Recently WeLoveSoaps.net compiled an amazing list of the 25 biggest blunders in daytime history. Their list inspired me to make one of my own, Guiding Light’s biggest blunders. Missed opportunities, wasted characters, it’s all there! Some are my own opinion while others I gathered while chatting with other Guiding Light fans. Let me know what you think, all inputs are welcome….
24. Killing Richard. It’s not that I loved the character of Richard as much as Bradley Cole was a great actor. The producers must have thought so as well because they brought Bradley Cole back playing a whole new character, Jeffery O’Neill. Then there was the whole story arc of Jeffery being Richard’s doppelgänger in San Cristobel, even when he was married to Cassie. Years later I am STILL confused by that twist.
23. Alan and Annie. Alan had his fair share of the ladies over the years but I don’t think anyone got to him the way that Annie Dutton did. Alan and Annie teamed up to ruin Josh and Reva’s happy reunion, and he quickly fell for her. These two were a match made in soap history and could have set Springfield on fire for decades to come! Alan’s relationships always followed the same pattern but with Annie he was no longer the man in charge, she led and he followed reveling in her schemes.
22. Killing Ben Warren. Hunt Block plays a GREAT villain. But what made Ben Warren so great was that there was more to the character than what was on the surface. Not to mention that Hunt Block and Liz Keifer had some great chemistry together, the Ross/Blake/Ben triangle could have been played out for years as well as the Ben/Ross sibling rivalry.
21. Not developing Carmen. Enough good things can’t be said about the acting abilities of Saundra Santiago. She brought Carmen to life and made what could have been a one-note character into a multi-layered villainess. Problem was that they didn’t go BEYOND her hatred of Michelle. Could have seen her going to toe to toe with Alan Spaulding, or even them joining forces in some business venture. But as far as we knew she is still lying in Cedars in a coma…
20. Not playing up the Ashlee and Coop relationship. Towards the end of the show there were only a handful of couples I actually enjoyed, Ashlee and Coop were one of these chosen few. Caitlin Van Zandt was not your “typical” soap actress, which is what made her character so lovable. Her character had to deal with all the body image issues and insecurities that comes with being overweight. Coop saw beyond that and a great little romance blossomed…and was ended too fast. Years later Jonathan Driscoll (who portrayed the character Coop) stated that he felt Guiding Light made a mistake in ending “Cooplee”. I happen to agree.
19. WeLoveSoaps.Net makes a great point in calling out the Networks’ over-reliance on focus groups. These focus groups started the trend of targeting the younger demographics which in turn pushed veteran actors to be back-burned in favor of “teen storylines”. This wouldn’t have been so bad if the actors were actually brought in for their acting talent instead of their looks. In the 90’s Guiding Light managed to balance the young storylines with those of the adults. Towards the end it was all teenagers all the time. Yes Daisy WAS a Legacy character but her unwashed miscreant of a boyfriend Grady? Useless.
18. The 2003 Ellen Weston/John Conboy duo. Her “Psychic Reva” storyline, while horrible, was at least classic soap drama. But even that doesn’t even compare to the ridiculous Maryanne Carruthers storyline. Character re-writes aren’t new to soap operas, it happens all the time to help propel certain storylines forward. But Ellen Weston didn’t just alter one character’s history, she altered FIVE. Carrie Nye wasn’t bad as Maryanne, and it gave Marah, Michelle, and Marina some airtime; but considering how many people disliked the storyline it was good to see it end. John Conboy’s first act as executive producer? Moving three veteran actors to recurring status. These two only lasted a year but the damage had already been done. In my opinion this was the beginning of the end for Guiding Light.
17. The 2005 budget cuts. Whenever there are budget cuts the first things to go are the veteran stars. Which is kind of like cutting off your nose to spite your face. Veteran stars and their characters are ones viewers have invested YEARS into. If 2003 wasn’t the make of death for Guiding Light than 2005 would have sealed the deal. Nancy St. Alban and Paul Anthony Stewart of the supercouple Manny were let go. And Jerry ver Dorn, whose character Ross was one of the longest running characters on the show, was taken off contract. Ultimately he ended up leaving the show leaving his character Ross to be killed off thus ending ANOTHER supercouple, Blake and Ross.
16. Killing Ben Reade. No wait! First DESTROYING the character in the STUPID gigolo story, making him a serial killer, then killing him off! Ben Reade was a legacy character and his portrayer Matt Bomer was a great actor. Couldn’t write for the character? Okay then send him out-of-town. Don’t destroy a legacy character in the process.
15. Tattoo Tony. A lot of times when a character is recast the writers decide to take them in a “new direction”. Well that was abundantly clear when they recast Tony with Stephen Martines. Tony Santos made stupid mistakes at times but he had a great heart. The recast Tony was more dark in personality and just wasn’t the guy viewers had grown to love. His loyalty to Danny? GONE. His love for Marah? GONE. A great waste to what was once a great character.
14. Not reuniting Marony. Marah and Tony had a love story that could have gone on for YEARS. But their potential went out the window with a bad recast. I started this blog with an idea, how to reunite Marah and Tony. And guess what? The response has been overwhelmingly positive. The story, the videos, they each get the same response “Loved this couple!” If I could write them a decent reunion story than ANYONE could have. Such wasted opportunities.
