The longest-running drama in US broadcast history, Guiding Light, has wrapped it up after 15,762 episodes and an incredible 72-year run. This past Friday, September 18th CBS aired the final episode. Because of its high production costs and falling ratings, it was decided last April to pull the plug. Though there was a huge outcry over the decision, viewership over the last year was still down to about 40 percent of the audience it captured a decade ago. CBS plans to replace the soap opera on October 5 with yet another, newer version of Let's Make a Deal, hosted by Wayne Brady. That sounds like a winning idea!
According to what I heard by the water cooler this afternoon, the daytime Soap icon went out big and tearful, with most of the characters gathering for the perfect picnic on the perfect day. Meanwhile back in the town of Springfield, in front of the old light house, the incessantly on-again-off-again romance between Reva and Josh met Fate one more time, one last time, where finally, once again, they reconfirmed their love for each other. This time -- it was best of times, music filled the air tenderly as a beautifully slow moving, gauzy camera shot gazed over the lovers driving off into the sunset in Josh's pick-up truck, no doubt destined for bliss and wedding bells and living happily ever after in the foggy Neverland of cancellation.
Some fans complained the ending was rushed. Other fans are still in denial, thinking this must be an elaborate and misplaced April Fools joke, a publicity stunt. Some are saying CBS is crazy, out of their minds, that CBS and their collective heads are up their collective asses, and though it’s great Reva and Josh are finally together again, what about Jeffery, nobody mentioned Jeffrey, what happened, is he still alive, where’s Jeffrey?
Nonetheless, millions of devout fans are having to bid adieu to those wonderfully dysfunctional Spaulding and the Lewis families and the seemingly infinite number of marriages, scandals, divorces, affairs, remarriages, re-divorces, the missing, the found, the dead, the back-from-the-dead, little white lies, big bad lies, secrets, shames, gossip, cheats and scoundrels, lusty scoundrels and cheats, the innocent, love gone bad, gone mad, temptations, taboos, mind boggling miracles and mind bending seductions, steamy and sexy story lines heating up kitchen tables and kaffeeklatsches across this star spangled land of ours where old and young hearts skip beats in odd polyrhythmic patterns.
Created during the Depression, The Guiding Light debuted January 25, 1937 as a 15-minute program on NBC radio. It was the original soap opera; being owned by Procter & Gamble, most advertisements spotlighted P&G’s line of products like Ivory, Tide, Mr. Clean, Cascade, Zest and Crest toothpaste. The Guiding Light first moved to the CBS radio in 1947 and later premiered on the same television network on June 30, 1952. No American Television show has come this close to spanning the entire history of the medium.
“So as we fade to black, stay tuned for the award winning drama The Edge of Night, next over most of these CBS stations. This program was recorded.”