Tristan Rogers and Finola Hughes

I nearly bailed on General Hospital: Night Shift because its season premiere back in July was just so awful. But then the show got good. Really good. And now it's indisputably superior to the mob-infested soap that spawned it.

This late-night SOAPnet series is refreshingly retro, focusing as GH once did on the lives of doctors and their patients. (Imagine that!) The pleasures are many, from the frisky interplay of interns Claire and Kyle (she's straight, he's not) to the profoundly moving performances of Finola Hughes and Tristan Rogers as Anna and her cancer-stricken Robert.

The Oct. 21 season finale ends with some mature, uneasy twists. Don't miss it.