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REVIEW: Tom Casiello's First Episode of Y&R

Picture it. Genoa City, Wisconsin. Monday, April 20, 2009. A foster child/custody storyline so boring, so polarizing, so utterly pointless, by comparison it makes Ryan Seacrest on the red carpet seem like edge-of-your-seat entertainment, is finally, mercifully climaxing on CBS Daytime's The Young and the Restless


While I knew weeks ago that yesterday would be the day when Neil Winters (Kristoff St. John) and his wife Karen (Nia Peeples) would face off in court with Tyra (Eva Marcille) over the custodial fate of Sally Sing-A-Lot aka Ana. I also knew this episode would be important for another reason. It would be the first air show since officially rejoining the soap opera writing community for former Days of Our Lives scribe Tom Casiello, whose My Space blog became a soap fanboy/girl's wet dream during the 2007-2008 Writers' Strike. Talk about pressure. For his first show, Casiello would have to help breathe life into the only storyline stinker left on the soap opera since the Dream Team of Maria Arena Bell,Paul Rauch and Hogan Sheffer began masterfully restoring The Young and the Restless, following the destructive tenure of Lynn Marie Latham

Almost immediately after the Dream Team was assembled, the Abbotts and Newmans began to resemble the characters Y&R fans knew and loved from the classic 80's and contemporary 90's, while the Fisher-Baldwins—comprised of great actors, but show eaters during LML's reign—were smartly scaled back, however, the once-wildly popular Winters family were marooned on the Isle of Storyline Contrivance, trapped in yet another dismal, stereotypical, "socially relevant" storyline. (Blogger's Note: On behalf of all black folks who watch the eight soaps still on the air, we get it. Thank you for sympathizing with our plight— well, someone's plight, since my childhood was more akin to Noah Newman's than Ana's, but I digress.  Going forward we no longer need, nor want to be the social studies exercise portion of our favorite soaps. Just give the black folks good, old-fashioned, integrated, soapy, scheming, sexing, pot boiler storylines like everyone else. Thank you kindly.)

It has been a shame before the Soap Gods that for months the only storyline I have fast-forwarded through on The Young and the Restless was the one featuring people who look like me. Give me a storyline featuring snarky, sexy boy and girl baddies Billy (Billy Miller) and Chloe (Elizabeth Hendrickson) any day over a drippy, heavy-handed, faux morality tale showcasing bad actresses—sorry Eva, but we've treated you with kid gloves long enough, it's time for you to put up, or pack up—and a fourth rate storyline. All of that slowly started to change yesterday.

By juxtapositioning the climax of Ana's custody saga, with what looked like the beginning of baby Delia's, The Young and Restless presented a powerful, compelling story of what it truly means to be a parent, and in the process gave St. John his best material since the death of his first wife Drucilla (Victoria Rowell), while finally providing his second wife, Karen (Nia Peeples) with Emmy-worthy material. Peeples exited the serial on a high note, as Karen ripped the ever-sanctimonious Neil to shreds for telling the judge that Sally, er Ana, belonged with Tyra. Finally, I have a modicum of hope that the storyline for Neil and his family will begin to be just as interesting as the rest of the show.

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As with any episode, this one wasn't without fault.The aforementioned Eva Marcille's attempts to emote were laughable, and the usually perceptive Daniel Goddard played the crucial scenes where Cane decided to give up the fight for Delia straight forward, not showing any turmoil or conflict for a character who has been fighting to the death for this child.

Are we really supposed to believe that after everything Chloe did to separate Cane and his "one true love", Lily (Christel Khalil), he would now give Chloe a big, old bear hug, while grinning like the Cheshire Cat from Alice in Wonderland? Don't get me wrong, I am glad Cane is over his obsession with a child he now knows he didn't father—especially if it gets him and Lily out of Billy and Chloe's orbit— but there is no way he should have been making nice with someone who drugged him and passed a child off as his, let along hugging them.

Chloe wanting to hug Cane made sense, because that's who Chloe is. She is so self-absorbed, she seriously thinks people should get over her behavior as soon as she does, but Cane should have pushed her away, instead of acting like a sailor picking up his best girl and spinning her around after returning from The Great War. This is why some fans, like myself, have huge problems with Cane and Lily's saccharine-sweet love story. In an attempt to paint Cane as some Harlequin Novel hero for Lily, the actor oversells us on Cane's "good guy" earnestness, basically stripping away any semblance of the edge or depth Cane came to Genoa City with. Memo to Goddard: Soap Opera romantic leads are allowed to retain their nads.

Luckily Cane and Tyra's misses weren't enough to spoil an hour of television that was largely a hit. The episode's other highlights, featuring Abbott siblings Jack (Peter Bergman) and Ashley (Eileen Davidson) and one of their wicked stepmonsters, Jill (Jess Walton), squaring off, and later Jacko baiting Adam (Chris Engen) were delicious, classic soap. I literally, got down off the couch to sit right in front of the TV on the floor, in anticipation of Jill flooring the Abbotts with the news that Victor (Eric Braeden) was behind their ousting at Jabot. Darn that Ashley and her cramps!

Line of the Episode from Jill: What's the matter Ashley, is Satan's Spawn causing you indigestion? 

Hilarious. Good job Y&R writing team, and welcome back Mr. C.