You're probably expecting to read a column from Nel. She had to step away this week... something about a podcast. Or Peru. She will be back here in a couple of weeks, so you're stuck with me this week.
Soap Central celebrates its 27th anniversary this month, and in the 27 years since I started the site, I think I've only written four or five Two Scoops columns for The Young and the Restless. So, it will be fun to share my thoughts on what's going on and what's happened, and maybe a little of what I'd like to see happen.
I'll start of by saying that I think The Young and the Restless has been the most impacted by COVID restrictions over the past however many months it's been. This isn't anything rooted in actualities or behind-the-scenes chatter. It's just me eyeballing what's going on. General Hospital seems the same -- or better -- than before the 2020 shutdown. Days of our Lives tapes so far ahead that I think the scenes airing now were filmed back in 2012. And The Bold and the Beautiful is The Bold and the Beautiful.
For far too long, The Young and the Restless seemed to be telling stories that had little or no payoff. I don't know if the writers had to shuffle stories based on production changes or if they just didn't have a clear vision of how they wanted things to play out. Or maybe they had a vision, and it just wasn't all that great.
The show just now seems to be getting out of neutral. There are stories that seem like they are going somewhere. Not all of them, but we'll get to that later in the column.
Before I get into the details of the Ashland and Victoria storyline, I feel like I need to comment on the show's decision to recast the role. If you missed the explanation of why the role was recast, you can read all about that here. I've liked Richard Burgi since I was first introduced to him on Desperate Housewives. He's got some weird smarmy-assy-endearing mashup going on. He was a good addition to the Y&R cast.
That said, it's been over a decade since we've gotten to see Robert Newman on a soap. I don't know that I would have thought of him for the role of Ashland, but c'mon! The man's last name is Newman. He was born to be on The Young and the Restless. I mean, he ended up being a Locke, but who's to say that he isn't somehow a Newman. Okay, never mind. I just remembered that he married a Newman.
Normally when a role is recast, the writers take the opportunity to change the direction that the character or their story was headed. I can't tell you the number of times a show's publicist has said that to me over the years. Here, the show didn't really choose to recast. They had to. It doesn't seem like the show has altered Ashland's saga, but I supposed that they are given the perfect opportunity to wrap things up if they want to go that route.
The truth about Ashland's illness, or lack thereof, will eventually find its way to Victoria. Knowing how soaps go, I suspect that Victoria won't believe that Ashland lied. She'll come up with every reason under the sun to believe her husband. It doesn't really help that most everyone in her life has been against Ashland from the beginning. Now, when there really is a wolf, she won't believe it.
This is where things turn into one of those choose-your-own-adventure books that were popular back in the 1900s when I was a wee little Dan. If the show really does want to wrap things up and usher the character off-screen, they could always have Victoria learn the truth on her own. From there, Ashland could fall on the sword, admit he lied, give everything back to Victoria, and disappear forever -- or the less-than-forever forever that we've come to know in soapland.
My favorite scenario has Victoria learning the truth, and then there is an all-out battle between Ashland and the Newmans. Newmi? Newmen? No, Newmans is probably the correct pluralization. I wouldn't mind seeing a cutthroat legal battle or a mud-slinging media campaign. There really aren't any villains on Y&R, and it would be nice to have someone to really hate. If Ashland ticks off enough people, maybe he even becomes the subject of a whodunnit. I wouldn't mind a little murder mystery drama playing out on-screen. Oh, and I already have an alibi.
Alternately, Ashland could yield to Victor's demands, head to Peru, and never be heard from again. That wraps things up quickly, but it also has zero drama. I am really hoping that this is not the route that the writers intend to go.
Random side note: I rode the Incredible Hulk roller coaster in Orlando with Robert Newman back in 2009 when Guiding Light was filming on location at Universal Studios Orlando. Whatever happens with Ashland's storyline, I am enjoying Robert Newman's portrayal, and I am content to savor it for however long he's with us.
I will admit to being slightly hypocritical. I cringed when Nate mentioned that he was willing to walk away from medicine to take a job at Newman Locke. I was in school with the intention of becoming a doctor when I started Soap Central. I guess it worked out okay for me, but I wasn't already a doctor. I might also be opposed to Nate changing jobs because it involves Ashland, and I don't want to see Nate get caught up in Ashland's web of mess. If Nate does leave medicine, will Elena be the only doctor in all of Genoa City? That sounds like a recipe for disaster.
I will also admit that I still don't understand the thought process behind adding Dominic to the canvas. It was such a poorly conceived idea, but... we're here, and it doesn't look like the baby will be heading up to the attic to conveniently disappear anytime in the near future. I am kind of riveted by Chance's lack of attachment to Dominic. That reads like a real-world thing to me. Normally, we think of moms dealing with postpartum depression having those kinds of feelings. We didn't necessarily need all the ancillary drama to get to the point.
While on the topic of Chance, I also appreciate that Y&R has moved to destigmatize mental health issues. Chance speaking to a therapist about what he experienced in Spain may not seem like the soapiest of storylines, but, if done properly, it could be really powerful. It's easy to think that (said in a caveman voice) "big, strong man" isn't -- or shouldn't be --affected by tragedy. This is a great opportunity to educate an audience without being preachy.
Have you noticed how much in love Devon is with Dominic? That means something bad is going to happen by May Sweeps, right? The Soap Central Betting Parlor currently has 2:1 odds that Dominic will somehow end up not being Devon's son. The odds of Dominic dying are 15:1, with Chance being involved in the death somewhere around 100:1.
