Ok, BnBers/OLTLers, what the hell?

One Life To Live:  Marty Saybrooke?  I don’t know if it’s possible, but I would love for the writers to use the time they have left to redeem this character.  She was the wild child gone good, who made a wonderful life for herself , survived the death of her soul mate, and raised a child.  First in attempt to prop Todd and whitewash the ‘twice raped’ dynamic between them, then to prop John McBain, and later the John -Natalie relationship, the writers deconstructed Marty into an unrecognizable and unlikable character.  It will be painful watching the show end, having eternally ruined a great character.

I’m not a movie buff who watches only feel-ggod films or only movies with fully resolved endings.  I’ll admit that I have been a soap viewer who loved soaps most when they left the audience with the feeling that all is well in the alternate universe our soap faves live in at the close of their run.  GL’s ending was perfect.  It lovely to think of Josh and Reva (and son) on a trip around the world, the four musketeers filling their days with dinners together and discussing their families, Alex and Fletcher enjoying a life they’d never imaged they could have, Remy and Tina deeply in love, Bill and Lizzie and making things work with Jon and all are peacefully coparenting… you get the picture. 

I hope for something similar for OLTL.  Fans deserve nothing less than a happy Victoria Lord, peace between Vicki and Dorian, Clint gaining back his humanity and reuniting with his family,Marty – whose life has been so violent and tragic finally at peace, and I’ll let you imagine the rest from there.

The Bold and the Beautiful:  In the age of waning budgets for new hires and an attempt to tell complete storylines with as few cast members as possible, I am – to some degree, sympathetic to the limitations of meeting a such a tough balancing act.  I am, however, still stunned by what I saw yesterday (day before?).  The writers REALLY have to think about what they’re doing that makes taylor look either completely unethical moron, and the rest of the citizens of Bell’s fictionalized L.A. look completely unhinged!

Why would Katie agree to therapy with taylor, not only the world’s worst and most idiotic psychiatrist, but a woman who has repeatedly attacked, and supported the attack of, her sister – sisters if you add Donna? I could only love that ridiculous plot if the writers were smart enough to make Katie devious in using taylor, knowing that she and Stephanie would declare war on Bill if he didn’t stay away from steffy.   Sadly, Katie begged Bill not to leave her at the end of the therapy session. I wish the writers had left that part alone, but they just can’t help themselves.  A misogynistic fool being begged by his once strong wife not to leave her.  It wouldn’t have hurt to have allowed Katie was allowed to maintain her standards, writers. 

As for Steffy, the other thorn in the side of the Logan-Spencer marriage, she is either delusional or a pathological liar, given the way the writers are penning her dialogue. She’s better than the Logan’s because she’d never go after a married man? She’d never make a move on him? Wha’????? Bill won’t have her, that’s the only thing that stops her from moving forward. Steffy has put every move she’s known on Bill and he’s rejected her.  Steffy and Stephanie are so one note in their attacks on the Logans. They can’t stand faulting the men in their lives for chasing after Logan women – so they whitewash Forrester male actions to fault Logan women.

That’s the defnition of a weak woman. Steffy was aptly named.

Since I’m catching about one show a month – where is Bridget, readers? Bill telling Katie she should have stayed with Marone if she wanted ‘normal’ was laughable. The man who dumped on her niece for her and for Brooke? I could have sworn Bill made comments that made it clear that he knew that history. That ain’t normal, not even by soap standards — and it’s not like Katie really had a choice to be with Nick. He knew he wanted Bridget – who forgave him for his repeated betrayals. Katie knew it was a matter of time. Who knew that Nick wouldn’t forgive Bridget for her ONE betrayal?

She’s free and he’s headed back to Katie-land?  Far too predictable.

As for the Brooke and Thomas teaser?  Words fail me.  Since I have nothing good to say, I’ll say nothing at all.

Steamboat Episode 5 – The Ghost of GL?

