Sep. 23, 2011 at 2:47 PM ET
The fact that "All My Children" ended its 41-year run today with a roomful of well-dressed, well-coiffed people attending a party that managed to spring up in less than 24 hours -- well, that's par for the course in soap opera land. Ending a series is one thing, but trying to wrap up dozens of characters' stories, reflect back on history without becoming merely a clip show, and leave audiences with a sense of closure ... that takes some doing.
And today, "AMC" did almost none of that. Unlike most soap operas, "AMC" is planning for the afterlife, when it may be resurrected for the Internet. That means almost nothing got solved, and in fact, the end of the show managed to leave audiences hanging on at least three major plot points. Will Jackson and Erica marry again? Who was the shocking "other woman" David referred to? And finally, who got shot at the party?
Yep, that's how "AMC" put a period on the end of this four-decade sentence.
Of course, things started out like any good soap-ender: A clip of Erica Kane (soap legend Susan Lucci) being born and named; flashbacks to other birth scenes. Slo-mo scenes of children leaping into parents' arms, and three of the show's current brood reading out creator Agnes Nixon's poetically phrased mission statement:
"The Great and the Least/ The Rich and the Poor/ The Weak and the Strong/ In Sickness and in Health/ In Joy and Sorrow/ In Tragedy and Triumph/ You are all my children."
So, lots of nostalgia, and an actual resurrection: The return of Stuart Chandler, in whose honor the party was being thrown. Alas, there was the requisite party-pooper in J.R., who ran all over town with a gun, then lurked behind pantry doors drinking and possibly stalking out ... or possibly staying behind to shoot someone. And then, of course, Erica and Jackson (Walt Willey): Yesterday she was given the chance of a lifetime -- to help write a film with an Oscar-winning screenwriter -- and that was one straw too many for fiance Jackson, who basically said "it's me or the movie."
Erica's brilliant plan for him to follow her to Hollywood didn't pan out ... because he walked to the exit and turned, saying, "Frankly, Erica, I don't give a damn what you need."
Who knew we were watching a 41-year-long version of "Gone With the Wind?"
What did you think? Will you tune in when -- or if -- "AMC" makes it back on the air again?
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