It’s funny how our perception of time depends wholly on the circumstances we find ourselves in. A boring or ridiculous movie, for example, can make 90 minutes seem interminable. By contrast, the two months remaining on ATWT’s screen time feels unbelievably fleeting and as each episode airs, my level of discomfort grows at the new and unfamiliar characters that are seemingly appearing at random.
So now seems a completely appropriate time to note those storylines and individuals that I consider superfluous and that I wish would go bye-bye, sooner rather than later.
In my teenage years, I would occasionally watch Days of our Lives, and I freely admit to a schoolgirl crush on Billy Warlock’s Frankie Brady. But I’m not so blinded by my fondness for him to accept his new place in Oakdale. Seriously, why is his Anthony Blackthorn character here? Has he been added to shake-up the Dusty/Jack/Carly/Janet mix? If so, I hardly think we need a fifth member of The Quad. Moreover, I admit I’m a little tired of the shady Italian-American stereotypes showing up in a small, sleepy Midwestern Illinois town.
Janet (Julie Pinson) herself scolded Dusty for lumping her old school chum Blackthorn as a thug, simply based on his ethnicity. But since the ATWT writers seem to have a terrible habit of doing that exact same thing, it’s perfectly understandable one of said writers’ characters would come up with the same conclusion. In any event, I wish the team would please stop now with the shady men from Janet’s past.
In truth, I have unabashedly enjoyed Grayson McCouch’s Dusty showing a more playful side these past few months. McCouch is an intuitive and very natural actor, and he seems to have genuinely thrived on doing something more than just appearing brooding and forbidding. I would much rather see more of this Dusty, along with a happy, content Janet. They’re funny and cute together and what’s wrong with a little bit of joy? Contrary to what most soap scribes seem to think, I believe most viewers really enjoy seeing soap couples happy together. Particularly now, when we will have scant time to enjoy such happy endings.
Secondly, if the argument is that Blackthorn was added to create more drama in the Lucinda and Craig power struggle over WorldWide Enterprises; again, I must ask why? There’s already decades of history and mountains of motivation there for all parties involved and, imagine this, it’s been created by already-existing and long-standing characters. There’s simply no need for a completely unfamiliar player to be added. This casting move smacks of gimmickry to me, at a time when stunt casting couldn’t do any good, considering the show’s long-been cancelled.
Not only are we meeting completely new characters, but in recent days, we’ve also been re-introduced to some long-gone, but still familiar faces, as Gwen and Will Munson (Jennifer Landon and Jesse Soffer) have once again re-surfaced in Oakdale. I appreciate the fact they are fan favorites, and may very well be back to help complete Barbara Ryan’s (Colleen Zenk) current storyline. Even so, I’m not overjoyed at their re-appearance.
I think I’d be more accepting of their return if their stay was going to be of a shorter duration, but my understanding is they will remain on-scene for a while. That’s more than a little aggravating as it’s my admittedly biased opinion that ATWT turned itself into the Gwen Norbeck Munson show before the end of Soffer and Landon’s original tenure on the show. Because of that, I was not heartbroken to see them go.
There’s no question that Landon is an immensely talented actress, however a soap opera is, by definition, supposed to be an ensemble show. And I’m of the belief that too much of even a good thing is still too much. So while both Will and Gwen were and are important characters in the history of the show, and therefore deserving of respect, I can only hope this time around they’re used more judiciously and don’t swallow other’s screen-time.
I’m even less happy with the news that Gwen’s mother, Iris Norbeck Dumbrowski (Terri Garber) will also soon land again in Oakdale. After all, this is the character that tried to pay off her son’s pregnant girlfriend to abort her own grandchild. Not exactly a charming persona I’m chomping at the bit to see again. Beyond that, the character of Iris always stuck out somewhat awkwardly and it seems curious that bringing this character back for another run seemed a good idea. Unfortunately, in the last few years one of ATWT’s biggest flaws has been some ill-conceived casting decisions. Repeatedly, dubious or problematic storylines or characters are brought on with no clear direction and that lack of purpose readily, and frequently painfully, becomes apparent. Now with such a small margin for error time-wise, I’m left to question the wisdom of adding and re-adding cast members that won’t necessarily contribute to any lasting legacy of the show.
Other children of main characters have also been given prominent storylines in recent days. Gabriel Caras (Ben Levin) as Craig’s long-lost son has become one of the central storylines in ATWT’s twilight. While again I’m not necessarily thrilled with this much investment in a character we’ll never have time to really love or understand, I do, in this instance, understand the significance of his presence. Not only will Gabriel potentially be a bridge for Craig (Jon Lindstrom) to reach some previously estranged loved ones, he’s also been the conduit for some under-used and incredibly talented veterans to return to the forefront. An obvious case in point is the resurgence of the incomparable Lucinda Walsh (Elizabeth Hubbard).
That said I do realize even more long- absent members of Craig’s circle will re-emerge. And again, I’m more at ease with these additions than with others, as Craig Montgomery is a tent pole character, who has long been critical to the fabric of ATWT. As such, he both needs and deserves a suitable and satisfying conclusion. For that to happen, he will need to face both those he’s betrayed and those who have in turn deceived him. Only then will some closure be found for this complicated character, be if for good or for bad.
But not only Craig deserves that kind of rich and rewarding ending. There are so many characters on ATWT who are more than worthy of the exact same. But we’re dealing with an incredibly finite amount of time, and as each new character shows up, I see less chance of a gratifying wrap-up for all our old favorites. I’m concerned that the pay-off loyal fans have been waiting for may not happen. We’ll know the answer in a few short weeks.
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