What a fantastic year to be a DAYS fan! While we'll get to this year's wonkiness next week during the Alex North Memorial Awards, we're here now to get golden. And that's the 12th Annual Golden Donut Awards: The Best of DAYS 2018!
Where do we even begin with such an epic year for DAYS!? The return of Vivian Alamain in January? The Emmy Awards sweep in the spring? A 53rd Anniversary this fall? Fifty years of Susan Seaforth-Hayes this winter? How about the amazing Sweeps months this year, or simply ALL those fabulous Friday cliffhangers? A new app celebrating all things DAYS? The general genius of Ron Carlivati, who brought back the old, "Miss a day, miss a lot" mantra by keeping DAYS swiftly speeding along like Jessie Spano on caffeine pills? Perhaps toasting DAYS' remarkable Creative Consultants, Sheri Anderson and Ryan Quan? Deidre Hall wearing a "Free Hattie" pin at events, anyone? Sans the almost dying thingy, who didn't want to be locked in that room with Marlena, Vivian, Kate, and a bunch of booze!? See! Any of those things are reasons to rejoice in our book, and we choose to celebrate them all and more.
In fact, there was such an abundance of excellence on DAYS in 2018 that it was probably one of the hardest years on record to make selections for these awards. We basically stuck to the groundwork we laid twelve years ago, but we could have easily created more categories to give every hard-working cast and crew member of Team DAYS some personalized praise. Heck, we even had to play Rock-paper-scissors a few times to decide who would get the honor of selecting a certain character or actor for an award as we try to avoid overlapping as much as possible. When it all boils down to is we're simply fans, through and through, and we're here to share our gushing about the wonderful world of Salem.
So, thank you all from the bottom of our DAYS-loving hearts for joining us as we reveal the Golden Donut Awards: The Best of DAYS 2018!
New to the show or newly returned, we were thrilled to see them
Laurisa: Theresa Donovan
Jeanie T came back to town and gave DAYS the shot of adrenaline it needed! Jen Lilley was charismatic as ever, and her grown-up chemistry with Casey Moss was a very nice surprise! Better yet, her return resolved one of those lingering plot points that the audience needed to see play out. We all knew that Theresa didn't abandon her family. But Brady and Eve went on believing that she did for way too long. It was nice to see that rumor put to rest.
Tony: Ted Laurent
Gilles Marini perfectly portrayed Ted as an unapologetic, smooth scoundrel with swagger and just the right amount of compassion. I couldn't get enough! Monsieur Laurent not only proved himself as a capable attorney who out-lawyered Justin in his first courtroom showing, but his tragic past made him more than a one-note rogue with a simple desire for good wine and dirty money. The mist in Gilles's eyes as Ted discussed his dead child still haunts me and added humanity to the character. And though it was a brief affair, I was also on board the "Ked" fan bus. There was something honest about the discussions of dishonesty between tricky Ted and conniving Kate. Plus, the dude survived one of Hope's impressive judo chops.
Best Special Guest Star/Recurring Character
Laurisa: Sheila Watkins
Sheila is a rare find on a soap. She's a gal "from the other side of the tracks" who's actually a fleshed-out character, not a caricature. She has a place in my heart for standing up to Julie. Additionally, her loyalty to Eli and comic relief with Abe make her a pleasant part of any scene. She's more than just a sassy comment. She's an actual point of view. I like that.
Tony: Leo Starke
Joy to the Soap World that the tremendous talents of Greg Rikaart landed in Salem! Leo stirs up trouble like a snarknado, yet with Greg's infectious exuberance bringing the role to life, Leo's not simply a campy con man with oh, so much flair. Through his performances, Greg's given us hints that there's more to Leo than just his lust for money, power, and respect. Of course, Leo came onto the scene partnered up with über diva Vivian then aligned himself with equally divalicious, Kate. If either of those lively, lethal ladies were to have a "Jack" to their "Karen," Leo is the best man for the (con) job!
It's not always doom and gloom in Salem! What's taken a turn for the better?
