Limping towards sunset

In talking about the end of As The World Turns, I wasn’t initially in the mood to hammer home any of the points about the show or about soaps in general I’d made over the last few years. It didn’t seem like a time to be negative about something I couldn’t change, or say, as Nikki Finke might say, “toldja!”

But a few weeks ago, I was pondering why the end of ATWT (and the end of P&G soaps) didn’t feel as big as the end of Guiding Light. Was it that we’d already done this? Were we better prepared for the shock?

Those things might be true, but something else has become clear: ATWT is limping into home base in a painful-to-see way.

The daytime blogosphere’s own e.e. cummings, lynn liccardo, said it best in a recent blog entry: for all of its budget woes, GL had some exhilarating, full circle moments that had us remaining fans on the edge of our seats. ATWT has had, among other stories, a boring business venture involving the worst French accent seen on American television in decades.

GL had the return of Phillip Spaulding and the amazing Otalia story. ATWT? Well, it managed, somehow, to introduce a THIRD man in love with Janet “Five Days A Week Guarantee” Ciccone.

Whether this is a result of both David Kreizman and Jean Passanate leaving ATWT for new shows prior to the end, I’m not sure. But the show has been a mess in the last few months. And it’s made it hard – if not impossible – for us to care and be as deeply involved in the final days of this show as it did when we watched our friends in Springfield say goodbye.

In Oakdale, I fear that almost all integrity in the Walsh family has been destroyed. I don’t understand why Lily and Lucinda kept the “secret” of Gabriel from Craig. Many of us remember that Lily, Lucinda and Craig actually liked each other 20 years ago.

And speaking of liking each other, there is absolutely no way in hell that Lily would even entertain the notion of being with Craig. Craig and Sierra were The Real Deal (at least for a time) and I just can’t see a scenario where Lily would go there.

Apparently, Christopher Goutman wanted to use the people on canvas (and a few new people) to wrap up the show, and not bring back other actors, which he has had nine months to do and which he has done sparingly.

Fine. But why not give Lucinda a glorious end? Why is this woman – one of the most dynamic, complex characters to ever hit daytime – spending her last days as a one note villain (no) being choked by Craig (no!) and sabotaging her daughter’s business (no, no, hell no)?

And let’s not even go into how completely idiotic the story about Katie’s interference in Henry’s love life is. If the idea was to make Katie look impetuous, it backfired; it made her look like a pathetic bitch.

Is there anything I like? Yes, there are a few bright spots.

I would watch Trent Dawson and Colleen Zenk Pinter, separately or together, read the phone book. Their pairing, which seemed odd at first, has given Barbara and Henry both much needed heart.

It’s been great to see so much Bob and Kim lately. Watching masters like Don Hastings and Kathryn Hays is a joy, and Bob’s retirement is one of the few stories that is “matching” the feelings we have about the end of the show.

And though I do like the Luke/Reid pairing, the scenes that really grab me with Reid is when Bob sees something good in him and tries to show him kindness. THOSE are the scenes that make us love newcomers, and it’s made Reid feel like he’s been around for a long time (and welcome to stay).

As convoluted as Barbara’s disappearance has been, it’s been a treat to see the return of Will and Gwen (and Gwen’s mama Iris). Their return has given Paul and Emily some things to do and say that has made these otherwise cold, clinical characters feel like human beings (and the characters we used to know).

I’m not enamored of the Carly/Jack push-pull (decide, already), but there was a lovely scene between Carly and Faith Snyder the other day – just two people talking, and Carly telling Faith about love, and waiting to commit to the right guy (and the right time to make love).

It just reminded me that this show was capable of great things, and often reached them. It’s sad that it’s stumbling into its sunset, especially when the solutions seem so simple to so many of us.

4 thoughts on “Limping towards sunset

  1. I totally agree with you. The Luke/Reid and Barbara/Henry storylines have shown promise, but for the most part I haven’t seen anything that makes me sad that this show is about to end. It’s like the writers gave up a long time ago.

  2. I couldn’t bring myself to watch the last days of Guiding Light, because the show was so far from what it had been back in the day. I have stuck with As the World Turns, with breaks here and there, for over 30 years, going back to my teens. Sadly, the last couple of years I went for long stretches without watching at all or only watching an episode or two a week online. I can’t believe how bad the show has become in the last several years. Even in P&G hadn’t wanted out of the soap business–which is what so many are saying–ATWT would have been cancelled. In recent years, too many stories focused on an handful of characters, with other characters being left with little to do or an appearance or two a week. The show has been The Katie Show, The Gwen Show, The Craig Show, The Paul Show, The Jennifer Show, The Meg Show, The Janet Show, etc. Many of the characters that were front and center were new, newly aged, or recasts. Even if I liked the actors–and I love almost all of the actors on ATWT–the characters who got the most air time were sometimes not compelling, not sympathetic, and certainly should not have dominated the show to the detriment of others. Nancy, Tom, Margo, Lisa, Kim, Bob, Susan, John, and even Lucinda have been mostly missing in action for a decade or more.

    What I watch now are the very things that have angered fans in recent years: the entirety of Katie’s recent misdeeds regarding her “best friend” Henry being glossed over and forgotten; Janet, Liberty, Gabe, and other new or newish characters taking up valuable time that could be better used on more established characters; popular couples such as Luke/Reid and Henry/Barbara in bad stories. Unless things pick up soon, I think that even die-hard fans may give up on the show before September 17th.

  3. One fact that hasn’t been metioned is that ATWT is the ONLY soap that has not one, but two couples that have been married to each other (continuously) for over twenty years.

    Tom and Margo got married in 1983, Bob and Kim got married in 1985.

    Unlike other soap couples, in both cases (despite having affairs) they have remained married the entire time.

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