While I'm the self-professed Guru of The AMC Pages, I haven't been watching All My Children nearly as long as many of the users of the site. Because of this it's slightly more difficult for me to appreciate the nearly thirty years of history as someone who has watch the show from day one.
Michael Nader will not be re-signing his contract with AMC when it expires later this year. For me, this is especially painful because Dimitri was introduced only a few weeks into my viewing experience. If you recall, that was at the time that Natalie had been thrown down the well. Believe it or not, that storyline is what hooked me. I had originally tuned in to see how my schoolmates, Irene Ng, was going to do on the show. Irene played the original An-Li Chen. If you blinked, you just about missed her, but nevertheless I kept tuning in to see if Natalie was ever going to get out of the well.
One of the complaints I hear most frequently from viewers that that the core families seem to be deteriorating or at least losing their prominence on the show. In just the eight years that I have been watching AMC, I would say that most of the actors currently on the show were not around when I first started watching. So I can imagine how things must have changed since some of you started watching! Believe it or not this phenomenon is not exclusive to AMC. As The World Turns is also going through the same changes. Felicia Minei Behr, a former AMC executive producer, and Lorraine Broderick, a former AMC head writer, were teamed up over at ATWT. Both signed on and promised the fans that they would not lose focus and forget about the established characters. As it turns out, many viewers were disappointed when new character after new character joined the cast and the old familiars were suddenly gone.
This is not to say that I am opposed to new characters. In fact, many of the characters currently on the show are very appealing and entertaining. Adrian, Gillian, and Vanessa are all very easy to watch and I hope that they'll be around for a long time. There have been other characters in the not-so-distant past that had plenty of potential, but for some reason the writers simply dropped the ball. I think that failure to create depth in these characters is hurting new character's credibility.
When the Who Killed Will? storyline ended, several characters were suddenly sent out of town. Galen Henderson and Dr. Stephen Hamil had barely gotten their feet wet in the swimming pool that is Pine Valley. Even before that, Emily Ann Sago was placed in a mental institution because she went off the deep end and thought she was pregnant when she really wasn't. There was also another character on at the same time---involved in the same storyline---who also left before I even got to know her name. Angelique Marick was shipped off to New England after she came to the realization that she and Dimitri could never be an item. The entire Frye family just vanished after Livia and Tom got married. Skye Chandler swapped paternity test results and was forced to flee the country. Meanwhile, other characters commit for more serious crimes and are allowed to roam free. Camille Hawkins was blown to smithereens when viewers thumbed their noses at the idea of Camille and Tad having a romantic relationship. Christine Montgomery was brought back from the dead, but she might as well have stayed there. Viewers barely got to know her before she was admitting to a past as a con artist, accused an innocent man of rape, and had a failed romance with another leading man---Edmund. Braden Lavery was an easy scapegoat for the sexual assault and after less than a year on the show; he too had to flee the country.
I've been reformatting some of the pages here on the site and taking a very close look at some of the family trees. I'm amazed at how many of the former Pine Valley residents I've never gotten to know. Mike Roy was brought back recently and I got the chance to know a little more about him, but others will probably never resurface. And that's a shame. I have the 25th Anniversary special that aired on ABC a few years back on videotape. I watched it the other month when I wasn't feeling well and again, there were so many faces that I couldn't identify; Rampals, Cudahys, Chandlers, and Cortlandts that I'll never get to meet.
With so many failed new characters signing on, it might be time for the writers to scan the family trees themselves. So many characters have left town while still yielding so much promise and potential. The future of any soap opera depends upon new blood, but turning a deaf ear to the past is like abandoning memories and forgetting about the roots of the show---roots that made AMC a number one soap.
Dan J Kroll