Inside AMC with Dan Kroll
Where have all the characters gone?
by March 1998
Most people would jump for joy if they were given a free day off of work. That really wasn't the case for me recently when ABC decided to pre-empt All My Children for news briefings on a sex scandal. Yeah, you know who and what I'm talkin' about. For nearly three years I've been providing daily recaps of AMC. But this isn't just a job that I do---I really love watching All My Children.
Many of you have taken time out to personally criticize me for my decision to take AMC off the air. So this week's Inside AMC column allows me to clear the air on a few misconceptions. The first is that I have no affiliation with All My Children or ABC. I do not work for either organization nor have I ever spoken to a high powered official at either organization. I'm just a fan who's put together a web site about something that I really enjoy.
Within a few weeks, several characters on All My Children will be gone from site: Laura, Miles, Jim, and David. While AMC will be losing four characters, only one of whom has been on for any length of time, the show has already made plans to hire one new actor. Within the past twenty-four months, well-liked characters have been fleeing Pine Valley and the new characters that have arrived have been lukewarm at best. With the latest departures, AMC hopes to start from square one and rebuild. But has the show already lost a foundation on which to build its future?
From day one it seemed like Jim was going to be a short-term character, but several AMC Pages users have made comments that would allow the writers to keep the character alive. What if Jim were to elude the police and disappear from Pine Valley. For the next several months of years, he could be a mysterious stalker who plants traps all around town for the people he hates. It might sound like Jim would turn into the Phantom of the Opera, hiding in the sewers of Pine Valley, it would allow for a more dramatic storyline and the possibility of hiring a top-notch actor to assume the role. Unfortunately for David Forsyth (Jim #1), he took over the role from a well-liked performer, Roscoe Born. If you recall, fans didn't really care for Pierce after Jim Fitzpatrick left the role.
Miles never caught on with fans---how could he? Miles was barely on-screen for more than five minutes at a time. He debuted shortly after the crash of Flight 149 and has been missing in action for a while. Just as it appeared that Belinda and Miles would form a relationship, Miles has been yanked. Roger Smith (Miles) has been seen in numerous feature films, so he's obvious a very competent actor. Palmer claimed that he knew Miles' mother many years ago. This familiarity could have opened numerous doors for future storylines: Palmer might have a child with Miles' mother---maybe Miles! Needless to say, this is another waste of talent.
Believe it or not, the writers at AMC wanted Vincent Irizarry (David) to remain on the show. From what I've been able to dig up, they extended him an offer for a lengthy contract. Vincent wanted to return to the West Coast and reunite with his family. Like him or not, the character of David had a great many possibilities. Sure, he couldn't hang around for months, taunting to expose Allie. Something would have to have been done with him. The role could be recast, but that's highly unlikely at this point. David had affairs with many, many women. One of them could have come forward to haunt him. We've only seen a few aspect of David's character---he's a great cardiologist (when he's not trying to frame his colleagues) and he can be an obsessed lover. A pancake has more sides than that! So the writers could have done something with him.
Fans turned on Laura once she lost her edge. I guess it all began with the child pornography storyline. Fans said that they disliked her sheepish attitude and wanted to see her return to her fiery ways. That never happened and Laura was shipped off to Boston. Lauren E Roman (Laura) wanted out of her contract. It's not certain that she wanted out because of how her character had developed or not, but the role could be recast at any time if the writers deem it necessary. She is Brooke's daughter, after all. Soaps can pull numerous fast ones---what if Laura's mother isn't dead or her unknown father shows up in town? Anything is possible.
The characters of Skye and Gloria were also written out because the writers didn't know what to do with them. How many people in Pine Valley have committed crimes and gotten away with them? Skye certainly could have stayed. She could have done an Erica-length sentence in jail and returned to society. Gloria left town because her marriage to Dimitri ended. If everyone left town after they got a divorce, no one would be in town. Okay, Joe and Ruth would still be there. There was no excuse to dump the character.
AMC is now left with the task of replacing all of these characters. Have you noticed that the show's opening hasn't changed in months? The old Jim is still in the opening even though he's been gone for months! With the latest batch of departures, it's unlikely that the opening will be changed before the end of the month. ABC says that it's too costly to revamp the opening every time a character comes or goes. I'm not knowledgeable on these matters, but it takes me only a few minutes and costs me nothing to change the little pictures at the top of every page. The core cast has dwindled and there are only a handful of major characters left on the show. Some of the half-hour shows currently have more characters that AMC. AMC plans on adding a new African American character by springtime, one that's said to be physically fit and street smart. It's sounds like a stereotypic character---he could pass as Noah, really---but I suppose that we should be happy that there will be more ethnicity on the show.
One of the factors that draws fans to soaps is their familiarity factor. Where else can you watch a show for over ten years and still have a character base that you can relate to? With the continued casting shuffle, All My Children risks losing longtime viewers who can no longer mesh with the show. There will always be new viewers, but AMC needs to expand on its viewership, not alienate its existing viewers. In order to do this, the writers need to use performers to the greatest extent of their abilities and not burn bridges. Bring back characters from the past and focus on the core families of the show. If those in charge neglect the needs and wants of their viewers, they'll lose everything that they've worked so hard for over the past twenty-eight years.
Dan J Kroll