Why Guiding Light is Self-Destructing

Guiding Light logo

By Patrick Erwin

The other day I got so fed up, I turned off Guiding Light and swore I’d never turn it back on.  That might have been an overreaction — of course I’ve been watching it so long that  I’ll inevitably  tune in again sometime. But in my up-and-down relationship with GL, it’s time to give it some tough love. My old friend has changed drastically over the last few years, but these days, it seems to be self-destructing.

Lest you think I’m fickle and have made the judgment lightly, let me tell you a few things. I’ve been watching GL since 1980 or so, and I’ve seen a lot of wonderful actors playing fantastic stories.  Despite the clunker stories of the 80s and 90s (Ghost Reva, Amish Reva, walking through paintings, etc.)  I have stayed tuned. Why? Well, Springfield was home. Characters might have changed or evolved, but there was always a core of the Springfield I knew around. And there was always something happening to these people I cared about. Therefore, I cared about the story and tuned in tomorrow.

What’s changed? The production format may have changed, but honestly, that hasn’t influenced my decision. In fact, GL really seems to be working out many of the technical bugs that made the change so jarring at first. And really, the new format may have been billed as a creative change, but the reality is that GL can now be made with 50 fewer crew members (and therefore more cheaply).

No, what’s made me throw up my hands in defeat is the story. I’m not saying that GL has horrible stories right now. I’m saying I think the writers of GL have altogether forgotten how to tell a story in a serialized manner! There is little to no reason to tune in tomorrow as a result.

I know that the days of story arcs lasting two or three years are gone, but most shows are still playing out their arcs over the time of a year or so. GL often seems as if it’s being conjured up a day at a time. I suspect this lack of commitment to story is due, in part, to the fact that a big chunk of GL‘s talented cast is on recurring status, and you can’t assume that the actors will be around down the line (we miss you, Jerry ver Dorn). But this has a really negative impact on the show. Without the ability to create a sweeping story that impacts more than just a few characters, our interest is going to suffer.

CassieEven for the front-burner stories, the pacing seems to be completely off. GL has spent much of the last year telling the stories of Josh and Cassie, and Reva and Jeffrey. But there’s no consistency to what’s being written. Cassie the stripper is a minister’s wife! Cassie deals with demon child! Cassie sleeps with Cyrus! Individually, these stories might have been more interesting if they’d been explored at a far deeper level. Sequentially, it makes me wonder if the writers are picking plots out of a hat.

Reva and Jeffrey haven’t had an easy time of it, either. Their pairing got a big positive response, but their airtime was in dribs and drabs, and just as it seemed to be heating up again, the story took an odd U-turn when Jeffrey married Olivia. (Don’t ask.) Cyrus has been paired with so many women in Springfield, and his fling with Cassie seems especially illogical after the character of Harley was changed and compromised so significantly to make them a couple. There seems to be no timing or pacing to any of these stories, or any changes to the canvas.

GL‘s problems go far deeper than any one couple or any single story. I believe it’s the current overall approach to the show that’s really taking it off track. The show has traded much of its serialized narrative to  showcase  shorter, closed-ended vignettes. Those scenes individually may work — fine acting and good dialogue — and they may achieve their purpose (romantic, funny or menacing). But they don’t build momentum. And it ultimately leaves characters unconnected to each other, further weakening our interest.

Like an opera, an orchestra, or a great soul ballad, a great story builds momentum and then culminates in a powerful ending.Beverlee McKinsey

GL has told many powerful stories in its day.  We all have our favorites, and they all have had compelling story arcs and magnificent, memorable conclusions. This was driven home for me recently as I watched the great scenes with the late Beverlee McKinsey where Alexandra confronted Roger at the country club. GL took several years to tell that story, and the Roger/Alexandra and Roger/Mindy storylines weren’t always popular. I remember being furious when Roger and Alex got married, thinking that it made Alexandra look stupid! But that story kept building momentum, and led to a fantastic denouement that impacted half of Springfield –  not to mention the viewing audience, who was blown away by the power of that story.

