Young and Restless’ Missing Links and One Live To Live (Apparently) Rises From the Ashes

By Marlena De Lacroix a.k.a. Connie Passalacqua Hayman

I’ve basically cheered on most of the changes made in The Young and the Restless these past three months.  Characters like Nick, Phyllis and even Sharon have been fixed by giving them more clarity and strength. The new sets, like Avery’s living room/kitchen and Nick’s bar, are awesome.  Ditto the new music and lighting. Happily the dialogue has improved, too. A much needed housecleaning broomed out a half dozen characters that won’t be missed. Under its new leadership, Y&R has had one classy facelift.

Peter Bergman
Tour de force as struggling pill-popper

The only problem I see is that I have trouble getting through many episodes. Where’s the excitement?  The improvements are nice, but I’m still waiting for a story that really interests me. The only plot that’makes me want to tune in every day is Jack’s pill problem.  Much of the credit goes to Peter Bergman for his tour de force performance.  But the secret of the plot’s success is that it has moved very fast. In less than three months, Jack has moved from addiction, to self-directed rehab, to recovery.  The sprightlier storytelling fits in with what I wrote about in my last column:  we’re in the Internet age, and up until now the only other soap that has really stepped up the storyline pace is General Hospital.

This was not an easy change for Y&R to make – it’s always been slow-moving.  Asking Y&R to move fast is like asking a fish to walk. I’m tired of watching all the show’s executive characters (such as Neil and Cain and Phyllis and even Sharon) sluggishly do-si-doing between companies.  What this show really needs is stories that are original.

Jhoanna Flores
Authentic spark for Y&R

In Y&R’s defense, groundwork is being laid for future story improvement. Neil has been given renewed prominence and the Michaelson family characters have potential. The very good new younger actors (Hunter Hailey King and Max Ehrich as Summer and Fen, plus Robert Adamson as Noah) can move beyond this cyber bullying story, which is just about sheer meanness.  (“Where is the love?” as Doug Marland famously asked of loveless soaps.) And the show may have just scored big by acquiring potentially exciting actress Jhoanna Flores.  She  has authentic spark, albeit in the stereotypical role of young, sexy villainess Adriana.  For 40 years, soaps have been looking for another Erica Kane. Erica motored excitement on All My Children for decades. On today’s daytime and especially on Y&R, those rare elements of fast moving genuine excitement are exactly what is needed.

Will the imminent arrival of Steve Burton as Avery’s ex-Dylan up Y&R’s excitement quotient?   You tell me.

One Life to Live:  Oh happy day!  With the signing on of la diva (by that I mean a terrific actress who always creates excitement)  Robin Strasser and possibly her twin in class and sheer entertainment-making, Erika Slezak  it looks like Prospect Park’s One Life to Live may really  be happening soon.  It will be so good to see Bob Woods, who has just signed again as Bo!  But the best news may be the hiring of two headwriters who proved their talent on multiple shows before the quality of most soaps really declined. They are Susie Bedsow Horgan, who was once executive producer of the show (in the Todd and Patrick eras), and Thom Racina, who had a big hand in GH in the days of the Ice Princess. But what I really want is the return of the hilarious talk to, Nigel Bartholomew Smythe. (He is my beloved beagle’s namesake.)  A day without a Peter Bartlett quip is a day without sunshine in Llanview!

Comments

  1. Chris says:

    Marlena, according to the Showbiz 411 website that mentioned Robert S. Woods signing on to PP’s OLTL reboot to play Bo Buchanan again, Erika Slezak has also signed on to PP’s OLTL reboot to reprise her daytime emmy award winning role as Viki Lord! And what do you think about the report from the Daytime Confidential website saying that Roger Howarth (Todd), Kristen Alderson (Starr) and Michale Easton (John) are leaving GH temporarly to help launch PP’s OLTL reboot?

    Marlena says: I never believe anything until it is officially announced or confirmed by a show or a network.

  2. Esther says:

    I won’t believe any of this until OLTL actually airs, lol. Yes, I have trust issues.

    Marlena, you and I seem doomed to forever disagree about Y&R now. I can’t stand the changes and may not check back in to my DVR now that I’m busy again. I don’t recognize the show — too many new sets, characters and recasts. What made Y&R so accessible and comforting all these years was the fact nothing really changed — they had their vets/regulars longer than any other show, you recognized the sets and it was a pace I could come back to. Also, I for one, am not at all interested in Steve Burton joining. Who wants to lay odds that it will become the Dylan show? Nope, not interested in seeing that one bit.

    Marlena says: Change is difficult and Y&R is probably the show in TV history that has changed the least since its premiere. So I totally understand your opinion. My question is: for those who can stand the changes, is the show any good?

