Click here to read Teddi's take on 2014 in part two of The Young and the Restless: The Year-In-Review
No matter how hard I try to start my column early, something always comes between me and my deadline. This time I didn't have enough days in the week. I knew I would have to binge-watch three and a half days of The Young and the Restless before I could start writing. I decided to run a quick errand first. When I got in the car, I noticed that the "Check Tire Pressure" light was on. After reading about it in the owner's manual, I thought I could ignore it for my short errand.
Before I reached my destination, the "Check Engine" light came on. I finished my errand and hurried home. After a phone call to the dealer, I had an appointment for service. I was advised to err on the side of caution and not drive the car until it could be serviced.
Okay, I thought, only a little behind schedule. I turned on the TV and started watching. Everything was going great until I began Friday's episode. Instead of the Newman, Abbott, and Winters families, President Obama was center stage, explaining his Cuba policy. I suppose I should be happy that I live in a country where we have that kind of openness, but all I could think was "Why can't they interrupt some other program?"
The last time that happened, I scoured the Internet, looking for a free viewing of the episode that the president had interrupted. It took a while because CBS has started charging $5.99 a month to watch episodes, and I didn't want to pay. I kept hearing, "Why buy the cow when you can get the milk for free?" That led me to start recording Y&R on the TV Guide channel as backup. Boy howdy, was I glad I did.
So, now that I've vented, let's get to it! Last year at this time, I gave Y&R a failing mark, so I am pleased to announce that the sizzle is back. Consequently, I have more positives than negatives to report for 2014. The storylines that sizzled most for me were Phyllis' return and the Jack/Kelly/Phyllis triangle. Jack and Kelly are hot together, but so are Phyllis and Jack. Kelly was right when she described Phyllis as a bully, and I do not expect Kelly to go down easily. I expect this story to get even hotter in the new year.
The story of Victoria's baby blanket bingo also sizzled. Even though I was pretty sure that Billy would be the baby's father, I was still in suspense until the actual moment of truth finally arrived. Y&R did not bobble that secret as they have so many others.
Also of note were Ben's story of sacrifice, Mariah's acceptance of her place in Genoa City, Paul's shooting and the discovery that he was Dylan's father, Michael's reaction to learning that he had prostate cancer, and Adam's return as Gabriel.
What fizzled was the story of Ian Ward, who, after a promising beginning and a spectacular portrayal by Ray Wise, oozed away, presumably to jail, never to be seen again -- or maybe not -- I noticed that Christine looked away when Nikki and Paul mentioned Ian. Maybe Christine knows something that we don't. Perhaps Ian is about to get off on a technicality and slither back into Nikki and Mariah's lives, and Y&R will actually finish the story instead of just dropping it, like a cell call on a bad network!
The music box mystery also fizzled. Even after it ended, I still didn't get the point of the clues or the gift. I thought Katherine should have left more of her fortune to Jill, but perhaps it worked out for the best. Jill doesn't seem to be suffering financially in her "retirement," so who am I to second-guess Katherine.
The perpetual fizzler -- any storyline connected to the Winters clan -- fizzled again this year. "Rich as Midas -- I can have any woman I want" Devon lusting after his blind daddy's wife is a fractured retelling of the Biblical saga of David and Bathsheba (King David wanted Bathsheba, so he had her soldier husband, Uriah the Hittite, sent to the frontline of a fierce battle to be killed). I get the feeling that both Hilary and Devon would rather shove Neil under a bus than risk having Neil fall off the wagon if they tell the truth about their feelings for one another. As I said last time, Devon and Hilary finding each other would have been sweet, but this cheating twosome is tawdry and cheap.
I don't know why the Y&R scribes can't do a better job of writing for the Winters clan. That wasn't always the case. During the Malcolm and Drucilla years, there were great stories for that family. Maybe the writers should get out those old scripts and recycle some of them.
Without a doubt, the most sizzling couple of the summer was Nick and Sharon. They were super together and even though there are some other terrific couples on the show right now, none of them thrilled me as much as Sharon and Nick as they found their way back to each other. I was so touched when Nick, despite Sharon's fears, promised to love her forever and to let nothing interfere with getting his family back. I really wanted to trust him, but unlike Sharon, I never really did.
I hoped against hope that the writers would do the unexpected and let Nick prove his love by forgiving Sharon, but alas, that was not the case, and Nick has now morphed into unreasonable slash and burn mode. Now that Faith has run away, perhaps Nick will come to his senses and drop his custody suit. Since Nick is already sniffing around his next "true" love, he could also lose interest in pursuing his suit against Sharon in favor of pursuing Sage. We can only hope.
I would much rather see Nick reunite with Sharon, but how else will he and Adam meet and get to know each other if they don't have Sage to bring them together? That is, assuming that Adam did not blurt out everything to Jack, or that if he did, Adam will somehow convince Jack to keep his mouth shut.
Other couples that had more than a little sizzle: Michael and Lauren, Colin and Jill, Billy and Chelsea, Ben and Ashley, and Ben and Victoria. Even though the romance fizzled, Jack sizzled with Kelly as much as he does with Phyllis.
For me, the fizzles are Austin and Summer, Neil and Hilary, and Dylan and Avery. Summer seems too whiny and immature to be married or involved in a serious relationship, and I don't feel any real attraction between those two. I think Austin has more chemistry with Mariah than with Summer.
