With only 18 or 19 episodes left to air, I’m already pretty satisfied with how Guiding Light is ending up. It’s not perfect, by any means, but many of the characters we know and love are onscreen and acting in character. It’s far more rewarding and entertaining than, say, Another World’s ending (for many reasons, mainly that AW was given ten days to wrap up the show).
There have been many scenes, especially surrounding Phillip’s illness and Ed’s arrival in town to help him, that are intensely allegorical scenes. The scene between Ed and Lillian today where Ed said, “we just need more time,” almost made me cry.
But time is fleeting, and GL is coming to an end. There are many unresolved threads and story ideas that were never pursued. Here, indeed, is where the story ends.
Opinions and story ideas are a dime a dozen on the Interwebz, but as someone who used to fantasize about being head writer of Guiding Light, I thought I’d share a few of my ideas about characters that aren’t on the canvas right now, but might have been a part of the tapestry of Springfield had GL been allowed to live.
SPRINGFIELD: THE NEXT GENERATION
Some ideas about the younger citizens of Springfield that we never really got to know.
Peter Reardon: You’ve seen Peter’s name in this blog before; not to beat a dead horse, but I always thought Peter would have been a great character to explore and perhaps a powerful one. After all, Peter’s grandfather was Roger Thorpe! (His mom is Bridget Reardon, who we’ll see again in a few weeks, and his father was the late Hart Jessup.)
One problem that GL and As The World Turns have had is that their complex family trees mean younger characters are more likely to be related. The genius of Peter was that he didn’t have many direct relatives on canvas (only his aunt, Blake) but was still connected to many other characters. Vanessa was his adoptive mother for a time and would ostensibly still be involved in his life. Same with Billy (it was his marriage to Nadine that created Nadine’s whole insane baby-adoption scheme). He would have connections to Bill and to Dinah (who on the one hand would have kinda sorta been his sister, and on the other hand killed his father).
We’ve seen Jonathan, Shayne and now James Spaulding do the angry! young! man! thing, which has been done to death. But I think Peter could have been just as vivid. Since Peter had so many people who loved him, and so many people share custody of him, I envisioned him being lonely and insecure despite all of this love and affection. (After all, as soon as Pete got close to someone, they’d have to shuttle him to the next person.) Peter would be funny, intensely smart, and incredibly handsome. But he’d also be manipulative (hello! Roger Thorpe’s grandson!) and it would be hard for people to see behind his protective mask – family, potential girlfriends, etc.
The Marler twins: I’m sorry that we never got to see Ross and Blake’s children become Springfield: The Next Generation. I actually thought Ross and Blake were great candidates to become the “new” Ed and Mo – in effect, the new core family in Springfield.
I envisioned Jason and Kevin being somewhat opposite but very close (think Phillip and Rick). I thought the two of them and Maureen Reardon (Matt and Vanessa’s daughter) could have years of story. Jason (I’m just picking one of the boys) and Maureen would be incredibly close friends…..because Jason had confided to Maureen that he was gay. Meanwhile, Kevin would be in love with Maureen, and be understanding (but jealous) of his brother’s closeness with little Mo. Once Jason came out of the closet, Kevin would pursue Maureen.
Dorie von Halkein: Dorie’s not exactly a child – she’s a few years younger than Dinah – but I think Dorie would have been a great addition to the canvas. Dorie would have provided the “rich girl” part of a rich girl/poor boy coupling. Her “mother” is India – and yes, that’s a good enough excuse for me for Dorie to be on canvas, so India could have more excuses to come to town!
For maximum effect, I would have made Alexandra Dorie’s mentor; Alex and India crossed paths when Alex was off canvas, so it makes sense that she would have befriended Dorie and taken an interest in her. This would have made for a great All About Eve type story.
WHO, WHAT, WHEN, WHERE, WHY
I think this batch of younger characters could have really filled in the gaps where the tweens and twentysomethings needed reinforcement over the last few years. GL made some unfortunate choices trying to link newly created characters (Ava and Rafe) to existing characters through storylines that either contradicted what we knew (or in the case of Olivia/Jeffrey, were just plain awful).
To have one character bomb is challenging. But in 2007 and 2008, many of those new younger characters (including Grady) bombed with viewers. Ava and Rafe were forced on us when we barely knew them. (Fans have come to care about Ava, but she’s still by no means a hit.) Grady was one of those characters created to imitate another (Jonathan). That’s been tried over and over again, and it never, ever works.
Aging Leah was another really bad idea, since the character was born in 2004 and was all of three when the character was aged. I understand GL wanting a more diverse canvas, but I think a far more compelling, interesting idea would have been to reveal that Mel had a baby as a teenager or college student – maybe after a tryst with someone in Springfield? The same idea applies to more Hispanic characters on canvas; I always thought that perhaps Sonni had given birth to Josh’s baby (when he thought she was dead).
The point is, these characters could have been tied to existing ones in a way that really drew them into the action. I’m glad we have Natalia, but whether it’s the writing, the direction or the actor, mumbly Rafe is perhaps the most unlikable GL character since…..well, since Jeffrey O’Neill!
Is there a Springfield character, past, present or “future”, that you have envisioned a story for? Share your thoughts in the comments section!