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Viewers Don't Like New Look; From The New York Daily News
Topic Started: Mar 26 2008, 06:45 PM (1,231 Views)
southsidegirl
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http://www.nydailynews.com/entertainment/tv/2008/03/26/2008-03-26_viewers_dont_like_soap_guiding_lights_ne.html

Viewers don't like soap 'Guiding Light's new look
By DAVID HINCKLEY
DAILY NEWS TV CRITIC

Wednesday, March 26th 2008, 4:00 AM


A number of readers seem to agree with the complaint of angry viewers, reported here last week, that the new style of "The Guiding Light" isn't working.

The 71-year-old soap gave itself a major face-lift last month, with hand-held cameras, extreme closeups of the performers and a generally less "canned" look.

The producers say they're happy and that it gives the show a fresher, more contemporary look.

Reader Carolyn Brown, among others, begs to differ.

"Producer Janet Morrison says viewer response has been generally great. I am sorry to say that this is a blatant lie," wrote Brown. "All of the Web sites that I have seen constantly give bad reviews. I would say that about 90% of the feedback is negative. Longtime viewers such as myself demand that 'Guiding Light' go back to the original format. We cannot watch the show as it is."

Reader Luanne Malouf says "Guiding Light" is not the only offender: " 'All My Children' used something similar to what 'Guiding Light' is doing. 'AMC' fans didn't like it. Having a hand-held or single camera stinks. The quality is lacking."


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bilki
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Those producers must be blind if they think it makes the show look fresher and more contemporary.
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tgir
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What I do like is that certain sets are more realistic and better looking than that dimly lit Beacon monstrosity where every scene was shot.

I like the idea that we get an overview of what Springfield is supposed to look like. I don't like that this sweeping panorama/chamber of commerce promo is taking the place of all substance of GL.

The sound is improved but still stinks.

The camera work is improved but still not good, and often just wrong.
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I, for one, HATE it!! The sound is AWFUL! I have to turn the television up all the way just to have to turn it back down on the commercials or else they scare the bejezus out of me!

It reminds me of watching horrible home movies. They should have spent money on improving the old way, not implementing a brand new awful way. Should have spent that money on getting a new producer. :firemad:
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People don't seem to understand that this facelift wasn't for creative reasons (despite all the spin in the press that suggested it was).

This was done so that the show would survive. The digicams are cheaper to run, and GL let go of 50 people on its production staff by doing this.

I ain't a big fan of it either, but had they not done this, GL would have likely been cancelled this spring.
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Yeah I know it HAD to be done (financial reasons and all that), and there is no going back. All we can hope for, or well, what I hope for is that the sound will improve (and I hear that it will soon) and they keep perfecting those hand held cams. I may complain alot, but I don't want the show cancelled.
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tgir
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GuillermoIbarra
Mar 26 2008, 09:18 PM
People don't seem to understand that this facelift wasn't for creative reasons (despite all the spin in the press that suggested it was).

This was done so that the show would survive. The digicams are cheaper to run, and GL let go of 50 people on its production staff by doing this.

I ain't a big fan of it either, but had they not done this, GL would have likely been cancelled this spring.
I know that they did it for financial reasons--not sure the general soap viewing public realizes this.

That is part of the reason that I try to point out things that are better: it is nice not to have everything in that horrible badly lit Beacon set. The camera work and sound are better. I truly do appreciate that tptb are trying to find cost savings to make the show more viable.

The biggest problems with the show remain: the writing is terrible. Not every scene is bad--some are actually good if you take them as self contained units. Strung together, they do not form cohesive storylines that are consistent with what has happend in just the last few months, much less years.

Some broad overviews of some storylines aren't bad, but the execution and particulars are anywhere from lackluster to horrible.

There is a general sense that tptb dislike women (who are the majority of the viewers), and disrespect soaps as a genre, and the soap audience as a whole. It's like they take one small but rabidly vocal fanbase, cast that as the general soap audience and at once try to court that audience--aiming very low on the intelligence/taste levels and piss it off as much as possible at the same time.

