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?

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.

If it don’t dangle in daytime, we don’t need it.

By ‘we’, I mean TPTB in charge of daytime. Some time ago I was convinced that strong women were making a comeback in daytime. What a fool I was. If the above subject header isn’t a strong enough descriptive slogan for daytime writers, execs, and others, try this one on:

“We hate children and the women who carry them!”

General Hospital

The only woman with balls on this show is the uber-psychotic Helena Cassadine , and she’s carrying the biggest shiniest brass set around! Oh yes, I used the term ‘balls’. Without ‘balls’ you may as well not exist in daytime. Apparently having ovaries makes you weak… and stupid.

Jason/Carly/Jax: I only thought The Bold and The Beautiful was awful when it comes to the treatment of women and children, but more on that later. If you’re associated with the BnB, GH gives you cause for celebration. I’m still processing the idea that Carly would rather share the moment that she finds out she’s pregnant with Jason instead of her HUSBAND. If you’re keeping track? The Mob boys are now practicing midwifery and other forms of OB/GYN arts… Apparently killing the ‘bad’ mob boys is a sideline profession for the ‘good’ mob boys. They’re now jack(asses) of all trades!

Would it have been too much to ask for Jax to know about his wife’s condition BEFORE Carly’s mob pals? Jason even got to read the pregnancy stick???? Good soapgod! How much effort would it have been for the writers to have Carly turn to Bobbie, you know her mother and an expert NURSE!?!?! She could have talked with Bobbie about her fears of losing this baby, received sage medical advice, and bonded more deeply with her mother in the process. Oh wait, I forgot… “Pre-head injury Jason” was pre-med before he got into the ‘kill’ game… that trumps Bobbie’s thirty plus years of nursing. It’s making sense to me, now. Jason’s dangle vs. Bobbie’s experience. No contest. Jason wins.

Jax was always concerned that Carly would never truly put him first in their marriage… She did the best she could to make him feel that he mattered, but when it mattered most? Carly turned to Jason. cShould we bet whether the writers have her name the kid ‘J’ – that’s it, just an initial. She’ll tell Jax it’s to ‘honor’ him, but secretly she’ll know the kid is named after ‘uncle’ Jason, too. Should we bet Vegas odds on whether the kid even makes it through the full nine months? If it makes it nine months, should we bet on how long it takes the writers to make it someone else’s or kill the child off?

If you’re not a daytime viewer, those questions probably seemed cruel. If you ARE a daytime viewer, you probably wish there was no basis for asking such questions. Given how frequently both events happen (child death or misattributed paternity), soap fans are holding their collective breath, waiting to see which of the two events happens. Live births are so rare in daytime, by comparison.

Sonny and Claudia: I’m still counting on the writers to reveal that the hitman who shot Michael was in fact hired by someone else, someone Sonny can kill without having to debate just how or when. That Claudia thinks that being pregnant with Sonny’s child will save her is almost funny. Well, it would be funny if it weren’t so tragic and misguided a belief.

Someone should inform Claudia that Sonny put a bullet in the head of his LAST wife while she was giving birth to his child. Yes, yes… accident! He thought she was in trouble and thought he was firing at Alcazar. The trouble is that he fired off a round in a home where he KNEW his pregnant wife was being held and that she was close to her due date. Obviously, the thought of ‘Sonny the hero’ mattered more than ‘Sonny the father of a live child and husband to a living wife’. Considering how many wives, children, and lovers he’d lost to death before that, you can see how, just maybe, his perspective is a little skewed.

Child or no, I can’t imagine the writers having Sonny kill off Claudia. As much as I try to fight it, Maurice Bernard and Sarah Brown have amazing onscreen chemistry and no amount of time apart has been able to diminish that fact. Personally, I think Claudia is too good for Sonny, but that’s me. If the writers are going to clear Claudia of Michael’s accidental shooting, I hope they do it SOON. There’s nothing ‘sexy’ or ‘romantic’ or ‘thrilling’ about watching a pregnant woman try to figure out how to stay alive after giving birth to the newest heir to the mob kingdom.

By the way, just how when and WHY did the writers decide to make the shift from having every child conceived by Sonny die early in the mother’s pregnancy, to having him populate half of the town’s children? Unless Port Chuckles decides to toss aside the laws against unlawful unions between sibs, SOMEONE else in that town had better start having children and FAST! Ric thinks the child is his? I’m pretty much hoping he’s right though it really doesn’t solve that many problems. He and Sonny share DNA. To my knowledge, this is the first daytime pregnancy created to protect the mother from potentially being killed at the hands of the father/or uncle, whichever Sonny turns out to me. You won’t find THAT in a Harlequin novel! Amateurs!

