Has your year been bold and beautiful? Did you have more weddings in a few months than Elizabeth Taylor had in a few years? Was your favorite shape the triangle? Did your Core Four become a True Two? These and more situations faced the Forresters et al in 2012!
Well, Scoopers, let's face it: 2012 was not the best year for The Bold and the Beautiful. Fans know it, the soap mags know it, we here at Soap Central know it, and even Ronn Moss and Susan Flannery know it, because they left! If there's a lesson that all soaps should take away from what B&B has offered us this year, it's that no one storyline should ever dominate every minute of air time. Ever. A mere love triangle is too flimsy to carry a whole show, much less one that was as infantile and convoluted as Leffy/Lope.
We did, however, get glimmers that there was still a soap under there somewhere. A lot of those glimmers came in the form of little moments of dialogue or interesting plot points that begged to be explored, whether they were or not. And, of course, there was the departure of a certain matriarch that shall go nameless. So let's dig into the year that was as we once again Two Scoop it Best & Worst style!
BEST WEDDING: Ridge and Brooke
"Bridge" nuptials are about as common on B&B as the show's opening credits. Seven ceremonies in twenty-five years! But it wasn't their latest wedding in itself -- or Stephanie's full acceptance of it -- that was noteworthy. It was the charged emotional atmosphere generated by Ronn Moss filming his last episode. Not only did the show give us a wink-nod in terms of Ridge and Brooke's complicated history, but Ronn Moss and Katherine Kelly Lang wore their own hearts on their alter egos' designer sleeves, making this particular wedding something viewers could really feel. The fallout was another thing entirely, but as far as finales go, it was seventh heaven.
WORST WEDDING(S): Hope and Liam
A soap wedding is supposed to be a special event. But "Lope" had so many of them in 2012, it was downright laughable. First they tried to exchange vows without confirming whether or not Liam and Steffy's annulment had gone through. (It hadn't.) The Italian setting for Wedding #2 was beautiful, but Liam's record-setting waffling made Hope look like a chump when she finally said, "I do." The topper was the "do-over" wedding, which Liam showed up for sporting dyed hair and a tattoo. Hope smartly dumped him, but between the overkill and the fact that the ceremonies were all put together overnight, B&B definitely took the "special" out of the "event."
BEST RETURN: Deacon
Fans had been clamoring for a visit from Mr. Sharpe since Hope was SORASed in 2010. And even though Sean Kanan was pulled into propping up the never-ending Leffy/Lope triangle, his winning performances made it all worthwhile. Deacon was tender and apologetic with long-lost daughter Hope, and he gave as good as he got with the manipulative Dollar Bill. That he factored into the destruction of "Bridge" would have worked better if we had actually seen Brooke and her ex-lover interact, but, as usual, Deacon's presence made waves, and B&B would have been "Sharpe" to keep Kanan around instead of losing him to GH.
MOST CONTRIVED CONFLICT: Liam and Steffy's Divorce
B&B took us back to the '50s with this litany of ludicrous legalities. Steffy rejected an annulment because she didn't want her quickie marriage to Liam invalidated. This led to Hope and Liam putting their renewed relationship on hold, during which time Hope was labeled an adulteress simply for kissing a man in the process of a divorce. Much was made of the six-month waiting period, but time was inexplicably up after three months -- with an implausible midnight deadline to boot -- which was nonsensical when other characters had been granted divorces after only one day! A divorce storyline shouldn't ask viewers to divorce themselves from reality as much as this one did.
BEST SOCIAL ISSUE: Caroline's Two Mommies
For a show centered around the fashion industry, it certainly took B&B long enough to join the 21st century and include a believable gay or lesbian character. So who knew when young Caroline stepped out of that limousine that two women had raised her -- and that one of them was forgotten '90s character Karen? It was short but sweet because of Joanna Johnson's limited availability, but Karen and Danielle's relationship was presented like any other couple's, Caroline's personality was defined instantly, and Thomas' acceptance actually made him likable. Who knew? Caroline needs to spend more time with her parents -- and so do we.