In the case of Neil and Hilary, I just think that Neil is too old for Hilary, and he should have realized that when he proposed to her. Hilary was lonely and had no other friends. Neil should have considered that young Hilary was marrying his middle-aged self out of gratitude, not love. The fact that Neil is so out of touch with Hilary and her feelings that she can conduct an affair with Neil's son under Neil's nose illustrates my point.
I'm probably in the minority when it comes to Dylan and Avery, but somehow, these two are ho-hum to me. I don't really care about them. They are my least favorite characters, and if they disappeared tomorrow, I wouldn't miss them.
After a rocky year of cast losses, Y&R rebounded with three sizzling recasts: Billy Abbott, Phyllis Summers, and Adam Newman.
Burgess Jenkins is bringing another layer to Billy Abbott, and I admit that I do like him better than David Tom, whom I supported when he joined Y&R. Burgess is doing a much better job with the child actors than Tom did. As a non-parent, one of the things I enjoy most about soaps is watching parents and children interact and imagining what my life would have been like if I had had children of my own. Of course, I always end up thinking that most parents don't have a nanny tucked away upstairs to take care of their children any time the children become tiring or inconvenient. Real parenting is a 24-hour-a-day job, not part-time like it is on the soaps!
Gina Tognoni is an incredible Phyllis. In my opinion, she's every bit as good in the role as Michelle Stafford was. Yes, she has a harder, colder edge, but this is what one might expect from a person who was revived from a yearlong coma by experimental means. That leaves a lot of room for behavioral changes in Phyllis. Those first scenes between Kelly and Phyllis were wonderful, and I expect to see some powerhouse acting before either Phyllis or Kelly gives up on Jack. This is the kind of drama that is Y&R at its best.
Justin Hartley is also impressive in his portrayal of Adam Newman. He is hitting all the nuances of Adam's flawed and selfish character. He is less likable than his predecessor, but I always thought that, considering all the awful things that Adam had done, he should be less likable, and I'm glad to see just how well Justin Hartley is walking the fine line of that persona. I do wonder, though, how Adam could go to Jack and tell all. I hope that turns out to be a sequence where he was just thinking about telling Jack. How could Adam expect Jack, or anyone else, to refrain from turning Adam in to the police? What Adam did, or thinks he did, was much, much worse than what Sharon did, and I hope someone recognizes that. Adam needs to listen to Sage or at least follow his plan and get to know Chelsea all over again.
As the year begins, Billy is with Chelsea, Ben is with Victoria, Jack is with Phyllis, and Neil is with Hilary, though she is cheating with Devon. Before the year is over, Adam may seduce Chelsea away from Billy, driving Billy back to Victoria and sending Ben rebounding to Ashley (or Abby!) while Phyllis does one mean thing too many and pushes Jack to Kelly. Phyllis will then turn to Nick, who is too busy chasing after Sage to notice that Joe Clark is developing an interest in Sharon...
I haven't been crazy about a lot of the women's clothes, but the women's hairstyles completely fizzled for me. From ugly hair extensions to uglier hairdos, dye jobs, and split ends, I have never seen worse TV hair on the female actresses. On the other soap I watch, which shall remain nameless, the hair looks a whole lot better, and the styles have some variety in both color and length. On Y&R, most everyone is blonde (Ashley, Abby, Nikki, Avery, Constance, Maureen, Sharon, Courtney, Kelly), streaked blonde (Chelsea, Victoria, Sage), or red (Summer, Mariah, Phyllis, Lauren). Lily, Hilary, Jill, and Esther are the brunettes. With the exception of Phyllis and Maureen, all the actresses have locks that are shoulder-length or longer.
The men's hair, on the other hand, is much better done, and their stylists sizzle. The cuts are neat and tidy. They have quit using that awful henna that I think the set decorators also used to varnish the Athletic Club walls last year. The men don't have as much obviously bleached or colored hair.
Last year, I was ready for a new Fen because I hated his hair. I hardly recognized him when he came home from college, all because of his new do. Instead of a weasel, Fen looks like a real live grownup! Keep it up, Y&R. Good grooming still counts for something!
The acting on Y&R sizzles, and it covers a multitude of warts. The storylines are just average because they are predictable and rarely take an unexpected turn. A case in point -- I think it would have been more interesting if Nick had stood up for Sharon and kept his promises to her instead of trying to take Faith from her. Actually demonstrating forgiveness and unconditional love would have been the exception rather than the rule. However, Y&R has not remained number one for all these years by taking chances. They are number one because they appeal to the largest common denominator, not because they indulge in controversial storylines.
That is not a bad thing. Any writer who wants to be universally read has to find the common denominator that creates the greatest interest in his/her work. Y&R has been extremely successful at relating to its audience, and I'm proud to know that I sit squarely in the middle with all you other diehard fans!
Lucky us! Altogether, a lot more sizzle than fizzle in the 2014 episodes of The Young and Restless. I expect an even better 2015 for our beloved soap.
Until next year, take care, fellow fan addicts. Have a terrific holiday with your family and friends, even if they're imaginary. I know I will!
Click here to read Teddi's take on 2014 in part two of our Year-In-Review
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