Home for the holidays

I’m not sure whether it’s the state of our economy, or the state of the daytime soap industry, but the holidays have been more emotional and heartwarming this year.

I watched several of the holiday episodes over the last few days. Days had the Horton Christmas tree and an emotional plea for Sydney. B&B had a sweet episode focusing on Stephanie, the Jackie M family, and a few memories of Sally Spectra. All of the shows had warmth and humor.

But those shows simply pale in comparison to the Christmas Eve and Christmas Day episodes of As The World Turns.

The entire week in Oakdale was a strong week, story-wise. Bob and Kim had some great scenes on Wednesday talking about their future, and how time slips by……

Those wistful words were, I thought, the closest we’d get to love and warmth this week.

How very, very wrong I was. These last two episodes were absolutely, positively flawless.

Today’s Christmas Day episode was narrated by Don Hastings (Bob) and was a sweet, realistic story about how sad Holden and Lily’s children were without having their parents spend Christmas together. There were so many layers to the story – the Holden/Lily dynamic, Lucinda and Emma working together to unite everyone at the farm, and a healthy dose of Luke and Noah.

It was a glorious Christmas day episode, with people we know and love (welcome back, Lucinda!) interacting with each other.

But even this fantastic episode pales in comparison to yesterday’s glorious Christmas Eve episode. On paper, it sounds completely cheesy – Brad (who’s a ghost) is able to say goodbye to his family and hold his newborn son.

But every frame, every shot, ever line of dialogue, every tear was simply perfect. It was more than just a special holiday episode, of course – it was the culmination of several months of story resulting from Brad’s accidental death. Losing Brad affected so many characters (Janet, Liberty, Jack, and Katie, to name a few).

I thought very, very carefully about what I’m about to say next, but let it be said: That episode was Marlandesque in its warmth and wit. It had me sobbing before the opening credits were even on. It included characters that we care about, acting in realistic ways. It centered around one of the most universal concepts around (death) and the question of saying goodbye. Nary a day player or syringe was in sight.

And I have to hand it to ATWT: They had this 23-year fan in tears over an episode filled with characters and actors who have all been on the show for around a decade or less.

Both episodes were just so well written, acted and directed all the way around. And it’s impossible to watch these episodes and not see them through the prism that this may have been ATWT’s final Christmas – a subtext that had to be on the minds of the actors. Bob Hughes’ voice had me in tears when his narration ended today’s episode with this:

“If you’re thinking this isn’t really the end of the story, you’re right. The story goes on. Because this is Oakdale. And we wouldn’t have it any other way.”

THE FIRST NOELLE: Everyone in the last few episodes has been so good, but I really wanted to recognize Noelle Beck (Lily). I think that many people would agree with me that while we simply can’t accept anyone other than Martha Byrne in the role of Lily, Beck has made a heroic effort trying to make her story work. (The silly Lily/Damian story has made her look like an ass and done her no favors.) Today, she was simply lovely as Lily. I believed her and Elizabeth Hubbard as Lily and Lucinda. Beck would make a great addition to another show; I just wish she’d be cast in a role, somewhere, that would allow her to make it her own. But she was a welcome, warm presence as Lily today.

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2 thoughts on “Home for the holidays

  1. Unfortunately, I missed ATWT on Dec. 23rd and Dec. 25th. I could watch on the official website, but not sure if I will.

    Usually I agree with you, but I did not likethe Dec. 24th episode very much. Although I liked Austin Peck’s version of Brad better than I’d expected to when it was announced that he would take over the role, I never felt that the character became integral to the show and never believed that he and Katie were the loves of each other’s lives. (Hasn’t Katie had at least three great loves of her life–Simon, Mike, and now allegedly Brad? Also, I’ve nothing against Terri Columbino and would certainly never suggest that she is responsible for the cancellation of the show, but the many loves of Katie have been the focus of ATWT for too many years. The character is just not that interesting, yet she is almost always heavily featured).

    Anyway, because I was never much invested in Brad and Katie, the death of Brad and the subsequent ghost story were not compelling viewing, IMO. Therefore, an entire Christmas episode revolving around Brad and his relationships was too much.

  2. Those Christmas shows were of such high quality, it made me even more depressed about the cancellation.

    ‘Marlandesque’ is an apt comparison. We cared about the characters, the dialogue was great, we laughed and we cried. Isn’t that what it’s all about?!

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