WORST SOCIAL ISSUE: Hope's "Addiction"
Plunging goody-goody Hope into a cesspool of substance abuse was an awesome idea on paper. Not long after Hope popped her first antianxiety pill, however, we knew it was the story that was strung out. Hope became addicted in just a couple of days, her loved ones didn't recognize that anything was amiss, Liam shifted to Steffy, and the potentially tainted pills Amber procured were left unexplored. Worst of all, Hope was able to quit cold turkey without a single repercussion! We needed to see Hope struggle for months, in the tradition of all good soap addictions. Instead, we got a rushed ABC Afterschool Special that was impossible to get hooked on.
MOST REJUVENATED CHARACTER: Eric
Former mover-and-shaker Eric had been relegated to family gatherings and designing always-needed wedding dresses. So what a joy it was when the Forrester patriarch found himself front-and-center again in a story that gave John McCook a chance to show his stuff. Eric lovingly shelved his own grief and offered Stephanie comfort as she succumbed to cancer, then took the bull by the horns when Stephanie's will stipulated that Eric return as Forrester's CEO. Over the hill? Get over it! This groovy grandpa has more life in him than characters half his age, which, with any luck, we'll get to see as Eric's renaissance continues into 2013.
MOST RUINED CHARACTER: Liam
In 2010, he made Best New Character. In 2011, he dropped to Dumbest Character. But, in 2012, Liam passed the point of no return. If he was with Hope, he wanted Steffy. If he was with Steffy, he wanted Hope. And he switched teams under the slightest provocation. If Liam had to be a human ping-pong ball, we needed to see what made him that way. Issues from being raised without a father? Programmed by unhealthy messages from his mother? The multiple concussions? Without a reason for Liam's flaky behavior, he just comes off like an insensitive ass. And thanks to months of overexposure, most fans now hope that Liam will be next year's Best Exit.
BEST ILLNESS: Katie's Postpartum Depression
It would have been slam-bang enough for the youngest Logan sister's donated heart to give out during childbirth as a result of discovering husband Bill's multiple misdeeds. But when Katie came home and couldn't bond with her child, it touched off a harrowing descent into postpartum depression that was pure soap magic. Heather Tom skillfully tip-toed around the cheesy thunder-and-lightning scenarios and overdone heartbeat sound effects to give us a glimpse into a woman so terrified of death that she was willing to abandon her son rather than risk orphaning him. Best of all, it played out over several weeks and finally gave Taylor something substantial to do. Oh, baby!
WORST BREAKUP: Taylor and Thorne
These Forrester "castoffs" could barely justify their third shot at romance as it was, especially after their second one ended because Thorne's daughter couldn't accept that Taylor had accidentally killed her mother. But after Taylor and Thorne's failed attempt to take over Forrester, their relationship was limited to expositional mentions and chocolate fountains. We rarely saw them together. Things looked hopeful when Ridge remarried Brooke, prompting Taylor to tell Thorne she was finally ready to move on. But, next thing you know, Taylor announced that she and Thorne had broken up off-screen! By then it was hard to care about them, since it was obvious B&B didn't care about them, either.
BEST FANTASY: Bill Ogles Brooke
It was just a simple dinner for Katie, Bill, Brooke, and Ridge, with the foursome ludicrously discussing the love lives of Steffy, Liam, and Hope. So it sure was a shocker when Bill suddenly and quietly let his eyes wander down to Brooke's much-ballyhooed bosom! Not only was it realistic for Bill to check out what else was on the menu (who doesn't have inappropriate fantasies occasionally?), but it could be argued that it was a subtle foreshadow of the connection Bill would make with Brooke many months later. On purpose or not, Bill's hot thought was an unexpected moment that took B&B out of its too-rigid norm.
LEAST COMPELLING DEPARTURES: Jackie, Owen, and Nick
"Popeye" and his hot-to-trot mama had been B&B fixtures since 2003, with hotter-to-trot Owen following in 2008. They ran Forrester's only fashion rival, Jackie M, and seamlessly wove through the lives of Forrester and Logan alike. Jackie and Owen had just reunited. Nick was being pursued by both Donna and Pam. Then, boom -- the Marone-Knight clan disappeared as if they'd entered the Bermuda Triangle, without a single mention of their fates. Where did they go? And what about Jackie M? Trimming dead wood is one thing, but it was disrespectful to Jack Wagner, Lesley-Anne Down, and Brandon Beemer to not give them a proper wrap-up.
