Guiding Light End of Year Overview: The Best and Worst
Well, we’re at the end of one more year and the beginning of another. It seems like a good chance to take a look back on the year that was. I’ll give a few of my comments on the things that I thought were highlights and everyone is invited to vote in the polls and leaves their thoughts in the comments section below.
It was a strange year on Guiding Light, one that saw substantial changes to many facets of the show. As many of those on the boards, or that I’ve spoken with personally, have pointed out, one of the most recognizable tendencies has been the general unevenness of the show. Sometimes things work extraordinarily well, even for days at a time, and then something seems to go wrong with the pacing, or a plot comes out of nowhere and never ends up developing or finishing. The show also continued to do the things that it can do really well: Small, gentle moments, grief, humor that doesn’t seem totally forced, and a level of pathos that most soaps don’t often reach. In the last month or so of the year, particularly with the return of Shayne, all of those things became stronger.
The thing that has received the most attention was probably the way the show changed its production model, altering both the feeling and the flow of pretty much everything. It was bumpy in the beginning. For some viewers, it’s still bumpy, but others have gotten used to it. I think it started to gel after a few months and I don’t really notice it much now. I actually enjoy it, but it doesn’t feel like I’m watching a soap, not an American one anyway. The new way of producing the show was brought in as a way of saving it from the butcher’s block. It was a gamble and, while they saved money, they lost viewers. To be fair, all of the soaps saw substantial losses in viewership. To be honest, I’m not sure if the losses for GL had more to do with the new look or the stories they were telling (or not telling).
Harley and Gus both left. Breaking them up bothered many GUSH fans and killing him off while sending her to Europe bothered them even more. There was quite a bit of acrimony in the whole thing unfortunately. Personally, I didn’t care that he left. I think he’s been boring for years. I enjoyed her affair with Cyrus, but I don’t miss her. Aside from when Daisy leaves her voice messages, I completely forget about her. I feel worse that Zach and Jude left; they were more entertaining.
Cassie also left the canvas. Her relationship with Josh collapsed and not many people were bothered by that. Nicole Forester managed to really put her print on the character, but she was painted into a box. I have no idea where they would have pushed her. She and Cyrus had their moments, but relationships kill his character; he needs to stay an alley cat. I just hope they can still bring Will back even if she isn’t around.
Grady returned to Springfield and quickly became a major player. A little too quickly, I would say. I know the show desperately needs its villains, and it was interesting to see them take a break from the classier type of villains (like Edmund), but there was something wrong with the way the character was integrated. It was quick and he wasn’t given enough complexity, mystery or anything else. A lot of viewers just saw him as a Jonathan clone, but one who lacked enough connectedness to the community’s families. I know some people like him, and he’s grown on me a bit, but I’m not sure what they’ll do with him.
The Reva-Josh movie was a big plot this year. It managed to play into the nostalgia of Jeva fans and provide some self-reflexive commentary on the show’s history. I found it amusing and I’m glad she stuck with Jeffrey.
It was fun to watch Alan be the town’s false saint, even if the brain injury thing was sort of hackneyed. It’s also been nice to see him end the year moving back into his old position. It’s been quite a while since he wanted the town to fear him. I can only hope the same thing happens to Olivia. I enjoy metaphors and everything, but the entire thing with her having a bad heart and then getting one from Gus and learning to have faith and be kinder feels like a Hallmark movie. The only thing that’s saved it for me has been her sneering and pithy remarks.
Ashlee… oh Ashlee. She leaps from one pointless plot to another. Her relationship with Coop collapsed with little explanation and scarcely registered. Her weight loss plot felt like an after school special and her relationship with Daisy feels lazy. Her one saving grace is her mother. Doris finally became all-powerful this year… but she hasn’t done anything with it, which I think is a horrible waste. The power struggles between Lewis and Spaulding have been going on for years, but here was a chance to meddle with the machine. Alas, Doris have proven ineffectual.
Other things – I’m really happy they’ve put considerable effort into developing Remy. He’s become a much fuller character in the past year. Michelle Ray Smith (Ava) exited the show after some stellar work. Gina Tognoni and Marcy Rylan both excelled this year as well. I think the Bill and Lizzie line was excessively overused though, to the detriment of both characters and took away time from potentially interesting couplings like Blake and Coop, which never happened. Reva and Jeffrey’s wedding was memorable and slightly surreal. Rafe’s plots were all orchestrated anti-climactically but his mother has finally gained a little more shading, and even a bit of humor.
No doubt I am forgetting some things, but it’s been a long year. The real highlight for me, of course, was going down to New York City and Peapack to visit the actors and the sets. It gave me a far greater appreciation for what they do. They really are some of the hardest working people in show business. If you haven’t, you can read all about it in the news room. At the moment, the future is still up in the air, but with the imminent returns of Phillip and Edmund, fans have at least two reasons to be optimistic about next year.
Best wishes to all in the New Year!