The Young and the Restless: 2008 In Review
The Young and the Restless has improved immensely from where it was this time last year and is, by far, the best soap opera that I watch.
It is, of course, true that neither feat is really difficult: for Y&R to get worse than it was in late 2007 would be almost scientifically impossible (though I have faith that, given the opportunity, Lynn Marie Latham would have done her best to beat those odds) and for it to be worse than AMC, Days or GH would...sorry, I can't stop laughing long enough to finish that thought.
Maria Arena Bell, Hogan Sheffer and Company deserve a lot of the accolades they have been receiving in lots of year-end round ups for the strides that Y&R has been making, and I feel like most of them are deserved. I also feel, in a disapproving guidance counselor sort of way, that the show isn't living up to its potential: it has the raw materials to be phenomenal, and I feel like, even with the improvements, it's sort of plodding along and being decent.
The show has been, for the most part, respectable. There were moments that drove me crazy (not even just crazy, but cuh-razy), and some moments that were pretty great, but overall, it was decent. I think this is part of why my Y&R posting has been so sporadic: it's easy to provide commentary on something that is ground-breakingly terrible, or something good enough to merit celebration, but it's much harder to wittily discuss something that is...you know, fine. I'm not that clever!
In the dark days of last January, we had to deal with two things that drove me most crazy about Lynn Marie Latham era Y&R: Brad Carlton and dropped plot points. I still suffered paralyzing hatred of Brad Carlton, no doubt still plagued with nightmares from the times that he was the leading man of the show. This point in time can also be referred to, if you are a dork like me, as Unanswered Questions A-Go-Go. Gloria and Kevin tried to frame Jeffrey for murder, when I feel like the best solution for all of us would have been all three of them accidentally falling into a pit and never being heard from again, while Amber was...baffling in her pointlessness. Victoria awoke from her coma, proving that cardboard rocks can't keep a good woman down for forever, just for a few blissful months. At least comatose Victoria had no choice but to be boring. What is non-comatose Victoria's excuse?!
Last winter also saw the start of my campaign of wondering what the hell is with the effed up ethical system in Genoa City when thigh murderers and freaking Gloria run around judging Jack. Spoiler alert, February Mallory: it doesn't get any better!
J.T. and Victoria got marriedin a boring, scarcely attended ceremony that says so many things about those two as a couple, two such things being "zzzz..." and "nobody likes you".
Michael reminded me that, no matter how annoyed at him I get for aiding and abetting Gloria's shenanigans, I can never write him off entirely, because he gets some awesome lines, accusing his mother of starting a "lame-brained, half-witted, low-functioning caper". I love bitchy Michael, and I feel like Christian LeBlanc is at his best when Michael is sniping at someone.
Chloe joined the show early last year, in a story that hinted at a possible eating disorder storyline for Lily (or, at the very least, a "see? Modeling is not glamorous, it is DANGEROUS" story) that was never followed up on. She was introduced as a bitch on wheels and, sadly, spent much of the year being sadistic for no real reason until she was finally given layers at the end of the summer. Better late than never, right? I was very excited about Elizabeth Hendrickson joining the show and I still am, because I think that she is adorable. And after being dumped on All My Children for Zarf (!!!!!), I think a plum role on Y&R is the least the world could do for her.
On Valentine's Day, I got a love letter from the soap gods in the form of Lynn Marie Latham being fired. It was a beautiful moment, and I remember actually squealing at my desk at work when I heard the news (I am prone to excitedly squealing, though, so no one thought anything of it). Looking back, her entire tenure just seems so...BIZARRE that I can't help but wonder if it was a hallucination. Every decision she made was over-the-top in terms of ridiculousness and the show's regression from grade-A gem to mess was tragic. I sound like a drama queen saying that, but it's true! Even the actors hated her!
Hope was killed off in a move that was insanely foolish. It's rare that I find Victor to be tolerable, but something about his relationship with Hope was appealing. I feel like having Hope around for short-term stints every once in a while would have been a good thing for Victor (if we had to sit through the gag-inducing Sabrina story, how nice would it have been to see Victor retreat to Hope once again after losing a loved one?) and Adam (because he has a tendency to be a dick and if Hope could humanize Victor, she could do a world of good for Adam). But I am merely a disgruntled fan, what do I know?
