Eclaire Fare

Enjoying Pop Culture, One Bite at a Time

Remembering As the World Turns September 21, 2010

Filed under: 1980s,Memories,Television — Emily @ 3:54 pm
Tags: , , ,

The "As the World Turns" opening logo, as it appeared in the 1980s

Some warbled, dramatic music and a slowly rotating Earth – that is the As the World Turns intro that I remember from my childhood. It was the era of the Snyders and their farm, the Lily/Holden/Dusty love triangle, the James Stenbeck who always (shock!) returned from presumed death, etc. Growing up, every afternoon between 1 and 2 p.m. my mom was watching As the World Turns, which means that most days, so was I.

I stopped watching the show years ago, except for the summer after graduate school when I was unemployed and got sucked back in to day time tv again for a few months. The beauty (or perhaps tragedy) of soap operas is that even if you haven’t watched the show in ten years, you can pick right back up, since there is always a core group of characters who have grown up or grown old on the show. And so, from time to time (as in, once every few years…), I have read the weekly update in the newspaper, and know what’s going on in Oakdale.

I’m not sure whether to be sad, pleased, or indifferent about the apparently imminent death of all soap operas. Several soaps have left the air over the past few years, and new ones aren’t replacing them. Apparently more people want to watch judge shows than soaps now. As the World Turns was the latest soap to fall victim to this trend – it aired its final episode last Friday. Out of nostalgia, I watched the finale.

What is a fitting send-off for a show that’s been running for over 50 years? Certainly not the uneventful, dull episode that the writers came up with. I suppose they were focusing on closure for those Oakdale residents who managed to survive to the end without being murdered, dying of a rare disease, going to prison, getting amnesia, etc. Here’s what I gathered from the finale:

  • Jack and Carly are happily married – again – and have a baby on the way, not to be confused with the baby that Jack recently discovered he’s not the father of.
  • Lily and Holden are once again having problems (in fact, it looks like they are separated/divorced), but it looks like these true loves are going to find their way back to each other again.
  • Lucinda and John Dixon rekindled their love for one another while in Europe, and they plan to live the rest of their days enjoying each other’s company, much to Lisa’s chagrin.
  • In the strangest development, Barbara Ryan is happily involved with a much younger Henry, and they seem to spend their time dancing to disco music at home, even with a disco ball and multi-colored lights. She even dissolved her partnership in her fashion company with her son, Paul. Luckily, Paul had been about to do the same thing. They have now “set each other free,” and Paul is happily involved with Emily.
  • Emily’s much younger sister, Allison, moved away with Tom and Margo’s son Casey. I couldn’t quite figure out what they were doing. Surely they are older than college aged by now.
  • Margo was quite distraught about her youngest son leaving home, but Tom helped her focus on the positive, and now that they are empty nesters, they conveniently switched homes with Katie and Chris, who just got engaged and are planning to fill a house up with kids.
  • Coincidentally, Katie and Chris’s condo once belonged to some guy who died and was in a relationship with Luke (Lily’s son). The guy’s heart was transplanted into Chris, so Luke came over to listen to Chris’s heartbeat with a stethoscope.
  • Bob Hughes retired as Chief of Staff at the hospital, and the show ended with him leaving his office saying , “Goodnight,” with a globe spinning on his desk.

It was weird to see everyone (except Luke – bummer for him) so happy on a soap. That’s actually why it was so boring. Soaps thrive on tragedy, intrigue, and drama. If I had been in charge of the finale, I would have included a shocking or untimely death, an unexpected revelation, and most importantly, plenty of cameos of former characters. Since they episode was centered around Bob’s retirement, why not have a huge retirement party and have some old familiar faces come to town for the event? I don’t know who’s alive or dead, but what about some of the other Snyders, or Craig Montgomery, or Lucinda’s other daughter Sierra. What ever happened to Nancy Hughes? Even if they couldn’t afford to have cameos, or couldn’t figure out how to work these characters into the finale, they could at least have ended with an epic video montage. I certainly would have enjoyed that.

