Langford on Soaps: Has “General Hospital” Gone Too Far?

Plus our first looks at Argentine telenovela Farsantes and Aussie period piece A Place To Call Home, the season returns of Dance Academy and Winners and Losers. Also, Danny Pennant returns to EastEnders and Iolo is desperate to help Gethin on People of the Valley

Langford’s Picks and Pans

EastEnders (U.K.)

Is he or isn’t he? I guess that’s the game we’re going to be playing in the coming weeks as the show teases whether Danny is straight or gay. My guess is that Danny is bisexual. He did sleep with Syed after all and (at the time) it seemed to be more about business. And knowing this show as I do, I suspect before long he’ll be involved in a romantic triangle with both sexes. I like Danny, I like that he’s a bad boy. Gary Lucy is a terrific actor and I’m looking forward to seeing where the show takes his character.

Frankly, though I’ve never cared for this show’s writing and if there’s going to be a flaw in this story, it’s that. BTW, I think the Michael Moon character is just strange. I don’t know if it’s the acting or the writing, but I really found him to be overly affected and quirky. And not in a good way.

Shortland Street (New Zealand)

Well, we knew it wouldn’t end well for Seth or Henry. I still don’t believe that Seth would be so stupid about leaving that flash drive around or go into a total panic when it turned up missing. I wonder though if this is the last we’ll see of them or if we’ll get some resolution to their story. I don’t know. It all seemed kind of final to me, especially since much of the fallout happened off screen and we only heard about it. That’s okay if that’s the case. This wasn’t a very good show, and I’m cool with never having to watch it again.

Farsantes (Argentina)

I don’t have a lot to say because this is the set up for the series and not much happens. But it’s obvious that Guillermo is attracted to Pedro, even though he has been married for a long time. It seems as if some people, including his wife, know that Guillermo is gay. I’m not sure if Pedro is closeted or hasn’t realized his sexuality yet. But, it’s the early days so I guess there is much to be revealed. It’s an interesting show in that two of the leads are gay and that one of the potential partners is much older than the other. You don’t see that often and certainly often enough. I hope we get more subbed clips of this show. I’d like to keep following it. And we’ll present them here as they appear. If some Spanish speakers could help me if I got some details wrong that would be great.
All That Matters (Germany)

I’m sorry, but a lot of this didn’t make sense to me. I guess I don’t know a lot about how the liquor industry works, especially in Essen, but don’t you make money when you supply your product to bars and they sell it? So the beer company taking their tap out of the bar makes no sense because they are not only hurting the bar, but hurting themselves even more. Besides, who only sells one kind of beer? I have never seen any bar that didn’t have a number of suppliers. Why not just go to someone else? Or is it different in Germany? Maybe that’s where I’m missing something.

Or of course, this was all a totally silly and convoluted way to get Joscha and Melanie out on a date when there are much simpler and more believable ways to accomplish the same thing. Because this was just ridiculous.

A Place To Call Home (Australia)

There are times when I don’t learn about gays on a certain show until the show has been on for awhile, especially foreign shows. That’s just how it works out sometimes. That was the case with this period drama A Place to Call Home, which has been running for a couple of months now. Next week is the show’s season finale and it has already been renewed for a second season. I’m so glad I found this jewel before it came to a close.

I haven’t been so caught up in a television show in a long time. Once I started, I spent much of my weekend watching it, and not just for review. I couldn’t stop. It’s quite addictive. A Place To Call Home is gorgeously shot. The sweeping shots of the mansion took me back to the classic 80’s soaps like Falcon Crest and Dynasty, though the writing is much better than either of those shows, even though I loved them both back in the day.

The writing here is wonderful—stunning at times and the acting is simply exquisite. There are strong performances all over the place, most notably Noni Hazelhurst, who plays Elizabeth. I know a lot of folks saw her as a villain and she certainly does some terrible, manipulative things, but she’s much better drawn and far more multidimensional than such a simple definition allows. Marta Dusseldorp is also very good as lead heroine Sarah Adams and I love the scenes where she and Elizabeth go head to head. One of my favorites might be an early scene where Elizabeth told Sarah she would see her run out of town and Sarah said ‘We’ll see about that’. Classic stuff.

