November 7, 2006
What has happened to my show? Days go by with episodes of AMC sitting in my DVR and the desire to watch it is gone. The anticipation of what is going to happen next is gone. Instead, it's become almost something I have to force myself to do. And it just gets worse and worse. I would say the downward spiral has been going on for some time. But the beginning of the end came in June with the news that veterans Jill Larson (Opal) and Tonya Pinkins (Livia) had been bumped to recurring status. Some may argue that they had no story anyway so it made sense. To me, no, it didn't make sense. Because when someone is on contract there is still the glimmer of hope that they will be seen, get story, participate in the show. Granted, recurring status has worked out pretty well for Tonya. She's been on as much as I would expect a recurring character to be on. It hasn't worked out that well for Jill who has yet to be seen since she was bumped. I can't even remember the last time she was on, but it was before June! Around the same time, AMC went on a surge of new hires... Ambyr Childers (Colby), Taylor Gildersleeve (Sydney), Melissa Claire Egan (Annie), Marcus Patrick (Jamal), Brent Weber (Sean) and John James (Jeff).
Come August, more bad news. Michael B. Jordan (Reggie) was released from his contract, never to be seen or heard from again. It was clear that once Reggie and Dani's story ended the show had nothing for them. Tanisha Lynn (Dani) was announced to be leaving, but ended up staying on in the background of FUSION. And Reggie's role as big brother/protector to Lily all but disappeared. First they totally disregard that both Dani and Reggie are in high school. It's forgotten. Dani is an executive at FUSION, Reggie is... well nothing. But they never went to school again. Then we have the recast of Jamal Cudahy, law student and member of an underground network that helps battered women. Would this not have been the perfect thing to get Reggie involved in??? Reggie's adopted father, Jack, is a lawyer. Why wouldn't Reggie decide to follow in his footsteps? And we know little about Reggie's real family. It could have easily fit that his mother was a battered woman and because of that, he wanted to help other women. From where I'm sitting, this is a total no brainer role for Reggie and the character of Jamal was completely unnecessary. Fortunately Marcus realized this fact and jumped ship early.
From there we jump to September, and the dreaded news that Vincent Irizarry (David) has been let go. WHAT!? Dr. David Hayward is leaving Pine Valley!? You can't be serious. This has to be some sick joke. No, it's not a joke. It's real. It's another nail in the AMC coffin because when you start getting rid of important characters with many ties to the fabric of Pine Valley, you are asking for trouble. Not only ratings issues because you can bet that many many fans will stop watching when someone with such a huge and vocal fan base is dismissed, but you are also going to see a shift in storytelling. David is an important asset to AMC. He is tied to EVERYONE and he is complex and interesting and unlike any other character on the show. He is someone who does despicable things and has this underlying vulnerability that makes him sympathetic. He is important and AMC disregarded him. Come November 28, he will be gone. As I've said many times, this is a travesty of epic proportions. It can't be said enough, shame on you Mr. Frons (President, Daytime Disney ABC Television Group) you are making a HUGE mistake!
It's not over yet. Just as I still try to absorb the news that Pine Valley won't have David Hayward to kick around anymore, comes the news that Julia Barr (Brooke) has decided not to stay with AMC. Offered the kiss of death better known as recurring status, she opted to leave completely. Who could blame her. A 30 year veteran of the show and she is on once a month, maybe. Another character with a rich history, discarded. She is Jamie's mother, Tad and Adam's former wife, a reporter, the pillar of the community and most importantly, she is the nemesis to Erica Kane. Nope, can't use her. No place for her. She's done. Bu-bye. 30 years and AMC can't find a storyline for her? No, that's not it at all because off the top of my head I have her in a triangle with Adam and Krystal. I have her in a relationship with Jeff Martin. I have her having an affair with Jack Montgomery. I have her doing an expose on Greg Madden and finding out even more about the nefarious doctor that we may not have known already. The world is Brooke English's oyster but AMC shucked her and tossed her on the trash heap bringing an end to a very important core family, the Tyler/English family. Shame on you Mr. Frons, for not fighting like hell to keep her!
