In this, the final Two Scoops column of 2008, I am handing out the Allminies. It's not the best name ever created for an award, but it was the first thing that came to mind and after saying it a few times it started to stick. So here are the All-Mine-ees, named for All My Children -- and also because they are all mine! This is part two of a special two-part look back at 2008. Be sure to check out last week's flashback in which I looked at some of the highlights, lowlights, and other milestones of the year gone by.
Best Non-Casting Decision
Hiring Charles Pratt, Jr. as AMC's new head writer. I am not one of those people who likes to say that someone cannot do their job. I've never been a head writer for a daytime drama series, so I have no idea how much work goes into creating a show that airs 260-some times every year. That being said, All My Children was virtually unwatchable in 2007 - and even part of 2006. Charles Pratt has whirled into Pine Valley and enacted changes that have made the show watchable again. Are there some stories or characters that I don't care for? Yup. That's just like life. There are some people in my life that I don't like. And there are some things that I have to put up with that I wish I didn't. I'm sure that's the case with everyone reading this column.
Angie and Jesse Hubbard. It was more than 20 years in the making, but All My Children fans finally got to see a happy ending for Jesse and Angie. What wedding would be complete without the return of at least one veteran performer who had not been on the show in a long time? AMC even threw popster Ne-Yo into the mix to serenade the re-newlyweds. Just to keep things from being too lovey-dovey, crazy Robert Gardner shot and fatally wounded Julia Santos Keefer.
Best Unnecessary Death of a Character
Babe Chandler. For many, Babe was a character that you either loved or hated. Those who hated her seemed to dislike her going all the way back to the babynapping debacle of 2004. Bianca, the woman whose baby was kidnapped, forgave Babe, but that wasn't the case with AMC viewers. Even still, there was no good reason to kill off Babe except to say that someone major had to die during the tornado outbreak in order to justify the "one of these people will die" publicity. Babe's final scenes were painful to watch. Watching a mother choose to save her child's life over her own was heartbreaking - but it was realistic. The fallout from Babe's death has provided some very interesting story, which, I suppose, makes her death at least worthwhile to the show. That doesn't mean, though, that killing off Babe was the only thing left for the character to do.
Worst Unnecessary Death of a Character
Di Henry. Killing off Di Henry made absolutely no sense. First of all, the show brought in a new actress to play a role that had already been established and would only be around for two or three days before being blown away by a crazy woman. I guess it made sense that Annie would only allow someone she knew to look after her daughter, Emma, but why not make up a previously unseen character to be the friend? Sure, Di was long gone from the canvas and there were probably no plans to bring her back... but was killing a Di that most people didn't realize was Di really the way to go?
Most Unusual Couple
Amanda Dillon and David Hayward. Aside from an age difference (that doesn't really bother me too much), I never would have expected David and Amanda to ever land in the same orbit. David, the opportunist that he is, saw in Amanda a way to enact revenge on anyone that had ever crossed him. I think he also saw an easy romp in the sack. There are so many unusual dynamics involved in their "relationship" that it almost defies explanation. While Amanda was being used by David, she was also using David - and not just for money. By agreeing to get JR to fall off the wagon, Amanda unwittingly began to come in touch with her conscience. I think Amanda enjoys being a bad girl because she doesn't know any better. It will be interesting to see how she wrestles her newfound conscience once she realizes that she cares for JR.
Most Exciting Couple
Erica Kane and Adam Chandler. Yes, Erica and Adam have been down couples' road a few times before. This time around, though, there's something refreshing about their possible pairing. Erica went into the situation trying to get into Adam's good graces so that she could find out what diabolical plans Adam had for Fusion. Of course, soap characters that dislike each other invariably end up as lovers. Adam and Erica were background characters for so long, playing second fiddle to younger characters. It was so nice to see these two front and center again -- where they should be. I also like that both Adam and Erica intentionally do things to get under each other's skin, but that once they are under the other's skin... there seems to be no irritation. No, it's not like a mosquito bite... it's more like that itch that feels really good when you scratch it.
Best Character Transformation
Annie McDermott Lavery. What was Annie doing in 2007? If you need more than three seconds to come up with a single story for a character, that character was b-o-r-i-n-g. Aside from wishing that actress Melissa Claire Egan had been cast as the "unreal Greenlee," I only remember that Annie was trying to get away from a creepy, pedophiliac ex-husband. The moment Annie start to lose her marbles, she became more fun than almost any other character. Sure, there have been some over-the-top moments as Annie has descended further and further into madness, but that's what makes a soap a soap.