I was prepared for this.  I knew it was coming, given the cast of this show.  Sooner or later the writers would pair characters on screen who were previously paired on their original soaps.  Such pairings would leave the viewer asking the question:  ‘Is this pairing better now than before?’.  It’s a risk.   The possibility exists that fans will decide that Steamboat’s writers should have left well enough alone and not begged the comparison.  Judge for yourself before I give you my answer to the above question:

I’m a rabid Steamboat fan, and so every seeming inside joke is just a delight for me.  I was not a fan of  The Guiding Light’s “Rick Bauer’ and ‘Beth Spaulding’ (now Steamboat’s Michael and Tabitha).  I disliked the pairing immensely, so  I’m shocked to find myself rooting for Tabitha and Michael on Steamboat.  I know.  I know…Tabitha and Michael aren’t a couple .  In fact, Tabitha is deeply repulsed by the idea of even kissing Michael while in character and filming their show – so why would I want to see them happy and in love as a behind-the-scenes couple?  It’s even odder if you consider the fact that.  Tabitha and Michael are engaging though  exaggerated versions of their GL counterparts.  At the time ‘Beth Spaulding’ began dating ‘Rick Bauer’ (or sleeping with him for kicks and helping him cheat on his loving family), she’d become a cold and cruel shell – a far cry from the Beth Spaulding  fans  first loved.  Her mission was to make herself happy at everyone else’s expense, including Rick, Mel – his wife, and their daughter Leah.

Tabitha’s knee to Michael’s groin was the physical manifestation of Beth’s ‘knee’ to Rick’s  life (aiding him in ruining his marriage, ending the only real happiness he’d had in a very long time).  Beth caused Rick as much pain as Tabitha caused Michael – the only difference was the location of the pain. GL’s Rick, like Steamboat’s Michael, had a history of being cast aside and treated as  second best for so long that the thought of even the slimmest chance to get close to the object of his unspoken affections (Beth) was enough for him to run the risk of being used and discarded.  He’d talked himself into believing there was a shot of  real happiness with Beth even after her horrid personality change.

Michael is an even sadder sad sack character than Rick, tossed aside for the  sake of the pretty boys, secretly lusting for the ‘hot but crazy girl’, and hoping to have his shot at proving he’s worthy of being considered a real leading man.  Despite Tabitha’s warning in the last episode that she’d kill him if he even thought of kissing her in their upcoming love scenes, emboldened by Scott – he went for broke… and was broken.

Given the above comparison, am I suggesting that writer/actor Michael O’ Leary has  become the independent soap equivalent of the former writers of GL?  Are the two seemingly different shows already converging?  HELL NO!  What made Rick and Beth such a horrific pairing is that their relationship flew in the face of GL history and was built on purely selfish instincts – making them a danger to anyone who loved them, and to one another.  Beth was well aware of the unimaginable pain her husband/former father-in-law would inflict on Rick and didn’t care that she was putting him at risk;  Rick, who’d loved her and cared for her since they were  teens.  Rick, who’d always been a heroic good guy became the worst sort of man – a cheating husband who was willing to leave his daughter fatherless for a woman who didn’t love him.

Tabitha and Michael are such new and fresh characters that a pairing between them wouldn’t bring the same sort of baggage as GL’s Beth and Rick.  O’Leary is a competent writer who  knows how to take his characters to the brink and pull them back in just enough time.  It makes you both glad he pulled them back, and makes you wish they were back on that edge, again.  You feel as if you’ve missed something when they don’t go over that cliff, because you want to go with them.  The possibilities  for a Tabitha/Michael pairing are endless.  There’s something about rooting for an underdog like Michael.

The story is repeated countless times in films such as “Taming of the Shrew’, “Kiss Me Kate’, and even ‘Ten Things I Hate About You’ (each film increasingly less sexist by the way).   Tabitha should never be ‘tamed’, just less abusive to Michael.  Everyone else is fair game. The running joke on the show is that he’s not the pretty boy of daytime and everyone feels comfortable reminding him of that.  He is, however, that character female audiences love.  Poor Michael is not the pretty boy, he’s the good man worth a thousand of the pretty boys.  He’s the man female audiences idealize even while being excited by the bad boys.   In the end, we still want the good guy to win.

