By Suzanne 4/20/12
Part One: the reign of Bob Guza or How GH was ruined.
The last few years have been very bad for soaps in general, and General
Hospital in particular. All of the ratings have gone down. Many soaps have been
canceled. This past week, GH got a reprieve. It has been renewed for
For years, the writing has been hit-or-miss. Long time fans complained
because the mobsters took over the show and favorites like the Quartermaines and
hospital staff like Bobbie were either written off, killed, or corrupted. For a
while, though, the ratings were better, so ABC stuck by these stupid ideas.
all would like to just blame former headwriter
Bob Guza for the
problems, but he is only one person and did not have the power to do all of this
damage. In truth, he was a writer on GH since the mid-1980's, when the show was
really good, so he did have a thorough knowledge of the characters and their
history. Apparently, at some point, he or someone else decided that GH should no
longer be primarily about the hospital and should instead focus on Sonny and his
mobster friends and relatives.
Someone watched one too many episodes of "The Sopranos" and thought, hey, we
could do this on daytime if we just left out the violence and F words. Well,
that didn't work because you can't have realistic mobsters if they never swear
or actually kill anyone or, you know, deal drugs or have prostitutes.
Sonny and Jason only seemed to kill the really bad guys, people even worse than
them, who terrorized women and children. Yet they somehow didn't kill their
enemies most of the time and let them wreak havoc in their lives. Only in the
silly fantasyland that is GH can this happen. In real life, or in a real mobster
movie, Sonny and Jason would have killed more police and D.A.s as well as
innocent people and other mobsters, and spent time in jail.
I believe that the ABC network decided that they needed to bring in more
young male viewers, and the way to do that was to have as many car crashes,
shootings, stabbings, explosions, hostage situations etc. as they could throw in
each episode. The problem with that is that after a while, it becomes a giant
Roadrunner cartoon. How many times can Sonny and the others get shot and walk
out of the hospital the next day? It's ridiculous.
Not only that, but in order to make Sonny and Jason the heroes of the show
(or at least the protagonists), they had to keep bringing in more and more worse
bad guys to make them look good, so they could then have antagonists to work
against. We had a long string of really evil bad guys that got worse and
worse. Franco is the most recent example. He's almost like The Joker in Batman
-- a crazy serial killer with a warped sense of humor. This way, Jason and
Sam get to be Batman and Batgirl.
To give Guza credit, he wrote many exciting and innovative storylines and had
done a wonderful job with characters like Sonny and Luke. His main problem,
though, is that he doesn't really like to write for good people, or he doesn't
believe they exist. He ended up having almost of the other characters either
become bad guys or get killed off. Dramas need some heroes. They don't
have to be perfect or boring, but they can still be good guys. But apparently
only good writers know how to create them that way, because every time Guza tried
to write a good guy, like Jax, or Mac, they were boring.
The women either were liars, harpies, shrews, or complete victims, so that
doesn't help with the female viewing audience. Again, to give him credit,
he did create some great characters, such as Patrick (and his love affair with
Robin), and Spinelli, and the Zaccharas, and Sam, among others, and he also got
the brilliant idea to pair Luke with Tracy. Or perhaps I'm giving him far
too much credit, and the writers under him came up with these ideas.
Once fans balked too much, and the ratings went down, that is when they
brought in Patrick and Matt, and brought back Robin, and they focused a little
more on non-mobster characters. It didn't really work that well, though. The
hospital was still just the place where Sonny and the others would go to get
fixed up after they were shot.
Bob Guza was finally fired last year, in 2011. Stay tuned.
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Page updated 5/21/12