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« Our Column in the 7/22 Issue of Soap Opera Digest | Main | New Feature Alert: Vintage Suds »

July 16, 2008

This Is the Best They Can Do?

Since assuming the job of headwriter of The Young and the Restless and eventually becoming co-head writer with Hogan Sheffer, Maria Arena Bell has given a number of interviews touting the awesomeness that is to come on Y&R. I'm a pretty patient person by nature, but I'm starting to get a little antsy and want to know when, exactly, the awesomeness is going to come. Soon? Next year? When there is yet another new headwriter? I need to know what I am up against, here.

Because I certainly hope she doesn't mean that what we are seeing onscreen NOW is what she "swear[s] will blow [our] socks off". I mean...something's blowing, that's for sure. But what the hell kind of flimsy socks does she think we wear if we are supposed to be impressed with some of these storylines?

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Nick: Never a dull day at Restless Style

That is a blatant lie, Mr. Newman.

Everything related to Restless Style continues to either bore, defy reason, boringly defy reason or defy reason boringly. It's especially distressing, since Jack, Sharon and Phyllis are three of my favorite soap characters (and Nick's not so bad), and all of their screentime is consumed by this story which...is kind of terrible.

FOR EXAMPLE, and I know getting irritated about this is kind of petty since there are much bigger issues with this show, but Phyllis and Nick specifically mentioned Audrey Hepburn and Lauren Bacall as the inspiration for Victoria's cover shoot. Now, let's not even dwell on the fact that a random Wisconsin heiress/businesswoman is going to be the cover model for a magazine. I'm not even going to go there. I want to know how on earth Audrey Hepburn and Lauren Bacall get translated into this:

Restlessstyle_2

Question mark, question mark, question mark???

In the words of GOB Bluth, COME ON! No one on the staff of this show could point out that this is an homage to the 20s? Are there no fact checkers in this business? I don't even mean that it has to be their actual job title, couldn't some random person, even just a guest visiting the set that day, have corrected that line?

ALSO, and this pains me to say since I love Jack (to put it mildly), but...he wants Restless Style to be uber successful and he decides to change Adrian's story about Sabrina to make it more salacious and sell more issues.

Jack: No, it's not just a Matter of working hard. It's about. . . it's about getting attention, about drawing a crowd, about somehow setting Restless Style apart from the rest of the pack. We need to make a splash.

Yeah, I don't think Jack and I are on the same page about what a splash is.

I don't doubt that Adrian's story was boring, because, well, it's Adrian and boring is what he does. But let's be real here: you're waiting in line at the grocery store, flipping through a magazine (probably after picking it up and idly wondering "Who's the girl on the cover? Did she win a contest?") and you come across a story about the newlywed wife of a business mogul who slept with an artist while she was a curator. Do you say "Wow, this is some fascinating stuff, I simply must know more" and buy it, or do you get bored halfway through the first paragraph and read the latest story in People about, like, dogs saving children who are stuck in wells? THIS is Jack's plan for a successful magazine?

Stupid.

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Cane being written poorly is not a new thing. I've always gotten the impression that Lynn Marie Latham & Co. came up with the idea of rewriting the Jill/Philip/Katherine saga and introducing a new guy and then just said "You know, we're undoing decades of history, so we want to make this good. But we can't write on an empty stomach, so let's get paninis". And so caught up were they in a discussion of what kind of panini to get that they completely forgot to discuss what to do with Cane and just decided to throw him and see where he sticks.

[Vulgar joke about men, "sticking to" and Amber redacted]

So, anyway, after months of blandness, Cane falls in love with Lily, which...I don't mind them together. They're not bad. I mean, I don't consider them one of my favorite couples on the show, but they're not Victor/Sabrina or Nikki/Chow terrible. They're just kind of there, being pretty. And on this show, that means that they're kind of worth rooting for.

So Cane's friend asks what he likes about Lily, and this conversation followed:

Cane: You want to know what it is about Lily I love? Lily is so... so... so--

Chloe: She's so...

Cane: She's sensual. She's just gorgeous. She's intelligent and beautiful...

Sebastian: (Laughs) What he means is she's the one.

Cane: And smart, and she's sophist--aw, Bas.

Sebastian: (Laughs) Matey. [Just in case you forgot that they are Australian--Ed.]

(1)If it takes you 3 "so"'s before you can think of a positive attribute your girlfriend has, you're just not that into her

(2)If the first word you can think of is "sensual", you're thinking of a Victoria' Secret model and not Lily Winters, which means you're just not that into her

(3)If you're trying to think of words to describe your girlfriend and you count "intelligent", "smart", "beautiful" and "gorgeous" as four distinct traits, you're just not that into her.

