Out on a limb with Otalia and The Guiding Light

As much as it pains me to say it, I may be done with Otalia.  I don’t know if that’s what the writers want and I’m just being a great big sucker for giving it to them.  Maybe I’m just tired of most of daytime and this current Otalia storyline is hitting my hot buttons.  Once Jessica Leccia returns from maternity leave and I see Otalia back onscreen together, it’s possible that all will be forgiven, and that I will be back to rooting for them.  For now?  Not so much.

GL writers seem to be completely unable to tell a compelling storyline.  Is  it the writers?  The executive producer blocking the way to good storyline telling?  The CBS Execs?  The way JessicaL’s Natalia was temporarily written out for maternity leave sucks – deeply sucks – sucks so bad that it makes ATWT’s writing out Carly Tenney to cover Maura West’s maternity leave look brilliant.  What does THAT tell you? Clearly, the problems with Natalia’s decision to abandon Olivia once she realizes she’s pregnant with Frank’s baby is indicative of the problems GL has been experiencing under Wheeler’s guidance.   First, who DIDN’T know that this would turn into another Susan/Ross/Carol (Friends) storyline?  Who DIDN’T know the writers would force an ‘eternal’ triangle and ‘forced family’ with Frank/Natalia/Olivia, rather than let Otalia just be happy together?  Second, this storyline takes me back to what I didn’t like about Natalia when she was first introduced.  She was introduced as a weak, whiny, mealy-mouthed character, desperate for love.  She stood in the shadows, afraid, insecure, making one bad decision after another that everyone around her had to pay for as she whined ‘poor me’.  Our Lady of Perpetual Pain.  Sheeeeee’s back!

I enjoyed the strength Natalia developed over time.  I loved that she’d started growing up and making decisions that improved her life and brought her happiness.   While I think all individuals should become the people they need to be BEFORE entering relationships, sometimes relationships can help change you for the better and that was the gift that Otalia gave one another.

Now?  Watching Olivia hit the road to track down the woman who dashed her hope for happiness and abandoned her just as Liv gained the strength to face the world made me despise Natalia, and the crap offered as entertainment to GL fans.   Listening to Liv cry, watching her scream out in vain for Natalia to come back made me realize that the writers used the Otalia relationship to weaken both characters.   Not only did the old Natalia return, she dragged Liv down to her level.

How lovely would it have been for Liv and Natalia to have been filmed BEFORE JL’s pregnancy to air while she was away?  How lovely it would have been for Liv and Nat to decide to leave town together, for a while.  Frank could be conflicted on what it means to now be a part of this family and want Natalia to take all the time she needed to clear her head.  He, Rafe,  and Liv could have occasionally made the trip to visit Natalia  – maybe with Rafe staying with Natalia to get use to the idea of his mother having another child and to help her and become reacquainted with her again.  Slowly, they would have accepted their lives as they are and become a modern American family.  Taping the scenes ahead of time would have meant no lost scenes for Otalia, or ending this madness with Frank on the outside/no on the inside/no on the outside/whatever. We could have finally had an end to the angry Rafe-monster… but the concept of lost time is one the GL writers and EP are all too familiar with.

More is the pity because now I say… BRING ON DORIS AND OLIVIA!  Who’s afraid of the big bad Wolfe?  Natalia should be!

Ratings and why CBS should reconsider

Despite the suckage that is GL these days, I STILL think the wrong thing to do is cancel this  show!

Courtesy of Soap Opera Network:

Ratings for the week June 22-26, 2009

HH
1. Y&R 3.5/11 (+.1/-.1)
2. B&B 2.3/7 (same/-.2)
3. DAYS 2.1/6 (+.1/+.2)
4. OLTL 1.8/6 (same/-.2) <—— ties low (Last time: 1.8/6 for June 15-19, 2009)
5. AMC 1.7/5 (-.1/-.2) <——– new low (Previous low: 1.8/6 for June 15-19, 2009)
5. GH 1.7/5 (-.1/-.4) <——— new low (Previous low: 1.8/5 for June 15-19, 2009)
7. ATWT 1.6/5 (same/-.3) <—— ties low (Last time: 1.6/5 for June 15-19, 2009)
8. GL 1.4/4 (+.1/-.1)

ABC soaps are falling like a ROCK! It’s not as if GL is doing so poorly in the ratings, in comparison.

FIRE WHEELER.

HIRE better writers. Several of the current writers would do just fine but new leadership is definitely needed and Ms. Wheeler just doesn’t do it for me.

Maybe there’s a way to get ATWT and GL on soapnet (long shot I know). Lifetime might not be interested in producing GL, but would the network be open to airing syndicated eps if CBS continued to produce and air the show?  Could there be a partnership that eased the financial burden for CBS?

Ride this thing out and let GL stick around with the rest of daytime.  I only say that because I’m still sure that ATWT and GL still have room for improvement, in the right hands.

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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?

