Deep Soap: ATWT Refuses To Bring Back Beloved Star For Finale

by | September 13, 2010 at 10:33 AM | Deep Soap, TV News

Martha Byrne (Noel Vasquez/Getty Images)

Martha Byrne (Noel Vasquez/Getty Images)

Noelle Beck Offers To Sacrifice Her Job for The Sake of As The World Turns Fans

This is ‘As The World Turns’ final week on the air.  There are only five more new episodes of daytime’s longest running serial.

The show has brought back a few popular actors, most notably Larry Brygmann, in an attempt to give viewers a satisfying send off.  One actress who will not be back is Martha Byrne, who played one of the show’s most popular heroines, Lily,  from the 1980s until 2008.  The role was recast with Noelle Beck when Byrne and the show could not come to terms on a contract.  Beck has done a good job, but to most fans, Byrne is still the one true Lily.   Beck told TV Guide Canada that, after ATWT was canceled, Beck offered to give up the role so that Byrne could return for the final months of the show.  The producers opted to keep Beck.

I never understood why ATWT let Byrne go in the first place over what was allegedly an easily resolvable issue involving how often she would appear on the show. But not bringing her back for the finale is even more ridiculous.   Holden and Lily, as played by the original actors Byrne and John Hensley should get a happy ending complete with classic flashbacks. Since shows dislike using flashbacks featuring different actors, that is now an impossibility.

I think Beck deserves a lot of credit for her willingness to sacrifice her job in order to make fans happy.  In the increasingly dog eat dog world of daytime it is nice to see a performer put viewers and a show’s history ahead of her own self-interest.  I wish the producers and executives were as selfless.

DOOL Shoots Itself in the Foot

I am disappointed that, out of all the possible ways that Sami (Alison Sweeney) and E.J.’s (James Scott) relationship could have imploded, ‘Days of Our Lives‘ opted to have her shoot him in the head after she learned he orchestrated their daughter’s kidnapping.

It is not that I find Sami shooting someone out of character.  She has done it before, although there was always an element of self-defense. Sami is impulsive, so I can buy that when she found a passed out E.J. with a gun in his hand she used it in anger, regretted it, then immediately covered up her crime.

One of my friends who is  a big Sami and E.J. fan is offended that Sami slept with Rafe (Galen Gering) immediately after the shooting because, in her opinion, it looks like Sami was turned on by attempting to kill someone. I interpreted it as part of her plan to establish an alibi.  Rafe will certainly remember that he spent the night with Sami.   Besides, soap characters always seem to find terrible situations, like near death experiences or grief, great reasons to have sex.

What bothers me about this storyline is that it is boring and repetitive.  Due to an implausible contrivance, Sami has E.J’s power of attorney even though they did not get married.  She is tasked with deciding whether to pull the plug on the comatose E.J. In theory, by letting him die she would finish what she started and possibly protect herself from being implicated in the crime.  It’s a false dilemma because everyone watching knows that E.J. is going to wake up without any permanent brain damage except for a possible short term memory loss that will make  him unable to recall how he got shot.  Of course, he should remember anyway given that he was passed out when it happened.

Every story the duo has had involves one of them doing something terrible to the other than covering it up, be it Sami pretending that Sydney was not his child, or the at best ambiguous sexual encounter they had back in 2007.  We just spent months watching E.J. scramble to cover up the kidnapping.  Now we get to watch Sami do the exact same thing.  It’s tedious and squanders two of the show’s most talented actors.  If DOOL wants to write an Rafe/Sami/E.J. triangle, then it would be nice to see a story that focused on the actual relationships between the characters instead of just them keeping secrets from each other.

The scene where Sami shot E.J. was filmed in such a way that there may be a twist revealing that Sami did not actually kill him.  The camera focused on the mirror  in the room as Sami fired but the camera cut away at the moment of impact.  Then she noticed his head was bleeding. It is possible that she missed and his wound was self-inflicted or someone else shot him.   While that would keep the writers from having to come up with convoluted reasons to keep Sami out of prison, it would be an even bigger cop out since it would mean that Sami was covering up something she did not do.

This Week In ‘Young & The Restless’ Stunt Casting

Add ‘The Practice’sMichael Badalucco to the list of actors benefiting from ‘Y&R’s‘ primetime and film casting stimulus plan.  Entertainment Weekly reports that The character actor  whose credits also include ‘O Brother Where Art Thou‘ will be playing, “Hogan, a tough bookie who helps Jeff (Ted Shackelford) and Kevin (Greg Rikaart) come up with cash to help pay for Jeff’s nightclub/restaurant, Gloworm.”

While it is easy to make jokes about Y&R’s obsession with casting actors with mainstream recognition, this is not in the same category as last week’s cute stuntcasting of Elinor Donahue, who played Princess on ‘Father Knows Best‘ as the judge officiating at Billy and Victoria’s wedding which was shot at the exterior of the house from the classic sit-com.

Badalucco is an actor, not a personality.  Though he won a primetime Emmy in 1999, he does not have a fanbase or get written about in the tabloids.  His willingness to take a shorterm soap role says more about how difficult it has become for even established actors to find work than it does about Y&R’s attempts to generate publicity through casting.

Even five years ago an actor with his credits would never have considered doing a short term daytime role.  Now, Stuart Damon, who starred on ‘General Hospital‘ for decades and recently played roles on ‘As The World Turns’ and ‘Days of Our Lives’, is selling real estate because he can no longer count on booking acting jobs.