An All My Children Evaluation

Let’s play report card right now for All My Children. It’s time to evaluate the current storylines and/or characters on screen. But first, the Head Writer, Charles Pratt Jr. deserves an evaluation.

Apprehension is the first word that came to mind when news broke that Charles Pratt Jr. would be taking the helm as Head Writer for All My Children. It’s no secret that the show has been in a writing turmoil since the the babyswitch storyline reached its climax and wrapped up. Ever since then viewers of AMC have been subjected to one outlandish story after another (hello, Josh the unabortion…) and in turn one new head writer after another. Last year, it was reported that Charles Pratt Jr, would be taking his pen to AMC. Again, it’s no secret that apprehension broke out among the faithful viewers, leaving many to wonder if AMC would turn into some hybrid form of the shows he’d already written for. Shows such as Melrose Place, Desperate Housewives and General Hospital, whom he co-wrote with Robert Guza Jr. Some chose to give him a chance and see what he could do, while others chose to tread carefully, not wanting to put all their faith in him.

At first, his writing showed promise, given the tornado that hit Pine Valley in October, but it seems as though everything else slowly whirlpooled down the drain as the months progressed. One of the most glaring miscues, aside from the hyped-up first lesbian wedding on daytime (which only lasted a day, barely…) was the dismantling of Aidan and Greenlee in order to make way for the second-time around pairing of Ryan and Greenlee (Rylee). Apparently, Mr. Pratt did not get the memo that Rylee was not a huge hit the first time around, because this second go-round didn’t work and ultimately had Rebecca Budig opting out of the contract and leaving the show after just a one year return.

Currently, the storylines playing out on AMC have this tendency of good days and bad days, but there hasn’t been a steady progression in story itself. It has been said Mr. Pratt likes to leave the audience guessing or the characters guessing what they’ll be doing next, but that method doesn’t seem to work. These characters are meant to be predictable in a way and not give the viewers whiplash with their actions. For example, on General Hospital, when Carly gets upset about something, viewers will almost assume she will run to Jason for consoling, because that is what her character does. It’s predictable. On AMC lately, it’s as though some characters’ actions leave the viewers going “Huh?”. One character whose actions have left viewers doing that is Kendall Hart-Slater.

Lately, it seems as though Kendall cannot make up her mind on what she wants. One day she wants to work things out with Zach, but the next day or within the same episode, she’s with Ryan. It’s confusing trying to figure out who she wants to be with. And if that wasn’t bad, her sleeping with Ryan and saying that it’s because they’re mourning the loss of dear friend, Greenlee really takes the cake. Kendall would never do that, regardless of how hurt she was at the time over Zach’s actions. A month hadn’t passed and those two were already bedding each other, out of anger towards others. Spoilers for the next two weeks report that Zach and Kendall will finally separate, but the actions after the fact don’t make for good story down the road. One can only wonder what Alicia Minshew, Thorsten Kaye and Cameron Mathison are thinking as they receive their scripts.

Taylor and Brot, although may have seemed like a good idea on paper, isn’t all that tantilizing on screen. Taylor (and Beth Ehlers) seems to have more chemistry with Tad (and Michael E. Knight). It’s understandable in a way that the writers were trying to show some sort of love story/coming back together between Taylor and Brot, but these days, there’s no sizzle, nothing to draw in viewers. Perhaps these two are better as friends. Also, Brot (and JR Martinez) had better screen presence with Colby (and Brianne Moncrief). It could be the fact that the two actors are closer to age in real life, as opposed to the age difference between Ehlers and Martinez.

Frankie and Randi — snooze…

Adam and Erica — intriguing. It’s good to see Erica having her hands in two stories right now. She has been consistent in her involvement regarding Kendall and Zach. But it’s also interesting seeing her in cahoots with Adam Chandler.

Jake and Amanda — Disliked it at first, but surprisingly have grown to like at the present moment. It is unsure where or when it happened or even how, but these two work right now and it’s better than seeing Jake Martin troll around town and having a casual drink every where he goes.

Pete and Colby — still a work in progress and there isn’t any clear direction on these two. It’s clear Pete will not give up on Colby, but will Colby ever give in to Pete?

