On Friday, September 23rd, the last network airing of All My Children began at 12 Noon Central Standard Time. An hour later, it was over. The scheming, the lying, the loving, the surviving, the happy, the sad, the highs, the lows, the tragedy and the triumph.

Erica Kane, the Diva of Pine Valley, finally got her comeuppance when Jackson Montgomery finally, after years of pursuit, responded to her plea that she needed and loved him with an homage worthy of Gone With the Wind.  (“Frankly, Erica, I don’t give a damn what you need.” Aaaand exit – stage left). David Hayward, the Scourge of Pine Valley, resurrected several dozen people (at least it felt that way), including Dixie Cooney-Martin and Stuart Chandler, both done in via terrible writing by past writing regimes and approval of the Executive Producer (*coughJulieHananCarrutherscough*) and Zach Slater, half of the Zendall Supercouple both beloved and reviled across soapdom. Bianca Montgomery, the Moral Center of Pine Valley, finally, seemingly, got a happy ending. Adam and Brooke returned, as did Joe and Ruth.  And Jamie, albeit briefly. Tad and Dixie got back together, Jake and Amanda stayed together, David knocked up Cara and JR got a gun…

The show ended with a cliffhanger of sorts, as JR, mad as hell and apparently not going to take it anymore (no matter how stupid, selfish and alcohol-fueled) hid in the Chandler Mansion’s infamous tunnels and fired one single shot into the crowd of PV revelers as the screen faded to black. Who was shot? We don’t know. Why? Because the show will move on-line in January and Agnes Nixon, creator and headwriter, and Prospect Park, new owners of the venerable soap, wanted it that way.

While I didn’t agree with the ending, I understand why they did it. I’m just sad that such a time-honored icon went out with more of a whimper than a bang (no pun intended).  I understand that the cliffhanger aspect will hopefully keep people guessing until the show re-appears, it also could have the opposite effect in that as time passes, it’s possible no one will care what happened to whom by the time January rolls around. I think a finale tied up in a nice, neat bow would have worked just as well. Because while the cliffhanger keeps people guessing, the time that passes between now and January, in real time, would also allow the characters’ feelings to change, lives to begin and end and the world to continue turning (with apologies to another great, yet canceled, show). The show could then pick up from there, re-booting with an explanation of who and why without having to deal with death and destruction from the outset.

But that is neither here nor there.

What IS here and there is that this venerable show was removed from our airwaves after 41 years. Saying good-bye to such a dear friend has been hard. For every Daytime Television Executive intent on killing daytime serials one long-running, scripted show at a time for cheap, boring, horrible “reality television”, there are hundreds, possibly thousands, of long-time viewers who have incredible memories to share about their “stories”.  Women who grew up watching with their mothers, grandmothers, friends, family. Men and women who remember scheduling college classes around their favorites. An entire generation of teens struggling with their sexuality…

All My Children wasn’t just entertainment. It told the story of us, our neighbors, our families, our friends. It was timely and relevant. It told the story of legalized abortion (Erica had one in 1973, the first legal one on daytime television following the passage of Roe v. Wade- ridiculously undone in 2005), opposition to the Vietnam War (for which the late Mary Fickett won Daytime’s first Emmy Award), teen homosexuality (delicately and beautifully written by show creator Agnes Nixon and portrayed by Eden Riegel) and the stigma of Aids (heartbreakingly performed by David Canary and Ellen Wheeler). The show handled both drama and comedy, many times excelling at the latter at the expense of the former. It taught tolerance, respect and love.  It bridged generations and taught us all a few lessons we sorely needed to learn.

For me, All My Children was a lifetime friend. I began watching during the scorching hot summers of my youth, hiding in the air conditioning during the heart of the day and losing myself in Pine Valley, before following that up with the rest of the ABC Daytime line-up.  My senior year of high school, my schedule allowed me to be home by 11:30 where I would watch the shows before returning to school at 3:30 for basketball practice. I watched during my lunch hour all through college and as often as I could when I joined the workforce in a time before DVR’s- or even VCR’s. I grew up with Jenny and Greg, Angie and Jesse, Liza, Amanda and the entire teen set from the early 80’s. I loved the Cliff and Nina love story, the hilarity of Erica, Janet, Skye and Marian trying to hide the supposedly dead body of Dr. Jonathan Kinder and the incredibly told story of Stuart and Cindy.