But as the song says, what has GL does for us lately? In my opinion, the show has only had a handful of stories that really had that kind of impact since Ellen Wheeler and David Kriezman have come on board. There was the “death” of Phillip and its aftermath in 2004, the death of Ross Marler in 2005 and its aftermath. Then there was the death of Tammy in 2007 and its aftermath, and this year, the death of Gus and — say it with me — its aftermath.

And what do those stories all have in common? The  death of longtime characters.  And when they die, all of the momentum and power that those characters held bleeds from the canvas.Beth Ehlers

GL isn’t the only show to try this tactic to tell a compelling story or boost ratings (General Hospital has a high character mortality rate), but because GL already has a barebones cast, the show can hardly afford the losses. We’ve just learned that Beth Ehlers, who has been a part of the show for much of the last 20 years, is leaving, and with her goes Harley, a character that (until recently) was one of the few remaining characters with intelligence, strength, AND heart.

And more than that, the willingness to jettison history and heart to survive strikes me as the show lopping off a broken arm as a survival task, trying to streamline a ship to make it float. It’s heartbreaking to watch when you care about the characters, and when you know the actors deserve so much better. And WE deserve so much better, too. And we know it CAN be done better, even on a budget.

So despite what you may have heard, it’s really not the format, or the outdoor scenes. It’s not the fact that the show isn’t filled with old favorites. I may be a longtime fan, but this isn’t a case of whining that I want old favorites back, or that I want to turn back time. I know the genre has changed.Bill Clinton

No, it’s the story. Or to paraphrase Bill Clinton: It’s the story, stupid! I’ll watch a scene with a black cloth as a backdrop and a few light bulbs overhead if the story is compelling and the actors are bringing it to life. There’s a happy balance in there where thoughtful, compelling story intersects with old and new characters and takes us on a journey. The actors are doing their part, GL – so where’s the story? When you find it, let me know. I’d like to turn the Light back on.

Comments

  1. Fabobug says:

    Well put, Patrick!!

    The news I saw yesterday about Beth Ehlers leaving really stung. It’s like when you someone you love is sick for many years, and finally it’s clear they’re not going to make it. GL has survived a lot since the rumors of cancellation started about 12 years ago. But Beth Ehlers leaving, right after Ricky Paull Goldin, symbolizes throwing in the towel. If the TPTB really don’t care enough to keep them (and YES, they could have been kept), why would I care?

    I would love to be wrong. I would love for any fan at this point to point out something I’m missing and why GL is a great show. Anyone want to try?

    Patrick says: Fabobug, I share your sentiments. I think even with all of the budget concerns, TPTB have GOT to pay more attention to the creative side, and particularly the writing!

    With the new format they may want to try a grittier type of story. I’m always a big fan of the “Eastenders” type of reality – they filmed outdoor scenes 20 years ago and made it look effortless.

  2. Chris says:

    I have been watching GL since the days of Bert Bauer and the nine lives of Roger Thorpe. I agree that what I have always loved about the show was its heart — similar to ATWT during the Douglas Marland days. Over the years I loved many stories like Quint and Nola, and I would love to have tapes of the young itchy Vanessa Chamberlin (she was a hoot). Even when the show focused on two characters Reva and Philip during the Pam Long years the show still had heart.

    For me and many viewers the show seemed to radically change with the death of Maureen Bauer under the reign of she-who-must-not-be-named. While there were still some great stories and characters to come, something was lost then that can never be recovered. What is sad that I as a viewer didn’t realize how great I had it when I was watching such class acts as Michael Zazlow and Beverlee McKinsey when they were working with great writers and show runners. Now when I watch it is more to see if there are any glimmers of the past. For me the light has dimmed and the show is a shadow of its former glory.

