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The week of February 4, 2008
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Yes, Richie is Annie's brother, but like most soap opera families, Richie and Annie have had anything but a normal sibling bond. Ever since they were children, Richie has terrorized Annie, as well as others.

Annie Lavery sighed as she shuffled onto her penthouse balcony. Staring blank-eyed into the overcast Pine Valley sky, she began to stroke a flower held in her hand. Her fingers pinched a petal and pulled it from the stem as she muttered, "I give a crap." Another pinch, another tug, but this time, "I don't give a crap." And so the slightly modified childhood game continued until all of the flower petals lay around Annie's bare feet--all the petals but one. Annie frowned, plucked, and said, "I give a crap." She tossed the stem aside, folded her arms across her chest, stared blankly for a few minutes, then stomped inside. "Crap."

Yes, Richie is Annie's brother, her family, her blood, but like most soap opera families, Richie and Annie have had anything but a normal sibling bond. Ever since they were children, Richie has terrorized Annie, as well as others. He pushed their father out of a window and blamed it on his sister; he drowned a kid in a lake for no other reason than he envied the other boy's baseball card collection; he framed Ryan and Aidan for attempted murder; he tricked Ryan and Annie into believing that Emma had eaten a poisoned brownie "from Uncle Richie"; he subdued a pilot and almost caused the plane carrying him, Ryan, Annie, the pilot, and a semi-innocent doctor to crash; he turned his father against Emma for no other reason than he didn't want a child of Annie's to have a connection with perhaps his only ally; he tried to frame his sister for his murder just for the satisfaction of knowing that his sister will be in prison after he's gone...

And those crimes are only the ones that Annie actually knows about! Unfortunately for Richie, his sister's decision was for naught; Annie's results revealed that she was ineligible to be her brother's bone marrow donor. I agreed with the plot twist; not out of any hard feelings toward Richie (I do enjoy the character) but because I appreciate writers throwing viewers an occasional curve ball that veers away from predictability. Additionally, it was much more interesting for Annie to explore how she felt about not being her brother's donor. Though she did regret the outcome, I can't help but assume she secretly felt a bit relieved, and that sort of thought comes with its own kind of guilt and grief. In the end, it was Annie's answer to the question, "What won't we do for our family, regardless of how psychotic they may be?" that spurred her toward doing what she felt was the right thing.

Perhaps that question should be posed to Adam Chandler. Even before JR had a chance to set down his bags upon moving back home, his father greeted him with a warm smile, a big hug--and a verbal list of demands, insults, and assumptions.

"Hi, Dad."

"Hello, son. Welcome home!"

"Yeah, uh, just so we're clear, I'm my own man and I--"

"You'll be rejoining Chandler Enterprises, won't you son? Of course you will; silly question. Oh, I know you want to do your own thing, your little Internet venture--how cute!--so I've created a company that will be all yours--but Chandler Enterprises will be the parent company, so I'm in charge anyway."

"But that's not what I--"

"Ah, your bags! Good, good. Glad we got them out of that hovel you were living in."

"I kind of liked--"

"Also, I think Babe is a tramp."


"Just thought you should know. Well, it's getting late! Guess I'll be going to bed. You'll be turning in as well, won't you? Of course you will! You have a bedtime, you know."

"But Dad--"

"We'll talk about this in the morning. Over breakfast. Which you'll be having with me." Goodnight, son!"

Adam Chandler is one of my favorite characters, and that will never change. Yes, he does have a tendency to terrorize defenseless women, attempts to sell babies on the black market, and buys entire sperm banks just so he can pseudo-rape a woman he wants to carry his child, but when I like a character, I like them through the good times and the bad. However, objectivity should become factor at some point. Although I feel for Adam and think he is being treated poorly, Stuart said it best on Friday, 2/1: "Oh, Adam. You're always the one that gets hurt in the end. You just never learn; that's what's so sad."

