RSS

Author Archives: RashidDarden

Plan B-ET: How Black Entertainment Television could save the soaps.

I haven’t watched BET as much in my life as I do right now.  Although I admittedly don’t watch most of the new shows, I do watch “The Game” and I appreciate how it has slid into more of a dramatic serial than a situation comedy.

I also happen to watch Degrassi on TeenNick.  What can I say?  Not only am I loyal to the Degrassi brand, I love my over-the-top-yet-somehow-realistic serialized programs.

Which is what “The Game” on BET is to me.

I recently read on Shadow and Act or some similar site that BET’s original programs average in the low millions of viewers.  That’s a lot of people watching the same thing.  We’ve seen how social media helped bring “The Game” back and create a loyal audience for Reed Between the Lines and the other new BET shows.

I know that network daytime dramas are expensive to produce.  I am sure Eric Braeden earns more in a week of work than I earn for six months at my nonprofit. But maybe, just maybe, with some tooling around, a daytime soap could work on BET.

I think the day will come that Y&R will get cancelled from CBS.  I think that will happen in the next five years.  I hope not, but I am looking at the genre die slowly before my eyes.  Days of Our Lives will probably go sooner, but I doubt Days could transition to an “ethnic” network – it has never had the loyal African American viewership that Y&R does.

So here is how I would transition Y&R:

First, before you leave CBS, you begin trimming down the cast.  Many of them are lovely actors who would be great anywhere, but let’s be honest here.  The Fisher-Baldwins don’t resonate with black folks like the core families do.  I wish they did.  But they don’t.  We talk about the Newmans, the Abbotts, and the Chancellors.

So trim down the cast.

Next, rethink the 52-week season.  Why on earth do we have an expectation that we will get a new episode of a soap opera every single workday?  That is CRAZY.  And that is expensive.  So stop it.

When you transition to BET, aim for a 30-36 week season – either two 15 week blocks (like semesters) or four sets of nine-week blocks throughout the year.  Wanna know why?  Because we are fine with repeats.  Let the actors do other projects.

And you know what?  I don’t need an hour.  I can live with half an hour.

Air the show twice – once in the day and once at night.  Seems to me that would save some money somehow.  Sure, you’re paying for a scripted show, but you’re airing it twice a day.

The major part of a move to BET, not just the built-in black audience, but the opportunity to bring on another black family just to even up the score a bit.

How come I still don’t know Neil’s parents?  How come Sofia doesn’t have aunts or uncles?  Where the hell is Mamie?  And how about Leslie Michaelson?  Let’s not forget that she earned a third of that 1.5 billion dollar lawsuit that Victor lost.  That’s right, your girl Leslie is a freakin millionaire.  And the DA.  And Sarge and Harmony.

Come on.  This is a good fit for BET if they play their cards right and if Y&R doesn’t get it together.

What do you think?

 
1 Comment

Posted by on April 14, 2012 in Rashid's Take

 

Devon Have I Been

Actor Bryton James has been speaking to my heart over the past few days in his role as Devon Hamilton on The Young and the Restless.  When it was first discovered that he was Tucker’s son, I wanted to write a piece on it, but I am glad that I waited.

Paternity (and in some cases, maternity) is a staple of daytime drama.  It can be argued that “Who’s the daddy” storylines on soaps are the reason that DNA tests are so popular on Maury to this day.  So while we may groan at the Malcolm-Sofia-Neil paternity quagmire, we secret want and need such drama in our shows.

On the other hand, Y&R has those characters who are on a constant quest of self-discovery.  I was sympathetic with Jill when she discovered that she was really a Fenmore and Jill wouldn’t acknowledge her.  All Jill ever really needed was to be loved and to know that she was loved.  Isn’t that what we all want in some way?  But when Lauren initially rejected Jill, it stung for me because of my own “other family.”

