Opinions Soaps

General Hospital: Renewed Interest After a Three-Month Break

Photo courtesy ABC

Three months ago I decided to take a break from ABC’s General Hospital. With a lame duck co-head writer and less than appealing storylines on the horizon, I knew I needed to walk away for my own critical (and fan) sanity.As stated last month during my mini-tweet storm, my unhappiness with the creative state of the show was the primary factor in my decision. It was becoming increasingly difficult to find aspects of the show to praise, resulting in more criticism than usual. I feared my commentary was becoming overly negative, and rather than engage it that, I opted to take a hiatus.  The show, and social media for it, ceased being a source of enjoyment.

Engaging with fans is fun, but it’s also part of my job due to my role at TV Source. As an editor and critic, I’ve always believed my role should be constructive, not destructive, and as such there’s a line of professionalism that should be adhered to. When I’m on social media, I’m representing the magazine (even if I don’t always remember that). Opinions are my own yes, but those opinions can sometimes lead to headaches.

I began easing into regular viewing in the beginning of October, hoping my time way would allow me to see the show with new eyes. I’m happy to admit it did just that. Steve Burton’s return to GH as Patient 6 for the “Who is the Real Jason?” storyline was exactly what the show needed. I’m referring to some storylines with stakes – emotional and plot driven. One of our frequent critiques of GH in recent years has been the lack of payoff throughout storylines. Some believe payoff comes at the denouement, or final act, of the storyline. I’m a believer of smaller payoffs over the course of a story – you have to have moments that keep viewers engaged, and you can’t do that with weak or lacking plot developments. Furthermore, you also can’t rely on a single narrative to drive the series.

“The Jasoning” as fans call it, is admittedly convoluted, but GH creative has infused the story with the necessary layers to form umbrella storytelling. Patient 6’s storyline affects many in town, but their involvement (thus far) is secondary to their primary storylines. Ava (Maura West) was the first to encounter Patient 6 in Russia while receiving treatment, leading to an uncharacteristic decision to help the man and ultimately provide shelter when they met back up in Port Charles. The origins of Franco’s (Roger Howarth) obsession with Jason is being explored through the convoluted retcon of the retcon of the retcon of Jason having a twin, but it’s more focused on how this development affects Franco’s current life with Elizabeth (Rebecca Herbst). Elizabeth has been concerned for Franco and wanted to come clean to Jason (Billy Miller) about him having a twin who “died” but opted not to when Franco convinced her his mother made it all up. Meanwhile, Elizabeth has new cause for concern when her son Jake (Hudson West) believes he saw a man with his dad’s former face, resurrecting old fears about Jake’s well-being after being traumatized by Helena.

Jason (Billy Miller) and Sam (Kelly Monaco) are starting a new chapter in their lives after a brush with danger over the summer landed Jason in a coma. This chapter – purchasing and rebranding the media company owned by Sam’s father – will ultimately create more distance between JaSam and their old lives, mainly their friendship with Sonny (Maurice Benard) and Carly (Laura Wright). Meanwhile, Sonny’s been on edge since receiving a mysterious phone call from Russia (it was Patient 6 with help from Ava), and is determined to get to the bottom of it. Ava turns over a letter to Sonny from Patient 6 that sparks a series of events that led to Sonny and Patient 6 coming face to face!

I’m primarily focusing on this story for the subject of this piece because it’s the one that’s captured my immediate attention. I’m emotionally invested in the fallouts (and there have been mini ones along the way), and I look forward to everything exploding together in the coming weeks. There are other things I’m enjoying, but that came due to the allure of Patient 6.

More has happened in the first three weeks of Shelly Altman and Chris Van Etten’s tenure as co-head writers than in the preceding two years before. Is this momentum sustainable? I certainly hope so. Four years ago ABC unveiled a short-lived promo campaign for their daytime lineup which asked “Why just watch when you can feel?” I want to feel excited when I watch GH. I want to tune in tomorrow. Anger leads to indifference, which in turn leads to lapsed viewing. GH can’t afford to turn its remaining audience into lapsed viewers.

What are your thoughts on the show at the moment? Do you agree, disagree with the column? Let me know your thoughts in the comment section.

About the author

Ryan White-Nobles

Ryan White-Nobles is Editor-in-Chief of TVSource Magazine. He's a natural #Heel who loves a spirited debate and probably watches too much TV. Follow him on Twitter at @SourceRyan to discuss all things TV, soaps, sports, wrestling and pop culture.

  • Aundra

    Steve Burton should be the real Jason he is more their memory voice- face & height. The other Jason- Billy is taller, eyes aren’t blue so explain plastic surgery to his eyes & voice. Billy needs to be the twin & Sam can choose which baby daddy she wants. Love them both they are great actors.

