All My Children celebrated its 40th anniversary Monday and Tuesday and after watching theepisodes I have to admit my reaction is more than a little conflicted. Obviously, seeing the long absent faces of Kelly Ripa (Hayley Santos), Mark Consuelos (Mateo Santos), Eva La Rue (Maria Santos), Julia Barr(Brooke English), Eden Riegel (Bianca Montgomery), Leven Rambin (Lily Montgomery) and James Mitchell (Palmer Cortlandt) warmed this AMC viewer’s heart. There were also the touching mentions of Myrtle (Eileen Herlie), Mona (Frances Heflin) and Phoebe Wallingford (Ruth Warrick), but did AMC have to waste so much time advancing Chuck Pratt plots that aren't working?
Tuesday’s anniversary episode was filled with great little moments such as Erica saying “Brooke who?,” Palmer telling the camera he knew Opal still loved him, Adam’s inability to keep all of his marriages straight, while Erica was able to rattle off all of her surnames with ease, but on an anniversary episode, did we really need to waste precious screentime on characters like Marissa and Randi?
I enjoyed the mentions of the Glamorama and the Chicken Shack by Opal (Jill Larson) and of course Tempo was brought up. I liked David Hayward (Vincent Irizarry) more in today’s episode as he talked to the camera more than any time since Irizarry’s return.
I appreciated the focus on the Kane women. Seeing Erica talk about her mother Mona and second mother Myrtle was touching. It was also nice touch to have Kendall (Alicia Minshew) and Bianca talk about the trials and tribulations of being Erica Kane’s daughters was fantastic. However, I was disappointed at the lack of Dimitri Marick (Michael Nader). Would it have hurt them to show more of Erica and Dimitri? I realize that Nader and ABC have had their issues, but it was almost as if the Andrassy family never existed.
The Martin family has always been one of my least favorite Pine Valley families, but even I enjoyed their scenes. Seeing Joe (Ray MacDonnnell) and Ruth (Lee Meriwether) was touching, knowing the actors aren’t making the move to L.A. Watching Jake (Ricky Paull Goldin) talk about his love for Amanda (Chrishell Stause) was endearing. Watching Tad (Michael E. Knight) talk about Dixie in a way that made it sound as if Dixie (Cady McClain) might just pop up at any moment will surely have their fans talking for some time.
One major gripe about the episodes, is why did AMC choose to use Amanda Baker’s Babe instead of Alexa Havins when Havins was infinitely more popular? Not using Havins’ Babe also meant that we didn’t get any clips from one of the show’s most notable storylines of the past decade, Miranda’s kidnapping.
Would it have hurt to have Marian (Jennifer Bassey) featured in the episodes? Her husband Stuart was just killed off after all. Could it be that it was too hard to come up with Marion flashbacks that didn’t include Marcy Walker as Liza Colby, instead of the lame little scene we got from Jamie Luner’s Liza?
One bright spot, Melissa Claire Egan’s Annie continues to stand out. Watching her talk to the camera was a reminder of how far both the actress and the character have come. As much as I love Adam and Erica's dynamic, and as much as I miss Adam and Krystal (Bobbie Eakes) as a couple, I must admit that Annie, at least for the time being, seems just what the doctor prescribed for Adam.
All-in-all I’m fairly happy with Tuesday’s episode. While I would have preferred to see All My Children do something much more along the lines of One Life to Live’s 40th anniversary, I have to keep in mind that this was written by Chuck Pratt. That said, bringing back Ripa as Hayley to interview Pine Valley’s most upstanding citizens was a significantly better concept than General Hospital’s 52 second, blink or you’ll miss it, 45th anniversary tribute that was tacked on at the end of an otherwise “normal” episode as if it were an afterthought.
Even as I write this, watching the episode for a second time and hearing Agnes Nixon say those wonderful words “The great and the least, the weak and the strong, the rich and the poor, in sickness and in health, in joy and in sorrow, in tragedy and triumph, you are all my children” makes my quibbles seem insignificant.