When I park myself at the computer each week to prepare my weekly offering, I rarely know quite what I'm going to say or exactly how I'm going to spell it out. And even though I've been tossing ideas around in my head for the past few weeks for these last two columns of the year, as it turned out, this time was no exception to my norm. I wondered if I should concoct catchy little categories to place people in, like vilest villain or most caring character? Or if perhaps I should pick individual faces or families to expound upon? As I wracked my poor brain to weariness, I finally decided that since so many of our favorite fictional folks have plentiful helpings of best and worst, I would go for a sort of combo column. Of course, I could change my mind halfway through and fly off on a whole other tangent; I guess I'll just get started and see what comes out. As always, please remember that unless otherwise attributed to a faithful fan, all views expressed in this space come solely from my warped and contrary mind. And I make no wild claim that anyone else on the planet necessarily agrees with any of them. So, here is Part One of what I think about what has been, in no particular order and with absolutely no rhyme or reason. Part Two will appear next week.
THE DEARLY DEPARTED
This first category can be called by many titles. Like: In With a Roar, Out With a Whimper or perhaps: Big Buildup, Anticlimactic Close, or maybe even: Let's Just Get 'Em Here and Worry About What To Do With 'Em Later.
Rummaging through the box at my feet, the first piece of paper I pick has Damon Porter's name scribbled across it. Originally ambling into the city to ... oh that's right, I don't think it was ever quite clear exactly why he was coming. Neil found him for Newman, but before he even got a chance to pitch his plan, Dru sneaked in, snatched him away and while we were still blinking in bewilderment, convinced him and Jack that Jabot was the place he ought to be. Well, we all saw where that choice eventually landed him. In Genoa City lock up. Driven most of the way there by an interfering Phyllis. Most of you may remember how I felt about Damon and Phyllis as a dynamic duo; I complained about them often enough. Although their pairing worked for some fans, the heat they generated didn't set off any of the fire alarms perched precariously atop my television. In the end, Damon departed the City, his large body bedecked with Band-Aids in multiple attempts to mitigate the many damaging boo boos in his storyline.
One of those attempted storyline saving Band-Aids was Adrienne, Damon's ex-wife, and coincidentally, a lass whose name was also found in this very same box. And, in the one right next to it as well. The title on the side of that box said something like: Don't Blink or You Might Miss Them. Having apparently awakened one morning filled with determination to track down her ex-husband and give him a piece of her angry mind for forcing her to grieve alone for their long ago murdered son, Adrienne made the long trek from Africa to Genoa City. In one blink of an eye she had stumbled into Crimson Lights and two blinks later had made the acquaintance of Malcolm Winters. By then, for Damon, conspiracy circumstances evolving out of his wielding of a very large sword had caused the bloom on his Phyllis rose to wear off considerably, and like the mutt who didn't want the bone until he saw some other mongrel sniffing at it, he suddenly had a yen for a taste of what used to be his daily marital diet. For purposes of this column, we will just assume the previously happy couple managed to rekindle their joy and can sometimes be seen in silhouette at sunset on a pair of Damon's thoroughbred horses riding along their Atlanta range. I don't imagine many fans miss having them around.
Oh where oh where did they go and why was no one standing in the doorway sadly saying so long? Like Mr. Malcolm Winters. With furious fanfare, news of his imminent arrival was repeatedly trumpeted. A major topic on fan boards all across cyberspace, VCRs were checked and double-checked so none would miss a single second of his first sighting. But I guess being dead, or at least declared that way, has a way of changing a man. And change our Malcolm indeed it did. Entering the city with shoulder length braids dangling beneath his do-rag and an angry scowl disfiguring his scruffy face, it was a good long while before Malcolm had anything nice to say to those who had supposedly mourned his premature passing. Least of all to his significant other stealing sibling. But eventually, all was made well between the Winters boys and the family circle was once again complete. But as we all are well aware, in this teeming town, things are not always quite the way they appear. Once scribe-promised that the Who's Lily Daddy storyline was dead and buried, like Malcolm, it was dug up from the wormy earth, brushed off and placed back on the shelf. Malcolm is NOT the Daddy, so says the paternity test. At least that's what the first one swore. But that test was bogus. The real test says Malcolm's IS the name that should have been typed onto the record of Lily's birth. And in one of those open secrets Genoa City is so famous for, the people the truth affects most, particularly daughter Lily and thinks he's her Daddy, Neil, remain in the dark, their eyes and ears covered, while outsiders like Olivia, Phyllis and the aforementioned Adrienne, are completely in the know.
