Take a ride on the wild side

For the Week of July 22, 2013
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Y&R Two Scoops: Take a ride on the wild side
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While some of Genoa City's denizens made plans to beat the heat, others beat feet to a grand gala. Michael packed heat for his confrontation with sleazy Carmine. Nick beat a hasty retreat after a big reveal, and Sharon made grave comments to her dead daughter that Phyllis overheard.

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Wild and wooly is the only way to describe Michael's armed response to Carmine's viral attack on the Baldwin family's values. Michael was locked and loaded and definitely walking on the wild side as he swooped in on Carmine like a western avenger. Only Lauren's impassioned plea stopped Michael from pulling the trigger. I felt Michael's frustration and righteous indignation in the face of his helplessness when the legal system failed the Baldwins. If I had been Michael, I don't know how far I would have gone to wipe that smug smirk off Carmine's face.

On the one hand, I wonder why Michael didn't just plug him. Considering how often and how easy leading citizens, like Phyllis, Kevin and others regularly beat murder and grand larceny charges, it wouldn't be a stretch to believe that a good lawyer like Michael could beat the rap, especially if Genoa City has a "Stand Your Ground Law."

On the other hand, it's a rule of the soapiverse that soap opera cops never bring enough heat to stop a harasser, especially when it's the victim's word against the harasser's word. However, when that harasser is victimized by the harassed victim, then the word of the victimized harasser is enough to arrest the harassed victim, which is exactly what happened when Paul arrested Michael for assaulting Carmine.

I have tried to like Carmine, I really have, but he is way too creepy for me and getting more so every day. His kindnesses to Fen notwithstanding, what Carmine has done to Lauren by posting that video for the world to see should be a warning to any man or woman who is in a relationship with a person who shows love by giving pain, physical or emotional. If that describes your situation, I urge you to get out -- and get out now -- or you may end up on the Internet, or worse, on a slab in the morgue, because you will be dead, or you will be in jail, because you snapped and put your tormentor on a slab instead. This is a wild ride that you do not want to take.

People like Carmine have often had a very harsh upbringing. They do try very hard to please the object of their affection: you. Big-heartedly you give them chance after chance because you want to help. They do romantic things, like serve you chocolate strawberries in bed, but rarely do they do the things that you really need done, like the dishes or the vacuuming. They mistake lust for love and only believe what they want to believe. One thing that they don't believe is that when you say no, you mean it.

Marco Dapper is doing a terrific job as Carmine, the stud muffin stalker. The hair on the back of my neck stands up as I watch his growing, yet doomed, obsession with Lauren and wait for the inevitable tragedy that will surely play out. Will Carmine still be alive in September? Not if he keeps lusting after Lauren. Will Michael do him in? That works for me, and if I'm on the jury, I'll acquit Michael on the grounds of temporary insanity. Michael deserves to wipe that gloating smirk off Carmine's face.

The ideal soap opera solution would be for an enemy of either Carmine or one of the Baldwin bunch to slink into Genoa City, kill Carmine, and then frame Fen, Lauren, or Michael for the murder. That would certainly create even more opportunities for Lauren to cry, Michael to fume, and Fen to sulk. The Baldwin bunch could ride the wild side together and bond through their shared angst. 80% of the comments in my email bag were about the "Who's Summer's Daddy?" storyline or one of its principals. Opinions were evenly split about the preferred parent, Jack or Nick. This comment from Jay made me laugh:

    "Jack should sue Nick for half a billion dollars. Imagine the look on Nick and Victor's faces."

I cruised the message boards and got the sense that Jack fans did not want him to bond with Summer and then be hurt again. One fan suggested that the writers bring back Jack's oldest son, Keemo. For some Keemo-therapy, perhaps?

All I can say is that even though this is a hackneyed, predictable storyline, I can still see possibilities. The actual dialogue is not terrible, and it does give Peter Bergman a chance to show his acting chops. He's one of my favorites, and any time Jack has meaty material, I'm for it. I'm selfish enough to want to see Jack run the gamut of his emotional range. It's like listening to a great pianist run scales.

