ALL MY CHILDREN Does What the Others Do – Only Better
ALL MY CHILDREN brings to mind a quote from big band critic George Simon about the Tommy Dorsey orchestra. He stated that “other (dance bands) may have sounded more creative, swung harder and more consistently or developed more distinct styles, but of all the hundreds of well-known bands, Tommy Dorsey’s could do more things better than any other could.” ALL MY CHILDREN is the Tommy Dorsey of soap operas.
Certainly ALL MY CHILDREN‘s winning formula has been giving “something for everyone.” It keeps the entire cast in sight throughout the year, with few front burner/back burner” distinctions. AMC can always be counted on to provide at least one star-crossed young couple planning to escalate their romance when they go to Pine Valley University — a coveted institution they choose over Yale, Stanford or Oxford for the sake of true love. There are usually a few hot triangles based more on truly confused feelings rather than on standard soap trickery. There is also frequently a crime story, which is usually less violent than the DAYS OF OUR LIVES bloodbaths and less convoluted than AS THE WORLD TURNS’s labyrinthine mystery epics. Of course, AMC has character humor — but nothing so broad as to obscure overall dramatic intent. (If DAYS’s Calliope had lived in Pine Valley, she would’ve been somewhat soft-pedalled and assimilated into “normal” society by now.) If this description implies that AMC assumes a comfortable middle ground, it is not meant to. This show has taken plenty of chances — chances based on reality, not fanciful sci-fi flashtrash.
Wealthy, neurotic Palmer Cortlandt (James Mitchell) has never been this well employed as a catalyst. He is the force behind Marissa (Nancy Addison) in her plot to bust up Natalie and Jeremy Hunter (Kate Collins and Jean LeClerc). He is a major threat to David Rampal (Trent Bushey) in his budding romance with Melanie (Paige Turco), the neice Palmer loves a bit too much (a la duaghter Nina). He salivates at the repercussions of niece Dixie’s (Cady McClain) marriage to and pregnancy by Adam Chandler (David Canary) — the bane of Palmer’s existence. And he nearly had heart failure when he learned of ex-son-in-law Cliff’s (Peter Bergman) engagement to black Angie Hubbard (Debbi Morgan).
As far as youth is concerned, no other soap (save AS THE WORLD TURNS) can claim as many gifted young performers. They not only look nice, but they can act — a rarity. Maurice Benard is a natural; no posing or Marlon Brando mannerisms here. Lauren Holly has grown beautifully from a teen to a promising young heroine. Trent Bushey and Paige Turco make David and Melanie this show’s sweetest young couple since Greg and Jenny of several years ago.