Daytime Soap Operas
2017 The Year That Was

Best & Worst of 2017: THE GOOD, THE BAD, AND THE UGLY

Best Homecoming

The Spectras. The first few months of this year, B&B was the best it’s been in a long time and that was entirely due to the resurrection of the Spectra family. Aside from C.J., it’s an entirely new set of actors/characters yet their chemistry instantly clicked, the heart, the scheming, and the humorous tone perfectly recaptured the underdog Spectra gang’s thieving heyday. While as a group they’re thoroughly entertaining, as a solo performer, Courtney Hope was a true find, with a talent for both comedy and drama and an effervescent presence. Unfortunately the last few months B&B has returned to lame Liam land and dragged Sally down into a place where even she only sparkles by half, but at least for a moment there at the start of the year, it was golden.

Wasted Talent

Two first-class actors, A. Martinez and Vincent Irrizarry, both still very much viable leading men, for some reason posed such an inexplicable challenge to Days’ writers that ultimately they scripted Eduardo and Deimos’s exits. These characters had interesting back-stories, ties to core families, and unpredictable natures, they seemingly had a lot of potential but time and again the storylines created for them felt like fumbles. Why did they never try to pair Irrizarry with his Guiding Light ex Judi Evans, someone actually in his age range and who possessed proven chemistry with him unlike Ari Zucker? Why did they not focus on Eduardo attempting to turn his life around, the struggle of finding a job on the straight and narrow and reconnecting with his kids rather than constantly shoving him into crime tales, far and away his finest moments on the show were the down-to-earth tension filled scenes with Rafe, yet there were nowhere near enough of those. It’s shame that the show never managed to get a grip on these character when two such talented actors were in the roles.

Storyline I Wanted To Hate

I’m not really a fan of Steve Burton’s acting. I also didn’t love that several actors were clearly let go in order to scrape together the money for his hefty salary, I mean, the show can deny it, but we’re not stupid, the timing couldn’t be more obvious. But, as much as I was prepared to loathe everything being all Jason all the time again, I have to admit, the writers have done a brilliant job across the board with this story so it isn’t actually as Jason-centric as things often became in the past (at least not yet), Kelly Monaco is doing a fantastic job of silently showing just how torn Sam is even if outwardly she claims Drew is her guy, and I’m also loving that nothing was taken away from Billy Miller, if anything, he has something a million times more interesting to play now than the always stoic, always heroic Jason, there is so much possibility for his character, not the least of which is maybe getting a sense of humor and I’m loving the strong bond we’re seeing with Monica, and having Oscar be his son was a brilliant twist, their tentative relationship is playing out really nicely so far, hopefully in the new year the show will continue to build on that rather than have them getting to know one another off-screen.

Worst Fractured Family

It never ever makes sense to me that a guy who values his family as much as Victor does then spends the last couple years constantly angry at them, constantly seeking vengance on them and punishing them, this is a man who would go out of his way to manipulate them into keeping them close, not to push them away like he’s done with Nick, that just does not make any sense for this character whatsoever, all it does is build misplaced fan resentment towards him. I’m not saying I want some kind gentle Victor, I definitely do not, but I also don’t want this guy who’s constantly alienating everyone around him and ending up alone, that wouldn’t ever be Victor’s goal or endgame, he grew up basically alone which is why family does mean so much to him that he’s willing to do anything, to cross any moral lines to do what he sees as the right thing for them (that doesn’t necessarily mean it is right), seaking revenge on Nick, that’s not Victor’s style, but finding a way to force Nikki to come back to him without having to admit how lonely he is and how much he wants her back, that’s far more in line with who this character is and shocker, when you actually write to the character instead of to whatever plot point you’re trying to achieve, it’s a much better story.

Most Annoying Return

The Bold and The Beautiful’s Sheila has attempted to murder basically everyone Eric has ever loved, yet when his wife Quinn kisses someone else, it’s his family’s would-be murderer he turns to for solace and advice. Just absurd, and honestly, worse than that to me is B&B never ever explaining how this version of Sheila ended up alive in Los Angeles when last we saw her Sheila had plastic surgery to look like Michelle Stafford’s Phyllis on Y&R and she was killed. Part of the joy of soap operas is seeing writers get truly creative to write themselves out of a corner, pretending it never happened is laziness and disrespectful to the viewers who invested their time watching those hours that you’ve now erased from history, if what happens in cross-overs doesn’t count, then don’t do cross-overs.