Honestly, I loved the story of Reva and Josh and really wish the writers would have just left them together the last time, and allowed both characters to interact with lots of other characters in lots of other ways, the way it used to be. If they felt they had to break up Reva/Josh, and put Josh/Cassie together, why not do it well? There was a story there that could have been told that would have pissed off plenty of viewers, sure, but it would have sucked them into the story instead of into fanbase infighting. Honestly, I don't care if stories don't turn out the way I wnat them to--that has always happened. But it used to be that the story that was told was told well.

If the storytelling were decent, I'd be thrilled to overlook a great deal, production wise. Remember, GL started as a radio show: no fancy sets and costumes. Just good old fashioned good story telling that drew viewers in because it was telling the compelling stories of human lives and interactions and relationships that everybody experiences.
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Erik
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People should have a problem with it! It's a show on network TV! Besides that, it's all about professionalism to be prepared for the transition. To not be prepared ahead of "go time" is a sign of unprofessionalism. They should of been prepared for this, so they wouldn't have kinks. That's just professional curtiousy. It's also a sign of whether they are truely refined artist. To do the show like I write posts isn't exactly comforting, because I spent five minutes on this.
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Dax
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I'd rather the show be cancelled than look and sound like this.

Peapack IS a pretty-looking town, but...

The new format is a failure in every respect. It doesn't look fresh or exciting or contemporary or cool. It looks like shit.

Theory or fact? Failing to find good scabs during the strike, Wheeler had to get some fans (many without even a high school education) to churn out pages of dialogue, and that's what's airing now.

Theory or fact? The operators working the digicams aren't professional cameramen... they're fans that won a 'Be A Part Of Guiding Light' contest. Many of them have never held such equipment before... but they're given a ten-minute tutorial just before shooting starts each day... 'on/off button is here... zoom is here... the actors will be standing... over there... get them in the shot as best you can... you can look through this little window here, and--'

When the pool of contest-winners is exhausted, they'll grab their 'volunteers' from a New Jersey prison work-release program, or maybe from some high school theatre tech classes.
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Does anyone watch Big Brother After Dark? Well if you do you know you are constantly having to adjust the volume because of the sound when the contestant are talking. The same thing happens when I watch GL under the new format. I am forever trying to figure out what to do with the volume and I just don't think the show is that good to have to deal with the volume button and the FF button. To be fair I haven't watched enough episodes to get used to the new format but what I have seen hasn't impressed me.

I'm wondering if maybe they shouldn't have left sleeping does lie and just cancel the show if they can't put out a quality production. I know there is a lot of sentiment running high when it comes to this soap but honestly the soap 'I' grew up with died a LONG time ago. :rip:
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southsidegirl
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It's very painful to see what a mess this show has become.I hate everything about it now. I really wish they would have just canceled it.
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I like the new look very much. Seems to me that cast and crew have gotten comfortable working with it over the past few weeks and I am enjoying every episode - including the dialogue, including the characters' ups and downs and transitions. It feels fresh, it feels true. My number one problem with soaps in the past has always been the ugly, harsh look they had when shooting the old way.
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It is true that Wheeler had to cut costs and that was the impetus for filming like this. Still, there are ways to improve:

1. Get the cameras closer to the actors. Notice I didn't say focus IN on the actors. There is a difference. Have one camera closer to the actors in the scene and record the sound from that camera. Have the actors speak louder, knowing that whispers can't be heard.

2. Get more lighting in the rooms. Use larger watt bulbs. Use more lamps. Install more light fixtures. Have Lowes Home Improvement or Home Depot advertise on the show and donate some new fixtures. Couldn't cost more than a few hundred bucks and one of the national "do it yourself" stores would have an excellent promotion. (Use this same promotion to fix up Harley's house, for God's sake!)

3. Use the freakin' tripod!!! If they don't have the money to buy three, I'll gladly pass the offering plate around at Josh's service Sunday.

4. Most importantly, improve the writing!!! If Wheeler is the one making all the moves, remove her! If its Kreizman's fault, get him out. Personally, since Kreizman is reported NOT to have written this current junk, I would have to assume that Wheeler is responsible, since it reeks of her foul writing from before. The writing needs to change, and for the better.
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Amanda
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Mar 27 2008, 07:34 AM
It is true that Wheeler had to cut costs and that was the impetus for filming like this. Still, there are ways to improve:

1. Get the cameras closer to the actors. Notice I didn't say focus IN on the actors. There is a difference. Have one camera closer to the actors in the scene and record the sound from that camera. Have the actors speak louder, knowing that whispers can't be heard.

