Part two of a two-part look back at the events of the past year in Springfield. This week, our columnist discusses the worst that Guiding Light had to offer in 2008.
2008 was an interesting year in Springfield. Through the magic of the Internet, it's easy to look back and reminisce about Springfield happenings. And have faith that 2009 will be a better year there…
With declining viewers across the board in daytime, GL is no stranger to the need to boost ratings. Long-time fans have dealt with cancellation rumors for years, and some of the stories we were given this year made fans wonder if they were naughty instead of nice.
As an admitted news junkie, I like a little escape when I turn on daytime. Sure, there can be mysteries, deception, and such. But thrown in with all of the sadness in 2008, we had so little actual happiness to look forward to. This is definitely something I'm wishing for in 2009.
Some of the bad news was driven by the writing -- plots hatched that seemed to make fans scratch their heads or get upset. We certainly saw quite a bit of this in 2008, especially in the romance department.
Springfield's male population over 40 seems to have hit the romantic skids. Frank and Rick haven't had a date in decades, it seems. Josh's marriage to Cassie went out with a bang (thankfully) and she left town. Only Buzz (with Lillian) and Jeffrey (with Reva) seem to have found some happiness. Of course, Alan thinks he and Beth are happy, but between her affair with Coop (which I did not see coming) and the return of Phillip to Springfield, I can't see it lasting.
Like in so many other years, one of GL's failings is not using the whole cast often enough. While some characters are seen every week, whole months go by and we don't see Rick, Blake, Mel, Lillian, Doris, and so many others. I know that as non-contract players, they are paid on the days they work, but working them more often makes the fans more familiar with them. For a show that claims to be about the "Trials and Tribulations of the Bauer family" (among others), to have ONE Bauer in Springfield, who is all but a ghost, is a crying shame. Even if you don't want to bring back the characters full-time, you can show Bauers who have left Springfield visiting (like Danny and Michelle, or Hope) before the fans all but forget that the Bauer family is the family this show is supposed to be centered around!
Sometimes it is not the writing that forces the story, but TPTB. The loss of fan favorites Beth Ehlers (Harley) and Ricky Paull Goldin (Gus) was a major blow. Although like the fable about the chicken and the egg (which one came first) I think that the writing of the Natalia story breaking them up caused both actors to look elsewhere. While I could have embraced the Rafe story for Gus, breaking up Harley and Gus was a blow to a pretty vocal fan base. And it certainly didn't endear Natalia to many of you -- I've certainly heard your thoughts on her character. Then to kill off Gus and have Alan start talking to his ghost? You get points for creativity on that one, but it was too wacky to believe.
Along that same storyline was Harley's romance with Marina's beau, Cyrus. I know that there have been some stories with a pretty huge "ick" factor, but this one was right up there near the top. I never really saw a valid reason for Harley to stoop so low. Staying true to the character is one thing that is important to so many of you -- and this just went against everything Harley has done in Springfield. Yes, she has made some questionable choices in the man department, but never stolen her niece's man.
Speaking of Marina, she finally has found happiness…with Mallet. I'm thrilled when someone finds love in real life (as Mandy Bruno reportedly has done with Robert Bogue), but these two are a snooze fest! I see no spark, no romance, and GL took even a wedding of two boring characters and made a mockery of it. As we move into 2009, I know that these two have some challenging issues to overcome, but I would love to see either some sparks, less airtime together, or a quickie divorce.
Weddings are always a great focal point for a soap, but GL really dropped the ball several times this year. Bill and Ava's wedding sham was so beautiful, but the marriage was doomed from the get-go. And Reva and Jeffrey's "What the Hell" wedding was a total joke -- a poor imitation of Matt and Vanessa's nuptials all those years ago with the tainted reception food. Yet we focused WEEKS on a mockery of a re-creation of one of the best weddings GL has ever seen -- the original Josh and Reva wedding. The budget and air time must be available, but the creative process is flawed. Show us current pairings with a memorable wedding. It doesn't have to be over the top, but at least without fights and food poisoning!
This year has been one long on-again, off-again romance for Lizzie and Bill -- with no hope of it changing anytime soon. Now that Bill is unsure if he kidnapped Lizzie, how can they go forward? If GL really wants to do a great wedding to make fans sigh (and not groan) in 2009, let's get these two to the altar!!!
Pinching pennies has certainly come back into the forefront for many people, but GL has taken it very seriously! The reports of the actors doing their own hair and makeup (and changing clothes) in cars in Peapack is ridiculous! Surely you can have one trailer for hair/makeup and wardrobe -- even a modified RV that has an ad for the show on the outside. Be creative -- and think of the morale-sucking blow these things can mean to the cast and crew.
On top of the money-saving methods the show has been incorporating, those product placement deals that have actors actually touting Mr. Clean and V-8 are ridiculous! P&G certainly gets plenty of "face time" for their products -- and now with that little gas station convenience store, that means even more airtime for shilling….
But as 2009 begins, it appears that GL is focusing a large part of their airtime to the return of Phillip Spaulding in February. Next week I'll talk about Grant Aleksander's return and what is in store in the coming year.
Until next week…
Keep the Light Shining and Happy New Year!
Two Scoops is an opinion column. The views expressed are not designed to be indicative of the opinions of soapcentral.com or its advertisers. The Two Scoops section allows our Scoop staff to discuss what might happen, what has happened, and to take a look at the logistics of it all. They stand by their opinions and do not expect others to share the same view point.