Has your year been bold and beautiful? Did you trade your Barbies for real-life Ken dolls? Did it take a serious disease to get you to pick up the Clue Phone? Did you find out "scandal" really is your middle name? These and more situations faced the Forresters et al in 2010!
As we close the year, Ridge has figured out that Whip's handy with a camera phone, and Amber is repeating history by passing off one man's baby as another's with mama Tawny egging her on. Are we sure we're not closing out 1999?
Let's Two Scoop it Best & Worst style!
BEST NEW COUPLE: Whip and Taylor Whip was a PR man with no love life. Taylor was a divorcée who was her true love's number two choice. So who expected the sparks when these two met for coffee? Whip's notorious sense of humor was allowed to breathe, and Taylor, who had done nothing but chase Ridge since her return, was suddenly sassy, sexy, and -- who knew -- full of fun! It didn't last, between their rushed wedding, months on the backburner, and Taylor's renewed feelings for Ridge. But all that potential is still there for the Joneses to get back to if they want.
MOST BORING COUPLE: Nick and Aggie Surrogate mom Sandy/Agnes/Aggie set her sights on white knight Nick as soon as she breezed into town. So when Nick's marriage to Bridget imploded, Aggie was right there to pick up the pieces. But because this couple had no rooting value and were rushed together faster than you can say "rebound," they never caught fire. Nick is a shell of his former refreshing character, and Aggie is an unexplored character with no layers. Perhaps it's time these two set sail on The Shady Marlin II -- but bring poor Jack aboard, because he surely needs a mother.
BEST NEW CHARACTER: Liam Introducing more of the young set -- especially when B&B is already overrun with characters -- was risky. But snatching up Scott Clifton on the heels of his OLTL departure was shrewd indeed. Brought on to inadvertently supply Justin with the video that exposed Brooke's mask-boink, we soon found out the fumbling, stammering computer guy was none other than the son of Bill Spencer. Liam quickly grew a pair and went toe-to-toe with Dollar Bill, and his aw-shucks courtship of disillusioned Hope was sweet. Liam's not suave nor model-pretty, and he's a bit of a misfit -- which is what makes him refreshing and fun to watch.
WORST NEW CHARACTER: Oliver Zack Conroy's portrayal of James Spaulding on GL won raves -- so why is his turn as B&B's Oliver such a bust? The hot young DJ had such potential as he fell for a newly aged Hope. But it wasn't mistakenly sexing Hope's mother that did him in -- it's that he's really, at his core, completely dull. Spark would make him interesting -- instead, he moped over Hope and stupidly let Amber steal Forrester designs. Bill wiped the floor with him in a single scene. It wasn't a bad idea to give Whip a family, but this is one relative that's best seen only on holidays.
MOST SHOCKING TWIST: Brooke Behind the Mask Oliver was increasingly anxious to physically express his love to the hesitant Hope. He thought he had his chance at Hope's graduation party when she whispered, "I'm ready," and led him to the terrace. Meanwhile, duty had Ridge begging off a steam room romp with Brooke, who found the party's masks, identical outfits, and Daddy Yankee tracks steamy as well. Hope's late arrival and Steffy's pursuit of Oliver made it seem like a masked Steffy had bagged her man. Which is why Brooke sauntering in from the terrace in slow motion and removing her mask was the most intense moment on B&B this year, despite the contrivances it took to get there. Did it really happen? Yes, and the fallout included Oliver and Hope's breakup, Steffy's blackmail, and Taylor's paranoia about Brooke working with Thomas. When Brooke makes a "mistake," it's a doozy! Runner-Up: Stephanie shoots Stephen.
BEST CATFIGHT: Taylor and Brooke It's not like Ridge's two loves have never gotten down and dirty before. But this time, water was their weapon of choice. Once Steffy wrested Forrester away from Bill, a bitter argument ensued when Taylor was given 25% of its stock and Brooke was left in the cold. Obviously these two ladies own Dynasty DVDs, because they insulted each other's outfits and then splashed down in the never-seen-before Forrester pond (!). Alexis and Krystle they're not, but it seemed fitting that their decades-long rivalry would get them water-logged at some point.