Speaking of being out on that edge

Who the frack  gets shot at the end, PEOPLE?  I loved Michael and Dirk’s nonchalant response to the gunfire, but I need to know!   My money is on Rhonda.  Is  Tabitha the shooter?  Will she still be holding the smoking gun while wearing a gleeful… snarl?  Will Scott feel liberated by Rhonda’s shooting or angry that he didn’t get to pull the trigger himself?  HEY!   Maybe the victim getting the ‘Tabitha Treatment’  is the  poor hapless  Lactene girl, Candy.  There we have it.   One onscreen ‘too old to be my granddaughter’ character goes down.  Will the Steamboat cast get to keep Candy’s set and dump the Cedars Hospital green screen special?

Grading The Guiding Light

Today’s GL is giving fans EXACTLY what they’ve deserved all along, intergenerational story telling that makes you want to tune in for more:

  • The matriarchs of the Lewis/Spaulding-Raines clans getting together to pull off the ‘wedding of the century’.  Bill Lewis and Elizabeth “Raines” Spaulding are getting married in 21 days… We know, because almost everyone on screen repeats that there were only 21 days left.  The gathering of the matriarchs would have been PERFECT, if the following hadn’t happened:  Vanessa, Alexandra, Beth, and Lillian plan the wedding of the century in Peapack/Springfield’s equivalent of a 7/11.  I was distracted by the display of batteries  and other point of sale merchandise on the checkout counter behind the cafeteria seats they were sitting in.    What lousy product placement!  It only made me think of making sure I had enough fresh batteries to FF through most of what’s airing on daytime right now.  I also kept thinking about the beloved but bratty Vanessa Chamberlain and  the stuffy and sophisticated  Alex Spaulding who wouldn’t have been caught dead in a convenience store cafeteria.  Even still, I was so grateful to see the four women on screen again that I decided I didn’t care too much about the product placement.  A-
  • Loved the glee-some foursome barging  into Bill and Lizzie’s budget priced hotel room/suite  and interrupting the happy couple who had to push back the covers to see who’d invaded their love nest.  For the love of cheese, wouldn’t you just die if your grandmother and mother walked in while you were naked with your significant other?  It would be even worse if they treated you as if you were simply having a play date with your little  friend and told you to get dressed so they could get started on getting your wedding planned.  A-
  • Phillip/Alan/No-longer-adorable-James.  Oh Alan!  How could he have missed out on even the most BASIC tenet found in parenting books?   Love your children and praise them when they do well.  Ignore the misbehavior as much as you can.   Alan simply LOVES Phillip now that Phillip has engaged in the felonious act of bribing a judge.  He loves James even more, since James was indicted for running a Ponzi scheme.  Nothing like encouraging your children and grandchildren to be the best they can be!  B+
  • Billy threatening to make James ‘sleep with the fishes’if he does anything else to hurt Bill or Lizzie, and then having James run to Alan to tell him about the threat because he thinks it’s ‘funny’.   Those two scenes made me hope that there was enough time left for the writers to do one of two things:  Split Spaulding-Lewis, making them TWO companies as they should have been all along, and let the corporate wars begin.  I’ve missed the  corporate infighting and would love to see things end, if they must, with the Spauldings and Lewises continuing their friendly war.  If not?  My second option is to have Lizzie join the Spaulding Clan, along with Phillip, and have them make Alan and James powerless and miserable… for now at least.  B+
  • Billy… Billy… Billy… how lovely that he alone saw the overwhelmed look on Lizzie’s face and tried to have the glee-some foursome let Lizzie decide on how to plan her own wedding.  Billy has always been a bear (sometimes cuddly, sometimes grizzly).  It was so sweet.  The problem is that he should have known!  They shot him down so fast poor Billy’s head started spinning.  A (hell, it’s Billy!)
  • Did anyone know that Alex has always had the fantasy of running off to Vegas and getting married by an Elvis impersonator?  WOW!   Cyrus was a close to a Vegas wedding as Alex was going to get.  More importantly?  Forget point one… I can easily see Vegas Alex hanging out in a convenience store planning a wedding. B-
  • Billy and Vanessa?   ’nuff said!  If the writers give us the ‘beach wedding’  for the couple that Vanessa mentioned, along with Reva and Josh, Olivia and Natalia, Beth and Phillip, Buzz and Lillian, Blake and Frankie,  Mel and Rick… well, I promise to not refer to them as the writing team that sent GL to its early death… OR I’ll at least I’ll promise to TRY to not refer to them that way.  A
  • Alan shooting basketball with James?  Uh, SURE!  It’s as conceivable as my vegetarian sister downing a double cheeseburger.  So contrived… but i enjoyed it anyway.  B.
  • Phillip turning to Ed for medical help?  I’m actually shocked that the writers chose such an organic storyline to bring Ed back to town.  I don’t know how the rest of the storyline will play out.  B+
  • Reva and Marina growing closer.  I’m enjoying the developing friendship between Marina and Reva.  They’re mothers of young infants and have long respected one another – Marina as Shayne’s ex-girlfriend and now Marina is the mother of Shayne’s child.  I’ve been trying to figure out if the writers are setting Marina up to be the target of Reva’s ire when she finds out that her son and Marina have hidden the fact that Marina unknowningly adopted Shayne’s believed dead child.  I’ve gotta admit, I want to know more!  B+

