Oh, come all ye DAYS faithful! Sure, 2016 wasn't all joyful and triumphant, but we have another cyber awards ceremony for that. This week, we're tackling simply the best of DAYS 2016, otherwise known as the Golden Donut Awards!
Actually, we're celebrating the Tenth Annual Golden Donut Awards! We lobbied hard to get a musical montage showcasing a decade's worth of columns, awards, Laurisa's changing hairstyles, and Tony's empty Scotch glasses, but, as it turns out, it's much harder to get the permission to use "Hey Ya!" than expected. Drats! The good news is that at least we still get to praise our favorite show together, and that's worth a woot, woot!
Of course, this year, as we applaud DAYS' triumphs, that also includes the legendary life of Joseph Mascolo. His recent passing still weighs heavy on our hearts. He was a giant amongst men that none of us will ever forget. And as our thoughts and prayers still linger with his loved ones and those he touched dearly, we were honored to pay tribute to Joseph's sinister Salem alter ego, the one and only Stefano DiMera.
The Phoenix loved causing chaos, opera scores, and, certainly, chess. To us, he'll always be the king. Click here for the DAYS Two Scoops tribute to Stefano: Checkmate!
Although we personally never had the privilege of meeting Joseph Mascolo, everything we've heard and read about him makes us firmly believe that he would want us to celebrate life as well as the show he held near and dear to his own heart for over thirty years. As we not only continue to pay homage to the ageless Frances Reid's Alice Horton and her famous baked goods, we would like to officially dedicate this year's Golden Donut Awards to Joseph. May he be remembered with love and warmth all the days of our lives.
Without any further ado, we sincerely thank you all for your continued readership (and friendships) as we humbly and proudly present you with the 10th Annual Golden Donuts: The best of DAYS 2016!
Laurisa: Chloe Lane
Seeing Nadia Bjorlin is like seeing an old buddy. It will never not make me smile. But Chloe leaned toward the weak side in recent years. Not anymore. This version of Chloe is suffering no fools. She chucked Deimos to the curb the second ahe heard him pleading with Nicole. And the fact that she's given Nicole the ultimate gift -- serving as a surrogate -- should not be underestimated or brushed aside as a way to prop Deimos. That is a huge, life-changing favor and should earn her a lot of leeway and credit going forward.
Tony: Dr. Valerie Grant
They say you can never go home again. For Valerie, that's not the case! Though she's still unsure of how long her Salem stay will be, I love having another smart, strong, independent woman around town who can not only hold her own, but can save the life of her leading man as well. The gifted and lovely Vanessa A. Williams seamlessly assumed the role and made Valerie's reintroduction to Salem a smashing success. More, please!
Best Special Guest Star/Recurring Character
Laurisa: Deidre Hall as Hattie Adams
I don't know if it was always the plan to have Hattie as Hope's prison bestie, or if this was a spur-of-the-moment solution to give Deidre Hall something to do when Drake Hogestyn had to be out unexpectedly, but I thoroughly enjoyed all things Hattie! From her flirtation with "Mr. Roman" to her girl-power relationship with Hope, Hattie was a welcome addition to Salem. It appears Deidre had a ball playing her, too, which is always great for our DAYS stars!
Tony: Eve Larson
DAYS was, for a majority of early to mid-2016, oh, -- how do I put this delicately -- depressing as hell. It was a chore to watch at times. Eve's lackluster exit didn't help. But by late August/early September the sun was starting to come out again in Salem, and one of the brightest spots was the return of Eve.
Like, I literally misted up when I saw Kassie DePaiva again -- she's such an inspiring person, amazing actor, and all around class act. To have her back as Eve made Salem a place I wanted to enthusiastically go to again. And though her charming scenes with Nicole made a Manhattan adventure sound fabulous, I not-so-secretly hope that Eve will simply stay in Salem for good. I'll even help her move. Deal, Eve!?
Most Improved Character
Laurisa: Gabi Hernandez
I loved her romance with J.J. early in the year. I loved her whatever-it-is with Chad. I love her interactions with Sonny and Arianna and chalk them up to a sweet way to remember Will. But most of all, I love that she returned with her eyes wide open. I couldn't stand her when Nick was so easily manipulating her. But this girl calls Dario out on his bravado and won't let a skank like Vicki Bush get her talons around Chad's, um, neck. I hope that she has the same in-control attitude when it comes to standing up to the Deveraux siblings because something tells me she's going to be the fall guy for them come 2017.