Robin, Patrick, Emma: First, let me get the chick stuff out of the way right now… O-M-G!!!!!!!! The baby playing Emma is SO CUTE! I’d take that baby in a heartbeat, she’s such a doll! What a sweetie pie! Great casting for a Scrubs baby.

Second? Lucky freakin’ baby – sitting on Patrick’s lap and all. Move over kid!

Third? Oh.HELL.NO…In the neverending quest to turn GH into the barely-modern version of Father Knows Best, who didn’t know that Robin would keep beating back EVERY advancement made in the PPD storyline? Who didn’t know she’d throw out her meds? Who didn’t know that she’d backslide on therapy? What was the point of her lying to Patrick about keeping her appointments? Who DIDN’T know that Robin would make some sort of tragic mistake with Emma? Robin has ovaries, after all.

I’ve hit a new frustration level with the treatment of the Scrubs family. I miss the ABC Daytime that had a longstanding tradition of treating real life social issues with sensitivity, accuracy, and great care. I’d hoped that would happen with the PPD storyline and that it would be treated as both informative and as a showcase for KM’s talent. I thought that much of what we would see is a depressed Robin unable to hold her child, drifting from her family, possibly walking away and deserting her child and husband. I thought we’d have Patrick unable to function, supported by both sets of parents and Mac. I thought we would get to watch Robin’s mother and father begin to help her by admitting their own failures as parents and begging her to break the cycle and fight to be there for Emma. I kept my fingers crossed… but I should have known better.

Writers/EPs/execs who seemingly hate daytime children and the women who carry them couldn’t possibly conceive of a storyline that didn’t include potential harm to a child! Isn’t it bad enough that GH fans began referring to baby Scrubs as ‘the Keebler Emma’ after Robin left her in a tree, this past winter? (Is it a mere coincidence that ABC was also the home of the serial ‘Men in Trees’? Men… Babies.. the viewer’s nerves! All up in trees these days.) Honest to goodness, can you even tell anyone who isn’t a soap fan about that scene? Geez. If it happened on the prime time show Scrubs, it would have been played for laughs and the writers would have made it perfectly clear that they were going for camp.

What’s next? GH fans refer to poor Emma as “Rock-a-bye Emma”? Come on, writers. There’s nothing exciting about watching an infant flipping down the stairs in a stroller because her mom hasn’t taken her anti-depressants and is too busy fighting about NOT being treated for PPD. It’s so horrifying to me that I turned the channel, and I can’t see myself tuning in Monday to find out what happens next. You, dear readers, will have to tell ME. Whatever it is, it most likely includes Patrick leaving Robin and another woman helping him ‘mend’ his broken heart- until the new love’s ovaries cause her to become unworthy of love in some way, too.

Not the only offender

GH isn’t alone in treating women and their children like spare parts; it’s just the worst offender in my book. How typical is it that two women end up pregnant by the same man? One, inevitably, has to lose her child – so that the other can plot to steal the living child and pass it off as her own (Days of Our Lives/Young and the Restless writers, if you’re feeling guilty right now? You SHOULD!). Don’t forget the plots in which women are duped into believing that their baby’s daddies have returned to their spouses and other children, so she has to abort, or attempt to abort, her child to protect HIS happiness (Young and the Restless, The Bold and The Beautiful)’

The Bold and the Beautiful deserves special mention. Anyone who knows me knows that Taylor Hamilton Hayes Forrester Marone is one of my LEAST favorite soap characters, but not even she deserved to be turned into a spare womb! Unable to conceive because her eggs were deemed inviable, Taylor and then husband Nick Marone chose to conceive using a donor egg. Of course, within hours after giving birth, Taylor found out that through a hospital mix-up she’d been impregnated with an egg from Brooke Logan Forrester – a woman she hated. Once she’d realized she couldn’t stay married to Nick, who began developing feelings for Brooke again, she decided to make a clean break from him and leave their marital home. Nick’s response? To call Brooke to come ‘home’ to him and ‘their’ son – before Taylor’s car was barely out of the driveway. He later decided to deny Taylor her parental rights, and Little Jack Marone has had TWO stepmothers since then. One womb is as good as another it seems.

