Anytime you're involved with something for a long time -- be it watching soaps, reality television, or sports -- you have to be careful not to become jaded by it. Been there, done that, saw it before. That may be one of the toughest obstacles that soaps face. There's always that wanting to compare a current storyline to one from the past. If you've surfed the 'net long enough, you'll see that fans sometimes accuse writers of "recycling" storylines. Recycling is usually a good thing -- save the planet! -- but when cynical fans toss the term around, it's definitely not meant as a compliment.
But a soap storyline that has similarities to one from the past isn't necessarily a bad thing. Times, as they say, have changed, and it's possible that a 2013 storyline can be told in a totally different way than the "same" story was told, say, in 2003.
For example, Cassandra has become pregnant following a sexual assault. We know that this is not the first time that All My Children has told this sort of story. While Cassandra was coming to grips with this life-altering experience, All My Children wisely juxtaposed those scenes with ones of Bianca looking at photographs of a baby Miranda, who was also the product of rape. Bianca ultimately decided to carry the baby to term, when others around her didn't seem to think it was a good idea. This time around, Cassandra wants to terminate the pregnancy, and at least one person around her, Angie, wants her to reconsider that decision.
I can't help but wonder what the fan reaction would have been if Cassandra had contracted HIV or another sexually transmitted disease instead of being pregnant. Pregnancy often seems like a "lazy" plot device, but it's not up to me to debate "which is worse" of pregnancy or an STD.
Of course, it is still possible that Cassandra could be HIV-positive because of the incubation period of the virus. I cannot imagine that the writers would inflict that sort of pain onto one character, but it certainly would be a first for a soap.
Sal Stowers continues to impress as Cassandra. The scenes in her hospital bed where she pounded away at her belly and screamed that she wanted the pregnancy to end were hard to watch. "It's not a child. It's a disease, and I want it gone," she screamed. That was definitely one of the best scenes of the week.
I thought that Angie's session with the counselor, Dr. Peterson, was extremely well done. Everything -- the writing, the direction, and the acting -- was spot-on. In a lot of ways, it reminded me of the 1998 counseling session involving Bianca's anorexia that eventually won Susan Lucci her long-overdue Daytime Emmy. Not every heartbreaking situation needs to be drenched in (wrought with) melodrama.
It wasn't just the acting that I thought was superb. The writing was great, as was the direction of the scenes. The folks behind the camera don't often get the praise they deserve because, let's face it, we typically first focus on the performers and then on the writing. For me, though, the camerawork, for example, provided subtle nuance to the scene. Not every frame has to have the "star" centered in the middle of the picture. Yes, at the end of the day, the plot will be what most viewers remember, but the visuals still play so much into recalling a scene.
For years, I've heard people say that there are characters that they "love to hate." I understood the concept, but I'm not sure that I ever fully appreciated the sentiment. Until now. I've come to the conclusion that I love to hate Colby Chandler. I roll my eyes every time she sashays into a room and rattles off one of her sexually suggestive quips. "I had a crazy, hard, long night last night," she moaned as he ordered a coffee.
It's so "extra," but it's also so funny to me. And I also love the fact that she's so mean to Celia. It's no secret by now that I find Celia a little snoozy, so it would be a safe bet to assume that I would like anyone who gives Celia a hard time. Strangely, though, Colby yanking Celia's chain has actually made me like Celia a little more. I don't feel sorry for her -- so she won't be getting a Hallmark greeting from me. I think it's made the character more human.
When I first started watching AMC, I didn't really care for Brooke because she seemed sort of sanctimonious. She was always the better person. Then, she had her ectopic pregnancy then kidnapped Jamie, and suddenly she seemed like a real person with real faults. From that point on, Brooke has been one of my favorite characters. Has there ever been a character who you've done this sort of 180 on?
Going back to Colby, the scenes between Colby and Opal were so, so funny to me. First of all, Opal skulking about in Pete(y)'s kitchen in the wee hours of the morning? If she weren't his mother, I'd call her a stalker. Actually, I still may call her a stalker. And Colby is a stalker. Leaving her sunglasses behind so that she'll have a reason to go back to Pete's loft? Do people still do that? Hey, Colbs: if you have to leave your sunglasses behind in a guy's apartment, he's just not that into you. Still, there were moments that reminded me of some of Erica's classic confrontations over the years with the various women who annoyed her.
