From the mid-1970s until the mid-1980s, ABC had a slogan that it used to describe its daytime lineup -- "Love in the Afternoon." It was the era of supercouples, romance, and, I suppose, fantasy. For the longest while, it seemed as though ABC's daytime lineup had become something more like "Gloom and Doom in the Afternoon." Mobsters, murders, paternity test swapping, and lots and lots of unnecessary angst. Not surprisingly, a lot of viewers tuned out. Who wants to be depressed for three hours each day?
Now that both All My Children and One Life to Live have been canceled -- and rumors dog ABC's remaining soap, General Hospital -- it seems that all three soaps have turned back the clock to try to recapture the love. It's a shame that it's taken so long. I'm not big on wondering "what if," but sometimes you do have to take a moment or two to reflect on what might have been. If ABC had allowed the writers of its soaps to have more of a free reign and operate with less interference, I wonder if our soaps would still be facing cancellation. I know from your emails that a lot of you are wondering the same thing.
Since the boss pays me to talk about All My Children, let's focus on all things Pine Valley. It's not going to be possible to make everyone happy as AMC's final few weeks on ABC play out. Tad and Dixie are an iconic AMC couple, but there are some viewers who are rooting for Tad and Cara. Erica and Jackson have been pussyfooting around their relationship for decades, but some AMC fans would prefer to see either Erica or Jack paired up with someone else. And what can I say about Ryan and Greenlee? From what I can tell, there is no middle ground. You either love 'em or you hate 'em.
As we wind down, I would much rather have people arguing over which loves are the greatest than which crook is the biggest jerk. That's not to say that there isn't a place in daytime for a well-thought-out murder mystery. However, at the end of the day it's a safe bet to say that everyone -- even the toughest tough guy among us -- wants to be loved.
Some viewers have given the writers a bit of a rough time over Dixie's second resurrection. People have come back from the dead before, so I'm not quite sure why the Pigeon Hollow native seems to bear the brunt of the boos and hisses. Hopefully, the reactions that Dixie received from her children upon learning of her non-death made those viewers smile.
Kathy/Kate didn't run into her mommy's arms. In fact, she took a step back and looked like she wanted to hide. She did eventually come around, and my heart melted when Kathy asked if it was okay to call Dixie "mommy."
Then there was JR's reaction. Boy, it was nothing near what I expected. I guess having JR shatter into a million pieces would have been the easy way to go. Still, I didn't expect him to reject Dixie the way that he did. I'm not sure if JR's reaction was brought on by hurt or by the alcohol -- or maybe a combination of both. I'm also not sure if JR really believes that Dixie is a look-alike, or if he just doesn't want to allow himself the ability to open his heart only to have it broken again.
How are you supposed to react when your mom comes back from the dead -- for the second time?!
The Tad and Dixie portion of the reunion was stellar -- literally. With All My Children able to venture outside of the studio, the real world park provided the perfect nighttime venue for Tad and Dixie to finally fall back into each other's arms. In the 1990s, the show probably would have interspersed the reunion with stock video footage of a nighttime sky. Not in 2011. The cinematography was perfect, and director Anthony Pascarelli definitely deserves praise.
It was interesting to see how Dixie dealt with knowing that life had continued on without her. She seemingly voiced her "okay" that Tad and found Cara, but who couldn't see her heart breaking? It's also an interesting choice to have Tad not yet tell Dixie the real reason that he married Cara.
I don't know what David put in his mystery medicine, but it sure does have a lot of side effects. Dixie lost the ability to speak for several weeks, and Maria and Zach suffered a bout of amnesia. I suppose either are better than running the risk of getting an eye poked out as a result of the townspeople slurping up the Libidizone.
By now, it should be clear that I love the use of flashbacks. In last week's column, I raved about the flashbacks of Greenlee and Leo's past. This week, I am going to praise the use of the scenes of Zach's childhood. I wasn't really keen on the whole Alexander Cambias, Sr., plot the first time it played out. I can't remember what else was going on around that time, but I remember that the Satin Slayer killings and Hannah's psycho rampage left me cold. I do, however, remember those flashbacks -- and clearly someone else on the writing staff did, too.
As an actor, Thorsten Kaye does "intense" so well. I fully bought into Zach's mental meltdown. It was heartbreaking to see that Zach was so out of it that he couldn't tell Greenlee from Kendall. The questions that Zach asked, both in and out of lucidity, were spot-on. One moment Zach wanted to know how his children were, and the other he asked if Kendall had found someone else. I found it fascinating that one of the first things to cross Zach's mind was that Kendall had moved on, while the same question never seemed to cross Dixie's.
I was absolutely blown away by the Janet and Amanda scenes. There weren't many, but the quality was much more important than the quantity. In her own way, Janet has always tried to do what she thought was best for Amanda. Last week, she finally did what really was best for Amanda.
