ATWT Viewer On The State of the Union (Oakdale Style)

User Rating: / 0
"As the World Turns Was something special.  Now it's just a soap opera."


Cady McClain, Roger Howarth (Rosanna, Paul, ATWT)Dear Soapdom,

This reminds me of the first week of March, 1993.

News came out that Michael David Morrison (Caleb Snyder) died under mysterious circumstances.  Later that week, it was revealed that the marvelous Douglas Marland, head writer of "As The World Turns" since 1985 and one of daytime's legendary scribes, passed away.  Right behind all this bad news, ATWT fired Joseph Breen, who brilliantly played Scott Eldridge, Lisa's secret son from her "Our Private World" spinoff era.

Those weeks in spring 1993 were a bad omen, for ATWT nearly spun off its axis in the mid-1990s, with a revolving door of producers, writers, and perhaps most unfortunate, actors who barely made it out of modeling academy.

Sadly, March 2008 is not looking so good for Oakdale.

I just can't understand it.  Scott Bryce comes back to revisit the Craig Montgomery role, gets handed some of the crappiest story of the character's long history on the show, and he hits it out of the park -- only to be unceremoniously dumped over Christmas break by a show his family had called home for so many years. 

Ah, Grayson McCouch, we hardly knew ye.  Dusty Donovan was a one-of-a-kind character, and the one of a few on-screen reminders of longtime favorite John Dixon (still at Starbucks with Ben Harris and Jessica Griffin, I presume?).  Dusty's potential was never fully realized, but the way he checked out was a slap in the face to longtime viewers, not to mention the character.  After bailing out nearly every female on the show from the world's troubles -- you know, methamphetamine addiction, prostitution, diet pill addiction, whatever -- and doing it with style and class, how do things go?  He is stabbed with a syringe filled with Memo 21 or some other crazy concoction, kicking off a "murder mystery" that lasted, oh, three days.  My only question to The Powers That Be is, was it really worth it?

Cady McClain resurrected the Rosanna Cabot character, once a strong and feisty heroine, only to see the story take a terrible turn, when she was sacrificed on the altar of Paul (Stenbeck) Ryan.  The day that Rosanna was shown begging in the interrogation room, not for freedom for inexplicably changing DNA results, but for Paul to stay with her -- words cannot describe how angry and sad I felt for that character, and for the actress who had played her so beautifully over the years.

I can handle strange plot twists and turns, even evil dummies named Cowboy Jack or the occasional unhinged serial killer, but this truly is getting ridiculous.  The actors do all they can to make this stuff work, but I am having a hard time negotiating this material in my brain as someone who has spent over two decades watching Oakdale's citizens every day.  Whereas, throughout most of the past 20 years, most of the action came out of character -- these days, it's just plot driven all the time, and these people are behaving so strangely compared to how they were only a few years ago.

It's sad to say, particularly since there are good things still happening, like Lisa being the first to approach Barbara about her speech impediment (it made perfect sense, given their history), or any day Brad is on.  I guess ATWT raised its own bar so high, those of us who have been around watching for a while feel nothing but crushing disappointment when things don't go our way.

And now, Martha Byrne is gone.  Lily and Holden were once this show's signature supercouple.  They made the most of what they were given in recent times, but maybe the sun has set on this pair for the last time.  My question is this -- how can Martha Byrne and Scott Bryce, two of the biggest ATWT cheerleaders on that whole team, become so disgusted with their own show?

Does anyone remember when John Clarke left the Mickey Horton role on DAYS OF OUR LIVES after 40 years?  I don't think it was for medical reasons.  I contend that he felt his character, and show, had been compromised far beyond what was acceptable to him as an actor.

Perhaps that is what we are seeing these days on AS THE WORLD TURNS -- a final farewell to anything resembling Irna Phillips or Douglas Marland.  And it makes me very, very sad!

This show was something special.  Now it's just a soap opera.

Michael Bird
via email