What’s working in daytime

Mac Scorpio, real man!

Thank you GH writers.  I’ve been jonesing for Mac Scorpio scenes (at least, Mac scenes that didn’t treat him like a bumbling buffoon unable to control mob life in Port Chuckles).  Not only did fans get to see Mac in the best possible light, the writers threw in all sorts of goodies, for veteran viewers:

– Mac and Robin’s connection is undeniably PERFECT.  The relationship Robin has with ‘Uncle Mac’ is as special as the one she has with her parents.  Mac gets her, he understands her in a way that it’s not clear that either Anna or Robert do – which makes sense as he’s been her surrogate father for so many years.  I love that he shows up at the right time and knows what she needs without  her having to say much to him.  The looks between the two characters carried their own dialogue.

– I’ve been calling for the writers to return the Scorpios to prominence – not that they listen to me, folks, but I try!  I’ve wanted Anna and Robert to be there for Robin, as well.  Maybe they will never be there for her, given the writers’ current priorities, but I will give them credit for realizing how much Mac matters.

The look of love and gratitude in Robin’s face said it all, but I loved hearing her tell him what a wonderful man he is.  Mac hasn’t raised biological children of his own, but he’s been more of a father than almost any other man on this show.  I don’t think there’s any other character on this show who has served as a surrogate father to so many children, and accepted the job without bitterness and with taking the charge so seriously.  Mac has never walked away from his girls.  Nothing and no one could drive him away.  All three (Georgie, Maxie, and Robin) were left to him by parents who eventually deserted them for different reasons at different times.  He was there, and that’s all that matters.

– The writers tugged at the heartstrings by bringing up Georgie during those scenes, as well.  That Mac mentioned his lost daughter, a child he’d raised from her earliest days in life, was bittersweet.  That it was because he got to love her and raise her that he was able to help Robin in her time of need was a lovely thread that pulled this family together.  We rarely see Mac so we don’t have to think as much about his grief as we would if he was on screen every day.  I like being able to believe that Mac will get to heal by being able to continue to care for his girls, and now gets to add Emma to the list.

With  broken heart he keeps giving back makes him an ideal man.  Daytime writers have a tendency to make grief-striken characters withdraw from life, or make sick and ridiculous choices shortly after a death occurs (sleeping with someone they shouldn’t and becoming a parent, for instance).  Mac’s grief makes him embrace the children he’s raised even more.  He gives back, without question, and without judgment.  Why can’t we have more MEN like Mac in daytime?

The Guiding Light is shining a little brighter!

I can’t help it!  I still think GL is one of the most aesthetically displeasing shows in daytime, but it just doesn’t matter as much right now!  The writers have done the unthinkable.  They’ve surprised me by making the love of Shayne’s life Edmund’s daughter.  Where the hell did that come from?  The Royal family of San Cristobel is already connected to the Lewis family through Jon Randall, but this?  It’s even better.  There’s something about Edmund and Shayne’s connection over Lara that makes me hope it’s genuine and not just another ploy by Prince Eddie. The connection humanizes Edmund. He’s always been more than a one dimensional villain and the writing for his return has been perfect, so far.  I’ve loved Edmund’s wicked ways in the past – even if I couldn’t bring myself to root for his success.  This storyline has me simply loving Edmund!

The chemistry between Reva and Dinah? Worth it’s weight in gold! I love the potential MIL – DIL fights between them.  Dinah, as Reva’s daughter-in-law?  KARMA, baby!  More likely than not, even if it happens, it’s probably the case that Lara lives – daytime writers NEVER devote that much energy to a dead character we’ve never met, unless they plan to bring them back.

Remy and Christina? Cuter and cuter by the day. They feel like a ‘real’ couple.  I love that she tries to get him to see the best in himself, and that he does the same for her. Finally a couple building each other up instead of tearing each other down.  I hate being this happy about a couple.  It’s always a matter of time before writers ruin good characters and couples in order to ‘add passion and drama’ to their relationship.  What happens next?  A heartbroken Alan tricks Christina into sleeping with him?  She becomes pregnant?  Alan then owns her?  Remy cheats with Lizzie?  Remy and Christina find out they’re related?  I guess we can cross that bridge when we come to it.  For now?  I’m full-tilt giddy and will keep enjoying them!