I watched Tad and Dixie’s relationship evolve into one of the most enduring on Daytime television, persevering through 2 deaths (both Dixie’s) only to be reunited in the end, as it should be. I watched almost all of Erica’s marriages begin… and end.

I made it through chemotherapy sessions in the summer of 2005 with the help of Kendall and Greenlee (Alicia Minshew and Rebecca Budig), affectionately known as Kenlee, watching them work their way through hatred and friendship, humor and tears, and equally tormenting Erica Kane in the process.

I cheered when couples I loved finally got together, I railed when poor storytelling made my favorite characters seem so foreign to me. I wrote the press, I wrote the show, I wrote the actors. I’ve watched through good times and some really bad clunker stories. I admit to walking away because of the reign of horror we were subjected to by one Charles Pratt and his offensive, insipid, insulting and ridiculous vision for the show. I came back because, like a long-lost friend, I missed it so much.

I’ve been lucky enough to meet so many stars of the show, Alicia Minshew, Thorsten Kaye, the irrepressible Michael E. Knight.  Michael even gave me 20 Disney bucks when he heard we had arrived at the park at 3am so I could grab some breakfast when I was done. I used the money to buy a Mickey Mouse t-shirt, instead…

I met some the of the best friends I’ve ever had at a Message Board dedicated to the pairing of Bianca and Maggie (the Supercouple known as BAM – portrayed by Eden and Elizabeth Hendrickson).  They were there for me as I battled cancer and hugged me tightly whenever we got together.

I’ve been honored to find myself one of the founding members of Eden Riegel’s Official Fan Club (AbsoluteEden.com) and have had the opportunity to know Eden and her husband, Andrew Miller, as well as her mother, Lenore.

I watched the final week of All My Children alternating between laughter and tears, finally coming to that realization that, come Monday at noon, there would be no need to make sure my television was on and tuned to ABC. I thought of the friends I made way back in the late 70’s during those hot summer days, who came into my house every day to entertain me, the ones who have long since passed and those we have recently mourned. I admittedly wept when thinking of those who I may never see again as they have been to me for 30+ years.

I sighed when I dried my tears and prepared myself to do this again in a few months when we say good-bye to another life-long friend.

And I smiled when I remembered what All My Children has meant to me for more than half my life.

Good bye, my dear, dear friend. I thank you for all that you have given me.

May we meet again soon.

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So, Monday’s episode of All My Children found Tad Martin in a deep sleep that allowed him and ghostDixie to live out their lives had the idiots in cha- er, the powers that be at AMC not killed off Dixie by means of pancake in the winter of 2007. Tad and Dixie married, had Kate to raise, watched her grow and blossom, marry and give birth, and through it all Tad and Dixie had that wonderful sense of humor and obvious affection for each other that the fans always seemed to enjoy.

*sigh*

These wonderful scenes of one of the most popular couples on daytime television almost gives AMC a pass for this week, but, nope, they just couldn’t help themselves.

Tad was ready, willing and able, in his unconscious state, to give it all up to venture with Dixie into eternity. He actually had no qualms about it. Given the chance, I think he would have left a vapor trail getting the hell, as it were, out of Pine Valley. But just as Tad prepared to “go into the light” with Dixie, here comes Adam. Because, you know, Adam can’t let someone else have all of the spotlight, even someone with a tube down his throat. He’s going to save Tad’s life by whispering three little words into Tad’s ear.

No, not “I love you”, which, honestly, would have made for a much more interesting storyline, but “Kathy is Kate”.

And he does just this. At which point, Dixie realizes her time with Tad is up and she quickly disappears into the mist. Tad miraculously opens his eyes, in Pine Valley Hospital recovering from a gunshot wound that nearly killed him, back in the land of the living murmuring “Kate?” who is Kathy, who really is Kate…

WTF? Really? Haven’t we seen this before? Twice?

Please tell me the writers couldn’t dream up a better – or at least somewhat new and original – scenario for getting Tad and Kate together… please tell me they didn’t use the “give them their missing child and they’ll magically wake up from their very deep, very tired sleep” routine…

Nope… they did…

Didn’t this tactic already get used when Bianca was in her coma and Miranda was still Bess? Didn’t Adam do the right thing then, too, and hand the baby over to Erica, who so lovingly put her in a failing Bianca’s arms, imploring her to wake up because Miranda was alive and wake up she did (quite perkily and fresh-looking, I might add) murmuring Miranda’s name, much like Tad just did?