  3. tess says:

    Marlena asked–For those who can stand the changes, is the show any good? Yes, I do think the show is good. I love Jack’s addiction story. I was captivated by Sharon dealing with bipolar disorder. I like the new actor who plays Noah, but I actually preferred the previous Noah, the boyish looking guy with wholesome everyday looks. He had that old school soap opera leading man thing going on. Couldn’t you have seen him on yesteryear’s ALL MY CHILDREN or AS THE WORLD TURNS?

    I felt such great admiration for Noah when he stood by Sharon’s side during her ordeal, when he punched out Carmine for making a nasty remark about his mom. Gotta love a guy who cares about his mom.

    I think the actress who plays Arianna is talented, but I was a trifle taken aback by her appearance. I thought she would be drop-dead gorgeous. Now, don’t get me wrong, the girl is attractive, but I thought she would be a woman of great pulchritude. To me, it would take beauty ala Chloe on DAYS OF OUR LIVES to twist Noah around her little finger. She’s cute, but she’s no beauty pageant contestant. Maybe she’s a terrific lover. Who knows?

    And you’re right, the show needs a compelling story line, some juice, some thrills, some excitement. Some oomph. But I don’t want it to end up like GENERAL HOSPITAL. The stories on GH are absurd. Faison skulking around Port Charles with a mask that is a precise replica of Duke. Connie is mentally ill, but it’s one big joke. And what about how all the scenes cut on a predictable note? I find all that cutting dizzying. Why not surprise viewers and allow some scenes to play through? But I must underscore that GH has improved vastly, but still, I find it preposterous and goofy. But highly watchable.

    Y&R is a much more polished, sophisticated production than the three other soaps and for my buck and a half, Josh Griffith is the best thing to happen to Y&R in a long time.

    Marlena says: You’re right, GH and Y&R have very different styles. But with only four soaps left the temptation to compare one soap to another is too great for me.

  4. Patrick Erwin says:

    Greetings Marlena (and since you mentioned him, Nigel!)

    I have never been a huge fan of corporate intrigue on soaps. I think it’s incredibly effective in small doses, but generally, writers overuse it. It was interesting at first to watch Jabot go from the Abbotts to the Newmans and back. Now there are half a dozen companies and as you said, it’s complete musical chairs.

    The same happened on GL, where eventually everyone – literally, just about everyone – was CEO of Spaulding. Those stories just lose any ability to surprise. I think a great umbrella story that didn’t require someone to be murdered, married or take over a company would be a great thing.

    It’s also just incredibly booooring right now. A few characters have been ruined for me – Nikki is a killer and Victor is an insufferable bore. All the tension is gone from Kay/Jill. I think Jessica Collins (Avery) is very appealing but basing the show around her is not a smart move.

    Marlena says: Hi Patrick, dear. Boring is definitely the word I wanted to use for Y&R. I hope it doesn’t remain that way for long. I feel the exact same way about Jessica Collins as you do. But, she’s just lovely in many ways.

  5. Kevin says:

    No, Marlena, the imminent arrival of Steve Burton as Avery’s ex-Dylan will not up Y&R’s excitement quotient. The guy is a scene-stealing hog and if you haven’t noticed, about 90% of the message boards are immensely happy the guy is off “General Hospital.”

  6. James says:

    Chere Marlena,

    I’m still skeptical about Prospect Park. Will believe it when it finally comes together. But a March launch seems improbable. Still haven’t signed all the talent and writers need some time to come up with a proper storyline.

    As for Y&R, you and I are in agreement. I’m enjoying the show more now. New sets are fabulous. Pace is a little faster than I would prefer, but it’s OK.

    Jack’s pill addiction and Victor’s trying to get Newman back are the most interesting plots. That keeps me tuning back in. The corporate plots, especially this Neil/Cane as head of Jabot plot, is FF material. They transferred the entire Winters family to Jabot, but still managed to make them boring.

    I am enjoying the Fenn-Summer-Jamie storyline. Not because of the material itself but because of the excellent performances. They’ve captured the teen angst very well, especially the actors playing Fenn and Jamie. Cyber bullying certainly happens, but I think this is more about a symptom of how much all three teens are hurting inside. I suspect Fenn is struggling with his sexual orientation and directing his anger at Jamie who desperately needs some stability and acceptance.

    Not understanding why they brought back Jill and haven’t given her anything to do. And good lord, give Katherine something to do other than faint on the couch.

    Marlena says: Thanks James. I think soap fans would feel a lot about PP if they had a PR organization that distributes news to the soap press. Fenn freaks me out, and Jamie, to me, is too obvious a target. I think cyber-bullying is done much better in a tv movie or documentary than a soap.