And it did my soapy heart good when after Elizabeth had dug up some dirt on Sarah and (for the moment) was getting her to leave, Sarah told George about James’ suicide attempt. Sure, Sarah said she did it because she wanted to help James, but she clearly wanted to get back at Elizabeth. The show’s central romantic triangle between Sarah, George and Jack is also very good, though I love Jack so I kinda wished he’d get the girl. Oh well, maybe next season. Oh and you cannot tell me that Jack isn’t Elizabeth’s bastard son from her affair, which is why she’s so attached to him. Can’t wait until that is revealed.

As for the gay storyline, first and foremost, we’ve seen this all before. There is nothing new here. You’ve got your tormented, suicidal gay having secret affairs with schoolmates and the farmboy next door, then marrying the plain Jane and hiding behind her skirts, forcing the poor thing into an unhappy marriage devoid of love and sex. But it’s usually not as well done, well written and acted as this. And I was really surprised at how prominent the gay story is and how layered it is and how much it is tied to the rest of the drama on the show. David Berry is quite wonderful as the troubled David as is Arianwen Parkes-Lockwood as his wife Olivia. I loved how Olivia went from fragile creature to a bitter, pissed off woman scorned after she found out how she’d been used and lied to by her husband and her grandmother in law.

There are a lot of moments in this story that stood out for me: the heartbreaking scene when David found out that Olivia’s brother William (James’ ex) is getting married. Of course, that was what finally clued Olivia into her husband’s secret and I really liked the moment where she put her finger over her face in the picture where she stood between James and William. How they were looking at each other told her all she needed to know. The ensuing drama that followed was terrific. And I felt for Olivia, especially after James admitted he only married her because she reminded him of her brother. Ouch.

To be honest, I found this show very predictable, even though I loved every minute of it. Most plot twists you will see coming. But one surprise was Elizabeth revealing that her husband, Jack’s grandfather, was also gay and that was how she knew Olivia and James could work through it and have a happy marriage because she had done it. Of course, she did have an affair that produced Jack, so she wasn’t that happy. I admit I didn’t see that coming. It was a nice twist.

As for the events of the past week, despite all the dramatic stuff that happened, the scenes that stood out the most were with Harry and not only because he looks great without a shirt. I liked where he told James that he had accepted who he was and couldn’t lie to himself anymore, even though he knew his desires would have to be kept a secret. And the moment where James apologized to Harry for treating him so poorly and denying what they felt for each other was strong, capped by the kiss the James fought not to give into. And I really loved the scene after Harry and James had been seen kissing and Harry had been forced to leave the ranch. His goodbye with his sister was poignant where she admitted she knew he was gay, but it didn’t matter to her. She only wanted him to be happy.

The joyful, but pained look on his face when he finally found someone who loved and accepted him for who he was, was beautiful but also sad since he had to go. It really was a small scene in the great scheme of the show, but it stood out for me. Of course now the stage is set for the season finale. As I mentioned earlier the show has renewed for season 2, having been a huge hit in Australia. I really think it would do well in the States if aired here, like Downton Abbey has been. The show has teased that there will be a death in the show’s final moments and I’ve had a few people wondering if James is going to be killed off. Anything is possible, but I don’t think that’s going to happen.

There was a teaser clip of James being strapped to gurney, surrounded by doctors and nurses. I know that James had decided to seek professional help, but I think his father will take a more extreme approach to the situation. My guess is that the dead person will be Bert, the blackmailer. There’s a lot of people who wanted him dead and I suspect his murder will be a big story in the show’s second season. That’s just my theory. We’ll have to see next week. I know I can’t wait!

BTW, for those wondering why James doesn’t just hook up with the handyman, the stable boy, his wife’s brother or any other dude on the street, he is a married man. For whatever his reasons, he married this woman and he owes her fidelity, if nothing else. She is his wife, not an impediment to his getting his groove on. If anything blame the time in which they lived, not her. Olivia is just as much of a victim as he is if not more because she didn’t create the situation. He did. The lack of sympathy for this poor woman is not surprising, but disturbing.

General Hospital (U.S.)

Readers know that I really haven’t been watching GH lately. I’m not enjoying watching Felix be a prop to Patrick and Sabrina’s boring romance and the baby drama with Britt. I admit it’s a nice twist that Britt is actually carrying Dante and Lulu’s baby, even if it’s more of the baby swapping/paternity/maternity nonsense that this regime did earlier here on GH and back when they were writing OLTL. But this team seems to always fall back on old stories from Llanview and rewriting them in Port Charles.

