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Soap Opera Digest, July 1, 2003


Editor's Choice:  Now What?

This has been happening a lot lately.  Picture the weekly editor's meeting, where we hash out "choice" and "performer" in often passionate debates.  In this one, there was no argument that ATWT would be getting some recognition for the spectacularly executed final week of May sweeps, but no one could agree on what, exactly, to single out.

Everyone loved Colleen Zenk Pinter (Barbara), who has such a firm grasp on her character's complex psyche that she can spend most of the year throwing campy tantrums and yet somehow rein her in for hyper-real anguish over her son's death and generate sympathy in the process.  It didn't even take much - just a split second in that moment when her disbelief melted into realization as she reached for the phone to call Hal for confirmation - and we were back on her side.  Ah, but then someone else pointed out how Martha Byrne (Rose) and Grayson McCouch (Dusty) added their own scorching, soul-searching grief to those scenes.  Or Michael Park (Jack) who does blindingly single-minded desperation so well, especially when it comes to Jack's near-obsessive love for Carly.  But we also can't forget about how Trent Dawson (reminding us again, in one scene, why we love him so) made Henry simultaneously compassionate and caustic as he finally got the truth about Simon's exit off his chest, but begged Margo to keep Katie in the dark.  And while we're at it, the touching connection growing slowly between Terri Colombino's Katie and Mark Collier's Mike in quiet heart-to-heart chats could bring a smile to anyone's face.  Then, there's the palpable fear Cady McClain gave Rosanna and the steamroller determination in Hunt Block's Craig, the exhaustion that Don Hastings had been wearing on Bob's honest face and, and, and... well, you get the point.  Singling one actor out is useless.

Then, you turn to storyline, and the debate begins again.  Half of those assembled loved the scenes in the wake of Paul's death, which included Rose's guilt-drenched talk with Lily; add the threat of revenge against Dusty to further cloud the mourning and every minute vibrated with tension.  But the most poignant moments came from the wisely included support for Babs from Kim, Lisa and a nervous Lucinda, as well as her awkward detente with a grudgingly sympathetic Rose, in which both women lamented their unconscionable betrayals of a good man who they loved dearly.  "I just wanted my son to look at me and smile instead of turning away in disgust.  And that won't happen, will it?  Because he got on a plane and he died - with nothing in his heart but hate for me," sobbed Barbara, as Rose poured a drink, poured out her own heart and then generously gave Babs the absolution she ached for.

As if that weren't enough for one week, there was also the railroading of Rosanna for Carly's "murder," which won the votes of many for its combination of suspense, romance and even a little humor, thanks to Craig and Parker "Mushy Bells" Munson.  Rosanna's character-defining paranoia about Carly ruining her life and Craig's loyalty was frighteningly actualized; the fact that Katie and Mike found Bartleby's body in the search was a cleverly integrated gem of a twist, springboarding a new story.

So, you can understand the dilemma: It's all too good.  Which means we've ended up with an Editor's Choice" embarrassingly similar to the one a little while ago, which basically encouraged anyone who isn't watching this exquisitely balanced soap to start doing so as soon as possible.  And we will probably (the ATWT editor realizes with a sigh) be doing that again in another few weeks.  So, until then, we'll just stick with that angle: Don't' miss a second of ATWT because the show itself can't be missed.


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