The bad news: In many ways, for a lot of fans, 2007's Y&R wound up being a very, very bad year and as the days went by, began to look more and more like a corpse on the very verge of expiration, with not much more than a breath or two of life left in it.
But ... thank goodness every dark cloud is supposed to have a silver lining. Y&R's silver lining could have been, one, the writer's strike, which may or may not have had a thing or three to do with two, the changing of the head scribbler hat. A head scribbler, who many feel has single-handedly destroyed our favorite show, and has been rumored to have boasted, with great pride, so I've heard, words along the lines of: I've never watched the old shows, don't plan to and aim to make this show my very own. Well, she certainly did that. Unfortunately, her 'own' show didn't turn out to be something many fans gave a hoot about watching. Most of us wanted to see the Y&R show. I doubt any fan expected it to remain as it always was; change is not only inevitable, but welcome. Except what happened for most of 2007 went way beyond change and veered into strange and downright unrecognizable territory.
And as I've said before, while I would never rejoice over anyone being deprived of their means to feed and clothe themselves or their families, just as a character can be miscast, so apparently can a scribe. Without climbing atop and remaining too long on my wooden soapbox, the reason soap operas have lasted so long is due to the emotional investment of fans in the characters. In some ways, investing in a soap opera is like watching a friend or family member be born, and begin to grow into the adult person they will become. If they are already grown, bit by bit through storytelling, flashbacks, other people's conversations or whatever else it takes, we get to see why a person is the way they are,. So it follows that a scribe coming onto a show that is long past its infancy should want to take the time to study that show to figure out where everyone fits and why.
I first caught bits and pieces of this show the year Katherine Chancellor was regularly drinking herself insensible. Back then, I had little knowledge of or patience with soap operas and remember watching my mother watch the Genoa City goings on while peppering her with annoying questions. Then from time to time, on a rare sick day at home, I would occasionally channel surf my way to Y&R and little by little somehow managed to add to my tiny store of knowledge about the lives of GC folks. I moved to California, stayed for a bit with a couple who just happened to be completely addicted to Y&R and a couple of other soaps. I had quite a good time at their expense, poking fun at them for racing home from their day jobs, immediately parking themselves on the sofa and gluing their eyes to their television screen as they watched their taped soaps. Any attempt on my part at conversation unrelated to soaps during soap watching time was met with steely-eyed disapproving glares and even talking about soaps was only allowed during the fast forwarded commercials. Well, skip through about 10+ years of calendars and as the proud owner of a VCR I could actually program myself, I began to tape the daily GC doings. I never intended for it to be a lifetime commitment, it was just something entertaining to watch at night while waiting for sleep to come and claim me. Getting hooked was a slow and entirely unintentional process. But hooked, line and sinker, is exactly what I became.
I got hooked on the Y&R theme music, the cameras that focused for what seemed like forever on a character's face before the scene faded to black. The music so fit the sad or happy scene; I soon learned to laugh or cry on cue. After awhile I found myself intrigued with the ups and downs of Nikki and Victor. Victor, always so gruffly hard and unforgiving, but redeemed somewhat through his Achilles heel, his Bayou dancing Nikki. Other poignant moments stand out, like Ashley, sobbing alone in the pouring rain after confessing to Victor she'd aborted their love child for Nikki's sake. Feeling for her, even though at the time I hated Victor leaving Nikki for Ashley. I adored Smilin' Jack, too, the one named Terry Lester, who slept with his own father's wife. In spite of that and all the other bad boy deeds he committed, what fan could stay mad at that man for long, bad though he was? Pretty soon I found myself caught like a fly in a spider's web. Caught by the episodes of jealousy, envy, eavesdropping, husband, wife, boyfriend, girlfriend stealing. I was officially invested in the Abbotts, the Newmans, the Williams', the Chancellors, Danny, Cricket, Nina, Phillip, Jill, John, and all the rest. And then there were the romances, my absolute favorite couple coming along in the form of Billy and Mackenzie. Love stories that took a nearly unbearable time to slowly unfold, but by the time they did, you were so into it, you had forgotten this was only make believe. Talk about a Calgon take me away moment! That pretty much described Y&R for this fan, and woe to the poor unfortunate family member who inadvertently prevented my Calgon hour from taping. Wasn't no Soapnet same day showings in those days. So my hubby knew a meticulously maintained emergency contact list of fellow soap tapers was his best bet for continued cohabitating happiness for those times he forgot to set the VCR.
Unfortunately, for this fan, anyway, soap watching in 2007 didn't even close to being that crucial. Because how the heck could I care about what happened to the GC inhabitants, when I didn't even feel like I knew who they were anymore?
