Guiding Light Extinguished
September 16, 2009 2:51 PM   Subscribe

 
thank you, jeebus. there really is a guiding light. it's just real fucking dim.
posted by kitchenrat at 2:56 PM on September 16, 2009


I hope they find a good home for those million monkeys and their typewriters.
posted by Burhanistan at 2:58 PM on September 16, 2009 [6 favorites]


Hokey-smoke.
I'm not in any way a fan of soaps, but I do give mad props to such a significant piece of broadcasting history. Am I correct in thinking GL is the last remaining advertiser-owned show on broadcast tv?

I wonder if the producers will give the writers and actors the green light to exercise their demons and take the show out in some "memorable" fashion?
posted by Thorzdad at 2:59 PM on September 16, 2009


Oh, thank goodness. I thought this was going to be about the NBC Nightly News.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 3:00 PM on September 16, 2009 [4 favorites]


The changes resulted in a look vastly different from the traditional soap, with more camera movement, more muted lighting and much more use of outside locations. The moves saved considerable money, according to CBS executives.

Geez, I might of actually watched my first tv soap if I'd know they were doing some scenes outdoors. Cityscapes and nature make almost any material interesting.

Now all I have left is this Republican v. Democrat soap to watch.
posted by buzzman at 3:05 PM on September 16, 2009


Hopefully, one of the well-liked female leads will rip off her wig, reveal herself as a man and shock the nation.
posted by Burhanistan at 3:07 PM on September 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


I watched this with my mother after school when I was a kid. She watched it with HER mother after school when she was younger--and before that, her mother listened to it on the radio. I found it unwatchable myself as an adult (though I still get a kick out of remembering various comical plotlines-- evil twins, "Amish" Reva, the fact that Reva had married or slept with virtually every single male main character by the early 90's, etc.), but:

.
posted by availablelight at 3:07 PM on September 16, 2009 [4 favorites]


One day someone will make a similar post about The Simpsons, and I will feel the cold chill of the grave run down my spine as I read it.
posted by The Card Cheat at 3:09 PM on September 16, 2009 [16 favorites]


Hang on in there Eddie Grundy, only 13 years until you snatch the record.
posted by Abiezer at 3:10 PM on September 16, 2009 [2 favorites]


I bet no one ever named a band after one of the actor's medallions though, did they?
posted by You Should See the Other Guy at 3:11 PM on September 16, 2009


Interesting skimming through the summaries of each decade on Wikipedia. A lot of the plot developments seem to sprout from the conflict between its early "brotherhood of man" didacticism and its inceasingly convoluted mobster/political-upheaval subplots.
posted by roll truck roll at 3:17 PM on September 16, 2009


I recall being introduced to "Guiding Light" in college in the '70s, where the TVs in the Student Union were a battleground for fans (female AND male) of GL, "Days of Our Lives" and "General Hospital". (I was previously aware of GH as my mother's favorite soap) When one of the "Light-Heads" tried to brief me on the major characters and brought up the Spaulding family, I had to ask "Which one is Captain Spaulding?" and do a little Groucho dance. Soap opera addicts do not have much of a sense of humor.
posted by wendell at 3:18 PM on September 16, 2009 [2 favorites]


You know, I was going to pop in and make some joke about this -- like how somewhere, somebody's grandmother is very upset about this -- but then I realized that half the shows I have ever loved (Twin Peaks, Star Trek TNG, BSG, and now Mad Men) could easily be classified as soap operas.
posted by Afroblanco at 3:29 PM on September 16, 2009 [4 favorites]


I've always been a Days of Our Lives fan, myself. But still, it's kind of sad that something that's been along for so long is disappearing.

Hopefully they pull off something really wild, like Marlena's satanic possession on Days a few years ago. That was sweet. Or the one where she was a serial killer. Or was that the same storyline? Hmph.
posted by elder18 at 3:33 PM on September 16, 2009


Cityscapes and nature make almost any material interesting.

The outside scenes are actually kinda cool, once you get used to it. If you grew up with the show in the 60s-90s, it will look *awfully* amateurish these days, however.

It's part of the "new production model" (part 2)

What's not so interesting is that they scrapped rehearsals, and it shows badly.

