Requiem for a Daytime Drama, Part Two
The second in a highly personal, non-objective series highlighting various aspects of the last episodes of Guiding Light, which will end its 72 year run on September 18th.
Let me begin by making an audacious claim. In my opinion, the September 15, 2009 episode of Guiding Light — the fourth from its last broadcast ever — may just go down as one of the series' greatest episodes of all time. This is not hyperbole; maybe not top five, but certainly top twenty.
Picking up immediately after the magnificent double wedding, the expertly paced episode had everything: the heartfelt engagement of Phillip & Beth; Josh's bittersweet decision to leave Springfield and find himself; the advancement of the romances of the teenaged James & Daisy and the smoking hot Mel & Cyrus; the ongoing tease of a courtship between Frank & Blake; and the long overdue reconciliation of Lizzie and Sarah, as Jonathan gave the Spaulding heiress shared custody of their daughter.
Every actor was spot on, including the sometimes over-the-top Tom Pelphrey. However, if Monday's episode belonged to Tina Sloan (Lillian), Tuesday's honors were split between Robert Newman (Josh) and Ron Raines (Alan).
Some of the things that got to me might not have much meaning to those who might be unfamiliar with some of GL's past characters or stories. My heart caught in my throat when the criminally lonely Matt (Kurt McKinney) was reunited with his daughter Maureen (Olivia Dicopolous), his Aunt Nola (Lisa Brown) and his sister Bridget (Melissa Hayden). The reunion provided something of a mini-reunion for the Reardons, who had figured so prominently on the GL canvas for close to 20 years. Josh's history-infused decision to move back to Venezuela brought up memories of the infamous Sonni/Solita storyline, which featured a then unknown Michelle Forbes, now gone on to fame as Battlestar Galactica's Admiral Cain and True Blood's Maryann. As far as newer developments are concerned, I do not think that Olivia (Crystal Chapell) and Natalia (Jessica Leccia) ever looked more gorgeous or happier as, dare I say it, an out and proud couple.
It was Josh, however, who broke my heart. Newman delivered one of the saddest, most heartbreaking performances of his career as Josh broke the news that he was leaving town. With Olivia & Natalia, Josh was the personification of graciousness. With his son Shayne (Jeff Branson), he was both straightforward and tender. With Reva (Kim Zimmer), that old black magic returned. When she looked into Josh's eyes and said, "You do what you have to do," no doubt could exist that she and her Bud would have a deep and abiding connection "always."
Zimmer has been frequently quoted as saying her famous "fountain scene" was the one time where she got so lost in her character that it was impossible for her to tell where Reva ended and Kim began. I think we witnessed such a performance from Newman today, where the heaviness and sadness of the character appeared indistinguishable from the veteran actor facing his last scenes as H.B. Lewis' youngest son. (continued)