I cannot tell you the last time that I was so excited about watching All My Children. Over the past week, I've been anxiously awaiting 1pm so that I could flip on the television and find out what was going to happen next. It is, however, more than just a little bittersweet to know that we needed to wait until just two months before the show's scheduled end to have things become so enrapturing.
On Tuesday of last week, I had to take my car in for an oil change. Before you worry that this is going to become a shop talk column, I assure you there's a point for this story. The women who work in the service center's reception area control the television in the waiting area. For as long as I have been going to the dealer in question, the women have put our local ABC affiliate on when they arrive in the morning, and it stays on that channel all day. That works out well for me because it allows me to watch my soaps while my car is being tended to.
I always sit in the back of the room because it's funny to watch the other people in the waiting room respond to there being a soap opera on the television. The reactions are always fascinating -- too bad I didn't take more psychology classes in college because I'm sure I could have a field day Freud-alizing people. Let me break down the three most interesting types of people that I encounter in the waiting area.
Soapies. There are those customers who, like me, are unabashed soap fans and will make no attempt to hide that they're watching the television. They know what's going on in the various storylines, and they'll occasionally smile or shake/nod their head depending on what's taking place on-screen.
Soapnial. These are the people who watch soaps, but don't want anyone to know. They are in soap denial -- or soapnial. They have their heads buried in one of the month-old magazines that litter the tables in the waiting area, but whenever an interesting plot twist pops up on screen, they take their nose out of their reading material and crane their necks towards the screen to see what's playing out.
Make Sports Not Soaps. There are typically a group of men who make their way in and out who, I think, are secretly looking for the remote control so that they can put on the ballgame. Of course, the remote is hidden somewhere in the office -- and flipping the channel isn't possible. As much as they'll protest there being a soap on the television -- and often they'll make a "What is this crap?" or similar grunt -- they sure do spend an awful lot of time watching.
Anyway, I promised there was a point to this story, so let me get to it. I created something of a minor stir when, at the end of the episode in question, Dixie yanked the intravenous line out of her arm and then started to hobble off. Quietly, under my breath, I mumbled, "Go, Dixie. Go!" As Dixie staggered a little further, my cheers got a little louder. By the time the scene faded to black, I was in full-on rooting. A few people looked at me like I was a crazy person, but there were quite a few that were right there on the sideline with me. One woman even nodded her head approvingly, adding, "She is going to find her husband, Tad." I'm sure I gave her a momentary cross look. Um, lady... I am cheering for Dixie by name. Do you really think I don't know who she's looking for? And do you know who I think I am?
While we may groan and roll our eyes, soaps are so clever at having just the right people cross paths. Brot wasn't around in Pine Valley to know Dixie, so it was perfect that he was the person to find Dixie foraging around the park. Ditto with Angie. Of course Angie knows Dixie, but Angie is now blind -- and she wouldn't expect Dixie to be strolling through the park one day in the merry, merry month of July. Did you catch the look on Dixie's face when she realized that Angie couldn't see her? Dixie looked heartbroken. Cady McClain's facial expressions were spot-on, even with no dialogue to help her along. Finally, Kate has never met her mother. Sure, she's seen photos of Dixie, but that's all. So it was perfectly understandable that everyone dismissed Kate saying that she'd seen Dixie. Dixie's name had been mentioned a lot, and Dixie was probably just on the little girl's mind.
So what do you give the woman who has everything -- mostly because she stole your life and took everything from you? Apparently, forgiveness. I was sort of surprised to hear Erica announce that she wanted Jane and Ben to go on about their lives without having to stand trial for kidnapping her. Is Erica displaying symptoms of Stockholm syndrome? Possibly. I, however, have to think that this is part of Erica's long overdue growing up. Erica Kane is like the Dick Clark of daytime -- she's a perpetual teenager. Instead of showing maturity, Erica often displays the same foolish behavior that she did when she was 18.
Maybe being held captive will bring about some changes, but I wouldn't hold out any hope that folks will be calling Erica "grandmother" any time soon. We'll never know how this storyline would have gone had All My Children not been canceled, but I see this as the storyline that was tweaked to help bring the show to a close. Erica's epiphany about why she acts the way she does was like a neat little bow wrapped around the past 41 years of history.
What I liked best about Erica finally being set free was the aftermath of her big return. Erica's unlikely, over-the-top explanation of why "she" hadn't seemed like herself had me chuckling. When soap fans try to explain plots to other people, it must sound just like Erica's rambling. "Oh, um, I was held prisoner by a woman... but it wasn't a regular woman. It was a fan who had surgically altered her face to look like me. And she recreated my bedroom down to the last detail so that she could, um, have sex with David. But she's gone now. So don't try looking for her." Suuure, Erica. Sure.
