Well, look what blew into town - me! I am back for another special appearance in this week's Two Scoops. You've probably gotten used to reading my columns every other week over the past two months, but I assure you that getting a chance to share my column with you is still very special for me.
I was so glad when I realized that the every-other-week schedule meant that I would be writing the Two Scoops column for the week following the tornado. I am not sure how long everyone else out there has known that the tornado was coming. Me, well, I've known for about two months. It's hard to be "surprised" by any story developments when it's your job to report on soap news and spoilers. I think rumors of a possible tornado touchdown first hit the 'net back when Charles Pratt took over as head writer. Pratt said in an interview that he wanted to create an umbrella story (an event that affects all stories currently on the canvas) to really usher in his reign as head writer.
Well, this was some umbrella. Hopefully it's not one that will turn inside-out in the wind. I hate when that happens.
I wonder if Charles Pratt knew that a tornado had previously touched down in Pine Valley. I remember the tornado of 1995 like it was yesterday. I can't believe that it happened 13 years ago. Thirteen. The entire tornado episode is available online on YouTube - and I watched it last week to get ready for the latest round of bad weather. It's amazing to me how the technology has changed.
There was a lot of hype about the special effects involved in last week's tornado scenes. ABC pulled out the big guns to create realistic CGI (computer-generated imagery) graphics. It's the same technology that was used back when Jesse jumped off a rooftop and onto a helicopter. General Hospital has also used the "green screen" technology. The special effects don't come cheap, so there's a lot riding on the plot in the current budget-challenged world of soaps.
I thought the special effects were fantastic. You can tell when I'm engrossed in television because I leave the chair at my desk and slowly creep closer to the television screen. Things really got started when Zach's car got sucked up and tossed around like a toy. Some of the scenes worked a little better than others and some you could tell were computer-generated. But it's safe to say that nothing like this has ever been done on daytime television before. The extent to which the special effects were used was amazing. I think the entire last half-hour was mostly special effects, as tornado after tornado pummeled the poor townsfolk.
There are some who have questioned the realism of the tornado storyline. Greenlee and Ryan were mooning over each other as lightning struck all around them and the winds blew like crazy. "What the hell was Zach doing driving in a tornado?" a friend of mine asked via instant messenger. And over on the message boards, there was a post that doubted whether or not a town could be hit by more than one tornado. For the first two questions there's an easy answer: People do some idiotic things. When youre not watching your favorite daytime drama, flip the channel over to one of the many talk shows or Judge Judy ripoffs. People are dumb-dumbs. For example, Krystal and Angie saw no problem with sitting in front of the windows at the Comeback - with small children at their sides. First there was a safe room at the bar - then there wasn't. Secondly, one of our Soap Central visitors shared with our other readers that tornados can and do target towns and villages at random. So, yes, a single area can be hit by more than one tornado. But with Llanview just a few miles away, it was interesting to see that the weather on Friday's One Life to Live didn't appear to be all that menacing, as Viki would say, "a'tall"!
Now let's break down the damage.
Poor Opal. This woman has been going nuts for several weeks now. She got herself so worked up that her poor ticker couldn't take it. As weird as it sounds, having a heart attack might have saved her life. Had she stayed at the Comeback she might have been flattened along with everyone else. I love Opal and I think Jill Larsen is a fabulous (and often unappreciated) actress. However, that over-the-top doomsday squealing was beginning to get on my nerves - almost as much as the doorbells that wouldn't stop ringing! All I know is that there are going to be a lot of people in town who will think twice the next time Opal has a "feeling."
Somehow, Jake, Taylor, and Amanda all avoided the tornado. I am not sure where they were, but I can only hope that they were not riding out the storm on Ms. Dillon's yacht. Just a quick note about Amanda: She will soon realize that she and Jake are through and she will end up in bed with someone that... well, it's a big ick factor for me. Oh, Amanda. If you are reading this (and I sure hope you are) please tell the writers to give you a storyline that doesn't involve the bedroom.
Adam and Erica had a run-in with some creepy shadow. Ooh, it was spooky! Armed with just a flashlight, the dynamic duo tracked the shadowy figure to the secret passages within the walls of the Chandler mansion. Someone had been camped out in the catacombs for quite a while. There were newspaper clippings about Babe and several take-out cartons from a Chinese restaurant. So maybe Annie wasn't seeing things -- well, other than her dead brother. And maybe, just maybe, she isn't crazy. No, now that I think about it... she is definitely crazy. Now Adam and Erica are trapped in the secret passageway. When Adam was able to open the door, I wasn't sure what he'd find on the other side. He could have found the creepy stalker person. He could have found that his home had been blown away and nothing was left. Instead, behind the door was a wall of rubble. Worst of all - no one knows that they they're trapped because Adam sent a text message to Colby to tell her that he and Erica were headed out of town. Adam and Erica, if you're reading this (and I sure hope that you are) no matter how hungry you are, please don't eat whatever is left in the takeout containers. Salmonella aside, if it really is David Hayward hiding in the walls, who knows what laboratory creations might be in the food? You could end up forgetting who you are (which might not be bad), be forced to tell the truth (and admit that you still love each other), wind up hornier than a college freshman - or some combination of the three!
