General Hospital Spin-off Hits Soapnet!

In a surprising move, SOAPnet has greenlit a 13-episode sudser dubbed GENERAL HOSPITAL: NIGHT SHIFT, set to air later this summer. “We are committed to growing the soap genre and the GENERAL HOSPITAL franchise by extending its storyline only on SOAPnet,” said Brian Frons, President, Daytime, ABC Television Group. At a time when soap ratings are down across the board — and one, PASSIONS, was recently cancelled — this is seen as a bold move from the cable network which has built its reputation upon giving soap fans an opportunity to watch their favorite shows at night and during weekend marathons. “NIGHT SHIFT will launch with an audience that is already dedicated and compelled to know more about what happens on the night shift at the hospital,” continued Frons.

Interestingly, critics of GH have long complained that the show tends to focus more on mob-related violence than the hospital which will, it appears, be the heart and soul of the spin-off series. Currently, the show’s February sweeps plotline highlights a 24-like storyline focusing on a 16-hour hostage crisis at the fictional Metro Court Hotel.

This is not the first attempt to spin-off GH, which served as the launching pad for PORT CHARLES in 1997. Originally conceived as an ER-like soap focused on a group of young interns, PC eventually morphed into a telenovela-like drama dealing with such supernatural elements as vampires, witches and angels in 13-week arcs given such catchy names as “Desire” and “Tainted Love.” The most successful of these bizarre storylines featured vampire Caleb’s pursuit of his true-love, Livvie (played by Kelly Monaco, currently GH’s Sam but perhaps best known as the original winner of DANCING WITH THE STARS). Low ratings finally put the bite on PC in 2003.

In other SOAPnet news, the network recently announced that they have picked up all four seasons of the soon-to-conclude THE OC as well as the first four seasons of ONE TREE HILL. Each series will launch on Monday, April 9, with HILL hitting the airwaves at 5 p.m. and THE OC following at 6 p.m. No official launch date has been given for NIGHT SHIFT.

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  • GH has always been my favorite soap. It is the one that launched me into soap fandom when my baby sitter got me hooked during the early days of Luke and Laura.

    I am one that hates the mob dominating the storylines. I actually like all of the mob characters, but why can’t we see the long term vets of the show?

    I was thrilled when Tristan Rogers returned as Robert Scorpio. I was dreaming another round of Luke and Robert – the other GH super couple. But have they used him? Nope.

    My days of soap fandom are nearing its end. The writing is on the wall with the firing/backburnering of the veterans for the newbies that cannot act to save their lives. Jason (Patrick) Thompson being the rare exception.

    But, I will check out Night Shift in hopes it gives me what GH should be today.

  • Sam

    It’d be even more interesting if it were an original new IP.

    But that 13 episode order thing must mean it’ll be a traditional prime time soap rather than the weekly daytime kind right?

  • Sue

    I think the downfall of daytime soaps is a result of the soap operas that have taken over primetime. I love GH and have been a watcher for ten years now. When I began watching GH primetime TV was mostly sitcoms. NYPD Blue was the primary hour long drama series. Now GH has to compete with Grey’s Anatomy and face it primetime TV is easier to watch than daytime just because of the convenience. I’m completely engrossed in the current hostage situation at the Metro Court, but if it drags on much longer I’ll catch up in a week and see who is missing. Because once a character finally dies there will be two weeks of funeral to contend with.

  • Mr. Brightside

    Hey dude, glad you are reporting this? Do you know what will happen to us Canadians who want to watch it? And what’s the deal with the “one episode story arc’s”? Those aren’t soap operas, LOL they are sitcoms! I read a report that said it will focus on the “young” of General Hospital, but doesn’t GH do that already? Unless this will be about a new love triangle featuring Michael III, Lila Rae and Morgan?

  • JJ

    I’ll be watching I read that Kimberly McCullough and Jason Thompson are headling the show as Dr. Robin Scorpio and Dr. Patrick Drake. I love love them. So, I’ll definitely watch.

  • ODonnell family

    We are very happy to know there will be a night time version of our favorite show GH. Long time watchers we were quite upset with several of our old time favorites leaving. How sad the TV producers think that everyone wants to see young pretty thin and not very talented people as opposed to REAL everyday people with a few attractive ones thrown in for good measure. We want to see more scenes at the hospital the way the show used to be. Loved it then and started getting a little bored later but kept watching out of loyalty. Bring back some of the older characters especially some of those hospital staff actors who were on the show a lot more often. There was one very funny she wasn’t thin, but real looking nurse who used to be on all the time talking to the different regulars. She always made us laugh and she was so real unlike some of the others we’ve seen. Never see the actors names so can’t write in about her. Now we spot her in the background once in a while. Shame on them for not giving those actors more to do. Let’s give the show another chance. How many of you like the big nurse that is kind of a boss. She’s African American – very heavy set? I don’t think her character works very well on the show. Just can’t get behind her – nothing really wrong with her but I just don’t like her very much. Oh well long for the old days when the show was so special. Thanks for letting us have our say.

  • Soapy

    Looking forward to the spinoff. GH has always been a favorite of mine, and I expect nothing less than quality material.

    Keep up the good work!!!

  • HarmfulKibble

    I really love the “Night Shift”. Some really good story lines and alot better writing than they have been doing for the day time show. But, I watch the day time soap and I am so confused….the story lines are in two different directions. I totally get the idea of picking up new viewers, but what about us very confused long time watchers? My favorite charactor, “Jason” is in prison and mopping floors on probation?… What?