Now that we’ve conquered the best and worst in primetime television, it’s time to turn our gaze — weary as it may be from all this TV watching! — toward the daytime dial. Which talk show host sold out? And which soap turned stunt casting into an art form? Read on, fellow addicts!
Best return: Sure, ABC saw the reunion of GENERAL HOSPITAL supercouple Luke and Laura as little more than an opportunity to draw in lapsed viewers, but for anyone who grew up in the shadow of daytime’s legendary lovers, the chance to relive the magic was irresistible. Our fondest wish? That Genie Francis will bring Laura back to Port Charles permanently.
Worst return: DAYS OF OUR LIVES teased fans endlessly with a gloved hand that they were led to believe just might be The Phoenix — aka Stefano DiMera — rising yet again from a premature grave. When finally Marlena faced off with the villain who’d once helped turn her into a literal devil, all viewers saw was Stefano’s hand, thanks to the fact that DAYS couldn’t come to an agreement with his longtime portrayer, Joseph Mascolo.
Couple we never expected to fall for: Every fan of AS THE WORLD TURNS knows that when you say the name Jack, it is immediately followed by the name Carly. But after breaking up the good-guy cop and his semi-reformed bad-girl wife, the show somehow convinced viewers that they wanted to see her in the arms of sexy Simon! With Paul Leyden’s departure imminent, we can only hope that the execs will offer him anything in the WORLD he wants if he’ll stay.
Couple with the biggest “ick” factor: Take one brain-damaged psycho, throw in a sweet autistic girl, and what do you have? ALL MY CHILDREN’s Jonathan and Lily, who proved that just because a good girl is drawn to a bad boy doesn’t mean someone shouldn’t intervene and say, “Snap out of it!”
Most disappointing sell-out: Yeah, we’re talking to you, DR. PHIL. The low points this year included “helping” a woman get over her fear of horror flicks by sending her to see the latest SCARY MOVIE flick… which you happened to appear in; using half an episode to promote the season finale of the despicable BREAKING BONADUCE; using the show to endlessly promote books by your wife and son; and an episode in which you showed the same footage of a mother beating her child over and over and over. Perhaps worst of all: You only warn viewers that what they are about to see might not be appropriate for some AFTER you’ve already shown the controversial material in the pre-show teaser.
Words we’d just as soon never hear again: Residents of ALL MY CHILDREN’s Pine Valley spent way too much time talking about Ryan’s (fill in your favorite euphemism for “sperm” here), while folks over in THE YOUNG & THE RESTLESS’ Genoa City are still talking about that damned reliquary. And we’re still not caring about it.
Couple we’ll miss the most: Rumor has it that GUIDING LIGHT’s kissing cousins, Jonathan and Tammy, will be leaving the canvas early in 2007, and we’re already mourning the loss.
Story that shouldn’t have worked… but kinda did: When AS THE WORLD TURNS launched its FRIDAY THE 13th-like plot, we were right there with all the other skeptical eye-rollers. But by the time the knife-wielding killer started chasing Oakdale’s teens through the woods, damned if we weren’t gripped.
Story that should have worked… but definitely didn’t: For months, a mysterious monk manipulated PASSIONS’ Whitney into doing his bidding by playing on her guilt for having slept with half brother Chad. What started out as an interesting homage to The Da Vinci Code devolved into a major mess. By the time Alistair was decloaked, we couldn’t have cared less about him or the chalice he was after.
Gabfest most likely to leave people talking: Love her or hate her (and boy, does Donald Trump hate her!), Rosie O’Donnell has turned THE VIEW into daytime’s version of Must-See TV.
Why we don’t trust doctors: We don’t know exactly what his specialty is, but ONE LIFE TO LIVE’s Spencer Truman cured Kelly’s infertility, left Kevin sterile, brought Todd back from the dead and even induced amnesia in Margaret… all, of course, for his own nefarious purposes. This guy makes Dr. Evil look like Marcus Welby!
Best reason to make sure you go to the doctor: GUIDING LIGHT’s Reva spent much of the year fighting for her life after being diagnosed with cancer. After flatlining at the hospital with loved ones by her side, she awoke cancer-free and was basically told that the cancer was in remission, and she was just really, really tired.
Show most loved by NRA members: Rarely does a week go by that someone on GENERAL HOSPITAL doesn’t either shoot at or get shot at by a rival. But since it’s rare that anyone actually dies from all the glorified violence (did anyone really care about Diego? Justus?), the overall impact is that the gunplay has about as much intrinsic suspense as an episode of SESAME STREET.