Guiding Light? I can’t tell you how absurd it is that the writers had Reva Shayne Lewis TWICE undergo menopause, only to undergo chemo and radiation and still give birth to a healthy baby boy. Words fail me. A woman is only as good as her ovaries, I guess. <sigh>

As much as I’ve loved As The World Turns‘ Henry and Vienna, Katie and Brad, it was more than just a little uncomfortable watching the four friends share a hospital room as Vienna was undergoing an in vitro procedure to become a surrogate carrying what was supposed to be Katie and Brad’s child. Henry’s reaction was what you’d expect – excessive. Henry was so nervous and uncomfortable that he forced Brad to turn around so that he couldn’t ‘watch’. Henry also accidentally knocked Brad’s sperm sample to the ground. It was supposed to be funny. For me, it wasn’t. Sorry, but all I could think about, while Brad dragged Katie out to help him ‘make more’, was who’d have to clean it up (yeah yeah, no one it’s just a soap, but you know what I mean!) and if everyone was supposed to wait around until Brad and Katie returned.

One Life to Live... good times! Remember when Todd made Blair think their son was dead because he thought she’d cheated on him? Then he had her adopt the son he’d initially placed for adoption after he found out that Jack really was his? OLTL writers have topped themselves in the ‘ovaries leading to crazy grief’ storylines. Jessica now has to learn that the child she conceived with her now deceased husband has also died, and that one of her alters stole her cousin’s baby – born on the same night. Two pregnancies, one dead infant, more heartbreak to come. CAN’T WAIT!

What use to be a joyous occasion has become one of the most depressing events in daytime. The words ‘we’re pregnant’ are my two least favorite words in daytime, lately.

Mourning Guiding Light

In case you haven’t heard (and it’s doubtful this is still news to anyone):

TV’s ‘Guiding Light’ switching off after 72 years

NEW YORK – CBS is pulling the plug on the soap opera “Guiding Light” after a 72-year run that predates television, the show a victim of the economy and changed viewing habits. The drama’s final episode will air on Sept. 18. The Guinness Book of World Records has cited it as the longest-running television drama. It began as a 15-minute serial on NBC Radio on Jan. 25, 1937, and debuted on CBS TV in 1952, focusing on the fictional town of Springfield and the Spaulding, Lewis and Cooper families.

Full story here

I shouldn’t be surprised, but I am.

I shouldn’t be angry, but I am.

I shouldn’t care at all, but I do.

Like many of you, The Guiding Light has been a staple in my life for a VERY long time and even though it’s ‘just a soap’, it’s a soap that will be deeply missed. It helped bring generations of television viewers together, many of us with our mothers and grandmothers. Together we shared at least an hour a day together, infuriated at/laughing with/intrigued by the fictional friends, foes, lovers, and others of Springfield. There was a time when almost every day was torture, waiting for the next episode to air. While I understand the reality of the current situation, I don’t fault the show’s demise on just the economy, it’s been a confluence of issues; bad casting, bad timing, bad writing, horrid production values, among other factors.

It’s as if the powers of daytime have chosen to remain tone deaf. The ‘blame the OJ trial’ defense had magical powers for daytime shows, they seemed to believe. Writers didn’t have to worry about the changing times, they only had to offer the same old storylines as before – and oh, blame the OJ trial for falling ratings, not the writing. Those storyline were mysteriously inoculated against fan boredom, in the minds of daytime writers and producers, network talking heads. Storylines are treated as though they were so foolproof that you only had to make ‘slight’ modifications to the same old-same old and you could shove ANY character or couple into the formula.

The Writing

The writing speaks for itself, unfortunately. It was the show’s biggest stumbling block to wooing fans back. Until recently, I couldn’t think of a GL storyline I could stomach. Cassie and Josh’s forced relationship was a slap in the face to veteran viewers who couldn’t believe that Josh, Reva’s soul mate, would have chosent to stay with Cassie while Reva battled cancer. The writers gave us touching scenes of Josh fighting to save Reva from death’s door, only to walk away from her, himself. Josh finally came to his senses, professing his love for Reva and leaving Cassie behind – only to have the writers give fans a punch to the gut, instead of a slap.

Reva not only chooses Jeffrey over “Joshua”, but having survived radical chemo and radiation treatments and having TWICE gone through menopause, she ends up pregnant with Jeffrey’s child. Another non-Jeva child in an attempt to put an end to the show’s signature couple. More than two decades of JEVA, a couple that death could not separate, and the writers defied science, logic, and commonsense to try to marginalize their cherished history.

