If The Young and Restless were a football team, which one would it be? Consistently number one, like the New England Patriots; by the wayside, like the Baltimore Ravens; led by a veteran, like the Denver Broncos; or hurting, like the Green Bay Packers? If football and soaps are not your ticket, skip directly to the New Year's Resolutions!
Football and soaps! That's ridiculous, you say. That columnist has lost her ever-loving mind, you say, but mull it over while I explain the similarities. Soap operas have a corporate owner, an executive producer, writers, directors, a team of actors, and a lot of support personnel. Football teams have an owner, a general manager, a coach, a quarterback, a team of players, and a lot of support personnel.
Soap operas are on a budget and do not always have the funds to pay actors whose contracts are ready for renewal the amount of salary that the actors want in order to remain on the soap team. Football teams have salary caps and cannot always pay star players whose contracts have expired what they want to remain on the team. It takes hard work to be a star athlete, and it takes hard work to be a successful actor. Athletes have to study and train, and so do actors.
Successful football owners hire excellent general managers and coaches, who in turn find great talent and superior personnel who can write good scripts for the offensive and defensive portions of the game. A good example is owner Paul Allen of the Seattle Seahawks. A less outstanding example is Daniel Snyder of the Washington Redskins. The same applies to soap opera owners who hire executive producers to find talent and manage the team. They hire writers to prepare scripts. A good example is General Hospital. A bad example was also GH before it became a good example!
The Seahawks hired general manager John Schneider and coach Pete Carroll in 2010. They rebuilt the team so that by 2013, only four players remained from 2009. The team's record improved from four wins and twelve losses to thirteen wins and three losses in the same period of time. Okay, you say, what does this have to do with Y&R? Just this: many of the same techniques used by the Seahawks were used successfully by GH when ABC (owner) hired the current executive producer (general manager) and writers (coach) and got out of their way and let new leadership forge the path. Such an approach could also revitalize Y&R, and in fact, if the executive producer is to be believed, that strategy is already in place and Y&R's new game plan is being implemented right now.
It took Pete Carroll and John Schneider four years to rebuild the Seahawks. So far, Jill Farren Phelps and her writing staff have only had about 15 months. My point is this: let's have some optimism for the new year and give the show a chance to right itself. Changing the direction of a soap opera is a huge undertaking because of all the threads and storyline connections. I imagine that it's akin to trying to change the course of an asteroid barreling towards earth. The closer the asteroid gets, the harder it is to divert its course. The same applies to storylines.
Another similarity between soaps and football is the impact that the fans have on the game. What the twelfth man has proven in Seattle, Y&R's number one rating has proven for the soaps. Finally, I've always considered football to be a game that combines the strength of a sumo wrestler with the brains of a chess master, the grace and agility of ballet, and the competitive ferocity of a duplicate bridge player.
Bridge and football, and, in my opinion, love of soap opera, require a certain (non-hurtful) amount of both masochism and sadism, perhaps because to be winners in both games, players have to love to dish it out while being able to take it, and so, it seems, do most soap fans. So next year, if Y&R follows the formula of a successful football team, I expect it to flourish and to reclaim its rightful place as the entitled winner in the Super Bowl of Soaps.
14 RESOLUTIONS FOR 2014 THAT I'D LIKE TO HEAR FROM Y&R DECISION MAKERS
1. Clean up the Michael Muhney mess. Speculation is rife about his dismissal, but most fans seem to be in Muhney's corner and don't believe that he was fired for cause. So if Muhney can't be brought back, it is imperative that his replacement be an equally dynamic actor, not a second-rate hack.
2. Let Dylan bond with his family. I think that it will be awesome when Dylan finally bonds with his mom and siblings. Despite the rewriting of history, Steve Burton and his character really came alive in his scenes with Nick, Nikki, and Victoria. I want a lot more of that!
One of the commenters on the site suggested that I was being hard on Dylan because I liked his character on GH. That is a valid comment, but it's not true. Personally, I think SB is needed more on Y&R than GH, and it's the actor I'm partial to, not the character. I feel the same way about Tristan Rogers. My objection was more to the way that Dylan was introduced than to the actual character, which I still believe could be a tad less perfect, but he is getting there. It certainly doesn't stop me from watching (and relishing) every scene that SB is in!
I did briefly wonder if he got an especially large signing bonus and if perhaps the real reason that Michelle Stafford left and Billy Miller is leaving is because all the available money went to Burton. Both Stafford and Miller said that money was not an issue, but would they have told us if it was? Incidentally, some fans have written in that all the money went to Eric Braeden, and that's the problem. I have no reliable information to support either of those contentions.
