The Young and the Restless: Still the One

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

For the last month or so, The Young and the Restless has been carrying promotional spots celebrating the soap’s 25th anniversary as number one in the ratings.  It is quite an achievement. How did Y&R do it? By being consistently different from other soaps, particularly in its very idiosyncratic story structure.

The pace of the storylines on Y&R is much slower than on any other soaps. It takes forever for things to happen, and especially for secrets to be revealed.  For example, it’s been many months since Sharon lied to Nick, telling him that Summer is not the biological daughter, Jack is.  Too, Chelsea lied to Dylan for her entire pregnancy plus a few months more that the baby was his.  Connor was really fathered by Adam.  And talk about a long time — the oft-interrupted romance between former spouses Nick and Sharon is well into its second decade.

The  idiosyncratic structure of Y&R probably makes this soap very difficult to write. Many of the characters have been around for decades, and their personalities are hard to change to meet story specifications.   For example, how could Victor ever not be a suspicious bastard, never believing what people tell him and causing trouble for others.

Another problem for the writing team is that a lot of characters seem to have a certain fate. For example, neither Adam nor Jack will ever be winners.  Right now Adam seems to be headed to certain imprisonment should the fact that he ran over Delia be exposed. And Jack is a perpetual loser in love.  His latest love, Phyllis, is in a seemingly irreversible coma.

Also challenging the writers is the number of backstage events that must be accommodated for the show to run its course.  For example, last week TMZ revealed that Michael Muhney was accused of sexual harassment and fired.  Thus, Adam must be written off the show, at least for a while until the role is recast.

Further complicating things is the number of departures from the show this year. Billy Miller (Billy) is leaving the show after disagreement over his future contracts, and the role has been recast with David Tom, who used to play the role. Of course, last year Jeanne Cooper (Mrs. Chancellor) died and Michelle Stafford voluntarily left the show, leaving their characters to be written out.

Yet, Y&R continues to succeed, overcoming all roadblocks and remaining number one. Here’s to another twenty years on top! 

The Young and the Restless’ Monster Plot Twist

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

Soap plot twists are usually small and un-undoable. This week, The Young and the Restless let lose a monster that is neither.

Sharon Case: Her Sharon is sweet but sneaky.

As you know, most of the show over the last couple of months has revolved around the fact that Nick (Joshua Morrow)  found out from a paternity test that he is not Summer’s biological father. He thought Jack was.    This week, Sharon (Sharon Case) disclosed to her dead daughter Cassie that she changed the tests and that Nick  is Summer’s father after all.

That sneaky deed might seem out of character for Sharon, who on the surface is sweet and good.  But underneath she is insecure and lonely.  She longs for the life she used to have with first love and husband  Nick, before Cassie died and he deserted her for Phyllis.  She has also proven to be unstable in the past, having set fire to the Newman ranch last year.

The show had already been terribly shaken up when Nick revealed he is not Summer’s father.  This revelation elicited some great acting, particularly from Peter Bergman, who played instant father Jack, and Michelle Stafford, who plays Summer’s mother, Phyllis.  Hunter Hailey King as Summer had many excellent tear-drenched scenes when she found out about her paternity, and those with Bergman’s Jack  were particularly moving.

Michelle Stafford: Leaving a big hole to fill.

It also broke up Summer’s romance with sudden brother Kyle, who is Jack’s son. Harley Sawyer, whose acting has not impressed in the past, rose to the occasion in these melodramatic circumstances. His scenes with the stressed-out Summer were surprisingly good.

And of course, these plot twists will lead to even bigger plot twists.  On Friday, we saw Phyllis overhearing Sharon’s confession to Cassie about switching paternity tests.  That incident promises to lead to violence and we know Stafford is leaving the show.  The departure of the dynamic veteran Emmy-winning  Stafford will leave a big hole to fill.  But the show’s imaginative writers, who invented all these unexpected paternity switches, have demonstrated that they are up to the challenge.

In the beleaguered world of soap opera these days, it’s nice to have a little hope.

The Young and the Restless: Time and Patience Needed

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

I’m on school vacation and have plenty of time on my hands.  So I’ve been watching a lot of The Young and the Restless.  It’s pretty good soap, if time and patience are your strengths as a soap viewer.

