Ooh, la la. I think I died and went to soap opera heaven. And I almost missed it! I have to admit that I wasn't paying attention to Jason Thompson's entrance as Billy at the end of Wednesday's episode because I was playing games on my phone and only half listening to the dialogue. When I didn't hear Thompson's voice before the previews, I decided to rewind and make sure that he did appear as promised on that date. I wasn't expecting much, but I figured I could use it as column fodder.
I was amazed; I was blown away; I thought I was imagining things. I rewound and watched that short scene of Billy's comatose form several times. This may sound crazy, but I thought that Jason Thompson conveyed more of Billy's complexity lying in that coma for those few seconds than many of his predecessors had during their entire run. Those actors played the character, but Jason Thompson became the character. In that instant, he transformed; he was Billy, and any fear that I expressed in earlier columns -- that he wasn't blond like the Abbotts -- was completely washed away, just like the gray in Jill's hair. A switch clicked; history changed; Billy was no longer blond like the Abbotts but dark like Jill, and he always had been! It was an awesomely eerie feeling.
I have to say that while I was a fan of Thompson when he was on General Hospital, I was not an obsessed one. Also, on occasion, his character was a teensy-weensy bit sanctimonious for my taste. Consequently, I thought it might be jarring to see the noble Dr. Drake ride off to the sunset on a Friday and emerge as a comatose Billy only a few days later. Woo-oo-oo, was I surprised and completely wrong, or maybe I am completely obsessed! You be the judge.
I did expect Billy to linger in a coma, but I did not expect him to have an out-of-body experience. Am I insane, or did the writers treat us to a tour de force to showcase Thompson's phenomenal talent? His transition into Billy was seamless. Thompson's Billy did not miss a step as he waltzed though the wake of a disaster that he had created and realized the enormous damage that he had caused. Thompson's interaction with ghost Delia reminded me of just how natural he is with young actors. His timing was pitch perfect as he spoke over and around characters that couldn't hear or see Billy as he hovered between life and death. It was the perfect introduction for an acting savant.
Billy's odyssey could have fallen flat, but it didn't. It was very well written, as was Victoria's tale of the princess and the frog, which she lovingly told Billy as he lay sleeping. For anyone who tuned in to Y&R for the first time that day, those two sequences clearly summed up Billy's connection to the other characters and his complicated history with Victoria. I'm hoping for Victoria to kiss Billy, wake him and complete the fairy tale. Bravo, Y&R, bravo!
I'm betting that we are going to love this slightly more roguish, less morose Billy, just like we have come to adore a more upbeat, upright Adam. Now we have two terrific actors of equal power and strength to square off against each other and Eric Braeden! Does an act-off get any better than this?
Well, I guess I've gushed on enough about the new Billy and his A+ entrance, especially if I'm not in the majority! "Oops," she said with a red face. So, moving right along, we all knew that it was only a matter of time until Dylan joined the police force and got his badge. I do thank the writers for respecting the audience and giving us a plausible reason for how Dylan could get a badge so quickly. It's very possible that a police chief like Paul could pull strings to fast-track his son, much more believable than that a badly damaged Newman Towers could be rebuilt in two months! For that one, I had to close my eyes, tap my ruby slippers three times, and say, "It's only a soap!"
I like Paul and Dylan together. I think Steve Burton is hitting his stride and that Paul, always likable, is going to have storylines and screen time now. I like the overall lighter touch in the dialogue between the characters, and I definitely like the pairing of Paul with his son. I know that there are those who object when the scribes rewrite history, but I'm not one of them. All you have to do is read a couple of accounts about a historical event; one written near the time of the event and another written in the present, to see that we are constantly changing history. It's just that it happens so slowly, we barely notice, plus only historians read history anymore! I guess we pay better attention to our soaps, where we notice everything! I just keep two histories in my head: how it was then and how it is now.
I actually think it's great that the soaps can go back and change history -- probably a minority opinion here! I say that because there have certainly been a few times in my life that I wished I could go back and make course corrections. I still wonder about the roads not taken. Where soaps are concerned, if it makes the story fresher or better, if it creates a relationship that I want to see, like the growing closeness between Dylan and Paul, then it is as easy for me to suspend my belief about history as it is to suspend it about age and time -- lest we forget the dreaded SORAS! Remember, Lauren doesn't age, and some of the characters haven't had birthdays in years!