    Finally, I will really miss Beth Ehlers. Harley was a great everywoman character a lot of us in the real world could relate to. The decimation of this great character over the last few months has been somewhat symbolic of the changes in GL over the last few years. Neither of them are what they used to be in the past.

    Patrick says: Chris, you speak my mind! I agree, losing Beth Ehlers really hurts — although frankly, in the last year or so Harley’s behavior has been very out of character. But Ehlers was such a warm, energetic presence. I loved her romances with Mallet and especially with Josh – I really thought that was a great match!

  3. lynn says:

    Patrick – there’s so much here I had to print out a hard copy so I could make some notes before responding.

    As always, we are in almost complete agreement. “(B)ut there was a always a core of the Springfield I knew around.”

    How true. I saw an old friend last weekend who used to never missed an episode, but hadn’t watched for a few years. She’s now working at home and tuned in a few times – barely recognized a soul, and couldn’t work up any interest, never mind enthusiasm, for what she did see. Not how this is supposed to work.

    “(A)nd therefore more cheaply.” Everything you’ve said, and I’m about to say, flows from that single statement.

    I certainly agree that “there is little to no reason to tune in tomorrow…” But I don’t think it’s because “the writers of GL have altogether forgotten how to tell a story in a serialized manner!” I think left to their own devices, the writers, including Krietzman – even Ellen Wheeler – would do just fine. It would be like riding a bicycle; once they started, it would all come back to them. But they’ve not been left to their own devices for a very long time: there’s so much interference from TRIIC (the real idiots in charge), it may seem as though they’ve forgotten. I only wish TRIIC would give them the chance to prove me right (or wrong).

    I hadn’t thought about the impact having so much of the cast on recurring status would have on the storytelling. But it makes perfect sense. And suffice it to say, recurring status likely wasn’t the actors’ decision. What they’ve created here is a self-fulfilling prophecy: TIIC respond to fewer viewers by cutting the budget which results in even fewer viewers and even less money. And round and down and round down we go.

    You speak of how GL seems to have “traded much of its serialized narrative to showcase shorter, closed-ended vignettes.” I wonder how much of this has to do with reduced writing staffs? Tom Casiello, a former breakdown writer for Days discussed this on Tom’s blog last month. He mentions that only three soaps currently employ breakdown writers. I’m guessing GL is not among the three, which would account for all musical montages where the STORY used to be.

    This lack of pacing, momentum, connection – and anticipation – makes it really difficult to explain the power sustained, serialized storytelling used to have. You can’t explain it; you have to experience it. And people who’ve just begun watching are not going to have that experience and that’s their loss. This is a link to conversation I’ve been having with one of Sam’s MIT students. You and I have discussed many times how important it is that our observations be understood as more than just nostalgia and sentimentality. But the ultimate decision makers on GL simply have no understanding of or appreciation for serialized storytelling. And bad as ATWT can be at time, it’s still a much stronger show than GL, and has been for many years; I can only hope and pray…

    As for, “the willingness to jettison history and heart to survive strikes me as the show lopping off a broken arm as a survival task,” well, if GL were brought into a emergency room, I fear the diagnosis would be multi-system failure brought on by prolonged starvation. I, too, would love to see the Light turned back on, but I fear the show’s endured far too much systemic damage for far too long.

    Patrick says: Lynn, thank you for a truly amazing response. I know that you have a much deeper sense of what happens backstage, and some of the more intricate politics of how the shows are run, so I really appreciate your comments about TRIIC. It is probably far trickier these days to tell what contribution came from who, so we don’t know if it’s Wheeler, Kreizman, Bloom, or someone at PGP that’s pulling the strings on any particular element of the show.

    I worry, too, that the show is beyond refurbishing, and that we’ve moved into pallative care. I hope I’m wrong. And thank you for mentioning the nostalgia label, too. I don’t want anyone thinking this is misty watercolor memories. I’m all for new characters, but I think you need to tie in old characters, too, and bring back old favorites. Otherwise, it’s like hiring someone for a job and not having anyone train them. Which makes no sense!