It's obvious that Adam is happy to have his son back in the mansion, but why can't Adam learn that strings should not always be attached? I sympathized with Adam when he overheard JR say that Tad was his father in every way that counts, and I do think it's a shame that the only reason JR moved home was to spy on his father, but guess what, Adam? Deception begets deception, and this situation will end just like all the others: with you sitting in your lavishly decorated family room, nursing a drink--alone. Hope all that money and Chandler stock keeps you warm at night.

Congratulations to Kendall Hart Slater on her first published novel! Yes, it must take a great deal of concentration to write and edit a complete novel while your husband is missing and your two sons are fresh out of the hospital. I'm sure they needed their mother's care, but why spend time with them when there are nannies for that sort of thing? Hey, you're a busy woman! You've got a search for your best friend and husband to ignore, infidelities to commit... Way to go, Kendall. You should feel... well, not proud. Selfish? Yeah, but something more... ah, neglectful! That'll work. Yes, congratulations, Kendall: You are your mother's daughter, and unquestionably the heir to the Kane throne.

To the ABC Daytime gods, I beg of you: Bring back Bianca, or give Josh more screen time. Please. I need a break from Erica and Erica 2.0.

Interesting that I used the word "gods". I'm sorry, have I lost you? Let me explain. When a loved one falls into a coma or is in a similar state, doctors encourage friends and family to will the person back into coherence with copious amounts of positive energy. Sit with them, hold their hand, talk about your day, and other such techniques. Greenlee's out-of-body experience on Friday, 2/1, seemed a symbolic representation of her loved ones doing just what they were doing: maintaining a loving vigil, pleading for their daughter, lover, and best friend to open her eyes. Maybe Greenlee will remember their words of love and challenge when she invariably awakens, or maybe she won't.

It's doubtful that anyone will ever know for certain whether these people are aware of our many attempts to will them back into life. It's much like people who claim to see a light at the end of a tunnel when they're close to death; maybe they do, but maybe not. Do people in such deep states of unconsciousness remember their near-death experiences? I would imagine it's like having a dream that, immediately after opening your eyes, you can't remember no matter how hard you try. Remember when Kendall was in a deep coma in mid-2006? She was perfectly aware of what everyone around her was saying--but had little to no recollection of any of those words when she regained consciousness.

For an event that happens so often in the world of Daytime television, it's nice to see the writers present different takes on what may or may not happen in that world between life and death. Are such experiences real? Just like the number of licks it takes to get to the Tootsie Roll center of a Tootsie Roll Tootsie Pop, the world may never know, so creative liberties can be taken to attempt fascinating commentaries for the viewing audience.

While we're talking about visions from beyond the grave, let's talk about one of those very visions that wasn't broadcasted from the afterlife after all: Jesse. Mr. Hubbard's return has been heavily praised, but many viewers have some reservations about how a man who died on-screen could be brought back to life. The most common answer of "It's a soap, so there are no rules" has always annoyed me, so instead, let's attempt to look at how Jesse's return might be considered viable by examining the three biggest problems people have found in his resurrection.

#1: He died on screen.

Did he? It sure seemed that way, but this is probably the easiest challenge for the writers to overcome. It's easy enough for them to say, "He almost died, but due to the danger Jesse was in, his loved ones were not informed that he was still alive after he was resuscitated." There you go. Simple, clean, and mostly fair.

Why did I mention "fair"? In the world of writing, not everything will make sense, but writers should strive to come up with a fair storyline resolution. It should be mostly plausible, something that makes us sit back and say, "That doesn't completely make sense, but at least it's kind of fair."

#2: His organs were donated.

Were they? Did that happen on-screen? No? Bingo. If something occurs off-screen, any rewrites are fair game. It's plausible to speculate that news of Jesse's organ donations were made available to his friends and family in order to perpetuate his death. Doing so would encourage those who might still be looking for him to give up the hunt.

#3: Tad saw Jesse's spirit.