Cast of As the World Turns

Random Memories of the Show

  • Actors who have gone on to success – Not that being on a soap opera doesn’t spell success as an actor… But, some of the faces I remember are Meg Ryan as Craig’s first love, Betsy; Marisa Tomei as one of Lisa’s many children, Marcy, I think; Julianne Moore as Bob and (Lisa’s?) twin daughters Frannie and Sabrina (am I remembering their names correctly?); William Fichtner as Josh; etc.
  • Duncan’s castle – ATWT wasn’t the only soap to feature an exotic setting. Other shows had deserted islands, king’s palaces, or villain’s secret lairs. But I was intrigued as a child by the idea of Duncan McWhoever’s Scottish castle on the outskirts of Oakdale. I remember that he was originally involved with Barbara, then Shannon, then Barbara. And somewhere along the way he had Kira as a foster child (played by Lauren Hill from the Fugees). Who could resist a Scottish man’s charm? I wonder whatever happened to Duncan, and to Jessica and their daughter Bonnie.
  • Casey’s death – Not young Casey, but his namesake – the Casey that much older Lyla married. Lyla was Craig and Margo’s mother. Whatever happened to her? I need to do some Wikipedia reading! I don’t remember what sort of illness he had, but I remember very well how emotional the episode was where Margo decided to grant his wish for an easy death by pulling his plug. 😦
  • The Pond – Ah, the Snyder pond – site of secret rendezvous and romantic starlit dates. All the Snyder kids hung out here at one time or another.
  • The Yacht Club – The site of summer teen drama – all the high school kids would hang out here and get involved in all sorts of shenanigans no doubt.
  • The Snyder family tree – See below for my thoughts on this fun, ongoing mess of a geneology.

Family Tree Game

  • My favorite thing about watching a soap was always trying to plot out the complex family trees. It was best not to dig too deep, or you’d discover that someone was actually married to his sister, or that his stepdaughter was his aunt, or something else bizarre like that. My favorite family tree was always the Snyders, so just for fun I’d like to try to list everyone that I remember by memory. I’ll include a link to the actual family tree when I finish.
  • Emma Snyder – the matriarch! She seemed to spend all her time standing at the kitchen counter giving her many children advice, or just listening to them lament about all their problems. Her children:
    • Seth – I believe he was the oldest
    • Iva – She was adopted, so it’s okay that her brother, Holden, married her daughter Lily. Oddly enough, Lily was the result of Iva being raped by Josh (played by now successful character actor William Fichtner), yet somehow Josh was accepted into the family when he married Ida’s sister, Meg.
    • Ellie – My favorite actress who played Ellie was the one with the short dark brown hair. I don’t really remember what she did on the show. Mostly she just popped in and out of town for visits.
    • Caleb – I think he was one of the sons, but he may have been a Snyder cousin. I do remember that he was married to Julie, and that one night Holden got drunk and slept with her, resulting in a child, or some such.
    • Holden – Ah, the heart throb of Oakdale. I remember him best when he was young and always working in the stables, when he wasn’t swimming in the pond with Lily or having romantic picnics with her. As far as I can tell, he’s the only Snyder who stuck around until the end of the show.
    • Meg – Yeah, I can’t remember what she did either. The sisters never had much to contribute, I guess.
    • Angel – I think she married into the Snyder family. Maybe she was married to Caleb and then Seth for awhile.
  • Let’s see how I did with my Snyder family tree – Pretty close. As I suspected, Caleb was a cousin. I forgot that Holden also married Angel. It’s crazy how many marriages, divorces, and illegitimate children are represented in this family!

Let’s face it: soap operas are about as cheesy and over the top as tv gets. And you can fast forward through a one hour episode and catch all the “important” stuff in about ten minutes. Everything is so drawn out – the long pauses, the contemplative stares or daydreams, the dramatic zoom-in close-ups, etc. The writing is pretty elementary, the acting is usually not great, and the stories are usually predictable. Still, there’s a certain charm to soaps, and it seems like there should still be a place in the world for them. Really, what’s the difference between me finding comfort in a primetime show like Parenthood, and a stay at home mom of the 1980s keeping up with the lives of the Hughes and Snyders in Oakdale? Well, I could think of a few… But hats off to As the World Turns for entertaining millions of women (and some men, too) for over fifty years!

What are your favorite memories of As the World Turns, or any other soaps that you watched?

  • For more As the World Turns nostalgia, visit this website, which does actually feature a video montage that includes some of the old school scenes I would have liked seeing in the finale.

Fall 2010 TV: What I’ll Be Watching September 17, 2010

The 2010-2011 television season officially kicks off next week, and it comes at just the right time for me. We took our time this summer finishing up episodes of our shows from last season, and last week we watched (and thoroughly enjoyed) season three of Dexter. That leaves us with only one week of wondering what to watch before our shows are back. Here’s a look at what I’ll definitely be watching this year, by day of the week (I always check out several new shows’ pilots, so it’s possible I may be adding a couple of shows to this list).

