Tony and I aren't even making Christmas lists this year. DAYS gave us everything we could possibly want, dipped it in chocolate, wrapped it in sprinkles, and served it with a celebratory beverage. In fact, this may be the first year ever that we had to go back through our columns and edit in more snark. It was a quite a strange feeling.
So welcome, everyone, to our cyber celebration of all things DAYS 2013! We call them the Golden Donuts -- named after DAYS' Grande Dame Alice Horton and her famous pastries. Don't worry; we didn't let J.J. make these doughnuts. But we did put a lot of heart and joy into compiling this list. We hope you enjoy it!
Best New Character
Tony: Jordan Ridgeway
Okay, I'm not too proud to admit this is a bit of favoritism. I have a comfy assigned seat on the Chrishell Stause fan bus! When I learned she was cast, I was one merry Scooper. With that said, I like the character of Jordan a lot, too. Your favorite soap and mine has had a bad habit of forcing new characters down our throat *cough, cough Madison and Taylor,* but DAYS did a slow burn letting us get to know Jordan, well, you know, as much as we can get to know any new character draped in mystery. But I like what I've seen so far and can't wait to learn more, and that's a positive sign for Ms. Rideway!
Laurisa: Arianna Grace Horton
Everyone who's ever heard of a soap knew that Gabi would end up pregnant after her one-night stand with Will. But I don't know if anyone saw the true gift coming. The baby is real swell. But I'm referring to the blessing that is the Sonny/Gabi combo. When Sonny whipped out his flashlight app to help deliver baby Ari, I sorta fell for this comedy/frenemy duo. They followed it up with some juicy fights, thanks to the fact that Sonny knows Gabi's secret life as a criminal mastermind. Together, I find them utterly entertaining. And I have baby Ari to thank for it all!
Best Special Guest Star/Recurring Character
Tony: Nancy Wesley
Having Patrika Darbo's naughty Nancy back in Salem (and, well, South America) was such a great treat! Sure, sure. Nancy may have enabled Chloe to do some dirty deeds, but what's a mother hen with her own scheming streak to do when her chick goes bananas? So maybe Nancy didn't encourage the Chlomiester to do the right thing, but, damn it, she coached her in doing all the wrong things the right way, and that should be commended.
Laurisa: Kimberly Donovan
A bratty child without parents is like me without a glass of wine. It just makes no sense. So as soon as Kimberly showed up, I instantly liked Theresa more. With one short but powerful scene, Theresa got a hefty dose of humanity, and we got to see that the strained relationship was just as hard on Kimberly as it was on Theresa. Patsy Pease was fabulous in conveying the hardship of being the parent of a wild child. And, you know, returning with Charles Shaunessy on her arm didn't hurt either.
Tony: J.J. Deveraux
Zoink! This kid sort of burst onto the scene, and Salem hasn't been the same since. Due to Casey Moss's many talents (cue chant of "We're not worthy!"), J.J. quickly became a captivating character. Prior to his arrival, I'd always wondered if J.J. would be more of a goody-two-shoes Jen, or a zany semi-scoundrel with a heart of gold like Jack. As it turns out, he was a little pot-smoking, drug-dealing firecracker. Nope, would have never guessed that one, but it sure made J.J. Must-See TV!
Laurisa: Chloe Lane
That wonky detour into Hookerville meant that Chloe never really got a chance to play that heartache out and try to avenge the loss of her relationship with Daniel. That is, until Chloe returned in January with a mission and a sense of entitlement proper for a daytime villain. Nadia Bjorlin was splendid as a schemer, hissing threats and working that shiny hair like it was a weapon. And the final scenes where Chloe took responsibility for her mistakes was the strongest I've seen Chloe in years. Atta boy, Ghoul Girl!