I've been watching the show off and on since I was about 5, or 1977. It's pretty easy to follow via (recaps), even if you don't watch the episodes. A week's worth of action is less than a 1000 words.

Anyway, it seems like the show really took a downturn in this century, mostly from poor writing. Like most viewers, Reva's clone kinda set me off the show. It's sad to see the show go, but it's sadder to see it in its current stripped down version.
posted by mrgrimm at 3:35 PM on September 16, 2009 [4 favorites]


Final plot twist: it was all a dream! An incredibly fucking long dream.
posted by eatyourcellphone at 3:42 PM on September 16, 2009 [5 favorites]


More links for reference and/or fans like me:

Last week's 60 minutes ran a nice feature on GL

You can watch all of this week's episodes (after 3pm PT, I believe, which is the last showing) on CBS.com's Guiding Light video page

GuidingLight.net (official P&G site) (WARNING: Flash)

Guiding Light City (forum)

Springfield family trees (with excellent, lengthy character descriptions and historical plots)

Official Guiding Light fan club

4-minute tribute to Guiding Light on the Daytime Emmys (apparently, the live show cut it to 60 seconds)
posted by mrgrimm at 3:45 PM on September 16, 2009 [2 favorites]


then I realized that half the shows I have ever loved (Twin Peaks ...

I agree that Twin Peaks was a soap opera, but it was so, so much better than most entries in the genre. It was a huge influence on prime-time drama.

oh, and SPOILER ALERT


...



RIP, Alan Spaulding
posted by mrgrimm at 3:48 PM on September 16, 2009


It was a huge influence on prime-time drama.

Oh, undoubtedly. And all of the Showtime/HBO cinematic serial dramas owe Twin Peaks a TREMENDOUS debt of gratitude.
posted by Afroblanco at 3:52 PM on September 16, 2009


You know, I was going to pop in and make some joke about this -- like how somewhere, somebody's grandmother is very upset about this...

That would be my grandmother. I'm pretty sure she's been watching that show nearly every day since she's owned a television, and before that she listened to it on the radio. I wonder if anyone has told her yet...
posted by Kimothy at 4:04 PM on September 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


And all of the Showtime/HBO cinematic serial dramas owe Twin Peaks a TREMENDOUS debt of gratitude.

Really? Why?
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 4:04 PM on September 16, 2009


Yo Guiding Light I know you just completed your run as a scripted series and Imma let you finish but Battlestar Galactica was the best series finale this year.
posted by turgid dahlia at 4:15 PM on September 16, 2009 [11 favorites]


While most serials are like soap operas in some ways, the difference with one of these daily mills like Guiding Light is that they're on every damn weekday, with few breaks and no reruns. The stories tend to lack metaphor or new perspective, and generally tend to cater to the home bound person who welcomes any distraction with pretty people.
posted by Burhanistan at 4:21 PM on September 16, 2009


Yo Guiding Light I know you just completed your run as a scripted series and Imma let you finish but Battlestar Galactica was the best series finale this year.

Yo turgid dahlia I know you just completed your post and Imma let you finish but Battlestar Galactica was the frakking worst series finale this year.

3/20/09 never forget!
posted by vorfeed at 4:28 PM on September 16, 2009 [5 favorites]


It was all a dream!

No, wait it wasn't... I thought it would have existed long enough to have a cross over and fall prey to the Tommy Westphall Hypothesis. This Guiding Light lies outside this imbricated tangle of shows... such as;

"Buffy, Seinfeld, Walker Texas Ranger, Fresh Prince of Bel Air, I Love Lucy, Mayberry RFD, Cop Rock, Ellen, M*A*S*H, Parker Lewis Can't Lose, The Jeffersons... and a whole host of others."

Check out the hypothesis' homepage.
posted by artaxerxes at 4:39 PM on September 16, 2009 [1 favorite]




Yo turgid dahlia I know you just completed your post and Imma let you finish but Battlestar Galactica was the frakking worst series finale this year.