It's easy to pick E.J. for this award because, hello, he's alive! That's always a plus for any character. But what this really means is that we're D.O.N.E. with having Sami hang out in soul mate purgatory. Yes, it's lovely that she never gave up on him. No, we're not surprised that Sami doesn't accept defeat. But this storyline strung her along for way too long. It's fantastic to have this chapter of Ejami closed. E.J. is alive and reunited with his Samantha. Now, if we can just lure James Scott back for a cameo…
Screen time for DAYS veterans amped up this year, and I loved every minute. Not only did we get some Anna DiMera time earlier in the year, but John and Marlena's wedding was a huge event that brought home even more vets to Salem and catapulted several storylines. Those nuptials led to the caper involving John, Roman, and Kayla. Even the (dreaded) John blinding Steve bit had those two plus Marlena and Kayla in the foreground. With Roman at the helm of the pub, he was woven into several storylines and is now teaming up with Kate to take down Stefan. That is a nice nod, as Roman vs. Stefano is where the original Brady/DiMera feud began. And, of course, Julie is hot in the center of Gabi's revenge plot. Yep, like Doug's singing, we can't get enough of our seasoned characters! More, please.
Laurisa: Xander Cook
Forever on his mission to get Vic to love him, he bargained Theresa away from Mateo in exchange for her speaking to Victor on his behalf. Later in the year, Kristen found his profile on LinkedIn: Villain Edition and hired him to be the super at her house of horrors. In between both of those, he managed to blackmail Nicole into marriage because, deep down, he really does want a family of his own. He's a hired goon with a side hustle. Like him or not, you have to admire his work ethic. Being played by the talented Paul Telfer doesn't hurt matters one bit.
Tony: Gabi Hernandez
Gabi's revenge plot has been, well, extreme. It's been uncomfortable. It's been a bit mistargeted. It's been downright wicked. So wicked, in fact, that Kate "Let Them Eat
Cake Brownies" Roberts urged Gabi to pump the malicious plotting brakes a few times. Kate even uttered, "This has gone too far." Kate. Kate said that. Wowza.
While there have been campy moments of martini swigging and champagne toasting while reveling in her evil deeds, Camila Banus has been glorious at keeping Gabi from becoming a one-dimensional villain. Gabi's thirst for revenge stems from being so deeply hurt. She cracked. She's lashing out at those she perceived wronged her and those who actually did while periodically getting glimpses of herself and wondering what she's become and how far she'll go. Camila has simply been giving a tour de force performance, and "Dark Gabi" has proven to be a force to be reckoned with. And I repeat, "Wowza!"
Laurisa: Steve Johnson
First, he helped out his little sister by tracking down the she-devil who stole her life. Then, he forgave someone for making him go blind. But he solidified my pick for Best Hero when he became the first one to really call out Stefan for raping Abigail. This bogus "Gabby consented" bologna never sat well with me. Uncle Steve was having none of it, either. Agreed, Patchman. Preach. Oh, and hurry back soon. We miss you.
Tony: Chloe Lane
Sister was doin' it for herself! While she may not have a red cape, the Chloemeister surely saved several storylines this year with some sharp wit…and a sharp knife, too. After being abducted, Chloe ended up saving her rescuers from the "nefarious" El Noodle. She took aim at Bonnie Lockhart when Bonnie began to mess with her man, Lucas, and issued the Big Bon Bon a warning she's not soon to forget. And singlehandedly, Chloe called foul on the entire "Baby Bonnie" business and blew that baby bonkerness out of the water. It was refreshing to see a soap character use their brains. And like Chloe, the dazzling Nadia Bjorlin keeps getting better and better!
Best Comedic Scene Stealer
Sure, drama's nice. But comedy is, too, and this character always managed to tickle the funny bone!
Laurisa: Princess Gina
Referencing Julie as "What's-her-name's sister-mother" cracked me right up. I haven't stopped laughing since.
