Friday, September 23, 2011

OPINION: Thoughts on the ALL MY CHILDREN Television Finale ("This is not the ending I wanted")

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.

- NEWS ROUNDUP SPECIAL: Stories From Across The World About ALL MY CHILDREN & The State of Soaps (Viewer parties everywhere!)
- AMC Finale Survey: Let us know what you thought!
- The End Of ALL MY CHILDREN: Bobby Martin's Revenge?
- Former ALL MY CHILDREN Star Kim Delaney Escorted Off Stage After Disoriented Speech
- "All My Children" and "Erica Kane"Trending On Twitter
- Classic ALL MY CHILDREN articles
- Good-bye Erica Kane: We Love Soaps' Roger Newcomb on Canada's CTV
- Catherine Hickland: Don't Worry About ALL MY CHILDREN, Actors "Just Need A Moment To Decompress"


  1. I feel that the beginning and the middle was great and well worth watching, but wow, I was sooo disappointed as to how it ended. I didn't like the cliffhanger ending, especially since it was their last episode on television. I so wanted to see all the cast including the kids gathered together and actually bidding farewell to all their viewing fans. I absolutely expected an unforgettable that we could etch in our minds as being the most memorable final show. It certainly did not make us feel like they were collectively saying farewell to the television viewing audience, but more like just another daily episode with more story to come. Yes, it may be going on to the internet, but nothing is for certain. I have only heard of a few actors signing on and without all the characters how can AMC be as great as it always was. And, I, for one, am not sure I will take the time to go on my computer to watch it, as it definitely won't be the same on my little computer screen compared to our large TV screen. It just won't be as good. And, I WILL NOT watch ABC daytime anymore.....certainly not the cooking shows which there are too many of already.

    Anyways, I still love All My Children and will miss it dearly, but I do think they could have put a lot more thought in their closing of one of the greatest soap operas ever seen on TV and especially after over four decades of being on daytime television.

    Best of luck to all the actors. Will look forward to seeing some of you on other shows as you branch out, but my fondest wish is that somewhere down the road, that you (All My Children) will return to television once again for all of us to enjoy.

  2. I liked it personally, the ending was awkward but I was still satisfied because: 1) find out who was shot? 2) find out the other person Dr.Davidenstein has stashed...but having said that my question is HOW:
    JY isn't returning as JR, DM isn't returning, SL up in air...Recast JR, maybe Angie, not Erica. The patient I think David is hiding ...Vanessa? Someone close to David?
    Agnes, Lorraine, had a lot of patch work to do to wrap everything up, so I cut them some slack...They did it and I'm satisfied overall.
    We will see. I have to graciously disagree though about the statement on GL's wrapped as it should and I liked the last week to tie loose ends up on family, couples, and friends. I wouldn't wanted it any other way.

  3. I have watched again and finished up my 3rd line in the show and I howled all 3 times was Opal Gardner Cortland

    Opal: "Hold on to your hat...Stuart
    David pulled a miracle rabbit out of his doctor bag"

    Classic Opal

  4. You articulated my disappointment in Erica's finale exactly. I understand the need for a cliffhanger but, all week long it seemed like Erica was going to have one of the two epiphanies that you mentioned.

    Instead, it felt like Jack was humiliating Erica at the party by saying, "I don't give a damn" (of course I get the reference).

    That being said, the opening montage totally moved me to tears. Perhaps, it was the beauty of the opening that set me up for disappointment in the rest of the hour?

  5. AMC fans this is a settle way to still get your point across to Frons, Angela and ABC. I saw this on FB and it's brilliant. It"s being passed along to show our love for AMC.

    Go to the website of "The Chew" and scroll at the bottom of the page and there is a section on bottom left side where it says:

    "What part of the Chew are you most excited about?"

    In the comment box simply put this little ditty and send it to make a point to ABC.....


    The fight isn't over quite yet. You might need to sign up which I did, well worth it to have soap fans show Frons!

  6. Roger, ITA with your critique. It was great until last few minutes

  7. you have got to be kidding the chew i will never watch that show i can not believe that abc thinks that people actually want a show of this sort. I might not even watch abc again all my children and one life to live is the only reason i watched this channel in the first place

  8. Admittedly, I have never watched AMC, but this finale seemed much better to me than the ATWT or GL finales. I loved how they brought all the characters together to interact one last time in a party sequence. This is how ATWT should have ended, with a nice retirement party for Dr. Bob, not with that awful "ordinary day in Oakdale" concept. Still, I don't understand why AMC, ATWT and GL couldn't have ended with some sort of "goodbye and thank you," like the lovely SFT finale.

