January 8, 2010By Michael Karol Posted: Jan 8, 2010
After several years of losing its way, ALL MY CHILDREN finally found its footing (appropriately, on its 40th birthday) with a salute to Pine Valley, as represented by many of its citizens, past and present.
What made the show a present for the longtime fan was that, in letting Tad, Brooke, Erica, Adam, Jesse, Angie, Maria, Opal, Palmer, Krystal, JR et al speak from their hearts, the show got its heart back. It reminded us why we watch soap operas to begin with: to see a reflection of life, of our own lives, and to spend some time with people who, good or bad, remind us of our own human flaws and strengths.
The documentary form — Hayley presented a profile of Pine Valley, "The Best Town in America," as spoken by its citizens — was perfect. The show leaned toward the sentimental, but that was to be expected. The unexpected humor was a greater, welcome surprise…such as when David said, with a straight face, "I don't care what other people think of me.... I have saved the lives of countless Pine Valley citizens," as the screen showed him poisoning the punch in one of his most devious schemes. And when Brooke joked, "Of course I'd come back — but someone would have to warn Erica," La Kane tossed off, "Brooke who?" leaving viewers yearning for one of those fabulous Erica/Brooke catfights...which is almost certainly a given now that Julia Barr (Brooke) has signed on for three months starting in late February!
From general comments on life in Pine Valley, to segments on love and marriage, family, loss and hope, Hayley's doc focused on current stalwarts like Joe and Ruth, Erica, Adam and Opal, but found room for past residents (and fan faves) like Mateo, Maria, Greg and Bianca. Even Palmer showed up, after being MIA for more than a year, to tweak Opal and Adam; after Adam noted that, "Family is the most important thing to me," Palmer was quick to rejoin, "Adam Chandler is a rattlesnake…he eats his young." Just like old times....
The film closed with Erica noting that, "Everyone who lives here feels a connection. Pine Valley is like a big home, with a lot of rooms. And the door is always open."
For the first time in a long time, I really wanted to enter that door. I hope that AMC fulfills the promise of its 40th anniversary and move to Los Angeles with a real new beginning — that focuses on all the good old soapy stuff we saw in this episode.