Mallet and Marina and the baby-crazies? Not feeling it. My only fear is that Dinah is pregnant with Grady’s child and M&M end up raising it through private adoption because they can’t adopt otherwise.  When Grady goes, let’s make sure ALL of Grady goes.  Leave no spawn behind.   (Ok, one more   criticism about their storyline: How silly is it that Mallet would dispose of his ‘hit man gear’ in a Springfield-Peapack pond?  It’s not like the briefcase will be swept down stream and out to the ocean!  It’s a freakin’ pond in PEAPACK (Springfield)

The voice of an angel and pretty as a picture!

So imagine my surprise when Maggie Horton (played by the incomparable Suzanne Rogers) ripped dear Chloe a new one!  What irony!  Sami Brady loved Lucas for all he was worth and mama Kate made it her mission to destroy Sami.  She would have rather have dated her son HERSELF before letting Sami near him.  For Chloe, Kate opened her home, her family, and her heart and Chloe not only cheated on Lucas (who at this point may as well be renamed ‘Lucas the lovable loser’), but she betrayed Kate in the process.  Oh dear! 

While the writers have done a miserable job of honoring its veteran characters and actors, I think it was masterful for Maggie to be the person who confronts Chloe.   Maggie has always been a staunch (non pathological) defender of her family, but she’s not sainted.  Newer fans may not have understood the significance of Maggie’s shameful glance downward when Chloe asked her if she’d ever made a mistake, but veteran viewers got it. Two words:  Neil Curtis.  Maggie not only cheated on her husband, but it was her daugther who caught them in bed together (makes you think of Sami catching Marlena and John, doesn’t it?  Marlena.  John.  Sigh.).

Suzanne Rogers brought the HEAT to confrontation scenes and I enjoyed every minute.  More please!

Damn you Tea!

I DO have integrity, you know?  I just keep blowing it to hell, cheering you on.  Don’t ask me why, but as much as Todd deserves to be punished, I love watching Tea in action.  I still can’t figure out why she’s been working so hard to keep Todd out of prison even going as far as claiming to be Lee Halpern/Janet Ketring’s murderer.  It’s worth staying tuned in to find out!  The minute I saw LH/JK on the floor I thought, ‘Ugh, not again!  Will Todd now go on trial for yet another murder he didn’t commit?”  It never dawned on me that Tea would take the fall for this.  At most I thought she might claim to be with Todd as they walked through the door and found Lee’s body.

So what happens next?  Will Todd lose his hammer once Tea is found out and it turns out that Wes killed LH/JK?  Surely she’ll be disbarred, though hopefully not.  If Wes is the killer, is this the beginning of a killing spree now that he’s flipped?  Is Marty at risk?  Maybe as I continue to tune in, I’ll also get to figure out why Antonio brings out a heavy accent in Tea… and only Antonio… What’s that about?  I hope it continues for as long as he’s around because I love it (it’s a bit like Bess’ alter producing black glasses).

Add to the bag of fun OLTL has become:  Marty commenting that she always trusts the wrong person, and then not picking up on the fact that she should be more careful about trusting Wes?  Fantastic.  There are the matching mother-Son addictions.  Marty swills alcohol like a warrior (uh, more like Wes) and Cole is popping pills.  Marty is too caught up in her own pain to see that something is wrong with her son?  Fine, but when this is over, if she goes back to being a therapist, THAT would be a tragedy.  It’s hard for me to understand Marty sympathizing with Wes, but leaving Cole in the dark, on his own to deal with her back-from-the-dead act, his child’s death, her rejection, and Todd not being forced to pay for any of his crimes… but she can be there for Wes… got it.

Natalie and Jess raining hellfire on one another?  THANK YOU, writers.  Lovin’ it.  Does Nat seriously want to cause Jess to release Tess again?  Eh, it probably won’t happen, but  I almost wish it would.  I think it’s curious that Nat has become another completely self-absorbed person who can’t put herself in someone else’s shoes.  She’s also chosen not to acknowledge her own shady past , a time when she used, lied, and manipulated everyone she could – and she didn’t have an alternate personality to blame her actions on!  I love seeing flashes of a fighting Jessica everytime Nat uses Jess’ children as pawns – shame on Natalie.  It also sucked that given Jared’s involvement in Nash’s death that Natalie would shove her engagement ring in Jessica’s face.  I guess Tess’ attempt to kill them makes Natalie believe they’re ‘even’.  Go figure.

