Monday, January 2, 2012

Soap Fans' Online Hope, Gone for Good?

Rumors say, by 2020... daytime soaps as we know them will seize to exist.  I say, hog wash!  Okay, nobody says hog wash anymore... uh-oh.  Will the babies born in 2012 know what a soap opera is when they turn 18?  Or will it turn into hog wash too.  Maybe... and maybe not.  

Joan B. Average, Scriptwriter will go on record and say that soaps will exist, but in a different form.  One that'll adapt better to our microwave lifestyles.


Have you watched the Real Housewives of Beverly Hills, Atlanta, New York, New Jersey... lately?  It doesn't get any more soap opera than that.  They just don't run in the daytime.  You can't tell me they aren't scripted.  True, human nature can easily script itself... it doesn't need a head writer or breakdown writer.  Cause and effect always run its course whenever you put strong-willed, ego-centered individuals in the same room.  Add a cocktail in their hot little hands and you're going to see drama, up-close and personal.  (Whether you like it or not.)

Check out the reality shows' credits, you'll see a staff writer or two listed.  Are they writing an outline like this?   Nina brings up  Mary's past affair with Laura's ex-husband, Joe, in front of Laura and Mary. Laura picks a fight with Chelsea because she wore the same dress at last night's gallery opening, and accuses her of doing this to get back at her for stealing a VIP client.  Betsy tells Laura, she heard rumors about the shady financial dealings of Chelsea's husband.  

Doesn't this remind you of Young & the Restless, All My Children and One life to Live?  I'm just saying.

I see daytime drama returning online as two fifteen-minute shows reminiscent of the 8-12 minute cartoon shows currently being produced on Cartoon Network and Nickelodeon.  This way,  people can tune into a 15 minute show on a smart phone or iPad in a cab on their way to a meeting.  

Critics say, most people aren't home during the day, that's why  soaps have dropped in viewership.  Really?  What country do they live in?  There are more people working from home managing their own businesses and telecommuting than ever before.  Here's a more accurate explanation.  They either work in offices without access to a television during lunch, or  they're self-employed and don't give themselves a full lunch hour.  Wouldn't shorter soap segments make since?   They could tune in with their iPhones and Androids.

Even a popular credit card company figured this out with a recent 60 second story on how a couple, using their credit card's special features, designed their toddlers' bedroom to transition them from cribs to big boy beds on a tight budget, after a family health scare.  They wanted a room where they could read, act out stories for their boys and have quality family time. 

The first segment shows the planning stages.  You wonder, will they pull this off with a short time-frame and budget?  We forget this is a commercial, and return after another commercial to find out how this couple found their happy ending.  

The point is, we want to see the next segment.  So we hold off raiding the fridge.  We want to see how the project brought the family together, the final reveal and more importantly how the twins handled the transition--all in 60-90 seconds.  That's drama.  

So, if card companies and big box home improvement stores can do this in the length of a commercial, why can't soap operas with 14 more minutes to spare?  

I don't think this genre will join yesterday's radio serials in the land of extinction.  Most likely, soaps will morph into a different form that'll work better for our techno-obsessed lives.  

Believe me, if people have time to play numerous online games, they'll have time to watch a fifteen-minute soap with intrigue and suspense causing them to wonder: what will happen next?  The drama will heighten even more in short spurts.  

Remember when you dated at seventeen and you had only a few minutes to get that first kiss on the front stoop before your Dad embarrassed you, and stuck his head out the window telling you to come in and double-lock the door now!  You had five minutes from the time you pulled up in front of the door to get that smoldering kiss and see if a second date was in the cards.  You've got your tension, passion, fear, suspense... that my friend is drama in five minutes.

So soap fans... don't cry a river because  Prospect Park decided not to produce All My Children and One Life to Live via the internet.  It's a numbers game and too many factors just didn't line up for now.  By mid-2012,  things could change, and Prospect Park or another production company could make fast-food soap drama a reality.  

My advice to soap fans, watch your favorite existing soaps like never before.  This could extend their network shelf life.  Higher ratings will make a stronger case for bringing back soaps in shorter formats in the place where most of us come out and play... the world wide web.

A Soap Fan's Dream Ended... For Now - From Wikipedia
On July 7, 2011, Prospect Park--the producers of USA's Royal Pains--announced the licensing of ABC's two canceled soaps: All My Children and One Life to Live and its plan to continue production of the shows on a new paid  online TV and interactive media network

On September 27, 2011, Prospect Park announced that it would produce new episodes of AMC and OLTL on the new internet channel starting January 2012.  On November 23, 2011, Prospect Park cancelled its plans to launch an online channel with AMC and OLTL.

That's what Joan B. Average, Scriptwriter says... what do you say?

No comments:

Post a Comment