Making the grade: B&B's half-year in review

by Mike
For the Week of June 29, 2015
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B&B Two Scoops: Making the grade: B&B's half-year in review
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Can 2015 really be half over already? That's what the calendar says, but with the beaming sun of summer, it's easy to forget what we learned about B&B during our winter and spring classes. Fortunately, this week's Two Scoops has got a bold and beautiful report card all ready for you. Steffy's return? Check. Maya revealed as transgender? Check. And it's all done up in a Top Ten Best and Worst list that would make David Letterman proud. Sit back and get schooled on the year that's been -- so far -- with Two Scoops' Mike!

Has the first half of your year been bold and beautiful? Did you spend it getting your Machiavellian mojo back? Did you spend it trying to breathe life into a dead relationship? Did you spend it learning about a little something called gender identity? These and more situations faced the Forrester-Logan-Spencer-Avant clan these past six months!

On the road again! That's right, Scoopers, in the spirit of a B&B remote, I am about as remote as you can get -- I'm in a cabin in the woods just outside my hometown of Fairbanks, Alaska (Last Frontier represent!). It's what you might imagine it's like at the Forrester cabin in Big Bear, only less fancy, no sex-inducing earthquakes, and no transgender trials. So, this is a good enough time to break from B&B's current crop of episodes and have a look at 2015-in-progress, now that we're at its halfway mark.

The show sure crammed a lot into those 180-plus days! Fortunately, you've got us to remind you (and them) of some of the details that may have whipped by too fast to fully retain. Let's Scoop it Top Ten style, beginning with grading some story directions that would have benefitted from better direction!

10. Back to Dining At the Waffle House
When Hope exiled herself to Milan, a strange thing happened to Liam Cooper Spencer -- he stopped battling brother Wyatt and teamed up with him to take control of Forrester, not to mention committed himself wholeheartedly to new squeeze Ivy. Liam even resisted the visiting Steffy's amorous advances! But when Steffy came home to stay, Liam's growth was undone by an all-too-familiar look of confusion, and suddenly the waffler was back, longing for his ex-wife though he'd been happy with Ivy for months. After nearly making viewers forget his legendary indecision, this was the most unattractive, disappointing regression Liam could have undergone.
Grade: D-

9. A Husband Doesn't Change His Spots
In their five-year marriage, Bill emotionally cheated on Katie, dismissed her concerns about his bad behavior, moved on to Brooke in the wake of Katie's postpartum depression, and tricked Katie into restoring his control of Spencer Publications by bedding her down. So, when Bill came calling again, did Katie run, not walk, to the nearest exit? Nope. After some half-hearted resistance, Katie became Mrs. Spencer again -- and the first thing Bill did was override Katie's plea to keep Maya's gender identity off his front pages. The first marriage, Katie was pitiable. Round two, she deserves what she gets.
Grade: C-

8. I, Mr. Fickle, Take This Murderess, Quinn
On paper, Deacon and Quinn should work. They're underdogs who share questionable pasts and tastes; even Chuck Woolery couldn't make a better love connection. Then Deacon sabotaged it by marrying Quinn as a second choice practically minutes after asking Brooke to rekindle their former passion. Even without that, DeQuinn was doomed anyway -- their beginnings included Deacon accusing Quinn of a murder she was probably guilty of, a dropped story thread that has yet to be tied up. They're happy now, but only because they're guzzling the Milk of Amnesia B&B hoped viewers would sip as well.
Grade: D

7. Kool-Aid's Not Just for Kids Anymore
Your son, who already has a history of putting a bullet in someone as a teen, becomes CEO of your family company and attempts to use his half-brother and estranged wife for target practice. What do you do? If you're Eric Forrester and Brooke Logan, you worship at said son's feet and cosign his B-O-L-O-G-N-A. Rick's mom and dad let him run amok at Forrester instead of doling out the tough love and getting the guy some help, like any responsible parent would. Eric and Brooke, the show's last two original characters, have never been this much out of character.
Grade: D+

6. The Take-Too-Long-Over
Tired of Rick running roughshod over Ivy and Caroline, Liam stepped up and formulated a plan to combine enough stock to force Rick out of Forrester's CEO seat. Great idea, but then Steffy, who once upon a time wrested control of the company from Bill herself, would only help if Liam reunited with her. Liam's hands were strangely tied afterwards, with months in between, until stumbling upon Maya's secret brought Liam's takeover bid back into action -- but by then, the momentum was gone. Considering B&B often blazes through stories too fast, this one fizzled just when it was about to catch fire.
Grade: D

5. Alcoholism Evaporates at 172°F
Brooke went to Milan to get herself together, only to come home and fall apart when standbys Ridge, Bill, and Deacon weren't available for romance. Brooke looking for answers in a bottle allowed Katherine Kelly Lang to explore new territory, but what should have been a harrowing descent into addiction became Miss Logan transforming into a lush after a few drinks. The show sent her to Alcoholics Anonymous, mostly to reconnect with fellow drunk Deacon; Brooke's sobriety was as instant and hasn't been mentioned in months. Maybe it's hereditary: Hope recovered from her 2012 pill addiction that fast, too.
Grade: D-

