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Halfway into 2013, it's time to take stock of B&B's first 'Stephanie-less' year. What's been striking gold, and what's been striking out? You may be surprised. Take a look back with the raves and rants of Two Scoops' Mike!

We love to hear your thoughts on The Bold and the Beautiful -- and now there are more ways than ever to share your picks for what's hot and what's not. As always, you can use the email link to drop our columnist a note, and you can also call our 24/7 caller feedback hotline at 267.341.7627 and record your thoughts on B&B. And now if you have a Facebook account, you can scroll to the bottom of the column and leave your comments right here on this page!

Have the past six months been bold and beautiful? Did you pull so many stunts they had to rename you Evel Knievel? Did you decide being a brat would get you further than being nice? Did you and your sister learn to share everything -- including husbands? These and more situations faced the Forresters et al so far in 2013!

Soo-wee! Looks like the Scoop is about to hit the fan, with Taylor bringing a very special gift to Brooke's birthday party. I'm almost sad that I can't write about it, due to the fact I promised you an overview of the first half of the B&B year! Alas, there is a thing called protocol. So here is what I define as the Top 10 best and worst things about the Logan, Spencer, and ever-shrinking Forrester clans!

10. The Honeydrippers
If you didn't already have diabetes before watching Liam and Steffy honeymooning in Aspen, you did afterwards. It wasn't that Liam and his sometime wife didn't deserve some happiness, it's just that the sap was flowing too thickly through the writers' keyboards. Every soap fan wants to see romance and love in the afternoon, but the Spencers' "I'm so happy" declarations wore thin quickly. And it's already Soap 101 that when a couple is that blissed out, tragedy is sure to follow. (Which it certainly did.) Factor in not being able to trust Liam's loving words to Steffy after two years of waffling between her and Hope, and this honeymoon was just Aspen too much.

9. Super Carter
Lawrence Saint-Victor looks smooth, sounds smooth, and just plain is smooth, so after a successful run on Guiding Light, Carter Walton's arrival was welcome and intriguing. But Marcus' adoptive brother has already fallen victim to B&B's all-too-common We Don't Know What To Do With a New Character Syndrome. He's a lawyer who helps Forrester with copyright issues yet knows enough to also aid Maya in the search for the baby she gave up for adoption. And guess what, he's also a minister who was the perfect choice to officiate at Liam and Steffy's wedding. But wait! Carter really came to Los Angeles to pursue his dreams as an actor! When he turns out to be a brain surgeon, don't say you weren't warned. It just adds a sense of "unreality" to the character, and we already know Carter doesn't stand a chance with Maya, despite Karla Mosley being his GL costar. Don't bring on a new character unless you know what to do with him!

8. No Shrink-ing Violet
At the risk of sounding like a broken record, what has happened to our sage-like shrink Taylor Hayes? She was always strong and a little bit feisty, but she also epitomized class and dignity. Not so much in recent years, though, firing off shrill accusations and blaming Brooke for all her problems. That seemed to reach new heights in Stephanie's absence, with Taylor baiting Brooke over her connection with Bill in the name of helping Katie, and even sneaking into a hospital office to spy confidential records. Does Taylor have reason to mistrust Brooke? Oh, yes. But there's something seriously lacking in the good doctor's Taylor-is-a-busybody demeanor. Maybe next time Taylor comes back, it will be the real Taylor, and not the clone I suspect Prince Omar dropped off with us in 2005.

7. Catering to the Masses
Since Brooke Logan was introduced to us as the daughter of a caterer, it's only natural to think she might have picked up a few tips over the years. But it seems Our Miss Brooke has taken this talent to unheard-of extremes. She seamlessly arranged a naughty playdate for Bill and Katie. She threw an insta-wedding for Hope and Liam. She recreated the tent from her 1990 honeymoon with Eric in perfect detail in a matter of hours. And she can turn a dusty old cabin into a lovefest in no time flat. All right, so now we know that Gustav the party planner has been giving Brooke some help. But if Brooke's Bedroom tanks and a follow-up to BeLieF isn't doable, at least Brooke will have a dandy back-up career.

