Deep Soap: ‘The Young & the Restless’ Celebrates Fabulous 40th Anniversary

by | March 22, 2013 at 10:37 AM | Deep Soap

(CBS)

“The Talk” and “20/20″ Pay Tribute To “The Young & the Restless” and “General Hospital”

The networks are going all out to celebrate the 40th anniversary of “The Young & the Restless” and the 50th anniversary of “General Hospital.” On Monday, March 25,  “The Talk” will devote its entire episode to Y&R. Many of the show’s biggest stars including Peter Bergman (Jack Abbott), Melissa Claire Egan (Chelsea Newman), Amelia Heinle (Victoria Newman Abbott), Joshua Morrow (Nicholas Newman), Michael Muhney (Adam Newman), Melody Thomas Scott (Nikki Newman), Michelle Stafford (Phyllis Summers) and Kristoff St. John (Neil Winters) are scheduled to appear.

There will also be a web exclusive, “Keep Talking: The Young and the Restless Cast” featuring the actors responding to questions from the studio audience, which will be posted online Monday on “The Talk’s” website.

A special edition of “20/20″, “General Hospital – The Real Soap Dish” will air Saturday, April 6 at 9PM on ABC. According to ABC’s press statement, “The hour-long special will feature interviews with fan favorites including Tony Geary, Genie Francis, Maurice Benard, Jack Wagner, Rick Springfield and numerous other cast members, as well as Executive Producer Frank Valentini. ‘20/20‘ goes behind the scenes and to offer a visitor’s guide to Port Charles and its residents, and to show how love in the afternoon has changed dramatically.”

Watch Full Episodes of “Y&R” on XfinityTV.com and with XFINITY On Demand

I’m surprised and delighted that ABC is devoting an hour of primetime, even if it is in the dead zone of Saturday night, to promoting GH. This is the network that couldn’t wait to get rid of its soaps two years ago. In fact, both Y&R and GH are getting more support and promotions from their respective networks than any soap has gotten since the 1990s. I’ve been impressed with the promos CBS has been running with the network’s primetime stars congratulating Y&R. It’s been a longtime since primetime acknowledged the existence of daytime. I’d love to see this trend continue with promos for the daytime soaps during primetime, especially during soapy series like “The Good Wife” and “Revenge.” Heck, “Days Of Our Lives” got a higher 18-49 rating this week than “Smash.” Maybe NBC could air a couple of episodes in primetime in place of the many reruns currently filling the holes in its schedule.

“The Young & the Restless” Enters Its 40th Year With a Bang

I thoroughly enjoyed Y&R’s 40th anniversary episodes. The opening segments, featuring longtime cast members talking about their character’s history on the show, complete with flashbacks, were both classy and a fun trip down memory lane. Given that headwriter Josh Griffith and executive producer Jill Farren Phelps joined the show so recently, letting the people who have been a part of it for decades break the fourth wall and talk about its history made sense.

It also made sense to have the show’s most iconic couple. Victor (Eric Braeden)  and Nikki (Melody Thomas Scott), remarry this week. Victor’s support of Nikki after her diagnosis of MS has restored the couple’s appeal for me, undoing a lot of the damage that the prior regime did to their relationship by writing Victor as borderline emotionally abusive. It was a contemporary soap wedding in that it took place in the character’s home with only a few guests in attendance, but, given how many times Nikki and Victor have been married, it was realistic.

I was far more interested in the dynamics between the characters in attendance than the, to quote the social media campaign, killer wedding aspect of the show. Having a henchman by slimy congressman Harris (Mark Pinter) plant a bomb at the wedding, and start shooting, seemed gratuitous and poorly motivated given that the threat that the bomb would be traced back to him was far greater than the threat Victor posed to Harris. I doubt anyone thought that one of the main characters was going to die. Plus, if there’s going to be a bomb at a wedding, I want a crazy woman played by Jill Larson to plant it in the cake.

To my surprise, one of my favorite parts of the anniversary week involved newbies Leslie (Angel Conwell)  and Tyler (redaric Williams) going to visit their father, Gus, in prison. In just a couple of episodes Tony Todd managed to create a fully realized, complex portrait of a wrongly convicted man who was also a lousy husband and father. Casting an actor who, thanks to his memorable performances in the “Candyman” horror movies, instantly seemed menacing was inspired. Since at this point it seems obvious that Harris the Big Bad is the one who actually killed Leslie and Tyler’s mother, I hope that Gus will be exonerated and become a longterm part of Genoa City. There’s not anyone like him on the canvas, and it would be interesting to explore how someone who was wrongly imprisoned rebuilds his life. In the imaginary soap in my head, he ends up falling for Jill, who has dated ex-cons before.

Happy anniversary, Y&R. You are proving that forty can be fabulous.