As someone who lives in clutter, it's sometimes comfortable and familiar to see the mess that has become Springfield this year. Like any clutter pile, it didn't happen overnight, but one day you wake up and WOW - it's a mess in here!!
Last week I focused on the good points in Springfield in 2007. This week I focus on those areas were, to put it lovingly, we can improve. I think many of you will see points here that we've talked about (both in the column and via email and message boards) all year.
# 1 - Lose the Wednesday segments.
So keep the idea, but use it like you'd use a spice in your favorite recipe - sparingly and to really highlight a story/character that needs further, in-depth air time. I think you'll find the fans might appreciate this idea in smaller doses.
# 2 - Use the WHOLE cast. I know I've said it before and I'll say it again. You have a lot of talented people on cast. Some of whom could travel around the world in the time you forget about them. I know all about guarantees of air time for actors, and contract vs recurring status, but when you forget about characters for months at a time (like Blake Marler) fans of this character are less invested in the show. And new fans have no idea who this "stranger" is - and the history that they have in Springfield. So you've done a disservice to your cast member, and a disservice to your fans, by ignoring a character (or group of characters) for ages.
I know that there are people who keep stats on which actor/characters get the most air dates. Like you, I've seen the information online in discussion groups. GL has to see this to - I know they read this column and have written with questions or comments from time to time. But if you see this disparity - and how it affects the fans - why don't you use that information to improve the show? I'm not saying that you need to conduct the show to please one group of fans or another (that can be sheer folly) but at least get an idea of what is being said. Some of it could actually be beneficial to the show. Which, in the end, benefits us all.
# 3 - Don't forget to build a little happiness into life in Springfield. When I first started watching GL in 1976, the show was built around the all-but-forgotten Bauer family with a little extra spice of Alan Spaudling vs Roger Thorpe (ah, those were the days). Sure, people had problems, got divorced, died, but there were also happy times, too. Stories about family struggles and triumphs. Friends helping friends get through the rough patches, while living in the fictional town we all love. I'm starting to sound like Buzz here, wanting to heal the wounds of Springfield (which of course is now ruined thanks to a political scandal) but you know what I mean.
Springfield today is full of struggle. Eight year olds who kill their fathers and push their uncles off a church balcony. Aunt's leaning a little too much on their niece's boyfriend. Grudge matches that belong on pay-per-view between members of the same family. People wanting to tear down all of the ideas that Springfield stood for. If all I wanted was to watch negativity I'd watch the evening news. Anne Murray had a song when I was a teen called "Sure Could Use a Little Good News Today" - and I think of it often. GL is an escape from our own real worlds. Yes, I like to see that people other than me have struggles, but I wanted to see people happy, too. Balance is a delicate thing, and - like the consistent use of cast members, needs to be addressed in 2008.
# 4 - The Tribe has spoken - If GL were "Survivor" I'd vote the following characters/stories/places off the island:
Ava: where was that wide eyed girl taking up too much air time when she came to Springfield? Now she's a vindictive bitch who needs to have a man by her side to feel loved? She's become Olivia (before her illness) on steroids (don't even go there, GL).
Natalia: I should have known where GL was going when they brought her to Springfield with Rafe. But now they've taken a character a loved (Gus) in a couple I rooted for against all odds (Gus/Harley) and paired him into the snoozefest of Springfield. This couple literally puts me to sleep. If they get married, I hope for an explosion at the wedding that kills the bride so we don't have to put up with a wedding night that couldn't be less snooze worthy. Maybe I should put a call into Will....
Cassie/Josh: At least as a couple these two have got to go. GL dallied with this pairing years ago (with Laura Wright as Cassie, who I really miss) but these two are so boring they make me want to hit the FF button all of the time. Maybe Will can take Cassie hostage and spirit her off to San Cristobel , leaving Josh to actually have an interesting story again. Not that I want him to get back with Reva - she and Jeffrey are the best couple GL has these days.
Main St: As long as they leave Company (after they destroyed the Cooper's Diner years ago) the Main Street set can go anytime. The story fronts are fine, but the whole Main St signage is so cheezy. And now it's where we hold the Bauer bar-be-que and weddings, too? At least now we have a church set for any weddings that take place. Find the Bauer house sets and pull them out of moth balls - someone ought to have a real home (with painted walls) in Springfield. And not the same Beacon Hotel room.
