Soaps

‘General Hospital’ Week In Review: Standing At A Crossroads

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If I didn’t know about the situation with General Hospital star Rebecca Herbst’s contract negotiations, I would have the impression that she was finally being treated as the leading lady she was meant to be. I would have posted silly polls on Twitter asking fans who should be her next love interest – Griffin, Franco, Nik or Sam. I would have praised GH’s new focus on characters that viewers both new and old value. It saddens me that I can’t do that.

Since Jean Passanante and Shelly Altman took over the reigns as GH’s head writing team, Elizabeth Webber, and most importantly Herbst’s portrayal of the legacy character, has been steadily becoming the reason to watch the long running serial drama. This was never more apparent than these last few weeks. After 19 years, Herbst has emerged as GH’s leading lady, a fitting place for such a talented and adored actress whose character is so tied to the show’s rich history. As thrilled as I am with Liz’s current story line, it’s also very bittersweet when considering the now confirmed rumors (thanks to an unfortunate social media mishap) that contract negotiations with the soap star are at an impasse. How is this possible? How can those in charge fail to see Herbst’s value? The only thing that is clear about this is that somebody needs do the right thing. Herbst is irreplaceable as Liz and losing her would hurt.

Three time Emmy nominee Herbst joined GH in 1997 as Liz Webber, the granddaughter of original GH character Steve Hardy and daughter of Jeff Webber. She is the step-granddaughter of the beloved Audrey March Hardy, who has been played by Rachel Ames since 1964. Since joining GH, Liz has been an important part of GH’s canvas and identity. She’s been the center of some of GH’s defining story lines such as Liz’s rape when she was a teenager and the hit-and-run “death” of her son Jake. Herbst’s Liz has also been a part of some of the soap’s most talked about couples, being paired with Emmy winners Jonathan Jackson, Steve Burton and Rick Hearst. Liz has three sons, legacy characters that will help build the series’ next generation. Both the character and actress’ history with GH are important.

As our Editor-In-Chief has noted, there seems to be some confusion around what Herbst’s contract negotiations being at an impasse means. It means that Herbst wants to stay. It means that the contract that she was offered wasn’t good and that’s what is causing this situation. Herbst does not have a reputation for being difficult. Despite the fact that she is so essential to GH, the general opinion has always been that she is undervalued. If GH lowballed her after bringing in expensive actors with no ties to the canvas, it’s insulting and classless. If you want to call the comment line to voice your support for Rebecca Herbst, dial (323) 671-4583.

Even though I’m not enjoying the behind the scenes drama, I have been enjoying GH. No, it’s not perfect and there are still things I could do without but it has more heart now than it has in a long time. There’s some nice emotion beats and layers being played. I’m really enjoying the character development that many of my favorites have been recently given. Things seem to be moving in the right direction creatively. If you want to share your thoughts on anything I did or did not discuss in this week’s review, please leave a comment or feel free to tweet me and we’ll chat.

General Hospital Week In Review is for episodes that aired February 8th-12th.

Jason to the rescue?

I know a lot of fans get irritated by little illogical details such as private discussions loudly taking place in public areas and five minute plane flights across the world. I have never been one to get bothered by any of that but Monday’s scenes with Jason’s casual rescue of Sam were grating. I joked on Twitter that maybe the slow pace was designed to make the scenes look normal on fast forward, but what an unemotional climax to give fans after a week of build up. There’s a fire what do you do? Call 911? How about urgently try to find the fire and put it out? Or quickly search the area to make sure nobody is in the house? Apparently, you slowing and quietly meander about as if it’s not that big a deal. I don’t know if it was the result of directing, editing or an odd acting choice but these scenes lacked the impact a big romantic rescue should have.

The good thing that came out of it all was that the fan war triangle between Sam, Jason and Liz appears to have been snuffed out. May it never rise from the ashes like a phoenix again! Jason chose to reunite with Sam and work on creating his family with her. Even though it hurt, Liz decided to let Jason go when the realization sunk in that pursuing him has caused more damaged that it was worth. Call me optimistic but I’d actually like Sam and Liz to eventually become friends. They seemed to have gotten to a point of civility anyways. Sam and Liz were probably as exhausted of fighting with each other as viewers were of watching it all.

