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.

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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!

GL’s Fearsome Foursome back together?

SOD is reporting the return of Mindy Lewis, as played by fan favorite Krista Tesreau.  YES!  GL fans good fortune just keeps growing!  It’s great to have Melinda Sue Lewis back, but to have her played by the actress originating the role is such a perfect sign of appreciation of GL fans and the fans love for GL history. In an era when veteran actors and characters are let go to make room for the cheaper pretty-but-pointless, this is a HUGE move on the part of GL’s powers that be!

Speaking of history, it will be interesting to see how the writers have Mindy react to the very changed Beth. Friendship between the two women was slow in coming.  Melinda Sue was always convinced that Beth was far from the deer-in-headlights she pretended to be.   She was always faulted for the conflict between the  two (rightfully so), and has generally been viewed as the ‘bad girl’.  Though she was wrong at the time, maybe she’ll be credited for her ability to predict the future Beth Spaulding. 

In the not-so-brief time that she’s been away, Beth Spaulding has become a new person – both figuratively and literally!  Will Mindy gloat about the ‘new Beth’s’ penchant for disaster and self-destruction or  will their friendship pick up where it left off?  Will Mindy be quick to rub Phillip’s nose in the fact that Beth was sleeping with his father and his best friend when he could have used her support most?  What will her relationship with Rick be?  Does her arrival mean more  screen time for Billy and Vanessa?  Will she play good sister against Dinah’s ‘bad sister’ routine and expose Dinah’s role in the kidnapping of Lizzie Spaulding?  Will the Lewises be reunited (Reva and Josh included)?   And more importantly, will the Lewis family finally get a homestead now that their family has increased in number?

GL just keeps hitting all the right notes. That  I’m even able to ask those questions makes me happy for the possiblities that KT’s return brings.

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.

CSI: Daytime

Guiding Light

Official GL board readers, part of this blog entry won’t be new to you – I’ve asked you this question already: If Lizzie saw her kidnapper’s black hair, felt his tears (which means his DNA is still in her clothing) and was able to see how tall and lanky the guy was, HOW could she ever believe that Bill Lewis might be guilty? He has nothing in common with the kidnapper. Too bad that Bill is the one with amnesia! This storyline would make far more sense if Lizzie was.

The Young and the Restless

I’m just not getting the Kay Chancellor storyline. I can understand the suspicion that Marge would try to pass herself off as Kay, but wouldn’t Marge already know that? Considering she’d done it before when no one knew Kay had a doppleganger, and she was still found out, why would she try it now?.

Why not just run a DNA test to settle the matter? Surely there’s enough information in Kay’s medical files – a sample somewhere, to solve the matter if Jill or Brock aren’t willing to give up a sample for comparison.

Where is Kay’s big freakin’ ring? Wouldn’t flashing that hot load of pressed coal go a long way in casting doubt that the woman standing before Jill and Nikki is Marge? Wouldn’t there be doubt enough to cause them to investigate further rather than reject Kay?

Will this story turn into Kay’s good daughter (Nikki) recognizing and accepting. her before the bad daughter (Jill)? Are these two women going to set off a rivalry over who loves Kay most? That would be interesting – but the writers are going about setting it up the wrong way.

The gaping holes in both show’s storylines are distracting. It’s a triple sin given the fact that both shows air on the same network as the wildly popular CSI franchise. The lack of attention to detail and the implausibility of the plots makes them hard to watch for anyone not already hanging on to their daytime viewing habit by a thread.

“G” stands for…

Gross

Goon

Ghastly

This message has been brought to you by… ‘Peapack Street’… like Sesame Street, only less entertaining.  W-T-F! I’ve gotta say, I’ve held out hope for GL like so many other viewers.  I’ve waited, and waited, and waited.  ‘It HAS to get better’, I thought, ‘it can’t get any worse’.  HA!  You can never say those words out loud.  You can’t even THINK them!  The gods of daytime will hear your challenge and realize that you have no idea how capable they are of making things gut-wrenchingly worse (OH!  Another ‘G’ word)!

Grady’s attempt at seducing Vanessa made my skin crawl.  The man has already escaped prosecution after killing Tammy.  Now he’s kidnapped, bound and gagged Lizzie, and is off trying to seduce Vanessa.  What is it with mature women and GL’s writers?  They made fools of that pack of jackals following Alan the Prophet around Springfield – Alan’s true believers, who were funding his lifestyle and paying his attorney’s fees.  Now Grady is making a practice of following women around town offering his services <GROAN! <- Yes, another ‘G’ word.

The one decent moment in the past two weeks, in my perspective, was the Cooper family coming together for the ‘last time’ in Harley’s house. The scene was touching, but also sad because Gus AND Harley are gone.