The problem with GL is this…

I am in awe of fans who love daytime to the point of working to save it, despite what writers and EPs have done by way of making the genre unrecognizable.  Fans are holding on to the hope that not only are daytime brass listening to their concerns, but that they’ll actually do something about them.  It’s not just The Guiding Light.  Daytime fans are in the same position no matter which show they watch.  I’ve chosen to focus on The Guiding Light because of long swirling rumors that the show is on the verge of cancellation (rumors that have persistently dogged this show and its fans for a number of years, now).

Below are five things that I believe have been consistently wrong with the show – five things that are easily corrected. 

1.  Get rid of the ‘live from Peapack’ shots.  Daytime is about fantasy, escapism, and about the impossible becoming plausible.  I have no doubt that Peapack has many homes with lush interiors filled with fine furniture, open floor plans, hardwoods, crown moulding, stainless steel appliances, and custom cabinetry.  It makes sense that the show’s budget doesn’t allow for location shoots in those environments.  Instead, the current interiors are shoddy, and frankly – they’re depressing.  I’ve jokingly referred to Springfield as the land of cheap knotty wood paneling and faux stone.  It’s no longer a joke to me.  I’m distracted by the bad decor and dark interiors when trying to focus on the characters and dialogue.  

It’s hard to see a man like Remy Boudreau  living in a cheap apartment.  His living conditions  make sense for a couple like Daisy and Grady, who have a hard time maintaining steady employment.  On any other show, willingly living in the conditions Remy lives in would be a sign of a character in emotional, psychological or financial distress.  We would ask ourselves if Remy was punishing himself as part of a deep depression, or  an unyielding sense of guilt for some perceived wrong.  The type of decor that’s prevalent on GL usually comes with a liquor bottle and bad attitude on any other soap – and on the GL of the past.

If watching someone like Remy (solidly upper middle/upper class) live in such squalid conditions, think about what it means to see the fabulously wealthy Spauldings live in roughly two cramped rooms, or Olivia live in a tiny farmhouse, or the Lewises wandering from place to place because they have no where to live at all – that we’ve seen.  The exception is Bill Lewis, who lives in a tiny hotel room.  From Remy to the Spauldings to the Lewises –  all are living in spaces that are the sizes of what should be their clothes closets.

Guiding Light is the least aesthetically pleasing show in daytime.  Beautiful people, ugly scenery.  If it’s true that the network is saving money by purchasing/renting the current locations, great!  But there’s a trade-off and given the ratings, I have a feeling that other (former) GL fans are having  a hard time looking at the show in it’s current state. 

2.  Make better use of the big moments and pay homage to your the show’s rich history.  There aren’t a lot of ‘big moments’ left on any show, but GL had the perfect opportunity to grab back some of the show’s glory and to reunite it’s signature couple with this one scene:

As Reva lay dying, Josh confessed his heart and soul to her.  They talked about how long and how deeply they’d loved each.  Josh told her that he  couldn’t conceive of a world that she wasn’t a part of (and we pretended not to remember that he’d already lived through a Reva “death” when she drove off a bridge during the course of her postpartum storyline.  We realized that he meant that he’d already had to live in a Reva-less world once before and that he couldn’t stomach the thought of doing it again).

What happened?  Reva came back to him this time too, and Josh moved on without her.  After all of his tears, his pain, and his comments about not wanting to live without her, not only did he move on but he moved on with her sister.  Both Josh and Cassie treated Reva’s survival as an ‘annoyance’; Josh most especially when Reva let him know that she wanted to save their marriage.  Every moment that took place after the ‘death’ scene made a mockery of Josh and Reva’s epic history. It just did not compute that when the writers could have cleared the coast for this legendary couple, they kept them apart.  The writers were so determined to break them up that Reva defied the laws of  nature.  She became pregnant with another man’s baby after twice undergoing menopause.  You figure that one out.  I can’t and wouldn’t want to if I could.

3.  Allow characters to behave as if they live in the same town.  Either that, or stop having them talk about how much they value family.  Why, dear writers, has Beth put more effort into planning a romantic getaway with her boyfriend than into helping her daughter heal after her kidnapping ordeal?

