Friday, April 3, 2009

Guiding Light...1937-2009, Part Two

Naturally, the news is still quite fresh on the minds of GL fans and cast-members that CBS has announced the show's cancellation this coming September. Some cast-members have made statements either on camera in interviews or in writing that have made their way into the public domain. There is still an underlying sense of optimism that Proctor and Gamble, the owners of GL, can find a new home for the show since CBS has obviously decided September 18th is the last day the show will be aired on their network...and from the way it's playing out the network doesn't seem too interested in changing their mind, well, what with news surfacing during the last several hours that the game show, Pyramid, is soon to make a return to the CBS daytime line-up and curiously, GL was announced it'll be canceled in September...hmmm, I wonder...could CBS have planned to use GL's air-time for this up-coming game show and held off making an announcement until it was for certain the network had an available time-slot? We all could debate that potential conspiracy for weeks and months...without any real proof coming out to support it...

But, going back to the optimism road...I gave my thoughts about the show and CBS and other things surrounding the news over on TV Guide's web-site. They have a section about GL's cancellation and sure enough there are plenty of comments from fans and I couldn't resist adding my commentary. I made the suggestion that ABC or NBC should pick the show up immediately so either network can have the honor of being home to the longest running daytime drama. It's not only the longest running daytime program but it's also the longest running daily program...airing Monday through Friday...whereas shows like "Meet The Press" and "60 Minutes" air weekly.

"Guiding Light" has aired daily since January 1937...first on NBC radio and then switching over to CBS and running non-stop Monday through Friday for the last 72 years. The life-span for the radio program was impressive: 19 years, 1937-1956. The program had debuted on TV four years prior to it leaving radio, in June of 1952. The radio cast would perform the show and then later in the day perform the same episode for TV and it was like this for four years...and the reason for this is simple. Television was considered a fad and a toy by millions who were raised listening to the various radio programs on the air and the movies playing at the theatre. So, a lot of radio shows that made a switch to television would do both medium's for a trial run and if the TV counterpart caught on, then the radio program would end as a result.

So, "Guiding Light" ended as a radio drama in 1956. The TV version would continue on for the next five and a half decades on CBS, 1952-2009. So, as of this writing, given CBS's decision to remove the show from their network on September 18, 2009 and given that it's highly unlikely they'll change their minds in the meantime, after 57 years as a daily soap opera I can't picture the show just ceasing to exist just like that...without much of a fight to keep it going somehow. P&G rarely comes forward and states that they're going to try and continue the show after a network announces the show's cancellation...so this isn't your typical "demise of a soap"...P&G is actually making it sound like they're going to attempt to keep the show on the air somehow via a different network or on cable...so things are still very much up in the air about the show's future and whether September 18, 2009 proves to be the final GL episode...ever...

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Meta, Papa, and Bert Bauer. Meta was the show's heroine in the radio episodes of the late 1940's through the mid 1950's and in the early TV episodes as well. During Meta's biggest years she was married to a man named Joe Roberts...then she married a man named Ted White...and then remained single for awhile before marrying Bruce Banning. In fact, the actor playing Bruce Banning at the time was William Roerick...an actor who would become way more popular on the show as Henry Chamberlain off and on during 1980-1995. Meta and Bruce left town in 1974. Bert, on the other hand, was married to Bill Bauer and she went through a period of character shifts. She was at first a social-climber...typically wanting to compete with other women her age and her behavior caused Bill much stress leading him to seek comfort with alcohol...and at times other women. Bert eventually became the character for which she is more widely known and embraced...that of the strong-willed woman with a soft heart.

Photobucket Charita Bauer in a widely circulated publicity picture from the early 1980's. Bert's battle with uterine cancer in the early 1960's was considered a landmark event...such social issues were rarely dealt with on daytime television. Several decades later the character had a leg amputated due to cancer, mirroring the same event that Charita went through in real-life. She was able to get around using a prosthetic leg. Charita was a constant presence on the show until 1984 when the Lewis and Spaulding families started to dominate most of the storyline's. In that year both Bert and Mike were written off the show...Mike's daughter, Hope, had been written off in 1983. Charita passed away in 1985 and her character, Bert, was written off in 1986 as having died while spending time with Meta. Charita played the character of Bert Bauer from 1950 until December 1984, a couple months shy of 35 years.

Photobucket Michael Zaslow portrayed the super popular villain, Roger Thorpe, during two separate occasions. The first portrayal lasted nine years, 1971-1980. The second portrayal lasted nearly as long, 1989-1997. Roger was one of the most hated men in Springfield and also the most violent. Although the character was rarely violent for violent's sake, the character was written to be a character study of paranoia and megalomania all rolled into one. Roger, if he was feeling exceptionally good about himself, could become over-bearing and rather cocky...leading his critics, mostly girlfriend-turned-wife-turned ex-wife, Holly, to deflate his ego. Paranoid to the core, Holly's taunts and teases would prey upon Roger's mind a lot...causing further complexity in a character filled with unpredictability. His paranoid belief that everyone is out to get him usually caused him to react violently or outrageously in any situation. His consistent desire for Holly, his desire to be viewed as a father to his daughter, and his consistent desire for Spaulding Enterprises, were always hand-in-hand. Roger and Holly's daughter, Christina, spent most of her life believing Ed Bauer was her father and that Roger was an enemy of the family. Christina returned to the show a grown-up woman going by name of Blake in 1988, soon followed by Holly herself. Roger had long been "dead" only to return in 1989...and a new chapter of Roger and Holly played out for the next seven and a half years, with a new twist being a grown-up daughter added to the mix. The character was written off the show in 1998 amidst a controversy surrounding a re-cast of the role when Zaslow was in the early stages of ALS and a year later, 1999, he passed away. The character of Roger had been written off with Amanda Spaulding in 1998...and in 2004, the character died off-screen, with the news being sprung onto the town by a man named Sebastian, who went on somewhat of a terror spree for revenge on the people his father disliked so much...yes, it turns out Roger had a child come out of hiding.

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