Inherit the Wind



MOTIVATION MAKES A COMEBACK: One of the keys to investing in any character, good or bad, is that the audience knows and understands that character's motivations whether they agree with them or not. In a nutshell, motivation involves two basic factors: what someone wants and why they want it. By answering those two questions, a good team of writers can establish practically any character they want, from a control freak high society dame determined to control her children's lives (Phoebe Tyler) to a whole ecosystem of hillbillies who made good (the Chandlers and Cortlandts nee Cooneys of Pigeon Hollow).  Once established, the rest is just fill in the blanks. Once upon a time, AMC was the bastion of character motivation on daytime. In recent years, far too many head writers and producers dispensed with motivation altogether in favor of sensationalistic plots and endless guessing games of emotional roulette.

The tornado and its aftermath have provided the citizens of Pine Valley with motivation once again. Some are obvious, like David's rage-fueled revenge, Adam wanting Fusion (and Erica), Annie wanting her life with Ryan back, Pete wanting Colby and Randi wanting the respectability and self-esteem she never thought she could have. Taylor wants to serve her country, Erica still wants to be wanted, Natalia wants her father,and Amanda wants Jake (and to be taken seriously). Yes, Pratt has been laying this groundwork for months and clearly some elements of his grand design, like the Aiden/Greenlee/Ryan triangle, are still seriously fractured. Other characters still need work. Coming out of Friday's episode however, one would be hard pressed to make a case that Pratt has not left the majority of characters on the canvas in a more solid motivational space than Pine Valley has seen in years.

LESS IS MOST DEFINITELY MORE: The most striking observation about the sound and fury generated by this tornado event has been the stillness and quiet among the characters. When "Maddog" McTavish was writing AMC, actors were forced to deliver dialogue with an element of breathless babbling, spitting, repeating and stuttering lines like meth addicts chasing a bouncing ball down a dark alley. Brown and Essensten improved things somewhat, but characters still sounded "off." Pratt, on the other hand, has let characters express complete sentences and thoughts. More importantly, actors now seem to listen and react to their partners and when no reaction is necessary, no reaction is offered. It is what we used to call "feeling" and "heart."

The two characters who have benefited the most from this direction are Kendall and Greenlee, the pre-Pratt queens of excess breathless line delivery. Now, not only are the characters more clearly delineated by their ability to speak without tripping over their own tongues, both Alicia Minshew and Rebecca Budig are stronger actresses as a result. It helps that Greenlee also has had most of her brain restored.

GREAT ACTING: I've already cited Jacob Young, Bobbie Eakes, Darnell Williams, and several others for their great work this past week, but there are two actors who delivered some of the best work of their careers. The first is Debbi Morgan, topping her Wednesday performance with a bravura turn on Friday. Morgan delivered work of such quiet, often inscrutable intensity that it rivaled the late Beverlee McKinsey.

The other actor who was absolutely mesmerizing on Friday was Thorsten Kaye. For the last couple of years, Kaye has played Zach as an unusually bored, borderline dangerous control freak alternating with an unusually sullen, borderline psychotic control freak. Often mistaken for brooding masculinity, those two performances have been trapped behind Kaye's let's-cash-this-paycheck eyes and sometimes listless line delivery for longer than I care to remember. At long last, with the news of Kendall's coma, Kaye transformed Zach into a true force with which to be reckoned. In a carefully modulated turn worthy of castmate Morgan, Kaye's eyes were full of the kind of crazy, murderous fury in his character only hinted at in the past, including times when he'd actually done physical harm to others. Whatever was different this time, Kaye turned up the heat so high that one really believed that he would burn Pine Valley Hospital to the ground for revenge against Jake. Truly great, great work by Kaye. More...


Comments

Member since:
20 February 2008
Last activity:
3 years 27 weeks

OK — J. Bernard.... Thanks to your excellent AMC coverage no other critic can use any of the inspired WIND puns/analogies in our stories. You've used every single one! LOL!

