Monday, December 15, 2014

Daytime Soap Operas: Best & Worst of 2014


The year is winding down and fans of daytime drama have plenty of reasons to feel good about their favorite soap operas. Check out my "Best and Worst of 2014" list below and be sure to add your own "Bests" and "Worsts" in the Comments section below.

Darin Brooks, Kim Matula, Bradley P. Bell,
Ashleigh Brewer and Scott Clifton.
BEST DAYTIME DRAMA
The Bold and the Beautiful

B&B has the best production values (by far), best music, exotic location sequences and was the most consistent soap of 2014. No matter where the show went (Abu Dhabi, Paris, Monaco, Amsterdam), great drama and romance always followed. Memorable moments included Hope (Kim Matula) and Liam's (Scott Clifton) near miss at the Eiffel Tower, and Ridge (Thorsten Kaye) getting dumped out of a helicopter into the Persian Gulf after interrupting the wedding of Brooke (Katherine Kelly Lang) and Bill (Don Diamont).

Maurice Benar
BEST ACTOR
Maurice Benard (Sonny, General Hospital)

After 21 years of playing Sonny Corinthos, Benard still has it. For a long time, his mob boss was almost the "hero" of Port Charles but now Sonny is an incredibly flawed and nearly broken man. From crypt sex admitting he killed AJ, Benard made it all work in 2014.

Other Top Performers: Anthony Geary (Luke, General Hospital); Roger Howarth (Franco, General Hospital); Scott Clifton (Liam, The Bold and the Beautiful); James Scott (EJ, Days of our Lives); Don Diamont (Bill, The Bold and the Beautiful); Billy Miller (Billy, The Young and the Restless)

Gina Tognoni
BEST ACTRESS
Gina Tognoni (Phyllis, The Young and the Restless)

In a year of fantastic performances by the women of daytime, Tognoni had the greatest degree of difficulty, replacing two-time Emmy winner Michelle Stafford as Phyllis. She made it seem effortless and instantly gave Y&R a much-needed spark. Giving one gusto-filled performance after another, Tognoni made it feel as if she had always played the role.

Other Top Performers: Maura West (Ava, General Hospital); Laura Wright (Carly, General Hospital); Kim Matula (Hope, The Bold and the Beautiful); Michelle Stafford (Nina, General Hospital); Eileen Davidson (Kristen, Days of our Lives)

Nicolas Bechtel, Blake Berris
BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR (tie)
Nicolas Bechtel (Spencer, General Hospital)
Blake Berris (Nick, Days of our Lives)

A Bechtel scene is always going to entertain. He holds his own opposite the likes of Geary and Benard (two of the all-time greats) and steals the show in just about every GH episode he's in as the precocious Spencer Cassadine. If the Daytime Emmys must include the unnecessary "Younger Actor" category, Bechtel needs to win it instead of the usual 20-something. Meanwhile, Berris' raw, emotionally damaged Nick Fallon on Days is one of the most interesting characters to come along in years. I can't imagine a world in which Berris does not become a big movie star.

Other Top Performers: Sean Kanan (Deacon, The Bold and the Beautiful; John Aniston (Victor, Days of our Lives); Dick Christie (Charlie, The Bold and the Beautiful); Chris L. McKenna (Mark, The Young and the Restless); Daniel Cosgrove (Aiden, Days of our Lives)

Rena Sofer
BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS
Rena Sofer (Quinn, The Bold and the Beautiful)

An overbearing mother obsessed with her son is a soap staple, and Sofer's Quinn Fuller is the best crazy mom since Vanessa Prentiss on The Young and the Restless. While some villains talk about revenge and make enemy lists, Quinn takes action, even making a sword to murder Liam at one point.

Other Top Performers: Kathleen Gati (Liesl, General Hospital); Rebecca Herbst (Elizabeth, General Hospital); Peggy McCay (Caroline, Days of our Lives); Lauren Koslow (Kate, Days of our Lives); Camryn Grimes (Mariah, The Young and the Restless)

Note: Herbst is equally fabulous whether her character is in a lead or supporting role in a story.

BEST WRITING
General Hospital

Ron Carlivati and his team juggle more characters than any other show, and manage to create a funny and entertaining escape every weekday afternoon. Not every storyline works but the scripts are usually terrific with sexual innuendo, instantly classic one-liners and nods to GH history.