In other news of the comatose, Neil and Hilary were obliviously making love in the lab when Devon stopped in. Poor dumb, deluded billionaire. What will he do? I sure hope he doesn't pull the plug on Dr. Neville, who is surprisingly kind and compassionate with Ashley, despite his one-upmanship with most other authority figures. More Ashley and Dr. Neville, less Neil, Hilary, and Devon, who seem to me to be on a never-ending merry-go-round. How long have we been on this ride? Two years? Help me, help me! I'm falling, but I can't get off!
It does seem to be a mighty cold winter for the Winters clan. Strife and infidelity are running amok among its members. I'm still rooting for Cane and Lily to find their way back to each other, but they are stuck in the same storyline merry-go-round limbo as the rest of their family.
New girl and hacker Natalie made her first appearance last week. She entered with glasses and frizzy hair, but I have no doubt that down the road, she will transform into a knockout -- another soap opera cliché, but one I never get tired of, no matter how many times it's done, because, for me, it's Cinderella (without the wicked stepmother) all over again. I hope she proves to be a match for someone other than Kevin. Noah needs somebody.
I can't help it. I love Mariah more every time I see or hear her. She says her lines so rapidly and so well and with such a straight face that I can't believe that she doesn't crack up laughing. I sure do. Mariah is a combination of contradictions: spunky, cynical, grumbling, ironic, fatalistic, and bedrock for her friends. I loved Chloe and Kevin together, but I like Kevin and Mariah just as well. I also think that Mariah and Kevin have a healthier, less dependent relationship. (Of course, if Chloe came back and one of them had to go, I'd probably turn on Mariah in a heartbeat because Chloe took Billy's sperm and had a baby, but I'd prefer to have both on board. I'd like Mariah, even if she wasn't with Kevin! Too bad Mariah is related to Noah.)
Poor Adam, just when everything was going so well on all fronts for him, just when he'd had a day or two of happiness and the growing security of his father's love, it all went poof, when just like that, he stepped onto his high-security elevator in his fancy building and was kidnapped and whisked away amid the growing consternation and conclusion-jumping of all concerned. Chelsea went to the cops at the same time that Victor received a ransom demand for "the girl." I don't know if Victor will know who "the girl" is, but Kevin sure will after he hacks Victor's computer. It will be a moral dilemma for both. I think that the cavalry, in the form of Paul and Dylan, will ride to the rescue, establishing firmly that a new sheriff has replace the Keystone Kops.
What is this new threat to the Newmans? Is it the Santori family? Marisa thinks it is, but if it is, Luca is as much in the dark as anyone else. As I watched Luca talk to Marisa about trust and starting over and she offered to help him, I started warming up to them as a couple and a fourth dynasty in town, along with the Abbotts, Newmans, and Winterses. Hispanics now comprise the largest ethnic group in the U.S. I believe that they deserve the right to be portrayed as unrealistically as all the rest of us are on Y&R!
I was never a fan of Marisa and Noah, and I'm still not. Marisa is too old, too worldly, and too experienced for sweet, naïve Noah -- still 24 as of his last birthday two years ago -- while Marisa is getting older by the second. They may be attracted to each other now because of their differences, or because Noah likes damsels in distress, but life experience tells me that odds are, it won't last. Noah needs another Courtney. Hmm, maybe she has a long-lost twin! Also, now that I think about it, there is a new girl in town who might need rescuing.
Luca and Marisa, on the other hand, did share a great passion and could have it again. I caught some genuine tender moments that could grow into something between them, if nurtured. However, it looks like Marisa is going to fling it all away by jumping to the wrong conclusion and blaming Luca for Adam's disappearance. Did Papa Santori tumble to Victor's plan and outplay him, or did another entity, even more evil than either Victor or Papa Santori, outmaneuver both? Oh, no! Do you think that Marco is on the loose? I know he's not really dead. If Jack starts walking around in a hat that covers his ears, watch out, Genoa City!
Picky, picky, picky! Instead of laying off all those Jabot employee so that he could pay Victor, why didn't Jack borrow the money from Devon? Everybody else does! How is it that all Billy's family and friends remained to grieve when Jack pulled the plug, but only Victoria has been around since he woke up? If Natalie's investors were skilled enough to hack her hack-proof software, why do they need Natalie or her software? And the answer, please: (drumroll!) "It's only a soap!"
I don't know about you, but I can hardly wait for Monday, and it's not even a sweeps month. The Young and the Restless is off to a great start this year, the best since I started writing this column. I can hardly wait until next time all us fan addicts get together at Crimson Lights to meet and greet our amazing, wonderful, and enduring imaginary friends. Until then, friends, keep on soaping!
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