Pine Cones in Pine Valley

Regular Daytime Confidential readers and aficionados may have noticed that this lovely website has added daily recaps of most of the soaps on the air, in addition to Perkie’s longtime (and often hilarious) observations about General Hospital. Conspicuously absent from the recaps — at least as of this writing — has been what might be considered the quintessential forerunner of the modern soap opera, All My Children.

Not too long ago, our fearless leader, Luke, asked if I would be able to write a daily recap of the show since I’ve been watching it; I regrettably informed him that because of a currently unpredictable schedule (hence, why there are long lags between my posts these days) I would be unable to do so. Instead, I suggested that I would divert my recent attentions from Guiding Light to AMC a bit more closely and blog about life in Pine Valley more regularly. Since then I’ve mightily tried to get a grip on the show, but unfortunately watching All My Children is not unlike walking on pine cones barefoot: it’s not the worst feeling in the world, but it is still pretty painful.

My credentials as an AMC viewer goes as far back as the 1970’s of the wildly fabulous Phil/Tara/Chuck/Erica quadrangle era, when the show was one of the newer kids on the soap block, through much of the late 1980’s. I was an off and on viewer through the 90’s when AMC took a gothic/hyper-romance turn, returning to the fold this decade only to be mortified by ex-headwriter Megan "Maddog" McTavish’s evil reign through much of it.

As blasphemous as this will sound to many currently disgruntled fans and my DC compatriots, Chuck Pratt’s AMC thematically more closely resembles Agnes Nixon’s AMC of those heady earlier eras than it is to its mid-1990’s and later iterations when many current viewers started watching the show. This earlier period was a time when the series concerned itself with serious social and political issues (ongoing war, sexuality, addiction) and intertwined them with heady familial dynamics where parents and their children had story lines that intersected with each other (Phoebe Tyler’s endless meddling in her family’s affairs, for example), dastardly villains with uncommon holds on the women they victimized (Ray Gardner), and sordid lives run amok (Randi is certainly not the first Pine Valley lady with a pornographic history).

Who is Adam Chandler (the magnificent David Canary) now if not the spirit of Palmer Cortlandt (the much missed, but still popping up here and there James Mitchell) when the latter was running and ruining his ex-wives’ and daughter Nina’s lives? Who is David Hayward (Vincent Irizarry) if not Billy Clyde Tuggle with a medical degree? Who is Dr. Angela Hubbard (Debbie Morgan) if not a new take on the once anti-war Ruth Martin (then Mary Fickett), RN? Who is Erica Kane (Susan Lucci) in relation to her daughters if not a more glamorous, Erica-esque take on her own late mother Mona? In many respects, Pratt has captured many of the elements that recall Pine Valley’s illustrious roots by putting new spins on AMC staple characters and story lines. What Pratt has not found yet is anything resembling All My Children’s heart or it’s soul.

Ever since the now-infamous CGI-tornado —  which I liked better than most — and the initial return of artificially inseminated Bianca (Eden Riegel), Pine Valley has for this viewer felt like a particularly hollow shell of its former glorious self. The relentlessly brown & beige color scheme makes my head hurt. Sets that once evoked moneyed grandeur, like Wildwind, the Chandler mansion and the now-crispy Cortlandt estate, border on a backup spread of a very bad issue of Metropolitan Home. The once cute (to me) Confusion is plain weird with its non-stop house music blasting at all hours of the Pine Valley; the fewer words said about the eternal hot mess that is Fusion itself the better. Executive Producer Julie Hanan Carruthers recently said in a disappointingly produced Nightline fluff piece about (ABC) soaps in the current economic climate, the trick is to try to be cost efficient, but not let the budget considerations show up on screen. I say she needs to learn some new tricks.

18 Responses

  1. Profile photo of Luke Kerr
    Luke Kerr

    "Ryan’s (Cameron Mathison) head spinning declarations of undying devotion to whatever woman with a GPS-enabled vagina the big oaf falls into bed with is dizzying even by soap standards"

    LMAO!!!! That has to be one of the best lines about Ryan in ages.

