We've put together a special year-end list of the top ten most-read Two Scoops columns over the past 12 months. To check out the list and see what came out on top, please click here.
"Inside a snowflake, like the one on your sleeve, there happened a story you must see to believe." After 54 years of entertaining the masses, CBS canceled our show and proved they are . . .
Well, you get the picture. CBS is the Grinch Who Stole Christmas this year. Thanks for the gift, CBS! The decision to ax As the World Turns makes me want to unleash a big can of Who Hash on the network. As the World Turns is the most improved soap on the air this year. And, ironically, the past couple months have been exemplary.
So, Santa, I have one wish this year: that FOX, CW, NBC, or ABC will suddenly want to add a top-notch daytime drama to their lineups. I know you can make it happen, if anyone can. Meanwhile, pour yourself a cup of hot, steaming cocoa, grab some sugar cookies, and take a look back with me at the best and worst of Oakdale in 2009.
Your ATWT Two Scoops friend,
Best storyline: Brad's death and subsequent ghost. It's bittersweet that Brad had to die to tell such a compelling story. He was one of my favorite characters when he was alive, and he hasn't disappointed in the afterlife, either. (His sharp tongue lives on!) From Katie to Jack, to Henry and Liberty, Brad's death has touched all of his loved ones and his fans. I know it's inevitable, but I don't want Brad to go toward the light when his time comes. Runner up: Carly's alcoholism. Carly, Parker, Craig, and Jack hit it out of the park every day during this rocky tale, especially during Carly's tension-filled intervention. Up until a few weeks ago, I was certain I would name this the best storyline of the year.
Worst storyline: "Twins" Zac and Zoe try to steal the Grimaldi fortune. In Oakdale's history, I don't think there ever have been two more annoying characters. Zoe believed she had a right to the Grimaldi fortune. She kidnapped and tried to rape Luke so that he could impregnate her with a Grimaldi heir. For those of you who fast-forwarded, yes, it was as bad as it sounds. For those of you who didn't, I'm sorry. Runner up: Professor Mason Jarvis falls for Noah. Arrogant from the get-go, Professor Jarvis seemed to take a little too much interest in Noah's film. Some inappropriate touching and a "business trip" later, Mason finally got fired for his behavior, but not before he had a drunken rant about how Luke and Noah had ruined his career. Frankly, the whole storyline made me want to drink.
Best character: Carly Tenney. If I could play one character in Oakdale, it would be this one. She's tragically flawed by her constant poor choices, but she still makes audiences feel her pain and, most of the time, forgive her behavior. She broke our hearts this year, as she struggled with alcohol, the single life, and raising a troubled teenage son. The writing for Carly is usually layered and true to character, making her the town's most interesting person.
Worst character: Meg Snyder. Let me be clear that this is in no way a reflection of portrayer Marie Wilson's talent. The writing for Meg has been so uneven the past few years that it's no wonder Meg is cooling her heels in the mental ward. Sometimes watching her flip-flop from man to man makes me feel a little schizophrenic myself. Whether it was Dusty, Paul, or Damian, Meg seemed to have a new obsession every couple months. It's hard to believe that this needy woman is Emma Snyder's daughter. As Damian framed Meg and drove her further to the brink of insanity recently, one good thing did happen. It turns out that crazy Meg - or "NutMeg" as online fans have dubbed her - is actually pretty entertaining.
Best couple: Brad and Katie. Not even death can sever their bond, or poor Brad wouldn't still be wandering around Oakdale pestering Henry and hijacking his body to try to have one last dance with Katie. Brad and Katie had love, romance, fidelity, and chemistry, something rare in Oakdale lately. That's why for a second year in a row, Katie and Brad are Oakdale's Best Couple on my list.
Worst couple: Casey and Alison. If boring could be personified, it would be this coupling. Casey had more sizzle with Ali's sister, Emily, and Ali had more spark with her on-screen brother, Hunter, and that's just wrong.
Best love triangle: Craig, Rosanna, Carly. Is there any way to go wrong with this trio of talent? In short, no. Each of them, separately, is a powerhouse, and together the three of them are must-see-TV. Audiences were torn, as to whom Craig should partner with, after Carly went to rehab and Rosanna returned. In one of the best scenes of the year, Rosanna and Craig called it quits, he apologized for the car crash from years ago, and Rosanna forgave him, before deciding to leave town. Carly and Craig's chemistry is undeniable, and the writers finally let Craig off the hook for Rosanna's long-ago accident.
Worst love triangle: Meg, Damian, Lily. To make a love triangle work, fans genuinely have to be rooting for each pairing. That's hard to do, when one of the participants is a scheming liar (Damian) and another an obsessive bore (Meg). Damian and Lily have chemistry, and on paper, this triangle seems like it would have worked. But, it missed the mark big time.
