This is part two of a special two-part year-end Two Scoops showcasing the best and worst of All My Children in 2009. This week, Dan looks at the lowlights of the year gone by. To read his column from last week, that focuses on the hits of 2009, click here.
We've put together a special year-end list of the top ten most-read Two Scoops columns over the past 12 months. To check out the list and see what came out on top, please click here.
Worst murder mystery: Who killed Stuart Chandler?
There should be a Post-it note on the computer monitor of every daytime writer that says something like: If you're going to kill off a major character, you better make it worthwhile. Had Charles Pratt seen that sticky note, he might have crafted the "Who killed Stuart?" story a lot differently. Then again... maybe he wouldn't have. Stuart Chandler, arguably one of the most-loved characters on AMC, was mowed down on a dark and stormy night by an assassin's bullet. The death should have rocked viewers, but instead, many viewers were bored to death by a plot that dragged on and on and focused more on other people than the fact that Stuart had been killed. Sure, there were highlights to the story: the actual shooting was pretty spooky and there were some great "reactions" to Stuart's death, but all-in-all the story flopped. Rather than having dozens of suspects and narrowing the list down each week, viewers were forced to watch Kendall play hide-and-seek with the cops. Then, it became a witch hunt to get Annie to confess to a crime that she didn't commit.
Worst kept secret: Adam Chandler was Stuart's killer
From the moment Stuart's body hit the ground, many fans knew that Adam shot Stuart. It wasn't just because some Internet sites took it upon themselves to spoil the plot twist that Adam wasn't really the one who'd been shot (but that surely didn't help). There were other characters that could have done the deed and the show would have been a lot more interesting as a result. What if Emma or Little Adam had pulled the trigger?
Second worst kept secret: Greenlee is David's mystery patient
Was there ever any doubt that David and his sidekick, Nurse Gayle, were hiding Greenlee in that mystery room in Gloucester? Sure, we had fun toying with all the possibilities. Fans had some great ideas: Dixie, Leo, Vanessa, Harold the Dog... okay, I just added the last one in there for giggles. Still, any of the four candidates would have been much more surprising than the actual patient. Don't get me wrong: It's nice that Rebecca Budig is returning, but the predictable nature of the plot twist offers more evidence of why Charles Pratt didn't work as head writer of All My Children.
Worst new character: Marissa Tasker
Babe Carey had a twin sister. Who knew?! Or more appropriately: Who cares?! Usually when a character has an unknown twin, it's a way to bring back an actor that fans liked. Not this time. AMC crafted a pretty believable story that revealed Krystal had given birth two little girls, but was "forced" to give one away because she knew that she could not care properly for two children. Rather than seizing an opportunity to have Marissa be more like her dastardly daddy, Dr. David, the show decided to have Marissa be nicer and sweeter than a honey bun dipped in chocolate sauce and rolled in powdered sugar. Marissa was given plenty of chances to snap or explore a dark side, but she never went there. Instead, she married JR in a misguided romance. Maybe when things between her and JR break off, she'll finally go cuckoo. Hopefully people will still care if and when that finally happens.
Honorable mention: Damon. The show is keeping him around on a contract basis. Really?
Most unnecessary recast: Natalie Hall as Colby Chandler
I haven't decided if I like the "new new" Colby just yet, but it seemed really unnecessary to recast Colby... again. Didn't the show learn from their previous decision to recast Colby that sometimes a recast is unnecessary? Brianne Moncrief was doing just fine in my book. I'm not sure if there was some sort of moving-related reason that Moncrief was shown the door, but the revolving Colby door is making me dizzy. And, we didn't even get to hear a "The role of Colby Chandler is now being played by..." announcement.
Worst party game: Hide-and-seek Kendall
I pity poor Spike and Ian. Their mother is the worst player of hide-and-seek that I've ever seen. First, she couldn't hide from the police, so she decided to turn herself in for a crime she wasn't sure she'd committed. Then, when her husband paid off a look-alike to serve her jail time, Kendall couldn't even stay hidden in a secret room. A room that conveniently went from being soundproof to having paper-thin walls.
