If I didn't know better, I'd swear that Dr. Anders and Celia are related. Both seem to suffer from the same congenital moping -- and the development of both characters seems to have been woefully underthought. I understand that a lot of that underdevelopment has to do with the change in AMC's broadcast schedule -- which made what probably would have been a two-week reveal into something more of a three-month reveal -- but I won't blame it entire on the two-day-per-week schedule.
Early on in AMC's return, we learned that Celia was being haunted by some sort of repressed memory. Remember when that creepy guy popped up behind her in her room? That was good stuff. Then... we got nothing for a period of time. Celia eventually had another vision, one with an eerie, sing-songy children's song and a spooky doll. Again, that had me on edge, and it made me want to know more about Celia's past.
Shortly thereafter, though, we got a little off track. There was an extended period of time with no mention of Celia's past. I couldn't tell if the storyline had been dropped or if the writers simply decided to move other storylines, most notably Cassandra's kidnapping, to the foreground of the canvas. Eventually, Celia's backstory was revisited with the "tag, you're it!" moment when Opal embraced Celia and suddenly felt her negative aura. That was a good use of Opal's history as a clairvoyant and didn't come off nearly as kooky as some of her other Psychic Friends moments.
Then there was another break in the action while Celia and Colby "fought" over Pete. The competition between the two women was definitely needed to give purpose to Celia, Colby, and even Pete, but again it came at the expense of a storyline that was introduced way back in May. I wondered if, perhaps, whatever was haunting Celia had jumped ship to Opal. I'm not sure if things work that way, but Ghost has been in heavy rotation on cable, and just once I wanted to hear Opal quip, "Celia, you in danger, girl."
Before I forget, I also need to mention what may have been my favorite Celia flashback yet: the back-to-back good versus evil memories that she had three weeks ago. You remember, the "air-kissing" Pete vision followed by the one of blood splattering on the floor? The comical vision offered Celia a bit of humanity. She had "real" feelings and wasn't so darned stuffy. The more macabre vision reaffirmed that Celia might have witnessed something horrific as a child, more than likely the murder of her mother and father.
Thankfully, this past week we got another glimpse of Celia's demons, and this time Opal didn't even have to have physical contact with Celia to see them. I've always maintained that Celia is far more interesting when the storyline focuses on her backstory than when she is chasing after Pete. It could be that I am the only one that feels that way. I've been known to have some unusual opinions. Actually, let me augment that last statement: Celia was also interesting when she and Colby were friendly-ish. I mentioned that in last week's column, and want to make sure that I acknowledge that I've found payoff in the Colby and Celia story.
Celia somehow won the date with Pete Cortlandt even though she wasn't the highest bidder. That means that someone entered a bid on her behalf because I don't think she'd be so desperate as to make an anonymous bid on her own behalf. Can I tell you how funny it was to see David Hayward bidding on a date with Pete? Sure, he wasn't bidding for himself, but that didn't make it any less amusing. I almost wish he'd have won because I wanted to know what sort of snarky comment he'd have made to Pete. I'm going to go out on a limb and surmise that newly rich Billy Clyde Tuggle placed the bid using some of his lottery winnings. Why else would he be skulking about Chandler Mansion, looking like a pimpolicious cat burglar? The only thing that was missing was a 1970s porn music soundtrack: Boom-Chicka-Meow-Meow. Ahem.
I am not sure how I will segue from that to my next bit of commentary, but I'm going to try. While Billy Clyde was lurking like a thief in the night, when we first met Dr. Anders, we learned quite quickly that someone had stolen all traces of his bedside manner. He had zippo in the way of compassion. Throughout Cassandra's ordeal, he came across as uncaring and downright unlikable.
From reading your comments every week, I think it's fairly safe to assume that everyone figured out that something must have happened to make Anders so cold. Now we know that Anders lost the love of his life, and he blames himself for not being able to cure her. The problem that I have with all of this is that I think Anders was made so unlikable that viewers might no longer care about why he's acting like a jerk.
Would the doctor's jerk quotient have been lessened if AMC had played out at the original four episodes per week schedule? Probably. I think that his assiness would have been diluted substantially. There really is a fine line, I think. I'll be interested to read your thoughts on this topic, so please shoot me an email or post your comments at the bottom of this page.
A Zach and Lea romance once look like an absolutely certainty, and now any prospect of that seems about as remote as the residents of Pine Valley throwing a party to celebrate ABC's new fall lineup. There did appear to be a surprising level of desperation in Lea's voice when she asked Zach for a redo. Lady, he's just not that into you! I've been secretly wanting Celia to snap, so I completely overlooked the possibility that Lea could be the one to fly over the cuckoo's nest. Since there are passionate fans who do not want to see a Zach and Lea romance, maybe they can get behind Lea losing her mind and making trouble for Zach.
Strangely, a lot of viewers have expressed their inability to latch on to the three news characters I've spoken about in this column so far: Anders, Celia, and Lea. We can also add Jane into that category, but she hasn't really had any story to make viewers have any sort of opinion about her. New characters are always a hard sell -- and introducing a bunch at the same time is exponentially harder. Still, Uri and Vlad Koslov were incredibly successful, and those were two characters who exhibited abysmal behavior and were almost certainly seen as short-term characters from the jump. I've gotten a lot of unsolicited email regarding Uri's whereabouts -- and possible return. I can't say the same about the other three characters. Typically, readers have written in to answer questions I've posed about the other three newcomers.
So I guess that all warrants the question: Which new AMC character is your favorite? For me, I see possibility with all of the characters, so that really has been keeping my interest. As I said earlier, I want to know more about Celia's past. I want to see Lea flip out. I want to know if Jane McIntyre is related to Alec McIntyre. I want to see Tad return to Pine Valley and deck Dr. Anders for having impure thoughts about Dixie. I have no idea if any of my fantasy scenarios will actually take place, but a little creative storyline tinkering can go a long way. As long as there are possibilities, there are ways to improve stories and characters.
If Evelyn can turn Celia's dress disaster into something worthy of Project Runway then anything is possible. I still think Evelyn is harboring a deep, dark secret. Or maybe she was Betsy Ross in a past life. Either way, I am keeping my eye on her and holding out hope that there will be some sort of sly Kitty/Kelly reference.
I can only imagine the amount of work that it takes to write a soap opera storyline, probably much the way that many people cannot imagine the amount of work it takes to maintain a web site for more than 18 years. When it comes to writing a soap story, it isn't just plot. Writers have to deal with the availability of actors, financial constraints, and probably a bunch of other limitations that none of us know about. That probably hasn't stopped any of us from an occasional daydream about what it would be like to be a writer for a soap. Hopefully, your daydreams don't involve "air-kissing" anyone, but if they do, who am I to judge?
We are steadily approaching the All My Children finale, and we're supposed to get some answers to our most pressing questions. For now, though, I would say that the question everyone wants answered is when All My Children will return to production. Unfortunately, I don't have the answer to that question, as it appears that the answer has not yet been written.
Don't forget to tune in for my live tweets of the week's new episodes Mondays at 5pm Eastern/2pm Pacific on our @soapcentral account and on my personal Twitter account, @danjkroll. And, as always, please share your thoughts on this column and your comments/feedback on the show with me. I love reading from you. Click here to send me an email, or post your thoughts in the Comments section below.