ALL MY CHILDREN WENT OFF THE AIR YESTERDAY, AND THE SOAP BASHING STILL GOES ON
Friday, September 23 was the last day that ALL MY CHILDREN was on the air (this weekend SoapNet will air a final marathon).
And for all its’ worth, it was a mixed bag of a show. Emotional as it was to watch another soap end on network television, the show is heading online at Prospect Park. Would I pay to see another soap online? Possibly, just to see who got shot and then let it go.
Yet, the finale week had tons of happy endings. David had been using a serum that brought back people to life, therefore many Pine Valley residents that were killed off were brought back to say goodbye to ABC. And it brought back David Canary as both Adam and Stuart. Angie was blind and now she can see. Tad was reunited with Dixie. Kendall and Zach, Ryan and Greenlee, a lot happened this past week.
But going out on drama was a good move. Jackson finally had it with Erica putting everyone else over him, David got free and managed to get money out of Adam, and JR , drunk on booze, decided to shoot up Pine Valley during the party at the Chandler Mansion (it looks like Erica got it). It had a “take to black” ending like The Sopranos but with a gunshot.
I always said that if soaps wrote like they were about to be canceled, they would still be around in more respectable numbers. Because that when the writing gets good. They could still provide closure on some characters and pick them up.
What I don’t get is people bashing people that watch them.
When Jenny Jones began her talk show in the ’80s, one of her promos had her asking why do men get upset over women who watch soaps, but can watch six hours of pro wrestling?
I had to be the bringer of bad news but most primetime scripted shows are serialized like soaps. Shows like True Blood, The Sopranos, The Playboy Club, Hawaii Five-O, the CSI franchise, the Law and Order franchise, Weeds, et al, are all serialized. Just a different type of “soap” except they don’t produce episodes on a daily basis.
When you were younger and bought Marvel or DC comics, surprise…serialized, because you had to wait next month to be in the loop. Even comics (like the failed Marvel comic Omega in the 70s) can end abruptly and open-ended (The Sopranos anyone?) but the primetime shows are a little different. Thanks to shows like Dallas, Dynasty and Hill Street Blues, shows now have a cliffhanger that’ll leave you hanging on until next season. Also, most situations are done in an hour; yet in the same breath, there is one underlying situation which can last all season.
Soaps had their heyday back in the late 70s-80s. Several soaps got canceled, a few got created, but their demise doesn’t make it any easier. Especially in a multichannel viewing universe – where cable, Internet, satellite, smartphones, broadcast TV, and video-on-demand has now become the norm instead of the exception. People saw the ebb begin with the Clarence Thomas confirmation hearings – no television was safe. The year that CBS had Major League Baseball, they put the game and the trial in picture-in-picture. Daytime and primetime suffered. When the same thing happened with the O.J. Simpson trial, people defected away in droves and gravitated to cable or stopped watching altogether.
Of course, there are a few of us who are really fanatical about our soaps – this goes way beyond being passionate. When the Challenger blew up in 1986, I was headed home from college on the bus. I was listening to my FM Walkman trying to find out more of the situation – I didn’t care about what happened in Oakdale that day, that news took precedence over the soaps. And some of us were so fanatical about what happened on our soaps that reality took a back seat, and that’s how a lot of us got painted with the same broad stroke which is unfair. My common rule of thumb: unless it is something super urgent, don’t interrupt any show.
The local network affiliates control what is fed by the networks and most are willing to do a reairing of the program on either their sister station (which Sacramento has three pairs of) or late at night when things aren’t as hectic. On a national level, when a U.S. Senator gave his farewell speech, it was all about nothing that hasn’t already been reported. CBS did the smart thing and showed that day’s episode of As The World Turns that was pre-empted. When we were hit with a hurricane-like storm a few years ago, all of the network affiliates aired their daytime in the overnights. There is a sense of compromise.
But the networks need to quit aiming for demographics that either are not there or getting their shows from other sources. Thirty years ago, General Hospital commanded 30 million viewers because there was only three networks. Now that there are several networks, the numbers dwindled down. That’s because the demographic group (Women 18-49) is out in the workforce. Soaps always have been multi-generational in their scope and their storytelling, and they need big numbers to stay afloat and be appeasing to the network’s bottom line.