Thursday, May 22, 2008

A Truth Universally Acknowledged

When I was a child I came up with The Rule of Television Weddings, which stated: If you see the wedding gown before the wedding takes place, the wedding is not going to happen. Since I was a child when I developed this rule, I assumed that everyone knew this. Also, let's face it, there was no outlet for such preternatural brilliance. You don't exactly share with others that you have already spent so much of your life watching television, and that weddings especially are fascinating to you, that you've noticed something that probably interests no one but you. It was PJ, who many years ago, pointed out to me that not everyone knew this at all. So there you have it in a nutshell: my single contribution to society.

But my rule, which held for years, is not quite true anymore. Let's explore:

Thursday and Friday on All My Children (take note those of you who have spoken of the slow pace of the soap opera): Angie and Jesse can be found at Zach's casino getting ready for their wedding, a very special event in Pine Valley, since the residents all saw Jesse die 20 years ago. Recently, he returned from the dead to resume his life with his family. Meanwhile, ex-FBI agent Rob Gardner, the reason that Jesse was believed to be dead, realizes that the diamond he's been searching for is safely hidden in Angie's daughter's stuffed elephant, which is at the casino, too. Side note: this child has carried the elephant with her everywhere for almost all of her 18 years and the elephant is very soft. The diamond is in its rough form and is the size of my palm. Strange no one ever noticed. Anyway: The wedding guests gather, including the ghost of Dixie, who knows that something terrible is going to happen on this day. Of all the things that might happen on this day, I know that the wedding is, without a doubt going to take place (more about this later). The guests include Tad, Dixie's great love, who is longing to find the five year old daughter that Dixie gave up for adoption without telling Tad. They also include Aidan and Greenlee and Zach and Kendall (the daughter of the famous Erica Kane, played by Susan Lucci). Also there are Colby and JR, the grown children of Adam, who is being haunted by Dixie's ghost. Adam is in a hospital for the mentally ill because he has been talking to Dixie and no one believes him. Dixie is haunting Adam because he is the only living person who knows that five year old Kathy, the adopted daughter of Julia, is actually the daughter that Tad is searching for. As Anna Russell would say, "I'm not making any of this up."

Vows are said, people start dancing, and happiness reigns for a few minutes. Rob Gardner uses his FBI badge to get access to the room where the stuffed elephant can be found. But the diamond is not there because Jesse was one step ahead of him. When Gardner realizes this, Angie just happens to walk into the room, and she becomes Rob Gardner's hostage. Meanwhile, Adam gets out of the hospital and shows up at the wedding ranting and raving about needing to take his children home. The ghost of Dixie keeps saying, "Adam, the future is already in motion. You can't change it." Oddly, Dixie seems able to change things herself. She knocks over chairs to get people to stop walking, which changes their paths, and to some extent, their futures, but she can't change the story from moving along. Adam has one more chance to tell Tad the truth, but doesn't. Rob Gardner and his hostage show up at the wedding reception, where Aidan pulls out his gun. Rob starts shooting and hits a couple of people, including Julia, Kathy's mother. Perhaps Aidan isn't quite as quick on the draw as usual because a few moments before, his fiance, Greenlee, learned that Aidan and her best friend Kendall had had sex the night before Zach and Greenlee were finally rescued from their month of being trapped in an old bomb shelter (they were presumed dead). Aidan and Kendall had given up and turned to each other for comfort on that very night. While they were comforting each other on the hardwood floor, Kendall spotted the map (under the bed, which was unoccupied) that showed the bomb shelter and led to the rescue. Tad had hired a helicopter to whisk Angie and Jesse to their honeymoon. Rob Gardner decides to use the helicopter to escape with the diamond and with Angie. As he is taking off, he shoots and hits Tad. Jesse jumps for the helicopter's runners and the episode ends with Jesse in mid-air. I'm leaving a lot out here, like Rob locking Opal in a supply closet after making her think they were going to have sex in there, or Angie's daughter starting to fall for the federal attorney's son, or Aidan telling Greenlee that he understood that she didn't want to have children, or Tad fighting with his wife over her feelings for Adam, or JR getting shot at and his ex-wife realizing how important JR was to her.

Television weddings are very expensive things, so producers tend to cram a lot of surprises into them. I've seen tornadoes and earthquakes happen during weddings, along with murders and kidnappings. But the most common thing that happens during television weddings is that the wedding is stopped, usually by the man the bride really loves.

I knew that Angie and Jesse were actually going to become man and wife because when Angie went dress shopping, and found the perfect dress, her friends were seen gasping at how great she looked and she was only shown from the neck up. On the morning of the wedding, Angie was only seen in her nightgown, not in the gown. So, even though I had no idea who was going to be shot, taken hostage, etc., I knew absolutely that I do's were going to be said before all of this happened.

When I was young, I absolutely knew that when I saw the dress before the wedding, the wedding would not happen. But in my teens, there was one exception. On the old Rhoda show, Rhoda married Joe in one of the most watched television episodes of the 1970's. The story centered around lots of things going wrong as she tried desperately to get to the wedding. The humor was in the idea that she was running through the streets of New York in a fairy tale type wedding gown. So here is the Rhoda exception: if the story centers around the difficulties of getting to the wedding, the dress can be shown and the wedding will still take place. This rule stood for years. But.

