You can't please all of the people all of the time. In the past 16 years of running the Soap Central web site, I've definitely learned that. And, whoo... have I tried. I have to think that the writers of All My Children were left hopelessly in that predicament. How do you wrap up 41 years of history in about 41 minutes of airtime? Do you even bother to tie things up in a pretty little bow when the show isn't really coming to an end?
There are so many questions, and no one right answer. The nebulous, mystical nature of Prospect Park's web-based version of All My Children doesn't help the situation much. Fans have heard tales of a land of Internet soaps filled with gumdrop mountains, cotton candy clouds, and unicorns crafted from sugar cubes. To date, that place seems a far-off fantasy.
September 23rd seemed so far off back in April when ABC announced that it had given up on All My Children. Then the countdown began like, if you'll forgive the rival soap analogy, sands through the hourglass. And now, here we are. For some, we're left under a dark cloud of uncertainty. For others, there's a twinkle of sunlight off in the distance.
I don't understand the venomous, negative reaction to the final episode of All My Children. It may not have been what everyone wanted, but just because something isn't the way that you'd want it to be... that doesn't make it bad or wrong. If you remember a couple of months ago, I offered my own suggestion of how AMC could wrap up its storylines. Here's what I wrote back in July:
I've heard from a couple of AMC sources that Agnes Nixon and Lorraine Broderick had originally planned for All My Children to end with a look into the future. The final episode would have jumped several years into the future to allow fans to see how everyone in Pine Valley was doing. Let's say the show skipped ahead ten years... In theory, fans could have found peace until 2021 before having to wonder what everyone was up to. We all know that none of us would have gone peacefully into the night, but I was just being theoretical. I'm sure hoping that someone out there has found a way to make "e" equal Brian Frons screwed.
I know that Josh Duhamel filmed additional scenes that did not air during his two-day appearance, so he probably would have figured into that future somewhere. Maybe Leo really would have been alive had All My Children itself not been resurrected. Maybe Gillian would have been alive, too. You know what... who's to say? It's all speculation at this point.
So let's focus on what we know.
The days leading up to the finale were incredible. I knew since my trip to the All My Children set in August that one episode in the final week would be devoted to each family. It struck me a little off-guard that there are only four families in Pine Valley. Four. There have been so many surnames over the years, but we were somehow able to lump everyone together in one of four boxes. Maybe there's a subliminal message in that: We're all more alike than we are different, regardless of our last name, race, gender, age, religion, political ascription, or any other label that we apply to ourselves and others.
The Hubbard family's gathering was the most heartfelt tribute to me. It was such a pleasure to see how "Angie and Jesse" turned into Angie, Jesse, Frankie, Randi, Natalia, and Brot. I was even happy to see Maya and Lucy, too. In my head, if Angie and Jesse can't raise Lucy as their own... I imagine that they'll adopt Maya and raise Lucy as their grandchild. I also liked the hope for the future in the final episode, as Randi revealed that she might be pregnant.
I'd have liked to have seen the tribute to the Kane family include a few scenes of Eden Riegel as Bianca and Sarah Michelle Gellar's Kendall. Not because I prefer either one of them in the roles, but rather because they are a part of All My Children history and deserved to be celebrated as such. It is amazing to me how much the Kane family has grown. Did anyone ever think that Miss "Not Exactly the Corner of Hollywood and Vine" would end up as a doting grandmother? Eek! I used the g-word.
Sarah Michelle Gellar and Eva LaRue's cameos, though the campiest of camp, were a lot of fun. Gellar, a mental patient who saw vampires (before they were cool), believed she was Erica Kane's daughter. Maria getting a call from Miami was also a cute wink.
I applaud ABC for quickly taping a special message to dedicate the Wednesday, September 21 episode to Mary Fickett, the show's original Ruth Martin. They certainly didn't have to, but it was the right thing to do.
The scenes between JR and Babe moved me to tears. The scene was teeming with emotion. From the writers' choice of words to the way Alexa Havins tilted her head. Everything was done right.
I was also weepy when Stuart was revealed to be alive. I'd always hoped that the writers would find a way to undo Stuart's death, but it never occurred to me that David might be treating him. When I wrote the Two Scoops column in the wake of Stuart's murder back in May 2009, I lamented that killing Stuart "made no sense to me." Undoing Stuart's death rights one of the greatest wrongs in All My Children history.
Will we ever find out who David's second mystery patient is? I'd like to assume that we will, but it needs to be the right time. I know that idea doesn't sit well with a lot of viewers, but what purpose would be served by revealing the name of the patient as the show tick-tocked its way to its close? David's incredibly evasive response to Dixie's pleas for him to come clean was far more impactful than any name he could have given.
