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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On today’s episode of AMC, Tad took Kathy home to live with him and his dysfunctionally fun family (Krystal, newly-minted Gen-X’er Colby and baby Jenny) after he was finally released from the hospital with a really bad case of lead poisoning. At the Martin homestead, he set the little girl up in her own room, with her toys and a stuffed animal given to her by her “Mother” (and she wasn’t talking about Julia), even letting her pick out the color they would paint this little girl haven.

So… Tad just swooped in and took Kathy home after telling her he was her daddy and she just accepted it? And, better yet, everyone in town just accepted it?!?! No court filings claiming parental rights? No DNA tests proving Tad and Kathy share the same double helix? He didn’t have to go before a judge, file papers with the court, make a statement under oath, that Kathy was actually Kate?

And Maria Santos, legal guardian to Kathy Mershon, just let him?

Um… WTF?

Are you kidding me? It’s that easy for Tad to take his and Dixie’s child home? Despite the legal guardianship of little Kathy by Maria? Bestowed on her, again legally, by Julia Santos? Who was also the legal guardian of Kathy? In the eyes of the law?!?!

Haven’t we seen real life situations such as this? People have to hire $500 an hour lawyers, who are trained in family law so I’m guessing former DA and current criminal defense attorney Jackson Montgomery might be out of his element here, to file a claim of parental rights with the court. Then they must appear in court and plead their case. Then the judge will render a decision. And if that decision is favorable to the “Petitioner”, the judge decides how to proceed, generally by ordering medical tests done on the “Petitioner” and the minor child in order to prove the “Petitioner’s” claims. Then… well, despite what All My Children, the CSI franchise and the Law & Order shows would have you believe, DNA results don’t come back mere seconds after they’ve been input into the fancy-shmancy DNA printer thingy…

This would require months of legal filings, motions and counter-motions (if Maria wished to keep custody of Kathy), then several weeks of just sitting around waiting until the results of the DNA tests came back, while Kathy could be in California with her legal guardian, or as a ward of the state.

And even then, if the judge so deemed it, since it was in writing that Julia was Kathy’s legal guardian, as evidenced by the LEGALLY BINDING WILL of Kathy’s adoptive mother, and Julia indicated that she made Maria the legal guardian of Kathy, should anything happen to her (like the writer’s killing her off) custody of the minor child could have stayed with Maria Santos-Grey! (of course, as Kathy would have been biologically proven to be Tad’s daughter, I would imagine Tad would have filed for custody, which could have resulted in more legal maneuvering for everyone involved)

But, apparently, Pine Valley does not adhere to the laws of the rest of the county. You say that kid is yours? Hey, no sweat, take her home! No pesky legal fees, filings or decisions for you to worry about here!

The scenes between Michael E. Knight and Alexa Garasimovich have been wonderful, there is no doubting that. And who doesn’t love that Tad found his and Dixie’s lost child? (too bad Dixie can’t be awakened from a coma with the news that “Kathy is your Kate”, though) But, come on… is it so hard to do even a little research?

Really… WTF?*

*thanks to Tracy for initially bringing this WTF? moment to my attention.

Recently on All My Children, the writers have been featuring the older, established characters. The venerable veterans who made the show so incredibly popular back in the 90’s, and even waaaay back into the 80’s. Adam, Erica, Jack, Tad, Dixie (albeit dead), Angie, Jesse, Opal, Julia (albeit killed)…

These are the characters we have a bond with, a connection. Long-time viewers grew up with Tad, Dixie, Angie and Jesse. We watched Palmer and Opal fall in love, Adam steamroll his way through the business world, Erica and Jack spend 17 years in an on-again, off-again relationship (mostly off, but when it was on… it was ON).

So, um… WTF?

Why are you teasing us like this?

Don’t you know there are young, nubile characters going to waste on AMC? Didn’t you SORAS Colby (from 5 to early 20’s) just so you could give us more youth angst? (and dumped an ever-evolving Ambyr Childers in order to cast a poor man’s Ambyr Childers lookalike in the role) You’ve brought back Frankie Hubbard (twice now in recent years), cast a young woman to play a street-smart hooker to get involved with the military vet to mine some angst out of that pairing. There’s the Ryan/Annie debacle that’s looming on the horizon, Kenlee/Zachlee/Aidlee/Zendall drama to explore…

So WTF are you doing? Why are you giving us these wonderful stories with veteran stars, all of whom are doing spectacular work? David Canary and Cady McClain during Adam’s haunting… Susan Lucci playing Erica in the Big House (which has been a ton of fun when you let Erica and her fellow inmates interact)… Michael Knight and Cady McClain, living out the life every Tad and Dixie fan wanted to witness (albeit over years, not a single episode), Darnell Williams and Debbie Morgan bringing Jesse and Angie back to Pine Valley after way too long away. Ray McDonnell as Dr. Joe Martin, the Chief of Staff at Pine Valley Hospital as son Tad fights for his life in one room while Joe must deliver devastating news to a friend in another. And Sydney Penny as a dying Julia Santos, knowing there was no way she would survive, wanting to make sure Kathy was taken care of, giving Krystal instructions on what to do, even as her very life slipped away.

That was All My Children as I remember it from my youth and over the decades. Intriguing, emotional, well-script, brilliantly acted… We cared about these characters. We anxiously awaited each new episode to see how they would react, how they would cope, what they would say…

What are you doing getting my hopes up again? That I might think this could become a daily experience once more? That you’d have us believing it will always be this way and we’ll never get mired back in the same old tired storylines that have been hashed and re-hashed over the last year or so…

Seriously… WTF?

