The Edge of Night
The final part of a highly personal, non-objective series highlighting various aspects of the last episodes of Guiding Light, which which ended its 72 year run on September 18th.
What was it that got me first?
Was it the opening flurry of Guiding Light's logos throughout it's 72 year history or was it the show's last "Only Love" opening featuring the most of the current cast as it had never done before? Whatever it was that first triggered a torrent of emotions that ran through me, this is what happened on Guiding Light today:
In the wake of Alan Spaulding's death, Fletcher whisked Alexandra away to see the world. Doris pulled strings and got Ashlee into a writer's program at Berkeley; Daisy and Ashley went to California together for school, while James stayed behind and bonded with his father. Mindy informed Billy that she was moving back to Springfield. Remy and a newly pregnant Christina got married in the quickest wedding in soap opera history. Olivia & Natalia settled on a name for the baby — Francesca, named after Frank. Maureen played matchmaker for Matt and one of her pretty school teachers. After weeks of online dating, Frank & Blake finally hooked up for their date, with seemingly all of Springfield stalking him. Beth gave Phillip, who once had great dreams of being a writer, a journal in which to put his every thought.
It wasn't what happened "today" that was most important; it was what happened "one year later" in Springfield that truly mattered. As I sit a home, with the television now turned off and with more than a few tears in my cynical eyes, I cannot help but be amazed that I bore witness to what I believe was one of the greatest series finales of an American institution as has been produced during the long — and now endangered — life of a uniquely American genre. READ MORE
THE STORY: A pretty young woman arrives in town whose at-first-glance harmlessness is quickly revealed to be a thin veil for a scheming sociopath. She is pining after "the man who got away" and is hellbent on getting him any way she can. She's a lethal mix of Little Debbie and Lizzie Borden, unhealthy amounts of saccharine mixed with dead-eyed lunacy. With gleam in her cuckoo for cocoa puff eyes, she embarks on a reign of terror of blackmail and personal vendettas. The she-devil tangles with an older woman who know her evil ways and does her damndest to banish the rivals for her insane affection. She even uses a pregnancy to try to snare her quarry. Her delusions grow just as fast as her enemies list until they've had enough....
The evil on a stick chicka I am referring to is not One Life to Live's kewpie doll psycho Stacy Morasco (Crystal Hunt), but rather the thoroughly unbalanced, off the wall Nora Fulton from The Edge of Night. READ MORE
As the World Turnsgets little critical love these days, at least from me. Executive producer Chris Goutman and head writer Jean Passanante are roundly criticized for revolving door castings that last between three to six weeks per actor while a number of popular veterans remain stranded on the sidelines, nine month story lines compressed into 45 minutes of screen time, and obviously declining production values due to draconian budget cuts not of their making or within their control. Watching ATWT lately has been as often a test of endurance as much as one of patience. Unfortunately, many viewers have been able to pass neither challenge as the show's declining Nielsen ratings attest.
Nonetheless, I am careful to try to give credit where credit is due and today's episode did something very smart for the first time in a long time: human emotions took center stage. The writers shoved janky plot mechanics aside and instead focused on characters trying to relate to each other through adverse circumstances. Yes, ATWT's usual maddening problem of compressing events that should have played out over days and weeks into a single show managed to compromise a bit of my enjoyment, but I have to say I thought as a whole they hit it out of the park today. READ MORE
Dear Mr. Goutman,
If ever I was convinced there is a real world application of the phrase "an exercise in futility", this letter might qualify as proof of that concept. After all, you have been quoted in at least one now infamous interview that you do not listen to what fans have to say and that you follow your gut instincts about what you feel is best for As the World Turns as its executive producer. In many respects I applaud you for it. Vision, however forward thinking or flawed, indicates what might be called passion, which itself implies a belief in something. I think, in your own way, you really do believe in your show.
Savvy viewers (including those of moderate intelligence like myself) more than appreciate the fact that Procter & Gamble/TeleNext soap executive producers like yourself arguably have tougher rows to hoe than their counterparts. You have your corporate bosses at P&G to answer to, as well as another set of head honchos at CBS. Reports from the war front regarding the recent cancellation of ATWT's sister show Guiding Light exposed that often these two factions have differing agendas, which can only make your job that much harder to do in a climate of increasingly draconian budget cuts and free falling ratings amidst an ever shrinking — some openly say dying — genre with roots that can be traced back to Charles Dickens and beyond. No wonder you tune out the noise, if I may, to concentrate on one of the hardest jobs in all of television: producing 350+ hours of television every year. READ MORE
As the World Turns celebrates it's 53rd birthday today. On April 2, 1956, it was one of two shows that were the first to air in a 30-minute format. Helen Wagner (Nancy Hughes) is credited as being the longest running character played by one actor on television. She also spoke the first words of the show, "Good morning, dear". ATWT's Lisa Miller (Eileen Fulton) served as a prototype for many soap villainesses. The show has the good fortune to retain many long time characters and actors. Here's hoping for many more years of ATWT.
As the world turns, we know the bleakness of winter, the promise of spring, the fullness of summer and the harvest of autumn--the cycle of life is complete. What is true of the world, nature, is true of man--he too has his cycle. -Irna Phillips, creator of As the World Turns
(The Edge of Night debuted the same day, but was cancelled in 1984 after transferring to ABC in 1975.) Watch some classic moments from YouTube after the jump.