WHY GL soapgods, WHY? (Spoiler included)

Jeffrey/Reva/Josh

According to the Nelson Branco’s Suds Report, it’s highly likely that Jeffrey O’Neill is Edmund Winslow’s killer.   If that’s the case, WHY is Jeffrey willing to let Reva serve a single day in jail rather than turn himself in?  Are we to believe he’s so angry at Reva for protecting Josh and Shayne that he’d willingly heave her there, separated from Colin –  the son she’s barely spent time with since his traumatic birth and her cancer treatments?

If so, the writers have managed to do the impossible.  They’ve lowered my opinion of Jeffrey.  I once thought of him as a much better man than Josh… I  KNOW!  Crazy, huh?  All I can say is that I was experiencing ‘Cassie Winslow Rage’.  The thought that Josh would prefer Cassie to Reva left me a little soapfan loopy, but I’m better now.  Hey, thanks for asking!

While I no longer believe that Jeffrey and Reva belong together, or that they could come close to ever replacing ‘Bud’ and ‘Sister’, the writers have at least continued to try to sell Jeffrey as loving Reva above all others.  If Jeffrey is the killer, that’s all out the window.  He officially loves himself MORE and would only do what he had to to save Reva as long as it costs him nothing.

OH, and for those of you who aren’t GL fans ‘Bud’ is Reva’s loving nickname for Josh.  ‘Sister’ was Hawk Shayne’s nickname for his daughter, Reva.  If you thought Bud was dating his ‘sister’, you just might be a BnB fan!

James/Daisy/Phillip

“James Spaulding” is such a great character, and the actor (Zack Conroy) is PERFECT. He looks and sounds like a young Phillip Spaulding (Grant Aleksander).  If you told he me was related to Grant Aleksander, I’d believe it without batting an eyelash.  Conroy, if this show had more time, would have been able to turn the character into a real heartthrob! In fact, I have no doubt that he still can.

So… WHY have the writers decided to turn James into a ‘Grady clone’ just for Daisy’s sake!??! In the time that’s left, I’m not interested in a half-wit Bonnie and Clyde storyline for these two characters. When Daisy smarted off to Phillip today, she made me long for the highly unstable  Phillip Spaulding who existed several year ago. HE would have known how to deal with her in a way that might not have been exactly legal or moral, but who’s complaining?  Sorry folks, I know this is harsh, but if only Daisy was holding Grady’s hand when he went off that cliff… <sigh> Problem solved!

Natalia/Frank/Olivia (and Rafe)

Did the judge actually tell Natalia that because there was no male role model at home, Rafe couldn’t go home with her? I feel like I’m hallucinating.  What freakin’ calendar year is this!??!  Frank had to agree to be Rafe’s substitute papa just to help get the kid out of jail?  Of all the contrived plots GL has managed to weave into one continuous joke of a show (at times) this was the WORST.

So what’s next?  A triangle with Frank/Natalia/Olivia before Otalia even gets off the ground?  Rafe leaves home and goes to live with Frank out of disgust that his mother is in love with Olivia?  Frank has to being Rafe and Natalia back together?

If you believe in Otalia, you’re going to have to help me out, fellow soapers.  After the judge’s idiotically sexist and outdated comments, I’m losing faith in the writers.  Shame on you, GL writers.  This one stretches the bounds of credibility and is offensive.  Rafe is LEGALLY an adult.  There’s no reason for him to need a ‘male role model’ in the home to be released.

One.step.too.far.

The Boudreau Clan

Wish we could have had MORE of the Boudreau clan.  I love the closeness of this family and they remind me so much of the core families of the past <SOB!>  (They remind me of the Bauers, most especially).  While I’m enjoying papa Boudreau, I know that not all of you are!

From the official GL board:

I loved Montel as Clayton. He brought an immediate and desperately needed intensity and emotionalism to the Boudreaus and clicked with all the other actors playing the family right away. He made Clayton a compelling presence again, something that hasn’t been the case since Richard Biggs last appeared.Montel’s Clayton wouldn’t be going through all this hand-wringing over the ponzi-scheme, he’d track down the truly responsible party, PunkLoserJames, and teach him a lesson no matter how determined Phillip might be to get that snot-nosed punk out of trouble.    RoseVioletDaisy
And there’s this:
I think with Montel, we finally had a “strong,” father figure on the show, the first since Ross (spaztastic Buzz doesnt count, Josh is too hung up stalking Reva and they wont let Billy be anything then a kind of joke character.) You could believe that Montel’s Clayton would say something and people would stop and listen. He was large and in charge…which is nice to see from a middle aged guy on this show, but also a middle aged African-American guy.

It is too bad, with Ed and Ross gone, that Mel and Rick couldnt have reunited and have her family take on some of the aspects of the Bauers,with Clayton being the Mike Bauer no nonsense paterfamilias, and instead of giving Christina of all people a grandmother, make her Mel’s grandma…and we could use the Bauer kitchen again.  Mitch

I can’t say that I disagree with any of the points above. I just wish the writers were consistent in making Clayton a strong and proactive character no matter who’s playing in the role.  I also love the idea of reuniting the Boudreau and Bauer clans. They’re so both touchstone core families.  I wish.

