"The day is coming," Ghost Dixie repeatedly told Adam Chandler. She was hinting, of course, at the events that unfolded during Jesse and Angie's wedding and reception. Shots were fired, affairs were revealed, a familiar couple rekindled their romance - and Kendall whined.
For the citizens of Pine Valley, many of the events that transpired last Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday could rightfully be labeled as catastrophic (and, in Kendall's case, typical). For All My Children viewers, they were touching, sad, humorous, joyful, and exciting (and, in Kendall's case, annoying).
In short, they were everything that AMC fans have come to expect (and miss) from their favorite show. Bravo, ABC Daytime. Last week was not perfection, but it was the closest I've seen on AMC in a very long time.
Jesse and Angie's wedding, which officially took place on Wednesday, 5/21, was incredible. Arranging the wedding guests in a circle that melded together after Angie walked down the aisle to join her husband-to-be was a nice touch, and the readings from friends, coupled with the couple's vows, culminated in one of the most memorable weddings in AMC's history.
Thursday may have been a build-up to Friday's calamity, but it was a tense and much-anticipated episode all on its own. Thursday's true delight was Jesse's confrontation with Robert. I would have preferred to have seen Jesse find the clues he presented to Rob, but their heated conversation was more than good enough.
The scene, which bridged Thursday's and Friday's episode, only got better when Angie entered the picture. David Rasche, who portrays Gardner, had a look come over his eyes as he moved into the ballroom with his captive. That look was desperation, and it was terrifying. That look, which single-handedly caused me to scoot forward in my chair until I was perched on its edge, drew every other on-screen performer into it like a black hole. Rob knew that to escape with his precious diamond, he would have to do something desperate to keep any heroes at bay.
And he did, but more on that in a bit.
Everything about Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday's shows was thrilling. Folks, this is the show we've all pined for since Megan McTavish sprung a leak in the S.S. AMC several years back. Friday's episode was fantastic because it threw every possible emotion at viewers and made us feel them acutely. We were shocked when we were supposed to be shocked; happy when we were supposed to be happy; sad; amused - AMC ran the entire gamut of emotions in the span of three days, and while it left me exhausted, it also left me bemoaning a Friday cliffhanger that came on the precipice of a holiday weekend.
As sit in my apartment on the west coast writing this column, it's approximately 11:00 a.m. Because I usually write Two Scoops around this time, recapping the events normally causes me to daydream about what will be transpiring in approximately 25 hours. Due to a Memorial Day re-run, I've got to wait 49. Tuesday cannot come fast enough.
So Close, and Yet...
The last three AMC episodes from the past week were incredible, but they weren't without their flaws. Many of the shows' issues were somewhat glaring, but the well-produced, well-written, and well-choreographed action more than made up for these glitches: why did Rob continually turn his back to people; especially Aidan, who had a gun? Furthermore, why didn't Rob make Aidan turn his gun over to Rob so the special-ops agent would be completely without firearms? Why did Robert hit only one man who scrambled up the stairwell after him, especially when the rooftop was practically devoid of any obstacles? Finally, as a video game player, I'm inclined to suspect that Rob had some sort of infinite ammunition cheat code programmed into his gun; how else could one explain the seemingly endless rounds the villain was able to fire?
There were others, but as I said, all of them can be overlooked or explained. Perhaps, for example, Rob felt confident in facing away from Jesse, Aidan, and a room full of party-goers because he knew that if anyone grabbed him or he spasmed from a gunshot, he might be able to shoot Angie, and no one would risk that. Though most of the show's offenses stem from Robert Gardner, I blame writing and choreography, not the actor. Still, the sum of AMC's parts this week made for a great whole, and each team (writing, lighting, choreography, wardrobe, set design, et cetera) more than did their part in making the shows memorable. Kudos for a job well done.
As for the major discrepancies, they were, as per usual, character-related. Greenlee, in a surprising, out-of-character decision not to explode in public and shower everyone with selfish shrapnel, chose to confront Aidan and Kendall outside of the reception. If any scenes during the last three days of the week could be considered filler, it was the scenes involving these four. It pains me to say it, as I'm a huge Zach fan (and a former Greenlee supporter), but given everything else that was happening around them, I just didn't care about Greenlee's hurt feelings.
