If you're reading this, you've probably already heard the bad news. and, no, sad to say, it's not an April Fool's Day joke; but neither is the good news: NBC and DIRECTV announced a two-year pick-up for Friday Night Lights.
This is particularly good news for me: the pick-up of FNL and cancellation of Guiding Light, rather than As the World Turns, means I won't have to rewrite my chapter for the fourth time. I just wish the price wasn't so high.
I'll be among those contributing elegies, eulogies and post-mortems for Guiding Light between now and September 18th. There's a lot to say about how and why this happened, and what it means for the future of soaps. Before I do though, I need to absorb the sadness. But as I've read through the initial reactions on more blogs and boards than I can count, I can see many of the fissures and fault lines that have emerged in soaps over the past thirty years -- divisions that will not be easy to resolve.
There's a lot discussion about moving GL to cable or the Web, a possibility that would likely require further cost-cutting; hard to imagine, given the bare bones production already in place. Which actors would stay? Who would leave? Would what's left be worth watching? Or just a sad, painful reminder of what was and could have been if only?
It's particularly sad, never mind ironic, that CBS picked this moment to cancel GL; after foundering for so long, Grant Aleksander's return and the buzz around Otalia have breathed new life into GL . But the long lead time gives Ellen Wheeler and Jill Lorie Hurst an opportunity to craft a truly satisfying end for the show. And that might just be the best gift they could give to the fans who've stayed through good times and bad, and those who will return to watch the end. I wouldn't be surprised to see a bump in the ratings for these final months. Then, Ellen and Jill can turn their efforts to saving ATWT from its current collision course with cancellation a year from now. I know EW certainly bears much of the responsibility for GL's demise. But as the past few months have shown, she's had her "come to Jesus" moment about soap opera storytelling, and given ATWT's current state, this is no time to hold a grudge.
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