Wednesday, January 13, 2010

40 years in Pine Valley

I started watching "All My Children" when I was a kid, because one of my sisters watched it. Even after she stopped watching (but she did eventually name her daughter after one of the characters on the show), I continued to watch it, on and off as I grew up. Since it's always been on Monday through Friday at noon in Los Angeles, I couldn't watch the show when I was in school, but during holidays and summer, I watched again. (This was back in the dark ages before DVRs and VCRs and internet and such.) I grew away from it as I got into high school, and when I was in college, I started catching snippets again. After I was out of college and working, there would be periods of time when I'd tape and watch for a while and then stop. I was usually lured back by a particular story or actor/actress.

So when I heard that the 40th anniversary episode was going to be shown the first week of January, with many appearances by familiar faces, I knew I had to watch.

I just got around to watching it tonight, and they really did a terrific job. The story device of Hayley coming back to do a documentary on Pine Valley was the perfect reason for the retrospective. Having return appearances by favorites like Brooke and Maria and Nina was really a treat.

It was nice to see Ray MacDonnell, who has been with the show from the very beginning, but with the show moving from its long-time home in New York to its new home in Los Angeles at the beginning of the year, he's retiring, and Joe and Ruth are retiring and moving to Florida. It was nice to see him again.

One of the really nice things is that a lot of the people who were on the show a long time ago are either still on the show or have since returned, so the flashbacks from years ago, with the same actors, was terrific.

The fairy tale weddings of Cliff and Nina, of Edmund and Maria, of Noah and Julia, not to mention the very basic wedding of Jesse and Angie - what wonderful memories to relive.

I laughed at the segment where they talked about how many times Adam Chandler and Erica Kane had each been married.

I loved Erica's story of the last time she saw Myrtle and her viewpoint that when Myrtle passed away, Erica's mother Mona just came by to pick her up. That's a lovely image of the two women together, having a great time.

I loved the set-up of Dixie's possible return. Oh, we already know that Cady McClain is coming back as Dixie. But in what incarnation? Poison pancake do-over?

And I loved the mention of losing Julia, with Mateo and Maria. They never really had a chance to address that at the time of Julia's death, since the family was already off-screen, so it was nice for them to have been given this moment, especially with Maria being unable to continue.

There are lots of pre-cursors of things to come - the returns of Jack and Brooke.

And the show ended perfectly, with creator Agnes Nixon reading the poem of All My Children over a montage.

I stopped watching the show on a daily basis again a little while ago, but I still follow the stories (both on-screen and off-screen) via Soap Opera Digest, through their magazine and their Twitter account. I've grown up right along with Pine Valley, sometimes living there, sometimes venturing away, but always returning home.

Happy 40th, All My Children.

The 40th anniversary episode has been posted on YouTube in four segments, which I'm including below.

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