For now, Malcolm is missing in action, as is his bio daughter. Will that remain the case? At least as far Lily is concerned, the answer is likely no. Speaking of the eternally whining Lily, while 2005 featured her teary ta-ta, it's likely 2006 will show us her happy hello. In fact, a storyline is reportedly already readied for her return. Am I sitting gingerly on pins and needles in held-breath anticipation at the very thought of such an exciting occurrence? Not exactly. About as much as I dare to hope is that her stay in New Hampshire will have altered that valley girl complaining voice. I don't know that I've fully recovered from Lily and Daniel on the run. The Lily and Daniel reunion may be more than my worn old heart can bear.
But back to Malcolm. He came, he left, he came, he left. I like Malcolm and was one fan who couldn't wait to see him again. But the reality somehow didn't quite measure up to all the hype. Is there one more change of clothes left in his road-worn duffel bag? Well, your guess is as good as mine. But I've been sifting through the wood shavings on the floor of the rumor mill again and have spotted what appear to be slivers about Neil and whether or not he's long for this Genoa City world. His departure, if he does indeed do so, would leave a cardboard cutout in the place marked Winters' family patriarch. So there could be a new Winters family in the making. One headed, perhaps, by an enticed back brother Malcolm as new husband for Dru and bio Daddy for Lily? A new family minus honorary family members, Devon and Yolanda Hamilton? Hmmm, a few morsels of food for thought to much on.
In the meantime, what once was rumor is now being reported as fact. Colleen Carlton left, returned briefly, only to be quickly banished again. But the revolving door is still going 'round and 'round and one of these days Colleen will come bouncing through. Of course, she won't be the same sugary sweet Colleen many grew to love when she was paired with J.T., and until she gets here and shows what she's got, we won't even know if she's a reasonable facsimile. I imagine she'll be close enough to the real thing, however, to rouse Mac's insecurities about J.T..
Diane Jenkins. Remember her? Now that Jabot is rolling in crisp, Chancellor dollars, where is their architect? Are her drawings for Jabot's new look still littering the desk in the office near Jack's old one? And where is beloved son, Kyle Abbott, once the sole thought in Jack's mind? For that matter, what happened to poor Nate Hastings? Still studiously studying away? Did he get to stop for Christmas? What about his mother? Since her son's away, does she eat, sleep and work at GC Memorial?
Brittany, Bobby and Baby makes three for the price of one. What was wrong with this Marsino picture? A whole lot. A May-December romantic merger that somehow made many fans feel all squirmy and icky inside. The pampered princess and her rough-edged mob man were a very poor fit, in my opinion. The smoldering heat between Nikki and Bobby was more believable and much more fun to watch. Likewise, the warmth between Brittany and J.T.. Let's see if I can recap it all in several convoluted sentences without punctuation. The mob gets mad when Bobby can't pay back all their money so to punish him they repeatedly send him expensive gifts for his baby to be. To throw them off this cold trail, the Marsinos hatch this grand plan to pretend J.T. is the real baby daddy, prompting Bobby to toss Brittany out to fend for herself, even going to far as to stage a fake fight, complete with battered face makeup and fake plaster leg casts and crutches. Which wasn't enough to fool the mob who found out it was all a sham and instead of kidnapping Brittany to force Bobby to play the mob game their way, they snatch up Nikki Newman instead. I could go on, but it annoyed me the first time around, and I'm getting annoyed all over again just trying to sum it all up. Suffice it to say, when you come from Genoa City, witness protection and continuing to draw breath do not exactly go hand in hand. Exit stage left, Brittany, Bobby and little Joshua.
