I see both sides of the above discussion... As someone who originally only watched from 2000 onwards and who only saw the earlier stuff after, it's sometimes difficult to hear people pointing out the shows's flaws in the last ten years so much. Then again, I will be happy to admit that the episodes I've seen from 1979-1980, as well as the Marland era, are much better than the final ten years. And even in what I consider "my era" with the show, I can honestly say it went off the rails. I just don't necessarily agree on the when and how of it.
My take is that the show was terrible in the post-Marland mid-90's, with all of its soft porn sequences. It got an upswing in the late 90s with the return of Carly and Holden and the introduction of Jack, Molly, Camille, David, etc. I think the show soared with early Sheffer, which I might be a bit prejudiced on, because that's when I started watching. Having seen Scott Bryce, I concede that Hunt Block was no Craig, but at the time I though he was awesome. Let me also point out here that every single person who has commented on this board who hadn't seen SB, loved HB. What I mean to say is that while I get that long-time viewers had an issue with him, and perhaps it was a sign of carelessness about the show's history (which I DO take as a very serious offense in this genre), it did NOT make the show unwatchable. I get that Block's acting style isn't for everyone, but there were tons of worse actors on the show. Anyway, I digress. In 2002-2003 the show waned a bit (which I think is normal after a high), although I agree with Passenante's opinion that Rose's death was some good stuff. In 2004 the show did become quite terrible, with the Doc Reese storyline sticking out as one of the worst (at the same time, Jack's amnesia storyline was awesome). As a result, in early 2005, the show wasn't in a good place, but by the summer, the show was in a major upswing, which is why I think JP's early work wasn't that bad. Yes, it was another baby switch, only a few years after the last one, but it was a huge umbrella storyline that involved nearly all of Oakdale. I thought the majority of 2006 was really good, save the Nick Kasnoff stuff. I know the Slasher wasn't for everyone (I enjoyed it), but again, I don't think it made the show unwatchable. I think 2005-2006 also had a really strong cast, which helped to keep it watchable.
2007 is, in my opinion, when it all went downhill. I think that year still had some strong storylines, but mixed in with a lot of lesser ones, and the writing just didn't feel inspired. It is also, I realize in hindsight, when so many of the longterm sets started disappearing or shrinking and the weird shakycam started being used. Budget cuts starting to be felt. 2008 and 2009 were the absolute worst (more on that later). In 2010, perhaps as a result of the cancellation, the show ticked up bit. Yes, I think with this much time to prepare the show could have done a lot better in its final months, but 2010 was watchable, which 2008 and 2009 definitely weren't (and I say that as someone who has continued to watch through all of that).
Sorry, this is getting a bit longer than I meant, and obviously this is just my opinion. But the reason I brought all this up is because I wanted to respond to the recent claim that 2005 was terrible and late 2009 was awesome (I'm paraphrasing). I am not sure who said it, and it doesn't really matter, because it is not my intention to attack anyone, only to discuss our personal opinions. I have recently, for hobby research purposes started reading episode transcripts backwards (I know, don't ask), starting with the finale and I have just made my way to Thanksgiving 2009. A few points:
- I know Janet has a really bad rep in the ATWT community, and I agree that more airtime in the final years should have been given to more pivotal characters (or even bringing back absentee ones). Having said that, I really liked Janet, even more so in reading these transcripts now than I did at the time. As a character, she made more sense to me than Jon Lindstrom's version of Craig, who also took up much airtime, flip-flopping between Carly and Rosanna. I agree with what was said above that Jack & Carly (and Holden & Lily, for that matter), would have benefitted from a real out-of-each-other's-orbit breakup a la Bob & Kim, with both characters involved in other pairings, and I think Janet had the potential to be that pairing for Jack. What I appreciate most about Janet is the way the character was kept and repurposed as a love interest for Dusty, as opposed to the many one-storyline characters who came and left in those years. Again, I agree the show became bit Ciccone-heavy in those final years, but I think Janet is overly criticized.
- I just made my way through the Mick Dante storyline that started in 2009 and was seemingly quickly discarded following the show's cancellation. I didn't like the storyline much at the time (it didn't help that I'm no RH-fan), but even less so now (I'm pretty sure this would have to be in the top 5 worst storylines on the show). I agree this show wasn't suited for the more science-fiction type storylines, but I actually enjoyed the spa storyline in '01/'02. The reason I enjoyed that storyline was not so much for the Dr. Weston stuff, but for seeing MW, KMH and MB together, as well as the people in Oakdale trying to figure out what happened (again, I really enjoy storylines that affect most people on the canvas). Although the Dr. Weston stuff was admittedly whacky, I think they explained it enough for it to make sense if you were willing to suspend you disbelief. The Mick Dante storyline, perhaps because it was scrapped so quickly, never made sense. Was he supposed to be a de-aged James Stenbeck, who had successfully used that serum? Or was he brainwashed into thinking he was James? I always thought it was the latter, but Barbara had some of his DNA tested as match for James. There were so many plot holes I can't even properly explain the storyline. Another thing that bugged me is that when Barbara found out he was James, the man she had feared for decades, she was immediately willing to help him make up for his mistakes with their son. The whole thing made NO sense.
- OK, finally to the reason why I decided to finally write this post. Thanksgiving 2009. There was a huge Thanksgiving celebration at the Snyder farm, which I'm sure some people who didn't like the Snyders weren't happy with, but I didn't mind that. There was also a Hughes celebration, at Tom & Margo's, because that had been the go-to set for Hughes celebrations ever since Bob & Kim's kitchen became WOAK. So at the start of the episode Margo is at Katie's, convincing her to come and talking about all the preparations she has to make for dinner (which, isn't she supposed to be a terrible cook? but okay...). Elsewhere Craig and Rosanna prepare to tell Margo about their engagement. Post commercial break, Katie and Margo are at T&M's when Craig and Rosanna come in. Katie and Margo are not as enthusiastic as Craig had hoped, and Margo warns them that if they plan the "rest of the family" over Thanksgiving dinner, maybe they shouldn't, because they might not respond well. At that point, (on reading) I started wondering... Wait, what rest of the family? When I think of Thanksgiving dinner over at T&M's, I envision Bob, Kim, Nancy, Lisa. None of them are related to Craig. But I guess she meant Tom & Casey. Anyway... Katie goes outside and talks to Nancy about talking to their ex-husbands, while Craig & Rosanna leave. Katie later decides to go to the Snyder Farm, so Jacob can spend some time with Brad's family. At this point, we've only seen Margo, Katie, Craig, Rosanna, Johnny and Nancy at T&M's. Now all of this would still have been at least somewhat acceptable without the final scene. As Holden gives a toast at the Snyder Farm, a montage of different scenes is shown. As part of this montage, we see Nancy sitting on the couch at the Hughes', with clearly nobody next to her, as Margo walks up from the kitchen behind her and sits with her. Nancy grabs a picture of herself, Chris, Bob and Kim, as Margo says somehing along the lines of "that's a nice one". I can't help but wonder how ED and HW must have felt filming those scenes, and I feel especially bad knowing it was one of HW's final episodes (Thank god she got to be part of the episodes surrounding Bob & Kim's anniversary after that). I get that budget cuts were heavy at that point, but this was just ridiculous. I would have probably rather not seen a Hughes celebration at all than seeing this half-assed attempt at one (although I am glad we got to see Helen).
Anyway, REALLY long post short: I just can't agree that the show was good in late '09. It was one of the worst times for the show. Although I will admit I liked the Never Surrender tour, and the cameos from some former characters