Thursday, April 29, 2010

Soapy Surprises

People say soap operas are so predictable. Love triangles, babies stolen and switched, custody battles, mysterious doppelgangers and who-gets-resurrected-from-the-dead-this-time storylines.

Unfortunately the cancellation of soaps was all too predictable the past year or so as we saw the plug pulled first on Guiding Light and then As The World Turns. With so much at stake I hate to see the quality of the writing deteriorate on my favorite shows.

All My Children has been in a slump for quite a while now, and that’s putting it kindly. I was one voice in a chorus of thousands who rejoiced when the last headwriter was fired (I don’t even want to mention his name). I’ve been pleased to see characters beginning to sound more like themselves and stories starting to hold my interest more.

Some things about the episode featuring Palmer Cortlandt’s memorial last week were predictable. The soap press had already announced the returns of key veteran actors and there were sure to be flashbacks. I’ve seen memorial tributes on soaps before so I had an idea of what to expect.

But what surprised me was that AMC got it right. Every beat of the story was right on the money. I couldn’t look away. I don’t usually get teary-eyed when I watch these things but when Nina looked up from her candle and said “I love you, Father” I just about lost it. I grabbed a tissue and thought I’d coast on through the last few seconds and then they did it to me again.

Dixie welcomed Palmer into heaven.

I confess that I love reading soap spoilers and I know all the best places to find them online, but I don’t think I’d heard any hints about Dixie making an appearance in this episode. What a perfect ending to a perfect memorial for an extraordinary character and actor. Thank you, James Mitchell for being Palmer Cortlandt all these years.

This was a week steeped in the heritage of soaps as we also saw David Canary winding down his long career on AMC. Again, the writing was good, the performances stellar and how wonderful it was to watch Brooke and Adam together again. And thank you, AMC for giving us one last tender/snarky scene with Brooke and Erica!

My week had one more soapy surprise. I found out my cousin is a big soap fan, too!

I’d been reading reports and seeing photos of friends of mine who attended a Days of Our Lives fan event in Dallas last weekend and enjoying the show through their eyes. So when my aunt phoned me and mentioned during our conversation that Elizabeth was in Dallas for a soap event last weekend, I knew just what event she was talking about. Knowing that she’d won an auction for one of the stars directors chairs I knew I’d find a photo posted online, and I did.

Soap operas are all about relationships, love and family. Somehow it seems fitting that I'd reconnect with my cousin because of a soap opera since generations of women in our family have watched them together, starting with The Guiding Light on radio.

I wonder what our daughters will watch with their daughters….?

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