Soap in crisis

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AMC Two Scoops: Soap in crisis
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The week of January 14, 2008
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Zach and Kendall are keeping secrets from one another. Ryan is playing the hero. Jack and Erica are acting like teenagers. All soaps need consistency, but this is ridiculous.

I'm sure there are few that would argue AMC is in crisis. The stories are depressing, characters are regressing, and opportunities to take advantage of the assets the show does have are being wasted left and right. Message boards and magazine pages abound with suggestions to curb this collapse. I do believe the damage can be fixed. Unfortunately, it seems as though the powers-that-be are happy to keep digging themselves deeper into their particular rut.

This week, we saw more of the same frustrating storytelling that's driven us crazy the past few years. Zach and Kendall are keeping secrets from one another, while shouldering incredible guilt. Ryan is playing the hero. Jack and Erica are acting like teenagers. JR is even pursuing Babe again, for crying out loud! All soaps need consistency, but this is ridiculous. Hannah the Fanatic

The big focus this week was on Hannah. The lady had a busy week - she tried to kill Kendall, shot Ryan in the head, took Josh hostage, lured Zach to a final confrontation, and through all that, managed to find the time to bed a barely legal Sean. (Gotta love how she asked the young Mr. Montgomery how old he was before seducing him. Taking shots at people is no biggie, but you wouldn't want to have sex with a minor!) Of course, once Hannah and Zach were face-to-face, she accused him of abandoning her, of rescuing every woman in his life except her. She told him about how Alex Sr. took advantage of her and, naturally, threw in a shot or two about how Zach also failed to 'save' Ethan. And what purpose did all of this serve? To make Slater feel all the more guilty when she lets go of his hand on Monday.

Hannah was actually quite entertaining in full-on psycho mode and I loved watching Zach's determination in hunting her down. Unfortunately, with Friday's sobfest, it's easy to see what's coming. More unwarranted guilt placed on Zach's already overburdened conscience. I mean, it wasn't for him, Hannah would have been fine. Ethan would have been safe. Michael wouldn't have been a racist. Alex Sr. wouldn't have killed Simone and Erin and Dixie. Ryan wouldn't have been shot. Greenlee wouldn't have almost died. Bad things wouldn't happen to good people. There would be no global warming. Wars would never be fought. All would be right with the world, if not for Zach Slater.

Oh, and don't forget his wife! Kendall was the one who told Zach not to fire Hannah, so clearly, she deserved to get shot at. And she was the one who forced Greenlee to go on the run and get trapped in a bomb shelter, where she was pushed to the brink of death. Not mention that she betrayed her husband with Aidan. The world would be a veritable paradise without these two hideous creatures, right? It's not enough that the writers inflict torture on these characters; they have to prolong it themselves? ENOUGH!

I hope none of you were hurt by all of those anvils falling this week. Jack suggested that Greenlee might have feelings for Zach; Greens mentioned Aidan's "distance" since the rescue, right after giddily recounting to Kendall how Zach professed his love to her in the bomb shelter; and Aidan and Kendall exchanged more guilty knowing looks than I could count. I'm trying to figure a way to make it through this storyline without throwing up, even though I know that the reveal will probably be about as messy as I can imagine. If anyone can come up with a remedy, let me know.

Come On, Get Happy!

Too much doom and gloom? Not to worry, because Ryan Aloysius Lavery has a new lease on life! Isn't he charmingly giddy and quirky? I mean, that's what getting shot in the head does to a person. One minute, you're lying on your ex-wife's floor, bleeding on her rug, and the next minute you're dancing with Erica Kane in your hospital room. Or, apparently, taking your shirt off and standing in an evening snowstorm. Gee, he's so unpredictable! I'm sure hilarity and a series of wacky misadventures are about to ensue!

I'm sure this is just what Annie needs right now. Was it just me or, by the end of the week, was there a kind of annoyed vibe about her? Kind of like she was saying, "Honey, it's nice that you're not dead and everything, but could you maybe stop being one with our balcony and help me figure out what to do with my sociopath brother and his request for my bone marrow?"

Speaking of which, I am beyond happy that Richie is going to live. He was delightfully evil during that evaluation, feigning sorrow when he was informed that his former prison shrink (and accomplice) had met with an unfortunate accident. Even though that was a performance for the ages, I really do buy that he's in love with Babe and wants a future with her (as if we needed another sign that he's crazy). Of course, good old JR might get in the way.

While I'm kind of looking forward to seeing what Richie does to get Junior out of the way, putting Mr. Chandler back in Babe's romantic sphere is just plain stupid. This is a case of 'been there, done that' to the nth degree. Just because Babe's got a new face doesn't mean the storyline is fresh. I swear, if I had been in Tad's place and heard JR say that Babe was his perfect first mate, I would have leapt over that pool table and smacked him upside the head. Well, after I tied him to a chair and gave him a haircut. Instead, a supportive Tad sent him on his merry way, to don a dorky looking cap and frolic in the park with Arabella. It's like they're [i]trying[/i] to make me throw up.

Rating the Worst

Most of the responses to my 'Worst Of' column were positive, and for that, I thank you. In fact, most of your disagreements had to do with all the other bad stories and stupid plot twists I was forced to overlook. There are only so many hours in the day, however. I did want to address one email I received regarding Kendall. This reader would rather see Ms. Hart-Slater shipped out of town, arguing that the show has gone downhill because it has centered around Erica's daughter. This reader also pointed out that even I must acknowledge that basing a whole soap opera around a single person is unwise.

Now, for me, Kendall being front-and-center is no different than Erica Kane being at the heart of AMC for so many years. Who better to take up the mantle then La Kane's eldest daughter? And, as you can surmise, I think Kendall's done a fine job. Maybe if the storylines she was given didn't involve various and assorted forms of torture and heartache, the show would be doing a little better.

That said, I do agree that you need balance in a soap opera. I started watching this show long before the name Kendall Hart passed anyone's lips. I was invested in Pine Valley's residents for decades before Zach Slater became one of them. I used to tune into AMC and think, "I wonder which of those great stories I'm going to see today," not, "I wonder if there will be any great stories on today." I miss seeing a segment with Brooke and Edmund, followed by an Erica and Dimitri scene, topped off with a Palmer-Adam argument or a heart-to-heart between Hayley and Stuart. While I vehemently disagree that Kendall is to blame for it, AMC's imbalance does need to be corrected. I don't think you do that by cutting back on a character's screen time - you simply need to surround her with other great characters, playing out great stories, and everyone on the show will benefit.

Oh, and I sincerely want to thank you, reader, for expressing your opinion so politely, intelligently and respectfully. It's nice to be able to agree to disagree.

A Final Note

In my 'Worst Of' column, I also mentioned AMC's full court media press promoting the return of the "real" Greenlee. I thought the endless interviews, website banners, and countdown clock was a bit much, but the final straw came this week. While watching Sabine Singh's Greenlee pour her heart out to Jackson, there was an ABC-sanctioned graphic ad touting the return of the "real" Greenlee. They might as well have a crawl going across the screen during Singh's scenes saying, "Forget this chick! She isn't Greenlee! Just hang in there."

Way to go, AMC. You've taken something that should have been a positive and morphed into something ugly and tacky. And, in the process, you're pretty much negating anything the recast YOU hired has done since arriving. But, worst of all, you've taken attention off of the real casting coup, bringing back one of AMC's most popular supercouples, Angie and Jesse. I guess in a world where Dixie Cooney Martin shares a funeral with Babe and Brooke English vanishes without a goodbye, that makes sense. But it sure as hell makes no sense to me.

Thanks for reading, guys. See you in two weeks.
-- Kristine

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