Mailbag: Soap change, ‘Touch’ is back

By Rich Heldenfels
Beacon Journal popular culture writer

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This July 26, 2012 file photo shows actor Steve Burton at the Disney ABC panel for General Hospital in Beverly Hills, Calif. Burton, who played Jason Morgan on the ABC soap for 21 years and left the show the last fall to relocate his family to Tennessee is joining the cast of Young & The Restless. (Photo by Todd Williamson/Invision/AP, file)

If it’s Thursday, this must be the mailbag.

Q: Why did Steve Burton leave “General Hospital” after so many years and go to “The Young and The Restless”?

A: According to Burton, those were two separate decisions. He told Access Hollywood that he decided to leave General Hospital late in 2012 to focus more on producing programming, to spend more time with his family and to move from Los Angeles to Nashville. He also needed a break from the daytime-drama grind. After about three months off, he was approached by Jill Farren Phelps, a Burton friend and former GH producer who is now executive producer of Y&R; she both had a role and was willing to have him spend most of his time in Nashville between trips to L.A. to make the soap.

Phelps told TV Guide that she also managed to get Burton by offering him a significantly different kind of character from complicated hit man Jason Morgan, his GH role. On Y&R, the magazine said, Burton plays Dylan McAvoy, the formerly presumed-dead ex-lover of Avery Clark (Jessica Collins). Said Phelps: “Dylan is a war veteran who was greatly traumatized by what happened to him in Afghanistan. He was severely injured and was rescued by a family who helped him recuperate.”

Q: I’ve read that “Breaking Bad” will be returning for one last season. Could you tell me when this might happen?

A: Part of it already has. AMC has split the last season into two parts. Eight episodes aired in the summer of 2012. The remaining eight are due this coming summer, according to AMC; Breaking co-star Aaron Paul tweeted not long ago that those last episodes will begin airing on July 14.

q: David Janssen was one of my favorite actors. He was in a movie in 1973 called “Birds of Prey.” I have had no luck finding it on DVD? Any help?

A: The made-for-TV movie starred Janssen as Harry Walker, “a World War II ace turned traffic reporter for a Salt Lake City radio station,” says Alvin H. Marill’s book Movies Made for Television. While on the job, Walker observes a bank robbery and begins to pursue the robbers. (This should not be confused with the TV series Birds of Prey, also on DVD.) lists a DVD of the Janssen Birds of Prey from 2005, although customer comments indicate the ’40s music from the original soundtrack has been deleted. And that release does not appear to still be in print; even a used copy on Amazon will cost at least $79.95 and a new copy is considerably more expensive.

Q: “Suits” just began airing in mid-January and then a recent edition said “only two episodes left.” What is going on?

A: Suits, Breaking Bad (see above) and quite a few other shows see their seasons split into smaller chunks in order to spread new telecasts over a longer period, So this week’s Suits is the finale of a season including 10 episodes that aired in 2012 and another six in the current batch. By the way, USA has ordered a third 16-episode season.

Q: Is “Touch” coming back to TV?

A: The Fox drama starring Kiefer Sutherland began its second season with a two-hour telecast on Feb. 8 and is now on Friday nights. You can catch the episodes you missed online at or check your cable or satellite provider’s on-demand channels.

Q: TV is a wasteland except for “Major Crimes” (on cable, and I only have broadcast TV) and “NCIS” and British comedies and drama. Comedies are trash, dramas are boring and for morons. Why is current network programming so mindless? Where is the “Law & Order” of today?

A: Your note mentioned that you do not have cable, so I will somewhat forgive you for not acknowledging such acclaimed cable dramas as Mad Men, Justified, Game of Thrones, Homeland and Breaking Bad; comedies ranging from Louie to Hot in Cleveland, and online breakthroughs like House of Cards on Netflix. Still, broadcast better than you think, especially since it still includes one of the Law & Order series, Special Victims Unit and NBC’s Chicago Fire, from the creator of Law & Order.

There are entertaining and intelligent dramas including The Good Wife on CBS, Bones on Fox, and Nashville on ABC. As for comedy, I almost always enjoy How I Met Your Mother, Modern Family, The Big Bang Theory and Community, among other shows.

Sure, there are bad shows on the air. Always are. That doesn’t make TV unique.

As the writer Theodore Sturgeon said when told that 90 percent of science fiction is crud, “90 percent of everything is crud.” But, as I have often said, someone who approaches TV with an open mind can find good things, too. I certainly do.

Do you have a question or comment for the mailbag? Write to the Akron Beacon Journal, 44 E. Exchange St., Akron, OH 44309 or Please mark the email or envelope with “mailbag.” Letters may be edited for publication. Please do not phone in questions. Individual replies cannot be guaranteed.

Rich Heldenfels writes about popular culture for the Beacon Journal and in the HeldenFiles Online blog at He is also on Twitter and Facebook.

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