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?

So on Tuesday’s episode, May 27, 2008, the action/adventure edition of All My Children is in full swing. Tad has been shot by his dear old Uncle Robert (nothing says “family” like a .9mm slug to the chest), Angie is in a spinning helicopter with Uncle Bob and Jesse makes a death-defying leap from the roof of the Seasons Hotel and Casino to one of the chopper’s landing skids in an effort to save his beloved Angie’s life. (hey, they just got remarried, I guess this is his way of saying he’s committed to making the marriage work this time)

On a related note, Julia Santos-Keefer is at Pine Valley Hospital with a mortal gunshot wound to the abdomen and will die today. But since that kind of makes me mad and sad at the same time, I will ignore it for today’s WTF? segment.

Let me preface this by saying that, as far soap opera action/adventure sequences go, this was quite well done. The helicopter, Jesse’s leap from the hotel roof to the chopper’s landing skid, the city scene below the spinning chopper, the action and the acting was all very, very good. And the episode as a whole, save for Greenlee laying a big ol’ wet one on Zach, was very well done, especially the aforementioned death of Julia Santos-Keefer… and the fact that Tad was really in pain from a bullet wound and going into shock, much how I imagine getting shot must really be like. Unfortunately, all it takes is one WTF? moment to throw the rest of the show off kilter…

And away we go…

Anyway… back the Seasons Hotel and Casino, which, I had no idea was so tall and could accommodate helicopters landing on the roof, but I digress. As the cliffhanger picked up on Tuesday, Jesse made the leap by his fingernails and clung to the chopper as Uncle Bob spun it in circles, obviously thinking this is the recommended method for chopper lift-offs from hotel roofs while your kidnapped bride co-pilot screams like a little girl (which, granted, I probably would do, too, after puking on Uncle Bob’s shoes, but, again, I digress). Jesse manages to haul himself up on the landing skid, yank open the door and pull crazy Uncle Bob from the chopper, sending him flying through the air with the greatest of ease until he lands with a “thud” on the hotel roof below. (This also allowed Darnell Williams to deliver the best one-liner of the day as Robert Gardner fell: “You shoulda used your seatbelt!”)

Meanwhile, back on the roof, Tad’s gunshot wound is quite grave and he’s lucky to have not one but two, count ‘em TWO, doctors right there with him and they rush to save his life. Dixie descends from the heavens right about now, imploring her beloved Tad to hang in there, not to die, that their daughter needs them, all the while staying well out of the floating way of Brother Jake and Frankie Hubbard.

Across this same roof, Uncle Pancake- er, Uncle Robert has awakened from his helicopter plunge-induced nap. At this point, it appears safe to say that the man has very bouncy internal organs since he has survived an approximately 75-100 foot fall from a spinning airborne helicopter onto the uneven, tar paper and HVAC unit-covered roof of a luxury hotel without so much as a scratch. And, yet, this is not the actual WTF moment…

No, my friends, this is merely the beginning…

As Uncle Robert regains what little senses he once had, he begins crawling towards his gun… Which has magically transformed from a .9mm Sig Sauer P229 (official FBI issue service weapon, so kudos on the research here) into a .357 Magnum revolver. (kudos revoked on the continuity here)

Uncle Robert’s pistol, a standard issue Sig Sauer, has morphed into Dirty Harry’s weapon of choice. So, he went from a capacity of 20+ rounds (which is approximately what he fired off on Friday without reloading, yet another delightful AMC WTF? moment) to a 6-shot revolver… I’m assuming this is his gun because there was no one else firing back at him during the so-called gunfight on Friday’s cliffhanger episode, which would make him the only armed person on the hotel roof.

So, um… WTF?

On Friday, Robert Gardner is an FBI agent with an FBI-issued .9 millimeter pistol. I know it’s a .9 millimeter because I saw it in his hand as he was firing off shots at anything that moved. And through the magic of WTF? he was also able to load much more ammunition into said semi-automatic pistol because he squeezed off way more shots than even the extended 15-round magazine a Sig Sauer P229 can hold. Then, on Tuesday, after a death defying plummet from a gyrating helicopter and it’s slice-and-dice spinning rotors to a roof top about 75-100 feet below, in which he failed to stick the landing, his gun became a 6-shot .357 Magnum revolver… Which, by the way, should have been empty of live rounds anyway, since he fired the .9mm before its magical transformation way more times than a .9mm is even capable of!

He did not appear to be injured, not even bleeding from the nose or mouth (what, he didn’t even bite his lip by accident upon impact?) just a little stunned. He fought with Frankie Hubbard for a few moments until all the excitement finally caught up with him and he got very tired, especially after Frankie delivered a perfect headbutt (which, I guess, is rather understandable, considering he’d had such a busy day), and he was finally apprehended by the PVPD, who had finally shown up on the scene… Late as usual…

So… apparently, Cambias is working on a Transformer .9mm Sig Sauer* to go along with the transporter they have nearly perfected to get people from one side of the planet to the other in a matter of minutes. I’m assuming that this new breed of weapon will also transform into a yellow Camaro and you can drive away in it when need be.

I guess this feature is still in the developmental stages, otherwise Uncle Robert would be on the highway to Darfur by now…

*Also comes with a full- jointed Shia LeBeouf action figure, Josh Duhamel figure sold separately…

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