Archive for as the world turns

CBS Cancels “As the World Turns”

Posted in News with tags on December 8, 2009 by Jeff

It’s been a while since I’ve written here, but not much has been going on. A year after my “return to soap viewing” only one soap, The Young and the Restless, has managed to keep my attention as a regular viewer – and the last month has found me fast forwarding through much of that.

Today it was announced that CBS has canceled As the World Turns – a television program that is synonymous with the term “soap opera.”  While Guiding Light was the grande dame of soaps, As the World Turns was the show that first drew attention to the entire genre. For years, it was the show every soap aspired to be.  From Carol Burnett’s send up called As the Stomach Churns to  “the show everyone was watching when they learned President Kennedy had been shot” – just about everyone who’s ever owned a television set has heard of As the World Turns. Ironically, CBS informed Proctor & Gamble of their decision on Friday – the same day that Dr. Malcolm Perry (the first doctor who attended to President Kennedy after he was shot) passed away. I guess that’s somehow fitting.

As the World Turns, like all soaps, has had ups and downs.  But I will always remember those magical Douglas Marland years of 1985 through 1993 when watching As the World Turns was like visiting family and friends. I haven’t watched the show since I sampled it a year ago, but I’ll tune in next September to say goodbye to Bob and Kim, to Nancy, to Lisa, to Tom and Margo, to Lucinda, to Holden, to Emma, and all the other familiar faces from my favorite years in Oakdale.

Until then, I’ll post occassional memories and clips of the show as some sort of tribute to the legend that is As the World Turns.

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As I Saw It… As the World Turns

Posted in As I Saw It with tags on December 13, 2008 by Jeff

as-the-world-turnsLast week I went to church.  As a Catholic, I received  Holy Communion and went back to my pew to pray.  I looked up and saw an elderly woman pick up her communion wafer from the palm of her hand and attempt to place it in her mouth.  The wafer flew by her mouth and hit her nose, only to land on her tongue and be eaten – all while her eyes bulged out in horror.  It looked very much like a frog grabbing a fly with it’s tongue.  I know now as I knew then that it wasn’t supposed to be funny – but it was.  I laughed.  I tried hard not to, but I couldn’t help myself.  Why am I telling you this as I begin my tale of a week of watching As the World Turns?  Keep reading.

First off, it was very jarring for me to watch ATWT when so many familiar characters have been recast with familiar actors from other shows.  What is most jarring is that the characters don’t behave as they did when I watched before.  Meg Snyder was a sly schemer who grew into a ethereal heroine. Now she’s really dumb.  The Dusty Donovan that I remember was the epitome of what every mother wanted her daughter to bring home, except for the fact that he had an annoying habit of greeting everyone with a handshake.  Now he’s a criminal.  Paul was a good kid who was tortured by his father’s legacy.  Now he acts like Todd Manning.  It’s hard to root for anyone in this storyline because Dusty (Grayson McCouch) and Paul (Roger Howarth) aren’t very nice and Meg (Marie Wilson) isn’t very smart.  The most recent recast is Jon Lindstrom as Craig Montgomery.  Lindstrom, a  very good actor, is paired with Deirdre Skiles as Dani Andropoulos – the daughter of his first love Betsy.  If that isn’t enough, Dani was born while Betsy was married to Craig and was believed to be his biological daughter until Steve was proven to be her father.  Pairing Dani with someone she once thought was her father is really creepy.  But then again, so is the romance between Lucinda and Brian Wheatley (Elizatheth Hubbard, Laurence Lau).  The age difference doesn’t bother me, but Brian kissing his stepgrandson creeps me out.  Apparently it creeped out grandson Luke (Van Hansis) also, because Luke is on a mission to learn everything he can about Brian – starting with Brian’s ex-wife Carolyn (Marcia McCabe).  Carolyn obviously knows that Brian has a secret and I have a hunch that it’s more than the obvious.  Aside from the overall creep factor of the storyline, I like mysteries and this could be interesting.  However, at the end of Monday’s show, I wasn’t waiting with baited breath for the next episode.  It’s actually a good thing I wasn’t anxiously awaiting Tuesday’s show because when it aired not one character that appeared on Monday’s episode was on Tuesday’s show!   I felt as if I was watching two completely different soaps.  