Strongest Finish

It isn’t that Days was unwatchable the rest of the year, no soap is ever unwatchable as far as I’m concerned but they most definitely went through rough patches this year, romances between the wrong characters, Xander who just would not go away, playing keep away with Nicole’s baby to an absurd degree (though Ari Zuker was never anything less than brilliant throughout the ordeal), I mean, there were just a number of places where the show could have been better, and then along came the transition to the new headwriter, which was entertaining but it had something of a gimmicky feel to it no matter how well-acted. Finally though, the last couple months, Days has hit a sweet spot. Eve was the ideal addition to the Kiriakis mansion getting under Victor and Brady’s skin. Will is back from the dead, flirting with a guy he shouldn’t be flirting with, sharing those outstanding bonding moments with Marlena, and flip-flopping over whether he loves or hates Sami. In addition to that, the show tackled a serious, timely topic as white cop J.J. shot black teen Theo, and characters were actually discussing race, something that rarely happens in soap towns anymore, like maybe not since the nineties on Guiding Light and All My Children, taking on a challenging subject was an impressive way to close out a shaky year at Days, it’s not the most hopeful storyline, yet it’s definitely a hopeful sign for the viewers.

Unhappiest Ending

I’ll take a wild guess and say Kristina’s hasty departure from Port Charles was less storyline dictated and more Steve Burton’s returning/budget dictated given that her storyline ended so abruptly and so unsatisfyingly. No matter what side of the argument you land on, whether you saw the professor as a predator preying on Kristina’s youth and vulnerability, or if you saw her as Kristina’s first authentic love, I think we can all agree that the ending for these characters sucked, out of nowhere they just suddenly up and moved to Oregon, there was no closure between Kristina and her mom for those fans concerned for Kristina’s well-being (and Sonny basically just shrugged it off, when does Sonny just shrug off anything involving his kids?), nor was there enough romantic build up and growth for those fans shipping the couple. It was just plain terrible from every angle.

Most Unexpected MVP

Once upon a time Genoa City was home to a grande dame who refused to hold her tongue, she called them as she saw them, even when it came to the almighty Victor Newman, Katherine refused to hold her tongue. The show and the fans have sorely missed that boldly honest voice, even if you disagree with the insults she throws around, it’s sure fun to hear what comes out of her mouth next and the great part is that those moments seem to genuinely be her lucid times, this isn’t the show exploiting her memory issues for laughs, her sharp tongue coincides with her mind at its sharpest, so while Dina’s words (especially those directed at Nikki) aren’t always uplifting, in a way those moments kind of are. The Graham part of this storyline was poorly executed, his reasons for revenge were flimsy at best, but the decision to bring Dina back was unexpectedly brilliant, it’s ignited a ton of tension and story for the entire Abbott family.

The Bold And The Beautiful

Highs: Quinn’s speech about female sexuality - Australia – the worse Bill behaves the more enjoyable he is – Brooke and Eric’s Thirtieth Anniversary toast – Thomas every time he looked at Sally with equal parts amusement and adoration – the building implosion was totally predictable and yet totally entertaining

Lows: Pierson Fode left – Bill and Steffy had sex – Zende surprised Nicole with a carriage ride so naturally that made everything right between them, him sleeping with her sister every time he didn’t get his own way in their relationship, that was no biggie anymore, because a carriage, it solves everything – Coco crashed a car while uploading a photo and the story wrapped up in a matter of days rather than being explored – Steffy’s half jumpsuit half wedding dress – Ridge asked Quinn (she’s the reason Brooke dumped him) to design an engagement ring for Brooke.

Wishes: Scenes of substance for Katie and Wyatt, enough with the lingerie already, we get it, she’s sexually adventurous with him, now show us what else she is with him – The baby isn’t Liam’s or Bill’s, Steffy secretly drowned her sorrows over both of them by having a one night stand with a newly discovered Spectra man. - A story for Maya that doesn’t involve her being desperate for another baby

Days Of Our Lives

Highs: Kayla’s reaction to Joey’s plan to turn himself in for murder - Anne crushing on Lucas - Andre’s idea of a bachelor party including ascots - Nicole finally got her baby back - Brady’s turn the dark side, he’s been burned so often, it’s about time it made him cynical - Adrienne bonding with Kate during cancer treatments - Chad emotionally tortured at Abby’s wedding - “Father married almost as many times as he died,” said Andre.

