Often imitated, never duplicated

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Often imitated, never duplicated
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The week of October 17, 2011
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The remaining soaps have ramped up their efforts to attract the attention of wayward All My Children viewers. They've signed big name stars and revamped storytelling. Try as they might, though, they'll never be able to replicate AMC's successful history.

With All My Children off the air, I've heard from a lot of viewers who have decided to sample other soaps until AMC returns in 2012. For many, they've been lured to other soaps by the signing of former AMC stars. It's a great way to be reminded of Pine Valley, but unfortunately, many viewers are finding out the hard way that there isn't another soap like All My Children.

There's a reason so many veteran performers wanted to be a part of All My Children's final weeks on ABC: the show had an amazing caliber of talent and, despite the fact that it was canceled, incredible stories. Any soap would be lucky to have our on-screen AMC family, but not every soap is adept at using stars properly.

The Bold and the Beautiful scored a coup by having Jacob Young (ex-JR Chandler) return to the fold as Rick Forrester. They were also quite crafty in having Young first appear on B&B on the first Monday following AMC's final episode. It was a great way to capture viewers before they headed elsewhere -- because heaven only knows that no AMC fan was going to tune in to the-show-that-shall-not-be-named.

B&B has many appealing points. Its 30-minute format means that viewers only have to invest half as much time as one of the other soaps. Plus, the show has picked up three consecutive Outstanding Drama Series trophies at the Daytime Emmys. So it's got to be good, right?

The Bold and the Beautiful is nowhere near as deep in its storytelling as AMC -- and there's nothing wrong with that. B&B is often at its best when it allows campy storylines to play out. That's why B&B's Emmy wins are somewhat misleading. The show submitted storylines for Emmy consideration that weren't its typical fare: suicide, a right to die storyline, and homelessness. These storylines deserved to win Emmy gold because they were done well, but anyone expecting a heaping helping of social issues from B&B is going to be sadly mistaken.

One of the most notoriously juicy storylines in All My Children's past dealt with a mother and daughter dating the same man. Yes, of course I am talking about the Liza, Marian, and Tad triangle. This was a so-called cougar storyline that played out long before older women dating younger men was en vogue. At the time, the Colby women sharing a man was scandalous. Not so on The Bold and the Beautiful. There, it's just another day at the office.

For more than 20 years, several of B&B's female characters have been sleeping their way through the entire Los Angeles population of Forrester males. Now, the second generation is off and doing the same thing. Since B&B has been doing this for so long, it may be perfectly fine with their viewers (you can check out the B&B Two Scoops to find out). But AMC viewers aren't used to this sort of incestuous storytelling, and I don't know if Jacob Young alone will be enough to keep AMC fans enthralled long-term.

Days of our Lives is a little light on AMC alum, but they do have at least one face that will look familiar. Emmy nominee James Scott (ex-Ethan Cambias) plays bad boy E.J. DiMera on DAYS. In a lot of ways, the DiMeras resemble the Cambias clan -- with a dash of General Hospital's Cassadine family. The men are all dark and brooding, but viewers still love them.

In most markets, Days of our Lives airs in the same time slot as All My Children did, so viewers wouldn't have to worry about that show interfering with their other programming. Plus, it's a great way to stick it to Fronsie and the rest of the Mickey Mouse Club by boosting the ratings of a show that competes with the-show-that-shall-not-be-named. And it appears that some viewers are doing just that: DAYS' ratings have gone up since AMC went off the air, and the ratings for the show that occupies AMC's timeslot have t-a-n-k-e-d.

NBC has a renewed interest in Days of our Lives, and the show recently underwent a reboot to focus on core families and characters, and stories that viewers can relate to. They are promising no baby switching, which seems to be a staple of the ABC soaps over the past decade.

The Young and the Restless reached a deal with Debbi Morgan (ex-Angie Hubbard) just before the news broke that Prospect Park had licensed the rights to AMC and One Life to Live. Would Debbi have skipped over Y&R if the news of Prospect Park's deal had been announced a day or two earlier? There's no way to know for certain, but Morgan has hinted that she was ready to test-drive a new character.

If Erica Kane were hanging out labels, The Young and the Restless would be the Brooke English of soaps. Y&R has greedily snapped up former All My Children stars left and right. If you were to flip the channel on any given day, you might see Bianca and Maggie together again, Richie Novak back from the dead, or even Cliff Warner carrying on a business deal. Now with Angie running around and Annie soon to join her -- it would seemingly be an AMC fan's fantasy.

But it's not.

The Young and the Restless doesn't know what to do with its big name talent. They scored Genie Francis recently -- Laura flippin' Spencer of General Hospital fame -- and her story went nowhere. Actually, it went nowhere fast. The show also recently dismissed Eden Riegel (ex-Bianca) because she never quite fit in the role she'd been cast in. So I am worried about Debbi Morgan's future, and also that of Melissa Claire Egan (ex-Annie Chandler) when she joins the show next month.

That's not to say that All My Children hasn't had its share of recent casting flops. Who didn't love Leven Rambin as Lily? Yet her dual role of Ava was a disaster. Back in the 1990s and early 2000s, there were oodles of characters that never took off: Becca Tyree, Galen Henderson, and Steven Hamil. Jason Olive was cast as Frankie (then just Frank) Hubbard during the big "reveal" that he'd fathered a child with Mia Saunders -- and disappeared. Remember Tina Harding? Exactly.

To date, none of our AMC vets have been snapped up by General Hospital. I'm not sure if that's because ABC doesn't want them or if it's the other way around. GH's storylines have picked up since they named their new head writer and the show has been quite good of late.

Have you tuned in to any other soaps since All My Children went off the air? If so, what did you think of them? I'm interested in hearing your take, so send me your feedback, and I'll share your thoughts in a future column. And they don't have to be "negative." If you've found a story that you like, by all means share that, too!

The point of this column isn't just to round up the troops to support our All My Children vets. I think that it's safe to say that we support our AMC favorites no matter where they go and what they do. And this column wasn't meant to talk down to any of the other soaps on the air. I guess the purpose was to reaffirm what we all already know: All My Children was one-of-a-kind and it cannot be duplicated. AMC's classic storytelling, focusing on topical issues and soapy silliness, mixed with top-notch performers, and stirred together by the caring hands of Agnes Nixon, is a recipe that just can't be replicated. There a flock of tele-chefs that I think can testify to that.


Dan J Kroll
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Two Scoops is an opinion column. The views expressed are not designed to be indicative of the opinions of Soap Central or its advertisers. The Two Scoops section allows our Scoop staff to discuss what might happen and what has happened, and to share their opinions on all of it. They stand by their opinions and do not expect others to share the same point of view.

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