By and large, there are still so many things wrong with GL that there’s not enough room to list them all.  The individual pieces work, but as a continuous thread there’s something faulty about the show. I’m torn between thinking that I won’t even miss this show when it’s gone, to still being angry that it’s over.   What about you?

GL: Have you seen this soap character?

Name:  Rafael Rivera (a.k.a. Rafe)

Parents: Natalia Rivera, Gus Aitorro-Spaulding (a.k.a. Nicky, a.k.a.  Nicholas Augustino)

Age:  Approximately 18

Romantic liaisons:  Daisy Cooper (a.k.a. Susan LeMay)

Occupation:  None, currently considering a career in law enforcement.

Other romantic or familial connections:  Rafe is currently uninvolved with anyone, romantically.  Unfortunately, his extended family is currently uninvolved with him.

This kid is a SPAULDING.  You’d never know it because none of the Spauldings bother to speak his name – he doesn’t get to help plan Lizzie’s wedding to Bill.  None of his extended family visited him while he was incarcerated.  There’s no evidence that anyone knows that he’s been released – Well, based on the eps I’ve been watching.  GL IS putting me to sleep these days.  There’s no evidence that anyone cares what’s happened to him, other than his mother, Olivia Spencer, and Frank Cooper.

In the time Rafe was incarcerated, Alan Spaulding has voiced his ‘concern’ for his granddaughter, Emma; has tried to control and manipulate his granddaughter, Lizzie, to stop her from becoming romantically involved with Bill Lewis;  he’s appealed to his grandson, James, to be a ‘family first’ sort of man in order to win favor with him (Alan’s true objective is to butter James up in the hopes of getting closer to Beth – James’ mother).

Not one word – that I’ve heard, has been uttered about Rafe’s care.  He still has diabetes and has not received the best possible care given his financial situation.  What sort of care is he getting now? Does anyone know because it was a plot point with Alan before.  It seems to not matter at all now.  Can’t we have a scene with Rafe running into ‘grandpa Alan’ at Cedar’s?

Given the fact that Alan has lost Beth for good, and was previously obsessed with Natalia,you would THINK that  Alan might try to move in and muscle Olivia out of Natalia’s life – what a battle that could have been!  Instead?  Rafe may as well be dead to Alan.  This glaring oversight is made WORSE by the fact that rather than incorporate the only diversity there has been in the Spaulding family lately, the writers have decided to rely on aimless plot devices that have Rafe deciding that he wants to be a police officer.