There is no proof that the other person was, in fact, a woman wearing a "B" bracelet. That was all conjured up by Dixie's fuzzy, medicine-induced memory. The woman could barely put two words together for weeks after she yanked the intravenous line from her arm. And we're supposed to take as gospel that she saw a "B?" Maybe the patient's name doesn't start with the letter B, but rather one of the patient's loved ones.
Could the patient be Bess, the daughter that Tad and Dixie lost? That's not even medically possible. I'm sure this goes without saying, but I whipped out my All My Children anniversary book and paged through it looking for names that started with the letter "B." Oddly, there were not that many.
Tad's toast was... so hard to listen to. The speech contained everything that a long-time fan would want to hear. "I always like to think that no matter what [...] all my children [will] always [be] with me," he offered as he fought back tears. Yes, the toast should have been more vibrant considering the on-screen celebration.
Jackson's rejection of Erica was epic. Epic! I've made no secret about wanting to see Erica and Jack ride off into the sunset together. However, I have to tell you that the Gone With the Wind-styled kiss-off was one of the most memorable moments in television history for me. All My Children has spent 41 years making everything about Erica. What Erica wants, Erica gets. Until the very last episode. I found it brilliant. The Scarlett and Rhett analogy was spot-on. Someone needs to get through to Erica, and maybe this was finally the way to do it.
The ending. Where do I begin with the ending? I loved it. I screamed out as the scene abruptly switched to black. You'd have thought that JR had shot me the way I carried on. Prior to this point, the most dramatic, soapy moment in television history was "Who shot JR?" Now, it's "Who did JR shoot?"
I've read all of the comments that called the ending the worst ending ever. I disagree strongly. I think the reaction against the ending is more a reflection of fans hating that they don't know what happened than it was of dissatisfaction with the ending itself. Of course, I'm always open to hearing your thoughts. When you're done reading this week's column, I hope you'll take time out to send me your thoughts on the final week of AMC. I'll post your comments next week in a special "You Scoops" edition of Two Scoops.
As I write this column, I am in the same location that I was when I watched the final episode. I want nothing more than to flip on the television on Monday and find out who was shot. But trust me -- there is no way that I am putting on television and risking catching a view of that show.
We have to remember that All My Children isn't ending forever, even if it seems like it. In four months, the show will pick up where it left off, and everything will be bigger and better than ever. The reason AMC was so good over the past few months is because ABC didn't interfere in the show. The folks who run Prospect Park have to know what they are doing (even if they won't tell us what it is that they are doing). If soaps were truly a dead horse, they wouldn't be going through the motions of offering contracts and shelling out money to purchase the rights to AMC and One Life to Live.
I have no idea who reads this column. That's one of big minuses of the Internet -- the anonymity. I suppose it is a good thing when you have to do all those weird Google searches, and don't want to have to explain why you were looking of Saran Wrap, octopus, and light bulbs at three in the morning.
I do, however, hope that somehow this column finds its way to the cast and crew of All My Children. ABC made the decision to cancel All My Children, but that doesn't mean that the show or anyone who was responsible in putting it together was any less loved or appreciated by the millions of fans who continued to tune in. We didn't desert you. We didn't turn our backs on you. That decision was made for us. We will always support you, and cherish the more than 10,000 hours you've been with us in our homes, dorm rooms, lunchrooms, and computer screens.
To Agnes Nixon: we are so thankful that your show about the residents of a small town in Pennsylvania didn't stay in your desk drawer after you were told that it wasn't an interesting story. It inspired me to continue on after being told that what I was doing on the Internet didn't matter and was a waste of time and money.
Had it not been for All My Children, I could very well have been one of those people that fell through the cracks, lost in a world of what could have been and what should have been. Instead, I have had the opportunity to share my thoughts and my ideas to all of you for the past 16-and-a-half years. It still amazes me to this day that anyone out there chooses to spend time each week reading this column or Soap Central. In the midst of mourning the end of All My Children on broadcast television, I was overwhelmed that people were taking time out to tell me that they'd miss my column. To even have my name mentioned in the same breath as an iconic television show... is unfathomable. It seems almost blasphemous. Either way, I am more grateful than you'll ever know for the love and support that you've shown me. "Thank you" doesn't seem to begin to convey how I feel, but I hope you'll accept those two words knowing that I mean for them to have the power of a million words.
If you have not listened to the All My Children tribute that I put together for Soap Central Live, it would mean a lot to me if you gave it a listen. It wasn't easy to do, and I certainly hope that I did AMC and all of its fans proud. You can listen to it now or download by clicking here.
And, though I know you're probably not willing to take on another cliffhanger, I hope you'll allow me to channel my inner Agnes Nixon/Lorraine Broderick and offer me one last indulgence.
(Cue dramatic music)
Oh, I see how it works. You thought you could get rid of me. Is that the best you've got? You think I'm just going to disappear into the night? Yeah, this may hurt... it hurts like hell. But know this: It may not be tomorrow, it may not be next month, but I will be back. And when I am, you'd better watch out.