Denial is not a river in Egypt, Sharon fans. The cat is out of the bag. Sharon did change the paternity tests, or at least verbalized to her dead daughter that she did. There is still an infinitesimal chance that the DNA test results are real and everything else is a figment of Sharon's imagination. I mean, face it, in Sharon's version, she happened into a hallway, where a lab technician was discussing private lab business on a public phone instead of using his office phone. After leaving a detailed message for Nick, the lab tech walked away, leaving an unlocked, unsupervised lab and an easily accessed hospital computer.

If Sharon is not hallucinating, then this is shockingly sloppy writing, even by the standard of those writers in that other soap town who are notorious for their rides on the wild side.

It would have been much more plausible for Sharon to have followed Nick to the lab and after Nick left, distract the technician and substitute her hair for Summer's. No fuss, no muss, same no match result, and a lot more believable. So like I said there is the teeniest of possibilities that Jack is Summer's father because Sharon's imagination fabricated a hallucination to match Sharon's desires.

There was a lot more mail from Sharon lovers than from Sharon haters. Here's Lisa's opinion about Sharon:

    "I am very upset regarding the character of Sharon Newman on Y & R. They have reduced this beloved character to a crazy, scheming loser. I have watched this show since its inception and cringe at what they have done to one of my favorite characters"

I'm with the Sharon lovers. Don't despair Lisa, Sharon Case can play anything, even a "head case," and I do think that's what Sharon is right now -- and it's not her fault. Sharon is either off her meds or the meds have become ineffective. I also don't think that Cassie is a ghost, like ghost John, who exists as a supernatural entity. I think Cassie is a hallucination, which is a figment of Sharon's imagination.

Sharon is mentally ill, and even though her actions, if real, have created devastation in several lives, Sharon is not malicious. Until we walk a mile in Sharon's stilettos, or at least toddle a few feet, I don't think we can understand the skewed logic of someone suffering from severe mental illness. Sharon's actions in the present do not absolve Nick's action in the past, when he selfishly failed to get an accurate test. Nick is not blameless for callously walking away from his wife and child when they needed him most, even though his gut instinct, that Summer was his child, appears to have been correct.

Back in the day, I loved Nick and Sharon as a couple. I thought that they were a great example of a young family. Nostalgia makes me want to see Sharon happy again, sipping mai tais and sitting around the Newman pool with Nikki and Victoria.

I want Nick to be there for Sharon like he should have been 18 years ago. I hope Nick forgives Sharon and helps her through this ordeal. I can see a wonderful story for Nick and Sharon that proves that love does endure and can conquer all. I hope someone writes it that way, but I'm not holding my breath.

Meanwhile, I'll take what I can get, and as long as Sharon is on the case, I know that I will see great performances from an actress who knows how to walk on the wild side.

Michelle Stafford's leave-taking and her character, Phyllis, generated the most comments. Everyone is sad to see Michelle Stafford go, but many of you recognize the value of the Phyllis character and suggested a recast. Here's what Kathy had to say:

    "Will someone replace Michelle Stafford as Phyllis? I can't see Y&R going ahead without this character. Also, you will need a dynamic personality to replace Michelle."

Two actresses were suggested as replacements. Pixie wrote:

    "I'd like to see the Phyllis (Michelle Stafford) role passed onto the red headed Liza from All My Children (Jamie Michelle Luner). She had a lot of the same qualities that Michelle has."

Here's what Timothy said:

    "Michelle Stafford is leaving. That character is too important to not have on the show. My suggestion is to cast Kelly Sullivan who is leaving GH. She is one of the best actresses out there and her Connie/Kate story line should have easily won her an Emmy. A little red hair dye and people would be in awe of this recast!"

