Freeze frames were never the problem, DAYS used those for over 20 years. The problems were the special effects that, like Toups said, came with Stephen Wyman. I think they were at their worst around 2005, they used those SFX for everything, flashbacks, dreams, episode endings.
Deidre Hall posted a pic last week, behind her on the wall was a chart list of the cast. Zooming in it's very blurred but people on DR, with a little help from Jason47 managed to compare all the names to a previous chart from April and rule out who's not there anymore.