Luke Spencer Implodes as “General Hospital” Turns 52

Jackie Zeman and Anthony Geary as siblings Bobbie and Luke Spencer
Jackie Zeman and Anthony Geary as siblings Bobbie and Luke Spencer

I’ve always maintained that if you’ve never watched a soap opera in your life, you still know three things: Erica Kane, Luke and Laura. Since producer Frank Valentini and head writer Ron Carlivati — the brains behind the late lamented and sorely missed One Life to Live — hit the West Coast and took over the reins of General Hospital, this fan fave has gone through the roof in the ratings.

As a historian, by academic profession, it drives me nuts when new people come along and reinvent history. Erica Kane’s infamous un-abortion on All My Children was the most egregious of them all, since her abortion storyline shocked millions and propelled both AMC and Susan Lucci into the stratosphere. All of a sudden, the baby wasn’t aborted, but it lived and was raised by the smarmy doctor who “pretended” to do the surgery. It’s daytime, whatever. But quite the opposite has happened at General Hospital with the Valentini-Carlivati take-over.

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One of the best things they’ve done is to bring back the core group of characters who made this show must-see-TV in its 1980s heyday. In the past few years they’ve resurrected Duke Lavery, Lucy Coe, Scott Baldwin, Bobbie Spencer, the Jerome family and all the history that goes with them, from Scott and Luke’s hatred for one another to Bobbie and Scott’s longtime relationship to the bitter Duke Lavery-Julian Jerome feud. They even reached into Ryan’s Hope history by making Ava Jerome’s mother the lovably ditsy Delia Coleridge, played to perfection by Ilene Kristen.

Now, with Luke splitting in two, we’re finally going to know the long-hidden truth behind the horror that Luke, Bobbie and their older sister Patricia faced in the house on Elm Street that sent Luke and Bobbie to live with their Aunt Ruby. Anthony Geary, who has seven Best Actor Daytime Emmys under his belt, is giving the performance of his career with the meltdown of Luke Spencer. We’ve always known that he had demons, but nothing like this storyline of his past and what made him the way he is, and Geary, who has portrayed Luke for over 30 years, is looking at a record-breaking eighth statue. This week, as General Hospital celebrates its 52nd anniversary on Apr. 1, we will finally discover what caused Luke’s psychotic break, as he reunites with Patricia, played by Dee Wallace.

Anthony Geary as Luke and Luke? It's all in his mind.
Anthony Geary as Luke and Luke? It’s all in his mind.

And what’s to become of Luke now? Will he be carted away to Miscavige Hospital for the Criminally Insane? Will he die by his own hand or by that of another? Rumor has it that this will be the end of Luke Spencer, as Tony Geary announces his retirement. Stay tuned, folks. This week is going to be the best in General Hospital history.

To mark the anniversary, select scenes from the Apr. 1, 1963 debut episode will also be recreated, with current cast members playing characters of yesteryear, including Jason Thompson (Patrick) as Dr. Steve Hardy (John Beradino), Rebecca Herbst (Elizabeth) as Nurse Jessie Brewer (Emily McLaughlin) and Ryan Carnes (Lucas) as Dr. Phil Brewer (Roy Thinnes), plus black and white film and period costumes and props. I remember that first show well. It made me into the GH fan that I will always be.

Felicity Huffman and Timothy Hutton in American Crime
Felicity Huffman and Timothy Hutton in American Crime

This Week on the Tube…
If you haven’t been watching American Crime, it’s time to start. On-Demand the first four episodes and experience the searing performances by Timothy Hutton and Felicity Huffman as estranged parents trying to make sense of the senseless murder of their son. It’s intense and at times gut-wrenching, but one is worth the nail biting.

Best TV Moment of the Week…
Do you even have to ask? You know the answer: the two-hour season finale of Empire, which was all it promised to be and then some. It had murder, music, betrayal, music, cover-ups, music, arrests and more music. Not to mention music again, but the album of Empire’s music (there it is again) is the #1 chart-topper. Did I mention just how good the music is?

And Don’t Get Me Started…
Sorry, producer Ellen DeGeneres, but One Big Happy is One Big Mess.

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The TV Junkie was preceded in her family by a large mahogany cabinet that housed a small screen with a large speaker below. Thus began her love affair with the older sibling in the living room. Theirs was a tenuous relationship, prone to mishaps (forgetting to use the special "screen" for Winky Dink), joyous events (Julie & Carol at Carnegie Hall), sad moments (Clarabelle saying goodbye to the Peanut Gallery) and a wide range of emotions (the funeral of John F. Kennedy and the Inauguration of Barack Obama). From Captain Video to Star Trek to Lost; from A Brighter Day to The Edge of Night to One Life to Live; from Peyton Place to Dynasty to Desperate Housewives; there has never been a greater love, than that of the TVJ and the best friend a girl could ever have. Like "The TV Junkie" on Facebook and follow her on Twitter: @thetvjunkiepml.