'The Young and the Restless': Daytime's No. 1 Drama Retooling in the Face of Plummeting Ratings

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For the past year or so, while other soap operas were trimming their casts (or being cancelled altogether), "The Young and The Restless" seemed to be adding cast members at breakneck speed. Tristan Rogers, Genie Francis, Maura West, Darius McCrary, Eden Reigel and Jessica Collins were all added to an already overloaded cast. The result has been uneven storytelling, benched vets and sinking ratings. "The Young and The Restless" casting flurry begged the question if too many talented actors was too much of a good thing.

Now comes word that "The Young and The Restless" is cleaning house and taking names. West (ex-Diane) was killed off in what started as a humdinger of a whodunit that now desperately needs a shot in the arm. Soap legend Rogers (Colin) recently tweeted that it appeared his alter ego's time in Genoa City was coming to an end. Riegel (Heather), an Emmy winner for "All My Children," actually found out through Twitter she'd gotten the axe. Finally, the woefully miscast McCrary (Malcolm) is rumored to be on his way out as well (sadly, this probably means Neil is the father of Sophia's baby. Bummer).

While you never want to hear anyone is losing a job, the fact is, some of the actors (Reigel, McCrary and West, in particular) just never caught on in their roles. In this era of diminishing soaps, "The Young and The Restless" needs to do everything it can to hang on to as many eyeballs as it can. That means focusing on characters the audience loves and cares about. The good news is, while pink slips have been fluttering all around "The Young and The Restless" studios, some beloved actors are making their way back to Genoa City.

Billy Abbott, played by the crazy popular Billy Miller, was recently unearthed in a filthy jail cell, paving the way for a tortured reunion with wife, Victoria (Amelia Heinle). Genoa City's Grande Dame, Nikki, portrayed by Melody Thomas Scott, who's been relegated to rehab for the past however many months, will reportedly be back with a vengeance around Thanksgiving after signing a new contract. Emmy winner Debbi Morgan, fresh from her legendary turn on "All My Children" has yet to make her debut. Jury's still out on how long new hire Collins (Avery) will stick around, though watching her make Phyllis (Michelle Stafford) tap dance is reason enough to keep her.

For the time being, let's hope "The Young and The Restless" focuses on keeping its cast tight and that The Powers That Be stick with the daytime basics: character-driven stories, strong characters and romance. Lots of it.

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