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The bell has tolled for Maria
For the Week of July 30, 2012
Other Two Scoops for the week of July 30, 2012
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July 23, 2012
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August 6, 2012
There was a big shake-up behind the scenes at Y&R this past week, with Maria Arena Bell ousted as head writer and executive producer. Emmy winner Jill Farren Phelps is taking over as showrunner with Josh Griffith back again as head writer. They say timing is everything, so is this the right time for a change? It's time to investigate what may have prompted the change in this week's Two Scoops.

So, my original idea for this week's Two Scoops was to focus on the upswing in onscreen violence on The Young and the Restless. Have you noticed? You had Nick socking Billy. Then Phyllis was slapping Ronan. And if looks could kill, I think Neil murdered Sofia when she dared to say that she wanted to move to New York City and take Moses with her.

Well, the violence onscreen will have to take a backseat for a while we analyze the behind-the-scenes bloodletting. The Bell tolled for the lady in charge. On Thursday night, Maria Arena Bell was fired as the show's head writer. And Maria Arena Bell was also fired as the executive producer. That's right, a double homicide! Amazingly, and perhaps because she hasn't been reading the fan mail (or Soap Central!), Maria was shocked that she was let go.

Madame Bell was of the opinion that the show was in great shape, that everything was a-okay, and there was no need for change. Well, CBS and Sony thought otherwise. And while it's tough to kick someone while he or she is down, Maria had to know in her heart that there were problems with the show.

The Sharon and Victor pairing has been a lightning rod for fan anger. Christine has been twisted into a villain because she wants justice for Phyllis having run her down with a car 18 years ago. All-time good guy Paul is in a prison jumpsuit on a ridiculous murder charge, one that doesn't add up in the minds of viewers. Nikki has miraculously gone from lush to lover, as if being with Jack is all she needs to keep from craving booze. And that's just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to unresolved storytelling that seems to be in every corner of the show.

Add to that the fact that there are issues with the cast. Eileen Davidson is leaving for Days of Our Lives, and don't think that's not a blow. Eric Braeden is making noises about being unhappy with the direction of his character. Jennifer Landon has yet to make Heather either her own character or an interesting variation on the old Heather. She's just there to carry dialogue from one scene to the next. And while it's great to see happy couples in love -- Kevin and Chloe, Billy and Victoria, Nick and Phyllis, Jack and Nikki, Devon and Roxy, Carmine and Abby, Adam and Chelsea, Cane and Lily, Michael and Lauren -- it makes for very dull plots over time.

That's a soap opera basic, folks. Too much happiness is a bad thing. There must be conflict. There must be trouble. There must be more than couples having sex in cars and basketball courts, in the shower and the stables, on the floor and in the pool. Don't get me wrong; I'm a big fan of love in the afternoon, but Y&R has gone overboard with amore. What makes all the love even worse is when they toss in an unlovable pairing like Sharon and Victor, which just repels the viewership. Their scenes together have an undercurrent of incest and that's just a turn-off, no matter how you present it. Victor may not give a damn what Genoa City folk think of him and Sharon canoodling at Gloworm, but the Y&R watchers do.

Y&R has lost its edge. There; I said it. That's what went wrong, Maria. The quirky, strange, diabolical twists that have fueled the feuds that make Y&R fun have been missing in action. Instead of Victor's schemes and Jack's pathetic responses, we've been treated to a series of madness on parade.

Patty was a mad woman who never seemed to get caught and wreaked havoc again and again. Daisy was a psycho stalker who did heinous things and ran to Canada until it was time to bring her back to cause some more trouble. Ricky appeared out of nowhere with the same agenda and evil genes to explain his villainy. Even now, the Phyllis storyline -- which I actually like -- is supposedly 18 years in the making! That's a long, long time for Phyllis to have gotten away with all her nastiness and continued to thrive under the guise of a good person.

Seriously, does anyone think she's a morally upright woman? What has she taught her children about dealing with difficult situations? Write a blog to attack your enemies! How about handling someone you love betraying you? Run down the object of his affection with a car. Summer and Daniel have had one hell of a role model in Phyllis. How on earth can Nick defend her? Presumably, she's very good in bed, so perhaps that explains his allegiance.

