to pull it off anymore.

The character has been going down hill since that first heart attack.

The last time I really cared about the character was when Laura slipped back into the catatonic state in 2006 and we grieved with him.

Anonymous said...

I'm very sad to say that over the last few weeks it has become easier and easier not to watch GH, but to leave the tv when OLTL ends. After 30+ years of viewing I just would rather read up on what is going on here, than sit through the recycled dialog, story lines that start and stop with no reasoning behind them, and many characters that I just don't care about. I'm not even going to start in on my feelings about Sonny or the mob, or Guza (who I secretly feel wants to end GH and go to primetime without actually quitting the show), but I do so miss the real family interraction, even if they spoke for a moment popping in and out of Kelly's.

kdmask said...

Yes, Brenda has a sister but she's not on the show anymore. I know Epiphany's son died (terrible, stupid story THAT was)... but really-- they have SO many people not related. And don't use the ones that are.
Yes, Zoe was supposed to be coming