  9. the only part of the finale I enjoyed was the beginning. Otherwise, it was quite disaappointing. With all due respect to Agnes Nixon, as a JR fan, I'm quite offended at what was done to JR. It didn't have to end that way. At least I didn't have to watch JR kill himself. Whatever happens online, I hope JR lives on, but at least I didn't have to see JR written to kill himself as the last moment of the show.

  10. I hate to burst anyone's soap bubble, but I remain highly skeptical that AMC online will ever see the light of day. I think it's a show that even Dr David can't resurrect.

  11. harlee, I loved GL's final weeks and months and felt there were many great "moments" with a nod to history like Nola blowing a kiss as she was leaving Company or Nola and Vanessa mentioning wearing the same dress. And surprising moments like Phillip finding Alan dead. I just thought the very last episode itself wasn't as good as all those shows leading up to. The script of AMC's last episode was so full of nods to history. I had to watch it a few times to really catch them all.

    Rob, totally agree about ATWT. The finale summed up what I didn't like about it at the end, everyone was isolated instead of the natural conclusion - a retirement party for Bob.

    elle, I really disliked the JR ending too. We watched this kid grow up and we saw him be pretty bad at times but he was psychotic on Friday beyond anything I wanted to see. I wonder what the original (pre-PP) finale had in store for the character.

  12. I was wondering who the other woman patient David was hiding was, too.

  13. My guess is that the pre-PP ending had Babe as David's other patient, but, then with the show continuing and Alexa Havins maybe not wanting to come back permanently, it was changed so that JR only saw her spirit. I also wonder if the abrupt ending to the episode was because JR didn't shoot anyone in the room. Maybe JR shot himself or maybe someone shot JR. I don't think David was in the room with the rest of the party at the end, maybe he saw JR lurking about the mansion and followed him and shot him to keep JR from shooting someone else.

  14. I was pleased with AMC's finale on ABC. I think the cliffhanger was a smart idea. I think ABC should have stayed committed to the two hour send off it had initially agreed to. If it had, I do not think some viewers would have flet things were so rushed. Tad's speech was spot on and Debbi Morgan never looked better. I am excited to follow AMC to the web.

  15. First, to stay on topic, the beginning of the last episode of AMC was good, Tad's speech and having everyone gathered together, good too. But, the ending wasn't what I expected. I understand they wanted a cliffhanger if the show moves online (At this point, it is a big "if", with only 2 actors signing on and many others saying they don't want to continue)but I was expecting something more dramatic, not just JR cowering inside the secret passageway and having the gun going "pop". I could almost see a little flag come out of the gun like maybe a clown would use. The ending had no oomph and was a big letdown.

    As far as ATWT, I agree, that was the biggest letdown of all endings and was a shell of itself. Terrible. The only thing redeeming about that was the globe spinning at the end.

    But, I disagree about GL's ending. I thought it was the best ending for soaps in the most recent years. It was a look into the future and everyone got together at the end and, they were HAPPY and everyone got along. Josh and Reva (Reva saying "always") riding off into the sunset with the lighthouse behind them and "The End" being scrolled across the screen. Also, the beginning of the show with all of the openings over the years. How could you not like it? That hit me more emotionally than anything I have seen since.

  16. To the posted, that's how I viewed GL's last few months more than the last show. It seemed like most of the big moments had already happened and what they were building up to had already happened if that makes any sense. I did enjoy it and when "The End" came on, I lost it. I was just more moved by Phillip finding Alan on that bench and the wedding and many of the pre-finale moments. I do love that, like AMC, everyone got together at the end. I can't believe ATWT didn't do that. And I'm surprised AMC was going to go with a flash forward finale at first since so many shows have now done that (Six Feet Under was probably my fave).

  17. I think you have it completely right when you referred to Search for Tomorrow! The finale of Search for Tomorrow is the perfect Standard; NBC took such great care to craft a finale that was so touching, dignified and elegant. I did not watch the AMC finale yet but having read this commentary it seems that the writing team's intention was to end the show with a grace and elegance similar to Search for Tomorrow's perfect grand finale but then at the 11th hour the powers that be insisted upon a cliffhanger that likely could only be hobbled together hastily.