Show most in need of new cast members: We’re all for dysfunctional families, seeing as they’re the cornerstone of good, soapy drama. But there are limits. THE BOLD & THE BEAUTIFUL’s Brooke slept with Nick, who was married to her daughter, Bridget. Not to be outdone, Bridget later slept with Nick while he was married to her mom. Oh, Bridget also hopped into the sack with — and was impregnated by — her sister Felicia’s beau, Dante. Brooke later dumped Nick for his half brother, Ridge. Did we mention that Brooke has also slept with Ridge’s other half brother, Thorne? And Thorne’s pop, Eric? Or that Eric slept with Brooke’s mom, Beth? And with Nick’s mom, Jackie? For God’s sake, the show is set in L.A., people! Get out and mingle!
Couple who should just give it up already: Sorry, but it’s definitely time for ONE LIFE TO LIVE’s Todd and Blair to recognize the fact that they are poison for one another. Now that sparks are flying between Todd and lovely lawyer Evangeline, let’s find a man for Blair and allow the pair to move on.
Show that makes us happy enough to dance: With her goofy grin and wildly entertaining interview style, Ellen DeGeneres continues to prove that daytime talk shows don’t have to be pandering to entertain. OPRAH can cater to celebs all she wants, we’ll take THE ELLEN SHOW and its laid-back attitude any day of the week. Strike that. We’ll take it every day of the week.
Character we really, really wanted to like… but can’t: A few months back, ALL MY CHILDREN got a whole lot of press by announcing that they’d be introducing a transgender character. What they didn’t warn us about was that Zarf — yes, Zarf — would spout ridiculous dialogue about auras, wear outfits that would make Boy George look conservative and undo all the good will the soap had engendered with its caring, sensitive portrayal of Bianca’s painful coming out. This story, too, has been painful… but not in a good way.
Character we’d watch brush her teeth: They don’t come more divalicious than THE YOUNG & THE RESTLESS’ Dru, as played by the phenomenal Victoria Rowell. Even when the writers screw things up (Dru attacking Carmen physically? As if!), Rowell makes it work. And given the mess Y&R has become of late, that ain’t easy.
Holiday tradition we’d gladly give up: What’s even less welcome than fruitcake around the holidays? The annual twist which brings nutcase Norma Bates and gal pal Edna Wallace to PASSIONS’ Harmony. We love Kathleen Noone (ex-Claudia, KNOTS LANDING) but would rather see her do dinner theater in Toledo than spend her time as the wailing, diaper-wearing Edna. Seriously.
Best use of a GOLDEN GIRL: When THE BOLD & THE BEAUTIFUL went looking for someone to play mad matriarch Stephanie’s mom, they wisely thought outside the box and cast Betty White as Ann Douglas, who didn’t tell a single story about St. Olaf.
Primetime show that should be aired in the afternoon: Primetime audiences haven’t exactly been lining up for MyNetwork’s telenovelas, but the fast-paced, stylishly-produced dramas could teach the daytime soaps a thing or two about plot, pacing and pure, unadulterated fun.
The first annual “Man, she deserved better!” award goes to… : Broadway vet Kerry Butler (Hairspray, Little Shop of Horrors), who was hired by ONE LIFE TO LIVE to play… well, we’re not sure they ever really knew. Her Claudia came on as a spoiler in the popular Nash/Jess storyline but never really got much action. After warbling a couple tunes at Capricorn, the character sang her swan song and toddled off to rehab… which is exactly where we’d first met her!
When good soaps go bad: Last year, THE YOUNG & THE RESTLESS was the best soap on daytime, hands down. But under new headwriter/executive producer Lynn Marie Latham, the show has become nearly unwatchable. If something isn’t done soon, the late Bill Bell’s baby will no doubt lose bragging rights to the No. 1 position it has held for nearly 1,000 weeks. Lauralee, get in there, dammit! That’s your family’s legacy that’s being trampled on!
Best soap of 2006: In years past, this has been THE YOUNG & THE RESTLESS’ category to lose. And guess what? In 2006, it finally did. Sister soap THE BOLD & THE BEAUTIFUL wins top honors this time around, thanks largely to the always-captivating Susan Flannery as daytime’s most meddlesome mom, Stephanie Forrester. The show wisely keeps Steph and her often jaw-dropping antics front and center, making sure that whatever story is unfolding, she’s stirring the pot. With its fast pace and relatively short story arcs, viewers have come to realize that “Tune in tomorrow” isn’t so much a suggestion as it is a mandate!
Why we have hope for 2007: New DAYS OF OUR LIVES headwriter Hogan Scheffer has already given life in Salem a noticeable boost, and rumor has it ABC may install Kay Alden (unceremoniously ousted by THE YOUNG & THE RESTLESS) in the top scribe position at ALL MY CHILDREN (and not a moment too soon).