I'm just saying.

And then, on top of that, you decide that, aside from Lily, there's only one possible story for Cane, who, by the way, is (a)Jill's son and Katherine's grandson (b)gorgeous and (c)Australian. And this story is "Cane gets plastered and taken advantage of by a schemer". Which you already did last year. Poorly. That's laziness on a Bob Guza level, which is to say hackish and embarrassing.

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When I was little, one of my friends and I played this game where we pretended to be Olympic athletes. I don't know. When you combine my extreme love of the Olympics (especially the Winter Olympics!) and the run of the mill lunacy that comes with being a little girl, you wind up with some strange things.

Anyway, we got into a fight one day about what event we should be fictionally competing in. I wanted to be a figure skater, obviously, and she said that I was too tall and had to be a skier and I got really annoyed because, hello, if it's a pretend game, can't I just pretend to be short? It got pretty heated for a while. I have to say, though, compared to the spat between Victoria and Sabrina, it was downright mature and articulate:

Sabrina: Okay, I-I'd like the look to be clean, contemporary-- square tables, square plates [??? Is she saying it's hip to be a square? Hee! I hate myself sometimes--Ed.], minimal floral arrangements.

Victoria: Well, since we're having it in the Colonnade room, I really don't think that simple and casual will fly.

Sabrina: Why not? I think the contrast could be striking.

Victoria: Do you have something against traditional décor?

Sabrina: Um, it's been done a thousand times.

Victoria: Um, because it works.

Sabrina: So you want to do the same tired idea that you used last year and the year before?

Victoria: No, I really didn't say that, did I?

Sabrina: Okay, good, because if that's the case, a child could do it.

That is an absolutely embarrassing conversation for two grown women to be having. I know that it's symptomatic of the bigger issues between the two, but seriously, it was painful to watch.

(And, since I am apparently the Queen of the Nitpickers today, why on earth are they planning the gala, like, three days in advance? Don't months of preparation go into galas? I mean, I plan staff meetings more capably)

After some drama-rama and the "scandalous" magazine article being published, Sabrina asks

Sabrina: Why is she being so spiteful? I mean, I wouldn't treat my worst enemy the way she's been treating me. (Voice breaks) I just want to know why.

Could it, I don't know, possibly have anything to do with the fact that you married Victoria's father?

I'm not saying that I'm a Victoria fan these days, and I'm not denying that she's been a heinous brat, but I have to be perfectly honest with you: if my father married one of my friends, I'd probably turn to mass murder, so Sabrina and Victor should consider themselves lucky that she's just being snide and eye rolly, which is to be expected when a beastly child gets a stepmother. Has Sabrina really not seen the vast catalogue of movies wherein a spunky girl tries to keep her father from marrying the bitchy woman?

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I know I am behind the times in commenting on this, but: we finally found out who killed Ji-Min!

I honestly didn't think this would ever be resolved and, on the off chance that it was, I thought it would be a random extra. Granted, David doing Walter's bidding to pay off his debt isn't many steps above that, but, you know, it's plausible.

Reader Danny correctly guessed the culprit back in October and the massive red flags about David have kept coming since then...

Nikki2

I will use any excuse to re-post that picture, BTW.

I just wish that I didn't already know how this story is going to end: Nikki will wind up in danger. Victor will save her. David will probably die. How utterly compelling!

Watching Nick and Katherine each giving Nikki rational, well thought out advice on the unhealthiness of her relationship with David has been quite realistic, and it's kind of entertaining in a sad, pathetic way to see Nikki twist herself like a pretzel in order to make excuses for him. Oh, goodness, I wish that Nikki could have a story away from Victor and somehow come out on top.

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I wouldn't go so far as to say that I was entertained, necessarily, by Phyllis's machinations to get Amber away from Daniel, but it's nice to see Phyllis being rotten. It would be even better if I had any sort of investment in the Daniel and Amber pairing, but apparently that's just asking too much.

The best thing to come out of it may be the impending fight between Colleen and Amber. The way I look at it, no matter what happens, a character I hate will be given a smackdown. It's a win-win!

How utterly amusing was Colleen's waffling over Adrian today?

Colleen: Adrian would never write such a trashy story.
Brad: Remember when was going to write a book about our family?
Colleen: Oh, right. Fry the bastard!

That was paraphrased, but not by much. She started the episode defending his honor and ended it bitchily theorizing about what events made him go on such a downward spiral to sink to the level of, shudder, a tabloid journalist.

