You never know from where I'll draw the inspiration for a Two Scoops column. This week I was inspired by the upcoming Halloween holiday. Before you start trying to recall Pine Valley's biggest witches and goblins, I assure you that it won't be that kind of party. So keep reading... if you dare!
In last week's column, I discussed in some detail reasons that some All My Children viewers might decide to tune in to some other soaps. Those reasons were varied. Following AMC actors to new roles, wanting to try to start a new viewing habit, curiosity... there are different reasons for different viewers. In that column, I also took some time out to offer my thoughts on what aspects of the other remaining soaps might be problematic for AMC viewers.
The column seems to give a voice to what a lot of transplanted All My Children viewers have been feeling.
• I haven't been tempted to check the other soaps out since former AMC actors went on. On the occasional day off in the past, I would peek at B&B, DAYS, and GH, but they never really grabbed me like AMC. I think I have avoided checking them out because it "hurts" to see them in another town interacting with people that are not Erica, Tad, etc. I spotted a cover of a soap magazine the other day it had Richie, Mia, and Maggie on the cover and my first thought was All My Children, but then realized it was Young and Restless. It just doesn't seem right. I eagerly await Prospect Park and hope they sign some people soon, especially David! -- Aleicia
• The minute I heard that Jacob Young would be going to B&B, I started watching the show to get a feel for it. I didn't know if I would continue watching B&B after Jacob came over or not, but I have gotten hooked on the 30-minute show and actually like the shorter soap and most of its characters. It is quite different, but that's what I wanted. I haven't tried watching any of the others because I do prefer the shorter version of a soap. I can DVR all the shows and not have to watch them on the same day they air. I usually watch two days at a time which is equivalent to one day's worth of AMC. I find that I prefer this format and actually enjoy getting into a whole new city, cast of characters, and story lines. I have Jacob Young to thank for that. Thanks for listening to my experience after AMC. -- Carolyn
Not every reader thought that my column was a fair assessment of other soaps.
I certainly didn't mean for it to seem like I was putting down any other show. I do enjoy each of the other soaps for various reasons. And, I will readily admit that All My Children has had storylines over the years that just did not work. Boy, oh boy. There sure were some clunkers along the way.
I thought that the so-called "Phantom of the Soap Opera" storyline was a disaster. Do you remember that one? That was when Erica was in a car accident and severely injured her face. I am not entirely sure why All My Children chose to never show Erica's injury -- though I had heard that the buildup to Erica's injury was so huge, that the makeup team felt that they would be unable to produce anything that would live up to the audience's expectations. Whatever the reason, the storyline quickly became ridiculous, and viewers spent more time making fun of Erica's mask than they were spending worrying about Erica's face.
What if Erica hadn't met a miracle plastic surgeon that was able to restore her "beauty" in a single episode?
It shouldn't come as a surprise to anyone reading this column on a regular basis, but I have always loved Janet Green. I loved the Janet that threw Natalie down a well, the Janet that tried to reform and become a good girl, and I loved kooky Oak Haven Janet. That doesn't mean that I loved all of Janet's storylines equally.
I thought that Janet's planned attempt to take over Brooke English's life was a fiasco. At that time, Janet was played by Robin Mattson -- an actress that was a good six inches taller than Julia Barr. If the actresses were an inch different in height, I might have looked the other way. We're talking half a foot. I think there needs to be a rule that a character is only permitted to become a look-alike for one other character.
A lot of look-alike stories have also failed to live up to promise. I wasn't really a big fan of the Ted Orsini story. The only plus side of the story was that it allowed the always funny Michael E. Knight to veer off his comedic tendencies as Tad and focus on some darker material.
Sometimes characters that served a purpose once didn't work so much the second time around. I thought that Esther Glynn worked really well when she was an accomplice in helping Erica kidnap Maria's baby. When she found an amnesiac Stuart wandering aimlessly around Pine Valley and kept him away from his family... that wasn't much of a hit.
I know I will have to duck after this next statement, but it's my truth, and I have to live with it: I much preferred Frankie Stone to Maggie Stone. There was such chemistry between Bianca and Frankie, yet the show made the decision to whack Frankie. Once they realized the error of their ways, Maggie was introduced, but it never sat well with me. I absolutely loved Bianca and Maggie (Bam!), but I often found myself wondering if I would have been more fulfilled if Frankie had never been killed off.
There have been "timely" storylines that didn't hit the mark. I was never interested in Ryan's IncredibleDreams.com business venture. I thought that the child pornography storyline involving Jim Thomasen and Laura Kirk was just downright disturbing. Who can forget Brooke luring Jim to the gallery to see the enlarged photos that he'd taken of Laura (and Ricky)? The theme of the storyline made me (and many other viewers) uncomfortable, and there was never really anything to latch onto -- until Brooke put a bullet in the creep. Do I have to mention that Jim also had a blind, twin brother named Robert? Ugh.
In a bit of untold behind-the-scenes news, Soap Central was, at one time, blocked from being viewed by some Internet Service Providers because of that storyline. As ways to surf safely were being developed, protection software couldn't tell the difference between a site that was discussing a fictional child pornography storyline and a web site involved in peddling that sort of disgusting content. I had to submit all sorts of legal paperwork to get the ban lifted. There are so many other stories from the past 16-and-a-half years. Maybe I need to make like Erica Kane and write a book.
Let's get this column back on topic. I'm also a big fan of Eva LaRue. Most of Maria's storylines were winners. Most. I really had a hard time watching "Maureen Gorman" carry on her relationship with Aidan Devane. I didn't want to see Maria with Aidan, and giving her another name didn't really change that fact. I'm also still very salty about AMC killing off Edmund.
Other disasters include the pole dancing session at Fusion and the dance marathon. Before you accuse me of giving the thumbs-down to anything involving a dance, that's not the case. The Budapest location shoot in the 1990s was amazing -- and featured that memorable waltz between Erica and Dimitri.
Then there is the storyline that nearly made me stop watching All My Children entirely: Greg Madden in a box. In fairness, a lot of the other storylines at that time were a hot diggity mess, too. Still, there was really no reason to craft such a sinister storyline. Nothing good came out of that storyline (except for the creepy hand rising out of the ground after a Pine Valley earthquake). I think I got that right -- as I said, I wasn't really paying attention. To this day, I still don't believe that Tad kept Greg locked underground. It doesn't seem right, and that was a terrible thing to do to that character. And when I tell you that some fans still have not forgiven Tad -- believe me: they haven't.
Since this week's column was touched off by Halloween, we should also acknowledge some of the Halloween spectacles over the years. In 2009, the makeup and wardrobe department went all out for a Halloween spectacle. Ryan was dressed as Dracula, Scott was Wolverine, Jake was a mummy... I've always loved the big "events" on soaps. If you want to take a peek at what those costumes looked like, click here and it'll open the recap from Halloween 2009 -- complete with photos of the costumes.
I think the best costume over the years, though, was something more recent. Remember when ABC dressed up Charles Pratt, Jr., and tried to pass him off as AMC's head writer? Well, I guess there went my invite to the Pratt family holiday party.
So, which of AMC's past storylines have you found to be so bad that they were downright scary? This is the portion of the column that's interactive. So click here to fire up the email machine so that you can send over your thoughts. I'd love to know what other fans have found to be more the product of Dr. Frankenstein's laboratory than a good writer.
I will be back next week with more treats (and probably a few tricks).