Most Improved Character
Tony: Marlena Evans
Hey, hey! Lookie at me giving Marlena an award! I'll admit it. I'm her harshest critic sometimes, but Doc and I have come a long way this year. She actually really impressed me several times, if you can believe it! She supported Sami, she -- no, really, you read that right, she was actually super supportive of Sami! Not only that, she made awesome girl-power strides by putting herself first and not forgiving John just because he said a breathy "Doc" and tried to charm his way out of months of being a d-bag.
She was also pretty dang fabulous when she teamed up with Victor and Nicole to bring down Kristen. Capping it off, it was nice to see Deidra Hall's funny bone as Marlena Forest Gumped her way through playing the not-so-safe-for-work video of Kristen and Eric at the would-be wedding. Loved, loved, and loved -- smooches, Mar Mar!
Laurisa: J.J. Deveraux
It seems odd to name a character as most improved the same year that he essentially debuted on the show. But to be blunt (no pun intended), J.J. was a real buttcheeks when he first showed up in Salem. I could not stand the kid, his compulsive lying, stealing, nor his reject Mickey Mouse Club jacket. But no matter how much my fast-forward finger itched, Casey Moss kept me engaged.
Bless his dimples and talented little heart, young C-Money (dude, make that name stick!) masterfully crafted J.J.'s upswing, ironically, by taking J.J. to rock bottom. When a handcuffed J.J. screamed at a police station full of people who'd never told him that his father raped his aunt, I was hooked. I'm in. Where do I get my J.J. t-shirt?
Tony: Chloe Lane
Jaws may be on the floor that I didn't personally pick Kristen for this award. However, it's for "Best Villain," not "Best Misunderstood Character Who May Or May Not Have Done Some Mean Things According To Some People." So, that means I gave it to Chloe, who totally and completely deserves praise as a villainess. She came back to Salem with a plan. That was to land Dr. Dan. And she played the bitch card like Carlos Santana plays the guitar.
Nadia Bjorlin completed crushed the part, and I've never been prouder of our little Ghoul Girl! And, unlike many evildoers, Chloe would have gotten away with it, but she called it off. I'm sure in some part of his cantankerous heart, even Victor tipped his hat to her tenacity.
Laurisa: Kristen DiMera
I realize that we're only three years in, but she might be the villain of the decade. We never see the specifics of her plan coming, but we're not exactly shocked that she "went there" because Kristen is so mercilessly devoted to her revenge plot. But perhaps the most chilling thing about Kristen is that she's has just enough self-awareness to smell her own crazy. When Kristen looks in the mirror and screams back at herself, "He's never going to believe yoooooooouuuuu!" we realize that she's capable of driving herself even deeper into the box of Fruit Loops. She's so raving mad that not even Kristen can escape Kristen's anger. There's a reason she made the pinnacle list of our Summer of Sinners blogs eries, after all!
Me-ouch! Be it catty comments or full-fledged fist fights, the best battle of 2013!
Tony: Marlena Evans vs. Kristen DiMera
Pick one. Go ahead. Just pick one. Like this one. Pick any one of the fights between these two divas because they were all legendary thanks to the amazing chemistry between Deidra Hall and Eileen Davidson. Marlena/Kristen fights were like Lay's potato chips; one was never enough. Mazel tov, Dee and Eileen!
Laurisa: E.J. DiMera vs. Sami Brady
Picking out just one fight to herald would be like trying to pick out my favorite pair of heels. I just love them all so much that it wouldn't be fair. So, I'll just say that this year proved that the Moonlighting curse would not befall E.J. and Sami. If anything, pairing them up gave them even more to lose, and thus those fights reached another level of intensity. Their fights covered the spectrum from the eerily calm (E.J. reminding Sami that she had nothing on him to give the D.A.) to the rafter-shaking (Sami lashing out at E.J. for lying to her but demanding answers from her). It was often hard to tell who was taming whom in their epic clashes. I loved every second of it.