  4. David says:

    Hi Patrick…. I certainly agree with you. My friend Dale and I have been die hard viewers of GL since the early 1980s. I don’t know if P&G cares anymore about GL or not. I hope they do. What I don’t understand is if P&G doesn’t care…. CBS most certainly does. They are not in the business to lose money! Why isn’t CBS taking P&G to task and telling them to get it together or they will cancel the show?

    I know some people get angry and rail about the condition of GL. I am well past that. I feel numb. I’ve have shed more tears about GL than I care to admit….. seriously. I tune in hoping that I will see something that will spark interest and indeed I still get some satisfaction from individual scenes. Love Ashlee and Coop! Dinah is great! Love to see Reva, Josh, Vanessa. Bill and Lizzie are smokin’ hot! I don’t even mind Cyrus. Murray Bartlett does a great job considering some of the material he is called upon to work with. Ditto for Nicole Forrester. I think she is awesome and doesn’t get nearly enough credit for what she brings to the screen.

    There are still enough tentpoles for GL to continue and be restored to the powerhouse drama that is once was. Kim Zimmer, Robert Newman, Jordan Clarke, Crystal Chappell, Justin Deas, Liz Keifer, Michael O’Leary, Tina Sloan, Beth Chamberlain, Marj Dusay, Ron Raines… so many more and don’t let me forget Maeve Kinkead!!! Heck…. bring back Maureen Garrett!!!! Wow! Even just reading this I see how much potential this show has….. and that what always keeps me coming back. Remaining hopeful that I will outlast this regime.

    Give me story people that builds and keeps me tuning in… I agree with you here 100%. Where are Pamela K. Long and Nancy Curlee?? Would they work for P&G with all the meddling from the suits. Would P&G take a chance and let a writer write from his/her soul and make me feel like Springfield is a place to still call home?

    I can’t believe that I have written this much. Honestly I was just going to write a line or two…. Thanks always for a great column Patrick.

    Patrick says: Thanks for your thoughtful comments! I agree, there are some really great performances individually. I love Orlagh Cassidy as Doris and Caitlin Van Zandt as Ashlee. I was pleased when they were integrated into the Spaulding family – and disappointed when they were soon islanded. I want them to stick around, for sure.

    As for the writers you mentioned, the budget cuts have affected everyone. According to the last published reports I’ve read, Nancy Curlee left writing to be a full time mom, and Pam Long’s last tenure ended in conflict with the network, so she’s unlikely to rejoin GL. I’d love to see some younger writers who understand traditio get a chance to determine long-term story.

  5. David C says:

    Thank God you’ve written this now. I confessed in another forum this week that I don’t have your patience and have given up on the show altogether. I was a dedicated viewer from spring of 1981. You hit on those ridiculous Reva stories that I stayed with the show through but now, there is no heart, no real emotion, no cohesion to the show.

    Televest and CBS must have a secret show that they want to take over GL’s time slot next year because there is no other explanation for what they’ve allowed the show to become.

    Vicki Wyndham talked recently about the real reason Another World was allowed to wither and die a slow death for ten years: NBC wanted the time slot for a more youth-oriented soap. We all suspected that during that last ten, but NBC insisted otherwise. Well, CBS and Televest are singing from the same song book that NBC did all those years too.

    There are no characters with any moral compass in Springfield now. All of these people are vile and disgusting and offer no hook for an audience. They’ve become sideshow freaks at the carnival.

    That’s not Guiding Light. THIS, is not Guiding Light. The show is dead man walking only, it doesn’t know it yet.

    Patrick says: David, I understand your frustration. I’m not sure CBS or Televest wants to kill GL, though. I think daytime is at a really fragile junction. This is only an educated opinion, but I think if one of the soaps were to be cancelled, we’d see a domino effect. We’re not sure if NBC is even staying in the business of daytime drama, and if GL or another show was cancelled, we might see the networks shorten other shows or give more time to the affiliates. As much as I disagree with some of the decisions Brian Frons or Barbara Bloom make, I don’t think either of them want the genre to die.