  • Sunday:
    • I won’t be watching anything on Sunday evenings, except maybe the occasional NFL game, if the Saints are playing.
  • Monday:
    • There’s no “must see tv” yet for me on this night. Although I still watch the occasional episode of How I Met Your Mother, I lost interest in that show about a season and a half ago. I’ve watched most of the Lone Star pilot, and based on that I don’t think it’s worth investing another hour a week to. I am slightly intrigued by the Hawaii Five-O remake, since it stars Daniel Dae Kim, but I’ll reserve judgment until I’ve seen the pilot.
  • Tuesday:
    • Glee – This was by far my favorite new show last season, and I can’t wait to hear (and download) more songs, laugh at more of Sue Sylvester’s snarky dialogue, and cheer for the rag tag team of misfit Glee clubbers.
    • Parenthood – I fell in love with this show over the summer. Lauren Graham is the main bright spot, but she is surrounded by an outstanding cast of colorful characters. I’m planning to write a “Why You Should Watch Parenthood” post pretty soon, so I’ll save most of my praise for that. Let me just say that the sub plots featured each week on this show seem like pretty realistic depictions of the situations families find themselves facing every day. Since I’m right in the middle of suburban family life, am in my early 30s, and have two kids, I suppose I am part of the target audience, and I’m enjoying every minute of this show that caters to me. Thanks, NBC!
  • Wednesday
    • Modern Family – It’s no surprise that I’m also a fan of this other new family show from last season. I was pleased to see it win so many Emmy’s this year – it is very much deserving. I laugh just as much at this show as I do at any of the other comedies I watch (there are several of them). I love how it finds humor in typical family situations, like the classic family sitcoms of the past few decades, but adds a healthy dose of sarcasm and satire to the mix. Perfect recipe!
  • Thursday
    • Fringe – I’ve been anticipating this show more than any other over the summer. Partly because I actually watched the season finale when it aired, and thus had to wait the full four months to find out what happens next, but also because it left viewers with a crazy cliffhanger! I can’t wait to see what crazy adventures Olivia, Peter, Walter, and Astrid find themselves in the midst of next. I’m also planning a “Why You Should Watch Fringe” post, so stay tuned for that if you have considered watching this show.
    • Community – This little comedy that could grew on me more and more with each episode last season. It has some silly moments that fall flat, but I mostly adore the characters, the frequent pop culture references, and the quirky tone. I liked it from the beginning since I actually teach at a community college. There’s a lot of reality in the show’s portrayal of community college campus life (except maybe for the paint ball war…), taken to the extreme, of course.
    • 30 Rock – I fell behind on this show for awhile last season. It lost some of its edge, spending too much time on Jack and his two girlfriends. Once it turned more attention to Liz’s disfunctional love life, this Emmy darling was back at the top of its game. Liz’s boyfriends on the show have always been hilarious, so I hope we will see more of airline pilot Matt Damon, who first showed up in last season’s finale. And how bizarre and hilarious is Will Forte as Jenna’s Cher/Jenna impersonating boyfriend. Greatness.
    • The Office – This show is past its prime, but as long as it still makes me laugh, I’ll keep watching. Honestly, Michael Scott isn’t the funniest thing about it, but he may be the glue that holds the supporting cast together. But really, shouldn’t the show just end when Steve Carrell leaves?
  • Friday
    • Supernatural – I haven’t watched this show in new episodes on tv since season two. Now it’s entering it’s sixth season, and after catching up with seasons three through five on dvd and summer reruns, I’m ready to jump back in. I’ll enjoy being able to enjoy reading about the show online without fear of spoilers – it has quite an avid fan base!
  • Saturday

    • Nothing interesting comes on Saturday nights!

So there you have it. I am watching fewer shows this season than I have in a long time – especially since there are no shows waiting in the wings, like Lost, 24, and Battlestar Galactica in recent years. There are eight shows on my list, but since four of them are half hour comedies, I don’t feel like I’m investing a lot of time in tv this fall. What will you be watching? Is my list missing anything that’s must-see for you?


Quick Thoughts on Summer Entertainment September 5, 2010

Filed under: Movies,So You Think You Can Dance,Television — Emily @ 2:28 pm

You may have noticed that I’ve been MIA for most of the summer. I was kind of busy being miserable in the Texas heat during my third trimester, and then figuring out how to handle two kids once I had my baby boy in early August. I’m starting to regain control of my schedule again now, so I thought I’d start off my latest attempt to get back into this blog by giving a recap of my summer entertainment – tv, movies, plays, etc.

