Deep Soap: ‘As The World Turns’ Series Finale Hits The Right Notes

by | September 20, 2010 at 6:22 AM | Deep Soap

Don Hastings and Kathryn Hays on As The World Turns (CBS)

Don Hastings and Kathryn Hays on As The World Turns (CBS)

‘As The World Turns’ Finale Gets a B+

And endings that come much too soon. Sometimes in the form of heartbreak, other times in hope. But the biggest challenge of all may be the day you realize it’s time to take the next step in life and walk away. “- Bob Hughes

The ‘As The World Turns‘ finale was sweet, low key and ultimately satisfying.  Narrated by Bob Hughes (Don Hastings) who was reflecting on his life as he prepared to retire from the hospital, the episode did a good job of giving viewers a way to say goodbye. His heavily meta voiceover narrative about the end of an era allowed the show to directly address the audience without breaking the fourth wall.

For many people, the residents of Oakdale were a second family that had been with them their entire life.  Wrapping up 54 years of history is an even tougher task than attempting to explain every single thing that happened on the island on ‘Lost.’  The ATWT writers wisely chose not to resolve everything by revealing that everyone was dead.

Deep Soap: Farewell, ‘As The World Turns’

The writers kept the timeline vague.  Some time had elapsed from the prior episodes.  John (Larry Brygmann) and Lucinda (Liz Hubbard) were back from their trip to Amsterdam, but Carly (Maura West) was still in her first trimester of pregnancy.  Most importantly, it was Bob’s last day of work.  When the series began, he was a smart young doctor, a romantic hero for the Eisenhower era.   Over the years, he became the show’s patriarch, providing great advice to his children and grandchildren, and tending to Oakdale’s numerous medical emergencies.  In the shows final years, he was relegated to appearances at weddings and holidays.  It was appropriate that he was the central figure of the finale.

The episode was all happy endings and closure.  Carly and Jack (Michael Park) realized they were finally living a drama free life, which would have been the kiss of death for their relationship if the show was continuing.  Janice (Julie Pinson) and Dusty (Grayson McCouch) asked them to be their baby’s godparents.   Only on a soap would asking the man you mistakenly  thought was your baby’s daddy to be the godfather be a good idea.   Chris (Daniel Cosgrove) and Katie (Terri Colombino) got engaged.  Given that many viewers now think of Chris as the jerk who got to survive at the expense of poor dead Reid (Eric Sheffer Stevens), that was probably the least satisfying resolution.  But Luke recommending that Chris be appointed Chief of Staff was a nice nod to the importance of the Hughes family in the show’s history.  In real life, someone who was recuperating from a heart transplant would be a terrible choice for a job that would require 100 hour work weeks, but soap hospitals are always run like monarchies.

The most poignant moment of the episode was when Luke used Reid’s stethoscope to listen to Reid’s heart beating in Chris’s chest.  It was the one sad scene in an upbeat episode.  Lily and Holden reunited and Lily made a tentative peace with her mother.  The most unlikely couple, Henry (Trent Dawson) and the Cougarrific Barbara (Colleen Zenk Pinter) got the best send off, disco dancing to Last Dance.  I would like to think that all of the characters will continue living life with as much zest.

While some fans wish that the show’s original bad girl Lisa (Eileen Fulton) played a bigger role in the finale, perhaps interacting with her old flame Bob, I give the show credit for giving as much airtime to the over sixty set as it did.  It would have been easy to leave Lucinda and John living happily ever after off-camera in Amsterdam.  Instead they returned to Oakdale, moved into Lisa’s hotel in part to needle their mutual nemesis.  To me, that was an appropriately prickly happy ending for the conflict loving trio. Yes, they, and Bob and Kim could have had more to do.  However, there were so many characters that needed to be served in about 37 minutes of airtime.  What era was the show supposed to honor?  The show’s golden era in the 1950s and 60s that many current viewers never saw, or the show of the past decade?  The answer for most fans would have been that every single character on the show should have gotten a major send off.  The show, having decided to make only the final few episodes serve as an epilogue, decided to focus on the show’s present.  It would have been nice to include a lengthy montage of memorable moments in Oakdale history, but that would have meant cutting other things out of the finale.

In fact, ATWT has released about eight minutes of footage that was cut from the final episode for time.  They feature teens Parker (Mick Hazen) and Faith (Valentina DeAngelis) getting into a driving mishap and Craig and Rosanna making a sort of peace with each other.  I have read some complaints that the show would have flowed better with the included scenes.  Of course it would have.  It would have been terrific if CBS had allowed the show to run long like primetime episodes occasionally do, but no daytime show will ever be afforded that privilege.  I look at it as the first time a soap cut its teens out of a show to preserve scenes featuring characters in their sixties.

The final scene of Bob leaving his office and the globe on his desk starting to spin was surprisingly emotionally affecting.  The world was going to keep turning,but a small town in Illinois would no longer be on the map. No, it was not perfect, but ATWT left the air with an episode that honored its history.

Bring on the Balkan

Brenda’s storyline on ‘General Hospital‘ finally got interesting Friday.  It turns out that Jason (Steve Burton) and Brenda (Vanessa Marcil Giovinazzo) are still fun the second time around.  His deadpan stoicism is the perfect counterpoint to her constant hyperactivity.  The irony of the one man who never loved her stepping in to guard her out of a sense of obligation still works.  Brenda’s disappointment that Suzanne, not Sonny, has recruited Jason for the job was hilarious as was Jason’s non-plussed response to Brenda asking him if he owned a tuxedo.

Her storyline has finally taken shape.  Brenda has some sort of secret past with the terrorist who is after her, known only as The Balkan. Lucky’s (Jonathan Jackson) ludicrous plot that involves him impersonating a dead Irish terrorist who happens to be his doppelganger started to make sense when it became apparent that Ronan O’Reilly had a meeting scheduled with The Balkan.  Dante’s (Dominic Zamprogna) strong reaction to discovering that Spinelli (Bradford Anderson) was researching the Balkan suggests that he might have a connection as well, perhaps one that has something to do with the woman from his past he mentioned to Sonny.  This has the potential to be the sort of exciting adventure storyline that used to be the show’s bread and butter. I hope that The Balkan will turn out to be a scary, three dimensional villain in the mode of Faison (Anders Howe) rather than silly like Franco (James Franco).  I’ll be really impressed if the Balkan turns out to be a woman.  A strong female villainess who is more powerful than the Port Charles mob would be a great addition to GH’s canvas.