Here we are at the end of season one. I'm not saying I'm going to hire Colby and Opal to unleash a skunk in your home or office if you don't read this season wrap-up Two Scoops, but I'm not saying I won't either. Maybe you should click the link to be on the safe side.
I was going to start this column with "I think we can all agree that…" but, if there's one thing my Twitter feed or the comments on pretty much any soap
article have taught me, it's that soap fans agree on nothing. That's part of our charm. I'll say instead that I think at least I and a few other people can agree that the defining story of All My Children season one was Cassandra's kidnapping, trafficking, and rescue. I invite you to disagree (or agree) in the comments or by email and tell me your favorite and/or most memorable story of season one.
How AMC Had Me Hooked From The Start
Going into the season, I had my doubts about All My Children's web version. Dixie and Bianca were the only returning characters I was strongly attached to. I knew coming in that Bianca wasn't set to be a regular not to mention, though I was delighted to see Eden Riegel in the role again, I was miffed that the show wasn't bringing back Christina Bennett Lind and Sarah Glendening as Bianca and Marissa.
Starting off by revealing that one half of one of my favorite pairings was dead did not exactly endear this version of the show to me right off the bat. As for my beloved Dixie, she wasn't on much for the first several episodes. I might have given up on the show if not for the fact that even after only one episode, I absolutely had to know what was going to happen to Cassandra.
While it was a difficult storyline to watch, it highlighted the important issue of human trafficking and was superbly acted and given due respect by all involved. Sal Stowers blew me away in each and every scene. It was a risky move, giving what was arguably the toughest storyline on the show to a newcomer, but the folks behind the scenes at AMC must have known what Sal was capable of because I don't think anyone could have pulled it off like she did. Cassandra was scared and vulnerable but remained strong at her core throughout her ordeal in a way the reminded me a lot of Angie.
And while Cassandra was fighting to survive and escape, we saw Angie and Jesse hurting for and desperately searching for their child. I will never forget Angie's breakdown when Jesse finally confessed to her what had happened to Cassandra or Jesse's face as he watched the video Cassandra's captors had forced her to make.
As rewarding as it was to see the Hubbards reunited, I loved that show did not shy away from the difficulties of such a reunion after the trauma Cassandra had gone through. The rough patches in the reunion -- like Cassandra and Angie's trouble connecting after Cassandra's abortion, even as Angie did her best to support Cassandra's choice despite Angie's own beliefs and Cassandra's general inability to adjust to being home again -- felt extremely true to the situation. In season two, I'm hoping the show will go in-depth on her journey of recovery and how that affects both her individually and her family.
I'm also hoping for the continuation of Cassandra's friendship with Colby. I never would have expected Colby Chandler to be one half of the sweetest friendship on the show, but it's partly that Colby can be such a jerk to everyone else that makes her total support of Cassandra so charming. While Angie and Jesse might tiptoe around Cassandra as she recovers, Colby will be that friend that will show up with ice cream and call Cassandra out on her sweatpants and bedhead in the most loving way possible. Colby's special brand of in-your-face friendship seemed to be one of the few things Cassandra responded to in her depressed state.
Teen Romance Done Right
Sal Stowers wasn't the only new cast member to charm me. Denyse Tontz is an absolute delight as Miranda, as is Eric Nelsen as her BFF and love interest, AJ. I rarely get invested in teen romances on soaps these days. However, these two are so sweet, you just can't help but root for them to sort out their messy teenage feelings for each other so they can be adorable together forever and always -- or at least until the next natural disaster, shooting, infidelity, or whatever shocking twist might be thrown at them to tear them apart.
I'm not as thrilled with Heather. I won't go as far as Dan J Kroll did in his last Two Scoops and say I can see her coming after AJ and Miranda with a tire iron; I will say I don't think the writing has been there for her. I understand she's mainly an obstacle in the way of AJ and Miranda, who we're supposed to be rooting for, but I think a story like this is so much more powerful if you can identify with the third point in the triangle.
Even if I don't want Heather with AJ, the story would be more interesting for me if I could like her, or at least knew a little more about her, as a person so that I'd care she'd be hurt when Miranda and AJ got together. It would add more emotional intensity to the story. Come to think of it, so would her attacking people with a tire iron. Maybe Dan didn't have such a bad idea after all. I'm not condoning it, just saying it would add a little spice to the show and to the character.
But let's move away from imagined violent scenarios and back to things that made me happy in season one. I am over the moon that Miranda is planning to move in with Zach. I love that Uncle Zach has stepped in as a father figure for Miranda. The way they support each other and delight in one another's company makes them a joy to watch. I can imagine scenes of them watching hockey together, awkwardly interrupting each other's dates, and commiserating after one of them has had a bad day.
If Bianca isn't going to become a regular, I'd much rather see Miranda living with Zach as a consistent parental presence in her life than see her continue randomly chilling at the Chandler mansion. Plus, it will make the Miranda and AJ hookup seem a little less incestuous when they finally get together if the two of them aren't living under the same roof when it happens.
I Want to Care But...