BEST NEW CHARACTER: Dr. Meade
When a blitzed-out Hope smacked into Steffy on the slopes of Aspen, who knew the snowbound story would result in a visit from Holden Snyder? It was the first time soap fans saw Jon Hensley out of his As the World Turns element, and it also gave us a taste of the cancelled show we'd been missing. Better yet, Dr. Meade now practices in Los Angeles. Imagine the fresh tales that could be told if the hot doc ended up on a first name basis with lonely ladies like Taylor, Felicia, or Donna? Of course, B&B needs to give him a first name first.
WORST NEW CHARACTER: Caroline
It should have worked. The introduction of the legendary Caroline Spencer Forrester's namesake niece played like a Hollywood premiere. Comparisons were inevitable, but Caroline 2.0 quickly established her own unique identity as a philanthropist and the product of a progressive family. Alas, it wasn't long before this supposedly mature dynamo was thrown into one juvenile plot after another. Spark for romantic rivalries! Sleuth in Marcus' texting tribulations! Caroline pulled a Liam and waffled between Thomas and Rick, yet saw herself as the moral compass who needed to expose Bill's Italian manipulations to Hope and Liam. How quickly this soap royalty became a lowly commoner. (By the way: who is her dad?)
MOST ANNOYING CHARACTER: Thomas
Earning this superlative two years in a row is a dubious distinction. Master Forrester started 2012 by hitting on his sometime stepsister Hope, then plotting to keep her away from Liam. Thomas almost redeemed himself in an unexpectedly sweet romance with Caroline (and being cool about her parents), but mooning over Dayzee and Hope while dating Caroline was cause for worry. And when Ridge made Thomas interim CEO of Forrester, the arrogance and sense of entitlement was back, finally driving Caroline away. Now that he's lost Stephanie's stock, he's more insufferable than ever, making many viewers wish B&B had just left Thomas back on Berry Island.
MOST TORTURED HEROINE: Hope
Brooke usually functions as B&B's whipping girl, but this year, daughter Hope took that title to new torturous levels. Everyone from Thomas to Rick to Bill plotted against her. Liam was incapable of deciding between Hope and Steffy, who had been a thorn in Hope's side since before Oliver. And then there's the damage Hope did to herself by gulping down pills to deal with her problems. Damsels in distress may make a soap more dramatic, but Hope needs to embrace her Sharpe heredity by kicking ass and taking names -- and booting Liam out of her life once and for all.
BEST HISTORY REWRITE: Stephanie Nullifies Thomas' Trust
In 2011, Stephanie promised her 25% stock in Forrester to Thomas if he lied that he had sex with Brooke. By the time Stephanie died, Thomas was still due that stock, which was being kept in an "irrevocable trust." And Thomas was about to collect on his reward for wrongdoing when Stephanie turned around and left a DVD saying she'd found a loophole that made it possible for her to leave Eric the stock instead. Some fans of Taylor's family cried foul, but Thomas didn't deserve the stock in the first place, and Stephanie's final deed ended the horrible berry saga once and for all.
WORST USE OF HISTORY: The "Ramber" Tease
When B&B snatched Jacob Young from the dying embers of All My Children, it was only too juicy to think of the original Rick revisiting his long romantic relationship with Amber, especially since Adrienne Frantz was on the canvas at the same time. Both had changed considerably since their last involvement: Amber had mellowed, and Rick had temporarily turned to the dark side, leveling the playing field between them. But all we got was a silly Cyrano de Bergerac design story, some minor flirting, and Amber painting Rick as a cross-dresser to keep him away from Caroline. "Ramber" was B&B's next generation of supercouple, but the show totally flunked its history lesson.
