Before we begin, I want to make one thing perfectly clear: The All My Children of yesteryear, the glory days of the 80s and early- to mid-90s--is gone. It has long since ended, and unlike most soap characters, it won't be coming back from the dead.
That's the bad news. The good news is, while All My Children will never be able to recapture the exact state of what made the last couple of decades so spectacular for AMC fans, that doesn't mean that the show can't strive to recapture the essence of those powerful, wonderful years. Though it's less than a month old, 2008 looks to be the year for which AMC fans have been yearning.
Of course, there are bound to be a few bumps along the road, and January 16th's episode was certainly one mother of a pothole. After all the hype, after seeing ads during almost every ABC show, after attaching an extended preview to the beginning of AMC for almost a week straight, Rebecca Budig, the "Real Greenlee", has finally returned to All My Children!
Hear that? Yup, it's silence. Where were Budig's fireworks, her welcoming parade? You know you expected them. After so much build-up, many fans agreed that the "Real" Greenlee came off as quiet and detached. Of course, Greenlee is sick and getting sicker by the moment; maybe that accounts for her uncharacteristic shyness.
But even if Greenlee and Kendall would have done something as familiar as grabbing the nearest rose bouquets and wielding them against one another like baseball bats, that wouldn't have made up for the weird vibe that accompanied each and every one of Budig's re-debut scenes this past Wednesday. Besides re-writing characters for no better reason than to prop a particular plot point, "filler" scenes are my biggest soap pet peeve. Though I strive to never touch my fast forward button for anything other than commercials, scenes that feature characters verbally rehashing events drive me mad.
First of all, the characters doing the rehashing were usually directly involved in the event being discussed. Shouldn't they already have an understanding of what's happened? Oh sure, I can understand two characters who did not witness the event meeting up for a quick whisper of "Did you hear about so-and-so?" before moving on to more relevant business, but the women of Fusion seemed content to go over everything from Greenlee and Zach's bomb shelter visit to the fact that Ryan and Annie are, in fact, a married couple. Guess what, writers? They were there, and so were we.
Though certainly annoying, the recapping of the past several months wasn't the worst part of Fusion's little get-together. Hanging over the beauties' party hats and goblets of margarita was a colorful banner exclaiming "Welcome back Kendall and Greenlee". It was almost as if the writers were trying to say, "Look, this is the REAL Greenlee! We're recapping these events as if they happened off-screen because... well, you know Sabine Singh? Yeah, remember her? See, all this stuff happened to her, the 'Fake Greenlee', so we just want to run through it real quick to remind you that all of that stuff, just like Sabine, is gone, done, no more. Here's the REAL Greenlee!"
I love Rebecca Budig and have no problem with her reclaiming the role she originated. I love her work, and have always--and will always--be a big fan. But I do have a problem with how she was brought back, even if it wasn't her fault.
Hot, steamy "Zex", Sabine Singh and Aiden Turner's last love scene, and Ryan and Annie, a.k.a. Daytime's Most Amorous Couple, certainly brought back the "Love in the Afternoon" era on Tuesday. It was nice to see these popular couples sharing some tender, intimate moments together. In regards to far less popular pairings, I'm actually enjoying this round of Tad and Krystal. Some of us tend to find our least favorite characters a bit more bearable when they're paired with one of our favorites. When Krystal is with Thaddeus, I can almost stand her.
Despite romantic relationships being the cornerstone of Daytime programming, it's nice to see other types of relationships steal the show every once and awhile. Amid a plague of awkward Fusion scenes, Wednesday's emphasis on JR and Colby brought a smile to my face. I'm glad Colby had her big brother on hand to remind her that life goes on after bad breakups. More family scenes, please!
Though I'm warming to Dre and his eventual pairing with Colby, I'm rather upset at the obliteration of Sean and Colby's relationship. Just when fans were starting to warm to a teenage romance with some real depth, the first in a long while on AMC, Sean and Colby disappeared for months, and when they were onscreen, they weren't acting much like a couple. I admit that for quite some time I was confused as to whether or not they were still together.
Brent Weber's dismissal and Sean Montgomery's return to the life of a player bothers me because of my primary soap pet peeve: quickie character rewrites. Sean learned a harsh lesson when he cheated on Colby with Ava. So, wait--he did it again? Is he so horny that he'll forget about his girlfriend just because another woman came on to him? Apparently. Soap characters have so many chances to move forward, to grow and learn from their experiences. More often than not, it seems as if the writers are content to have them stumble backward. It's true that real people make mistakes, but in the world of fiction, it's frustrating to see missed opportunities for growth.
Fans of Erica Kane reveled in the diva's massage scenes this week, gushing that La Kane was acting true to form. As someone who loathes the Erica Kane character, I am actually happy to agree. Yes, she certainly was.
Though I wasn't old enough to enjoy All My Children during Jesse and Angie's rise to supercouple stardom, I am eager to get to get to know them and hope that the new chapter in their lives will be as compelling as their first. Just as exciting is the booster shot of diversity with which AMC has injected itself. AMC was built on the foundation of tackling social issues using a diverse, talented cast, and I support their apparent move back in that direction.
Other than a healthy dose of ethnicity, the return of Jesse and Angie marks what I hope is a trend of returning characters. With AMC seemingly closer to cancellation than ever before, it would behoove Brian Frons and other ABC Daytime higher-ups to seek out other important legacy characters and convince them to return--but only so long as their returns are done properly. No one can have a great story every single day, but... well, remember the last time Dixie came back? Yeah, me too. My list: David Hayward, Dixie Martin, Dimitri Marick, and Edmund Grey, the man who made me an AMC fan in the first place.
Oh, and if we can find even a semi-convincing way to bring Gillian Andrassy back to town, I'll take her, too.
If only the entire Kane and Montgomery clan would have shown up at the Valley Inn on Friday's episode, Pine Valley could have had a classic Thanksgiving-esque moment! Allowing most or all of the show's cast to come together and mix things up is always exciting, as it gives certain characters the chance to interact with others outside their normal radar. It was nice to hear Zach and JR briefly discuss the hit-and-run case. When Zach finds out that Richie was the one who ran him down and left him for dead, he'll probably pray that his bone marrow transplant doesn't work out. Woe to anyone who crosses JR Chandler or Zach Slater.
Though Adam's party didn't work out to his tastes, I was thrilled when David Canary and Thorsten Kaye got to participate in an intense face-off. I look forward to these two powerhouses continuing their cutthroat business storyline. It's nice to see real drama without anyone being buried alive or run down and shoved in a ditch. As per the suggestion of several Soap Central forum members, let's add a bit more intensity to this hostile corporate scene by throwing JR and Richie into the mix. Perhaps JR could accept Zach's offer to work for him while Richie would team with Adam to make things difficult for Junior, thus furthering their triangle with Babe. In addition, I'm sure Richie would jump at the chance to screw over his brother-in-law's little business venture, as would Adam Sr.
By the way, what is Ryan's job, again?
In any event, watching the men duke it out in the business world is always more entertaining than watching the women of Fusion take petty shots at each other's clothing, choice in men, and other sophomoric concerns. If I were a betting man--and I am--I'd be willing to wager that Greenlee's return party this past Wednesday was the last time we'll see all the Fusion girls together at work for quite some time. After all, why go to work when your social garden needs tending?