Happy 10,000th Episode, “Young & the Restless”
“The Young & the Restless” hit a milestone Thursday when the show aired its 10,000th episode. Few primetime shows even make it to 100 episodes. Unfortunately, what should have been an episode of celebration was written during the last days of Maria Bell’s tenure as headwriter and executive producer, a time of behind-the-scenes tension and on-air creative problems. The result was an episode that had some great moments for longtime fans, but was on the whole the upteenth instance of The Triumph of the Victor.
I suspected that the interminable storyline featuring an amnesiac Victor (Eric Braeden) wandering around the Port of Los Angeles and fighting for the rights of oppressed dock workers would have its ultimate pay off, such as it is, in the 10,000th episode. It seemed like the perfect set-up for Victor to slowly get his memory back, perhaps with Nikki’s (Melody Thomas Scottt) help, and viewers to get treated to three decades worth of flashbacks of his greatest moments. I was ready to see him woo Stripper Nikki and smash Jack and Brad’s homoerotic portrait as he informed them he was now back in charge of Newman Enterprises. Alas, there were no flashbacks or on-screen indications that it was a special episode.
Instead Victor, with his memories intact, returned to town and proceeded to kick butt. The 9999th episodes featured cringe inducing scenes in which Sharon, who just a year ago was a nice person whose insecurities occasionally drove her to make mistakes with men, showed up in a wedding dress for Victor’s “funeral” (she knew he was still alive), announcing to the rest of the mourners that she was marrying Tucker (Stephen Nichols), and stealing some of the funeral flowers for her bouquet. If Victor’s crazy ex Leanna Love was the person staging the revenge funeral, it could have been soapy fun. Leanna was a crazy bitch from day one. But Sharon would never be so insensitive to Nick nor would she, a woman who is still mourning the loss of her child, cavalierly lie that a badly burned body was Victor. The man who died was somebody’s child, after all.
So when Victor showed up to stop Sharon and Tucker’s wedding, it was, for me, less Hell Yeah and more Thank the Soap Gods this Storyline is Finally Over. Now, Sharon can begin the long journey to redemption. Victor can reunite with Nikki –hopefully this time for the long haul. I would like to see them in a conflict-filled but stable relationship. Nothing else is believable after 30 years.
I longed for a meaty scene between Victor and his equally significant other, Jack (Peter Bergman),but, alas, they did not share the screen during the episode. Instead, Jack as relegated to being the loser once again, as he lamented that he was forced to sell Beauty of Nature because he purchased too many shares of Newman on margin. I hope that the 10,00th episode will be the last one in which Jack is written as a weak, stupid wanna-be. The reason that the Victor-Jack rivalary has provided decades of great drama is because, once upon a time, they were relatively evenly matched. Sometimes Jack, who had the advantage of a supportive family, was able to get the best of Victor. Sometimes Victor made mistakes.
For me, the best moments of the episode came from the B storyline, in which Danny (Michael Damian) returned to town to assist with the fallout from Phyllis’s trial/Paul’s arrest/ the return of his granddaughter’s Baby Mama from the dead. Even though they were given minimal airtime, the Blair/Wiliams/Fenmore/Romalotti branch of the show deserved to be a part of the show’s 10,000th. My favorite moment of the episode was when Phyllis (Michelle Stafford) pointed out that Christine (Lauralee Bell) had slept with Paul (Doug Davidson), Danny and Michael (Christian LeBlanc) only to have Lauren retort that she had, too, and she didn’t find it the least bit awkward. The second best moment was the updated opening credits,which finally added current pictures of the current cast to the show’s opening. I am raising a virtual glass to Y&R and hoping episode 10,100 finds the show restored to its former glory.
Sometimes a story that I have can lead to an episode that I love. Case in point: the “General Hospital” bachelorette party. I am disappointed that Kate’s (Kelly Sullivan) split personality ia back. I didn’t enjoy this story when it was Jess and Tess on “One Life to Live” and it annoys me even more with a character I have less affection for on GH. Not only is it cheesy, it makes every other character on the show look stupid. Why don’t they notice that Kate has reverted to her Connie persona? She is acting completely different. The therapist who declared her cured subsequently was revealed to be a killer, so his opinion should be disregarded. Plus, Connie the tough talking girl from Bensonhurst is not that different from her cousin Olivia (Lisa LoCicero) the tough talking girl from Bensonhurst and, is in my opinion, less entertaining than the properly written version of Kate, uberfashionista.
However, Connie’s insistence on having a wild bachelorette party made for a very entertaining episode. She demanded lots of booze and male strippers. Remember when only the women on this show were strippers? Meanwhile, Sonny’s (Maurice Benard) bachelor party was a quiet card game featuring Spinelli reciting poetry. Sure it was ludicrous that Maxie (Kristen Storms) would be unable to find an authentic male stripper — surely Port Charles has at least one party entertainment company – but it was worth it for the payoff of seeing Sonny’s henchman Milo (Drew Cheetwood), dubbed Magic Milo for the evening, pressed into service. Who knew that underneath his suits were some seriously ripped abs? Lulu (Julie Berman) finally found her calling as she coached him through his performance. I guess she learned all about stripping when she went undercover in that brothel last year. It was hilarious watching all of the women at the party — including several who barely know Kate or Maxie — go crazy. Everyone involved in the episode seemed like they were having a great time. It was infectious. Apparently all it takes to make me forgive a lousy storyline is a bunch of women cogling a half naked man. I am a shallow soap fan.