Rate the soap returns

Images:ABC Screenshot; CBS Screenshot; Howard Wise/JPI

We look at the good, the bad and the socially-distanced! 

Soap fans had reason to rejoice last week as, with the return of The Young and the Restless to the airwaves, all four daytime dramas broadcast new episodes for the first time since May. While Days of our Lives’ advanced production schedule meant that the shutdown didn’t impact it at all (the show is expected to begin taping again in September), the other three sudsers found themselves facing new challenges as they returned to work in the age of social-distancing.

Having seen the fruits of their labors, how did The Young and the Restless, The Bold and the Beautiful and General Hospital do? Read on as we take a closer look at each!

The Bold and the Beautiful 

Of the three returning dramas, The Bold and the Beautiful — which was the first to air new material — made perhaps the splashiest return. Capitalizing on the media attention generated by its comeback, the show revealed not only big plot twists but backstage secrets, generating no small amount of buzz as a result. Unfortunately, the hype may have done more harm than good. By publicizing the fact that they’d be using everything from blow-up dolls to the stars’ real-life partners in order to film more intimate scenes, the show all but dared us to spot the tricks they were using. And unfortunately, many were pretty easy to spot.

Shauna "Ridge" kiss

The show seemed determined to say, “Hey, look at us! Look what we can do!” even going so far as to employ their various tricks when there was no real reason to. Did we need to see Ridge kissing the top of a hospitalized Steffy’s head… and would we have been so keenly aware that it was a mannequin if we weren’t watching extra closely?

Plotwise, the show has been uneven at best. While Flo cluing Wyatt in on her kidnapping by writing on rival Sally’s panties was borderline brilliant, the week-long reveal of Shauna and Ridge’s Las Vegas marriage was drawn-out, repetitive and, perhaps worst of all, severely damaged a romance we’d been enjoying.

The Young and the Restless

Like The Bold and the Beautiful, this show opted to make its first episode back sort of a primer designed to catch viewers up on what had been happening when last they visited Genoa City. The framing device — Lily and Billy interviewing people in Chancellor Park — worked surprisingly smoothly, as the chosen clips were well-curated and the new dialogue around them zippy. (Would it have killed them, however, to have shown a few Katherine-filled flashbacks, given that she was much-discussed throughout?)

Unlike its sister soap, The Young and the Restless didn’t really try any attention-grabbing moves when it came to how it taped scenes, and that’s not a complaint. Some of the staging was a bit awkward — particularly any scene set in Crimson Lights, where it felt odd to have people in a public place standing so far apart while having ostensibly private conversations — but it’s the type of thing we’ll no doubt become accustomed to over time. (It’s also something of a “beggars can’t be choosers” scenario given how grateful we are to have the shows back, period!)

Meanwhile, we’d hoped that The Young and the Restless might take advantage of the forced intermission to address some of the plot-centric issues the show has had of late. Unfortunately, at least based on the first week of new material, that doesn’t seem to have been the case. Phyllis continued her juvenile plots against Abby, Adam learning he killed a man years ago still felt like a plot in need of an actual payoff, and we got yet another “mystery” from Dina’s past.

General Hospital

We’re not sure exactly how they’re doing it, but it’s actually been incredibly difficult to tell the difference between material General Hospital taped before the shutdown and scenes shot since its return. There are occasional giveaways, though, such as hairstyles (especially those which change from one scene to the next) and the presence of temporary recasts Lindsay Korman-Hartley (Sam) or Briana Lane (Brook Lynn).

Franco Liz Rate The Soaps Returns

While staging on both The Bold and the Beautiful and The Young and the Restless often creates vast, awkward spaces between the socially-distancing actors, the residents of Port Charles not only seem to be as close as ever, they even casually touch in a way that those of us in the real world no longer feel comfortable doing! Heck, half of the cast was used in party scenes as Ava unveiled the portrait Franco had painted of her.

From a storyline point of view, General Hospital came back in fighting shape. The Nelle/Michael custody battle moved at a swift pace to a resolution which clearly set up the next phase of the story, while oddly charming sociopath Cyrus continued weaving himself into the fabric of Port Charles life, even managing to become chairman of the hospital board. Sasha’s newly-developed drug habit feels like more of a plot point than an actual story, and we’re more than ready for Peter to be exposed and dealt with, but otherwise, the show is firing on all cylinders.

Now that we’ve got our whole daytime lineup back, hit the comments to tell us what you thinks working — and what you think isn’t. Then, if you’re feeling ready to do some more judging, visit the gallery below and see what you think of our picks for 2020’s best and worst couples, plot twists and exits (so far!)