Yo vorfeed I know you just disrespected me and Imma let you finish but Battlestar Galactica > Guiding Light regardless of how shit-tastic the last episode was.
posted by turgid dahlia at 5:16 PM on September 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


I went to the funeral of a GL castmember some years back. Some really nice folks at work on that show.
posted by Eideteker at 5:23 PM on September 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


BIG FAT SPOILERS YES THAT'S RIGHT THERE ARE SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS for Battlestar Galactica so don't look if you hate vague, non-specific SPOILERS:

Yo vorfeed I know you just disrespected me and Imma let you finish but Battlestar Galactica > Guiding Light regardless of how shit-tastic the last episode was.

Yo turgid dahlia I know you just got your opinions and Imma let you finish but I bet nobody in the finale of The Guiding Light turns out to be a frakking pigeon-angel.
posted by vorfeed at 5:33 PM on September 16, 2009 [8 favorites]


So... did they ever find earth?
posted by Auden at 5:35 PM on September 16, 2009


Earth: the planet so mythical and legendary they found it twice!
posted by turgid dahlia at 5:57 PM on September 16, 2009 [2 favorites]


So... did they ever find earth?

Let's just put it this way: Luke's father was bullshit, bullshit was secretly a man, bullshit was a ghost all along, and then it turns out that bullshit was the frakking sled!
posted by vorfeed at 5:59 PM on September 16, 2009 [6 favorites]


somewhere, somebody's grandmother is very upset about this

Don't forget about the lesbians! GL's amassed a significant lesbian fanbase over the last year due to the same-sex love story between Olivia and Natalia. The main fan forum for the couple has over 6000 members and it's only been around for about eight months.

I know how hard it is to believe, because I still have a hard time believing it myself, but up until maybe late April that storyline was the best depiction of two women falling in love with each other that I've ever seen on television. Everything that's gone down with them since April is far more in line with my preconceived notions about a soap, unfortunately. In the end they're giving the couple their happily ever after, but the show never allowed a mutual kiss between the characters.

The high point of the story was when they finally admitted their feelings to each other after months of living together with Olivia's daughter and considering themselves a family (yes, one of the actresses is very pregnant in these clips, but the character wasn't pregnant at that point):

Olivia confessing her love to Natalia

Natalia confessing her love to Olivia
posted by des at 6:05 PM on September 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


Like the cleaning of a house, it never ends.
posted by well_balanced at 6:07 PM on September 16, 2009


Here's your Six Degrees:
3. Did you know that Kevin Bacon was once a castmember of the show? He landed a one-year gig on Guiding Light after shooting his film debut in "Friday the Thirteenth." He played heartthrob T.J. Werner, a young alcoholic.
20 Guiding Light Trivia (interesting).
posted by tellurian at 6:28 PM on September 16, 2009


I think it's going to end with Bob Newhart waking up in bed with Suzanne Pleshette.

In fact, that's how I think every show should end.
posted by JHarris at 6:55 PM on September 16, 2009 [4 favorites]


I think it's going to end with Bob Newhart waking up in bed with Suzanne Pleshette.

In fact, that's how I think every show should end.


Wouldn't it be strange if that were a deadly accurate depiction of the afterlife? No heaven, no hell, just Bob and Suzanne, stuck in a sitcom in the '70s.

Wouldn't be so bad, honestly.
posted by krinklyfig at 7:02 PM on September 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


My high school girlfriend named her son after a character on a soap opera. Boy am I glad I didn't marry her.
posted by Daddy-O at 7:32 PM on September 16, 2009


Since someone brought up the Olivia and Natalia storyline, it should be noted that Crystal Chappell (Olivia) is doing a webseries called Venice where she's playing an out lesbian named Gina. Gina has an ex, Ani, who is played by Jessica Leccia, more commonly known as Natalia on Guiding Light. Other GLers in the cast include Daniel Cosgrove (Bill Lewis) as Owen, Jordan Clarke (Billy Lewis) as The Colonel. And there's also Hillary B. Smith (Nora on One Life to Live) as Guya.

Looks to be a fairly interesting adventure into web content, which is great, coming from people who have spent decades (in Chappell's case) in the daytime drama medium. The longest-running scripted dramatic series played a part in the birth of a new series in what is still a relatively new medium.