RECASTS AND NEW ARRIVALS USE THIS DOOR
First to bounce perkily through the door is the current Mackenzie Browning. Also known as the Maiden of Many Faces. My biggest gripe with the current recast, is the fact that she seems to contain none of the characteristics we had for years been led to believe existed in Mackenzie. One day, high Moraled Mac, with her tough girl facade hiding the shy little virgin inside disappeared and in her place stood a woman whom no one would believe hadn't already bounced around on a couple of bedsprings. I know, old Mac had to go because new Mac had to be taken in a whole new direction. Well, maybe it was just me, but I was enjoying the direction old Mac was heading. New Mac, while I had nothing against her personally, was just the latest notch on J.T.'s belt. Just my opinion but a better plan would have been to ship Mac off to a distant destination and bring this one in as a new girl. It didn't help that not only did new Mac possess a whole new persona to go with her new face and form, I found her and J.T. together about as palatable and appetizing as bone dry toast.
The other new girl on the Genoa City block is Victoria. Gee Victoria. What big ... high heels you had to fill. It's never easy coming in and trying to do what someone else has already done, at the same time trying to do it as well, if not better. Victoria Newman was one of my favorites, and like many fans, I was sad to see her go. Victoria could often be a haughty little ... thing, but she could also come across quite vulnerable with those trickling tears and trembling lip. I still remember that long ago scene when she was crouched in Ryan's closet listening to him and Nina. And who could forget the heartbreaking days after Ryan's death? I don't see that same vulnerability in this one. If I had to assign a single syllable word to this Victoria, bland is the one that comes to mind first. And she appears to be blind as well as bland. As sharp and suspicious as Victoria has shown herself to be in the past, I can't believe her radar isn't blaring deafeningly every time Brad and Sharon come within sight of one another. What's it going to take for her to see what's right in front of her? A dot to dot picture and a crayon?
Is that you, Gloria? Nothing against the prior Gloria Fisher, but this one works much better for me. No, she doesn't look like she would ever have fallen for the likes of Tom Fisher, just as it wasn't at all believable John would have been entranced by the prior Gloria. But she definitely makes a better Gloria Abbott. Even though she has repeatedly irked me with her gunnysack of half-truths and outright lies, she still has been fun to watch. And what's new about the lady in John's life being able to so easily pull the wool over his eyes. Practically every other love of his life has. Why should love with Gloria be any different? He could have chosen worse, and in fact often has.
The strong winds of 2005 pushing against his leather-clad back, newcomer Tom Fisher roared into the city on his motorcycle and immediately began wreaking havoc in the lives of the family he once terrorized. Wasn't much to like about this abusive parent and husband. Threats, blackmail, kidnapping, no bad deed seemed to exist that might have compromised his principles. And if he wasn't bad enough on his own, of all the maniacal people in the world, he managed to hitch his rusty wagon to the worst one of all, Sheila/Brenda/Jennifer.
Scotty Granger is all grown up. And such a nice, polite lad he turned out to be. Apparently taking after his namesake, Scott Jr. was as simple for Sheila to fool as his father once was. Unfortunately, I just don't see much of a future for him in our fair city. His great American novel is going to need some major re-writing, but once he's in possession of all the facts and realizes he's written his own partial life story, he may not want to public at all.
And finally, just for fun, honorable mention for the most changed appearance goes to young Noah, who has changed so many times, I'm surprised his parent recognize him. I've lost count. How many Noah's have there been?