MOST CONNIVING CHARACTER: Bill
Give him any chance, he'll take it -- read him any rule, he'll break it. Was there anything Dollar Bill didn't do in 2012? From faking MRIs to locking wives in towers, bugging therapist's offices, bribing wardens, and ruining weddings, Bill can do it all, and in the process makes Stephanie (or even Sheila!) look tame by comparison. Bill thinks he's right, and maybe he is, because he gets off scot-free every time. Now he's got his radar locked on his own niece. Maybe Bill should give up publishing and join the mob instead, because they'd love L.A.'s version of The Godfather.
BEST LOCATION: Puglia
In last year's Best & Worst column, a wish was expressed for the old days of B&B's remotes in exotic locales like Italy. This year, that wish was granted! B&B busted out the air miles to capture the sumptuous sights of Puglia, giving the show a look and feel not seen on screen in a decade. Is it a shame it was used to dress up the Leffy/Lope "drama", or that Ridge's umpteenth proposal to Brooke was upstaged by olives? Sure. But watching Hope, Liam, Steffy, Ridge, Brooke, and Bill frolicking around Italy was worth it. Now let's wish that the next remote carries a more worthy story.
MOST WASTED LOCATION: Aspen
The Colorado resort town made the bottom of the list a second year in a row -- not because it's not beautiful, but because going there four times in thirteen months blunted any specialness such a remote might have had. Even watching Bill and Brooke against the scenery instead of some combination of Hope, Liam, and Steffy (and we got the latter two on that trip, anyway) couldn't take away from the fact that it was just boring to see them there. Maybe B&B should give Leffy/Lope their own spin-off and set it in Aspen -- wouldn't that kill two birds with one stone!
MOST INNOVATIVE STORY: Rick's "Cross-Dressing"
Who was stupider in this plot: Amber for coming up with it, Rick for falling into it, or Caroline for believing it? It wasn't the so-called drama that made this gender-bender interesting -- it was merely the fact that it hadn't been done on a soap before, or at least not on B&B. Silly as it was, even the most jaded among us had to admit that it took imagination, and Jacob Young was certainly secure enough in himself to go along with the shenanigans. Sure, it was filled with stereotypes and didn't shed the best light on cross-dressing, but no one could say it wasn't different.
MOST RETREAD PLOT: Forrester Intrigue
Corporate takeovers and internal infighting have been de rigeur on soaps for decades. But this year, B&B went to that particular well too many times. First Pam became the latest in a long line to steal designs, and got off with a slap on the hand. Then Ridge named Thomas interim CEO, touching off yet another Forrester power struggle. Finally, the ever-present stock made a return when Stephanie posthumously changed the game on Thomas. None of it was original, nor did it result in seeing Forrester originals on the runway, which is the whole purpose of the company. Ugly Betty gave us fashion and drama -- why can't B&B?
BEST TRIANGLE: Katie/Bill/Brooke
Brooke's an old hand at making eyes at loved one's men, and Bill cemented his womanizer status by embarking on an almost-affair with Steffy. But that's not what's interesting about inserting Brooke into "Batie's" troubled marriage. What's different is that Katie set the wheels in motion herself, albeit in her postpartum-induced fog. Since Katie's plan started to work, the idea of the usually united Logan sisters battling it out over the same man is most intriguing. And how satisfying would it be if Katie were forced to address how she once stole Bridget's man? Oh, the possibilities.
WORST TRIANGLE: Rick/Caroline/Thomas
To begin with, Rick has almost a decade on Thomas, so casting them as romantic rivals isn't as plausible as it looks. Then, Caroline came in with a bang but continued with a whimper, making viewers wonder why these boys were fighting over her in the first place. Finally, there wasn't sufficient development in either of Caroline's relationships -- the couples were forced together so fast they had little rooting value, and Caroline ruined most of it by switching between Rick and Thomas so quickly. A triangle needs a trio that sets off fireworks, but this threesome just plain fizzled out.
MOST OVERUSED PLOT DEVICE: Steffy's Accidents
Let's forgive Steffy slipping in her bathtub in 2011, even if it set off the dreaded Leffy/Lope triangle. Harder to pardon is the fact that an otherwise capable young woman has become the most accident-prone character in the history of the show. Being flung from her ATV in Cabo was far-flung enough, but getting run over by Hope while skiing in Aspen and then falling into Italy's Adriatic Sea generated more unintentional guffaws than it did actual drama. What was the point, except to give Liam even more excuses to waffle? Put Steffy on solid ground in the new year, and give her a solid story to go with it.