Someone kidnapped little Emma. I sure hope it wasn't the canine star from the Beverly Hills Chihuahua movie poster that was shamelessly tucked into the background of the scenes. Oddly, none of the other flicks showing at the local cineplex were real world films. Disney must only have one family-friendly film out at the moment. Emma doesn't interest me that much. Emma, if you're reading this (and I sure don't know how you are since you're not old enough to read and shouldn't be on the Internet without parental oversight), please go home. If you stay missing for too long you'll end up being "aged" into a teenager with some sort of drug addiction. The only little one that I currently like is the little hellion, Kate. After everything gets back to a post-tornado norm, I hope Kate comes back to create some sort of ruckus. Had someone kidnapped Kate, it could have made for a funny storyline. The kidnapper might have ended up begging someone to take her off his or her hands!
Aidan arrived where Greenlee was supposed to be and somehow found her cell phone amongst the rubble. Meanwhile, Ryan and Greenlee had taken refuge somewhere and were riding out the storm. As much as my dirty mouth wants to drop in a little off-color joke here, I will refrain - but please feel free to write one yourself. I like Greenlee, but Ryan... not so much. The idea that these two were meant to be together doesn't fly for me. I don't dislike them together, but I could also be very happy if they weren't a couple. With the rumored exit of Rebecca Budig (Greenlee) early next year, it doesn't look like "Rylee" will be together all that long. Greenlee, if you're reading this column (and I sure hope that you are), run. Run like the wind. Ryan's other halves don't fare too well. Gillian was shot in the head and killed. Annie is loony tunes. Kendall somehow managed to come out of her relationship unscathed. Mia was pushed out of a window by her sister. Liza, when she making her siblings tumble out of windows, ended up pregnant after a fling with Ryan, but the baby was not carried to term. Now that I think about it, Ryan's brothers didn't do too well, either, and Ryan's dad was a first-class jerk.
Kendall had a surprise visitor in the midst of the stormy weather. We didn't find out who it was until the very last scene of Friday's show. Why Bianca was traveling around in a tornado is beyond me, but there she was. Maybe the tornado was some sort of portal between Paris and Pine Valley. Kendall, however, is still missing somewhere under the debris. Fortunately, her two children are safe. The fate of their "wiste" game is not known. Disney must not be in the board game business. I suppose the tornado was a convenient way to sideline Kendall while Alicia Minshew takes a much-needed vacation from the show. As you may have read over in the news section, Alicia has signed a new contract with All My Children, but she's taking two months off to enjoy life with her soon-to-be-new husband.
It's far too early to be saying this, but I am not that fond of Natalia. She was fine when she was lurking around the hallways at Jesse and Angie's apartment building, but now she's annoying. I understand that she feels jilted by her father and wants her father and mother to be together. That isn't going to happen. You don't come back from the dead to leave the love of your life behind. Natalia appears to have survived the tornado, so she'll be blowing some more hot air of her own in the weeks to come. Angie, if you're reading this (and I sure hope you are), stay away from that woman. Do not offer her a place to stay while she figures out what to do with the "boyfriend" she claims to be seeing. Do not let her near Jesse. It can only end badly. Meanwhile, though, Angie seems to have softened towards Randi. I guess Randi was bound to win her over by hooker by crook. Okay, please stop groaning.
In the week ahead, the tornado will claim at least one life. Babe Carey chooses to save the life of her child, putting Little A's life ahead of her own. It's the heart-wrenching decision that no mother would want to make, but I can't think of any woman who wouldn't make the same choice. As a result of her selfless act, Babe will lose her life. Even though I knew that Babe would not survive the tornado, it didn't make the viewing experience any less dramatic. You could easily see the pain on Amanda Baker's face as she turned in a great performance. Babe, if you're reading this (and I sure hope you can from where you are), I forgive you. I can't speak for all of the other fans out there that still hate you for having stolen Bianca's baby, but I forgive you. Your last few months were not all about you. You tried to do what was right and made the ultimate sacrifice. You will be missed.
So what happens after the tornado? The promotional commercials said that All My Children would "never be the same" again. In the aftermath of another famous tornado, a world of glorious color, little people, poisoned poppies, and an evil witch was revealed. I teased at least a few people by saying that everyone would be killed in the tornado. From the rubble would rise a new soap opera. Or maybe nothing would rise from the ashes. Of course, neither of those scenarios was going to play out - but they provided some interesting story ideas. What does lie ahead for All My Children? Will it really never be the same again or is it only a matter of time before there is a sense of storyline déjà vu? The tornado storyline will definitely make for some powerful story over the next few weeks, but we can't rely on natural disasters to strike every few months just to keep things interesting.
And with this column I am going to blow out of town for a while. This marks my last regular column. In two weeks, I will have a few folks who want to become your regular Two Scoops columnist, offering up some sample columns. I'm never that far away, though, so feel free to drop me an email.