I could use so many classic literary titles and/or phrases to begin this post about what went wrong Monday on CBS Daytime's The Young and the Restless, as opposed to everything sister soap, The Bold and the Beautiful, did right. It Was The Best of Soaps, It Was The Worst of Soaps — A Tale of Two Bell Sudsers.
While Brad Bell and Co. (Major kudos to script writer Adam Dusevoir!) paid off months of scandalous storytelling, involving the latest, illicit affair of Brooke Logan (Katherine Kelly Lang) on Monday, Y&R had a party of its own. While both the late Bill Bell and even Edward Albee would have been impressed by the B&B shindig, someone forgot to bring more than just the cake in Genoa City.
No, not literally. Jack Abbott (Peter Bergman) was presented a nice, chocolate, prop confection at the party honoring his birth. However, if he was searching for even so much as a morsel of a plausible, character driven story beat to munch on as an appetizer, he would have died of starvation at his own feting.
While a clueless Traci (Beth Maitland) busied herself with planning her big brother's party, Phyllis (Michelle Stafford)—one of the most methodical, calculating femme fatales in soap opera history—decided to plant a kiss on Jack's son in plain sight of the boy's Sperm Swap Cousin. Phyllis is going through all of these Jack, Janet and Chrissy shenanigans, you see, because she doesn't want her daughter hurt by the revelation that Jack is her biological father.
So in order to keep Summer (Hunter King) from committing the Second Act of Greek tragedy with her own half-brother, an enterprising Phyllis has to make the lad want to have sex with her—the girl's mother and Jack's beloved—because possibly stumbling on to that particular factoid would be so much less devastating for Summer. Alrighty then.
That's right folks, the same woman who for years conned Danny Romalotti (Michael Damian) into believing he was the father of her firstborn child—who also got away with murdering Sasha and managed to keep the fact that she'd mowed down Paul (Doug Davidson) and Cricket (Lauralee Bell) under wraps for almost two decades—is now so sloppy and stupid she's being discovered mid-scheme by a newbie recast.
Let's talk about those recasts for a minute. I have absolutely nothing against Hartley Sawyer (NuKyle) or Melissa Ordway (NuAbby); both are solid enough performers. But when the only people who are in on a game-changing, bombshell secret are perfect strangers to the audience, it takes away from any dramatic payoff.
Contrast the sad sack scenario on Y&R, with Brooke Logan's decades-long mortal enemy, Dr. Taylor Hayes (an exiting and brilliant Hunter Tylo), being the one to reveal Brooke's latest indiscretion at B&B's party. The entire time Abby was whispering admonishments to Kyle, I was distracted by thoughts of "How would Emme Rylan and Blake Hood have played this?"
That's the problem with recasting in the middle of a huge storyline. Sometimes it can't be avoided, but Y&R's been bringing in a revolving door of Kyles for the past few years.
If they knew they wanted to tell a Mrs. Robinson story with the character and someone as A-list as Phyllis, why not stick with one actor throughout the entire arc? We all figured they might go this route back when they first started chem-testing Hood and Staff, but the recast threw everything out of whack.
Ordway being recast as Abby couldn't be helped. Rylan jumped ship for General Hospital; not that I blame her. It still boggles my mind, that Y&R ever let a gem like her go in the first place. So, again, what we were left with on Monday was a pair of people we barely know, being the only ones clued in about what was really going down at this party.
Meanwhile, beloved, previously-savvy veteran characters were either blissfully ignorant (Jack, Traci), or acting so far out of character, I wondered if Stefano DiMera had paid a visit from Salem to plant chips in their heads (Phyllis). I almost wish my invitation to this particular party had been lost in the mail — especially after attending such a humdinger with the Forresters, Logans and Spencers on The Bold and the Beautiful.
The only saving grace for the scenes at Jack's birthday party, was the appearance of a drunk and disorderly baby brother Billy (Billy Miller). Miller and Bergman won themselves two Kim Zimmer Awards on Monday. They definitely turned this shit into at least a tiny bite of sugary birthday cake.