BEST COMEUPPANCE: Bill Loses Katie
Dollar Bill's list of crimes was so long that it would've taken all of Spencer Publications' resources to publish it. And he never paid for them, not until Katie got wind of his dirty deeds and went into premature labor. Smug Bill nearly became a widower and almost lost his newborn son at the same time. The hits kept coming as Katie ran away from Bill under the influence of postpartum depression. Yes, he eased his suffering by turning his attentions to Brooke. And issuing threats to Caroline proves he hasn't learned his lesson. But for a few short weeks, the piper at least received a partial payment.
MOST PREPOSTEROUS PLOT: Technology In Italy
Everyone knows that digital devices complicate our lives as much as they make them easier. But when dimwit Liam chucked his iPad on his wedding day (how could he not see that Hope's goodbye note wasn't even written in her handwriting?), the impact somehow opened a video capturing program and pushed "record" in one fell swoop, lensing Liam's waffling lip-lock with Steffy. Then, characters were able to watch, delete, or copy the file from the broken tablet with amazing accuracy. The Forresters must keep Bill Gates himself on staff, otherwise there would have been no way for this technology -- or this plot twist -- to work.
BEST SPECIAL EVENT: Stephanie and Eric's wedding
The set-up was kind of odd: in the midst of planning their anniversary party, the king and queen of the Forrester dynasty found Gladys Pope (RIP, Phyllis Diller), whom Stephanie had only interacted with once before, on their doorstep. And, among other things, the nonagenarian was able to perform weddings. But after the contrivances settled, Eric and Stephanie took their vows for the fourth (and last) time in an understated, humorous, and poignant ceremony, with the bride in shirt and pants! Sure, pomp and sequins can make a soap wedding, but marking B&B's 25th year on the air this way was pure gold.
BIGGEST WASTE OF TALENT: Veteran Actors From Other Soaps
A Martinez! Hillary B. Smith! Crystal Chappell! Jon Hensley! The casting notices made fans salivate and offered continued life to cancelled shows. But B&B dropped the ball by giving this quartet that has a century of soap experience between them bit parts any day player could have done. A Martinez's doctor vanished after faking an MRI. Crystal Chappell's Danielle came out as a lesbian, then went out the way she came. Hillary B. Smith's sex therapist had more presence but a dopey storyline, and Jon Hensley was only on hand to treat boo-boos. The message? Don't cast 'em if you can't give 'em a full story worthy of their talent.
WORST CONTINUITY: Brooke Stole Taylor's Family
Taylor, supposedly a crackerjack psychiatrist, often makes the claim that arch-rival Brooke ruined her marriage and took her family. Certainly, Brooke inappropriately pursued Ridge numerous times while he was married to Taylor, but Taylor consistently forgets that it was her presumed death and resultant isolation in Prince Omar's palace that ended her marriage. True, Brooke and Ridge reunited after Taylor "died," but that was the only reason Brooke ended up raising Taylor's kids. Taylor is smart enough to recall the events of her own life as they happened -- B&B's insistence on having her stone Brooke for the crimes she didn't commit is sloppy storytelling that undermines Taylor's character.
WORST EXIT: Ridge
Brad Bell was admittedly against the wall when Ronn Moss decided to hang up Ridge's Speedos. We knew Ridge's honeymoon departure would be heat-and-serve, but it had such potential. Would the chiseled designer be felled by a bullet? Spirited away by kidnappers? Disappear under even more mysterious circumstances? Nope. Instead, Ridge, who forgave Brooke a multitude of sins, ditched her for texting Deacon to stay away from Hope. Worse yet, Ridge was a no-show as his beloved mother passed away. Couldn't a private Ridge/Stephanie conversation have been pre-taped beforehand? This colossal blunder was a slap in the face to fans, but much more so to Ronn Moss's quarter century of service.
