Guilding Light’s Out

The end of the 72-year run of the soap opera Guiding Light, started in 1937 on the radio, and since 1952 on television, probably got more play on CBS recently than the show has garnered in years. Stories on both 60 Minutes (along with Barack Obama and Teddy Kennedy, FCOL,) and CBS Sunday Morning showed that the institution was finally getting its due, even if it was to sound its death knell.

When I was a kid, my grandmother and my great aunt used to watch their “stories” almost every day. Binghamton, in the early 1960s, only had two TV stations, Channels 12 (CBS) and 40 (NBC), and only one was a VHS station that did not require rabbit ears, and that was the former, WNBF.

So they would watch Edge of Night and Secret Storm, which were on, if I remember correctly, at 3:30 and 4 pm, respectively. I saw them often enough that I was reasonably familiar with the story lines and characters. But the other CBS shows they watched, The Guiding Light and Search for Tomorrow, were on while I was at school. This bout of soap watching ended when I was old enough to go to my own home after school rather than to my grandma’s, at some point between fifth and seventh grade.

I did watch many of the soaps in February 1975, but I was depressed.

When I was a Census enumerator in 1990, after I had made my initial daytime passes to the homes, I had to concentrate on nights and weekends. So I was home a lot during the day. I caught on NBC a soap called Generations, followed by Days of our Lives and Another World. Generations got canceled in 1991, and Days had some plot line so ridiculous, even by soap opera standards, that I dumped it in 1992 or so. Another World I watched until a week before it ended in 1999, when Carol and I went to Barbados on our honeymoon. I could have taped them on the VCR, but there was only six hours of capacity, and I opted for prime time, season-ending fare. I keep hoping that the Soap Opera channel someday shows that last week of AW.

So, for some obscure reason, I watched the last episode of Guiding Light. It looks a LOT different than it used to. It’s mostly outside, for one thing, and they don’t appear to be using the same type of filming techniques.

There was a LOT of hugging in this episode, so much that if I had made it a drinking game, I would have had to have been rushed to the hospital with alcohol poisoning. To the degree I can tell, the lesbian couple are now happy because one member of the couple has made peace with her ex-husband, naming the baby she’s carrying after him; one of the actress used to be on Days. The black couple finally gets married on its fourth attempt; good thing, too, because SHE’S pregnant as well. Some time before this, the black couple walks in on the interracial couple in the midst of them about to have sex. One young woman going away to college in California is suddenly joined by a second young woman, because her mother made a phone call to get her instantly admitted; while it’s never stated where Springfield is, obviously it is far from California.

The only people in this show I know at all are the “supercouple”, Reva and Joshua, who have each been married nine times, three times to each other. Will they get back together for good? That gets resolved in a One Year Later motif.

Was it worthwhile watching? Maybe not; tying up all those loose ends seemed terribly convenient. But there’s something to be said for acknowledging a passing.

May Ramblin’

I was listening to one of the few podcasts I follow regularly, Coverville; highly recommended, BTW. Anyway, there is sometimes a segment at the end called Musically Challenged, in which a listener provides a quiz for Coverville host Brian Ibbott, and usually for Brian’s wife Tina. Lo and behold, the quiz for episode 574 was provided by Tosy and Cosh. Tosy was the one who turned me onto Coverville.

I had requested of Brian that he play a Pete Seeger cover in honor of Pete’s 90th birthday a couple weeks ago. Well, Brian didn’t play any Pete covers on May 3, but instead dedicated the whole next show to Seeger. My request for one song became the inspiration for the entire episode. I am pleased.
A (weird) random conversation starter from Jaquandor.
On June 6, 2009, in honor of the quadricentennial of Henry Hudson’s trip up the river that now bears his name, a musician will be playing the Mid-Hudson Bridge, the bridge that connects Poughkeepsie and Highland, near my college town of New Paltz. Not just playing ON the bridge, but actually playing the bridge as an instrument.
1981 Video Predicts The Death Of Print Newspapers.
Mr. Frog reviews the warts-and-all complete history of Sesame Street. It includes discussion of this scene which always chokes me up:

How to test your copyright knowledge.
A couple television programs you should watch. They’ve already aired, but thanks to the Internet, they are easily retrievable.

One is Bill Moyers Journal of April 17. Bill interviews the executive producer of HBO’s critically-acclaimed show THE WIRE, David Simon who “talks…about inner-city crime and politics, storytelling and the future of journalism today.” I’ve never seen The Wire, but now I must watch it on DVD. But you don’t have to have watched that vaunted program to appreciate his insights.