Except, he murmured “Kate?” instead of “Miranda?” but it was basically the exact same scene

Oh, wait, didn’t Kendall come out of her coma (what is it with Kane women and comas anyway?) when implored by loved ones to fight for Spike and Ian? Including Bianca, who knows first hand how well this particular tactic actually works?

Are you kidding me? The writing staff at AMC couldn’t have come up with something we haven’t seen already? This is as original as they can get? Is it really that freakin’ hard?

How about, Tad wakes up and he’s very woozy and Adam taunts him, thinking he’s going to die any minute, that Kathy is Kate. Or, how about Adam’s got his back to Tad and is telling someone, in that delightfully condescending way that he has, that Kathy is Kate just as Tad comes out of the his coma and just happens overhears this revelation.

See? In a couple minutes, I came up with a couple new and different ways to accomplish this reveal. Not exactly brand spanking new, but something a little different…

Okay, so, they want to give us Tad and Dixie, for which I am grateful, but with this scenario they tossed off, Dixie didn’t even get a fantastic exit! They both hear Adam’s declaration, Dixie knows it’s over and *poof*, she’s gone, disappearing into the mist (instead of the light that Tad wanted to head into, but, hey, that’s really being nit-picky).

Kinda like when they killed Dixie initially… No fantastic exit, just a breakfast of peanut butter-banana pancakes (which, really, yuck). Why didn’t they put her in a coma so that one day, after Tad figured out that Kathy was Kate, he could go to her beside, put the little girl in Dixie’s arms and whisper “It’s Kate, Dixie. Kathy is your Kate.”

And, miracles! Dixie awakens…

Now wouldn’t that have been more original?

We start here, but, rest assured, there will be more:

The Satin Slayer – not that the serial killer storyline isn’t a great device for trimming down a bloated cast, but come on… Alex Cambias, Senior… who died… and was cremated… was actually still alive and was the lunatic murderer? Please. He plunged chemicals into the necks of unsuspecting women all over Fusion just to get back at his son, Zach Slater, who had nothing to do with Fusion save the fact that his wife, Kendall Hart, was co-owner of Fusion and was married to Zach instead of to Alex’s Man-Crush, Ryan Lavery? Really? And they had to kill one of the most beloved characters in daytime television history in Dixie Cooney-Martin to accomplish this lame-o storyline? Not only that, they killed her with pancakes? Pancakes?! Peanut butter-banana pancakes?!?!?

Um, WTF?

The Idiots in Char- er, the production and writing staff at AMC decided this would be a great idea for a retched storyline. Kill off an idolized and much beloved character to give the sinking (stinking?) plot a lift. Well, it gave it a lift, alright, sending loyal viewers into a frenzy and causing them to bolt the show in droves. Tad and Dixie fans were outraged, long-time viewers furious. And recently, Producer Julie Hanan-Carruthers admitted she made a mistake when ex-headwriter Megan McTavish came to her with this moronic idea and she let her actually write it!

So, death by pancake it shall be.

Then they proceeded to toss a red herring at us and let us mistakenly believe that Babe Carey-Chandler-Chandler had become a victim of this heinous killer (oh, would that it were). At this time, when Babe lay in a make-shift hospital bed in the basement of the Seasons Casino, because I understand many casino basements are quite sterile, the much-beloved town lesbian Bianca Montgomery comes to a realization. You know, she thinks, it wasn’t all that bad that Babe took my child and raised her for 9+ months, letting me think my baby was dead and that this incredible bond I had with Babe’s child was just one of those things. (Babe actually thought the way to make this all better, without revealing the fact that Baby Chandler was actually Miranda, was to make Bianca the Godmother to her own child. Yep, that’s good enough for me!) So she rushes to Babe’s side and forgives her. Forgives her for stealing her child! Are you kidding me?!? Too bad that while Bianca was there forgiving Babe for this slight indiscretion, she couldn’t have poked around in the corners of the basement and looked for the pod that contained the real Bianca, because the sane viewers who were still watching AMC at that time really missed her. (I could really get into the whole forgiving of Babe and not giving Maggie the time of day thing here, but that’s another story for another day)