Now that Dylan has started to interact with some of the powerhouse players, I expect his character to develop more fully. There is a lot of story to be told here that can have enormous implications for the future, including the introduction of Dylan's non-Newman and non-Abbott relatives that could be potential love interests for the feuding families for years to come --families that after nearly forty years have way too many interconnections to date each other.
3. Learn from the past --1998 was a very good year. The blast from the past scenes in the Colonnade Room on New Year's Eve 1998 brought back a lot of memories about the storylines at the time. I was especially struck by the romance and glamour. I would like to see more of that, especially more romance. Too bad Genoa City had to celebrate New Year's Eve 2014 in a small public room at the Athletic Club instead of in the grandeur of the Colonnade Room.
Sharon and Nick looked so young and innocent in 1998. I was reminded of how sweet and what a wonderful wife and mother Sharon was in those days. The year 1998 occurred during the golden age of Bill Bell's storytelling, and it would not hurt Y&R writers to steal some of those stories to recycle.
A comment I read on one of the boards said that it was not so much the retelling of a previous story that was annoying as it was that the writers picked the stories we didn't like and retold those instead of retelling the stories that we did like. I agree. If it's going to be a rerun, give us a happy story, not a sad one.
4. More romance. Beef up the 20-30 something cast. One of the things that I noticed about the 1998 episode was that only Sharon and Nick remain from the 20-30 something crowd who appeared in that episode and/or attended that New Year's Eve party. The others have moved on. I think that by comparison, the 2014 roster of young actors suffers. None of them is what I consider a breakout actor, certainly not of the quality of Kelly Ripa, Josh Duhamel, Tommy Lee Jones, Laurence Fishburne, Judith Light, Kevin Bacon, Blair Underwood, Meg Ryan, Hayden Panettiere, David Hasslehoff, Demi Moore, and Eva Longoria, to name a few of the many actors who got their first acting experience on a soap.
Spotting new talent is one of the reasons I watch soaps. Many of us have been privileged to see some of those breakout stars when they began their careers, and we remember the excited feeling we got when we realized that we were watching superstars in the making.
Nothing is more heady that the recognition of the up and coming. I don't think that Y&R has any superstar potential in that age group now, but they sure could use some. In my opinion, it's time to cut the dead wood, draft some rookies with talent, and, like Pete Carroll, make a clean sweep in this age group.
Cast some new actors with fire in their bellies. They may not stay around very long, but they will burn bright while they do, and we fans will get the payoff of saying, "I was a fan when that megastar -- fill in the blank! -- was learning his/her trade on a soap. NuKyle is on his way out. Here's a great opportunity for Y&R to find a rising star to replace him.
A few more actors in the 30-50 age group would also be good. Both Nick and Sharon are out of possibilities for love interests if they don't date each other. Fan Sani suggested the return of J.T., Brittany, and Raul because they had terrific chemistry, and I agree. I loved it when that threesome was on the show.
5. A) Recast Fen. Send that mama's boy -- by the way, did you notice how Oedipal that dream Lauren had on Thursday was? -- off to jail or rehab and then have him return as a grown-up, six-foot-tall hunk who could date Summer or any number of Abbott or Newman women. Michael could also have a long lost child -- girl or boy -- from his pre-Lauren and pre-Genoa City days, which would also add another body to the 20-30 something dating pool.
5. B) End Carmine. Since we actually saw Carmine in Lauren's nightmare, it's a good bet that he's still around and that he sent the cake to Lauren. Enough is enough. Lauren is still very beautiful, but it's time for somebody else to assume the role of damsel in distress and let Lauren rest on her laurels for a while or go back to work at Fenmore's. If Fen were aged a couple of years and started dating, Lauren and Michael could happily interfere and fume about Fen's love life, and Lauren could have a whole new reason to cry.
6. Good cop, bad cop, party girl, or nark? What's up with Alex and Courtney? Is he a crooked cop? Was that his evil twin in the park with Courtney, or is this another Y&R red herring meant to make us think that Alex is dirty and Courtney is a druggie? Noah did find a bunch of pills in her purse, but isn't it possible that Courtney is secretly working undercover with Alex to bust the drug dealers in Genoa City?
It's hard to believe that Alex is actually dirty because of the way he's cautioned and helped Kevin, not only when Kevin was stealing, but with Kevin's relationship to Chloe also. Alex has also shown real tenacity in going after Delia's killer. Since I don't think that Alex is exhibiting the behavior of a bad cop, I'm hoping that Courtney proves to be a police rookie on her first assignment, or perhaps she's under duress because of a previous drug arrest.
