Hallelujah! It’s official: Michael Easton will soon be back on General Hospital. I had Friday, March 18, highlighted on my phone’s calendar, complete with a celebratory rainbow. But ABC preempted GH for Nancy Reagan’s funeral, so today’s episode won’t air till Monday. That means Michael will reappear on Monday, March 21, the first full day of spring. That feels somehow more auspicious than the day after St. Patrick’s Day.
According to Executive Producer Frank Valentini, Michael will once again be playing a doctor, and not any of his previous Port Charles roles. “He will be very different from anyone else Michael has played,” Valentini said in the March 14th issue of Soap Opera Digest. “But at the heart of it, you still have this amazing actor who is really loved by the fans and loved by the cast and crew on General Hospital.”
Now that the news is official, my contest is officially over.
No one guessed that Michael would be coming back as a doctor, but I’m awarding copies of my vampire soap opera novel Hope Dawns Eternal to the two fans with the best entries:
RYAN CARPENTER wins for the entry with the most knowledge of the show’s history. He guessed Michael would return as the villainous Valentin Cassadine, who’s been referenced several times on GH since the 1980’s, but who’s never actually made an appearance.
LOIS TROUTMAN wins for most creative guess. She thought Michael would return as the head of the shadowy WSB organization, which is involved in all sorts of international intrigue, but she also deserves a shout-out for her many valuable contributions to Michael’s enormous and dedicated online fan community.
I was blindsided by the news that Michael would return as a doctor, although that had been my first guess. Especially after the departure of Jason Thompson, who had played Dr. Patrick Drake, many of the soap’s followers commented that for a show supposedly centered on a hospital, there weren’t nearly enough doctors. I thought Michael might return as a long-lost or previously unknown brother of Silas Clay. After all, Silas already had a twin brother, the evil rock star and serial killer Stephen Clay, who had entertained the delusion that he was a vampire. It wouldn’t have been too much of a stretch to create another doctor and make the siblings triplets.
But I abandoned that theory when Dr. Griffin Munro, a brilliant neurosurgeon, made his entrance in February. Played by the actor Matt Cohen, he’s a hunky guy with dark hair, gorgeous blue eyes and serious film and TV credits—a major contender in the heart throb department. They also introduced Dr. Matthew Mayes, an older, curmudgeonly doctor with a nonexistent bedside manner. He’s played by Matt Riedy, another actor with extensive experience in film and TV. Google him and you’ll discover he’s also a serious body builder, though his face looks much older than his body, to an extent that I first thought they’d photo shopped two different people together. Perhaps somewhere down the road he’ll get to bare his torso as the love interest of one of the more mature actresses, but I’m not holding my breath.
So I thought they had the doctors covered, but apparently not. It’ll be interesting to see what they do with Michael’s character. In an interview in the same Soaps in Depth, Michael was candid about his stint as Silas Clay, a character created after, for legal reasons, he could no longer play John McBain: “I felt like I didn’t have a place, really. There was not much of a point to it.” He thought long and hard about coming back, but now he says, “I feel inspired, more inspired than I’ve felt in years. It’s a new start. I’ve forgotten the other character. . . . there’s an energy that I feel in it that didn’t exist with the Silas character, where I felt like I was just hanging on from day to day. . . .and most of it was just to push another character’s story line along.”
Ever the gentleman, Michael refrains from criticizing—or even mentioning—the former head writer Ron Carlivati, who probably had a hand in his firing and was then fired himself, but the interview, along with Valentini’s, offers a remarkably candid perspective on the interpersonal politics that play out offscreen.
So once again, congratulations to Ryan Carpenter and Lois Troutman. I’ll be mailing you autographed copies of Hope Dawns Eternal, and like thousands of others, I’ll be counting down the ten days until Michael Easton appears in a new incarnation on the first day of spring.