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Article: Y&R At the Crossroads


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Yes siree, another article concerning Y&R. If only Shaughnessy was still EP today. 2003 was the last really outstanding year for Y&R, they'll never be another year like it under this current catastrophic regime.

Y&R AT THE CROSSROADS

11 MARCH 2002 by Snark

A few weeks ago, I gave short shrift to Douglas Shaughnessy taking over as executive producer of The Young and the Restless. While other soaps are thrown into a major state of panic at every behind-the-scenes change, Y&R is like a well-oiled machine. Nothing could break their stride. But, there have been some problems with the show lately that are being reflected in the ratings. The show is still the top-rated soap, but with an average rating of a 5.3, it’s a long way from the 7’s and 8’s it was getting not all that long ago. Shaughnessy recently gave an interview to Soap Opera Weekly reporter Mark McGarry, which I’ll analyze here.

The article starts with a listing of Y&R’s recent cast departures including Lauralee Bell (Christine), Scott Reeves (Ryan), Sabryn Genet (Tricia), Rick Hearst (Matt), Ashley Bashioum (Mac), and Shemar Moore (Malcolm). McGarry asks Shaughnessy how he’s dealing with all that:

Shaughnessy: You just bring in new talents and you keep going. The audience tends to get upset, but hopefully it is fairly brief. You bring in a new person and the story gets going and viewers usually get over it pretty quickly.

Good answer. People do get over cast departures pretty quickly, as long as there’s something to keep their mind off of it. But, if you don’t fill the hole, of course people are going to notice there’s a hole! As for my specific takes on the characters mentioned:

Christine has long been a superfluous character who never fit in with the general feel of the show, no matter who they tried to mix her up with. Her extended absence only proved how dispensable she is to the show. I can’t believe Shaughnessy is losing sleep over her. Ryan’s exit was shocking, but, hey, you have to mix it up every once in a while, or things get too stale. The key to things like this is that they have to be mined properly for all the dramatic impact. Y&R hasn’t completely dropped the ball in the aftermath of Ryan’s death, but they aren’t going as far as I’d like. Tricia and Matt had to go--they reached their expiration date, and it would have been ridiculous to keep them on another minute. And Hearst’s recent landing of another dynamite role proves it’s better to let actors go for the sake of the story--if they’re good, they’ll land work elsewhere. Bashioum chose to leave, and I can’t fault her for wanting to do more important work. Kelly Kruger isn’t bad, but doesn’t have enough presence to make the audience pay attention to her either. Unless Kruger grows into the role, she’s always going to be just the replacement or the other Mac.

And Moore? I’m torn. On the one hand, I can see why the writers didn’t do better, because Moore’s been “leaving” Y&R for the past three years now. But the loss of Malcolm has less to do with what a jewel Malcolm is, and more with the ridiculous way he was written out. He finds out about his fiancée having a thing for his brother, punches his brother, says nothing to the fiancée, and goes out into an African rainstorm, where a bridge falls on him, and he’s presumed dead? Eh? It’s almost as if they’re expecting Moore to come back. I would’ve just offered Moore recurring status where he tapes a couple of scenes a month with Nate, so Nate can stop being the hard-luck kid. Otherwise, wrap up the triangle and keep Malcolm away from any storylines, giving Moore plenty of time to do other work--like hosting Soul Train.

Next, McGarry asks what Shaughnessy’s immediate plans are. Shaughnessy talks about opening the lines of communication among all the departments. Then, he adds: “I am trying to enrich the communication between Y&R and THE BOLD AND THE BEAUTIFUL, too. Brad Bell (B&B’s executive producer and head writer) and I had lunch yesterday. We think it is important that the two shows support each other.”

Hmmm. I wonder what he means. Clearly, The Y&R/B&B relationship is important from a scheduling standpoint. In most areas, they air back-to-back. And, as much as I love B&B, if Y&R’s ratings really start to tank, B&B’s are going to be even worse. But, how can the two shows nurture each other. Outside of the Sheila thing (which became absurd--and I will always applaud Bradley Bell for finally pulling the plug on that), crossovers haven’t been particularly memorable. And I don’t think devising a storyline that would force viewers to watch both shows would work. And, how would Bradley Bell and Kay Alden’s styles mesh?

Next, McGarry asks about Shaughnessy’s relationship with Head Writer Kay Alden:

Shaughnessy: (snip)” I set up phone-call meetings with Kay (who’s based in Chicago) and Trent Jones (co-head writer), just to get feedback from writers. Story is her province. I want to increase this teamwork, which is important to me and to the show. We are all aware of the situation of daytime and the whole medium being in a bit of trouble. People are not watching as much, so obviously we have to have as much teamwork as possible until we are looking better.

Now, we get to it. I don’t expect Shaughnessy to get into a lot of detail here, so I don’t know how much he plans to deal with the writing. But, Y&R’s biggest problem is that the writing on the show has become stale. In an era where everything changes every few weeks, and virtually every other soap has lost it’s continuity, it’s identity, and entertainment value, I know it’s hard to criticize Y&R. There’s so much they’re doing right! They adhere to their past--they let stories develop--they have consistency! But, the show has also gotten boring. The recent cast changes and production values take a backseat to that. Rick Hearst and Sabryn Genet’s departures should have been expected, but with their characters gone, there’s not one storyline to captivate your attention.

