Daytime Soap Operas
2014 The Year That Was

Best & Worst of 2014: THE GOOD, THE BAD, AND THE UGLY


Blandest Boys

What exactly happens in the casting process at The Young and the Restless? Does someone there have an extreme fondness for bland, blond and boring? Billy. Stitch. Dylan. Theyíre all interchangeable. Theyíre all as energizing as sleeping pills. Yeah, they all have individual histories on the show, but personality-wise, is there a difference? Do any of them actually have one? Billy Millerís obviously a tough actor to replace, but given that humor was his dominant trait, why make it even more difficult by hiring someone who isnít a natural with quips, it should have been a no-brainer to look to actors like One Life to Liveís John-Paul Lavoisier, someone who would have brought the same sort of rascally vibe to the role as Miller did. Justin Hartley is a step in the right blond direction, he has an edge, and a bit of snark, just as Adam should, but these other guys are such a drag to watch, itís time to define their characters, or drop them.

Most Entertaining Action Sequence

A year later, what seemed an intriguing experiment, hiring the totally against type Thorsten Kaye to play Ridge, now seems questionable every time Ridge speaks with an accent and walks into a room with no flair to his fashion. As great an actor as Thorsten is, his Ridge isnít really recognizable yet, or half as campily fun as Ron Moss in the role, however, Ridgeís drop from the helicopter in Dubai was one of the most shocking, hilarious, and well-executed shots of the year, B&B should use all their locations as well and as creatively as they used that one.

Most topsy-turvy

Sometimes General Hospital is the most clever creation ever, extremely quick-witted, other times itís like theyíre so caught up in showing off how clever they can be, in throwing one more mask or joke into the mix, that the emotion of the moment is undermined. GH is never dull, theyíre the one soap where if you miss a day, you miss a lot, which is exciting, but occasionally itís too much, too fast, like theyíre cramming everyone and everything into a clown car, thereís no room to let the stories and characters breathe. Luke can only swap bodies so many times before I wonít care anymore. Patrick can only love so many petite brunettes over the course of a year before it comes off as disingenuous. Only so many villains can get away with so many crimes before GH veers dangerously close to Passions territory. Carly can only declare Sonny a great dad so many times before we recall that this year alone he murdered his sonís father and slept with his other sonís girlfriend on the other sonís fatherís grave and impregnated her, only to discover she murdered his first love. Itís three years worth of story squeezed in to a single year. Only so much can happen in a given hour, never mind in a given year before all the bells, whistles and twists stretch credibility to the breaking point. Ever since the One Life guys took over GH, itís seemed like a struggle to balance the cast size, the tone, and the speed with which their stories are told, itís an outstanding soap, but it will be even better the day they realize that less can be more.

Best turnaround

Mariah started out as a pawn in yet another of Victorís look-alike schemes, and as Tylerís long-lost love who was supposedly so much like Lily even though theyíre nothing alike physically or personality-wise. Mariah also grew up in a cult and attempted to seduce Nick cuz somehow she thought heíd be sexually attracted to someone who looked exactly like his dead daughter. Yeah, Mariah had a rocky introduction to Genoa City to say the least, but thankfully, the most convoluted of all those convoluted plot points - sheís Cassieís twin - has turned Mariah into one of the best characters on the show. Sheís developed this entertaining, and complicated relationship with her mom, resentful of Sharon, calling her on her actions, yet she tends to have Sharonís back with other people. Mariah also has this endearing habit of hiding her heart behind snark should anyone, whether itís family or Kevin get too close for her comfort, basically, sheís more human and possesses heaps more personality than most of Y&Rís characters. Now she just needs a story worthy of her.

Most disappointing and transparent plot twist

Days claimed in the press that they hadnít intended all along for Eve and JJ to hook up, yet the very first time she opened the door to him, the weird cringe-worthy porn-like music told viewers exactly where they were headed. Itís such a letdown in the year after their Emmy win to see the expected instead of taking it in a surprising direction, like maybe having screwed up JJ confiding in screwed up Eve, creating a more honest bond between them than he could ever have with perfect Paige or his perfect mom, thus sparking tensions and jealousy without actually disgusting anyone, ruining a sweet romance or possibly endangering a talented actressí longevity on the show. JJ will undoubtedly survive, most fans have grown to love this character/actor, and would forgive him pretty much anything, but it feels like such an error to have put Kassie De Paiva in such a difficult situation before she had the chance to endear her version of Eve to us, you canít help thinking it would have been easier to swallow with Charlotte Ross in the role simply because we saw her grow up, we saw her go through things, we would have been more sympathetic to her Eve, this Eve, we just donít know her, hopefully we get a chance to. The one saving grace is knowing that these are two truly fine actors and thereís no doubt theyíll do the dramatic fallout justice.

