A Look Back, and A Look AheadBy Michael Karol Posted: Dec 15, 2009
What do you do when your favorite soap, the one you've been watching for more than 25 years, does some silly, out-of-character stuff that makes you want to scream? You pretty much grit your teeth, let some of those feelings out, and enjoy whatever little bits and pieces you can. Life is all about change, and soap operas, which reflect our lives in an outsized, often outrageous way, are no different. Cast members come and go, as do behind-the-scenes personnel. ALL MY CHILDREN recently lost its head writer, and has moved from New York to new, bigger Los Angeles facilities. Those are major changes, and I'm hoping both will impact the show in positive ways. God knows, with GUIDING LIGHT gone, and AS THE WORLD TURNS recently given a death sentence, we need the soaps that are left more than ever. Storytelling has been a part of mankind's arsenal since the first cavemen drew on walls to tell of some magnificent battle, or how they caught that mastodon. I have no doubt that the soap genre will ultimately survive. It may not be in the same format we've known up until now, but people always want to listen to and see well-told stories that reflect what's happening in their own lives. Soaps, for the most part, do that. And will continue to do that. What follows are some comments on AMC's year, after which, we'll wash the slate clean and begin the new year by celebrating AMC's 40th anniversary.
The Devil Made Them Do It…or, David, Is That You?
Adam married Annie in a ceremony that began at the Chandler mansion, but ended — just before the final "I do" — at Pine Valley Hospital, after Adam collapsed under the stress of being drugged by David (again). In a fevered nightmare, Adam found himself in a purgatory presided over by David, as the devil himself. While the devil tried to coax Adam into going "one flight down," his guardian angel (Annie) asked him if he wanted to go home. Adam answered, "I do," and woke up saying it...just in time for Annie to persuade the reverend to pronounce them husband and wife.
The Kids Aren't All Right
Where are the children? Aside from Jesse and Angie's brood, AMC hasn't had a decent teen/young adult storyline since...well, since Leo and Greenlee, Hayley and Mateo, or Julia and Noah. And regarding the last two couples, we're talking the 1990s. Petey and Colby were a washout; only Scott Chandler might hold some promise — if he can ever get past the whole "my uncle murdered my father" thing and the fact that he's hot for Uncle Adam's wife.
Good Humor Man
Who knew that getting shot in the head could be such a good thing? After Tad was accidentally shot on the night of Stuart's murder, he emerged from his brain operation with a rebooted sense of humor, and a new zest for life — something that had been missing from his character for a long time, and which portrayer Michael E. Knight played with a zeal he hasn't shown in years.
Villainy, Thy Name is David
There are many reasons why Vincent Irizarry won a Best Supporting Actor Daytime Emmy this year. His character, Dr. David Hayward, was all over the map: losing and finding children; trying to make more with Amanda; giving Angie and the rest of the staff at Pine Valley Hospital agita; drugging Adam and dissing JR; loving and losing Krystal; playing the role that he was born to play — Satan; and, in his spare time, taking care of thought-to-be-dead former sis-in-law Greenlee...you name it, he done it. Irizarry is so good, you love what David's doing, even as you hate him for doing it.
It Just Wasn't Working Out
With great fanfare, Beth Ehlers (ex-Taylor; ex-Harley, GL) and Ricky Paull Goldin (Jake; ex-Gus, GL) were snapped up by AMC when GL let them go in 2008. Goldin was lucky: His Jake has been in a front-burner story with Amanda for a while. But Ehlers' Taylor wasn't given the time or proper storyline, and always seemed like a Pine Valley visitor, not a resident. AMC let Ehlers go with very little fanfare when it announced the show's move to the West Coast. Here's hoping she resurfaces soon.
Hell is for Heroes
Although Iraqi vet Brot has been somewhat underused as a character, the times he's been onscreen remain a touching and bittersweet reminder of how tragic real life can be — and how transcendent, too, when someone like Brot's portrayer, JR Martinez, makes you realize that life sometimes becomes more meaningful when touched by tragedy.
The ICK Factor
Cougar, shmougar — the fact is, Erica's grandkid is Ryan's son; he slept with Kendall, her daughter, just prior to hooking up with her; and the whole thing makes us feel...well, to paraphrase the old song title, "Things That Make You Go EWWW!" Perhaps now that Greenlee is returning to the canvas, Ryan will reunite with his true love, and Erica will reunite with her true love, Jack...who just happens to be Greenlee's dad.
Why, AMC? Why take a handsome, hunky hero like Aidan Devane (Aiden Turner) and turn him into an unrecognizable psycho, who kidnaps Kendall and morphs into a very sick puppy? Desperation is the only word that comes to mind. Aidan, we hardly knew ye, but we will miss you.
Murder, They Did
Two murder mysteries kept things hopping in Pine Valley for much of the latter six months: Stuart Chandler was shot, and DA Henry North was bludgeoned. Stuart's murder got most of the play — and was worth following for the wrap-up, when twin bro Adam (David Canary) realized he had dunnit — under the influence of mind-altering drugs courtesy of David. Canary played the hell out of mourning his brother, himself, and the lost connection to his "better half." But the more interesting murder followed an unhappy, spurned, abused wife, Madison (Stephanie Gatschet), who simply couldn't take it anymore — and clocked her hubby with a bookend, ending his political aspirations. Madison had some valid reasons for what she did, starting with her father, and the fallout from North's murder continues to echo throughout Pine Valley.
Yes, there was a lot to be thankful for, a lot to criticize and a lot to look forward to in Pine Valley. Just like in life. Here's hoping we all have a peaceful, happy, healthy 2010, and that all our drama is confined to the soaps — where it belongs.