Before the final episode, I wanted to list (in no particular order) some of my favorite moments of As The World Turns, from when I first began watching to today.
Margo pulling the plug on Casey. A daring story about end-of-life choices, running years before anyone knew who Terri Schiavo even was. And the simple family conflict – Casey asked Margo to do it, because he knew Lyla would not – made for months and months of powerful story with NO bombs, guns or mobsters.
“Hello, Barbara.” A culmination of good secret-keeping (no one on set knew) and knowing when the time was right to bring James Stenbeck back. This first return was the one I enjoyed (and perhaps a bit of the last one, but not so many in between). This kicked off many, many years of storylines.
Sabrina. I’ve already gone on and on about this story, but though it sounds twisty and turn-y on paper, it was at its heart a story about family, about Kim moving heaven and earth to find Sabrina, and a belated, posthumous honor to Irna Phillips’ vision behind the scenes – Kim would, after all, end up happy with Bob and with her ‘baby.’
The entire Iva/Lucinda/Lily story. The secret of Lily’s true parentage was fantastic. I began watching the show in early 1986 and it took over a year for Lily to find out that Iva was her mother. The tension between Iva and Lucinda made for wonderful scenes, as did the powerhouse scene where Lily finds out. (For dramatic tension and performances, on par with Lisa Brown’s Guiding Light scenes when Kelly tells Nola off.)
Shannon and Harriet. The character of Shannon was very Katherine Hepburn/Rosalind Russell-esque, and I loved the early years of Shannon, when she had a cast of characters in her escapades. Lisa was sometimes involved, as was Shannon’s friend Harriet, her uncle Earl Mitchell (Lisa’s husband), and occasionally, Shannon’s frenemy Barbara.
Hank Eliot. A groundbreaking story for the show and quite an astounding story for the times. Hank became good friends with Iva, Barbara and Shannon before he came out, and the audience fell in love with him too. I’ve often thought a Hank return would have humanized Barbara in her more recent bitchery. This started well, although Hank became a “saint” later in the run and was written off abruptly.
Luke’s coming out. This story was nicely done, and the show was wise enough to play all the beats. Holden was supportive but uneasy in a completely believable way. Lily had a hard time accepting it. Lucinda was unconditionally loving, while Emma was more reluctant. (Only Damien’s reaction seemed unrealistic.)
Bob/Kim/Susan. An adultery story played by grownups, rooted in reality (Bob and Kim’s relationship growing apart because of the stress of Andy’s alcoholism) and drawn from decades of show history. Watching Bob and Kim work through this was one of the best ATWT stories ever. Along with earlier Stewart history, a basis for the Kim/Susan animosity that remains even today.
Nancy Hughes. During the Marland era, Nancy was given a lot to do. She mourned Chris, found new love with McCluskey, and then dealt with his Alzheimer’s disease. The scenes I loved the most were the ones she’d have with Frannie, or Andy. Their family ties were so believable, and Nancy was truly the grandma everyone wanted.
Barbara/Henry. One of the few recent stories I’ve really loved. I have a feeling the show just randomly paired them, but it was a great idea. Insane chemistry between those two. A tour-de-force performance by Colleen Zenk as she literally brought Barbara full circle and finally transcended the Stenbeck “curse.” Also a great end for Henry, one of the few recent-era characters who was well-written and who worked (thanks to Trent Dawson’s work).
Reid Oliver. Handsome, snarky, and gay. Sounds perfect to me! To Reid…I mean, read what I liked about Reid, see this previous post.
John and Lucinda. John had many interesting relationships over the years. His relationships with Emma, Susan, Barbara, and Lisa were captivating in their own ways. (It’s funny that on the 50th anniversary show, everyone but Nancy Hughes had been with John!) But his relationship with Lucinda was something special, as can be seen even now in these final scenes. They get each other and don’t judge each other. Their “hot tub” moment is still memorable.
Margo’s rape. Margo always looked before she leapt, forging ahead in life. She regretted it when she tried to fight off a liquor store robber without back-up; the robber brutally raped her. An agonizing story with repercussions that kept me glued to my seat. Every beat was played – Margo’s anger, Tom’s anger, blame, retribution. A part of history they’ve actually remembered in recent years (Katie later donated part of her liver to Margo, who had been infected with hepatitis during the rape).
Douglas Cummings. A story that was in its midpoint when I began watching (I’d love to see the Bob/Kim honeymoon scenes). I remember being so shocked that John Wesley Shipp, who was such a good guy as GL’s Kelly, was so creepy here. The first flashes we had that Julianne Moore was going to go on to big things.
Andy’s alcoholism. A realistic story played out over time. Andy’s story, in general, was very captivating. He often felt he couldn’t live up to Bob, Kim or John’s reputations or expectations. He had a co-dependent, unhealthy relationship with Julie and then an uneasy marriage to bulimic Courtney. I’ve often thought Andy, and his organic flaws and failures, would have been so much more interesting to watch over these last years. Could Andy be happy? His recovery from addiction – and his friendship with Susan – was gold.
These are only a few – I’m sure I’m forgetting many more, and there are smaller moments, of course, that are just as special.
The DNA that most of these moments share? They were drawn from the characters, not external plot; they were IN character; they honored history; they were often daring and took the characters to a new place.