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I can relate…


I know, it’s been a minute.  I’ve thought about writing stuff, but after a few weeks of inactivity, it gets harder and harder to get back on your horse.  Truth be told, even with major story lines and payoffs, I just haven’t felt compelled to write…until now.

Though they’ve done it before with him (just in December!), the Billy Abbott downward spiral is the most compelling thing on Y & R right now.  What gets you into just about anything is feeling that you can relate to the characters.  With soaps generally being written for women, it’s not too rare of an occurrence for a woman to find a character to whom she can relate.  However, it’s exceedingly rare for a guy.  I have a hard time relating to Victor Newman….yeah, I’ve always liked Victor and thought he was cool, but I never saw a lot of myself in a ruthless billionaire meglomaniac.  Same thing with Jack, to a lesser degree….though his admiration for his father and obsessive drive to make his father proud is something to which I can definitely relate.  However, I see a lot of myself in Billy Abbott right now.  If I had everything that had any meaning taken from me, I can’t say 100% that I wouldn’t react like Billy.  Moreover, I’d be truly hurt by people always thinking the worst of me.  I’m violating manlaw by revealing this nugget, but the surefire way to wound a man to his core is to make clear that you don’t believe in him.  One of a man’s greatest purposes and motivators is knowing that people believe in you and rely on you.  It truly separates boys from men because a real man rises to the occasion or dies trying.

Billy has lost everything and desperately needs someone to believe in him.  Preferably, that person would be Victoria.  Again, from my personal experience, if no one else but your wife and kids believed in you, I think most men would be okay.  He’s brought out even more humanity in a character who desparately wants to do the right thing, but the universe isn’t cooperating with him.  As a consequence, his character is more fully developed than most….Nick is a caricature at this point…he’s a one note lunk.  Adam has the potential for great character development, but then they have him do inexplicable things like throw out the memory card. 

A few random notes:

–The Adam thing really irks me…I liked the grudging relationship Adam was developing with Noah.  I liked that this complex, dark character had but one shining light within him, his love for Sharon, which I believed was authentic.  However hurt or jealous he may have been, throwing the memory card that could clear Sharon of murder in the river was inexplicable.  It made no sense storyline-wise, at least in terms of Adam’s character arc.  The only way it makes any sense is that it made Adam uncharacteristically act out of emotion. 

–Diane and Ashley have been looking sort of hot lately.

–Thumbs up to Nu-Eden…I like the actress playing her, I like how they realistically SORASed the character, and I’m intrigued by the future.

–Is it me, or does it seem like someone different is writing Chloe as of late?

–The Cane saga feels like such a re-hash. Cane lies, the Winters men close ranks to “protect Lily”, yada yada yada.  I’ve written my disdain about treating Lily as some delicate, well, Lily for a while now.  And putting Daniel and Lily back together?  That makes sense how?  The cat who divorced Amber and gave away his daughter because he didn’t want kids is messing with his ex-wife, who is the mother of twins?  Lily goes back to her porn-addicted husband (that may well have been the DUMBEST reason to divorce someone in soap history, but I digress)?  I don’t like it…get back with Cane, let them have some peace for a while.

–Speaking of Cane, is it me, or has his mother’s performance been incredibly over the top? It’s not necessarily bad, but she reminds me of Gloria Bardwell quite a bit.

–Where have Paul and Nina been?

 

That’s all for now…not that I watch that kind of thing.

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Posted by on July 20, 2011 in Episode Commentary, Gumbo

 

Ambivalence Reigns…

Real life is rarely black or white; it’s often in that vast gray area between. Sometimes, the great thing about soaps is that it gives you the clarity that doesn’t exist in real life. For better and for worse, The Young & The Restless has never been one for that, which gives it more of a realism than other soaps.

Once again, this week, ambivalence reigned. I just don’t know how I feel about two of the major storylines going right now.

First up, we have the Ashley-Abby-Tucker deal. Part of me understands where Abby is coming from and she is right about her mother’s choice in men. Granted, you have to show due respect and deference to your mother, but I get her. Another part of me is just like “let it go”….Ashley’s a grown ass woman, and can do what she wants. The main thing that gets me is the vitriol with which Abby is approaching this situation. Her level of hatred doesn’t really match anything Tucker’s done, to the point where Rashid (BloodyAfrikaans) asked me if Tucker raped Abby or something.

