By Patrick Erwin
You may remember the last time I wrote about Guiding Light, I shared my opinion that the show was “operating at diminished capacity.” Those were harsh words for a show that used to be must-see-TV for me. Now, I don’t know that GL is out of intensive care just yet, but there’re a few additions to the show that I think are promising — and worth talking about.
The biggest addition to the plus column has to be the return of Daniel Cosgrove in the role of Bill Lewis. I always liked Cosgrove, and in his first go-round as Bill, he was fun to watch. He had chemistry to burn with nearly everyone he was in a scene with. He had a light, playful spirit that reminded me of a younger Josh. He was back-burnered for most of his first run, and just as things were getting good (Bill’s involvement with Olivia), Cosgrove left GL. His return has been amazing; Cosgrove is showing a maturity both in Bill and in his acting that’s exciting to watch. Bill’s explosive anger towards daddy Billy reminds me of the struggles we saw between Alan Spaulding and a hotheaded young Phillip. Cosgrove’s return has filled a void GL has had for a long time — a leading man who is a capable actor in a role we can root for (and who looks good without a shirt on, too).
Another plus is Marcy Rylan, who plays Lizzie. When Rylan inherited the role, Lizzie was a Paris Hilton-wannabe, but Rylan has taken that one-dimensional outline and made Lizzie a fully formed, flawed human being. Even when Lizzie is a bad, bad girl (as she has been in her on-again, off-again fling with Bill), Rylan makes you root for Lizzie. It’s been said before, but the energy and daring that comes across on screen reminds me a lot of former GL actress Krista Tesreau’s portrayal of Mindy Lewis, another poor little rich girl. Rylan has really shined in her recent scenes – dealing with Bill’s shenanigans and dreaming up her own one moment, and coping with the memory of her “dead” daughter the next.
As for the rest of the show, there seems to be a big debate about two of the ascendant pairings on GL: Cyrus and Harley, and Olivia and Gus. I am happy, in any case, that Gus and Harley are at least temporarily on ice; I think the show wisely realized that “Gush” was completely burned out and needed some recharge time!
The Cyrus/Harley coupling has created a huge reaction among GL fans, mostly negative — since, after all, Cyrus is already engaged to Marina, Harley’s beloved niece. I can see why people are not thrilled with the Cyrus/Harley pairing — it seems a bit out of character for Harley. But I’ll admit it – I think the story could be promising, and here’s why: I wouldn’t want Cyrus and Harley to ultimately be together, but I think exploring this triangle would add some great definition to all of the characters involved. For example, Harley has always been noble at heart and abandoned or hurt by the men she’s loved (Phillip, Mallet, Gus, Buzz). It would be great to see her off her pedestal and on the other side of the fence, understanding the very intense longing that drives men (and women) to make those mistakes. Marina, who regularly comes off as so saccharine sweet as to give Mary Richards a toothache, would become way more interesting if she grew a backbone and dealt with the actions of her fiancé and her aunt. And seeing how Cyrus reacts to these two women, and what his decisions are, might give him some definition – and make him seem far less like a carbon copy of General Hospital‘s Jax.
As for Olivia and Gus, I’m a bit more confused about them. Olivia isn’t exactly an ally of the Spauldings, and it seems weird to have her go after a third Spaulding man. (Note to GL: Stories where any woman sleeps with two or more men in the same family have been done to death on this show.) It’s clear that Crystal Chappell and Ricky Paull Goldin do, in fact, have chemistry – Chappell has had chemistry with everyone she’s ever been paired with. It’s a bit fuzzier as to why she picked Gus to be her special confidante – and why Gus, who was gung ho to marry his baby mama Natalia just weeks ago, is letting himself be sucked into Olivia’s orbit.
In any case, it’s good that GL is shaking things up a bit and trying new combinations. In this sink-or-swim atmosphere, shows have to try everything they can to keep the viewers coming back. Not everything GL has tried lately is working (really now –homicidal fourth-graders?) but trying fresh new story with familiar faces is a promising move on GL‘s part.