Anyway, back to the Satin Slayer (which, I still can help but laugh whenever I say that… seriously, if you were a maniacal spree killer, wouldn’t you be furious if the press anointed you the Satin Slayer? “What?!?! They’re calling me the Satin Slayer?!? I sound like a weenie!!”). So, dead and buried (and cremated) Alex Cambias, Sr., comes back from the dead and buried (and cremated) to exact his revenge on Alex Cambias, Jr. (aka Zach Slater), for faking his death, lo, those many years ago… Alex, Senior, thinks Ryan Lavery is more of a man than Alex, Junior, and is literally a god in human form (and, apparently, so did Megan McTavish, because she shoved this information down our throats on a repeated basis), so to get back at his son, he started killing random women… Yeah, I think he had a shot at that insanity defense even before he got gunned down. You know what, Senior? You love Ryan so d*mn much, why don’t you marry him?

While the entire town is on the hunt for the Satin Slayer (*giggle*), resident Transgender Rock Star Zarf/Zoe goes to the cemetery to visit Babe’s grave (Zarf/Zoe hasn’t been let in on the secret that Babe’s still alive and kicking over in the Seasons basement) and gets beaten to a literal pulp by, presumably, the Satin Slayer (*snicker*). During said beating, Zarf/Zoe looks up at his/her attacker and says “You!” as if he/she knows who is delivering such a vicious beating. Well, the interesting thing here is, Zarf/Zoe didn’t know who Alex Cambias, Sr., is or was. So how did he/she recognize that it was Alex Cambias, Sr., laying such a beat-down on him/her?

Really… WTF?

This storyline was riddled with holes and implausible moments. I mean, okay, I get coming back from the dead, a favorite plot device for bringing back beloved characters and the actors who portray them, but most of these haven’t been cremated! And Alex Cambias, Sr., wasn’t on the AMC canvas in recent months- or years, if you want to really pick nits- let alone a beloved character. Let’s face it, other than to explain what Ryan had been doing while gone from Pine Valley and siring both evil Michael Cambias and gorgeous Zach Slater, what importance did Alex Cambias, Sr., himself ever add to AMC? (well, other than Ryan’s God-complex and Miranda’s inheritance)

And when Alex, Sr., was on AMC, he was a benevolent man who was mortified by son Michael’s actions and regretted until his dying breath what Michael had done to Bianca, Erica and the entire town of Pine Valley. So, now he comes back to terrorize the very same city? Because his other son, who never even lived there until a couple years ago, pretended to be dead? Just… out of the blue (and after years of being dead) he’s become a murdering sociopath?

Really?

WTF?

I can just imagine what happened in the warroom when this storyline was introduced.

Headwriter: Okay, we’re going to do a serial killer storyline because I think it’s time.
Writer 1: Who are you killing off?
Headwriter: Oh, just a couple of dead weight characters.
Writer 2: Oh, okay.
Headwriter: Yeah… Oh, and the much beloved Dixie… and the beloved Simone… yeah, and Erin Lavery…
Writer 1: What?!
Writer 2: I think I’m going to call in sick the day you write that one.
Writer 1: Who’s the killer?
Headwriter: Well, I don’t want to waste any of my pets- er, anyone valuable on the show, so I’m going to bring back a character that no one will expect.
Writer 2: Why?
Headwriter: Because it’ll be a big surprise!
Writer 1: So, who is it? Oh, I know, Petey Cortland!
Headwriter: Nope.
Writer 2: Greenlee!
Headwriter: Oh, no, I’ve got plans for that character! BIG plans! Everyone will hate her when I’m finished with her!
Writer 1: So, who is it?
Writer 2: Yeah, who’s the killer?
Headwriter: They’re going to be called the Satin Slayer-
Writer 1: What? Are you kidding?
Writer 2: That’s the stupidest name ever!
Headwriter: Stop laughing!
Writer 2: Tell us, we promise to stop laughing.
Headwriter: It’s… Alex Cambias, Senior!
Writer 1: *blink* Who?
Writer 2: Wasn’t he cremated about 4 years ago?
Headwriter: Back from the dead!
Writer 2: Wait, he was cremated! You know, reduced to ashes and put in a little can?
Headwriter: Yeah, and Erica had an abortion once, but that changed, too, didn’t it? What’s your point?
Writer 1: WTF?

Yeah… Seriously… WTF?