Saturday, June 23, 2012

Is this General Hospital's last stand?

The resurgence of the prime time soap should bode well for daytime soaps.

The problem is, I’m not sure that’s the case anymore.

Entertainment is one of those things that swings back and forth wildly – but usually, if you wait long enough, things come back in style.

Take prime time soaps. In the 1980s, ‘Dallas,’ ‘Dynasty,’ ‘Falcon Crest’ and ‘Knots Landing’ ruled the airwaves. Ironically, all of them suffered the same fate – and within a few years of each other. They all just kind of faded off the airwaves.

At the time, everyone proclaimed that nighttime soaps were dead – and we’d never see them again.

Sure, the CW (and the WB before) has teen soaps like ‘90210,’ ‘The Vampire Diaries,’ and ‘Gossip Girl’ – but those will never really go out of style as long as teenagers (and their angst) exist.

The prime time soap for adults was a different story, though.

Then, something funny happened last season. ABC launched a variety of different shows – a couple of which were supposed to take prime time by storm. None of them did, though. O.K., ‘Once Upon a Time’ sort of did, but ‘Pan Am’ flopped like nobody’s business.

You know what the surprise hit of fall 2012 was, though? A little show called ‘Revenge’ starring Emily Van Camp and Madeline Stowe.

The promos for the show were appropriately campy and fun – and they did the unthinkable when they roped a whole new generation into the prime time soap. All of a sudden, everyone was talking about ‘Revenge’ – and trying to revitalize a genre that had been declared dead almost 20 years prior.

Still, ‘Revenge’ could have been a fluke.

When TNT debuted their ‘Dallas’ reboot two weeks ago to record ratings, though, all of a sudden everyone realized that there obviously still was an audience for soaps.

Now, I can guarantee we’ll see more soaps next season and then we’ll be deluged with them the following season – which essentially means in two years prime time soaps will be on their way out again – but that’s a whole other story.

The success of ‘Revenge’ and ‘Dallas’ proves that there are people out there hungry for serialized television.

So, what does that have to do with daytime? Admittedly, the genres are very different.

Despite its soapy nature, ‘Revenge’ still only had to sustain 22 episodes in its freshman season. And ‘Dallas’? They’re going with a miniscule 10.

That’s a lot different from daytime and the hundreds of shows they have produce each year.

I would still hope that the current success of prime time soaps – and the fan backlash that ABC saw when they cancelled ‘All My Children’ and ‘One Life to Live’ last year – would be enough to save ‘General Hospital’ for a couple of years.

That’s not what the signs are pointing to, though.

The fate of ‘General Hospital’ has never been in more doubt than now – even though ‘The Revolution’ was cancelled a few weeks ago.

At the time, most fans thought this meant that GH was safe for another year. That doesn’t appear to be the case.

‘Good Morning America’ is launching an afternoon show to take the place of ‘The Revolution.’ ‘Good Afternoon America’ could either last nine weeks or claim the time slot for good if it gets decent ratings.

And, as all GH fans know, Katie Couric is claiming GH's current 3 p.m. time slot in September. So if 'Good Afternoon America' manages to hold on to the 2 p.m. time slot, then there's no place for GH to land.

Fans need to remember that soaps are much more expensive to produce, so reality show needs a lot fewer viewers to be profitable than a soap does.

I have hope that ABC will be gun shy about cancelling their lone remaining sudser in favor of more reality television drivel – but that faith may be misplaced.

ABC has shown that they clearly want to get out of the daytime soap game – and they want to do it soon.

I have no delusions that GH will still be here in five years. But, much like a petulant child, I’m going to hold on to my favorite toy as long as I can.

I urge viewers not to tune into ‘Good Afternoon America.’

Will a boycott work? Probably not, but I’m not ready to give up just yet.

Are you?


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm NOT giving up! 32 years GH watcher and counting - so count on me to BOYCOTT!

July 8, 2012 at 9:27 PM 
Blogger Mary said...

I don't watch the shows that replaced All My Children and One Life to Live and I will not watch Good Afternoon America. As a matter of fact the only ABC show I watch is General Hospital.

July 8, 2012 at 9:34 PM 
Blogger lovescaleb said...

Even without OLTL I continue to make daytime soaps a big part of my life. When OLTL was canceled, I adopted GH & DAYS. Happy with both! As for primetime soaps, I keep watching as long as there's good writing & acting!

July 9, 2012 at 5:36 PM 

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