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AMC: The Pratt Post-Mortem


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So his time as sole AMC Head Writer is up, and presumably he will be finished at All My Children completely in the coming weeks. I know we've debated this man's vision for AMC daily over the course of his time here, but I think its time we gather all our thoughts and have a discussion on what he did for this show, both positive and negative and perhaps compare him to his predecessors.

I will begin with saying that I fell in love with this man's vision of AMC when he came on the scene in late summer 2008. Overnight life was breathed into a lifeless show. Characters became likable and fleshed out and also began having real conversations with one another again. He brought campy entertainment to this show instantly with his treatment of Annie. With the show focused around her for much of the fall I found myself glued to the t.v EVERYDAY. It hadn't been that way in quite a while. Definitely not under B&E (except for their first 2 or 3 weeks). He gave us Adam and Erica. I was so disappointed he dropped this, but its becoming clear why he did.... and then of course David's return brought on by Babe's death. I think we all can praise him for that alone ;)

Beyond the fall though Pratt lost his way..... the show still entertained me more than it had in quite some time, but the execution of the stories became very disjointed and some of the plotlines basically confirmed our original fears when Pratt took over. From casting Lusty Luner as Liza, to having Adam kill his own brother in a drug-induced paranoia, Marian going psycho after Stuart's death, the whole Marissa thing.... I mean I still can't believe how quickly he fizzled. I wasn't really watching the show much from June on last year.... I just wasn't really interested in anything that was going on.

He had a good first 5 or 6 months, but then quickly went off the rails. However, Pratt was able to keep AMC's ratings consistent throughout his entire run. AMC was one of the few soaps most weeks in late 08/early 09 to be posting better numbers than the previous years. He stabilized the show for sure, and I felt UNDERSTOOD the show more so than B&E and certainly than McT did her final few years on the show. His execution on certain things is what did him in for me. I am grateful to him though for the greatness he did bestow in his initial first few months. The most entertaining AMC had been in well over a decade.

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I really liked his first 1-2 months. Adam and Petey working together to sabotage Fusion, Annie moving into the mansion, Erica and Carmen's fights with Adam's hilarious commentary, Amanda and Jake having fun. And the faster pace was refreshing.

When he was just filling time (which I'm sure is how he saw his first couple of months) leading up to the tornado that would really launch his stories the show was pretty good. It's when his stories actually kicked in that things changed for the worse.

Or maybe it's because Amanda Beall was still there for his first month and everything fell apart when she left :lol:

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You've written a good assessment and I agree with most of it. He definitely entertained me, and the show was not as dark and gloomy as it was with McTavish, even though we had more deaths occur under his pen, all of which were highly unnecessary.

Stuart's murder was the most unnecessary of them all, and tainted the character of Adam. Plus, it went on too long. I understand drawing out a mystery, from one sweeps month to the next, but May to November was way too long, given the fact that it seemed to only involve one angle of the mystery, that of Annie and Emma.

Killing Josh. I never liked fetus boy and fetus boy should never have existed. But all I can remember is, "Keep him aliiiiiive!" And of course, literally a day later, we had Bianca's wedding shower. Erica and Bianca barely had time to mourn. I was embarrassed the way these stories were plotted. Everything was disjointed.

The lesbian wedding. Loved it, up until the following day, when they broke up. What a sham.

I'm thankful that Pratt reinvigorated Opal.

Jamie Lunar. She's grown on me and she's brought something out of MEK and Tad that we haven't seen in a while and I'm enjoying them as a couple.

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Adam, I think you give a well rounded take on Pratt's era. I feel like I may regret saying this (what's new?), but I think Pratt's era has been demonized a bit more than it deserves in the press (Bibel in her useless blog said it was the worse AMC had been since the late 90s McTavish era and it had never been darker and more depressing--which simply isn't true, he actually added a lot of humour back to the show, particularly at first). The last year of McTavish had been such a mess, and then with Brown/Esensten I was willing to give them the benefit of doubt since I largely loved their work at Loving and The City but the main prob with their era was NOTHING happened. We had about one story at a time which would go in endless circles. So, like you, when Pratt came on, while I was pretty hesitant to have the HW of the biggest years of Melrose Place and the past years of General Hospital at AMC, because it was just such an awful tonal fit. But I was pleasantly surprised--we had humour back, we had MULTIPLE stories that intersected, we had Opal ;), even when there were WTF moments--and there were from the start, it was at least a lot more enjoyable to watch, I never felt like Fastforwarding. I even liked the much hated Taylor, liked Brott, all that stuff. But I agree it was after the tornado that things went downhill...

I think even the Stuart mystery wcould have been better, if it had remained a true mystery and kept the focus on the cast of characters, not just on Annie and Emma, with such an obvious killer as Adam.

