BUSTED: Y&R RECASTS: ONE SHOULD STAY, ONE SHOULD GO
Throughout the course of her nine years on All My Children, Eden Riegel was impressive as Bianca. She won an Emmy for the role in 2005. After a recent disagreement with AMC, she joined The Young and the Restless, as a recast for the role of Heather Stevens.
At first, I thought I was having trouble disassociating Riegel from Bianca and that's why she wasn't working for me as Heather. It helps fans accept a recast if the actor physically resembles their predecessor, and barring that, then they should at least have some similar mannerisms so the character doesn't undergo apersonality transplant. The statuesque and brunette Riegel looks nothing like the previous Heather, petite blonde, Vail Bloom.
The more time passed however, I stopped seeing Riegel as Bianca and instead saw her as an unlikable new character. Bloom played Heather as tough and in charge on the outside, with a touch of vulnerability underneath. Her Heather wasn't afraid to go toe-to-toe with the powerful Victor Newman (Eric Braeden) and put him behind bars in her capacity as Assistant DA.
When her fiancée, Adam, cheated on her with a man, Bloom's Heather didn't cower in the corner and cry. She got mad and then got even by looking the other way while Adam's family tried him for his crimes in a "kangaroo court."
Riegel's Heather is timid, scared of her own shadow, and trying to steal someone else's man by parlaying her damsel in distress act into sympathy. Bloom's Heather was too confident to resort to such tricks, even after Adam's betrayal. The writers have done a 180 with the character and Riegel is the unfortunate recipient.
While Bloom had chemistry with Michael Muhney (Adam; himself a recast, albeit it a successful one), Riegel has none. She also lacks any connection with John Driscoll (Chance), the object of Heather's affection. She's stiff and out of place in all of her scenes, like she's trying too hard to fit in.
Y&R should save the big bucks they're paying Riegel and hire a no name who resembles the previous Heather, if not in appearance, than certainly in attitude. Or skip a step and bring back Bloom.
The other Y&R recast, Marcy Rylan, as Abby Newman, is fine in the role of Abby - if the writers hadn't so drastically altered the character overnight. In the span of a few weeks, Abby morphed from a sweet, shy, fifteen-year-old still mourning the recent deaths of her cousin and her step-dad, into an out of control twenty-something brat.
This new Abby is inexplicably obsessed with appearing naked in public on a misguided quest to land her own reality show. Huh?
Instead of bringing Rylan's Abby on like gangbusters, the writers should have taken their time easing her into the role. Abby could still have angst, but because of her grief, not because she wants her inheritance to finance her "career." This new Abby is completely out of left field, and Rylan's performance is borderline over the top and annoying.
When Rylan played Lizzie on Guiding Light, she was full of charm and sass as Lizzie schemed her way through life with a smile. She was adorable, not obnoxious. If Rylan can dial down Abby's sudden exuberant need for attention, and replace it with real emotions, she could start to sway fans to her side.
I'm not ready to pull the plug on Rylan yet, like I am with Riegel.
BLISSFUL: ALICE'S FAMILY REUNITES TO SENDS HER TO THE BIG DOUGHNUT IN THE SKY ON DAYS
Days of our Lives was like old home week for me the last three weeks. The show rolled out the red carpet for some of its beloved former stars so they could pay tribute to matriarch Alice Horton and her portrayer, Frances Reid. Reid passed away in February at age 95 after playing Alice for 42 years.
Instead of rushing a shoddy tribute on air in a timely manner, where many characters' absences would have to be explained, Executive Producer Ken Corday took his time to plan the perfect farewell to the character and the actress.
It was an ingenuous idea to have an off-screen Alice take a turn for the worst, so her loved ones could realize the end was near. It played out much like a real family's goodbye, with friends and relatives returning from far away to pay their respects and say their goodbyes as she lay on her deathbed.
Corday brought back fan favorites Jamie Lyn Bauer (Laura), Maree Cheatham (Marie), Christie Clark (Carrie), Roark Critchlow (Mike), Bryan Dattilo (Lucas), Mary Beth Evans (Kayla), Patsy Pease (Kimberly), Melissa Reeves (Jennifer), Charles Shaughnessy (Shane), and Lisa Trusel (Melissa), in addition to recasting Bill Horton with John Martin. Recurring cast members John Aniston (Victor), Judi Evans (Adrienne), Bill Hayes (Doug), Susan Seaforth Hayes (Julie), and Wally Kurth (Justin) also put in appearances.
The 80's and 90's reunions wouldn't have been complete without screen time given to current cast members Kristian Alfonso (Hope), Crystal Chappell (Carly), Lauren Koslow (Kate), Joseph Mascolo (Stefano), Peggy McCay (Caroline), Peter Reckell (Bo), Suzanne Rogers (Maggie), Louise Sorel (Vivian), and Alison Sweeney (Sami).
I felt like I was watching the Days I grew up with seeing all of the familiar faces grace my screen every day. For the first time in years, I was excited to turn on Days. Tuning in during this period was like reuniting with a long lost friend.
It was wonderful to see Missy Reeves return as Alice's granddaughter, Jennifer. Any tribute to Alice wouldn't have been complete without Reeves' comforting presence. Jennifer's memories of her beloved Gran were especially poignant and lent the shows an intimate feeling of eavesdropping on someone's actual grief.
The apology between long estranged sisters Carrie and Sami was noteworthy, as well as the reunion between exes Mike and Carrie and Bill and Kate. I also enjoyed the brief scenes between sisters-in-law Kayla and Adrienne and old friends Carly and Jennifer, and Jennifer's run-in with nemesis Vivian.
For me, the highlight of the entire three weeks was seeing the reunion of Kim (Patsy Pease) and Shane (Charles Shaughnessy) after 18 years. I started watching Days when I was nine years old because of this couple. Each actor returned a couple of times through the years, but always individually. They hadn't been onscreen together since 1992 and it was as if they never missed a day. They were pure magic together and I held my breath in anticipation for each of their scenes. Pease and Shaughnessy managed to wring anger, heartbreak, humor, warmth, tenderness, and passion out of every one of their all too brief shared scenes.
I was sorry there weren't flashbacks from their glory days so new viewers could understand what they were about, and wished a snippet of their infamous theme song "Friends and Lovers" could have been included as well.
Even though I would have liked Kim and Shane to share a kiss, it was appropriate to the characters' relationship they leave Salem together as friends to start over. It's too bad they couldn't stay longer, because I would like to see them rebuild their relationship on screen.
Corday skillfully managed to navigate these nods to characters' histories and incorporate their own shared moments in between tributes to Alice. Almost every character had a flashback memory of Alice and during her funeral was given an opportunity to say what she had meant to them.
Many members of the cast cried during their goodbyes, and I would like to think they were real tears in honor of Reid. I didn't have a dry eye over the entire three weeks of Alice themed shows.
If Days could be this good all of the time - and hire back a few of these much missed actors - it would be the ultimate tribute to Reid.
Lesleyann Coker is a reporter and monthly opinion columnist for Soapdom.com and a blogger for The Huffington Post. She is also the co-author of Boob Tube, a novel that goes behind the scenes of the soap opera industry. The book is available in ebook form at http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/3 . She was previously a reporter for Soap Opera Weekly Magazine.
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