The other is a two-part 60 Minutes report narrated by Lesley Stahl. In Part 1 she “reports on flaws in eyewitness testimony that are at the heart of the DNA exonerations of falsely convicted people like Ronald Cotton, who has now forgiven his accuser, Jennifer Thompson.” In Part 2, she “explores the task of an eyewitness to choose a criminal out of line up through memory. Jennifer Thompson falsely selected Ronald Cotton as her rapist.” Thompson and Cotton are now friends, and have co-written a book, Picking Cotton.
Dom Deluise as role model for Mark Evanier, of a sort.


Another Execution?

I got this e-mail from New Yorkers Against the Death Penalty:
Thomas Arthur is scheduled for execution on December 6 in Alabama. The state is pursuing his execution despite what appears to be a moratorium on executions in the USA pending the US Supreme Court’s examination of the constitutionality of lethal injections. In addition, Alabama has not granted Thomas Arthur’s request to be allowed to conduct DNA testing of evidence relating to the crime.

The Innocence Project wrote Governor Riley that “We believe that the Arthur case easily fits within the category of cases where DNA testing should be granted… In fact, DNA testing has the potential to conclusively prove that Mr Arthur was not the perpetrator of this crime and to identify the real killer.”

For more about the case, please visit here (PDF) or here.

My long-standing opposition to the death penalty was also exercised by this story on 60 Minutes a couple weeks ago in which “FBI’s Bullet Lead Analysis Used Flawed Science To Convict Hundreds Of Defendants” over a 40-year period, and the agency never notified local officials about the bogus methodology. I don’t know if any of the cases are capital cases, but clearly, many people were wrongfully imprisoned, some for decades.

And that really ticks me off.

"Great" Television

Today, the fall television season really begins. Oh, a couple shows debuted last week, but most of the ones I’ll be watching are still forthcoming. So, Time magazine had their list of Top 100 shows. Really? We’ll see about that. Thanks to Tosy and Mary; this was also tackled by Jaquandor.

Watched religiously the first season. First 13 shows created as great arc, then it floundered. First episode of the second season really turned me off, but I followed it sporadically. Now, I just read about it, rather than watching it, though I did see part of the great 5th season finale. I discovered recently that the very first monthly post about Lydia, back on May 26, 2005, was about not watching 24.

60 Minutes
Have watched religiously for most of its nearly 40 years(!) Now always recorded, and always have to “tape” the show after it in the fall when CBS has a “4 pm” NFL game, which never starts at 4, and certainly never ends at 7; I also have to be aware of the US Open tennis, or the Masters golf tournament for similar reasons. I don’t know why I seldom watched 60 Minutes II, which got folded into the mothership a couple years ago.

The Abbott and Costello Show
Saw occasionally in reruns as a kid; would probably appreciate more now.

ABC’s Wide World of Sports
Used to watch in its early years.

Alfred Hitchcock Presents
This was in reruns when I saw it, but Hitch, even more than the stories, scared me to death.

All in the Family
A great show, though it went downhill when the Stivic kid was born, and became largely irrelevant after Mike and Gloria moved to California.
Favorite moment: Archie begin kissed by Sammy Davis, Jr.

An American Family
Watched it at the time – devastating. Wonder how it’d play now.

American Idol
Season 1: saw last 4 weeks.
Season 2: saw whole season.
Season 3: saw whole season.
Season 4: watched after they got to the final 12.
I’ve given it up. What season are they on now, anyway? The “bad” auditions are unwatchable, because, of the thousands of people who try out, only a relative handful are chosen by the screeners, I think, to humiliate; it’s so manipulated. Even if I go back to watching the talent portion some day, I’ll pass on the early weeks.

Arrested Development
I tried to watch the first season, which people swore by, couldn’t get into it. I tried again for the second season and it clicked. I watched it to the end; maybe I should try the first season DVD.

Battlestar Galactica
I assume this is the current series; have never seen.

The Beavis and Butt-Head Show
I tried to watch, failed.

The Bob Newhart Show
I was going to say the best scene was the end, but then I realized it was from Newhart’s NEXT show.

Brideshead Revisited
Tried to watch, failed.

Buffalo Bill
As I recall, loved.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer
Watched very rarely; saw some of the special episodes. Seemed pretty good.