So, the Maria Arena Bell era is over, and CBS's top soap moves on with a new regime. I know you can't see my face, but I'm grinning from ear to ear. It's not that I'm completely anti-Maria; it's that I'm completely pro-Jill. Jill is Jill Farren Phelps, the new executive producer, and I'm ecstatic that she'll be running Y&R.

Friends and fellow soap lovers, Jill is brilliant. I have enjoyed her work for years. When I first interviewed her during her days as executive producer of Guiding Light, she blew me away with her plans for the show. She successfully executed them, too, and it was one of the best times in that show's illustrious history. Then she went on to do more great work on General Hospital. She has a bookcase filled with Emmys, and they are very well deserved. I fully expect Jill to inject new life into Y&R. I think she'll honor the classic relationships -- she knows the value of brilliant characters -- while bringing in exciting fresh ones to spice things up.

And the new head writer, Josh Griffiths, is no stranger to Genoa City. I suspect that he'll keep the good stuff and dump the bad…starting with the storylines that are just stuck in the mud. He is a former Y&R creative consultant, head writer, and executive producer. That's a tremendous amount of experience -- not to mention familiarity -- with the cast, characters, and legacy of the show. If I were inclined to give CBS/Sony a grade for this dual personnel move, I'd give them an "A." Check back with me in six to eight months to determine if they live up to my high expectations.

Meanwhile, until the new folks are in place, we have to deal with Ms. Bell's work (which will probably continue for the rest of the summer into mid-September). Let's start with the awkward intersection of Phyllis and Paul's criminal cases. If you ever wanted to see bad writing, take a look at this parallel story.

Despite the fact that Phyllis has a rap sheet that's checkered to say the least, she hasn't spent a night behind bars. She was out on bail without even soiling her designer dress. While out, her husband has punched the publisher of a magazine -- with cameras rolling -- and Phyllis smacked a Genoa City police detective in the face. Despite that kind of antisocial behavior, they're both free to live their lives.

On the other hand, Paul remains in jail, held as though he's a danger to society. For some reason -- Michael's influence and Ronan's intransigence -- Paul doesn't warrant bail. Now, stop and think about that. Paul is a professional investigator. His father was a decorated Genoa City police officer. His brother is a priest.

Paul has worked with the GCPD as a consultant, and most recently was integral in solving the Jenkins' murder case. Paul is also a long-time resident of Genoa City with friends who will vouch for his integrity and honesty. All that doesn't matter. So bad girl Phyllis is free and Boy Scout Paul is locked up.

Even Paul's alleged crime wasn't as serious as the one Phyllis definitely committed. Phyllis ran over two people and left them to die in the street; the evidence is airtight about that. She then lied and covered up the crime for 18 years, which is called obstruction of justice. In Paul's case, he didn't shoot to kill when he stopped Ricky. He aimed and hit him in the arm. Ricky's fall was the fatal injury.

Even if the cops are hung up about the knife not being found at the crime scene, the very people who know him well aren't giving Paul any benefit of the doubt. Ronan and Michael choose to believe the theory that Paul planned to kill Ricky, that he was there with the gun to murder him. Never mind that his shot was to wound, Ronan and Michael are stacking up the evidence to make Paul look guilty. Meanwhile, the same two men are ignoring the evidence that's proves that Phyllis is guilty as sin.

After learning from direct testimony by the neighbor that Phyllis threatened Tim, Michael was forced to question her. Defiantly, almost proudly, Phyllis admitted to her best friend Michael -- Mr. Interim D.A. -- that she paid Tim to take a vacation. She acted like that was perfectly legitimate, but it wasn't. It was a bribe. Furthermore, when Tim's face was being splashed all over the news as a person of interest, Phyllis never bothered to inform that police.

I'm no lawyer, but when you don't cooperate with the police, you know what they call that? Obstruction of justice. For that reason alone, Michael should rescind her bail and put her in a cell. But no, Michael and Ronan just grit their teeth and excuse her actions. Or better still, they just blame Christine for being mean to Phyllis and out for revenge. It's such ridiculous storytelling that it's laughable.

What really aggravates me most about this Phyllis story is the way Christine is being written as a vigilante prosecutor who is trying to railroad Phyllis to get a conviction. What has Christine done to deserve such disrespect from Michael, Ronan, Heather, and the rest of the Phyllis fan club? Christine was the victim of a potentially fatal attack! If she and Paul had died, Phyllis would have been guilty of vehicular homicide -- murder with a car! Christine suffered serious injuries, and her entire life was derailed. Who knows what might have happened to her if she and Paul had not been run down that night.

