Searching for clues

If you’re like me, you’re angry and (dare I say it) pissed at yesterday’s announcement of As The World Turns‘ cancellation.

After hearing badly timed news from ineloquent network heads, it just makes me want to react like this:

Then it came to me: Like Clue, this seems to make for a thrilling, multi-suspect murder mystery. Who killed ATWT?

A suspect list:

LES MOONVES

Indications of guilt: Bringing elegance and dignity to the news through his usual eloquence. Hitting a trifeca of class by (A) talking to a CNBC anchor about the cancellation – a CNBC anchor whose mother-in-law is Marie Masters (Susan Stewart); (B) labeling the surviving soaps “special soaps.”   ABSOLUTELY NO ONE understands what the hell he means by that. (C) Announcing this news on the same day that he announced CBS ad revenues are up 25%. Just to be super-clear, Oakdale: He is SO over you.

Alibi or defense: Hey, more free time on the schedule means there are more daypart hours his wife, Julie Chen, can be programmed in. You gotta keep ’em happy at home, y’know?

BARBARA BLOOM

Indications of guilt: A general lack of direction for GL and ATWT; stonewalling the press, which usually isn’t a positive thing; having her husband appear on ATWT in one of its worst stories of the last five years; letting Martha Byrne slip away.

Alibi or defense: It’s been said that Bloom had great affection for GL and ATWT (particularly GL), so it’s unlikely Bloom would have encouraged ATWT’s end.

CHRISTOPHER GOUTMAN

Indications of guilt: Talented, accomplished producer who seems to have burned out and lost interest in ATWT a few years ago. Goutman desperately needed to have a rest or a period to re-charge (probably due to exhaustion from fighting with Suspect #1 and Suspect #2) and it had begun to show on air. Help arrived (David Kreizman and Ellen Wheeler) but it was too little, too late, especially when it looks like ATWT’s fate was decided months ago.

Alibi or defense: I may not have always agreed with his choices, but Goutman has poured his energy into this show for the last ten years. Clearly, CBS doesn’t want the show in any format.

JEAN PASSANANTE

Indications of guilt: For a mishmash of storytelling that seemed to be terribly unfocused, often dark and misogynistic, and only occasionally referenced ATWT’s strongest suit: its history. For taking the luster and momentum that Hogan Sheffer had put into place before his departure….and slowly frittering it all away. For mishandling Luke and Noah, an explosively popular couple whose popularity was never capitalized upon properly.

Alibi or defense: It’s hard to tell what bad choices were hers, which ones were Goutman’s, and which ones were made by P&G or the network.

ELLEN WHEELER

Indications of guilt: None – her directorial work hasn’t aired yet.

Alibi or defense: None needed, but I think we should all pitch in to get Ellen a good therapist. To have this news announced a few days after she re-joined ATWT, where she was a director several years ago, has to be devastating. Ellen is SO not having a good year.

Of course, the answer to who really killed ATWT is: no one. No ONE factor is responsible.

Pundits and bloggers will struggle over the next few days to lay blame somewhere, especially when speaking to the mainstream press (who know nothing about soaps and only want their 30-second soundbite). But the cause of death for ATWT is a combination of factors, a death by a thousand tiny little cuts.

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5 thoughts on “Searching for clues

  1. Who killed As The World Turns? Ummmm….. The lack of viewers! That’s what kills every show that gets axed. I am sad to see two long running soaps go in one year and I wonder what the next decade will bring, but the ratings for the three networks are down. Jay Leno has replaced the spots where episodic drama once held court. It isn’t just daytime. Television is changing and people are have tuned out due to cable, Netflix, the internet, etc. Soap viewers have always complained about content and what they want to see that isn’t there, but our culture has changed.

  2. Who is Barbara Bloom’s husband?

    Hi William – his name is Frank Clem. He played Eb in the wildly unpopular “Holden dies” storyline that ATWT did this summer.

  3. I have followed ATWT for 25 years and have always felt that this show was the “special” one … for it stuck close to its origins and, despite the occasional craziness, always seemed like the real deal.

    You’re right in your assessment of the past 10 years. When Goutman came on with Hogan Sheffer, it was awesome. Just YouTube some moments from Christmas 2000 and see what I mean.

    Somewhere around 2005, when PGP did not replace Mickey Dwyer-Dobbin and GL started to really flounder, ATWT started losing focus as well. I haven’t really enjoyed the recent years as much. But looking back, ATWT was #3 in the ratings all through 2007. NUMBER THREE!!!! And this was pre-Luke and Noah.

    I really think ATWT failed to capitalize on its successes, whether it was the occasional stunt casting (Stuart Damon, Lynn Herring, Kin Shriner, et al) or its Emmy-winning performers in GOOD stories (Jennifer Landon, Maura West, et al). Jean Passanante went for the cheap thrills and it showed … and it’s just so sad we have to end this way.

    ATWT is a legend and, despite GL’s longer tenure, is the grande dame of daytime. There is no replacement, and my years and years of soap opera viewing will end in September 2010. I’ll miss it so much … but all my shows keep getting cancelled!

  4. At least ABC & even NBC tries to support their soaps, unlike CBS. ATWT ratings are NO worse than the other networks soaps. P&G, CBS, & telenext, I think just want OUT…And do not believe “we are trying to find another home for ATWT” bullshit because that is all it is. Les Monvies is a despecable, smug SOB. May he rot in hell.

  5. You are dead on in your comments…. as for me, I will not watch whatever CBS replaces ATWT with just like I refuse to watch Let’s Make a Deal, which took over Guiding Light’s timeslot. Now that ATWT has been cancelled, I am also boycotting anything on CBS except for YR and B&B, that includes the news and other daytime shows they have as well as all primetime. Thanks for nothing CBS….

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