Yes, he saw Jesse--but was it Jesse's spirit? As it turns out, no, it wasn't. How can the writers fix this? Simple: Jesse was Tad's best friend, so it's only natural to imagine that, since Tad believed Jesse was dead, Tad assumed he saw Jesse's spirit, when in fact it was only a hallucination. Think back to when Edmund saw a vision of Maria in the aqueduct. He too thought it was her spirit, and why? Because she was dead--or so he thought. Just like in the case of Maria, I have no doubt that the writers originally intended for the vision of Jesse to be his spirit, but now he's alive.

So, vision of a loved one's spirit now known to be nothing more than a hallucination possibly derived from such factors as exhaustion, starvation, dehydration, or terror? I think so. The rewrite is fair.

Of course, there is a line in the sand that should not be crossed. Too many resurrections can damage the impact of a character's death. Because of the humiliating, sacrilegious way Dixie was killed, I would love to have Cady McClain return to reunite with her love, her daughter, and her son--but should that be allowed to happen? If too many characters come back from the dead, or if the same character dies and comes back over and over, death will lose its impact because viewers will say, "Oh, how sad! Of course, he'll probably be back in a few years, so who cares?"

In Dixie's case, her body was never found the first time she "died", so her return in 2006 could be considered a fair resurrection. Death by pancakes, however, will take a bit more finesse on the part of the writers--should Dixie even be returning, of course.

Just for fun, write in and tell me who you would like to see return from the dead, and why. Were they your favorite character, or perhaps a character you loved to hate? Write in and let me know! My list: Edmund Grey, Leo du Pres, and Gillian Andrassy.

Now, there was one last thing I wanted to talk about. If only I could remember... oh, that's right! Ryan's amnesia. Yeah, I know, terrible joke, but hey, amnesia storylines are another soap staple, so you have to be able to poke fun at them from time to time. On a serious note, I have been dreading this storyline. I've become a fan of Ryan and Annie over the past several months, and I dread what the future most likely brings for this couple.

Coming to enjoy "Ryannie" was not easy. More often than not, viewers latch on to one couple or another because they like one or both characters. I've liked Ryan off and on since he came to Pine Valley approximately ten years ago, but aside from his time with Gillian, my feelings toward him have mostly fallen into the "off" category. Same goes for Annie: I loved her fierce, independent spirit when she first came to town, but the moment she hooked up with Ryan, she became a simpering damsel in distress, seemingly incapable of doing anything on her own without her man's approval. Even more grating was her transformation into a drama queen when Richie sauntered into the Valley. Whiny, clingy, and overly dramatic? Sorry, the part of Kendall has already been filled.

But then something changed. I don't remember exactly when, but I realized that I really liked Ryannie. Ryan, Spike, Emma, and Annie make a nice family, and I don't want to see them split apart. My heart broke equally for Annie and Emma as Ryan expressed confusion, disbelief, and hostility in spades when he saw them after losing a hefty chunk of his memory on Friday, 2/1. Ryan's clock turned back four years, returning him to the Kendall- and Greenlee-centric era of his life. If Ryan knew what was happening and was given a choice between the past and the present--and remember that on Thursday, 1/31, Ryan stated that Annie, Emma, Spike, and his extended family in Zach and Kendall were all he needed to be happy--which do you think Ryan would choose? As a viewer, I know what my decision would be.

Too bad nobody at ABC Daytime really cares what the viewers want, as evidenced by the apparent push toward a Ryan and Greenlee reunion. Did that work last time? Nope. Does it make any sense to try again? Apparently. I've done my best to get past what happened to Sabine Singh, but does anyone else think that Rebecca Budig's return has a lot to do with the destruction of Ryan/Annie, Greenlee/Aidan, and Zach/Kendall? "Zendall" is long overdue for some relative peace; viewers haven't even been given a chance to see if the "Real" Greenlee has any chemistry with Aiden Turner; and Ryan and Annie's obliteration is perhaps the most shocking of all. Anyone else recall Brian Frons's fervent support of "Ryannie" when the couple was first planned?

I still have high hopes for 2008, as do many viewers. Here's hoping ABC Daytime's Powers That Be are willing to give this year a shot and not spend too long in the past. 2004? Been there, done that, thank you very much.

-- David

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