The way I see it, Christine's entitled to feel as she does. She should want justice. Phyllis has never, ever paid for what she did. Even if you are a rabid Phyllis lover, you have to admit that there should be consequences for her actions. She's also completely arrogant about all the things she's done. She shows no remorse. She's only sorry that she's been caught.

And there's no way Michael, a frigging legal eagle, should be siding with Phyllis against Chris. In fact, since Michael is the interim D.A. and, presumably, wants to win the job for real (without the interim tag), he should be bending over backwards to be completely ethical and above reproach. He should put Phyllis in jail to prove to the mayor that he is not playing favorites. This storyline is destined to end with Michael losing his job because of how he's bungled these cases.

Which reminds me that there's another big flaw in Michael's prosecution of Paul -- the gun. Ronan claims Paul premeditated the murder of Ricky by bringing the gun to the hotel room, but Michael knows that the gun was Lauren's. Further, Paul was holding the gun to keep Lauren from violating her plea agreement. By not telling Ronan -- or anyone else -- what he knows about the gun, Michael is subverting justice. Paul knows this, but is being honorable and protecting Lauren. If Paul gave that information to Christine, she could use it in Paul's defense.

At some point, Paul has to inform Christine, or Michael has to do the right thing. One last thought: what happened to Lauren's determination to confess about the gun in order to help Paul? She's forgotten all about that. She met with Paul and remembered that he'd saved her from Shawn…but she never mentioned the gun, did she?

Watching the goings-on in Genoa City lately is an exercise in frustration. We're told that Christine is a bitch and Phyllis has been wronged. Phyllis acts like she's above the law. Nick supports her unconditionally. After punching Billy in the face, he then had the nerve to ask Victoria to get Billy to go easy on Phyllis in the pages of Restless Style. Are you kidding me? Phyllis is the original poison pen journalist.

Victoria said it best: if this were happening to someone else, Phyllis would be ruthless in her coverage of the story. Remember how she destroyed Sharon? What about Adam? Remember when Phyllis used the magazine to make Daisy look good, then got her out of prison just so she could take Lucy from Billy and Victoria? Phyllis has shown no mercy to the people around her. She doesn't deserve mercy from Restless Style. You know the old saying, "If you can't take it, don't dish it out!"

There are so many confusing stories going on right now on Y&R that it's enough to make your head spin. Where is this Abby and Carmine thing going? Aside from the fact that they're lovely to look at, what's the story? He's heading to prison unless something miraculous happens, and we already know that even if he does avoid jail, Victor is going to destroy the romance.

Then there's Ashley's ricochet romance with Tucker. Since Eileen Davidson is leaving, you know that Ashley and Tucker are kaput. But are we also going to see her estranged from Jack over this Jabot/Beauty of Nature tug-of-war? This is nonsensical, because no matter how ambitious Jack is, he wouldn't oust Ashley from Jabot to seize power. How would he justify that to the ghost of John Abbott? What would Traci say? Jack does have a conscience, folks.

As confusing as those Abbott stories are, I defy you to figure out what's up with the Newman family. Nikki is rushing into a marriage to Jack because Victor is schtupping Sharon? Really… Then we have Nick getting angry with Victor because he thinks Sharon is getting special treatment. What did he expect Victor to do with the woman in his bed? Give her a mop and ask her to do the floors? Come on! And let's not forget that Nick and Sharon were completely in synch when they worked together on the cosmetics line before, but now -- in just a few days -- Nick's offended that Victor made a decision without having Nick sign off on it? I think Nick's the one that's used to being Daddy's favorite boy.

I'm convinced that Sharon is a looney tune. I don't recognize her since she got out of prison. Is this the same woman who wanted her life back and her number one priority was taking care of her children? I ask because when she hopped a flight to Kansas to throw herself at Adam, she didn't seem very concerned about who was tucking Faith into bed that night. Of course, Nick wasn't worried about Faith, either, because he was up to his neck in Phyllis crap.