Anyway, I haven’t been watching in a few weeks, but I did hear the uproar about Brad coming onto Michael and blackmailing him into sex so Brad would keep quiet about Michael making out with his cousin (who we know will turn out not to be his cousin in the end). First of all, that storyline is so gross, with Michael and Kiki saying ‘we’re cousins, we can’t do this’, but doing it anyway. The characters don’t have much chemistry and it just reeks of forcing a new version of Michael and Starr (who Kristen Alderson played before she was given this new role) down viewers throats when Michael and Starr weren’t all that to begin with. Forbidden Love is only interesting when you care about the couple. Here, it’s just nasty.

Beyond that, I was amused by folks’ outrage that Brad wanted to blackmail Michael into sex with comments that what Brad did was unforgivable and the character could never be redeemed after that. Umm… what? First off all, the sex never happened. And second, this is a show with rapists, mobsters and serial killers as their lead players. Granted what Brad did was slimy, but it was child’s play compared to characters who have shot their wives, children and anybody else who got in the way. Or manipulating someone into thinking they had been raped and impregnated with their rapist’s child. Yuck.

Even if the sex had happened, Michael is still a grown man. He can say no and just admit he wants to have sex with his not-cousin, who happens to be his brother’s girlfriend. And let’s face it, if Brad were a woman blackmailing Michael, there would not be this uproar. It’s only because it’s two men that folks are freaked out. And I don’t mind that Brad is a pervy creep who happens to be gay. Gay folks don’t always have to be chaste twinks who only want be with the first guy they kissed and go on to have babies and get married. It’s nice that we’re getting more types of gays, including bad ones, on our screens.

I will say this though. How come this show’s gay characters only want to have sex with people who are either straight, not interested or both? Felix, at least the last I saw, is still lusting after Milo and Brad is only intent on seducing Felix and Michael, neither of whom want him. If there’s anything that bothers me about this show’s gays, it’s that.


Dance Academy (Australia)

Not much to say here because not much happened. I’m kind of surprised that Ollie is still around. He never did much for me back when he was dating Sammy last year, but maybe they’ll do something interesting with him. I gotta say though, I thought the dancing looked really awkward. But maybe that’s just me.


Winners and Losers (Australia)

Well, this show hasn’t really changed much. That’s a good and a bad thing. The good thing is that it’s as charming and delightful as ever. The writing continues to be solid and I’ve always enjoyed the acting and the characters. But, the show still keeps its focus solidly on the four women and that doesn’t leave much for the supporting players. I guess that’s by design, but it still kind of bugs me how Jonathan and Rhys being gay bashed turned out to be more about Francis and her issues. Even here, the story was about Francis being traumatized after being held captive by the man who attacked Jonathan and Rhys. Jonathan telling Francis that and Rhys are still dealing with the emotional fallout was nice, but it would have even been nicer to have seen some of that.

Instead we find out, in a conversation that wasn’t even about them, that Rhys has moved to the States for a job. So what does this mean for he and Jonathan’s marriage? I guess with his husband gone, he has even more time to spend helping Francis deal with her problems. At least with Rhys here, he had something of a story. Now, nothing at all. I do hope Rhys is coming back at some point. I really liked him and I thought he and Jonathan were adorable together. But if the character is gone for good, let’s hope the show doesn’t keep Jonathan with an off screen husband so he can eventually have a new romance, even if it’s only a few seconds a week.

Hollyoaks (U.K.)

It didn’t take John Paul long to move on to the next guy, didn’t he? I really don’t think he ever loved Doug. That whole thing just seemed to be a quick way to end the coupling. For JP to be nearly drooling over someone new in the next episode just makes him seem so shallow… and pathetic. That said, I like Danny. It’s nice that he’s older, actually much older than John Paul, who we know is in his mid 20’s and Danny is in his 40’s. Nothing wrong with a May-December romance. But it’s weird that Danny would kiss JP, then tell him that they can’t date since he’s a full time staff member. Unless there are rules against it, I can’t imagine why not. Anyway, we know it’s not over and I look forward to seeing more.

