I don't know that Kenny Rogers has ever inspired a Two Scoops column before, but, as they say, there's a first time for everything. It isn't so much that I was sitting around the office listening to Kenny Rogers and wondering, "How can I spin this into a column?" I guess it was the title -- and my reminiscing -- that cued up the Kenny Rogers music in my brain's iPod.
Check out some of the lyrics to "Through the Years":
• I can't remember when you weren't there • I knew how much we had, I've always been so glad • The sweetest days I've found with you, through the years
For 42 years, I'd imagine that All My Children fans have used some derivative of those lyrics to describe their passion for all things Pine Valley. I'm sure the man with the magic Roasters didn't envision his song being used to talk about soaps, but that's about to happen.
While it's not quite the sprawling history of televised soap operas, soapcentral.com has been online now for more than 16 years. Accounting for holidays and other interruptions, that means there are about 4,000 recaps posted per soap. That's a lot of suds. This week, I am going to take a look back at what was going on in Pine Valley this week in some of those 16 years so that I can share with you my thoughts on select storylines. As an added bonus, there will be links to zap you back to that week's recaps, so that you can relive the magic (or cover your eyes and shake your head at some of the monstrosities). The links will open in a new window, so you don't have to worry about losing your place here.
It's like an All My Children Wayback Machine. Since this "downtime" between the ABC version of All My Children and the Internet-based version under Prospect Park has made us all a little bit nostalgic, I certainly hope that you'll drop me a line and tell me what you thought about the storylines I'm about to discuss. More importantly, has time changed your opinion about any of these stories? You should know the routine by now, but in case you've forgotten: click the Feedback link at the top of the page, click the byline at the top of the column, or use the "Email" option at the footer of the column to drop me a line. You can also simply click here.
I suppose there's no place better to start than the beginning.
Here's the summary of what happened this week, way back in 1995:
Noah found out Taylor had a "miscarriage" and decided to take Julia to NYC for a romantic weekend. Brooke ignored Adam's moves on her, saying she liked how things were. After watching the videotape of Arlene and Alec, Hayley told a saddened Mateo that she had never loved him and was just using him. Edmund and Maria looked into adoption. After taking one too many pills, Erica collapsed. Stuart tried to fix up Scott with Anita. Anita thought she was too inexperienced for Bobby.
Wow. This was the kickoff to a lot of great stories. Erica's pill-popping was the result of her fall from scaffolding, but I don't exactly recall why she was on top of scaffolding in the first place. I do, however, remember that this led to one of the biggest can't-look-away moments of the mid-1990s: Erica's SUI (speaking under the influence) acceptance speech for Woman of the Year. In fact, that was one of the episodes that aired during the AMC marathon on the soon-to-be-defunct soap cable channel.
My favorite moment of that whole acceptance speech was Erica taking out her anger on Maria Santos. "Saint Maria of Wildwind, tending to the sick in her push-up bra," Erica said with slur. I remember thinking at the time that Erica's zinger was one of the bitchiest things I'd ever heard on television. Obviously, it pales in comparison to some of the things that are said nowadays, but I still think it's funny.
Before we get on to the Maria and Edmund adoption storyline, I remember using a graphic of Eva LaRue to promote a Two Scoops column and receiving angry letters from some readers who accused me of using Eva's breasts to generate interest in my column. It was one of my first experiences with upset fans, as it had never occurred to me that someone might be offended by a photo -- a publicity photo from ABC, mind you. I still see nothing wrong with the photo (It's the one I used to promote this week's column), and I think Eva LaRue might be even more beautiful today. Physical beauty aside, there is something to be said for an actress fighting to be a part of a show's anniversary episode or finale. It shows class, if you ask me.
Edmund and Maria's exploration of adoption options seemed like such a great way to expand their family. Being the soap opera neophyte that I was at the time, it never occurred to me that the adoption would go "terribly wrong." The storyline introduced Kelsey Jefferson, a Martin that we didn't really know about. I never cared for Kelsey. She whined too much for my liking. Then she decided that she didn't want to go through with the adoption, and Maria lost it and fled with baby Sam.
I'm sure I've mentioned it before, but the scene in the airport where Maria is forced to give up Sam remains one of the most memorable moments in All My Children history for me. Eva LaRue's screams of "My baby, my baby, my baby..." still echo in my head when I think about this storyline. I'd discussed this recently on Twitter, and Eva somehow found my tweet and messaged me that the airport scenes remain her most memorable AMC scenes, too.