Friday’s Jasam scenes were nice. They didn’t wow me by any means but it was cool seeing Jason in less brooding character with his wife and young son at the penthouse. Billy Miller certainly has gotten his accolades for his acting ability but lately watching him has been like watching someone try to force a square peg into a round hole. He isn’t Stone Cold. He needs to emote and be allowed to show warmth. Hopefully GH has finally settled on who Jason 3.0 is and some more interesting stories can take center stage again.

About the author

Jenn Bishop

Jenn Bishop is TVSource Magazine's Soap Editor. She's a thirty-something fan girl of soapy television and anything involving Joss Whedon. She began sharing her views on daytime soaps in 2012 with her blog Save Our Suds. A former philosophy major, she loves discussing different view points with fellow TV addicts and aficionados. When not watching television, she enjoys art, live music, exploring the Midwest food scene, and drinking too many lattes. Follow her on Twitter at @SourceJenn.

  • Jenn Bishop

    Thanks for commenting Caitie Rose! When you explain the Lante situation it makes sense but all that didn’t really come through with this latest story did it? Anyways I’m excited to see what lies ahead for them now!

  • Caitie Rose

    And then there’s the Dante and Lulu story. Yes, I think most of us agree that they needed some shaking up – but NOT in the character-damaging, plot-driven way in which this story played out (for all three principals – Dante, Lulu AND Valerie). In this story, many beats were either missed or downplayed- but some were there – just not emphasized enough to call enough needed attention to them.

    Those “issues” between Dante and Lulu were there – buried deep in the rest of the story – along with some character development points which went mostly unnoticed – but more about those another day. What I’m writing next is what I had planned to write when your weekly review first appeared and when a busy schedule intervened. So while some of what I am about to say is coincidentally reflected in the Dante/Lulu scenes on February 15, my words were written before those scenes aired. So, speaking to the barely-mentioned “issues,” I go back to a lovely and important conversation that Dante and Lulu
    had in August 2012 – a conversation which began with Lulu being concerned that their marriage wouldn’t last because they were “fighting all the time.” The “issues” were Dante’s jealousy (specifically of Johnny); his protectiveness of Lulu; her penchant for making impulsive decisions; her focus on her Spencer family and her need to be part of their history of adventure; her need for adrenaline; and the negative impact of what happens to their relationship when they lie or keep secrets. The conversation ended beautifully – but still a bit tentatively with Dante not promising forever but with a wish to love each other. Do any of these “issues” sound familiar in light of what we are seeing in their present story?

    And then we moved into a couple of years of baby stories and external crises – and I thought that, with more time together as a established, older married couple, those “issues” raised in 2012 were definitely behind them. It seems the writers didn’t think so; and, early in 2015, they began to revisit them. First Dante’s jealously of Johnny in January – and his protectiveness about Lulu being with him – a jealousy and protectiveness which rankled Lulu. Then, in March, we saw signs emerging of Lulu’s penchant for acting impulsively and running into danger to be part of a Spencer family crisis (leaving the experienced cop behind with an unconscious Valerie and running to an armed and mentally unbalanced “Fluke” at the convalescent home).

    Lulu’s impulsive nature – her single-minded focus on her family – her love of adrenaline – all came into play to a greater degree when she took off to Canada in June. As did the jealous side of Dante’s nature when he overreacted to the mess in the hotel room in BC.

    In his conversation with Valerie on July 4 – before both he and Valerie gave into anger, loneliness and temptation, Dante talked about some of these “issues” – a conversation which was possibly lost in the surprise and disappointment that Dante had actually cheated on Lulu.

    But the biggest issue was the mutual breakdown of trust – and the beginning of lies and secrets which have proven to be this couple’s undoing whenever they had major crises in their early years. And, even if there weren’t issues before Lulu’s Canadian escapade and Dante’s cheating, there certainly are enough issues AFTER these events for the Falconeris to work through.

    In conclusion, there is some historical precedent for these issues in Dante and Lulu’s characters and in their relationship. However, the writers did the story, the characters and the fans a disservice by not fleshing out these “issues” – and other character development and POV – in telling this plot-driven,
    character-twisting tale.

  • Caitie Rose

    I’m late to the party, but want to comment on this excellent review before it’s time for a new one to be posted.

    First, I really appreciate the beautiful tribute to Becky Herbst’s talent and Elizabeth Webber’s history on General Hospital. So I join many others in hoping that the contract impasse can be resolved and that we will continue to enjoy both the actress and her character in Port Charles.