Tony: Hattie Adams
The irresistible gusto that Deidre Hall approached the role of Hattie with is made of win! Sure, the soap world is full of doppelgängers, but Deidre managed to set Hattie apart from the rest. Oh, yes, she's more colorful than a giant box of crayons and can shake her groove thing like no other, but she learned and grew, too. Her hilarious, yet real, pep-talk to Bonnie prior to her departure was a clear sign of that. So, between growth, her overall neurotic Hattieness, and simply her enthusiasm for recipes containing bacon, cheese, and/or corndogs, Ms. Adams was a hoot and a half! #FreeHattie
Me-ouch! Be it catty comments or full-fledged fistfights, the best battle of 2018!
Laurisa: Kate Roberts vs. Vivian Alamain (with a side of Marlena)
What to do when you're thrown in the DiMera dungeon with your mortal enemy? Why, drink up and rehash the time she stole your embryo, of course! Spots of comedy are always delightful on soaps, but this one was a true gem. Even Dr. Marlena Evans -- an expert in feelings and emotions -- was out of her league, trying to deal with these two as insults flew across that room. I hadn't laughed this hard at DAYS in a while. We know Viv's alive. We need another Viv/Mar/Kate scene right away, if not sooner.
Tony: Sami DiMera vs. Belle Black-Brady
Rarely do things get nastier than squabbling siblings. There's no such thing as off-limits between them. They know each other's good, bad, and very ugly. Sami and Belle have had plenty of practice, but this year had a fight for the ages. Powerhouses Alison Sweeney and Martha Madison's chemistry is impeccable. They're not afraid to get downright ugly with one another, yet the makeups between Sami and Belle are always just as rewarding as the brawl (and often hilarious, too). While we always hope that they'll give lasting peace a chance, I wouldn't pass up another opportunity to see another Sami vs. Belle battle royal.
Laurisa: Sami/Belle/Marlena/John hug
John vs. Belle had been hard to watch the previous weeks. Sami vs. Belle wasn't exactly easy on the ol' heart either. I actually didn't realize how invested I was in this family until they all started breaking apart. But when Marlena finally recovered enough for John to wheel her out of the hospital, the whole group went in for a big group hug. It was one of those tears of joy moments. For a second, everything was all right again. That's a fact.
Tony: A Very Alice Ending
Sometimes the biggest tears jerked are happy ones! To celebrate the show's 53rd Anniversary on November 8th, the episode ended with a splendid sentimental surprise. There was a message from Frances Reid, our beloved Alice Horton. The warm regards. The flashbacks. It was everything. It instantly flooded me with warm, fuzzy memories of Frances. She will forever be our one and only golden girl.
Laurisa: Kayla, John, and Roman pull off the Hattie/Marlena switch!
This kind of switcheroo is usually reserved for the bad guys. (See: Kristin's House of Horrors) But chalk one up for the good guys -- and vets at that! John returned to his familiar spy form and thought up this whole plan. Kayla and Roman would usually hem and haw about the decision to be sneaky. But this time, they saw the greater vision and dug right in, showing how powerful Kayla and Roman actually are in their respective fields. Roman called in his favor with the warden! Kayla has a mystery wing of the hospital! Sure! Why not? And since my eyes were still puffy from Marlena's goodbye scenes, I so needed that bark of joy that came from my soul when Deidre sat up and exclaimed, "I'm Hattie Adams!" Yes, you are, lady. And this fabulous trio made it happen!
Tony: Vivian Alamain Returns (Twice!)
You better believe I've had this one loaded in the barrel since the first episode of the year. Cloaked and ready for a fabulous entrance, Vivian Alamain returned! I wanted to jump through my TV and give Louise Sorel a hug. I mean, it's Auntie Viv! Sure, she's wacky and wild, and maybe some would call her wicked, but I just call her a sight for sore eyes. And while she made my eyes mist up later when she "died," in the DAYS sense, of course, the next surprise was yet to come -- Vivian is alive! Oh, *evil giggle* I can't wait to see the devilish deliciousness she delivers upon her next return.
Laurisa: Ben Weston and Ciara Brady
I know who actually set that fire. Lightning. Lightning struck when DAYS paired these two, and they've been bringing the heat ever since. I'm not just talking about how incredibly beautiful these two humans are. (I mean seriously, Victoria's hair should be declared a national treasure.) I'm talking about how, after a long string of misses in the romance department -- ranging from just "meh" (Chloe and Lucas) to flat-out "ugh" (Rafe and Hope) -- DAYS finally landed a pair worthy of a shot at becoming a supercouple.