6. Sweet Caroline
What to do when another new character isn't clicking? Flip her over a balcony and completely change her personality -- only don't suggest that the fall had anything to do with it. Caroline's manipulations against Martha, I mean, Maya, would have actually made for entertaining television if Caroline had been established as a snobby bitch right from the get-go. Instead, we were left with memories of her sweetly helping Thomas to prove Marcus' innocence last year, not to mention the saint-like comparisons to dear, sweet, departed Caroline 1.0. Even Pam's personality transplant was explained away with an operation. But Caroline needs to have some rationale sent over from New York, like, now.

5. Fashion Flops
Once upon a time, "The Bold and the Beautiful" meant beautiful designs in bold fashion shows that we spent weeks anticipating, especially because they were usually interwoven with some form of jaw-dropping drama. Now? Events like Rick and Thomas' fashion showdown, Caroline's fundraiser, and the ambush reboot of Brooke's Bedroom are thrown together overnight with no chance to invest in them, and any accompanying plot twists are generally contrived and also of the here's-your-hat-what's-your-hurry variety. The fashions themselves? Uninspiring! B&B needs to comb YouTube for videos of their former showstoppers as a refresher on how to deliver Forrester's signature spectacles. Of course, soap budgets aren't what they used to be, which is all the more reason to save some pennies and only work the runway when the fashions -- and the stories -- are worth the cost.

4. Treason Against Soap Royalty
Headlines proclaiming heavy-hitting soap veterans' migrations to B&B are usually the biggest. Amid much newsprint and keystrokes, we are led to believe that we're about to see a familiar face in a new role sure to shake up the canvas. But what do we get? Former As the World Turns hunk Jon Hensley languishing in scrubs when someone gets a boo-boo. Guiding Light's Ricky Paull Goldin in a two-episode stint that any day player could have done. And that's just this year. In 2012, Hillary B. Smith and A Martinez were also given guest appearances that were made to sound like not-to-be-missed arrivals. If soap royalty is just visiting, then call it a visit. Either that, or give them a full Monty role even if you have to junk some newbies to afford them. Anything else is serious cause for mutiny!

3. I'm Just A Bill
B&B's characters seem to be coated in Teflon; nothing ever sticks. This is especially true for Dollar Bill Spencer, whose ever-elongating trail of treachery constantly goes unpunished. Bill's 2011 and 2012 misdeeds would exceed your bandwidth, but this year alone, he finally got snagged for digging up Deacon, only to avoid rebuke by "stabbing" himself in the chest to prompt Liam's forgiveness! Bill's cruel drinking game with Katie got him into a drunk driving accident, which he emerged from with only a scratch and Brooke's cover-up. Do we even need to mention boinking Brooke? Framing Maya? Rick's symbolic imprisonment wasn't nearly enough. With Taylor about to expose "Brill," one can only hope Katie will serve Bill his head on a platter, because the "Dollah" is long overdue for his due.

2. For Real?
There's a reason that soaps aren't reality shows. We expect some convenient storytelling; it's part of the fun. But B&B has gleefully thrown plausibility out the window for far too long. Bill drunkenly veers through a city of seven million people and crashes into Brooke? Carter and Maya just happen to get cast on the same web series? Katie instantly stops suspecting Brooke and Bill of an affair? Caroline's sudden personality change...Maya dumping Rick even though they weren't even together...Wyatt kissing an unconscious girl he's never met...the list goes on. It's really in the rare instances B&B gives us depth or accurate continuity that one notices the sloppy storytelling that's obviously meant to facilitate the show's faster pace. The fact that B&B keeps choosing to rely on such contrivances is just...unbelievable.

1. Seeds That Fail to Sprout
The most maddening thing about B&B in 2013 so far is their tendency to bring up juicy storyline threads, only to brush them aside and forget about them. Hope shoved pregnant Steffy into a desk with no repercussions, and when Steffy miscarried, no mention was made of Hope's possible contribution. Caroline felt up porn star Herc and a picture hit the Internet, but only Pam saw it. Lieutenant Baker all but accused Brooke of criminally covering up Bill's drunk driving accident, then never returned to continue his investigation. And what was the point of making Brooke menopausal if it wasn't going to impact her pregnancy, or even cause a false positive that would make her only think she was pregnant? Other shows tell tight, impactful stories -- why can't B&B manage it? If you're going to bring it up, then follow through on it. Otherwise, leave it on the drawing board!

All right, enough of the lowlights; now for the highlights. Though, admittedly, I had to search a little harder for these!