BEST DIRECTING
The Bold and the Beautiful

Equally excellent and consistent in the studio, around Los Angeles or locations all over the globe.

BEST STORYLINE
Meet Me in Paris, The Bold and the Beautiful

Hope asked Liam to meet her at the Eiffel Tower at 3 p.m. after the Forrester Creations photo shoot. Liam flew all the way to Paris to meet her but just missed the deadline when Quinn pushed Ivy (Ashleigh Brewer) into the Seine. Hope ended up running off to Monaco to marry Wyatt. B&B kept viewers guessing about which couple would actually get married, and gave us some of the most beautiful remote work in soap opera history.

Anthony Geary as Luke and "Fluke"
MOST TALKED ABOUT STORYLINE
Who is "Fluke"?, General Hospital

Anthony Geary is giving a masterful performance as Luke and his lookalike, "Fluke" (as named by viewers), but that's a given. What we don't know is Fluke's identity. From Bill Eckert to Mr. Wu, every bad guy in GH history has been guessed by a viewer somewhere. From "Fluke" groping Kiki to Faison wearing a Luke mask, this story has all the elements of classic GH combining elements of drama, comedy and the outlandish that the show was known for in its pop culture heyday.

Alison Sweeney as Sami Brady
BEST DREAM
EJ DiMera, Days of our Lives

For over half the episode on April 21, it looked like Sami had finally found out about Abigail (Kate Mansi) and EJ's affair, and all hell broke loose, becoming more campy along the way. Sweeney and Scott both gave fantastic performances.

MOST INTERESTING STORY TWIST
Ridge uses Caroline's hand to sketch, The Bold and the Beautiful

After surviving the Persian Gulf, Ridge lost his ability to sketch fabulous new dresses for Forrester Creations. In an interesting twist, he was able to regain some of his creative talent by putting his hand on top of Caroline's and modifying her designs.

WORST STORYLINE
Jordan's Secret, Days of our Lives

Started in summer 2013, Jordan's secret took forever to play out, and was likely changed by the writers along the way. It was boring, a complete waste of time, and it's not clear if anyone cared by the time it was revealed. Days also wasted a much more interesting character along the way, Sheryl (played by Jade Harlow).

General Hospital's Nurses Ball
BEST EVENT
Nurses Ball, General Hospital

It was fun to watch, had great music and (of course) Lucy in her underwear, this time kissing Scott as the curtain rose.

MOST HEARTWARMING MOMENT
"You're Not Alone" Performance, General Hospital

Epiphany started singing "You're Not Alone" to end the Nurses Ball, then Patrick and Sabrina continued at GH, followed by their friends coming to the hospital to support them and baby Gabriel.

BEST DIRECTING
The Bold and the Beautiful

BEST EXIT
Billy Miller and Michael Muhney, The Young and the Restless

The two actors that drove Y&R story in 2013 exited the soap together in a fiery SUV crash.

Kim Matula
MOST SURPRISING DEPARTURE
Kim Matula, The Bold and the Beautiful

Matula has been at the center of B&B for the past few years and left in December after Hope lost her baby. The actress was given the perfect send-off with Hope driving away after a sweet goodbye kiss with Liam (Scott Clifton).

MOST SHOCKING HIRE
Chuck Pratt, The Young and the Restless

Pratt has been writing for daytime and primetime TV for over three decades and has had plenty of success along the way. But what soap fans remember most vividly was his almost universally hated stint at All My Children (2007-2008), so hollow and lacking in character-driven stories that even the ever-gracious Susan Lucci ranted about it in her 2011 memoir. This is the man hired to write the top-rated daytime drama? Y&R seemed to know they screwed up because the only official confirmation happened several weeks later in a tweet.

BEST NON-WEDDING (tie)
Maxie & Levi, General Hospital
Brooke & Ridge The Bold and Beautiful

GH's Levi finally revealed his true colors and took Maxie and Lulu hostage, while Katie faked passing out to stop her sister from marrying the man she'd fallen for on B&B.

General Hospital's Nathan and Maxie
BEST COUPLE
Nathan & Maxie, General Hospital

A classic soap romance that included an evil interloper, interrupted wedding, explosion and the type of cute romance that Kirsten Storms excels at playing. Why isn't she a big rom-com movie star? Nathan & Maxie have only had one date but they already feel like an epic love affair.