This refreshingly slow burn with these two paid off. Their first kiss didn't take place for a full six months. Brady Black could propose to at least two women in that time! That longer play gave the chorus of Ciara's family members a chance to represent all of the concern related to Ben's past and for Ciara to actually listen to them and process her own feelings. No one can say Ciara doesn't know what she's getting into. And the fact that she does choose him is a milestone moment for Ciara that she's developing her own strength.
Best of all, they flat-out chose each other. Neither of them is making the other prove themself over and over again. It doesn't appear that either one is lying or being manipulated by outside forces. They talk about their feelings in an open way, and they're actually aware of the challenges they'd face. There's a true "us against the world" vibe with these two that bodes well for their potential supercoupledom. It could all go wrong. But for now, I think they're Cinsational.
Tony: Will Horton and…
I'm not trying to have my
cake donut and eat it, too, but there really were two great loves for Will, and I kind of loved both. While Chandler Massey and Christopher Sean had a smoldering yet comfortably chummy chemistry, Chandler and Freddie Smith share an intimate chemistry that's akin to comfort food or an old favorite book you forget how much you love until you pick it up and begin the adventure all over again.
Still, each pairing had an honesty about it, yet they both represent different parts of Will. With Paul, Will was able to discover himself, as his past was blank to him other than stories shared by well-meaning loved ones. He just had his present, and Paul played a significant part in making Will feel at ease with who he is, not who he was. There wasn't pressure, just patience. Sure, they didn't set the world on fire, nor did most expect them to have a "happily ever after," but there was a gentle sweetness to Will and Paul in the beginning.
And then -- in a masterfully acted scene by Chandler and Freddie -- Will's memory returned. He rediscovered who he was and whose heart really beat in sync with his. It was Sonny. "I'm shocked!" said no one, but then something almost mythical happened. While there was sorrow, there wasn't any hate. All three men remained respectful and only wished each other the best. A soap rarity if there ever was one.
Best Legacy Character
Some love for the next generation who have to carry the banner!
Laurisa: Sarah Horton
When porcelain-faced Lindsay Godfrey first appeared, I was very worried that we'd be getting another pearl-clutching, victimized heroine from Damsel in Distressville. The legacy Hortons tend to lean a bit too much that way. But once Sarah told Rex to get up off his cheating knee and out the door to her mama's mansion, I started to dig this gal. Lindsay fits in seamlessly with the cast -- and no slouches at that. She was thrown into the deep end with Greg Vaughan, Suzanne Rogers, and John Aniston. She can play pain, drama, and laugh-out-loud humor. Sarah stands up for herself, yet doesn't play the victim. She has a real job and her own two feet to stand on.
To be fair, she's waving the #TeamEric banner a wee bit too enthusiastically. She also needs to back off my gal Chloe and, definitely, dial it down a notch and cut Maggie some slack. But, if her biggest flaw is that she passionately supports people, I'll take that any day. Nicole and Sami both behaved like bulls in a china shop when it came to Eric, and I thoroughly enjoyed both of them. So, I'm hoping for the best here.
Tony: Paul Narita
If you ever wondered what would happen if you crossed Jason Bourne with Kimmy Schmidt, you'd have Paul -- a resourceful man of action with a persistent can-do attitude and charismatic smile. Sure, Paul has his bad days, too, and his love life is a beautiful disaster, but he usually rebounded quickly and strolled away with no hard feelings. Really. If you think about it, everyone loved Paul. He was a good guy, and being "too understanding" was generally his greatest fault.
Of course, Paul worked because of Christopher Sean. He was simply superb in the role and is sorely missed. Paul's departure proved two things. One, if the show had played "Cats in the Cradle" during Paul's goodbyes with John, I would have ugly cried even harder, as Christopher and Drake Hogestyn's chemistry was spot-on. That's one. Two. Paul will recover. He has the willpower. And when he does, he could totally be the next generation's Shane Donovan, swooping into Salem to help solve a caper then dashing off to his next mission. He's tailor-made for guest arcs. Though if he returned forever, that wouldn't be such a bad thing, either.
