Our Latest Soap Opera Digest Column
Hopefully you've managed to read a copy of the 12/11 issue of Soap Opera Digest featuring their picks for the Best and Worst of 2007, and Peter Bergman on the cover. How could you go wrong with that?! Because we love all things list-and-bitchery related, we were happy to share own thoughts on the ups and downs our soaps went through in the past year. Mallory remembered the year that was on All My Children and The Young and the Restless, while Becca reminisced about the highs and lows of the past twelve months on Days of Our Lives and General Hospital.
You'll find our thoughts after the jump, but we'd first like to take a brief moment to be completely sappy and thank the folks at Soap Opera Digest for giving us the chance to bring our criticism and occasional excited squealing to the masses. We're incredibly grateful for the opportunity we received this year and the freedom that they've given us to be as blunt and nitckpick-y as we need to be. Which, you know, is very.
By Mallory Harlen
The kindest thing I can say about 2007 on ALL MY CHILDREN is that it had some truly great moments. Granted, said great moments occurred over the course of a year mostly filled with dropped plots, inane storylines and little to no plot advancement, but I'll be charitable and just describe it as uneven.
I hope the AMC powers-that-be are thankful for Alicia Minshew (Kendall), who was easily daytime’s Best Actress this year. She single handedly carried the show, from the Satin Slayer storyline last winter to the recent, painful ordeal of Spike and Ian’s health problems. She’s great at romance, humor and pathos, and seems to raise the game of every scene partner she has. AMC also scored a coup with the Best New Character in all of soaps: Richie Novak. It’s not easy to make me warm up to a psychopath, but Billy Miller is funny and charismatic, and the fact that Richie is the only person in Pine Valley willing to call Ryan out on his own rage issues and hypocrisy is an added bonus.
Unfortunately, AMC made the single Worst Casting Decision in of soaps this year by firing Cady McClain and writing her off in the most awful way possible. Killing off a beloved character with poisoned pancakes is humiliating enough, but not even giving Dixie her own funeral, and instead sharing one with Babe, who wasn’t actually dead, was ridiculous. Especially since it was a typical day in Pine Valley and became all about Babe! Cady McClain, the character of Dixie and the fans all deserved better than that.
YOUNG AND RESTLESS had a similar run of ups and downs, and also holds the dubious distinction of being home to the three Worst Storylines of 2007. The race for senate was bizarre; Jack and Nikki never once mentioned political aspirations and yet pursued a vacant senate seat with such fervor that they were willing to ruin their families for it? O...kay. The "Out of the Ashes" arc promised lasting consequences but gave us no changes at all (unless one counts Noah losing his spleen) and provided the most unintentionally hilarious moment of the year when Victoria was briefly rescued, only to be beaned on the head by a piece of concrete that looked suspiciously like it was made from paper mache. And the most awful, cringe-worthy story of them all was Daniel’s porn addiction. The entire plot was embarrassing to watch and contained far too many references to moles on Amber’s anatomy for my liking.
The show did have its bright spots, though. Sharon Abbott had the Best Character Transformation. Marrying Jack did wonders for her and her sense of humor. Her barbs at Nikki and Victoria are endlessly amusing, and she’s become a formidable rival for Phyllis. And Peter Bergman continues to be the Best Actor in soaps today. He makes every scene better–what could play as a tired cliche with another actor (Jack vs. Victor Part 34837? Reading aloud a letter to Sharon as he hovers near death?) Is vibrant and fresh thanks to Bergman. I’d love to see a story where Jack isn’t the town pariah, but that may be an empty pipe dream...
My Take, Too
By Becca Thomas
I adore every kind of list, so imagine my excitement about making a best and worst list for soaps in 2007!
DAYS OF OUR LIVES had an uneven year but has taken an overall turn for the better. Among other things, it gets a nod for Best Use of Veterans. I may be biased by 1980s nostalgia, but I loved the resurgence of longtime characters like Steve and Kayla, Bo and Hope, Tony and Anna, Bill and Julie, and Stefano. However, while the Dimera/Brady feud story involving those veterans was the Best Premise of the year and did involve some great scenes with veteran characters, it veered off-course and lost momentum and ended up the Most Disappointing Storyline of 2007.
While it used its established characters well, DAYS gets my vote for Worst New Character, with the return of an adult Jeremy "Horton." I hope that the next time DAYS decides to bring back a legacy kid, they think a bit about how he or she will fit into a family the viewers know well. Jeremy being part of one of year’s Most Boring Storylines, the adventures of the Touch the Sky Airlines crew, didn’t help. At least it didn’t involve throwing a toddler off a cruise ship into the ocean, like its Most Boring Storyline co-titleholder. I still don’t know how an attractive young couple on the run, stranded on a tropical island, can be uninteresting and un-soapy, but DAYS managed it.
As for its most controversial move, killing John Black, I thought it was well done. In fact, I thought John's was the Best Death in ages.
Sitting down to critique GENERAL HOSPITAL over the last year is a bit like filling the report card of a troubled elementary school child: not living up to potential, has difficulty focusing, sometimes has trouble distinguishing right from wrong, needs more direction, not always respectful of elders. Among other things, GH had the Least Creative Storylines, ripping itself off with abandon. Did you like February sweeps? Good, because switch the villain and the location and you got to watch it again in November. GH had the Worst Use of Veterans. The Quartermaines and other formerly central families are almost invisible now. Luke and Tracy (and Ghost Alan) should be onscreen far more often; throw in Scott and you’ve got some of the Best Comedy in Daytime. But while I’m on the subject, even though Stuart Damon has rocked the scenes, killing off Alan Quartermaine and bringing him back as a ghost is the Worst Death of the year by far – so unnecessary and disrespectful.
She’s not from a core family, but Kate Howard is 2007’s Best New Character. I haven’t loved all of the directions they’ve taken her in, but mostly she is fabulous, thanks largely to a great portrayer and aided by one of daytime’s Best Wardrobes. This truly makes for a happy new year.