The Carol Burnett Show
Favorite scene: Gone with the Wind curtain dress.

The CBS Evening News with Walter Cronkite
I tended to watch Huntley-Brinkley a bit more, but when they split in 1970, it was Uncle Walter until he retired nearly a decade later.

A Charlie Brown Christmas
Yeah, though I’d argue with it even being on the list, I do watch it.

This show not only survived the loss of one of its early stars (Coach), but thrived. I watched a little less when Rebecca replaced Diane and Robin Colcord was around, but yes, a classic.
Favorite moment: Sam is despairing that everything he does, he does to please the ladies. Then he’s reminded that he likes the Three Stooges, even though “women hate the Stooges.” He does that for himself; he’s NOT shallow!

The Cosby Show
Tosy said: “Funnier in the early seasons than you may remember.” About right.
Favorite moment: Rudy lipscynching to a Ray Charles song.

The Daily Show
I like it when I watch it, but I seldom watch it.

I saw two episodes: “Who Shot J.R.” and the resolution, for which I correctly picked the shooter. That was enough.

The Day After
Recall that it was powerful in 1983, or whenever; haven’t seen since.

On pay cable. Have never seen.

The Dick Van Dyke Show
Classic. Quite possibly my favorite television show.
Favorite moment: Rob’s convinced he and Laura got the wrong child at the hospital.

Really? I’ve seen at least two iterations of this. The early version was bland, the second, with Harry Morgan, was so corny, it was schtick.

The Ed Sullivan Show
Sure. Saw that Italian mouse WAY too often, though.

The Ernie Kovacs Show
Saw an episode or two as a kid; guess you would have had to have been there.

Saw a handful of episodes, pre-haircut, not enough to remember.

Freaks and Geeks
Found this show a quarter of the way through and became a religious convert. I’m not one to say a show went on for too short a time – to everything, there is a season, and all that – but if I were to pick one show that suffered a premature death, it’d be My So-Called Life. Or maybe this.

The French Chef
The Ackroyd parody worked because it was so spot-on. It’d be on at 2 pm on Saturday afternoons, and I found it surreal.

Watched it for some seasons, gave up on it for a season, get sucked back in, get turned off. I was there at the end.

General Hospital
Never seen.

The George Burns and Gracie Allen Show
I saw this in reruns as a kid. Actually, as I recall, quite funny, in a corny way.

Gilmore Girls
Loved the core relationship: Rory-Lorelai-Emily. Loved the townspeople. especially loved Mrs. Kim, when she developed as a character. Sure, the show would get off track – Rory’s refrain with Dean, e.g. I never believed. But I watched all seven seasons, and we even have Season 1 on DVD, albeit unwatched. The subject of one of my earliest posts, and undoubtedly others.

This show was on 20 years, and I probably saw half of them, from Dennis Weaver’s Chester, to Burt Reynolds’ Quint to Ken Curtis’ Festus. Doc was always the same. Matt Dillon (James Arness, the brother of Peter Graves from Mission: Impossible) was larger than life. And what WAS his relationship with Miss Kitty? This was better than Bonanza, that’s for certain.

Hill Street Blues
Probably lost it a bit near the end, but out of the gate, a great show.
Favorite moment: the off-screen death of Sgt. Phil Esterhaus.

Homicide: Life on the Street
Great show. Occasionally tough to take, such as the Vincent D’Onofrio episode.

The Honeymooners
I recognize its greatness, yet don’t particularly appreciate it.

I, Claudius
Tried; failed.

I Love Lucy
I’ve seen any number of episodes. (Tosy, this has been in reruns for 50 YEARS and you haven’t seen it?) It’s of its time, so some of it is still hysterically funny, while other bits are dated. But Lucy WAS a great physical actor.

King of the Hill
Tosy: “I like King of the Hill and yet never, ever watch it (seriously, I think I’ve seen maybe five episodes). Not sure why that is.” I’ve seen more like 20 episodes, but, no I don’t watch it, yet I’ve appreciated what I’ve seen.

The Larry Sanders Show
When I had HBO, I watched it and liked it, then I didn’t, and I didn’t, except for the last episode, which I saw on rerun the night before I was to tape my JEOPARDY! episodes.

Late Night with David Letterman (NBC)
VERY occasional. Don’t record it, don’t stay up for it. (Though I did see the episode with Oprah, after his surgery, after 9/11…)

Leave It to Beaver
Watched in reruns as a kid. Never engaged me.