Tony: Nick's Breakdown May 29, 2013
There were some very tear-inducing scenes this year, but this one completely had me reaching for the Kleenex. Sometimes, it proves that very little has to be said for a performance to move one deeply. This was a simple scene, and the horrors that Nick went through weren't spelled out during it, but because of Blake Berris and Suzanne Rogers' heart-tugging talents, it was one little scene that said so much. Watch it here.
Sami's Reunion September 4, 2013
It's not often that we get to cry happy tears in Soapville. But, that's just what happened when Sami's adorable gang of moppets laid a hug on her just a few minutes before her trial. The whole thing was made all the more heart-tugging because E.J. had to work some maneuvers to make the reunion happen. Forget those $60,000 earrings. This was the best he could have given her. The clip really doesn't do this justice because it doesn't show the weeks that Sami spent without her kids, but it's worth it just for Johnny's account of Tooth Fairy travels and Sydney's report on the coloring wars. Take a look.
Best Comedic Scene Stealer
Sure, drama's nice, but comedy is, too, and this character always managed to tickle our funny bone!
Tony: Kristen DiMera
Okay, okay. Some may call Kristen a villainess. Others call her a bitch. I've even heard her referred to as the devil. I call her misunderstood. Sure, she may have done a few horrible deeds, but you can't say she wasn't a little bit hilarious while doing them. Between her witty comebacks and perfectly timed reactions, Kristen proved to be as funny as she was ferocious.
Laurisa: Lucas Horton
Every time he's on, I think to myself, "Lucas!! Where ya been, bud?" Be it Bryan Datillo's comedic timing or Lucas' wonderful ability to set off truth-bombs, Lucas had a chance to grow some confidence and actually stand on his own two feet. Turns out, his two feet are pretty stinkin' funny, especially when he's trying to steal evidence from the police station or encouraging Sami to take a shot...er...give things a try!
Say what!? The character, on average, who always came up with the finest zingers!
Tony: Anne Milbaur
Oh, yeah. Anne's a bitch. But Meredith Scott Lynn can crack out a one-liner like nobody's business. From catchphrases like "Her Hortonness" to just being a general cranky mean girl with quick wit and a mean-spirited silver tongue, Anne certainly got the gift for gab one year for the holidays and hasn't let it go ever since. Just, um, try to stay on her good side, you know, if she has one.
Laurisa: The Book Club
I'll admit, I was a bit appalled when I realized that the show was going to taint Alice Horton's doughnuts. That's trampling on some sacred grass (D'oh! Puns!)! But what followed was a high-larious (sorry, couldn't resist) scene with surprisingly delightful performances from all the ladies. Watch the whole thing here and be sure to look out for some of these great hits (dang it, last one!):
Jennifer: "You're a policeman, and we have donuts!"
Jennifer: "Thank you, first responder!"
Julie: "You know what's boring? Cruising! I hate buffet lines. I hate eating with people I don't know. Hello, I'm Julie Williams, and I really don't want to see pictures of your sheepsue."
Nicole (regarding the location of the bathroom): "Okay! At least you didn't change that, too. Try to confuse me!"
Kayla: "Do you think the dormouse made it? The last we saw him, they were stuffing him into the teapot. I hope somebody at the party is CPR certified!"
Tony: Chad DiMera
This tall drink of water didn't have to wear the lovely suits like the rest of his family to stay sharp. Instead, Chad kept it simple and age appropriate. He wore a lot of jeans, t-shirts, and awesome jackets most
fashionistas fashionmisters would go ga-ga for. He was like hipster meets midtown chic, creating a style that was simply Chad.
Laurisa: Abigail Deveraux
Abigail's style was super last year, but I have a slight confession to make. Probably 70 percent of this award is pure hair. I'm obsessed with Kate Mani's mane -- everything from the cute top knots to the fabulous I-just-rolled-out-of-bed-and-look-this-good waves. Add in the flowing tops, cute swimsuits, and great jackets, and I was all about the Abs this year!