I was born out of wedlock and raised by s single mother.  My father was never there for me.  This lack of interest in my life was reaffirmed when I reached out to him as a young adult and he told me to stop attempting to contact him and “his” family.

Father of the year, right?  At least Victor Newman claimed his own…

Years after that, I discovered that my blood brother had become a member of the same fraternity as me.  Although I reached out and we made a connection in 2007, we have yet to meet face to face.

He lives in the next county over from me.

I’m not sure how much space and time I need to give my “other” family before they accept me, but I’m resigned to the fact that it may be the 32nd of Neveruary before that happens.

I’m happy for Jill.

If Jill represents the sometimes fragile and delicate side of me which can easily wilt at the thought of rejection, Devon represents the tough, “strong black man” archetype which every black man is or aspires to be at some point.  He is a protective brother, loyal son, and good friend.  His background isn’t identical to mine (though he was emotionally and physically abandoned by his father) but he still has that tough, “I can do it myself” outer shell.  He doesn’t “need” anyone, but he chooses to need Neil Winters.  He chooses to be vulnerable to Lily Winters.  He chooses to rely on Malcolm Winters.  This is his family – the one that he chose and the one that chose him.

Bryton James has been acting the hell out of this part.  So has Jeanne Cooper.

The range of emotions that each has displayed though these scenes has been phenomenal.  One can’t help but imagine what a wonderful reunion of grandmother and grandchild this could have been if Mrs. Chancellor had just gotten it together and done the right thing.

Rightfully so, Devon can’t forgive her just yet.  And he doesn’t even want to be a son to Tucker.  I’d be heated as well if the man who fired me turned out to be my father.

For those of us with these sorts of paternal issues, Devon Hamilton, expertly exemplified by Bryton James, has given a voice to those frustrations.  I will probably never be able to adequately write about the frustration and disappointment I feel because of my own father, much less will I be able to adequately explain how the absence as a father has impacted me, for the worse as well as for the better.

But if you want just a taste of how that feels, check out Bryton’s portrayal of Devon as this story unfolds.  I am digging it.

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on October 10, 2011 in Rashid's Take

 

Naw, we good: Why Y&R Doesn’t Need Drucilla Winters

In 2006, after six months of employment with many accomplishments under my belt, I resigned from a good job.  I never received the proper level of support from my immediate supervisor and the working environment was fairly toxic.  The straw which broke the camel’s back was when he wouldn’t give me two days of leave to go out of town on a speaking engagement.

So I quit.  It was a good-paying job for somebody living with family, prior to the economic downturn.

Now, ask me would I quit a job in 2011?  Heck no.  (But I’ve been laid off from one.)

When I left that organization in 2006, they were fine without me for five more years until they ceased operating this past January.  Yes, they made decisions which I didn’t agree with, and neither did my friends who I left behind.  And when my replacement didn’t work out, I did put into the universe that I would return to work there if they doubled my salary.  Of course that didn’t happen.

They moved on.  I moved on.  We’ve both had ups and downs.  But one thing I didn’t do was openly and actively campaign for my job back.  I had quit.  It was over.

***

I read with interest the tweets of the actress who portrayed Drucilla Winters.  She is indeed a talented actress and I do miss her character from time to time.  And I agree that the way her character was written out was stupid at best.  A cliff?  Really?  And somehow Sharon’s ass living out shined Drucilla’s death!  Where they do that at?

I have also heard the actresses various radio and podcast tirades against the show’s production staff and certain actors.  Basically, although this is a woman who campaigns for her job back, this doesn’t sound like a woman who wants to have a job.

But my gripe is not with the actress and her campaign.  I will attempt to describe with this post why there is no need for Drucilla in Genoa City.

First, she’s dead.  I think we’ve had way too many resurrection stories on soap operas in general.  True, the body was never found.  But I think a more compelling story will be when they do find her body and have to bury her.  Neil, Lily, Devon, and Malcolm don’t seem to have truly healed from this and I think properly burying her would be a good way to exhibit their chops.

