Thursday, September 23, 2010

Report Card: All My Children

School is back in session, the soaps' fall story lines are in full swing and it's time for their grades! In the first of our Report Card series, you'll hear our thoughts and evaluations for All My Children. Find out which actors are doing A+ work, which stories need a change of attitude and which character needs a sweater.

All My Children

The story so far: In a surprising turn of events, Pine Valley's dastardly Dr. David Hayward was murdered at Caleb's fundraiser in front of the entire town. Whodunnit? Was it Ryan, our favorite anger-prone do-gooder? Was it Greenlee, the tortured and blackmailed wife? Was it someone else entirely? Time will tell, but in the meantime much of AMC is focused on its latest murder mystery.

What works: Compelling performances by Michael Nouri, Bobbie Eakes, Melissa Claire Egan and many other actors have elevated the decidedly generic material to a much more watchable final product. Nouri and Eakes have a very easy chemistry, one that I hope will be explored further in the coming months. Egan's Annie is a joy to watch, even when she's stuck in a story with three costars who aren't quite up to snuff. The quieter, more character driven stories are a hit as well; Debbie Morgan is doing the work of her career as the suddenly blind Angie, and the entire Hubbard clan continues to shine. Christina Bennett Lind is a find as Bianca, stepping into an enormous role with grace and elegance. I hope this sparkling newcomer gets a chance to shine on the front burner very soon.

What needs work: Enough with the murder mysteries already! It's quite clear that the writers have no idea who killed David and honestly, it is hard to care when there are so many other, more compelling characters without a story who are much more interesting than the forever tortured Ryan, Greenlee and Kendall. Speaking of things that aren't interesting, the Chandler family melodrama needs a big change, and soon. JR, Scott and Marissa are three very unlikeable characters for three very different reasons - JR is portrayed by Jacob Young as a wannabe tycoon without any redeeming qualities. Marissa, an ill-conceived character from the start, has become more milquetoast than ever, with quirky actress Brittany Allen not standing a chance against the extremely likable and fun portrayal of Annie by Melissa Claire Egan. Scott may as well be wearing argyle sweaters and picking flowers, because I don't buy Adam Mayfield's performance one bit as a smart, competent businessman.

Suggestions: Focus on the more relatable and interesting characters - Tad, Angie, Jesse, Damon, even Liza - and stop propping Ryan and Greenlee five days a week. Wrap up the murder quickly, cut the dead weight and bring the show back to basics with family and romance.

Grade: B-

Lee and Lauren

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