Killing off JEVA, killing off Ross (and effectively Ross and Blake), getting rid of the Bauers, Beth Spaulding’s destruction, exiling Holly and Fletcher, Alex’s desperation for much younger Cyrus the jewel thief, the under use of the Lewis clan, Josh’s stint as a minister, Maureen’s death, Ed’s disappearance, Rick cheating on Mel with Beth, kissing cousins Jon and Tammy, the shuttering away the Spauldings, the Rick/Alan-who’s-the-daddy storyline, you name it… the writers either killed it, perverted it, ‘redefined it’ until it was unrecognizable, or unintentionally made a complete joke of it.

And still the show’s writers managed to begin turning it all around. With Coop’s tragic death, Philip and Edmund’s triumphant returns, Shayne’s reemergence and re-integration into the Lewis family, edgy-comedic Dinah being unleashed, and Otalia’s unexpected romance GL seemed like a new show, a recognizable relative of the old GL, not yet the old GL itself. It was a show that was redefining itself for the better and heading in the right direction.

What irony that short-sighted network execs who didn’t seem all that keen about putting money into the show to save it, have canceled it now that the show is finding its footing without a significant increased investment from the network.

The Casting

Any number of characters fit the bill of the pretty-but-pointless crowd. Now is not the time to name them, and I don’t fault them or the actors who portray/portrayed them, for the decision made by the show’s producers to fill screen time with cheaper-to-hire newbies instead of established characters. I think it was just hard for many viewers to watch a show called ‘Guiding Light’, but featured very few recognizable characters. Veterans were reduced to ‘bit players’, all except the veterans involved in storylines that were a direct contradiction to the show’s history. I don’t understand why Maureen’s death and the subsequent loss of viewers following that bad decision never served as a lesson to network execs that fans love VETERAN characters.Those veterans have been our anchors to the soap world. They were the faves we shared and discussed with our parents and grandparents. Our parents and grandparents brought us to the genre, not our peers. The 18-25s and the 12-17s the networks were desperate for weren’t watching soaps and bringing one another in. When the did watch, I suspect they weren’t watching to see OTHER teens on air. They see that every day. Many of them were most likely watching for the glitz and glamour GL ONCE offered.

Even now, what makes teen soaps, such as ‘Gossip Girl’ and ‘90210’, and other such dreck popular is that the ‘teens’ are living the lives of adults. They have little adult supervision and they live a life that most adults can’t afford, much less other teens. Kids stuck in “juvvy” falling in love versus a torrid love affair (complete with location shoot)? I’m willing to wager that the love affair with location shoot wins hands down, even for the bubble-gum crowd.


Production Values and Timing
” I do think if you were flipping through the channels you wouldn’t say, ‘Oh, this is a soap opera, I’m not going to stop,’ ” says Wheeler. “You wouldn’t know what it was.” Ellen Wheeler
Therein lies the problem.
The writing was bad, the production values were WORSE. While fans wanted more cross promotion with primetime shows as a way of bringing in more viewers, I never understood why primetime promotion would have caused those viewers to tune in to a show with such low production values and plots that could never have made it past a brainstorming session in a primetime writers room. Actually, I think a primetime writer would have been embarrassed to introduce some of daytime’s most beloved plots.

Why didn’t anyone ever cross promote with networks like Home and Garden TV (HGTV)? Why not challenge the various “Design on a Dime” teams to redecorate some of GL’s least aesthetic ‘sets’ using their $2,000 budget, per room? Hell’s bells, go hog wild and up the budget to $5,000, even $10k! The two networks split the cost! How about a Designer’s challenge with HGTV, designers pitch their ideas on how to redecorate camera ready rooms? Fans of BOTH shows would get to weigh in and select the chosen room. There could have been webisodes of the ‘behind-the-scene’ build. Fans would go online (or call in for those without and internet connection) to weigh in on various options for redecorating each space, not just the overall room design. Throw QVC in for good measure. Let the design options be selected from the QVC website/catalogue of options, to bring down the costs of the redecorated rooms.

HGTV/QVC would give free airtime to GL, who’d give free advertising to those networks and similar such partners. Some of GL’s biggest stars could host a “getting to know” web segment as their onset homes/rooms were redecorated. The chosen characters would discuss their own history (or histories in the case of selected couples), discuss how they fit into the overall GL story. They could discuss how the redecorated room tells you about who their characters are.