  7. SZima says:

    Marlena, I usually agree with you about most of what you write, but I have to disagree with some of what you said about Y&R.

    I do agree about the rebuilding of some characters, getting rid of the dead wood and I do like the new sets, etc. However, I am absolutely hating the “Jack-As-Instant-Alcoholic” storyline. Peter Bergman is an excellent actor, and I’m sure he’s knocking it out of the park, but I find myself FFing through much of it. It’s so out-of-the-blue and came on too fast to be realistic. (This S/L has been like watching death-bed/sick-bed weeping and wailing scenes which I also FF.)

    You didn’t mention Victor in the column, but for me, he is the BIGGEST reason I may quit watching the show. He has become an inhuman psychopath who gets away with anything and everything and there is no end to his evilness. He’s so egotistical and narcissistic that I hate him, as much as is possible, for a fictional character. If that doesn’t change soon, I will have to quit watching this show.

    I also agree that the new Noah, Summer and Fen are good recasts, but I’m not liking Adriana at all so far. I’m not sure what it is about her…maybe she’s been too hyped and is not living up to it…but to compare her to Susan Lucci is sacrilegious to me. LOL She hasn’t sparked any interest for me, only annoyance, especially since she brought the creepy NYC cop to the canvas.

    Since I wasn’t a fan of Steve Burton’s Jason, I’m not looking forward to him coming to Y&R. I’m liking Avery with Nick and I don’t want that to get messed up…yet. If the plan is to pair him up with someone else, I’m open to him, IF Dylan’s nothing like Jason. It would be interesting to see him with Phyllis (boy, would the sparks fly) or Sharon (someone other than a Newman for a change), so I’ll reserve judgment until Steve’s been there for a while.

    As usual, I enjoy reading you opinions…even if I don’t always agree ;)

    Marlena says: Thanks, SZima. Guess what? I agree with most of your opinions. I didn’t mention Victor because I abhor him. I didn’t mean to directly compare Flores to Lucci, what I just meant was that soaps are always looking for an Erica type. Phyllis with Dylan — that would be hot! I wasn’t a Jason fan either but I’ll wait till Burton acts for a while on Y&R to comment on him.

  8. Chris says:

    Dearest Marlena;

    I have been looking forward to this column since I emailed you a few weeks back. You’re assessment of Y&R is certainly more positive than mine. I’m actually going to address this weeks column from a response you gave to another poster, “Is the show good”?

    Ummmm…no. It’s not that it’s particularly bad, It’s just really boring. To be honest I have been thinking about the writing in regards to some changes I’m not so hip on. Like the unnecessary update they did to Katherine’s set and the dramatic change in music. Two particular “updates” that leave me a little perplexed as I see it as, change for the sake of change. I think if you ask any Y&R diehard what was ailing the show the last 4 years, Katherine’s set and the music would probably never have come up. Which brings me back to, Is the show good? No. The stories for the most part are going nowhere. Noah’s story is Zzzzzzz! Who cares about the money? How is this tied to anything existing? Its plot pulled out of nowhere…and it’s going nowhere. Same for the Winters. Just because they are featured more doesn’t mean the story is good. I applaud them for bringing some romance back to Neils life courtesy of Leslie but the Jabot corporate drama is snooze ville. The musical chairs of people getting hired and fired is so not entertaining anymore. Not to mention the least bit realistic. Bill Bell had the corporate stories down to an art. No one since has been able to capture that magic. The cyber bully story as I mentioned a few weeks back is not really effective either. Most of the bullying has happened off camera and Fen being a jerk is no different than when Ricky was one or when Adam was one. Their is no well developed back story to help the audience understand these characters motivations. I just want someone to kick Fen in the crotch just as I used to feel that way with Ricky and Daisy. One dimensional characters have a short shelf life. Then you add in to the mix the one note Victor; Nikki as a punching bag; the dead body that was conveniently disposed of; new characters rushed into the narrative and shoved down our throat and what you have is a lot of been there done that. A formula that does not = success. I truly HATE the new music. I’m a fan of classic Y&R and prefer the show scored in Bill Bells style. This is an area where the change didn’t enhance on but took away from what was there. Y&R’s sound was one of it’s hallmarks as is the glamor and moody fell. Perhaps if the writing were stronger the changes to the production would be easier to swallow. But I wouldn’t know that because the writing is going nowhere interesting and Y&R feels unfamiliar and boring to me. But at least it looks better. They have done some things right.