2. Get more lighting in the rooms. Use larger watt bulbs. Use more lamps. Install more light fixtures. Have Lowes Home Improvement or Home Depot advertise on the show and donate some new fixtures. Couldn't cost more than a few hundred bucks and one of the national "do it yourself" stores would have an excellent promotion. (Use this same promotion to fix up Harley's house, for God's sake!)

3. Use the freakin' tripod!!! If they don't have the money to buy three, I'll gladly pass the offering plate around at Josh's service Sunday.

4. Most importantly, improve the writing!!! If Wheeler is the one making all the moves, remove her! If its Kreizman's fault, get him out. Personally, since Kreizman is reported NOT to have written this current junk, I would have to assume that Wheeler is responsible, since it reeks of her foul writing from before. The writing needs to change, and for the better.
I agree with pretty much all of this.

Ya'll know me by now, and so it shouldn't come as a surprise that I have been trying to focus on the good of the new production model, rather than the bad, and hoping that this is a work in progress that will continue to improve.

That being said, on Tuesday some students came up to my office to get approval on a video they made for Coffee House. The approx. 15 minute video featured scenes shot inside a busy restaurant, in a school study, out in the parking lot, driving shots (a car chase, for goodness' sake), as well as some more action shots done in and around an abandoned warehouse (think gravel and warehouse walls prone to echo). I was amazed at what a great production it was, and how much BETTER it looked than what GL is showing these days. I never strained to hear the sound, and was never distracted by sounds that I shouldn't have been hearing. Weaved into all of this was background music that was heard where background music belonged, and that balanced perfectly with the rest of the video, dialogue, and sound effects. Granted, these are some very talented students who are studying this field, but they are not in charge of a network television show, and I feel like GL should AT LEAST measure up to that level of production for a University Coffee House video.

I will concede/defend that while these three students have been working on their 15 minute video for probably two months (outside of classes and whatever else they have to do) and the GL crew has to crank out about 3 hours worth of show weekly from who knows how much film and the other dynamics that are involved. I just keep hoping it will get better. I don't HATE it, but I don't love it either.
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I am sooo happy to see this article! I think a majority of the viewers really do hate it. I know my mom and my sister don't bother watching anymore, and I don't since they made the changes.
I'd rather see the show cancelled than to keep going like this. But it seems Ellen Wheeler is purposely trying to get all the vets either to quit or go on contract. I mean look how she has written them, look at Reva, Olivia, Dinah, Harley, Gus. I truly believe she wants to have mostly newbies (for budget reasons) and then it will be on the internet.
I'd rather the show be cancelled than to die a slow, painful death like this. Hopefully the ratings will drop dramatically and they will have no choice but to take it off the air. :rip:
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You know, it's weird, but the new format has been the only thing that has kept me watching! As others said, I like that we get to see a town, and that they actually put some thought into picking a town that would look like a fictional Springfield that we grew up with. Big agree on the sound and the lighting and please, quit trying to be artsy by shooting through a branch, that takes away from the much vaunted "realisim!" Just stick a camera on a tripod and let the actors and the writers tell the story!

The story is where we are sadly lacking. The writing sucks and as someone above said, they dont work as anything more then unrelated vignettes. I need a cohesive story and while the new format wont work with such 80's soap staples of explosions, shootings, catfights, back from the dead, evil twins, etc. it is insanely suited for the stories that Irna Phillips used to write, immigrants trying to succeed in a new world, people trying to make it up the social latter, people trying to balance work with family, people trying to balance love and romance at the same time they are dealing with family committments, you know, things we all can relate to.