BEST FLASHBACKS: Stephanie's History
Using past clips to illustrate present happenings has increasingly become a staple on B&B, particularly to drive the Leffy/Lope triangle. The reason those flashbacks don't work is because they don't contain enough history to make them mean anything. Not so with Queen Stephanie, whose peeks at the past during her final days were drenched in resonance and actually bookended the entire show by hearkening back to its beginnings. Each of Stephanie's party invitations came with a recollection unique to that particular relationship, proving once again that only when a soap digs deep does it mine the best moments.
WORST TREND: Not Enough Follow-Through
How is it that B&B brought up so many awesome story points in 2012 and then hung them out to dry? Bill snagged a paparazzi photo of pill-popping Hope, but never used it. Hope and Steffy could destroy Spencer with news of Bill's faked MRI, but are sitting on the info. Marcus' butt-dialing clued him in to Bill's Deacon scheme, but he didn't expose it. Everyone knew Liam ripped up his annulment papers, but Hope never found out. And there are dozens of such storyline threads left unexplored, which are turning B&B into a convoluted mess. If it's not important to the story, don't put it on our screens.
BEST COUPLE: None
For the second year in a row, there wasn't a single duo that captured enough attention to take this coveted top spot. Couples were either underdeveloped, boring, constantly in our faces, or inserted into triangles and quadrangles. Whatever happened to the old-fashioned soap supercouple who teetered on the brink of destruction because of their own behavior, not because of a third party? How about a pairing that lasts more than a month or two? Why not challenge couples with a health issue or bond them through a tantalizing mystery? Where's the romance? Bring it, and next year there will be so many Best Couples that it will be hard to pick just one.
WORST STORY: The Triangle That Wouldn't Die
It was already working nerves by the end of 2011. But the Hope/Liam/Steffy trio dominated so much airtime in 2012 that it even drove off 25-year cast members. There is absolutely nothing compelling about watching Hope and Steffy fight over a boy who has zero conviction. The story has no legs because the only place it goes is around in circles. It's plot-driven instead of character-driven, nothing resolves, none of the participants learn any lasting lessons, and it's ridiculous to have every single relative weighing in about it. We got a much-needed reprieve through October and November, but the merry-go-round is starting up again, and the collective groans can be heard for miles, which Brad Bell is ignoring. Stick a fork in this story, because it's done. Hope and Steffy should dump Liam, then all three should park it on the backburner until viewers care about them again -- if they ever do.
BEST STORY: Stephanie's Death
Talk about making lemons out of lemonade! The news of Susan Flannery's imminent departure punched us all in the gut, but what resulted was a weeks-long saga that had, well, guts. The return of Stephanie's cancer had an emotional impact on almost every character on the canvas, including long-gone family like Felicia, Kristen, and Tony. Thorne finally got a chance to make peace with the mother who had always played favorites. Stephanie installed Eric and Brooke as leaders of the Forrester-Logan clan. Ridge will have to live with the guilt of his absence if he returns, which could be meaty if done right. And best of all, Queen Stephanie reigned over the show one last time, taking the focus away from that other story. It was a sort of an end of the world for B&B à la 2012, but it was done with beauty, dignity, and class -- and it let us know that there's hope for our soap yet.
Did you get a chance to listen to Soap Central Live's December 21st and December 28th installments, on which Allison and I expressed further thoughts on the state of B&B in 2012? If you didn't, or you'd just like to hear the year-end segments again, stream or download the MP3s and plunge headfirst into the two-part special with The Best of 2012 and The Worst of 2012.
And that is it for me! Did you agree with my selections? Disagree? Did I forget something? In all of the above cases, take keyboard in hand and send us your thoughts. Your comments may end up in a future column!
A very heartfelt thank you to all of you for reading my columns -- because if you didn't, they wouldn't let me continue writing them! We all have a chance to make 2013 the best year ever (and that goes for you, too, B&B!), so -- say it with me -- keep watching, be alert, and most of all, be bold!
What are your thoughts on The Bold and the Beautiful? What did you think of this week's Two Scoops? We want to hear from you -- and there are many ways you can share your thoughts.