  2. Profile photo of goyankees

    I am someone who feels that YES. AMC is very painful. I’m also a (now) part time viewer of the soaps. I’m in that demographic…You know the one…the shrinking viewer demographic. It all started out of my hatred for what Soapnet has become (Soapnot) as I would watch my soaps EVERY NIGHT through them. Now I basically boycot that network. HOWEVER it’s not all Soapnot’s fault. GH was easy to forget. It would be one of the last shows I’d watch before bed, and who wants to go to be all depressed???! CLICK!
    OLTL which is my 2nd fav. daytime soap just….exhaust’s me. The final nail was Stacy’s Arrival. OLTL is on probation for now. Whether or not I’ll return… I don’t know. AMC is just a mess. Lesbian one day, Man Chaser the next….The Ryan Lavery Show is Retch-Worthy…Greenlee dying was a bright spot, but all around I felt like I should have said Adios during the Zarf-Makes-Me-Barf and “Real Greenlee” days. With the exception of THE YOUNG AND THE RESTLESS, I must admit I think I might be outgrowning Daytime at this point. While that might be the wrong word to use, something is going on. I’m realizing the writers have no clue how to write good stories anymore (only Y&R can give me heart tugging episodes that come close to say, BJ’s heart going to Maxie in the 90’s) ….Some shows are so bad that I wonder if they’re purposely trying to drive the fans away? Bottom line ~ stick with GL through it’s end. You’ll have time to write about AMC’s in due time….the way things have been going…….

  3. Profile photo of elle

    Great post. I’ve been watching AMC since the start, and this show has lost it’s heart and soul. I too find myself trying to stay awake. My favorite characters are the Chandler family, and I’m growing weary of all the repetition there, with JR/Adam. I wish Pratt wouldn’t write them that way, and I also wish Pratt would let JR stay away from the bottle

    The only thing I disagree with is Adam Mayfield being a find, and Jake/Amanda, but oh, well. None are a bright spot to me at all.

    I think the one bright spot, happened already, for me, and that was Erica helping Adam and JR through the custody story.

    I’ll have to see what the fallout is from the murder, but really, the show has no bright spots for me, and I wish Adam would tell JR the truth about his sickness, because if that family could just pull together, that would be a bright spot. Otherwise, none.

    I don’t blame the actors either, at all, in fact, I truly feel for them.

  4. Profile photo of daisyclover1938

    Really interesting post J Bernard! I have to say, it’s not really painful for me to watch AMC (that’s how I would describe DAYS), but that may be because I’m not a longtime viewer (I’ve been watching on and off since the 90s). For me, AMC at this point is hilariously bad.

    Awhile ago there was a debate on DC over who is most responsible for the general lack of quality on ABC soaps. Is it Frons’ fault, the writers, EPs, or everyone’s? My feeling was that the HWs & EPs were as responsible as Fronzie, partly because while I think none of the ABC shows are good, they’re each bad in their own very particular ways. OLTL is Campy Bad, GH is Mobster Hospital/ Machismo / We’ll Only Have 5 Leads and Use Everyone Else as Props Bad, and AMC is Soap Parody Bad.

    On AMC, the stories, the dialogue, and dare I say it – many of the performances are just plain laughable. Also, I see attempts at trying to harken back to AMC’s roots- Brot’s “socially relevant” story for instance, which unfortunately doesn’t work because I don’t know or care about Brot or Taylor.

    Okay, this is getting way too long, lol. Great post as usual J Bernard!

  5. Profile photo of wbl_amc

    Finally someone who sort of feels the way I do. Pratt’s PV is by no means great, but I at lease feel it’s more realistic (by soap standards) than when McT was poisoning it. The bright spots for me are: any scene with Debbie Morgan, Pratt’s Erica, Annie’s new haircut lol, ummmmmmm and…. Marissa i guess. I feel like Pratt’s writing, its boring often, which i guess could be socially relevant, cause life is boring sometimes…. but at least I don’t have to try and believe some ridiculous SL (unabortion, those horrible scenes with Kendull with that remote controlled V-Tak syringe on her neck ect.)

  6. Profile photo of purplebraids

    I have to say that having Zach and Kendall deal with so much of a heavy hand over of stuff is really sicking ,Frist we have babygate part 4 and Zach kisses Resse a character that was so mixed up she should not have been on in the frist place and then Zach shoots Josh and we got grife sex part2 ok if the frist was why in hells name would anyone write that again it good story the either for Kendall or for Zach .As for Pratts verson of Liza it falls so flat for she doesn`t belong on the because he tried overly hard to make a female verison of Zach really fast that the character comes of like Jamie Luner playing the same characters she`s played before and the so called back story is so horriblely bad to they should created a new character instead .As for Babe twin I really don`t care for that character either I think I say that alot about Pratt`s new characters I just don`t feel for them.

