We have to say goodbye to an old friend soon. We just watched this happen with Guiding Light. GL did a fairly good job of wrapping up loose ends, considering how many historical characters (Harley and Ross, most importantly) were missing.
The GL team gets points for bringing back a number of characters, even if only for a day. It gets demerits for waiting until the last minute to share those return visits, and the utter debacle that was Jeffrey O’Neill’s end (a story just as unappealing as most of the character’s stay).
It may be almost 10 months before the show concludes, but according to Nelson Branco’s Suds Report, ATWT is taping so far ahead that it will likely wrap production in June. That means there’s already story in the can for much of next year.
With that in mind, I’m sharing this wish list. One that hopefully makes its way to Brooklyn AND West 57th Street. A fan can wish, can’t he?
1. Wrap up your C stories as early as possible. This was definitely a mistake that GL made. I liked Ashlee and (on occasion) Daisy well enough, but we really didn’t have to have significant chunks of the last day – or even the last month – be about them. Characters like Alison, Casey, Jade, Maddie, Hunter, Teri, etc. should NOT be driving story coming into final weeks and months.
If it were up to me, I’d wrap up the whole Casey/Alison mess, send them and Jade away, beg Meredith Hagner to hang around for a few more months and let Parker and Liberty be the representatives for the younger crowd in those last weeks – while playing a supporting role to their parents.
2. History, history, history. OK, I get that in the big drive for ratings, the big focus was on younger characters and shying away from history. But with ATWT’s fate decided, and this also representing the end of P&G soaps, I hope ATWT looks at its history as a gift to enjoy and NOT an albatross, as it has for the last decade.
ATWT has an enormous cast of characters and actors who have played the same part for 20 or more years: Nancy, Bob, Kim, Tom, Margo, Holden, Emma, Lucinda, Susan, Barbara, and the iconic Lisa, just to name a few. Those characters should be front and center. There should be an umbrella event (Kim and Bob’s anniversary, or perhaps a surprise birthday party for Lisa to celebrate a birthday that perhaps she’s in denial about?) that the town can gather together to enjoy.
3. Did I mention history? There are any number of characters that would be fantastic to see before the show ends. On my personal list of “wants”: Iva Snyder, Shannon and Duncan, Andy Dixon, Hank Elliot, Kirk Andersen, Ellie Snyder, and Brian McColl. From the younger set, I’d suggest Molly and Holden’s daughter, as well as Will and Gwen. (Edited to add: I’d forgotten about Penny Hughes and Lyla Montgomery. Both would be great to see again.)
I’d also REALLY like to see the character of Scott Eldridge resolve his issues with Lisa (a role vacated so long ago this would be easily recast at this point). I’d also concur with Roger Newcomb’s idea – it would be ideal for Ellen Stewart, an original character, return to the show (if only to interfere with Emily and give Susan hell).
But there are, in my opinion, three former characters/actors who are “must haves” – who ATWT should move heaven and earth to get.
One, we really need to see John Dixon again. Whether it’s a day, a week or a month, we need to see Larry Bryggman wrap up his magnificent work as John. His character touches SO many characters on and off screen, and it’s really important that John be part of the end of the story.
Two, there are a number of high-profile ATWT alumni out there: Meg Ryan, Marisa Tomei and Parkey Posey to name a few. Any one of them would be welcome (and Meg Ryan’s Betsy still has family ties in Oakdale). But for me, who began watching ATWT at the beginning of the Marland years, I’d love to see Julianne Moore (Frannie Hughes) return. It may sound far-fetched to ask the Academy-Award nominated Moore to return, but she’s expressed great affection for the show, has visited co-stars like Kathryn Hays (Kim) over the years and fondly recalls her Marland-penned story. I bet that if ATWT had the right story (Kim and Bob’s anniversary, anyone) and the right length (a few days), Moore would return to say goodbye.
And three? Martha, Martha, Martha. Whether it’s tomorrow, next week or a week before the show wraps, ATWT needs to bring Martha Byrne back. This suggestion needs no explanation, right?
I know money is an issue, but I have to agree with a recent theory that Carolyn Hinsey mentioned in her It’s Only My Opinion column. Take the actors out for a nice meal, explain that there’s not much money but that they’re an important part of the show, and that you’ll write them a great story. Chances are, they’ll come back to say goodbye.
I’m not suggesting there aren’t great characters on the show currently, and I hope those characters (Jack, Carly, Henry, Craig, Molly, and Janet, to name a few) will stay strong in story. But we definitely want to see a culmination of the last 54 years. There would simply be no time to bring back every character who was ever important on the show, and I understand that. But the characters I’ve suggested above still have connections to Oakdale, so those returns would actually have an impact.
What do you think should be on ATWT’s to-do list before it ends?