Friday, April 10, 2009

Who Will Guide The Light?

CBS has canceled the 72 year old soap Guiding Light, the longest-running scripted program in broadcasting history, because CBS didn't care to face the realities of today's audience and their media viewing habits.

They did try a few things to "save" the show, most notably reducing the quality by switching to hand-held digital cameras, lights and microphones (which was horrid), but they sure didn't give it the old Springfield try.

It's a shame too. Guiding Light wasn't just a show I grew up with, it had produced some quality actors including Kevin Bacon, James Earl Jones, Cicely Tyson and Julianne Moore along the way -- a testament to the production quality it once had.

Sure, I'll admit I've stopped watching it. First I reduced to one or two times a week because I work at home (emphasis on work at home) and my day is not conducive to breaks scheduled around TV shows. Once the digital crap hit, I was less interested in making the effort. And the more time you spend away from soaps, the more effort you need to put into figuring them out. So you resist.

Some would argue that Guiding Light has a smaller audience because it's an older audience; I disagree. I bet the audience is older -- but that's the very reason why it should succeed! If only producers would work to serve the audience.

The number one thing that hurts the show is the time. Why not consider something that people can commit to? Put it on later, when I can sit and watch it -- and that's not right before milk & cookie time. I'm struggling to get my stuff done for when the kids come home. And five days a week? My sister who travels isn't going to come back from Hong Kong and watch 2 - 6 weeks of any TiVo'd shows. But prime time soaps thrive. So why not consider completely different scheduling based on the realities of working families? Hey, that Friday night death slot might just be the ticket... We're home. Nothing else is on... especially if Dollhouse and The Sarah Connor Chronicles will be leaving us.

According to The New York Times:
A spokeswoman for P.&G., Jeannie Tharrington, said the company would seek to place “Guiding Light” elsewhere. “We’re looking at all our options,” she said. “This show started as a 15-minute radio show, and then it was a half-hour television show, so it has adapted over the years.”
I hope P&G at least puts forth effort to really find ways to adopt and adapt the show to today's audiences. We're here; we're just not living the lives our moms or even we ourselves once did.

I'm available for consultation.
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