It's a small town after all

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It's a small town after all
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The week of June 23, 2008
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Family trees in soap towns seem to resemble a kindergarten student's coloring project. A color used to represent a specific family zig-zags up, down, and all around, criss-crossing and blending with other colors to create entirely new lines that represent one family's ties to another.

Family trees of soap towns seem to resemble a kindergarten student's coloring project, don't they? A color used to represent a specific family zig-zags up, down, and all around, criss-crossing and blending with other colors to create entirely new lines that represent one family's ties to another -- to many others, in some cases.

Though core families can often be represented with just a handful of colors, Pine Valley requires quite a few crayons at present: the Chandlers (blue), the Martins (red), the Hubbards (green), the Kanes (purple), the Laverys (silver), the Slaters (orange) and the Careys (yellow). Some families, such as the Maricks, the Santos clan, and the Dillons have been practically erased from the colorful canvas, and some have minimal representation but maintain strong ties to others (Montgomerys to the Kanes) but enough colors remain to give the town its prerequisite dramatic history.

Pre-existing ties to core families are an excellent and easy way to introduce a new character to the rainbow-like canvas. Just when you thought you were done with one crayon, along comes a long-lost twin, cousin, or parent that requires further scribbling and scrawling.

Josh Madden drifted aimlessly until the un-abortion reveal occurred, which resulted in red and purple lines blending and weaving with orange. "Wes" also spent time in limbo until his true identity, Richard "Wes" Novak, was deduced, thereby tying him to Annie, Ryan, and, due to recent illegal shenanigans, JR Chandler.

It's easy for writers to draw new characters with pre-existing colors, and it's also a quick way for audiences to grow comfortable with them, but I have to admit that sometimes, the residents of Pine Valley are a bit too intertwined for my tastes. Tried-and-true colors such as blue, silver, red, and yellow can get worn down if used too often. Why not whip out pink, black, brown, or another brand new color? Sure, we love our core families (most of them, anyway), but the Martins and Chandlers won't be around forever. It's time for new blood, and it seems AMC is testing those very waters with two relatively new characters: Carmen Morales and Randi.

Unless the forthcoming new writing regime has drastic plans for Carmen Morales, she is not biologically linked to any current Pine Valley resident at present. Sure, she could end up being another of Myrtle's long lost daughters, or maybe even Erica's sister (hey, this is a soap; it could happen) but as it stands, the Morales surname is new to Pine Valley, and I for one hope it takes hold.

The possibilities presented by the Carmen character are intriguing. Her liveliness and lust for life (and a man, as she's repeatedly made known) have caused me to speculate on possible romantic relationships. Aidan, if he and Greenlee don't reunite, might be the perfect match for Carmen. His relationship with Di Henry was built purely on fun and physical attraction, but his time with Greenlee made him realize that he does want something deeper, something grounded yet still fun. Perhaps Carmen could be the woman to give him the best of both worlds. She has spent enough time in the real world to understand the importance of responsibility, but still loves to let her hair down and have a good time.

Another possible match: Josh Madden. Like Aidan, Josh loves to have a good time but is also looking for something real. This seems a more likely match, as Carmen already has friendship ties to Josh's mother.

Randi, a newcomer who appears to be a prostitute (as per the ending of Friday's show, which presented a battered and bruised Randi as a woman beaten by her pimp), looks to be paired with Frank Hubbard. Such a relationship would immediately tie her to one of Pine Valley's most prominent and popular families, and would present more than its fair share of drama. Frankie will doubtlessly look to exact vengeance on Randi's pimp, and I'm sure Jesse and Angie will be less than thrilled at their son's love interest.

Such disapproval would be quite hypocritical. Angela Baster, daughter of well-to-do parents, wasn't exactly encouraged to pursue the advances of Jesse Hubbard, a kid Angela's father saw as a thug. Angie believed in Jesse, whose heart, mind, and work ethic proved his value as a respectable human being. If Angie were to frown on Frankie's choice of a partner, I'd have to call "hypocrite," but it could be that the writers are looking to repeat the Angie and Jesse story with Frankie and Randi. Only time will tell. In the meantime, break out that box of Crayola crayons, writers -- we love our favorite colors, but a few new shades of the classics never hurt anybody.

Reality T.V.

Despite my enjoyment of watching the proverbial walls close in on Richie, Tad and Jesse/Angie's stories have captivated me the most over the past month. Wedding shootouts, out-of-body experiences, hanging from helicopters, bone marrow tests... the rubble has been cleared away from these events to reveal two stories that are rooted in reality, two stories that any average Joe or Jane could be dealing with in the real world.

At the age of six, poor Kathy has lost her foster parents, her Aunt Julia, and (possibly, maybe) her biological mother. Her jubilation when Tad announced their relation was tangible and presented a beautiful moment that, while not perfect (a flesh-and-blood Dixie should have been in attendance), will always be remembered by me as one of the most touching in AMC's history.

Now begins the real story: life with Daddy. How will Kathy/Kate adjust to the fact that Tad is her real father? What will she think of her massive extended family? Will she get along with her stepmother? Will she vie for Tad's attention when he's seeing to Jenny, or spending time with Krystal, JR, or any number of other people?

Kathy has been through a great deal, most of it traumatic at best, depressing at worst. The writers would do well to write Kathy as a troubled child, one who will be plagued by all she's gone through before her life has really gotten started. With Dixie or without her, Tad will have his hands full.

For Jesse and Angie, the honeymoon ended before it even began. Jesse's desire to rejoin the police force and again do what he feels he was born to do is causing strife between the popular couple, with each having compelling arguments on his or her side.

Angie's stance is understandable: she lived through losing Jesse once and doesn't want to do it again. This is doubtlessly a problem for any individual whose significant other partakes in a dangerous career. Police officers, fire fighters, and employees of other such professions bid their loved ones goodbye each and every time they walk out the door. Does each party think, "Is this our final goodbye?"

Jesse is driven to do good, to help those who need help, to right wrongs and serve justice to those who deserve it. He knows the risks all too well, having spent the last two decades of his life on the run from dangerous criminals who tortured him mentally, physically, and emotionally.

What decision should the couple reach? Angie simply wants Jesse to live a safe, happy life with Jesse where the only problems they'll face are disagreements over what to have for dinner. Jesse wants a safe and happy life as well, but also understands that police work isn't just his career -- it defines him as a person. It's not a job that helps pay the bills, but a part of his soul.

Drama is fine, romance is dandy, but stories like those being face by Tad, Kathy, Angie, and Jesse are the cornerstone of Agnes Nixon's vision for All My Children. one-night stands result in water cooler gossip, and murder mystery speculation fills Internet forums with fun speculation and theories, but social issues bring people together to talk candidly about relevant issues that could impact one or more members of a family, friendship, or romantic relationship.

-- David

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Two Scoops is an opinion column. The views expressed are not designed to be indicative of the opinions of AMC Pages or its advertisers. The Two Scoops section allows our Scoop staff to discuss what might happen, what has happened, and to take a look at the logistics of it all. They stand by their opinions and do not expect others to share the same view point.

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