This week, Jennifer takes a look at her picks for the best and worst of 2008. Remember that this is a special, two-part season finale. Well, so to speak. Next week, Reggie takes his turn with his picks for the tops and the flops from the year gone by.
What a year we've had in Oakdale. When it started out with a wooden dummy in a major storyline, was there anywhere to go but up? ATWT moved at a break-neck speed this year, with some plots hitting the mark and others leaving us scratching our heads and asking, "Why?"
Emily bedded a teenager, who happened to be her son's half-brother. Love, or should I say lust, blossomed between old friends Carly and Holden and Mike and Lily, for about a minute. We saw plenty of old favorites return with new faces: Lily, Mike, Chris, Casey, Craig, Evan, Jade, and Dani. And we welcomed back some familiar faces, too: Dusty, James, Aaron, and Rosanna.
Here's a rundown of my best and worst for the year. Pour yourself a glass of eggnog, or a martini in honor of Henry, and check out my picks.
Best couple: Brad and Katie. When Katie is the most mature half of the couple, you know things are going to be interesting. Brad and Katie were an unexpected coupling, but one that I quickly fell for. They always entertain, whether they're bickering or blissful. Plus, if Katie has to go through another divorce, she may soon rival Liz Taylor's record. I'm hoping this marriage sticks.
Worst couple: Paul and Meg. He's tortured and apparently mentally ill. And frankly, I think she's mentally ill, too, to keep taking back a man who is so jealous and manipulative, with a blood thirst for attempted murder. The pairing lacks any real substance, due to shoddy writing. The ridiculous plots have killed any chemistry they may have once had.
Worst love triangle: Chris/Ali/Aaron. Ali and Chris had tons of potential as a couple. They had history and plenty of tortured past mistakes, on both parts. But what could have been a gripping love story turned sour when Ali hastily married Aaron. The marriage lasted about two seconds, seemingly the amount of time someone took to think up this silly plot twist. The result was that Chris left town after losing in love again, Aaron hasn't been seen in months, and Ali just looked like a flake. Sigh.
Best return: James Stenbeck. He may just be a figment of Paul's overactive imagination now, but he's a scene-stealer who never fails to entertain. It's too bad only Paul can see him though. If ever a criminal was in need of the lame "brain tumor made me do it" scenario, so we could forgive him, it's James. What I wouldn't give to see him as a major mover and shaker again, embroiled in a love story with Barbara or Lucinda, chewing the scenery with Henry and Margo, and stoking a kind of sibling rivalry between Paul and Dusty.
Worst return: Rosanna Cabot. She was in a coma, but awoke long enough to take care of some business, only to have stress send her back in a coma. She was then shipped out of town to another foreign facility, while her loved ones barely batted an eyelash. Her return was quick and pointless and a waste of Cady McClain's talent.
Best new character: Janet Ciccone. Whether she was making pasta or trouble, Janet was one of the bright spots in this year's show. She needled Brad and Katie, but finally moved on to falling for Brad's brother, Jack. She's a great mother and a fierce rival to tough gal Carly. Here's hoping Janet and her lasagna stick around this year.
Worst new character: Spencer McKay. To say this girl was annoying would be like saying Hitler was kind of a bad guy. She was thrust into a major storyline with Brad and Katie that ended with her dead body smelling up Brad's locker. Good riddance.
Best May-December romance: Casey and Emily. This was one twist I didn't see coming, and I have to say it was a welcome surprise. These two had enough chemistry to light up the Lakeview, plus it was worth it to see Margo and Tom's collective reaction. As an added bonus, this unconventional pairing renewed Emily's always-entertaining rivalry with Margo. It's too bad the writers dropped this story the minute Dusty returned, so that Emily could go panting after him. She had oodles more chemistry and unique storyline potential with Casey than she'll ever have with doomy-gloomy Dusty.
Worst May-December romance: Lucinda and Brian. It's not a good sign when you're new husband is more interested in kissing your grandson than consummating your marriage. Lucinda, where is your gaydar, girl?
Biggest waste of talent (for a character still onscreen): Henry Coleman. We should just rename this category the annual Trent Dawson award, because once again, he claims the prize. This year, the writers decided to make Henry a diner owner and give us such riveting scenes as Henry wiping down the counter or putting in an order for Brad or Katie. ZZZZ.
Biggest waste of talent (for a character no longer onscreen): Sam Hutchins. He came to town with plenty of potential and left in a body bag. He was handsome with dimples and a singing voice to die for and could have been a major player in town. It's too bad the writers gave him a wooden dummy as a prop and turned him into a rapist, instead of a leading man. It saddens me to think of what could have been, if his character had only been better planned. He could have been the male Janet.
Best writing for a character: Brad Snyder. He's playful, simple, and a guy's guy, and he never seems to stray from those qualities. Austin Peck must love coming to work because his character always has great dialogue and an interesting plot to play that stays true to his character. Brad is impulsive, arrogant, and always endearing, and thankfully the writers always write toward that.