  6. Cherry Ames says:

    IMHO, all of daytime has a death wish! So fine, Beth Ehlers and RP Goldin switch from one sinking ship to another. AMC and GL are both at the bottom of the ratings and AMC is the soap that unaborted Erica Kane’s abortion. AMC gave us “grief” sex with Aiden and Kendall (funny, no grief counselor I have talked with is familiar with the desire to have a great roll in the hay and the big “O” in response to the death of someone one has loved more than life itself). Only in soap land is the solution to the death of a loved one in between one’s legs! GL has told and is telling stories that are equally as mind boggling (where and how do these people come up some of the plots?) such as Olivia receiving Gus’s heart (male hearts are often too large for the female) and then she wants his wedding ring from the widow and yada yada.

    But very little beats AMC and the girls dancing sexily on the stripper pole in order to come up with a perfume scent or something. Yeah, I bet that happens at Guerlain all the time-NOT!

    All soaps are troubled and sad thing is, I soemtimes think TPTB no longer give a damn!

  7. Cherry Ames says:

    I’m sorry that I veered off course. Bottom line is: It IS the stories ! But the stories on AMC are in no way superior story-telling to what we have on GL. It’s 6 of one and a half dozen of another. I sometimes wonder if these writers and E.P.’s ( who approve story) live in the same reality as the rest of us.

    Patrick says: Cherry, I understand your frustration. I personally think that daytime is stuck in a vicious cycle – the more ratings fall, stories either go way over the top in a superficial way OR are old, weathered cliches. The odd thing is, when daytime does reflect the world around it in a more realistic way, the ratings tend to go up and people pay attention. Luke and Noah have brought a LOT of attention – and some ratings, according to the New York Times – to ATWT. I’m not saying every show needs a gay romance, but I think in order to get people interested, the shows should reflect everyday controversies. Someone needs to be disagreeable or play the bad guy. That’s what I loved about Phoebe on AMC – she disapproved of everyone and made it known, too! We still loved her, anyway.

  8. James says:

    Excellent analysis.

    I actually like the new format for the most part. Like the outdoor scenes. Like seeing all four walls and the ceilings. Like that stairs actually lead to rooms upstairs. The things that bother me — the extreme close-ups and the bad lighting — are being worked out.

    Not that I watch every day. Far from it. But each time I tune in, they seem to be getting the hang of the new format.

    What prevents me from watching every day is the storylines. They’re so boring and haphazard. They feel scattered and disconnected. Even when I watch two or three days in a row, I often feel like I’ve missed an episode in there because a character is suddenly doing something out of left field. Cassie’s suddenly sleeping with Cyrus. Where did that come from? Olivia’s suddenly madly in love with Gus and he’s playing along with it. What universe did I stumble upon?

    And more and more, the characters I care about aren’t being used. Reva’s on once a week. Harley and Gus were broken up. The only remaining Bauer in town is used primarliy as window dressing.

    Story has got to be the NUMBER ONE PRIORITY for any show to survive. You tell a good story, the audience will support it not matter what the background looks like. But GL seems to make the storytelling about 5th in its list of priorities.

    I keep wondering if I would be hooked on this show if I had tuned in for the very first time on Feb. 29, the day the new production model debuted. Maybe the newcomers are finding things they enjoy. But I sure am not.

  9. nathan says:

    That was a great summary of the state of GL today. I LOVE the show, and try to be loyal as I have watched ever since Roger came swinging down that vine at Blake and Philip’s wedding. But now, I am just sad. I have never seen the show in this bad of shape. For the most part we still have an outstanding cast, but like you said there is no cohesion, no Friday cliffhangers, the “town” of Springfield looks so empty and bleak with not even any people or extras milling about. If life happens here, I would rather be dead! As insane as Passions was/is, I am hoping some of those writers who used to write for GL will come back, since right now GL doesn’t even have any longterm story plans. So Patrick, with Ehlers leaving, does CBS or Barbara Bloom see that GL needs help like NOW. Just because a show is nominated for best writing, or show doesn’t mean the product is good. Or am I just crazy to think they can help?

