Every now and again when I am watching the soaps, I feel like I morph into an eye doctor. As a plot plays out, I sometimes wonder, "Is it better like this? Or better like this?" I have no illusions that I would make a better soap opera writer than anyone else, but it is fun to sit back and think about the possibilities.
Prior to JR's plot to break up his father's marriage, I never once thought about the possibility of JR and Annie being a couple. It certainly never crossed my mind that they could put some sizzle back into the show. To be fair, I am not entirely sure that they've won me over as a viable couple. However, that being said, I love the tension. There really is a lack of that "relationship tension" on the show now that Zach and Kendall are off-screen -- and I wouldn't really say that what Jack and Erica have is "tension."
So let's get into some of the plots. What was the point of JR drugging Annie? I mean, it did provide for some fun dream sequences, but other than that... what was the deal? Annie was obviously going to react in one of two ways: she'd either be scared spitless or she'd be pissitated beyond belief. Drugging Annie, though, was unlikely to make her go away. The only possible twist would have been if Annie had suffered an allergic reaction to the drug and died. I think we all know that Annie is here to stay.
There were a few amusing zingers when JR and Annie's squared off. First, JR encouraged Annie to fill the Chandler mansion with cats after he and the rest of the Chandlers moved out. The image of Annie as an elderly "cat lady" tickled me. I immediately envisioned the cat lady from The Simpsons. There was also JR sassing, "It's not gonna have the same cachet with no Chandlers actually living in the Chandler Mansion."
Brittany Allen was really quite good once Marissa finally learned the truth. She was equal parts hurt and mean, which is always a nice combination. That background noise you hear is David, summoning his daughter to the dark side.
Speaking of David, he's once again become interesting. Okay, so maybe I've always found him interesting. At some point, though, he was just a one-dimensional, get-away-with-everything soap opera villain. Now it appears that he has a few extra dimensions. He's jealous: he thinks that Greenlee might still be in love with Ryan. He's manipulative: he decided to blackmail Madison into keeping Ryan "occupied." He's a troublemaker: he staged a coup to buy Pine Valley Hospital and is preparing to make life miserable for everyone there.
Someone on Soap Central's All My Children message board remarked that there is a lot of passion between Angie and David. I would never suggest that breaking up Angie and Jesse is a good idea. I will, however, say that any scene in which Debbi Morgan and Vincent Irizarry get to spar is a winner. It was also funny when Angie and Jesse were in the park discussing David, and Angie referred to David and his "triflin' ass." That pretty much sums it up.
The editing people do need to pay a little closer attention to what people are saying. In a surprising flub, in a scene at the yacht club, Jesse asked Liza what "David Hubbard" was up to. Hayward... Hubbard... okay, the names are close, but considering how much Jesse hates David, there is no way that he'd ever link his surname to the devious doctor's first name. Unless it is designed to foreshadow a storyline. Nah. Couldn't be!
It isn't easy to do cuckoo on a soap. It can be done really well short-term, but the longer a plot involving insanity drags on, the likelier it is to be way too over the top. So I wasn't quite sure what to expect of Janet's return to Pine Valley. I have to say that, so far, it's been really well done.
Yes, some of the antics as Janet waved a gun around at everyone were... campy. And there was also that conveniently timed seizure in the hospital. Outside of that, there was definitely some great drama. Jake and Janet had some really good interaction. It was interesting to watch Jake balance his medical training with the fact that his crazy mother-in-law could have killed the love of his life.
The highlights of the plot, though, came as Amanda worried that she might have inherited her mother's mental illness. Later, as Amanda came to terms with needing to say goodbye to her mother, Janet let loose with an explanation of why she'd killed Janet's father, Trevor. In Janet's twisted reality, Amanda loved her father more than her -- and Janet couldn't bear the idea that someone was more important in her daughter's life. It was very difficult to watch Janet's expression as she explained that she'd thought Trevor could have been thawed out and brought back to life. For just a split-second, you could see remorse in Janet's eyes. Then it was off to blaming Amanda for everything.
Janet suffered some sort of medical event that will undoubtedly change her life forever. One reader sent me a message to ask why the writers couldn't have just given Janet the handy ole brain tumor to explain why she's been acting so irrationally. I have to admit, that crossed my mind a few times, too. Jonathan Lavery's evilness and abusiveness was wiped away with a little brain surgery. It's just too convenient to me. As much as I would like to see Janet remain a viable character on-screen, I don't know that giving her a brain tumor is the way to go.
So what will happen? I think we're going in the other direction. Janet will suffer a stroke and she may no longer be able to take care of herself. We've all seen Kate Collins pull off some phenomenal work as an unstable character, but it might be mind-blowing to see her in a more subdued performance. I'm not sure how it will all unfold, but that's what I think could (and should) happen.
This week marks two big events for All My Children fans: the announcement of this year's Daytime Emmy nominees and the debut of story material written by the show's new head writers, David Kreizman and Donna Swajeski. In a strange twist of fate, both take place on Wednesday, May 12.
I'll start with the new writers. I don't expect there to be some huge, noticeable difference in storytelling come May 12. I hope that doesn't seem like I'm contradicting myself, since we definitely did notice a big change when Lorraine Broderick's work started airing on All My Children. Honestly, I think it would be a mistake for Kreizman and Swajeski to make waves right out of the gate. Certainly they will start to put their own personal touches on the show -- that mystery mountain man that's going to mix it up with Erica, for example. New writers also often have a tendency to phase out characters that were created by other regimes. There haven't really been any new characters added to the canvas in a while. I think Damon was the last one... and he debuted way back in October. That's a long time in the soap world to go without adding a new face.
That being said, it's time for this week's You Scoops (that's what I am calling it until I come up with a more clever term): Which character do you think least "fits" into the canvas right now. I am not asking for your personal least favorite character or actor, but rather which character doesn't seem to have any story or future story prospects. So, put your fingers to the keyboard and send me your thoughts. I'd also be quite happy to hear your thoughts on what sort of new characters should be introduced to the show.
On to the Emmys. I don't expect All My Children to be nominated for Outstanding Drama Series. I do see several of the performers getting nods in their various categories. To me, the shoo-in would be Chrishell Stause (Amanda Dillon) in the Supporting Actress category. I can also see David Canary (Adam and Stuart Chandler) getting a Lead Actor nod. Jacob Young (JR Chandler) will probably end up on the ballot if his reel included the cancer storyline. I wouldn't be surprised if JR Martinez (Brot Monroe) also earned a nomination, but I think his work this year is much more layered than his story allowed for last year.
You will be able to read the list of all of the nominees right here on soapcentral.com on Wednesday. Until then, find out who is eligible for an Emmy nod in our Emmys 2010 section.
I think AMC will make out much better next year when we're discussing the Emmys, in much the same way that we look at the show now and compare it to its performance last year. Is it better like this... or was it better like that?