Watching GL for so many years, it's hard not to get emotionally involved in the storylines and characters we see every day. Normally I consider this a plus since it makes me feel like I am part of the show. But in some cases, like this week, it really divides my loyalties.
Let me say, first of all, kudos to all involved in the Phillip murder mystery. As I have come to expect, there were some Emmy reels in the week's performances. The scenes with Grant (Phillip) and Beth Ehlers (Harley) that were flashed back were awesome (can't wait to see how it all ends). Ron Raines (Alan)'s grief was spoken in volumes with just an expression. All of the scenes with the Three remaining Musketeers were a trip down memory lane.
I often ask the actors about how they get through difficult storylines that require such an emotional outpouring. This week, it was easy to see that all involved were pulling from their real-life emotions at losing a colleague on-screen. The flashbacks of days gone by were great, but there were a few that the long-time fan in me really wanted to see. First and foremost was the infamous Country Club scene between Alan, Justin (Phillip's biological father) and Phillip where Phillip learns about his ties to the Marler family. Sure, Ron Raines was not in the role of Alan then (those of you who missed the late, great Chris Bernau really missed out of some great work) but those scenes really set up the later years of Phillip's life. His whole life changed at that moment in time, and had a hand in shaping who he became - good and bad. The other was the Springfield High Prom from 1983. Yes, I know Judi Evans (now Luciano) originated the role of Beth Raines, but long time fans wanted to see the magical night once again.
It's difficult to say that a funeral was great, but this one was very moving and well-written. Despite the GLARING OMISSION of Justin Marler (and where was cousin Dinah?) I was glad to see those lives Phillip touched (good and bad) in attendance. Having just come from a real life funeral (for a family friend) that afternoon, it was very easy to lose myself in the "tragedy" of Phillip's death. Yes it's all make-believe, but the emotions were all too real.
Many of you had questions about the music played this week. During the funeral it was Paul Simon's "Quiet" from the "You're the One" CD. And the touching music that played when Gus returned all of the children home (another gem of a scene was "We Need Us All" from composer, Jens Wendelboe with vocals by Elisabeth Moberg. The album can be found on Jens' website: www.crazyenergy.com
But as much as I was enthralled in the event itself and the performances surrounding it, part of me really wanted to shake whoever in their "wisdom" killed off Phillip. GL is losing viewers at an alarming rate and the "C" word is always a real threat (that's cancellation, folks) so this was a pretty big gamble to try to get viewers hooked on the show.
And like they did with Ben Reade, GL has taken a character that we have seen grow up before our very eyes and write his character into a corner. Of course, they do this thinking fans will allow you to kill off this long running character since he's become so unlikable. For those of you who thought that the fans who have watched Phillip grow up and go through some pretty emotional times just become a maniac that blackmails people and shows little remorse are VERY WRONG. Fans remember all of the character's foibles and love him anyway.
I often tell readers that the show is, first and foremost, a business. Ratings are king, because they set the advertising revenue for the show. This story was set to explode in Sweeps time, and how did the ratings do? Did all of this build up bring us any positive budge in the ratings? So far, the answer is no. Time will tell about the overall numbers, but from what I have seen, the bump in ratings was minimal at best.
As I often try to do, I wanted to get a quick survey of how you felt about the story so far. I might do another survey down the road to get a feel of your opinions once we know more about the story and who did the deed. Before I reveal my picks, I want to share what you had to say as of Sunday morning.
# 1 How long have you been watching GL?
1 - 2 Years 0.7%
2 - 5 Years 3.1%
6 - 10 Years 5.2%
11 - 15 Years 7.2%
16 - 20 Years 15.1%
21 - 30 Years 44%
31 - 40 Years 14.4%
Over 40 Years 10.3%
# 2 Please tell us your age range
Under 18 1.4%
19 - 25 4.2%
26 - 30 6.6%
31 - 35 19.4%
36 - 40 18.1%
41 - 50 25%
51 - 60 16.7%
61 - 70 7.3%
Over 70 1.4%
# 3 How did you feel when you first found out that GL was killing off Phillip
Glad - I never liked the character 2.1%
Confused - I couldn't understand how they could do that. 22.1%
Angry - How can you get rid of such a long standing character? 67.2%
Intrigued - I wanted to see how they would write the story. 8.6%
# 4 Now that Phillip is dead, how do you feel about the way GL has
handled this story so far?
I think they did a great job. 7.6%
They really wrote Phillip into a corner - everyone in town wanted him dead! 20.3%
I'm glad they killed him off! 0.7%
I enjoyed the story, but wish they had not killed him off. 40.3%
And some of your comments:
I'm so incredibly sad that they killed off my favorite character. However, I have mixed feelings about the story. I feel more emotionally invested now than I have in years and years, but I think they could have done a much better job with the story. TPTB made Phillip into someone he's not in order to kill him off. That doesn't sit well with me.
I think the writers have done an EXCELLENT job with the material, but know this will be like the killing of Maureen Bauer. They will look back with regrets, and probably write him into a "ghost" story or some other way to incorporate his character since it will leave such a large void.
Philip descending into mental illness was a great storyline. Watching everyone, one by one, come to the conclusion that something was seriously wrong with him was fascinating. I think a lot more could have been done with that. There could have been a long, involved Spaulding civil war to have Philip declared incompetent, the members on each side convinced that they love him the most and are doing what is best for him. Even if it ended at last with Philip dead (perhaps by suicide), that would have been more interesting to me than the soap cliche of a murder trial.