We have the Neil/Alex/Malcolm triangle, which died long before Malcolm did. I mean, how many times can they have the hots for the same girl? And the actress playing Alex is just terrible. Not the least bit convincing in any extended display of emotion. And I know Y&R can be repetitive, but I think they’ve been using the same script ever since Malcolm disappeared.

NEIL: Any word on Malcolm?

AFRICAN GUY: No. I’m sorry.

NEIL: That means that the more time goes by, and you don’t find him, the bigger chance he could be---

AFRICAN GUY: Mr. Winters--

(Alex enters the tent.)

ALEX: What? Why’d you stop talking? You were talking about Malcolm, weren’t you? You’re ready to give up! Well, I’m not giving up! I’m gonna find him! This is your fault, Neil, not mine!

NEIL: Okay, you want me to say its my fault, it’s my fault. But you’re not going out there.

ALEX: Yes, I am.

NEIL: No you isn’t.

ALEX: Yes I is!

NEIL: No you isn’t!

Bored yet? Try that every day for three weeks. Then, try the Paul/Isabella storyline, which is boring and stupid beyond all belief. That Christine would partner with Michael was ridiculous beyond belief, but that Michael suddenly has the hots for the woman who helped put him in jail, is just dumb. It doesn’t help that character motivation seems to change depending on whether or not Lauralee Bell feels like returning this week. A heartbreaking but interesting storyline about Nick and Sharon has quickly dissipated, as the writers have decided that Sharon has to act unreasonable and irrational towards Nick, so both parties can be at fault. And, is there anybody who doesn’t see a Sharon/Diego one-night stand in the future? After all he’s been through with Mac, Billy is willing to let the relationship go, because Mac, who was nearly raped by her stepfather, isn’t ready to have sex yet? And while I’m glad Kay takes an interest in her granddaughter, doesn’t she do anything else? Where’s her spunk? This woman gave Jill the beating of her life over a mansion, but basically tells Mac to turn the other cheek at Jill’s vilest of insults? I was hoping the reintroduction of Colleen would add some good believable tension to Brad and Ashley, but the two are so damn boring, I’d slit my wrists just to get away from them, if need be. And while I’m glad to see that Phyllis is being de-canonized, does anybody believe that Diane would have the slightest interest in getting Jack back, after her complete obsession with Victor? Speaking of which, I thought we’ve been having some very nice growth with Victor and Nikki, but, with Victor’s first wife Julia back on the scene, I wonder if we’re going to fall into the same old patterns with them as well.

I liked Kay Alden when she first took over. I thought she did a lot to get the show moving again. But, lately, Y&R seems to be doing everything entirely by the numbers, safely sticking to the number one rule of all storytelling: There must be conflict. Who cares if said conflict is utterly boring, predictable, or not very logical?

The truth is, all soaps get into ruts sometimes. Even the very best of shows can have a creative recession, if you will. And Y&R is in a lot better position to come out of it. But, with soaps in the state they’re in, no one--not even the number one soap--can afford to have a downturn for long. Get well soon, Y&R.

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I agree, 2003 was Y&R's last truly stellar year, and the production values have never been the same since Shaugnessy left.

I think Shaughnessy was very underrated for his work on Y&R, and I would love it if he returned to the show in some capacity. I did think his brief stint was an improvement over Ed Scott's final two years or so.

The actors on the show also seemed to adore him, as did the writing team at the time.

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Thanks, that's a very strong article. I wasn't a regular Y&R viewer then but I did think the Alex/Neil/Malcolm story was boring and it did feel like the Isabella saga was based on Lauralee's coming and going. Was this before the "rough sex" mess with Paul and Christine?

I had forgotten that Julia had returned at this time. Was this during the "let's have all the women Victor brutalized beam at him" saga?

I do think Y&R was still in decent shape at this time but it did seem aimless. That could have been easily fixed though, not gutted.

Looking back I wish they'd broken up Shick for good around this time. The Diego stuff and the need to somehow even the score in adultery was the beginning of the end for Sharon as a character.

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Was this before the "rough sex" mess with Paul and Christine?

During.

Was this during the "let's have all the women Victor brutalized beam at him" saga?

Yep.

That could have been easily fixed though, not gutted.

Exactly.

the need to somehow even the score in adultery

*cough*JackSmith*cough*

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I did not write this article. Snark did. Soapfan, please edit the post to give Snark the byline.

Wow, it's been so many years since I've posted my old post count was deleted. Interesting.

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I did not write this article. Snark did. Soapfan, please edit the post to give Snark the byline.

Wow, it's been so many years since I've posted my old post count was deleted. Interesting.

LOL done. Sorry about that! I saved a ton of columns by you and Snark so I probably got them mixed up. I know for sure I have your Best and Worst of 2004 article saved. Snark mysteriously disappeared about this time last year and his blog has since been taken down. :unsure:

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