Best surprise: Henry Coleman is James Stenbeck's son. Talk about a shocker, this was it. Funny man and chronic gambler Henry seems the antithesis of diabolical James Stenbeck, so I wasn't expecting these two to end up father and son. But apparently the DNA didn't lie (unless it was switched, and we don't know it yet). It's a brilliant move, giving Henry a brother and more ties to Oakdale than I ever imagined. Plus, the added bonus is getting to watch Paul and Henry in scenes together. No one does funny one-liners like these two. Runner Up: Barbara and Henry's affair. I never saw it coming, so I was pleasantly surprised at the friendship and chemistry that has slowly developed between Barbara and Henry, despite the fact that Barbara initially blackmailed Henry into bed. Call Barbara a cougar if you must, but any man in Oakdale should be grateful that this gorgeous gal looked his way.
Worst surprise: Riley Morgan is Adam Munson. The first blunder in this storyline was killing Adam Munson, or perhaps going back further, the blunder was turning a beloved character into an attempted rapist. Adam was supposedly killed overseas fighting the good fight and Riley came to his funeral to tell the few people gathered how wonderful a person Adam was. Months later, it was revealed that Riley was Adam, with a new face due to his battle-scar injuries, and that Margo was keeping his secret. Casey was angry that Adam didn't pay for his crimes, Tom was angry that Margo lied about Riley's identity and that she was harboring a fugitive, and Adam finally took responsibility for his actions before the criminal charges were dropped and he left town again. While this storyline did give Tom and Margo something to do, I wish the character of Adam had not been annihilated for a contrived plot. Runner up: Paul has a microchip in his brain. Paul kidnapped Liza twice, obsessed over Meg, and was acting crazier than normal. The reason was that he had a microchip planted in his brain. One bout of amnesia later, and gloom-and-doom Paul was gone, replaced with fun-loving happy Paul. I'm all for the new version of Paul, especially now that he's with Emily, but I hate seeing a silly plot like "microchip in the brain" be the reason for all of Paul's erratic behavior to explain away the uneven writing for the character. Hmmm, come to think of it, maybe someone should give Meg an MRI.
Best recast: Craig Montgomery. Loyal readers know that Hunt Block's Craig will always have a special place in my heart. No one did charm and smarm better. But Jon Lindstrom makes me forget that Block ever filled Craig's expensive shoes. The writing for the character is better this time around than with previous recasts. Craig seems more genuine and actually shares scenes with his family. And he's a perfect complement to Carly, since he sometimes makes poor choices, too. Lindstrom can switch between humor and gravitas and not miss a beat, and he could teach classes on sarcasm.
Worst recast: Maddie Coleman. Kelly Barrett took over the role in late December 2008 and was gone by January 5, 2009. Her stay was brief and this version of Maddie lacked the heart and depth previously shown in Alexandra Chando's Maddie. I wasn't sad to see Maddie 2.0 gone. Chando is currently back on the canvas playing Maddie.
Best return: Simon Frasier. With so many familiar faces returning this year, narrowing the choice to the top one was difficult. But, the minute Simon interrupted Carly and Jack's dance, I was hooked once again by this charming Aussie. As a big fan of Brad and Katie, I wasn't sure how he would fit in the already tangled mess of Brad's death. But, whether Simon is fighting with ghost Brad, consoling Katie, plotting with Henry, or cuddling with baby Jacob, Simon fits seamlessly, and that's the true mark of a great return. Runners up: Molly Conlan, Larry McDermott, and James Stenbeck. These three familiar faces are always a joy to see when they come home. I wish Larry would have stuck around longer, though. Molly, as always, brings a fun vibe to Oakdale, and maybe this time around, she'll make a love connection with Holden.
Worst return: Lucy Montgomery. Whether it was an ill-conceived hasty plot about smuggling medicine to needy people or the rushed story of Johnny's illness that was to blame, Sarah Glendening never caught on with viewers. There was no bonding with father Craig or rekindling of a spark with Dusty. She was rushed out of town quickly, and frankly I wasn't sad to see her go this time. Although, I wish she would have made up with her father before departing. The character of Lucy had heart, especially in the relationship with her father. This time around, "Lullabye" was nowhere in sight.
Best exit: James Stenbeck. Anyone who was lucky enough to see James Stenbeck's funeral was privy to one of the funniest days of daytime television I've ever witnessed. James has "died" so many times that I've lost track, a running joke not lost on the writers or the characters. Barbara, Paul, and the other "mourners" did everything including hold a mirror under James' nose and poking him with a pin, while he lay in the casket, to ensure that this time he was really gone. The one-liners from Paul, Henry, Audrey, Barbara, and Emily were flying so fast, that I watched the scene at least three times to catch all the jokes. It was brilliant.
Worst exits: Jade Taylor, Dallas Griffin, and perhaps Bonnie McKechnie. Jade was a spitfire who had chemistry with Casey, so it's a pity that she just disappeared from the canvas. Dallas hasn't been seen in months, so he didn't get a proper exit either, if he is indeed supposed to be gone. And Bonnie hasn't been seen in months either, ever since her romance with Dusty went South. I need closure, people! If these characters are gone, I wish someone would acknowledge it.