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I enjoyed everything Pratt did with Annie. Up until now, even. He gave her an edge, and made her my favorite character...I love how he dug into her past, and revealed what went on in her childhood. My favorite episode, was the one where Annie went totally crazy in November 2008 and stabbed Erica, then waltzed around ConFusion in that wedding dress, apparently thinking it was her and Ryan's wedding day. Annie's time in Oakhaven was good, loved her short relationship with Aiden (which I wish could have been explored more), Tori, Crazy Dr. Sinclair.

Everything else he did...it was either hit or miss. I saw so much promise in Bianca and Reese, really thought they would be great...until Reese starting showing affection for Zach, all that drama...kissing on Bianca and Reeses wedding day...JR got Cancer, and the writer's totally dropped the ball on what could have been a really compelling storyline. The who shot Stuart started off really great, but was dragged out to long, and turned into a giant bore, branching out for 5 unnecessary months. Tad and Taylor, I thought were really great and refreshing, but Taylor ended up being back-burnered and wasted, and the last we saw her was in a bathroom stall in ConFusion. Let's not forget that Brot was discovered to be alive, but the writer's never, and still haven't, had him confront his mom who still doesn't know he's alive. I remember when the show cast his mother, and she had some scenes with Taylor before she knew he was alive. With Pratt, he started so many things, and he never finished, so many loose ends.

-Zach shot Kendall's brother Josh, Kendall got his heart. But Kendall was never told that it was Zach who shot and killed him

-With Who shot Stuart, we never found out who the mystery women walking around was. Never found out why Erica's shoes were dirty when she came back to the hospital. Who threw that drink in JR's face that night?

-Dixies murder was opened up, Alexander Cambias wrote a book saying it wasn't him who killed her. To this day, we still don't know what really happened with all of that..

Loose ends at every corner, so much unfinished business and holes everywhere..the show was actually interesting for the most part and gave us humor and campy storylines and whatnot, but the writer's never did much to allow viewers to savor story lines and actually get into them. It was all hit-and run type stuff.

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I thougth we got a very short scene with Brott's mom in the hosptial? Or was that just to visit Taylor, someone she didn't even know LOL.

I also forgot about Annie with Dr Sinclair and Tori. I was... mixed on all that--some good stuff some not. And I forgot that they never even explained those elements of the murder night--now that's gonna bug me (and I don't even care). And the whole Josh thing--as awful as the unabortion is--was close to inexcusable. I do agree that Pratt, especially as his writing went on and on, liked to set up these stories often with some intrigue, and then totally miss the fallout (in that respect he was kinda the opposite of McTavish who often had boring and endless set up but usually--until her last couple of years anyway--delivered with the climactic scenes)

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Why did they have Marissa's introduction as being in a massage parlor, when she quickly went on to be one of the dreariest Mary Sue Kennicotts ever?

What was the point in those long, long months of Krystal moping around and being used and abused by David and Tad, other than to make Tad look like even more of a worthless husband and father and to drain any last shred of personality from Krystal?

Was the general sense of contempt towards Adam in the script -- from Adam killing his own brother to his new wife using him for his money and making out with his nephew to the show's "good" characters almost casually going along with a gaslighting plan that almost killed him -- down to Pratt or Frons?

Was Liza's intro a deliberate bad joke? Or was that supposed to be hot? Was everything about her early months, from the letters to Colby that Adam had conveniently hidden away in his mansion to giving birth to a pillow, supposed to be a bad joke?

How far would Reese have gone if Tamara Braun had stayed? Would she have ended up as the "confused bisexual" who would have had her way with every man in town, including Kevin Sheffield and Michael Delaney?

Was the Ryerica story a Frons mandate?

Did he hate Kendall? What would he have done with Zach if Kendall had not been around but Zach had stayed?

Who came up with the awful and toxic turn that David/Amanda/Jake story took? Was that Pratt, or is dead baby lies yet another Frons mandate?

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"Why did they have Marissa's introduction as being in a massage parlor, when she quickly went on to be one of the dreariest Mary Sue Kennicotts ever? "

This was I think the Pratt we all know from trashier soaps like Melrose (don't get me wrong, I love trashy soaps, but that's what I meant by it being a bad fit for AMC). In the same way the nuLiza was introduced, like Marissa, in a VERY reminiscent of Melrose scenario--the instant sex, etc and they have since realized that they need to nearly completely away from that persona (though at least JL keeps the character interesting unlike Marissa). But I think it's systematic of Pratt's downfall with writings too--he has these high concept ideas for characters but seems to lose interest so quickly--like I said there's no pay off or follow through. Even the Marissa story--as hackneyed as it is is pretty major stuff--Krystal sold a kid, David was desperate for a kid, etc, and hardly ANY of that got played out.