What a great twist it was to have Erica's kidnapping storyline intersect with the Orpheus saga. Dixie bangs on the wall, and Erica is on the other side. David learns that Dixie has escaped and calls Ben, Jane's accomplice, to help find her. Truly good soap story needs to have that sort of overlap -- something to connect the stories and characters and hook as many fans as possible.
I've mentioned it before, but I have great respect for Eva LaRue. She has been such a phenomenal supporter of All My Children over the years. She fought to be part of the 40th anniversary special, and she reportedly "begged" to be part of the show leading up to its finale. Anyone who shows that sort of commitment to something deserves respect.
Just a note to ABC: We know that All My Children will be off your network in about two months, but can you pay a little more attention to your promos and commercials? At least two times last week the "teaser" that was played at the halfway mark played the cliffhanger for that day's episode. I understand wanting fans to see what's coming up, but when you pay the last scene of the day, there is no surprise. One day they showed Maria's "return" and the next it was JR staggering towards Dixie.
Speaking of JR, I am such a fan of Jacob Young's work. He has chemistry with just about everyone he's ever worked with, something he shares with his on-screen dad, David Canary. He also plays the role of "arrogant jackass" really well. I mentioned last week how disappointed I was that JR had started to drink again. What I didn't address -- because I wanted to see how the show would write it -- was the underlying storyline involving Bianca and Marissa.
It was a big deal a bunch of years ago when Greenlee referred to Bianca as "Lesbianca." Some folks were outraged that AMC would use what they saw as a derogatory term. Others, of course, didn't see it as a big deal -- and some even chuckle at the nickname. With the stage set for JR to be so angry about the woman he loves leaving him for another woman, I wondered what sort of dialogue would pop up during the show.
For the most part, I've thought JR's reaction -- and the writing surrounding it -- has been really good. I thought his taking shots at Marissa when she and Bianca holding hands was on the money. "Isn't that sweet," JR said with obviously fake compassion. "You have to do all this lady-love stuff in front of our son?" Not only is JR angry, but he's also been drinking, and I am sure that he's going to let loose with a lot of things that he wouldn't have said under other circumstances. It doesn't make them acceptable, but it does make it real. People say all sorts of nonsense when they think no one is listening, or when they have an "excuse."
And then there are those things that come out of the mouths of babes. Marissa was obviously fraught with emotion over how to tell her son, AJ, that she and Bianca were now a couple. After rattling off how several of his friends had two moms or two dads, AJ's concern turned towards whether or not he could have some ice cream.
I was surprised, yet tickled, by a throwaway line in the dialogue between Bianca and Kendall. Kendall was doing everything in her power to try to unload her house -- telling Bianca to take it. Bianca replied, "Okay, that is beyond generous, but maybe you should think about it a little bit more. No matter what they say about how fast lesbians move in together, I don't really want to show up at the first date with the deed to a house."
Asher is addicted to painkillers. Whoop-de-doo. We all saw this storyline coming quite a while back. My guess is that this will be a way to get Caleb and Asher off the canvas. Caleb has no real purpose in story any more -- which is a shame. The character could've been so much more. There are only two possible reasons to keep him around. Caleb is, after all, a Cooney, so they may want to keep him around for Dixie's impending return. The second reason I came up with is Liza. Caleb just hired Liza, and there is some sort of attraction thing going on between them. If Caleb disappears, is Liza going to suddenly run his company the way that she miraculously became district attorney? Those aside, maybe Erica will recommend that Caleb can take Asher off to the Betty Ford Center for treatment.
Maya is now back in little Ellie's orbit. I really thought that we were going to somehow avoid the "That's my baby!" storyline. We still might... but I doubt it. Now that Debbi Morgan has made it known that she's planning to join the cast of The Young and the Restless after AMC wraps production, I have to wonder if we're going to see the last of Angie in Pine Valley. If Maya reveals that Lucy/Ellie is really her baby, Jesse is going to have to come clean about what happened with their baby. Angie might be so upset that she leaves town. Or perhaps Angie and Jesse will leave town together to try to put the painful memory behind them. I have to say that I can't imagine Jesse staying in town after Angie leaves -- and the show better not recast Angie. I mean they could, but they dare not do it.
I suppose that Maya could learn the truth and decide that everything worked out for the best. Knowing that her baby will be taken care of, she can give Jesse her blessing and quietly leave town. When she does, I hope I'm sitting back at the car dealer so that I can chant, "Go, May a! Go!"
I'm about to make my escape for this week, but before I go, here are a few questions for you to consider. Would you accept a new actress playing Angie? How would you want to see the storyline evolve? Do you want Caleb (and/or Asher) to stick around and find some future usefulness in story? Do you think Erica has learned anything from her kidnapping -- or will it only be a matter of time before she's back to her old shenanigans? You know that I love to hear from you, so click here to drop me a line!