Have never seen, except bits and pieces. Yet follow avidly the storyline in TV Guide, etc.

Married… With Children
I watched one episode, hated it, never saw it again.

Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman
Thought it was very funny, yet wonder if it would age well.

The Mary Tyler Moore Show
Classic, from “I hate spunk” to the group retrieval of the Kleenex box.

A great show for six or seven years. Should have ended with Radar going home, early in season 8 (I think).
Favorite episode, rerun recently: a documentary being filmed.

The Monkees
Watched, liked well enough, didn’t love.

Monty Python’s Flying Circus
Watched occasionally. When it comes to comedy, I may be a Britophobe.

The arc of this show has been well-documented; early was great, later was awful. I went to Jump the Shark and fully 2/3s of the voters picked when David and Maddie “did it” that did in the show.

MTV 1981-1992
Eh, this isn’t a “show”. Yeah, I watched videos a lot for much of that time.

My So-Called Life
Sob. I really liked this show, and it really felt like it was really finding its voice when it was cut off.

Mystery Science Theater 3000
Did people actually WATCH this? I’d flip through the channels, hit upon this for three minutes, laugh (or more often, not), and move on.

The Odd Couple
Favorite episode: Password.

The Office [American]
Watch religiously. How has Michael not been fired, I’ll never know.

The Office [British]
Haven’t seen; I will, I will. I do recall, though, that there was a lot of badmouthing of the U.S. series before it even aired, which have largely gone away.

The Oprah Winfrey Show
I saw Oprah when she had Paul McCartney on, or when the Little Rock black kids who integrated the schools in 1957 and the white kids who taunted them reconciled. That is to say, rarely.

Pee Wee’s Playhouse
Watched this. It was weird. Sorta liked it.

Playhouse 90
I probably saw this as a wee kid, but don’t remember.

The Price Is Right
There was probably a year or two in college when I watched it more than I should have.

Prime Suspect
Saw at least a couple full seasons of this, but not lately. It was excellent.

The Prisoner
Watched religiously. Gordon, are you familiar with this show?

The Real World
Watched maybe three seasons of, I’m afraid to say, before I bailed. Season 3 was he infamous Pedro vs. Puck, with Judd referring.

Rocky and His Friends
Well, yeah! Mr. Peabody,and Sherman, and Fractured Fairy Tales.

Watched all eight episodes. Appointment TV, good, though occasionally tough to take.

Watched it early on, but it lost me somewhere along the way.

Sanford and Son
I watched it, but I was never sure why.

Saturday Night Live
I happen to think that Phil Hartman was the greatest performer ever on the show, and I was watching it from the beginning. Watch it far less now.

Second City Television
Saw it often after SNL. I liked the characters and actors more than the actual skits ofttimes.

See It Now
Saw, mostly in clips in TV obits.

Watched for a few years regularly, always recorded -Thursday night is choir night. Pretty much gave up on it after Susan (George’s finacee) died, though I’d catch a show here and there. Saw the last few episodes; was not impressed.

Sesame Street
I was in high school when this started. I watched this almost religiously for a couple years while I was in college, along with Electric Company and Zoom.
In fact, I have the 10th Anniversary Album, complete with “12 autographed photos suitable for framing”, which I bought only because an earlier album went in the great Album Theft of 1972. Both albums had my theme song. Unfortunately, the early album had, and the latter doesn’t have:

Sex and the City
Never saw it on HBO, only on the TNT version. Occasionally too precious, but I got enough enjoyment out of it.

The Shield
Watched big chunks of this the first and second seasons, not so much now. It was great show.

The Simpsons
Watched religious for nine years, off and on for the next nine.

The Singing Detective
Never saw.

Six Feet Under
Never saw. Based on the cast, probably would have liked.

I was watching the Tonys recently – yes, I know they aired in June – and Jay Johnson, who was on Soap, won a Tony for The Two and Only. A surreal series where Billy Crystal was actually funny. Lost its way at the end, certainly after the character of Benson left, but had a couple good years.

The Sopranos
Never seen, unless you count the last three minutes that I saw on YouTube.

South Park
I watched it three or four times, wanting to like it, but never really did.

SpongeBob SquarePants
Don’t know why I don’t watch; I like it on the rare times I see it.

I could watch SportsCenter at least daily, preferably on tape immediately after it ends, so I can miss the lengthy teases and especially dopey segments such as “Who Is More Now?” – who commands the bigger buzz. But I don’t, though I’ve been known to watch a half hour early Monday morning.

