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1999 Article on Goutman's early work at ATWT


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Another article by Margery Scott of the defunct Soap News, this time sharing her thoughts on Goutman's early work. Lethal Laiman was HW at this time, and the show was quite a mess until Sheffer's first year in my own personal opinion.

IN MY OPINION

by Margery Scott

Soap News 12/02/99

When Chris Goutman took over ATWT there was a myriad of problems. On the surface some of these have been solved. The seemingly interminable Reid saga is over. It ended not with a bang but with a whimper. Carly's scheme was exposed and she lost the money. Lilden have back their birth baby and Denise has Hope. Lucinda returned in August and we have seen more of Kim, Bob, Nancy, Emma and even a rare appearance by Cal. So I should be as happy as flea who has found a sheepdog - but I am not. There have been some good shows - I almost feel hopeful and then inevitably the bubble bursts and we are back to less than expected, or at least less than I expect. There is one thing I am very pleased with and that is Hal and Barbara. Hal has returned to his true character and the new reunion with Barbara is the best ever.

Goutman could have done it better - which I will get to shortly - but for the most part he's at least done it - gotten rid of the simply awful mess FMB made of this show. I think he made a mistake in choosing the new writing team. I don't know who was available but LB, who wrote for him for awhile after FMB vanished, was doing a much more competent job than the current writers. Arabian knights fantasy scenes! Oh my aching head!

The soap is still mostly plot-driven but there are some exceptions, most notably Hal and the new relationship with Barbara that ring true to character. It has been the greatest of pleasures to see Hal, growing bald and all, return to his former self. It has been doubly so to see his relationship with Barbara finally become a relationship between two adults with children and responsibilities and lots of give and take. The audience can believe that these two truly love each other and every member of their combined families. That is the stuff ATWT is made of and of which I would love to see more and more.

So let's get back to Goutman. He had three major problems: Reid (w/all the repercussions that caused almost everyone in Oakdale), Brad/Carly/$50 mil Stupid Story, and Eddie/Alec. With Alec's demise and Eddie soon to disappear, he has taken care of it all - but of course we have the specter of Emily who is still after months, years, as delusional as ever about Tom! Remember that bag of popcorn?

I am going out on a limb here proclaiming that Reid Hamilton was the single worst character ever to appear on ATWT. Yes, I remember faux Paul, Sarah and Zoe! And yes, I am including the most useless character of all time, Molly! But they did not dominate the show in the same way Reid did. They were not omnipotent, omniscient villains who had all of Oakdale in thrall. Under FMB the story seemingly had no end and went on repetitively with more and more victims.

But Goutman ended the Reid story not with the satisfaction of justice being done or even victims getting revenge but with him simply lying helplessly handcuffed to a hospital bed and having to submit to nothing worse than enduring the succession of his victims who came to vilify him. Reid at least deserved to die a horrible death. He could have been the one shot or fallen off a high building or burned in a fiery auto crash or torn limb from limb by a pack of wild animals in the desert. Anything but mutely going off to prison! It would have taken no more time than Goutman's solution.

The fall out from Reid had to be taken care of too! There was Julia - poor, naïve, duped Julia - and Faith who had been kidnapped. Then there was the problem of Hope whose biological mother was Denise. And lest we forget Molly, who landed on her feet, or some other part of her anatomy, once again, grieving for all of what seemed to be a full minute for the love of her life.

Julia's reaction was bizarre. She is presently the least well-defined character on the show. Somehow she shrugged off her deep involvement with Reid and her total stupidity in believing him in one episode! She turned into a reporter overnight and has alternately been shown as a giddy ingenue or a shrieking shrew. All, of which, I read, is supposed to provide comic relief. If this is comedy then my sense of humor is sadly deficient. I have found nothing remotely amusing in her trading insults and screams with Jake. Or talking with her mouth full! Jack's reaction to her involvement with Reid was much more realistic in my opinion. He realized he did not know Julia (who could?) and dumped her. Carly may be a kook but she had Reid pegged from the start.

I remember the scene when Holden and Lily finally got Faith away from Reid. It was totally nonsensical and even comical. Lots of getting into and out of cars, screaming and yelling! But finally Faith was back with her birth parents. Then enter Denise and Ben in full force. They dominated the story line for quite some time as we waited to learn Hope's fate. Perhaps it was the right thing to do, but I thought it totally unrealistic that Lily and Holden gave up Hope and in addition with as little emotion as they showed. Now it seems the issue is to be revisited.

Now we come to Carly who was exposed (thanks to Molly's interference) as fraudulently claiming the Stupid, Stupid $50 Million (one of the worst story lines ever and yes, I remember the shrunken heads!) The exposure story was not bad - Brad the Cad disappeared - another extraneous ill-defined character gone - along with his cloyingly irritating mother. But what ensued (and is still going on, as we saw last week with John preaching Carly another sermon) was an incessant public pillorying of Carly by all and sundry! Even the bank clerk got in his digs at her!

What was the point of all this repetitive chastising? We knew Carly had screwed up. Carly knew she had screwed up. It was such a gratuitous display of bile as to be nauseating! Again I read, this was supposed to be comic relief! Sorry Mr. G., endless raking over the coals is not what I consider humor. Carly as the ladies' room attendant was not funny! But Carly has survived, survivor that she is, and Roseanna of the diabolical little mind has disappeared as well, never to return to Oakdale I sincerely hope! Goutman spent a lot more time humiliating Carly than he did punishing Reid. It was all out of whack!