5. Who do you think killed Phillip?
More of your comments:
I don't know, because I don't think any of them make any sense whatsoever. Not that Phillip hasn't done enough to sufficiently anger them, but ALL of them are closely linked to the missing children...so why on EARTH would they "shoot to kill" the ONLY person who knows where the kids are? It's quite simple--THEY WOULDN'T. Heck, the person invited to Company who had the LEAST connection was Billy, as step-grandfather of Emma. But still...he KNEW the kids were missing, and is trying to get on Bill's good side re: Olivia. Even uninvited but supposed suspect Alex knew--Alan told her over the phone. So we are left with the following possibilities, as far as I can tell: 1. Someone close to the kids killed Phillip even though he alone could help them find the kids. (NEVERMIND the fact that many of them love the guy and would/should be trying to get him into a mental hospital). 2. Someone who ISN'T a main suspect committed the crime...and many of THOSE are connected to the kids too. Unless it's someone like Sandy, or one of Phillip's henchmen. And as someone who really loves murder mysteries when her favorite character isn't the victim--that's a LOUSY way to write a story and a cop out. 3. Sloughing the murder off on Harley's new alternate personality "Ruth" or Beth's old one Lorelai. Of the two, making Harley splinter into Ruth makes more sense. From what we "know" of Lorelai...she wasn't aware of what was going on in Beth's life...and she was in love with Phillip. And if she WAS aware of Beth's life...she'd want to find James. Of course, they COULD have Beth develop a third personality....who's left-handed. No thanks! Then there's Harley (who has always searched for the truth--remember her insistance on that during Carl's murder?) framing her fake alter ego for the crime (albeit to protect her dad) and Phillip, in his will, giving away a bunch of property it seems like he didn't even OWN...and you can color me very frustrated. And finally, an extra little comment--I honestly will think the show has a death wish if they make Rick the shooter--I can't IMAGINE that going over well. And I personally vow to never watch another episode if either Rick OR Beth (as ANY personality) pulled the trigger. TPTB in their infinite "wisdom" have already put a torch to a lot of my warm, fuzzy childhood GL memories by killing Phillip. I don't need to stick around to see the Musketeers popping each other off, lol.
Maybe Joey Lupo came back to town. Or maybe the guy Phillip was paying to help him. Of the list, I'd probably go with JB, just because I haven't seen him added to the credits yet, but I can't picture him in the trenchcoat that the shooter was wearing. I did notice the shooter was left-handed. I would think that the shooter would have to leave the series also, at least for a time (unless a jury finds them innocent), and I don't think the show could handle having two major characters eliminated.
6. Do you think that Phillip is truly dead?
Not sure 34%
I have been a fan of Guiding Light since the early 80's and have always felt that Phillip/Grant Aleksander was at the foundation of the show. I resent that the writers have shown little appreciation for the heritage of Guiding Light and have destroyed a character which felt like family to many of the viewers. It is sad that the writers have chosen to invest in characters that lack the depth and history of Phillip, and this is one viewer who will not be watching Guiding Light until the the true "light", Grant Aleksander, returns.
I am angry that they killed off such a vital member of the cast. It will cause some viewers to stop watching. Since none of them seemed to actually see his dead body, I am hoping that they left an opening for him to reappear again at a later date.
Rick was relieved of both the doctor duties and the medical examiner duties, which means people could have been paid off by Alan. WOW! WOW! WOW! Can't say anything more than this unless it is AMAZING! This includes all the characters, the writers, and everyone else involved with it.
Now - for the record - my answers (which are NOT a part of the survey): Age - 37, watching GL since 1976, Angry they let Grant go, I enjoyed the story but wish they hadn't killed him off, IF anyone killed Phillip, I really think it would be Rick (which I would HATE), but I don't think he's dead. Rick (as many of you also pointed out) did NOT view the body or do an autopsy, so I think either Phillip staged his own death (not the first time, either) or he snapped and killed himself.
OK, enough time and space on the Spauldings, there were other stories on as well. Most especially another "fountain scene" with Reva. Not that we SAW the other one (does it cost more to find old tapes in storage, GL? ) but these two characters (and actors) have been so awesome! I have always been a Kim Zimmer (Reva) fan and while I think Jonathan (Tom Pelphrey) needs some serious time with Felicia Boudreaux this story has been done to perfection. JB's face when he was telling Reva that no one cared about him when he "died" broke my heart. Are Alfred and Marissa such monsters? Guess we'll have to stay tuned.
It's getting close to the holidays, and I want to see one family in Springfield happy. Yes, I am a sappy sentimentalist, but Springfield has become a corn maze this fall - full of twists and turns - but without a happy ending that we all enjoy. Come on, GL, give us one happy couple to celebrate the holidays with. Now that the deed has been done, give us some peace and happiness to enjoy for a little while.
This is a short viewing week due to the Thanksgiving holiday (GL will be pre-empted Thursday and Friday for college football). As I do each year, I want to thank all of you who make this column happen each week for the past 8 plus years. Although I know I am WAY behind on emails again I will try to get caught up somewhat on my long weekend after the holiday.
Keep the Light Shining and Have a Great Week!