Venice the Series official site: http://www.venicetheseries.com/
Venice the Series fan forum: http://s1.zetaboards.com/venicetheseries/index/

And also, Chappell is returning to the role of Carly Manning on Days of Our Lives, for those of you who prefer more traditional storytelling.
posted by juliebug at 8:06 PM on September 16, 2009 [5 favorites]


me : And all of the Showtime/HBO cinematic serial dramas owe Twin Peaks a TREMENDOUS debt of gratitude.

IRFH : Really? Why?


Because Lynch and Frost were the first ones to take the soap opera format and make it interesting. Twin Peaks had odd themes, offbeat humor, and a overlapping layers of symbolism. When did you see that in serial drama prior to Twin Peaks?
posted by Afroblanco at 9:39 PM on September 16, 2009


Afroblanco: Because Lynch and Frost were the first ones to take the soap opera format and make it interesting. Twin Peaks had odd themes, offbeat humor, and a overlapping layers of symbolism. When did you see that in serial drama prior to Twin Peaks?"

The Prisoner?
posted by JHarris at 1:22 AM on September 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


Afroblanco: Because Lynch and Frost were the first ones to take the soap opera format and make it interesting. Twin Peaks had odd themes, offbeat humor, and a overlapping layers of symbolism. When did you see that in serial drama prior to Twin Peaks?

Anything by Charles Dickens. (Who, in all seriousness, is considered by many to be a founding father of the modern soap).


I think Twin Peaks' primary influence in TV was demonstrating that Lynch's dark narratives, his obsession with the strange and the disturbing, his appreciation of the eccentric, and his twisted sense of humor could all work together in the small-screen, dramatic serial format. He could take conventional soap opera tropes and both deepen them and parody them at the same time (I'm thinking of Laura's father falling apart at her funeral and flinging himself on the casket, things like that). He brought an ongoing sense of mystery and eerieness and just plain dread to the serial format that I'd never seen in a soap before, and which was copied by later shows like American Gothic and the X-Files. Lynch could be absurdist and thoughtful at the same time (see Agent Cooper's dictaphone notes to Diane), an approach ripped of by Northern Exposure and Picket Fences* and other later shows.

It's kind of a surprise that Lynch hadn't done soap opera before Twin Peaks, given that he seems to enjoy exploring the seedy underbelly beneath the bright, cheerful surface of American life (cf Blue Velvet). Soaps are all about that kind of thing.






*ESPECIALLY Picket Fences. Talk about absurdist! It was as if Lynch had decided to return to TV and not be so dark about it. And dear God, the job of mayor on that show was riskier than being a drummer for Spinal Tap.
posted by magstheaxe at 6:16 AM on September 17, 2009 [3 favorites]


So... did they ever find earth?

No, but they're getting off the island.

Good riddance, you damn Spauldings!!!
posted by Mcable at 6:45 AM on September 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


My high school girlfriend named her son after a character on a soap opera.

What'd she name him? Brick? Stone? Chip? Flint? Mason? Shard?





I swear, it sometimes seems like there are no normal names for men on these shows.
posted by grubi at 6:47 AM on September 17, 2009 [2 favorites]


Back before I had the internets to waste/ occupy my time I got hooked on GL during one of my un/ underemployed periods. Then I got a job and lost the thread of what had happened with a couple of characters I liked. At some point they'd disappeared, though one performer later joined the cast again. (And that's the one thing I can't get past about long-running shows of any kind, especially soaps - the character turnover. Especially the soap practice of having different people play the same one.)

But its place in broadcasting history along with the fact it's the only daytime soap I ever watched does make me a bit nostalgic at its end.
posted by NorthernLite at 7:44 AM on September 17, 2009


I would like to add here that SoapDish is one of the funniest damn movies I ever saw, and really encapsulates the cheesy charm and strangeness of soap operas in general--even though I was never a huge fan, just watched Young and the Restless one summer and Days of Our Lives because it was on at lunchtime while I was in college.

And of course, Soap was an amazing parody series that was actually not all that much of a parody. In fact, later plotlines of actual soaps were much, much weirder than Soap's ever got to be.
posted by emjaybee at 7:52 AM on September 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


When did you see that in serial drama prior to Twin Peaks?

