This week's shooting of longtime character 'Paul Williams' has fans of 'The Young and the Restless' wondering if Doug Davidson might be exiting the show. While countless fictional men and women have often avoided soap's Grim Reaper, many recent cast changes naturally give Genoa City loyalists pause about their show's overall direction.
Effects of Michael Muhney's sudden removal from the set last December drastically changed the dynamic for one of CBS' longest running daytime dramas. After ratings' spikes pushed YR toward six million daily viewers in late-January, when Muhney was last seen on the screen, current Nielsen numbers confirm that this daytime ratings' leader continues to turn toward the troubling four million viewer line.
Davidson's 36-year tenure makes him YR's most devoted employee. Every successful serial relies on the proper blend of old-school characters and fresh faces. That mix balances business budget issues, while also offering viewers a life-like range of personalities to peruse.
Executive producer Jill Farren Phelps was brought in to head YR in 2012. Since then, like many new top bosses in any company, she's put her stamp on the show.
A segment of soap fans openly expressed their emotions at the time of Phelps' hire. A chunk of this steamer's hardcore audience was aware of her extensive daytime resume and believed that she was going to push their show in an undesired direction. Ratings' results to-date appear to confirm that passionate YR fans weren't merely expressing a collective opinion.
Working within this seasoned televised genre is surely tenuous. Gone are the days where each major broadcast network beamed many hour and half-hour scene segments to antennas across the nation. The future of this cherished form of storytelling is hardly certain, which means that no one is safe from the gun.
Whether the Emmy-Award winning Davidson, who rightly ranks among YR's higher-paid players, is working through his final days remains unknown. Possibly, 'Paul's' unexpected shooting simply represents a new story the writers wish to tell. But, modern soap fans know that they must consider expected on-screen cliffhangers, along with off-screen money matters, whenever anything happens to any character on any show.