and feeling like a spoilsport, but...
I wish I could share in the excitement over the newly-issued As the World Turns DVD set. I really do. But, as I read through the list of selected episodes, I felt much as I do when a schoolchild asks me to buy mediocre chocolate I won’t eat (now, Girl Scout cookies are another matter) or multi-roll packages of wrapping paper I won’t use (God bless gift bags and tissue paper), to support their school. Depending on my relationship to the child asking, not to mention my financial situation at the moment, I may or not make the purchase. But, if I do, it’s nothing more than a token, because I generally don’t need, and often don’t want, what they’re selling.
Of the 20 ATWT episodes in the collection, only a handful interest me; many more infuriate me because they are such sad reminders of how great the show once was, and what it became in the final years. While the 30th anniversary episode (along with Guiding Light’s 70th) remains the gold standard, I was on the set the day the 40th was taped. It was bad enough watching live as John Valente, et al, gave short shrift to the show’s history while propping the couple de jour, Connor and Mark, as they got it on in a tree house. I neither need nor want to see that again. As for the 50th the less said the better; I mean, the best they could come up with was a hackneyed story that included a broken down bus and a bear in the woods with some clips thrown in. Really? Regarding Bob and Kim’s 25th anniversary, I think the title of my post, “throwing fans a bone...,” pretty much sums up my thoughts on that episode.
Of course, there are a few episodes it would be fun to see again: Margo and Tom’s wedding; Iva holding that pitchfork; Lucinda pulling John into the hot tub; James pulling back the monk’s hood. But nothing I can see myself watching more than once. And while there are episodes I wish had been included – Emily’s tango with Brock Lombard, Margo telling Hal that Adam is his son, Kim dropping her wedding ring in the bathroom sink, John singing to his dead baby in that rocking chair – my ambivalence has little to do with their exclusion and everything to do with the nature of the soap opera genre.
At the heart of soap opera storytelling is context; it’s the anticipation and aftermath of an “event” that sustain viewers. Without the arc of anticipation and aftermath, an “event” exists in a vacuum – the anthesis of the form. So, while I have absolutely no interest in watching John’s humiliation of Lisa, an episode included in the collection, I would love to see the story that led up to it: Eduardo’s death The same with the weddings. Betsy and Steve’s wedding may have been ATWT’s highest-rated episode ever, but it was the interference of Craig that made their relationship so engaging.
Which is why I’m far more excited about the online streaming of the P&G soaps (ATWT scheduled to begin in January, then Guiding Light later in the year). But for all the discussion on We Love Soaps and other soap sites, one big question remain as yet unanswered, and from everything I’ve read, unasked: how does the company licensing the PGP shows, SoapClassics, plan to monetize the online streaming? And will they be streaming all of the online episodes online, or selected storylines?
As for the GL DVD currently in the works, my wish list includes the aforementioned 70th anniversary episode, the scenes between Ross and Ed on the eve of Ross and Blake’s wedding, and the episode I described in this post.
© 2011 Lynn Liccardo
Limited Licensing: I, Lynn Liccardo, the copyright holder of this work, hereby publish it under the Creative Commons Attribution license, granting distribution of my copyrighted work without making changes, with mandatory attribution to Lynn Liccardo and for non-commercial purposes only.
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