Worst writing for a character: Paul Ryan. I'm not sure if the show honchos just don't know what to do with character, or if they're original plan was to make Paul so wishy-washy that anything he does just doesn't make sense. One minute he's plotting murder, the next he's toying with the role as a leading man, but having a psychic vision and conversations with dead people. Despite Paul's erratic behavior and ever-changing character traits, fans still eat up his character, which is a testament to the talent of Roger Howarth. But for me, not even Howarth can correct uneven writing and plotting. Paul is mentally ill this week, but I'm sure if we give it a few days, he'll be running Worldwide or saving Barbara's company.
Best storyline: Parker and Liberty and teen sex. The shows where Parker and Liberty had sex were uncomfortable to watch, but were a standout in terms of social plots. It was also a wake up call for many parents that yes, 15 and 16-year-olds are doing the deed. The dialogue was realistic and the acting believable. From Parker and Liberty's rush to get it over with, to the consequences and their family's reactions, teen sex became a water cooler discussion in many offices and households thanks to this frank story. Well done.
Worst storyline: Sofie Duran's pregnancy and murder. I think it's safe to say that by the time Sofie Duran was murdered and her body dumped in Paul's rose garden, everyone was happy that she was taking a dirt nap. Her character went from a functioning troubled teen to just this side of crazy, when she became completely obsessed with Paul and accused him of rape. But the Sofie madness continued even after her death, when it seemed half the town was accused of killing her. Thankfully, Cole did the deed, and we can hopefully close the Sofie chapter forever.
Most disappointing storyline: Luke and Noah's romance. This storyline got all kinds of media attention. It's too bad it never lived up to the potential. Two men in love on daytime prompted strong fan reaction, from many proclaiming it fantastic breakthrough storytelling to others declaring they would never watch the show again if gay romance was forefront. To me, this pairing had potential, but lost steam when Ameera hit town. Now, Luke seems to have more chemistry with Casey than Noah, and yes Casey is straight. I'm not sure what went wrong, but what could have been a standout plot fizzled quickly.
Biggest surprise: Holden and Carly have an affair. Never in all my years would I ever have thought that true-blue Holden Snyder would cheat on his wife with her best friend. It happened. I'll never look at summer camp the same way again.
Best recast: Casey Hughes. After a stint in prison, Casey returned home to Oakdale buff and charming. Actor Billy Magnussen took over this role and gave it a fresh spin as Casey the troubled, lazy teen. He never seems to live up to his potential as the chief of police and DA's son, and Magnussen realistically portrays every subtle beat of it.
Best plot repetition: The never-ending love story between Jack and Carly. Jack is married to another woman now, but whenever he and Carly are in a room together, it's clear they will always be connected. They have off-the-charts chemistry, and despite whether they're with different romantic partners or not, their love will always be there.
Worst plot repetition: Meg's never-ending fertility woes and pregnancy issues. Grasping her stomach with cramps, in a hospital gown hooked up to an ultrasound machine, or mourning a miscarriage, that's pretty much how Meg spent the year. Well, that, and dumping/reuniting with Paul every other week. Either way, it was like a Groundhog Day that wouldn't end. Hopefully, now that Meg finally has a bundle of joy, we'll all be able to move on. Runner Up: Paul is at death's door. Paul Ryan is like Kenny on "South Park." He's been murdered or accidentally killed so many times, but he never seems to stay dead.
Gone but not forgotten: Will and Gwen, Chris Hughes, Simon Frazier. We miss you!
Best running joke: Three-way tie. The Snyder Farm house doubles as Oakdale's largest hotel, Jack Snyder is a serial husband, and Paul Ryan is dead, NOT.
Blink and you missed him: Dallas was once again just scenery. His scenes consisted mostly of carrying a folder through the cop shop.
Other storyline hits: Barbara's oral cancer, Gray Gerrard's revenge on Margo, Luke runs for student government, Rick Decker poisons the town, Lucinda's cancer is back, Craig returns.
Other storyline misses: Lily tried to kill Carly, Evan Walsh went psycho, Ameera, Faith's bulimia is never mentioned again, Emma sells the farm, Dusty is a sucker for Josie.
Best Lines of the Year:
(Vienna's mangled English accidentally insults Brad.)
Vienna: "Why do you look like Mr. Dumb and Gloom?"
Brad: "Doom and Gloom! Doom and Gloom!"
(Casey asks Alison to spy on Kevin to gain campaign secrets.)
Ali: "Wow, I thought the people I worked with in porn were sleazy."
Casey: "This is politics."
(Meg tells Paul she hears clanging in the basement.)
Meg: "You think I'm going crazy again?"
Paul: "I'm the last person to ask about crazy."
(Distressed about his wife's kidnapping, Paul lashes out at the police station causing a disturbance.)
Jack: "I think it's time you left."
Paul: "Why, donut time?"
(Brad tells Henry that he misjudged Spencer.)
Henry: "We all know that judging people is not exactly your strong suit."
Brad: "I'm friends with you aren't I?"
Henry: "Even a blind squirrel can find an acorn from time to time, Brad."
That's all for now Scoopers! Merry Christmas! I'll see you in the New Year!