In fact, we contend that the soap genre is more popular than ever, and we have plenty of evidence to back it up. Just look at all the wonderful soapy goodness in store for us in 2012! That's why we predict that - despite what the mainstream media says - 2012 will be "The Year of the Soap". After reading our 2012 soap opera highlights, below, we think you'll agree with us: the genre is not dying, but (true to form) it's simply preparing for a dramatic, triumphant return. After all, who doesn't love a good comeback story? In 2012, the soap opera itself is poised for just that.
Sadly, we'll have to say goodbye, or at least goodbye-for-now, to our dear friends in Llanview. However, when the good lord closes a door, he opens a window. This January, savvy soap fans will be able to say hello to some new, and in some cases familiar, friends on web soaps like DEVANITY (guest starring Kyle Lowder and Robin Riker) and the long-awaited RIVER RIDGE, starring the likes of Signy Coleman, Julie Pinson and Beth Ehlers. Both soaps will air on the new online network, The SFN, beginning January 2012.
REVENGE also kicks off the second half of its inaugural season this January. As far as we're concerned, there are only two reasons the epic rivalry of the Clarks and the Graysons has not been universally cited as "proof of triumphant return of the daytime soap." Number one, it only airs once a week. Number two, it doesn't air during the day. Otherwise, with it's ever-expanding storyline, love-to-hate-them villains, thrilling plot twists, beautiful stars, scheming vixens, class warfare and overwhelming addictive-ness, REVENGE is the biggest and best thing to hit the network soap scene in years. If you haven't started watching, please, take our advice! We know soap operas, and this one is a keeper. All the episodes so far are available for free, right now, on the ABC web site, so why not make it an extra happy new year, and see for yourself?
REVENGE, RIVER RIDGE and DEVANITY are just a few examples of how quality new soap operas are still being created from scratch. At the same time, there is indisputable evidence that more and more of the best soaps of the past decades are on their way back. A few months ago, when Soap Classics announced the return of the P & G soaps, a new age dawned. Over the course of 2012, AS THE WORLD TURNS, GUIDING LIGHT, ANOTHER WORLD and other soap world behemoths will begin what can earnestly be characterized as their resurrection. Existing fans will be energized, and new fans will be born. By the end of the year, we may even be able to stream entire seasons of classics that have been aired only once before, many years ago, and then locked away. Right now, we can look forward to the first (of hopefully many) GUIDING LIGHT DVDs, to be be released in mid-January, and featuring the Santo Domingo death of Roger Thorpe, the Quint and Nola wedding and much, much more. Just in time for GL's 75th anniversary on January 25th!
Meanwhile, ONE LIFE TO LIVE's executive producer and head writer, Frank Valentini and Ron Carlivati, move to GENERAL HOSPITAL effective January 9th. ABC is at least putting the best they have on their remaining daytime drama. Elsewhere on the daytime dial in January, we will keep enjoying Melody Thomas Scott's Nikki on THE YOUNG AND THE RESTLESS, and Will's coming out story on DAYS OF OUR LIVES.
Key January Dates:
1ST EASTENDERS Pam St. Clement's Final Episode
2nd PRETTY LITTLE LIARS & THE LYING GAME Winter Premieres
3rd SWITCHED AT BIRTH Winter Premiere
3rd JANE BY DESIGN Series Premiere
4th REVENGE Midseason Premiere
5th THE VAMPIRE DIARIES & THE SECRET CIRCLE Winter Premieres
5th GREY'S ANATOMY & PRIVATE PRACTICE Winter Premieres
8th ONCE UPON A TIME, DESPERATE HOUSEWIVES & PAN AM Winter Premieres
8th THE FIRM Series Premiere
8th DOWNTON ABBEY Season Premiere (US)
12th DEVANITY Season Premiere
13th ONE LIFE TO LIVE Series Finale
13th RIVER RIDGE Series Premiere
16th ALCATRAZ Two-hour Series Premiere
16th GOSSIP GIRL & HART OF DIXIE Winter Premieres
17th 90210 & RINGER Return
25th 75th Anniversary of GUIDING LIGHT
29th LUCK Series Premiere (Previewed in December)
31st EL TALISMAN Series Premiere
Note: This is just a sampling of the serialized drama from January 2012 to give an idea of how alive and well this format is across mediums.
One day after the Super Bowl, NBC goes all-in, placing a huge bet on the future of the soap opera with the premiere of the big budget SMASH, whose pilot episode (just the pilot) cost a reported 7.5 million. In an enormous 3600-word paen, New York magazine wrote that SMASH is:
a love letter: a romantic-dramedy musical soap opera that borrows elements of reality TV in focusing, at first, on the competition between two actresses to play Marilyn. If Smash is successful and gets renewed, the Marilyn musical should reach “Broadway” next winter—much faster than a real production would. But, even stranger, if the Marilyn musical is itself successful, producers hope to crack it out of its Smash shell and move it to the actual Broadway sometime thereafter.
That's right - not only will the soap opera be colonizing the internet in 2012, it's also set its sights on Broadway.
Of course, if SMASH makes it to Broadway, it will probably be something of a novelty act. Will the floodgates open? Will "The Reva Review" and "Ode to Oakland" battle it out for the best new musical Tony in 2015? Probably not. The real future of the soap has already started to put down roots elsewhere: on the world wide web.
On February 21, the "Tonys of internet soaps" will return with The 3rd Annual Indie Soap Awards. Being held at the New World Stages complex in New York's theater district, the ISAs will honor the best serialized stories on the web, in drama and comedy. These winners are the ones to watch: the producers, writers and creators that will continue to reinvent, celebrate and propagate the serial format.
Key February Dates:
6th SMASH Series Premiere
7th THE RIVER Series Premiere
21st 3rd Annual Indie Soap Awards
ABC's GCB, formerly GOOD CHRISTIAN BITCHES (then BELLES), finally premieres. The soap "returns to Dallas in this wicked new drama that shows that you can go home again... but only if you’re ready to face the sins of your past." Leslie Bibb and Kristin Chenoweth lead the all-star cast. The show will take over PAN AM's timeslot on Sunday nights.
Another ABC serialized drama stars Ashley Judd. Becca Winstone (Judd) learns that her son, Michael, disappears while studying abroad, and it's a race against time when she travels to Europe to track him down. A surprising turn of events reveals just how far one mother will go to protect her family. Exotic locations and thrilling twists will keep you riveted in MISSING.
And let's not forget the long awaited return of MAD MEN which will kick off its fifth season after not airing new episodes the entire year of 2011. The series has won four straight Best Drama Emmys.
Key March Dates:
4th GCB Series Premiere
15th MISSING Series Premiere
25th MAD MEN Season Premiere
26th THE SECRET LIFE OF THE AMERICAN TEENAGER Season Premiere
26th MAKE IT OR BREAK IT Season Premiere
As you can see, old series continuing, several new series beginning and content all over the web. And haven't even mentioned the exciting telenovelas headed our way this year including Univision's much-anticipated EL TALISMAN. Throughout 2012 we will bring you the best in serials of all formats and continuing sharing our message that this genre is constantly evolving, not ending.
Continuing reading Part 2 where we discuss other projects we are excited about in Spring and Summer 2012 including the new big budget movie adaptation of DARK SHADOWS and the DALLAS reboot on TNT featuring J.R., Sue Ellen and Bobby. Stay tuned!
And be sure to use #yearofthesoap on Twitter and spread the word that soaps are alive and well in all shapes and sizes in 2012.