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Interesting article about Port Charles

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Now I never watched Port Charles as I never watched GH(aside from some Luke and Laura stuff) but I found this article from October 2000 to be a fascinating read, although PC ended up lasting til 2003.


I’m going to go out on a limb right now, and say that Port Charles is cancelled by the end of 2001. And that’s just being on the safe side. My real guess is that PC is wrapped up and shipped off by the time the seemingly unstoppable Writers/Actors’ Guild strikes hit. What do I base this dire pronouncement on, you ask? Well, I’m glad you asked! Otherwise, I wouldn’t have much of a column this week.

1. The ratings. They’re low. In fact, with an average rating of a 1.8, PC has become the lowest-rated soap on daytime. Passions seems to have surpassed PC for good. Just being in the position of lowest-rated soap puts PC in a bind. No network wants to have the lowest-rated anything. If PC was pulling a 3, but was still in last-place compared to other soaps, cancellation rumors would still fly.

2. The Spin-off factor. For some reason, spin-offs seemed to be absolutely cursed when it comes to daytime. They never get the ratings of their parent show, and often do far worse. However, the main reason why networks create spin-off soaps is so the spin-off will get ratings equal to its’ predecessor. It’s a way of expanding a successful show without actually doing it. Another World was NBC’s top show in the early 70’s when NBC created Somerset. It limped along for a little over six years before getting cancelled. In the early 80’s, NBC tried again with Texas. That one made it about two and a half years. ATWT’s prime time sixties spin-off Our Private World ran about four months. Even semi-spin-offs like Loving’s metamorphosis into The City don’t last long.

3. The Affiliates. They don’t support Port Charles. Having not had a hit in the 12:30 Eastern slot since the early days of Ryan’s Hope, it appears the affiliates weren’t particularly enthused about Port Charles, despite it being spun off from ABC’s highest-rated soap, General Hospital. From day one, many affiliates have aired the show late at night or not at all. Lack of affiliate support is a big indicator to whether a soap is doomed or not. Loving went along for years with low ratings, but it wasn’t until affiliates began actively dropping the show, that it got the ax. Those same affiliates never carried The City. Even old-timers like Love of Life,The Doctors, and The Edge of Night were all effectively nailed by affiliate dropout.

4. The Faulty Fixes. Rarely is a cancelled soap cancelled without someone trying to fix it first. With Port Charles, the fixes came almost from day one. The original concept, Richard and Carolyn Culliton’s bland Chicago Hope wanna-be, was jettisoned after three months for Lynn Marie Latham’s more traditional mix of romance and mayhem. This seemed to work better than the Culliton formula, but after 18 months, Latham left and Scott Hamner took over. Scott is the son of Earl Hamner, creator of The Waltons. Oh, how Scott shamed his daddy’s name! Under him, PC became a mish-mosh of mysterious, secret-agenda carrying villains, psychic visions, and midgets. Yes, midgets. Hamner was jettisoned after a year, Jonathan Estrin and Karen Harris were brought in to steer PC back to a more traditional format. Estrin left after a month, and Barbara Bloom was brought in. Despite critical acclaim, PC’s numbers were low. Now Barbara Esensten and James Harmon Brown (see previous columns for a rundown of these two failures) are being brought in. But Bloom and Harris are staying. And Lorraine Broderick is now a breakdown writer. And Agnes Nixon, ABC’s newly appointed Daytime Writing Czar, is supposed to have input. Oh, and now ABC is supposed to be really serious about the telenovela format of shorter story arcs for PC, even though it was tried this spring with bleh results. Writing roulette and big ideas: the two surest signs that a soap is on it’s last legs.

5. The replacement. This is the biggie. Does the network have a show to replace the failing soap, if the network wishes? This week, many media outlets have reported that the auction website Ebay is in talk with a major network to produce a TV show based on the site. (????) Zap2it. Com, a reputable website, has gone a step further. It reports that Ebay is in talks with ABC for a daytime show to begin in the 2001-02 season, and that it will probably be a half-hour. So long, Port Charles.

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Where was this article? (I'm curious cuz I'd like to read the one they mention about Brown/Esensten's failures). I never knew Agnes Nixon had input into PC though of course she would since at that time she was once again made a creative consultant for all of ABC daytime (not sure how much that actually does).

I wanna hear more about these midgets...

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