Picky, Picky, Picky -- I don't see a bright future for this young actress unless she stops squinting and cocking her head to the side when she has dialogue. I wonder if she is trying to appear shorter than Noah, or if it's a signature gesture, like the hair tossing that Erica Kane's character used to do every time she made a point.
7. Is Ashley a real Abbott? I did not get many emails last week, but one of them, from Barbara, mentioned that Ashley was not John's biological daughter, and added that the situation had never been dealt with. Barbara suggested that resolving the paternity issue might make a good story, and I agree. It would also serve the purpose of adding more characters (Ashley's biological, non-Abbott family) to the canvas, who could date both Abbotts and Newmans, not to mention it would be fantastic to have Ashley back on the show with a real storyline.
8. Guess who's coming to dinner? Will Billy and Victoria's marriage survive Billy's grief sex with Kelly? Now that Victoria has invited both Stitch and Kelly to dinner, it won't take long (which of course is relative in soap time) for the truth to come out. At first I didn't think that Billy and Kelly had gone through with the grief sex because both Billy and Kelly were half-dressed when Billy said that they had to stop. I got interrupted on New Year's Eve and didn't get back to finish the episode until late last night. Boy howdy, was I surprised to learn that people could have sex with their clothes on!
It does not appear that Kelly was married to Stitch as Cathy suggested in her email, because Kelly asked about his wife -- unless, of course, Kelly and Stitch divorced and he remarried. Also, Stitch's wife's name is still listed as "Jenna," and his son, born 2011, is listed as "Max" not "Sam." Obviously, Stitch has some kind of involvement or responsibility in Kelly's son's death, if her hostility towards him is a reliable indicator.
I've forgotten how long Sam has been dead, though I'm sure someone will enjoy setting me straight,but it is possible that when seven-year-old Sam died, Stitch and Kelly divorced, and Stitch remarried and had another son. I'm looking forward to finding out more. I like both of these actors, and they will certainly enhance the dwindling dating pool. I'm also getting interested in their story, and I like the slow way that the characters and their intertwined histories have been introduced.
With all four at the dinner table, it probably won't take long for everyone's guilt to be exposed. Victoria is the only innocent here. I suspect that Victoria will turn to Stitch when she finds out what Billy and Kelly did. Billy will be a changed man soon, one that Victoria literally will not know after the role is recast.
9. Bring back Phyllis. If there is any amount of money that will bring Michelle Stafford back, Y&R should pay it. If not, then they need to find the best available actress who can fill her stilettos. Phyllis is too good a character not to be on the canvas. The show is suffering her loss. Without Phyllis, it will be very hard to resolve the Summer story. Summer is too young and beautiful to be crying and/or shivering in the cold all the time. This girl deserves to be happy, and she definitely needs a boyfriend.
My preference is to bring Phyllis out of her coma, redeem Sharon, and redo the paternity test, thus obtaining the correct answer once and for all. One commenter berated me for saying "if" Sharon changed the test, because she is positive that Sharon did. If I've learned anything after watching soaps for more than 30 years, it's that the writers can change the story at any time for any reason, no matter how sure they make a fact seem.
I am with the commenter on this, I am 99% sure that Sharon did change the test, though I would respectfully like to point out that I predicted that Sharon had changed the test in one of my early columns -- right after Sharon was shown standing in the hall near the lab -- and now I'm just hedging my bets because, as I've said more than once, I can be a very wishy-washy, fair weather fan, and I am happiest when I am not wrong, hence the hedging.
Another possibility for Jack, should Summer not be his daughter, is that his never-mentioned son, Keemo, may have a child out there. That would give Jack a grown grandchild to dote on, and the possibility of another 20-30 something member in the Abbott dating pool.
10. Victor's resolutions. I think we can all figure those out. 1) Bully Adam into letting Victor spend time with Connor by blackmailing Adam about the hit-and-run. 2) Bully Nick about seeing Sharon, thus driving Sharon and Nick closer together. 3) Bully Victoria about Billy. 4) Bully Nikki about seeing Dylan. 5) Bully Dylan about seeing Nikki. 6) Bully anyone and everyone that gets in Victor's way.
This character is becoming way too one-dimensional for me and needs some redeeming qualities to balance out his serious control issues. I've always had a soft spot for Victor, but I'm not liking him very much at the moment. I'm definitely channeling my capacity for conditional love on him.
