It Was a Dark & Stormy Night…


Even if you do not follow literature, you are no doubt aware that the title of this post is a phrase associated with the worst kind of lazy, pedestrian, obvious writing imaginable. "It was a dark and stormy night…" is, to put it bluntly, synonymous with the word "bad."

Bad in and of itself isn’t always a bad thing, as there are varying degrees of badness from which to choose. For example, there are things that are "so bad they are good," like The Pussycat Dolls and RuPaul’s Drag Race. There are other things that are really bad, like white people dancing to "Push It" and Julie Chen hosting Big Brother. Then you have things that are so atrocious, inspiring more WTF moments than a Samantha Harris post-performance interview on Dancing with the Stars that you question your sanity for sitting through it without clubbing a baby seal.

By "you" I mean "me," and it might not take too much of a stretch of the imagination to guess how I felt about Friday’s abominable, lobotomized episode of All My Children that climaxed with the shooting of "a legendary character."

There is no end of suspects: Miss Scarlett in the study with the gun, Mr. Peabody in the kitchen with the candlestick, and Waddsworth in the study with the fireplace poker. In fact I was laughing so much at the manic goings on that it didn’t dawn on me until about 30 minutes in that I was watching the soap opera version of Clue. I half expected Eileen Brennan and Tim Curry to pop up in cameos as Little A and Emma’s mysterious caretakers.

When I say the episode reminded me of Clue, I also mean it reminded me of Micheal Jackson’s Thriller or Michael Jackson’s Ghosts, whichever Michael Jackson horror show outside of his plastic surgery that has the most unnecessary and cliched thunder & lightning, only more so than or just as much. It was a dark and stormy night…minus the storm, as it seems the rain effects budget was cut along with other actors’ salaries. CGI, where are you when we need you? This state of affairs did not stop the editors and director from shoving every bad horror movie/murder mystery cliche (there’s that word again) down our collective throats. Odd camera angles to evoke scary atmosphere? Check. Dark shadows (ha!) to evoke danger? Check. Lots of "boo!" moments? Check. Perhaps I would be more forgiving if there also were not shots of stone gargoyles (yes gargoyles!), that cringe inducing moment when the lights of the Chandler mansion went out with the cut to Little Adam whimpering "What happened?," topped off with the gasp-inducing hilarious shot of a woman’s legs running in the dark that evoked memories of the Zuni doll in 1973′s Trilogy of Terror starring Karen Black. All that was missing was a Vincent Price voice-over and zombies. Speaking of the latter…

22 Responses

  1. Avatar of ATLn30318
    ATLn30318

    Jamey – We’d all be surprised if the “legendary” character being killed off turns out not to be Stuart. I hate to say that Stuart is the most expendable character on AMC b/c how infrequently this character appears in plot/story lines and that he’s played by David Canary. All I am saying is none of us out here are fooled into thinking it’s going to be Erica Kane, Joe Martin, or James Mitchell’s Palmer Cortlandt (the other legendary characters) simply b/c he hasn’t been on screen in several years although he’s still on contract I believe at 89 years of age.

  2. Avatar of ATLn30318
    ATLn30318

    J Bernard Jones a/k/a Captain Benjamin Lafayette Sisko: my apology and great post (I love your writing) and I love listening to you and all on the Podcasts. You are on the Podcasts aren’t you? Hey I had the pleasure of meeting Avery Brooks when I worked at the Atlanta Committee for the Olympic Games Cultural Olympiad. He was in town and I got introduced to him.

  3. Avatar of dmfj
    dmfj

    Last year’s “Who Cares Who Killed Trent” story on Days has to be right up there with worst.

    Who killed Michael Canbias was pretty good. Kendall really had great stuff with that.

  4. Avatar of pspencer618
    pspencer618

    How can you say that Thorsten Kaye is monotonous and then turn around and kind of compliment Jacob Young’s performance? Jacob Young has been playing the same character (on 3 different soaps)for years. He is always arrogant, angry boy/man.

    I specifically tuned in to watch Thorstan’s performance. The scene in the hospital where he grabbed David by his shirt and then kind of cupped his face and told him to save his boy, the look in his eyes (brimming with real tears) after Ian flat-lined and Jesse was holding keeping him from leaving, and then the slight nod to Kendall that showed they were on the same page and she could go kill Adam.