  7. Profile photo of snizzle

    No kidding about TB. Not to mention Beth Ehlers easily could’ve fit the role of Liza so much better than JL. Overall I’m not feeling Pratt’s new characters either.

  8. Profile photo of J Bernard Jones
    J Bernard Jones


    Never fear, I am definitely going to write about GL and didn’t mean to suggest that I wasn’t. The cancellation of GL, while not unexpected, was still a huge shock to the system. A lot of stuff that I had planned to write went out the door as I concentrated (along with so many others ) on GL and its fortunes. On a somewhat related note, AMC has been the soap probably least blogged about and it needs a little attention. So I’ve just downshifted from GL for a hot second, but I have several thoughts about GL percolating right now that will be shared soon.

    Plus, I have a few choice words about Oakdale and some of the shenanigans happening in Llanview, the former to come in about three days.

  9. Profile photo of Mrs Adam Carrington
    Mrs Adam Carrington


    Wordy McWord about Beth Ehlers, she would have made a great Liza or Hayley. I would have preferred Mary Beth Evans as Liza and Beth Ehlers as an older and wiser Hayley but that is beside the point, Beth Ehlers deserves to be a legacy character she’s too good of an actress to play someone with no roots to Pine Valley.

  10. Profile photo of INeedAHugandMedication

    AMC is the most hit or miss soap in daytime right now. For every good thing they do (killing Babe,making Annie insane,Erica returning to forming) they have something equally bad (Bianca’s pregnancy,Reese the confused lesbian,Krystal the baby seller). Even the cast is a mixed bag, even by soap standards. There is always going to be weak links, but I find it more glaring when they pair their weaker actors with their strongest i.e Ryan and Kendall, Aidan and Annie, and Frankie and Randi. They have a fantastic actress like Alicia Minshew acting opposite someone who’s main facial expression makes him look constipated. It’s ridiculous.

  11. Profile photo of Truth Hurts
    Truth Hurts

    I completely agree that Jake and Amanda are a big bright spot on AMC. They are what keeps me watching right now. Pete and Colby also have great potential. So far I like Marissa and Scott has potential. I am glad to see Opal being utilized more and love the goings on at the very full Martin house.

    Tad and Taylor – hell no. Save Tad! MEK deserves so much better. Taylor may just be the worst soap character ever, and it is not only because of the writing. Ehlers is truly a one hit wonder. Her role on GL might have been successful for her but she’s proven incapable of anything else.

    I don’t know if there is a viable way to fix Zach and Kendall’s relationship, too much damage, real damage, has been done. I am interested to see if there are any sparks between Liza and Zach in day to day circumstances. If not, put her with Tad!

  12. Profile photo of blake3b

    I agree that you shouldn’t waste your time on AMC, it is not good like it used to be. In fact it’s so laughable, I can’t stomach any ABC soap or Days or B&B.
    Y&R and GL are the only soaps worth watching these days.

  13. Profile photo of Dariclone

    Great article. I don’t agree with you on everything, but I do on most things.
    So many charcters aren’t being written like themselves, it’s pathetic. They aree being written as Pratt’s cardboard cookie cutter ideals of men and women.
    It’s a sad day when I root for Annie and Aidan to get the better of one of my all-time favourite characters Ryan. [I even defended him during that whole Fight Club debacle.] Bu with Chrishell Stause leaving and the fact there will now be no Adam/Erica hookup, I really find they are the only couple worth rooting for. [I also like Brot and Taylor but we know where that’s going.]
    I really think Pratt wants the show to fail, so he can be hired on the new Melrose Place.
    Please someone rescue All My Children before it’s too late!

  14. Profile photo of Truth Hurts
    Truth Hurts

    No way could Ehlers have effectively played either Liza or Haley. She is and looks way too old to play Haley, way too old. As for Liza, she was always sexy, strong and beautiful, no way could Ehlers do any of those effectively. Thus far she’s been nothing more than a militant version of her previous character.

    I can’t help but scratch my head over the thought that Ehlers “deserves” to portray a legacy character. She hasn’t been able to pull off a new character, so no way could she ever erase the memory of a much loved original performer like Kelly Rippa or Marcy Walker. Being a good recast is harder than being able to create a new character the way you want to. That’s the problem, we didn’t and don’t like her acting choices or the fact that she’s either phoning it in when with JRM or cheesing it up when trying to generate chemistry with any of the leading males. Maybe she should have been cast as Bianca’s love interest.

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