CBS announced on Tuesday that it will be cancelling daytime soap As The World Turns after 54 years and 13,000 episodes, according to Variety. You might wonder why this news is relevant to The Flickcast, but the slow disappearance of scripted daytime dramas causes shock-waves throughout the entire entertainment industry, whether you were a fan or not.
Earlier this year, The Guiding Light was canceled after 72 years on the air. Anytime scripted dramas are being dropped, we should take note, because it could set a dangerous precedent. Desperate networks are pulling the plug on original product, and replacing it with game shows or other alternatives. There is no question these cancellations signal the end of an era.
Take a look at what NBC did to their prime time schedule. They did the unspeakable, and pretty much gave up on cost-prohibitive scripted television. Now we get Jay Leno, for better or worse, five times a week. That’s five hours of scripted television a week wiped clean from the slate.
This means that writers, actors and crew members are out of work as well, all competing for a smaller pool of jobs. On one hand, it could be argued that increased competition will thin the herd, so to speak, and only the best and brightest will emerged unscathed. This could possibly result in greater creative offerings after the dust settles.
However, it could also mean that we will begin seeing fewer and fewer scripted dramas in general. That is not a very appealing thought to those of us who love our scripted television shows. It also feeds into a general sense of tension and unpredictability that took root during the height of the recession, and prior to that, the writer’s strike. Television has never fully recovered, in my opinion, from that strike.
That’s why you ought to pay attention to these enormous changes happening to daytime television, because soon, they might not be limited to daytime.