By Marlena De Lacroix a.k.a. Connie Passalacqua Hayman
We’ve written several times that the biggest challenge to changing The Young and the Restless is it’s static writing template, which has been in effect back to the days of co- creator/headwriter Bill Bell. The show is all about slow storytelling, dragging the storylines out and instead exploring character.
Recently, the show underwent a headwriting change, with Jeanne Passanante and Shelley Altman (most recently of One Life to Live) taking over. Whether it was by design or perhaps a sweeps month stunt, Passanante and Altman successfully picked up the show’s quality this month by careful use of the element of suspense.
The backdrop was the Delia Project Benefit, which honored the late little girl who was run over by Adam. Strangely, Adam’s widow Chelsea attended, to prove she was not her criminal husband. But even more strangely, the attendees at the benefit (which included everyone in town except Niki) were held hostage as a doll to be auctioned off accidentally broke open, spilling a cache of diamonds all over the ballroom floor. An ex-con character called Womack held everyone at gunpoint.
The writers used suspense in many different ways to keep the scene exciting. A dazed Billy broke down and admitted, in front of his wife Victoria and the whole town, that he had slept with Kelly. Would Victoria reject Billy on the spot? Most humanely, Victoria ignored the admission, chose to stay with her ill husband and accompany him to the hospital.
Womack didn’t give up when the police arrived. He decided to keep Cain and Lilly, the most boring couple on soap operas, as his sole hostages. Would Womack kill Lily? It suddenly made the couple infinitely more interesting. Finally, Womack shot Cain, just grazing him. Cain’s father Colin stepped out of the shadows with a gun to capture Womack, with whom, it turned out, he was in cahoots all along to steal the doll.
The suspense involved in this sweeps stunt did a lot to keep this week’s worth of Y&R episodes exciting. The use of suspense might be a good tool in upgrading the show’s writing in the future. It also did a lot to showcase the show’s two newest actors, both returnees. Tristan Rogers showed he still has the old charm as Colin. And David Tom has blended in very naturally and very nicely in his old role of Billy.