But even stuff like Amanda being "tricked" into sex once more with David--it was an ugly and uneeded and DUMB plot twist, but it happened yet we didn't even get any fallout from it--OK I guess Jake hated David even more cuz of it. Fine but really it hasn't changed anything. (Pratt's time at Melrose and particularly his year at Models Inc was filled with plot elements liek this but those shows moved SOO fast and were built around a series of "shocking" moments--they'r eplot driven soaps, as primetime soaps often are--that it at least kinda worked there).

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I pretty much agree with your original assessment, Adam, and what's been posted by everyone else so far.

While he may not have been the show's savior, Pratt salvaged the mess he inherited and made AMC feel like itself again for the first time in at least 5 years. His main flaw was poor follow-through, which led to too many loose story ends. He was nowhere near as bad a headwriter as McTavish or B&E,though.

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Agreed completely, although that said, playing Devil's Advocate, and considering it seemed to be falling more and more apart (that is if we assume that the quality improvement in Jan came partly due to change in writers) I'd never want to see what the show would have become if Pratt had been allowed to write it for four-five years like McTavish did...

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A great deal depends on what stories he supposedly wanted that didn't get through. I think the Reese as the wandering confused lesbian who can't stop bedding men would have been awful. If it's true that he wanted an affair between Jesse and Randi, I think that would have been awful. I realize some of the crap this past year was Frons dictated, and Pratt did have some good ideas, but I also wonder how restricted he was from becoming even more off.

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I'll simply echo some of what's been said. He was entertaining. That's not saying he was the best writer ever, but he was entertaining. His quality of writing was, indeed, very much along the lines of trashy, guilty pleasure viewing -- which was Melrose Place. I say this because people I know who wanted to believe that they were totally above this style of writing for AMC and quit watching in protest... would always seem to justify how they were up to date about EVERYTHING that was going on. I would challenge them, asking if they're so above this show after suckling at Nelson Branco's teet, believing this show is the worst show ever and vowing OLTL is soooo much better... how the hell do you know, for instance, Zach was flipping furniture around the house after coming back from seeing CandyKendall having sex with Aidan in Ohio? "Oh... um, a friend of mine said that he saw it and..." GTFO! You know you've been watching, you just don't want to admit it. Like Jerry Seinfeld didn't want to admit he knew every last detail of Melrose Place on that episode of Seinfeld. So, all of this worst show and horrible show crap the media and the soap fandom is trying to bestow upon Pratt is questionable.

Was Pratt's AMC in the same vein as Agnes Nixon's? Of course not. There were some good dramatic moments here and there, of course, but the overall Pratt version of this show was fluffy camp. But it definitely wasn't this depressing tale of raping lesbians, child sex trading, drowning babies and good old fashioned TORTURE that it was under McTavish... and it definitely wasn't boring as it was under B&E.

I'll also agree that Pratt got my attention with interesting concepts... but lost it with little to no pay off. The whole David vs. Jake and Amanda story petered out, for example. Who Killed Stuart was incredibly lackluster. All of those people scurrying around the mansion that night, and it was down to just two suspects the entire summer and the predictable reveal in the fall? :rolleyes: Jesse's double life coming back to haunt him, also went out with a whimper with Rebecca going off to die alone, as if she was an injured cat in the wild. Randi and Frankie was horrible from the word GO because of the horrible actress... We all see how Madison North turned out. So, yeah. Interesting concepts but horrible follow through.

I also wasn't fond of Pratt's Zendall obsession. Did he hate Kendall? I doubt it. Kendall goes into a coma, the bitch was on every day. Kendall goes to prison, the bitch was on every day. Kendall goes on the run, the bitch was on every day. I think Pratt was fashioning Zendall in the mold of Sonny and Carly on GH. There were a lot of the same dynamics in both relationships. The bulk of Sonny and Carly's (Tamara Braun version) marriage was co-written by Pratt, and it pretty much ran the same beats as Zendall. Brooding, powerful man with underworld connections and his rail thin, impetuous, shrew of a wife. Constantly cheating on each other. Constantly arguing the same argument with each other. Hating each other yet loving each other... And then hating each other BECAUSE they love each other (Sonny's horrible "I hate you because I love you" speech he gave to an unconscious Carly after they fell through the floor during the Port Charles Hotel Fire).

Pratt did give me Crazy Annie which is definitely something I will always be grateful for. MCE was working the HELL out of it in the fall of 2008 and has since become a character that I'm always saying "What is she going to do now?" And I enjoy the majority of his handling of David. So when I heard Pratt was gone, I was left to wonder what would happen to this characters.

Overall, I didn't find AMC as offensively unwatchable as McTavish or B&E, but I also didn't go into this expecting anything GOLDEN from Pratt. So I have to say while I didn't have the highest expectations at ALL when it was announced Pratt was going to be Head Writer, he didn't sink to any new lows in my book either.

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