When you shoot the town’s District Attorney and then flee the country, joining  the Springfield PD’s finest is hardly a realistic occupational aspiration.  Why isn’t Alan trying to woo Rafe over to the Spaulding side of the family?  He likes to pit his children and grandchildren against one another.  Rafe was falling under the evil spell Alan was casting before he was incarcerated.  He was seduced by the fancy sports car, the big house, the pockets full of money… you name it!   Wouldn’t he have an even greater appetite for success, now?

Wouldn’t Rafe be the perfect foil for James?   I could even <gulp> try to tolerate Daisy if the dueling cousins ended up at odds in part because of her, and not just Alan’s manipulations.  That Daisy has moved on to yet another person who was ‘out to get him’ might cause Rafe a bit of conflict in deciding what kind of response he’d want to make.  He respects Frank and thinks of him as a father, of sorts, but may feel a loyalty to his own grandfather and want to make the lives of the Cooper family miserable.

Once Rafe tires of Alan’s manipulations, James could play ‘favored grandson’ and Rafe would end up on the receiving end of all of Alan’s material substitutions for love.  It would have been the recasting of Phillip  and Alan-Michael in a new generation.  Rafe could pull off the Phillip role,  James as Alan-Michael.  I could see  Rafe growing a conscience and eventually turning on Alan to protect Frank and  the Coopers.  That would be enough for Alan to switch his loyalties and support to James.  Rafe would have to turn to someone else in the family for help.  Phillip?  Beth?  Lizzie?  Bill Lewis?

I’m very disappointed that the writers continue to treat Rafe as the ‘disadvantaged youth’ from the wrong side of the tracks, unworthy of recognition by the Spauldings.   What a missed opportunity, but  then GL has been far too full of those, these past few years.

Leave the Light On!

Love. Drama. Trauma. Marriage. Domestic Violence. Divorce. Death. Birth. Coming of age. Coming Out. Adultery. Commitment. Deception. Lies. Truth. Alcoholism. Drug Use. Mental Illness. Recovery. Religion. Acceptance. Forgiveness. Compassion. Passion.

From the safety and comfort of our homes, Daytime Television has been as instrumental in allowing viewers to explore the above topics, and many more, as any other genre. Sometimes with keen accuracy, other times with an eye on entertainment more than education. We’ve learned from, laughed at, and sometimes recoiled in horror because of, the actions of our favorite daytime characters. We’ve done so for 72 years with The Guiding Light, first on radio, and then for more than fifty years on television. Despite whatever it is CBS’ top brass thinks GL’s current ratings tell them about the show, I think they’re wrong. This is a show that’s finally hit its stride. It’s learned to connect with the audience in a way it hasn’t years. Now is not the time to walk away from this great and historic show.

This obviously isn’t another blog about HOW GL should end. This is a blog about WHY GL should be allowed to continue on and why CBS Daytime Execs should be fighting for this show. The writers have finally reached a winning formula:

1 – Reconnecting with romance. Sadly, daytime television worked a bit too hard at turning itself into a caricature; giving its critics too much of what they thought the genre was about in the first place- indiscriminate sex and hyped melodrama, and too little of what daytime really is (Click here to read more from Patrick Erwin’s blog for surprising reactions to GL’s cancellation). Just as long term fans are reconnecting with GL, the writers have had long term characters reconnect with one another. Longtime sweethearts, lovers, and friends, Phillip and Beth Spaulding are rebuilding their lives and their love one moment at a time. I loved Phillip asking Beth if she was always as funny as she is now. I loved Beth telling Phillip that Lillian (her mother) wasn’t the only one who still loved him, she did too. I love that they are as shy and cautious now as they were when they were teens falling in love for the first time.