While Monday was all about the Paul/Meg/Craig/Dani/Dusty situation along with the Lucinda/Brian/Luke storyline, Tuesday was all about Jack’s (Michael Park) impending marriage to Janet (Julie Pinson) despite their financial problems.  Just when I was making a mental note that the show added a dash of reality and current events as Jack discussed not being able to pay for an expensive wedding in the middle of a recession, Carly (Maura West) and Jack’s son Parker (Mick Hazen), aided by Janet’s daughter with the unfortunate name of Liberty (Meredith Hagner), decided to forge Carly’s name on one of his trust fund checks for the tune of twenty thousand dollars. Within the course of one hour, Janet and Jack had realized they didn’t have enough cash for the reception, Liberty and Parker took the check to the Lakeview Hotel, Carly discovered their shenanigans and blamed Jack, only for Carly, Jack, and Janet to find Liberty and Parker and show them the error of their ways. I thought I was watching As the Brady Bunch Turns.  In the same hour, Alison Stewart (Marnie Schulenburg) cheered up job-searching Casey Hughes (Billy Magnussen) by telling him, “Look at me. I was a drug addict and a porn star. Now I work in a hospital!” Casey asked his grandfather Bob Hughes (Don Hastings, who still reminds me of my own dad) for a job and was hired on the spot as a janitor. Casey didn’t need to fill out an employment application or have to go through a background check.  He didn’t even take a drug test.  Within minutes he was mopping floors as Alison checked on a patient.  The patient turned out to be one of the guys who attacked her and she left him unattended – just long enough for him to go onto the roof in a drug induced stupor and attempt to jump because invisible people were telling him to do so.  Casey (mop in hand) saved the day.  I know that attempted suicide is not funny and drug overdoses have no humor, but just as in church last week, I couldn’t help but laugh.  In fact I laughed harder at that scene than I have laughed at any primetime sitcom this year.  Next, Bob checked on Casey to see how he was enjoying his new job.  Casey gleefully told his grandfather, “I just saved a guy who was going to jump off the roof. He was one of the guys who kidnapped Alison and tried to rape her!” Did Bob call the police?  Of course not.  He told Alison to document the patient’s chart, take a break, and come to his office later – while Casey whispered in Alison’s ear that someone might be getting a raise.  This show needs a laugh-track.

As the week progressed, I finally got to see Noelle Beck as Lily.  In the 1980’s, I enjoyed both Martha Byrne as Lily and Noelle Beck as Loving‘s Trisha.  It was odd to see Beck as Lily.  Her take on the character is far more mannered and reserved than Byrne, who played Lily as spunky and full of emotion. Beck is a good actress, but she isn’t Lily.  ATWT has changed so many characters to suite the actors who have taken over roles (Roger Howarth, Grayson McCouch), that one might imagine Lily as an entirely new character after the recast.  The brightest part of the show for me was Julie Pinson as Janet Ciccone.  Pinson is one of those rare performers who generates chemistry with everyone she’s paired with.  Her scenes with Michael Park sparkled despite weak dialogue.  Maura West is always great and her scenes displaying Carly’s utter sadness over Jack’s marriage to Janet were wonderful.  This is what makes ATWT frustrating: just when you think it’s safe to turn it off, they throw in a gem like the scenes of Jack and Carly the night before Jack’s wedding to Janet.  For me, the cons outweighed the pros.  Part of it is because there are so many villians on the show that it’s hard to find enough characters to cheer for, but the bottom line is that ATWT, which boasts some of the best actors in the industry, simply isn’t very well-written.

 

Two Weeks Down… Six to Go!

Posted in What I'm Watching with tags on December 12, 2008 by Jeff

julie-pinson1

Two weeks.

Two soaps.

Six more to go!

Today was the last day of my As the World Turns week.  Tomorrow I will have a complete report of what I thought of the show (here’s a preview: I love Julie Pinson!).

Monday will bring the start of my Bold and the Beautiful week.  LA won’t be the same for me without Sally Spectra, but B&B has kept many of it’s core cast throughout the years so I’m hoping it will be easy for me to follow along quickly.

Stay tuned!

Week Two: As The World Turns

Posted in What I'm Watching with tags on December 8, 2008 by Jeff

noelle-beckAnother week, another soap.  It’s time for me to check out As The World Turns for the first time since the early 1990’s.  I’m looking forward to seeing Elizabeth Hubbard as Lucinda.  I’m curious to see what all the fuss is about over Luke and Noah.  I hope I get to see Bob and Kim, who used to remind me so much of own parents (without the multiple marriages).  Most of all, I am really curious to see what Noelle Beck does with the role of Lily.  In the mid 1980’s, two of my favorite heroines were Martha Byrne’s Lily and Noelle Beck’s Trisha (from Loving).  This is going to be interesting!  I’ll report my full findings over the weekend, plus I’ll have a post on my thoughts of last week’s All My Children this Wednesday.