I wish the writers would recast the character and bring her back. I loved BE in the role, but I’d accept a GOOD recast.Nothing feels the same about this show any more. There’s one one scene I look at and think, ‘AH! Classic GL’. Not one. It’s not just because of Gus and Harley (I liked, not loved, them as a couple).

It’s everything. The look, the scenes, the characters feel different. Something is missing with this show and I don’t know if the current PTB have the ability to help us get it back.

Luckily, I still have Days of Our Lives.  I will ignore the Sami-EJ situation, pretend they’re not even on the show, as I continue watching Days make it’s way back to the show it use to be.

Abe Carver as Mayor?  LOVE  that.  I hope it really does happen.  This character has been an integral part of the show for years and the writers have had little for the man to do other than fend off Stefano Dimera in order to stop him from reclaiming a perennially psychologically frail and emotionally deceptive Lexie.  I think DAYS is certainly on the right track by having Abe and Lexie work out their relationship. (View the YouTube clip below of Abe catching Lexie in the act with yet ANOTHER man – his adult son with another woman  being the man she most recently cheated with, last.

Daytime writers are so use to splitting couples up and having them move on to new relationships that it’s hardly worth becoming emotionally invested in any couple, as a viewer.  With Abe working toward a position of power in Salem, how long will it be before the Dimeras find a way to draw Abe in?  Lexie can only fight off her father for so long, and then Stefano is back to his old tricks, making her a pawn in yet another of his doomed-to-fail plans.

The future of daytime…

According to ATWT Executive Producer, Chris Goutman, daytime fans have lost their appetite for daily serials and may prefer, instead, serials airing 3 days a week.  I don’t know about you, soap fans, but every time I hear a writer, executive producer, or some drone from the top floor of the executive offices speak, their solutions sound more like ‘bottomline’ solutions (what can THEY do to save money).  Rarely do I hear them talk about what fans want.  Even rarer is it that anyone talks about what difference is between daytime even a decade ago and daytime now.  Sure, the storylines are the same, but it’s in the execution of those storylines that daytime writers and producers let us down.

Daytime is no longer written as a long running drama with a rich history writers could continue to mine in order to create coherent cohesive future storylines.  Daytime serials are treated as variety shows.  Each storyline seems to be self contained and unrelated to the past, present, or future.  YnR’s Victor’s vasectomy and GL’s Reva going into early menopause years ago are prime examples!  The writers/EPs have hit ‘reset’ and offered storylines with both characters becoming parents again – leaving the writers to scramble find ways of explaining the huge gaffes in history once fans complained.

Clearly, strong storytelling, impeachable dialogue, well crafted sets, impeccable costuming, and skilled actors are all off the table.  What are we offered instead?  Three days a week of weak storytelling, incoherent dialogue, poorly designed sets, sorrowful costuming, and unskilled actors in the role of long loved favorites.  Sure, I’ll take three days a week of that, instead of five… but then, I’d take ZERO days, instead of five, as well.

Shortcuts are shorter, not better.  Exhibit A… (Thanks, Noel, from the GuidingLightTV board for the link)…

THIS (a clash of titans, powerful women who aren’t afraid of going toe-to-toe – fierce enough competitiors to make you fear them with a single look): 

Has become THIS (capable actresses reduced to scream queens fighting over petty jealousies – using sex rather than their minds and other considerable resources to compete for a man who was using them both): 

THIS (a vengeful, petulant child – who seduces her mother’s fiance in order to ‘make her pay’ and winds up sorry for her betraying her mother even if it’s with a man she loves)

becomes THIS: A mother who falls in-lust-calling-it-love with her daughter’s husbands.  Mom slept with both husbands and had a child with each… you read that right, it didn’t happen ONCE… it happened TWICE:

THIS (a dialogue between a man and the woman he raped, his wife when he raped her – ex wife after the rape) shows that he lives daily with regret for the pain he caused her. It’s a complex story with Roger and Holly remembering the great love they once had a great love that at times draws them together, physically, leaving Holly revulsed after the act.  At other times, the rape and post-rape keeps them apart all together:

Ultimately, Roger and Holly realized that they could never get past the rape.  In the end they separated, permanently.  All of which has been replaced by THIS:

Todd Manning, a man who is taking advantage of his rape victim’s memory loss to get her on his side regarding his daughter’s teen pregnancy (refusing to tell her that her son is the child’s father).  His assault of her was brutal and part of a gang rape HE initiated. Theirs was a VERY brief sexual relationship before she dumped him.  They barely knew one another.  Now he wants his chance to force her to forgive him and see what kind of man he is now… sweet irony:

Sure, chief… taking soaps down to three days a week will make all of the pain go away… that’s right… and I’ve got a bridge to nowhere to sell you, only, it ain’t gonna be cheap!