Most Super Couple

They met with immediate sparks last New Yearís Eve and though they didnít see one another for months afterwards, Maxie and Nathan picked up right where they left off when Maxie returned to Port Charles. Even with Maxieís boyfriend Levi throwing a wrench in the works, she and Nathan still managed to be the cutest pair ever. Exchanging glances at the Nurses Ball, handcuffed on the Fourth-of-July, wherever they are, in a hospital room, or a courtroom, Maxieís her adorable, complainy chatterbox self, and Nathanís this dreamy hero willing to commit perjury for her, they just fit, so, so well, and itís been a gloriously slow-going courtship, as opposed to the rush soaps seem to be in to get everyone hitched and divorced before you even have a chance to decide whether you like them or not. All thatís left now is to find more ways to torture this couple, because we all know any couple that isnít tortured, isnít getting screen time, and we donít want that.

Weakest Women

The state of womanhood on all the soaps is iffy at times, but it was particularly sad at The Bold and the Beautiful this year. Katie is played by such a strong real-life heroine yet on-screen, she waits to dump her cheating fiancť until her cheating ex-husband makes it clear that heíd welcome her back, heaven forbid she just, you know, say to hell with them both, I am capable of being alone for more than five minutes. Which brings us to Katieís niece, Hope - oh no, Liamís half an hour late, so Iíll immediately wed his brother instead, because Iím in my early twenties so obviously I need to be someoneís wife, rather than my own person. Quinn claims she doesnít want or need a man, which was a seemingly empowered scene, but she clings to her son as if she is nothing without him. Maya and Caroline share the same split-personality these days, one minute innocent doormats, the next minute vixens who will do anything to land a rich guy, both versions feel far more desperate than either of these women should be. Things arenít much more promising on the career-front, Caroline canít sketch without Ridgeís manly hand guiding her, Bill had to rescue his company from Katieís mismanagement (despite her being a perfectly intelligent person), and when Ridge and Rick acted like such bratty children over the CEO position, why didnít Eric hand it over to the very qualified Brooke, instead? The Bold and the Beautiful may have some of the sunniest sets and scenery around, but in other ways it feels like the dark ages.

Strongest Swan Song

With EJ murdered by a character who doesnít even have a major history with him, and Sami sent off to Hollywood like a rom-com heroine, even if EJ maybe possibly isnít actually dead, it still wasnít an ideal end for either character, but overall, their goodbye season was something to remember. Again, it wasnít ideal that the first confrontation EJ and Sami had over his Abby affair only happened in his imagination, but it was such a memorable fake hour, some of the most powerful, emotional, hard-hitting intensity ever on Days, and maybe ever on daytime, they seriously tore into each other. The real blow-up of their marriage was pretty spectacular as well, especially when Sami slipped into the vixen mode we all first fell in love with, lashing out at Abby and EJ, doing everything in her power to destroy them, even teaming up with her archenemy Kate. Then, just when Sami forgave EJ, just when she let up on her vengeance and was ready to give their life another go, he died in her arms and it was the most sadly romantic thing ever, not the way we wanted it to go, but in the park, and in the morgue, in viewers eyes - if not the actual voters - it was Emmy gold. Days didnít get every last minute with EJ and Sami right, but the moments they did get right, they were everything a fan could hope for, and more.

Highlights

  • B&B - Fred Willard as Ericís inappropriately funny brother - Bill and Ridge fistfight outside the fashion show - Oliverís suspect intentions towards Aly - After sending Quinn away for mental help, Liam assures Wyatt that he isnít alone, and itís the most brotherly, grown-up scene the two have ever shared.

  • Days - Sonny and Willís wedding - Nick lives to torment another day - Eric confesses his love to Nicole while theyíre held hostage - Ciara becoming the new Sami, harassing Chase, blackmailing and manipulating adults, etc. - Hope seeks Carolineís approval to move on from Bo. - Classic Kristin move, she steals Theresaís baby from her womb.

