Due to unforeseen circumstances, which, fortunately, do not involve doppelgängers, searches for hidden jewelry in chandeliers, or cross-country post-coma truck drives, you're stuck with me as a special guest commentator for this week's Two Scoops column for The Young and the Restless.
Who am I? I am the mysterious wizard behind the Soap Central curtain. So whether you're wanting your favorite character to gain some courage, grow a brain, or find their heart, or if you are a viewer that wants to go home to a Genoa City that feels familiar to you, this week's column is for you.
This probably comes as no surprise to you, but I spend a lot of time on the Internet. That may even need to be italicized and drawn out for effect: a looooot of time on the Internet. In the past 20 or so years that I've been running Soap Central, I have come to learn that fan feedback on the Soap Central message boards or even by email that we receive isn't always an accurate barometer for what fans as a whole are feeling about any given show. Surprisingly, social media isn't necessary a canary in a coal mine either.
What do I mean by that? There are times when we are hammered with email that is very outspoken about a storyline. There are also times, albeit less often, when we get flooded with messages about a storyline that people love. More often, it's about a couple that fans love. The problem is that there are some extremely passionate fans who create additional alias accounts from which to send messages and tweets to make their voices appear amplified. So the 10,000 emails that like (or dislike) Billy and Victoria, or Cane and Lily, or Victor and Nikki could be the work of 100 fans with a lot of extra time on their hands.
So where am I going with this, and when will I start commenting on The Young and the Restless?
Every time I check the @soapcentral Twitter feed, I see more "I hate what the writers are doing to the show" posts. I've seen colleagues from other soap web sites or blogs also sharing their not-so-stellar reviews of the show. So that must mean that Y&R is on its last leg, right? Not according to the ratings. Y&R is up about four percent in the ratings, and on Monday, August 31, a whopping 5.2 million people tuned in. So while the so-called experts bemoan why Y&R isn't "doing well," more and more viewers are tuning in.
One of the storylines that seems to be generating the most discussion is the Neil and Hilary plot. It has been so controversial that Emmy winner Kristoff St. John took to his personal Twitter account a while back to defend Neil's actions. "You're married, an accident leaves you blind," St. John wrote. "You discover that your spouse has been sleeping with your child for a year. What would you do?"
Well, Kristoff, first I would wonder what the hell I was drinking because I sure don't remember getting married. I have to say, though, that I agree with what he's saying to an extent. This isn't a case of someone stepping on his new shoes then him going nuts and beating someone up over it. Neil loved Hilary, and when Neil was in his most vulnerable state, his son and the woman he loved started having an affair. I think Neil is justified in going a little whackadoo.
Now, that doesn't mean that he should be strapping people to a hospital bed and trying to nurse them back to health. Just to throw this out there, I am pretty sure that Neil wasn't involved in whatever caused Hilary's accident. But he is borderline Kathy Bates in Misery right now. If he calls Hilary a "dirty bird," then Neil has officially flown over the cuckoo's nest.
If Neil were to have caused Hilary's tumble, it could easily be "justified" by saying that Neil snapped as a result of all of the things that have happened to him over the past year (or 24). If he is not involved in her The Price is Right yodely guy fall, then it makes sense that he would go above and beyond to want to care for the woman that he still loves. It would certainly be easier to call the paramedics and let the professionals care for her, but... well, I don't know that I have an explanation for that except to say that he's clearly not thinking rationally at this point.
For me, there is something oddly enjoyable about seeing Neil not playing the victim. It seems like there are a lot of victims and woe-is-me types in Genoa City (Yoo hoo, Nikki! Oh, hello there, Sharon!) and Neil has often been painted that way in the past. For being in Genoa City for a quarter of a century, Neil's crime list on his Who's Who in Genoa City character profile is quite short.
My main concern with all of this is the fella writing the show. During his tenure as head writer of All My Children, Chuck Pratt made a comment to the effect of not caring what characters had done and how they had behaved in the past; he wanted to write what he wanted to write. During his run with AMC, the show's ratings tanked. Erica Kane had an evil doppelgänger, and fans revolted. Jack had an evil doppelgänger on Y&R, and ratings soared. Maybe the Y&R audience is more receptive than the AMC audience was to these types of stories.
Sharon needs a doppelganger or someone that she blames her crappy life on. This woman's life has been one debacle after another. It's no wonder the fans are divided into two camps: those who love Sharon and those that hate her. I don't think I've ever met a Y&R fan who told me that they were indifferent to Sharon. It's probably the reason the "Sharon Case is leaving Y&R!" rumors seem to pop up every six months.
Whereas Neil has been a veritable boy scout, Sharon has been a kleptomaniac, she's been diagnosed as bipolar, she's committed arson, she's had electro-convulsive therapy... some serious stuff. Now she's (minor spoiler alert!) headed off to a mental health facility where she will reportedly encounter Patty Williams. Will hijinks ensue? I don't know that I care.
It seems to me that Sharon's mental health issues are brought up when it is convenient and that it is easier to portray her as the "crazy cat lady" than to show a more realistic representation of someone with a mental health concern. It's sort of like Nikki's multiple sclerosis and alcoholism. This is not to say that I don't love a wacky soap opera bad girl. Nearly all of my all-time favorite soap characters have been villainesses who went overboard at some point.