J Bernard Jones's picture
Member since:
9 September 2008
Last activity:
12 hours 29 min

Nelson, the list of puns and homages has not been exhausted. But I am, as are no doubt those who are able to sit through my herculean posts. LOL

season1217's picture
Member since:
23 July 2008
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31 weeks 1 day

How about, "where ever you be, let your wind be free... "?

Or is that too long?

________________________

//**SIZ FOR LIFE**\\

Member since:
20 February 2008
Last activity:
3 years 27 weeks

I bow down to the master. You, my pal, are the wind beneath my wings.

Member since:
18 October 2008
Last activity:
4 years 5 weeks

You just said everything I have been thinking!!!! Finally theres a way to watch AMC and not be bored to death. Never in my life did I think I would prefer AMC over Days, but I do now. The characters have become so interesting, the dialogue smart, and the over-acting (screaming Greenjeans or Coyoye Kendall) have died down a bit.

You really hit the nail on the head with your article and I hope the show continues on this upward trend. It does remind me of the good ole days when there were many stories going on, in case you got sick of one - there was always two more to get wrapped up in.

One of the ones that needs pointing out is the Taylor, Jake , Amanda triangle. I am so enjoying the dynamics of this. It really makes me want to root for Taylor and Jake. Taylor falling on the floor realizing shes paralyzed was so superb. it was almost like watching a primetime show. If AMC keeps up this innovative storytelling, Im going to enjoy the winter months. And

I cant help be be glad Kendalls in a coma, we all needed a break...

Member since:
22 January 2008
Last activity:
8 hours 59 min

Bernard I think you should call your next one "Who Broke The Wind", because this storyline stinks to Soap Heaven!

J Bernard Jones's picture
Member since:
9 September 2008
Last activity:
12 hours 29 min

Jamey,

The only story currently I would attach "Who Broke the Wind" to would be the Ryan/Greenlee/Aiden triangle which is the Hurricane Katrina of daytime!

season1217's picture
Member since:
23 July 2008
Last activity:
31 weeks 1 day

How about "Three Sheets To The Wind"? Because that perfectly describes the person that wrote the dialogue between Erica and Bianca, yesterday! When she said that she felt guilty about not forgiving Babe sooner and wasting all that time angry at her I could have projectile vomited (sorry, for the imagery) Then she said that her new daughter would never know Babe! And?! I think that would be a good thing. Maybe then she'd get the chance to actually take care of her baby for the first year of her life! If ever there was a jump the shark moment that could have been it.

________________________

//**SIZ FOR LIFE**\\

J Bernard Jones's picture
Member since:
9 September 2008
Last activity:
12 hours 29 min

I have to say that I missed yesterday's (and most likely today's) AMC episode because of a medical emergency in my family. But I have them on DVR, along with a couple of eppy's of ATWT and close to a week's worth of OLTL. So I can't speak on it yet, but I'll get to it as fast as I can.

Member since:
20 December 2007
Last activity:
1 year 49 weeks

atirllorrac
You state that Pratt has "character driven, socially conscious, progressive drama". While some of these may be true. Not all.

The character of Zach is being decimated with this sperm-donor, secret-keeping story. TK is a fabulous actor and says more with his expressions than with words. He's a joy to watch no matter how bad the writing.

Greenlee is suddenly a "saint"? She is still a baby stealing, child endangerer, stalking, selfish b****. No amount of halos will change that.

Kendall is suddenly a busybody who doesn't care for her family? The Kendall we all know and love, loves Zach and family more than anything. Who did she put first when the tornado was coming?

ITA with season1217 about the scenes with Erica and Bianca. The talk of "wonderful Babe" was ridiculous and Erica should have been more upset over the "baby-father".

Member since:
20 December 2007
Last activity:
1 year 49 weeks

atirllorra
I forgot to add. I haven't liked the character of Bianca since she took Babe's side a few years back.

Kendall stood by her after she was raped and was willing to go to jail for her.

Bianca going behind her back and keeping this secret shows how spoiled and selfish she is. I don't even feel any concern for her sister's life. I wish she never left Paris. She is DTM.