    My wish would be to slow storytelling down. Jacks addiction is a great idea watered down in the execution. If your rushing through plot you forfeit your opportunity to wow the audience . We are going to give as much interest to the story as they are giving. Y&R has been number one since the late 80′s because fans loved the in-depth narrative the show used to be known for. I don’t think Y&R needs to go back to that pace but a middle ground would be nice. The reason I believe soaps have been struggling is because they didn’t tell compelling stories and keep the genre fresh with new ideas. They time and again dumbed our shows down with plots that had the intelligence level of a 6 year old. Not because the pace was slow. If you have doubts then how about this; think of any story you’ve loved since watching soaps and ask yourself if that story would have had the same impact being told from start to finish in 3 months? One of my all time favorites was Sheila switching babies. That story would have not been one for the books if told in today’s climate. I think soaps are doing themselves a disservice by not maximizing the most bang for their buck. Jacks story could have gone on most of this year and not only been incredible but spawned off several other compelling and plausible tales. I saw that story as a great idea that missed one brilliant opportunity after another, all because of how quickly they told it. As in the past, the acting was the saving grace and helped sugar coat the stories flaws.

    I think it would behoove the suits to reinstate Kay Alden as Josh’s co-headwriter. She knows how to build stories the way Bill Bell used to. Get rid of Hogan (whom I’m not a fan of) and bag all those tired soap cliche stories once and for all that keep fans reaching for their remotes. Then hire a story consultant who’s innovative and creative and help the writing enter a new level of brilliance not seen in soaps in a long time.

    Marlena says: Many good points here, Chris. Y&R is at a crossroads between the old and new style of soaps. I wpuldn’t be the one who has to make the choice; that’s an executive producer’s hard decision. Bill Bell’s old style doesn’t work without Bill Bell, and the other bigtime soap. GH, has certainly gone with the new. Modernizing Y&R (such as the music) really makes the fans mad. What to do? Keep it old or make it new? It’s a real toughie, and I don’t know if there is anyone out there who is brilliant enough to solve what is essentially a conundrum. Not all viewers are going to be satisfied. Jill Phelps has an extremely hard job! As I said in an earlier column, this regime still needs more time before it can be ultimately judged.

  9. Adam says:

    I can’t speak to Y&R, but I can say that JFP is a firebrand who can cause as much devastation as perform miracles. As a longtime fan of OLTL, I can say that she shook the show out of the production doldrums it had fallen into, but some of her casting choices were simply wrong for the characters, no matter how excellent the individual actors were. I hope Y&R fans give her time, because she can make high quality programming. As to OLTL and PP, all I can say is hooray! They seem to be heading in the right direction. Oh, and as for good old PB as NBS…ever since his introduction about twenty years ago, he was always one of the big reasons to watch OLTL. But then, OLTL was almost always a show that had great performers in the tiniest roles. If PP can keep the tradition up, I’ll be very happy, and I look forward to what Horgan and Racina pen. Should be fun and could be classic.

    Marlena says: JFP can do great work and it takes an executive producer of her quality to figure out Y&R’s future. When she makes mistakes, they are big ones. But what she really needs to succeed is great headwriting. Thanks for mentioning Nigel and I share your enthusiasm about OLTL, past and future. They really did have great casting, didn’t they?

  10. Adam says:

    On the topic of casting and OLTL, I can’t think of a single time where any core character was given over to an actor of less than solid-at least-ability, and the supporting players, those playing roles such as Nigel, were always so entertaining. I remember the days when small but vital supporting roles were the lifeblood-aside from great writing-of soaps, and OLTL always had that in abundance. Whether it was PB as Nigel, the gent who once played the absolutely hilarious Bulge, or even “Guests” such as Phyliss Sommerville as Mrs. Stonecliff, OLTL was awash in talent. As for JFP, I don’t think it’s a coincidence that her best periods on OLTL were the first few months where she swept the Labines out the door-an epic tragedy(talk about your big mistakes) if ever there was one-and the portion of 1999 where, despite no official headwriter, Pete Lemay was guiding JFP’s group of writers. Pam Long may be talented, but it appears she didn’t stand up to JFP and fight for her stories, and as for McTavish, the less said the better. Another not on casting, and JFP: Tim Gibbs is a wonderful actor, as is Steve Burton, but I wonder if Burton is going to be as woefully miscast on Y&R as Gibbs was on OLTL. JFP’s loyalty is sometimes her undoing. However, maybe Griffith and Sheffer can get JFP to listen to them on storylines. Griffith certainly has the will, given what I know of his stances during his OLTL stints.

  11. Ja-Min-Kim says:

    Would it be grand if Prospect Park could get actors Rick Hearst as Kevin Buchanan
    and Chad Brannon as Joey Buchanan

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