  18. Roger,

    I agree about all of the moments, like Alan's death, leading up to the end of GL. They were great. And having so many old favorite characters return was great as. "The Four Musketeers" - Mindy, Rick, Beth and Phillip - was a particular favorite. GL was terrible up until the last 6 months and finally sort of resembled the GL we all knew and loved. ATWT was really bad the last year it was on and hardly anyone came back. A party for Bob would have made the most sense. Beating a dead horse here I know, I would have liked Lilly and Holden to have ended up together not in limbo, despite the dislike many had for Noelle Beck, I liked her, but it is the CHARACTERS you are rooting for, just like Reva and Josh on GL, even though Reva was with Jeffery, who I liked as well, Reva and Josh just belonged together with all of the history they had. I just rather have a happy ending like GL did, rather than having blah endings like ATWT and AMC. We all knew AMC was going to have a cliffhanger but there was no real suspense behind it. If there had to be a cliffhanger, they should have shown a few of the characters going down onto the floor, with more action and key word here, suspense, then just having a shot in the dark. There wasn't that big impact for me. AMC did well for the whole week but bombed on the last day. What a shame.

  19. The AMC 'finale' wasn't really a finale, was it? The show IS going to continue on-line, in some form.

    I do cut Agnes Nixon, Lorraine Broderick and (the always forgotten) Addie Walsh with having to piece meal the final few weeks after being told that Prospect Park was going to continue the show. Fans need to remember that this show was taped a month ago and plotted a good month prior to that. Time, thought and of course Frons' God-like approval had to be sought.

    SEARCH did end perfectly, I agree.
    But, it ENDED. AMC isn't ending.

    And, as far as the comment that "NBC took such great care to craft
    a finale that was so touching, dignified and elegant." NBC had
    nothing to do with it. NOTHING.
    It was Pam Long and Addie Walsh.
    ** A note: Brian Frons was the head of NBC at the time. He killed
    SEARCH on NBC, just as he killed it on CBS four years prior.

  20. The opening segment of AMC sold me along with the script. So many old lines "Pine Valley is still not the corner of Hollywood and Vine" and "Shout it from the rooftops". I just felt more care went into the words and that JR business was somehow inserted later and felt totally different.

    Damon and I heard a moving "Shout it from the rooftops" story at the AMC 40th event and I hope to find that video and post it. A man said that line as he died because of Angie. Really touching story so hearing that on Friday made me appreciate the script even more.

  21. Count me among the small number of fans who not just liked it but loved it. I thought it was really quite beautiful. I liked that important stuff was wrapped up (the returns, Angie's sight, etc) but liked the cliffhangers too (who is the other person David has saved? who got shot, if anyone? will Jake and Amanda adopt? what will happen to Jack and Erica?), it just seemed to add a campy/fun sensibility to the show, and AMC has always had that.

    I have lots of things that I wish happened (like Erica finally growing a little and deciding that Jack's happiness was as important as her own) but I'm not the writer. Instead I enjoyed it for what it was. And as someone who has watched the show since the beginning, I didn't feel cheated. Yes, everything was rushed, but everything's been rushed for months (it does seem ironic that the only storyline that wasn't rushed was the Orpheus storyline and that could have used quite a big dose of 'pick up the pace already').

    Best parts - the opening flashbacks on and the kids reciting Agnes' poem. That was beautiful. Marian and Stuart reuniting - beautiful (proving again that fans want to see experienced actors work with great material rather than 20something newbies being paid to learn to act).

    I'm not convinced that the online version is ever going to happen so I'm just thinking of this as the finale until proven wrong.

    In the end, Agnes, Lorraine and Addie fixed a bunch of the idiotic things that past hack headwriters have done to this show and that was really enough for me. I wish we'd had more of Stuart's return but I'm pretty happy that we got it at all.

  22. Regarding Anonymous' comments on Brian Frons and NBC:

    Who knew that Brian Frons was previously at CBS as well as NBC? Wow, I guess when ABC called on Mr. Frons to head ABC Daytime, it must have been very interested in dismantling its daytime line-up. Frons is obviously very adept at having destroyed some very iconic shows.

    I do recall Pamela Long Hammer from other shows (Santa Barbara; and as an actress on Texas). She did not an outstanding job with the Search for Tomorrow finale. It really was the most touching finale for a show of its kind.

  23. I don't like the way AMC ended with a cliffhanger. Everything was going good in the final week until that shot in the dark happened. This was insulting to me as a loyal fan from the beginning in 1970. I would have felt better about AMC closing with all the existing story lines being resolved, good or bad and getting some closure. Especially since there is no 100% guarantee that AMC will actually continue on the internet. That way if I never see it again, I know what happened.