I find the commentary that Danny is too ‘old’ and why can’t JP find someone ‘hot’ to be disturbing. It’s just like the coded commentary about George and Vincent getting involved. Gay people do age. We are also all different shapes, sizes and colors. Some keep their looks and some don’t. But we all want someone to love. It’s nice that some shows are giving us gays of all ages, races and backgrounds, even if some folks prefer their gays white and in their teens and twenties.

I liked how Trevor discussed plotting Myra’s murder with Paul as he casually sipped an espresso, but I continue wonder why anyone would involve Ste in any crime they are planning. He’s a terrible criminal and he always screws things up. Besides, Paul has committed and gotten away with one murder. What does he need Ste or Trevor for? And it didn’t quite sit right with me that Mercedes endorsed Paul selling drugs out of the club. She’s done some horrible things in the past, but usually rashly and without thinking. I’m not quite sure if I buy her going along with it. BTW, I hated that the show ended with the cliffhanger of Paul handing Ste the drugs and Mercedes walking in, then picking up the next day. Stop doing that, Hollyoaks. It’s annoying.

As much as I’m glad that the show is giving the lesbians some love with Tilly and Esther, I don’t believe their romance. Tilly seems far too mature for Esther. I know they are only a few years apart, but it seems like so much more. Frankie, who, I don’t often agree with, is right about that. I don’t think they have much chemistry either. Still, I did like the talk between John Paul and Esther. That was really very sweet. And the scene where the girls where they resolved to be together was nice as was Frankie realizing she had to let Esther go and live her life. Oh well, I’m not a big fan of this romance, but at least there are no sociopaths involved and there’s no violence. On Hollyoaks, that’s a plus.

Call me cruel, but Sinead needs to have that child taken from her before she kills it. She is completely irresponsible and totally unprepared to be a parent. If she won’t do the right thing for herself and the kid and let her mother help her, then she should lose the kid altogether. Drug dealing and whoring yourself is not showing your kid you love them, not when there are better answers. Besides, Sinead is only acting out to rebel against her mom. If she had any sense she’d be at home with Diane and Tony where she and the baby belong. Kudos to Diane for calling the police about there being drugs in the house. It probably won’t work but the alternative is watching the baby die or live in squalor because of a reckless, foolish parent.

And I will never, ever believe that selfish, idiot Ste would give a damn about Sinead and her baby and let them move in, not Ste as he’s been written for the last year or so. If there was a manufactured, plot device-y story, it’s their sudden ‘bond’.

Days of Our Lives (U.S.)

I’ve pretty much been on Adrienne’s side in regards to Will and the baby situation and I loved it when she made her points to Lucas and he had to begrudgingly admit that she was right to be concerned. And I still don’t like the way Sonny speaks to his mother, even if she does bug him. Where I come from, you’re never too old for a good slap for mouthing off to your mama. With that said, it’s time for Adrienne to back off and let whatever is going to happen, happen. Sonny is too defensive to listen and she’s only alienating him. Time will tell whether it’s going to work or not. Of course she won’t let it go, but that’s fine. There has to be some drama in this otherwise dull storyline.

I still wish Sonny were allowed the tiniest doubt about being a sudden baby daddy and I really wish Brent could be more than just Sonny’s pal. It sure would make this story more interesting. Instead we get more of Will’s doubt, which I said before is tired and boring. But you know what really bothered me? It was Sonny going to that party without telling Will. After all the drama about him not going, I just don’t buy him suddenly deciding to go and not telling Will. It really seemed out of character. Maybe if the show had of let us see those scenes of him making that choice I could buy it, but that’s just the same old, same old of having events in this story take place off screen.

As for the rest of the show, I liked the scenes with Sami and EJ bickering because of his keeping secrets about his plans. He’s right in that she would never be able to keep quiet about it. I wouldn’t trust her either so EJ did the right thing. Kristen’s scheming continues to be a terrific storyline, but the best is yet to come so it’s more about anticipation right now. And people are worried about upsetting Rafe, so why not tell him that Sami didn’t shoot him? Wouldn’t that relieve some of his anxiety? You’d think so, wouldn’t you?

