The house that was a home

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AMC Two Scoops: The house that was a home
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The week of October 13, 2008
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Nestled away in Pine Valley, close in proximity though far in spirit from the ceaseless turmoil surrounding the Chandler mansion, the Fusion office, the Seasons Casino and Cambias Industries, and the general juvenile delinquency that comprises the entire town, is the Fargate Boarding House.

Nestled away in Pine Valley, close in proximity though far in spirit from the ceaseless turmoil surrounding the Chandler mansion, the Fusion office, The Seasons Casino and Cambias Industries, and the general juvenile delinquency that comprises the entire town, is the Fargate Boarding House. A safe haven for those being chased by jealous ex-lovers, criminals, or simply a place to stay while one gets back on one's feet, the Boarding House always emanated warmth to viewers watching from home.

On Wednesday, October 8, 2008, the most integral part of that warmth, the woman who stood as Pine Valley's bastion of strength, understanding, sympathy, and love, passed away. Eileen Herlie, who has portrayed Myrtle Fargate since 1976, died at the age of 90 due to complications from pneumonia. Though Myrtle will be forever immortalized in the introduction's scrapbook, her role as guide and counselor to many of Pine Valley's citizens will be missed, and leaves a large hole that will never be filled.

As an honorary Pine Valley resident who didn't begin watching until the mid-90s, my first memory of Myrtle Fargate was her involvement with Red Kilgren, the true Santa Claus, whom she reunited with Mrs. Claus just in time to save Christmas '96. While a shining example of the over-sweetened fodder that always seems to permeate soaps at Christmas time, the tale's adorable factor can't be denied.

From that story forward, Herlie's calm, wise, soft-yet-tough-as-carnie-nails character became a favorite part of my All My Children experience. When she came on, I watched. When she spoke, I listened. Fortunately, most of Pine Valley also understood and respected Myrtle's sagely presence, and her scenes with Erica, Bianca, and Zach became my favorites.

I don't know if the Fargate Boarding House will ever be featured again on All My Children. What I do know is that if it is, it will never be the same. Pine Valley will never be the same. I still look forward to tuning in to AMC each and every weekday, but from now on, the experience will undoubtedly be less warm than before.

Mr. & Mrs. Meddler

For weeks, Zach has been lecturing his wife to mind her own darn business. Leave Ryan and Annie alone, he said. Quit pestering Greenlee and Aidan, he intoned. Focus on your family, he pleaded. Good advice, but Zach's actions against Annie this past week certainly weren't a model of practicing what he preaches.

But let me pose a question to you: is meddling just meddling, plain and simple, or can there be good meddling and bad meddling? Kendall, despite Greenlee's insistence that she wants to make her marriage to Aidan work, has been badgering her BFF nonstop to be with her supposed true love, Ryan. Does Kendall care that Greenlee has told her numerous times to be silent? No. This is Kendall we're talking about, here. Kendall meddles; that's just what she does.

It's been getting to Zach lately, though, and I think that's understandable. But instead of setting an example for his wife, what does he do? He meddles. He convinced Annie to see a psychiatrist who, for all intents and purposes, is on Zach's payroll. Next thing you know, Annie blabbed about killing her brother and found herself unable to fight for custody of her daughter during Friday's custody battle.

Why couldn't she fight? Because Zach hinted that he'd have the shrink testify against Annie. Zach was willing to bet that the judge wouldn't want Emma placed in the sole care of a murderer, and Annie saw that he was right, so opted to recommend Ryan as Emma's sole guardian.

I believe that although Kendall claims to have her friends' interests at heart, her meddling is ultimately disruptive. Zach, the entire time, was genuinely concerned about Annie's mental health and even more so, Emma's safety. He used the psychiatrist's finding to determine that Annie wouldn't be able to provide Emma with a stable home environment.

Truthfully, it's hard to argue against Zach's findings. Annie did leave the gun in Emma's room, and she was mostly responsible for the recent miscarriage of her other child. She may not be certifiably insane at the moment, but she certainly was at one point. And even though much of what's befallen her isn't completely her fault and there really is someone watching her, she's paranoid, and her finger-pointing and ranting is quite scary.

It would seem that Zach was right to intervene. Maybe yes, maybe no. But regardless of whether you classify it as good or bad meddling, it was still meddling, and that makes him a hypocrite. As Zach and Kendall work to repair their marriage, I hope that Zach's God complex and hypocrisy is brought up by his wife. As much as I love his character, Zach sets a different set of guidelines for himself, and that's just not fair.

Spoil Sport

Courtesy of newsstand magazines and the Internet, the past month has seen a deluge of spoilers for All My Children, most of which reveal key segments of new head writer Charles' Pratt's first monumental umbrella event which begins this week, as well as its aftermath. These revealing tidbits of information have ranged from shocking to bizarre, and have caused many AMC fans to turn their backs on characters or refuse to watch the show, either permanently or until their demands are met.

Such is always the result when fans of certain characters catch wind that their favorites will be literally or figuratively destroyed. AMC is been on the air for over 39 years, and during that time, we've all come to love, abhor, and tolerate many characters for one reason or another. To find out that Zach, or Ryan, or Greenlee, or Erica, or Adam, or Tad, or anyone at all is going to commit an act so vile (or have something heinous done to them) that forgiveness could not possibly be an option, is always shocking to learn. For many viewers, these aren't just characters; they're friends, family they have come to love over the years.

Some of us like to peer into crystal balls. It's nice to catch a sneak peek of the future, right? Sure it is. But the problem with crystal balls is the images they reveal are: always fuzzy. Spoilers are usually one, maybe two sentences long and quite mysterious. Is it rational to lose control over fragments of information? Wouldn't it be better to wait and see how these scraps of information will be pieced together? Isn't it possible that an event you perceive as life-altering might actually make sense once its foundation has been revealed and the scene has played out?

Yes, it's possible. It might not happen, but it is possible.

So many viewers swear off characters, storylines, or the show itself until such-and-such a stipulation is met. Why? Why do this? Are you so bothered by what will happen that you aren't willing to actually watch the scenario and then make a judgment?

Love it or hate it, this is the age of the spoiler. Despite claiming that they want fans to tune in for deaths, returns, new arrivals, and whatever else, companies provide spoilers so that fans will tune in, not tune out. You don't have to read them, but if you do, don't go on a tirade and boycott the show, or a character, or an actor, or your dog, or anything at all. Wait and see what actually happens. SPOILER: it might not be as bad as you think.

-- 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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