The second storyline that I’m really ambivalent about is the Diane-Victor marriage. Part of me feels bad for Diane. Victor treats her like garbage….he always has. He discards her whenever she becomes inconvenient. The other part of me has no sympathy for her. She went into the marriage for the wrong reasons, she was warned about Victor and has experienced Victor discarding her before. She’s foolish for entering into a marriage with Victor again.

What do you think? What’s your take on these issues?

BTW,on a completely unrelated random note, if Republicans can’t accept Common and think he’s a thug, there’s no hope for the rest of us….

 
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Posted by on May 12, 2011 in Episode Commentary, Gumbo

 

Strong performances, crappy writing, and…more death!

Housekeeping

…so today is the first day since my surgery on Monday that I’m not a) high on percocet and b) not feeling like 10 people just kicked me in the guy.  Prior to that, I just haven’t been that inspired by Y & R to write about it.

Onto business…

This week has had the weirdest juxtaposition of Y & R.  There have been so many strong performances this week that I’m almost scared to list people for fear of leaving people out. But I’m an idiot, so I’ll do it anyway:

  • Billy Miller (Billy Abbott)-In the strongest terms possible, Y & R can not let this man go.  He is playing the hell out of his role.  At this point, he may be the best actor on the show….no one else can pull off funny, serious, sad, angry, and depressed like he can right now.
  • Judith Chapman (Gloria Bardwell)-They only give her material sporadically, but whenever she gets something, she knocks it out of the park
  • Marcy Rylan (Abby Newman)-She nailed her role this week too, showing a vulnerability with Lily that makes her more endearing and a strength with her mother, who she is 1000% dead on about.
  • Elizabeth Mitchell (Chloe Mitchell, with her fine self)-The range of emotions she’s displayed has been great….I got where Billy was coming from, but in the scene at the jail, you really just wanted to hug Chloe
  • Greg Rikaart (Kevin Fisher)-Excellent as always….he’s one character the writers have done right by, showing him growing and becoming stronger.  They should use the same blueprint for Sharon
  • Emily O’Brien (Jana Hawkes)-Y & R has had some evil folks over the years.  None of them scared me like Jana this week.  She was completely believable as she descended further into madness.  <spoiler alert!>  Of course, Y & R had to ruin that by killing her off, which brings me to…

Crappy Writing

Before I get into the death issue again, let me show exhibit A of crappy writing:

http://www.veoh.com/watch/v20960988jewh9Tcx

Did they decide to hire writers from “The T & A Team” or “Riding Miss Daisy?”  You can almost hear the boom chicka wow music start playing. That was porn-quality bad dialogue.  Dialogue aside, Y & R has a serious writing problem right now.  They’re writing some horrible stuff, becoming repetitive (Malcolm and Neil fighting over the same woman, mistaken murderers, custody battles…rinse, lather, repeat), fanciful (Cane and Lily, though I’m thinking that they’re going the evil twin route, and just plain lazy (deaths, never explaining who killed Richard Hightower).  It’s like there’s no overall direction, like they just throw plots on a board to see what sticks.  As I’ve stated before, they overuse death as of late.  With Jana’s demise, they wasted a good performer and an interesting character (one could argue they’ve wasted her since the kidnapping, but I digress).  I would have preferred for Jana to get brought to justice, spend some time in the Loony Bin, and leave town.  Then maybe you bring her back a couple of years down the road and have her be like Director of Social Media at Newman Enterprises and completely over Kevin a la how they rehabilitated Phyllis’ character. 
Random thoughts:

  • I didn’t have a problem at all with Luke Kleintank as Noah Newman, but it’s nice to have Kevin Schmidt back.  Lose the Bieber-esque hair, though.
  • I can get into the Neil-Malcolm-Sofia storyline. Not their fault, but it’s so “been there, done that”
  • Devon is at his most annoying when trying to “protect Lily”
  • That guy in the cemetery?  Clearly not Cane.  Lily’s too dumb to ask questions that only he’d know
  • More Leslie, please and thanks
  • Did they really need to “temporarily recast” Jeff Bardwell?  Why not just send him on vacation?  He isn’t crucial to any storylines right now
  • Did anyone else throw up in their mouth a little bit seeing the Silver Chipmunk mask?