  • Pat Mitchell Bryant

    Good article by the way…

  • Pat Mitchell Bryant

    Its been a good storyline…but I don’t believe in all of this time to get to the truth. Been watching and enjoying Own and they just don’t make you wait forever to get to the punchline … Then they will move the stories on to something more important. So you just need to keep the good stuff going.

  • Leeanne Ratner

    Excellent article! You brought up the key for any TV series…….small payoff thruout the show to keep the viewer wanting to come back! I have been there for loyalty, 45+ years and hoped it would improve…lol…….now that it has, yes, lets hope they don’t drop storylines and can continue with the continual “payoff”…Brilliant analysis! Even my husband is watching again, fun way to relax after a long day at work for both of us!

  • Joy G

    Personally I haven’t watched it in years because it’s been stupid as dirt. With that said, I tape it every day now hoping to see a GOOD storyline come from Jason’s return. And what did I miss? Who said he was saving GH? I didn’t hear it, but it doesn’t mean it wasn’t posted. One thing is for SURE, Billy as Jason was ridiculous. It’s ok when you recast, but to recast and claim facial reconstruction is as stupid as it gets, ALWAYS on any soap. A woman will “KNOW” her man, just saying. His voice, eyes, mannerisms, body build…all off. Stupid. So Yep, I don’t care why they brought Jason back I’m just glad they did and I hope they make him the original, otherwise, I’ll be tapping out again. But I do have to give kudos where kudos is due, the chemistry and conversation between he and Sonny have been spot on, so cheers to the actors and also the writers, especially the heart hug. Stfu. And I agree with another poster…70’s, 80’s, 90’s, waaaaaay better writing.

  • Taelyn

    You say “Anyone can stand around looking Stone Cold” Except apparently NOT Billy Miller …. He has NEVER been able to bring Jason’s edge, that something *special* that makes Jason earn the nickname “Stone Cold” I had to shake my head in wonder when you called Steve untalented. Seriously??? You do know he is an award winning actor right? And maybe you would know that if you watched any scenes other than the ones with Billy.. if you had watched the enormously emotional and riveting reunion between Jason and Sonny in the safe house. I mean how can you call him “non talented” If you don’t even bother to watch him??
    I do agree that Billys talented, very talented and him and Kelly have terrific chemistry.. But so do Kelly and Steve!
    I’m sure the upcoming stories will be very emotional and heart wrenching but they should be great. I also agree it was a mistake to let Rebecca go, I loved her with Michael Easton and their story had just started….I seriously doubt she is gone because of Steve returning. No doubt there is more to the story¡ I won’t even dignify your accusation about SB’s ego with a response..That’s plain stupid..
    I look forward to the great stories, action,drama, and emotions to come on GH..

    Anyone who only watches Billy and Kelly scenes are not watching the soap and are not fans of GH, They are fans of one actor and a show is about more than ONE cast member… and frankly the GH FAMILY won’t miss those who only followed an actor and only watch for them because they are NOT the fans and foundation of the soap.

  • Allen Saint James

    The adventure, danger, intrigue , mystery, action will always be the foundation of G H for me. THE LAST couple of weeks have been must see for the most part.

  • Taelyn

    And how long have you been a loyal viewer? I don’t think anyone has said “Steve Burton” will save the show, however what he brings as Jason will definitely help the ratings.. I really like Billy Miller, but he has NEVER EVER been or behaved like Jason Morgan.. So he may be your something but.. #BillyMillerIsNOTJasonMorgan cuz #SteveBurtonIsTHEREALJasonMorgan🔥❤️

  • Taelyn

    Wow I’m surprised but also NOT surprised at some of the statements here. I know fans can be VERY protective. In all honesty the last couple days between pt6/Jason and Sonny have been ‘RIVETING’ Billy Miller isn’t leaving the show he is just losing a name and he never knew his history well anyway. I love Billy, But he did his own version of Jason and because we like him we accepted it.. kinda like everyone in PC Everyone noticed the change and they missed the original Jason.. Sam accepts him most cuz she loves him mainly and she loves the children. But she also notices the difference. I mean I’m pretty sure that as sad and confused and conflicted as Sam will be she will end up choosing the Jason/Andrew twin because of the kids so Billy and Sam will still be together (at least in the beginning).
    I also love GH deeply.. but have been missing the edge it always brought, I know some don’t care for what Sonny and Jason bring, but I love it. Some of the best stories were Dangerous, I miss the Zacchara family, Claudia and Johnny. I miss the special bond between Sonny and Stone Cold. Those who don’t care for this story probably never liked Or even watched original Jason, maybe they are fans who followed Billy from Y&R. Or maybe they just didn’t like Sonny I don’t know, but anyone who was not moved by the last couple of days with their interaction I say they probably are new viewers and came with Billy..
    I love Billy Miller! But he has NEVER truly been ‘Jason Morgan’ .. I look forward to the story to come and Billy finding his own identity instead of failing at someone else’s.