Y&R, as is its custom, is much slower than other soaps.  A storyline — take Jack and Phyllis’ romance, for example — can take twenty years to resolve.  Right now, it’s about to be exposed whether Phyllis’ daughter Summer is Jack’s or Nick’s biologically. A single new romance like as Nick and Avery’s can take an entire year to develop.  They’re finally formally engaged as of this week!  Any one storyline can go through dozens of ups and downs.

Tracey E. Bregman and Christian LeBlanc

The current best example is Lauren and Michael’s long marriage and the rough seas it has been going through since Lauren had a hot affair with Carmine.   It took forever for Michael to find out about the affair and now he seems to be moving in and out of his and Lauren’s home with regularity.  Actually this storyline is a good showcase for daytime’s best current couple, Tracey E.  Bregman and Chrtistian LeBlanc, durable and always engaging actors both. We watched both performers grow up on soaps and we’re still tuned in.  Will Lauren and Michael stay together? I bet this storyline has years to go, and that Bregman and LeBlanc will continue to carry it forward.

Others that have gone on seemingly forever aren’t so palatable.  I’m tired of Kevin and Chloe debating Kevin’s criminal tendencies.  Chelsea’s sole reason for being seems to be getting pregnant. As you know, she’s currently carrying ex-husband Adam’s baby and passing it off as Dylan’s.

As you also know, the star du jour of the show is General Hospital émigré Steve Burton who plays Dylan, or as I call him Dumb Dylan.  He seems like a pretty intelligent guy, yet he persists in believing Chelsea’s big lie.  It doesn’t make much sense since he’s otherwise insightful and perceptive. Writer alert: this isn’t Burton’s fault.

Despite its perpetual status as the top rated show, Y&R is certainly facing big challenges right now.  On top of Jeanne Cooper’s recent death, Michelle Stafford is about to leave the show.  Can any one soap afford to lose two of its longtime superstars in such a short period of time? Ratings will tell.

So how goes your early summer, Thinking Fans? Do you have the patience to watch Y&R?     

Daytime Emmy Chump Change

On June 16th, this year’s Daytime Emmys will be broadcast on HLN.   Released this week were the names of the hosts — Sam Champion, Good Morning America’s co-host, and HLN hosts A. J. Hammer and Robin Meade. But … if an awards show’s prestige is measured in part by the star power of its celebrity hosts, couldn’t we have bigger names than these? We know there are only four daytime soaps left (and two on-line) but certainly the year’s big awards ceremony deserves be headlined by hosts with more juice. What do you think? 

The 40th Annual Daytime Emmy Nominations: Some Killer Choices!

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

What do you think of the 40th Annual Daytime Emmy nominees?  The list is long and illustrative given the fact that there are only four soaps.  Several categories are full of names that are most deserving. It would be very hard to cast a decisive vote should one have the opportunity.

Katherine Kelly Lang

Consider the lead actor category:  You’ve got an actor who created a real splash in General Hospital this year, Jason Thompson, who was brilliant as his Patrick Drake mourned the death of his wife Robin.  Then you’ve got the always dependable actors in the category — Peter Bergman (Jack, The Young and the Restless), Doug Davidson (Paul, Y&R) and Michael Muhney (Adam, Y&R).  Although Muhney is a great personal favorite of mine, I don’t know who did the superior job of all these outstanding actors.

Then there’s lead actress:  Who can beat Susan Flannery, who played Stephanie’s march to death so memorably on The Bold and the Beautiful? Or Heather Tom, who played Katie’s post-partum depression, also on B&B? Also excellent as was Days of Our Lives’ Peggy McCay who played Caroline’s Alzheimer’s suffering so skillfully.  Formidable, too, is Y&R’s always dependable Michelle Stafford (Phyllis), who also shone in that category.  Again, who to vote for?

For Best Supporting Actress, I’d definitely cast my vote for first time nominee (it’s about time) Katherine Kelly Lang of B&B, who played Stephanie’s best friend Brooke so beautifully and soulfully through Stephanie’s fabulously written final story. Here is an actress who has grown incredibly since her debut on the show 25 years ago, and definitely deserves recognition, not just for this year but for her long body of work.