MOST CONTRIVED CONFLICT: The Forrester/Logan "Feud" Back in the day, Stephanie tangled with Beth and Brooke thanks to Eric's roving eye. And Taylor battled Brooke for Ridge's affections. But young Steffy's one-woman attempt to destroy the Logans lacked rationale and reason. The Forresters refused prime positions when Bill took over, then inaccurately accused the Logan sisters of controlling the company. And, while a good soap feud includes shots from both sides, Steffy, with help from Stephanie and Taylor, were the only ones firing. Worst of all, Steffy's pro-Forrester rhetoric was undermined by the fact that Steffy, Thomas, and Ridge are actually Marones, while supposed Logans Rick and Bridget are actually Forresters. It made sense on paper to bring old conflicts into the new generation, but this one came nowhere close to the original.
BEST SECRET: Bridget Pregnant by Owen On the soaps, it's not who doesn't know a secret, but who does. When Aggie miscarried Bridget and Nick's surrogate baby, barren Bridget got pregnant herself thanks to a night of unexpected grief sex with Owen. Thanks to Oliver's video, first Steffy found out, then Aggie, but they kept quiet. Naturally, Owen wasn't going to tell -- but who knew that wife Jackie would not only come to accept the dalliance, but encourage nervous Bridget to keep mum? In these days when soap plots flash by lightning fast, it was refreshing to kick it old school for a few months until Nick was the last one to know.
MOST ENTERTAINING CHARACTER: Bill Give this man his own show! Bested by a nubile vixen or determining a boy's paternity, William Spencer, Jr., can't resist a well-placed barb. He's snarky, full of himself, and his wit knows no bounds. He oozes sex and is a business barracuda, but Don Diamont really shines when he lets us see that underneath that tough exterior is an abandoned little boy. Bill's only real function since losing Forrester to Steffy has been badly grooming Liam as a Spencer, but he can steal a scene simply by rolling his eyes. And that, as he would say, is "bad-ass."
MOST ANNOYING CHARACTER: Steffy She was the ultimate victim of Rick's manipulation in 2009. So roaring back to life should have made sense. Instead, Steffy chased four unavailable men. She schemed and blackmailed in varying states of undress. She tortured stepsister Hope and tried to rid Forrester of everything Logan. And the reason for this villainy? She was afraid Daddy would stop loving her. As if Ridge had ever ignored her enough to justify such a fear. Steffy's obsession with Ridge bordered on incestuous, she had way too much airtime, and she's way too one-dimensional to ever step into namesake Stephanie's shoes anyway.
WORST EXIT: Beth Logan The fact that both Brooke's parents were recast made it harder to appreciate their long history. Still, Robin Riker did a credible job as Beth, the Logans' Alzheimer's-afflicted matriarch. The idea of bringing Beth back every so often to chart the progress of the disease was intriguing. But the legacy character returned just long enough for a quick drowning following an argument with long-time rival Stephanie -- which couldn't resonate without Nancy Burnett in the role. Then, Beth was reduced to a plot device to break up Donna and Eric, with widower Stephen pursuing Pam only weeks afterwards. Now she's all but forgotten. For shame, B&B. For shame.
BEST REFORMATION: Pam First, Pam Douglas was the ultimate '50s throwback. Then she became a bear-wielding psycho who recovered with the aid of some convenient surgery. This year, she painfully meowed down The Catwalk, beamed when Beth's death cleared the way for Stephanie, and disposed of Donna in an exterminator truck. Pam had been written into a corner. So while sympathizing with her when Stephen messed with her head was amazing enough, it was Pam standing up to Stephanie, taking responsibility for her own misdeeds, and reminding Stephanie of hers that was truly amazing. It was over in a minute, and Pammy's been on the backburner since, but it breathed new life into a character who was thisclose to being irredeemable.
BEST RETURN: Mike Guthrie If you need a gun, who you gonna call? In this case, you call "Michael," who loved and aided the notorious Sheila Carter. Missing in action since Sheila's 1998 departure, it made sense that the geeky former security guard would still be living a life of crime. But when Mike caught on to Stephen's plan to kill Stephanie, Mike did the right thing. For all we know, Mike is still standing in Stephen's living room where we left him, but his return was a pleasure -- and so was the implication that the real Sheila, not Y&R's plastic surgery Sheila, is still out there somewhere for Mike to pine over. Runner-Up: C.J. Garrison.