    No, TK is not an over-the-top, chewing-on-the scenery actor like CM or JY. He is subtle like a fine wine (and not bad to look at either). Where you see monotony, I see subtle nuances.

  5. Avatar of J Bernard Jones
    J Bernard Jones

     PSpencer, 

    I can say that Thorsten Kaye was monotonous and give Jacob Young a compliment because I was commenting about today’s show specifically, not either actor’s entire canon of work.

    Today’s performances were, by and large, stiff and zombie-like by just about everyone as I — fairly — pointed out. As for Jacob Young, like the other actors cited, there was a specific scene that merited mention vis a vis the rest of today’s episode. Thorsten Kaye has a particular style of acting and can be very, very good when he wants to be; today he and almost everyone else was as wooden as the ever revolving anchors on CBS This Morning.

  6. Avatar of J Bernard Jones
    J Bernard Jones

    I’m pretty sure that many people can say the same about Thorsten’s performances, as well.

    I complimented Jacob Young for one scene that lasted all of 3 minutes and some change wedged in a 42 minute episode out of 350 some odd shows a year. I don’t see how that puts him in "competition" — for good or for ill — against Thorsten Kaye or any other actor on today’s hilariously bad episode.

  7. Avatar of Dariclone
    Dariclone

    Wonderful post, Bernard J. I couldn’t *stand* AMC today and thanks for mentioning those stupid garegoyles, don’t you think we would’ve noticed garegoyles on the Chandler masion’s roof before now? Come *on,* Pratt!

  8. Avatar of uofmichgrad99
    uofmichgrad99

    For some reason, I actually enjoyed today’s episode (please don’t shoot me, I know there are at least 6 guns pointing in my direction). Compared to the mess that I’ve been seeing on One Life and GH lately, The David Hayward Show has been keeping my attention…

  9. Avatar of dsrbroadway
    dsrbroadway

    Please…the writing, directing and acting on this show has veered between monotonous and scenery-chewiness for years. Thorsten and Jacob are just the most egregious offenders. How anyone cares about any of these people anymore, I’ll never understand.

  10. Avatar of kennethzach
    kennethzach

    Some people enjoy AMC.
    I’ve Been Watching AMC for 10 years.

    Yeah, it was dull up to when Angie & Jesse came back. But since early 2008 AMC has gotten better for the most part.

    Out of all the soaps I watch (AMC, GH, & Y&R), AMC is the most enjoyable right now.

    In my dreams Stuart is the one that dies and not Adam.
    Adam is the reason AMC works for me!

    PS:
    The Most Funny Part This Week:
    Zach and Kendall “thought Ian died” and Zach rushed out, then Jesse stopped him. Then it shows Zach giving Kendall that Nod to head over to Adam’s to Kill Him.

    I was cracking up it was so unreal.

  11. Avatar of GiJoe8
    GiJoe8

    I had to say that I enjoy a good murder mystery. How about instead of trashing AMC- we try to figure out who did shot Adam? Why not have fun instead of constant bashing about wooden characters and bad acting? We all know that 3 out of 5 days totally stink in Pine Valley. But I think this could be an exciting plot point.

    Everyone else notice the womans legs with black high heels running through the house past Kendall that seemed to fit none of the ladies on screen? I think there must have been a fourth shooter – either Erica or Liza. Probably Liza cause the writers have a hard on for her.

    I say lets just have fun with this and if you need to watch it for the sheer comedy of it all- than to each their own. I watch for those few subtle moments – Marissa telling JR shes Babes twin, Krystal and David making up at the gravesite, Annie and Aidans weird but wonderful love story, Zachs strong but subtle emotions at the hospital, and Erica finally freaking out on Adam. There have been great moments where the actors take the stupidest situation and can bring a tear to my eye. I’ll keep watching for those.

  12. Avatar of mrsa1107
    mrsa1107

    If they kill Adam or Stuart– its clear one of them will be getting the boot— do they plan on having Brooke, Ross, Hayley, Skye and Gloria in for the funeral??
    Has there been any word on a funeral for whomever they kill next week– and if so– will previous AMC stars be coming back for it?

  13. Avatar of J Bernard Jones
    J Bernard Jones

     GiJoe8,

    Since we both love a good murder mystery, let me make a two points about my review.

