Wednesday, July 23, 2008

GH: Night Shift was really pretty good?

Astounding soap fans worldwide, last night's season premiere of General Hospital: Night Shift on Soapnet was, well, it was, it was . . . good. Now, while the first season of Night Shift drew decent numbers for Soapnet (note, however, that these numbers were especially high for the first ep and not as much thereafter), all the soap fans and bloggers I've encountered online pretty much agree that it stunk. Bad in so many ways, more than I choose to recount here. For me, the greatest testament to its stinkiness was the fact that I did not watch all of it. Me, the most obsessively completist TV viewer I know, and a 25+ year GH fan to boot, simply could not handle watching all of that godawful show.

So promises of Jagger and Robert aside, I approached the new season quite warily. Now, it had plenty of faults, like some super-cheese acting, some excessively obvious Grey's Anatomy aping, and some wackadoodles character shifts. But, on the whole, it was . . . good. What was good about it?
1) It was funny. Yes, I said funny.
2) It returned Antonio Sabato, Jr. to my screen. And in a towel, no less. And his enunciation has much improved since his first GH stint 13 or so years ago. And he's still totally charming. And his connection to Robin was so meaningful to anyone in the know.
3) Robin and Patrick were truly at the center of the story. And they were as adorable and full of chemistry and interesting as they always are (in their too-too brief appearances on GH proper).
4) It made sense, told its story well (and coherently--big ups for that!--ahem, season 1), was entertaining, drew effectively on GH character history. The good parts made me remember why I like soaps, and especially why I like (or, rather, used to like) GH so much.

Not so good was the recast Dr. Leo Julian's personality transplant. The old Dr. Leo was a laid back dude, bopping around the hospital with his earbuds in place, rock t-shirts upon his chest. New Leo is a big grumpy grouch, beating up on the interns.

Although the George and Izzie reboot intern characters were a bit too much copycat to take, I give the NS folks props for having the guts to make the "George" (Kyle, right?) actually gay. And even in its train wreck first season, NS was much better than GH at racial and ethnic diversity. That seems not as explicit a purpose this time around, although characters of color do have much more to do here than on the mothership. (I was even happy that the holistic medicine doc--sorry, names fail me now and too lazy to look anything up--who seems to be ethnically "other," albeit vaguely so at this point--is Robin's old med school pal. This is what today's GH is missing--one of many things, of course--multiply linked connections for each character on the canvas.)

The faults of GH proper (and surprising goodness of NS) are all the more clear to me in my first couple of weeks of OLTL viewing. I really don't have time for this, but I decided to see what all the OLTL fuss was about. And I think I kind of get it. First, funny! Campy, at times, but all in good fun. And so, so many links between characters and stories, much more so than on GH, where characters with no links to anyone appear and stay in their little story bubbles. Plus, I realized something totally missing in the GH male characters of late--no goofiness! OLTL's young stud, Rex (not to mention the hilarious David Vickers) is traditional soap hunk-looking, but full of goofy charm. He reminds me of GH's Frisco Jones in the '80s. GH's Spinelli is all goof and little else, and is not allowed to be a hunky, romantic lead (Bradford Anderson could do it if given the chance).

Just my rambling thoughts. Couldn't let the fact that NS was actually . . . good pass without remark.


zarathelawyer said...

Elana, we really were on the same page. I totally had to look up the name of the new female doctor!

And it really did seem that they decided to do a twist on the Grey's story by making "George" actually gay, and I too think it was a good move.

We'll see how it progresses.

fanofnightshift said...

I'm actually enjoying Night Shift this year. I didn't care too much for the storylines last season but wanted to give the show another change - since I'm such a big GH fan.