When Blanca first appeared, I thought she was a "jiggle-TV" mess, but I was wrong. Very wrong. The talented Ximena Duque was a find for DAYS, and I'm sorry to see her potential as Blanca cut entirely too short. Nevertheless, Blanca was made of win during her brief stay. She loved dancing and had an overall zest for life, which was a greatly appreciated escape amid the depressing gloom that had settled upon Salem for a large part of the year.
More importantly, Blanca was smart, strong, and compassionate. We need more of that in Salem. And it was a grand showing of "Girl Power!" when she told Adrianna to pump the brakes on her quest to unite Blanca and Rafe. Blanca had enough dignity not to pursue an emotionally unavailable man or wait to be his runner-up should his real love not fulfill her obligations. That's self-respect. That's how it's done, ladies. And I repeat, "We need more of that in Salem!"
He literally lit coffins on fire with live people inside. I know all the soap villains gave him a high-five when he saw them at the next meeting.
Tony: Stefano DiMera
Legendary? Epic? Are those words big enough to describe Joseph Mascolo's Stefano? Nope. Not at all. In my book, Joseph created a villain that transcended TV and is up there with diabolical icons like Hannibal Lecter and Darth Vader. And that's not a nasty list that's easy to get on, either. I'm picky. A villain really has to work for it, and Stefano did so to the bittersweet end. Well, bitter for Hope; sweet for him, but I digress...
In his last act of vengeance, Stefano orchestrated his own murder at the hands of one of his fiercest foes. Let that one sink in. And Stefano's swan song is still playing, nearly a year after his 14th (and presumably-but-not-in-stone) final death. Yep. He's still terrorizing his enemies. That takes some pretty major planning and a whole lot of wickedness.
Plus, due to Stefano's demise, we got a splendid standalone episode dedicated to the Phoenix, where his victims came together to, um, mourn, err, toast his passing, as well as some outstanding otherworldly visits between him and Chad. So. Yeah. You know who got the last laugh, Salem? Stefano. That's who. So, line up -- Limoncello shots for everyone in honor of the Phoenix's final f-you to his enemies!
Me-ouch! Be it catty comments or full-fledged fist fights, the best battle of 2016!
Laurisa: Abigail vs. Ben: The Fire Scene (April 8 and 11, 2016)
After seeing Ben terrorize a good chunk of Salem for months, we needed to see him get justice -- for Will, Chad, Thomas, Abigail, and yes, even Paige and Serena. Someone needed to get the goods on this bad guy. And did Abigail ever...
But really, we need to give all the credit to the players for making this one happen. I mean, wowza. Kate Mansi was never better than when she was a raging lunatic in this scene. And listen, Robert Scott Wilson doesn't get the respect he deserves. It's way too easy to think of him as a smoldering piece of soap man meat. But this cat can act his face off. He was spectacular as creepy Ben. For that matter, Kate and Rob created one of the most captivating on-screen pairs of 2016. This scene was the climax of their amazing work.
Tony: Maggie Kiriakis vs Victor Kiriakis (June 27, 2016)
There were a lot of fights in 2016 -- A. Lot. Of. Fights. -- but I stood up and applauded when a fed-up Maggie finally (and ferociously) laid into Victor about his treatment of those she loves who he's deemed as inferior, tramps, well, insert your own colorful choice of misogynistic slang Victor may use *here.* Maggie justly called the jerk a spoiled brat who's alienating those they love. She was seething when she screamed she didn't know how much more she could take. Heck, even when Victor offered up a cozy cruise for two, she replied that it sounded like a vision of hell. Well, now, tell 'im what you really think, Mags!
Laurisa: Adrienne vs. Cancer
This storyline had been on the back burner for so long that I'd pretty much forgotten about it. But I'm so glad it got fired up again because Judi Evans is masterful at its helm. Her spot-on blend of fight and flight emotions make Adrienne one you want to reach through the TV and hug. And, really, there isn't a bad apple in this bunch. All of the fellas -- Freddie Smith, Stephen Nichols, Bryan Dattilo, and Wally Kurth -- are spectacular in their various roles playing characters who worry about Adrienne. And Mary Beth Evans always shines when Kayla is in doctor mode. But the moment that got me the most was when Kate walked into Adrienne's hospital room -- all shades of Lady Macbeth, thanks to the wondrous Lauren Koslow -- but instead, she grabbed Adrienne's hand in solidarity as a cancer survivor.