WORST RETURN: Amber Moore A firecracker like Ambrosia should have returned ablaze like an L.A. wildfire. Instead, she just fizzled. She threw herself at Rick, then made moves on new Jackie M boss Nick. Fashioning herself a latter-day Sally Spectra, the designer who won raves at Forrester was reduced to stealing designs from them. And her dalliances with college-aged Oliver and Liam haven't helped. Worst of all, B&B completely ignored both Amber's recent Y&R history and its own long-term history, turning this once multi-layered character into a vamping cartoon and causing Adrienne Frantz's homecoming to go down in flames.
BEST RECAST: Kimberly Matula Aging soap kids is a dubious and usually laughable prospect. Cherubic one day and romantically entangled the next! Fortunately, Kimberly Matula has been winning enough as Hope that looking past the character's real-life age has gotten easier. She's innocent and wholesome without being a total patsy, she's humorous without being cloying, and she can even go up against big, bad Dollar Bill. Sure, her confrontation scenes with Brooke after the mask-boink exposure were short on fire, but they weren't underwhelming, either. To quote Evita, the lady's got potential -- which can only be better reached with better story!
DUMBEST AXING: Drew Tyler Bell/WORST RECAST: Adam Gregory Take a milquetoast character that's been backburnered for, like, ever. Give the actor -- who just won an Emmy -- a chance to finally strut his stuff. Then recast him with another actor who has perfect abs and a closer resemblance to his on-screen father but not the necessary chops to pull off this meatier material. That's the ball that B&B fumbled when they replaced Drew Tyler Bell with Adam Gregory just as Thomas had been given something substantial to do. Mooning over a stepmother isn't the most worthy story for any actor, but Bell brought a natural emotionality to the role while Gregory's Thomas is wooden and one-note. So much for that Emmy!
MOST SURPRISING COUPLE: Pam and Stephen He was a grieving widower who blamed Stephanie for his wife's death. She was Stephanie's sister and a few lemon bars short of a stack. When he got her off her bipolar meds so she'd be loopy enough to shoot Stephanie, it seemed implausible and rushed. But the subtle sparks between this duo were pleasantly unexpected. Stephen developed feelings for Pam despite manipulating her, and Pam went to bat for him even after she knew she'd been had. Beth's body was barely cold and they've had no airtime since, but there's still enough intrigue with the coupling of Pam and Stephen to want to see how things have progressed between them.
WORST BREAKUP: Eric and Donna Nobody expected delicious Donna and aging "honeybear" Eric to last. But the destruction of this Forrester marriage was all rather contrived. Eric suddenly resented Donna's position of power under the Spencer regime, even though he refused the one he was offered. Cut to Eric playing tonsil hockey with Stephanie and taking her side when she inadvertently played a part in the death of Donna's mother. Perhaps it was meant to facilitate Jennifer Gareis' maternity leave, but having Eric reunite with Stephanie a micro-second after Donna walked out made him seem unusually cold-hearted. If not for Donna receiving Forrester stock that Bill got a hold of, this storyline would have been totally pointless.
BEST CONFESSION: Brooke Admits the Mask-Boink Brooke was up against the wall -- and not like at Hope's graduation party. Steffy's ever-increasing blackmail demands didn't guarantee that the vixen would keep quiet about Brooke's mask-boinking. So what's a girl from the Valley to do? Brooke bravely risked her marriage by going to Ridge herself to try to explain the strange circumstances that led to her partying with Oliver. While no one expected Ridge's excessively understanding "Oh, Logan, what am I going to do with you" response, Brooke managed to defuse Steffy's bomb and do the right thing at the same time -- which was the only thing she could have done.