Dark Shadows?
Strange Paradise?
posted by KirkJobSluder at 8:22 AM on September 17, 2009


Yeah, not to derail too heavily, but Twin Peaks was not the be all end all of quirky or eccentric serial dramas. And if we want to paint every serial drama with the same brush, from your GL melodramas to your Faulty Towers farcials, well, er, it's all just DRAMA.

Stories involving characters interacting with each other. Been here since we developed communication. Somebody cue Spaceship Earth.
posted by cavalier at 8:54 AM on September 17, 2009


I think Twin Peaks' primary influence in TV was demonstrating...

I agree, but I agree more with Afroblanco. The biggest influence was the number of characters and running/developing/merging side plots in a non-traditional soap-opera drama. Lost, Six Feet Under, Carnivale, Deadwood, etc. are all modeled on the same structure.

3. Did you know that Kevin Bacon was once a castmember of the show?

Kevin Bacon is always the most famous actor mentioned (though Hayden Panettiere is probably the biggest star these days) from Guiding Light, but there are a whole lot of actors who went on from the show to become recognizable faces on the big and small screens.

I'll list in order of my preference.

James Rebhorn - Beth's abusive dad Bradley Raines on Guiding Light, Rebhorn went on to become ubiquitous as a TV doctor in numerous commercials the '90s. You'll also recognize him in Meet the Parents, The Game, Independence Day, Carlito's Way, Basic Instinct, My Cousin Vinny, and, of course, the final episode of Seinfeld.

Cynthia Watros - Ah, Annie Dutton. One of the greatest characters ever on Guiding Light, Annie set the standard for batshitinsane. She went on to Titus, The Drew Carey Show, Lost, and Gossip Girl.

Harley Jane Kozak - Annabelle Sims' excellent storyline (1983-85) occurred during my biggest time investment in the show, so I'll always have a soft spot for Harley. She went on to be Rick Moranis' wife in Parenthood and also Jeff Daniels' wife in Arachnophobia.

Michelle Forbes - Sonni Carrera (aka Sonni Wells, aka Solito Carrera) was involved in one of the most convoluted stories I can remember on the show. She went on to become Maryann Forrester on True Blood, and I think she was also on Lost and Battlestar Galactica.

Mark Derwin - The original (and best, imo) A.C. Mallet, Mark went on to star as Bonnie Hunt's boss in the Bonnie Hunt Show. He was also in 5 episodes of 24 last year, and apparently is one of the stars of The Secret Life of the American Teenager.

Nia Long - As Kat Speakes--daughter of Hampton, lover of David--Nia was too talented to last long on GL. She went on to be Ice Cube's girlfriend (?) in Friday, and then do more a bunch more movies. She was also on Fresh Prince, I believe.

Hayden Panettiere - a saccharine Lizzie Spaulding in the late '90s (I never saw her much), she went on to do Bring It On: All or Nothing, Shanghai Kiss, and some other stuff.

Calista Flockhart - I never knew she was on the show, but she was in the Daytime Emmy tribute, so I figured she must have been.

oh shit. I almost forgot ...

Ian Ziering! He played Cameron Stewart back in the late '80s, then went on to 90210. He was pretty bad on GL, but I guess he had a look people wanted back then.

Phew! Now for yesterday's episode.
posted by mrgrimm at 8:57 AM on September 17, 2009


I can't wait for them to release the entire run on DVD!
posted by Burhanistan at 8:58 AM on September 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


I wonder if anybody's seen every episode. when it aired.
posted by wayofthedodo at 10:27 AM on September 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


emjaybee:And of course, Soap was an amazing parody series that was actually not all that much of a parody. In fact, later plotlines of actual soaps were much, much weirder than Soap's ever got to be."

The most bizarre plot twist of that show was when Mona's butler became Lt. Governor.

grubi: "What'd she name him? Brick? Stone? Chip? Flint? Mason? Shard?
I swear, it sometimes seems like there are no normal names for men on these shows.
"

Chunk Lungfist! Hank Slabmeat! Rod Thickface! Big McLargeHuge! Bob Johnson!
posted by JHarris at 10:31 AM on September 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


Just watched the Wednesday episode. Kinda cold how Olivia got off the phone and said "Alan's dead" while James was just standing there...

