Sunday, September 07, 2008

The Cost of Silence

As I struggled to come up with an "angle" for this blog entry, I thought about the reasons why I love the 1979-82 time period of GUIDING LIGHT so much. I wasn't a viewer during that time, having only discovered my great love for it in the (nearly) two and a half years of managing this Project.

I remember the day I actually got this GL. I was watching the scenes of the party that Jennifer threw the night before Kelly and Morgan's wedding (which can be seen in the You Needed Me blog entry). I remarked in that entry that I finally understood the simplicity and sincerity of this era while viewing those clips. And "sincerity" is the perfect word to describe the soap opera form of this time period. These people mean it-- the actors, the characters, the writers. They mean what they're saying and there's a genuine attempt to really give these characters life.

Completely absent is the wry cynicism of modern day soap opera. Would the soap form have survived to 2008 had it retained this unapologetic sincerity? Was GENERAL HOSPITAL's Gloria Monty right to take the form and wrap it in adventure and lipstick? History would seem to answer "no" to the first question and "yes" to the second, but I'm not so sure the answers are that easy.
Daytime is in trouble now as 2008 winds down to it's final months. The top rated show, THE YOUNG AND THE RESTLESS, has a rating of of 3.7-- and that's for a strong week where that show posted gains. Everyone has their own pet reasons why soap opera is in freefall (and the entire genre most certainly is in freefall!), but I can't help but wonder-- Did daytime carve out its own heart long before we commonly think it did? Did we trade in a soap opera form with genuine value for Luke and Laura on the cover of Newsweek?

In general, GUIDING LIGHT has not fallen quite as far (or as continuously) down this rabbit hole, the first half of the 1990's being a notable hearkening to a more sincere style, but even GL has been irrevocably affected by what occurred in daytime in the 1980's. It's a different game now and I'm just not sure it's a game that can be won.

Today's clipset is called The Cost of Silence and it comes from April of 1979, as Springfield prepares for Roger's trial for the rape of Holly. A focal character is Rita Bauer (the always luminous Lenore Kasdorf), who struggles with the knowledge that her own rape by Roger is information that would help Holly's case immeasurably. Her anguish over whether or not to come forward is part of what drives this sequence, as is Roger's blackmail of Alan Spaulding.

This set of clips is filled to bursting with stellar performances by each and every actor-- not just the "leads," but also Charita Bauer as Bert, powerhouse Barbara Berjer as Barbara, and Marsha Clark as Hillary, among others. The writing by Jerome and Bridget Dobson is pitch perfect. It's exciting, heart-tugging, natural, and of course, it is sincere.

It should be noted that this set falls in the middle of Certain Rights (which can be viewed in the blog entry for The Usual Suspects). These episodes come between clips 13 and 14 of Certain Rights, so if you want to know what happens next after The Cost of Silence, then jump to clip 14 of Certain Rights.

Enjoy The Cost of Silence--


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