Pop Attention Span

Trying to keep up with the zeitgeist

Legacies end

My TV viewing isn’t affected, but it’s still sad to hear that CBS is canceling Guiding Light. Having debuted as a radio serial (about a preacher’s family, his faith being the titular “Guiding Light”) in 1937, the soap opera has been broadcast on radio or TV for 72 years, a run that will end on September 18.

The soap has long been troubled and facing rumors of cancellation In the mid-90s, it almost became the second soap to end soon after a period where reviled producer Jill Farren Phelps was in charge (that, instead happened to Another World) but negotiations were able to save the show.

More recently, the series tried to experiment with its format under producer Ellen Wheeler in an attempt to find ways to save money and make the show more buzz-worthy. Those efforts included one day a week being reserved for more episodic storylines (which resulted in the Marvel comics crossover) and, later, a revamping of how the show was filmed, giving the series a look inspired by reality TV dramas like The Hills. The ideas may have been solid, but from what I saw of viewers’ reaction, the writing failed to live up to the potential of those concepts.

Guiding Light was the first soap I got drawn into. In my part of the country, it followed the game shows I used to watch regularly during summer break and, eventually the opening segment (something involving Lujack’s adventures) drew me into the story.

At least, CBS came to a decision about the serial’s fate early so that they could let the writers give it a proper send-off. (Though, as with most troubled soaps, I have to wonder if the current team is up to the task of giving this show an ending worthy of its legacy.)

One thing that will be interesting to follow in the coming days is the rumor that some actors will move to the remaining Procter & Gamble soap, As the World Turns. ATWT (for a short time) became the home of a handful of Another World stars after that soap ended . That might not be good news for ATWT, however, considering how the show is currently struggling to deal with its reduced budget, as a small number of sets and not being able to use most cast members every day has negatively affected storytelling. That said, at least ATWT has the continuing buzz generated by its gay teen couple Luke and Noah.

As for what replaces Guiding Light the most likely suspect is probably a light entertainment talk show… something daytime TV has in spades. Sadly, that will continue as long as those shows get a large audience for a cheap production.

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April 1, 2009 - Posted by | Uncategorized | , , ,

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