I’m Sighing Again

17Nov07

Emily’s death is frustrating on several levels.

Not nearly as much as one that’s coming because it will be so spectacularly pointless that I do not understand it on a single level, but I’ll save that rant for the time, and this time around just confine myself to “they’re killing another Quartermaine, oh joy”.

GH seems to have taken the attitude in recent years that they’re not afraid to kill off a character. Think about it, who has simply left town recently instead of being shot, strangled, virused or heart attacked? Dillon and Felicia. That’s about it. Sure Ned and Anna come and go and Robert and Lucas haven’t been seen, but Ned’s the only one of those who has actively left town and that was only advised after the fact. I don’t think Laura counts.

But the dead list is quite lengthy when it comes to medium and long-term characters. Off the top of my head: Zander, Tony, Courtney, AJ, Justus, Alan, Lorenzo, Emily and at least one more to come. That four of them are Quartermaines doesn’t help matters, of course, but while they’ve been the centre of attention recently, they’re hardly alone.

When they elected to kill off Alan and bring him back as a ghost, I wrote at length about the need to refresh cast and that sometimes killing off a character can achieve a whole lot more than just having them wind up in the seniors closet or disappeared. It can deliver great material for the show, for the other players. It can deliver drama.

In can also give a long neglected character and the actor that plays them a proper send-off, as they did, momentarily at least, with Tony and Brad Maule. I didn’t resent killing off Tony. I did resent a lot of what they did to him, or didn’t do, in the years before, but at least he got a brief farewell. Had they actually sent Alan into the great beyond I could have coped with that too, and while I do rather love Alan as Tracy’s Track Suited Conscience, it’s hardly the best use of him. But that’s old news.

Killing off younger characters, especially those in core families who we have seen grow up, always strikes me as being considerably more redundant. It does have its place, definitely, but GH seems to be becoming relentless about it. Just because an actor wants to leave, doesn’t have to mean recast or death. There is another option and it can be used to good effect.

There are exceptions, definitely, and while I missed – deliberately – most of her run, Courtney was a character ill conceived from day one and whose death was pretty well universally welcomed. As far as I can tell the only things that were mourned about her passing were that (a) it wasn’t sufficiently satisfying on a karmic level and perhaps getting run over by someone would have been a better way to go; and (b) her death got more attention than Tony’s even though they were both forgotten the instant the funeral was over.

The same can’t be said of any of the others. It would actually have been more interesting if Lorenzo had disappeared and set Jason up as a murderer in the process. If AJ just got fed up with the whole thing and abandoned the family. If Justus got a much better job in another city as a non-mob lawyer. They can go away and not come back for years. Or not at all. But there’s always possibility. There’s always the possibility that – genre-killing strikes notwithstanding – their kids could show up.

If they really have known of Natalia Livingston’s desire to leave for months then they could have easily recast Emily with someone better, or used that time to build up a reason for her to leave. Instead of getting back together, her relationship with Nikolas could have got worse and she could have elected to take a job in another hospital out of town for a while.

Instead we’re now down to the following Quartermaines: Edward, Monica, Tracy, Skye and Jason. Plus an obnoxious red headed child and an anointed baby they’re not yet chanting “one of us, one of us!” about. Of those Skye and Jason and all the kids are substantially estranged from the family, we virtually never see either Edward or Monica and they certainly never get any story unless another relative dies, and Tracy is the only one who has any story of her own and that’s only because she’s a Spencer now.

This was a dynamic family for 25 years. Across numerous generations. There is no reason at all why they couldn’t be dynamic again now. And yet? Now there’s no next generation on screen. Dillon’s gone, Brook-Lyn disappeared. Though at least those two can come back at some point. Emily and AJ and Justus can’t. I can’t imagine they’ll want Michael when he grows up psycho. Which means there’s virtually no hope of further generations until they send Lila (not actually a Q) and Jake through the SORAS machine. Let’s face it, the closest thing the Qs have to a medium term future is Lulu. (Which I get the disturbing feeling is exactly what TPTB like.)

Which is not to say that Emily’s death hasn’t generated great material very well played, and there will no doubt be more to come next week when the actual Qs get involved. But that is itself a problem because it just serves to show what the writers and actors can do when they put a little effort into it. Which, as I’m sure I’ve mentioned before, just drives me nuts because it only serves to highlight what they don’t do during the rest of the year.

During the rest of the year Sonny doesn’t have real human reactions to things, just a stock set of reactions – though I do admit that he’s been better under the combined influences of Kate, Diane and Alexis in recent months than he has been in years. During the rest of the year Carly is incapable of thinking of anyone but herself or being quiet, and yet when Emily dies she can still be her wilful self but be more aware of Nikolas and Jason than she is of herself. Unlike Mr Bernard, I think Laura Wright always does a pretty good job, but it’s days like Thursday that show how many more layers she’s capable of when her character is not written as a relentless shrew.

It shouldn’t take sweeps stunts and killing off legacy characters – even ones I was not particularly enamoured with – to bring that out. Of course, I know that this is a refrain I’m going to continue to sing for as long as this regime is in charge, but that doesn’t make it any less frustrating.

I’m just glad this attitude wasn’t about in the late 90s, otherwise Kimberly McCullough’s desire to move to other pastures may well have resulted in a target on Robin’s head instead of a trip to Paris. And where would be now if that were the case?

I did think this week was a good week for GH, it’s just that the central point seems so cynical. Especially if the rumours that Natalia will continue to appear through to May are true.

And one has no choice but to assume that come February, if the show is still on the air, that Monica will have a lot to worry about. But hey, if they kill her off, we’re sure to get Ned back to give yet another eulogy! And then it’s just a question of who will be left for her to haunt.

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One Response to “I’m Sighing Again”

  1. 1 Twyla Jackson

    I wish there were a shower scene like they did on Dallas. Emily and Michael were very good characters and added punch to the show. I am sick of shows killing off the good characters. Also, why is it that most of the babies die before birth or right after? I want to see some good old Luke fun and games, I don’t want to cry all the time.



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