David and Krystal — Can we end the Babe mentions now? No one cares about Babe, no one care when she died and no one will ever care. There is no need to invoke her name everyday. She wasn’t a saint and never brought anything good to Pine Valley. David, when acting human like last week before operating on Ian is good. But when he reverts back to his “twisting the imaginary moustache” and constantly proclaiming revenge on the Chandlers, it gets really old, fast. Krystal… well, at least she isn’t crying 24/7, but her blind love for David isn’t very enthralling to watch. And that is all that can be said on that for now.

Much credit goes to the actors who day in and day out put their efforts into acting out the writing that is handed to them.

Now, this isn’t to say everyday feels like a whirlpool where everything is simply spinning around and there isn’t much improvement.. but these days, AMC seems to be on a step forward, step back pattern. Good day with writing, giving viewers an entertaining episode, only for the next day to have subpar writing and leaving viewers wondering what happened and where the continuity went.

Overall grade for AMC as of today — C+/B- (yes, that’s being generous.)

This is just an evaluation of the show for now… Check back for another report card in the coming months, where hopefully there has been some progression and less whiplash.

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Yet Another WTF? Moment on All My Children, 6/18/08

On today’s episode of AMC, Tad took Kathy home to live with him and his dysfunctionally fun family (Krystal, newly-minted Gen-X’er Colby and baby Jenny) after he was finally released from the hospital with a really bad case of lead poisoning. At the Martin homestead, he set the little girl up in her own room, with her toys and a stuffed animal given to her by her “Mother” (and she wasn’t talking about Julia), even letting her pick out the color they would paint this little girl haven.

So… Tad just swooped in and took Kathy home after telling her he was her daddy and she just accepted it? And, better yet, everyone in town just accepted it?!?! No court filings claiming parental rights? No DNA tests proving Tad and Kathy share the same double helix? He didn’t have to go before a judge, file papers with the court, make a statement under oath, that Kathy was actually Kate?

And Maria Santos, legal guardian to Kathy Mershon, just let him?

Um… WTF?

Are you kidding me? It’s that easy for Tad to take his and Dixie’s child home? Despite the legal guardianship of little Kathy by Maria? Bestowed on her, again legally, by Julia Santos? Who was also the legal guardian of Kathy? In the eyes of the law?!?!

Haven’t we seen real life situations such as this? People have to hire $500 an hour lawyers, who are trained in family law so I’m guessing former DA and current criminal defense attorney Jackson Montgomery might be out of his element here, to file a claim of parental rights with the court. Then they must appear in court and plead their case. Then the judge will render a decision. And if that decision is favorable to the “Petitioner”, the judge decides how to proceed, generally by ordering medical tests done on the “Petitioner” and the minor child in order to prove the “Petitioner’s” claims. Then… well, despite what All My Children, the CSI franchise and the Law & Order shows would have you believe, DNA results don’t come back mere seconds after they’ve been input into the fancy-shmancy DNA printer thingy…

This would require months of legal filings, motions and counter-motions (if Maria wished to keep custody of Kathy), then several weeks of just sitting around waiting until the results of the DNA tests came back, while Kathy could be in California with her legal guardian, or as a ward of the state.

And even then, if the judge so deemed it, since it was in writing that Julia was Kathy’s legal guardian, as evidenced by the LEGALLY BINDING WILL of Kathy’s adoptive mother, and Julia indicated that she made Maria the legal guardian of Kathy, should anything happen to her (like the writer’s killing her off) custody of the minor child could have stayed with Maria Santos-Grey! (of course, as Kathy would have been biologically proven to be Tad’s daughter, I would imagine Tad would have filed for custody, which could have resulted in more legal maneuvering for everyone involved)

But, apparently, Pine Valley does not adhere to the laws of the rest of the county. You say that kid is yours? Hey, no sweat, take her home! No pesky legal fees, filings or decisions for you to worry about here!

The scenes between Michael E. Knight and Alexa Garasimovich have been wonderful, there is no doubting that. And who doesn’t love that Tad found his and Dixie’s lost child? (too bad Dixie can’t be awakened from a coma with the news that “Kathy is your Kate”, though) But, come on… is it so hard to do even a little research?

Really… WTF?*

*thanks to Tracy for initially bringing this WTF? moment to my attention.