Lows: Inventing a childhood connection between Chad and Gabi, no amount of history rewriting would change the fact that they didn’t have chemistry – the ridiculousness of the island, the microchip and any other story thread that mimicked the over-the-top James E. Reilly era that I mostly loathed – Ciara and Claire breaking ornaments, worst ornament hanging episode ever, by a landslide – Julie and Chloe bought the club together, where are all the funny squabbling scenes that should have come along with that?

Wishes: I love Eric, but he’s way too nice and good to pair with the equally nice and good Jennifer, she needs someone with edge, she also needs an office and needs to be seen actually doing her reporter job - Could we please see Ciara in school or pursuing a job instead of being so weirdly obsessed with Theo that she and Claire can’t have a civil moment ever when they used to be best friends and still should be? The tough independent little Ciara we knew as a girl would have more of a life than chasing a boy she wasn’t all that in love with in the first place. - Speaking of getting a life, could Marlena maybe have one please? Any story independent of her kids, grand kids and wacky look-alikes would be welcome.

General Hospital

Highs: Spenser, just every scene with him ever - the tribute to Lee Baldwin – Tracy’s goodbye episode – Olivia and Monica’s homemaking squabbles - Dr. Bench telling Julian that Alexis is more than capable of handling her own life when Julian warned him not to hurt her – Nelle’s a scrappy fighter, I don’t like her really, but I love the actresses’ performance - Thanksgiving - Ava and Griffin’s romance, they typify why opposites attract remains one of the best storytelling tropes.

Lows: Firing Rebecca Budig, now there’s one less Hardy, one less potential supercouple, and one less seriously flawed yet ultimately loveable heroine – Tracy’s storyline leading up to the goodbye, the portrait, Samira, etc, all of it unworthy of her greatness - the explanation for Sam’s odd behavior/ attempted murder of Sonny, was there seriously not a more creative option than a randomly contracted virus?

Wishes: Scotty and Lucy in frontburner story as Serena comes back to town, dates Michael and earns an enemy in Nelle – Hayden returns with the baby – We meet Kiki’s dad and discover he’s either Dr. Bench or Pine Valley’s Tad Martin.

The Young And The Restless

Highs: Scotty and Abby’s character (as long as you pretend the cheating on Sharon ugliness isn’t happening) - Charlie’s not-so-subtle parental matchmaking at Christmas - the vignettes on Christmas day – Chloe rising from the coffin – when Neil responded to Ashley’s flattery by saying, “look at you, spreading butter all over my pancakes.” - Mariah’s confession to Sharon about her confused romantic feelings

Lows: the sex-trafficking thing went on forever and since no woman we loved was actually in danger it had no impact whatsoever - Gloria lying about being sexually harrassed, never a helpful storyline to put out there, though particularly not this year - like GH’s Sam, was there really not a better explanation for Victoria’s odd behavior than a contaminated facial mask, which apparently only the CEO of the company tested, cuz that’s how the cosmetic industry functions? - Missing the opportunity to tell a really different storyline for once, instead of the typical Cane gets drunk cheats on Lily and ends up with a baby, what if they’d told the story of a man who was drugged/plied with drinks to the point where he could not consent and we saw a pregnant woman on trial for rape, there aren’t a lot of fresh tales left to tell in daytime, but that would have been one of them

Wishes: Hilary hooks up with Nick, his relationship with Chelsea will always feel like he’s a second choice because of Adam, her relationship with Devon seems to be all about Devon being holier than thou, so why not give this a try, there’s loads of potential drama with her job being to dish dirt on Nick’s family, plus she’s a “celebrity” so what if her “fans” voice derisive opinions on interacial dating, why not explore challenging topics like that, why not do some meaningful Agnes Nixon style storytelling? - A romance for Mariah, with Jack’s son or Paul’s daughter? I don’t care who, she just deserves something where sparks genuinely fly - Enough time has passed, it’s time to cast a new Adam.

Overall Wishes

- More diversity on every soap, different races, religion, sexuality, sizes, ages, let’s see as many kinds of people represented as possible

– The Chew no longer has their star attraction, but AMC would have theirs (Susan Lucci) and OLTL would have theirs (Erika Slezak), if ABC finally made use of those rights they bought back by replacing The Chew with a half hour version of our beloved and still missed soaps

– If NBC admits to the (painfully awkward) mistake that The Megyn Kelly Show is, they have many replacement options to choose from in Another World, Santa Barbara, Sunset Beach, Passions, and in this era where diversity is finally expected, Generations, the total cost of any of those shows would still be less than they’re paying Kelly.

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