Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered
I spent much of today's All My Children completely disoriented: what the hell time was it in Pine Valley with all of these things going on? Was it the middle of the night? Was it the crack of dawn? And if so, why was half the town all gussied up and functioning, and why was the other half strolling around the Chandler mansion in bathrobes?! SO CONFUSED. Not helping my confusion was the fact that, when the episode began, I had just woken up from an impromptu nap myself and had no idea what day it was (cue Andy Dwyer's "I'm suuuper bad at days") (If you are not watching Parks and Recreation, you should be! Don't let the lackluster first season scare you away from what is one of the best sitcoms on TV!) (Do you think there is any way that I could classify the NBC Thursday night lineup and How I Met Your Mother as soaps so that I can discus them here?) (How many parenthetical notations are too many for a tiny sentence?).
But once I realized that it was Tuesday and could think clearly again, I found myself watching an episode of All My Childrenthat wasn't wholly bad and, indeed, contained some moments that were genuinely good and seriously entertaining, alongside the bizarre and irritating moments that have become synonymous with present-day AMC.
Let's start with the good, and I think we all know where I am going to go with this one, because I have been super vocal in my fondness for this pairing and am toeing the crazy line: David + Greenlee + Declaration of love = !!!!!!<33333!!!!!
It's funny--not "ha ha" funny, but "Oh my effing goodness, Charles Pratt seriously set fire to everything good and enjoyable about AMC" funny--that, not too long ago, I was actively hoping for David Hayward's death. I hoped for Adam to be the one to do him in, maybe with his bare hands, and possibly displaying his body on the walls of the mansion as a warning for anyone willing to tangle with a Chandler. I hated him, is what I'm saying. These writers, though, have done a spectacular job* of going back to basics and rediscovering what used to be so great about David and have made him not merely tolerable, but enjoyable, to the point where I am rooting for this romance, hard, even though I know it will only end with my tears.
*This is not to say that this writing staff is perfect, because, seriously, the average episode of this show is so soul-crushingly boring that I am horrified to even contemplate what it is like to spend time with the writers in a social situation. I feel like they are the type of people who spend a lot of time at parties talking about how moist the cake is.
Even though I will inevitably be disappointed, do you blame me for getting swept up in this? Vincent Irizarry and Rebecca Budig are SO GOOD together. I keep saying that, I know, but it's true. The way he ruefully smiled at Greens (who looked prettier than ever and was wearing a seriously killer coat) and pledged his love to her? So good.
David: This is something you can trust: I'm a heartless bastard. I am cold, I am cruel.
Greenlee: Not to me.
David: Any woman that I've ever felt anything for, I don't only just hurt them, I decimate their loves. And I'm not going to do that to you?
Greenlee: What, exactly, do you feel for me?
David: Greenlee, please stop pushing.
Greenlee: Say it! Are we friends? Are we more, are we less? Do you love me like a sister, like a distant cousin?
David: All right, damn it. Yes. Yes! I love you, okay? I love you so much it's scaring the hell out of me, and that's why it has to end, right now. Because if it doesn't, god help us both. That's your cue to turn and run for the hills.
Greenlee: I'm not going anywhere.
David: Whatever you feel for me, Greenlee, gratitude, affection...it doesn't come close to how I feel for you, and that kind of love, it crushes people that I don't intend to hurt. I'm not going to do this, Greenlee. I swore to protect you and am going to keep this promise, okay? Even if it means to protect you from me. So please, help me do that.
Greenlee: You've been nothing but kind and gentle to me.
David: Damn it, Greenlee. I need you to do this. All right? Whatever you feel for me, or think that you feel for me, you have to promise me not to say you love me again, unless you mean it. If that day ever comes, I give you my promise that i will fight to be the man who deserves you love, until the day I die.
I mean, really, people, I'm not made of stone! This show has deprived me of a good, old-fashioned soap romance for so long. Like, what, am I supposed to be swept away by the great love of JR and Marissa?!
Also firmly in the "good" category was Erica and Brooke, doing what they do best: exchanging barbs while treating each other with a cold civility. Seriously, the peals of fake laughter while glaring at one another warmed my heart, which says a whole lot about my heart...
Erica: You know, Brooke, just because you spent your life competing with me doesn't mean that every other woman turns everything into a competition.
Erica: How's your love life?
Brooke: I'm not even on my second cup of coffee.
Erica: Oh! I'm sorry, I'm sorry. I didn't realize it was such a touchy subject.
Erica: Well, I mean, you must be lonely from time to time. I know it can be sometimes difficult for...certain women to meet a good man.
Raise your hand if you'd watch an entire show of these two sniping at each other? What network can we pitch this to? Obviously not SOAPNet, since it involves a soap and has the potential to be awesome, which is in direct opposition to their mission to broadcast old box office failures.
I'm not sure if the writers are actually going to go there with Annie and JR, or if Jacob Young's face is lighting up in their scenes because he's excited to be working with someone who actually emotes, but...well, when Annie said, "You know I had divorce papers drawn up and you're trying to nail me with them", he smiled the most lascivious smile. I was actually taken aback!
JR then had a conversation about, um, something, with Marissa, and I completely forgot that she even appeared on-screen until I re-watched the episode (to get a particular quote, not because I enjoyed it THAT much). She is just completely devoid of personality and charisma.
Colby and Damon had a nice bonding sesh, and I have to admit that Natalie Hall has completely grown on me. She's either toned down her over-enunciation or the writing for her has improved so that I don't notice it as much, and she's so, so very pretty.
Their conversation being as stereotypically teen as it was is either a realistic move on the part of the writers (because, seriously, I know that I had that kind of impassioned conversation many times throughout high school) or just another example of the writers fondness for being boring.
Colby: I want to matter. Have you ever felt like that?
Damon: All the time.
Colby: Not just in family, but in life. Everybody thinks that I'm this spoiled blonde airhead, but I really,really want to do something with my life.
Damon: Trust me. You will.
I'd be more charitable and lean towards the former if I didn't have such a problem buying Damon as someone younger than 30. That's shallow and awful and not his fault, and by putting this out into the universe, I am pretty much outing myself as a younger version of Maxine from that line of Hallmark cards, but it's distracting me!
Ryan was exactly how he usually is--annoying, self-righteous and in the midst of a long pity party, but this time, he was that way while exercising. He spent almost the entire episode feeling sorry for himself while stretching and doing sit-ups and otherwise pandering quite blatantly to the throngs of Cameron Mathison fans in the audience.
While I am often swayed by a good-looking man, it didn't work this time, AMC, because I still wanted to hit him in the face for the duration of the episode.
Ryan: Tad, I've given her time. I have. I've been patient, and understanding, and I told her that I'd never stop loving her. I told her that whatever she wants, whatever she needs, I'll do that. But she swears the way I that I love her only hurts her.
"I've given her time"? How the hell much time could you have given her? She came back from the dead, like, three weeks ago! And you've been stalking her since! God!
But Tad is living in the same fantasy world, where Ryan is emperor and the ruler of all things who can do no wrong (...actually, that makes it sound kind of similar to the real Pine Valley, except in the fantasy world, Ryan's face is on the money) and all he did today was prop this asshole.
Tad: You're too good a man...
Tad: I'm sorry, if I pulled a Rip Van Winkle, I'd be angry, too. That doesn't make you the bad guy.
No, Tad, every other shitty thing that Ryan does on a daily basis is what makes him the bad guy. Ugggh, this show is making strides in the right direction on nearly every other front. Why the hell can't it realize that Ryan is never going to happen?!