When I read about Colleen Zenk Pinter evoking Douglas Marland earlier this month, I was reminded of a comment I made almost exactly a year ago in the midst of a very long exchange sprawled over four blogs, "...although, dare I say that ATWT seems to be back on track. Let's hope I haven't spooked it." I can't remember exactly why I thought As the World Turns was "back on track," last summer; it probably had something to do with the possibilities created by Scott Bryce's return as Craig Montgomery. But we all know how that turned out, so I supposed I must have spooked it. Sorry.
Since I came across CZP's comment, on Snark Weighs In, my response was, well, snarky. But then a funny thing happened: things started to look like they were going to get better. I watched the Casey/Emily/Tom/Margo confrontation play out as part of Tom and Margo's 25th wedding anniversary. And then there were the possibilities created between Chris and Allison - not to mention Susan there to weigh in. The Hughes and Stewarts: classic As the World Turns storytelling, with the veterans front and center. I thought to myself, "Okay, Doug Marland would, indeed, be pleased. I may have to eat my words."
In fact, this piece was originally called "The Tipping Point," because I thought the show was getting pretty close to where I would actually be watching more than half the show more than half the time. But that was last week. And, I must say, for a medium that has been dismissed for slow-moving stories, ATWT can positively turn on a dime. The storytelling is so schizophrenic, most of the time it feels as though I'm watching two different, unconnected shows. And it's felt that way for far too long.
As for the rest of the show, I'm largely in agreement with silver on Media Domain:
"I sped through last Thursday and Friday, and I'm probably not alone. Henry & Vienna are wasted filler. Get rid of them. I hate Janet and Liberty and FF any scene with either of them. I don't care about Parker's angst anymore, mostly because it involves Liberty. Brad is simply loud so I FF any scene with him. I care about Holden, Lily, and Carly - but not as much as I would care if Martha Byrne was still Lily. I think Nicole Beck is doing a great job, but she hasn't been Lily long enough for me to really care. Mike is not Mike, he is a child. Meg and Paul are whispered repetition. I still like the Emily/Casey Hughes/Stewart storyline. "
Besides the Hughes-Stewart stories, I'm getting frustrated along with everyone else about Luke and Noah, largely because the story's so very contrived, particularly in contrast to how sex is portrayed among the straight couples. But, what really frustrates me is the golden opportunity TPTB squandered by killing off Noah's father; rather then tell a fully-developed, multi-generational story that explored the Colonel's homophobia, possibly revealing his own homosexuality, TPTB rushed the plot along by making him a psychopath. Of course, his body's never been found. And, this is a soap opera...
What else am I watching? Lucinda: anytime, anyplace, any acting partner. Almost everything else is ff material. Much as I love Barbara, it's all about Paul and Meg, and I have no idea why those two are a couple other than that's the way the writers wrote the story. Why TPTB didn't create a story with Craig that has us rooting for both men escapes me. This idea that a couple can prevail only when the other person is demonized is antithetical to everything soaps used to stand for.
As for Holden-Lily-Carly, not much has changed since I expressed my feelings here and here, although I am getting the sense that part of this storyline's purpose was to accelerate the Parker-Liberty relationship, by giveing Parker a reason to be angry at his mother and an excuse to sleep with Liberty, a story that interests me not one bit. I'm in total agreement with Rosebud1 who posed the rhetorical question on Media Domain, "Shouldn't soap sex excite us or make sigh from the passion..." And then went on to lament, "The sad reality is that ALL soaps have been suffering, in large part, because of the lack of passion, romance & basic chemistry."
Here's what coming up: A mystery involving poisoned jewelry that's been set up with all the subtlety of Hitler moving into the Rhineland and the likelihood that the villain behind said mystery will be Rick Decker, who, let's be honest, is no James Stenbeck. Then there's a new character coming on, played by soap veteran Laurence Lau, to interact with Lucinda, this while Henry Coleman continues to cool his heels waiting for a real story.
And therein lies a fundamental problem, the reason why the show feels so disconnected: Too many characters not really connected to anyone already on the canvas. In a recent Soap Opera Weekly interview, CBS daytime VP, Barbara Bloom touched upon this, inadvertently, I'm sure, when she said, "And I happen to really like Austin Peck (Brad), but he's still a new face for me. I sit in meetings going ‘How long have they been on the show? Still new.'" Yup, Brad is still new, too new to have so much story revolving around him. And if Brad's new, Janet and Liberty are even newer, and look at how much screen time they're both getting? For many viewers, including this viewer, the short answer is "too much!"
And it's not just how new a character is, but how they're connected to existing characters. Sure Jack and Brad are brothers, but instead of behaving like adults, all they fight about is the women they share, which is why I have so little invested in them emotionally, and have no interest in the coming Parker-Liberty fallout.
There are just too many characters who are either not connected to a family, or the connections are not played out, so they're hanging around like so many dangling participles: I mentioned Henry, and that goes double for Vienna. What purpose do these characters serve? Aaron, sure he's Holden's son, Lily's stepson, Luke's stepbrother, but all he does is act as a foil for Allison and Chris. I have no idea what Aaron wants out of life, and I'm guessing, neither do the writers. I was about to add Mike Kasanoff to the list, but the announcement came down today that Jon Prescott will leave the role come fall. A nice enough actor, but the character had no purpose, and no connections. So, sorry to say, I'm having a hard time believing that wherever he is, Doug Marland is looking at ATWT and smiling at what he's seeing.
Much more to discuss on this topic when I get back from vacation.
© 2008 Lynn Liccardo
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