    AMC on TV has been a part of my life & routine for all these years so it is something like loosing a close friend or family member. But since it is a TV show, and it seems they want the viewers to continue to be loyal, it would have made more sense to end the show with some closure to the current story lines and if there is a continuation of AMC then it can start with a clean slate. Especially if they have to recast many of the characters.

    This ending did not make me want to see any more of the "who did JR shoot madness". Just knowing JY is not continuing as JR makes me feel they will use JR as a scapegoat to kill off whatever character(s)they are not able to incorporate in the PP version. I prefer to see how the characters in AMC continue to embark on new journeys in their ever changing lives instead of killing them off.

    And if the PP version takes place and still has the same poor writing with the unrealistic, stupid, and boring story lines that were forced on us viewers for the last few years (which got AMC canceled) then I will not be watching! There were several times in these last few years that I even questioned my own sanity for continuing to watch some of the garbage the writers were putting on us.

    At this point I am truly up in the air on being loyal to AMC or just moving on and letting it go. Right now,I have no confidence that the PP version will be comparable in anyway to the AMC that I used to watch, mainly because of how all of this was handled.

  24. I've read several comment referring to Jack's happiness and the thought leaves me cold.

    Look, obviously this debate could go on for another 41 years - but - Erica has always wanted to be in the movies and I have question Jack's love for her if he can't support her life's wish. From that perspective it would have been great if Erica dumped Jack (which she did, but he got the last word).

    For my money, EON was the most exciting ever. I agree with Roger that the Monday and Tuesday episodes of GL were very fulfilling. Lilian's speech at Maureen's grave comes to mind, as a great ending for a long term character as well as hope that her life would continue forward.

    BTW - Roger congrats on the LA Times quotes.

  25. I have become quite interested in these finales - after my own show, AW was cancelled back in 1999. IMHO, although the program has somewhat of a lease on at least a part of its life, I feel the fans who may not be tuning in via the internet were shortchanged. And bringing all those folks back to life seemed more like a Days trick than AMC... That said - I still feel those final scenes on AW rank among the finest endings - in all the recent cancelled programs... Rachel sighing to Carl, All's Well that Ends Well... to the strains of In This Life from Bette Midler. ("let the World Stop Turning...In this life I was looved by you") I liked GL's finale - lovely scene of Reva and Josh driving off into the sunset with the light-house... Then ATWT had a nifty closing scene with Bob leaving the hospital... (cheap globe turning though...) - so sadly, I put this 4 out of 4. :(

    As for OLTL - I hope ABC changes its ,ind - as I am reading that the ratings are climbing...

    Who knows? Stranger things have happened....

    My sympathies to all the AMC fans. I STILL miss AW - after more than a decade....

  26. I think it stinks that only the Jerica fan basea didn't get a happy ending. I don't care what happens in January, this show rewrites things all the time (they sure forgot that KWAK and family stole Miranda from Bianca for 9 months) but they couldn't marry of JErica and then if PP goes ahead, write something had happened? I think it stunk. Erica should have been a grown up by now, not getting material to do like she was still 17. She looked like a moron. I hope they know they lost a ton of JErica fans last week but maybe they just don't care.

  27. I,m the guy who told Debbie Morgan about the catch phrase she started with " I'll shout it from the rooftops" when we had the 40 yr celebration in NYC last year.
    I was very happy to hear her say that line in the final episode.
    As for the ending, I felt satisfied. We did not need to see Erica and Jack have the happy ending. Remember, it's not really over. The cliffhanger of who did JR shoot kept the drama and excitement going right to the last second. Susan Lucci has compared the role of Erica Kane to Scarlet Ohara for years. If its good enough for Gone With the Wind, it's good enough for AMC.

    The Wind. A lot of thought went into this and I for one say congrats for giving us all the sentiment we needed without making it sappy or contrived. Great toast from Tad just before the spirit of Scarlet and Rhett emerged.
    I love you Debbie, thanks for repeating my favorite line. I'll shout it from the rooftops that All My Children will always be with us, on line or in our hearts.

    the Wind, it's good enough for AMC. I laughed out load when I heard it and love the blackout after the gun shot.
    As the biggest fan of all time, I say let's be happy with what we got. They put a lot of thought in it and didn't want the run of the mill happy ending that some seem to think
    was needed. I think it was creative and wonderful. We still had Tads great toast at the end and all week we have had memories and goodbyes.