4. Transgender Transgressions
When Rick finally discovered Maya's gender identity after a two-month build-up, the stage was set for the man who valued honesty above all else to have a major meltdown. Instead, Maya bolted over a silly misunderstanding and deemed her relationship with Rick over when their Bluetoothed call was cut off by a car accident in which Rick wasn't even hurt. Plus, we're told Rick and Maya are a love story for the ages, but they're nasty people who never got the comeuppance they so richly deserved. B&B could have been politically correct and still delivered a more satisfying denouement to this story arc.
Grade: D+

3. One Is Such a Lonely Number
Back in the day, you could find two, even three separate storylines running in an average episode of B&B. Now, only one story dominates our screens, for sometimes weeks at a time, with no one appearing unless they're involved in or reacting to the current goings-on. Granted, our attention spans are shorter than ever, but this technique backburners characters, generates increasingly repetitive dialogue, and taints stories with a sense of overexposure. How about spreading the love? Time marches on, but there was nothing wrong with the way our shows used to pace themselves.
Grade: C-

2. Twice as Thirsty
Steffy Forrester's long-awaited return fell flat when her sole purpose was to pursue ex-husband Liam; Stephanie's namesake actually decided she'd rather leave tyrant Rick in power at Forrester if she couldn't have Liam back in exchange for her stock! Even Steffy's most diehard fans were glad to see her go until we heard her second go-round would push her in a new direction. Yes, Steffy helped boot Rick this time, but she went right back to throwing herself at Liam, despite his having moved on with Ivy. Desperate and obsessed is not a good look on this fashion heiress.
Grade: D-

1. How Convenient!
No show stays 100% true to its history and characters; it's just the way television rolls. But B&B has been playing so fast and loose with its continuity lately that it's getting impossible to make sense out of the series as a whole. Story points are brought up then dropped -- or changed to facilitate new directions (example: the "behavioral morality clause" that Rick would never have had written into his own contract, and it didn't even end up being used against him, for all that). It's as if the soap has forgotten that viewers remember what they've seen, and there's a new sense that the writing room is making things up as they go along. Plot twists have to be rooted in some degree of plausibility; these random inclusions cause a disconnect in the fabric of the show, which in turn causes viewers to disconnect while they're watching.
Grade: F

Of course, there's such a thing as yin and yang, heads and tails...two steps forward, two steps back...we come together 'cuz opposites, that's Paula Abdul. I dare you not to have that song in your head as we venture into the opposite of the worst on B&B so far this year!

10. Immigrate-ful
B&B's globetrotters travel without toothbrushes, let alone passports. So it was an interesting twist when Australian jewelry maker Ivy found herself in hot water over her immigration status. The question of Ivy's dual citizenship was perfectly reasonable, and Quinn almost seemed to make up for the watery wickedness of pushing Ivy into the Seine by pushing Ivy to save herself from deportation with a marriage to Liam! Sure, Quinn only did it to free Steffy up for Wyatt, and the suddenly-not-devoted Liam acted as if he were trapped, but building story around Ivy's visa played a master card.
Grade: B

9. Chemistry Test
From Wyatt's first woodsy appearance, he had one mission in life: Hope. When Hope split, Wyatt was rudderless, which often spells backburnering for our show's characters. That indeed seemed Wyatt's fate until Maya's kid sister, Nicole Avant, showed up. Wyatt only cozied up to Nicole to get her to spill Maya's tantalizing secret, but sparks definitely flew until Nicole found out about Wyatt's subterfuge. Enter sassy Steffy, who looks to be a fitting match for a wild card as wily as Wyatt. Time will tell if Steffy can forget Liam, but "Statt" is a coupling that needs to happen -- stat!
Grade: B+

8. Portrait of Keeping Memories Alive
Almost three years in, it still isn't quite B&B without Stephanie Forrester, who is undoubtedly cracking the whip in that big fashion house in the sky. But the framed image of the gangsta granny has almost become a character in its own right. La Forrester's relatives all freaked when Rick shelved the photographic tribute in favor of Maya's mural, and Ridge had a heartfelt conversation with his mother's picture as he agonized over betraying Eric with a Forrester takeover. It's nice to see that Queen Stephanie lives on -- and she doesn't even need to be a floating basketball head to do it.
Grade: A-

7. Skype Now or Forever Hold Your Peace
You know how they say technology in the wrong hands is a dangerous thing? That wasn't the case when Brooke ambushed Deacon's wedding to town pariah Quinn with the self-exiled Hope staring out from her mother's tablet. Hope wouldn't accept Quinn, the woman who tried to kill Liam and was peripherally responsible for Hope's miscarriage -- and Hope let daddy Deacon know that in one vociferous video call. Since Kim Matula was already off the canvas, digitally inviting Hope to interrupt DeQuinn's vows was a clever way to inject her into the storyline, not to mention au courant.
Grade: B