DAYS' Hottest Female Eye Candy
Tony: Camila Banus as Gabi Hernandez
There's a reason modeling agencies (and crazy stick figure psychopaths) were drooling for Gabi this year. Camila is stunning. Heck, she even looked marvelous in maternity gear, which included a suspicious mobile baby bump. So, even though Gabi may have been a hot mess at times, Camila was simply hot.
Laurisa: Lauren Koslow as Kate Roberts
What did she do this year? I want the pill/cream/fairy dust. This woman is phenomenally beautiful. Plus, her fun Twitter feed filled with glorious pictures of Venice and self-deprecating humor make her cyberself just as gorge! Love. Her. So. Much.
DAYS' Hottest Male Eye Candy
Tony: Mark Collier as Liam Frazier
Welcome to Salem, Mark! Here's an award. Live up to it! Okay, okay, I kid. I kid. He'll totally live up to it. Truth be told, Mark might be a new addition to the cast, but he definitely has hunk written all over him, or he will if someone will hand me a Sharpie. And, you know, if Jennifer isn't interested, I'm sure we could find someone to escort him to dinner. Just saying.
Laurisa: James Scott as E.J. DiMera
Okay, DAYS, cast someone else as James-Bond-meets-John-Kennedy dreamy as James Scott is, and I'll consider not picking him for this award one year. Challenge extended.
Most Likely to Succeed
Tony: T Stevens
Brendan Coughlin has so much charm and charisma, it's hard not to like the character of T, even when he was a sacrificial bigot lamb to the slaughter. It could be the mischievous twinkle in his eye, or perhaps his goofy sense of humor, but whatever it is, T is going places, and thank you, writers, for finally recognizing his appeal. Just this year he managed three milestones. One, he made fans not want to throw things at him anymore by becoming a non-bigot. Two, he secured a job, which means he should be sticking around (and seldom seen working). And three, he got a last name! Combine those with his crush on Abigail, and those are all great signs for T and T fans that this loveable goofball will have an even better 2014!
Laurisa: Hope Brady
Not that I'm a fan of Bo being gone at all, but in his absence, we've gotten to see a lot of Hope in her professional capacity. Whether it was busting down the door to rescue Nick and Will or standing up to Melinda the Bully, Detective Fancy Face was one in-charge lady. I wouldn't mind seeing a lot more of that in the future.
Most Likely to Return
Tony: Andrew Donovan
Jeannie-Theresa is back in town. Kim and Shane are making guest returns. There's this interesting casting rumor floating around. So, what better way to seal the Donovan deal than to have Andrew return? Maybe he's John's new CIA Padawan. Maybe he'll fall for a certain Abigail Deveraux, driving his sister nuts. Or maybe he could simply run the Brady Pub. Either way, Andrew should come home where he belongs because we're eager to catch up!
Side note: Maybe the casting department needs to give Mark Lawson a call and hash out the details!
Laurisa: Melanie Jonas
The real thing would be spectacular. I'd love to see Mel take on Theresa for what she's doing to both Daniel and J.J. But someone has got to tell Will about Gabi's crimes. Sonny, Chad, and Justin are all tied up in that whack agreement that Nick had drawn up. That leaves Mel as the lone witness. Time to whisk her, or at least her voice, back to Salem and clue in young William.
Tony: DAYS Wins the Emmy June 16, 2013
Okay, this may not have taken place in Salem, USA, proper, but would one really argue that DAYS winning the Emmy for Outstanding Drama Series didn't make you do backflips, cheer like a nut job, and maybe even shed a few victory tears for our favorite soap!? What an amazing night that was for DAYS, and they haven't slowed down since. That's exactly why I suspect a repeat at next year's awards! Watch it in all its glorious wonder here!
