Wednesday, September 15, 2010

CPR for Y&R

Anyone who's read my ramblings for any length of time knows I have a soft spot for Y&R. When Y&R is good, it's damned good. Unfortunately, it's been so long since it's been good, I've almost forgotten what good looks like.

Genoa City has become a mess of soap opera cliches, bad storytelling, terrible casting, and missed opportunities. All hope is not lost, though. It's not too late to get the #1 rated daytime drama back on track. In its favor, Y&R has some really good writers, talented actors, strong history to draw from, what would appear to be a more generous budget than the other daytime dramas still on the air, and good ratings. If it's going to remain a well-rated show, something's got to give. Actually, A LOT has to happen, if I'm ever again going to rave about Y&R, but change has to start somewhere, and here's where I suggest the changes begin.

Ten Things That Can Be Done To Make Y&R Watchable, Again

1. Rely on the tried and true. Time and again, during the last year or so, viewers have commented on how damned good Y&R is when Beth Maitland is on the screen. Maitland is a rivetting actor with tons of charisma. What's more, her character, Traci Abbott, is one we know and love. People who watch soaps are in it for the long haul. We love the continuity. We love knowing a character over the years, and riding the roller coaster with them. The tried and true is always a good bet. Give us more Traci, more Nina (Tricia Cast kicked ass this week), meatier storylines for Paul. Hell, I even liked having Cricket around the last few weeks, and I was never a big Cricket fan.  The fact is these are all good actors/interesting characters. Fans of Y&R already know and love them. We know they can carry a story. Let them have it. Familiarity is one of the things soap fans tune in for.

2. No more gimmicks, at least for a while. No more switched babies, no more plastic surgery, no more look-alikes, no more locking people up in makeshift dungeons, no more people rising from the dead, ok? Give it a fucking rest, and concentrate on character-driven stories.

3. If I want to know what Paris Hilton is up to, I'll tune in to E! I don't give a damn about the real Paris Hilton, and I really, truly don't give a damn about Genoa City's faux Paris Hilton. Basing a whole story line on a person whose real life is sickening is a bad, bad idea. Drop it. I don't care about Abby Newman's life as a celebutante. Nobody does.

4. Legacy characters - you've got them...use them. You know what works? Billy and Victoria as a couple. I like them. I don't even like Victoria, but I love me some Billy, and I love the idea of the Newmans and Abbotts once again finding their lives intertwined. Romeo and Juliet was already an old story when William Shakespeare got his hands on it, but he knew a good story when he stumbled upon it. This is good stuff. The stuff good soap is made of. Because it's not just about Billy and's about Victor and Jack and and Nikki and Ashley and every ugly piece of history the Abbotts and Newmans have shared. It's maybe THE story that really matters in Genoa City.

5. Gay it up, or forget it. Rafe is gay. Big deal. If it doesn't come to anything, who cares? If you're not going to give Rafe a storyline where his sexuality actually comes into play, I don't give a damn that he's gay. You don't get a medal for just having a guy admit he likes other guys. And,  I know this will make some people really angry, but Thom Bierdz is not a good actor. He just isn't.  The fact that he's a gay man does not make him well suited to play the only other gay character in Genoa City. Rafe is a nice enough guy, and a handsome enough guy. How about having him hook up with a romantic counterpart who isn't 1) a psychopath pretending to be gay (Adam) or 2) a boring schlub played by a really bad actor (Phillip)? Jabot is a cosmetics company, for heaven's sake. Do you mean to tell me there's not one other queer in a city that's basically a cosmetic firm's company town????

6. If it's broken, fix it. One thing Y&R has traditionally been good at is recognizing when things aren't going well. This has fallen by the wayside, though. If something is a mess, and the writing is on the wall, Y&R execs need to pounce while the iron is hot, and make changes. Chance is a poorly written character and the actor chosen for it may be handsome and have a following, but he's about as interesting as a bowl of white rice. This has been clear from day one. Why this has been prolonged is beyond me. Clementine Ford as Mac is a disaster. A bore. Again, this was clear the minute she got on board. Nothing personal, but she's not the right person for the role and, frankly, no one cares about the character. Why is she still in the role and why is the character still relevant?  The whole nonsense with Kay Chancellor's long lost son? It never worked. Stephen Nichols has never fit in at Y&R. This was clear early on. Why let him keep chugging along? If something is broken, you don't wait for it to repair it self - you fix it.

7. Recognize the best of the 'new' talent. It's not always about sticking with the old. Y&R has some great "new" talent. Elizabeth Hendrickson is awesome, and Chloe is so promising, but she's languishing due to por story line. Chloe and Chance were never interesting or sexy. Give this woman a worthy co-star who she shares some chemistry with (Jeff Branson???) and provide them with a solid story line that people actually want to watch. Also, Hendrickson and Tricia cast have great chemistry...they remind me of Kay and Jill, the early years. Let this bird fly, baby!

8. Leave the comfort zone. Lauren Fenmore has been a nice character for so long, we've almost forgotten what a brat she was when we first met her. The set-up of Jill as the bastard Fenmore sibling was cheesy and gimmicky, but what's done is done, and they might as well make the most of it. This is Lauren's chance to get back to being the spoiled brat we all know she really is. There's a rich bitch inside of Lauren Fenmore, just dying to get out. As for Jill, face it: she's most fun and interesting when she's in a catfight with another female. The days of Jill and Kay going at it full force are just about over. She needs a formidable opponent, and Lauren could suit that purpose. To make it interesting, why not make Jill better at running the Fenmore empire than Lauren ever was?

9. Expand Phyllis' sphere. I love Phyllis but, for too long now her entire universe has consisted of Nick, Nick, and more Nick. Michelle Stafford is a great actress, and she's capable of doing so much more than she's been doing for the last two years. Phyllis and Nick are over. So over. Let it die. No one wants to watch Phyllis beg Nick to love her for the umpteenth time. I want to see her kick Nick in the balls. Or dump a load of manure on Sharon's lawn. Better still, I want Phyllis to get deeply embloiled in a story line that has absolutely nothing to do with Nick, at all. Great character, great actor...she's on contract...use her, dammit. She's good for so much more than just being the devoted wife who stands by and lets her husband make a fool of her.

10. A lot of people want Dru back, but that won't happen. For far too many reasons to go into, I don't have a hope in hell that Victoria Rowell will be back on the set of Y&R, EVER. That leaves us with Drucilla's pathetic, little family and, frankly, they're not cutting it. Here's the thing - I don't believe...I've NEVER believed that Dru would end up with a bland, boring, milquetoasty daughter as played by Christel Khalil. The Winters family is lacking in spunk, and Lily is where it should come from. If viewers won't get the satisfaction of getting Dru back, Y&R should infuse the character of Lily with a lot more of the characteristics that made Dru so damned likable: a tougher attitude, a more outspoken demeanor, a lot less gentility. Frankly, Khalil doesn't have the chops for this, and a recast is in order. If we're ever going to care about any of the Winters family, and if there's ever going to be a chance for Dru's legacy to be passed down, this is pretty much it.


Deep Dish said...

Thanks for sharing your Y&R opinions - I enjoyed reading them. And I agree with many of them - especially about Chance (who's no longer with us), Chloe and Nina (let them go at each other), Lauren and Jill (ditto), Billy and Victoria (I've never cared much for her either, but I like them pairing up the two families), and Phyllis (she deserves better than Nick).

Snapper said...

MH....don't you think Chance is alive and well and in the witness protection program?