Would you like a latte with that platter of grief?

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Would you like a latte with that platter of grief?
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The week of April 10, 2006
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Last week, we said goodbye to Ross Marler, who had been a beloved fixture in Springfield for close to three decades. His funeral was not in a chapel, or a park, but outside of a coffee shop! Are the writers insane?

We've all known someone who has done things just a tad different than the "norm". People get married in Vegas, or in hot air balloons or all kinds of places. These are happy events, and reflect the personality of the person or couple. But in all my years, I have never seen a funeral at a coffee shop! This week, we said good-bye to Ross Marler, a beloved fixture in Springfield for close to three decades. Not in a chapel, or a park, surrounded by trees, but in outside coffee shop! Are the writers of GL all insane?

When Jerry verDorn left GL, it was with little notice - which was their fault. They put the veteran actor on recurring status, which left him free to pursue other offers. When OLTL came calling, he was free to leave, so he did. GL didn't kill him off right away - there was no story prepared for Jerry's departure. Which is fine - get your act together, then decide what to do with the character. There were three options - re-cast, write him off canvas, or kill him off.

We've all seen what a disaster it is when TPTB recast a veteran in a key role. When GL fired Michael Zaslow (ex-Roger) long before he died of ALS, they recast the role with Dennis Parlato. And the fan backlash is still being felt nearly a decade later.

So GL knew, from it's own history, how that would fare. So they wrote Ross a fictional job in Washington. But at some point they decided to kill the character off. Not that there isn't precedent of killing of beloved characters while the actors are still very much alive. A supposed panel of fans voted to kill off Maureen Bauer - the year Ellen Parker won an Emmy for the role she no longer had. And Fiona Hutchinson's firing for defending Michael Zaslow, and the subsequent killing off of Jenna Bradshaw made fans see red.

Against all odds, the dunces at GL decided to roll the dice and take a gamble - Kill Off Ross. Not only kill him off, but damn his character, which had been stellar (with a few mishaps) all of this time. It's like being back in high school again - Jerry hurt you by leaving - which was his right - and you take 26 years of memories and give him a sendoff in a outside coffee mart and strip mall ? I don't know which of those two things made me madder. That you made Ross seem tawdry and so stereotypically "Washington" (and I live there, folks) or that you had his farewell in such an inauspicious place.

Yes, the flashbacks were great to see. The speeches by Maureen Garrett (for those of you too new to the show she is Holly - Blake's mom and Ross' ex-fiancee) and Vanessa. But where was Reva? Harley? And where in the world was Ed Bauer? Rick should be been more prominently figured. If you have Alan Spaulding - who hated Ross - speak, you could have had more friends there, too.

But instead of giving your longtime fans - and fans of Jerry verDorn - the chance to celebrate his contributions to the longest running show in television history, you cheapened the moment to the point of tabloid tv. Jerry deserved better. The fans deserved better. And if you can't give us moments to cherish a beloved figure, both on and off the screen (Jerry MC'ed the GL Fan Club events for years - and was a great spokesman for the genre and the show) then maybe you don't belong writing for such a long running show. In 47 minutes you cheapened the memories of 26 plus years of Jerry's work - and made this fan - and many more - madder than hell.

I realize that the show needs to find new, younger viewers. But when you are driving off the current ones, and taking something that should have taken a week of story time and condense in into 47 minutes - then go for days or weeks on some teenie bopper crap - why should we watch? The truth is that you have to have balance to keep all of the viewers happy. Show the veterans and show the younger players, but show them all in some semblance of balance. We don't see characters for months - yet we are expected to care about them? And some characters are shown nearly every day, and the fans whose favorites aren't shown find no reason to tune in. No matter how well the story is written, or acted, it's the balance of showing stories that involve the whole town that will keep the fans tuning in.

Getting off my soap box now...


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