And then, a mere week after the news that Julia Barr has opted not to renew comes the news that Terri Ivens (Simone) has done the same thing. Always great for some comic relief or as the girl who always puts her foot in her mouth, Simone has endeared herself into the hearts of many AMC fans, myself included. With Opal gone, Simone was the only truly quirky character left. Again, no storyline is probably the main reason she has opted to leave. Can you blame her? I don't. Because what I have seen is a end to all things Simone once Ethan was killed. She is simply a partner at FUSION now, nothing more. She has no story. She has no family. These things could have easily been remedied. Every time I have seen Simone on screen, Terri Ivens has left me wanting to know more about her. To see more of her. To know Simone better. In the four years she's been on AMC, we never got that chance. Shame on you Mr. Frons, for disregarding yet another great character.
So as veterans who are left are either never seen or relegated to background status, I'm left wondering again and again... where is the Martin family? Did we really have Halloween this year with zero mention of it at all? Remember the days of Tad dressing up every year with his then somewhat tolerable wife, Dixie? Every year Halloween was special. This year. Nothing. Will there a Martin Family Thanksgiving this year? Don't count on it. The days of Ruth Martin in the kitchen preparing the big feast are over. For that matter, Ruth doesn't even know that Josh is a now a member of their family. She doesn't even know that Jeff Martin is back in town. How do I know this? Because not only do we not ever see Ruth, she is not even referred to in passing. The Martin family is all but gone.
Where is the English family? Gone. All that is left once Brooke is gone is Jamie. If we ever even hear him utter the words "Aunt Phoebe" that isn't in connection with his obvious and obnoxious wealth, I'll be surprised. The Golden Days of AMC are over. Mr. Frons and company have seen to it quite successfully. The Chandler's and the Kane/Montgomery's are all that remain of true core families. The Martin's only have Tad and now Jeff. Joe is rarely, if ever seen. The Cortlandt's are gone. Palmer sightings are few and far between and are not bound to any real storylines. And while the Chandler's are active still, Stuart and Marian sightings are rare. For all we know, Marian has not once seen her namesake grandchild. Colby has never once mentioned going to see her Mimi Marian.
And all the while as we long for the good old days, we are treated to what I have come to call the horror that is Colby. Here we have a child who is supposed to be around 7 years old, aged up to 16. That in and of itself isn't necessarily terrible, but making the character a superficial farce is. What we know about Colby is that her mother Liza went on the run with her when she was 4 years old because she wanted to keep her from the damaging influence of growing up a Chandler. Fast forward two years later, and Colby is the most obnoxious 16 year old ever. She is bratty, nasty, skanky, with a huge sense of entitlement. How, on the run, did she get this way? Why hasn't Liza come back to get her? Since Marcy Walker (Liza) has left the acting world, the running theory on that is Liza was actually the one to run away, not Colby. And you know, I can understand that completely given the nasty piece of work Colby has become.
To counteract Colby's superficiality, we have Sydney. Pointless, meaningless Sydney. A foil to Colby. Someone Colby can say things like, "You know, call the 'wha ambulance' and quit whining." Truly, have you ever heard more ridiculous dialog than the exchanges between Colby and anyone, but worst of all, Sydney? Poor pathetic Sydney. Winifred's 16 year old niece who came to stay at the Chandler's for the summer (and um, well past apparently) to learn all there is to know about living a life of servitude like her Aunt Winnie. Nevermind that the girl is drop dead gorgeous and could probably be a model. She should be a housekeeper. I'm not saying it's not honorable work. I'm saying it's absurd to bring a 16 year old into that situation and basically tell her this is her destiny.
And then we have pointless Sean. Basically brought on so the insipid teen girls of Colby and Sydney have an insipid teen boy to play with. Arrogant, disrespectful, reckless, unappealing and dull. Hmm... I was going for a description of Sean, but I think that covers all three. Any minutes that I have to see any of these three characters are minutes wasted that I could be doing something else. Case in point, did anyone need to sit through this scene?
Colby: You talked smack about me before to Sean. What did you say to him this time
Sydney: Chill with your blame game.
Colby: He blew me off, and you know why.
Sydney: Face it -- he's just not that into you.
Colby: He was plenty into me before you opened your fat mouth.
Sydney: Gosh, please. You gave it up to him, Colby. That's what Sean was into.
Colby: You are such a brat.
Sydney: Shut up. I didn't say anything. He moved on, it happens.
Colby: Sean wanted to start over with me, hang out. And now, nothing, zip. He totally gave me the Heisman.
Sydney: Call Josh Madden, have him analyze your playbook.
Colby: You know, you totally screwed me over. What did you do -- drop your low-rent chip on him?
Sydney: God. Drama, drama, drama. Welcome to the "Colby Chandler show," 24/7. Don't ever change the channel.
Colby: Yeah, there's no other channel that matters.