WORST COUPLE
Rafe & Jordan, Days of our Lives

A lack of chemistry and terrible storyline doomed these two.

CUTEST COUPLE
Oliver & Aly, The Bold and the Beautiful

Oliver getting himself into the show at Medieval Times to win Aly back was the most romantic gesture on soaps in ages.

Days of our Lives' Aiden and Hope
BEST OLD-SCHOOL ROMANCE
Hope & Aiden, Days of our Lives

It was never going to be easy to find a new man for Hope Williams Brady (Kristian Alfonso), tied to Bo for decades, but the slow build of Hope and Aiden Jennings (Daniel Cosgrove) was the perfect way to ease viewers into the idea. Hope coming to terms with her feelings for a new man has been played realistically, and it's nice to see Hope smile again. Let's just hope Aiden isn't a wife-murdering psycho.

General Hospital's Bobbie and Lucy
BEST RIVALS
Bobbie & Lucy, General Hospital

What a treat to see Jacklyn Zeman and Lynn Herring featured as Bobbie Spencer and Lucy Coe battled in some fantastic catfights, either over Lucy's affair with Scott Baldwin (Kin Shriner) or their rivalry for Scott's affections.

BEST ENEMIES
Anna and Dr. Obrecht, General Hospital

Any confrontation between Anna Devane (Finola Hughes) and Dr. Liesl Obrecht (Kathleen Gati) is going to be memorable. The actresses seem to enjoying playing the scenes as much as viewers like watching them.

B&B's Ridge Forrester
BEST FALL
Ridge Forrester falls into the Persian Gulf, The Bold and the Beautiful

Bill ordering Ridge's "cooling off" led to him getting dumped out of a helicopter into the Persian Gulf and presumed dead. The fall itself was both dramatic and hilarious and became an instant classic moment.

BEST MUSIC
The Bold and the Beautiful

B&B's score is distinct and the original music used, including songs by Scott Clifton and Casey Kasprzyk, is unparalleled. Music on a soap hasn't been this good since everyone was using smash pop hits in the 1980s.

WORST MUSIC
The Young and the Restless

The background music improved somewhat in 2014, including an increased use of "Nadia's Theme," but musical montages with generic pop songs earned Y&R this one.

Days of our Lives' Anne and Theresa
BEST FRIENDS
Theresa & Anne, Days of our Lives

Theresa Donovan (Jen Lilley) and Anne Millbauer (Meredith Scott Lynn) are two bad girls who were destined to be friends. I want to see them in a road trip storyline worthy of Thelma & Louise.

Note: The actresses also combined for the years best soap opera rap video.

GH's Nurse Rosalie
BEST SIDEKICK
Rosalie, General Hospital

Linda Elena Tovar's Nurse Rosalie was the best sidekick to come along in years. Whether agreeing with her boss, Nina, or trying to insert some much-needed perspective to her life, Rosalie and Nina were always a joy to watch.

BEST WEAPON (PRE-MADE)
Theresa's Fire Poker, Days of our Lives

The fire poker, used so effectively by Theresa, was a big part of a lead story on Days in 2014. Theresa knocked John into a coma with it and let Brady take the fall.

BEST WEAPON (HOMEMADE)
Quinn's Sword, The Bold and the Beautiful

Quinn tried to murder Liam with a sword she made to look like the Spencer family necklace.

BEST SUPPORTING OBJECT (tie)
Nina's List, General Hospital

Nina adding and subtracting to her revenge list on GH was always fun, and informative.

BEST SUPPORTING LIPSTICK
Creamy Nude, The Young and the Restless

Chloe's radical red lipstick was a contender but nothing could topple Phyllis' Creamy Nude lipstick which was seen in flashback after flashback of the day Phyllis fell down the stairs in 2013. There was even a drinking game!

Days' Kate and Sami
BEST FRENEMIES
Kate & Sami, Days of our Lives

Who would have thought the relationship between these two former bitter enemies would be one of the strongest friendships of the year? As Alison Sweeney said goodbye to Days after 21 years, Sami's relationship with Kate was one of her most special.

