Tuesday, August 10, 2010

I'm incredibly angry at ABC...

I cannot fully express how deeply annoyed I am with the American Broadcasting Corporation today.

For those who do not know, many years ago, when I was still a young teenager (yeah, MANY years ago)...I began watching "All My Children", mainly because my grandmother and aunts watched and discussed it and I wanted to see what all the fuss was about. So I started watching it during the summer break from school, and then learned to program the VCR so that I could tape it once school started up again in the fall. My Mom also started watching it with me every evening also, so it was mother-daughter bonding time and gave us plenty to talk about.

For many years I was a very loyally devoted AMC fan...in fact, it came to a point where I began to use the line, "Hey...I know more about most of these people than I do about many members of my own family!"

For years I watched...and not only me.  I met and married a wonderful man, and I eventually got him involved in the show as well. Every night we would watch "our stories" together on tape. Like years earlier with Mom, it was wonderful bonding time.

As the years passed, I eventually came to learn that the show immediately following AMC on ABC, One Life to Live, had introduced a "goddess worshipping tree hugger" character. As "goddess worshipping tree huggers" ourselves...we decided to check out the show and see how our faith was being portrayed...and we got sucked in to that show as well.  So, for a good number more years, we now had TWO "stories" to watch, which was OK, since we didn't watch a lot of prime time TV anyway...so it gave us something we could do together with our evenings. Of course since it was on tape, the added benefit was that we could speed through the commercials and sections of the show that were not of great interest to us.

As years continued to pass, I eventually lost my husband to a cacophony of diseases, but I kept watching our shows. It filled some of the empty hours. Then, when ongoing illness kept me home during the day...I just didn't have to tape them anymore, but could just watch live (the downside of this, of course, was the commercials, but I learned to live with them). Now that I was watching live though, I usually didn't bother to get up and change the channel when OLTL ended, but would just mute the TV and turn my attention to other things.

That's when it happened. The show that comes on right after OLTL, General Hospital, slowly began to suck me in as well. I tried to resist it for the longest time, trying to only pay attention to the one storyline that had captured my attention, but eventually they got me. I do regret it now, but things are as they are...so I just dealt with the situation by now watching THREE soap operas, as depressing a thought as that may sound like.

Which brings us to the present. For the last several weeks, I've been seeing a number of commercials talking about how some character named "Brenda" was going to be returning to General Hospital after being off the show for a good number of years. Then I heard that the day before she was scheduled to return, ABC would be running a three hour "special event" highlighting "the men" in this "Brenda's" love life. It also became clear that this three hour event would be taking AMC and OLTL off the air for a day.

In honesty, this more than slightly annoyed me, but...trying to look at the "bright side" of things...I was sort of OK with it. I figured this special would give me some background information on this unfamiliar returning character so that I would know who she was and her backstory, when I saw her. Therefore, today I was prepared to miss my two long-standing stories and get all this backstory information instead.  Little did I know this "special" was nothing more than ABC simply rerunning three old episodes from years ago.

I began watching what I thought was going to be an actual retrospective look at this "Brenda" and the three men who were the supposed "loves of her life".  But rather than seeing the expected background look at these characters, ABC just ran three OLD episodes of the show from years ago. No current information, no comments to make people understand why folks that are now DEAD are just on the TV, or explaining that the unfamiliar blonde I've never seen before is actually supposed to be "Carly", or even who most of these people ARE. No new special retrospective...nothing but three separate (and pretty much completely unconnected, except for the presence of this "Brenda" in each of them) old episodes from more than 8 years ago.

I was furious! I'm missing my current shows for THIS?! Old programming that is pretty much completely irrelevant to the current storylines other than as an ego-trip for the actress that plays "Brenda"??  They've GOT to be kidding! I picked up the phone and called ABC to complain (we won't go into the fact that I actually already knew the number by heart).

When they finally answered, after about 15-20 rings (maybe more), I explained that I wanted to speak to whomever made the absolutely horrendous decision to pre-empt regular programming to run 8+ years old reruns. They switched me to a recorded "comment" line, which then disconnected me when I tried to actually LEAVE a comment. So that is the reason that I decided to comment this way, using my blog to vent my frustration.

For ABC to take off regular programming to just broadcast old reruns of a soap opera is probably the worst programming decision I have ever heard of. If they wanted to do something like this, to attempt to capitalize on the return of this (seemingly somewhat mediocre) actress, the way to do it would have been to actually write a script and pair that script with a narrator, even just a voice-over narrator, and show CLIPS from these old episodes (and the many others I'm sure this "Brenda" was in...there WERE more than THREE, right?) and actually make the show informative, rather than just cheaping out and running old reruns. If they're THAT short of writers, I'll gladly volunteer my services.  Well..."volunteer" isn't really the right word.  I'm not FREE, but I can be HAD.   ;)

And if they were going to handle it this cheap way, don't have some answering machine message telling me how much you "value" my opinion and then rig your line to not take my message. I've got to say, ABC is actually pretty damn lucky that most of my favorite network shows are on their channel. If this was NBC or CBS screwing over their viewers like this, this little stunt would have likely cost them my viewership, rather than just earning them a scathing blogged complaint.

ABC...you owe your viewers an apology.

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