Pine Valley Lives: All My Children Returns As an Online Soap

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In a little over a month, Netflix is going to hit a switch in a room somewhere and a new season of Arrested Development is going to be available to watch. It's an interesting experiment that Netflix is attempting, one that's been written about and overanalyzed since the moment it was announced.

A less popular but more interesting experiment begins online next Monday. It involves a show that, much like Arrested Development, featured silly characters in increasingly absurd situations and had a cult following made up of fans who were outraged when they found out their favorite show was going away.

And that's pretty much where the similarities end.

Starting Monday, All My Children returns as an online-only soap opera, and I don't know how I feel about this.

After 41 years on the air and countless marriages, divorces, murders, births, deaths, returns and departures, All My Children ended on a cliffhanger, a gunshot on a black screen. It was infuriating for someone like me who was a sporadic viewer of the show, and a complete betrayal to those longtime fans who had watched it for most of their lives.

You know how people, even now, complain about the ending of Lost and how unfulfilling it was? Those people don't know anything about disappointment.

At the time the cliffhanger was supposed to lead into a new, online version of the show that was supposed to materialize weeks after the TV finale aired. This did not happen. Instead, some of the actors moved on to other soap operas and it appeared that we would never have closure on the world of Pine Valley.

You would think that the news that the show is returning would be cause for celebration, but I'm not so sure. Consider the following:

3. Can Soap Operas Go Digital?

One of the great things about soap operas is the fact that they're a constant in our lives. They come on at the same time on the same channel every day. They're the friend that you can always count on no matter where you go. You can leave for college, but as long as you have a TV there will be faces in your life you know, even if they're fictional.

Going online gets rid of that sense of comfort. Sure, it's nice that I have the option of watching the show online whenever I want, but that just makes it like every other show I keep meaning to watch. The show is no longer that friend I know will be visiting every day, it's the friend I hang out with when I remember it exists. That's a big difference.

2. The Show Looks Different

While there are moments in the new trailer that certainly look like what I think of when I think "soap opera," it also has a lot of on-location shooting that looks cheap and ugly. When I think "soap opera," I think elaborate and obviously fake soundstages. I don't need scope when I watch a soap opera; I watch because I want less reality, not more.

1. No Susan Lucci

This is the biggie. Susan Lucci was All My Children, and is perhaps the biggest name in American soap opera history. For 41 years she played Erica Kane, and she was often the centerpiece of the show. While it's great that many of the other actors are returning to the show, having All My Children without Susan Lucci just feels wrong, like having Seinfeld without Seinfeld or The Sopranos without Tony.

In the interest of being honest, I will admit that I did find myself getting a little excited watching the trailer for the new version. Right about the time Vincent Irizarry appeared on screen as Dr. David Hayward, I realized that in spite of my bitterness at how the show ended, I still missed these characters.

I don't know why I care about All My Children. Maybe it was because it was the soap opera my mom watched, maybe it was because it was the only thing on during my lunch breaks at work. Whatever the reason, I'm glad the show is getting a second chance, even if I'm not entirely sure I'll be along for the ride.

And hey, if nothing else, it's good to see that the people working on the show are hip to what's cool these days:


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7 comments
ksvonkin
ksvonkin

I am excited for the return of AMC and will be watching. I watch more "TV" online  than I watch on my TV I loved Susan Lucci on AMC but she is not AMC. There are many other characters that make AMC the great show it is! If she returns at some point Great! If not that is OK too!

ctwildheart
ctwildheart

Oh Cory! I'll start where you did.  

YES they can go digital!  Maybe you don't watch these shows you 'keep meaning to watch', but I will!  Once I had a VCR (and now a DVR) I watched whenever I could once they had taped.  The only difference now is I don't have to 'tape' them, I just log onto Hulu when I want and watch!  This is a comfort to me.There are MANY people who do this already and have done this for years.  This new distribution method may even attract some younger viewers who watch little to no live television at all. 

I have been lucky enough to see the first episode at their premiere Tuesday 4/23/13.   You don't need to worry about how the show looks!  It looks GREAT!  The two on-location scenes in that episode were done very well and do not look cheap or ugly.  The sets look fabulous - and much like they did when they were produced for television.  You will be happy when you see the full episode.

Okay...Susan herself has said that right now it is just scheduling that is keeping her from rejoining AMC at this point.  She wants to be a part of Pine Valley again and I believe will make it happen once this season of Devious Maids has wrapped.    While she is well known and a huge part of AMC - she is not the be all and end all of the show.  I am a huge fan of hers and understand your concern, but if done well her 'absence' won't make a difference.

I really hope you do give the reboot a chance (and check out the OLTL reboot as well!).  If you were even a bit excited by the trailer - I feel you will enjoy the new show.  The first episode had me laughing, crying a little, excited and most of all intrigued.  I am looking forward the hell that Dr. David said he want to rain on Pine Valley and much more!

I grew up 'in' Pine Valley (and many other fictional soap towns) because my mom and grandmother watched these shows.  They became part of my family and part of my history.  I too am ecstatic these shows are being given a second chance.  I am hopeful that their success will be the start of many cancelled shows finding new life in an uncensored online format.  I truly hope you give AMC a shot.  Not only do the actors, crew, writers, directors and producers deserve that chance...so do the fans who worked tirelessly for two years ... and so do YOU!  Don't deprive yourself of a few hours a week of enjoyment and entertainment.  I sure won't!

Troy0310
Troy0310

Oh, there are SO many directions I could go with this-but I'll be nice and just ask you to give AMC a fair hearing.  The people connected deserve that much.

loripirochta
loripirochta

I am so excited that AMC will be back, I can hardly wait for the first show! I've watched from day one and yes,online will be different.Half hour shows, 4 days a week but after thinking they were gone, forever,I'll take what I can get. I do wish Susan/Erica would return, she really is the heart and sole of AMC. Hopefully she'll be back soon. We now have our "family" back, and who knows, maybe Erica Kane will return to Pine Valley in the near future.........

ebarefoot1951
ebarefoot1951

If La Lucci comes back great but AMC can go on without her. I have watch since Steve & Jessie were front burner & in B&W. I as well as millions of fans will be watching on the 29th. We have fought for AMC & OLTL for over a year. We will never give up. These people are part of our families. You never leave family if you really care. I don't know the new kids but it is always good to add to a family. YEAH to HULU HULU plus.

frederickgortega
frederickgortega

It will totally be worth it for you to tune in and it will be on just one hour before it used to be aired. La Lucci should be back in the future and from what I've been reading about the conclusion to the finale it will be worth watching so tune in, you won't regret it especially if you're an AMC fan!

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