That would, of course, be the Tom and Sheila Shenanigans Show. I've quoted Dru before, but I never mind repeating myself. "Enough is enough and too much is foolish." Only the Cameron Kirsten odyssey and the Case of the Orchid Roots that Wouldn't Die have come close to rivaling this idiocy. Buck teeth, fake nose, plaster chin, Lady of the Nile wig and ridiculous accent. Money for motels, a getaway van, paint on poisons, explosives, a farmhouse, cell phones, a hissing snake, air fare, the list could go on and on and on. Not to mention the thousands of dollars it must have set Sheila back in order to turn her lover into her exact likeness, along with the considerable bribe it must have taken to imprison said twin in an asylum for the criminally insane. But, thankfully, I believe this one is at last nearing the end of its run. And I am ever grateful for such small favors. I made no bones about the fact that I was not pleased to hear of Sheila's return and had no interest in her been there, done that storyline. But it WAS something different and, overlooking the obvious improbables, all told, it hasn't been nearly as bad as I thought it would be. Things have been speeding along quite nicely since the wedding as more and more pieces are fitted into the puzzle and I confess I'm enjoying watching the light bulb go on in cranium after cranium. I'm actually looking forward to seeing how this will all come together.
The runner up was the Marsino madness. See above.
There's still so much more to be said and so many more people to say things about, but if I don't stop now, I'll still be writing come next week. I'll cover the rest in Part Two.
In the meantime, I asked, fans, and you made your feelings known. Here's what you thought of the year - good bad and indifferent.
WANDA - I really disliked the SL of sweeping all of Kevin's past sins under the rug. I have a hard time warming up to him knowing that he tried to roast Colleen, burned Gina's to the ground, trashed the loft, and raped Lily. That is some pretty serious stuff (if caught and prosecuted it means at least one lifetime in prison). All of that cannot be forgotten just because he got beat up in jail. What TT did to him wasn't as bad as all of that and everyone thinks TT is so vile. Another dislike (as with many fans) is the killing off of Cassie. We all had watched her grow up on the show and would have enjoyed seeing her become a young woman as well. My favorite SL all year has been the Michael and Lauren one. She has always been a fav and I love Michael. Also I have enjoyed John having Gloria in his life (even though she is a FLAKE). I want to see more of the Abbotts, Jill, and older Newmans though. I've grown very weary of Nick and Victoria and Mac and J.T.. The Brittany and Bobby SL was getting so old and they finally ended that one. Nikki has gotten so "high-falutin" and righteous though, I don't know how much of her I can take. Writers, where in the world did Sheila get all of the money that it would have taken to pull off the scheme with her "double" in the asylum?? That has to be the most outrageous SL this whole year!
JULIE S - I have been a loyal fan of Y&R and a loyal reader of your column for a long time now. I love reading your column! It always makes me laugh. I'm really perplexed about something. Either I missed something really big or the writers tried to pull a fast one on us. How in the world did Tom Fisher manage to haul the drugged, knocked out, and tied up Lauren and Sheila off the boat and onto dry land, put them both into a van, and drive all the way from Miami, Florida to Genoa City, Wisconsin OVERNIGHT? First of all, where did this van come from? Did Tom steal it from some poor soul? Secondly, even if Tom had been driving said van as fast as it could go, there is no possible way that they could make it all the way back to Wisconsin in one day. Especially not without drawing a lot of attention to himself, not to mention the Christmas traffic simply wouldn't allow it! It's just too far-fetched. Either Tom is secretly Clark Kent under that scruffy face or the writers realy pulled one over on us. Please let me know if I missed something!
PATTI- Just wanted to say there are two soaps I have watched over the last three decades, All My Children and The Young and the Restless. I have to say that soon there will be only one I will watch, until that horrible Sheila leaves the show. Who in the heck had the idea for her to return? She makes me sick and I cannot bear to watch her. Plus, It is so not reality (not that soaps are), her character and actions. How about her and the other sleeze-bag, Tom, driving off a cliff or something? And let's get The Young and the Restless back to the quality show it used to be!