13. Missing Marah. Speaking of reuniting Marony…how about Marah the forgotten legacy child of Springfield. She was last seen in 2006 (played by the now adult Kimberly J. Brown) where she vowed she wouldn’t be back unless her parents got back together. So many missed opportunities with this character. She missed Reva’s battles with cancer and personally, I would have loved to see Marah and Jonathan (the REAL Jonathan that is) interact. After her departure she was rarely mentioned and essentially forgotten about.
12. Mandy Bruno. This was another recast that I personally wasn’t fond off. Aubrey Dollar’s Marina had personality in spades! She was a spitfire who wasn’t afraid to stand up to her detective father or anyone else. And I adored her with Ben Reade and her pairing with Shayne was sweet. Mandy Bruno was so…blah in comparison (often times she was referred to as “Borina” on soap message boards). It didn’t help matters that she was in every storyline, eating up all the screen time from all the other characters.
11. Marina’s Men. There was a horrible pairing with Danny and an equally horrible pairing with Mallet. Chemistry among pairings is subjective to the viewer but the only time I saw any kind of “spark” after Mandy Bruno took over as Marina was with Cyrus, and they didn’t last long. So much time wasted trying to find Marina a pairing that fans actually liked only to end it.
Ultimately Marina would end up with Shayne which brings me to….
10. The abrupt ending of Dinah and Shayne. This was another one of those last-minute pairings that I loved. Dinah and Shayne were both broken individuals when they met but they, excuse the cliché, “saved” each other. Dinah was never the “good girl” and Shayne seemed to understand and love that about her. They married in early August of 2009 and then the next day Dinah fled the country. Later their marriage was annulled and from scenes we saw that Dinah met up with Mallet in Germany and Shayne was with Marina. These two shined together and the thought of Shayne paired with Borina was just a sad thing indeed.
9. I have said it numerous times but it bears repeating, pairing Tony and Michelle was just wrong on all levels. This “couple” is a perfect example of just how much they ruined Tony. Tony’s heart always belonged to Marah and his loyalty to Danny was a cornerstone of the character. So Tony developing “feelings” for the woman he always considered his sister made fans, myself included, call foul.
8. Cassie and Josh. Long time soap fans are used to watching sisters marry the same man. In real life you’d be on Jerry Springer, in the soap world it’s just as common as rising from the dead. But the Cassie and Josh pairing went over like a lead balloon. Laura Wright’s Cassie was loyal to her sister Reva and would never have been with Josh. Nicole Forrester’s Cassie had none of that loyalty.
7. Killing Gus. Gus and Harley were two characters that once paired together caught fire and burned hot. Their romance got them the 2005 award for “Most irresistible Combination” at the Daytime Emmys. Which was why Gus’s death was so tragic. Sure Gus and Harley were divorced at the time but that didn’t mean a thing. It was clear that Gus and Harley were meant to be and all they needed was time. Well that time ran out in 2008 and Gus was killed in a motorcycle accident. The scene of Gus and Harley admitting they were the loves of each others’ lives was heartbreaking, and totally unnecessary. Since Harley left town not long after Gus’ death a better ending would have had these two reuniting and leaving town together.
6. The new production model. The storylines were bland, the camera angles shaky, and you had to strain to hear what the actors were saying over the “background” music. I once had a friend ask me why I liked the show because, “it looks like it is filmed in a parking lot”. OUCH!
5. The unanswered questions. What happened to Jeffery O’Neil? Did Reva and Josh ever remarry? Could they remarry since Jeffery just kind of disappeared? Would Harley ever return from Greece? Even going back further…Is Carmen still in a coma? Was Rita Bauer pregnant with Alan’s child when she left town? Guiding Light was the longest running soap opera, they deserved a better ending. Leaving cliffhangers didn’t make the loss any easier.
4. Killing off Roger Thorpe/the Firing of Michael Zaslow. I never got the pleasure of watching Roger in the early years but when I got to see him in the 90s I knew just why his character was the villain most loves to hate. Michael Zaslow was a true master of his craft. Well anything I write wouldn’t serve him justice. Check out what WeLoveSoaps.Net had to say on the subject here.
3. Killing off Alan Spaulding. After decades of dastardly deeds Alan’s death served to save his son Philip’s life. It sounds good in theory but the end of Alan Spaulding? THE Alan Spaulding? Loosing Alan was like loosing Guiding Light twice. He was such a fixture on the show it is hard to imagine Springfield enduring without him to cause trouble. In my mind Alan and Alexandra are still bickering with each other in the Spaulding mansion .
2. Ellen Wheeler. Under her “leadership” Guiding Light’s flailing ratings took an ever bigger nose-dive. She was tasked with trying to revive a sinking ship on a minimal budget…and it was obviously a failure. She ignored the veterans in favor of the younger generation, her storylines were remarkably lame, and viewers were driven away by number 6 on my list, the production style. The only plus for Ellen Wheeler would be the pairing of Olivia and Natalia which grew to have a huge fanbase.
1. Killing off Jenna Bradshaw. Jenna arrived in Springfield in 1992 as a jewel thief…and subsequently stole viewer’s hearts. She was a “grey character” who committed her fair share of misdeeds, but that is what made her character so interesting! Her pairing with Buzz Cooper was a fan favorite, even though they were never really given a chance since Jenna was killed off. Viewers got a few “ghost Jenna” scenes over the years but it didn’t make up for the loss. GLManny does a great expose on Jenna’s death you can check out here.