Monday, September 15, 2008

Love and Anger

1960's GUIDING LIGHT is a tough nut to crack-- not because it isn't good. It's actually quite good. It's just that it's so far removed from everything most of us have experienced as GL viewers, that (with exception of Bert, Ed, and a few others) it seems like a completely different show.

I'm lucky in that I've been immersed in the history of the show for several years now. Even before I started this video preservation project, I voraciously consumed all the printed material I could find about the history of GUIDING LIGHT. Consequently, I know that when we see Robin (Meta's step granddaughter, played by Gillian Spencer, best known as ALL MY CHILDREN's Daisy) falling further apart over her miscarriage, that she is on a slippery slope toward her eventual suicide. (Bizarrely, Bauer girls were killing themselves left and right in the 1960's. Julie Bauer had committed suicide just a few years prior.) I know that the tumultuous marriage of Maggie and Ben and its effects on Peggy are especially resonant since both parents would also be dead within a couple of years.

Luckily, this clipset is very enjoyable even without an encyclopedic, obsessive knowledge of GL lore. That's due to the exqusite writing of soap legend Agnes Nixon (at the tail end of her GL tenure) and the amazing cast. The set is called Love and Anger and it comes from mid-1966. It actually falls squarely in the middle of a previous set, Shadows of the Past.

As of this set, I've added a new favorite to my stable of preferred GL characters: Maggie Scott. Played by Broadway veteran June Graham, Peggy's mother Maggie is a real force to be reckoned with and absolutely fascinating to watch. I find myself extremely interested in the story of independant, fiery Maggie recovering from her disastrous affair with Bill Bauer and coping with her forced bond with emotionally abusive, controlling husband Ben. Maggie delivers a hilariously classic line when, in response to Ben asking "Where are you going?," she snipes, "The only place where I don't have to see you. My room!"

Of course, the Bauers are front and center in these clips. Prominent stories include Bert and Papa attempting to clean up Bill's many, many messes (Wow, I do not like Bill Bauer!) and Ed navigating hospital politics and struggling to return Leslie Jackson's affections. Speaking of Leslie, Lynne Adams is just wonderful in these clips and now I really understand why the character became such an important part of GL and why Adams became soap royalty. Less effective is the teen romance of Peggy and Johnny, but that's mostly because of Don Scardino's grating munchkin voice. It's easy to see why he was replaced a year later.

Also of note here is the appearance of Mr. Billy Dee Williams as the first Jim Frazier. It's neat to see him so young and especially ironic, considering his recent return to soaps in GH: NIGHT SHIFT.

I urge readers of this blog who may be put off by "old time-y" black-and-white television or the grainy images to give this a try. It's wonderful soap opera and hugely entertaining. For a little context, this set falls between clips 24 and 25 of Shadows of the Past

Enjoy Love and Anger--

clip 1 , clip 2 , clip 3 , clip 4 , clip 5 , clip 6 , clip 7
clip 8 , clip 9 , clip 10 , clip 11 , clip 12 , clip 13 , clip 14


Blogger Jane said...

It is wonderful to see these historic scenes from the longest story every told!

8:12 AM  

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