It's been about 6 weeks since GL decided to go with the on-location shooting in Peapack, NJ and the hand held cameras. While I was intrigued with the idea, I waited to pass judgement to see how it would all work out. It certainly wasn't an easy thing to arrange, so I wanted to give the show time to work out some of the "kinks" that would surely arise.
I've talked about the jerky camera motion and the lack of "expression" shots which seem to have improved somewhat. But the thing that really seems to hit me more now than in the beginning is the poor sound quality. Trains in the background, ambient noise from a real working city, and just general bad sound quality are driving me (and many of you) nuts. Added to it the music which comes through loud and clear (just not the dialogue) and I end up owing a special debt of gratitude to my beloved Tivo for allowing me to rewind and crank up the volume easily.
With Gus death and the subsequent fallout, and Dinah's takeover of all things Spaulding, there are plenty of times when the dialogue should be softer. Secrets are shared, hearts are in anguish, and you don't want to have dialogue spoken too loud. But when I hear breaking twigs over lines and music blaring over scenes, I think surely someone plays back the scenes before they pack their bags and head back into Brooklyn? Right? If they don't, let me suggest that you invest in really great playback equipment (heck, even the stuff I had in college over a decade ago was fine) and spend some time listening to what the fans at home will see and hear. I know it takes time to work it all out, but hopefully they can get this fixed ASAP now that the show has been airing this way for awhile.
The show itself is a puzzlement these days. I want to smack Olivia and her evil daughter for their typically bad behavior. While anyone can understand survivor's guilt, surely you can think about Emma's needs while your broken heart adjusts to its new owner. And Ava just needs to get hit by a truck - another in the long line of characters I'd like to see with this fate. She's working 24/7 to trap Bill into a relationship so we'll surely have another paternity storyline for fall....z.z.z.z
But I will admit that the Ashley storyline intrigues me. The show has only hinted at her weight, and her self esteem issues (having Doris as a Mom can't help anyone). I hope that this story is done in a positive light and sheds light on how she came to the decision and its effects on her life. As someone who is pretty heavy myself, I know all to well about feeling different from the norm when you see so many people who look different from you. Everyone is different in their own way, and we all have our issues, I just hope GL does this one justice. I have to admit that seeing the stars of GL and other shows one of the first things that usually strikes me is how much thinner they all are in person - and the pressure that generally goes with that. I do appreciate the show taking on this issue and hope it does some good.
A number of you have written to say that you were angry that GL killed Gus off. While I understand where you are coming from, I don't think I could have stood a recast. I remember meeting John Bolger years ago (very handsome, very nice, and 100% not Phillip Spaulding to me) and telling my friend (who doesn't watch soaps he was "fake Phillip") - not my finest hour, I admit. It takes me ages to get used to recasts and I normally find their interpretation so different from the predecessor that I dislike them in the role. It took years for me to like Ron Raines as Alan - although he is a doll in person. You just get used to someone in a role and sometimes it's hard to think of others in the same shoes. But could Gus have simply had enough of Olivia's games and second guess his marriage to Natalia and leave Springfield? Absolutely. And if RPG wanted to return down the road, they wouldn't have to introduce some trite storyline to cover his re-appearance. I know that the show has had some backlash before most notably when it killed off Maureen Bauer and Jenna Bradshaw. The disastrous recast of Roger Thorpe also brings to mind how critical it is that the show make personnel changes (planned or unplanned) in a way that minimizes fall out from the fans. With the advent of the Internet, fan groups have a better way of mobilizing and letting the show know how they feel - good and bad. The trick is the show (and GL is not alone in this) has to be able to react to these changes - and at least act like they care. The fallout from the breakup of Gus and Harley, all the way to Gus' death - has certainly left a lot of you feeling like the show has become a runaway train - and I see your point.
Sadly, what is done is done, and we have to play the hand that TPTB have given us. Summertime is coming up, and that always means we gain fans who are at home (students and teachers, plus vacationers) but lose people who might not be inclined to keep viewing after being away on vacation. It's a tricky balance to keep the current fans invested in the characters and hope to hook some new ones. Whatever that will bring us.
This week's shows will certainly have a shocking twist on Monday that will either have fans chuckling over the absurdity or wanting to strangle the person who came up with this plot twist. Being the concerned viewer, I always have to wonder what a plot twist like this means long term. Could it mean two of my least favorite Springfield citizens could catch the next bus out of town? One can only hope. . .
Beyond the wacky plot twist, I just want spring to bring a little more peace and happiness in Springfield. Can't someone have a great romance that fans can wait to tune into? Without being trapped into a relationship with the threat of false paternity, that is? Still holding out hope for a happy ending for at least one couple in Springfield in 2008...
Until next week...
Keep the Light Shining and Have a Great Week!