Saturday, September 24, 2011

TWO DAYS, THREE PASSINGS: SO LONG (FOR NOW), "ALL MY CHILDREN"

On Friday, September 23, I had to say goodbye for the third time in two days. This time, it was farewell to All My Children, 41, a daytime soap I'd watched on and off since 1977, whose final episode aired on the ABC TV network. (Prospect Park has licensed the rights to the show and will debut it online early next year, but most likely without some key characters, including fierce ruling diva Erica Kane, whose portrayer, Susan Lucci, has thus far declined to sign on.)

For me, the final week was a bit hit and mess. After Monday's episode in which Angie Hubbard regained her eyesight, it was all kind of anti-climactic and downhill. It was nice to see Babe again (improbably, Alexa Havins is even more beautiful than I remembered), and dedicating Wednesday's episode to original cast member Mary Fickett (Ruth Martin), who passed away at age 83 on September 8, was a lovely touch.

The cameo by Sarah Michelle Gellar (the original Kendall Hart) as an obnoxious patient in scenes with fellow former-soap-star-turned-prime-time-star Eva La Rue (CSI: Miami) was pointless (she should have played herself auditioning for the role of Kendall, or a young Erica, in the Kane biopic), and the entire Orpheus back-from-the-dead storyline tested my suspension of disbelief a bit too much. I know it was a ploy to redeem Dr. Doom David Hayward, but in my opinion, he was by far the most interesting character on the show and as dastardly as some of his deeds were, he did not need redeeming. Should Vincent Irizarry, his portrayer, return to AMC when it's revived by Prospect Park, he should immediately return to his villainous ways, because every soap needs a complex bad guy you can occasionally root for, played by an actor or actress skilled enough to give him or her many layers.

As for the big reveal that David had been keeping Stuart Chandler alive all these years, it seemed more like a ploy to earn David Canary one final Daytime Emmy than anything else. (I can just imagine the executive producer's pitch: Come out of retirement for a few episodes to appear as both Adam and Stuart Chandler, and we'll guarantee you a career-capping Emmy.) Sweet as he was, Stuart was a secondary character for most of his run, and I'm not really buying everyone's finale-week assertion that he was the heart and soul of Pine Valley when he spent so much time on the backburner. Mona Kane, Myrtle Fargate and Kate Martin must be tossing and turning in their sarcophagi! (Wait, this isn't Days of Our Lives!)

The September 23 finale, though not the highlight of the week, went out with a bang -- literally -- with nearly all of the regular and recurring cast (with the notable exclusion of Caleb Cortlandt and his son Asher, who, inexplicably, have been largely MIA since the cancellation was announced) gathered at the Chandler mansion to celebrate the return from the dead of Stuart. Suddenly, a shot rang out. Then, darkness.

In a nice homage to the greatest soap cliffhanger of all time, instead of "Who shot J.R.?", we got "Who did J.R. shoot?" -- if indeed, J.R. was the one who pulled that trigger. No, J.R. Chandler is really no match for Dallas's J.R. Ewing. Neither is Erica Kane. But only one of them was immortalized in "Get Money," a 1996 rap hit by Junior M.A.F.I.A., in which a young Lil' Kim declared herself "the black Erica Kane."

So much for daytime soaps not having any street cred. Love in the afternoon is just as big in the hood as it is in the suburbs. May it continue to bloom in both places, and online, too.

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