All My Children Says Goodbye to ABC With a Bang!
My old journalism professor always said to wait 24 hours before you write about something you feel passionate about. Well, forget that. In 1996 when he was teaching me those lessons, the Internet was just a place where you looked up pictures of your fave celebs naked, and/or chatted on ICQ. Today is a new day and I want to share my thoughts on All My Children's breathtaking finale while I'm still reeling from the excitement of it all.
In a word, I thought the finale was wonderful, simply wonderful. After decades of seeing soap operas limp to the finish line in their final weeks, All My Children gave us some of the best episodes we've seen in years during the past month. While, I wasn't a big fan of the umbrella story that got us here (David Hayward bringing back several characters from the dead), boy-oh-boy did those beloved characters shine, as this soap headed for the cliff, where executive producer Julie Hanan Caruthers (Someone I don't praise often!), Agnes Nixon and Lorraine Broderick expertly perched it, in hopes that fans will follow the soap online when Prospect Park hopefully debuts it this January.
Let's do a little catch up, shall we? Once upon a time, there was a spiteful, vindictive, ghastly woman named Megan McTavish, who reportedly didn't get along with wildly popular leading lady Cady McClain, so the hack killed off her character Dixie Cooney Martin via poisoned pancakes. Fast forward a few years, and an equally awful soap slayer by the name of Chuck Pratt took over AMC and decided to kill off the soap's heart and soul, Stuart Chandler (David Canary), in a wacky, whodunit.
Even later, ABC, in its infinite wisdom, decided to move AMC across the country, causing several, popular East Coast stars, including popular leading man Thorsten Kaye (Zach) to say, "What gives?" It's like ABC read from a manual entitled, Soap Opera Killing For Dummies, yet later claimed to not have a clue as to why "viewer attitudes have changed." Okay, I'm getting sidetracked.
So, because three popular and viable characters were killed off, AMC had to come up with a storyline to bring them all back from the dead — at the same time. Over the past few weeks and months, ABC has been managing to do just that via Project Orpheus, a sci-fi storyline about stem cell research that facilitated the returns of Dixie, Zach and this past week Stuart.
Meanwhile, the writers have also been wrapping up an arc that saw beloved heroine Dr. Angie Hubbard (Debbi Morgan) lose her eyesight, only to have her stillborn baby switched with another infant. They were doing this while introducing a new plot that found the iconic Erica Kane (Susan Lucci) penning a second memoir (While being held captive by her doppelganger), that was quickly optioned by Hollyweird. Can I get the number to Erica's literary agent? This was all juxtaposed by the continuing downward spiral of JR Chandler (the brilliant Jacob Young), as the spoiled heir lost his wife, son, company and finally his marbles.
(SPOILER ALERT) In today's episode, the soap's ABC finale, all things finally came to a head in Pine Valley. Angie begged Jesse to let David go, because he performs necromancy, er miracles. Brooke provided Adam with the next best gift he could receive after discovering his twin and conscience was still alive, she bought back his house. Jamie Martin (Justin Bruening) tried his best to reach out to his increasingly out-of-touch stepbrother and Erica Kane once again found herself having to choose between her aspirations and a man that she loves.
The action culminated at a glamorous, last minute party at Chandler manse. Everyone in town was in attendance, including an unhinged JR, who had sent a text to his ex-wife Marissa (Sarah Glendening) and her lover Bianca (Christina Bennett Lind), the two women JR holds most responsible for all that ails him. Or does he? Judging by the nasty exchange he had with his mother earlier in the episode, maybe it's the woman who brought him into the world, JR hates the most? Ungrateful little brat. Just think of all those verses of "You Are My Sunshine" Dixie sang to him!
JR's brain soaked with liquor and self pity, who knows what was truly fueling his demons? I'll tell you who, Agnes Nixon. Perhaps the most therapeutic of all soap writers, Nixon is still an expert at exploring what lies in the hearts of the men and women of Pine Valley, even after 41 years — 21 of which I've watched right along with millions of soap fans.
The Martins, the town's premiere family (Don't tell Aunt Phoebe I said that!), were front and center, with Tad (Michael E. Knight) giving a poignant farewell speech to the viewers who have watched the show for 41 years on ABC, that also encouraged them to stay tuned for what happens next. Friends and family were also happy to learn Angie had her sight back and the Hubbards found out a new baby could on the way. Not quite done with being dastardly, David continued to tease Dixie about his final lab experiment. Who else from Pine Valley's past could he have saved? Maybe they aren't from Pine Valley? Maybe it's Jimmy Hoffa?
Then of course, back to our Erica, the selfish, petulant female version of Peter Pan, who dared to believe her lofty aspirations were (gasp!) just as important as pleasing her man. When La Kane's BFF Opal (Jill Larson) informed her that Jack (Walt Willey) was thinking of calling it a day, after 24 years of loving and losing Erica, the diva did what she does best. She got dolled up, whipped a sideways ponytail together and headed for a party—and a confrontation—that ended with quite a bang.
We won't know who lived to love another day in Pine Valley until January 2012, but one thing is for certain, if Agnes and Lorraine were tasked with giving us something to make us follow All My Children, wherever she ends up — Mission Accomplished.