The selected design teams could have temporarily become part of the cast as a character’s/couple’s space is redecorated with a series of comedic mishaps. The segments could air on HGTV/QVC – as well as the web. HGTV/QVC fans would probably want to tune in for the dramatic overhaul of the sets, and potentially become new viewers. GL (assuming they could talk the apartment/hotel/home owners into allowing it to happen) would up its production values for very little money. Similar connections could have been made with the Food Network stars, as well – who could become involved in kitchen renovations.I don’t know if Ellen Wheeler ever reads message boards, including the official GL board. I think it would have been informative for her to know that there are soap fans, most especially at ‘all soaps sites’, who aren’t watching and WON’T watch Guiding Light because of the show’s production values. From her statement above, clearly Ms Wheeler was banking on the new format to get viewers to tune in. She was banking on viewers thinking of the show as a ‘reality show’ and want to watch to figure it out. Instead, viewers ran in the opposite direction.

Prior to the upswing in the writing, and whatever remaining veteran characters were left, the production values were all viewers had to reinforce their remaining emotional connection with the show’s history. I directly fault Wheeler and Bloom for taking that from fans. Much of the show’s history was thrown away when the show went outside of studio.
  • Imagine how different the show would have been had Alan been tried (and convicted?) in the same courtroom where it was revealed that Annie Dutton carried a dead fetus for weeks in order to frame Reva Shayne for her infant’s death? The last time Alan was in that room, he was supporting Annie who’d lied even to him. (Cue flashbacks!)

  • What if Josh and Reva, by coincidence, went to clear their heads in the same carriage house they met in the last time Reva came back from the dead?
  • Imagine Josh walking about that beautiful house he once shared with Reva, while images of young Marah and Shayne played as memories in the background. What if living with those memories motivated him to rebuild his family with Reva?
  • Blake and her children living at the cottage? Remember the playpen where the twins played, one believed to be Ross’, the other believed to be Rick’s? How long after both betrayed Holly did they move into that cottage to start their lives together? I remember watching Holly in that living room and wondering how could stand there and not want to take Ross’ head off every time she walked through that door.

As fantastic as the Shayne-Liv-Edmund drunk rock band scenes were, they were upstaged by the low rent digs Shayne lives in. That cheap dark paneling filled the scene – and Liv’s upscale wardrobe seemed even more out of place. Shayne grabbing beer out of the mini fridge in the efficiency kitchen in his one room hovel caused ME to sober up and I wasn’t drinking!

The Guiding Light was always a better show than it was given credit for. The half-assed decor that worked to strip the show of its integrity said nothing about the show, but more about those who were supposed to be good stewards of the fans’ trust and the show’s resources. I’m one more angry GL viewer who can’t believe the show is gone, rather than having the network get rid of the people who destroyed it. VERY short-sighted on the part of CBS execs. If any show deserved to have the network execs fight for it, it’s The Guiding Light.

Thank you to the great actors (past and present) for sharing your hearts, your time, and your talents with us. In my world, The Light still shines and it always will.


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!

Five reasons to watch GL again

You’ll feel as if you’ve died and gone to ‘old-GL’ heaven if you watched!  Ignore the sets (for now), they’re still a downer, but everything else is kicking into high gear.  What a difference a few weeks makes.  Several weeks ago, I’d written about what’s wrong with GL.  Little could viewers have known that GL would launch the most aggressive plan to revive a soap than we’ve seen from any daytime drama!  While TPTB behind the scenes at Days Of Our Lives are dismantling one of daytime’s longest running serials, the geniuses at Guiding Light are rebuilding (and oh yes, Icalled them genuises – without snarking). 

Five reasons to watch, and in no particular order:

1.  Phillip Spaulding and Melinda Sue Lewis  return.  I listed them together because I can’t help but believe that the two of them will have signifcant screen time together. Returning at the same time couldn’t be a coincidence!

 Phillip, the Spaulding family scion, flexible good guy/bad guy character, all around hot-as-hades heartthrob, what’s not to love?  It’s hard to believe that the writers let him go in the first place, and that he’s been away five years now.  The only two people who’ve ever been able to stop Alan are Phillip and Alex and the writers sadly did away with both.  Bringing Phillip back opens a world of possiblity for GL, but also puts an end to Alan’s reign of terror.

Just in time!  The writers were beginning to create a savage Alan Spaulding, one hardly worth watching as he became a caricature of his former self.  While I’ve had zero sympathy for Beth and Coop’s indulgence in adolescent fantasies about love and life, there’s nothing fun about watching Alan force Beth to give up her burgeoning law career to stay home and mother him AND their daughter.  Soapgod knows it’s time for Beth to do something with her life other than flit from affair to affair.  It was even less enjoyable to watch him comment on the ‘marriage’ they would have, leaving fans to wonder if he was implying that they would have an intimate relationship whether she wanted one or not.  He was a little too excited to describe their ‘honeymoon’, while she stood there in her bridal gown, crying and begging to be set free.