Sydney: Can't you save anyone for us "low-rent" crowd?
Colby: Oh, ok. That's -- that's why you want to ruin my life -- you're jealous.
Sydney: You're freaking crazy.
Now please, don't misunderstand me, I'm used to favorites leaving the show. I lived through Keith Hamilton Cobb (Noah) and Sydney Penny (Julia) leaving. I lived through Mathew St. Patrick (Adrian) and Amelia Marshall (Belinda) leaving. All were very huge favorites of mine. Never once did I even consider leaving with them, because the show was still so good and had so much to offer. Now I look at a show that has little to offer and has some of my favorite actors/characters leaving.... David, Simone, Brooke and I wonder what is going to keep me watching this time. There is not one storyline I find compelling. There are certainly characters that I love.... Ryan, Kendall, Josh, Babe, Krystal, Adam, Jonathan, Tad, Lily, Amanda, Erica, Julia, Bianca. But any or all of their storylines are far from compelling or urging me to stay.
And then we have the botched returns. Occasionally, the idea to bring back a former fan favorite comes about and excitement in the fans builds. Unfortunately that excitement is all but shattered by the idiotic stories that these once favorites bring back with them. I can start with Eva LaRue's Maria. Yes she was always a big favorite of mine and I was thrilled she was coming back. Unfortunately she came back with the biggest soap cliche of them all, amnesia. She goes from an ill-fated romance with Aidan, to getting her memory back and realizing her undying love for Edmund, to flashing back to a 3 month desert affair with Zach that has her questioning her love for Edmund, the man she fought through amnesia for. Edmund gets resentful, his character is destroyed by bitterness and hatred and then death. Maria is torn apart by her children's hatred of her and she leaves town to start over with her daughter and eventually her son joins them.
Sydney Penny is brought back as Julia on the heels of Maria's departure. These two sisters who's relationship was always a beautiful one, never had one scene together. And since her return, Julia has gone from avenging widow, to workaholic nurse, to just about nothing. She had a brief affair with David which truly could have been wonderful and gone places. To a romance with Jamie. So far her return is nothing to write home about, but I adore Sydney Penny and the character of Julia so I hold out a glimmer of hope that something will transpire with her. Something of interest.
And probably even bigger than Maria's botched return is the return of Dixie. Cady McClain's return was met with much anticipation by many fans. I not being one of them, since I personally haven't enjoyed the character of Dixie for many years before her last departure. But sure she's definitely a character with history. This has been one of the biggest screw ups I can think of. Dixie, who supposedly died in a car accident before giving birth to her and Tad's daughter Kate, is really alive and kept this fact from her family for four long years, letting them suffer in believing she was dead. Why did she do this? Because Kate is really alive and she opted to give her up for adoption, believing that Tad could never love their child. So instead of owning up to her mistake and admitting to being manipulated by Greg, she went on an around the world quest to find their child so she can bring her home to the man she thought could not love her. She decided not to call Tad, the PI, to help her, but instead chose to do it herself with the help of some mysterious benefactor named Ian who she bopped on the side as a thank you for all his assistance. They have successfully turned Dixie into an unsympathetic whore who accepted help in exchange for sexual favors. Nice.
My friends, AMC is dying a very slow death. There are no compelling storylines. There are no friendships. There is little to no romance. The core families are disappearing. The storylines are laughable. How many times can we see the hotheaded JR blow up and face no consequences for his actions? How many times can we see horrible crimes committed and no one pay the price. Who's brilliant idea was it to undo Erica's groundbreaking, history making abortion of 1973. How can the rich history of this show be discarded so easily and foolishly? How can this show be saved from certain death? I don't have the answer to any of these questions. I just know that if something isn't done, FAST, AMC will disappear from the ABC Daytime line up. A place it has held for 36 years. A place it deserves to be. AMC deserves better treatment than it's getting, so does it's stars and so do we, as fans. Voice your concerns to Mr. Frons and do it fast! There are more exits to come before the end of the year. Who knows, next time it could be Walt Willey (Jack) or James Mitchell (Palmer) or Aidan Turner (Aiden) or Bobbie Eakes (Krystal). Anyone that is your favorite or mine. And if those names sound absurd, as in... they would never let any of them leave, think about Vincent Irizarry (David) and Julia Barr (Brooke). I never thought they would let them leave either. Anyone who is important to Pine Valley can easily go. We've seen it happen. It will continue to happen. WRITE NOW!!! Before it's too late.