The writers also gave us Reva in quite an unexpected predicament, protecting her newborn child from Edmund Winslow. She did exactly what long term fans would expect her to do, she turned to Josh for help. He has always been someone she could rely on — if you allow yourself to forget and forgive the dreaded Cassie years. Why is it all scenes between Reva and Josh creates warm fuzzies for me? Between Reva and Josh’s and Beth and Phillip’s reconnection, adding Remy and Christina, Olivia and Natalia, and Bill and Lizzie, what’s not to love about GL? Now all the writers need to do is need to do is rebuild the Bauer and Lewis clans as they’re begun doing with the Spaulding clan.

2 – The ultimate good guy returns. Otalia turned out to be an unexpectedly great storyline for Frank Dicopoulos! From the moment “Frank Cooper” gave his big speech to Buzz about how everyone gets to find happiness but him, to the moment he consoled Nat for leaving him at the altar, this guy has been on a ROLL and THE ROLE (the role of a lifetime). I think, and I’m not sure I’m ready to admit to this, that I teared up a bit as Frank gave his big speech:

Frank: What’s, what’s going on with you? You seem a little tense. Oh, my God! You lost the rings, didn’t you?

Buzz: No, Frank. It’s Natalia.

Frank: What about her?

Buzz: A tux? She’s a simple person. Simple tastes. A tux. She’d want a tux. You should know better.

Frank: Excuse me. If you have something to say, say it.

Buzz: Frank, how much do you love this woman?

Frank: What kind of question is that? I love her with all of my heart.

Buzz: Do you love her enough to let her go?

Frank: Are you serious? Why would I ever give up on Natalia?

Buzz: Frank, I think Natalia is fantastic. I think you’re a fantastic, believe me, a fantastic couple, but she is a woman that likes to please other people, do things for them. And I think maybe she wants to be the perfect woman for you, to be… have the perfect family that Rafe needs, you as a father…

Frank: Okay, okay, hold on one second. I want those things, too.

Buzz: I just… I think you’re rushing into this.

Frank: Why are you doing this? Don’t you think that this family is entitled to have something good happen to it for a change?

Buzz: Are you sure you’re marrying her… she’s marrying you for the right reasons, you know?

Frank: She loves me.

Buzz: Well, maybe she thinks it’s because she owes you, Frank.

Frank: What are you saying? That no woman could love me for me just being me? Is that what you’re saying?

Buzz: Oh, Frank, I never said that.

Frank: No, no. You don’t have to. You believed Coop could find love, didn’t you?

Buzz: That’s different.

Frank: And what about Harley? Harley, meeting a guy every few years, whatever, you danced at all of her weddings.

Buzz: Oh, come on, please.

Frank: And Marina, Marina, my God, my own daughter, she dated her way right through the most-wanted list until she met Mallet. And you. You found Lillian, and then you screwed that up. But I guess– no, no, no I guess you guys can have all of that, right?

Buzz: Frank, you’re twisting my words now.

Frank: No, I’m not twisting your words. Frank Cooper, I guess Frank Cooper is just going to be a cop who is never going to have a partner for the rest of his life, is he? He’s the guy who is a third wheel at a couples’ table. Right? A guy who’s never busy on Valentine’s Day.

Buzz: Frank.

Frank: He’s that guy, isn’t he, Pop?

Buzz: Frank, Frank, I want you to have the love you deserve.

Frank: Well, I found it, Pop! And I love her. And guess what I’m going to do? I’m going to go to the church, and I’m going to put on this tuxedo right here, and I’m going to get my shot, my shot at true love.

Buzz: Frank, wait.

Frank: That’s what I’m going to do.

Buzz: Frank, wait. Wait. Frank, wait. Look! All right? What kind of woman doesn’t want to see her wedding rings? She didn’t want to see the wedding rings.

Frank: You just couldn’t be happy for me?

I wish the writers hadn’t let it go as far as they did, but reflecting on Frank’s scenes from this past week it may be the case that the storyline had to play out the way it has. Frank stood clueless before Natalia and Olivia and my heart broke for him! He wanted nothing more than to reassure Natalia that he was there for her, to help her get through whatever help she needed. Clearly he had no idea that he didn’t really stand a chance in working things out with her.