Could Alan even dream of competing with Phillip for Beth’s heart?  Would he want to given how happy he’ll be, at first, to have Phillip return?   Will he even have to compete for Beth with Mindy’s return?  It’s just possible that Phillip will be as disappointed in Beth as he is in Alan?  Mindy’s return may be the beginning of the rekindling of the Beth/Phillip/Mindy triangle, with Beth on the outside, looking in. After all this time, Mindy finally gets the upper hand and no dirty tricks involved?  I’d love it!  Now that Beth is the bitch goddess Mindy had always suspected she was, let the fireworks begin!

(Oh, and by the way, watching Beth reject the use of the name Spaulding was a shocker in light of Phillip’s return – not that she knows that onscreen, but the writers know it so I have to wonder why they’ve decided to have her do it.  She screamed that her name was ‘Raines’, not ‘Spaulding’.  Veteran viewers may remember that Bradley Raines was Beth’s stepfather.  The man raped Beth, and beat her and her mother.  That she would reject the Spaulding name for that of Bradley’s left me stunned.  Hopefully that’s the beginning of a new storyline – one in which a troubled Beth tries to figure out why she’s such a trainwreck. 

2.  Edmund’s Return.  As stated earlier, Edmund has been humanized, and every day he’s on air, the character’s presence tells a new story.  Edmund’s behaviors and connections to others  are even more nuanced this time around. Is he just conning everyone?  Are his emotions genuine?  It’s hard to say.  I’m not especially fond of Dinah and Shayne as a couple even if they’re growing on me, so having Edmund’s daughter, Lara, return wouldn’t be a tragedy.  Lara’s return would do more than break up Shayne and Dinah.  It would give us a chance to see more of Edmund’s growth.  She  seems to be the first person in his life that he would/could love unconditionally and I’m curious about what effect her presence would have on Edmund.  Would he become a good guy?  NOT HARDLY!  My guess is that most of  his new dastardly deeds would be related to protecting his daughter – and possibly spark a Winslow-Lewis war.

3.  The Lewis Clan is BACK!  They’re back in a big way.  I think most fans want the obvious, Josh and Reva – GL’s epic soul mates back together again.  What fans are also getting is the slow rebuilding of the Lewis family all the way around.  Billy and Vanessa are lurking in the shadows, occasionally stepping to the forefront.   Between Reva, Josh, Billy, Vaness, Bill, Shayne, and Dinah (as Bill’s sister), we could end up with a healthy revival of the Lewis-Spaulding wars – adding Edmund to the Spaulding clan for good measure.  It gives us a tortured Bill and Lizzie surviving a pretty tough year only to have to figure out how to continue loving one another while not getting too caught up in their respective family’s war.

4. The writing is just BETTER!  Two words that will make you cringe:  Kidnapping plot.  How ridiculously senseless was it that Bill lost his memory, but it was Lizzie who seemed to forget every detail of the kidnapping and didn’t know if Bill was guilty or not? She spoke with her kidnapper, touched him, saw his dark hair, felt his tears (which should have left DNA of some sort in her clothing),  noticed the difference in the builds between the kidnapper and Bill…but she just wasn’t sure if he was guilty… <sigh>

The writers could have redeemed her by having HER notice Cyrus’ dog tags clanking and realize that the kidnapper made a similar clanking sound.  But hey, that Bill remembered?  I’m good!  I can roll with that.  It’s time SOMEONE remembered something that would end this torture of Bill being falsely accused.  That Bill plans to take Cryus down not realizing that Grady (who is taller than both men) was responsible? I’m good with that too!  That Billy is involved and the father and son are working together? I’ve freakin’ died and gone to old-GL heaven!  I can’t wait! 

5. Romance is BACK on GL!  Reva and Josh’s unintentional romantic glances, Olivia and Natalia’s road to romance, Remy and Christina’s too-cute-for-words marriage of convenience, Rick/Beth/Philip/Mindy potentially heating up, Dinah and Shayne’s oddball relationship, and even Buzz’s dreams of dead wife Jenna was more romantic than much of what’s happened on GL in a long time!

Any of the above points would have made me happy to be a GL viewer, to have them all at once?  What an embarrassment of riches!