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

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.

Guess what? This is NOT a blog about Todd Manning!

Who knew?  Yes, it is indeed possible to get through a week and not devote an entire blog to how much I hate the Todd-Marty storyline on OLTL.  I’ve got bigger fish to fry.  It’s not something that annoys me, exactly,  it’s just something that has me curious.  I’ve watched soaps for decades, and for the life of me I can’t remember if Police Officers were always written to be as dumb as a box of hair as the current crop of daytime cops…so much so that I’m confusing the various “Po po’s”  from different day-shows.

Have you had the odd sensation of realizing that you’re thinking about a GL storyline involving Frank Cooper, but the image of Mac Scorpio is in your mind?  They’re so alike, in some ways.  Dark hair, good looking, similar build, and as-dumb-as-dirt when it comes to solving crimes and protecting the citizenry of their respective towns.

Frank is just jonesing to bust Bill Lewis for the kidnapping of Lizzie Spaulding.  What do they do there in the land of knotting pine wood paneling and faux stone Springfield?  Inhale glue?   Frank’s FIRST clue that Alan was somehow involved, even if not initially, should have been the point at which he expressed support for Lizzie AND for Bill Lewis.  The last time Alan truly supported Lizzie was when she was a babe in arms, and even then she was more of a tool to manipulate both his son, Phillip, and his then daughter-in-law/now wife-lover, Beth.  When has he ever supported or believed in Bill?  Why would he start now?

Ok, I’ll say it.  Frank has always been a good guy, so maybe it’s just hard for him to put himself in the shoes of a criminal mastermind.  Maybe it’s just hard for him to believe that anyone, including Alan Spaulding, would protect the person who actually kidnapped his granddaughter, just to frame an innocent man.   The only problem is that Frank has lived in Springfield his entire life.  Why would he put ANYTHING past Alan?  We’ll know that the writers view Frank as something more than a plot point to move the ‘more important’ plot points around when he’s allowed to

1 – Actually arrest someone who is guilty of a crime.

2 – Collect enough evidence to make it stick in court.

3- Stops arresting innocent persons and harassing them.

I live for the day… Babe in woods?  Sure, I’ll let it work as an excuse for  Frank Cooper.  I’ll accept that he’s all ‘Mr. Cooper goes to Peapack’, but what about Mac Scorpio?  What excuse can be made for stripping away his spine and his white and grey matter?  Ah the tragedy of the ever revolving door of daytime writers. It’s claimed our Mac, at long last.

The man is MAC-FRICKIN-SCORPIO, folks!  Do the writers not know who this man is (or was)?  Mac was a bad boy, a criminal, from way back.  He’s was a mercenary’s mercenary.  He is the man the writers had HOPED to recreate in Jerry Jacks.  The Jacks brothers, I have always assumed, were the modern day Scorpio brothers, only less successfully so.  Jax Jacks and Robert Scorpio:  successful, heroic, worldly, extensive travelers, both men favoring situational morals and ethics, but by-and-large honest men.  Their brothers?  The complete opposite.

Mac lied, stole, and cheated with the best of them.  There wasn’t a woman he wanted that he didn’t go after (married or not, and that included any woman married to or interested in his own brother).  Mac evolved into the great big teddy bear we see before us today.  Jerry started evolving during Julian Stone’s tenure, but the writers decided to have him revert back to type and then upped the “ick factor” with nuJerry, and Sebastian Roche did a marvelous job with the script he was give.  Watching SR in action, there were times when I almost wished the writers would let Mac revert back to type as well, within reason.

Why haven’t the writers made better use of his Mac’s past to make him every bit as devious and confrontational as Port Chuckles’ lollipop gangsters? (Uh, though the lollipop mob is stepping up the Sopranos worthy violence and cringe worthy behavior).  Why hasn’t Mac contacted some of the criminal pals he once worked with and turned them into confidential informants?

Does becoming honest make you stupid?  Brain death occurs once you forget how to scheme and connive?  Why, writers?

…and why, soapgods, am I tormented by my memories of storylines that were once coherent and exciting? What made bad guys fun to watch, once upon a time, is that they were SMART, their storylines were smart, their schemes weren’t telegraphed and acted out with the equivalent of subtitles.  Now, in order to make the bad guys seem brilliant, daytime writers have made everyone else dumber.

To DOOL’s Bo, Hope, and Roman Brady, and OLTL’s Bo Buchanan, I salute you (or salute your writers via you).  Sure, I even salute OLTL’s John McBain, too.  None of you are as bad off as most of your daytime colleagues, and let’s hope you never get there.

To GH’s Mac, and GL’s Frank, good luck.  You never had a chance.