Tony: Hope's Standalone Episode (June 8, 2016)
This one. This one got me. Hope went to the Horton cabin, and, let's be honest, nothing that good ever happens there. I was worried, but this time it did. Something good happened! Hope found her strength again through some ghostly visits -- and, yep, that's when the waterworks started. I cried tears of joy when I saw that damn charming Peter Reckell grin again. Aw, it's Bo! Another moment of "Bope" *sigh* and *swoon* And then Larry Welch showed up and cracked me up -- laughter through tears and all. I totally boohooed again when I saw Joseph Mascolo. I'll never not miss him, but then -- THEN! -- a grown-up Ghost Zack Brady (Bope's Tiny Man!) appeared, and I lost it. I mean: Lost. It. His conversation with Hope about always being in each other's hearts and Hope seeing him at every age was just too much. I was a mess. Okay, okay, I'm misting up as I think about it all again, so moving on to the next award...
Best Comedic Scene Stealer
Sure, drama's nice. But comedy is, too, and this character always managed to tickle the funny bone!
Laurisa: Anne Milbauer and Lucas Horton
I've often been irritated with DAYS for not using Bryan Dattilio's comedic skills for good. But the scenes that he had with Meredith Lynn Scott started to uncover that gem. Watching these two snark giants play off each other when Anne showed up at the mansion was delightful. And their scene at the bar where she finished his drink cracked me right up. Let's see more of them in 2017!
Tony: Andre DiMera
Be it his sibling rivalry with Chad, conspiring with Kate, or exchanging barbs with one of his numerous enemies, Andre is diabolically hysterical. I mean, go on, mention killing someone around this guy and you're sure to notice that amusing little gleam in his eyes that's part admiration and part, "Oh, I can do better than that." Sure, of course, roger that, he's done horrific things, but, by God, he's hilarious while doing them thanks to the tremendously talented Thaao Penghlis.
Most Likely to Return
Laurisa: Tony DiMera
There's something incredibly off about how Andre has been acting. He's almost...helpful. He's buddies with Kate. He lured Clyde into the trap at the mansion. He agreed to help Abigail fake her death. Now he's championing Chabby like it's his job. Sure, "Andre" claims that he's doing all of this because he wants desperately to be part of a family. But I can't call hogwash on that fast enough. Andre has never cared about his family. I mean, he murdered his own brother. (And Benjy is dead-dead, not just maybe-soap-dead!) So I don't buy that Andre has suddenly turned over a new leaf and just wants to be loved. But all of those helpful measures sound a heck of a lot like Tony. It makes me wonder...
Tony: Chelsea Brady
In a perfect world, Rachel Melvin would return as Chelsea, and I'd be one of the happiest Two Scoopers ever. Spoiler alert: Laurisa would be the other happiest Two Scooper ever. But even if Ms. Melvin couldn't return as Chelsea, someone needs to. The Kiriakis clan is a sausage fest. It needs a shot of estrogen. Maggie certainly can, but shouldn't have to, wrangle all of those men-children herself. Enter Chelsea: a smart, sassy spitfire who could give her Grandpa Vic a run for his money in the snark department. She's certainly been away long enough to have learned the ropes of the business world, and I am confident Chelsea could compete with the fellas running Titan now. Heck, at times, it seems all she would have to do is distract them with a shiny object and take over. Yep. She needs to get home and stop this bro-down. Pronto!
Laurisa: "Father" Shane in the confessional booth
I knew he was coming back to usher Theresa out of Salem, but I loved that in true secret-spy fashion he sneaked up on all of us! You know this guy can't just arrive in town for a visit like some commoner. I broke out in a huge smile when he showed up disguised as a priest. His involvement in her exit was a bright spot. It gave Theresa an out, or at least a purpose for choosing to leave. I take a little comfort in knowing that Shane is supposedly keeping tabs on Theresa while she's away.
Tony: Holy... -- what the... -- Hope kills Stefano!?
In the immortal words of Clark W. Griswold, "If I woke up tomorrow with my head sewn to the carpet, I wouldn't be more surprised than I am now." That. Certainly that. Granted, arguments could be made to deem this the "Best" and "Worst" Surprise simultaneously, and I wouldn't argue that, but, dear Soap Lords, O-M-G to the max, and raise the roof because it was a surprise in every sense of the term "surprise." Lead characters just don't kill lead characters...sans brainwashing, evil twins, etc., but that was the real Hope! Killing the real Stefano! It's been nearly a year, and I'm still somewhat dumbfounded, stating, "Hope shot -- like, shot a lot -- and killed Stefano." So unreal. But, yeah, that happened. Wow.
Laurisa: Steve and Kayla Johnson
These two are the perfect example of balance. Without Kayla, Steve can be a little too macho. Without Steve, Kayla can worry way too much. But when they are working together, both of them are their best selves. I love the united front they're putting up when it comes to Joey and Jade. I love that both are wickedly successful in their separate professions. And I adore that, through it all, they make time for their own relationship. I'm past the point of wanting to see this couple "shaken up" with an interloper. Nope, let's keep these two together, and let them take on life's curveballs as a team.