  • Spring TV Catch Up – Somewhere along the way in May and June, my husband and I fell way behind on our regular tv shows. It took us most of the summer to finish out the seasons of Glee, Fringe, 30 Rock, Community, etc. As much as we love Glee, it was the last show that we finished watching. Maybe we couldn’t stand the thought of no new episodes for three whole months! I am happy to report that we have cleaned out our Tivo’s Now Playing List, except for one episode of Parenthood and the second half of V’s first season (we’re not even sure if we’ll continue watching this show, so it doesn’t really count).
  • Parenthood – Speaking of Parenthood, I am officially in love with this new show. It has been my comfort TV for the past month. I am so glad that I saved all the first season episodes, even though I had never gotten around to watching them during the regular season! I plan on writing a separate post for this show – it very much deserves the attention! I am excited about the second season premiere, which is just around the corner.
  • Supernatural – Over the past year or so I’ve been catching up on this WB/CW show, which I originally stopped watching after season two, when there were simply too many choices on Thursday nights. I have thoroughly enjoyed Sam and Dean’s continuing adventures. I still have four episodes left to watch from last season, but I should finish them in time to enjoy the new season’s episodes without having to wait for them to come out on DVD. I’m sure there will be a big cliffhanger that will make me happy that I only have to wait a few days to see resolved. I see that the CW is banishing the show to the dreaded Friday night time slot, so I am guessing this will be the final season. It’s been a good run, and I will probably follow the show to the end now that I’m this far in.
  • So You Think You Can Dance – After several seasons of faithfully blogging about my favorite reality competition, I simply couldn’t keep up this summer. I managed one measly post, and then had trouble even tuning in every week. Even though my interest has waned from what it once was, I still think this is a great show. While this season’s contestants didn’t wow me like some in the past (Pasha! Jakob! Katee!), I was especially impressed by the choreographers’ creativity. Tabitha and Napoleon outdid themselves, and Sonya Tayeh, Travis Wall, and others did some equally stellar work. It made me wish that the producers would develop a spin-off along the lines of “So You Think You Can Choreograph.” They could even have SYTYCD all-stars perform the routines. How fun would that be? As for this season, the all-star gimmick kind of fell flat, especially since so many of the girls were ousted early on, leaving the all-star guys without much chance to perform. Still, it was very nice to see some old favorites like Pasha and Twitch, be reminded how good others were (Mark, Katherine), and be introduced to a fantastic season two contestant (Allison). The question of who would be sent home each week was highly predictable, but I think Kent and Lauren were the deserving top two, and that Lauren completely deserved to win. It was nice that things went the way they should for once on a reality show! (I still think that Crystal was robbed last season on American Idol, and am still bitter about Jakob not winning on last season of SYTYCD…)
  • Movies – I haven’t watched a ton of movies this summer, but here’s a short list of the ones I did see
    • Inception – The payoff of this movie was so worth sitting through 2 1/2 hours and risking being uncomfortable as I neared the end of my pregnancy. The special effects, the sound, the intricate plot, the all-star cast, etc. This is one of those rare films that I would love to see again in the theater – it’s that impressive and entertaining. My parents would disagree. They had trouble accepting the “shared dreaming” aspect of the plot that held the movie together. This surprised me, since I didn’t think twice about it. Christopher Nolan’s movies do seem to appeal more to the under 40 crowd than to our parents.
    • Iron Man 2 – While this movie had some glaring plot holes or unclear developments, it gave me another chance to see one of my favorite actors on the big screen. I’m talking, of course, about Robert Downey, Jr. He was looking good in that iron man suit! I was highly entertained by the whole movie, but could have done without the confusing/campy Scarlett Johansson and Samuel L. Jackson subplot. Say what? I felt like they jumped into the movie from a bad X-Men imitation.
    • Whip It – I’d been wanting to see this movie ever since I first saw the trailers, and it’s just about what I expected: a chick flick with attitude. I thought Drew Barrymore did a great job in her directorial debut, and the roller derby girls were well cast.
    • Dr. Horrible’s Singalong Blog – This was my second time to view this fun Joss Whedon creation, and it was just as entertaining this time. I’m still surprised by the bittersweet ending, but I shouldn’t be, knowing Whedon’s history with shows like Angel and Buffy – well, really any show he’s ever made has had a bittersweet finale. The songs are catchy, the lyrics clever, and the cast entertaining. Neil Patrick Harris can do no wrong!
  • Theater
    • Black Pearl Sings – This was a local production starring Liz Mikel, of Friday Night Lights fame. It was an excellent two-person show set during the Great Depression, featuring acapella folk songs and spirituals. I don’t go to many plays, but my positive experience with this one makes me want to keep my eyes open for more good ones.
    • Wicked – I finally saw this Broadway production that everyone raves about. I was skeptical, but was quickly won over by the charming cast, songs, set design, and story. Glinda and Elphaba were the real stars, as one would guess. The actresses who portrayed them had tremendous voices and good chemistry as the unlikely friends. My only complaint is that this musical lacks a grand finale. The first act blows you away before intermission, with the moving “Defying Gravity” scene, but the show ends with one tiny song, and some dialogue to wrap up loose ends. I was looking for something more awe inspiring. Oh well.

So there’s the list of tv, movies, and plays that have entertained me this summer. What were you watching?