I have been bantering back and forth today on Twitter about the new General Hospital opening. Apparently, people are really happy with it. I'm a little more reserved about it, but most of you know I don't have a particular sentimental spot for GH. As I'm sure you all realize, I like the introduction to AMC better, but really that's irrelevant to my point.
Here's the deal. I want the entire ABC soap block to thrive so I'm thrilled to see ABC trying to win the easy points. That old GH opening was ridiculous. Although the new intro is certainly much nicer and much more contemporary, it's still a little derivative of the AMC intro, and I think that sells GH a little short. I feel the same way about the OLTL intro. Why does everything on ABC daytime have to look the same? That's not a rule in Primetime and, to be honest, I don't want to watch 3 hours of lookalike programming. I think each show should have its own identities beginning with their opening and closing sequences. ABC can brand the time period with the similar visual cues on the bumpers between the shows.
Back when ABC Daytime stamped AMC, GH and OLTL with similar opening looks, I'm sure it sounded like a good idea to some corporate marketing dingleberry, but as a fan I want creativity—something that hooks me when the show starts. I love that AMC theme song. When I hear that guitar strum I go all Dick Van Dyke jumping ottomans to get to the TV. I like how AMC kept the falling pictures motif, how the photos blast across the screen in synch with the music, and the vintage pictures of Pheobe. It gets me stirred up emotionally every single time. It's not as sentimental to me as the 1990 version where the lamp turns on and camera pans across senior cast members Phoebe, Langley, Brooke and Adam, but it's better than most of what's on TV day or night. Think about the pitiful one to five note chimes for Lost, Heroes or Desperate Housewives. The opening sequence and theme song has become a lost art.
The AMC theme song has layers. It starts with a catchy little strum, then a startling guitar strum grabs your attention and the song swells into a rich pallet of piano, winds and strings before gently fading away with a misty eyed Bianca blowing away in the wind and Erica taking her place back in the AMC family album. (So far, I don’t like anyone in the fly away other than Bianca. It definitely shouldn’t be a dude in the flyaway.) The original AMC opening and theme was quite appropriate in its day, but even at the age of 5 I remember thinking, "They really need to perk this up". The "white pearls" opening sucked if you ask me. Bringing back the falling pictures in the mid-90s was brilliance.
Oops, I've digressed. Yes, I'm biased. AMC is my sentimental fave on all counts, but I have a lot of heartfelt sentiment for OLTL too, especially the Cord, Tina, Max, Gabrielle years when I watched it without fail. When OLTL came out with that Peebo Bryson theme song for OLTL it was a BIG deal. Honestly, my favorite was the instrumental version with the pictures of the town and the collage of faces at the end. It told a story. It always made me feel like I'd left Pine Valley and taken a quick drive to a nice town not far away where Wanda Woleck sold pie and people traveled back in time and to underground cities. The main thing was that after an hour of AMC, the OLTL theme song perked me up and commanded that I pay attention for another 60 minutes of soap. The Peebo vocals were OK and are kitschy fun now, especially when Norn sings them, but a little over the top at the time. I'll never forget when they dropped that opening and went to the waving silk sheet with the Jugband opening. It was hideous. I quit watching. It was like an intro for a bad porno sponsored by Macy's home department or something.
But consistently I would flee the room when that old GH theme song que’d the ambulance pulling up to the hospital. It was an instant turn off for me. The retiring opening bugged me too. It was a testament to cheese with Tony Geary kicking over the chair in the end like he’s some sort of bad ass. Sure for die hard fans, I can see why that was maybe no big deal, but for passive viewers like me it elicited huge eyerolls.
I will say that when the corporate branding dweeb decided the three shows needed a unified look that the openings for GH and OLTL improved dramatically over their immediate predecessors. As much as I may not have cared for them they were way better than openings for Y&R and other soaps. GL was OK for a while. Another World had a decent opening when it used Crystal Gale's vocals. The rest of the soap intros were like time warps to the past--in a bad way. Anyway, clearly the OLTL and GH intros were rip-offs of the AMC idea and I think the copycat approach does them a total disservice. Why not free the creative teams of each show to produce individually styled openings that showcase each shows thematic cues? Why not give them all access to orchestral arrangements capable of producing equally rich, classic instrumental pieces on par with AMC or the best shows on TV? After all, these shows air 5 times a week! That guitar theme on OLTL is so annoying and that screeching sax solo thing on GH reminds me of similar screeching sax themes from the 80s like LA Law. Even the older AMC falling pictures opening used a saxophone that today sounds dated.
It's sort of like the characters on AMC for the past couple of years. Instead of unique characterizations by a diverse cast with unique diction and articulation and look, everyone in Pine Valley looks, sounds and acts the same. They even all were the same clothes from some cheap mall store in NY. Erica is a mother whose children have children, but don't call her Grandma. She and Adam have to compete with 20 year olds for dates. Angie has even morphed into Black Annie now with the straight hair and bangs! The homogeneity of the characters is amplified by the indistinguishable intros to each show. Except for the guns, the head wounds and the occasional time warp, it’s hard to tell where one show stops and the others start. Soaps are about diversity and the creative process. ABC should give each of its soaps their own room to create an identifiably unique stamp in the Daytime lineup. I don't see Whoopi straightening out those nasty dreads and getting bangs.
I do like some of the visual cues in the GH opening-the roulette wheel behind Geary, the hospital, etc., but when did Port Charles turn into such a mega-metropolis? And what's with the creepy castle on the hill? Did those people from Passions move to Port Charles? I love the use of the actors real names--a classy touch. Better music may have won me over.
Now it’s time to re-do the OLTL intro. I just hope that when it happens, OLTL gets to strut its stuff a little so it stands out as something other than the show between the other two. It is absolutely the show on the edge of pop culture and it's opening should clearly depict that we aren't in Pine Valley anymore.
As for AMC, I feel like I've been through a war. We've been fighting for this show for years. I’m losing characters that I’ve known for 20 and 30 years. How does a soap fan put into words the connection he or she has to the characters in a show? When I’m sick at home from work, those people are always there for me! They always show up at exactly the same time to make me feel better. (Unless the weather's bad or the President needs to talk to me.) I love them and I miss them when they disappear.
Today, my beloved Brooke showed up. I doubt today's episode was outta sight exciting, but I'm ok with that. It’s a comfort that she came home for a visit. I don't need to be thrilled to the core every day. I so hope Brooke stays longer than planned, but it’s a sign things are returning to some semblance of normal. I'm still suffering from “PPT”-“Post Pratt Trauma”. I'll be having a nice day and then Shazam! I remember Brooke disappearing into the hospital elevator, the Satin Slayer, Reese kissing Zach, Zarf, Poison Pancakes, Stuart hitting the ground dead, Marian being hauled off to Oak Haven, Aidan talking to a vent, babies being held like Mufasa to a tornado ravaged sky, baby swaps, sex by candlelight, Jupiter sized Moons hovering outside Ryan’s window. I need normal on AMC for a while. The theme song and intro are the only parts of the show that haven’t been completely gutted, and I’m not ready to give them up. For now, they are sacred cows.
And you just thought I was just going to write love letters to Brooke English this week, didn’t you? One thing’s for sure, it’s not boring on AMC, OLTL and GH these days. There is a lot to discuss along with Idol and whatever else pops into your astoot minds. This is where you tell us all about it, right here. And remember, if you haven't heard last week's podcast, it's available on Itunes or the link at the bottom of last week's blog post. Funny stuff! Don't miss it!