Monday, September 26, 2011

Who J.R. Shot . . .

All My Children said farewell last Friday with a touching, humorous and dramatic final episode.  *Spoiler Alert* - If you are an AMC fan and haven't watched yet, you want to stop reading now. If you're not an AMC fan, or fan of any soap, you may still want to stop reading now before you become convinced that I've lost my mind.  Fellow soap addicts will share my pain.  

With a wink and a nod to the famous "Who shot J.R.?" Dallas cliffhanger that kept the country talking through the summer of 1980, All My Children faded to black with the sound of a gunshot aimed at a room full of familiar characters, and left fans to wonder Who J.R. Shot?

The final episode also paid homage to some famous last words:  Erica Caine, who has been fighting to get out of sleepy Pine Valley and into the bright lights of Hollywood since Episode One in 1970, finally got her chance, but had to choose between her career and her long-suffering once-husband and current-fiance, Jackson.  When, in the final moments of the show, she choose the movies, Jackson stormed from the house as Erica called, "Come back.  I need you."  Pausing in the doorway, Jackson turned back, focused Erica in his best Rhett Butler stare, and growled, "Frankly, Erica, I don't give a damn what you need."  Not to be upstaged, Erica stood in shock as she watched Jackson leave, then tossed out her own one-liner:  "This isn't the ending I wanted." 

The final scenes brought back memories. Along with some newer characters, familiar faces Adam Chandler, Stuart Chandler, Brook English, Joe and Ruth Martin, Tad Martin, Erica Caine, Jessie and Angie Hubbard, and Opal Cortlandt  - all of whom gave been in Pine Valley for anywhere from 25 to 40 years - gathered at Chandler Mansion.  Meanwhile,  J.R. roamed the secret passages behind the walls (what soap opera mansion is complete without secret passages?) with a gun, a bottle of whiskey and a huge chip on his shoulder.  Oblivious to the lurking danger, Tad gave a speech that was my favorite part of the show:

At a time like this, there's always so much you want to say, so many people that mean so much, and you can't find the words.  But I've been thinking about it and I've come up with three - neighbors, family, friends.  i found all of them here.  It's been my home - the best years of my life . . . Then again there are all these amazing people who should be here and aren't, that deserve to be here, that have meant so much . . . And my dear, dear friends - what would I do without you?  I met you back in high school and now we all have kids that said goodbye to high school a long time ago . . . Tragedy, triumph, we come together.  I wish the rest of my kids were here to see this, cause this is something to remember, folks.  We'll be talking about this for a long time.  But then again, I always like to think that, no matter what, the family, and all my children, are always with me.

The J.R. cliffhanger, as well as the mystery of Dr. David Hayward's final back-from-the-dead patient, will, I assume, be resolved in the on-line continuation of the show, which debuts sometime after the first of the year.  

As corny as it sounds, these characters have been my neighbors and friends for over thirty years and I'll miss them.  I started watching during summers and school vacations - I truly "met them back in high school", then moved to VCR recordings watched during evenings and weekends.  Later I watched as babies napped.  As the kids grew, my watching became sporadic, but there was something comforting in tuning in occasionally and finding familiar faces.  Tad's reminder of characters from the past brought memories of Phoebe Tyler Wallingford, Linc and Kitty, Palmer Cortlandt, Myrtle Fargate . . .
But, my sadness at the ending of All My Children isn't so much about the actual loss of this story as it is about change.  
I can continue to visit Pine Valley through the web-version when it starts, but it's a change - an ending.  I've never been a huge fan of change, and the world seems to be throwing it out there faster and faster. Soap Operas that were were leaders in presenting social issues on tv and were considered scandalous for it, are no longer racy enough to be considered interesting or modern.  They are being replaced by the "reality" of half-dressed women pulling hair, drunken brawls and ubiquitous profanities.  In real life, kids grow up, people pass away, new priorities squeeze out old ones.  So many things that I've taken for granted are now gone.  As I said when the cancellation of All My Children and One Life to Live was announced back in July, I'm sad because it's one more piece of my youth vanished, one more constant that no longer is.


  1. I've watched since Day One--or at least as much as I could between school and work. But I've always kept up with it--even when the Army sent us to Italy for 3 years and we had no TV. Thank goodness for Soap Opera Digest! I have to admit to being extremely disappointed in the ending. David Hayward bringing all those supposedly dead people back was too much.

  2. Great! Thanks for the update - I wasn't a constant follower of AMC - but - - - hate to lose those icons of our younger days!

  3. Okay, I will have to star this and read it later. I haven't finished watching it yet. I have about 5 more to watch.