BROOKE - You said to send who and what you hated this year - here it is: Victoria - loved the new look and energy she brought to the character until they paired her with Brad. Way too weak and just annoying to watch the way she pines over him. Brittany - 2 words: GOOD RIDDANCE. Some of the worst acting I've ever seen on that show. Too bad Bobby's gone - loved him with Nikki. Lily and Daniel together - come on, Y&R, you can do better than that. First SL I ever fast-forwarded ALL the way through. They are SOOO irritating to watch. Daniel was a pretty hip and cool dude until he stumbled head over heels for that childish, whiney, spoiled brat. I'll be glad to see who they recast as Lily - maybe the chemistry will be less like nails on a chalkboard. Mac & J.T. - What happened to the real Mac? Where did J.T. hide her? Can't wait to see the new Colleen! Jack - Oh my goodness if I have to hear him moan and complain about the awful life he has lead all thanks to the "Moustache" I think I will scream. I wish I had a life as terrible as an Abbott. Give the man a pacifier so he'll quit crying. Paul and Ashley - them kissing makes the hairs on my arm stand up. Please, lock her up in the lab. I guess that's about it - I absolutely love most of the show... just sometimes I wonder what the scribes are thinking when they watch their own creation - can they really not see what millions of loyal, dedicated, crazed viewers see?
CBENNETT - Lauren's dress was awesome and forget Sheila, I am really tired of seeing her coming back from the dead or missing. John is a sweetheart and Gloria better not break his heart. Nick is a joke and Sharon should go on with her life but not with Brad. Phyllis is a husband stealer, Nikki is my girl and Victor is my man. I just love the two of them.
MIATTEE - I don't know why everyone says that Victoria is too old for J.T. he is like 30 in real life and they look the same age. I can't stand Victoria with Brad they just have no chemistry together at all. Bring on a new Victoria. Sharon, I don't know why she always is crying and moaning about her life. Men do not like women who complain all the time so how does she manage to get all the men to like her. Sheila, OMG this is the worse thing the writers could have done is bring this thing back. I am so ready for the Sheila/Lauren thing to be OVER they are wasting their money with Sheila we would prefer to have Cassie back. I am sure they could pay for 3 actors salary with what they are paying Sheila. Get her off the show and hurry up. Anyway I hate Y&R now, I used to never miss a day and couldn't wait until it came on. I used to record it every single day but now I haven't watched in over a month. They need to hire some new writers Mr. Bell is rolling around in his grave over what they have done to this show. It used to be the best soap now it is as bad as Passions.
LORIE - Oh MY MY....where has this Nicholas been? This week, Nick was VERY HOT!. Now I remember what made me like Nick in the first place. It's been so long since I have seen this side of him, I had grown to despise his character. But now that I have seen what I been missing. I want more! It was like watching him come alive after all these years. He was HOT! I think I hit the rewind button two or three times to check out that hungry look he gave Phyllis right before "diving in." I don't know if it was Phyllis or if it was just because it wasn't Sharon, but whatever or whoever put that look on his face, PLEASE keep doing what your doing! Nicholas, come on back baby! We missed you!
ANTOINE - Before I begin, I hope they DO NOT go there with Lauren. It seems like Lauren's body may not be found for a while. Problem is DOOL and Passions have done this already! DOOL is notoriously known for bringing back 10 people from the dead and onto this island trying to escape. It was like a horrible episode of Gilligans Island. Furthermore, considering Lauren and Sheila are trying to escape, I hope they do not keep them trapped soooo long. (At least Lauren, Sheila deserves to be locked up). It is soooo boring. And almost annoying. What I could not stand was Gloria! Why lie? Paying Tom's bail money, throwing money towards him for a place to stay and all that was horrible. If she only thought in the long term that once the money is out, the beans will be spilt! I also did not like Dru and Neil not wanting Lily and Daniel together simply because of the hatred for Phyllis. I hate drama w/o a purpose. I also did not like Malcolm and Dru telling Lily who her biological father is. Neil will always be her true father, but every child has the right to know where they came from.