Phillip Granville Spaulding Happens Here

Before I get to the main event regarding the much ballyhooed resurrection of the lost Spaulding heir, a little housekeeping is in order.

First, no matter what one may think of the current state of Guiding Light or its prospects for survival, one cannot fault CBS for not marketing the high holy hell out of the return of Grant Aleksander and the character of Phillip Granville Spaulding. GL/Phillip/Aleksander has been everywhere: print ads and a steady barrage of television commercials have been broadcast non-stop, right down to a live interview with Sarah Bibel on Internet advertising has been almost overwhelming.

Think I’m exaggerating? Consider that the publicity has run so deep and so wide that outlets as disparate as have featured two video packages to The Wall Street Journal’s financial/investment website have featured Aleksander/GL related material. Hell, all that was missing was a Super Bowl commercial; given how ubiquitous the marketing has been, no doubt CBS would have run one had it broadcast the game! I don’t believe I have seen this much publicity for a soap since the heydey of General Hospital’s Luke & Laura or, more recently, Susan Lucci’s reported pay cut.

To be clear, this massive push of and investment in marketing muscle is nothing short of a last ditch effort to give the show a much-needed push before the executioner’s axe swings to and fro. However, it is far better and far more impressive treatment than a lot of now defunct soaps received from their networks when they were rumored to get the axe. I would even go so far as to say that the kind of marketing prowess that CBS has demonstrated here should be a textbook example for NBC, ABC (long the leader in this kind of thing) and for the rest of the CBS lineup of how to market the genre to the general public going forward.

Second, if we only have to go by what we see onscreen without benefit of knowing that a lot of GL’s location footage in Peapack, New Jersey is shot out of sequence and on different dates, Springfield apparently has the freakiest weather and topography in the northern hemisphere!

And now The Main Event: for those who have been reading some of my recent GL postings, it might not come as a shock that I’ve been thoroughly enjoying the return/reintroduction of Phillip and portrayer Aleksander to the canvas. What might surprise you is that much of that enjoyment has less to do with Phillip himself than you might think.

With all of the hype surrounding Phillip’s return, it has been a pleasant surprise how low-key the whole affair has been onscreen. By contrast, TV Guide Canada’s Nelson Branco reports that my all-time soap journalism hero Mimi Torchin considers this soap version of the Second Coming "anti-climatic but somewhat enjoyable." I would argue that we look more to recent history regarding big name comebacks of actors in their popular roles for some comparison and clarity:

One Life to Live totally botched the (writer’s strike crippled) return of Andrea Evans as Tina Lord, but has scored big with Florencia Lozano as Tea Delgado. As the World Turns has mangled Dusty Donovan (Grayson McCouch) by throwing him in one short-term, unfocused storyline after another and rendered original portrayer Scott Bryce’s version of Craig Montgomery — once a nearly flawless merger of performer & character — nearly unrecognizable. On the other side of the mountain, The Young and the Restless has brilliantly been using former cast members and their characters in a nod to fabled history.

9 Responses

  1. Profile photo of eriklovessoaps

    Couldn’t of said it any better! With Phillip comes a hell of a lot more than a character that hasn’t been around for awhile. He is as connected as anyone could be. IMO, his return can shake up Springfield more than any character’s probable return. That would include Reva. I think a big reason for this is his viral sperm and the women it crept into. I mean, just imagine if Harley were there? Most of Reva’s lays went astray as that is how Josh and Reva do it. Phillip’s not only got “the love of his life” in Beth, but the woman that he may of felt true passion with in Olivia. There’s also Blake waiting for a bone and Mindy on her way. Get Beth E. out of that mistake of a contract and you could have Harley too. And hey, I’m sure India could drop in as she has in the past. So, Phillip has the women, but he also has the children and various degrees of friendships and foeships. As I’m sure many have noted before myself, we even have Phillip’s almost man crush on Rick (one which rivals Olivia and Natalia). Every kind of love…and sometimes hate is there with Phillip.

    To say Phillip’s return is anti-climatic after a week is just silly. Once more, to say he should of come in wearing an American psycho suit is just narrow minded. You got to be free to let your imagineation rove just a little. Think of expodition in Phillip’s time away. You could have “Lost-ish” scenes of him getting treatment. Who knows, but it is good to think before you judge.

    I think this week has intergrated Phillip nicely without killing the show. Sure, I could of used more of Otalia, but I cannot expect too much with the saviour returning.

  2. Profile photo of SoapSnob

    Great piece, JBJ. As usual, very well written and thought-provoking. And I am so glad that Phillip Spaulding AND Grant Aleksander are back in Springfield where they belong. Let’s hope Guiding Light’s resurgence pays off.

  3. Profile photo of shale

    Why are you not in the Podcast, it would be great to actually hear someone other than Mike and Mel who cares about GL not praise but really give an objective view on our show.

  4. Profile photo of MattWeiss

    Thank you JBJ for hitting the nail on the head, this return has been great.

    as for nelson b. he seems to be taking his beef with barbara bloom out on the PG shows and trying to get them both canceled.

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