There was so much that didn't quite work in 2007, I hardly know where to begin. So I guess I'll just jump right in the muck with my hip boots on. As usual my picks are listed however they hit my mind.
THE FOLLIES: (a foolish act or idea) and THE FAILURES (instance or state of not functioning).
Number one on my thumbs down list. ADo I Know You? Or perhaps, alternatively: What Have You Done to Her (or Him)?
Nikki Newman. When did she become so very vindictive? And when did she travel from family first to every man, woman and Newman child for their own dang self in practically the time it takes to make a finger snap? With both hands she pushed Victor to measure Jack's back for precise and proper placement of the target they were designing, jumped with both feet on that get Jack bandwagon. Then suddenly, it was: I need to be my own woman and I'm running for Senator. And even the dignity of the same darling daughter she now claims such devotion to, was not going to stand in the way of her getting the coveted Senator seat. After awhile you rarely saw her with her snout not pointed upward and even when it wasn't, her face still wore that: I smell something stinky and it's not me expression. It took Victoria's failure to rise completely out of the ashes to bring her back to a semblance of her former somewhat loving self. But it will likely take nothing less than another crippling crisis to make her toss Chow to the curb and forgive, forget and realign herself with Victor.
And what happened to Victoria's spine? She's always been Victor Newman's daughter, even when her eyes were soft and cloudy with love. So who is this simpering powder puff who so willingly made herself into Brad's doormat?
Number Two could perhaps be labeled: Payback is for Putzes. The fun thing about watching a hated soap villain was knowing that somehow, someway, someday, oh they were going to get what they had coming to them … in spades. Ask David Kimble about payback, traveling to that trash compactor with a big red M for Murdered tattooed on his forehead. But if you want to know about payback, don't bother to question Gloria Abbott. She won't be able to furnish any feedback about that since she's never had to feel the painful sting of well deserved payback.
Number Three: What Happened or Where Did They Go? This refers to that storyline, that dangled carrot, that woman, that man. See what fan Ann, below, had to say about this. She covered many of the things that bugged me and said it so well, there's no sense in me repeating her, and less eloquently. So I ditto her and add a few more: Michael's father. Brad's mother, Miguel, Sharon's mother.
Number Four: Bad, Bad Back Story. George Kaplan a/k/a Bradley Carlton. Having trickled out of 2006 and on into 2007, I had begun to fear the reliquary thing which contained everything including a rusted kitchen sink, would never reach the end of the road. Not only did this back-story fit like a warped puzzle piece into Brad's former, rather threadbare history, it was boring and completely unbelievable. A beloved father, sister and Aunt slaughtered. Brad, a secret iron-thighed killing machine, art and riches beyond compare. It's a relief to forget this one.
Number Five: Sheila Shenanigans. In a dead heat with Brad's bad back-story, I thought I might possibly go insane watching it. Already feeling as if I'd been bludgeoned unrelentingly with Phyllis's presence, to then be subjected to her as both Sheila and Phyllis was unimaginably horrifying. The one thing that might have made this one bearable - Sheila kidnapping Phyllis and living her life - apparently wasn't even a storyline consideration. And then to add insult to injury, after gobbling up weeks and weeks of precious air time, Lauren kicks down the door like Wonder Woman, and blam, it's over and Sheila is dead of what looked like a shoulder wound!
Which brings me to number 6: Don't Blink Or You'll Definitely Miss It. Which pretty much describes a lot of storylines. Because of the frenetic pace, 2007 wound up being a rather disjointed, jumbled together mess much of the time, with people moving from distant place to distant place in the blink of an eye. Three and four separate cell phone conversations in a single room. Everyone and their brother and two sisters congregating in the Newman break room. GC'ers racing back and forth between Crimson Lights and the Athletic Club for breakfast, lunch and 15 times a day breaks, and while it's morning for some, seconds later night has come for others. I often found myself hitting the rewind button convinced I must have missed some crucial connection that tied one scene to the next.
Number 7: Oh Come On! Or maybe: Do You Think I'm Deaf And Dumb, As Well As Blind and Stupid? Fitting comfortably in this category is Fire in the AC Walls. Heck it was easier believing Old Mother Leary's cow kicked over that lantern in the shed and set the town afire than that Amber would so easily get away with this one. And as for that dead body the three stooges were lugging all over town, not to mention burying and reburying money on the pristine, perfectly landscaped Chancellor grounds, all I can say is Oh, puleeze! I didn't like it as Weekend at Bernie's, and I liked it even less so in Genoa City.