  • GH - Every moment of Spencer - The gathering at Rafeís deathbed - Julianís conversation with Alexis about his issues with his sonís sexuality - Brad sings Brokenhearted at the Nurses Ball and Brittís pretty much the only one who enjoyed it - Michael freaks out when he discovers that Sonny killed AJ and Carly knew about it.

  • Y&R - Billy confronts Adam with a gun - Mini All My Children reunion at the fashion show - Phyllisí dramatic entrance at Nick and Sharonís Wedding - Malcolm gives Neil some tough love advice - Struggling to read Braille, Neil rests his head on daughter Lilyís shoulder.

Lowlights

  • BB - Every time Ridge and Caroline were all moony-eyed over one another talking about their art while holding hands drawing, it was pure awfulness - Mayaís sudden personality transplant - Hopeís with Liam, no sheís with Wyatt, no sheís with LiamÖ - Lack of story for Eric or Carter, or newcomer Ivy, and no, being Liamís girlfriend is not a story.

  • Days - Failure to build a quality character for the quality Chrishell Stause - Liam, such a one-dimensional villain for such a great ATWT actor - Nick murdered again - First Kate pines over dull as dirt Rafe, then falls for skeevy Clyde, whatís happening to the independent woman we know? Itís like she swallowed the same stupid pill as GHís Tracy.

  • GH - Sonny and Ava have sex on AJís grave - Michelle Stafford and Billy Miller way too similar to their Y&R characters, it makes you question their abilities rather than admire them - Giving viewers the false impression that Robin was there for a lengthy stay, inserting her deeply into story when that was never in the cards and there wasnít a believable exit strategy - Tracy is suddenly a moron so desperate for love in her life that she canít see whatís right in front of her eyes.

  • Y&R - Sex with his aunt a few years ago wasnít enough, so Devon also had to bed his step-mom - Jillís inheritance from Katherine, I donít even remember what it was, and yet the quest to find it dragged on for months and months - Christine is jealous of Paul having a grown son, yet she was never jealous of his other two adult children - Stitch and Kelly suddenly brother and sister when they were clearly intended to be former lovers at first (matched up on a date at one point) - Stitchís curious career trajectory, the one where he went from combat medic and doctor to knowing how to create a perfume, because that happens all the time.

Wishes

  • B&B - Liam goes an entire year without proposing to anyone - Ridge wears a jaunty scarf just to give some indication that he maybe possibly is Ridge - Brooke starts her own rival fashion house since no one ever names her CEO, and she has her first ever story that isnít about getting a man, itís about besting them.

  • Days - Paulís family comes to Salem with nods to their Asian culture but no stereotypes, theyíre just a family with their own unique quirks and history like all the others on the show - Jack rises from the dead, revives his newspaper, and recruits Jennifer, sending them on funny and dangerous undercover assignments - Anne has a long lost daughter or niece who crosses paths with JJ, and sheís just as irritable and imperfect as Anne, yet JJ learns to kind of adore her anyway.

  • GH - Luke is just plain old Luke again - Scottyís actually on the show often enough to prosecute every case, speak to his son, Franco, and make a legit play for Lucy - Brenda returns, but the writers have a well-thought out plan for her in mind first, like, say, she uses her fortune to help break Sonny out of jail (since back in her day the soap portrayed him as a claustrophobic who could never survive prison), and Sonny and Brenda have to go on the run in a Luke and Laura style adventure while they attempt to clear his name.

  • Y&R - Victorís seemingly lone purpose these days is to be absurdly insecure around one of the most dense detectives/cops ever, Paul, while the rest of Victorís reduced screen time involves dayplayers and schemes doomed for epic failure that put him temporarily at odds with his family. This is still Y&Rís leading man, his presence needs to be bigger and more complex - Victoria Rowell signs a non-disclosure agreement so she can return and we no longer have to suffer through Neilís horrific love life - What with the dimples, Austinís dad is Eddie Cibrianís Matt, who was never dead, nor the plastic surgery guy, heís had his criminal record magically swept aside as soaps do, and he claims to be a reformed baddie, yet he has his eye on female baddie/his sonís mom-in-law/the very engaged, Phyllis.


Fan Comments:

Liz (Kentville, NS Canada)
General Hospital is the best soap that I have ever watched. They have the best actors there are. I really adore watching my favorite soap. Keep up the great work.

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