I really wanted more out of Marj Dusay, though. Such a great actor, but she didn't get much to do. Shame. The hospital scene should have been more.

I've never been a big Justin Deas/Buzz fan, but he and Lillian are great. She almost made me cry at the end there. (Also, Buzz when he told Rafe, "it's what your grandfather would want you to do.")

The stories tend to lack metaphor or new perspective, and generally tend to cater to the home bound person who welcomes any distraction with pretty people.

Oh, c'mon. Stereotypes are so easy. And the actors really aren't that pretty. ^_^

All of the other GL fans I've ever known were active people. Before DVRs, everyone would just tape them and watch a whole week's at once. (Skip through the 'mercials and it goes super fast.) Not to mention the rec.arts.tv...guidinglight newsgroup, which had daily recaps.

I think much of the appeal of such shows is the longevity of the characters. I was watching the show when Philip Spaudling was born. He's now a grandfather. The same actor was playing the part when he was 24. He's now 50. What other show lets you watch an actor develop a character over 26 years?!

I also forgot some famous actors...

James Earl Jones - Dr. Jim Frazier (back in '66) - Star Wars, Roots, that sort of thing

Sherry Stringfield - the second (and best, imo) Chrissie "Blake" Thorpe - ER, NYPD Blue

Alison Janney - played Ginger the maid (?!) in the early '90s

Melina Kanakaredes - I can't believe I forgot Eleni! She was one of the most polarizing characters during my time watching the show. Hated and loved by many. Now she's on CSI/NCIS or something.

OK, I'll be quiet now.

RIP, Guiding Light.
posted by mrgrimm at 1:40 PM on September 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


I went through a phase when I was 9-10 years old where I was hooked on The Guiding Light. Even though I haven't watched the show in 25 years this news makes me a little sad.
posted by Rarebit Fiend at 6:38 PM on September 17, 2009


My mom would watch soaps sometimes, and although I think she mostly watched Days of Our Lives, I do remember Guiding Light on the TV sometimes. She died ten years ago. Now that Guiding Light's been cancelled, does that mean she'll be able to keep up with it in the afterlife now?
posted by JHarris at 2:01 AM on September 18, 2009


I went through a phase when I was 9-10 years old where I was hooked on The Guiding Light. Even though I haven't watched the show in 25 years this news makes me a little sad.

Oh, man, '83-'84? Those were the golden years. You wouldn't recognize the show now.

OK, I can't shut up. Here's another reason why daily serial TV dramas aren't just for shut-ins to look at pretty people.

I'm like Rarebit Fiend. In the past, I've gone over 10 years without watching a single episode, but it was still comforting to know that Ed, Michelle, Philip, Rick, Beth, and Ross (OK, I guess he's dead now) were still going on living without me. After today, I'll never be able to think "hey, I wonder what's going on in Guiding Light these days ..." and that's sad.

Also, it's always been a huge treat on sick days. I was in a bad accident this spring, broke my hip socket and elbow and was in the hospital for 10 days. I couldn't really even hold a book very well, so mostly I just was stuck in bed, immobile.

I could have given two shits about the rest of network TV, but from 2-3pm I could escape my mind and my pain just a little with a trip to Springfield. It's still the only TV show I watch where I look at the clock and wish the show could go longer.

It's not about the pretty people. It's about the characters and, more than anything, the stories.
posted by mrgrimm at 8:10 AM on September 18, 2009


thank god and who the fuck cares.
posted by Lutoslawski at 9:21 PM on September 21, 2009


thank god and who the fuck cares.

Apparently, you do as well. I always had an idea you were a fucking asshole irl as well as online, but thanks for demonstrating it so conclusively.

Thanks also for reminding me to post my impressions of the series finale ... when I watch it. I still haven't gotten a chance yet. (I better do it soon before CBS axes the site ...)
posted by mrgrimm at 10:54 AM on September 22, 2009


Oh, lord. After that last episode, the show needed a bullet to the head. Horrible.

I'll miss it, but I'm glad the final episode sucked so badly to prove the show deserved to die.
posted by mrgrimm at 12:08 PM on October 5, 2009


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