Best Veteran Character
Laurisa: Sami Brady
You know that one friend who makes things happen? You'll all be sitting around, trying to decide where to go eat, and then this person will show up with a plan and a ride for everyone? That person is Sami Brady. She drives storylines like no one else. She's Salem's Red Bull. Not only was she responsible for finding Will (thank you very much), but this time, she brought back Nicole and E.J.! Alison Sweeney's chemistry with Deidre Hall and Martha Madison is always a joy. Sami was the one who figured out "Marlena" was Hattie. And I loved seeing Sami impressed with John when she found out. In fact, the only thing I didn't like about Sami's return was that she left again. Here's hoping we'll see her again!
Tony: Doug Williams
In the sometimes-dark world of daytime it's refreshing when someone familiar brightens the screen. Bill Hayes does just that. He illuminates as Doug. But Doug's not just a friendly face you want to give a hug to and listen in awe to as he gives sage advice or entertains with humor and song. Being a man with a murky past, Doug's never forgotten where he came from or how much richer his life is after bettering himself. He decisively believes anyone can change and often uses his life experiences to guide the misguided. He also attempts to play peacekeeper yet isn't a pushover. He's a rock for loved ones to hold onto. He's a Julie whisperer (and Salem needs that). He's a crooner who can make anyone swoon with the depths of love he has for his wife. He'll even shotgun a pancake to rush to his bedridden bride and can wake her from a coma like Sleeping Beauty. Yep. Doug is a prince through and through.
Best Supporting Performer
Laurisa: Greg Vaughan as Eric Brady
On the surface, Eric is not that dynamic of a character. He's the "good twin," which basically means he's to be pleasant and monotone next to Hurricane Sami. So, the fact that Greg Vaughan can inject Eric with these rivers of deep pain and emotion speaks to the caliber of this guy's craft. When Nicole and Eric reunited (Oh! The scene with the door in between them! Tears!) and then tragically parted again, Greg not only showed up, he showed off. Lesser actors would chew up that scenery. But Greg does it in such a real way that the audience believes him. Eric's pain is palpable. His torture breaks our hearts, as well. Bravo, good sir.
Tony: Kassie DePaiva as Eve Larson
Kassie is simply a gift to the world. A champion of the genre off-screen and a charismatic presence on it. Sure, while some of Eve's storylines hit their fair share of snags, Kassie remained resolute in her dedication to the role, which she approached with such panache that it was impossible to look away. I also can't think of an actor Kassie doesn't have effortless chemistry with. From her sordid sisterly bond with Jen Lilley's Theresa, to her roller-coaster relationship with Eric Martsolf's Brady, to Eve's rancorous rivalry with Melissa Reeve's Jennifer, and to the fiery throwdown with Robert Scott Wilson's Ben, Kassie was, to quote Reverend Mars, "twenty-four-karat magic!"
Best Lead Performer
Laurisa: Robert Scott Wilson as Ben Weston
Ben Weston is a tough character to bring back. His behavior last time on the show should never be excused, nor should this character ever see the light of day. But the problem is that Ben Weston is played by the absolute force that is Robert Scott Wilson. And with this kind of talent, I can't fault DAYS for taking a shot.
Rob can play crazy. When Ben was off his meds in the cabin, I feared for Ciara. I got chills when Ben confronted Wyatt in the square. And when Ben stares off into the distance, there's just a hint of terror -- suspended and ready to escape -- that Rob adds exclusively to keep the audience on their toes.
But what I didn't count on was Rob's ability to play vulnerable. Other characters with mental illnesses get passes because we care about their lineage. But Ben doesn't have that luxury. So, Rob has a tougher task. When Ben recounted the tale of watching his father torture a man to death, it laid out a reason why this traumatized boy might grow into a monster. I felt bad for Ollie -- the little boy who never stood a chance with Clyde. In order to give Ben any ounce of humanity, Rob has to always be playing that boy, too. And he does it with such incredible care and precision in a way that doesn't excuse what Ben's done, but puts enough nuance and context around it to give room for other storylines to grow. DAYS squandered the talented Mr. Wilson the first time around. They're not making that mistake again.
