'As The World Turns' celebrates its fiftieth anniversary on Sunday, and the soap opera closed out the week with the first of two episodes marking the occasion. (The second one opens next week and looks to be a lock on the Crossover Of The Week on 4/10.)
This certainly wasn't a run-of-the-mill episode of 'ATWT', but the type of offbeat diversion that many of the soap operas have mounted in the last quarter century.
Three of the main characters, "teenagers" Will, Gwen, and Casey, helped Maddie with her project's research into the leading families of Oakdale. So they all visualized the pertinent residents in town as the characters in five different classic sitcoms:
"THE SNYDER HILLBILLIES"
"I DREAM OF CARLY"
"I LOVE KATIE"
"HAPPY OAKDALE DAYS"
The show also utilized one of the old opening credit sequences, including the opening iris shot of the CBS logo.
I'm not familiar with 'As The World Turns', so I can't say whether or not the characters properly fit the dynamics of the original sitcoms. But as far as recreating the look of those old shows, from the costumes to the sets, the soap's crew did a bang-up job, especially with the living room of 'The Munsters' and with the genie costume worn by Carly.
Best acting job of them all was by Trent Dawson doing double duty as Henry and Henrietta, the Fred and Ethel stand-ins. His first off-stage line as Henrietta did evoke Viviane Vance, but that evaporated once he stepped onto the set and we could see him in drag. As for his William Frawley impersonation, however, that was classic; well done!
And although Don Hastings looked great as Grandpa in 'The Munsters' spoof, it was a mistake for him to attempt a Transylvanian accent. Everybody knows the late Al Lewis sounded like he'd be more at home among the Bowery Boys than with the Drac Pack.
The 'I Dream Of Carly' sequence had the best lines, both very suggestive:
"He is not worthy of polishing your helmet."
Say no more!
"Now I can bend you."
I bet she does, I bet she does! Know what I mean? Nudge nudge wink wink!
What really puzzled me is why CBS didn't step in and tell the writers to come up with two classic CBS sitcoms to replace the spoofs of NBC's 'I Dream Of Jeannie' and ABC's 'Happy Days'.
Like I said, I don't have a clue about the relationships nor the personality quirks of the characters involved, but couldn't they have found a way to use 'The Dick Van Dyke Show', 'The Mary Tyler Moore Show', 'Hogan's Heroes', 'The Honeymooners', 'The Andy Griffith Show', 'All In The Family', 'Green Acres', or even 'Mr. Ed'?
Will, Casey, Gwen, and Maddie would have fit perfectly into a recreation of 'The Many Loves Of Dobie Gillis'.
Just sayin', is all. At least it was a nice touch that with the 'Happy Days' scenes, the writers were able to work in the show's spin-off by having Gwen and Maddie play 'Laverne & Shirley' respectively.
And just so's you didn't think I forgot one of the classic CBS sitcoms, the show kicked off the episode with Maddie watching 'Gilligan's Island' on her VCR. Of course it was the unmistakable theme song that we heard, rather than any of the stranded castaways.
How to splain it all? I'm at a loss. All of those shows should exist in the same universe as 'As The World Turns'. But even so, it was a nice touch to give the current cast of the soap opera the chance to cut loose a bit from their characters; sort of a way to celebrate an anniversary as a costume party.