WORST CHARACTER ASSASSINATION: Taylor What happened to our sagelike, sensible shrink? The Taylor we know would have recognized a daughter's turn to the dark side instead of turning a blind eye. She would have seen that she had her own hot, available man in Whip and waited to marry him until she was sure she was over Ridge. She would have initiated intelligent conversations instead of whining and badgering. And mostly, she would have taken a look at her own actions instead of blaming Brooke for everything. Maybe next time Prince Omar visits from Morocco, he can bring the real Taylor with him, because this paranoid, shrieking woman isn't her.
BEST COMEUPPANCE: Steffy Gets Blamed for the Tribute Video Steffy Forrester had done everything legally possible to banish Brooke from Forrester, if not morally. How many times did she threaten to expose Brooke's mask-boink to the world! So what a surprise that she wasn't the one who did. Of course she was going to get blamed for it, based on her belligerent behavior. Perhaps Ridge should have trusted his daughter, but she hadn't given him much reason to -- so losing her office, her job, and Ridge's good opinion for a few minutes was enough to take smug Steffy down a few pegs after months of tyranny. She deserved it, and so did we viewers.
WORST TRIANGLE: Oliver/Hope/Liam Hope was, like, a virgin who totally loved Oliver until he "accidentally" boofed her mother at her graduation party. Flashbacks sent Hope into the arms of newcomer Liam, who indirectly played a part in said boofing being exposed to the world. While the Hope/Oliver pairing was sweet, Hope/Liam sparkled and was the clear choice. Yet, Oliver pestered, harangued, moped, stalked, and even schemed to win back the girl's affections. None of it worked. This triangle is ineffective because Hope clearly wants to be with Liam; there's no real pull toward Oliver. Bog it down with constant kiddie capers, and you get a trio who begs to be fast-forwarded.
MOST DARING PLOT DEVICE: Three's Company Cougar Jackie and lion Owen were happily married until Owen helped kitten Bridget through her baby grief by sexing her. But when Jackie found out, she didn't wash her hands of the adulterers like her son Nick did. She forgave Owen and embraced Bridget, referring to them as family and offering to help raise baby Logan. A bit strange by American standards, certainly. But it was all very in keeping with Jackie's European sensibilities, and a rare thing to see on a soap. Sure, Jackie was living in a fool's paradise, but it was an atypical paradise nonetheless.
MOST OVERUSED PLOT DEVICE: Intrigue at Forrester It's amazing that clothes actually got made at Forrester in 2010 considering how much time its employees spent on the corporate merry-go-round. It was one thing when Bill owned the company, but, once back in Forrester hands, the fun and games didn't stop. How much sabotage, scandal, and stealing is realistic to watch one company endure in the course of a year? How many times did Brooke leave, only to come back? Of course, this is the main business of B&B's main family, and certainly it should be front and center. Just maybe not to the point it seems like they live there.
MOST CONFUSING PLOT: The Forrester Stock Stock, stock, who's got the stock? You needed a scorecard to keep track this year, and a pencil with a very durable eraser. Steffy's four-way split with R.E.S.T. was easy enough. But then Taylor gave her share to Steffy, and Donna got half of Eric's share, which was promptly bought up by Bill. And the show never followed through on the possibility of Bill obtaining Steffy's share -- as if owning three-eighths of the company would be enough to effect another takeover. Ownership of Forrester never had this much focus before -- and next year it might be better for B&B to choose a different stock option.
BEST NON-COUPLE: Donna and Bill When Bill first swaggered in, it was assumed he'd promptly bed Donna. Surprisingly enough, he married sister Katie. But when Donna's marriage to Eric fell apart, Donna walked in on a shirtless Bill, and it seemed the flirtation would resume. Au contraire! How refreshing was it for Bill to actually treat Donna like a sister-in-law and not his next conquest? Yes, he wanted Donna to push for half of Eric's stock so he could snag it -- but he wasn't completely insincere. He wanted her to get what she was entitled to. It's been dropped since, but this unexpected family friendship was unique considering most male-female relationships on soaps.