Divider

While the Jill/Brad union and their plans to dethrone Katherine are unexpectedly entertaining, I need to address the other takeover situation and let you all know that if Gloria and Jeffrey successfully become the owners of Jabot that I will...I will do something drastic. I don't know what, or for how long I will do it, but I will do something. The very thought of them owning Jabot is giving me agita and while 90% of that particular problem is me taking a fictional show too seriously, the other 10 percent is completely warranted outrage.

Comments

I seriously almost threw up thinking about Gloria owning Jabot.

I think I have crossed the line into Soap Crazy territory.

"That's laziness on a Bob Guza level, which is to say hackish and embarrassing."

I just snorted Diet Pepsi out of my nose...

Bell promises a "catalytic event that will change Y&R forever". Is this "forever" like Cassie's death changed Y&R forever? *yawn* "Forever" like Clear Springs changed Y&R forever? *yawn* How about "forever" as the crashing of the Newman jet changed Y&R "forever"? Puhleeze with every damn SOD commercial we hear about some lame plot that will "change the face of Y&R forever" and I'm STILL waiting for it.

I loved Jack's comment today about how he's helping to save "hundreds of jobs" at RS. Rally? And yet we see about 10 people at best and they raved about how Adrian was the first staff writer. Hundreds? I think not.

I'm still trying to figure out how Mr. Snip Snip can now get Sabrina pregnant and why he isn't the least bit concerned as to how that happened? Anybody seeing a star in the distance?

One thing that I hated about Jack working at Jabot was that the storyline always seemed to revolve around "Jabot going broke!!!" Replace Jabot with Restless Style and now they're yammering on and on about the mag going broke--freaking go belly up already--which I don't understand. Issue One was critically acclaimed and suddenly Issue Two they're in big trouble? Huh??? These writers need to make up their minds.

OK, I'll admit it: my only reason for following Y&R is because of the change in writers. So when does Hogan's overrated crap start airing? I need to watch so I can nitpick to prove my criticisms correct. I'll also be watching to see how Thom Racina's scripts work (I can't believe this guy is just a script writer! ?!?). I'm so JEALOUS you guys have him on staff. I can't wait for him to make his way back to the top of some show (hopefully Days or GH!) and am excited that, even if he is writing for Y&R, which I have always found completely boring no matter how many times I give it a chance, he'll eventually be able to dictate story. So thanks for the recap; hopefully things will start to pick up.

OH! A Y&R post! I'm so happy to have my firend back. But while i agree with some of your criticisms (Glo gets Jabot - Hell No You Ho!)But I do buy the world eating up a scandal with Victor's new bride. I mean victor is basically Donald Trump with MUCH better hair and most know his wives names - Ivana, Marla and the other one. And RS was boring as muck but seeing Victor and Jack clash again is gold baby! And Kay being the champion for Sabrina is kind of cool too. She can be all "Dear god in heaven" this and "my God" that in everyone's face. She even put Vicki in her place today something i haven't seen in a LONG time! All in all, I'm happy with where Y&R is going. But don't let that stop you from another post! Cause i REALLY like them...alot!

Yes, my big concern is wrapping up the Gloria and the Tainted Cream storyline in a successful way. I have a few ideas, including:

"The writers need to finally put Gloria on trial, so we can see some dramatic monologues from Jack, Ashley and John's ghost. Justice must be served!" (from soapsagas.com)

Michelle
http://www.soapsagas.com

I never thought I would say this, but I am actually really enjoying Sabrina, her and Adam get along nicely and I love seeing how bitchy and jealous Nikki and Victoria get about her. The only problem I have with this show is the dropped storylines - what happened with Skye at the airport?

Yeah, I love how Katy Perry, a singer with a #1 single, is too obscure, but some random MidWest Heiress in a bad wig is gold!

As icky as the Victor/Sabrina relationship is, Sabrina is actually emerging as one of the more likable characters on this show. I blame Victoria, for making her look good, and Kay, because part of me likes anyone Kay likes (thus my irrational Amber love).

this is like the crappy storyline on AMC where mia and jake became the poster couple of Fusion. And that wasnt an interesting storyline either!