We’ve seen many more scenes of Coop and Beth pawing each other than we have of Beth embracing Lizzie and trying to help her, most especially since Lizzie has become suspicious that her boyfriend, Bill Lewis, potentially played a role in her abduction.  Is Beth aware of the fact that she’s still Lizzie’s mother?   This is a mother and daughter living in the same house and yet they have very little contact. 

Alan is no angel, either.  He was obsessed with Rafe’s medical care when Gus was alive.  He arranged for Rafe to meet with the top physicians in the country and was willing to pay for advanced medical treatment to control his diabetes.  Now?  Natalia is killing herself to get the medicine Rafe needs by paying for it at her own pharmacy and having it sent to the prison (uh, yeah, that would happen in the real world!).  Why haven’t the Spauldings mentioned Rafe and Natalia?   How has Alan managed to avoid running into Natalia given how many of the same places they both visit?

Why hasn’t Alan already pulled enough strings to have Rafe sleeping in a single cell -with silk sheets covering  his pillow top mattress?  That’s only, of course, until Alan could have him sprung from prison.  Alan has recently gone through a trial and faced prison time.  No sympathy for Rafe?  Is Alan only capable of being obsessed with one grandchild at a time?  Is interfering with Lizzie’s love life REALLY more important than keeping Rafe out of prison, or at least safe while he’s behind bars?  It’s hard to care about Alan’s obsession with Lizzie, given his lack of concern about Rafe.  

4.  Recognize that imitation is not always the sincerest form of flattery.  Guiding Light is working on solving one of it’s biggest problem – the shedding of old school characters and replacing them with newer characters who were meant to serve the same function, but somehow fall flat. In the mad dash to win over the 18 – 24s who were never planning a  mass defection to daytime, great characters like Edmund were cut loose to make room for pale imitations like Kane Manera’s Grady Foley.  Manera is a brilliant actor.  His choices are instinctual and highly consistent.  I like the actor, I just hate the writing for him.  Between the writing and the direction, there was never any hope for Manera’s Grady to become a likable character.  Where David Andrew McDonald’s Edmund was far more nuanced, and more choices about the character appeared to be placed in the actor’s hands, Manera’s Grady was more of a caricature of Edmund and every other GL bad boy.

Grady was never allowed a moment to be ‘human’ (as Edmund was).  Grady was never allowed to develop a backstory that would allow us to see him in a more vulnerable light, as Edmund was.  While Edmund acted out as a way of dealing with the pain of being measured against the impossibly perfect Richard; Grady was just one more sociopath in a family of sociopaths.  I’d like to say that I’ll miss Grady when he eventually goes, but I won’t.   There’s nothing likable or root-worthy left when it comes to this character, through no fault of his portrayer.  

5.  Don’t turn strong storylines and characters into ‘gimmicks’.

Watching Olivia and Natalia this past week, I wondered if the writers have thought about where they’d take the two after their current friendship/relationship ends, and eventually it will.  Will they go back to who they were before?  Are they forever changed?   

Is this only a matter of living in the same home and raising Emma together?  What makes their relationship romantic and not sisterly?  Was Olivia’s lifetime of desperation in every relationship before this related to never feeling loved by any of the men she dated/married.  Was she running from herself?  Does Natalia love Olivia because of who she is? Does she love her because she finally has a feeling of family and she’s been so alone since Rafe was imprisoned and the Spauldings pretend she doesn’t exist?

I like the slow development of their friendship/relationship, but if the writers simply throw them together after a kiss, won’t viewers perceive their relationship as a gimmick of some sort?  It’s already feeling gimmicky with Natalia holding Liv’s hands through the ‘My Two Mommies’ presentation and not ‘getting it’ that the teacher and other parents thought they were lesbians.  A ten year old would have picked that up! 

All it took was a teacher making a suggestion and Olivia has developed new feelings for Natalia?  It feels gimmicky that Olivia can’t use the word ‘lesbian’, but is able to plant a kiss on Natalia to illustrate her point – not long after Frank planted an unplanned kiss on her as well. It’s gimmicky – as Beth’s relationship with Alan was.  It’s becoming as gimmicky as Beth’s relationship with Coop is, or Bill’s amnesia that shouldn’t affect what Lizzie remembers about the kidnapping, or Marina and Mallet and their babymania-out-of-nowhere storyline, or…. you get the point.

If this isn’t a show living on borrowed time, it needs to act like it.  Slow down and take the time to work out the big and the small details.  We’re not going anywhere.