Monday, April 10, 2017

Classic TV: The Edge of Night (1956)

For nearly three decades, Procter & Gamble's television arm had a daytime soap opera that could've just as easily played at night. That is to say, at the Edge of Night.

Edge of Night began on CBS in 1956, but never really had a prime spot in the daytime lineup. It has been my experience that Edge was always at the bottom of the lineup. Could've been on earlier before I was born, but, hey, what do I know? Anyway, CBS decided to cancel the series at Thanksgiving in 1975, with the last episode airing on Black Friday (November 28). Ah, but P & G had other ideas, and on December 1, Edge moved to ABC, and as memory serves, it aired in back of General Hospital. I think, too, that this might've been a rare case of P & G selling one of their soaps to ABC, as most of their shows were either on CBS (Search For Tomorrow, which moved to NBC at the end of its run, or As The World Turns) or NBC (i.e. Another World and its spin-offs). Nearly 10 years later, Edge was laid to rest for good.

So what set it apart from other soaps? Instead of focusing on families and infidelities within, Edge was more of a daytime crime drama, the kind I could've sunk my teeth into if I actually understood what it was about back in the day.

Let's go back to the CBS era.

Procter & Gamble, of course, is now out of the television business. I wonder, though, if they still own their shows.

No rating.


Mike Doran said...

History Lesson:

In 1956, network schedules at the daytime level were structured differently.
At CBS, the national net took over at 10 am (Eastern time) and stayed on (with a brief break at about noon) until 5pm.
Local programming (usually a movie of some other local show) came on until around 6:30, when news led into prime time.
Edge Of Night was the final show in this lineup; in fact, that was the source of the title: it was "the edge" of the daytime lineup, leading into the evening.
It was in the mid-'60s that CBS stations started expanding their afternoon news shows, and that's when CBS moved Edge to an earlier time slot, where it stayed until the early '70s.
Then, Edge got moved back again, losing much of its audience to younger-skewing shows on the other nets.
Ultimately, CBS told Procter & Gamble that it wanted to drop Edge, whereupon P&G switched the show to ABC, which put it on in the latest time slot they had, 4pm Eastern.
Many ABC affiliates (including the station here in Chicago) delayed Edge to the following morning, but what the hell, at least it was still on ...
Still other ABC stations dropped Edge outright, which led to depressed numbers going into the '80s.
None of this affected the quality of the show, which for much of this period was headwritten by one of America's top mystery writers, Henry Slesar, who held fast until about half a year before the end of the run.
Even when ABC gave up on Edge at the end of '84, P&G tried to keep it going with a sale to one of the rising cable networks, they managed to sell reruns of the last four years or so to USA, but any hope for a revival went by the boards in short order - and that was it.
Side note: P&G tried a similar strategy at the same time with Search For Tomorrow: first with a network switch (CBS to NBC), then with reruns on USA - same outcome.
And there you are.

hobbyfan said...

Well, Mike, like I said, I wasn't that familiar with the show to start. I do recall, now that you bring it up, the cable reruns----about the only time USA dared to show soaps was when they picked up repeat rights to Edge and Search for Tomorrow----but maybe they would be better served with a series of DVD releases.

Mike Doran said...

Edge (and almost any other soap you can name, comes to that) would have indeed been well served with DVD releases - if DVDs had existed in the mid-'80s, when all this was happening.
The tech was still about half a decade away; we were still in the VHS era at this point.
I never thought I'd miss those clunky cassettes (shows you what I knew).

FRankly, I've always held out hope that P&G had held on to those last four+ ABC years of Edge; there's a lot there that is eminently promotable.
I particular, a whole lot of actors who became better known in later years:
Lori Loughlin
Kate Capshaw
J.T. Walsh
Julianne Moore
Wallace Shawn
Zeljko Ivanek
Marcia Cross
... and a bunch of others whom I'll remember as soon as I hit Publish.
... and I'm just talking about the ABC years.
... and I'm not even including the Guest Star turns, like:
Frank Gorshin
Alfred Drake
Amanda Blake
Professor Irwin Corey
... back again to memory ...

This is depressing.
Better stand down for now ...

hobbyfan said...

P & G helped a lot of actors start their careers. There's a choice Search For Tomorrow clip from the 15 minute era (CBS) w/Don Knotts that will be up soon when I review Search.

Tommy Parker said...

I miss Edge. I wish somehow this show can be revived but some of the actors are still living but have retired. Maybe have the characters second generation. When CBS moved Edge to an earlier time slot in 1972 at P&G's insistance, Edge lost a huge core of its audience therefore led CBS to drop it because it did not have any room for it on its daytime schedule when CBS decided to expand As the World Turns to an hour. Because Edge was their lowest rated soap at that time, CBS needed to free up a half hour and also CBS did not want to give up their local half hour break to the affiliates and also the fact that CBS could not find a suitable time to schedule Edge likely 4:00pm EST but CBS feared ststion clearance so thats when P&G negotiated a deal with ABC to keep it going which it did nine more years.Sadly when Edge moved to ABC some of the ABC affiliates ran it at odd times usually early morning timeslots and or one or two days delay and or either drop the show from its schedule or did not air it at all.

hobbyfan said...

A revival would be nice, but today, with daytime soaps gradually slipping away, a revived Edge would, ironically, air at night, unless it was picked up by, say, Netflix.