DVD REVIEW: As The World Turns – 20 Classic Episodes

Fans were devastated when CBS announced that in September 2010, As The World Turns would no longer be airing weekday afternoons and would meet the same fate as its companion soap, Guiding Light did in 2009. However, a little over a year after the cancellations, it was announced that fans would be able to enjoy their favorite soap set in Oakdale, and other soaps produced by Procter & Gamble for that matter, in some official way after the show’s last air date: via DVD’s and streaming content. The first main set released was a 20 episode-themed volume package of As The World Turns.

As a fan of the series, and especially as someone who enjoys classic episodes of daytime dramas in general, I couldn’t have been more thrilled to hear that a DVD set was finally going to be released containing some of the show’s memorable episodes. When it was written and produced well, it made some of the most compelling material that could ever be seen in an hour. From legendary weddings such as Bob and Kim’s, to Lily Walsh finding out the truth about her birth mother, to Barbara Ryan’s unfortunate run-in with fire, this compilation set of 20 episodes displays just that.

The set is packaged in a plastic Amaray case with four themed DVD’s of five episodes each inside, in chronological order on each disc. These include: Great Weddings, Scandals and Secrets, Oakdale Through the Years, and Villains & Vixens. Included also is a small booklet containing details about the episodes featured. A disc rundown with run times is below. Items with an asterisk note personal favorites from the set:

(yes, that’s Meg Ryan in the above screencap, playing Betsy Stewart.)

Disc 1, Great Weddings:
-(6/1/1983) Tom & Margo’s Wedding (42:01)
-(5/31/1984) Steve & Betsy’s Wedding (42:19)
-(4/12/1985) Bob & Kim’s Wedding (42:42)
-(1/12/1998) Lily & Holden’s Wedding (41:23)*
-(7/3/2003) Jack & Carly’s Wedding (38:44)

(Lily’s in for a world of shock.)

Disc 2, Scandals and Secrets:
-(9/26/1979) Bob & Dana Face the Music (43:26)
-(6/24/1987) Lily’s World Crumbles (42:04)*
-(8/2/1999) Something About Carly (40:40)
-(6/16/2001) The Explosive Truth (40:09)*
-(5/9/2006) Luke Comes Out (37:33)*

(The legendary Dr. Bob Hughes with his parents, Nancy and Chris.)

Disc 3, Oakdale Through the Years:
-(4/2/1986) 30th Anniversary Show (43:06)*
-(4/2/1996) 40th Anniversary Show (41:53)*
-(4/3/2006) 50th Anniversary Show (38:44)*
-(12/25/2009) Christmas 2009 (39:03)
-(4/5/2010) Bob & Kim’s 25th Anniversary (38:15)

      (“Hello, Barbara.”)

Disc 4, Villains and Vixens:
-(11/7/1986) The Return of James Stenbeck (42:34)*
-(3/20/1987) When Villain Meets Vixen (43:18)*
-(5/14/1981) John Dixon Takes a Fall (41:45)
-(3/15/1996) Humiliation (41:40)*
-(2/22/2002) The Trials of Barbara Ryan (39:08)

  

The stories highlighted with James Stenbeck and Lily finding out about her birth mother are prime examples of why Douglas Marland is considered the best head writer in the history of the show. Martha Byrne also played the role of the dismayed Lily finding out the truth brilliantly. If you were a fan of Luke Snyder’s journey at any time and missed the early moments, his coming out episode was strong and poignant. His story as a gay teen turned adult started off on a very high note. The anniversary episodes have some wonderful family gatherings as well as nice flashback moments for episodes that aren’t featured here on the set.

Video: 4.5/5. The video is restored and is in very good condition. These episodes are in great shape. Especially considering that they have pretty much done nothing but sit in a vault for many years after airing only once; with, of course, the exception of an occasional repeat airing of a few select ones on a holiday. Episodes are uncut.

Audio: 4/5. The audio is clear and crisp. I would guess the oldest episodes are in mono considering the time they aired, but the classic triumphant orchestral theme from the mid 1970’s and the powerful synth theme from the 1980’s sound better here than ever before. The most recent episodes are naturally in stereo. The dialogue from every episode can be heard well; no rough spots to be had. Considering how some classic DVD sets have been put together over the years, it should also be worth pointing out that any significant music used on these episodes are here in full; and there are multiple songs, such as Frank Sinatra’s “You Make Me Feel So Young” and Whitney Houston’s “Count on Me,” all of which are complete and intact as originally broadcast.

Special Features: None.

I never thought we’d see a show like this released on DVD. Aside from Dark Shadows and one single “weddings” DVD set from ABC released eight years ago covering their soaps, daytime dramas have never gotten this kind of recognition until now. If we can’t see the show in first-run anymore or see reruns on cable, aside from unofficial places like YouTube, this is the best source for fans to watch it.

As of now they have put out a few more follow-up sets for this show, including a Christmas set, as well as sets for the Lily/Holden and Jack/Carly pairings. Guiding Light has also seen a couple of releases. There’s still a lot of great material that could be used for future releases as well. John Dixon showing up at his murder trial. Margo pulling the plug on Casey Peretti. Bob Hughes’ affair with Susan, and the fallout from it. Luke and Noah’s first kiss. We’re talking potential for some really good additional sets.

You can purchase this set at soapclassics.com. There are value packs that you can purchase with this volume, but the set alone retails at $24.95. If you’re a fan of the show and want to recall some memorable episodes with your favorite Oakdale characters in good quality, or if you’re a fan of the soap genre in general and want to see a showcase of drama at its finest, I strongly recommend you pick up this set. A tremendous start to hopefully a long and continued road of DVD’s for classic soap fans to forever enjoy.

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