Tony: Shawn and Belle Brady
The über talents of Brandon Beemer and Martha Madison as well as their smoldering chemistry together made me a solid gold "Shelle" shipper. Both actors effortlessly brought the characters into adulthood this time around. This was a grown-up Shawn and a big-girl Belle facing adult problems.
Both characters were flawed but also self-aware. They faced issues through open, mostly honest, and even downright blunt-at-times communication, and were mature enough to keep talking until a solution was found. That made their struggles more compelling, and while it wasn't always pretty between Shawn and Belle, Brandon and Martha created something beautiful that made me root for "Shelle."
And, of course, as if we weren't already on the brink of a breakdown, knowing that Shelle was unceremoniously being written off the show, then Shawn showed up -- with a literal bag of awesome slung over his shoulder -- and said to his lady love, ""Are you ready for an adventure?" Cue the tears and swooning! He's going with her. And all is right in Last Blast world again.
Best Legacy Character
Some love for the next generation who have to carry the banner!
Laurisa: Belle Black
It seems like she's been a "young one" for a long time. But having Belle return as a lawyer and a mother of a teenager seemed to finally graduate her from the kids' table. And nothing showed her grace and maturity more than when she caught Jennifer in a compromising position and didn't use it to her own advantage. Remember when Jennifer was behaving like a total hosebeast and trying to steal Thomas from Chad? Belle could have put an end to that nonsense then and there with a photo of a strung-out Jennifer passed out. Yet Belle had compassion for a fellow mother and called Kayla instead. So not only did she not expose Jennifer, but she saved her life instead. What?! That kind of good behavior is like Big Foot on soaps.
Tony: Claire Brady
2016 was rough on DAYS characters. Many of them were written out of, well, character, and at times, it was hard to keep track of all the undiagnosed multiple personality disorders. Claire wasn't entirely immune, but I loved her anyway. After all, she's just a kid trying to find her way in the Salem world. Who hasn't flopped a time or two in their youth while doing that? Plus, since dating for Claire consisted of referencing at least five or so family trees to ensure she's not flirting with a cousin, I can't entirely fault her fighting a little dirty for Theo. Chica is related to everyone! Anyways...
If I had to pick a version of Claire, the original recipe was made of win. She was a feisty, sweet, "I'll seek vengeance if you hurt my loved ones," "I'll spend a night in jail sticking up for my friends," smarter-than-most adults, loveable spaz. Her friendship with Henry was adorable, as was her relationship with Doug, who absolutely adores his singing padawan. The writers should think about going back to that, but even if she starts to take after her Aunt Sami a little more, I have confidence in Olivia Rose Keegan. She's impressively created a unique character that isn't just some kid of a "Last Blast" supercouple -- she's just Claire, faults and all.
Best Veteran Character
Laurisa: Marlena Evans
Let me tell you how proud I was of the good doc when she threw down that folder and solved the whole trio of terror. She basically said, "Listen up here, boys. I used my big brain to solve this case. Now, here's how you get on board. Oh, and don't mess this up for me." Yaassss! Get it, girl!
Tony: Maggie Kiriakis
Dear God, there was hardly a moment in 2016 that Maggie didn't have a reason to cry, but she handled it all with the dignity and grace we've come to adore in her over the years. Not only was she the epitome of class, but Maggie remained a champion of forgiveness, which, given what she went through, was no easy task. Actually, she not only forgave, but she laid a gentle path for others to forgive as well. That's not to say Maggie wasn't tough when she had to be. She was. Very tough, in fact. And Suzanne Rogers embodied Maggie's journey beautifully.
Best Supporting Performer
Laurisa: Martha Madison as Belle Black
For a hot minute, Belle was all over Salem, and DAYS was better for it. I adored her friendship with Chad and how she encouraged him to redeem the family business. Martha and Billy Flynn had that awesome Kristian Alfonso/Stephen Nichols friend chemistry that made you believe the pair right away. Claire's singing dream storyline was grounded by Martha's solid performance as the levelheaded mom. And Martha's touching chemistry with Deidre Hall helped to fill that Will-sized hole in our hearts. I can't think of a place that Martha's performance wasn't top-notched...and this is coming from someone who used to despise Belle!