The next best thing that Goutman has done is to reunite Jack and Carly. The story is at times uneven and certainly repetitive (Carly again coming into a windfall of money!) but the sheer delight of these two on screen together makes up for a lot that is lacking in storytelling. Carly spent less than a week on the farm and thought it was tough! The writers obviously did not know that Carly grew up in a rural setting and had seen plenty of tough times. But all that aside, I love these two together. They are just plain fun!

So finally, last problem, Alec's departure. First of all I think Goutman has made another serious mistake in dumping Eddie and Georgia seemingly in favor of the vapid Chris and the insipid Abigail. Apparently Eddie was nothing more than a plot device used to mess up Margo and Tom's marriage and as a reason for the appearance of Alec in Oakdale.

It was not clear for a long time whether Alec was going to turn out as a bad guy or a good guy. Maybe Goutman didn't know either. I surely hope he knows who killed him! The yo-yoing of Eddie finding out that Alec was his father became increasingly repetitive (notice how many times I have used that word) and downright boring. Finally someone made up his mind - Alec was a villain!

From the moment Margo decided to go undercover to expose Alec to now the story has been incredibly torturous - and repetitive! Margo once again has become unstable and "confused." She could not keep her personal life separated from her work as a cop. She seems close to hysteria most of the time, which is exhausting. It was never believable to me that either Margo or Alec really cared about each other. She was apparently fixated on him because she wanted to get back at Tom. She played right into Emily's hands of course. Why Alec wanted Margo eludes me completely. Did he think long before we knew that she was on to him? That was not clear to me.

As Emily told him, it was stupid of Alec to try to kill Tom. That seemed nothing more than a ploy to temporarily reunite Margo and Tom and of course to finally provide the evidence to get rid of Alec. Now that Margo has revealed that she slept with Alec, the whole ball of yarn is coming unraveled once again! She is seeing visions and hearing things. Does she have PST again? Argh, I just want this to end somewhere with Emily paying for her sins!

What Goutman is doing with the Molly/Chris/Abigail story defies my comprehension and such sensibilities as I still have. The less I say about Molly the better! She is a zero in my opinion. And zero times any number still equals zero.

Lucinda has been poorly written since her return. She has joined the ranks of the veterans who are used only in supporting roles. Yes, we see them more often, but they are essentially wallpaper. We are all upset about that! Weren't we promised once again - more veterans?

Goutman owes this fine cast better than he has given them so far. I hope he finds a way to deliver. So I am wishing for Mr. G - that Santa will leave him a new and improved writing team in his stocking this year. And no more Arabian Knights please!

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Julia's reaction was bizarre. She is presently the least well-defined character on the show. Somehow she shrugged off her deep involvement with Reid and her total stupidity in believing him in one episode! She turned into a reporter overnight and has alternately been shown as a giddy ingenue or a shrieking shrew. All, of which, I read, is supposed to provide comic relief. If this is comedy then my sense of humor is sadly deficient. I have found nothing remotely amusing in her trading insults and screams with Jake. Or talking with her mouth full! Jack's reaction to her involvement with Reid was much more realistic in my opinion. He realized he did not know Julia (who could?) and dumped her. Carly may be a kook but she had Reid pegged from the start.

+ 1,000

Goutman spent a lot more time humiliating Carly than he did punishing Reid. It was all out of whack!

And remained so for the next 10+ years.

The next best thing that Goutman has done is to reunite Jack and Carly. The story is at times uneven and certainly repetitive (Carly again coming into a windfall of money!) but the sheer delight of these two on screen together makes up for a lot that is lacking in storytelling. Carly spent less than a week on the farm and thought it was tough! The writers obviously did not know that Carly grew up in a rural setting and had seen plenty of tough times. But all that aside, I love these two together. They are just plain fun!

+ infinity! :)

And no more Arabian Knights please!

ugh...I remember that. ;)

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I actually thought that the show did an OK/goodish job at this time with Carly. Keep in mind that viewers will forgive men for what they won't forgive women for, so the comparison to Reid (although he didn't stay around anyway) is moot. Carly basically spent over a year running around marrying one man after another because of the money Rosanna was going to give her child. There were some unpleasant moments I would rather not even recall, like her asking John to artificially inseminate her, and John unknowingly to her giving her his own sperm. Then she was blackmailed into marrying a very slimy, cartoonish version of Brad, and the show heavily hinted that we were supposed to see them as some kind of equals or so-bad-they're-good or whatever. It was all very uncomfortable and forced and at the time I could see why they thought they needed some kind of fallout. I didn't think it was as excessive as what Goutman did to her later on in the decade. The lie bet with Jack was fun and probably one of their sweeter times together, at least until her maternity leave and that horrible storyline about Winston Lowe.

Apparently Eddie was nothing more than a plot device used to mess up Margo and Tom's marriage and as a reason for the appearance of Alec in Oakdale.

Eddie was a lot more than that -- he devoured big chunks of the show when FMB/Broderick was around. He and Georgia were endlessly hyped and he was shoved at the vets to try to make people love him. I thought he was an annoying, sweaty, twitchy character, the acting was clumsy and full of the same tics that Tom Pelphrey, Jonathan Jackson, et al annoyed me with. And he said "man" after every other word.

I guess the person who wrote this didn't know that Marston was doing Super Punch Out with an ATM around the time of his firing.

As for Georgia, I thought she was OK, but her stories sucked. I am still annoyed about them bringing her in as Sam's daughter only to have Sam disappear a month or two later and never be mentioned again. Awful awful writing.

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