What made the scenes so incredible? There was the unedited truth -- Amanda telling Janet that Janet's actions had taught her what kind of wife and mother she didn't want to be. There was a message of hope -- that even though Janet and Amanda haven't had the best relationship, there remains the hope that they can get past their differences and start over. There was also incredible chemistry. It is clear that Chrishell Stause and Kate Collins respect each other as actresses. Every time that I've spoken to Chrishell and the topic of Janet has come up, she has always expressed how much she loves working with Kate and how much she enjoys that mother-daughter dynamic. I've never had the privilege of speaking with Kate Collins, but I'd bet that she feels exactly the same way.
"I am just so grateful that I get to be here now," Janet said tearfully as she tried to comfort Amanda. I may be looking too far into things, but I felt like Kate Collins was speaking to more than just that scene. Kate obviously knew that All My Children had been canceled when she agreed to return to the show, and it just felt like that scene spoke to how important it was to be able to celebrate 41 years of amazing history.
There were, however, a few bumps along the way.
I wasn't quite sure why Maya, Mookie, and Colby popped up out of nowhere towards the end of the week. Other than a few passing references to Maya, none of these characters were involved in any story. This may be one of my meaner comments, but I don't think viewers really care about any of the three characters.
I care about Colby, but only in the scope of her being a Chandler. Bring Adam back to town (and allow David to resurrect Stuart) and work Colby back into the fabric of a core family. The "vlogging" and Karaoke-ing just doesn't do it for me.
As for Maya, I want to see her break free of the cycle of abuse that she seems to be stuck in. No one deserves to have someone else put their hands on them. I don't know if the abuse storyline was woven in so that viewers would empathize with Maya and thereby not hate her if and when she takes away little Ellie from Angie and Jesse. I want to see Mookie go to jail for domestic abuse and have Maya leave Pine Valley to start a new life -- alone. I don't want the Hubbards to lose "their" baby.
Fans were critical of the doppelganger plot, so I was a little worried when Jane popped up on the sofa with Jack. At first, I thought that Erica was dressed up as Jane as part of some harebrained scheme. Then when I realized that it really was Jane, I scooted a little closer to the television because I wanted to see how it all played out.
I thought the resolution was more than just satisfactory. Having Jane step up and take responsibility for not only what she had done, but also for what Erica did was a class act. Kidnapping Erica started a whole unfortunate chain of events that otherwise would not have happened. Well, except for the whole stabbing of David Hayward. Let's be real: it was only a matter of time before someone stabbed, shot, or strangled him.
I also liked the final scene of Jane smiling and waving goodbye. It struck me as a classy way to wrap up a story that was a little rough around the edges. Speaking of classy, you guys are always classy with the thoughts and opinions that you share with me each week. I haven't posted any of them in a few weeks, so I wanted to take time out to share some of them this week. Again, I do read every email that you send my way, even if I don't have the chance to reply to every one. If you'd like to share your thoughts, click here and send me an email.
• I wanted to thank you for your column. I have only read it for a year, but I wish I'd found it sooner. I have watch AMC since the first day it started when I was a young girl with my mom. At first I was bothered by all the "dead" people, but now I am just enjoying watching it all. It is far fetched, and since we have seen them dead and talking to people in their dreams in the past, some of it is hard to swallow. Like Dixie. Remember when she welcomed Stuart up in heaven? I just put it aside and watch what they give us. I just love the characters. It's been like my never ending story and I'm so glad that it's been picked up and will continue. I cried when I heard they were taking it off. I watch it on Hulu one or two nights and get all caught up. -- Jill
• I too, can't take my eyes off AMC these days, it is stick-to-my-seat entertainment. Great writing, some fantastic acting (hello, Jacob Young!!) and I am loving ever minute of it. But, and it's a big one, I am so sad that it's all because it's the end. I hope that AMC continues properly once it leaves ABC Daytime, but I am reserving judgement for now. Here's hoping. One thing that really pisses me off though: BC is advertising their stupid new show as if we would be happy to watch that once AMC is gone. Are they kidding? I won't watch it even if it becomes the number one daytime program ever. And to taunt us with it during commercial breaks?! I am just glad I use a pvr! -- Jasmine
• I hope that AMC stays around in any format. Both for the show and to read your column! I have watched the show since the late 70's and have always loved it. You are a great writer and you never cease to crack me up. I have been reading this site forever as I rarely get to watch the show anymore -- I work full time, have three kids and always seem to miss it on the cable reruns! I will continue to read your column, ESPECIALLY if AMC goes with the finger puppet format. Good for me, AND my kids...lol. Thanks again. You rock. -- Kat