The Sublime:

So I was watching Dumb and Dumber in my convalescence and thought that one of the characters looked familiar….

That’s right…the guy in the middle is Angelo.  I didn’t recognize him without the dog.  Not that I watch that kind of thing….

 
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Posted by on May 6, 2011 in Episode Commentary, Gumbo

 

AMC and OLTL cancelled….why it’s bad news for Y & R.

The soap opera landscape continues to be a challenging, inhospitable one.  ABC has cancelled One Life to Live and All My Children today.  I’ve never watched either of those shows (actually, no other soaps), but no matter how you slice it, this is NOT good news for The Young and The Restless.

Periodically, tv seems to go through paradigm shifts.  Back in the early 70s, CBS made a conscious decision to shift away from its popular “rural” type shows like Andy Griffith, Beverly Hillbillies, and the like.  They did so largely because the US was becoming more urban and they wanted to attract more urban-type viewers going forward.  Being the monkey-see, monkey-do business that it is, other networks followed suit.  You see it all the time, in the late 70s with crime/mystery shows, in the 80s with the resurgence of the sitcom, and now with reality shows.  Reality shows have the added feature of being relatively cheap to produce.  Why pay stars hundreds of thousands per episode when you can get somebody who just wants to be on tv for free? 

The fact that the replacements for OLTL and AMC are reality shows is telling.  Even more troubling is the fact that instead of watching soaps with their mom like I did, kids today are more likely watching reality shows or judge shows.  Nothing lasts forever, but I just can’t see Y & R being on when my 4 year old and 2 year old sons are teenagers.

Aside from a fight for survival in a world that is trying its best to render soaps obsolete, Y & R has another problem that they may actually consider a good problem.  There is a lot of daytime talent available right now just from As the World Turns’ cancellation.  That pool will only increase.  That’s not good for the performers….if they took a hardline with Eric Braeden last year, no one is untouchable.  When they know the cast has fewer options, they can tell them to take or leave whatever offer.   Many will take it, some will leave it.  I think we’re in for an era of acrimonious contract negotiations.  This will inevitably affect the show, as we’re likely to see more “plastic surgery” and evil twin storylines.  My fear is that the Y & R I grew up with will cease to be, even if it’s still on.  To wit, I’d argue that it’s happened already.  Y & R was always one of the more realistic/plausible soaps.  Lately, it’s been somewhat farcical.

Also, as sports and wrestling have shown us, assembling an all-star roster doesn’t mean success.  When WWE bought the bankrupt WCW in 2001, there were celebrations as dream matches would now occur.  I would argue that the demise of WCW has brought down WWE, as the lack of true competition has made WWE less likely to take the risks that brought them massive popularity around the turn of the century.  In addition, the roster suffered, as it became very top-heavy and crucial role players were often left out of the only show in town.  Those crucial role players were the guys who morphed from lower-card acts to mid-card to main eventers.  Instead, guys are now rushed to the top before they’ve really had an opportunity to connect with the crowd.  If the same thing happens in soaps, we’re in trouble. 

This post is pure speculation, so don’t take it as gospel.  What are your thoughts on the matter?

 
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Posted by on April 14, 2011 in Gumbo

 

Potentially major casting news (from Soapcentral.com)/New Look

You know I rarely re-post info from other sites, preferring to do original content.  But I wanted to pass on this report I saw on soapcentral.com:

Is Emmy winner Billy J. Miller leaving Y&R?
Posted Wednesday, April 13, 2011 5:51:09 PM
by Dan J Kroll

Wildly popular Y&R star Billy J. Miller could be exiting his role as Billy Abbott later this year. Miller joined The Young and the Restless in September 2008 after a one-year run on All My Children.

Emmy winner Billy J. Miller (Billy Abbott) could be exiting The Young and the Restless when his contact expires this summer. In addition to his Emmy win, Miller is extremely popular with fans, as evidenced by his five soapcentral.com Dankies Awards wins earlier this year.

Word of Miller’s exit was first reported by Soap Opera Digest. Citing sources, the magazine indicated that Miller had chosen not to renew his contract with the top-rated CBS soap. However, Miller’s exit may not be as done of a deal as first reported.

