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GENERAL HOSPITAL: Revisting the Ice Princess Storyline...


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  Thanks to the magic of You Tube...I been taking in episodes of 'GH' circa 1980, '81 and '82...As much as I would LOVE to see stories from ONE LIFE during this era; the 'Ice Princess' storyline, as we all know raised the bar in daytime and for me, I find it very captivating moment in the genre.

  I am curious to know what all of you think about the Gloria Monty years? Personally, I took it as great escapism/entertainment. The myriad of character actors they brought on, from matronly Agent O'Reilly to Slick, the cabbie...I never felt the show was so much monopolized by Luke and Laura, as I felt it was also an ensemble that told stories about the Hardys, the Webbers, the Quartermaines and the Cassadines...and agent/hero Robert Scorpio...

Erik

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The Riche era resonates more deeply with me, but I grew up watching Monty’s GH and I think it was more great than not great.

 

The years that she was working with Pat Falken-Smith as HW are the strongest.  Both late 1970’s era and again when she introduced Anna, Robin and eventually Duke.

 

Felicia and Frisco are the characters that made me watch the show because I wanted to, not just because my family watched it.

 

There are several periods between PFS’s tenures  as HW where the show is only watchable due to the charms of the characters, the stories were convoluted and messy (Grant Putnam, DVX stories).

 

Something people do not give her enough credit for is her casting.  The show was filled with actors with personality, and even the worst or most annoying people like Edward, Sean Donnelly, Alan, Monica, Lucy and many others were charming and entertaining and you wanted to watch.

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The Ice Princess story was infamously plagued by writing issues.  I would recommend the Left Handed Boy story if you want to see Monty-GH in its prime. 

 

First, there's the music.  Herb Alpert's Rise is legendary in GH history but other music scenes deserve icon status.  During the Founder's Day festivities, Luke breaks into Frank the Mob Boss's office and the disco beat heightens the tension with its nonstop pulse.  There is a contrast between the cast in the park listening to a patriotic band and Luke fervently trying to find something in Frank's office while the synth keeps time.  Monty is credited with modernizing music in soaps and it is very effective.

 

Then, the Rick/Monica/Alan and (sort of) Leslie quad was the B-story for the summer.  Imagine, Luke and Laura dancing in the department store one day, and Alan stalking Rick and Monica by the pier the next day.  Monty is often credited with bringing adventure to soaps, but it was still grounded with a multi-generational, and very traditionally soapy, adult storyline.  BTW stay tuned the rest of the afternoon that summer and AMC's Jessie and Jenny are in New York while EON's Draper has amnesia after his escape from prison.  A rising tide lifts all boats; as JFK once said, (although I don't think he was talking about daytime television).

 

Finally, it fleshed out Port Charles.  Given that the story is not centered at the hospital, characters got to be in all of the other parts of the town.  Annual events, like Founder's Day, were established and there was a nightlife destination at the Disco.  I would bet that Luke's engagement party was the first time there was a boat seen in the port of Port Charles.  The mob had been part of the town since Jessie was using Phil Brewer to keep her warm and not her old ratty sweater.  However, the Left-Handed Boy story was about how the mob worked, not just their victims in the hospital.

 

I think overall it is a period of soaps that stands the test of time because people watching it today could easily understand how it became a phenomenon.  

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10 minutes ago, j swift said:

The Ice Princess story was infamously plagued by writing issues.  I would recommend the Left Handed Boy story if you want to see Monty-GH in its prime.

 

Then, the Rick/Monica/Alan and (sort of) Leslie quad was the B-story for the summer.

I have read many times, including in a great We Love Soaps interview with Denise Alexander that the Rick/Lesley/Monica/Alan story is when the show went to number one, and then Luke and Laura just kept it going.

 

I could watch that scene of Lesley and Monica confronting each other and slapping Monica a hundred times and never get tired of how it was acted, written and produced.

 

I think that first period of her tenure on the show was exceptional, even with the ups and downs and science fiction elements of the Ice Princess.  It kind of hits rough waters for a bit after Laura disappears and  they also lost the characters of Jeff and Diana after her murder.  Those were three major characters that had been in the thick of popular story and the people they replaced them with in terms of screen time were not as well defined (Jackie Templeton and her sister, Grant Putnam, etc).

 

 

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Gloria Monty was very effective at improving all the technical aspects of soaps (directing, lighting, camera work, set design, music, etc.) and she offered GH some inspired casting, but without a strong headwriter like Douglas Marland and Pat Falken Smith, it was all for not. Viewers will put up with lousy sets and wardrobe more than they will sit through years of dreadful writing. 

 

When Monty was teamed with Marland and Falken Smith, GH was on fire. With all the other incompetent writers of the era, however, the show was a mess. A pretty mess with good technical aspects, but still a mess. I think viewers tolerated the crappy stories for a while because there were characters on the show whom they cared for, but that loyalty only went so far.

 

It was a major mistake to foist the asinine Ice Princess onto GH. It changed the soap from an intelligent, classy, respected adult drama about interpersonal relationships into a low-brow camp nightmare which destroyed its integrity and credibility. This sort of story temporarily attracted young, fly-by-night viewers who watched for the outrageous elements but were not interested in traditional serial storytelling. At the same time, it alienated the die-hard, life-long audience whose loyalty every soap depends upon.

 

Like a deadly virus, these idiotic stories spread through daytime and left the soap genre in a critically-ill state from which it never recovered.

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