11. Plans for the Winters clan. It appears that Lily and Cane, one of the few happy couples, are about to go through another cancer scare. I sense that this is a device that will propel the biotech showdown that is looming between Victor, Jack, and Jill. Abby and Tyler are about to get a storyline, but it looks like it will be Lauren and Carmine all over again with Tyler's ex, Mariah, taking the Carmine part. Neil and Leslie are going to hit some speed bumps on their way to the altar, so we might get a real story with real issues there. I wouldn't mind if Y&R could find a place for Darnell Williams and/or Debbie Morgan somewhere in this story -- or bring back Drucilla, which would definitely put a crimp in Neil's wedding plans.
Despite myself, I'm beginning to like Hilary, though I wonder why she doesn't use her real name, Anne Turner. I'm even beginning to like Devon a little better when he's around Hilary. Maybe they are going to be a better couple than I first thought, even if, as I suspect, Hilary started plotting to fleece Devon out of all his money way back when she was still revenge-minded and first heard about the inheritance. I'm still not convinced that Hilary's change is real, because the actress is so convincing at being both good and bad. I definitely like that about her, and I hope that Hilary actually falls for Devon so that they can give us a genuine, hate-turns-to-love story.
12. Give Jill more storyline. With Katherine gone, someone needs to step up to the matriarchal line of scrimmage and throw a Hail Mary touchdown pass. Jill can do it, especially if that music box somehow convinces Jill that it is the crown, as head of the family, that Katherine really wanted to pass on to her. Jill also has off-canvas relations -- the Fosters. She must have all kinds of Foster nieces and nephews out there who could return to Genoa City to serve as non-relative love interests for the Abbotts and Newmans. I also anticipate something very exciting for Jill with Tristan Rogers.
13. Paul deserves a family. Paul Williams represents another opportunity to introduce members of the 20-30 something crowd and beef up the cast. Surely Paul has some nieces or nephews out there somewhere. I'm still rooting for there to be a good reason that Paul's sperm was used by Ian Ward to impregnate Nikki, so Dylan would be Paul's son. That's a very forlorn hope at this point and more wishful thinking that actual possibility, so I will settle for what I can get! Some Paul is better than none at all.
I just wish that Paul had sown enough wild oats to have a grown child waiting in the wings. Think how convenient that would be, all the benefits of family without having to do the hard work of childrearing or childbearing. Sometimes I wish that I had a long-lost child that I don't remember! Any volunteers?
14. Find a sense of humor; write better dialogue, and stop the red herrings that are all stick and no carrot. Even when the plot bogs down and the storyline drags, good writing and crisp, humorous dialogue can cover a multitude of sins. Some of the best soap scenes I've ever watched were not so much plot-driven, as dialogue-driven. Great scenes with great actors playing off each other are priceless, quotable, and memorable.
Y&R didn't produce nearly so much of that as some of the other soaps did in 2014. I do think that the dialogue has been gradually improving and is a lot better now than it was a few months ago. I could do without the red herrings that lead nowhere, like when Alex told Kevin that an officer was going out to arrest the suspected driver, Adam's doorbell rang, and they cut to commercial. For a few minutes, we thought that Adam had been caught, but after the commercial interruption, we soon learned that we had been led astray. Learning that Ashley was not John's daughter, but never dealing with it, is another good example of a stick without a carrot.
I'm not sure, in the beginning of the Delia story, that Adam was intended to be the hit-and-run driver, though I do believe that Adam was supposed to believe that he was. Now with the Muhney brouhaha, the simplest solution would be to wrap up that part of the story and send Adam away somewhere for as long as it takes to recast the part, preferably with a high-quality actor. As noted earlier, Muhney is a soap superstar, and he will not be easily replaced.
Yes, friends, it has been a very rough year for our favorite soap, but 2014 is starting out with some interesting possibilities, and there is a lot of life and potential left for our soap to tap before we start counting Y&R as down and out.
It may only be a soap to some, but to those of us who love, hate, and cherish The Young and Restless, it's a window on the world. If you are like me, it will take a lot more than one bad year to stop you from watching, though I won't stop bitching until things get turned around and neither should you! Keep telling Sony, CBS, and Y&R what you think about the show through their websites and Facebook pages. If enough of us keep telling them nicely what we think -- and probably even if we aren't so nice -- what we say will eventually make a difference.
In the meantime, I will keep soaping until they come to pry the remote out of my cold, dead hand. Until next time, fellow fan addicts, my wish for you and yours is that 2014 is your happiest New Year ever!
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Two Scoops is an opinion column. The views expressed are not designed to be indicative of the opinions of soapcentral.com 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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