EPCP, or Excessive Pre-Commercial Pausing

Every Friday I try to  post a definition of a term of soap opera jargon. Find more on the Soap Opera Jargon page.

Excessive Pre-Commercial Pausing aka EPCP – “Dark Shadows Everyday” is a lovely analytic blog about the soap Dark Shadows. Its audience is usually more from the world of sci fi/horror fans rather than from the world of soaps so the author explains soap tropes from time to time. His term of this post is EPCP. This fits very well with my definition of the type of scene called a tag. However, EPCP specifically refers to the actions of the actors in the scene. Specifically the long pause that they often make right before the commercial break right after something that leaves you in suspense over something to help keep you tuned in through that break to see what happens. Surprisingly the most stark example of this on air right now is not on a soap, but on the scripted “reality” show Pawn Stars on the History channel. Although it doesn’t happen before a commercial, they always edit in a lengthy pause to gain your attention and interest right before they give the estimated value of each item when an expert comes in to appraise it. Find the “Dark Shadows Everyday” post that defines it with examples here: http://darkshadowseveryday.com/2013/09/16/episode-220

Read the related definition of a Tag scene below.

Tag – A tag is a the end of a scene with a hook to make you keep the channel tuned in through the commercial. These can be the start of an action scene, a line of dialogue that leaves you on the edge of your seat, or a question. A soap opera script is carefully written to have a tag before the beginning of each commercial break. During breaks people get up, head to the bathroom, go make a sandwich or, worst of all from an executives point of view, channel surf. They want you to stay with the channel that you are on, so a well crafted tag will keep you from doing those things by making you feel that you just can’t afford to miss a second of what will happen once the story picks up again. In the more distant past, these tags were often heralded by a dramatic swell of music paired with an extreme close up of one of the actors in the scene. This lead to strange pauses in action where a character would kind of freeze and hold position as if they were in a tableau while the camera zoomed in. However, as the pace of soaps have sped up these dramatic shots have become much rarer. Instead they tend to have no more than one beat as a pause in the action. One of the most talked about tags in recent was on The Bold and the Beautiful featuring the look on Oliver’s face when he realized it wasn’t his girlfriend Hope he just shagged on the wall during the wild party – it was her mother, Brooke. I’ll protect the guilty on another soap, by not mentioning a certain actor on a non-CBS soap who often ends his tags by arching his eyebrow practically into a question mark and getting this puzzled fish who has just had a hook pulled out of his mouth look (sounds like a nice guy in real life, but frankly I’ll never understand his reputation as an actor).

Robansuefarm is the handle of one of Manny and Guiding Light‘s biggest fans following in her family’s footsteps of Guiding Light fandom since 1939. This blog is an effort to make it easy to find Guiding Light and especially Manny online. Check back here for her blog, find fanfic previews and fake WSPR newscasts on her YouTube, find podcasts that look back to old shows and audios of her fanfics on Blog Talk Radio, and finally follow her on Twitter and Facebook.


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