    Patrick says: Nathan, I hope that CBS and/or Barbara Bloom does see GL could use a creative recharge. But for all that we DO see of backstage politics, I think there are MANY more layers that affect and impact GL.

  10. Oakdalian says:

    It’s all symptomatic of P&G’s refusal to please viewers. I wonder who GL is produced for! As long as the bare minimum achievement of staying on the air is accomplished, their half-assed good deed is done and they can return to mediocrity. Why not do something bold like pare the cast down to 15 players on multi-year contracts. Cut out the others completely and focus on good stories for the chosen few. Money and reputation, saved. Instead dead weight like Rafe, Natalia and Ava populate Springfield. But there were signs of trouble way before so many actors were given recurring status. An amazing show that generates good buzz won’t have to worry about cancellation for years on end. The worst thing that could have happened already did – renewal. Why encourage TPTB with more airtime? It’s another example of the soap industry getting rewarded for lackluster work.

  11. Greg says:

    Patrick –

    You have written a very fascinating and thoughtful review of my beloved GL. I think a lot of what you have said in this forum is exactly what GL fans are thinking and feeling.

    Sadly, even if we could return to the days of a Gail Kobe-produced/Pam Long-written show, would it even matter any longer? Ditto if we were lucky enough to lure Nancy Curlee’s masterful storytelling back to Springfield, I’m afraid the damage is already done.
    Sometimes I think it would have been better off if the show were canceled before EW/DK could get their hands on it!

    P&G/CBS have imposed budget cuts on this show, and it’s not likely to give them any extra cash to get a top talent writer and EP to sign on and get the show turned around. Since they have announced that the show has been renewed for another year, this is the best scenario I can think of happening: 1. Start NOW with a story to wrap everything up in a year. 2. Hire a strong HW (Millie Taggert or the like) to pen the story 3. Get a top-notch EP (like Ed Scott) to produce the show and take it to the finale. 4. For the finale, tie up old story (was Rita pregnant when she left SF?, Hope Bauer’s return, etc) – concentrate on the core families Bauers, Spauldings, Lewis and lesser extent Coopers.

    I think this would give us one last GREAT year of GL before the inevitable. The worst thing I could think of happening would be to allow EW/DK to write the swan song of this once-magnificent show.

  12. lydia says:

    You know, I hadn’t watched GL in years…I had switched to AMC, until earlier this year when the REAL Greenlee campaign began and the Aidan/Kendall grief sex…then I started watching GL again. I love the outdoor scenes and I love the music. I understand what people are saying about storylines, and I can see need for improvement. I would love to see more beefed up roles for the vets – they are such great actors, NO other show compares to the actors that play Reva, Billy, Vanessa, Josh, Alan, Buzz, Rick, Beth, Liz Kiefer, Marj Dusay…OMG, such wonderful actors.

    I know people loved Harley and Gus, but I was in the minority. Harley hasn’t been the same since the first Mallet was on screen, before they headed to Florida. And she hasn’t been the same in the past year.

    I do find it interesting that so many people are criticizing GL, but other soaps are going after it’s talent and other soaps are now starting to do outside remote location scenes. Just my two cents…

  13. Steve says:

    Hi Patrick,

    Great column! I grew up watching the ABC soaps and switched over to GL while in college in the 1980s because I had a close friend who loved the CBS shows. The only soap I still watch daily is AMC but I stuck with GL until the mid 2000s because Springfield used to be such an intelligent and compelling town to visit and I was hopeful it could one day return to its glory.