Best use of talent: Trent Dawson. It was a good year for Henry and his fans. He not only got one storyline, but several worthy of him. After years of bemoaning the lack of meaty storyline for Henry, I am happy to say that he finally had a banner year. Henry broke our hearts mourning his lost baby, tickled our funny bones as cross-dressing Geneva Swift, and made us angry when he made poor choices that led to the death of Brad Snyder. Henry also authored a book, turned out to be James Stenbeck's son, lost Vienna, and hooked up with Barbara. Thank you writers for realizing what fans have known for years: Dawson is a multiple Emmy nominee for a reason.
Biggest waste of talent: For the first time in years, this award doesn't go to Trent Dawson. For that, I have to say, "Woo Hoo!" Instead, I'm passing the crown on to Colleen Zenk-Pinter. Her Barbara is such a compelling character, who makes lemonade with whatever lemon peel that gets thrown her way from time to time. Barbara deserves more than the crumbs she got this year. I'm sorry, but Barbara should never be reduced to blackmailing a man to sleep with her. This woman is HOT! I can only hope she'll be heavily featured in this upcoming Mick drama.
Best new character: There have been plenty of new faces in Oakdale this year, but none really deserve this title, in my opinion. Uncle Ralph and Audrey are already gone and were so dastardly that no one really cared. Of the newcomers, none of them--Mick, Teri, Mason, or Maeve--hooked me. Sorry.
Worst new character: Teri Ciccone. I wanted to like this character, but sorry folks, it isn't happening. I'm just not feeling her attraction to Dusty, or her bond with sister Janet. With so many other interesting women on the canvas I'd rather see get screen time, I wouldn't be sad to see Teri go back to Chicago.
Most disappointing storyline: Luke and Noah's romance. They had several obstacles to their relationship this year: Noah's father, Professor Jarvis, Luke's desire to go the business route instead of college, and Noah's injury. Noah is now off screen healing, instead or working through his problem with Luke. The show either needs to invest in this couple or split them up, but lately they're a snooze.
Best problem: An abundance of talented actors. Some daytime dramas don't have this problem, but As the World Turns is overflowing with top-notch talent. It's no wonder the writers have trouble trying to fit a storyline in for everyone. I try to remember that on days when I haven't seen Barbara, or Carly, or Jack, or Katie, or Henry, or Brad, or Holden, or Craig, or . . .
Worst problem: Storytelling at breakneck speed and dropped plots. Forget the fact that characters can somehow magically travel from Illinois to Pennsylvania or any other place on the East Coast in mere minutes, and let's focus on the real time issue: Plots are moving faster than Santa's sleigh. There is so much story being told, we are missing the beats and nuances that really make performances outstanding. For example, this year Katie donated her bone marrow to save Johnny, experienced infertility, had an ectopic pregnancy, was ready to adopt Vienna's baby, mourned the loss of Vienna's baby, became pregnant, gave birth, and lost her husband. That's a lot of drama, even for a soap heroine. And don't forget Dusty, who was involved in a custody battle and has bounced from flirting with Meg, to Bonnie, to Teri, and now Janet. His plots are dropped so fast, many fans aren't investing in them anymore. Then, when storylines do have potential, such as Bob's brain tumor, the story is so rushed, fans can't savor it. Bob came out of surgery, and we didn't see him again for months, until he was back at work in his lab coat. Where's the follow-up for his mistakes, his memory loss, his struggle to grapple with aging? Slow down, As the World Turns. At this rate, you're going to spin off your axis.
Merry Christmas everyone! I hope to see you back in the New Year. Let's hope for a Christmas miracle that As the World Turns finds a home somewhere else.
Best Lines of the Year:
(Senior citizens Bob and Kim discuss Henry's fears about fatherhood and reminisce about parenting.)
Kim: "Were you afraid the first time?"
Bob: "Back when the Earth was cooling?"
(Henry tells Katie about the plot of his new book.)
Henry: "In the book, I play the hero."
Katie: "So it's fiction?"
(Dusty tells Meg he saw Emma in the bar, but she wouldn't speak to him.)
Meg: "At least she didn't take a shot at you."
(Brad and Henry try to understand Katie's abrupt behavior.)
Henry: "It's never their fault, Brad. It's always the hormones."
(Paul blackmails Lucy into luring Dusty back into a relationship.)
Lucy: "Are you out of your mind?"
Paul: "It's been mentioned."
(Craig tells Carly that his new lawyer is furious that the Oakdale police haven't charged him with a crime but are still holding him in jail.)
Craig: "He keeps saying, 'This isn't Guantanamo Bay.' I told him he should get to know Oakdale before he insults Guantanamo."
Until next time, please be sure to check out the other year-end Two Scoops columns for other soaps. All of the columnists are taking the next two weeks to reflect on the best and worst of 2009. It's definitely a fun read -- even if you aren't familiar with all of the soaps!
Plus, feel free to head over to the Soap Central message boards and join in the discussion about the highs and lows of the year gone by. And, if you're feeling prolific, start your own blog and offer your own take on the Two Scoops' best and worst edition. If we like what you write, you might just see your comments posted here!
That's all for now, Scoopers! See ya next time.