Tony: Marci Miller as Abigail Deveraux, "Gabby," and "Dr. Laura"
If ever there were a time for a musical number, it would be to praise Marci Miller. Laurisa and I were totally prepared to put on something black and full of sequins and attempt to razzle-dazzle everyone with our rendition of a song from Chicago. Something like, "The name on everybody's lips is gonna be Marci! The lady raking in the EMMYS is gonna be Marci." Sadly, neither of us can sing as well as "Killer Miller." That and, well, we blew our annual DAYS Two Scoops budget earlier in the year on "Gabitinis" at Doug's Place, waiting for open mic night to start. We were there for, like, three weeks straight, and not one song from Doug, Chloe, or -- right, I digress.
A thought came to me as I was watching Marci in a scene this spring. Daytime actors, generally, have one take to get it right and, for DAYS, tape several episodes a day sometimes. Primetime soaps get a week and a huge budget. Movies get months (years sometimes) and a mega huge budget. DAYS does what they do before lunch, and Marci was THAT flawless. I can't even express the amount of awe I have for her talents.
It was crystal clear that Marci gave her all to the role. Whoops. Not a role. Roles. Three of them. Her seamless transition from one character to another was captivating. Marci even created nuances for each individual personality. While moments of camp were bound to be present in such a storyline, Marci always managed to keep one foot on the ground. And in the end, Marci was astonishing as Abigail found her strength again. All in all, Marci stands out as an example of sheer brilliance at its best!
Laurisa: Jarlena's Wedding
Soap weddings in recent Salem history haven't been the greatest. But this one? This. This is how an umbrella storyline is done. We got the returns of Shawn, Belle, Sami, Kristen, Susan, Hattie, Nicole, Xander, and a hint at possibly, maybe Andre, Ava, and Jack. We're still dealing with the fallout of Nicole's death. Eric and Brady agreed to get along for a hot second. Oh, and the wedding made Will get his memories back about Sonny.
Also, can we talk about the little touches? Jarlena had hourglasses as their centerpieces! When they did finally marry, it was on the anniversary episode! Deidre Hall doing the Hattie dance still makes me smile! Hattie ordering a "hot cup of Roman" was delightful. Victor got to interact with Susan. Sami finally got to be proven innocent about something. And all of that was thanks to this well-written, gloriously acted, and -- most importantly - broad-reaching storyline. Cheers, DAYS!
Tony: Murder, Multiples, and Malicious Motivations!
What do you get when you cross a murder mystery, dissociative identity disorder drama, and one severely scorned woman? A trifecta! That's what. And it all began with the death of Andre DiMera. Wait! No more Thaao Penghlis!? Don't worry. He still pops up from time to time. Whew.
Sure, while these could be considered three separate storylines, from Andre's urn-est death, months and months of madness were born and, really, haven't stopped. There was no decisive point when plots progressed from murder to multiples to malicious intents. That in itself is all shades of brilliant, especially considering this storyline has encompassed nearly every Salemite along the way. In fact, hardly a soul was left unscathed by this juggernaut.
Like every storyline, there were lows, but the highs have been oh-so-high! From the powerful performances (Miller to Mansi and everyone in between), to the wide use of nearly the entire core cast as well as amazing guest stints, to the mingling of generations of Salemites (Gabi vs. Julie, shall we?), to the use of the show's history (Kimberly's book, anyone?), Ron Carlivati certainly did resurrect the mantra of "miss a day, miss a lot!" in the most epic way possible.
Thank you again for joining us for the Golden Donut Awards! Be sure to share your favorites below in the comment section, on the soapcentral.com message boards, or Twitter. And like we always say, raise a glass of something bubbly to Team DAYS -- may the sands continue through the hourglass all the days of our lives!
Happy Holidays everyone, and see you next week for the Alex North Memorial Awards!
Laurisa and Tony
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