10. Fuller Up!
Okay, so he's only been on three episodes, we know nothing about him, and his fairy tale introduction to Hope was questionable. No matter! So far Wyatt Fuller is the freshest breath of air B&B has seen in years. Darin Brooks is making him understatedly sexy; Wyatt's repartee is impishly adorable. But better yet, Wyatt exudes an easy confidence that may just loosen the stranglehold of Hope's obsession with Liam. Who could resist that? If there's something to be said for first impressions then Wyatt's may be enough to make all of us turn over a new "leaf." Of course, we said that about Liam when he arrived in 2010...but there's still enough reason to "Hope" for the best.

9. All in the Family
Brooke's history-repeating romp with Bill after she'd barely cleared the legacy of sleeping with her daughter's men (Deacon and Oliver, respectively) was a disappointment for those who'd hoped Stephanie's death had taught Brooke something, and most viewers were more disgusted than titillated. So why the inclusion in The Best? Because you gotta admit, pound for pound, Brill has certainly generated its fair share of drama. From Katie's heart attack to Taylor's snooping, from Donna's conflict to Eric's near-seduction, Brooke and Bill's earthshaking affair has caused a number of soapy aftershocks, with Taylor about to break the Richter scale. Brill is skeevy and not the best direction B&B could have gone with Brooke in the absence of Ridge. But no one can say it doesn't have impact.

8. Give Peace A Chance
Steffy and Hope have always had a complicated relationship -- well, at least since Hope was aged and Liam firmly placed himself between the two girls. Hope shed her good girl image with pills and seduction, while Steffy shed her bad girl image with a sense of right and wrong, putting the rivals on a more level playing field. But it seemed their only purpose in life was to fight with each other until a funny thing happened following Steffy and Liam's wedding: Hope realized the marriage was best for Steffy's unborn baby and wished Steffy well, causing Steffy to throw her arms around Hope in an attempt to comfort her! It was only one brief moment, and meant to soften us up for Steffy's imminent accident, but watching the former stepsisters get real was definitely wow-worthy.

7. I, Liam, Take This Biker Mama, Steffy
What's one more instant wedding on B&B, especially for Liam? He's had more ceremonies in two years than most veteran soap hunks have in twenty-five. What made this one special? The show went out of their way to make it different. Pregnant and showing, Steffy rode up the aisle in the suddenly outdoor Forrester courtyard, sporting a black dress-meets-pants-suit ensemble. Who could remember any other weddings after that? Plus, Liam and Steffy acknowledged their history, appreciative that they were having real nuptials after their elopement in Aspen. Liam's unresolved feelings for Hope made it hard not to question his devotion, but overall, this Forrester wedding was one for the record books.

6. Keep Your Frenemies Closer
Katie had reason to hate Steffy, who chased after Katie's husband Bill, then spirited Liam away from her niece, Hope. Bill continually siding with Steffy fanned Katie's flame even more. So who knew that when Katie happened to be in the room as Steffy was told she was infertile, it would form an uneasy truce between the former adversaries? Katie genuinely wanted to help Steffy, who begged her stepmother to keep quiet. Aided by Heather Tom and Jacqueline MacInnes Wood's crackling chemistry, "Keffy" was a delightful surprise that sadly ended just as it was getting started, and Katie blabbing Steffy's secret to Brooke, of all people, will probably have the women scrapping again if Steffy ever comes back. But for one sparkling moment, the stars aligned, and the constellation Keffy was the brightest in the universe.

5. Into the Wood
Jacqueline MacInnes Wood seemed like a lightweight performer at first, simply because of the inanity of Steffy's stories. But holy Hannah, did she come into her own this year! From Steffy's self-sacrificing decision to keep her pregnancy to herself, to her warm romantic moments with Liam, and ultimately her tragic miscarriage and decision to leave Liam rather than admit her barrenness, "JMW" hit all the right notes, particularly in taking viewers into the depths of Steffy's depression. Rather than inundate us with soap's usual histrionics, MacInnes Wood stood out by keeping an even keel, making her resolute sadness all the more chilling. Will Steffy be back? Hard to tell for sure, but at least JMW left us on a whiz-bang note, destined for bigger and better things.

