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Flashback 2009: CBS Ends ‘Guiding Light’

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  • DS0816
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    With this topic being posted on Sunday, September 15, 2019, I note this coming Wednesday, September 18, 2019 marks the 10-year anniversary of the final broadcast date of CBS’s Guiding Light. (September 18, 2009 was a Friday.)

    Guiding Light—which won the Daytime Emmy for Outstanding Drama Series in 1980, 1982, and 2007—premiered on NBC Radio January 25, 1937. It moved to television, on CBS, June 30, 1952. Its combined lifespan was 72 years.

    I created this thread to invite forum members to share any memories and/or feelings about the series. Its cancellation preceded the ends of three more long-running daytime drama series—CBS’s As the World Turns (54 years, in 2010), ABC’s All My Children (41 years, in 2011; briefly relaunched in 2013), ABC’s One Life to Live (43+ years, last broadcast in 2012; briefly relaunched in 2013).

    Currently, the longest-running daytime drama series is ABC’s General Hospital, 56 years.

    I began watching CBS’s Guiding Light in 1984. This was while ABC broadcast from late-July to mid-August the Summer Olympics. My personal favorite period of the series was with the 1991–92 and 1992–93 television seasons. The series dazzled in storytelling for nearly all (including characters routinely backburnered) as well as creating and establishing supercouples who were so right for each other. I could be tempted into recalling so much that I recall too much of what was going on. But, I lately catch some uploaded videos, published to YouTube, by a member named bandstandmike. From this specified period of personal appreciation, bandstandmike is running a 26-year parallel of episodes to where we are right now with where the series was back then.

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    Boidiva02
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    I was mostly an ABC soap guy (and at one point my screenname on Goldderby was actually ABCSOAPS55 or something like that) but I had my brief love affair with CBS soaps at one point too. I watched “GL” on a semi-regular basis on and off for years. The first time I got hooked on “GL” was in either 1996 or 1997, and the storyline I was most into involved Hart Jessup, Cassie Layne Winslow and Dinah Maheler. This is when Frank Grillo was playing Hart and the character was killed off. It was so sad.

    I also vividly remember the Clone Reva storyline of 1998. That story was legendary. I also remember the deaf character of Abbie (I think she was Amish too?)

    I think ultimately what did “GL” in was a combination of factors; first off ratings for all soaps were declining rapidly for many years. “GL” also had a production company “Procter & Gamble” that wanted to get out of the soap opera business which was expensive and no longer profitable for them, and CBS saw the ratings (especially in demos) going down. Several last ditch efforts were made to save the show; but those efforts namely the new production model and Peapack, New Jersey only rushed the series into an earlier than neccesary grave.

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    adamunc
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    I watched GL religiously starting in about 1979 (it was the Lucille Wexler murder trial that got me hooked) through around 1995. I was about eight or nine years old when I started watching. We were a CBS household and that was the show that was on when I got home from school. I suppose you could question my parents’ wisdom in letting me watch soaps at such a young age, but I don’t think I suffered any permanent negative effect, lol.

    I have fond memories of Doug Marland’s writing tenure, particularly Nola and Quint and the Carrie Marler multiple personality story. The show floundered for a year or so after he left, until the producing/writing team of Gail Kobe/Pam Long came onboard and returned the show to glory. The highlights of that partnership to me were the Four Musketeers (Philip/Rick/Beth/Mindy), real flesh-and-blood young characters; the introduction of the exquisite Beverlee McKinsey as Alexandra; the glorious Mary Kay Adams as India; and of course anything to do with Kim Zimmer’s flamboyant and fascinating Reva Shayne. For me, Zimmer as Reva would have to be on the Mt. Rushmore of female daytime performances. During her tenure, Pam Long and her team masterfully balanced adventure, romance, family drama, and humor. After Long left in 1986, the show again floundered under a succession of short-lived writing tenures by people who didn’t really understand what made the show tick.

    Then, a year later Long returned and in her first week back, Reva was back in the red dress raising hell and things got much better. During Long’s second tenure, we got the fascinating Sonni/Solita story. Michelle Forbes was egregiously robbed of an Emmy nomination and win in 1988. After writing off the character of Reva in 1990, Long again rode off into the sunset but left the show in the very capable hands of her deputies, Nancy Curlee and Stephen Demorest. They were joined by James E. Reilly and Lorraine Broderick and together this quartet (along with exec producer Jill Farren Phelps) created some of the most complex and brilliant storylines the show ever had. The blackout week was a masterpiece of soap storytelling, kicking off multiple stories and shaking up some relationships. They also produced some genius standalone episodes, such as Ross’s dream on the eve of the election and Hampton’s bachelor party episode, in which only men appeared onscreen. These experiments helped reshape the idea of what soaps could do.

    After glory years from 1990 – 1994, the show again fell into disrepair and I finally gave up during Megan McTavish’s writing tenure. I kept falling behind because of a busy work schedule and I kept finding that I wasn’t all that eager to catch up. I did tune back in for the final couple of weeks of the show, and it was really shocking how much it had changed. Many familiar characters were still there, but budget cuts had forced a different production style and the show often looked like it had been shot in a broom closet on someone’s iPhone.

    One constant over this time was the legendary casting director Betty Rea, who deserves special mention. Pound for pound, I don’t think any other show can match GL for overall quality of acting through the years.

    Here is a link to a brilliant episode from July 1984, featuring part of Lujack’s involvement in Darcy’s rampage, some lovely work by Judi Evans and Beverlee McKinsey as they worry about Lujack, and the party with the absolutely seminal and iconic Reva-in-the-fountain scenes. When GL was at its best, absolutely nothing could touch it. (This episode also features my favorite version of the main theme, the lush, gorgeous instrumental used during the mid-’80s before the inferior electronic version replaced it.)

    Guiding Light July 1984

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    Sean Phillips
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    I remember we were watching the final episode in the hotel room the day before my brother got married and my Granny was with us. It was her favorite show.

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    Berlin2002
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    Michael Zaslow. Kim Zimmer. Beverlee McKinsey.

    • This reply was modified 1 month ago by  Berlin2002.
    • This reply was modified 1 month ago by  Berlin2002.
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    FreemanGriffin
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    I recently watched the episodes I had never seen before that are available from 1977-early 1980. I started watching the show in 1980, right after they killed off Roger Thorpe. Nola was the character who drew men in (Lisa Brown). It was great getting to see as much of the early Alan Spaulding episodes (the late great Chris Bernau). I was an east coast soaps guy and started with ABC soaps but in 1980 I was in a terrible accident and got hooked on soaps in a bigger way. I watched fairly continuously all the way until 2009.

    I remember where I was when the show aired it’s last episode: I was in the hospital! My Doctor came in with 10 minutes left and I asked if he could come back in 10 minutes! I explained it was the last ever episode of Guiding Light! (;

    I particularly loved Nola. Lisa Brown was amazing! I also loved Holly and Roger and Alexandra and India and Philip and Beth and Lillian and Maureen and Ed and Alan and Buzz and Harley and Gus and… the list is endless! (: I think my favorite period of the show was the early 1990’s, roughly 1990-95, when Michael Zaslow was at his zenith (before his health problems happened and he was fired).

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    eastwest
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    I came to this show towards the end. We were also a CBS house, so I saw the entire lineup during my childhood. What hooked me was Tom Pelphrey as Jonathan Randall. Towering work and his scenes with Kim Zimmer were chef kiss.

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