Then...the thing started. You know what I mean. The thing. That was gross. The Victor and Sabrina thing. It's even grosser than I had remembered! The passage of time had made me believe that it wasn't so bad, but it was! We also saw the start of David Chow's gambling problem, and none of us cared. Restless Style was conceived and the magazine's name was quite nearly as dumb as forcing Nick, Phyllis, Sharon and Jack into a story together.
But, on the plus side, Y&R continued its trend of getting the best guest stars possible, like...Bronson Pinchot. Or, as Beccadeemed him: !!!Balki!!!. I have continued to refer to him as such whenever his name comes up in casual conversation. That may sound like something that happens rarely, but I am a child of the 80s and I reference an 80s sitcom in pretty much every conversation I take part in. I have a Golden Girlstote bag, for heaven's sake! So, yeah, !!!Balki!!! can come up pretty often.
Y&R turned 35, and the show rewarded itself with a performance by Michael Damian. It was everything you'd think it would be and more. I have to think that professional wardrobers were on strike during the filming of these episodes, because the dresses trotted out for the Restless Style launch party were nothing short of eye searing.
I busted out my math skills to prove that there was too much Gloria and math backed me up. In the interest of full disclosure, even if it turned out that Gloria was onscreen 10% of the week, I'd be irritated about it.
When I wasn't busy getting irritated about Gloria existing, I was bored senseless by a number of things including, but not limited to, Lily's pregnancy and Victoria and Sabrina's confrontation over the...thing. There was much potential to be mined in both of those situations: Dru's daughter pregnant by Jill's son! Feisty Newman heiress enraged that best friend slept with Victor! But both stories lacked any sort of oomph that would have made them compelling.
Adrienne Frantz reportedly dated Jason Segel, and I promised to lay off any Amber hateration on the grounds that she introduce me to James Franco. But she never came through for me and Jason Segel has moved on (to Drew Barrymore, which is both adorable and strange), so that ban is now lifted. Hmph!
Poor Melody Thomas Scott was stuck in storyline hell, as Nikki married David Chow in a quickie marriage, accompanied by airline wackiness. It was terrible. MTS deserves so much better than she ever gets on this show. Nikki eventually caught up to the rest of us and suspected that David Chow was a bit on the sleazy side, but that was a day late and a dollar short.
Bringing Jerry Douglas back as a hard-drinking, Scottish look-alike of John was a sad state of affairs, as it did nothing more than remind us all how dumb it was to kill John off in the first place. And it was dumb. So, so dumb.
Adam and Heather began their courtship, which I feel would have been more interesting if the writers care about either character, but they didn't, so my opinion was, is, and will always be: meh. Showing both of them how it was done was Jess Walton, who was painfully awesome when Jill fired Gloria. My hope for Jess Walton to jump from show to show still stands; imagine how much better Days of Our Lives would be with some Jill action?
Victor and Sabrina were so disgustingthat I lost my will to write a snappy comeback about their grossness and couldn't even find the words to describe how icky it was. I was further horrified when Sabrina got pregnant. Not only because it was ooky, but because I had to write about Victor Newman's sperm. What kind of a life is that?! A TRAGIC one. The baffling logistics of the situation angered everybody who remembered that Victor had a vasectomy, which led to the disgusting story where Victor's sperm was stolen and the fact that it was lazily explained away by Katherine as having been reversed off camera is the very definition of whatthefuckever.
The gruesome twosome got married in a barn in a ceremony that saw nobody standing and objecting to the proceedings, even though all attendants should have done so, ladies dressed in sofa patterns and Josh Morrow making a run at the Duh Face title.
A noble try but, ultimately, no match for Maurice Benard.
Lily's birthday party was filled with tragedy, both in the cheesiness of the party itself and in the introduction of Tyra and Ana, who are hopelessly terrible in all that they do.
Creative bankruptcy was the name of the game when, for the second time, Cane got wasted and taken advantage of by a scheming girl. I think you're pretty much saying "I've got nothing" when that's the only story you can think of for a hot Australian guy.