MOST TORTURED HEROINE: Brooke There are those among B&B's fans -- and characters -- who don't mind Brooke getting beaten down 24/7. But maybe enough is enough for a while. Brooke was already getting it from all sides when she shot herself in the foot by mistakenly sexing Oliver. After that, B&B seemed to put a target on her back. Not content to embroil "Logan" in a scandal she helped create, Brooke also found herself at the center of scandals created by Thomas and Whip. It may be enough to keep Brooke Basher viewers happy, but there is such a thing as balance. Making Brooke the show's sole whipping girl is unrealistic. Spread the wealth!
WORST CONTINUITY: Bill Saves Brooke but Fries Bridget When Brooke's scandal broke, Bill did what he could to squelch the story out of love for his new family. Not so when Bill found out Bridget was ripe for her own scandal. He marched right over to Jackie M and had Jarrett expose Logan's paternity in a room full of reporters. Why did Bill protect Brooke but not Bridget? Bridget is Brooke's daughter, and we don't know that Katie told Bill anything about her rivalry with Bridget. Bill's contention that he gave the family one free pass didn't hold water, and helping Brooke but hurting Bridget made him look like he was playing favorites.
WEIRDEST MOMENT: Hope Recreates Her Party Hope was understandably traumatized when she found out Oliver shagged her mom during her graduation party, and it made sense that she'd try to make sense out of it. But it was teetering on the edge of insanity to have Hope recreate the party, and teetering on the edge of implausibility that she'd be able to duplicate it exactly in so short a time. It made the mask-boink that much more skeevy, and didn't create the sympathy for Hope it was meant to. Runner-Up: Ridge smashes an award and rubs the blood on his face.
BIGGEST WASTE OF TALENT: Winsor Harmon Thorne has always been the number two son on B&B, but back in the day, portrayers Clayton Norcross and Jeff Trachta were given front-burner storylines. So was Winsor Harmon when he first took over the role. But this legacy character has been shelved when he should be in the thick of things. Harmon proved his mettle when Thorne fought for his place at Forrester and lost Darla thanks to Taylor's drinking. Now he's recurring and relegated to the occasional party scene. B&B needs to stop hiring newbies and give props to those characters who helped take the show to the top in the first place. Winsor Harmon can handle it. And so can we.
BEST USE OF HISTORY: Stephanie on the Streets In 1991, Stephanie had a stroke and ended up on the streets, which was promptly forgotten upon its resolution. Flash forward two decades and we followed a missing scarf onto Skid Row, which reminded viewers that La Forrester once pushed a shopping cart there herself. Certainly, we could have done with even more flashbacks and not glossing over Stephanie's homeless experience so much. But to take a story that was long over and give it -- and Stephanie -- new life was nothing less than genius. If only all stories on B&B could be this strong and this rooted in history. Runner-Up: Bridget gives birth at Big Bear, where she was born.
GONE BUT NOT FORGOTTEN: Clarke Garrison It's 2011 -- do you know where your Bucky is? Clarke has been around since the '80s, but his history and devil-may-care countenance are constantly overlooked. Last we heard, he was designing at Jackie M -- yet Jackie M always seems to be looking for designers. There's a talented one already there! And he's the last remaining connection to Sally Spectra besides C.J. Clarke hasn't had a story of his own since 1996 -- it's time to bring him out of mothballs. Get him designing with Jackie and give Owen some real competition. Sally commands you. Runner-Up: The Café Russe.
BEST PAYOFF: Thomas Blows Up And not Rick's car. Thomas was invisible this year, and when Taylor divested her Forrester stock, she gave it all to bratty Steffy. So wasn't it satisfying when Thomas -- in Drew Tyler Bell's final scene -- opened up a can of Whoop-Ass? He took his mother to task for withholding the stock and called Steffy on her crap, exposing the fact that she'd seduced Bill to regain control of Forrester. He topped it off by siding with the much-attacked Brooke. Who saw it coming? What would he do for an encore? Alas, we'll never find out with Thomas recast, but at least we got to enjoy Mr. Bell's hell-raiser sendoff.