Neighbours (Australia)

So how many times did Chris and Hudson break up in the span of a couple of episodes? It seems at least three. And to think they’ve only been dating a week. Yet, the scenes were so intense and emotional as if they’d been dating for months, but given that we’ve actually only seen them on one date, all this angst seems ridiculous. And again, Chris feels free to break confidences and tell other’s people’s business under the guise of ‘helping.’ This character has done it before and it’s awful.

I would love for someone to call him out on it rather than just accepting it and thinking Chris has done them a favor. Overall, what was with the sudden wrap up of this story arc? After all the drama and manipulations, the coach out of the blue gives up, confesses his sins and decides to get out of the business? Seriously? I didn’t buy that he would do that for a minute, not after everything he’d pulled up to that point.

What was the point of all this drama if it just fizzled out in a completely anti-climactic way? It was almost as if the show realized the story wasn’t working or they got bored so they just ended it. That’s not a bad thing, but they could have tried to get some dramatic juice out of it rather than just throwing in the towel. Oh well.

Scoops and Spoilers

A Place To Call Home As the show reaches its season finale, George confronts James over his being gay, which leads to a huge rift between father and son. Devastated over his father’s rejection, James can only think of one way to deal with his inner torment. Back at the ranch, George is anxious to keep James’ sexuality under wraps and pays off Bert, who witnessed the kiss between James and Harry. George warns Bert to leave his family alone, but Bert only sees this as only the beginning of his extortion.

Meanwhile, how will Sarah react when she sees George’s reaction over learning the truth about his son? Elizabeth desperately tries to get through to George, but her actions could lead to one of her darkest secrets being revealed, which might destroy what’s left of the family. Meanwhile, Anna’s affair with Gino comes to light and more upheaval comes of the family when a dead body is found on the river. But who is it?

Hollyoaks Ste nearly manages to be arrested for drug possession when the police, tipped off by Diane, shows up to raid the place. Ste flushes the drugs down the toilet. Later, Trent tells Sinead he wants her help in nailing Ste … or he’ll arrest her for robbing him. Meanwhile, the drugs being gone puts Paul in a tough spot since he now has no way to pay Trevor to kill Myra. Paul comes up with a plan to rob a hospital truck full of drugs, but when he wants Ste to do the job, Ste refuses to get involved. However, when Trevor finds out about the plan, he orders Ste to go through with it and ropes in Freddie to help.

Disguised, Ste and Freddie hold up the van and start to load up the drugs in their car. But they realize they’ve been double crossed when Trevor shows up with his men to take the stash away. A fight breaks out and someone is stabbed. But is it Ste or Freddie?

River City — Will is working himself to exhaustion trying to find kidnapped Cal. His bosses order him to go home and get some rest because he’s not doing anyone any good in his tired state. Will goes to see his therapist, telling him that his father returned the letter unopened that Will had sent him discussing their history. Jane tells Will perhaps it’s time he cut his father out of his life as the relationship has been so destructive. Later, Will gets a phone call from the home where his father is living. Edward has been injured in a fall. Will blames himself, thinking he’s been neglectful to his father, unaware his dad is being abused by Alan, his caregiver. Back the police station, Will is upset when Cal’s family gets evidence leading them to believe the boy may be dead…

All That Matters Joscha begins to date Melanie, but it’s obvious that he’s keeping her at arms’ length. When his friends question why he isn’t all over her, he is publicly romantic with her so people will stop talking. After a game with his new soccer team, everyone hails Joscha as the savior of the ragtag bunch. When a reporter asks nosy questions about his personal life Joscha panics and introduces Melanie as his girlfriend. Back at the apartment, Can is less than open-minded about Deniz being bisexual and Deniz isn’t having any of Can’s bigotry. This impresses Joscha, who is starting to become attracted to Deniz…

Can Nick save his marriage?

Days of Our Lives Will’s self doubt grows as Sonny and Brent begin to work together for renovations on the coffee house, feeling like a third wheel around them. Elsewhere, Adrienne sees the videotape of Sami attacking Bernardi and decides to give Sami a chance to explain herself. Sami being Sami, she only makes matters worse and gives Adrienne all the reason she needs to turn the video over to the cops. In other news, Gabi is upset when Nick hands her annulment papers and Kate worries that Rafe isn’t getting any better.

And Also This Week

People of the Valley — Gethin grows more depressed and Iolo decides to cheer him up. The results are surprising to both of them….

That’s it for another edition of Langford on Soaps. See you next time!