Laurisa: J.J. and the Court Documents October 7, 2013
It will be debated for eons about whether or not J.J. should have found out about Jack's past. However, the way the writers chose to do it -- by having J.J. read the transcripts from Lawrence Alamain's trial -- was hands-down brilliant. It takes a lot of courage to pull such a pivotal plot point from a storyline over a decade old. Yet, it was a phenomenal move and extremely respectful to fans who are so protective of the show's history. And in a genre where getting viewers back is just as important as attracting shiny new ones, surprises like this one are golden.
Tony: E.J. Dimera and Sami Brady
Thanks to the profound chemistry between James Scott and Alison Sweeney, E.J. and Sami make The Towering Inferno look like the soft flame of a tea light. And for teased and tortured EJami fans, 2013 was finally the year they got what they wanted. And, boy, did they get it! They got it via vicious battles turned passionate embraces, sentimental love letters, shared scheming, and even a few tender moments between these two hot-blooded warriors. Finally, the writers wised up and decided not to play it so safe, and I'm sure glad they did!
Laurisa: Sonny Kiriakis and Will Horton
Sonny and Will had some kind of year. Within the course of about 4 months, Sonny found out that Will had fathered a child with his straight ex, shot a man, and gotten blackmailed by a bigot jerkface loon. Following that, Will found out that Sonny's mom hates Will more than an unaccessorized outfit and that Sonny's best friend/business partner could die from taking two bullets. So, of course, the only logical things to do are move in together, move the baby and baby mama in with them, and launch a new business with demanding hours. The fact that Will and Sonny a) made it through this and b) didn't strangle Gabi in the process should qualify them for a medal. Alas, all I have is this Golden Donut. Mazel tov, boys!
Best Veteran Character
Tony: Justin Kiriakis
DAYS hit the mark when they gave deliciously dimpled Justin a prime spot in this year's storylines. He's a legal eagle with a sharp mind. He's a devoted, patient, and forgiving husband. He's arguably the best father since Heathcliff Huxtable. And he made an amazing wingman for E.J. I'd say the only thing Justin forgot to do this year was dial down the awesome because every time he showed up, he brought the proverbial "it" in spades, and I loved it!
Laurisa: Kayla Brady
Yes, our beloved Kayla has been reduced to recurring status, but it's been years since she's been as powerful as she was in 2013. As head cheese at the hospital, she uncovered the first crack in Sami's case by discovering that Bernardi should have indeed survived his surgery. Then she broke my heart wide open when Aunt Kayla tearfully confessed to J.J. that Jack had raped year many years earlier. Finally, she stuck up for her friends and family at every turn, even if they didn't deserve it. (Hi, Theresa!) Who wouldn't want Kayla on their side?
Tony: Blake Berris as Nick Fallon
It takes a talented guy to get nearly everyone to hate his character. Blake did that. And he did that amazingly! He made creepy and despicable work. If DAYS had made a Whac-A-Mole type game called Bash-A-Bigot, everyone but Archie Bunker would have signed up to take a swing at Salem's resident psycho. Still, Blake managed to give Nick a vulnerable side, too. His performances, often understated, made me love to hate Nick most of the time, but also feel for him, too, which is an unbelievably tricky task to pull off. Yep, Blake. You kind of rocked and rolled, mister!
Laurisa: Greg Vaughan as Eric Brady
A typical priest doesn't belong in the soap opera world. They don't scheme, sleep around, throw bourbon at walls, lust for power and money, or have miracle children. Yet Greg put so much calm compassion into Father Eric that what could have come across as distant and stoic instead played as a believably layered, complicated man who was both reliable and volatile at the same time. I believed that his faith was all-encompassing when he put aside his personal health for the new school. I believed that he wanted Brady to be happy each time he reluctantly met with Kristen.
And when that single tear rolled down his check when Nicole ripped into him for accusing her of rape, I believed that he loved Nicole right back, maybe even in a deeper way than she had hoped. So there it is. A priest that made me believe. Job well done, padre.