Second, Neil has moved on many times over.  When I think of Dru and Neil, I just don’t have the automatic “spark” in my head that I have when I think of Jesse and Angie from All My Children – and I rarely ever watched AMC!  Neil and Dru have practically been estranged for longer than they were together.  if she did come back, I wouldn’t want Neil with her.

Third (and this is not a good reason, but it is among the more valid ones) I never saw the mother-daughter chemistry between Lily and Drucilla like I should have.  I am not sure if that’s in the writing or the acting.  In fact, I may have said before in these very pages that I just plain don’t like the Lily character and wished for her death when she had cancer.  Isn’t that awful?  But I was so eager to sacrifice Lily so that Neil would have something – anything – to do or talk about.  If Drucilla came back, what would the implication be for Lily?  I just don’t see it.

The rest of my reasons are a hodge podge:

  • Leslie Michaelson is a baaaaaaaaad hush your mouth and we need to see more of HER.  (I say this not because we can’t have additional black actresses, but for financial reasons, use the ones you have!)
  • There’s still some life left in Sofia’s character – she’s one of the few that has a life outside of being a Winters and I love her more when she’s devious with Tucker McCall.
  • Yolanda/Harmony is about to make ALL A Y’ALL forget about Drucilla.
That’s it….I know the Drucilla stans are about to light my ass on fire…. bring it on!
 
3 Comments

Posted by on October 9, 2011 in Rashid's Take

 

What’s the Big Deal About Nikki Newman?

Over on Days of Our Lives, they have brought back John and Marlena, Carrie and Austin, and Jack.  And they fired eight actors, ostensibly to make way for the new ones.

You could argue that Days of Our Lives is going through a renaissance – indeed, it’s the only soap that I watch which has even intentionally said to the fans “Yeah, we know it sucked, but we’re changing things and it’s time to come on home now.”  So even though they canned my beloved Vivian, and my favorite “Ghoul Girl” Chloe, I think I can ride out this storm with them because it seems to be for the health of the show.

Meanwhile, back in Genoa City, Nikki Newman has been off the canvas for quite a while.  As my mom would say when one of our relatives would go incommunicado, “She’s off on a speaking engagement.”  And frankly, I don’t miss her.  But more on that in a second.

What bothers me is the news from Daytime Confidential that four Y&R actors have been let go and Nikki is coming back.  Colin, Heather, Sam, and Malcolm are allegedly out of there!  (And word on the street is that Genevieve may soon be gone, too.)

Yes, Debbi Morgan is also coming to Y&R, so maybe it’s hasty to just say “That damn Melody Thomas Scott took our jerbs!”  But it definitely seems like a bunch of folks had to die so that Nikki could live.

And for what?

Nikki’s most intriguing storylines have been pretty much anything she did which wasn’t with Victor.  And I’m sorry, but Victor is about as relevant as Olivia post G-Unit.  But because they (the writers, the producers, whoever) insist on trying to make Victor and Nikki work, we get stuck with her getting abused emotionally by this gorilla of an executive and sorry excuse for a father.  She’s just not interesting!  I don’t get it.

Let’s just let this character go.  Seriously.  Nikki and Victor need to ride off into the sunset and let this thing end on a high note.  There is no more story left in Nikki.  And since Victor never seems to get an adequate comeuppance, let him go, too.

It’s time for a renaissance in Genoa City.  And here’s how I would do it:

Bring super-couples back full force.  Let Billy and Victoria be the anchors of the show.  Love them together.  Especially when Victoria makes use of the TCB and slicks back that hair once in a while.  Make Tucker and Ashley WORK.  I surprisingly like them together – even better when they are being ruthless business people.

Let Neil focus on the inevitable King Solomon-esque battle between him and Tucker for Devon’s loyalty and affection.  And put Devon in a triangle with whatever Tatyana Ali’s once-a-month character’s name is.  Bryton can act his ass off – we need more of him.

