We had been told for months that ALL MY CHILDREN was going to end its run on ABC with a cliffhanger. J.R. had been toting a gun all week, so it seemed like it was probably going to be true. But somehow (rather optimistically) I was hoping it was all just an elaborate ruse. I caught myself hoping that AMC had been able to outsmart me, to impress me with one last, unexpected twist. It didn't happen.
Up until the last few minutes of the episode, I was quite pleased. I thought the first segment was just about perfect, showing the births of characters we saw grow up on the show, many who have had their own children. It truly summed up the multi-generational aspect of AMC and daytime soap operas that many fans, including myself, love. It was probably my favorite daytime soap finale segment since Stu and Jo on SEARCH FOR TOMORROW in 1986.
There were also a number of wonderful, happy moments along the way--Marian being reunited with a very much alive Stuart, Brooke announcing she bought the Chandler mansion, and Adam proposing marriage (Brooke accepts). Some people were even kind to David!
It had many of the feel-good, happy-ending moments that I was yearning for. We had previous characters who had returned, we had the promise of a mystery resolved (who was the woman David was treating?), and maybe even a satisfying conclusion for Erica Kane, Susan Lucci's oft-marrying character who has had Daddy issues since the beginning.
There were also some brilliant lines (the script was amazing). Angie saying "shout it from the roof tops" after three decades was wonderful. Jack recounting the statistics of his life with Erica (to Krystal) was brilliant ("After 24 years, 10 broken engagements, three television shows, two honeymoons, a marriage and a divorce, it looks like Erica and I are finally over.").
But something happened in the last few minutes. They were an awkward mess. We know Prospect Park, the company that has licensed the show for airing on the web, asked the writers to change the ending to a cliffhanger. And those final scenes felt like it was a last second rewrite--just thrown together.
First, the Jack-Erica scenes were a major letdown. I was hoping for some kind of "revelation" from Erica. Perhaps she would choose Jackson or perhaps she would decide she doesn't need a man in her life to be happy (she is "Erica Kane" after all). It was nice seeing her admit she didn't want to get married. But to see her chasing after a man as the final scene (even a guy as wonderful as Jack) wasn't how I wanted to see her go out. "This is not the ending I wanted," Erica shouted. I totally agree. I understand that it could be argued she was very "Erica" to end, but I was just hoping for more.
Then there was the matter of nasty J.R. and his gun. It was a tiny pistol with six bullets so only six people could be shot, and we only heard one shot after a fade to black, but it still felt out of place. Like that was the rewrite. Dixie looked completely different at the party from her earlier scenes, so maybe it was shot much later?
There was no dramatic, slow-motion shot of the gun, or the crowd at the party, assembled by Adam and Brooke at their old (and new) home. The final scene ended as if the TV had come unplugged. It wasn't on par with a good Friday cliffhanger on a normal day, so it obviously wasn't produced well enough to be a finale after 41 years on television.
I really don't think having this cliffhanger ending will get a single new fan to tune into the web version of ALL MY CHILDREN. A few more happy minutes and it would have been just about perfect. Give us a happy ending, create a cool trailer for the web version, and make people want to watch.
Having said all that, I honestly found the finale (until that ending) more satisfying than the final episodes of GUIDING LIGHT and AS THE WORLD TURNS the past two years. GL was wonderful in its final weeks but the last show didn't feel quite as good. ATWT was a shell of its former self, and there were no big returns or flashbacks, or feel good moments, like AMC had today.
So despite the awkward ending, I have to hand it to Agnes Nixon and Lorraine Broderick for making me feel good for most of the episode, for the brilliant dialogue, and especially for that opening segment.
More annoying than the ending was seeing three commercials for THE CHEW during the AMC hour. TV shows no longer give us theme songs with closing credits, but having a CHEW commercial play over the tiny closing AMC credits was such a slap in the face to fans. A totally expected one, of course.
So goodbye to Pine Valley, for now. We can't wait until 2012, when AMC returns on the web, pioneering the TV-to-internet transition in the same way it has broken new ground in so many ways over the years.
That's my take. What is yours? Let us know by filling out our survey on the television finale.
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