    The first is a repeat of a previous point made earlier: I only reviewed yesterday’s episode, not the mystery of who shot Adam/Stuart itself.

    The second point is directly related to the first: as you no doubt know, any mystery worth its salt is almost directly predicated on the solidity of its setup. A mystery’s setup is not merely a by-the-numbers setup of having a group of suspects showing up at the right place at the wrong time as an act of plot convenience. A good writer is the only magician necessary to pull off the central conundrum of who-did-what, pulling sleight of hand right in front of our eyes. In a visual medium like movies or television, direction and production are the equivalent of the magician’s assistant, diverting our attention over here from what’s going on over there without being obvious or clumsy about it.

    A good mystery, regardless of medium, is properly constructed so that all or the vast majority of the pieces of the puzzle line up in the end for a logical conclusion, not merely an Entertainment Weekly-style guessing game among potential suspects. A badly constructed mystery allows for someone to pull a rabbit out of someone’s ass and call it a doberman.

    I do not believe there is a single great or even basically good soap mystery that can be cited where there was not only economy in writing but also in direction or production of the elements contained in that mystery. There was nothing economical about the garish, ham-fisted, corny, cliche-ridden, unintentionally hilarious pile of shit I witnessed on Friday’s AMC. The magician, Chuck Pratt, just may have written a great murder mystery or he may not, but the magician’s assistants failed miserably in the that particular show’s setup and execution.

    Friday’s episode — which is what I reviewed, not the mystery itself — was a sloppy French farce coupled with a bad 80′s horror movie. In my opinion it was a huge disservice to the legendary (ABC’s word) characters of Adam or Stuart (whichever may kick the bucket) and I call bullshit. I stand by every single word.

  14. Avatar of elle
    elle

    Bernard, I agree with your post.

    IMO, I thought it was awful and campy. I thought the the writing and directing were a terrible disservice to all involved. I don’t know how these performers do it, as of late anyway, with the material they get. It seems mostly everyone has monotonous, repetitive material. As for the performers, I’m not going to trash/bash anyone (not that you did, it’s just that isn’t my goal here)I just think it was a bit over the top, on most concerned. We all have performers we watch for-I’m not a fan of TK- however I respect his talent and I don’t think either he or Jacob (whom I watch for) are scenery chewers, but that’s just me. But I think much of yesterday did them, their characters, along with nearly everyone else a disservice. Like you say, some had their moments and I see your take on it.

    of the characters we saw at the mansion, as they likely aren’t suddenly letting anyone go, I wonder if they’re simply going the easy way out, and one of the pairs of heels was Nurse Gayle, and she did it.

  15. Avatar of Dariclone
    Dariclone

    As to who did it, it’s probably Erica or Kendall, though I’m not sure what Erica’s motive would be and it would be kind of pointless as just been in prison.

  16. Avatar of Doobiekat
    Doobiekat

    I’m a GL fan and I was so curious after reading your review that I set my DVR for this episode and watched it…I’m quite familiar with many of the older AMC characters. I have to agree with you J Bernard that this was horrible…GL even at it’s worst last year wasn’t this bad!!!! OMG it was terrible and I can’t believe this show recieved all those emmy nominations this is a joke dude….oh well just my opinion. It was so bad I don’t even care who did it….now that’s bad.

  17. Avatar of pspencer618
    pspencer618

    Poor Stuart will probably end up being killed by the nurse that is helping David. She does seem to worship him and will do anything for him. Maybe she thought this would help David in his quest for Little A and he will thank her with a romp in the hay or by making her his new wife.

  18. Avatar of pspencer618
    pspencer618

    I guess we weren’t watching the same show then. Every time JY is on the screne he is chewing the scenery. His performance today was the same performance that I saw yesterday, last month, last year…

  19. Avatar of Lewis0817
    Lewis0817

    I so agree! I am sick of how everyone bashes AMC. I do not like Pratt, but come on do you remember this show in 2007, before Angie & Jesse??? It was unwatchable. Now almsot everyday there is at least a reason to watch AMC, the stories are there and right now AMC is the only soap along with GL I can stand to watch. (And Right now its the only soap that is any good on ABC) OLTL has just been terrible anymore… which is sad because of how amazing it was for the last year or so.

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