WTF? Moments on AMC for the Week Beginning 6/9/08

Recently on All My Children, the writers have been featuring the older, established characters. The venerable veterans who made the show so incredibly popular back in the 90’s, and even waaaay back into the 80’s. Adam, Erica, Jack, Tad, Dixie (albeit dead), Angie, Jesse, Opal, Julia (albeit killed)…

These are the characters we have a bond with, a connection. Long-time viewers grew up with Tad, Dixie, Angie and Jesse. We watched Palmer and Opal fall in love, Adam steamroll his way through the business world, Erica and Jack spend 17 years in an on-again, off-again relationship (mostly off, but when it was on… it was ON).

So, um… WTF?

Why are you teasing us like this?

Don’t you know there are young, nubile characters going to waste on AMC? Didn’t you SORAS Colby (from 5 to early 20’s) just so you could give us more youth angst? (and dumped an ever-evolving Ambyr Childers in order to cast a poor man’s Ambyr Childers lookalike in the role) You’ve brought back Frankie Hubbard (twice now in recent years), cast a young woman to play a street-smart hooker to get involved with the military vet to mine some angst out of that pairing. There’s the Ryan/Annie debacle that’s looming on the horizon, Kenlee/Zachlee/Aidlee/Zendall drama to explore…

So WTF are you doing? Why are you giving us these wonderful stories with veteran stars, all of whom are doing spectacular work? David Canary and Cady McClain during Adam’s haunting… Susan Lucci playing Erica in the Big House (which has been a ton of fun when you let Erica and her fellow inmates interact)… Michael Knight and Cady McClain, living out the life every Tad and Dixie fan wanted to witness (albeit over years, not a single episode), Darnell Williams and Debbie Morgan bringing Jesse and Angie back to Pine Valley after way too long away. Ray McDonnell as Dr. Joe Martin, the Chief of Staff at Pine Valley Hospital as son Tad fights for his life in one room while Joe must deliver devastating news to a friend in another. And Sydney Penny as a dying Julia Santos, knowing there was no way she would survive, wanting to make sure Kathy was taken care of, giving Krystal instructions on what to do, even as her very life slipped away.

That was All My Children as I remember it from my youth and over the decades. Intriguing, emotional, well-script, brilliantly acted… We cared about these characters. We anxiously awaited each new episode to see how they would react, how they would cope, what they would say…

What are you doing getting my hopes up again? That I might think this could become a daily experience once more? That you’d have us believing it will always be this way and we’ll never get mired back in the same old tired storylines that have been hashed and re-hashed over the last year or so…

Seriously… WTF?

Dixie, you forgot something

Yes, Tad and Dixie’s final goodbye was sweet yesterday. Bittersweet actually, since Dixie should have never been subjected to death by pancake.

Anyhow… as Dixie and Tad parted ways, there was just one mishap with the ending.

Tad didn’t get a ride back to the hospital chapel! Dixie beamed them out, but she forgot to beam him back to the hospital chapel.

One can only hope he still isn’t stranded today.

Tad to Kathy – “I’m your daddy.”

While it may seem like almost everything on All My Children has gone to the crapper, there is a sliver of hope, giving viewers a moment to smile. Yesterday, Tad told Kathy that he’s her daddy. From the look on the little girl’s face, she’s quite happy that he is her daddy, even though it seems she doesn’t quite understand the logistics of how it all happened. (Look for 20 years of messed up storylines down the road for the child, as stated by Michael E. Knight (with a chuckle)).

It was sweet to see Tad explain how he was searching for his little girl for so many years. What was even sweeter was him telling Kathy that she was right all along, calling her “daddy” when they had first had an encounter. The look on Kathy’s face was of pure innocence and one can’t help but smile watching the scene between them. Tad and Kathy definitely share a father/daughter bond, and it helps that Michael E. Knight and Alexa G. are such pals off screen. Then again, Michael E. Knight is friendly towards everyone that you can’t help but love the guy.

What lies ahead for Tad and Kathy now that they’re reunited? No one knows, but it’ll be interesting to see how the dynamic changes in the Carey/Martin household. Will Krystal be a bit jealous now that Tad has to split his attention between two daughters, Jenny and Kathy?

One thing is for sure, having the Kathy revelation is a breath of fresh air for some, especially since it could show viewer a softer side of JR when it comes to his interaction with her.