‘All My Children’ Review: Classic Soap With a Modern Flair

Photo: Chapman Baehler/TOLN

All My Children’s premiere was full of classic soap staples with a modern flair, homages to the past and a future that is destined for greatness.

It’s no secret that the final years of All My Children on network television were a mess. The series was overrun with unnecessary characters, history was obliterated for nonsensical plot-points and it didn’t feel like the show I grew up watching. Lorraine Broderick worked wonders in the final months to repair the damage wrought upon the series by writers who chose to bend AMC into their vision instead of taking what was set forth by Agnes Nixon and molding their vision to her legacy. She did what she could, but the task was too big, even for her.

19 months after All My Children ended on ABC, we are entering a new era under the creative umbrella of new head writers Marlene McPherson and Elizabeth Snyder and executive producer Ginger Smith. Watching today’s premiere of All My Children was like reuniting with an ex after a bad breakup. You love her yes, but approach the reunion with cautious optimism. Do you throw caution to the wind and go all in? Or do you take a tepid approach?

I expected All My Children to be extremely youthful given the influx of beautiful, insanely gorgeous (hello, Robert Scott Wilson) additions to the cast, and though it was only the first episode, I was pleasantly surprised. There was the right balance of the “familiar” for longtime viewers, while delivering enough “new” for newcomers and younger demographics.

First impression of the stories appear to be “classic” All My Children; the child who wants a life bigger than Pine Valley, but can’t seem to leave for good; the boy secretly in love with a girl who’s oblivious to his affections, but she longs for the boy who’s oblivious to her own; fearing the demons of the past; love at first sight; the mama bear who clings a little too tightly to her cub. As classic AMC as those examples are, the series also showed it has a knack for modern flair. Petey is a rising star Sillicon Valley, developing new tech and software in this futuristic Pine Valley setting. Facebook (yes, the real Facebook) is where Miranda discovers the taunting online about her being a “vagetarian” (lesbian) like her mother; AJ helps Miranda by writing mean things about the girls on their own Facebook walls. Opal’s wants Petey to use the experience he gained in California to turn Cortlandt Electronics around and prevent it from going under for good.

All My Children welcomed fans back after a short time away, ready to lure you in with the past and use the present to launch the future.

Editor’s Highlights

  • The Online Network’s slogan, “We’re not daytime, we’re anytime,” is true in every sense of the word. I watched the premiere four times on different devices: twice on my Xbox (thank you Hulu Plus), once on my iPhone (thank you iTunes) and once on my laptop (thank you Hulu). Each time I experienced something new, and each time I realized how liberating it was to be free from the shackles traditional airtimes.
  • The casting for Miranda Montgomery was brilliant. Denyse Tontz not only resembles Eden Riegel (Bianca), but she seems to channel Bianca’s innocence and spirit as well.
  • Robert Scott Wilson (Pete), Eric Nelson (AJ), Sal Stowers (Cassandra) and Tontz have essentially blank canvases to work with when it comes to their characters. Characters like Cassandra and Pete were poorly developed and didn’t last long, thereby giving Stowers and Wilson the freedom to reinvent who they are. Miranda and AJ, destined for complication thanks to their parental drama, were underdeveloped and too young to establish traits.
  • The dialogue was sharp and smart. I amusingly rolled my eyes at the occasional ‘meta’ references, but nothing was cringe worthy.
  • Cara’s fantasy of having hot, steamy sex with David was very intense, racy and perfectly done. Was it racier than anything you’d see on TV? No, but it was still great to see.
  • Celia’s awkwardness after meeting Pete was very rom-com. Eating the apple off the ground? Uber nasty, but she could have done worse. Jordan Lane Price and Rob Wilson have good, natural chemistry. I could see them turning into something big.
  • The pace was quick, but it didn’t seem like you missed anything. The 26 minute episode was only 10 minutes shorter than its run on network television. I feel like losing that 10 minutes eliminated the need for “filler” – repeating conversations, meaningless scenes, etc.
  • There was little to no change aesthetically. Dare I say the show looks better than it did before? The remote scenes (directed by former As the World Turns executive producer Chris Goutman) were well done as well. ATWT always had better location shoots than Guiding Light, so I’m very pleased with how it turned out.
  • Bonus points for offering closed-captioning so hearing impaired fans like my friend @MarkHSoap can fully enjoy the series.
  • Dixie’s appearance was short, but effective. Where is Tad? Why do people refer to him as “gone”? Was he the one shot in the finale?
  • Jesse and Angie celebrating their anniversary was well done. The writers captured the essence of their relationship and also clued viewers in to what happened since the finale. Point of note, Jesse and Angie had sex and apparently Jesse has a big penis. Yes, that was the innuendo from straight from Dr. Hubbard’s mouth. I cringed the first time, but on the second watch, I found it quite endearing. Real-life couples make naughty innuendos, why can’t Jesse and Angie?

The rollout for these premieres has been A+ quality. From red carpet premieres to splashy mainstream interviews, everyone wants a piece of the anytime soaps. Will they still want one a week from now? A month? 6 months? I hope Prospect Park continues the promotional offensive in the coming months. It will be as, if not more, important to promote on television, online and through media outlets as it was in the weeks leading to the launch. Don’t forget to treat these actors, writers, producers, etc. as the superstars they are. And most importantly, don’t forget about the fans who helped make this possible.

Well done, All My Children. Well done, Prospect Park. Thank you.

Watch the premiere below…

Ryan White-Nobles
Ryan White-Nobles is Editor-in-Chief of TV Source Magazine. He's began covering entertainment and soap operas in 2005. In 2009 he co-launched Soap Opera Source, and led the TV Source rebrand in 2012. He's a natural #Heel who loves a spirited debate and probably watches too much TV. Follow him on Twitter at @SourceRyan to discuss all things TV, soaps, sports, wrestling and pop culture.

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1 Comment

  1. Great review! I LOVED the line Angie said to Jesse! There was so much humor in this episode…loved it!

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