It turned out that David Chow murdered Ji-Min, a revelation that simultaneously bored me and confused me and I have to confess that I don't remember the details. Because of David Chow's evilness, Sabrina died after a long, drawn-out, melodramatic vigil that included repeated references to Victor going head-to-head with God and winning. Her death made Victor, already a tightly wound jerk, go off the deep end in terms of dickishness, telling Nikki that she should have died instead of Sabrina, because who doesn't love a verbally abusive leading man?!
On the plus side: Billy Miller joined the cast as Billy Abbott, which continues to bring me glee.
As he always does when he experiences a loss, Victor ran away to wallow, this time in Mexico, where he befriended a moppet (and turned her into his assistant) and grieved and moaned and pitied himself, while the rest of Genoa City spent every minute of his absence talking about how he is the most perfect man to ever walk the earth. It was HORRENDOUS. Then Nikki found him, and their reunion was...something. The English language doesn't yet have a phrase to describe it, so for now, something will have to do.
The show had some problems with the younger set's romances. Oh, no,it was me who had a problem with the younger set's romances. Cane and Lily's star-crossed romance didn't work on account of how stupid both of them are about Chloe's baby, Amber and Daniel were grody, and Colleen and Daniel were so wrong that it made the aforementioned grody seem aspirational. Lily's foray into online dating, conveniently forgetting how Stupid Terrible and Dangerous it was the last time she tried it, was more proof that these writers just can't write for young characters.
Any lingering excitement I had about Michael Gross being on the show dissipated quickly when it became apparent that his onscreen daughter, Eden,is the worst human being. Both actresses playing her were...green. That's a diplomatic way of saying it, right? They were green. And the shrieky, obnoxious teenager shtick grated no matter what actress was in the role. Because THAT's exactly what Michael needed, another irritating, overacting relative.
Eric Braeden made me smile! Granted, it was during his How I Met Your Mother appearance, but still! It happened! Victor running away to deal with his pain in another foreign country did not elicit such positive feelings. Shocking, right? Victor grieving in Paris is about as interesting as Victor grieving in Mexico and listening to people talk about Victor's grief is less interesting than both of those things.
The beautiful Paris location shoot was nearly overshadowed by the Victor/Ashley hookup and Phyllis starting to become undone about Nick and Sharon's closeness. Okay, it was overshadowed by the Victor/Ashley hookup, because I have a very low tolerance for gross things; Victor and Ashley join an illustrious group of "Things I Won't Watch", including clowns, The View and shows about food being made.
Katherine's funeral proved once and for all that The Young and the Restlessknows how to do soap. The list of returning characters was astounding (NINA! DINA! Other characters whose names done end in -INA, including Brock, Traci and Danny...even Larry got a shoutout) and it gave Jess Walton another scene to add to her Emmy reel, as Jill's bitching at Nikki was nothing short of award-worthy. And on top of all of that: Katherine isn't really dead! We got an awesome funeral and didn't have to lose a vet in order to get one. Somewhere in LA, Jill Farren Phelps just shuddered and she doesn't know why.
Don Diamont became a victim of budget cuts and got canned. A year ago, I would have been thrilled, but now I am mostly sad. Think of all of the hilarious faces in the background that we are going to miss out on. Sad.
The Jabot takeover episode, featuring some of those aforementioned reaction shots, was the pinnacle of soapy goodness, what with the Abbotts being Abbotty, Peter Bergman being dreamy and even Gloria being sort of amusing. Jess Walton continued to be gold, yelling at everyone in sight. I wished for a show just about her yelling at people and I have to tell you, the more I think about it, the more I want it to be real. Sort of like the SNL skit The Looker, except it would be The Shouter, and it would be the greatest thing to ever be broadcast on television.
If I may be so bold as to make a suggestion for 2009: ENOUGH WITH THE VICTOR. We get it: Victor is the greatest human being to ever exist and watching him do things while people discuss the things he does in the most reverential way is entertaining. Okay? If I say that, will you stop? Please? I mean, even if we cut back on the worship a little instead of eliminating it completely, it will do everybody's sanity good.