BEST TRIANGLE
Liam/Hope/Wyatt, The Bold and the Beautiful

As Hope went back and forth between the Spencer brothers, viewers were treated to exciting twists and turns, gorgeous location shoots and even Bob Barker.

WORST TRIANGLE
Felix/Lucas/Brad, General Hospital

This story had more stops and starts than Los Angeles rush hour traffic. No real rooting interest was established and the best moment was actually Felix momentarily thinking Milo's crush might be on him. GH does get kudos for its "threesome" episode, although it's hard to believe Franco is only one of the bed-hopping Port Charles residents that's had one.

Y&R's Mariah
BEST REWRITE THAT WORKED (tie)
Mariah, The Young and the Restless

No one can convince me that Y&R always planned on making Tyler's ex, Mariah, Sharon's long-lost daughter, and twin of the late Cassie. While the Tyler part of the story fizzled, Mariah's slow entrance into Sharon and Nick's family has been one of the best parts of the show in 2014. Camryn Grimes has been superb throughout, and probably has the Younger Actress Emmy in the bag for 2015.

BEST BADASS (tie)
Quinn Fuller, The Bold and the Beautiful

Quinn's badassery included revealing Brooke and Bill's wedding details to Ridge; flying to Paris, stealing a motorbike, and pushing Ivy into the Seine; creating a sword in her workshop to off Liam; and dressing as a nurse to crash Hope and Wyatt's sonogram appointment.

Christopher Sean
BEST MALE NEWCOMER
Christopher Sean (Paul, Days of our Lives)

Sean instantly gave Days a boost by flirting with the women of Salem and planting a kiss on Sonny. In less than two months, his story is already more compelling than a number of characters that have been around for much longer.

Note: Despite making his Days debut on November 7, Christopher Sean was the most-search actor of the year at Serial Scoop.

Ashleigh Brewer
BEST FEMALE NEWCOMER
Ashleigh Brewer (Ivy, The Bold and the Beautiful)

Random soap cousins historically tend to be problems, but Brewer instantly fit right in with the Forrester family and Liam.

MOST ANNOYING CHARACTER
Levi Dunkleman (aka Peter Harrell, Jr.), General Hospital

Levi was the most annoying and useless character of the decade. Not even revealing he was Peter Harrell Jr. could save his story. Y&R's Abby can thank Levi for just missing out on this one.

WORST BUSYBODY
Maggie Horton, Days of our Lives

Maggie spent the entire year trying to force her son and niece together, interfering, and giving advice when it wasn't asked for. Actress Suzanne Rogers did her best to give it heart, but Maggie needs to focus on herself a little more.

Y&R's Lily, Devon and Hilary
BEST BUSYBODY
Lily Winters Ashby, The Young and the Restless

Working at the GCAC is the perfect job for Lily (Chistel Khalil) because she gets to be in everybody's business. Her catty comments and fights with Hilary (Mishael Morgan) were one of the highlights of the year. Lily finally has the spark you'd expect from Drucilla's daughter.

BEST ACTOR IN A NEW ROLE
Billy Miller as Jason Morgan (aka "Jake"), General Hospital

Miller brought charisma and humor to the role with a dose of enforcer and loads of chemistry with Rebecca Herbst's Elizabeth.

WORST SET
Chancellor Park, The Young and the Restless

For the second year in a row, the awful concrete park named after a legendary character was an embarrassment to daytime's top-rated drama.

Jennifer Garies as Grace on Y&R
BEST GUEST APPEARANCE
Jennifer Garies (Grace, The Young and the Restless)

Garies appearance on Y&R as grace was so sexy and fascinating to watch, she earned an invite back in November, and probably inspired the special episode featuring Nick Newman's (Joshua Morrow) exes.

BEST SOCIAL CLIMBER
Maya Avant, The Bold and the Beautiful

It looked like Rick would stay in Maya's past forever, but then one day Maya (Karla Mosley) became restless and started thinking more and more about the good life she could have had. With an assist from Ridge and Caroline's very personal working relationship, Maya was able to manipulate her way back into Rick's bed, and is now on her way to the good life.

BEST VISIT
Shemar Moore (Malcolm, The Young and the Restless)

Moore's two-day return as Malcolm Winters in September not only gave Y&R a ratings boost, but added a richness to Neil's storyline.

