May 18, 2004

A woman, far away from home, hovers on the verge of a nervous breakdown. 

 A couple hurries towards marriage.  The bride and groom both hoping this marital adventure will distract them from the pain of having lost the loves of their lives.  And the marriage will secure the bride’s position as head of the company she founded. Another woman, having finally realized the groom is her heart’s desire, races to stop the wedding. 

Back home, another bride prepares for her wedding with a heart full of love, while her groom prepares for their wedding with a heart full of revenge. 

The groom’s brother is caught between his love for his brother’s wife and his loyalty to his brother.  

The bride’s mother struggles with keeping a dark secret only she knows. A secret that could blow her daughter’s life apart. 

The groom’s stepfather struggles with his feelings for the bride’s mother. His attraction is strong, yet so is his belief that she tells lies as easily as she breathes. 

A young woman struggles to make sense of her infant daughter’s death, while she agonizes over her own mother’s disappearance. 

While that young mother struggles with grief another struggles with the uncomfortable feeling that something is just not right with her daughter. Mostly because she remembers giving birth to a son.  

 Meanwhile two babies are with the wrong families. How and when will they be returned home? And what punishment awaits those who kept them from their families? 

A young couple struggles with whether or not their marriage is worth saving. He has the soul of a con artist. And she can only laugh easily with a male friend who has a British accent. 

A married couple, which has already overcome major obstacles, must try to rebuild their lives once again. This time trying to restructure a life that includes the husband’s seemingly permanent paralysis. 

A young woman struggles with her feelings of romantic love for a female friend, while still enjoying sex with men.  

A teenage couple struggles with their mutual attraction because, hey, that is what teenage couples do.  

Now doesn’t that sound like a great soap? One we would tune in to every day because we could not wait to see what happens next? 

Then why lately do I approach each day’s episode with a sense of dread and an itchy FF finger? 

Maybe it’s because Erica’s story is beyond ludicrous. And has wiped out any memory of Susan Lucci’s ability to display subtlety as an actress. It also treats the viewers like idiots. Are we to believe that none of Desiree’s fellow chorines recognize her as the world famous Erica Kane? And that Erica would actually use the phrase “ grub stake”? What’s next? Erica sitting around with her poker buddies eating beans and farting? Every day I pray to the soap gods that Donald Steele will show up in Las Vegas and put an end to this insanity. 

Maybe it’s because of the very poor development of new characters. Babe’s first acts in PV were to commit adultery and steal a cow. Her second act was to call Jamie out as a liar; thus creating a rift between brothers that is only now starting to mend. Oh yeah, and making sure the DNA test showed that JR is the “proud Papa.”  Her kindness to Bianca is sweet, but is so treacly it borders on the unbelievable.  Alexa Havins puts much more effort into her scenes than the writing deserves. 

When we first saw Krystal, she was having a high old time in a no-tell motel with a nameless man. Although I assume that Krystal knew his name, since she always checks her partners’ drivers’ licenses.  When Babe called, Krystal could not even be bothered to talk with her. This lack of communication must have been a pattern with them, because Krystal had no clue that Babe had married Paul Cramer.  Krystal’s interest in her baby girl increased one million fold when she saw the size of the Chandler mansion.  While my interest in Krystal has not increased one fold. Bobbie Eakes does her best with what the writers give her, which is not much at all. 

And then we have Bobby and Anita. Longtime viewers know them or do we? Anita, the middle Santos daughter, fell in love with that reprobate Bobby Warner. Bobby who knocked up Martin granddaughter Kelsey and then treated her like gum on the bottom of his shoe. Bobby matured though, redeeming himself by securing his son Sam’s place in a good family, the Greys. (OK, so it is a place in the attic, but how was Bobby supposed to know that?) Anita and Bobby went off to Chicago for college and to live in bliss ever after.  

Anita returns to PV first, ostensibly to help her sister Maria. Fine. Those early scenes were believable and I kinda liked Anita. It became clear though that Anita was hiding out from her husband and her marital problems. Then Bobby arrives in Pine Valley. And instead of hot footing it to PVH to see his beloved wife, Bobby is hanging out in the baby department at Lacey’s ?   Then to add incredulity to ridiculousness no one recognizes him. It is never a good idea when a character becomes a running gag, which Bobby has become. Who won’t recognize Bobby today? 