    I agree that the rescue scenes were anemic – and lost even more luster because this was second time in a few weeks that we had weakly-staged rescue scenes from a burning building. I did find, though, that there was a sweet tenderness to the Jason and Sam scenes at the end of the week – scenes which
    reinforced for me that the writers need to allow Billy Miller to leave behind any attempts at being “Stone Cold.” This former Jason persona simply does not work for him.

    Kristina’s story interests me as well; and, like you, I see this arc as being more about her exploring her sexuality than about confirming it. As an additional comment, her scenes with Brad and Lucas were among my favorite scenes of the week.

    Yes to the DIVERSITY presented! I LOVE the photo accompanying this article showing Jordan, Andre, Valerie, Curtis, and TJ. – And those scenes I enjoyed so much at the Floating Rib revealed interesting possibilities for each of the actors and characters involved. So I hope that GH will take time to delve deeper into the complex and varied relationships available to be explored here. Let’s hope those scenes were the beginning of some quality story and character-developing time for all involved.

  • hallie24

    We have no idea what is actually going on as for SB he left because GH refused to pay him what he was worth and according to him he would have stayed if they met his terms which is what he said but my point wasn’t why they left just that RH leaving won’t do much to GH fans will move like they have with every other actor who left

  • Liason4Real

    If Jelly wanted to move Liz to a better place, why in the heck did they write the Lake wedding proposal and almost marriage? Why not have Liz come clean about the stupid lie which she would have never done to Jason in the first place and allow the woman some dignity?

  • Liason4Real

    SBu CHOSE to leave and is currently on Y&R, however, BH is being low balled by TIIC and she sure in heck does not deserve this!

  • Liason4Real

    Is Emme an eighteen year veteran of the show and is currently being low balled by her employer? If so, then I expect there will be just as much outrage when the time comes, this article is about Rebecca Herbst!

  • SaveOurSuds

    At no point did I say any of that or that I even want Jason and Liz together. I don’t. Complimenting Becky does not equate to bashing your ship. Thanks for commenting.

  • Mel O

    What kills me is why do people who claim to be indifferent about this character or say she does not matter bother to post a damn thing about her? You know who I couldn’t care less about and FF her scenes just as soon as they come on? Olivia. And the proof of that is this is probably the first time I ever wrote out her name.

    Why do you and people like you feel the need to post about a character you care nothing for? And does it really pain you that much to admit she IS in fact popular and means something to so many people?

    If any veteran actor of any of the remaining soaps was going through such a public battle with their employers I would support them and their fans in any way I could – because losing that actor could only mean bad for soaps as a whole. And if my hatred for that character wouldn’t allow me to, at the very least I would stay out of it.

  • hallie24

    GH is actually six weeks behind so all the jizam stuff that has aired is about a month behind RH situation

  • hallie24

    Jiz crap is dead move on

  • hallie24

    Hardly RH is great as Liz but if GH can survive SB I think they are safe with RH leaving yes she has fans but if she left tomorrow the fans would get over it actors come ago and RH leaving wouldn’t even cause a dent in the ratings she in irreplaceable nor does she have as many fans as you think

  • hallie24

    Clearly the writer is a jiz fan which is why she felt the jasam scene were ok and that Jason didn’t meet their approval while RH and this horrible jiz crap was Emmy worthy watching Liz and Jason is like listening to nails on a chalkboard the good thing is the show knows how bad jiz was and ended it. Although I do like Liz i don’t think GH will come to a halt if she left

  • Daisy Sharp

    I’m mystified by this overly effusive praise of RH. She’s okay. She’s certainly not “the leading lady” or “the reason to tune in”. For me, she’s someone I ff about 50 percent of the time. I often find her scenes boring. I find her very average. All things being equal, I would be of the opinion that GH should keep her. But all things are not equal as evidenced, yet again, by this article. There is something about this woman that incites in a sure minority of fans, an over the top obsession. The only thing I have ever seen that compares is Jolie stans. And for me personally, I’m so tired of the rabid stans and the drama she brings. It gives me no pleasure to say that I wish she would take all of that drama and her stans and make them the problem of some other soap. God I’m so tired of it.

