Just between you and me, the space-time continuum in the world of soaps has always been... a bit off. Some days seem to last for weeks, but somehow "tomorrow" always ends up being a perfectly timed holiday. Children go to summer camp, and come home with teenagers of their own. I haven't quite been able to figure out why, but I strongly suspect that if I do someday manage to crack the code, then a Nobel Prize would certainly be in the offing.
So I suppose that it makes sense that when All My Children returns to the airwaves this spring, some time will have passed in Pine Valley. Five years, to be exact. Obviously, time has passed in the real world -- almost 19 months from the final ABC broadcast through a sometime-in-April airing under Prospect Park's eye. Do we really believe that all of the Chandler mansion revelers have been standing pat in the parlor waiting for us to rejoin them? Of course not.
I've been told by sources that All My Children was never to have picked up from the exact moment that JR fired his gun -- even when Prospect Park attempted its first relaunch of the show back in 2011. Why? It's actually a surprisingly simplistic explanation: not all of the stars who appeared in the final episode of All My Children would be available for the Internet relaunch. If you recall, only a handful of AMC's cast members had signed on with Prospect Park, and others had made plans to join other programs.
We're still in the same predicament all this time later. There are certain stars, like Jacob Young (JR Chandler), who are under contract to another soap. Other stars, like Susan Lucci (Erica Kane), are working on numerous other projects and don't have the immediate availability in their schedules to return full-time to AMC. Still others, who might be available, haven't been asked to return to the show.
Perhaps the easiest option would have been to just recast all of the roles for which actors were not available. A new Erica, a new Kendall, a new Tad, a new... If you aren't already screaming your outrage over those suggestions, you are probably more than well on your way to understanding what they would not have worked.
Let's move on to plan two: alien abduction. Maybe JR's handgun was really a beacon to summon the mother ship. They beamed up all of the characters whose portrayers wouldn't be able to continue. Poof! May the force be with you. Live long and prosper -- and move on. We'd then time warp to 2315 and find a planet of Erica Kane clones living somewhere in a galaxy far, far away. Okay, that probably wouldn't have worked out either.
The third option would be to declare that that last however many years of the show didn't really happen. Erica would wake up one morning and find Bobby -- Martin, that is -- in the shower. Everything was just a dream, or a nightmare induced by some bad food from Krystal's restaurant. That would certainly undo that unaborted, transplanted fetus story debacle.
Somewhere down the list of viable options was the time jump. All My Children will not be the first television program to take a hop, skip, and a jump into the future. Desperate Housewives fast-forwarded, and they didn't lose any of their cast members. It may not be the scenario that fans would have wanted, but it certainly does provide a great many options for the show's writers.
With a five-year gap, viewers have no idea what transpired between the infamous last shot and the current time. Why are certain characters missing? Who did JR really shoot? Viewers are going to be left to their own devices to try to figure it out -- and all the while, the storylines will continue to play out on-screen. Eventually, I'm sure, some of the pieces of the puzzle will fall into place. There will also be key questions that may not be answered for months or even years. I don't know that I want to have all the answers all at once. Think of it as a great mystery novel. You have to keep reading (or watching in this case) to really get all the answers. And with each answer comes another mystery, skillfully crafted by Agnes-tha Christie.
With Agnes Nixon overseeing the development of All My Children (and One Life to Live), you have to believe that these shows are in great hands. They are in the hands of the woman who gave them life. If you can't trust Agnes Nixon to do what's right by the folks of Pine Valley, then there's more to worry about than that weird soapy space-time continuum.
As you're reading this column, the cast and crew of the "new" All My Children is back to work, learning lines from the new writers' scripts, pacing about the new Pine Valley locales created by a new team of set designers, and chatting it up behind-the-scenes with former and new castmates. Not every actor or actress that you'd want to see on-screen will be a part of the show when it relaunches. You may be furious, outraged, and feel like calling for a boycott.
Don't even think about it. Here's why.
I talked with Walt Willey (Jackson Montgomery) and he admitted that he has not yet been asked to reprise his long-time role on AMC. He suspects that "when your character is like a Siamese twin with Erica Kane," you might not be asked back until a deal can be reached with Susan Lucci. Sure, Walt told me that he'd love to be a part of All My Children because he loves the show, his co-workers, his character, and, most importantly, the fans.
However, Walt was quick to point out that some fans had written to him to say that they wouldn't be watching All My Children if he were not a part of its reboot. When I asked him what he thought about that, Walt threw up his hands and sighed.
"I don't understand why anyone would want to boycott All My Children after all the hard work it took to get the shows back in production," Walt offered. "Tune in and support the show, even if your favorites aren't on in the beginning. Eventually when things get up and running, they'll be able to get everyone back under the same roof."
Think of it this way: If you don't tune in and support All My Children, the show will not succeed, and your favorite performer will never be asked to return, because there won't be a show to return to.
So while we wait for a first airdate, continue to spread the word of All My Children's impending return. I am still seeing posts on my Facebook page (as well as the Soap Central Facebook and Twitter pages) from former fans who have no idea that AMC is returning. We can all work out the details on the how and where to view the show when the time gets closer. For now, though, we just need to keep the excitement and momentum building.
I can't tell you how happy it makes me to know that I can once again write a Two Scoops column about the show that started me down this incredibly soapy path. I hope that you're just as excited about its return as I am. If you're willing to put up with me, you'll read even more commentary from me in the future. Of course, everyone will be slightly older by then... but thanks to my research, I'll be about five years younger.