I absolutely agree that Y&R has been seriously lacking it's class, emotion and complexity for the last 3 years but I do take offense to your quick judgement of the show when Hogan Sheffer's name just appeared in the credits 2 says ago!! Any head writer needs some time to rid the show if it's waste and move onto what should be a new dawning or revitalizing of the show, it's history and characters. You are basing your opinions on what poor Mrs. Bell has been trying to do by herself for the last few months, clean up LML's destruction of the core of the show. Plus, the amazing Thom Racina is coming on as a script writer in August and I heard Paul Rauch will be consulting. These are behind the scenes soap legends. Give them a chance to slow build new stories, set a pace and move on. None of us really have any clue as to what is really going to happen. I am not saying it's about to cure cancer like OLTL but that did not happen in a month either. Ron Carlavati started with a bang killing Asa off and it's taken a whole year for that show to get out of it's Dena Higley hole. Hogan Sheffer wrote 4-5 brilliant years at ATWT, where he won a few writing Emmys deservedly and Thom Racina write the enormous Luke and Laura story right up to the wedding and created the phenomenon that became soap opera in the 80's and 90's plus Rauch has produced almost every great show during it's heyday - AW, OLTL, SB, GL. I love me some Serial Drama and you ladies but post how you feel a month or 2 from now and get off this show's back. It has been the gold standard for soap opera for 20 years at least besides it's unprecedented run at number one in the ratings even though all shows ratings are dwindling. But that is a whole other topic. Let these people do their job and then judge. We know they let go the actress who plays Sabrina. They are making changes. It is already evident in the few shows this week and I am a patient daytime fan. I want good, constructive criticism from you guys, not instant snarkiness and negativity. Take a deep breath and tune into tomorrow...

Don't worry, I love your "instant snarkiness and negativity." I think it's one of your best traits!

Katie F!! Is that you?

I completely agree with the idiocy of "think Audrey Hepburn and Lauren Bacall" somehow being turned into an homage to the 1920s star, Louise Brooks. (Although Louise would never have been caught dead flashing that demented grin Victoria was sporting.)

What bugs me just as much, though, was coupling Audrey Hepburn and Lauren Bacall as a style inspiration. Lauren, who became a star in the 1940s, was tall, lanky and sensual, with a mane of wavy blonde hair. Audrey, who became an icon in the 1950s was petite, pixie-ish, and chic with a bob of fluffy dark hair.

In other words -- they looked NOTHING alike and had completely different styles. *Katherine* Hepburn and Lauren Bacall were similar types, but Audrey and Lauren? Never. So which style was supposed to be the "Hollywood glamour" inspiration?

Maybe I'm being nitpicky, but to me, this is just as frustrating as the 1940s and '50s morphing into the 1920s.


"
Hogan Sheffer wrote 4-5 brilliant years at ATWT,"

I thought it was 4 or 5 brilliant months (or weeks) and then years of sludge.

Based on how all the female characters have been regressed to pathetic/bitchy/helpless, I think his writing must be starting.

If you go to the Restless Style website, there are *actually* pictures of Amelia Heinle as Victoria dressed and styled in different decades. Those pictures are a zillion times better than the picture they put on the "cover."

But I do agree that the dialogue surrounding the shoot and what they were aiming for (according to the words they spoke on air) did not translate to the cover.

I get disgusted with dropped story lines too, but I don't think Skye's IS a dropped story line. I think she's gonna turn up dead, thanks to David Chow who probably overheard her very public conversation about how her and Brad cheated him.

Donald Trump is a multi-millionaire who markets himself like a whore--that is the only reason why anyone would care who or what his spouse is like. Victor Newman is supposedly a man who likes his privacy, so why would anyone care that his wife once had an affair with some European modern artist? It blows me away that Jack was going on and on about how classy his magazine was supposed to be, however the article I read was sub-NY Post quality. If he wanted to trash someone in a classy way, he should take his lead from Vanity Fair, not TMZ. But I suppose the taste of anyone who takes his cues from Kathy Hilton should be in question.

On a completely different note, I just started getting into Y&R because of my long standing crush on Finn from Felicity (Chris Engen's Adam) and his chemistry with Heather has been off the charts. So will someone please explain to me why we haven't seen them in nearly two weeks? I'm also not-so-secretly hoping for Cane to hook up with Devon's Aunt Tyra, but instead all I get is her annoying daughter mesmerizing grown adults with her singing. I do not wish for the death of any child, but I beg the writers to tone her down enough so that I can be patient enough to wait for Tyra to start causing trouble.

I'm with you, jpg, on rolling my eyes every time Ana starts singing and people start swooning. On today's episode, when she was singing that lame lullaby to Reed and Nikki and Victoria were saying, "OMG -- she's amaaaaaaaaazing," I almost laughed out loud.

And is it just me or does Tyra seem like she kind of hates her daughter as much as we do? Lately, she seems like she speaks rather harshly or dismissively to Ana in every scene. Is she jealous of all the attention her kid is getting -- or is this just due to the fact that Eva Marcille can't act?

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