Soap Opera Weekly: Blogging With Mala

My favorite soap of 2007 returns on Tuesday, and I couldn’t be happier. No, seriously. If GENERAL HOSPITAL: NIGHT SHIFT was a person, I’d be throwing my arms around its knees and crying, “You’re back! Never leave me again!” Sure, it returns with a different cast, and different stories (I’m SO bummed that we’ll never know what happened to Lainey and Cody or Andy and Kelly), but at the core, it’s the same: It’s about a hospital, it has familiar faces, it’s cutting edge, and it’s diverse.

No, it’s not just diverse, it has an Indian head writer in Sri Rao and an Indian lead character in Saira Batra. ZOMG. Soon we’re going to take over the world! Ahem. Just kidding. In all seriousness, though, I love the fact that we’re going to see Leo and Saira right alongside Patrick and Robin. Do you know how long I’ve waited to see my heritage reflected on a soap opera? I can’t even tell you. Pretty much since the womb? Then, on top of that, you have two brown people getting involved with one another. Eee! Is it too early to start waving my Leo/Saira banner? Can we give them a nickname? (‘Seo’ sounds like a cell phone company; ‘Laira’ sounds like the lead in a Philip Pullman book.) I’m almost more thrilled by Leo and Saira than I am by Antonio Sabato, Jr. returning as Jagger — and let me tell you, I’m pretty darned thrilled about that. I have never gotten over Jagger and Karen’s offscreen breakup on PORT CHARLES and refuse to believe he cheated on her with his partner. (La-la-la-la. Didn’t happen. I’m not listening.) So I’m absolutely delighted to see Jagger back and reuniting with his old high school pal, Robin. I feel like I’m a teenager again, watching him work at Kelly’s under Ruby’s watchful eye and flailing over the adventures of Tristan Rogers’ Robert Scorpio.

But despite the hearkening back to the past, NIGHT SHIFT’s return, to me, is a return to the here-and-now of daytime: A fully integrated cast that includes veteran favorites, tight writing, stories that move quickly and slick production values. I look at this show and I think, “Man, why can’t GH itself be like this?” The potential is right there. Then again, if GH had all of this going on, we wouldn’t have NIGHT SHIFT, would we? And that would just be a shame!

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