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Acting Out Of Character On 'The Young And The Restless'

September 26, 1993|NANCY M. REICHARDT

Don't you just hate it when a character on a soap behaves totally contradictory to his prior behavior just to advance a plot? Sure, all soaps do it and sometimes it's unavoidable. But for a primer on "How to Trash a Character for the Sake of the Plot," watch "The Young and the Restless."

Let's start with one of those unavoidable examples: a character with history ignored in order to keep the role going. Victor Newman is one of those characters. When Eric Braeden first came on the show in the role, Victor was a villain--and what a villain! His portrayal proved so dynamic that this "minor" plot point has been ignored over the years. Today, Braeden is one of the show's leading men. The character has never lost his edge, but his knife-wielding days are long forgotten.

Braeden's current storyline is wonderful. It opens up the character and allows him to be humble. But it's the way that the new story was introduced that is insulting to longtime fans. To say that Victor was an obsessive man would be an understatement. His obsessions included his family, business and hatred of his oh-so-worthy adversary Jack Abbott, played by Peter Bergman. Before Victor left town there was mention of his not focusing on business, but the reason was his greater obsession with his family.

When Victor's family got tired of his meddling, they told him off. Did Victor, the master manipulator, fight back? No. He retreated and hit the road. Did he obsess over the unhampered influence that Jack would have on his family, not to mention his business? No, he simply figured everyone would be better off without him. Only now, months later, is he concerned.

What happened to our favorite control freak? He underwent this miraculous transformation before getting mugged and meeting Hope (Signy Coleman).

Recently, "All My Children" had its by-the-book lawyer Jackson Montgomery (Walt Willey) undergo a moral transformation. But the show was savvy enough to have the character look back at his past and even apologize to Erica (Susan Lucci) for whom he wouldn't bend the rules. It added credibility--something that Victor's story lacks.

Then there is Jill Abbott and Katherine Chancellor Sterling (Jess Walton and Jeanne Cooper of "The Young and the Restless"). Katherine's breast cancer scare was touching and seeing Katherine and Jill come together added an intriguing new dimension to their relationship. To confuse us, the show has thrown out this budding friendship as if it never happened. How much more moving it would have been if these two women faced Katherine's request for Jill to name her child Phillip as former adversaries trying to put the past behind them instead of as bitter enemies of days gone by.

And wasn't that Lauren Grainger (Tracy Bregman Recht) telling Brad Carlton (Don Diamont) how much she truly loved her husband just weeks before she tried for Brad again? Belatedly, her husband Scott's workaholic behavior was blamed for this very abrupt shift. As for Brad, his recent stories have been reruns of his past. Just what was the purpose of his 30-day nonreconciliation with Traci (Beth Maitland)?

What about Cricket Romalotti (Lauralee Bell) who developed an obsession for her torturer, Michael Baldwin (Christian LeBlanc)? Now the obsession has stopped as quickly as it began.

Often, when characters get out of sync with their past it's generally the result of new writers who are unfamiliar with the show's history. But "Young and Restless" has had the same head writer since its inception. They simply choose to disregard their faithful viewers' memories. They seem to have the attitude of "if it ain't broke, don't fix it." Many a top-rated show has taken that attitude. Nobody needs to remind daytime's grand master Bill Bell that plot should come from character. Perhaps a string around his finger would not hurt.

"The Young and the Restless" airs at 11 a.m. on CBS.

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