Stay tuned!

When I Watched… “As The World Turns”

Posted in When I Watched with tags on November 24, 2008 by Jeff

as_the_world_turnsSome of my earliest childhood memories include playing on my parents’ living floor as my mother watched As The World Turns while ironing.  I would hear the familiar theme music while visiting my grandmother and my aunts.  Although I didn’t really understand who the people were, I knew that my mom liked Kim and wanted her to be with Dan, but Susan and John always caused problems.  As I got older, I watched All My Children and most of the ABC soaps.  I never thought much more about World Turns until I became a fan of Guiding Light in the early 1980’s and saw a few commercials for World Turns around the Tom/Margo/Mr. Big storyline.  I was curious enough to tune in.  While I didn’t watch every day, I enjoyed Tom and Margo, the who shot John Dixon mystery, and also the Steve/Betsy/Craig triangle.  When legendary head writer Douglas Marland was named head writer of As The World Turns in 1985, I began watching daily.

I loved the resurgent Hughes family, the introduction of the Snyders, Lucinda and Lily, and the blend of humor, pathos, and mystery that Marland wrote so well.  As The World Turns featured youthful storylines but always tied things into the past and kept veterans front and center, sharing the spotlight with their younger co-stars.  It was a show my whole family could watch together.  My favorite storylines during this era were Lily and Holden’s romance, the secret of Lily’s adoption and true parents, Bob and Kim finding Sabrina in Venice, Tad Channings’s murder, and the first (and best) return of James Stenbeck.

Sadly, Dougas Marland died in 1993 and As The World Turns was never quite the same for me.  Subsequent head writers each put their own spin on the show, and nothing really caught my attention. Slowly but surely my favorites left the show.  I was particularly sad to see Lisa Brown (Iva) leave, as she was also a big favorite of mine from Guiding Light, where she played Nola.  New characters were introduced that had no bearing on the existing cast, and some storylines were almost laughable.  I stopped watching the show in 1995.

Eventually, Hogan Sheffer became head writer, and critics began taking notice in World Turns again.  I checked the show out, and while the stories were interesting (especially the Barbara and Craig storyline), I found many of my favorite characters had come back with totally different personalities – most notably Dusty Donovan.  I kept tabs on the show here and there, but never became a real viewer again.

On December 8th, I’ll try out As The World Turns again for a full week.  I’ll be sure to let you know what I think.

My Return To Daytime

Posted in Soaps in General with tags , , , , on November 22, 2008 by Jeff

My name is Jeff and I have watched soaps most of my forty years.  Some of my earliest memories involve Erica Kane, Rachel Cory, Mike Bauer, and John Dixon.  All throughout my formative years, soaps were my favorite entertainment genre.  When everyone else was glued to Charlie’s Angels, I was wondering if Iris was going to split up Mac and Rachel on Another World.  When others were giggling at Three’s Company, I was waiting for General Hospital‘s Laura and Scotty to get married in the park.

Like all good friends, sometimes soaps disappointed me.  Some stories work, and some don’t.  However, for most of the eighties, I was a happy soap fan.  Then along came the nineties, or as I call it, “The Soap Killing Decade.” Sure, soaps enjoyed somewhat decent ratings during the Clinton administration, but things were going in the wrong direction.  I know the Iran-Contra hearings in 1987 and the O.J. Simpson trial in 1995 pre-empted soaps and that caused a ratings to dip.  I also know that the onslaught of cable channels didn’t help matters either.  But in the end, it was the writing that drove me away from my once dear friend, the daytime drama.

I have watched every soap currently on the air at one time or another in the last thirty years.  The shows that I watched the longest were All My Children, As the World Turns, Guiding Light, and One Life to Live.  The last soap I watched on a daily basis was Guiding Light. I stopped watching watching daily at the end of 1998, although I have tuned in occasionally here and there.

Now that it’s been ten full years since I’ve had a daily commitment to a soap, I’m realizing that I miss my old friend, the daytime drama.  Can any soap out there win me back?  Starting December 1 and over the following eight weeks, I will watch one soap per week; every day for an entire week.  Starting with All My Children the first week and ending with The Young and the Restless on the eighth, I will watch each one for five consecutive days with a new and fresh perspective – and I will report my findings here.

Will any of them hook me? Can I be a soap fan again?

Tune in and find out.