Sharon Case is an Emmy-winning actress. I would much rather see her in a subtle storyline that shows Sharon struggling to take medication on a regular basis or, perhaps, struggling with the side effects of the medication than I would see her in a storyline where she talks to pumpkins, dresses up like Raggedy Ann, and throws poison lollipops at the people who've done her wrong. But going back to that ratings thing -- maybe what I want isn't want the masses want.
(Of course, now that I've written this, I've had time to envision a straitjacketed Sharon going berserk and causing all sorts of pandemonium. I might greenlight that -- but just for one big Sweeps storyline stunt.)
Speaking of the masses, I am pretty sure that an angry mob will descend upon Kroll Manor with torches and pitchforks for this next segment of the column... so I may need to find a nice boathouse somewhere to hide. Well, here it goes: I am not thrilled in the least by the Victoria and Billy sexy time reunion. I like Billy. I like Victoria. I'm just... not quite there for them as a couple in their current incarnation. I loved Heather Tom as Victoria. I can hear the "Dan, she's on B&B and has been there for years. Get over it." And that isn't to say that I don't like Amelia Heinle -- I do! I've enjoyed her going all the way back to the days of Loving.
I liked David Tom as Billy. I liked Billy Miller as Billy. Burgess Jenkins had huge shoes to fill when he was cast on the show. I know that I wouldn't want to follow up two Emmy winners in a role. I don't think that I am having trouble adjusting to Burgess as Billy as much as I wanted the show to seize the opportunity to write Billy differently now that there's a "new" actor in the role.
It's worked quite well for Justin Hartley as Adam. Disregarding all the chatter about behind-the-scenes issues, I enjoyed Michael Muhney's on-screen work as Adam. I am sure I am not the only one who was worried when Y&R announced that they were recasting the role. Then along came the fun-to-look-at Justin Hartley -- and it turned out that he was more than just another pretty face.
But can we talk about the return of Ian Ward? Did we really need him to return? I will grudgingly admit that it is fun seeing Ray Wise back on-screen, and I suppose it's great having multiple forces plotting against Victor. I'd rather have limited it to just an Adam versus Victor showdown; Newman against Newman has much more potential reward in my opinion. It reminds me of the days when, as a youngster, I watched the then-World Wrestling Federation. In every tag team match, the bad guys would do something sneaky and dirty behind the referee's back. Often, the bad guys won because of their deception. Adam doesn't need help taking down Victor; it would be more rewarding for him to do it on his own.
There's a part of me that wonders if this could in some roundabout way cause Adam and Victor to mend fences. What if Ian wants to go too far, and something waaaay down in Adam's conscience steps up to say, "No. This is too far over the line." I doubt that will happen, but will anyone really ever be able to take Victor down for good? For nearly all of Victor's time in Genoa City, he's gotten away with everything naughty he's done. Why change the formula now? I can envision a 113-year-old Victor knocking over someone's mahjong tiles at the local senior center then making a low-speed escape on one of those Jazzy scooters.
Side note to Y&R's executives: PLEASE do not let the Paragon Project become the 2015 version of the reliquary. Thanks.
I'll be interested to see how Michael E. Knight's character fits into Y&R story. I am super-psyched that this Emmy-winning master will be back on my television set. It's a shame that Cady McClain's Kelly was knocked off earlier this year because it would have been magic to see them share screen time again. Then again, Y&R tried to recreate All My Children magic between Darnell Williams and Debbi Morgan, and it just didn't go anywhere -- which must have been awfully hard to do because Darnell and Debbi are beyond amazing.
In 1985, Esther Valentine popped up in what was to have been a one-day, one-line role. Now, 30 years later, Esther has her own high-profile storyline. There's something genius about tying her into Jill and Colin's story. For so long, Esther was Mrs. Chancellor's confidante. What better way to keep the spirit of that wonderful friendship alive than by having Esther square off against Katherine's often nemesis, Jill?
Can I say that I find Colin creepy? Will that get me in trouble? He isn't nearly as creepy as Ian Ward, but Colin makes me uneasy. It's a testament to Tristan Rogers' acting abilities because I found his General Hospital alter ego kind of awesome. For his entire run on Y&R, I sit and watch Colin with a heaping helping of side-eye. I don't trust Colin as far as I could throw him. And considering that I spend most of my day at a computer, tip-tapping away at a keyboard, I probably wouldn't be able to throw him very far.
The other thing I really like about thus storyline is that it is also a great way to keep Katherine present in story. Like Esther said, "The world is a much darker place without Mrs. C. in it." That it is, Esther. That it is.
Hopefully this week's atypical Two Scoops column wasn't a darker place for you. My drive-by stint here was very much unexpected. Here's wishing a speedy get well to Boone, who should be back here in a couple of weeks. Thanks for reading, and thanks for visiting Soap Central. I know that I want to read your thoughts on everything that's going on in Genoa City, so please fire off your by email or below in the Comments section.
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