Keep Malcolm – don’t fire him.  And if you do fire him, only bring Shemar back.  I don’t want to lose Julia Hightower and I just don’t see her around as much if Malcolm is gone.

Keep Sam for crying out loud.  He has chemistry with Sharon, but also with Victoria.  And heck, he’s a nice, real person.

Do I despise Eden Riegel?  Not as a person, but you know Vail Bloom was MY Heather.  But there is still use for the character – it’s like they’re not even trying to make her work.  And speaking of lawyers – we need more Rafe and more Leslie (who technically should have been made a millionaire when the Newman kids won their lawsuit).  I like Avery, but dammit I don’t like the retconning of Phyliss’ backstory.

I can live without Cane and Lily, Noah and Eden (and whoever the new chick is), and a few other folks.

But I suppose my main point is this:

I’d rather the cast stay as it is without Nikki Newman than to bring her back and cause others to lose their jobs.  All there is to it.

 
4 Comments

Posted by on September 17, 2011 in Rashid's Take

 

It’s coming back *bew bew bew* like they said it would

So I know this blog is primarily about The Young and the Restless, but as many of you know, I have been a fan of Days of Our Lives since the 80s.  (I came to Y&R in earnest in 2003)

I am really excited about the behind-the-scenes changes going on at Days.  They have been talking about late September as being the starting point of “Days 2.0” if you will, but if you are like me – a fan who said “Man BUMP this show” – it’s time to come on home to Salem.

Start setting your DVRs NOW.  A lot of old tired storylines are wrapping themselves up and a lot of good storylines are revving up.  Maggie’s in the hospital and the DiMeras and Kiriakises are feuding hard.  A lot of old favorites are on their way back and we’re losing some stunt casting (Sayonara, Carly; but we will truly miss you, Vivian!)

We’ve clearly lost Steve/Patch to the Young and the Restless, but it will be nice to have Jack and Jennifer and John and Marlena back full time!

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on August 15, 2011 in Rashid's Take

 

He decided to die….

He would not come down
from the cross just to save Himself;
He decided to die just to save me.

 

 

I was really sad to see Cane die today.  Like, really, really sad.  I don’t really believe in soap opera deaths unless the advance the show in some way, particularly the characters that the deceased left behind.

But, in my humble opinion, Y&R did an excellent job at doing just that.  Cane had to die in order to allow his survivors to shine.

In general, I consider Lily to be a vapid, whiny shrew who doesn’t deserve the mantle “Drucilla’s Daughter” so it was no surprise to see her so broken in today’s episode.  But I still reel at the possibilities for her character.  She will be sad, certainly, but she doesn’t have to remain broken.  Maybe this will be the turning point that finally gives her an edge.

Although Malcolm still gives me “runaway slave” in the delivery of his lines, I was enthralled by the juxtaposition of the two Winters brothers.  Level-headed Neil asks the hotheaded Malcolm not to blame Sofia for everything that has happened.  But how can he not when his chosen one would hide such secrets from him?

And Sofia.  We’re finally seeing her more vulnerable side.  Not to mention the evil Colin.  Although I hate that Cane had to die, I would have never felt sorry for Colin without it happening.

So perhaps Colin had to die in order for the Winters clan to shine.

And before I forget… Jill and Katherine’s scene (shown above in the middle) was inspired.  They are superb actors who definitely convinced me that they were really mother and daughter.  And more importantly, in that moment, the characters themselves believed that they were mother and daughter.

I get it, Y&R.  I really do.  Just don’t disappoint us with how you handle it from here on out.

Not that I watch that kind of thing….

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on February 3, 2011 in Uncategorized

 

HOLD THE SAUCE!

Daytime Confidential is reporting that some shady ish is going on behind the scenes at Y&R!  Check it out!

 
2 Comments

Posted by on August 30, 2010 in Uncategorized