There really isn't a Soap Central Betting Parlor. There just happened to be a commercial for one of the e-betting sites on the television as I was typing this column. If I were a betting man, though, I'd say that Devon's happiness is going to be short-lived. I am trying to decide if undoing this widely panned baby storyline would be a good thing or not. I feel like it is, but then there is a part of me that thinks it's just another way to dump on Devon.
Now, I touched on this briefly on social media, but since I have a forum to use more than 256 characters, I'll spell it out here. I think it would have made for better story if Chance had died in the explosion in Spain. Y&R had already announced that Chance would be returning by the time the character was killed on-screen. And if it wasn't before, it was shortly thereafter. So, we all knew that Chance would be on-screen soon and -- poof! -- there went any and all drama.
Remember when Ashley went to visit Abby right after Abby and Chance reunited and Chance was "in the shower"? I really thought the show was going to go down a Sixth Sense road. A grief-stricken Abby seeing Chance when he was really dead would have given Melissa Ordway a truly meaty storyline and, I believe, a really good shot at an Emmy.
Chance being out of the room, in the shower, at the mall, or wherever could have gone on for weeks. Viewers would have seen Chance on-screen whenever Abby did. Then, in the perfect Sweeps Friday cliffhanger, someone stops by when Chance is home, Abby says, "He's right over there," and the camera pans to the right... and no one is there. If done right, fans could have been blown away.
And the good news is that this still would have left open the door for Chance to actually be alive at a later date. Eh, it probably would have irritated a lot of fans, but I think it would have given Y&R one of its buzziest moments in years.
It has been years since anyone dared utter the name "Keemo" in Genoa City. Now Keemo is everywhere. Except, you know, among the living. I am not sure if this gets filed under "Be careful what you ask for," but I think it might. For years, Y&R fans have been asking about Keemo's whereabouts. Many pleaded for the show to bring the character back into the fold. Well, now the show has... and a lot of folks are annoyed.
There are numerous urban legends about why Keemo hasn't been a part of the show. I won't get into those, but I am sure you can find them if you try hard enough. Whatever the reason, pretending that Keemo didn't exist was no longer working. It also was a slap in the face to viewers of Asian descent. Was killing him off the right idea? I mean, if Keemo was never again going to be part of the canvas, then it was the next best decision.
My first thought when Jack found the letters was, "Please don't let all these letters have been marked return to sender." The idea that Keemo would have been trying to reach Jack by snail mail and no other method was little eye-rolly. Learning that Keemo wrote letters that he never intended to send to Jack was a bit of a gut punch. I'll be the first to admit that I don't always need a happy ending from a story. I don't need a couple to fall in love and have an unrealistically perfect, bumpless road of a life. I like a little bit of mess -- a little bit of struggle.
Back to the Keemo storyline. In much the same way that I talked about everyone knowing that Chance wasn't really dead, we have all sort of telegraphed what's going to happen next. The other week, Y&R announced that it had hired Kelsey Wang for an undisclosed role. Now there is a mystery photo of Keemo, two women, and a little girl. Remember when Wile E. Coyote tried to stop the falling boulder with that tiny little umbrella? That's sort of how I feel here.
There will come a time when Peter Bergman decides to step away from acting. I know, I don't want to think about it, either. It might be nice to start building up the roster to be able to continue the Abbott legacy. If doing that comes by way of Keemo's daughter, I'm fine with that. I mean, there's still Kyle, but the show seemed to deem him disposable when Michael Mealor parted ways with Y&R last year. Though there are rumors that a recast could be on the way at some point. There's also Harrison, but I am not holding out hope that we will ever see him again.
On a completely random note, seeing how quickly Jack hopped on a jet to Los Angeles after receiving a few random text messages makes me understand a little bit better how people are so easily duped by phishing scams. It's hard to get me to go anywhere when I get a text message from someone that I actually know.
For six years or so, I helmed the Soap Central Live podcast, so I know a few things about the ins and outs of podcasts. I had a blast doing the 300-plus episodes and talking soaps with the stars and fans. The show itself was wildly popular, but I don't know if watching me put together the podcast would have made for riveting television. Actually, that might not be true. There were a couple of times when two minutes before a live show, a guest had to cancel, and I was forced to scramble to fill 60 minutes of airtime.
I've gotten slightly off track. I don't know if Billy doing a podcast is what I want to see when I tune in to a soap. It's entirely different than when Hilary had an actual talk show. With guests. Some that occasionally took a faceplant on live television. Aside from that, is Billy really the best person to do a self-help podcast? Physician, heal thyself. Shouldn't the person doing a self-help podcast be able to, I dunno, help themselves? Maybe I'm just being foolish. There seem to be enough people in the real world talking about things that they know nothing about and getting paid big bucks to do so.
To me it seems like the podcast is another case of a soap trying to latch on to something that is trendy and buzzy without really having an idea of what to do with said trendy idea. Or perhaps the story is going somewhere. What if Billy's advice results in something bad happening to a listener? That could potentially be a very au courant type of story. I don't know, though, if fans will care about the fate of a random listener that they have no attachment to. Maybe the story would be more about viewers feeling for Billy's plight. If you have an idea of where the storyline could be going, please feel free to let me know!
You can also drop a line regarding anything I've chatted about in this week's Two Scoops column. Do you agree with anything I said? (I hope you do.) Is there something I said that you disagree with? (It's okay if you do.) Is there something you found funny or have you own opinion on? Head down the page to the Comments section, join the discussion on our Message Boards, or zap me a message on Twitter or Soap Central's Facebook page.
Dan J Kroll
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