As the World Turns fans are a buzz. The soap, which celebrates its 50th anniversary on April 2, 2006, has at times been criticized for foregoing its veteran characters in light of the younger sect. However, ATWT is not the only soap that has experienced this type of outcry from the fan base. Soapdom can recall any one of a number of times when die hard fans of a soap feel cheated when their old time fan faves are relegated to back burner stories, or worse yet, placed on recurring status.
As you can imagine, the fans are not the only ones who suffer when a major, long time character is passed over storyline wise. The actors feel the brunt of the storytelling cold shoulder before anyone, and Ellen Dolan (Margo, ATWT) is no different. Suffering from backburnerdom for some time, she’s now biting the bullet and reaching out to fans of the soap to get on board and let the powers that be know that they’d like to see her character more front and center.
Dolan’s contention is that she’s loved playing the “rockem sockem” hard-nosed female detective of Margo Hughes for 16 years, but for the past five years or so, Margo has not solved one case. “Yes, there have been two small stories,” she states in a letter to the ATWT fan club. “One involving an organ transplant, (I can’t tell you how much fun it was to talk about my ‘Liver’ every day). This was abruptly switched to a Katie story and soon Margo was up and fine and back on the back burner again. Then there was the story with Doc . . . which had promise if they had followed through with it.” She goes on to ask the fan club members, “Do you remember when Margo was a strong, independent woman and not a sniveling, cat fighting, high school girl craving for a football hero?”
Could the combination of "strong" and "women" not fit the ATWT mold anymore? That’s what Dolan believes. “Where is Ms. Tamara Tunie (Jessica) these days?” she wonders. “When was the last time you saw Lucinda (Elizabeth Hubbard) at work? The message I’m getting is I can’t do the detective work because I am a woman. Jack (Michael Park) did the B.J. (Brian Gaskill) case and he wasn’t even on the force at the time. It was supposed to be Margo’s case. Jack is working both the Ryan and the Kasnoff cases!”
Dolan goes on to say how strong women detectives permeate the primetime landscape and they seem to be a “pretty valuable kind of character.” Dolan fears that if we don’t see Margo the cop soon, we won’t be seeing Margo at all.
Some of the reason for veteran characters being relegated to back burner status on ATWT could be the show’s recent focus on its younger characters.
TV critic Ed Martin from Jack Myer’s Media Village website believes that the most compelling story on ATWT right now is Luke Snyder's struggle to come to terms with his feelings for another young man.
“That's right,” Martin writes. “The soap opera so many people recall their mothers watching ‘while they did their ironing’ back in the Fifties and Sixties, is currently telling some of the best contemporary stories on television about the challenges of adolescence and young adulthood -- along with the usual offerings of complex romantic and melodramatic tales involving characters of all ages on the show.” Although, Ellen Dolan may strongly disagree with the latter part of that statement.
“To the credit of the show's writers, [Luke’s] story is proceeding slowly, building quiet tension between a number of characters without any overwrought confrontations or any of the extreme bad behavior soap writers often rely on to propel story,” writes Martin. “It's all about introspection and restraint, not the easiest aspects of characterization to convey in a compelling manner on the small screen. The actors involved, in particular newcomer Van Hansis as Luke and series veteran Jon Hensley as Holden, have been outstanding. Elena Goode, as Jade, has a quiet way of expressing herself that entices the actors around her, and viewers at home, to listen closely to every word she says.”
Martin also gives props to Jennifer Landon as Gwen, Jesse Soffer as Will, Alexandra Chandro as Maddie, and Zach Roerig as Casey. “Will and Casey are both related to veteran characters who have been on the show's canvas for decades, and the writers take care to keep them connected to their elders in realistic fashion while letting them explore their own lives. Jesse Soffer, the actor who portrays Will, and Jennifer Landon, who plays his new bride Gwen, are both deserving nominees in this year's Daytime Emmy race. (Landon, by the way, is the daughter of television legend Michael Landon.) Zach Roerig, as Casey, and Alexandra Chandro, as Maddie, are similarly talented and appealing. All of these young actors are doing their part to keep ATWT in fine form as it moves toward its golden anniversary.”
Do you agree with Martin? Do you want to see more of the strong Margo Hughes of years ago – out there on the front lines solving cases again? Let the powers that be at ATWT know your thoughts.
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