    I think the problems with plotting are indicative of all of daytime currently. There is very little payoff to any of the storylines and nobody really faces the consequences of their actions anymore. The difference between AMC & GL for me is that AMC has still recognizes the appeal of couples like Jesse & Angie and characters like Opal, whom they trot out occasionally to remind us how great this soap could still be. GL lost its heart and soul about 15 years before AMC did (imo, Dixie’s death is comparable to Maureen’s since both characters were the true love of a member of the soap’s main family) and has a longer way to go to regain it.

    I loved what Millee Taggart did as headwriter in 2003: She broke up Danny & Michelle and tried pairing Michelle with Bill, who should have been her boyfriend all along; she had Olivia genuinely torn between her feelings for Phillip & Alan; and she seemed to be building a storyline for Gus & Harley that suggested Alex was Gus’ mother. It felt like GL could come back then. I quit watching shortly after Taggart was fired (remember Maryanne Carruthers?) and since then when I’ve tuned back in, I found most of the characters unrecognizable. I think part of the problem is that there are no couples worth rooting for anymore. I loved Josh/Reva, Beth/Phillip, Harley/Mallet and later Harley/Gus, so it bothered me to see Josh with Cassie, Reva with Jeffrey (a character I’ve always despised anyway), Beth married to Alan (!), and Harley running off with Marina’s ex. Where is the love?

    Sorry for rambling on, but once I started typing it all just flowed out!

  14. James says:

    I happened to tune in one day a couple of days ago and saw a scene that amazed me!

    Jeffrey was talking to Cyrus about his being the town cad and advised hm to enjoy himself. Then he said, “Anyone who can pull that off in this town is an urban legend. That used to be me!.”

    What’s this!?!?! A mention of history from way back in 2003! I couldn’t believe it!!

    That same episode also showed the “Josh + Reva Always” carved into one of the beams at Cross Creek.

    Another reference to long ago history! I was amazed! Although in this case it was slightly revised history since the original carving was on a tree at Cross Creek, not on a beam. But still it was ancient history being mentioned.

    And with plot about Reva’s life being made into a movie, they’re referencing other events from pre-historic times. There was even a joke about the movie producers putting a fountain in the yard!

    What’s going on? Have they actually hired a writer who has watched the show for longer than a couple of years?

    Whatever the case, it warmed my heart to hear them make those historical references, like real people do.

  15. BL says:

    Supposedly once MADD left PGP, David K and Ellen Wheeler were given a lot more leeway. In an article (that I can’t locate unfortunately), the head writer said that he no longer has to turn in long term story projections. I think that is part of the problem with the plotting and your thought that it seems to be “conjured up a day at a time”.

    The recurring issue is part of why the material is disjointed as well. Though that has been the case for years sadly. At times when characters should logically appear they don’t, beats get totally missed and then when the complaints come the argument is “it is not our fault we have no money to pay these people.” It is a vicious cycle and a losing battle. The actors who lose their contracts inevitably have less airtime, damaging their fan base which then justifies their demotion in the minds of TPTB. The average viewer isn’t going to know the difference between being on contract or not, but if the show is filled with characters you don’t know or care about you may turn the channel.

    For me, story and characters/actors go hand in hand, investing in a character when the story is bad can be difficult even if the acting is good, if the acting isn’t good it is nearly impossible. The best way for me to care about a new character is a decent story, because without that what is the point. It is one thing to watch a garbage story with characters you’ve invested years in and quite another to watch a bad story with strangers.

    So without interesting writing, losing favored performers and characters is even more difficult. Though in my case, I’ll admit my biases and that even with a great story, some things you just don’t get over completely.

    GL not caring enough to keep Beth Ehlers and Ricky Paull Goldin in some ways shocked me, as their characters have been such a focal point during the last four years even if Harley and Gus were apart. Letting them go to AMC was weird, as why would GL think it was a good idea to let their performers go to the competition.

  16. Levi says:

    Ok. Well, the actors that have left have left, as unfortunate as it is. However, the problem is there are no efforts to recast. I would hope GL seriously looks into Cady McClain as the nuHarley.