Cedars Hospital: Speaking of sets that need some TLC, this Tiki Hut hospital needs to ask billionaire donor Alan Spaulding for a donation for a refurbish job. Since it looks like Frank will be out of a job, and Buzz's is in question, let them work on sprucing up Springfield's only hospital.
# 5 - Stop dropping the ball on stories. The election story went on way too long. Beth seems to have been pregnant forever. The "Jonathan's Story" book was interesting - if you bought it. But the show alluded to some of the story, but won't even bring back Aubrey (Jonathan's love interest in the book - and the daughter of the sheriff who Reva and Alan killed). And if Phillip (hopefully in the person of Grant Aleksander) isn't coming back, stop mentioning him. Focus on stories you have in front of you.
Now that all of that creative criticism is out of the way, here's what I think will happen - and what I wish for - in 2008.
What I think will happen:
Alan finds out Beth's baby is his and goes over the edge. He's out for revenge on everyone who has kept his daughter from her. Family is everything to him.... Enter Jonathan and Sarah. Can Alan carry so many grudges all at the same time? Oh, the fireworks will start early in 2008...
With Alan going off the deep end, will this bring Phillip back home to help his father is his revenge filled quest? Will father and son reunite to bring down those who are against them? I can see this duo really wrecking havoc on Springfield should Phillip return home.
The custody of Beth's baby will be an ugly fight - as they often are. Since GL is down to two lawyers in town, Rick might have to ask ex-wife Mel to help him with his case to help Beth keep her baby with them. But if Phillip returns, will she leave Rick and return to the Spaulding Mansion?
Gus and Natalia prepare to marry, but Olivia is determined to stop them. With Ava by her side, I see a big splash set to ruin this wedding.
Speaking of Ava, how will she react to Coop's involvement in Bill's injuries? Since she's not overly loyal, I suspect she'll forget out Coop once again - when he needs someone to lean on.
In the aftermath of the election mess means that Frank could be out of a job. With Company possibly facing the wrecking ball, what will Buzz and the Cooper's do? Maybe they can finish working on Harley's house!
What I wish for....
Harley realizes that she can't dis her niece over a man and walks away from Cyrus for good. Marina, realizing she can't hurt Harley walks away, too. Leaving Cyrus with.... Someone new. Maybe Mel (another forgotten character) can take his immigration case and fall for him. She needs some romance in her life. Harley's love for investigative work leads her into the arms of Roc Hoover (the cutie pie played by ex-NFL'er Mark Schlereth) - leaving Gus pretty jealous. (Too bad for him....)
Josh decides to visit Shayne in Africa and comes back a new man. He wants to use his instant minister's degree to help those less fortunate on the other side of the world. With the help of Dr. Rick (another underused character) and Alan (he's the only one with money) sets up a foundation to help others. Spaulding pharmaceuticals does some good - until Alan gets greedy and does something shady to mess things up for all involved. Can he pin it on Rev. Lewis? You can bet Jeffrey will help Joshua take on/down Alan.
In order to raise money and attention for their foundation, the guys hire Reva, Lillian and Blake to do their fundraising and PR. They come up with an idea to have a fashion show/benefit showcasing African designers and designs to raise awareness and funds for their cause. Hot Parisian designers Melinda Sue and Marah Lewis return to help organize the big event and call in favors of their colleagues - and to visit their Springfield relatives.
Jonathan returns to Springfield and tangles with Alan - and Lizzie. But how will they react to the news Sarah is alive and well - and was kept from them? It's an all out war of Spaudling vs Shayne over the little tyke. Let's just hope Alan is too busy with his own daughter (who you know he'll have to find out about) to focus too much on Jonathan - but don't count on it!!
Reva and Jeffrey are the big event of the year. Having been married so many times (too many to count) Reva doesn't want another marriage. But Jeffrey has decided he wants a commitment so the two (shockingly) do things their own way with a commitment ceremony. No sign of Rev. Lewis or Cassie at their "nuptials" - which is a relief.
It's always nice to look into the crystal ball and dream of what could happen this year. I hope you enjoyed looking back - even at the things we'd rather forget - from the year that was 2007 in Springfield.... Until next week... Keep the Light Shining and Have a Great Week! Kimberly