And what about Best Show?  Can anyone beat GH, which had one of the best years in its history?  On the other hand, it’s hard to top B&B, with its brilliantly produced stories of Katie’s post-partum depression and the death of Stephanie.

Talk about killer choices. With only four surviving soaps contributing nominees, the work the voters had to choose from is all exciting and memorable. No matter who wins, the quality of all the nominees argues persuasively for the future of network soaps. Here’s hoping TPTB are paying attention.

This year’s Emmy Award ceremonies will be broadcast June 16 on HLN.

The Young and the Restless: Three Goods and a Brilliant

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

The last time I wrote about The Young and the Restless (Y&R’s Missing Links, January 14) I confessed I wasn’t terribly excited about watching the show, save for one storyline which held my interest:  Jack’s pill addiction   Over the last two months, the show has been playing several storylines that are so intriguing   I really do want to tune in.   On the whole, Y&R is on the upswing, principally because of its much improved writing: three storylines that earn “goods” and one additional feature that is absolutely “brilliant.”

Steve Burton

1. Those pesky on-line Steve Burton haters aside, I think Y&R has done a very nice job of introducing General Hospital’s former superstar as Dylan McAvoy, war veteran and a very, very nice guy.  Burton, who is surprisingly good in this role, seems to have chemistry with all the ladies — Avery (Dylan’s ex), Sharon and Chelsea. Did you see the scene this week in which Dylan, in grief over his father’s death, took off his shirt and jumped into bed with near stranger Chelsea (who is pregnant with Adam’ baby)?  OMG, that chest!!  Marlena is not [Read more...]

Merry Christmas, Baby, from Marlena!

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

Michelle Stafford

The Young and the Restless: I’m always looking for improvements under the new regime at The Young and the Restless.  One of the show’s former problems was loading heroines with too many problems, and I think the current writers have done a nice job these last few weeks in giving Phyllis (Michelle Stafford) a bit of rest.  In other words, instead of being called upon to carry on as the ever screaming, jealous wife, adulteress and murder suspect, she’s allowed us to be reminded of the kind of person she really is.

She’s not particularly man-crazy at the moment but showing some independence in the wake of the disappearance of her lover Ronan. Her new work at Newman shows her to be the intelligent and top professional woman she used to be. Her great compassion and support for pill-addict boss/ex-husband/good friend Jack has brought out her natural humanity.  Continuing to reach out to her wayward daughter Summer with great love, she’s let us see what a great and determined mother she is. I even notice she stopped wearing her usually slutty clothes.  Altogether, Phyllis is less of a headache, again a smart, convivial gal you’d like to actually know.

Although I don’t like Y&R‘s teen cyberbullying story, it certainly makes much  better use of fireball Emmy winners Christian LeBlanc and Tracey E. Bregman, whose marriage as Fen’s parents Michael and Lauren has been too happy for too long. Giving happy couples problems certainly worked with Adam and Chelsea, and certainly gives better acting opportunities to super actors Michael Mulney and Melissa Claire Egan.

I’m not a big fan of crabby Abby Newman, but I’m glad Marcy Rylan, who plays her so engagingly, is rejoining the show. The young character’s obnoxiousness is a spark the show surely needs.

But what I’m most excited about is the imminent arrival of Mark Pinter as politician Marcus Wheeler.  Pinter, of course, was brilliant as the Shakespearean villain Grant Harrison on Another World.   He’s the kind of powerful actor who can make waves for those corporate sharks Jack and Victor, played by the formidable actors Peter Bergman and Eric Braeden. Uh oh …do you think they’ll get Marcus mixed up with … Phyllis?

General Hospital:  I really like Felix (Marc Samuel), the new character on GH.  Felix is very, very, very smart.  Didn’t he make student nurse Sabrina do weeks of extra bedpan duty in exchange for an introduction to his cosmetics boss Lucy Coe? Of course it turned out Felix had never met Lucy, but Felix can talk himself into anything. GH is a show that needs humor, and Felix and his funny remarks certainly brighten scenes.  Anyone who calls that bitch Britt “Dr. Miss Thing” is certainly okay by Marlena!

By the way, Marlena, Moose and Nigel wish you all a Merry Christmas.  Getting read by you and receiving your wonderful comments are year-round Christmas presents for moi. Joyeux  Noel!  Buon Natale!