Casey Moss - Photograph By Brad Everett
Young (dreamloudofficial.com)
SEXIEST MALE
Casey Moss (JJ, Days of our Lives)

The sexiness of Moss edges GH's shirtless (and wet) Ryan Paevey (Nathan) by a smolder.

Serial Scoop 12 Hottest Hunks of 2014: Moss, Paevey, Jacob Young (Rick, The Bold and the Beautiful), Lawrence Saint-Victor (Carter, The Bold and the Beautiful), Bryan Craig (Morgan, General Hospital), Chris L. McKenna (Det. Harding, The Young and the Restless), Justin Hartley (Adam, The Young and the Restless), Billy Flynn (Chad, Days of our Lives), Ryan Carnes (Lucas, General Hospital), Scott Elrod (Joe, The Young and the Restless), Redaric Williams (Tyler, The Young and the Restless), Sean Blakemore (Sean, General Hospital)

Vinessa Antoine - Photograph By Brad
Everett Young (dreamloudofficial.com)
SEXIEST FEMALE
Vinessa Antoine (Jordan, General Hospital)

Simply stunning.  Antoine plays tough DEA agent Jordan Ashford with just the right amount of vulnerability.

MOST MISLEADING DEATH
EJ DiMera, Days of our Lives

With Alison Sweeney and James Scott leaving the soap, "EJami" fans were hoping EJ and Sami would leave town together. After EJ was murdered, Days viewers speculated it was a set up and EJ would turn up alive for a happy goodbye. It wasn't meant to be though and EJ stayed dead.

BEST SONG
"Love Song" by Scott Clifton, The Bold and the Beautiful

Y&R's Tom Hallick in 1973 and 2014
BEST TIP OF THE HAT
Phyllis riding into Genoa City with Tom Hallick, The Young and the Restless

In Y&R's very first scene back in 1973, Tom Hallick played Brad Elliot, who hitched a ride to Genoa City in an orange truck. The show brought Hallick back this year for the episode in which Phyllis hitched a ride into town, but this time Hallick played the driver of a very similar truck. Sadly, he didn't reprise the role of Brad, but it was a nice nod to the show's history.

MOST OVEREXPOSED
Ben "Stitch" Rayburn (The Young and the Restless)

Every so often a soap opera writer or network executive will fall in love with an actor or character and viewers end up getting an overdose of story centered around that person. Fans endured Stitch's deep dark secret for months only to have it almost instantly discounted by the fact that he really didn't do the horrible thing he supposedly did (murder his father).

Daytime Emmys red carpet hosts
WORST RED CARPET SHOW IN HISTORY
2014 Daytime Emmy Awards

Lauren Elizabeth (Twitter), Brittany Furlan (Vine), Jessica Harlow (Facebook), and Meghan Rosette (Instagram) were selected by Here Media to represent the Daytime Emmys on the red carpet and they embarrassed themselves, the National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences (NATAS) and the entire daytime community with their foul language, bad sex jokes, racist questions, and not having any idea who 99% of the people they interviewed were, including many legends and Emmy winners. A few months later and in true daytime failing up fashion, NATAS' David Michaels, Senior Executive Director of the Daytime Emmys, was given a promotion.

MOST BORING CHARACTER
Jordan Ridgeway, Days of our Lives

With a storyline going in circles and a boring romance, Jordan just didn't work.

Days' Kate DiMera
MOST ENTERTAINING CHARACTER
Kate DiMera, Days of our Lives

Kate is connected to everyone in Salem in one way or another, and Lauren Koslow brings her to life perfectly, making Kate scenes fun to watch. She keeps her enemies, and viewers, on their toes.

WORST VILLAIN
Ian Ward, The Young and the Restless

Nikki and the residents of Genoa City talked about the evil Ian a lot, but for the most part, he was all bark and no bite.

Billy Miller
BEST RECAST (WITH A VETERAN)
Gina Tognoni (Phyllis, The Young and the Restless)
Billy Miller (Jason, General Hospital)

Replacing popular long-time Emmy winners is never easy, unless your name is Tognoni or Miller.

BEST RECAST (WITH A NEWCOMER)
Billy Flynn (Chad, Days of our Lives)

Chad DiMera is a new man, more grown up and ambitious, and Flynn has been on point so far, displaying chemistry with all his scene partners.

