June 9, 2009By Marc Wilkofsky Posted: Jun 9, 2009
If you ask a car full of Manhattan subway commuters what's on their minds, it's probably keeping their hands clean and headphones on, and reaching their destination on time. Few if any of the hundred or so people standing, sitting and shoving in the car would be concerned about the state of daytime television or that GUIDING LIGHT's ride on CBS is ending in September. But there are millions of people who do care, and one of the few positive sides of the current situation is that many — including new viewers — are talking and e-mailing about GL. Because of this, any hour now, someone somewhere is clicking on the LIGHT for the first time, so here are a few (just a few) things the show has been doing right, which should help make sure those newbies keep watching.
Realistic relationships. It was amazing that Dinah showed Shayne little Henry's DNA test results very soon after receiving them, eschewing the standard two months of lies. Their beautiful connection has largely been about truth, and helping each other face the consequences of being honest, as she publicly revealed her part in Lizzie's kidnapping and he told Marina that he's Henry's dad. They are far from just talk, and still smoldered after his confession to his ex, when he told Dinah in a parking lot, "I want you loud. I want you crazy. And I want you right now." The Olivia/Natalia relationship is wonderfully realistic, in large part because it's been taking its time. This is how people fall in love...gradually, warmly, and while sharing a couch and (as they did on June 9) a kitchen, not a heated-up bed. You knew Remy and Christina would go from WWI ("wed while intoxicated") to real love, but again, GL took months to make us believe in them instead of taking any predictable shortcuts. And if you haven't "gotten" Bizzie yet, it's definitely time to try GL's most entertaining couple as Bill and Lizzie's wedding approaches. Yes, Daniel Cosgrove and Marcy Rylan's talent and chemistry are enchanting, but it's the steps the scribes have painstakingly taken to give them depth, humor (loads of it) and passion that make the characters so fun to watch. To wax hyperbolic as Bill might, their Universal trip warmed my heart like the Florida sun.
Fun families. Phillip's Spaulding family works wildly well together, and fairly new cast member Zack Conroy (James) remarkably looks and sounds like his TV dad, Grant Aleksander (Phillip). I noticed this when Phillip recently caught a dressed-up James before his "date" with a potential financial scheme victim and Daisy. This summer, we're getting Ed (Peter Simon) back, along with Michelle and Danny (Nancy St. Alban and Paul Anthony Stewart), so the beloved Bauers should get some well-deserved spotlight time. The Lewises offer a hearty combo of resilience, familial devotion and laughs (we do need more Josh/Billy scenes, though). The Coopers made it through the heartbreaking tragedy of Coop's death (plus Frank's memorable non-wedding to Natalia, which featured Doris' hilarious stall tactics) and persevered; I'm glad Marina took over Company, which has heavy history. On that note...
Use of history. Every single GL episode features at least one scene, a line or a story that celebrates (or pokes fun at) Springfield's enormous past. Having started watching it in 1980, I officially became hooked on the soap during the Four Musketeers' original 1983 prom, so I found this year's Phillip/Beth/Rick/Mindy reunion to be heavenly. More than 25 years after their surprise New York kiss, I still want Rick and Mindy to restart their romance.
Use of New Jersey. "Whaa-aat? GL has used Jersey well?" That question would likely be asked by viewers who only watched the first few weeks of the Peapack era (which launched in February 2008), along with non-viewers who have only heard that the show's look changed and maybe people who simply don't have a New Jersey state of mind. It honestly took me months to get used to the revamped show, having expected from the promos that it would have a daytime DAWSON'S CREEK/O.C. feel (which I thought would've worked well). It didn't exactly take that path, but it found an even better one, and I felt like I was watching a real town when Shayne made his own state of mind clear to Dinah by parking his car on train tracks, in a brilliant scene. The fact that she didn't jump out of the car as the train approached proved her trust, and interest, in him, while it clarified his need for an adrenaline rush. It was all displayed in an "on location" way that many soaps might not find cost-effective. Remy's friends and family recently celebrating his rejoining the police force outside, then watching Mallet help a handcuffed Reva exit a car was another well-produced, realistic moment.
You cannot possibly please all the people all the time, but from what I've read in Weekly's Public Opinion section and heard from fans in person (and via e-mail; I'm at GLeditor@soapoperaweekly.com), GL is on the right track as far as many of its longtime, loyal viewers are concerned, and because there are still at least a few months left in the soap's journey, this is the perfect time for new "passengers" to climb aboard.