Long-time viewers already knew that Jess Walton (Jill) was great on ‘The Young and the Restless’. But this week’s Thanksgiving-themed scenes at Crimson Lights reinforced reality, while also offering newer viewers a master class in great acting. No one will ever match the iconic Jeanne Cooper (Katherine Chancellor). But Walton’s exquisite appearances in the post-Cooper era are surely ones to savor.
Jill was sassing Phyllis (Gina Tognoni) when the grandchildren arrived. She turned 180 degrees, welcomed the Ashby twins (McKenna Roberts as Maddie and Aiden Clark as Charlie) and Moses (now being played by Dax Randall) with full warmth and then fully reversed her angle so she could complete her verbal attack against Phyllis. That sequence stole the scene and that day’s episode, which represented one of Chuck Pratt, Junior’s swan songs. His final script will be projected on December 6.
Walton’s return to the cast on a more regular basis took place earlier this year. Her on-screen partner in crime, Colin (Tristan Rogers), will reprise his role starting next month. ‘Jillin’ is a hoot. They offer terrific comic relief, while also evoking memories of Katherine and Rex (Quinn Redeker) in their heyday.
Another ode to days gone by was offered when Esther (Kate Linder) turned tables on Jill during the day of gratitude. Esther told her decades-long nemesis that she was in charge of the benefit meal, not Jill, and insisted that she wear a hairnet. This part of Walton’s tour de force performance was again outstanding, as the long history between these characters was evident to veteran and rookie viewers alike.
The regime change that took place at Y&R earlier this year provides an opportunity as the calendar is about to turn. Focusing on character-driven drama, while mixing in elements of history, will satisfy the deepest devotees and should be embraced by fans in all other categories. Soap operas build and maintain loyal audiences because viewers bond with the fictional personalities and the actors who embody them.
This iconic daytime steamer can run indefinitely if the supervising producer, head writer and all other key team members respect Y&R’s audience with every single episode that’s produced moving forward. Providing regular opportunities for Walton, and for the other terrific actors who populate this cast to shine is a proven pathway to sustained success.
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