What happens when there's nothing left to lose? Success. I'm sure there's an Aesop fable buried somewhere in this week's column -- or at the very least a somewhat insightful fortune cookie message. You'll have to let me know when you get done reading the column.
The stories that are playing out on All My Children right now are stories that were written after ABC announced that it would be booting AMC and One Life to Live off the air. What's so critical about that? Well, the stories were also written before everyone involved learned that ABC had licensed the rights to the shows to Prospect Park. To me, that means that Lorraine Broderick and the rest of her writing team were crafting stories without fear. If the stories were not well received, what's the worst that could happen? The show had already been canceled.
By no means am I implying that the writers decided to throw a bunch of junk at the wall to see what would stick. Nothing could be further from the truth. The difference to me between what Lorraine Broderick has been doing -- and what other recent AMC head writers have tried -- is that Broderick has a working knowledge of all things All My Children. There's 41 years of history floating around in Lorraine's head, and, considering that she is also a fan of the show, she gets the inside jokes and knows what fans have been saying about the show for so long.
I also have to figure that there has been less meddling from up above (i.e., Brian Frons and the rest of Disney/ABC's execs) that would result in storylines being tinkered with without the consent of the writers. I'm sure everyone has read the rumors over the years that some of the stories that we've seen on-screen were more the result of input from executives than they were from the head writer and executive producer. (Just a quick note: the same applies to One Life to Live recently, as well.)
Where do I sign up for a day pass to Oak Haven? There is more fun and excitement going on there than the rest of Pine Valley -- and possibly most other places in the United States. Heck, Janet's already offered me a nickname: "D-Kro."
I am not going to give the Oak Haven storyline a free pass. The storyline is outrageously campy and, at times, it was over the top -- and that's all perfectly fine. I'd rather have a fun, summer storyline that doesn't take itself too seriously than being told a dramatic, "real" storyline about a fetus being harvested from one woman's uterus and implanted into another's.
There were so many good zingers in the Oak Haven storyline that I could list them all and call them a column. But that would be lazy, and I am sure that at least some of you want to read my take on the action. So instead, I will focus on the ones that really had me laughing... or screaming out at the television... or otherwise creating a ruckus in my office. No, sadly, there were no car dealer appointments this week.
So much is said about Erica never being called "grandmother," so it was amusing as I-don't-know-what when Marian referenced Erica's age. As the patients tried to figure out what arts and crafts task Erica might be best at, Erica shrugged her shoulders at the suggestion of macramé. "Oh, darling, you remember," Marian explained. "We had those hanging plants in the seventies with all those twisted knots in them?" That might have been the first time that anyone acknowledged that Erica was alive in the 1970s.
Then there were Janet's numerous references to killing Trevor. "I would put you both in a freezer if I could," Janet groused as Erica and Annie bickered back and forth -- but adding a "kidding!" just to make sure no one took her seriously. Janet's favorite yoga position, of course, was "the corpse."
Let's not even get started on the hilarity of Opal breaking into Oak Haven. Most people want to get out of a hospital/mental institution/prison. Opal? Nope. She wants to find a way in... so that she can find a way out (for her and her gal pal, Erica). Janet did make a good point, though, when she confessed that Opal's tea leafing and tarot carding had made Janet question Opal's mental stability. Show of hands? Yeah, me, too. I did like Opal's outfit. Is that really what she thinks crazy people wear? The "Palmer 12" jersey, though, was a really nice touch.
We all knew that Dixie would be discovered. We just didn't know who would find her. I am sure hoping that I am not the only one that became a little misty-eyed when Tad and Dixie "sensed" each other. I literally got out of my chair, walked around my desk -- my desk isn't all that far from the television -- and inched closer to the television. I guess I thought that I could will the two of them to find each other. The thought of there being a love so powerful that it can overcome anything is such an amazing concept.
The thought of a doctor being able to overcome death is also something of an amazing concept. Guiding Light tried a cloning storyline a bunch of years back that tanked -- make that t-a-n-k-e-d -- with viewers. Many fans think that marked the beginning of the end for the soap, much like Erica's unabortion, I guess. So far, AMC hasn't written anything that is medically impossible to make the storyline unbelievable. Yeah, yeah, yeah. I know that bringing dead characters back to life is a stretch, but it's not like it hasn't been done before on the soaps. So let's rattle off the count of David's, um, unvictims: Maria, Greenlee, and Dixie are definites. With Leo, Zach, and Babe returning, I have to wonder if they aren't squirreled away somewhere in a secret room. These back-from-the-dead plots may prompt an eyeball roll or two, but I like that the characters that are being resurrected seem to fit well into moving stories along.
Not everyone, though, is in agreement.
• Exactly how many minions does David have that he is able to scoop up recently dead people from all over the place and get them to his secret lab? Leo, Zach, Dixie, Babe, who's next? And when were they snatched? How come nobody knew they were missing? Don't family members still dress the bodies for funerals anymore? -- AJ
But don't send the email just yet because I still have a few more things to chatter about. I was moved by Amanda's cancer diagnosis. I don't quite gel with all of the "medical facts" that are being waved around in the storyline, but the reaction was a good payoff. When Amanda latched on to Jake and burst into tears that she was "too young to die," I was touched.
Millions of people in the United States suffer from some form of addiction. Maybe that's why JR's falling off the wagon resonates with me. I'm sure everyone knows someone who is battling alcoholism, drug addiction, or some other form of compulsive behavior. I held my breath when JR saw Dixie in the park in front of a bench that was dedicated to the memory of Langley Wallingford. Of course JR wouldn't think that his mother was really alive -- he was drunk at the time.
"It sure is nice dreaming about you like this, as if you're really here," JR said softly. "The last time I saw you, I thought I was dying. Am I -- dying? Because sometimes I feel like it would just be better if it was all just over -- no more noise and no more nothing."
There will never be a replacement for David Canary, but, as I've probably said in the past, Jacob Young is certainly doing David's legacy proud. JR has become a jerk, yet... there is something sympathetic about him. With nearly the entire Chandler family off-screen, it's comforting to know that the family name has been left in Jacob Young's very capable hands.
Now a quick follow-up to one of the questions I asked in last week's column. What should AMC do with Angie now that Debbi Morgan has announced that she'll be headed to The Young and the Restless? Your response was overwhelming. 98% of those who wrote to me said that AMC should not recast the role.
• I think they should recast. Angie is a great character. She represents strong, articulate, loyal and courageous women. It would be a shame to lose this character due to the actress leaving. Even though it will be hard to accept someone else in that role, it can be done. -- Kat
• I think that Darnell Williams would have chemistry with anyone or anything, but, no, I don't think they should recast Angie. Why not show that she can't handle the deception and had to go off for a while to think. Jessie could go to visit her every so often until perhaps Debbie Morgan is available in the future. There just can never be another Angie! -- Sandy