Soap legend Agnes Nixon announced her consulting role with the AMC and OLTL reboots a few weeks ago, saying that the transition from television to the Internet was “comparable to how life was changed when television took over from radio.”
That’s not completely true.
The Guiding Light began on radio in 1937. (Trivia: “The” was dropped from the title in 1975.) It debuted on television in 1952.
But it’s worth noting that GL remained on the radio until 1956, running concurrently with the TV version. The actors would perform the TV show live at the CBS television studio, and then run down the street to the radio station to repeat the exact same show live on the radio.
Procter & Gamble, which produced GL, gave its radio listeners a full four years to adjust to watching their soap on TV before they canceled the radio version. This is very different from AMC and OLTL, which will have been off the air well over a year before fans will be able to watch them again on the Internet. It can certainly be argued that magazines like Soap Opera Digest, Internet soap sites like Daytime Confidential, and the many forms of social media available to us today have kept the shows alive during their absence, but it is not the same as if they ended on TV on a Friday and picked up on the Internet the following Monday. Never mind playing on TV and the Internet with the same actors for four years…
Clearly there is great interest in AMC and OLTL on the Internet, as there has been with other Internet soaps like Gotham, Venice , The Bay, Fumbling Through the Pieces and the soon-to-launch Tainted Dreams. But this will be a different way for AMC and OLTL fans to watch their soaps and they will need to adapt – not always a strong suit for a fan base that takes years to adjust to a recast. (I’m talking about you, Jack Abbott!)
Agnes Nixon knows all about adapting since she was the co-head writer of that long-ago television launch of GL (with creator Irna Phillips). And she is right that the transition of soaps from TV to the Internet is historic. But it’s a whole lot easier for fans to pick up a new soap opera on their computers than it is for them to log into the reboot of AMC expecting to see Erica Kane in her lavish Fusion offices and finding Angie and Griffin in a hospital hallway.
Truth: The reboots will be different from the AMC and OLTL we watched on TV. But if viewers are patient, they’ll be able to adjust to the “new” Pine Valley and Llanview just as easily as they adapted to watching Bert Bauer on that “new” big box instead of listening to her on the old small box.
Here’s hoping it doesn’t take four years!