Star Trek
My father loved this show. I didn’t get it until I started watching it in reruns.

St. Elsewhere
At least at the time I was watching it, my favorite dramatic television show. Have the first season DVD, of which I’ve seen two episodes that still look good. People are always surprised when I tell them Denzel Washington was on the show for its entire six-year run. One of the great series enders.

The Super Bowl (and the Ads)
Another odd choice – I’ve seen at least XXXVII of them.

Watched the first season, which I rather liked. Saw the second season, which bored me. Saw part of the third season, gave up. May have seen the first and/or last episodes of a couple other seasons, but it’s off my radar.

Classic. Particularly loved the Reverend Jim.

The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson
Saw now and then. Did see the last two episodes.

The Twilight Zone
I’m from Binghamton. I’ve met Rod Serling. I’m constitutionally required to not only watch Twilight Zone, but to like it.

Twin Peaks
I started watching it, but it got too weird.

The West Wing
I watched first three or four seasons, then lost interest. But did watch the last season, which was a suitable ending.

What’s My Line?
Watched it a lot given the fact that I think it was on 10:30 on Sunday nights, as I recall. It was a great game show in its simplicity, so much so that a live version, not on TV, exists.

WKRP in Cincinnati
“Oh, the humanity!”

The Wire
HBO show. Never seen.

Did see at least some of it. Very good show, as I recall.

The X-Files
Saw maybe a half dozen episodes, which I liked and didn’t in equal number.

Your Show of Shows
Even I’m not that old.
Alice Ghostley and Marcel Marceau both died recently. From her Internet Movie database page, I realize that I’d seen Ms. Ghostley in a LOT of stuff, not just Bewitched, Designing Women and Evening Shade, probably from at least one episode of half the television shows listed. Mr. Marceau I saw mostly in TV variety shows such as Ed Sullivan; sure, he was the “greatest mime ever”, but name two others.



I’m recalling that the guy who did the In the News segments on Saturday morning s for CBS died last year. What WAS his name? He had a great voice.

Anyway, an extension of a recent Lefty question.

1. Where do you get the news?
Local newspaper? Yes, I read the Albany Times Union, more for the local stories.
National newspaper? Yes, the Wall Street Journal, even though their editorial policy is obnoxious. I do like the cool sabermetric stuff they have on the Friday sports page, their movie recviews are usually spot on, and I like the wine, small business and and technology columns. I USED to read the NY Times daily; those were the days, he sighed. Someone tortured me by getting me a free NYT last Sunday; still haven’t read the book review or the magazine.
Local TV news? I used to, back when this guy was anchoring. But now, I might get “News in a Minute” from the Time Warner folks, unless some major story has broken, when I’ll usually tuirn to the NBC or ABC affiliate.
National news? ABC in the evenings, ABC and CBS on Sunday morning; the ABC show does a best of the late night comedians segment. Also 60 Minutes, for stories such as Brundibar: How The Nazis Conned The World by using a children’s opera to deceive the International Red Cross, which, frankly, made me weep; and GIs Petition Congress To End Iraq War, which frankly gave me hope – check out The Appeal for Redress website for more information. The Today show on those rare times I watch in the morning.
Radio news? About four minutes worth on NPR at 6 a.m., usually. If I’m in the car, I’ll sometimes catch NPR.
Internet news? I tend to note the pieces on Google or AOL, but don’t tend to read them unless they’re breaking stories, usually a storm (Alabama, Florida), a death (Molly Ivins), or a rampage (Utah mall). Occasionally, I’ll check out the local paper’s website, usually when the weather’s dodgy, and I want to know about school closings.
Internet commentary (e.g., Daily Kos)? Rarely, unless someone sends me a link.
E-mailed news? I get a notice from Hispanic Business, which often has news elements.
Most of the above I do NOT watch in real time.

2. Why do you get, or don’t get, the news?
As a librarian, I’ve found it useful context for future questions. Someone reads about a new tax policy and wants to know the implications for themselves. I COULD look it up when asked, but I have found it easier to answer when I have some idea what they’re talking about. Besides, I have that JEOPARDY!-champion-know-it-all burden to maintain. Everyone assumes I know everything (except about cars, where they KNOW I haven’t a clue).
That said, sometimes, I tune out certain stories: another helicopter going down in Afghanistan or Iraq, or the next car bombing that kills scores of civilians, out of self-preservation.

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