For months, I've felt that the writers have been trying to hard to show that Aidan is the (latest) love of Greenlee's life. Their love just hasn't felt like the real deal for quite some time, and any viewer could accurately predict that once the big one-night stand secret came out, Greenlee would be buying Aidan a one-way ticket to Singlesville.
What more can be said? The writing has long been on the wall regarding Greenlee and Aidan, and given how things have gone behind the scenes and storyline-wise since Rebecca Budig's return, that writing was most likely scrawled in illegible, nonsensical crayon.
And then there's Julia. Poor, poor Julia. I can tell you that, without having read any spoilers, I don't think she'll survive her gunshot wound. If any one occurrence could be said to ruin this past week's excellence, it would easily be this one.
Way to go, AMC writers. As has been the rule rather than the exception over the past several years, you have chosen to skirt writing an involving, reality-based drama.
A few weeks ago, Krystal posed a serious question to Tad: what would he do if he were to find Kate and learn that she was living in a happy home? It's a question that seemed to set the stage for a story that could have been emotionally gripping - but we can't have that, now can we? No, this is 2008, and in 2008, All My Children doesn't tackle relevant issues; they kill off characters (literally in Julia's case; figuratively in Annie Lavery's) to quickly get them out of the way.
Why is it that the exact same team of AMC writers can produce the multi-faceted drama of Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday's episodes, yet still decide it's a brilliant idea to erase Ryan's vasectomy and mind - Ryan never loved Annie? Yeah, right -- and (probably) kill Julia Santos Keifer in order to clear Tad's path to Kate? Sydney Penny (Julia) and Michael Knight (Tad) are two of the best actors in AMC's long history and have both been responsible for some of the best ratings the show has ever drawn. Are we to believe that they don't have the acting chops to pull off such a story?
Apparently. Remember, dear readers: AMC is no longer about tackling social issues and producing character-driven stories. It's about shock value, plain and simple. AMC's cast can handle anything the writing team throws at them. The problem is, the writing team is too lazy to throw anything worthwhile.
Despite its problems, I do honestly love this show. It is my love for this show and its roster of acting talent that has kept me glued to my set for over 10 years, and will hopefully keep me in front of the TV for 10 more - if the show is still around. For those who haven't heard, AMC hasn't fared so well in the ratings as of late. Some might say the show deserves what might end up being its fate: cancellation. Those in charge at ABC Daytime seem more focused on what they want (shock value) than what we want (the AMC days of old: believable characters and stories).
To fix this, ABC Daytime has once again decided that it knows best and has hired a new head writer to replace the James Brown and Barbara Esensten regime. Some are happy, some are not; as for me, I'm a just worried. More than Dixie's return and a focus on relevant issues, I want stability. This will be the third head writer change in the past few years that AMC has undergone. Each head writer had his, her, or their take on what AMC needs in order to survive - but it never seemed to be in line with our vision.
Bringing about a new head writer is a nerve-wracking thing. What does it mean for the newly-returned Angie and Jesse? How about the fresh face of Jake Martin? Will a living, breathing Dixie return to Pine Valley? How about our favorite (and not-so-favorite) characters - what will become of them? Will things get better, or will they become worse?
Folks, I understand that even though this past week was largely fantastic, many of you feel that AMC hasn't been too good as of late. In some respects I agree, and in some I don't. That's life, isn't it? Everyone has an opinion. Viewers continue to tune out of our show, issuing demands and proclamations that if so-and-so returns or if such-and-such a storyline is written or dropped, they (the viewers) will return to the show. That's fine. Your life is your own, and how you choose to spend your time is your own as well.
But people, if you continue to abandon the show (and Dixie fans, I know many of you are planning to leave once her current stint as a ghost comes to an end), there might not be a show to return to once your demands have been met. If that happens, what will your indignation have earned you? Nothing, except the possibility of a one hour (half an hour, once upon a time) time slot that will be heart-achingly filled with something other than Pine Valley's intrigue, deceit, drama, and love in the afternoon.
Please watch the show. Remember Friday, 5/23/08, as one of the best episodes in the show's diverse history. Remember that not every episode will be memorable or even decent; but also remember that without viewers, there will be no episodes at all.