Thinking Fans contemplate the Big Wind(s): Marlene opines the strong wind is meant “to sweep away the stench of E&B” … while Tom Casiello is exhausted by the “piling on of plot points” … and NancyJo has just one word for Thorsten Kaye: “MAGNIFICENT!” … and more. See Comments below.
By Marlena De Lacroix
All My Children‘s latest tornado was amusing to watch for more than a week as a soap special event. But I’m going to use a word for it I’ve never used in decades of watching or writing about soap opera. I have never seen such a overly contrived piece of soap opera in my life.
The whole aim of any drama is to make the audience believe. Do I believe that one tornado stuck most of Pine Valley, and then a second one conveniently struck what
(The tornado) was showy, it was exciting, but when you calmly thought about it all, the likelihood that all of it could happen this way to real people in a real place was just plain ridiculous.
was left, namely the Pine Valley Hospital where, as luck would have it, most of the show’s characters had gone to seek refuge? How cooperative of Mother Nature! Maybe she came to the writers’ meeting and offered to lend a hand when the new headwriter said he needed to extend the story a few more days.
But little in this tornado sequence felt like an act of God that could almost happen in real life. Instead, to me it felt like a new headwriter saying, “Look at me, I’m Chuckie P!” (Chuck Pratt recently took over the show.)
Consider all the silly, unimaginative coincidences, like: Bianca’s been gone for ages, living in Paris with a new lover. Then, one minute before the tornado strikes Kendall’s beach digs, Bianca shows up with no warning. Not only shows up, but shows up pregnant. Nine months pregnant. And about to pop. With her brother-in-law Zach’s baby, which Kendall doesn’t even know about. And Kendall doesn’t even have time to deal with the fact that her sister is pregnant before she gets knocked out by her crumbling tornado-struck house and later needs brain surgery.
“AMC fans, look at the six plot twists I weave can together with one pen stroke,” says the clever Chuckster. “And for my coup de grace, I am going to have Bianca go into labor and have ZACH deliver their baby, all in the wreckage of Zach and Kendall’s beach house. Just how it would happen in real life, no? Can I spin a yarn, or what?”
Talk about contrived! If you liked the way Pratt pulled a rabbit out a hat by returning beloved character Bianca back to Pine Valley, here’s another: the return of sexy Dr David Hayward. Isn’t it interesting he finally found her in the hospital at exactly the moment Babe died in J. R’s arms? After they had schlepped the injured Babe all over the place, isn’t it convenient how Pratt finally made her die in the hospital’s chapel?
Of course, soap operas are supposed to be full of exciting, dramatic and suspenseful stories. But all these things happening at once? It strains even the most enthusiastic soap opera fan’s effort to believe what he or she is viewing is real life. This is a tornado in a small Pennsylvania town, not Hurricane Katrina!
But the plot twists kept on coming, at least one major one for each Pine Valley personality.
Jake did brain surgery on Kendall and with all his physician’s bravado continued onward when the hospital’s lights went out. (How convenient!). Natalia was seriously injured and she revealed to Jesse’s wife Angie and son Frankie that she, Natalia is Jesse’s daughter by another woman with whom he was involved while everyone thought he was dead. (This angered me. Jesse made many mistakes when he was a teenager, but the mature Jesse who came back to Pine Valley would never be so stupid as to continue to conceal from Angie the existence of another family.) Oh, and let’s not forget that Annie and Ryan’s daughter Emma was kidnapped from a movie theater just before the tornado hit.
I won’t even comment on the numerous Ryan and Greenlee confrontation scenes. I have never liked either character. But for the heck of it, just to finish off this week-and-a-half of plots, Pratt had Taylor accidentally fall down the stairs during an argument between Jake and Zach over Kendall’s operation. The minute I saw that Taylor was doing a scene in a “hospital” (a.k.a. the AMC studio) staircase I knew what was going to befall her. Didn’t you?
Now, I’ll admit a lot of good came out of the tornado, even one as storyline-oversaturated as this one was. Thorsten Kaye was magnificent with this tragic material, finally giving the kind of heroic and deeply touching performance he’s been capable of all along. So were Bobbie Eakes and Jacob Young and just about all the AMC veterans, like Darnell Williams, Debbi Morgan, Eden Riegel, Michael E. Knight, Susan Lucci, David Canary, and especially Vincent Irizarry. Give this cast meaty material and they deliver superbly.
But as amusing as this tornado “event” was, to tell you the truth I’m worried about Pratt being head writer. This clearly wasn’t a tornado that actually happened in Pine Valley as much as it was an engraved announcement that a New Headwriter Had Arrived. It was showy, it was exciting, but when you calmly thought about it all, the likelihood that all of it could happen this way to real people in a real place was just plain ridiculous. I love exciting stories but this “event” was terribly overstuffed with too many plots, even for a daytime soap opera. “Look at me, I’m Chuckie P. Look how many plots I can spin at once! I can manipulate anyone and anything, no matter how unrealistic, all long as it goes boom and will get me ratings.”
Darlings, I’m afraid there’s something very frighteningly Guza-like in the wind in Pine Valley!