Cape Town – What was the biggest show on South African television, Generations, returns to TV screens tonight – with a tarnished legacy, some old faces to make it look familiar and lure viewers back, and a lot of unanswered questions about the maturity of the local TV biz, the public broadcaster, and how and why actors are treated as little more than on-set props.
Generations The Legacy will debut on SABC1 tonight at 20:00 after a shocking absence of two months when the production grinded to a halt. The South African public broadcaster ran out of filmed episodes, and neither the production company nor SABC management could keep the show on the air.
The show with new actors and some old faces, which started filming on 27 October at the SABC’s Henley Studios, will be back. Generations The Legacy, similar to American shows which tried reboots like Dallas, Melrose Place and 90210, is bound to lure a big audience who will tune in out of the curiosity factor.
Collin Oliphant, who has written for SABC3's Isidingo in the past, is the new head writer.The test will be however whether the show will be able to not only lure back, but keep, its erstwhile big audience, or whether there will be a viewership drop-off following viewer disillusionment with how the show ended.
Picking up two years later – with Karabo and TauGenerations The Legacy will restart tonight, set two years later, with a funeral, and with Connie Ferguson returning as Karabo Moroka and Rapulana Seiphemo as Tau Mogale "returning from London to South Africa", suddenly living with their grown children, Jonathan (JT Medupe) and Angela (Lebohang Mthunzi).
Ferguson, now herself a TV producer for M-Net, has already been in the firing line for why she returned to a show where her friends like Sophie Ndaba and others were fired, and which apparently treats South African actors with little or no respect.
Ferguson told the SABC’s new digital magazine, Evoke, that returning to Generations was not part of her plans but that the "recent developments" at the soap "bothered" her and "forced her into action for the sake of the show’s legacy".
Ferguson told Evoke that she isn’t returning to Generations The Legacy to save the show, saying "I don’t think I can ‘save’ anything. It’s a team effort. I couldn’t let the show’s legacy be remembered the way it ended."
Both Ferguson and Seiphemo were roped in to create a familiar "anchor" to viewers who haven’t seen the show in two months and which won’t have any other of the former well-known faces. It’s not clear how long they will remain in the show – Ferguson appears in, and produces her own drama Rockville for M-Net’s Mzansi Magic channel on DStv.A younger castThe restarted Generations The Legacy with a younger cast, will concentrate on the new generation of the Moroka family – Archie’s children and grandchildren.
Other new faces in the reinvented Generations The Legacy include Letoya Mahkene, Denise Zimba, Ronnie Nyakale, Manaka Ranaka and Ivy Nkuta. Despite multiple media requests the past five weeks the SABC and the production failed to provide any episode synopses, character bio’s or publicity information usually issued for serialised local soaps.
The lack of information from the SABC for the revamped show prior to its debut tonight raised eyebrows in the TV biz, given that, according to conventional wisdom, broadcasters usually put a lot of marketing and publicity power behind new primetime shows in an attempt to reach potential viewers and to break through the noise.
The soap will have a new title sequence which echoes that of SABC2’s Muvhango and e.tv’s Scandal!: luxury vehicles, tall facades, women in heels and men in designer suits.
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