Now that I am done with the scolding, let's get on to some of the zingers.
Colby: I don't resent you. I pity you, living through your son's success, trying to make yourself relevant while taking care of a grown man who stopped needing Mommy years ago.
Opal: Well, I'm his mother.
Colby: And I'm his --
Opal: Yes, his what? His what, exactly?
You just know if All My Children hadn't decided to be bleep shy, there might have been some fun words tossed around there. Well, maybe not. I don't know that Opal would be much of a curser... except maybe if she had a drink or two.
Actress Brooke Newton (Colby Chandler) was a guest on Soap Central Live last week. To learn more about her and to hear her thoughts on that infamous sex scene, click here to listen to my interview with her (it's free).
Jesse is in a heap of trouble. We all knew that it was a matter of time before the long arm of the law would catch up to him. I think there jury was split on how Zach would react to learning that if it were not for Jesse 's complicity, Zach wouldn't have been sent off to jail.
Attention spans in Pine Valley are often shorter than that of a fruit fly with ADHD. So I was not counting on Zach being so forgiving. Yeah, Jesse has looked the other way for Zach in the past, but Zach was accused of murder. He spent some (albeit very brief) time in jail. It was refreshing, though, that Zach stood by Jesse. There really aren't that many true male friendships on the soaps. Aside from Sonny and Jason on General Hospital (and Jason's now "dead"), I can't really think of another one.
Even the interaction between Zach and Lea was good. I know there was a sizeable portion of the viewing audience that cheered Zach figuratively flipping off Lea. I don't know that Zach and Lea's relationship had risen to the point where Zach would feel so strongly about being betrayed by Lea, but it worked in the moment. Even if you don't buy Zach and Lea as a couple, you have to support Zach being on Team Jesse.
So where does this leave Lea? The human trafficking storyline seems to be just about over. Zach is ticked off at her. She doesn't appear to have any other purpose on the show unless the FBI is needed for another case. And let's be honest -- Agent Marquez didn't exactly do a bang-up job on the human trafficking case. Maybe she'll resign and take over as police chief in Pine Valley once Jesse is deposed.
Have you been watching All My Children and/or One Life to Live on OWN? If so, what are your thoughts? For me, it hasn't been a "new" experience, seeing the show on my television set, because I've been watching via Hulu Plus on my TV since the show returned in April. That doesn't mean, though, that I still wasn't excited for fans and everyone involved with AMC to have this show back where it started, on television.
As I mentioned last week, I now "live tweet" the week's episodes on Twitter every Monday. If you're not sure what "live tweeting" means, here are a few of the observations you missed during this week's session:
The picture above the bed in Zach's hotel room could double as a tic-tac-toe board #AMC
I sure hope Lea doesn't end up floating in the pool, too, @paulagarces1 #DeviousAMC (Which prompted this reply from Paula Garces: nooo don't jinx I'm preggo !! Xo)
I wonder if the Valley Inn, the Yacht Club, and Krystal's still exist...
And now some thoughts from you, the fans, in this week's YouScoops!
» I would LOVE it if Angie and David got involved. What a great story-line that would be. Maybe Jesse will go to jail for a while and David will make his move. To go back a week, when Brooke didn't immediately jump up and say that she, too, had lost a child to violence, it made me wonder whether Julia Barr brought it up to the writers. I was left with the "Hey, wait a minute!" reaction that I'm sure everyone else was experiencing. You are right, a huge lost opportunity. -- Anne
» I thought it was interesting that you immediately liked Heather. My first impression was that she seems all nice and friendly now, but once AJ and Miranda decide they are meant to be together, I think Heather is going to go all Leslie Coulson on us! -- Susan
» I love Dimitri coming back he always adds a bit of mystery with elegance. -- Barbara
» Colby reminds me of a very young Erica Kane. That may be why I had such a visceral reaction to her. Back in the day, we loved to hate Erica. Eventually we had sympathy for her as we began to understand her back story. Maybe that will come with Colby, too. The most obvious difference between the two is that Colby is from a wealthy family, but like Erica, she has "daddy issues" and her needs (emotional and material) run deep. -- Frannie