Worst Character Transformation
Krystal Carey. Ordinarily, I would have enjoyed a storyline that makes a character that I do not like a little more human. I felt horrible for Krystal and the loss of her daughter, but the grieving process has turned ugly. Krystal has turned to the man who'd fathered Babe (and was never there for his daughter) and suddenly become unrecognizable. There are flashes in the storyline that ring true to me, having known parents who lost their children to tragic circumstances. For example, Krystal trashing the Christmas tree and not wanting to be any part of happy time celebrations. I get that. I don't get her being drawn to David and I don't get why no one else sees that there is something seriously wrong with her. No one stops by with a random lunch offering or offers to take her to the mall or something.
Greenlee Smythe and Aidan Devane. Greenlee and Aidan had an unexpected romance, one that worked very well when Greenlee was played by recast Sabine Singh. When Rebecca Budig returned to the show, AMC seemed to want to do whatever it could to remind fans that Budig was the "real" Greenlee and they ran away from giving Aidan and Greenlee a real shot. On their honeymoon, Greenlee was poisoned by perfume and she referred to her new husband as Ryan, one of her former lovers. Not a good way to start a life together. Aidan became uncharacteristically jealous and controlling and even went so far as to bug his wife's jewelry so that he could eavesdrop on her. The marriage crumbled in the blink of an eye.
Best New Character
Cornelius Smith, Jr. (Frankie Hubbard). Okay, technically Smith debuted in 2007, but no one really knew that he was Frankie Hubbard until 2008 - so I am counting him in my 2008 column. I don't know if Smith is the best actor on the show, but he has chemistry with every actor that he's been paired with so far. He fits seamlessly into the Hubbard fold, holding his own in scenes with Emmy winners Darnell Williams and Debbi Morgan. His on-screen affair with Denise Vasi (Randi Morgan) sizzles, even though I had to question why he was so interested in an ex-hooker who started off as a real jerk. Smith also shines in scenes with his former military mates Taylor and Brot and is believable as a doctor. It will be interesting to see if AMC will go back to explore the past created by previous writing regimes. After all, Frankie does have a child out there somewhere.
Best New Actor
Daniel Kennedy (Peter Cortlandt). Daniel Kennedy is not on contract with AMC, but so many of the show's best characters over the years have been recurring players. Helga Voynitzeva... Esther Glynn... Lysistrata... and now l'il Petey. Daniel hasn't had a truly soap storyline to sink his teeth into, but he is a star in every scene. From his silly slinking around the docks at Fusion where he was struck by lightning to his unrequited love for Colby, every scene is fun to watch. What is missing are the scenes between Peter and his father, Palmer. Those are not possible at the moment because James Mitchell (Palmer) reportedly has some health concerns. I'd also like to see more interaction between Peter and his brother, Tad, and Momma Opal.
Most Unnecessary Recast
Brianne Moncrief as Colby Chandler. I think Brianne is doing a fine job as Colby, but I had expected that her addition to the cast would mean that Colby would be "aged" a few years. Imagine my surprise -- and yours, from what I've read -- that nothing about Colby changed except her face. It's disappointing because Ambyr Childers had done a really nice job of taking Colby from snotty rich kid to a character that I actually cared about.
Worst New Character
Dre Woods. Dre's photo is still in All My Children's opening credits, but where is he? He hasn't been seen in months. Nothing about the character was all that interesting, except for portions of his backstory that were never fully fleshed out. Dre lost his mother in the terrorist attacks of 9/11 - something that was also explored with another character on ABC's One Life to Live. Dre didn't get along too well with his father, which was a very typical teen storyline that could have been explored.
Best New Character / Worst Character Name
Brot Monroe. Brot also wins the award for Worst Character Name. Brot? Really? Isn't that a type of sausage or something? I was really hoping by now we'd learn that it was a nickname or something. That aside, AMC has done a very good job balancing the real-life story of actor JR Martinez and that of the fictional Brot. Brot's on-screen, fictional injuries aren't the handiwork of AMC's makeup team. It is so unlike the farce that was Erica Kane's facial injuries of a bunch of years back. Never has the show done anything that would make light of what Martinez dealt with in the aftermath of an attack that nearly took his life in Iraq. I was skeptical that the show could walk the tightrope that is the fine line between reality and fiction, but they've done it so far. The key to Brot's future is to tie him into someone other than Taylor. There have been steps to do that. Taylor asked Zach to help get Brot out of jail, so there is the potential to explore some sort of story between Brot and Zach.
