I was brought up being told that if you don't have something nice to say, you don't say anything at all. As I got older, I was introduced to that adage's evil twin: If you don't have something nice to say, come sit next to me. Well, soap fans, this week I unveil their long-lost sister. So, come sit next to me because I have some nice things to say and a few not-so-nice things that are sure to get you fired up.
When I saw that Lorraine Broderick's name was added to the head writer credits at the top of the show, I knew that it would only be a matter of time before she worked her magic on the show and good stories started to pop up. I had no idea that in the course of five episodes, Broderick would be able to undo nearly all of the damage that former head writer Charles Pratt did over the past year.
Please note that I said nearly all of the damage -- not all of the damage.
Now, we have no way of knowing what was on Broderick's to do list -- or even if she had a priority ranking -- but the first thing that was dePrattled was the Erica and Ryan pairing. With so many things wrong on the show, maybe breaking up Ryan and Erica was just the easiest thing to start with. But let me ask you this: Was having Ryan and Erica together the biggest problem on the show? Maybe Lorraine Broderick is reading this column and will accept my invitation for her to be a guest on my Soap Central Live radio show.
For as maligned as their pairing was, Ryan and Erica made the final cut as one of the four nominees for Favorite Couple in this year's Soap Central Dankies. It should, however, be noted that the couple's storyline was nominated as one of the four worst of the year. [When you're done reading the column, you can cast your votes in this year's Dankies by clicking here.]
Here's what I like about Broderick's work. She makes things look so effortless. Sure, Ryan and Erica's breakup was done fast -- really fast -- but it was done skillfully. There wasn't anything jarring about the breakup. Jack showed up and shared his thoughts with Erica. That allowed viewers to believe that maybe Erica was using Ryan as a way to get over Jack. Then, Erica called Kendall and convinced her daughter to tell her how she really felt. Kendall did not hold back. As an aside, it was nice to see Alicia Minshew back on-screen. To keep things balanced, Opal continued to urge Erica to stay with Ryan.
Speaking of Alicia Minshew, it's not looking like the actress will be returning to All My Children. I've been told that she will return to AMC in the near future -- but she will not be moving to Los Angeles. Nor will she be flying out there to tape any scenes. Instead, Minshew will tape scenes in New York through the end of her contract... and then she'll exit. It seems hard to believe that Erica might not have any of her children in Pine Valley. I would think that the show would want to recast the role of Kendall, but that's not a done deal. Would they also recast Zach? Can they let both characters simply fade away?
Instead of soup plugs this year -- I'm guessing there will be no Fusion fashion show -- we were given some candy promos. If there have to be product placements (which I don't mind), it's nice when they are done fluidly. I'd bet that there are advertisers out there who'd pay for less overt forms of advertising. Maybe have a page of potato chips or bottled water in the scene instead of the show-issued "Pine Valley Spring Water." That's another issue for another column.
Now, I am all in favor of creating romantic friction, but some things are just a little too much. Would any place of work allow one co-worker to manhandle another -- especially a subordinate? The World Wrestling Federation doesn't count! I thought the roughhousing between Natalia and Brot was kind of unnecessary, but I've never worked in a police station so I have no idea what really goes on there. More than that, though, since when are female cops allowed to offer up dates to known hackers in order to get information? And I wonder how one goes about getting a cool hacker name like "the Plague?" Yes, I am thinking of nicknames for me and for the fictional AMC characters even as I type this column.
I am glad that Adam finally knows the whole truth about what's going on with JR. It really bothered me to have Adam making fun of JR as a drunk when he was fighting a deadly disease. The whole time that was going on, the only thing I was looking forward to was when Adam would finally learn the truth and realize that he'd been a total ass. I was robbed of a decent payoff on that, so I am pleased that Broderick decided to bring it all to an end. A reader dropped me an email while they were anxiously awaiting the posting of this column to ask if it is possible that JR will need a bone marrow transplant and find an unlikely donor in Damon, a heretofore unknown Chandler offspring. I have no comment.
I also have to say that I am enjoying Colb-three's quest to bring down Annie. I loved Annie when she was at the height of her craziness, but now... the writers need to come up with a new angle. Thankfully, Brooke English is returning to town this week -- and she's gonna give Annie a rough time. I've wondered what storyline the writers have in store for Brooke. Maybe she and Adam will rekindle their romance and head off together to see the world. It's just a thought.
This week, Greenlee was a literal veiled threat. For as much as people make fun of soaps for being "soapy," it's the soapy moments that prove to be the most entertaining. We'll get there in a moment. It seemed far-fetched to me that anyone would want to see David get married. No one likes the guy. So it was a bit contrived that people who hate him would find reasons to just show up at the Wildwind chapel to throw rice (or birdseed, I guess). Maybe it was a macabre sense of curiosity that made everyone show up. Like Greenlee said, though, it would be a waste to make have her big coming out and not have the right onlookers in the pews.
And what about Ryan and his proclamation that no one can get married on Valentine's Day because that was to have been his wedding day? Are you kidding me?!
I laughed to myself as Greenlee made her way down the aisle and they did that point-of-view camerawork from behind the veil. But how great and soapy was Greenlee's reveal as her loved ones looked on. I squealed with delight as Jack burst in to ask,"What are you doing? Why? Why?" Then, as she lifted her veil, Greenlee calmly replied, "I'm getting married, Dad." Pan to the looky-loos in the pews who gasp and make comments about Greenlee really being alive.
For months, I read messages from AMC viewers about how the show was unbearable. It took a new writer just a few days to turn the tide of emails to the positive. Of course, Broderick did have a month or two to plot things out in her head before the material started airing. And who knows, maybe someone told her even before Pratt was officially fired that she should start thinking of ideas that work.
So as the commercials say, welcome home. Some of the sets may look different, some of the faces are new, but I think AMC viewers finally recognize All My Children again. Who knew that the entire show would have to move to Los Angeles in order to have a homecoming celebration?