After talking to its own insiders, Soaps In Depth reported that Miller and show executives are still engaged in contract talks. The magazine hints that one of the key negotiations might involve the ability for Miller to do projects outside of daytime. In the past, the networks have been reluctant to let their contract players appear in primetime and movie projects. That’s not the cast anymore, as networks have been working to find a middle ground in order to keep top-name talent.

Another setside source tells soapcentral.com that this might be another case of show brass trying to negotiate via the media. Contract talks are typically closed-door meetings. Y&R, however, has had several very visible and very high-profile negotiation sessions in the past few years, including those involving Eric Braeden (Victor Newman), Melody Thomas Scott (Nikki Newman), and Jess Walton (Jill Abbott).

Miller debuted on The Young and the Restless in September 2008, becoming the fourth actor in six years to play the role of Billy. Prior to joining Y&R, Miller appeared for a year on ABC’s All My Children. In 2010, Miller was named Outstanding Supporting Actor at the Daytime Emmys.

A Y&R spokesperson had no comment.

<!– Photo: crackle.com

–>source: http://soapcentral.com/yr/news/2011/0413-miller.php

In other news, I changed the look a little bit…let me know what you think…

 
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Posted by on April 14, 2011 in Gumbo

 

Eyecandy-fest 2011! (4/12/2011)

 Note:  I changed the original title because I didn’t want to attract porn traffic.  Freaks.

So…one of my first posts on here asked for some eyecandy for the fellas….I got it yesterday!  Before I get into that, a moment of silence for my future ex-wife marrying another man later today.  It brings to mind one of the biggest hater songs of the 80s, before we started using the term hater, which I loathe:

The main storylines for Tuesdays episode were Malcolm and Sofia getting ready for the wedding, Chloe and Gloria in jail, Sharon at her mother’s and Nick and Phyllis with Adam trying to find Sharon. 

I was cracking up at Darius McCrary morphing from his Malcolm voice to his Eddie Winslow voice with nerves from the wedding. But of course, the highlight of the episode for me was Sofia, looking radiant.  She plays so fine, don’t you agree? (c) Mr. Randy Watson and Sexual Chocolate

Have mercy

Also showing her goodies yesterday was Sharon Newman, who in my opinion looks good with her hair darker.  And the tramp look would get old on an every day basis, but it was a nice “y’all must have forgot” kind of reminder of what she’s working with. On the non-caveman tip, Sharon Case delivered a really powerful performance.  You definitely see where her mom is coming from when she says that she’s made her bed and not listened to anyone’s advice, but it’s still heartbreaking, no matter how old you are, to hear that your parent is giving up on you.  The ethos of that scene was well done.  

Speaking of Sharon, it looks like Adam is taking Nick, Phyllis, and the apparent cop on a wild, international goose chase.  It’s weird….I STILL need them to reveal Richard Hightower’s murderer, but I’m kind of rooting for Adam.  I’ve previously referred to Nick as a lunk, and his “I just want to hit someone” line yesterday was further proof of that.  Be like your dad or your brother, go for the cerebral. 

Last but not least, we have the whole Jana-Chloe-Gloria storyline.  With Emily O’Brien on the way out, I’m sure that Jana’s dirt is about to be revealed, but it was nice to see it progressing in that direction with Billy and Kevin working together.  The interplay between Greg Rikaart and Billy Miller has always been good, and I’m glad we’ll get to see more of it coming soon.

Not that I watch that kind of thing…

 
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Posted by on April 13, 2011 in Episode Commentary

 

Wrestling and Soaps

Awhile back, I mentioned that I was going to have to do a post on wrestling and soaps.  Here goes nothing!