I think Timothy has hit the mark, and better than that, he thought of something that I didn't! I agree with him totally about Kelly Sullivan. I absolutely loved her performance as Connie. She was terrific as both the good girl and the bad girl. Since it now appears that Phyllis is headed for a coma, Kelly could make a quick trip through the soapiverse wormhole, dye her hair, and discover a whole other personality just waiting for the chance to take control and ride the wild side. What do you think? Anyone else have an opinion?

I know that recasts are often big failures, but when they work, it's easy to forget the original unforgettable actor. That happened when Peter Bergman took over the role of Jack Abbott and made it his. The fourth Carly recast, in that soap town where my other imaginary friends reside, owns that part now. The same is true about Emme Rylan, who used to play Abby and now plays Lulu. She took over a major role from an Emmy-winning actress that I did not believe could be replaced, and nailed it.

A few days ago, I realized that after only six or seven months, I have almost forgotten that anyone except Emme has ever played Lulu. I like her interpretation of the character even better than that of the original actress. Emme has not copied the other actress, but has brought her own unique talent to the role. I understand why Y&R fans bemoaned the recast of Abby. Emme is a treasure.

If you're a glutton for punishment and have a few minutes to spare, record GH, fast-forward through everything except Emme's scenes, and enjoy the job she's doing in a much bigger, more demanding role. If you've got a little extra time, check out Kelly Sullivan as a possible Phyllis. You won't see her as the brash and sassy DID Connie who walked on the wild side, but you can catch the shrink-wrapped version.

Reports on Jamie Luner would be fun, too. What's her status? Is she available, or working for AMC? Voice your opinions about whether it's better to recast, or to keep Phyllis in a coma until Michelle Stafford comes to her senses! (Just kidding, Michelle. We wish you the best of luck and will be on the lookout for your next acting project.)

My favorite interaction last week was between Victor and Adam. I love it that Victor is onto Adam's tricks. When Victor told Adam that he was deplorable for taking delight in his brother's misfortune, Victor hit the nail on the head. Victor hammered it home when he told Adam that name didn't make family and blood didn't make family because only family made family. Victor was foreboding as he warned that Adam could never be part of the Newman family until he understood that one simple idea about family.

As I was trying to figure out Adam's defensiveness and why he couldn't understand and adapt, I realized that the Victor, Nick, and Adam storyline is very similar to the Norse saga of Odin, Thor, and Loki. Victor is definitely a god, Nick, whom Adam calls "the golden boy" could certainly carry a hammer and he has the stubbly, squared-jaw look of a Viking super hero. I can easily visualize Victor, Nick and Adam in a soap opera version of the movie, "Thor."

Adam has the dark, mischievous impishness associated with Loki, the cunning manipulator who never resisted a dig at his brother or believed that his father loved him. Sadly, Adam seems to be a bottomless pit of need, which neither Victor, nor anyone else, has been able satisfy. Maybe that will change when Adam learns that Chelsea's baby is his. Perhaps if Adam is able to give love, he will finally be able to feel and receive love.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, Victor did not fall for Adam's phony offer to start over with genuine trust between them, even when Adam extended his hand. That wily old fox is not going to be easy pickings for his whippersnapper offspring. Victor is holding up the honor of oldsters everywhere. I want to be just like Victor when I grow up -- so long as I can keep my red fingernails and don't have to scheme against Billy and Victoria.

Colleen also had a bone to pick with Adam:

    "With all the money Adam has, you would think he could afford to change his clothes once in a while. I, for one, am sick of the blue shirt (sleeves rolled up), tie and vest."

I had not noticed how often Adam wore the same clothes until Colleen mentioned it, but now that she has...

The best comment about fashion came from Ebonita. She sees Adam differently. She wrote:

    "I'm in love with The Young and the Restless, but lately not so much. There was a time when the show was about power struggles, unrequited love, fashion, and my deepest love, perfume. Now, it is a bunch of liars, cheaters, and thieves. I wanted to smell Jabot through the screen! Nikki, Katherine, Jill, and Ashley were soooo glamorous. Victor, and Jack, and Neil were so dressed to the T. The class level has dropped.

