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« General Hospital Week in Review | Main | Blasts From the Past »

December 11, 2007

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.

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My Take
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.

Comments

I remember reading this in SOD and thinking, "Wow, she totally got it down." This was a great metaphor for GH:

"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."

Thank you Becca.

Mallory and Becca, I am so glad SOD had enough foresight to hire you as guest columnists. I never would have found your blog if it wasn't for SOD. For that, I am very grateful.

Thanks for the great summations on the Best and Worst of 2007. You all will always make me laugh.

~V

I have to completely disagree with you on giving Days 'Best Use of Veterans'. Yes, some of the vets were onscreen, but what were they doing? John was in a coma for half the year. Then, John, Marlena, Bo and Hope read letters in the Brady Pub all summer. I know you're a Steve and Kayla fan, but they didn't have a storyline for most of the year either. Ditto for Tony and Anna. And I love seeing Doug and Julie onscreen, but they too were reading letters. I myself would give Days "Biggest Waste of Vets' Talents".

But I do agree on giving the Vendetta "Most Disappointing Storyline". I'd give Sheffer "Most Disappointing Head Writer" along with that.

I agree about use of veterans when you compare to the other soaps on treating their veteran stars. However, listening to them read letters got old pretty fast. (And if Drake does return to Days, he should never be allowed to read anything on air, ever, again.)

I do disagree about worst new character. I was intrigued when Days looked like they were making Jeremy an abusive bastard but seemed to chicken out when things finally started getting interesting (Likewise, I would vote TTS as "worst introduction of new story" instead of "most boring story"). My vote for worst new character was the bland, overly muscled Jett Carver who also should tie with worst actor with "Jed".

I must admit I'm enjoying Sharon on Y&R more than I ever have (though she needs to get her hair did). I pretty much love any character who points out that the Newmans are all assholes. Still, Sharon calling out Victoria and Nikki doesn't even begin to make up for the giant hole left by another Victoria... Victoria Rowell. She and Peter Bergman carried this show for years, and not even Pete's adorable shoulders can support this snoozefest on their own.

Well done! I have no comments to make; I just wanted to compliment your excellent writing skills.

"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."

EXCELLENT! May I add:
Has difficulty completing tasks
Exhibits violent tendencies
Chews gum

I like the Kate Howard/Connie Falconeri character too--she's very different from most of what one sees on GH.

Wish the hair stylist would return to the chic feathered flip she sported recently. It was SO right for Megan Ward's face and her role!

Wow, I almost just spit Diet Coke all over my laptop, thanks to your hilarious GH report card. Poor poor Alan, his death was soooo unneccesary. . . Kate Howard is indeed fabulous!

I just watched the General Hospital episode this week with Bobbie et al waiting for the results of Luke's surgery. What's with Bobbie Spencer? Her face is a different color and texture than her neck.

I was surprised to hear they were taking her off-contract after 30 years because she's never on the show.

Monica looks like she's had some work done as well. Leslie looks natural (except for the disco outfit) which is comforting. I wish shows would encourage diversity in looks like the British soaps do. Their actresses look like regular people which makes the storytelling that much better.

I fear that it's only going to get worse.

I watch both Y&R and Days and I don't think that the two shows should even be mentioned in the same article. The Days characters repeat and repeat and repeat themselves for weeks or often months on end before anything ever happens in the story line. Often, NOTHING happens at all! I'm not sure why I subject myself to watching Sami and EJ as well as Sami and Lucas say the same things over and over! It is SO predicatable that the writers should be embarrassed! After watching this show for almost 15 years, I've had enough. If something interesting doesn't happen in the next month, I'm through with it.

I would just like to say that the love scenes have really improved with Days lately - aka how hilarious was it when Hope walked in on Kayla and Steve in the car?!?!? And Philip and Chloe getting in on on the couch...I think there is more but my brain is not working right now. Yay, good soapy love scenes are FINALLY back on Days! :)

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