Does Katie Couric’s Talk Show Mean the End of ‘General Hospital’?

Steve Burton on General Hospital (ABC)

Steve Burton on General Hospital (ABC)

Katie Couric’s new talk show puts “General Hospital’s” future in jeopardy. Because the just-announced series is being produced by ABC’s syndication division, not its daytime division, the network had to give an hour back to its local affiliates to ensure that it would air on all of its Owned and Operated stations.  Eight stations have announced that they will air the show at 3:00PM, GH’s current time period. According to the official ABC press release announcing Couric’s program, “The network is set to return the last hour of its Daytime network block to affiliates no earlier than September 2012, but continues to support “General Hospital,” and the plans to launch “The Chew” in September of this year and “The Revolution” in January 2012.”

The word “support” is a vague enough in this context to be meaningless. Coming just two months after the network canceled its other two soaps, “All My Children” and “One Life To Live,” it does not inspire any confidence that GH has a future beyond September, 2012. It is possible that GH could shift to an earlier timeslot in place of either “The Chew” or “The Revolution.” Neither of these food and weight loss themed shows seems destined to be an instant hit, and the network might want to help launch Couric’s show by giving her an established lead-in.

Watch Friday’s Episode Of “General Hospital”:

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However, this is clearly do or die time for ABC’s last remaining soap. It has fallen below the canceled OLTL in total viewers. While fans had hoped that would make the network consider keeping OLTL, it seems to have made the network doubt GH’s continued viability. GH just replaced longtime head writer Bob Guza with Garin Wolf, one of the show’s breakdown writers.  He is now tasked with the job of saving the show. Between now and 2012, GH needs to undergo a creative renaissance that will attract enough viewers to keep the show on the air.

GH was in this position once before. The soap was slated for cancellation in the mid-1970s when executive producer Gloria Monty took over the show. She reinvented it, turning teenaged Laura Spencer (Genie Francis) into its leading lady, pairing her with an anti-hero named Luke (Tony Geary), and creating a national sensation. Can lightning strike twice? Can a new headwriter, a few storylines that don’t center around death, and a little romance persuade viewers to tune in? It’s a longshot, but it’s not impossible. This is the time for everyone who works on the show and everyone who has ever loved it to pull together and support GH.

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The opinions expressed are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Comcast.

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