Best Inanimate Scene Stealer
Cassandra Foster's stuffed elephant. Everyone seemed to want to get their hands on that elephant. The stuffed animal got more screen-time than some of AMC's contract players.
Best It's Not Déjà Vu (We've Just Done This Before) Moment
TIE: I'm dating a hooker and Killer tornado. Long-time viewers were quick to note that Frankie's relationship with reformed hooker Randi was a rip-off of a previous storyline involving Chuck and Donna Tyler back in the 1970s. Also reminiscent of past storylines was this year's blockbuster tornado plot, um, twister. Pine Valley was previously left in ruins by a 1995 tornado, but the 2008 tornados were nothing like the previous one. Ironically, around the time of both tornado plots, one of the show's long-time, much-loved characters were laid to rest. In 1994, actress Frances Heflin (Mona) passed away. This year, Eileen Herlie (Myrtle) left us.
Jesse's rooftop lunge. Jesse leaping from the rooftop to the helicopter being piloted by the evil Robert Gardner was incredible. For the first time in a long time there was a reason to "tune in tomorrow." Of course, the cliffhanger had to be on Friday and I found myself thinking the unthinkable. I actually wanted Monday to roll around. That cliffhanger has to rank as one of the most memorable single moments in recent All My Children history.
Worst Place to Seek Medical Treatment
Pine Valley Hospital. Visitors are pushed down staircases during feuds between doctors and patients' families. Ceilings crumble and fall into the opened-skulls of brain surgery patients. Nurses violate privacy guidelines by calling loved ones to incorrectly announce that their comatose family members have regained consciousness. If you ask not to be kept alive by artificial means, no one will listen. Dead bodies are removed from the morgue and carried around the corridors. However, its 2008 makeover makes it one of the most eye-catching hospitals on daytime television.
Eileen Herlie (Myrtle Fargate). When four-time Emmy winner Eileen Herlie passed away in October, fans were quick to lash out at All My Children for not paying homage to the star on the show. Two months later, the show devoted an entire stand-alone episode to the death of Myrtle Fargate. The wait, however, was well worth it. Who wasn't moved by AMC creator Agnes Nixon's ghostly presence blowing a kiss to a character that she had created? The show also touched on how other characters would be impacted by Myrtle's passing. Seeing Zach's reaction and then hearing his touching poem to one of his best friends was better than winning a Styrofoam-stuffed plush toy at the carnival.
Ryan's memory loss. There were several storylines that didn't really work in the past year, but this one annoyed me the most for some reason. Maybe it's because the amnesia storyline is one of the most maligned soap opera tactics. It's right up there with the back from the dead plots. Having Ryan conveniently forget the past few years of his life made me want to forget the past few years of mine (or at least a few months of the show). In the course of a few weeks, Ryan decided that he was in love with three different women. The only good thing to come from the storyline is that it made Annie go cuckoo.
Natalia and Rebecca's arrival in Pine Valley. So many things about this storyline bugged me -- and they continue to bug me. I like actress Laura Koffman as Rebecca. I actually feel bad that she's going to die (again). If she were to stick around, it might be interesting to see her paired up with someone like Tad, for example. Natalia, however, has to go. She is whining about her mother and father not being together... and she's allegedly somewhere around 20 years old. If she were, say, 13, I might be able to buy her childish attempts to get her parents back together. That seems more natural. Then, Angie has been whining just about as much as Natalia. For whatever reason, Angie decided to let the woman that her husband had been sleeping with every night for the past 20 years into their home... to live... and to die. The Valley Inn must have some available rooms. Every time someone implied that it must be hard for Angie to live with "the other woman," she smiled and said that everything was sunshine and lollipops. The hell it is. The only interesting spot in the story was Angie going against her medical training and violating Rebecca's "do not resuscitate" order. That showed some true conflict and I enjoyed that. Other than that, I wanted to pull the plug -- on the television -- whenever Natalia pulled out some trinket and asked one of her parents to recount the mindless story behind it.
Dixie's ghostly return. It wasn't the return that fans wanted. They wanted Dixie to come back to Pine Valley alive. She still could, but that's something for a future year-end column. Dixie returned to Pine Valley to haunt Adam and convince him to come clean about Kate being alive. Her return almost drove Adam crazy and it provided some extremely entertaining scenes. Dixie is known for being a bit of a goody two-shoes, so seeing a more devilish side of her was refreshing. Though the return lasted just a short time, it also allowed Tad and Dixie fans one (perhaps) final chance to see their favorite couple together. Also high on the list of memorable moments were Dixie's acts to protect her loved ones as Robert Gardner was skulking around with a gun.