"Things we never imagined could end, in fact, do come to an end." --- Jack Snyder
As the World Turns passed away suddenly Friday, September 17, 2010, at 2:55 p.m. EST, from natural causes, including a decades-long decline in daytime ratings for all soaps and the network's desire to produce cheaper programming, i.e. reality and talk shows. As the World Turns was 54 years old.
The show was born April 2, 1956, to parents Proctor and Gamble. ATWT's only recently remaining sibling, Guiding Light, passed away last year, from the same causes. As the World Turns was set in the fictional town of Oakdale, Illinois, and tackled relevant social issues, such as HIV, Alzheimer's, mercy killing, interracial romance, homosexuality, and rape. The show held the number one ratings spot in daytime for decades and is credited with creating the first "super couple," in characters Jeff and Penny.
ATWT aired 13,858 episodes and was home for some future Hollywood heavyweights such as Meg Ryan, Julianne Moore, Marisa Tomei, Martin Sheen, and James Earl Jones, early in their careers. The talented current cast included many Emmy nominees and former winners and this year's Emmy winners for best actress, Maura West, best actor, Michael Park, and best supporting actress, Julie Pinson.
ATWT is survived by a gifted cast and crew and millions of devastated fans, who fought gallantly the past several months to save it. CBS is filling its 2:00 p.m. timeslot with a new talk show.
A final viewing is available for family and friends at www.cbs.com. Interment is at www.youtube.com, where fans can watch some of their favorite clips from past episodes.
Well, Scoopers, if you're anything like me, your eyes were red and your vision blurry after Friday's final airing of As the World Turns. I couldn't stop crying, as the reality set in that this was the last new episode of the show I would ever watch.
Thankfully, it was a beautifully written piece of drama, from start to finish, that included the entire cast and tidily wrapped-up storylines. I commend the writers for telling the final story in Bob's voice, from his point of view. That simple narration made the show even more poignant, because as Bob began his retirement and said goodbye to his hospital and his patients, including the entire town, we as viewers were saying goodbye, too. It was a stirring allegory, as we listened to Bob's soothing voice describing all the characters, just as the show would cut to them going about their daily routines, like it was just another day in Oakdale. But we all knew it wasn't just another day in Oakdale. It was the last day.
The final scene broke my heart, as Bob turned off his office lights, said goodnight, and spun that beautifully lit globe. (The trademark opening sequence of the show for years.) By the end of the hour, I was practically rocking in the fetal position.
I commend the writers for jumping ahead one month and neatly wrapping up storylines to give fans closure. Jack and Carly were remarried and expecting a baby. Dusty was discovered to be the father of Janet's baby, Lorenzo Dustin, and finally found happiness, and so did I, because after years of my pathetic begging, he finally had some quality scenes with father-figure John Dixon. What a treat for fans to have John back onscreen and wooing Lucinda, ribbing Lisa, and accepting the interim chief of staff job at the hospital.
Holden and Lily, one of the show's long-suffering super couples, hinted at reconciliation. Katie agreed to marry Chris. Luke was single but still had his friendship with Noah. Casey and Alison moved to Carbondale. Margo and Tom downsized houses and rekindled their romance now that the nest was empty. Henry bought back Metro, Barbara dissolved her business partnership with son Paul, who seemed happier than ever with wife Emily. Even Craig seemed to end his storyline on an up note, reconciling with his son, Gabriel, and wishing Carly and Jack well.
It was a wonderful ending to so many years of drama. Realistic? Probably not. Real life doesn't usually end with so many happy couples and most conflicts resolved, but after years of watching these characters suffer every imaginable horror from rape to amnesia to kidnapping and death, it was satisfying to see some happily ever afters.
There were so many fun moments this week that acknowledged show history, from Jack calling Holden "stable boy" to Holden's, "Yes, ma'am" to Lily, to Parker wanting to become a police officer, like his father, Hal, and Jack. Bravo, writers.
I also have to take a moment to rave about John Hensley's scene with Lily on Thursday. I don't think I've ever seen Holden cry like that. What a performance he gave. It makes me a little angry that for years the show gave him nothing more to do than fix his old tractor and feed the horses.
My only complaint is that I wish at the very end of the episode they would have taken five minutes and put together a clip package set to a heart-wrenching song. There have been so many amazing scenes and famous faces through the years that it would have been a real treat for viewers to look back at the memories.
As I'm fighting my way through this emotionally charged last column with teary eyes, I realize I'm not just saying goodbye to ATWT, but to all of you, who for nine years have read my column loyally, defended me when I dared to voice an unpopular opinion, and written me thousands of e-mails of support. It never felt like a job to me. I've loved watching this show and writing about it for you. I'll miss you as much as the folks of Oakdale. And if anyone needs a freelance writer with a strong knowledge and opinion about soaps, please e-mail me. As of Friday, I'm officially unemployed!
"A happy marriage is a long conversation that always seems too short," Jack Snyder declared during his wedding vows. That's how I feel about ATWT. It was a lifetime too short.
Best Lines of the Week:
(Lily tells a stunned Craig that Jack and Carly are getting married.)
Craig: "I'm sure my invitation just got lost in the mail."
Lily: "Trust me, it didn't."
(Molly runs into Holden and tells him she's the maid of honor for Carly's wedding.)
Molly: "Who knew I had any honor left at this stage of the game?"
(Craig sneaks into Carly's wedding and sits beside his sister Margo, the cop.)
Margo: "What are you doing here?"
Craig: "Observing an abomination."
Margo: (Sighing) "I don't want to arrest you today."
(Janet and Dusty are trapped at a cabin as she goes into labor.)
Janet: "What are you doing in there?"
Dusty: "Boiling water. That's what you do when you deliver a baby."
Janet: "Can you boil me an epidural while you're at it? "
Thank you everyone for all the sweet e-mails this week telling me how much you'll miss me. I have so many from you mourning the loss of the show that I haven't been able to respond to all of them yet, but I promise I will!
That's all for now, Scoopers! Sadly, there won't be a next time.
[Editor's Note: Both Jennifer and Reggie will be back later this year for our Year In Review columns.]
This week, both of our Two Scoops columnists share their thoughts on the end of As the World Turns. Below, you'll find Jennifer's column. When you're done reading, click here to read Reggie's column.