Besides hairstyles, not much has changed on All My Children over the course of 6,500 episodes. The ABC soap opera, now remarkably in its 25th year, has unfolded in numbing loops, endlessly recycling story lines, scandals, sets, even actors. Of course, it's just this familiarity with characters and situations that the show's loyal fans crave, which is why they'll love this chance to relive a quarter century's worth of lust, intrigue and overacting.
Written in a breathless, soap-newsletter style ("There's only one Tad—he's smooth, he's funny and we can't help but love him"), this commemorative collection is loaded with archival photos sure to embarrass a few aging actors. It also features a complete rundown of every major story line since 1970, chapters with names like "Villains, Rogues & Vixens"—even an All My Children quiz ("To what foreign land did grief-stricken Erica retreat after Mike Roy's tragic death?"). Throughout, the scrapbook treats Pine Valley's dysfunctional denizens with a reverence and affection befitting the thesis that "these characters are as familiar to viewers as their own family and friends." Surely that's true of soap diva Susan Lucci, who has been on the show since 1970 and whose oft-married Erica Kane gets her own chapter, a tribute to enduring dozens of rotten lovers and 14 Emmy nominations without a win.
There's no point in nitpicking: This is a guaranteed good time for anyone plugged into the Pine Valley experience, from sporadic soapers to AMC addicts who've seen all 6,500 episodes. And please, if you've seen all 6,500, get help. (General Publishing Group, $25)