Cautious optimism

Gramma's been messing around with Photoshop again!

Gramma’s been messing around with Photoshop again!

I’m cautiously optimistic about some new developments we’ve been hearing about over the last few weeks, all from veteran creative forces in daytime.

Writers Janet Iacobuzio and Nelson Aspen are launching a series, and the list of talent is impressive: Colleen Zenk (Barbara, ATWT), and Anna Stuart, Stephen Schnetzer, David Forsyth and Alice Barrett Mitchell (Donna, Cass, John and Frankie, AW), to name just a few.

That’s one project, with platform and viewing opportunities yet to be announced.

And then there’s Sudsville.

From what we know, Sudsville is a brand that will be dedicated to fans of soaps, and it’s led by former daytime writer Meg Kelly.

There’s a mix of content, from a proposed trivia show with Guiding Light’s Michael O’Leary (Rick Bauer) as host, to a soap called Year Rounders.

I’m really intrigued by what I hear so far.

I’m not exactly thrilled by the Sudsville name, though it does a great job in terms of short-handing what the network’s about.

And, OK, I don’t want to be Ebenezer Soap Scrooge, and I get that at this stage of the game, the money is going to production and talent. But this graphic for the website – oy, vey. This is very 1995 GeoCities.

But the idea of Sudsville? I am totally on board.

The “caution” with new shows, of course, is the very recent experience with Prospect Park, and the ways that the crash-and-burn of One Life to Live and All My Children’s 2.0 versions may have scared other production companies away from attempting new shows or reboots.

I’m also very intrigued by the company behind Sudsville: Conklin-Intracom.

Conklin-Intracom is not an entertainment company. Its “About Us” page includes a description for an arm that is a “global telecommunications systems vendor.”

On their website, they list one of their products as “Intelligent Personal TV” (IPTV).

This seems to be the likeliest possibility for where the Sudsville content might live.

So this makes me still “cautious.” Like Prospect Park, the company launching this has new and potentially great ideas, but also doesn’t have experience with serialized TV.

Granted, the runs of these shows, especially the first seasons, will be much shorter (I believe a handful of weekly episodes, instead of 40 episodes off the bat).

The lack of experience at Sudsville might be helpful if they get out of the creative team’s way and let them do their job.

With the Iacobuzio/Aspen project, their collective experience, and Nelson Aspen’s ability to promote the show, could be the shining jewel in the crown.

I’m not sure how this is being funded, or if any of the same contract/union issues will emerge with such a low-budget enterprise.

But I’m hopeful. If The Powers That Be, 2.0 Version, can figure out a space and a way where we can create content, get it to the audience and monetize it to the point that everyone makes money…..? Then we might see some really, really great storytelling again.

Picking up the threads

1975 GL

This is essentially a “Part Two” to my previous post, about reboots and revivals of our favorite soaps.

A reboot’s on the wish list of many Guiding Light fans, as well as fans of other P&G shows.

I mean, in this era of procedurals, could anything make for a more obvious reboot than The Edge of Night? With a fabulous update of that theme song, of course.

And there’s certainly been interest in these shows.

Supposedly, someone’s been trying to sell GL as a property pretty consistently since it left CBS for That Game Show That Shall Not Be Named.

This post suggests that before Paul Rauch’s death, he’d been working on getting some version of GL back on the air.

There were several attempts that centered around GL head writer Jill Lorie Hurst; the early attempt to form a production company (A New Kind of Light) with several GL stars and, more recently, the teaser video showing many GL stars together.

I am a fan of Hurst’s work and was hoping (and still hope!) that one of the ideas would catch a wave, that something of these ideas would come into bloom.

The plot thickened this week with the announcement of “Sudsville,” a platform for soaps that may be similar to Hulu or Netflix. There’s scant information so far (and I’m not loving the name), but it’s a promising sign that interest is still there.

The raw materials are there for a reboot of these shows, but before moving forward, we have to acknowledge the wreckage, too: the failed reboots of All My Children and One Life to Live.

The cost of those failures goes far beyond fans missing their shows. There was a substantial financial loss to Prospect Park (one of their own making, it could be argued, but a loss nonetheless).

It may have cast a cloud of fear over other producers and companies, scaring them away from rebooting other properties.

The AMC and OLTL reboots are pretty interesting to me, because in terms of content, I think there were great lessons to be learned there.

I think AMC 2.0 nailed its landing far better than OLTL 2.0, mainly because AMC 2.0 did the very thing I would want to do for a GL relaunch – weave in the foundations of the past, but also use as a launching pad for the next generation and a time to clear out some of the more worn pieces of story.

AMC 2.0 tried to chart its own rhythm and its own path. The Miranda/AJ/Pete story featured three characters the audience knew and loved, and it was one of the most realistic and root-worthy portrayals of young characters I’ve seen in a while.

The show used some veterans, too, and pulled some surprising characters out of mothballs (Dimitri and Billy Clyde).

There were some mistakes; Celia was mostly a “who cares?” character, and the perennial pain parade that was inflicted on the Hubbards got very old after a while. But overall, it was a strong showing.

OLTL 2.0, on the other hand, was an attempt to do an exact transfer of the old show over into the new space. It had many strong moments, and most of the same cast, but it simply wasn’t as watchable.

It hadn’t changed the pace and the mapping in necessary ways. And some of the stories just felt stale and uninspiring.

And that leads me back to the question I posed in my prior post: What would a reboot look like? How would we adjust the focus on a reboot of, say, GL or ATWT, to capture its essence, but adjust it for a shorter episode length, or a limited series arc (13 episodes a season)?

I’m still thinking……