4. "Raya" of Light
Pairing the rich boy with a wrongfully convicted jailbird is the kind of story that usually only works well on paper. But once Rick and Maya got together, all viewers could ask was, "Caroline who?" The obvious pull of Lawrence Saint-Victor's Carter, love interest to Karla Mosley's Christina on Guiding Light, couldn't compete with Maya's sweet smile and the sweetheart she brought out of scoundrel Rick. Even bad plotting like Rick's half-hearted breakups with Caroline couldn't bring "Raya" down. The only gripe? Rick betrayed his sister Hope to steal Caroline from Thomas, only to dump her for Maya, and Maya rode into town on the crazy train, looking ready to stab Dayzee if she didn't help find her child. But, despite their dubious beginnings, Rick and Maya have the earmarks of a true supercouple-in-training...if Caroline, Bill, and Carter would stop trying to keep them apart, that is!

3. Ding, Dong, Leffy/Lope Is Dead!
In 2011, Steffy hit her head in the bathtub. Liam saved her, but since then, viewers have been hit over the head with a never-ending triangle between Steffy, Liam, and Hope that was widely criticized by soap sites and soap mags alike for its now-legendary overexposure. Despite a brief timeout during Stephanie's death, Leffy/Lope reared its ugly head to take over another year of airtime -- until Jacqueline MacInnes Wood announced her break from the show. With Steffy out of the picture, the merry-go-round stopped dead in its tracks, and soap fans breathed a sigh of relief. Is Wyatt's entrance a harbinger of Hiam/Hyatt and another two-year triangle? Maybe. But at least it's different. For now!

2. Ageism Be Damned!
With the Internet making it easier to point up people's physical flaws and the world's aesthetic becoming more and more sculpted, it seems anyone over 30 is deemed old and deprived of the right to be sexy. It seems like a minor plot point, but B&B having Brooke model for Brooke's Bedroom again and addressing whether it was age-appropriate was just this side of brilliant. Naysayers like Taylor and Thomas echoed the general public's prejudice against anyone who remembers the '80s, while Rick, Bill, Brooke, and Eric reminded the audience that you can bring sexy back at any age. Even Pam jumped on the bandwagon, working Brooke's lingerie as well as any 20-year-old! B&B rarely sends messages anymore, but their subtle warning not to put others out to pasture was a lesson for the ages.

1. Eric Unchained!
Eric Forrester was once quite the ladies' man, setting aflutter the hearts of Beth, Stephanie, Brooke, Sheila, Lauren, Jackie, and Donna. But, in more recent years, Stephanie's dominance had Eric twiddling his thumbs on the sidelines. No more! EF is back in full effect, laying down the law at Forrester, being the first man to make Taylor forget about Ridge, and even the first choice as Brooke tried to find a father for Bill's baby. Not bad for a septuagenarian! Best of all, it put John McCook -- the only remaining member of the Core Four besides Katherine Kelly Lang -- front and center in stories worthy of those four decades his junior, giving him a chance to infuse Eric with warmth, strength, and playfulness. And with Taylor about to seriously upset the apple cart, Eric's journey is far from over. Shining the spotlight on Eric instead of sending him to Grandfatherland is far and away the biggest thing B&B got right this year!

What are your hits and misses for 2013 so far? Let us know on the so message boards, the comments section,by e-mail,or leave a voicemail. Your comments could end up in a future column!

There's no time for an official Points to Ponder, except to say, how was Taylor okay with Steffy splitting suddenly when she practically begged Thomas not to leave? And even if Wyatt knew his Sleeping Beauty was Hope Logan, how did he know where the Forrester cabin was? Is it Google-able?

I wish I could have my Scoop ready to cover the big Brill exposure and Hunter Tylo's departure, but I have my own soap opera to go and deal with, in the form of traveling back to Los Angeles to officially say goodbye to my friend Christopher, who you may remember died last year. (In fact, "six of one, half dozen of the other" was a phrase I learned from him.) Rest assured, you will be left in the capable hands of a Two Scoops guest columnist, and I will be back July 22 to dish all things B&B. In the meantime, keep watching, be alert, and most of all, be bold!

Mike (Adam-Michael James)
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Two Scoops is an opinion column. The views expressed are not designed to be indicative of the opinions of or its advertisers. The Two Scoops section allows our Scoop staff to discuss what might happen, what has happened, and to take a look at the logistics of it all. They stand by their opinions and do not expect others to share the same view point.

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