I may be only an occasional fan of All My Children, but I did catch the anniversary episodes this week (January 4th and 5th).
Some quick thoughts on those episodes:
- Many long-term fans expressed mixed feelings or disappointment with the episodes. I can understand why – bringing back all of those actors (Taylor Miller! Julia Barr!) and then not having them interact was stupid.
- But there was something I liked about the format, at least as it applied to the veterans. The scenes with Adam, Erica and Tad showed us very clearly who they were and what their Pine Valley lives were about – something that can get lost in a sea of plot twists and minutae. I also thought this format would make an ideal way to introduce new fans to some of Pine Valley’s complicated, convoluted history.
- Then again, if the writers know who these characters are and can outline and delineate them so beautifully, why the hell can’t they write them that way? Most of Pine Valley’s citizens have swapped personas or bent them beyond believability under the last three head writers (McTavish 3.0, Brown & Esensten, and Chuck Pratt).
- Overall, this documentary format made the veterans look better and richer and the newer characters look more shallow and ill-conceived. Imagine that!
- Julia Barr’s appearance was completely made of win and awesome. I loved EVERY second she was on screen. (Brooke’s snark to Erica was priceless, as was Erica’s reply: “Brooke who?”) Apparently ABC finally pulled a Rip Van Winkle, woke up after a long nap, and realized what a sham it was to have tossed Barr out of Pine Valley so unceremoniously, because she’s coming back to the show later this year.
- Nice pornstache, Laurence Lau!
- It was also a great joy to see James Mitchell, though he looks incredibly frail. Here’s hoping AMC’s new California studio means that we can see Mitchell (who moved to California a few years ago) a few times a year.
- I was never a huge Hayley fan (I was on Team Bridget Reardon, sorry) but Kelly Ripa’s appearance was lovely. She made Adam human, gave Annie a hard time and reminded us of Scott & Colby’s connections to her.
- Even if she hasn’t been absent from our screens much, I enjoyed seeing Jill Larson. In a sea of dumb moves, AMC has been making a few good ones lately, and putting Larson back on contract was one of them.
- A momentary glimpse (via flashback) of Ellen Wheeler (Cindy Chandler – Stuart’s wife and Scott’s mom) – in what had to be a happier time for her professionally.
- Alumni Who Traveled The Farthest For The Least Airtime: Taylor Miller, who is now based here in Chicago, had maybe three lines. But she looks fantastic. I still say launching a Chicago-based soap and tapping into the deep wellspring of talent based her – Miller and Kate Collins, to name two – would be a wonderful idea.
- And the end of the episode was fantastic – Agnes Nixon, of course, reciting the poem she wrote to sum up all my children.
I’m a little late in mentioning it, but there was a fantastic interview with Agnes in Soap Opera Digest two issues ago on AMC’s anniversary. The interview underscored what a smart, thoughtful woman Ms. Nixon is, and includes some interesting tidbits – P&G originally optioned AMC in 1965, a full five years before it debuted as an ABC soap. And a former head of daytime at ABC thought Agnes’ poem for AMC was Biblical verse! The world according to Agnes, indeed.