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|Steve Frame||Sep 30 2007, 12:03 PM|
I am going to give this a try until someone better comes along. Right now this will just be a monthly column and will be published near the last day of each month. The position for a full time columnist for Y&R will remain open, and my hope is that someone will step up and give it a shot. Until then. - Steve|
Y&R Gets Framed
Volume 1, Column 1
I have had a on again/off again love affair with Young & the Restless since 1973. I fell in love with the early characters on the show especially Snapper played by the wonderful William Gray Espy. Other early faves were Brenda Dickson as Jill, Jeanne Cooper as Katherine, Julianna McCarthy as Liz, Jaime Lyn Bauer as Lauralee, and Janice Lynde as Leslie. When the show shifted gears so successfully in the early 80's, I missed all the early characters but William Bell so successfully and beautifully wrote the new families - the Williams and Abbott families - that I fell in love with them. I never had the same devotion to them that I did the Brooks and Abbott families but I still loved them.
When Bell turned the reigns over to Kay Alden and then those were transferred to Jack Smith, my viewing got very sporadic especially during the Smith years. I never fully quit watching though until the end of April 2007 under Lynn Latham. I loved it when Latham came to Y&R as I felt she breathed new life into the show during her initial months, but for some reason into 2007 especially she seemed to forget about writing and seemed to focus too much time on the production end of things or something. All I know is her mind was not on writing.
I am not really sure why I picked back up on Y&R in September, but I am so happy I did. The spoilers didn't sound all that much more exciting, but for some reason the second week of September I tuned back in.
And man what a change I have been in store for. Y&R is still not the Y&R of the Bell years, and it is not perfect, but right now the show seems like something is clicking better than it did for awhile there. Latham has seemed to say hey we were going a little too fast for Y&R. She has seemed to slow the pace down a little for me and I like that. There is less skipping over dramatic points and they are being hit on very well now. We are seeing characters reactions to things.
She has cut out for me the way too much focus on the new characters and focusing the show again on the characters that people love. We have been getting more Paul even. We still have the new characters of David and Cane who get a good amount of airtime but we see them more interacting with characters who have been around for awhile. We don't get very many scenes at all where there are 2 or more relatively new characters on the screen at the same time. David seems to be anchored by Nikki a great bit of the time, while Cane seems to be with Jill and Kay more now. We still get a great deal of Amber but it has even lessened. And that is a good thing.
As I have said in many other places, Y&R has it's faults but it can teach the other soaps many things as far as the use of new characters and balance. This is one of the main things that has kept Y&R from falling under that 4.0 mark that so many fans are wishing on it these days. Y&R features all age groups as well as characters that long-time viewers care about. There is something for everyone who tunes in and someone of every age group featured and people can find someone they can relate too.
One of the things that I have noticed too is that the couples are all filled with angst right now, which makes for good soap opera. I do wish there would be more romance thrown in. She gives us some - more than some other soaps - but there still needs to be more. I have couples that I wish were back together, but I don't mind them being apart either as I am enjoying some of the new "interloper" couples. I very much enjoy Jack and Sharon together. I love David with Nikki. They are so hot together. And I also enjoy Nick and Phyllis together.
Latham still focuses too much on little plot points to move story along, but I am seeing more character based stuff that Y&R has always been known for. We are getting more details about motivation of the characters and what makes them do the things they do. And Latham is doing a wonderful job at making you love to hate characters. You know why they do the things they do, but you still can't help but hate them for it. You don't hate the character but you hate what they do.
Latham has done a fairly good job during her tenure at family stuff, but to me she has excelled at it lately. I thoroughly loved the scene of Victor, Nick, and Victoria having lunch together and discussing Victor and Nikki's marriage. It was nice that Latham even brought Traci back to show support for her brother when he did his press conference. She even remembered to mention that Ashley called giving her support as well. Little elements like that are forgotten on other soaps. They are very minor things, but they show the viewer that this is a family that cares about one another. I love the constant interaction between the dysfunctional Baldwin/Fisher family, and loved that Latham finally let Lauren go off on her mother-in-law. She gives Kay and Jill stuff together as mother and daughter, but doesn't forget that even though they have accepted one another in those roles - it is still not a happy union. There is still a lot of tension there. There is probably not enough for some fans, but I for one am just thankful that she has kept some tension there between them.
Another thing that Latham is doing wonders with is showing that people actually work. We see people in their work places. We see them discussing their jobs, working on cases, and she uses that to further help you understand the character and move story along.
To keep this from being completely positive, I have to point out my biggest complaint about Latham and Y&R right now. It is way too white-washed. Bell turned Y&R in the 1980's into one of the best examples of integrated soap opera there has ever been. Latham was doing a good job with that early in her run when she was the only writer who wrote a black family front and center on a soap opera in the last year except for Passions. This is basically a two part blame problem though. Part of the blame goes to Victoria Rowell who chose to leave Y&R at this time due to her dislike for what the show had become - I think more behind the scenes than maybe on front of the screen. The 2nd part does go to Latham who I think is too chicken to recast Victoria for fear of fan backlash. Victoria's departure put a big hit in the Winters family and has definitely affected story for them. Since I have been back I have not seen Kristoff or Bryton on screen at all. Lily is the only one I see anymore. With the killing of Ji Min, Lily becomes basically the only minority character featured a lot at this point. I am hoping that Latham will rectify this in the future, and especially restore the Winters family to the spot they held earlier this year. I for one would love a recast of Dru and give Neil and the Winters family some big drama for the coming months.
I know this is more of a what I like and don't like about Y&R than say a column on it, but I needed to do this for my first column. In coming months, I will try to take a certain issue and focus on it. In closing I am going to steal some of Mary's idea on the way she ends her Days column and give it my twist.
Y&R: The Good, The Bad, The Ugly for September 2007
The Good: Peter Bergman, Michelle Stafford, Jess Walton, Jeanne Cooper, and Judith Chapman have all given multiple great performances this month. There have been many honorable mentions this month, but I chose these as they were consistently great all month long. Another good thing to point out this month is the pairing of David and Nikki for me. Vincent and Melody are so hot together.
The Bad: A good sort of bad is Gloria Fisher Abbott. Man that woman gets me so angry. She is definitely one of my favorite bitches right now. A bad sort of bad for me was the killing of Ji Min. It has been good for Jess Walton and others as for the material it has given them and the story it has sparked, but Ji Min was one of the best new characters Latham created and I will miss him.
The Ugly: I am sure I will get beaten down by some for this, but the ugliest part of September for me was the unbearable scenes of Amber talking to herself. One Amber is enough for me. Seeing 2 Ambers on my TV screen was just plain ugly.
by Steve Frame, 30 September 2007
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