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« Even Gods Get The Blues | Main | The Bold and the Beautiful: Week In Review »

May 22, 2011

Pine Valley, PA: Death Capital of the World

DAVID KREIZMAN: You know, people are pretty much begging for us to be fired, so I figure we should make plans to go out on top.
DONNA SWAJESKI: With an award-worthy, like, "POW!" that will have people begging for us to write for another show until it, too, gets cancelled?
KREIZMAN: Exactly. And what story on General Hospital had people buzzing?
SWAJESKI: Dead Jake.
KREIZMAN: And what was the last story that earned us kudos? Jesse and Angie's dead baby.
SWAJESKI: I can still remember what the critics said: "Amazing performances almost make you forget that the writing on this show is so shitty".
KREIZMAN: So it's unanimous, then. It's time for--
SWAJESKI & KREIZMAN, IN UNISON: Another dead baby!

It's sort of funny, isn't it?* The various All My Children writing regimes in recent years were terrible in different ways, but they have one similarity**: a willingness to go the easiest and most manipulative route possible. And that is Route Killing Kids. Yes, mere weeks after Jesse and Angie's daugther was stillborn, Madison and Ryan have lost little Sara Lavery to premature birth and a bout with pneumonia. And it was so, so very sad.

Madison: Ooh, Sara. I love you. I love you so much. You know we didn't get to spend very much time together, but I have to believe that you felt that. I need you to hold on to that, just like I'll hold on to you in my heart. You will always be with me, sweet girl. Always.

Chapel 
*Not ha-ha funny, obviously. More "This is why my show was cancelled" funny. So not funny at all really and more angry-making.
**Besides being terrible at their jobs.

The performances were, of course, phenomenal. Stephanie Gatschet and Daniel Cosgrove in particular just blew me away when both knew, immediately and without being told, that something horrible had happened. Watching their hearts break broke mine, especially since I had so badly wanted the two of them to fall in love for real and raise the baby together and now that can't happen and since it can't happen, I better get the consolation prize of a romantic reunion between those two before September because seriously, the cuteness! I feel like I stopped making sense about thirty words ago, but anyway: top notch performances.

Madison 

Scott 

Cameron Mathison also taped scenes at this time.

Ryanshock 
Oh, Cam, I kid because I enjoy you and detest your character--he actually wasn't bad at all. For once, my depression in his scenes was depression WITH him, not depression over being forced to listen to the rest of Pine Valley sing Hallelujah in his honor.

Madison: We just saw her. We just touched her. She was fine.
Ryan: The infection -- it just came on a little quick, and she couldn't fend it off.
Madison: You said she was strong.
Ryan: If I could change this, I would. And she was strong. She was strong, but in the end, she was just -- she was just too tiny.

Sniff.

Divider

Friday's episode also saw some movement in Kendall and Griffin's search for the truth about Ricky, which sounds like the title of an amazing Lifetime Movie. Thanks to some tech handiwork, Kendall and Griffin were able to copy Ricky's hard drive and find the files he had erased. And Kendall's ability to lie to Ricky has grown by leaps and bounds! She breezily fed him the wedding website story and managed to keep up the ruse even when she was juggling the omnipresent hum of repulsion she feels whenever she's alone with him AND heartbreak for Ryan's tragedy. The only time she came close to slipping was when she snapped at him that her boys "like hockey and trains" and not Ricky's suggested boat shows, but she recovered from that nicely.

Her one mistake? Telling him that she told Spike about the engagement, not counting on him paying a visit to the wee one and realizing that something's up.

Ricky: You're welcome. So you know what? Your mommy and I are really happy. We have some good news.
Spike: What good news?
Ricky: Your mommy didn't tell you about a wedding?
Spike: No.
Ricky: Ricky

Also, Spike is ADORABLE.

Spike 
Those jammies! SO CUTE.

Divider

Griffin spent a good chunk of the episode watching what seems to be a Ricky/Evil Diana sex tape.

Dianatape 

Tape 
"We've got him!", he announced triumphantly to nobody. "Also, I'm switching to Geico..."

Divider

I'm still loving Susan Lucci as Jane as Erica Kane and the reactions the rest of Pine Valley is having to her being subtly...off. Jack and Opal's dual expressions of befuddlement following "Erica's" extended temper tantrum and Greenlee wondering why Erica's being so nice cracked me up. Also, the way Jane just sat on the couch after Jackson broke the news about Sara's death.

Couch 
"And this is a SAD thing, right? Would I, Erica Kane, find this sad? Would I cry over hearing this? Hold on a sec, let me get some eye drops."

Divider

Greenlee: I still don't get why people keep asking how I'm doing.

Uh, because they know you'll find a way to make it about yourself somehow, so they're just saving everybody a lot of trouble and giving you an opening? Duh.

Comments

So so so sad about the fate of baby Sara. I mean what is the purpose of killing off this baby, especially just weeks after killing off the Hubbard baby (other than the convo between K/S that you imagined)? I felt so sad for Madison, Scott, and yes, even Ryan.

Um, need Lorraine Broderick's stuff to start airing asap.

Ha to Greens making this about herself! Love Spike.

It's not like I think, sad as it is, that no babies/young children ever, ever, ever can die on soaps, because it, sadly, happens all the time and can be amazing TV, but what is WITH ABCD's fetish for it the past few years? This is like the fifth or sixth, I think, in just a few years. Oh, that's right, hack writers more interested in sensationalism than quality storytelling in a vain effort to gain acclaim and ratings increases.

As Bourgeois Nerd says, it's not that the death of a child can't be a gripping story, it's that fact that writer after writer have used it as a plot device to try and elicit feelings from the viewers that they haven't been able to do through the characters. Instead of it being part of a story, or part of a character's development - or just a plain old sad, sad story with characters we care about, it's about propping the bad writing and ineptly drawn characters.

I remember the death of Anne Tyler and Paul Martin's daughter VERY well. It was truly tragic. Not only did the child die, Anne's sanity was compromised. And from that, many storylines were drawn. It also gave a stable of excellent actors some prime material to work with. The same was true with the superbly written death of Laura Cudahy, and the death of Donna's son in the fire.

But these last few years, the deaths of children on this show has been more of a grim unfunny joke than storytelling of any kind.

I took this one kind of personally. I have a 22-weeker that survived all kinds of hell in his 8 months in the NICU (and now is doing quite well). While absolutely, prematurity can be dangerous and scary, I take huge offense to it being used as a convenience for lazy writing.

Now what I'd REALLY like to see is a soap take on a micropreemie storyline and not have them discharged from the hospital in less than a month. THAT would be remarkable (and true to life).

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