Deep Soap: ‘All My Children’ and ‘One Life to Live’s’ Triumphant First Week

"One Life to Live" (Photo: The Online Network)

All My Children” and “One Life to Live” are back, and they are really, really good. As corny as it sounds, I, and everyone else who loves these shows, has regained a part of our lives that we thought was lost forever. I anticipated that I would be thrilled to finally get some resolution to the cliffhangers that ended both shows runs on ABC. What surprised me was how emotional the viewing experience was for me. I started crying when I saw Clint (Jerry VerDorn) and Vicki (Erika Slezak) and Adam (David Canary) and Brooke (Julia Barr) together again. Heck, I reached for another tissue during Natalie and Cutter’s scene together. I hadn’t even realized that I missed Cutter until I saw him. And I get to keep seeing him, and the rest of the residents of Llanview and Pine Valley, indefinitely.

All the naysayers — myself included — have been proven wrong. The production quality is as high as it was on ABC. So far, the writing is great. They feel like the shows everyone loved for decades, but updated. The spicier language makes the shows more realistic, rather than coming across as an attempt to be shocking. Every pundit and commenter who thought that soap fans lacked the technological savvy to watch shows online is eating crow, with both shows ranking among the most streamed programs this week. Suddenly, the soaps are on the cutting edge of entertainment, along with other online original series like the upcoming new season of “Arrested Development” and “House of Cards.” That’s pretty impressive for two shows that former ABC executive Brian Frons dismissed as being of no interest to 21st century audiences. I’ve discovered that now that I get to choose my own time period for the shows, I like watching first thing in the morning. Finally, I have an incentive not to get up early.

If you missed the first week of the next generation of soaps,
check out the inaugural episodes of “All My Children” here:

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What surprised and impressed me was how quickly each show managed to carve out a distinct identity. OLTL is edgy, dark and exciting, while AMC is warm and inviting. OLTL is fast-paced. Victor (Trevor St. John), whose return to the show was a poorly kept secret, appeared in the premiere. By the end of the second episode, he had already reunited with his family and both of the women in his life. (Their initial lack of surprise to see him alive was a jarring misstep. He wasn’t just presumed dead. His brother was tried for his murder. The writing had everyone acting like they merely thought he left town.) However, after watching Todd (Roger Howarth) carry the weight of having killed his brother for the past year on GH, seeing the truth finally come out has been one of the most satisfying viewing experiences of my life.

AMC is rolling out its stories more slowly, gently teasing out the information about the aftermath of the shooting that took place at the end of the final ABC episode. In part, the differences stem from the fact that AMC has more new characters that need to be introduced. The show made a smart choice to jump ahead five years, allowing for the children on the show to become teenagers without SORASing, as well as accounting for the absence of characters that were prominent on the ABC show, including Erica, Kendall and Tad. In part, they stem from the show’s history. Pine Valley always seemed like a kinder, quainter town where neighbors looked out for each other, while Llanview was the bigger city up the road where life was a little rougher and weirder. I had some trepidation before the show’s launch about how youth focused AMC would be, but Denyse Tontz, who plays Miranda, is a true find. She has immediately established herself as a spirited, spunky Kane woman through and through. Besides, teens were a part of the show from day one. Many of the “veterans” started as teens.

It’s a mark of how good the shows are that my biggest complaint is with the opening credits, both of which look like they were created using the free special effects that come with Microsoft Movie Maker. And though I admit I would rather have five episodes of the soaps a week, it’s great that Prospect Park is doing the sort of brand and star building that the broadcast networks have long neglected with their soaps.

Catch Up on the First Week of the New “One Life To Live” Here:

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Jeanne Cooper Back in the Hospital

Jeanne Cooper, who plays Katherine on “The Young & the Restless” is back in the hospital in critical condition. The 84-year-old actress has been battling an infection for several weeks. After making progress, she was released from the hospital and was continuing her recovery at home, when her condition worsened. Her son, “Psych” star Corbin Bernsen, posted an emotional message stating that she is very ill and breathing with the assistance of machines.

The opinions expressed are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Comcast.

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