Hayley's boozy mom, Arlene, was always fun to watch. I am sure there is no chance that she'll come back, especially since there is little chance that Kelly Ripa will make any substantive return to All My Children -- and I don't think the show would ever recast Hayley. I suppose that Hayley and Mateo's son, Max, could pop up in Pine Valley, giving reason for Arlene to resurface.
Ditto for Alec MacIntyre. Grant Aleksander hasn't been active since Guiding Light went off the air a couple of years ago, so maybe he'd be open for a short spell on AMC. He, too, has a son that is out there somewhere: Jamal. Alec had history with Hayley, but again... that's moot if Hayley isn't back on the canvas. There is, however, lots of untapped story.
I was never a fan of the teen storylines that played out during the summer months. Scott, Anita, Kelsey... never did much for me.
I did, however, enjoy all things Noah and Julia. Seeing Taylor Roxbury-Cannon's name makes me chuckle. Taylor was one of the most disliked characters -- so much so that I renamed the "Least Favorite Character" category in the Dankies "The Taylor Roxbury-Cannon" category. I think Taylor won the award four years in a row.
I wouldn't say that I hated Taylor. It might be more accurate to say that I loved to hate her. She was a spoiled brat, and she made life miserable for everyone. Still, if I had my way, I'd find a way to bring the character back for the Internet-based AMC. Maybe Taylor could cause trouble for Frankie and Randi. Or... what if Randi is related to Taylor? We certainly know little if anything about Randi's life before her days as a hooker.
Let's skip ahead to 2005. Again, for reference, here's the summary of that week's action:
Tad and Zach confronted Garret with their suspicions. Adam and JR dismissed Stuart. Garret accused Di of betrayal. Julia, overcome by painful memories, shot Garret. Ryan was tortured by Greenlee's pain. Greenlee saw Jonathan at the hospital. Tad and Zach showed up just in time to rescue Julia and Di. Krystal and Babe agonized over whether to tell the truth about Di. JR began to soften toward Tad and Jamie. Stuart returned the letter to Di. Del burned the letter. Tad confronted Di. Zach and Kendall continued to avoid their feelings for each other. Greenlee told Zach and Kendall that she had visited Erin. Ryan made a decision about his and Jonathan's future. Kendall told Greenlee she was pregnant. Greg warned Kendall and Greenlee that they needed to control Erica. Erica was unable to convince Josh to help her. After talking to Julia, Tad made a decision about Di. Mimi apologized to Danielle.
To me, this week was a great example of great actors being forced to play ill-conceived characters. Kelli Giddish was (and still is) a really fine actress. Casting her as Di, a woman that was going to pretend to be Dixie... was dumb. First of all, Kelli was younger in real life than the actor who would be playing her "son," Jacob Young. From there, the storyline just got very yawny for me. There are so many other characters that Kelli could have played... but the vision faded, and Di was written out.
Ditto for Lamman Rucker, who played Garret "The Dragon" Williams. Lamman has now gone on to find success in one of Tyler Perry's television shows as well as several of his movies. The Dragon storyline was ridiculous to me -- and there were a few points that made it somewhat offensive. First, the storyline brought Mimi Reed back into the fold. Disclaimer: I have always loved Shari Headley. She's beautiful and a talented actress. Now that that's out of the way, I disliked the way the show painted Mimi. Mimi had previously been all about her daughter, Danielle. But when Mimi was brought back, suddenly she was putting random men before her child. On top of that, she became stupid. Blah, blah, blah... Garret was shot. The end.
Seeing Adam and Stuart's names in the summary reminds me of how glad I am that Stuart's death was undone in the final few episodes last month. Some are still harpooning the undead aspect of David's storyline, but I think everyone will agree that righting that wrong was one of the best decisions any AMC writer has ever made.
Alrighty, I had planned to flashback to more than just two years in AMC history, but my reflections took up a little more space than I thought they would. So, how about we meet back here again next week for more time travels? I'm open to suggestions about what years you'd like for us to discuss. You can check out all of the weekly summaries in the Daily Recaps Archives section (To get there at any time: Select "Recaps" from the blue navigation menu at the top of any page of the site, and then choose "Previous recaps (Recaps Archives)" from the drop-down menu). You'll be able to check out all of the weekly summaries dating back to 1995. For each week there is also an option that will allow you to go back and read the comprehensive, daily recaps that were posted for that week. As I mentioned, there are more than 4,000 recaps for you to check out during that one-hour period when the-show-that-shall-not-be-named airs.