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.
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.
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!