When I turned it on Monday all I saw was a very hagard looking Harley cutsey voice overs while she drooled over a rather cheesy looking gigilo guy, I also so a heart patent who looked as hale and hearty as I do, and previews of her "Wedding," to a man who is already married and who doesnt love her??? I also saw a woman who had her aunt betray her, who was more concerned with trying to catch that man then she was concerned for her family betrayal. (and what is up with Mallet telling her to keep the will to live, doesnt she just have a broken foot or something?) I can't relate to that stupid shit (who can, it makes no sense) If you are going to push that this was all about making the show contemporary and relevant, then freaking write it that way!
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tgir
Mar 26 2008, 10:25 PM
GuillermoIbarra
Mar 26 2008, 09:18 PM
People don't seem to understand that this facelift wasn't for creative reasons (despite all the spin in the press that suggested it was).

This was done so that the show would survive. The digicams are cheaper to run, and GL let go of 50 people on its production staff by doing this.

I ain't a big fan of it either, but had they not done this, GL would have likely been cancelled this spring.
I know that they did it for financial reasons--not sure the general soap viewing public realizes this.

That is part of the reason that I try to point out things that are better: it is nice not to have everything in that horrible badly lit Beacon set. The camera work and sound are better. I truly do appreciate that tptb are trying to find cost savings to make the show more viable.

The biggest problems with the show remain: the writing is terrible. Not every scene is bad--some are actually good if you take them as self contained units. Strung together, they do not form cohesive storylines that are consistent with what has happend in just the last few months, much less years.

Some broad overviews of some storylines aren't bad, but the execution and particulars are anywhere from lackluster to horrible.

There is a general sense that tptb dislike women (who are the majority of the viewers), and disrespect soaps as a genre, and the soap audience as a whole. It's like they take one small but rabidly vocal fanbase, cast that as the general soap audience and at once try to court that audience--aiming very low on the intelligence/taste levels and piss it off as much as possible at the same time.

Honestly, I loved the story of Reva and Josh and really wish the writers would have just left them together the last time, and allowed both characters to interact with lots of other characters in lots of other ways, the way it used to be. If they felt they had to break up Reva/Josh, and put Josh/Cassie together, why not do it well? There was a story there that could have been told that would have pissed off plenty of viewers, sure, but it would have sucked them into the story instead of into fanbase infighting. Honestly, I don't care if stories don't turn out the way I wnat them to--that has always happened. But it used to be that the story that was told was told well.

If the storytelling were decent, I'd be thrilled to overlook a great deal, production wise. Remember, GL started as a radio show: no fancy sets and costumes. Just good old fashioned good story telling that drew viewers in because it was telling the compelling stories of human lives and interactions and relationships that everybody experiences.
You got it, TGIR. There's good and bad about the new format -- sound has improved, and I hope lighting will too (I still see things looking very "yellowed" and dark. Shadows just don't seem to be managed well)..

That said, I do miss some things with the old way. And certainly, I'll take anything if the history is there and being handled correctly. Honestly, I want to see characters acting like themselves -- whatever set and with whatever camera is being used. Things like Cassie/Josh bug me MORE now for some reason. I wasn't a fan, but now that the look is so different, I need some things to stay the same so I rely on the history more. Josh and Reva being apart in this strange setting/look make things doubly disorienting.
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Manifan
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I miss the vivid color. Everything looks so drab now. It mirrors the awful writing.
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ShelleyJayne
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I absolutely hate Bill's hotel room. They walk in the door and it almost looks like they have to have their backs against the wall so the can get around the end of the bed!
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Does anyone else remember when they used to show outdoor "establishing" shots of the various characters' houses? That was "outside" enough for me. Yes everyone living at the Beacon is stupid, but so is Reva jumping through a freaking painting.

Haven't they spent money updating the website and with promotion? I'm getting to the point where I'm not sure that I buy the "they had to do it to save money and save the show" anymore. Sometimes I think that the producers just really resent the fact that people can talk about all this stuff online and dissect it and they just want to give us all a big fuck-you.

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I would better let the show be cancelled, but watching this painful version of GL.

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GL Goes Hi-Tech & Some Fans Get Ticked

'Guiding Light' goes hi-tech & some fans get ticked

Things are looking a little shaky these days at "The Guiding Light," history's longest-running soap opera, if you don't count the British royal family.

The producers don't think that's a bad thing, either. A little shakiness, courtesy of hand-held digital cameras, is just one part of a major makeover they hope is transforming the look and style of the 71-year-old show from staid and traditional to fresh, contemporary and provocative.