Number 8: Look Ma, No Hands! Once so helplessly addicted to porn type matters, he chose sex surfing over the real thing upstairs, perused porn on the company computers and lost his marriage because he couldn't stop peeping, about two therapy sessions later and suddenly Daniel's all better?!
Number 9: If you're going to kill them off, could you please let them remain buried? Now I was one of the first to protest the erasure of patriarch John Abbott. I didn't see why he had to go; in my opinion he could have had a stroke, like the Dennison dad, and been brought back miraculously awakened if necessary. But I had no say in the matter, and with little fanfare, John Abbott was eventually pronounced no more. Until he was reincarnated and came back as Casper. But is he a ghost or a conscience? No one seems to know for sure. One thing is certain, however. Death has not perfected his intuition about women. Whether breathing or not, he still can't see clearly when it comes to the real Gloria.
Number 10: If I Commit A Crime, Would You Leave A Light On For Me Here? Yep, that would be Camp Wahee-Wahee, or Wisconsin State Prison, or whatever its name was. Where all the comforts of home await you. 24-hour in-cell visits, invisible guards, unlimited phone calls, and the like. Everyone welcome, family, friends, and furry, four legged friends. As much as I rejoiced to see Phyllis forced to savor the taste of defeat, my joy soon evaporated with day after monotonous day at the Prison. As they say, be careful what you wish for?
Number 11: Jana Hawks. Once a little hopeful for Jana and Kevin's coupling, the Carmen Mesta mess-tery practically cured me. And her constant groveling and hovering around Phyllis at Camp Wahee-Wahee didn't help matters. At the moment, I don't care about her in the least and wouldn't miss her were she to slink from the City.
Number 12: David Chow. I've expressed myself plenty in the past about my position on this cur. I've thought he was scum from the beginning and if his recent cell phone conversations are anything to go by, it appears I might have been right about him all along. Here's hoping.
Okay, lastly, lucky Number 13. If Victoria doesn't wake her comatose behind up, I'm going to march onto the Y&R Set and shake her awake myself. After the first day, those bedside monologues were BORING!!!
Is There A Hair Stylist Backstage? Self-explanatory.
One Whitewash Wasn't Enough: Brad Carlton.
I Thought You Had To Wait Six Weeks? Victoria's post-miscarriage pregnancy.
Yeah, It Sucks To Be You: Jack Abbott. In 2007 this crown was worn by Sharon.
She's A Rotten Goose But Still Manages To Lay Golden Eggs: Gloria Abbott
Where Is The Love? Colleen and Adrian's romance
Did They Really Need To Die Or Be Banished? John Abbott, Billy Abbott, Ashley Abbott, JiMin Kim, Drucilla Winters.
As always, there is so much more that could be added to the list of what didn't quite work for me, I know I've only scratched the surface, but some of what I didn't cover, some of you did, so when it comes to the worst, this is where I'm choosing to draw a line in the sand.
Now, having said all of the above, it's time for that silver lining I mentioned at the start of this column.
With the departure of that aforementioned scribbler, others scribes have put finger pads to keyboard and although it's likely we're only talking less than a week's worth of new stuff in the can, I swear, already I sense a discernable difference. Suddenly there is enough time to sit back and take a breath and enjoy a scene that lasts longer than five to 10 seconds. People are actually talking to each other and not by cell phone. While comedy is good, everyone is not trying so hard to draw a laugh with a biting one liner. Ashley and Jack were a pleasure to watch, as brother and sister wryly talked about their romantic failures.
Suddenly, the show has potential again. Whatever the former scribe has planned to write into fruition has now been brushed off the table and lies in splintered shards on the floor. Everything and I do mean everything in the future, is totally up for grabs. While it isn't likely someone pronounced dead will return to the land of the living (not as a ghost), i.e., Sheila, John, Cassie, there's always that possibility when no body has been found (Dru). It's possible Ashley and Abby can return. There is still that unexplored Abby-Victor connection, not to mention there's always room for another round of Ashley-Victor. Why not? Nikki has obviously settled for nicer to her, but not necessarily the better man David. I can't help but wonder if once the novelty of having David constantly fawning over her wears off, will so much of Chow be more than Nikki can stomach?
I read a spumor on our own Soapcentral's message board site the other day. Rumors have been swirling about Summer's true paternity from the moment we noticed the bump in Phyllis' belly. But I find this one pretty intriguing. And I find it so, not, as you might immediately presume, because I want Nick and Sharon to get back together. Because I'm not entirely convinced that one can be resurrected from the dry bones it has become now that so much muddy water has trickled beneath the bridge. Sure Nick and Phyllis and Summer a cute family make, but I still hope in the back of my mind for a rerun of Phyllis and Jack, and if Summer is his, it would be nice to see Jack get to actually keep one of the children he sired for longer than a hot minute.
