Busted to Blissful ~ June 2007 ~ Y&R and ATWT

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Y&R "kills" two stars unnecessarily. ATWT mixes and matches the right couples.

Joshua Morrow, Nick, Y&RBusted ~

Y&R's Two Missing Bodies

Why on earth would The Young and the Restless tell two separate stories -- at the same time -- about characters who are presumed dead in tragic accidents and their bodies are never found?  The easy answer is the actors’ contracts were up, and the show needed to find a way to get rid of the characters, while still allowing for the possibility of their return someday.

On one hand this scenario works, since Joshua Morrow (Nick) was able to reach an 11th hour contract renewal agreement with the show.  His character should soon reappear alive and well after miraculously surviving his plane crash.  For the time being, the show isn’t so lucky with Victoria Rowell (Drucilla), who is now on a national book promotion tour.  Unless the role is eventually recast, Dru will remain missing and presumed dead from her fall off a cliff. At least we can take comfort in the fact there were no cheesy special effects in Nick’s plane crash, unlike Dru’s plunge into the roaring river.

Even though the show caught a break with one of its stars, I still believe it’s the ultimate soap cliché to kill off characters and never find their bodies.  By the nature of the beast, soap writers are supposed to be some of the most creative and original storytellers around, so to leave the door open in such a sloppy way is downright disappointing.

If Y&R had “killed” one of these characters, it would have been bad enough, but to kill two in such a trite manner, is unimaginative at best, and lazy at worst.  To ask the viewer to “mourn” two beloved characters in the span of several weeks, all the while with the knowledge that one of the deaths and maybe both, are not permanent, is unfair.  Most fans tune in to soaps as an escape, and when multiple “memorial services” are the norm, it’s enough to make anyone tune out.  Who wants to wallow in fake grief for an hour every day?

Of course, in soap land, even when there is a body, it’s no guarantee the character is actually dead, but at least for the moment, it’s more believable.  It helps us connect with the remaining characters in mourning.  Y&R is a show which has always prided itself on basing its characters in the “real world,” so to have multiple implausible deaths happen in such a short time span is jarring.

Hopefully, when Morrow does return, the payoff will be worth the agonizing scenes of Nick’s young son Noah thinking his Dad is dead, and watching him give a eulogy at his Dad’s “memorial service.”  In order for this to work, the character needs to come back later, rather than sooner, with a mysterious explanation for his absence.  Maybe Nick will have suffered some sort of brain damage in the crash and think he’s still married to Sharon?  If played correctly, a story like that could have serious ramifications for everyone, especially his current wife Phyllis.  If Nick were to have no memory of Phyllis and their daughter Summer, it could make for some stellar drama and add a slight twist to the standard amnesia tale.

Whatever direction the writers decide to take, let’s hope it packs more of a punch than two fake deaths told at the same time.  We all know they can do better.

Maura West and Michael Park, Carly and Jack, ATWTBlissful ~

ATWT Mixes and Matches Couples

As the World Turns has struck gold with the ongoing dynamic between Brad/Vienna/Henry/Katie/Jack/Carly.  Not only are the sexy sextuplet of actors who play these compelling characters beautiful and talented, but they are downright funny.  Watching any combination of this bunch onscreen together is like watching a sitcom, with some old fashioned drama sprinkled in for good measure.  This group can hold their own with the Desperate Housewives and the Grey’s Anatomies of the world with no problem.

ATWT owes part of its success with these characters to the writers, but most of the credit should go to the actors.  Michael Park (Jack) and Maura West (Carly) who are both current Emmy nominees, have always been the go-to team for complex stories.  They hit one out of the ball park every time they are at bat.  Their continued chemistry and unspoken love speak volumes with every look or action that passes between them.  Trent Dawson (Henry), who is also up for an Emmy this year, has always been hilarious, but he has never quite had the chance to show his masculine side.  Dawson has now positioned Henry as a viable leading man through his poignant on/off romance and love story with Vienna.

Vienna Hyatt could easily have been a one note caricature of Paris Hilton, but instead Ewa da Cruz infused her character with such warmth and humanity, that fans clamored for her return after her recurring role ended.  Da Cruz has not been the only surprise in this capable group.  Austin Peck (Brad) recently joined ATWT after a long stint on Days of Our Lives as hunky but dim-witted Austin Reed.  At first glance, Jack’s newly re-aged little brother Brad, could appear to be just another hunky dim-wit with a thing for perky blondes.  However, Peck plays Brad with such obvious relish, and with tongue planted firmly in cheek, that one can’t help but love Brad even if he is an incorrigible oaf.

Brad helps bring out the fun and playful side to Katie (Teri Colombino) that has been missing from the character for so long.  Katie's budding romance with Jack is sweet, but her inner imp is released with Brad.  After so much sturm und drang, it's great to see the light side of Katie and Colombino again.

The gift these actors have given fans, is that no matter how the pairings play out, fans will have something to debate.  Is sophisticated Vienna a better match for sweet Henry or playboy Brad?  Is Katie more likable sparring with Brad, making eyes at Jack or settling down with her best friend Henry?  Is Jack destined to reunite with his true love Carly or stay with his new love Katie?  The permutations are endless and delightful, and the repercussions of the evolving relationships could play out for years.  It just goes to show that if you create memorable characters and have the right actors playing them, anything is possible.                                                            


Lesleyann Coker, SoapdomLesleyann Coker is the co-author of Boob Tube, a forthcoming novel that goes behind the scenes of the soap opera industry.  She was previously a reporter for Soap Opera Weekly Magazine.