When I was a kid, this was wrestling: 

Very cartoonish….larger than life characters, definitive good guys and bad guys.  However, in a parallel universe at the exact same time, my brothers were into this:

which I thought was boring.  But then as I got older, I started to appreciate the harder-nosed NWA moreso than the silly WWF.  As people my age got older, the WWF we grew up with became less and less appealing and we started tuning into WCW.  WWF, the longtime industry leader, fired back by changing to the edgier Attitude era, where cartoonish tamped down to merely over the top, and ANYTHING could happen.  I kid you not, I remember Raws where Triple H re-enacted humping a dead woman in her coffin, where Brian Pillman (RIP) pulled a gun on Stone Cold Steve Austin who was breaking into his house, where an 80 plus year old woman was pregnant and delivered a rubber glove, where a former Olympian fell in love with a transvestite until he discovered Mr. Winky…etc, etc.  In this time period, good guys (babyfaces, faces, etc) and bad guys (heels) became a thing of the past in favor of tweeners who walked in a gray area.  No more was it that all heels were friends simply because they were heels.  The result of the Attitude era (and horrible mismanagement and booking in WCW) was the ultimate destruction and bankruptcy of WCW, the spiritual successor of the NWA.  It was also around the time of the Attitude era when the whole wrestling as “Soaps for men” meme started to pick up steam.  At this point, WWE has stupidly banned the word “Wrestling” and all of its derivatives.  John Cena is no longer a “wrestler,” he’s a “superstar”.  And he doesn’t wrestle, he “entertains.”  That would be akin to Y & R saying it’s no longer a soap opera, but rather melodramatic entertainment. 

I say all this to say that it reminds me of now with soaps, Y & R in particular.  Here’s some similarities:

  1. Good guys, bad guys, tweeners:  Both genres at it’s core are about larger than life good guys (Babyfaces) and bad guys (Heels), and characters who float in between (Tweeners).  That drives the conflict.  There is nothing more dramatic than a heel who redeems himself, or a hero who falls. Think of Michael, who was introduced to us as a rapist, Kevin, who was a STD-infected, homocidal pervert, or Phyllis, who was a murderous vamp.  All of them redeemed themselves and became heroes with a darkside.   Victor, who kept his wife’s lover in a dungeon, started out life as an over the top villain.  One major difference is that there’s no money in heels in soaps, at least not long term.  At best, you can be a tweener, a la Adam, who is not really a heel right now.
  2. Hotshot booking:  Oh yes, I’ve mentioned this before.  Hotshot booking in wrestling means basically doing something dramatic to raise interest at the expense (or lack of!) of long-term plans.  TNA Wrestling is the KING of hotshot booking right now, with their world title changing hands on far too many occasions.   Hotshot booking isn’t always bad when used sparingly, but the overuse indicates a lack of direction.  Thus my beef with Y & R essentially hot shotting with all the recent deaths.  It’s cool for the drama, but it indicates a lack of direction.  Are you telling me that Cassie (who would now be early 20s), Brad, or Skye couldn’t add to the landscape on Y & R?  Hell, you could have Brad essentially in Tucker’s role.
  3. Payoffs: Wrestling and Soaps are both all about payoffs.  Good booking of wrestling and good writing of soaps creates an intriguing story, takes time to develop it, and gives a satisfying payoff.  It doesn’t go too long and makes people lose interest, and it doesn’t go so fast.  It rewards long-time fans with tidbits from the past, it gets fans emotionally invested.   A well-booked storyline in wrestling was Sting vs. Hulk Hogan in 1997.  The hero of WCW, Sting disappeared in 1996 after being accused of betraying WCW and the fans.  He went from this:

 to hanging out in the rafters looking like this:

He didn’t talk for over a year and it was unclear what he wanted or what he was after.  He attacked random wrestlers.  The nWo, a pseudo-invasion of WWF talent, even had a look a like of Sting wrestle for them.  It became apparent that he wanted the leader of the nWo Hulk Hogan.  After a year, Sting got Hulk Hogan in the ring at Starrcade ’97 (NWA and WCW’s Wrestlemania)  and seemingly beat him to win the WCW World Title, albeit uncleanly.  A long build, a satisfying payoff, everyone’s happy, right?  Wrong…the next day, Sting finally talks and is stripped of the title for largely political reasons and WCW begins a 3 year descent into bankruptcy.  Compare….Cane’s death.  It was a long time coming…it was a satisfying payoff…until they made Cane a ghost or figment of Lily’s imagination.  How you follow up on a successful storyline is almost as crucial as a successful storyline.

My geekiness knows no bounds and I’m sure I’ve lost people who came here looking for info on either wrestling or Y & R….not that I watch that kind of thing.

 
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Posted by on April 12, 2011 in Gumbo