Dazed and confused

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Readers: My apologies for being incommunicado for the last few weeks. Thanks for your loyalty to A Thousand Other Worlds!

You have no idea how much I’d like to write a glowingly positive review of As The World Turns. I’ve been watching the show since 1985 – almost 25 years – and I’ll be writing a lot more about it in the next few weeks.

Speculation about ATWT’s future has been fast and furious since sister show Guiding Light was cancelled. P&G shows, which once numbered in the dozens, are down to one, and rumors persist this is the end of the road for ATWT, now daytime’s lowest rated soap.

I’ve been trying to understand where the show is headed by watching the last few weeks and months. But I’m still not clear what story ATWT is trying to tell.

For example, let’s take Jack and Carly. They’re the show’s most popular couple, and certainly one that drives a lot of story and a lot of viewer interest. These characters are popular whether they’re together or apart.

The upcoming Jack-road-trip story sounds intriguing, and a natural way to have some of the characters slated to return to ATWT come back and interact with the canvas. But instead of ATWT continuing to build on their leading couple, they’ve cut two characters who were connected to them – Brad and Rosanna. jpi_episode13471_33404

There have been other positive developments – the interminable Paul/Meg story seems to have, well, terminated (or is taking a long rest), and the intense push behind Alison and Casey has been toned down as well.

But there hasn’t been anything eye catching to take up the slack. Teri, Janet’s sister, is interesting enough, but we’re still getting used to seeing her around. We’ve seen only hints of Hunter (and a promising chemistry with Maddie).

I wish the show would jettison Meg and Alison. Neither character has worked in their most recent incarnations, and as unpleasant as saying that is, there’s no time to tiptoe. There’s a slew of interesting female characters that ATWT could bring on to stir things up.

If the Synder farm needs a new young troublemaker, it’s time Abigail (Holden and Molly’s daughter) came back to Oakdale with a big secret. Or better yet, age Faith Snyder, bring back Hope Dixon (Andy and Denise’s daughter, involved in the Hope/Faith baby swap), and have Hope stay with Bob and Kim, so that we have a natural reason to see them that doesn’t involve death, cancer, heart attacks or a piano falling on their head.

Adam’s return was a one-step-forward-one-step-back moment. It was great that the show finally addressed the enormous mistake that was made (by the same creative team, mind you) and rectified the out-of-character actions that Adam made a few years ago. But it did so by compromising Maddie, who was made to look like a fool and who was almost apologetic towards Adam – who attacked her and Gwen and attempted to rape them. And it compromised Margo, as well. No matter how much Margo wanted to save Adam, it flies in the face of logic that margo – a rape victim – would have excused Adam’s actions.

As for the recent influx of characters, especially General Hospital vets Stuart Damon and Lynn Herring, I’m also torn. Damon and Herring are both fabulous, and I enjoyed their performances. But at the end of their stories, I didn’t feel like their characters made a difference on the canvas. It was a shame to have Damon play such a throwaway character; Herring’s Audrey would be so much more effective if she stuck around and gave Colleen Zenk Pinter (Barbara) a worthy foil.

tom-pelphrey-photoI am concerned that with David Kreizman on board, we’ll see more of the kinds of stories that were his hallmark at Guiding Light. Kreizman’s stories were often attention-getting; to be fair, I thought his GL stories usually had an interesting premise and a very strong start to them, but they’d usually fall apart or derail. What was left behind was a lot of tabloid flashiness, but little connectivity to history or even to other stories on canvas.

Connectivity has been missing from many of the recent, blink-and-you-miss-them stories. I’m looking forward to seeing Tom Pelphrey’s Mick on canvas, but wish he’d be connected to someone already in Oakdale. (I think he’s just the right age to be Scott Eldridge’s son – and Lisa’s grandson.)

Simply being connected to an existing character isn’t enough, though. Let’s call that the Daisy Lemay theory. It’s connections + history + actor + story. Which is why GL’s Daisy didn’t work (parts of that equation were missing) and why GL’s James did (it all added up).

And yes, this is about ATWT, but it should learn from GL’s mistakes. GL waited too late (February) to focus on vets and bring back a missing favorite. It did so fabulously, but entirely too late to gain the audience and sustain its interest. ATWT needs to be fearless and up its game.

And ATWT has an advantage over GL, a show that had lost a lot of its veterans or had to move them to the back burner. I’m watching this opening from five years ago, and I see so many characters that are still on canvas – and still full of story.

It’s just a matter of keeping them connected, creating the feeling of a community, and making the story shine. There have been promising moves lately; let’s hope ATWT has the resources – and the TIME – to keep making the show better.

And a note to Nancy Tellem and Barbara Bloom: You need to give ATWT the chance to shine and the resources – including TIME – to do so. And more to the point, ladies: If you have no intention of doing so, and are intending to pull the plug on ATWT as well, please be HONEST to the people who work there and to the FANS – your viewers are your bread and butter. Please give the show the respect and the time you have GL so that it can address its substantial history before it ends.

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One thought on “Dazed and confused

  1. I agree with most of what you wrote here, though I strongly disagree on the value of bringing in ABC stars. They are too recognizable as their other characters and take away from characters and actors who are “our” people.

    In addition to Goutman’s terrible record on tying things together (how hard would it be to get Anne Sward to play Lyla for a few days? where is Jade? does Parker know his brother is back from the dead? did he know he was dead in the first place? has Bonnie left town?), he needs to fix Lily and Craig ASAP. Only Martha Byrne can be Lily, period. Hunt Block or Scott Bryce can play Craig, and if you can’t get either of them, retire the character. This Craig-Rosanna romance is sickening. I don’t understand why there is no outcry. If he raped her, there would be all sorts of protests. But he tried to kill her! Not to mention he killed Sierra’s husband in the bell tower years ago and was never punished. Enough!

    Clear the dead weight and restore the core families. Your suggestions are good (Abigail, Hope, and Scott’s son), but where are Andy, Frannie, Sabrina, and Lien? If Ben comes back for good (which he should because the show is almost entirely white these days) they should bring back Curtis as well. Frannie and Sabrina could have kids now for all we know. Ellie Snyder, Aaron Snyder, heck even Pete and Jenny Wendell or the Ward quads would be related enough to have ties, but free to mingle. It’s not rocket science. Why is this so difficult to get?

    Jef, I don’t think we really disagree. I don’t think ATWT should continue hiring ABC stars as a plan, to be sure, though Lynn Herring was great as Audrey. My question, always, with those kind of moves is: Where will the story be at the end of the short-term stint? The problem is, whether it’s ABC stars or Broadway actors playing the characters, too many of ATWT’s short term stories go nowhere or leave no lasting impression.

    I like Jon Lindstrom as Craig, but I am torn about Craig and Rosanna for the very reasons you mention – Craig did, after all, try to kill her. Same for Adam – I like the actor playing him, but it’s disappointing that the show seems to want to sweep his actions under the cover.

    I agree, now is a perfect time for a visit from Lyla. I’d like to see Frannie, for sure. And I’d rather see no Lily than no Martha.

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