  • Marie

    So I’ve watched GH since 1967 and agree with the article. I’ve been bored for past year or so and miss episodes if otherwise engaged and don’t bother to see it “on demand” I don’t give a wit about Steve Burton the actor and his ego, all I care about is his portrayal of Jason Morgan which is excellent. He is Jason Morgan and Billy Miller is not. I now find myself looking forward to each episode for the first time in a long time.

    Big mistake letting Tyler Christopher go. Love the Anna Devane and Valentin story. Wish Robert Scorpio was back (and with Anna).

  • Dewana

    I think GH just needed a good SL for the show. I am sorry but I do not think that Steve Burton is the answer to saving the show. His swollen head has him thinking that he is what the show is all about. It’s not! How could they do this to Billy ? I’m so angry. #BILLYMILLERISJASON #BILLYMILLERISMYJASON #KILLY #STEVEBURTONISNOTJASON #KILLYSQUAD

  • angela

    I agree abc needs to do thing about Frank and nv and the tptp abc needs to fix the mistakes he did and fast i hope so

  • Caro

    You may not like Steve Burton but he is talented. Rebecca Budig’s problem is that she is BFF’s with Jean Passante which is why she was offered a lucrative 4 year contract when others were low balled. Passante thought she could make Hayden as popular as Greenlee but Hayden didn’t become popular until closer to the end of her run. GH had no reason to keep Passante happy or to trust her vision because she was tanking the ratings. Budig had been on the show for awhile but keeping pricey players around means those players need to positively impact ratings and Budig didn’t. I haven’t seen chemistry between Billy and Kelly until recently. It’s sad but those two seem to have kicked into higher gear now that Steve Burton is back. We’ll see if that lasts. For me, GH’s biggest mistake was forcing Tyler Christopher out and disrespecting the other vets. I also think we see too much Sam and too much Sonny. The show was so much better in the 70’s, 80’s and 90’s!

  • Caro

    I think Jean Passante was one of the worst things that happened to GH. Stories were not well conceived. There were no villains only regular characters who needed to behave out of of character so they could be pseudo redeemed. Stories were started but there was no payoff to keep fans invested and most stories ended with a whimper rather than a bang. The writing was so bad it was ridiculous but with Passante gone things are better. The show is interesting again. Now, GH needs to stop playing favorites and stop bringing on people they like. The show should not be the Sam and Sonny Hour. We see too much Sam and Kelly Monaco is not a strong enough actress to warrant the airtime she gets. Maurice has the talent but we see too much Sonny. Forcing Tyler Christopher out with a bad contract was an enormous mistake. Michael Easton is one of FV’s best friends so re-hiring him wasn’t a shock but GH never knows what to do with him. Rebecca Budig was put on contract at Passante’s request. GH needs to stop hiring/highlighting friends and instead focus on what the show needs; the type of stories and characters that enhance the show and respect it’s history. GH has a lot of work to do; I guess we’ll see if ABC is willing to do it. I don’t have much faith in Frank, Varni or Bloom but Shelly and Chris are headed in the right direction!

  • Christine Province

    Please to say that this non talented Actor Steve Burton is saving GH is ludicrous,anyone can stand around looking Stone Cold, personally I watch GH to watch the very talented and amazing acting being done by Billy Miller & Kelly Monaco and also all the other very talented Actors on the show . Since his return I only tune in on the days I see where he’s not on. Billy&Kelly have the best chemistry than all the couples on all 4 soaps put together. Loved Rebecca Budwig but let’s get rid of her and others who were terrific on the show so Steve Burtons ego can be stroked. If he is so great and so called saving the show why are they still in the bottom 2.Send him back to Y&R.

  • JMO

    To even insult our intelligence and want us to think SB will save the show is ridiculous. It has had the opposite effect for me. He really wasn’t needed at all. BAD WRITING WAS THE KEY, with JP gone, it has gotten somewhat better. Still garbage. BM is and was doing great playing Jason. One sickly looking, self entitled man, wants back on the show, because he didn’t think the grass was greener on the other side. If the writer’s would of used all the wonderful actors that are underused and ignored and thrown into silly s/l their ratings would be #1.

  • Nanya

    This s/l is garbage and has the show on fast track back to being trash.. I’ll past, going back to not watching….. So sad that talented actors were fired so that over inflated mediocre actors(who couldn’t cut it else where among great actors)could comeback

  • Tracy

    I agree this show is better then ever. I haven’t missed a day in weeks. I had stopped watching over a year ago. Now I don’t miss a day.