I mean Nick is a club owner. He should be edgy and dark; instead, he is still walking around looking like a conservative frat boy. The men's fashions could really go so much farther these days. The women's hair looks like mops most of the time... Adam Newman is the best dressed on that show. That character still makes an effort. I still think soap operas should rely on the fantasy, and shouldn't dress like me. I can't take Neil's character as a serious businessman dressed in jeans, and a shirt...Bring the fabulosity back."

I hear you Ebonita! I may be a Target-Walmart girl myself, with the occasional upscale visit to JCP, but I expect higher standards from my imaginary soap friends. I suspect that the wardrobe budget is one of the first to be slashed, so we will have to enjoy the great hair and fashions on display at the Newman Charity Gala. I was really glad to see that Victoria had shed her dowdy duds in favor of a much more elegant dress. I'm still wondering if she told Billy the truth about her pregnancy test.

People in Genoa City have such an alarmingly casual attitude about hiding pregnancies and paternity that it is hard to believe anyone until enough months pass and no baby bump develops. I can already hear Victoria blaming Billy's gambling for her lying if she is pregnant. Billy is obviously a devoted dad. He's not perfect, but he loves Victoria and is willing to try. What more can one ask of another?

Will Billy's scheming with Melanie help or hurt Billy in his quest to reconcile with Victoria? The sooner Victoria gets wise to Victor's tricks, the sooner she can get home to Billy, who could really use Victoria's support to help him stay home and away from another ride on the wild side.

I'm always pleased when my soap promotes a worthy cause, like the MS charities, especially when it also serves as a reason to throw a party and invite the whole town. When everyone gathers, mayhem follows. One viewer, Vicki, takes issue with the way the MS storyline has been handled. She writes that the MS information being disseminated is mostly false:

    "I have Multiple Sclerosis. The way Nikki's family and friends are reacting to her condition is absolutely FALSE. No doctor in the USA will ever visit a MS patient in their home. Good neurologists are the most difficult to find. Treatment is not a cure. The way that Nikki is, and how she, her family, and friends portray living with MS is embarrassing and a total SHAM. I realize it is a SOAP OPERA, but if you think this helps anyone with MS, or a caregiver of a MS patient, you are so off. If I could get married 14 times and travel around the world, I would be overjoyed, but wearing HIGH HEELS and actually making it up or down the stairs is impossible. We don't pass out and need smelling salts either!"

Hopefully, Vicki, people like me, who are ignorant about MS, will still be moved, even by the poor presentation, to learn more and contribute toward finding a cure, no matter how bad the writers screwed up the story. I'm not making light of your condition, I'm just pointing out that sometimes, bad publicity is better than no publicity, and even though you know the differences, we ignoramuses don't.

That said, thank you for correcting our false impression and giving us a more realistic one to bear in mind in real life when the subject of MS arises in conversation or we meet someone who has the disease. You and those others who suffer from this insidious enemy are courageous warriors. I salute your everyday bravery.

By the way, I can't go up or down the stairs in high heels either! I find the fact that anyone wears them at all to be completely ludicrous. Of course, I did not feel like that when I could still walk on the wild side.

A tried and true rule of the soapiverse is that that no soap disease is incurable. No matter how horrible the disease, it only lasts until 1) the storyline ends or 2) the character's contract ends. In either case, the character 1) dies or 2) goes into a coma, or 1) gets a magic pill, 2) gets an experimental drug, or 3) has a one-in-a-million surgery, and lives. The character is miraculously returned to all of his or her former glory, and the once incurable condition is cured but never completely forgotten, just ignored.

Finally, thank you so much for all you kind words and emails. I love hearing from you, especially when you amaze me with something clever and insightful.

Until next time, fellow fan addicts, keep soaping, and every once in a while, take some time for a short ride on the wild side.

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