Tony: Eileen Davidson as Kristen DiMera
Eileen has the acting chops of Meryl Streep. She has the comedic timing of Lucille Ball. And she looks like Barbie. I think most people would hate her if she wasn't so easy to fall in love with. In what seemed like effortless performances that ranged from wicked to witty to sincere to sinful, she took over Salem like a one-woman Tour de Force. So she may be gone (for now!), but her portrayal of Kristen in 2013 set the bar astronomically high for next year's winner. Good luck, ladies, and congratulations, Eileen!
Laurisa: Alison Sweeney as Sami Brady
Sami's been a screaming hot mess for so long that it's easy to forget how tender the Lady Sweeney can be onscreen. But during Sami's trial, Alison Sweeney showed Sami to have remarkable restraint and poise, and a lot of it through some righteous no-words-face-acting reaction scenes during Sami's trial. Sure, Sami was doing all of this to protect other people. And yes, Sami finally had the right guy at her side through this whole thing. But if Alison Sweeney hadn't delivered on making us feel like Sami was fighting for her life, the whole thing would have seemed futile. It was a true treat of a storyline, centered around a wonderful performance by a stellar DAYS leading lady.
Tony: Kristen's Revenge
A gal's gotta have a plan, and even a backup plan. Kristen had both. One was to destroy her enemies. The other, well, was to really destroy her enemies. The only thing she hadn't planned on was actually falling for the doofus she was going to use as the pawn to take down the queen.
In a nearly year-long epic showdown of scheming, plotting, a lot of rolling around on Brady, and a little priest-drugging and raping, Kristen managed to tear Salem apart at its seams. No character in her orbit walked away unscathed from her actions. She broke up supercouples. She turned the town saint into a pariah. And she unintentionally united an amusing, yet unlikely, alliance known as Victor, Marlena, and Nicole. As her plans unfolded, Kristen's enemies', and even her loved ones', lives were destroyed, including her own. Was it worth it? Oh, yeah!
Laurisa: Free Sami
Nearly everything this storyline did was right on. It started all the way back with Nick's blackmail, and by the time this storyline wrapped, it involved Sami, E.J., Justin (!!!), Adrienne, Stefano, Kate, Will, Lucas, Gabi, Nick, Sonny, Rafe, Abe, Hope, Marlena, Roman, Abigail, and Chad. The more the merrier when it comes to storyline involvement!
Next, it relied heavily upon Sami and E.J.'s criminal pasts -- a very smart use of history and a long-coming resolution for viewers who were annoyed with Sami's lack of consequences for her actions. We also got some great Lucas scenes, including the much-needed scene where Will confessed to shooting E.J. (Hat tip to the casting of Chandler's real-life brother Christian as young Will!)
Additionally, it served as the first real challenge to a new Ejami romance, and we saw the fan-favorite couple emerge from the drama (which didn't involved a third party, thankyouverymuch) in once piece.
Finally, it gave DAYS an event-type storyline to promote. Instead of asking, "Did you watch DAYS this week," my mom called me and asked, "Have you been watching Sami's trial?" #FreeSami even trended on Twitter! These specific questions about storylines are gold when it comes to word-of-mouth marketing and reflects the high quality of the storytelling. If DAYS can generate more of these going forward, they stand a good chance of defending their Best Drama title at the 2014 Emmys!
So there you have it. Just in case you were wondering, there are a few ground rules governing why
Tony can't give every award to Kristen we spread out the love on our awards. (Only one individual award per actor per scooper -- same deal for characters. And, we can't pick the same winner in any category.) But there are no rules against you sending in your own picks! You can do it through Twitter (@LaurisaDays and @Tony_S_Days) or the comments section below! We also accept drink recipes and candy recommendations, should you be so inclined.
Merry Christmas! Happy Hanukkah! Happy Kwanzaa! Joyous Festivus! Whatever you celebrate, raise a glass to DAYS!
As always, thanks for reading!
Laurisa and Tony
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