The best triangles are those where there are NO bad guys – and this one is it! Buzz warned Frankie that Natalia was a woman with a huge heart who spent her time trying to please other people. That’s what we’ve seen from her since she arrived in Springfield – that though it hurt her to be with Gus, especially since he was married and continued walking away from her after their trysts, she gave herself to him any way. She did it because it made HIM happy, but it left her feeling ashamed and alone after. Rather than defining herself based on the men in her life, Natalia is learning who SHE is, what SHE wants. Though I believe she loves Frank, in a strictly platonic way, and that she wants to see him happy – Natalia can’t marry Frank. She loves someone else. She can’t help that.

Triangles in the past have been obvious and predictable. Not so with the Frank/Otalia storyline. Job well done, writers!

3. A greater appreciation for the importance of good casting! This is no small task folks. The casting director who landed Zack Conroy for the role of James Spaulding deserves an extra paycheck! He’s so perfect for this role that I’d forgotten that he was cast as the drug-dropping Leo on As The World Turns. For such a young actor, Conroy does a great job of doing what it takes to fill the screen and make his character an already larger-than-life soul. Conroy gives James a gritty realness. I easily buy him as the pampered scion of a billionaire family.

His morals are as free and easy as that of ‘granddad’ Alan, but he has Phillip’s wit and Beth’s compassion. Brilliant, just brilliant. The writers have struck the perfect tone with the character, and Conroy has done a surprisingly masterful job with the rest of it.

A return to romance, a new focus on long loved core families, great casting, and wonderfully consistent storylines. It just doesn’t feel possible, to me, that this show is over. I was reading comments posted at the NYTimes Arts blog regarding GL’s ‘demise’ when this letter caught and held my attention:

I have the wooden-case radio that sat atop the refrigerator in my grandmother’s kitchen, where I listened with her to “The Guiding Light,” “Stella Dallas,” and many more. When I was older I’d watch with my mom in the summer, when school was out. Another generational link is going.

It may sound silly that anyone cares about a daytime show going off the air, but it’s more than the show. It’s the show, our memories, another lost (generational link) and cultural tie, It’s yet another piece of original American history that’s been commodified, sold off, and left to become part of our ‘past’. Well, not if this soap fan can help it! I’d like to see the Guiding Light continue on. If reports of GL potentially finding a home with the Lifetime Network are true, YES! I’m thrilled beyond measure. If not, please help use the links below and join GL fans in working to get CBS Network Execs to ‘Leave the Light On’: Save the Guiding Light

Keep our Light On

Aging Daytime Style

I remember when the great Michael Zaslow had to make the heartbreaking announcement that he’d been diagnosed with ALS.  A daytime exec who deserves to remain nameless, in my book  justified the firing of Zas from The Guiding Light by commenting how vibrant a man Roger Thorpe (the character Zas turned into daytime phenomenon) has always been.  It was further stated that Roger Thorpe should not become a ‘wizened’ old man.  It was probably one of the cruelest blows struck against the daytime legend and the fans who adored him.

I thought about that comment, yesterday, while watching GL’s Buzz Cooper(played by Emmy winner Justin Deas) and Alan Spaulding (played by Emmy nominated Ron Raines).  The lifelong onscreen enemies were locked in yet another battle, this one an actual fistfight, until Alan began having a heart attack.  Buzz just minutes later, also began having a heart attack. 

I couldn’t make up my mind if the scene was meant to make Buzz and Alan  realize how silly and pedantic the ‘war’ between the powerful and upper income Spauldings, namely Alan, and the middle income/working-class Coopers has been.  More likely than not, the scenes were supposed to be funny.  For me, they weren’t.  If it was a joke, it fell flat.