    When you lose heavy hitters like Ricky Paul Goldin or Beth Ehlers, you have to replace them with other heavy hitting vets. It’s kinda like a trade in pro sports. But when GL loses a power hitter and none replaces him or her, it leaves the show null and void.

    I have had issues with Josh and Cassie since the pairing of them. Josh WILL NEVER love Cassie as much as Reva. It’s an insult to the fans’ intelligence. The Reva movie storyline could work if we see the supporting players. Carson was on once never to be shown again. Jolene and Mark, the actors, are barely shown. I think if you pair Reva and Josh working on the film together and slowly build the romantic tension for a few months till we have a classic Josh and Reva reunion, it would work wonders. We as viewers are attracted to escalation of desire of a supercouple broken apart.

    I hate that we can’t see an exploration of Buzz/Lillian/Doris. Once again, as Patrick says, it’s shown in vignettes but not consistent.

    We need more family interaction scenes. I want to see Vanessa involved with Bill and Dinah and as well as Billy with Bill. More Doris with Ashlee. I haven’t seen a Cooper family dinner in a while(even without Harley, there are Coopers left).

    It isn’t the format so much now, the kinks are out of this tail since Feb. 29th. And of course lack of rehearsal time for the actors hurts the show too.

    TPTB need to show family dynamics, attraction between characters in a believable storyline, not criss crossing new characters that lack chemistry, social issues, and delve into the character by showing them at home more instead of running around the woods like a chicken with his head cut off. Show conflicts in the home not at city hall. Show friendships — that lacks in every soap.

    I like the outdoor sets, but disorganization is really the only thing hurting this show. Characters are in seven or eight places in one show — it’s not believable with that much running around town.

    But on a plus note: GL has a fixable way out. Bring in a few more established characters with recasts and even provide more umbrella stories.

    I thought the best shown in recent months was Ava’s baby shower because I saw a Vanessa/Reva scene, and that is exactly my point — when you see Reva and Buzz you will get a good scene. Emphasize your top billing and have your Emmy winners work together more.

    CONSISTENCY — NO MATTER HOW GOOD OR BAD YOUR PRODUCT — IS WHAT FANS WANT TO SEE.

    If you want to tell something, tell it in story arcs, not once here on Tues., then maybe next Fri.

    I LOVE GL AND WILL STAY WITH THEM TILL THE END — but I want to see GL finish stories but give us payoff and please make it believable.

    Patrick says: I couldn’t have said it better myself!

  17. Sara says:

    I miss the Bauer’s. I miss Danny & Michelle. Most of all I miss that GL used to have heart.

  18. Tina Newman says:

    The problem with today’s shows and I mean all not, just Guiding Light, is that the powers that be refuse to listen to the fans. The fans are the ones that watch the show and keep the ratings up. Soaps don’t have the audience that it had back in the 70s and 80s. A lot of that has to do with the fact that today’s women are more career oriented, going to school or doing both at the same time and don’t have time to sit down and watch soap operas. I was a faithful GL watcher from 1989-1999. To me the best years of GL were 1989-93 and then it began to go down hill in late 1994 when the writers of that time decided to break up Roger and Holly and hook her up with Fletcher, death of maureen in 93 of course and losing the first Alex played by the wonderful Bev Mckinsey and Sherry Springfield who will always be Blake to me (in 1992). Bringing back Reva in 1995 was a joke. I have seen all the Reva’s slut of the town, Postpartum Reva, Reva in Red, Reva Ghost, Morman Reva and Clone Reva. After the clone story wrapped up in 1999 that was it for me. I had enough and stop watching altogether. I did tune in back a year later hoping the show had improved, but it only went from bad to worse. I saw Reva going through a picture! And the mob had taken over the show. I really hope the show gets back on track, but it won’t as long as the morons at PGP continue to not listen to what the fans have to say. I won’t be watching the show anymore I can’t stand have my intelligence insulted. (hint clone storyline)

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