Monday, April 14, 2008

General Hospital, Breaking Hearts, Kidnapping, Killing, Raping, And Lying to Baby's Daddys for 45 years

God damn, can you believe it? April 1st, General Hospital was 45 years old. Originally just a 30 minute show, popularity boosted it to an hour. Not bad for a little show about the 7th floor nurses station and the Chief of Internal Medicine.

The original cast
John Beradino; Dr. Steve Hardy, Chief of Internal Medicine
Tom Brown; Al Weeks
Robert Clarke; Roy Lansing
Carolyn Craig; Cynthia Allison
Craig Curtis; Eddie Weeks
Neil Hamilton; Philip Mercer
Allison Hayes; Priscilla Longworth
Lenore Kingston; Mrs. Weeks (She didn't have a name?)
Ralph Manza; Mike Costello
Emily McLaughlin; Jessie Brewer
Hunt Powers; Dr. Ken Martin
K.T. Stevens; Petty Mercer
Roy Thinnes; Dr. Phil Brewer

The only original actor still appearing occassionaly today is Audrey (Rachel Ames) who came onto the show in 1964 as Audrey March.

The city of the show was unnamed until the 70's when Port Charles was born.

Most of the story revolved around Steve Hardy and his friend nurse Jessie Brewer until Audrey arrived. She was a flight attendant who ended up marrying Steve 3 times. Jessie was disappointed as there had always been an air of sexual tension between her and Steve. It was never acted upon, as they remained close friends until Jessie (and actress Emily McLaughlin) died in 1991. Steve Hardy himself died five years later when his portrayer, John Beradino, died in 1996.

It wasn't until Leslie and Laura's storyline of a 16 year old Laura, upset that her older lover was using her to get to her mother kills him in a fit of rage. The storyline worked so well that Laura became the writers saving grace.

They built a love triangle around Laura, her boyfriend Scotty and Bobbi Spencer. This was the big build up to GH's biggest couple (all-time soap super couple ever), the crossing of Laura with Bobbi's brother Luke Spencer.

The pairing of Luke Spencer and Laura Webber would eventually become the most popular storyline in soap opera history.

Their November 16th and 17th, 1981 wedding was watched by about 30 million people, making it the highest-rated episode of a soap opera in American television history. They were so popular that even Elizabeth Taylor wanted in on the action, she guest-starred as Helena Cassadine and adorned People Weekly magazine with Francis and Geary. Luke and Laura's relationship was not without some controversy, as Luke had raped her in 1979. Laura was traumatized and went to counseling, but after her popularity with Luke flourished, she claimed the rape was "seduction." In 1998, the issue was revisited and Laura finally admitted to herself that Luke had raped her.

It should be noted that during Summer 1981, GH was averaging 14 million viewers per episode.

The show's focus began to drift away from the original hospital setting onto a series of action/adventure plots, most of which were highly successful with the show's audience. The introduction of the WSB spy agent Robert Scorpio (and later fellow agents Sean Donely and Anna Devane)led to several popular spy mysteries involving secret formulas, hidden treasures and world domination schemes. A few of these plots were widely considered preposterous, such as the 1981 storyline in which Luke, Laura and Robert saved the town of Port Charles from being placed under a deep freeze by maniacal Mikkos Cassadine.

Another far fetched storyline occurred in 1990 when Robin Scorpio (Robert Scorpio and Anna Devane's daughter) befriended Casey Rogers, an alien from the planet Lumina. Was this the dumbest soap idea ever?

The series also launched the media career of fitness instructor Richard Simmons, who frequently appeared as himself.

In the early 90's GH's biggest stars started leaving and it was at this point I was giving up on my dear soap. I underwent an appendix operation and was in the hospital for 5 days with nothing to watch so I tuned into GH for an hour. Thankfully Luke and Laura were returning from being "on the run" with their, hello, 10 year old son Lucky!

Since Beachers Corners, the return of L, L and L Spencer I have been again a faithful watcher.

Some of my favorite storylines were of:

The unfortunate death of Tony and Bobbie's daughter BJ. Tony gave the best performance.
Monica's breast cancer and friendship of Paige storyline and the subsequent adoption of Emily after Paige subcombs to cancer.

Stone and Robin - Need I say more?

Sonny and Brenda were the sexist couple on that show for me. Hot, hot, hot.

The first Carly stealing Tony from her mother. Crazy.

The Nurses ball! I loved it. Loved everything about it. Lucy and her crazy outfits. The actors singing and dancing. The drama.

Brenda, Sonny and Jax one of the greatest triangles on GH.

Brenda and Lois friendship. Loved it. Who didn't love Lois?

Lucky and Liz's early friendship and later love story.

Jason and Robin's love story.

Liz and Jason's friendship, respect and ultimately love.

Every Christmas at GH.

Sweeps weeks always brings along some alumi, train wrecks, building explosions, and shootings.

There was also a serial killer in the Quartermaine mansion one year. Then Holly brought a virus to Port Charles and it killed Tony Jones and Courtney Mathews. Let's not forget Alan Quartermaine dying during the "24" style bombing of the Metro Court.

God there have been so many great moments I can't imagine not watching this show for the rest of my life. Sad but true.

Highlights through the years
GH in the 60's
GH in the 70's
GH in the 80's
GH in the 90's

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