6. Fraternal Fraternizations
Liam Cooper and Wyatt Fuller, who grew up apart but found themselves Spencer half-brothers, spent so much time fighting over Hope that they were in danger of becoming permanently boring. Send Hope to Italy, and wow! Liam devised a sneaky plan to depose Rick as Forrester's CEO, which was right up Wyatt's alley; the Spencer boys made a formidable team as they worked together to uncover Maya's explosive secret. Now that Steffy's in the mix, we're right back where we started, with Liam marking his territory and Wyatt rebelling against it -- but their brotherly love was sure nice while it lasted.
Grade: B-

5. Sisters Are Doin' It for Themselves
It's not every day a new character is the powder keg for a most dynamite plot twist, but that's what happened when Nicole Avant swooped into town with a lit match. Aside from having intimate knowledge of Maya's origins, Nicole proved spunky and forthright -- and Reign Edwards is one helluva actress. There were missteps: Nicole arriving then disappearing for two months, flip-flopping over whether Maya should divulge herself, and defining her minor flirtation with Wyatt as something major; still, Nicole held her own. With the 'rents coming to town and Zende Forrester waiting in the wings, junior miss Avant is just getting started.
Grade: B-

4. The Resurgence of the Dollar
Bill Spencer Jr. came to Los Angeles a force to be reckoned with but somehow lost more balls than a golf course between his involvements with Katie and Brooke. His neutering seemed complete when he remarried Katie -- but then Bill found out about Maya being transgender, and that long-missing devilish twinkle finally returned to the publishing magnate's eye. The Dollah was unscrupulous, offensive, and heartless in exposing Maya to the world -- in other words, just the way we like him. Bill swims with the sharks, not the guppies, and his sexy brand of swagger is exactly what B&B needs.
Grade: B+

3. We Built It Up and Now We're Solid
Before soaps caved to today's need for instant gratification, secrets were exposed slowly, often over several months, for maximum impact. B&B hasn't rolled like that for years, making their decision to tease the revelation of Maya's gender identity a welcome one. Only Nicole knew at first, then Carter found out; Pam and Charlie pieced Maya's secret together themselves, Ridge went to Eric and Brooke when he clued in, and the Spencer brothers benefitted from Nicole's loose lips. Rick was the last to know, which was just how it should be, and it proved that old school doesn't always mean old hat.
Grade: A

2. Go Together Like a Horse and "CaRidge"
If a kite hadn't already helped Benjamin Franklin discover electricity, he sure would have found it in the pairing of Ridge Forrester and Caroline Spencer. The mere act of Caroline guiding Ridge's hand while designing melted screens last year, and once Caroline was free of estranged husband Rick's hostility, she and Ridge gave us a paint-by-numbers lovemaking session that made any other look like a peck on the cheek. Though Linsey Godfrey's horrific accident kept Caroline off the canvas for a while, she bravely allowed B&B to use it to make CaRidge's connection even stronger. May-December has never been so swoonworthy!
Grade: A-

1. My, My, Myron
"You're not Maya at're're my brother!" We're so inundated with spoilers and rumors these days that it's almost impossible for anything on soaps to come as a surprise, but Nicole's March Madness revelation threw the entire genre for an unprecedented loop. It's not even because Maya is transgender and part of a community that's even more underrepresented on soaps than non-Caucasians, gays, and lesbians -- it's because absolutely no one saw this coming. Yes, Maya's back history included giving birth to a child, but B&B did their best to fill in the gaps created by the retcon, with only a few loose ends. Best of all, Maya being assigned male at birth took a soap that is overly reliant on triangles and made it fresh and exciting again, providing its best cliffhanger in 20 years. It was bold. It was beautiful. The show should be like this all the time!
Grade: A+

How would you rate B&B's 2015 offerings so far? Did you agree with this list, disagree, or think of something not presented here? Submit your own report card in the Comments section below, on the Soap Central message boards, or simply click here to submit feedback. Your comments could wind up in a future column!

Even though everything old is new again with Steffy panting over Liam, who's reminding us his favorite shoe is the flip-flop, there's some new energy on the way. Julius and Vivienne Avant are almost here, Zende Forrester is about to rock Nicole's world, Thorne is on his way back, and so is Darla. And, only days ago, Pierson Fodé was brought on board as the new Thomas! So, the second half of 2015 could prove very interesting on B&B.

When I'm done here in Alaska, I'll again be spending time in Los Angeles before returning home, so I'll have to hang up my Scoops until July 20. Believe me, you will be in very capable hands until then. In the meantime, follow me on Twitter (the handle is @magicallyAMJ, a reference to my book, The Bewitched Continuum), and as always, I leave you with these immortal words: keep watching, be alert, and most of all, be bold!

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Two Scoops is an opinion column. The views expressed are not designed to be indicative of the opinions of Soap Central or its advertisers. The Two Scoops section allows our Scoop staff to discuss what might happen and what has happened, and to share their opinions on all of it. They stand by their opinions and do not expect others to share the same point of view.

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