Anyway, this spumor has Nick, rather than Phyllis, as the man whose mitts messed with the medical results. And is also tied into his convenient loss of memory, which, so the spumor goes, could return. Like I said, if it's true, there is so much potential for good storytelling.
We all have our wishes for the future, and for me, I want less murder and mayhem and more, much more, romance. I want Gloria's mask to be ripped off and her ugliness revealed for all to see. She shouldn't be the only one granted all the gloating. But absent that, then I want Jack to give her whatever money the ghostly John directs. If that means giving her the house, then so be it. I'm just sick of seeing her gunning for Jack and if she gets it all, then hopefully she will have nothing more to say.
As you all know by now, I want Lily with Cane. I want to see Heather and Daniel circling closer around each other, in hopes that he might start a thaw in her frozen demeanor. Or perhaps Adrian and Heather, if someone can be found for Colleen. And while they're not the most exciting, Paul and Maggie might as well create a few sparks as well, if they're able. Likewise, while J.T. and Victoria haven't created an inferno, they, like Michael and Lauren can just be pleasant together. Although I can see how their happy little existence (well, once Victoria wakes up, which has got to be soon) might have a dark cloud on the horizon should J.T. find himself forced into alignment with Victor, with Victoria siding with Mommy. I don't know what to say about Adrian and Colleen. Like I said a few paragraphs ago, I'm not feeling their love. Ditto for Kevin and Jana.
I'm also looking forward to the fireworks between Gloria and Jeffrey. Since we've already been there, done that twice, with the gentlemen falling for the former tramp, this time I would like to see Jeffrey put up more of a battle than his predecessors did before he falls in love, or maybe not have him fall in love with her at all. As long as it didn't wind up painting Gloria in more vibrant victim colors than she's already painted herself.
Before I close out year 2007 and welcome its successor, 2008, I have to take a moment to thank all of you fans. Week in and week out, many of you have taken the time to put finger pads to keyboard and electronically send me your thoughts and wishes for our favorite soap. I want you all to know that not only do I enormously enjoy your often hilarious submissions, I also want to thank you for making Soapcentral.com one of your daily or weekly must see sites in cyberspace. We here at Soapcentral.com appreciate each and every one of you and hope you will keep us in your list of favorite places for the foreseeable future.
Okay, enough mush. I wouldn't want any fan to have to run to their closet for their waders. So, on with what some of you didn't like about 2007 and your wishes for 2008. Next week, I'll return to my regular rundown and will include the rest of the general fan comments I've received during the past couple of weeks.
WANDA - My biggest complaint about '07 was all of the "couch sex". Don't these houses have bedrooms with doors and locks?? Noah constantly walks in the tacky house and the ranch house w/o knocking (as he should be able to w/o fear of being traumatized). Adults just waltz in and out of the different abodes as well. This is not counting how yucky it is to see people sitting on these couches a few scenes later. Out with LML and her crew and in with some new writers with fresh ideas for '08.
RHONDA -I agree with everybody that the writing has been tedious at best most of the year. Thank God for TiVo because I don't think I could sit through some of the drivel that has been on lately. Gloria is a hoot but the storyline with Jeffrey is ridiculous. About the Cane/Lily romance or infatuation or molestation, take your pick. I don't care how old he is or how young she is, what bothers me, it is BORING. This soap is badly in need of a relationship that has some real heat in it. I not fond of the Nick/Phyllis match but one thing they don't lack is chemistry.
APRIL - I grew up watching Y&R with my mother. However, I stopped watching it over 3 months ago (NO! not even bits of it). I can't and won't look at it again until Gloria and her crew get what they deserve. I don't mean another person finding out what Gloria has done, but not telling. I mean, I won't watch until her dirty laundry is displayed the same way that Jack's is (for all the world to see).
ANN - I couldn't possibly list all the ways the Y&R disappointed me this year. Between the de-emphasis on character development, the loss of humor and warmth, the creation of ridiculously unbelievable plotlines, and the lack of adequate follow-through on certain stories, you'd have to be an extremely devoted fan to have stuck with this dog for the past year. But I did. Here are a few of the most notable letdowns for me (by no means a complete list, just the things that rankle the most):
WHATEVER HAPPENED TO? The mystery of the Dropped storylines; the safe deposit key belonging to Tom Fisher (now held by Kevin); the huge Fisher/Baldwin lottery win - seems to have disappeared; Jack gleaning some dirt on Victor from that disgraced senator, and never using it; Cane having that suspicious-sounding telephone conversation that went nowhere.