    But I doubt she’s leaving. I think there are some PR stunts being played here, probably by both sides. When all is said and done I believe she will resign and her stans will believe the show bowed to “The Army” and that will empower their delusions even more, and all of this will just get worse.

    If I’m wrong and she ends up going to Days, God bless them, they’ll need it.

    I really want to edit this to add, the most overlooked actor on this show this year has been Emme. She tore my heart out in many scenes. I personally believe she gave the best performance of the year on GH. And I’m not even a Lulu fan! I’m, meh, on Lulu. But she’s been incredibly and completely overlooked and a lot of that is due to this ridiculous cult of personality revolving around RH.

  • Liason4Real

    Franco/RoHo needed to be integrated with the rest of the show and Liz works at the hospital, and Franco is Steven Lars’ half-brother. Liz/BH has been used to bring on new characters in the past and that will probably never change if she remains on the show. Also, Patrick/JT is gone and the show needs a contract doctor or finally put Lucas/RC on contract!

  • Mel O

    You said everything I’ve been feeling re: what’s going on behind the scenes with BH. I couldn’t fully enjoy all the amazing character growth we got to see this week because of it. And the hope and optimism I once had for her character coming out of the big lie is now gone. It’s disheartening to know how little TPTB value this woman and her fans. Do they truly not realize popular she is? If so that says a lot about how disconnected they are from what and who the fans want to see.

    I’ve called the comment line twice now since the news broke. Something I’ve never done for any show or actor before ever. I hope with all this back lash GH has realized the error of their ways, and gives this longtime employee what she deserves.

  • SaveOurSuds

    It really just seemed sort of like a knee-jerk “let’s give Lante angst” sort of story. Not very planned out. The story could have been so much better. Dom and Emme are great though.

  • Riley

    I love angst and really loved the storyline’s potential but from the start to the end Lulu and Dante’s story was forced, stupid and made no sense. I kept hearing they have been having problems but the fact is I didn’t see it and If I didn’t see it, I certainly can’t buy it. They could have done so much with this story and instead they completely torn apart the character of Dante to which he isn’t even Dante anymore and Lulu and Dante who had the most realistic relationship on the show is now in pieces. It’s really when your favorite character and or couple is on the front burner and the story is so bad.

  • Lucy D

    So true. And I agree, but I don’t think there’s enough intelligent thinking on this show to make that happen

  • Alexandra

    God no Liz Sam please poor Liz/RH would have to deal with the constant confused constipated or what the hell are my lines affect that the one who portrays Sam has exhibited since she came on gh. Let Jason/BM deal with that his affect is about the same now. Give Liz time with her boys then move her to the hot educated doc as long as he gives the hair grease/shoe polish back to sonny. No to Franco he looks about twenty years older than Liz he works better aesthetically with Carly or crazy eyes Nina they look the same age. Best of luck to Rebecca Hearbst should she leave the idiocy that is gh.

  • Lucy D

    Just my guess, but I think scenes were inserted. Or filmed out of sequence. Some days Billy had a limp & puffy face and others he didn’t and it was chronological.

  • SaveOurSuds

    I think last week was probably written and film about 3-4 weeks ago so I don’t believe it had anything to do with Becky contract status. I think Jelly knew they needed to more Liz to a better place and away from that mess. Otherwise why bother introducing her to the new doctor and building her relationship with Franco? Maybe I’m just optimistic. Thanks for commenting!

  • SaveOurSuds

    Nice catch! I think she’s really scared about how he’ll react.

  • Katie

    Something that interested me…..after Kristina spoke to Lucas/Brad she picked up her phone to call Sonny but chickened out on what she wanted to tell him. Ended up with just a happy valentines day, looks to me like she wanted to come out in some form to him but doesn’t have the guts yet.

  • Lucy D

    The triangle hasn’t been put to rest. It was written that way last week because of the Becky situation. Why else would they have Liz tell Jake what a wonderful person Sam is. The fact remains at several points in his young life Sam was a danger to Jake and no amount of retconning is going to make that go away. And for Jason to be so blase about the fact that Liz and her family, including his son, is homeless. that just makes him the worst interpretation of Jason ever–even at the height of his hitman days.

    The writers are contradicting themselves every day. There’s no consistency to this show. Billy Miller needs to get out before his award-winning reputation is shot.

    And next week we go back to full mobular. I’m not encouraged at all.