And if we do not care about the characters how can we care about their marriage? Certainly scenes with Bobby and Palmer would have been helpful. Palmer and Bobby have always understood each other. We cannot get Bobby’s father, Cliff, back, since Peter Bergman is on the Y&R, but why not spring a few bucks to bring Bobby’s mother Nina back for a few scenes?  Having experienced Cliff’s affair with Bobby’s biological mother, the infamous Sybil Thorne, perhaps Nina can help her adopted son understand not only Anita’s pain but also offer insight into how a relationship can survive infidelity.  

And a few scenes with Anita’s mother Isabella would not hurt either. Show us why we should care about these two and maybe we will.  

The lost baby story is sad. On many levels.  Eden Riegel knocked it out of the park when she showed us Bianca’s intense pain over losing Miranda. Everyone in those hospital scenes did a great job. One of the things I love about soaps is a good heart-breaking story that reduces me to tears. And this certainly is one.  I want Mirabess to be returned to Bianca post-haste.  

Yet  the other half of this story, the missing Chandler baby, does not quite tug at my heartstrings. Is it because JR has been an ass since the day he arrived back in town? Is it because while it will be sad to see Babe give up Mirabess, most of Babe’s problems she brought on herself? If she had filed the annulment papers in a timely way, Paul Cramer would not have had an excuse to be around to cause her pain.  

Or is it the cross-over aspect, itself?  A scene here and there of Adam’s grandson living la vida Buchanan over in Llanview just is not working for me. And I watch OLTL!  I can only imagine the lack of emotional resonance for non-OLTL viewers. Who is that blonde woman in the too-tight suit? Who is the smarmy, albeit good-looking, guy with her?  

Isn’t part of the pain with the Mirabess story that we see her almost every day, knowing she is not where she rightfully belongs? Glimpsing Ace from time-to-time, knowing nothing about his environment, is not enough to make it “real” enough for me to care.  And frankly, naming him Ace did not help. Shallow, but true. 

Maybe that will change for me when the truth is revealed and the hunt for the Chandler baby begins. Certainly Adam’s wrath will be fascinating.  I admit to looking forward to seeing everyone’s wrath unleashed on Krystal. And how will Krystal react when she realizes her grandbaby is not dead and that her machinations kept Babe from her child?  

And then of course will the final reveal be that Babe’s baby is not a Chandler after all? Is it a Cramer? Or a Martin? Or some as yet-to-be-named player?  

Yes, perhaps I will be interested in the story then, or maybe not. Spreading it over two shows certainly dilutes the emotional impact. And the immediacy.  Or maybe even the best acting in the world, and both shows have some of the best around, cannot save what is essentially a marketing driven plot contrivance?  

Maybe it’s the damage done to long-term characters. If anyone should sure for character defamation, it’s Liza Colby. Or as I used to call her That Bitch Liza Colby. Now she is mealy mouthing around hoping for a crumb from Tad? Where is your spine woman? Not to mention some decent clothes. When did you start shopping at the mother-of-the-bride shop at Lacey’s?  Liza has been reduced to a plot device, used to expose Babe’s untimely annulment.  

At least Brooke still has her spine, if no screen time. She is too smart, too funny and too sexy to be reduced to the best friend role. Not to mention much more attractive than Zazu Pitts or Jane Withers, both of who made careers out of being the “best friend.” Julia Barr deserves better.  

I like Tad-the-Dad better than Tad-the-Cad. He’s sexier. However, I cannot believe that Tad would keep the truth about Babe from JR. It is not protecting JR by letting him continue in a marriage to a con. I think Dixie would be disappointed, very disappointed in his actions, not to mention in his taste in women. 

Kendall. Ryan. Greenlee. Once sexy, attractive, funny and interesting. Now tiresome, childish, and, did I mention tiresome? So many ways to have gone with these three and yet we have wound up in a catfight in a swimming pool. 

And the damage they have done to David breaks my little cynical heart. No, wait, David has not been on enough for damage to be done. Which to me, is damage because David is far too complex and sardonic to be back burned.  (And let’s not forget the looks great in leather factor.) 

Maybe it’s the wasted characters: Mia, Boyd, and Lena. Not necessarily in that order. Potential for each of them frittered away while we endured the Tales of the Casaba Melon Gang. 

Or maybe it’s the fact that Roger Smythe and Billy Clyde are still dead. Damn it.  

It makes me sad to see AMC in this state. Maybe if we get together and clap our hands really, really hard, it’s potential can be realized once again. Or at least improve to the point of not wearing out our fast forward buttons. 

P.S. And no, it is not all dreadful. I intend my next column to be what I still enjoy, or at least makes me hopeful, about AMC. I am sure I can think of something. Really I can.  

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