I’ve been really encouraged by what I’m seeing onscreen on Guiding Light these days. Yeah, I know – some of you are reading this and probably thinking, “Hey, he went to visit the Guiding Light set – he must have been served a big dose of the Peapack Kool-Aid.”
But after almost a year of stops and starts with the new production model, the show has upped its game in the storyline department – and that’s (ahem) not just my opinion, but is readily apparent on screen these days. More so than at any time in the last few years, the stories seem to be SERIALIZED and are actually carrying momentum from one day to the next.
If you’ve been a sporadic GL viewer, find the January 15th show (last Thursday’s show). It’s a great example of how good GL has been lately – great pacing, great story that both referenced character history and looked forward.
The show is a collaborative effort, but I suspect at least some of the praise should go directly to Jill Lorie Hurst, who’s had a greater input on the writing team over the last few months. I was very encouraged when we all talked to Jill in December, and I am especially encouraged that some of the textures and themes we discussed are showing up on screen.
I’m loving Jeff Branson as Shayne; Branson and Gina Tognoni have great chemistry together, and Branson actually looks like he could be the son of Robert Newman and Kim Zimmer. (Side note to show, though: Can you not have Shayne be mega-angry guy in EVERY scene? Because Glaring Angry Shayne Face is getting to be a little old.)
I wasn’t thrilled with the Beth/Coop romance initially – I thought it was a replay of Beth/Rick and Coop/Blake, with different partners – but when they fell in love, it led to a great historical parallel that made an ENORMOUS amount of sense: Beth sees Coop, in some ways, as her second chance with Phillip (or the second coming of Phillip). After all, Coop’s fighting for her, boosting her self-esteem. He’s tall, he’s gorgeous and he’s an author. Sound like anyone else we know? I cheered when Lillian drove this point home to Beth a few weeks ago.
And of course, there’s the Olivia/Natalia pairing, which I recently wrote about here and here. Whether they’re family or more than friends, it’s an incredibly compelling story. I have been loving the performances of Crystal Chappell (Olivia) and Jessica Leccia (Natalia).
There’s still a few bumpy spots. I’m hoping that the Grady story gets wrapped up soon. Mallet and Marina are about as exciting as watching paint dry. And the doom-and-gloom of the Bill/Lizzie storyline is draining some of the momentum and energy from it. (Having met Daniel Cosgrove and Marcy Rylan, I hope the show can better capture Cosgrove’s sense of humor and Rylan’s luminous charm onscreen.)
And my big Jeer within a Cheer? I’m disappointed that GL decided to let John Driscoll (Coop) go. I’ve always liked John and his take on Coop, and not just because John is very easy on the eyes. As someone who was not a big Gus/Harley fan, I cheered Coop when, on his first day in Springfield, he punched Gus and knocked him out!
I think John, and Coop, were unfortunately lost in the haze when Tom Pelphrey’s Jonathan took off. GL smoothed Coop’s edges out to make him the good guy in comparison to badass Jonathan. It’s ironic that he’s being written out now, since Driscoll is doing a great job with the Beth/Coop story. He’s finally being allowed to bring edges to Coop, and Coop’s been released from good-guy hell as a result.
Here’s hoping GL doesn’t pull a Tammy Winslow and permanently banish Coop from the kingdom. It would be great to welcome Coop (and Driscoll) back to the canvas; Springfield needs to focus on the new generation of residents, too.