MOST ANTICIPATED EVENT WITH NO PAYOFF: Hope Discovers the Mask-Boink Surely heads would roll when Hope publicly found out about her mother's few minutes of sin with Oliver. But when the moment came, it fell amazingly flat. Sure, Katherine Kelly Lang's Brooke was sufficiently remorseful and newbie Kimberly Matula made Hope's disillusionment clear. But something was missing. The encounter should have left us speechless. Instead, the writing and direction lacked punch, and Hope forgave Brooke so quickly (after a few weeks) that there wasn't enough sense of repercussion. It's as if it never happened. But we know it did. Runner-Up: Bill returns Forrester because of Steffy's seduction but Katie never finds out why.
WORST TREND: Stories Moving Too Fast Once upon a time, soaps were accused of dragging out stories to the point of disinterest. Not so today due to shortened attention spans. Unfortunately, soaps -- including B&B -- have overcompensated and are now blasting through stories so quickly that they strain credibility and reduce their impact. Wrapping up story arcs in a week or two isn't satisfying, and it turns the characters into mere plot devices. Whatever budgetary and network constraints B&B may be working under, surely there's a way to find a balance and tell stories more thoroughly. Runner-Up: Stunt casting.
MOST WASTED OPPORTUNITIES Such rushed stories inevitably miss nuances or bring up points that fail to be addressed. Hope's storylines constantly recalled thoughts of bio-dad Deacon, but he was nowhere to be seen. Stephen entered into an intriguing unholy alliance with Bill to plot against the Forresters, but it never bore fruit. Forrester's ugly "Dare" line, which had the potential to give us a humorous fashion show and humiliate Bill, was scuttled in a week. Steffy threatened to defect to Spencer and take her 25% share of Forrester stock with her, but this tantalizing story thread was ignored. Twice, we saw that Aggie has a dark side -- once when she swore to take down her rapist and once when she got up in Amber's face regarding Nick. Why wasn't it explored? And there are dozens of other story points that were likewise brought up this year only to be dropped. B&B should not be experimenting on our time; it should map out its stories better and follow through on them.
BEST COUPLE: Ridge and Brooke Glory be, B&B's longest-running supercouple actually managed to stay together all through 2010! Not easy, considering the strain of Brooke's position during Bill's takeover and the strain of Brooke's (ahem) position with Oliver. Ridge had been flaky in the past by leaving Brooke (or Taylor) on the slightest provocation. This year, Ridge manned up and stuck by Brooke after her inadvertent infidelity, even though he would've been perfectly justified in leaving her this time. The Brooke/Ridge/Taylor triangle ruled the '90s, but we are much better served today seeing this "Unforgettable" duo weather the storms and teach us to stick together by example.
WORST STORY: Thomas and Brooke When Thomas was recast and started working with Brooke, fans were abuzz that Brooke would bed the boy. After all, she just did her daughter's boyfriend, albeit by accident. So B&B ran with that and wrote Brooke into a storyline where the constant threat is that something unseemly will happen with Thomas. This is especially upsetting considering the show had just struck gold with Stephanie and Brooke's truce. Brooke runs the risk of being ruined forever, Thomas has been reduced to a pompous studmuffin, and Ridge is already hinting at returning to Taylor, who is now a screaming, paranoid shrew. This is good drama? B&B would do well to be done with this taboo pronto.
BEST STORY: Stephanie and Brooke Bond Stephanie returned to her bitchy ways once she left Jackie M -- until a fateful fall at Brooke's feet. Brooke cried foul, but Stephanie's meek "Help me, honey" indicated we were in for something special. When Stephanie was diagnosed with Stage Four lung cancer, Brooke rallied, but Stephanie demanded secrecy. Brooke agreed but followed Stephanie as she checked off her "bucket list." Along the way, the duo discussed death and forgiveness, realizing that neither actually hated the other. Everything that came after -- the family's inclusion, the surgeries, illuminating the homeless -- was all wonderful, but nothing could touch those few precious weeks where Stephanie and Brooke put aside their scrapping and got down to what's really important in life, punctuated with enough heartwarming moments to make you wish they'd always been friends. Best of all, the truce seems to be holding. It was powerful, history-laden story, the likes of which we should see every week, not just on special occasions.
I still have ideas on how to improve B&B, which I'll share in my next column January 16. In the meantime, share your ideas on the soapcentral.com message boards -- they might show up here next time! Happy New Year, and, whatever you decide to do in 2011, make it bold!