Sunday Reflections 5: The Young and the Restless, The Revamp; Reality Shows on Y&R and General Hospital; Gold Medal GH

By Marlena Delacroix a.k.a. Connie Passalacqua Hayman

The Young and the Restless:  The hardest job in the soap world is being done right now by new executive producer Jill Farren Phelps and headwriter Josh Griffith as they revamp Y&R and are rumored to be paring down its expensive cast.  Marlena has always believed it’s not a critic’s job to tell producers what to do; it’s our job to react to it.  Yet, I can’t resist making some observations on the Y&R they are examining right now.

How the hell are Phelps and Griffith going to get rid of any veterans, when the greatest strength of Y&R is its plethora of actors who have been on for decades? Firing any will be an amputation, with the fans just screaming bloody murder even after just one pink slip. Look at how wrenching it was to lose Eileen Davidson as Ashley, who departed Y&R just last week for Days of Our Lives!  Almost all the older vets have proven their worth by improving the awful stories of Ms. Arena Bell and company though their great acting abilities. Examples: 

Peter Bergman

Michelle Stafford

Peter Bergman’s Jack conquering paralysis and his joke of a marriage to Melody Thomas Scott’s  Nikki; Michelle Stafford in the on-going travails of Phyllis; Doug Davidson, bravura as Paul in the father kills son Ricky story, and on and on. For whom will the bell toll?

Caution: cutting or deemphasizing the vets on Y&R would likely kill the show, as it will cause longtime viewers — its core audience — to flee.  Plus, any of these actors can be maintained or saved by improved writing for their characters.

Doug Davidson

Most likely cuts will come from the shorter-termed vets from other shows, like the Genie Francis (totally miscast as scheming Genevieve) and those who have run out of story, like Stephen Nichols (Tucker).  Please don’t cut Debbi Morgan (Harmony) and Darnell Williams (Sarge)!  Each has more than carried over their momentous acting skills from All My Children to Y&R and I’ll cry if they get the sack.

The most effective move would be to punch up or recast most of the young cast, who range from nothing more than ordinary to dreadful.  I have never been a fan of (recent Emmy winner!) Christel Khalil (Lily) and Daniel Goddard (Cane).  Lily and Cane are insipid and I don’t care to see any more about Cane’s past. The relative newbies such as Blake Hood (who plays the newly adult Kyle) and Jessica Heap (who plays Eden) don’t do much for me.  I have a feeling the show will be bringing in [Read more...]

Introducing “Sunday Reflections”: General Hospital, The Young and the Restless, Days of Our Lives

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

Sunday is a great time to reflect on what’s happened during the week on soaps. So Marlena happily presents the first of a feature called “Sunday Reflections.

General Hospital: Leave it to this regime at GH to bring in a GQ mobster, Joe Scully Jr., as played by the mighty fine looking Richard Steinmetz (ex-Santa Barbara, Sunset Beach) He’s no Paulie Walnuts or Bobby “Bacalla” from The Sopranos.  I dig Joe’s artfully clipped hair. But what I really like about Joe is that he’s definitely a Brooklyn “des,” “dems” and “does” guy withoutrichart steinmetxhaving to say the actual words “des,” “dems” and “does.” Joe’s is a master liar who usually got away with everything in the past (sound familiar?)  I can hardly wait to see the super melodramatic prison reunion this week between Joe and Kate, the woman he raped long ago. This rape produced a son, obviously Trey, played by slick looker Erik Valdez, an actor I don’t especially like. So that makes a show with how many rapists? Todd, Joe, Luke. And how many murderers walking around? Sonny, Jason, Heather, Johnny. That’s exactly double the number of such criminals GH had under Guza. Sopranos creator David Chase could hardly dreamed up this line-up, no?  Ladies and gents, please no letters on the good looks of Maurice Benard and Steve Burton. I already know.

The Young and the Restless: When a friend tweeted two weeks ago “I can’t believe that I’d be so glad to see Christine again,” I just laughed. Now I agree. Lauralee Bell is demonstrating a wonderful maturity and great passion as she now plays a lawyer who is out to prosecute Phyllis for her long ago hit and run involving herself and Paul on their almost wedding day. Speaking [Read more...]