Worst karaoke moment: Stuart Chandler's funeral
Many will disagree, but Stuart Chandler's memorial service was one of the worst funerals of all-time. As a few readers pointed out, Stuart didn't want the doom and gloom hanging over what was a celebration of his life, but the campy send-off just didn't work. Making matters worse, the entire congregation erupted into a spontaneous sing-along of "High Hopes." Maybe the best thing to come from AMC's move to Los Angeles is that we will never have to hear about another rubber tree plant.
Biggest waste of an actor or actress: Beth Ehlers as Taylor Thompson
Beth Ehlers' addition to the All My Children cast was almost as hyped as the return of the "real Greenlee." ABC wanted to keep her hiring a secret, but obviously that didn't work. Rather than trying to lure over fans from the now-cancelled Guiding Light, where Ehlers had appeared for years, AMC executives decided to let Ehlers' Pine Valley alter ego wander aimlessly through town with little purpose. Taylor was introduced as an injured soldier who lost the love of her life. She then took a tumble down a flight of stairs and was booted out of the military. She had a not-quite romance with Jake Martin, played by her former GL love interest Ricky Paull Goldin. Taylor's dead lover came back from the dead, but they broke things off. Then, just as Taylor found love with Tad, she was sent packing. Viewers haven't been told that Taylor left town nor has there been any indication that she's even still alive. This was a totally wasted opportunity for All My Children on many, many levels.
Worst attempt to salvage a boring character: Aidan Devane kidnaps Kendall
Aidan Devane had become boring and he really had no reason to stay in Pine Valley. So when the show announced that actor Aiden Turner would be leaving the show, it didn't come as much of a surprise to viewers. There has never been a clear vision for Turner's character under any head writer. When it was first revealed that Aidan had a bit of a dark side -- the passionate make-out session with Kat was a pretty good hint -- suddenly Aidan was a little more interesting. As the storyline dragged on and Kendall was gagged and bound to a chair, Aidan was no longer fun to watch: he had become a cartoon villain. His tearful "I did this because you killed Greenlee" exit speech didn't help salvage the storyline. Oddly, Aidan had much more of a future as a character with questionable morals than he did as a goody two-shoes.
Worst money-saving storyline: The danceathon
The weeklong dance marathon was developed by AMC executives as a way to help get the show's operational expenses back on track. The idea was simple: get every character on the canvas into one set... and keep them there as long as humanly possible. Though the idea to cut costs was admirable, most viewers couldn't wait to salsa their way to another channel to avoid watching the never-ending plot.
Worst attempt to craft a hip storyline: Erica Kane is on the prowl
For whatever reason, cougars are all the rage. They have their own "town" in primetime and there are numerous reality shows playing up the older woman-younger man love stories. Viewers didn't necessarily have an issue with Erica Kane dating a younger man -- heck, just about every character on the show is younger than her -- but they did have an issue with Erica dating her daughter's ex-lover. Oh, and... Ryan is the father of Erica's grandchild. Rather than trying to be trendy and "ahead of the curve," AMC should have found Erica another younger lover. Or, they could have just kept her with Jackson Montgomery.
Worst dropped story point: Alexander Cambias didn't kill Dixie
What was the point of having Alexander Cambias write a tell-all book about his Satin Slayer crime spree if the show wasn't going to explore it? Remember the hoopla that was made about how Adam might have been responsible for Dixie's death? What happened? No one has mentioned anything about that since Stuart was killed. Tad had even planned to do a full-out investigation. Maybe he forgot that the love of his life was killed. Did the show have trouble getting Cady McClain to return? Did someone nix the idea of exploring Dixie's death? It's never a good idea to have more questions than answers... and bringing up Dixie's death without giving resolution only inflicted more pain upon viewers who were still smarting from the character's pancakeicide.
Well, that brings me to the end of the Best and Worst of 2009 columns. I'll be back next week with a look ahead at 2010. If you have a wish list of things you want to see happen, please do your part and send them to me by email. I will share some of my favorite in the column.
Until then, please be sure to check out the other year-end Two Scoops columns for other soaps. Over the past two weeks, all of the columnists have been reflecting on the best and worst of 2009. It's definitely a fun read -- even if you aren't familiar with all of the soaps!
Plus, feel free to head over to the Soap Central message boards and join in the discussion about the highs and lows of the year gone by. And, if you're feeling prolific, start your own blog and offer your own take on the Two Scoops' best and worst edition. If we like what you write, you might just see your comments posted here!