" 'Guiding Light' has always been at the forefront of technology," says producer Janet Morrison. "It's just a way it continuously becomes a better version of itself.

"We've gone from three-wall sets to four walls and a ceiling. Now when the characters drive a car, it's a real car, not a car sitting there with fake trees.

"Last week, for the first time ever, we showed the outside of the Spaulding mansion. That's been a Springfield icon for years, and now people can see it. This has opened up our whole palette."

Even the Spaulding mansion, however, isn't enough to sell all the fans on camera work they say sometimes resembles a cross between home movies and a CAT scan.

"The cameras are shaky and constantly moving, the sound is inaudible and the extreme closeups are unsettling at best," writes reader/viewer Jill Waunsch of Levittown. "You will be amazed at the amount of wrinkles, laugh lines and nose hairs you can count in just one scene. It's like an amateur rendition of 'The Blair Witch Project.' "

In the age of YouTube, the "home movie" look does say "contemporary." But that doesn't mean it automatically works on television, as the quick crash and burn of the Internet-spawned drama "quarterlife" on broadcast TV proves.

Since many soap viewers have been watching their shows for years - Waunsch says she's a 35-year fan of "Guiding Light" - having a camera suddenly jump to within six inches of an actress' face, or cut away to a panorama while a conversation is in progress can be distracting.

But Morrison says viewer response has generally been "great," and notes that "Guiding Light" has made technological leaps before, like moving to television in 1952 after spending 15 years on radio.

Discussions about the new transformation, she says, considered the Internet and podcasts and the possibility of high-definition in the future. Anyone who sees laugh lines now will love high-def.

The larger truth is that soaps, like almost all programs in "traditional" media these days, are working to hold their niche in an evolving media world where a new generation gets audio and video entertainment in places that didn't exist 20 years ago.

Ultimately, says Morrison, the "look" is just the means of showcasing the story.

"At the end of the day, people watch 'Guiding Light' because it has characters they relate to," she says. "That's what matters."

Most message board discussions still center on Harley and Cyrus, or Jonathan and Lizzie, or other characters and couples. So far, no one seems to have suggested that if someone says she has a headache, it's an inside joke about the camera work.

http://www.nydailynews.com/
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I have to agree that this new filming format is not working out so well for them.
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I for one cannot stand this new way of filming. If they are going to do this they need better sound filters, lens filters, and someone older than 10 to operate the camera.
It is cheap, disappointing, aggravating and ridiculous!
I cannot believe anyone could enjoy watching a camera that is focused on half a person and a door because someone cannot aim. Just another way that our beloved show has gone to hell in a handbasket.
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I dont particularly like the new filming with the hand held cameras, but I think if I had a good story to watch I might not notice it so much. I actually like most of the new sets especially the Spaulding Mansion and Company, but they seriously need to put Reva in a room bigger than the closet in my bedroom. What I can not get past is some of the really poor quality storylines. How much longer are they going to shove Josh and Cassie in my face, then dont work and never have. Harley and Cyrus is just AWFUL. She has become one of the characters I least like on the show, and Cyrus just doesnt do it for me at all. With Marina there was some small hope for his character, but not much. There are some great potential story lines that might make for a good show if they were developed. I love Alan poor and homeless. Leave him that way for a while and let us see how he copes in the real world with his power and his money. Bill and Lizzie are a great couple (if they can survive Ava), and I hope I am wrong, but are TPTB putting Mallet and Natalia in an few more scenes together than before? Maureen is back, lets see her and maybe get Vanessa involved in a real story again! Put Josh and Reva back together! Seriously if the story was worth watching I would really be able to get past the rest. I watched the entire two episodes with Gus accident and his death. They were wonderfully done and I actually for the first time failed to really notice the camera work.
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Well the shaking of the camera to see the person is annoying, but what is worse is when you have to look through blades of grass to only see part of their face. Or when they are at the jail and you have to look through the window with shutters on them to see only one person talking when there really are 2.

I get it- they don't have a lot of money, but maybe they should be looking elsewhere (producers) to get rid of or get someone new in with ideas. Or heck ask the fans I am sure we could come up with something.
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