|Emily McLaughlin as Nurse Jessie Brewer on General Hospital.|
The Soap Box
Vol. IV No. 2 February 1979
by John Genovese
(continued from Part 1)
There have been many exciting developments on General Hospital. Towers-of-strength Lee Baldwin and Gail Adamson have grown more vulnerable and multi-shaded, hence more human. Immature, social climbing Bobbie Spencer provides plenty of sparks for all concerned, particularly Laura and Scotty. Peter and Diana have become more upbeat. The deep-seated conflict of the Lansing brothers, Gary and Howard, has been brought out. Newlyweds Monica and Alan Quartermaine deal with their insecurities and desires head-on, rather than engaging in inane and pointless squabbles. But we've saved the best development for last.
For suddenly, after four years as part of the woodwork, Jessie Brewer has a life again. It was a sin that this classic character, whose sad life with husband Phil Brewer had help launch the show's success, was suddenly relegated to "extra" status. Now Jessie has a story with lovable bachelor Dan Rooney, and for once it's not depressing, but beautiful. Let's hope for more of those delightful scenes with Dan courting this blushing, embarrassed, and lovely lady.
The real binding force on General Hospital, the hospital itself, is being put to proper use again, and this occurrence is long overdue. The nurses' station is once again the hub of hospital activity, and all of the characters are connected with the institution whether directly or indirectly. This particular element is vital to the show's continued success.
In terms of the cast, it bears repeating that the acting caliber on General Hospital has shown a consistent and remarkable improvement over the past year. John Beradino, in his starring role of Dr. Steve Hardy, has regained energy and believability now that he is given playable scripts again. This writer's heart went out to Beradino a couple of years ago when it was so obvious that he was fighting to make pure bilge sound halfway intelligent. Emily McLaughlin, co-starring as Jessie Brewer, is better than ever in her project of authoritarianism and warmth, with a glow which never existed before. Peter Hansen (Lee Baldwin) is one of those amazing performers who never lets up even when the going gets dull, and his recent alcoholic scenes were flawless--there wasn't a trace of the amateurish conception of the "drunk" in Hansen's well-tuned performances.
|Chris Robinson as Dr. Rick Webber and Denise Alexander as|
Dr. Lesley Webber.
Some of the younger people on General Hospital have made amazing strides since their raw beginnings, notably Richard Dean Anderson (Dr. Jeff Webber), Kin Shriner (Scotty Baldwin), and especially Genie Ann Francis in portraying troubled Laura during those extremely challenging scenes surrounding the Hamilton murder. Unfortunately, Mary O'Brien (Heather) still lacks substance in her portrayal. Perhaps it's due to an inferior storyline, but no matter how hard she tries, she cannot convince me that Heather is the gutsy kid she used to be.
|Leslie Charleson plays Monica Quartermaine.|
Behind the scenes, General Hospital has become of the leaders. The new sets by William Mickley are more attractive and authentic than any other television hospital. The directing is tight. Scene changes are once again very smooth, an an increase in "extras" has served to more effectively render the atmosphere of the hospital.
After an extremely trying period, all systems are definitely "go" for General Hospital. It may not have the magic of its earlier days, but it has taken on new values which make this program well-deserving of its new popularity. It is attractive, well-written, and picking up steam in terms of pace. And it is back in the business of telling mature and carefully-conceived stories about a secure ensemble of identifiable characters who know what they want out of life and go after it--with the hospital playing an active part in their lives rather than forming a flimsy backdrop.
We never thought we would see the day.