If you guessed that an old-school, wish-it-were-the-70s-again soap traditionalist like me disliked the death of Stuart Chandler on All My Children, you’d be right.
But it’s not, perhaps, for the reasons you’d think.
Stuart’s death certainly has some seriously dramatic potential, and there will be many who will mourn his passing. AMC has hinted that Stuart’s death will lead to a metamorphosis for Adam, and it will no doubt affect Scott, Stuart’s son. I’m not sure I trust that Chuck Pratt’s cliche-ridden, stunt-filled writing can do Stuart justice, but the potential is certainly there.
If we’re talking abut budgetary issues, Stuart is a character that certainly seems expendable. He was rarely featured, perhaps a dozen times a year. AMC may have just renegotiated Canary’s contract, and as we all know, everyone’s salary is being cut.
Having Canary play one character instead of two probably makes business sense. It may also be that Canary, who’s now in his seventies, wanted a reduced workload.
These all seem like logical reasons to say goodbye to Stuart. You wouldn’t think the audience would miss a character we rarely see.
But I hate that it’s happened. Stuart had heart, and gave Pine Valley heart. With his death, AMC continues, little by little, to lose heart.
AMC used to have an embarrassment of riches in terms of characters with heart. It was one of the best things about Pine Valley.
But in just the last few years, here’s what’s happened:
- AMC lost Phoebe Tyler, and even more devastatingly, her niece Brooke, who for many was not only the heart of the show but the audience’s eyes and ears.
- Dixie, who at one time gave Pine Valley a lot of heart and warmth, was subjected first to a personality transplant who rendered her nearly unrecognizable, and then she was senselessly murdered (in one of the show’s worst stories).
- Bianca, one of the few younger characters on AMC (or any show) that wasn’t drowning in her own navel-gazing narcissism, was turned into a paranoid, pouting simp on her last visit.
And last winter, AMC viewers lost Myrtle Fargate, a character who defined heart and affection on an increasingly cold and dark canvas.
As we lose heart and soul in Pine Valley, the show has pushed heartless characters like nuLiza, Kendall and Greenlee to the front burner. They may be watchable characters, but at the end of the day, I have a hard time finding the heart in many AMC characters.
The ladies all seem to have emerged from the Erica Kane School of Bitchery. (Ironically, Original Flavor Erica is becoming one of the most consistent sources of warmth and heart on the canvas.) The men aren’t faring much better; Tad and Jake may supply some heart and humor, but we’re more often subjected to the travails of Ryan Lavery who, despite a decade of definition and a dozen personalities, still has all the depth of a penny.
I’m sure there might be compelling business reasons, or personal reasons, to lose Stuart. It may make for must-see TV. I just think that Stuart’s humor and warmth and, indeed, Stuart’s heart, is something AMC can ill afford to lose.
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