While we're talking about the Chandler mansion, let's discuss JR Chandler. I have a difficult time caring about him. Is it just me? I feel like JR isn't supposed to be a straight-up villain. The show seems to want us to see him the way Dixie does, as the guy with the good heart underneath a really screwed up sense of how to deal with life and people.
Before the final year of the televised version, when he turned on Marissa and Bianca and went back to the booze, that's how I saw him. But since he awoke from his coma, I honestly cannot work up an ounce of sympathy for him, and that makes the character fall flat for me. I want to loathe him 95% and love him 5%. Instead, I just feel a little meh about him every time he pops up on my screen.
Also, on a more shallow note, I am begging someone in wardrobe: lay off the hoodies on JR. Chandlers should not wear sweats, okay? Once you get that sorted out, maybe we can talk about the weird Mister-Rogers-style sweaters. I hope Adam gave JR some fashion advice in that lecture he pulled him aside for at the gala. Maybe people wouldn't have expected your sizzle reel to fail if you weren't constantly dressed like you were ready to go to gym class, dude.
One thing JR is lacking is a relationship that humanizes him. With Adam, this was often Stuart, that one person you could sense he truly cared for even when he was a bastard. I'd like to see the show develop JR's relationship with Colby or with Dixie to fill that role for him. It's evident they both love him, but JR seems relatively detached from both of them, and that's a detriment to the character.
There was also a good opportunity for humanizing him through his relationship with Cara. Maybe there still is, but I think that friendship/possible romance is pretty well blown now that JR has stolen her prescription pad and blackmailed her about her son. By the way, Cara, I would like to state for the record that I warned you that was coming several columns ago. I get so frustrated when the people in my TV and computer do not listen to me. Aside from pointing out that I totally called the JR/Cara blowup, my point is that I want to care when JR screws up, but I can't do that if I don't see some glimpses of his good side too. We see him whining that he wants people to give him another chance, but I don't feel we really see him doing enough to prove that with his actions.
With Colby, on the other hand, the show has done a stellar job of showing the softer side to a hell-raising character. We've seen both JR and Colby stung by their father's rejection, and it's obvious that does inform the characters' actions. The difference with Colby is the human underneath all the devious and mean actions is so obvious. Colby's had such tender scenes with Cassandra that show that she's willing and able to love someone above herself. And she even has some genuine affection for David, twisted though it may be. In my opinion, that adds shades of grey that make her lovable even when she's doing questionable things like unleashing skunks on unsuspecting lovebirds.
Speaking of unleashing skunks, let me take this as an opportunity to shout, "More Colby and Opal teaming up or facing off in season two, please!" If I don't get more lines like "I thought we were working under the radar, you know, not picking up johns on West Seventh Street" then my life will not be complete.
Give Me Tad Martin and Nobody Gets Hurt
You might be thinking, "Liz, there's something ridiculously important that you have thus far failed to mention. Something that happened in the last few minutes of the finale, perhaps?" Yes! I saved the best for last. Tad Martin, my dear man, you are coming back to us! I've heard some speculation that Tad won't actually show up in season two, but I don't buy it. You don't tease Thaddeus Martin and not deliver. That would be too cruel.
Given that Jesse and his troubles with Uri are the catalyst for bringing Tad back to town, I hope we'll see Tad jump right back into the private investigation business. It would be a treat to see Jesse and Tad team up again to fight Uri and whatever other mysteries might come up. And, let's face it, Jesse needs a friend.
I'm also rooting for Dixie to join Tad on a case or two. Some of my fondest memories of the two of them are from the late 90s when they teamed up to chase down Palmer. Investigating a mystery has always been the perfect vehicle for them to flirt and get themselves into ridiculously hilarious situations.
However it plays out, I'm swooning over the idea of a Tad and Dixie reunion. I'd love to see some tension at the beginning. Dixie has a right to a little anger over Tad being away for so long, especially given everything she's been going through with JR while he's been away. I'm not sure if the show will go for a triangle with Anders in the mix or if they were just building him up as a potential interest before they knew Tad was coming back. I honestly think Anders is too sad and grumpy to provide a real challenge for Tad, but I'm willing to go along for the ride if the show wants to give it a try.
And, for the love of Pete, will someone explain where Kathy is? If Tad comes back and there's still no Kathy mention or sighting, I'm going to be seriously concerned about Tad and Dixie's parenting skills. Where have y'all left that poor child? Even though Gabby hasn't been onscreen, Bianca has at least explained where she was a few times. Poor Kathy seems to have been erased from everyone's memories. I'm going to blame David Hayward until proven otherwise.
Will you be tuning in for season two, readers? I'll be over here eagerly staring at my computer screen and impatiently tapping my fingers on the keyboard until it arrives. Not only am I anxious for the arrival of Tad, I have to know if AJ and Miranda will admit their feelings; if Celia and Doctor Anders will ever become interesting characters; if Heather will become one when one more longing look between AJ and Miranda sends her to the garage, looking for that tire iron; if Cara will finally have enough and shred JR's never-ending supply of hoodies in retaliation for his evil deeds; and if Cassandra will be able to move on and rebuild her life. The questions are endless! I for one am looking forward to seeing them answered.
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To read Liz's wrapup of season one of One Life to Live, click here.
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