But, we're talking about Sharon. She's been the victim of character assassination. She's not acting like herself. Victor doesn't even treat her nicely anymore, yet she keeps going back for more. Why? She's continuing the kleptomania, which will probably be discovered within weeks, and Victor will turn on her. Just watch. He'll see her as damaged goods and unworthy of his love. Victor has no patience for damaged women, i.e., Ashley, Nikki, Diane… He uses them and discards them like soiled tissues.

As for the black sheep member of the Newman clan, I guess we should just accept that Adam is a transformed man. Love has altered his DNA. Maybe it's just that simple. Adam enjoys the uncomplicated relationship he has with Chelsea and she enjoys having the love of a smart, sexy guy. They work together. They're having a lot of sex, but I'm not sure there's any real passion there. At some point, there has to be more than just hot sex, doesn't there?

The Genevieve and Cane story seems to be heading in only one direction: Samantha is alive. She has the biggest motive to go after her mother, especially if she blames her for the destruction of the family. And remember, when Genevieve first appeared, she was manipulating Caleb to kill for her. Who knows what Samantha saw her mother do while married to Colin? Cane, of course, is the last to know anything. By the way, is he still working at Jabot? We never see him doing anything but hanging out with Lily and attending to Genevieve.

Of course, the Samantha story could be a ruse. Maybe it's someone pretending to be Samantha in order to drive Genevieve mad? I could see Colin making that happen. After all, she did lock him in the wine cellar and steal his millions. Colin might have a big revenge plot in the works and a faux Samantha could be the key.

The Tucker and Genevieve dynamic is great. I want more of those two together. I don't know what they really did in the past, but I think there was more than what Genevieve said happened in Sydney. Tucker was too passionately angry to have just been a spurned lover…

Finally, Sofia and Neil. My, my, my…how the tables have turned. Neil was as cold as ice when Sofia brought up the subject of taking a new job in New York. Of course he doesn't want Sofia to take Moses to live in Manhattan, but Neil is not a king. It's not his decision. A judge will decide what's fair. Sofia has done nothing to make me believe that she won't be given primary custody, with Neil getting liberal visitation. If Neil were to challenge for sole custody, I think he'd lose.

But this is why I'm so down on him; when Sofia explained the situation, Neil acted like a complete jerk. He didn't even consider it from Sofia's point of view. Sofia was diplomatic and suggested that they could work things out, but Neil told her she'd never take his son from him. This is crazy; Moses needs both parents. They'll have to learn to share him, even if it's long distance. Who is Neil to tell Sofia that she cannot accept a great job and keep custody of her only child? Judges rule in the favor of the mother very often in cases like this, and I think Neil is in for a big disappointment. He can go dance away the pain with Harmony!

So, that's it for now. I'm anxious to hear more from you all. What's your opinion about the change in leadership? Are you excited about the Phelps-Griffith takeover? Send me your thoughts and they might be posted in a future column -- just like these!

  • Phyllis should be sentenced to cleaning up road kill from the side of the highway for 6 months and have to pay a huge fine! -- Ava

  • Just a few random comments about the show. If Victor is a billionaire, why is the living room at the ranch the only room in the house we ever see, why is it so small, and most importantly, why has it not been redecorated in 30 years? Those colors are from the 80s! Neil is a man-skank. He's slept with practically every single woman on the show including his adopted son's aunt and now mother. Ick! I still cannot get that image of him sleeping with Sofia out of my mind...the worst staging I have ever seen! Sofia is a beautiful, sexy lady and Neil's muscles speak for themselves so you'd think they could have done better. And finally, I just cannot get past the 'aging' of the kids on this show. I know this is a routine practice in the soap world but in this instance, Fen, Summer and Kyle and their respective story lines as older characters seem odd and boring. If this is an effort to get the teen/college crowd to watch, it's a bit too late in the summer. Make them go away. -- Julie

  • Wow, Phyllis is finally going down. I have been watching forever. My guess is Daniel is not Danny's, as she fudged the paternity way back when, just as I believe she did with Summer. (I think she's really Jack's daughter). Phyllis wants who she wants and uses paternity to get it. -- Lee


Allison J. Waldman
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Two Scoops is an opinion column. The views expressed are not designed to be indicative of the opinions of or its advertisers. The Two Scoops section allows our Scoop staff to discuss what might happen, what has happened, and to take a look at the logistics of it all. They stand by their opinions and do not expect others to share the same view point.
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