Since I've been writing for this blog, I can't think of two soap opera industry professionals I've been harder on than Jill Farren Phelps and Chuck Pratt. Okay, maybe Dena Higley. And Ellen Wheeler. And Chris Goutman. And Brian Frons... Okay, okay, I've been hard on a lot of these mofos!
Sue me. I love this frigging genre and its self-destruction made me a bit, shall we say, cross for the better part of a decade.
At any rate, I can admit when I was wrong (my business partner Luke Kerr just burst into hysterical laughter). I thought the combination of the dude who gutted All My Children like a flopping cod at the bottom of a dinghy and the woman I nicknamed Jill Farren F*** Up would tank The Young and the Restless faster than you could say "CGI Tornado Babies". I've never been happier to say my crystal ball needs a new battery pack.
According to the Nielsen report for the 2014-15 TV season, The Young and the Restless just had its best year since 2009-10. The CBS Daytime sudser averaged 5.21 million for the year and was up one percent over the previous season.
Pratt's patented brand of high octane insane storytelling (Roof cave-ins! Dueling doppelgangers! Accidental and on-purpose lady punching! Vapid teen-killing serial killers!) had me screaming and tweeting bloody murder, "This is NOT BILL BELL's THE YOUNG AND THE RESTLESS!!!!!!!!" And it wasn't — not in the classical, psycho-sexual, slow-moving way Y&R told stories for decades. The reality is, Y&R hasn't been that type of show in a long, long time.
I'm a bit of hypocrite. There, I said it. Ron Carlivati's version of General Hospital certainly wasn't what the Hursleys had in mind when they created their sleepy little medical drama back in '63. Even masterfully over-the-top 80's era rebooter Gloria Monty might have been like, "Masks, Ron?" While I didn't watch Monty's version and wasn't alive when the Hursleys were there, RC's GH being vastly different from previous eras I loved, like the Wendy Riche/Claire Labine tenure, didn't stop me from getting one helluva kick out of his zany jaunts.
I lived my life for James E. Reilly's bat poop crazy arcs on Days of Our Lives and Hogan Sheffer's bizarre, nutso tales on As The World Turns. He sent three hookers to a rapid-aging spa, y'all!
Pratt really isn't much different. He likes the larger-than-life, incredulous aspects of daytime drama. So do I, as long as there's balance.
As for Phelps, the former showrunner of Santa Barbara, Guiding Light, Another World, One Life to Live, General Hospital and Hollywood Heights has managed to resist her prior penchant for killing off beloved veteran characters and seems to be infusing truth and reality into Pratt's macabre, ramped up version of life in Genoa City, Wisconsin whenever she can. She also lured top talent Justin Hartley to the show as Adam Newman.
Speaking of Hartley and Adam, the storyline featuring the black sheep with the pretty new face secretly working with pervy cult leader Ian Ward (Ray Wise) to exact vengeance on Victor (a top of his game Eric Braeden) has reignited the boardroom and bedroom rivalries of the iconic Newman and Abbott clans. I've been begging for this to happen for years!
Ashley Abbott (Eileen Davidson) finally has a purpose as CEO of Jabot and her daughter Abby (Melissa Ordway), Newman's COO, has a brain. I think she stole Aunt Phyllis's (Gina Tognoni), but I digress. Jack (Peter Bergman) is settling nicely into the patriarch slot and Kyle (Lachlan Buchanan), well, he's nice to look at.
Ashley and Billy's younger brother Billy (Burgess Jenkins) is once again in a tortured, against-all-odds romance with tragic Newman princess Victoria (Amelia Heinle). While the coupling lacks the heat it had when Billy Miller was playing Billy, there's promise.
I'm loving sexy, Latin newcomers Luca Santori (Miles Gaston Villanueva) and Marisa Sierras (Sofia Pernas). Dim-witted hottie Noah Newman (Robert Adamson) looks great sandwiched between those two!
Of course, Y&R still has its issues. When Sharon Newman (Sharon Case) looks at lover Dylan McAvoy (Steve Burton), I can't tell if that's adoration I spy in her eyes, or if she's desperately trying to curtail the desire to eat his spleen. Can we please make Sharon sane once and for all?
Sharon's former rival, Phyllis is too dumb to live at this point and Neil Winters (Kristoff St. John) is acting so out of character if this soap was on ABC, I'd say he was Sheila Carter in a light-skinned mask.
Also, when is daytime's No. 1 soap finally gonna tell a gay storyline? Kevin Fisher (Greg Rikaart) is in desperate need of a good same-sex 69. No offense to Mariah (Camryn Grimes). I'm sure her skills at mutual pleasure exercises are Grade-A.
Okay, okay, this is supposed to be an article praising Y&R. Congrats to Pratt, JFP and the CBS Daytimers. Things look very promising along Wisconsin's skyline. I know this because Y&R's 32 establishing shots per episode show me so! I kid. I kid.