This feels, to me, like the work of GL’s   “Team B” (if there are two writing teams heading this show).  “Team A” seemed to resolve the issue of Remy and Christina’s marriage of convenience.  They weren’t ready for a full commitment, but they were growing closer.  “Team B” trotted out the same old conversation about the “faux marriage” concerns from months ago.  It’s the first time in a long time I actually yawned during an episode of GL.

“Team A” gave us Phillip’s glorious return, a return that started dragging the Guiding Light out of the ratings basement and signaled to fans that there is still a lot of life left in this show.  “Team B” managed to take two of the show’s most vibrant and alluring men and created ‘wizened’ creatures out of them.  David and Goliath storylines don’t work when even David is diminished in stature.  (To be sure, I’m not stating that anyone who has had a heart attack is ‘wizened’ or weak, I’m commenting on how GL writers used the illness to illict a laugh, but only succeeded in making Buzz and Alan seem weaker, somehow).

I still love the new GL, I just love it more when “Team A” takes control.  I’m hoping that “Team B” is up only to give “Team A” time to recharge its batteries and give us more of the great storylines they’d started telling just several weeks ago. 

I will give “Team B”  this much credit:  I enjoyed the scenes between Beth and Phillip – not an easy feat since Beth is at the bottom of the list of characters that I couldn’t care less about.  Phillip sees a new Beth.  She’s not the same frightened “little  woman” in need of constant rescue, as she’d always been in the past.  It was one of the most annoying aspects of her relationship with Coop – that she needed the 20 something year old Coop to ‘rescue’ her from big bad Alan.  “Team B” established Beth as the rescuer, this time.  Phillip needs her.  She may just end up being his caretaker.

The Strength of GL

What’s amazes me most about the shift in writing for GL is how good the writers are at making want things I didn’t even know I wanted.  I’ve CELEBRATED the end of the Coop-Beth affair.  I would have celebrated it no matter how it ended (Coop’s moving away, Coop’s dying, Beth moving away, Beth’s dying).  I wasn’t picky about what it would take to end it.

So the big day arrives, Henry Cooper Bradshaw says his good-byes, he lets Beth off the hook for using him to feel ‘young’ or ‘free’, or some such bullshite!, and as I’m watching it dawns on me that I don’t WANT Coop to die!  A good part of it was the writing, the rest of it was John Driscoll.  Had the writers told a compelling storyline for this character, other than being the latest stooge in Beth’s plan to ‘feel something’, it would have been much clearer to the audience why this character matters.   Driscoll gave one of the best performances I’ve seen in a long time – any character, any show.  He was utterly amazing.

What else rocked?

1.  Lizzie telling her mother how weak and starry-eyed she’s become, and that her choices have been miserable for everyone around her.  RIGHT ON, Lizzie..  Beth has been a self-centered walking disaster.  (More on the Lizzie-Beth angle at a later date).

2.  Olivia turning to Bill, knowing it wasn’t Bill she was running to, but her feelings from Natalia that she was running from.  Thank goodness the kiss never got beyond that.  It was good to finally have Liv say what she needed and wanted to say, her feelings aren’t just about friendship, there’s more.

3.  Natalia offering to visit Phillip with Olivia, and make sure she kept her strength up for whatever happened next.  Thank goodness Phillip has come back the man he was.  Unlike Alan, I think the writers will have Phillip embrace Otalia’s relationship and be happy that Emma is loved.  Liv has done a better job putting Emma first than Beth has with ANY of her children.

4.  Buzz Cooper.  Justin Deas?  He’s just a phenom.  His portrayal of Buzz’s refusal to accept the fact that Coop was dying  just broke my heart!  Justin Deas has proven that nothing replaces sheer talent in daytime.  You can’t buy the younger and cheaper pretty-but-pointless actors and expect to get the same powerful punch from a master performance like the one he delivered as Coop was passing on.  It just doesn’t happen.

I wasn’t looking forward to the Coopers going after Alan. Afterall, Coop crashed of his own accord, racing on icy roads to stop Beth from marrying Alan.  Now?  GAME ON!  I’ll be front and center!