I am not a regular ABC watcher anymore, and I also usually refrain from commenting on current shows/stories per se.
But the Monday 12/29/2008 ABC shows were, in large measure, perfect soap confections...enough that even this lapsed viewer might tune in tomorrow...which, after all, (per J. Bernard Jones) is the point.
Of the three ABC shows, All My Children was the weakest. However, a trio of villains has energized this show and restored some rooting value. David Hayward is just dastardly, but Vincent Irizarry is a revelation. Unlike his flopped character (David Chow on Y&R), Hayward has an unapologetic agenda. He wants to claim his grand-daughter, and 'avenge' Babe's death. The character's throughline is fairly clear. Amanda...well, I know her troubled background, and Chrisell Stause plays just the right note of ambivalence and guilt to make her deeds more interesting. Melissa Claire Egan plays her psycho with such a powerful vulnerability and childishness, and again (from her dead brother Richie) we understand that there are likely dark roots that explain her behavior. The big thing is that when any of these three are on the screen, they captivate and keep the show interesting.
Better was One Life to Live, which just seemed like payoff city. Asa's video-from-the-dead, revealing both his connection to David Vickers and his challenge to his sons to come out on top. The unrivalled Tuc Watkins, playing just the right amount of winking as a 'reformed' (and Buddhist) David Chow returns to town. Payoff that Viki and Charlie found out about Dorian's role in their previous undoing. Payoff that Dorian is trying to high-tail it out of town. Payoff that Marty is getting Todd right where she wants him. I literally could not wait to see the next chapter...and it helped that a lot of the characters on the canvas are those I would recognize from decades past.
And, shockingly to me, best was General Hospital. Yup. Start with the mob that everyone hates. Except Jason and Sonny had a heartfelt scene, remembering that it was Michael's birthday, and remembering their next rivalry. The delightful chemistry between Jax and Carly continues to add an element of romance to a show that often forgets the importance of this element. SpinMax...who can eat the show...were much fun, and I enjoyed Bradford Anderson's romantic fantasy, as a debonair young man dancing with his Maxie. But, of course, everything Scorpio-Drake was perfection...from the vows, the toasts, the flashbacks, the dyadic conversations on the edges of the dance floor. For one episode, GH reclaimed all that it had won this summer on (the cancelled?) Night Shift II...and restored hope that the "mothership" could again rediscover its heart.
It seemed that these episodes are being scripted for people like me...lapsed viewers who are home during the holiday "break", and who might be enticed to keep watching. This strategy can work, too. As long as ABC doesn't do a bait-and-switch and return to the usual dreck. Might the network be rediscovering that heart, history, engaging villains and innocents, and payoff all work together to make a show watchable?
I'm always encouraged by these flashes of greatness, because they show me the potential is still there. The trick is to make it more regular and consistent.
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