Last week, there was another exception, and I'm not sure what to make of it.

On One Life to Live, which has been really good lately, a wedding was about to take place and I really had no idea if it would happen or not. Up until the wedding day, I did not see the dress. That's a sign that it would take place. The groom, Rex, does not know that his fiance, Adriana, has been scheming to make sure the wedding takes place. Gigi, Rex's first love, has shown up in town with her son, who is the result of a night between Rex and Gigi in high school. Rex left town soon after conceiving the child, and has no idea that he has a son. Meanwhile Adriana, and pretty much anybody who thinks, has figured out that this is the case. Adriana has gone to great lengths to make sure that Rex doesn't know that he has a son, since he seems to have feelings for Gigi and this news would put him over the edge. So, even though we don't see the dress, we do see Rex showing up late to his wedding because he is helping his son, who is at the hospital with an asthma attack and we see Gigi show up at the wedding and announce mid-ceremony that she loves Rex. Here's the strange part: I did see the dress before the wedding. Adriana had it on in the dressing room in the church before she entered the chapel. And, despite everything, the wedding did take place.

What gives? I have four possible explanations. Have weddings become anticlimactic? Couples live together now and a wedding in the old days supposedly meant that the couple was hours away from having sex for the first time, which was a pretty important step. Does the internet mean that it is easy to find out the designer of the wedding dress and that the more time the dress is on the air, the more perks the producers can get? (I can't find the name of the designer on-line, so I think this one might be wrong). Or, have the writers become aware of this television convention after 50 years of television (we can call this a post-Vicki's rule of television weddings world) and are they turning the convention in on itself? Or, if the bride is a liar who doesn't deserve to be married, do we not care about the moment of the reveal? This would add a second exception.

Luckily, I have been educated in the rules of logic, so my rule can be saved. My new rule: If you don't see the dress before the wedding, the wedding will take place. As far as I know, there is no exception to this rule, but there are actually many shows I've never seen, believe it or not, so I'm open to the possibility that there are exceptions out there. Go ahead, ruin my single contribution to the world's great body of knowledge.


Anonymous said...

Uhhh, have you been hanging out in Yvonne's office lately? Because I cannot for the life of me figure out where you have the time to watch this stuff, let along write about it, and STILL have the time to come up with great ideas...

YOU are amazing! And, btw, thanks for reminding me why I don't watch those shows anymore! Didn't Dixie already die and come back from the dead once, in the late 80s or early 90s?

vicmarcam said...

Two words: Ti. Vo.

Indeed, Dixie did die in an auto accident in Europe. Or so we thought. But it turns out she was found near death and nursed back to health by a maniacal doctor, who convinced her to sign away her newborn daughter. When she recovered, she felt so ashamed by what she had done that she spent the next four years not letting her grieving family know that she was actually alive, but searching the world for her daughter. This is especially funny because Tad, the father of her child and great love of her life, is a private investigator, so he may have been able to offer a bit of help. Later, Tad buried the doctor alive to get him to spill the information about where his daughter was. This plan backfired when an earthquake hit Pine Valley and killed the buried doctor.

Patrick J. Vaz said...

Marriages may be anticlimactic. Weddings are not!
My guess is that the rule permutation is this: that marriage is not going to last long, so it's almost as if it didn't happen.
You'll have to monitor wedding dress usage. Long long ago I used to have a rule that if movie ads really pushed the soundtrack then the movie would be really bad (with the exception of American Graffitti), but then synergy came along (all the movie studios were bought by megacorporations that also owned record companies) and they all started doing that. But for one brief season in the 80s, it was a pretty good rule.

vicmarcam said...

I like what you said about your soundtrack rule, but I wonder if your synergy reason was true in the 1980's, but not so much anymore. I think that there are some directors for whom the soundtrack almost becomes a character in the film: Tarantino, Scorsese, the Farrelly brothers. They all have distinct types of rock/pop songs that they choose for their films. And though the studio no doubt is getting their piece of the action, that's different than what you meant.
As far as your rule permutation goes, I think you make an excellent point, which I didn't want to face because it makes my rule too fuzzy. In other words, in soap operas, no marriage is going to last, but there is a distinction here. This marriage has absolutely no chance of lasting. Speaking of this marriage, here's an update: the bride woke up after the wedding night and told her husband that she was going out for eggs to make him waffles, but instead went to Gigi's house and offered her Rex's used toothbrush so that she could use the DNA from it to "prove" that someone else was Gigi's son's father.

Patrick J. Vaz said...

Since it was right after the wedding night, I'm grateful it was only a used toothbrush she offered.

But now I'm confused: does the bride not know that Rex is the father? Why is she giving Gigi evidence that he is -- especially when Gigi already knows that he is?

Was she just trying to taunt Gigi? But Gigi already knows the wedding took place . . . look, I'm going to stop speculating, and you can explain this to me later.

Anonymous said...

So, a blog about weddings made me think for a moment that perhaps your sister's beautiful wedding was mentioned. And, so I searched...between One Life to Live and All My Children and, alas, I found nothing. What gives, SIS?