Justin Hartley
BEST CASTING COUP
Hiring Justin Hartley as Adam Newman, The Young and the Restless

Recasting the popular Michael Muhney wasn't going to be easy yet somehow Y&R found the perfect actor. Adding Oscar-nominated Sally Kellerman (Constance) and Emmy nominee Kelly Sullivan (Sage) to the mix made Adam's return even better. It's still early, but Hartley has fit right in.

WORST WARDROBE
Days of our Lives

The shirts worn by Will Horton (Guy Wilson) could win any show this title but add in Eric's jacket and most of Nicole's closet and you have a fashion trainwreck, compounded on episodes where any of these people visit Club TBD.

BEST WARDROBE
The Bold and the Beautiful

The characters dress so well you'd think their clothes came straight from Forrester Creations.

Y&R's Michael tries to break up the latest
fight between Kevin and Mark.
MOST UNTAPPED POTENTIAL
Det. Harding & Kevin, The Young and the Restless

Harding (Chris L. McKenna) really wanted to stick it to Kevin (Greg Rikaart) but their potential as friends, lovers or worst enemies has yet to be explored despite great chemistry between the two actors. In a bad year for Y&R, McKenna stood out and Det. Harding's backstory could be fascinating. We have seen less of him of late with McKenna starring in, and being the best part of, NBC's primetime drama State of Affairs.

Billy Miller, David Tom, Burgess Jenkins
WORST RECAST
Burgess Jenkins (Billy, The Young and the Restless)

Billy Miller left Y&R at the end of January and was instantly replaced with Emmy winner David Tom, who had previously played the role of Billy Abbott from 1992-2002. Tom entered in the middle of a huge storyline and was given a few months of miserable story to play before getting fired and replaced by Burgess Jenkins. Jenkins is an attractive and competent actor but the character of Billy is now as dull as dishwater, and looks older than he should. Jenkins does not have the type of charisma needed to make the character work. Miller shining bright on GH makes this even harder to take. It's hard to understand how Y&R can get it so right with Tognoni and Hartley and so wrong with Jenkins and the dynamic Cady McClain (almost equally as dull in the role of Kelly).

Arianne Zucker
BIGGEST WASTE OF TALENT
Arianne Zucker (Nicole, Days of our Lives)

With the departure of Alison Sweeney as Sami Brady, Zucker's Nicole Walker should be front and center, driving Salem stories instead of being mostly on the sidelines, or an afterthought.

FUNNIEST MOMENT
Bob Barker punching Wyatt, The Bold and the Beautiful

Wyatt learned to never insult pet lovers.

BEST COMEBACK (ACTOR)
Hugo Napier (Larry, General Hospital)

When As the World Turns' Colleen Zenk brought Napier to the Indie Series Awards this year, I had no idea he would later make a comeback as Larry. His performance as the scheming Larry pretending to be a hapless drunk was top notch.

Elizabeth Hubbard stars in The Doctors
BEST COMEBACK (SERIES)
The Doctors reruns on Retro TV

Starting in December 1967 and currently airing episodes from May 1968, The Doctors on Retro TV is not only a joy to watch for nostalgic reasons, but because the stories still hold up today. Rita Lakin's beautiful, character-driven stories instantly draw you in and the cast, headed by James Pritchett, Elizabeth Hubbard and Bethel Leslie, is superb. Many a current soap opera writer and producer should be studying this masterpiece on a daily basis.

Note: Check out our "5 Reasons to Watch 'The Doctors' on Retro TV" list.

5 comments:

  1. JJ is on Days, not GH! And NOBODY is sexier than Ryan Pavey

    ReplyDelete
  2. Agree with B&B.

    Thank you for including The Doctors.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Bold & Beautiful is crap. Crap acting, crap storylines and crap theme tune. Axe it NOW. The only decent actor on Bold & The Beautiful is Ashleigh Brewer. Ashleigh is too good for the dull, boring & repitive Bold & The Beautiful and should return to Australian soap Neighbours were she will get some decent storylines.

    ReplyDelete
  4. For a couple selections you have (tie) marked but only one item listed.

    I don't agree with every pick but very fun end of year list!

    ReplyDelete
  5. We at MyHourglass agree with pretty much everything you said about DAYS. Excited to see Casey Moss (JJ) chosen as sexiest male! http://myhourglass.proboards.com

    ReplyDelete