There is certainly a lot to be said for the power of a subpoena. Last week, Congress sent the heads of the big three auto companies packing after they failed to explain how they would use the $25 billion of taxpayer's money they say they need to save their failing companies. Actually, what Congressional leaders said was something along the lines of, "Take a few days, say, twelve, and come back when you have a workable plan," which is to say, "figure out the kind of cars Americans want to drive and make them."
And is that really so different from the question facing soap operas? While soaps aren't asking viewers to invest $25 billion, they are asking us to invest an hour a day, five a week, two-hundred-fifty plus a year. And yet, they continue to put shows on the air fewer and fewer viewers want to watch. Imagine the questions soap fans would be asking if could get TPTB under oath. And, I'm not talking about the softballs pitched by what currently passes for the soap media. What a sight it would be.
I'll start with a few; I know I'm just scratching the service here, so feel free to add your own.
Will Grant Aleksander's return to Springfield reward fans with a story that draws on the show's history and Phillip's relationships with Alan, Rick, Beth, Lillian, to name a few, or will he be used simply to move the plot de jour?
Talk about your good news/bad news. There seems to be more shock than outrage at firing of Diedre Hall and Drake Hogestyn. But many fans feel that this is the beginning of the end. Will eighteen months be more of the same, or is any thought being given to writing a long-arc umbrella story that will wrap up all the loose ends and really give fans something to remember?
Messrs. Valentini, Carlivati and Frons:
How much longer do you expect to require the private security detail?
You must be tired of dodging questions about when Luke and Noah will have sex, so we'll give you a pass on that in exchange for two questions.
I hear tell that back in 2000, Fiona Hutchinson was all set to play Lucinda's long lost sister, Samantha, but at the last minute, you nixed the idea, and she became Simon sister. Fans have been clamoring for years about the unexplained disappearance of Samantha and Kirk. Would it have killed you to throw them a bone?
And, exactly when is that special prequel episode marking Nancy Hughes' (and, of course, Helen Wagner's) 90th birthday you announced to the press going to air?
A nice segue to my next item: I spent Saturday afternoon at MIT's Futures of Entertainment 3 conference. Tom Casiello was on the Franchising, Extensions and Worldbuilding panel. It's rare to see a single discussion that throws into such sharp relief the underlying causes that have led to the questions I've posed above. Do take a look. And in the interest of full disclosure: I asked Tom Casiello, "You've been in the writers' room. What do they say about soap fans in there?"
And, one more thing before I go off to bake pies: A few weeks ago, I posted about the sorry state of Dirty Sexy Money's second season. Word came down last week that ABC is canceling DSM, along with Eli Stone and Pushing Daisies; the why of DSM's cancellation is not unrelated to daytime soap's sorry state. I'll be considering that, and finally getting to Todd and Marty, after the holiday.
Have a Happy Thanksgiving!
Just remembered: Seven shows in, the buzz was buidling for ABC's Life on Mars, a serialied time-travel drama that has featured a number of NYC soap actors -- Grant Aleksander, Elizabeth Hubbard and Jennifer Ferrin among them. So what does ABC do:show a powerful episode, end it with a head-spinning twist, and put the show on hiatus until the end of January. Seems taking fans for granted isn't limited to daytime.
© 2008 Lynn Liccardo
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