Archive for reva shayne

When I Watched… “Guiding Light”

Posted in When I Watched with tags , on November 28, 2008 by Jeff

guiding-lightOf all the soaps currently on the air today, the one that I am most fond of is Guiding Light.  I haven’t watched it regularly in ten years, but when I did watch, I loved it.  I loved it when I was a kid and my mom would watch it while doing housework.  I didn’t know who everyone was, or exactly what was going on, but I knew that Mike Bauer was a really good guy. I knew his wife Leslie was a really good lady.  And I knew that Mike’s mother Bert reminded me of my own grandmother.

When I was old enough to take control of the remote, I watched the ABC soaps.  It wasn’t until the summer of 1981 that I rediscovered Guiding Light.  The Morgan/Kelly/Nola storyline was simplistic yet incredibly powerful.  I was drawn into the drama and intrigue of Springfield, as invisioned by the late head writer Douglas Marland.  Jane Elliot, whom I loved as Tracy on General Hospital, was riviting as Carrie Marler.  And Bert was still the heart of the show.

After Doug Marland left Guiding Light, the show went through a creative slump, and several head writers came and went. In the spring of 1983, former Texas executive producer Gail Kobe came on board and brought former Texas head writer (and actress) Pamela Long with her.  Within weeks, Guiding Light was bursting with energy.  Kobe and Long expanded the Lewis family, turning them into daytime’s version of Dallas‘ Ewing family.  The famous “Four Musketeers” storyline, in which Phillip Spaulding and his best friend Rick Bauer became involved with Mindy Lewis and Beth Raines, packed such a powerful punch that the actions of those four teenagers twenty five years ago are still the basis of story lines in Springfield today. Of course, Long’s most famous creation is Reva Shayne Lewis, played as always by Kim Zimmer.  In early 1984 Kobe lured daytime legend Beverlee McKinsey to the show as Alan’s sister, Baroness Alexandra von Halkein. The stage was clearly set for success.

With the good, there is also some bad.  While fans loved the Lewis and Spaulding families, Kobe and Long slowly started to dismantle the Bauer family – the core of the show.  In the summer of 1984, Guiding Light rose to the top of the ratings, but a few months later Mike and Hillary Bauer were written off, Ed Bauer was recast for the second time in three years, and actress Charita Bauer (Bert) passed away.  The Bauers were no longer the focus of Guiding Light.  Fans were disappointed, and ratings dropped.

After Long’s second stint as head writer ended in 1991, Guiding Light came into its own once again.  Under the writing team of Steven Demorest and Nancy Curlee, Guiding Light focused on the turbulant relationship between Roger Thorpe and his ex-wife Holly, former jewel thief turned heroine Jenna Bradshaw, the tale of Nadine Lewis’ faked pregnancy (while keeping pregnant teen Bridget Reardon in her attic), and the love triangle of Alan-Michael/Eleni/Frank.  In 1993, Guiding Light killed off Maureen Reardon, a character that had been carefully written to take the place of Bert Bauer – Guiding Light‘s heart and soul.  Viewers were outraged.

Guiding Light still entertained me even after the death of Maureen.  In 1995, evil Brent Lawrence attacked Harley’s half-sister Lucy Cooper.  He came back to stalk her, this time disguised as a woman named Marion Crane.  I was glued to my television.  Then, Guiding Light went through a string of head writers.  Each writer had his or her own idea of what Guiding Light should be about.  In fact, GL had five head writing teams in 1995 alone.

By 1998, Guiding Light was still a good soap, but there had been so many cast changes and abrupt changes in storytelling that I stopped watching every day.  The last great story for me was the Annie Dutton storyline.  I tuned in here and there during the Conboy era to see what was going on.  There wasn’t anything happening to lure me back.  I watched again when GL finally addressed Roger Thorpe’s death and again there wasn’t much to keep me hooked.

On January 5, I will watch Guiding Light for five consecutive days to see if there is hope for me returning to Springfield.  I’ll let you know my thoughts.