SOUNDED GOOD AT THE TIME … Missed Potential, Fizzled Out: JiMin and Jill - what a shame; Katherine and Jill - please give these great women something to do; Jeffrey Bardwell (could have been so interesting if he hadn't been a Tom Fisher clone); The Clear Springs disaster (Who will rise from the ashes?. Well, just about everyone, except some guy we never knew anyway); Lauren's agoraphobia - completely debilitating, then cured miraculously and instantly; Character development - hey, where did all those people go?
DIDN'T SOUND GOOD AT THE TIME … storylines that should never have seen the light of day: The reliquary/Brad/George/stolen art sting operation - what a completely ridiculous waste of time; Jana 'the tumour made me do it' Hawkes; Phyllis at camp … I mean, in jail - dumb, dumb dumb; The race for Senator - yeah, like Jack and Nikki would ever be believable (and what was the point of that whole thing anyway?); The Kevin/Amber/Daniel stolen money, dead body in the apartment thing - really, really dumb; The Cane/Amber fake wedding with the fake female groom; Victoria's Styrofoam coma-inducing head-clunk - surely there was a more realistic way to provide her with a maternity leave.
Here's hoping for a return in 2008 to the values that made this soap Number One. Happy New Year to everyone, and thanks Nita for your great writing, your enthusiasm, and for providing us with a cool place to share our views.
GAYLE - Nita, I have to say the best thing about this past year with regard to the Y&R has been reading your always-witty columns! The show has been a colossal disappointment all year long, a continuing trend from last year. As one friend of mine put it, "this show is the worst it has ever been!" I have to agree. Everyone has been saying how bad the writing has been in the past 2 years and I for one have pretty much stopped watching the show. After many, many years of faithful viewing, I just couldn't stomach the carnage playing out on my TV screen any longer. I have been keeping up with the goings-on in GC in your columns, and I have to say, like so many others, I got sick to death of watching scheming Gloria and her crime syndicate family continue to gleefully scheme and plot and yet suffer absolutely no repercussions. Enough! Jack has been taking a beating for so long now - enough! Much of what Jack is paying for is a direct result of Gloria tainting the Jabot cream and I find it absolutely ludicrous to watch Glo continue to bug-eye her way around town, flitting her hands at every turn, to try to bring Jack down even further. This is not entertaining to watch! Viewers want to eventually see evil-doers get their comeuppance and Gloria, Kevin and Michael have gotten away with way too much for far too long! On another note, I, like fan Anne-Marie, just can't get on board the Lily-Cane love train. Sorry, he is too old for her and this so-called chemistry some people see is just non-existent for me. Watching a grown man try to lure an infantile 19-year-old Lily is just plain stupid, not to mention painful, to watch. Can't these writers come up with a decent age-appropriate couple? In the past 2 years we've seen some the dumbest, most unbelievable pairings in the show's history, IMO: Nick and Phyllis? (please. Puke.); Jack and Sharon? (again, please); Professor "Cradle Robber" and Colleen? (yuck); J.T. and Victoria (Zzzzzzzz.); and now they're apparently leaning towards a match with Daniel (ummm, apparently magically cured of his porn addiction *eyes rolling*) and Heather (who has got to be at least in her late twenties given she went to law school and has been a working attorney for a few years to make Assistant DA)? This is just sad if this is the best "romantic" pairings they can come up with. The only believable romantic couples recently created have been Michael and Lauren, and now Neil and Karen (don't even get me started on Nikki and that useless snake David Chow). The one potential mature couple they had for like 5 minutes was Jill and JiMin. And what do they do? Kill him off in like a nano-second and leave us with teeny-bopper half-wits like Amber and Jana who are just a waste of air space! What happened to real, believable, romance on this show? No, I'm not talking animalistic soft-porn sex of the Phick variety, but real wining and dining romance? Just one more thing lacking that has made this once classy, well-written show go down the tubes (ratings don't lie). It's really sad. I can only hope after the writers strike is over, there will be new writers (or perhaps a few of the old ones, pre-LML's era) that can revive this soap back to its former glory. That's my ardent wish for 2008. Guess we'll see. Nita, keep up the fantastic job you've been doing and let me add my voice to the others who've been nudging you to apply for a writing job with the show - you're far more talented than most of the hack crew they've had on board there recently! To you and everyone one else enjoy the holidays and here's to having a much better Y&R viewing experience for 2008. Cheers!
LONDA - My Wish List for 2008: Ashley comes back and Nikki sees green! No Brad and Sharon, kill it already! They are snoozeville. Nasty Jeffrey gives Glo hers and everyone finds out about her! The cancellation of the Phyllis Show.