I don't envy the creative team behind ABC Daytime's General Hospital. As arguably the most popular daytime soap of all time—if no longer the highest rated since circa 1988—everyone seems to always have an opinion about GH.
We want Monty-style big romance and action adventure! We want the socially-relevant tales of Claire Labine! We hate the mob! We miss the mob! We want Garin Wolf! Okay, no one ever said that last sentence, like ever...
The editorial/podcast staff here at Daytime Confidential is no exception. We all have opinions 'a plenty about GH that we're always just itching to share. Sometimes those opinions can even turn on a dime, like mine about soap superstar Roger Howarth as notorious supervillain Franco.
When I first heard rumblings GH was toying with the idea of recasting the One Life to Live transplant in the horrendous, universally-panned role—played originally as a goof by bored movie star James Franco—I thought it would be an unmitigated disaster. Once I saw Howarth on screen as Franco, hilariously poking fun of the entire town of Port Charles at a festival of horrors on the Haunted Star, I immediately changed my tune on this particular "General Hospi-tale".
If anyone could pull off this madness, it would be Howarth and Cartini, right? Right? A few weeks in, and I have to admit my soapometer is leaning toward the disaster end of the dial again.
Franco, complete with ghastly, day-glow hair, camped out on the iconic Quartermaine living room set, hasn't done a lot to inspire confidence in this story. And since I would absolutely hate to see this masterfully-rebuilt sudser bogged down by one storyline, I'm gonna put on my backseat chauffeur's cap and offer up five quick fixes to salvage the character of Franco.
No 5: Dye his hair
We'll start off with the superficial. Franco looks like a douchebag with that ridiculous dye job. No self-respecting man in his 40's would purchase that rinse, let alone let someone massage it into his scalp. Franco looks like an aging party boy at a WeHo nightclub, who has yet to realize he doesn't have the hottest, tightest ass in the room anymore.
No. 4: Ease up on the jokes-per-second
There's no denying Roger Howarth is one of the funniest soap actors to ever encourage viewers to tune in tomorrow. In the case of Franco, however, too many knock-knock jokes aren't necessarily a good thing.
I'm not saying cut out winning zingers like calling Morgan (Bryan Craig) "Crouching Hormones, Hidden Intelligence", but Franco can't be walking around Port Charles acting like a deranged Dr. Seuss character all of the time. This man did some heinous, vile things to the citizens of this town. If he's to stand a chance in hell of ever being redeemed or viable he can't always be thinking up the next one-liner.
No. 3: Get him the hell out of the Q mansion
I am all for the suspension of disbelief when it comes to my stories, but it makes absolutely no sense that Dr. Monica Quartermaine (Leslie Charleson) would allow a serial killer, who terrorized her loved ones, to get his pillows fluffed under her roof. Franco and Co. need to receive eviction notices, STAT!
Why not move him over to the Metro Court? Franco could somehow manage to snag an exiting Connie's (Kelly Sullivan) half of the hotel and checks in to further terrorize Carly (Laura Wright).
Imagine Franco proposing to revamp Metro Court as an avant garde, artist's hot spot, displaying his squeamish collections of blood and gore, with Ava (Maura West) serving as his eager, scheming curator. Perhaps she starts running an art smuggling ring out of the hotel, financed by the DVX and/or the Jerome crime family? I bet Anna (Finola Hughes) and Duke (Ian Buchanan) would have a thing or three to say about that!
Think of the Battle of the Blondes that would occur if Ava pitched turning the restaurant into her gallery. Fans will recall, mild-mannered nurse Elizabeth Webber (Rebecca Herbst) once dreamed of running away to be an artist. Maybe freaky Franco and agenda-driven Ava could discover one of her old paintings of Jason and decide she has the makings of a star?
The Quartermaine mansion is a sacred cow for fans of this soap. Fill it with actual Q's the fans love and use the town's centralized hotel for rehabilitating silly psychos.
No. 2: Put his ass in therapy
Paging Dr. Kevin Collins (Jon Lindstrom), you're needed to consult on the case of a brilliant artist, who occasionally kills people, rigs bombs to explode beneath ingénues and likes to fake the occasional rape. If anyone could use a little time on Kevin's couch, it's Franco. What if to show Kiki (Kristen Alderson) how serious he is about becoming a better person, Franco agrees to go into intense, psychiatric therapy?
Howarth already proved to have oodles of chemistry with Kevin's wife, Lucy Coe (Lynn Herring), when he was playing Todd on GH. Why not script a tale putting him back in Lucy's orbit? Lucy's protective, inner vampire slayer would go haywire at the thought of her precious "Doc" having to treat such a very bad, bad person!
Piggybacking on my idea above about Franco and Ava turning Metro Court into an artsy-fartsy hotel, maybe Ava could secure a deal with Lucy to provide all of the artwork for the Deception spas? Little would Lucy Goosey know, the paintings were done by Kevin's new mental patient!
No. 1: Make him suffer
I'm not one of those soap fans who needs villains to do actual jail time. If soap villains served the type of sentences their crimes required in real life, the only set GH would need would be the one at Pentonville. What I do believe in, is karmic retribution and Franco deserves it in spades.
Franco needs to experience firsthand the kind of turmoil he caused mothers Carly and Sam (Kelly Monaco), not to mention the rest of Port Charles. The only way this can be accomplished is for something dreadful to happen to his beloved daughter, Kiki (Kristen Alderson).
Franco may say he's sorry for the crimes he committed, but until he truly knows how it feels to have the one person you love most in the world in mortal jeopardy, it's all just soap operatic lip service. He needs to walk a mile in Sam's hooker boots.
Of course none of the GH principle characters can bring harm to Kiki, so the soap needs to bring on a new threat. What if there's some angry, 20-something guy out there, whose father lost his life as part of one of Franco's "performance art" pieces? He could come to Port Charles hell bent on making the mad man pay. Once Franco has to beg on his hands and knees for Kiki's life, then he will finally know what he did to the people of Port Charles.