Tony: Lauren Koslow as Kate Roberts
While I've never seen Lauren give less than her all to a performance, she especially shined this year. One highlight was during the reveal of the "Tatenapping" storyline. As Kate squared off with Victor and Deimos, Lauren was epic. Kate showed the Kiriakis boys that it's not a man's world; it's hers. In fact, Lauren's fabulous flair reminded me of iconic vixens such as Knots Landing's Abby, Dynasty's Alexis, and Melrose's Amanda, and that's a pretty divaliciously exclusive club to join. Still, just as easily, Kate's compassion toward Chad and Adrienne were heartfelt and genuine due to Lauren's talents. And she even got to flex her comedic chops, too, especially opposite Thaao Penghlis! All and all, Kate could be cold, calculating, caring, brash, and even vulnerable at times, and I firmly believe the divine Ms. Koslow is the unsung hero of DAYS.
Best Lead Performer
Laurisa: Jen Lilley as Theresa Donovan
Theresa got watered down to a pretty sad sap by the time she left. (Literally, her last scene was her ugly crying into her own hand.) But that didn't mean that Jen Lilley didn't command the spectrum of emotions available to Theresa at any given moment. Dedicated dreamer who had to stand up to Kate? Done. Keen insights on all things Summer? Yup. Terrified when Xander showed up? Check. Believable harlot who broke Brady's heart? Nailed it. Heartbroken mother when she had to leave her family? Sold it and the side dish along with it. I will miss the talented Lady Lilley. She is the obvious heir-apparent to the role of lovable schemer originated by Susan Seaforth Hayes and continued by Alison Sweeney. It takes a special kind of actress to pull off a role where you root for the character and yet hate the things she does. If Jen is ever able to come back to DAYS, the show would be stupid not to roll out the red carpet for this talent.
Tony: Billy Flynn as Chad DiMera
From nuanced performances to the grander displays of love, loss, anger, and flat-out despair, Billy's performances throughout 2016 were phenomenal! The man was simply captivating. Throughout the twists and turns of each storyline (made more complicated by inconsistences of writing régime changes) and opposite three different leading ladies, Billy effortlessly kept Chad invariable. Chad was who Chad was at the core, and Billy's seemingly endless talents made that happen.
Laurisa: Stefano's death
Let me reiterate Tony's earlier award -- this was a genuine shock. Kudos to the DAYS team for keeping this one from widely getting out. But when you add in the amazing levels of win on top, this was one of the best storylines in a while, not just 2016.
First, Kristian Alfonso's lead performance was absolutely stellar. I believe Hope completely snapped when she shot Stefano. Had Hope been thinking like her otherwise normal cop self, things might have been different. But Kristian made good on Hope's pain, so I bought it. The bookend to that brilliant performance was her understated delivery in the courtroom when Hope nodded in embarrassed agreement during Chad's testimony. Hope got it.
Second, we got a collection of cheer-worthy side storylines and performances. Wally Kurth was superb in the courtroom scenes. I'm adoring Hope's antics in jail with Hattie, Coach Beiste, and T-Boz. And Brandon Beemer got to bring Shawn back for one more round of making the Salem P.D. actually get some work done!
Finally, this ended up being the perfect love letter to Joe Mascolo. Considering this will be his last storyline, it's wonderful that this DiMera death actually means something in Salem. Both E.J. and Kristen "died" with barely a hint of a follow-up story. But Stefano is too big of a villain for it to just end there. We had to uncover more. And the fact that this "more" is one more final Stefano scheme is just fine with me. Ironically, it solidifies Stefano's status as a bit of an immortal villain. Even from the grave, he's still calling the shots. And he died literally standing and laughing at his enemy. That seems about right for Stefano...and is a brilliant showcase for Joe.
Tony: Salem Under Siege
Okay. Sure. Eddy was a bonehead for creating this mess in the first place, but since it turned out to be one of the best storylines of the year, I can't be that upset with him. It first scored major points by encompassing most of the cast. Because so many Salemites were involved, nearly every character and actor had a moment to shine in the spotlight.
The storyline also mined marvelously into DAYS's rich history (hello there, Orpheus!) while using more contemporary villains as well (hey, hey, Clyde and Xander). The "Trio of Terror" were as menacing as they were amusing due to the amazing abilities of George DelHoyo, James Read, and Paul Telfer, whom I hope to see again. Because we had great enemies, our Salem heroes had to reach down deep and rise to the challenge. And they did! It was great.
All in all, it was a retro good time harkening back to the action/adventure heydays of DAYS in the '80s. Actually, it was the kind of storyline a lot of us wanted for the show's 50th Anniversary. You know, instead of last year's "everyone is dead" edition.
Thank you again for taking the time to celebrate the Golden Donut Awards with us! It's a sincere pleasure and privilege to share our love of all things DAYS with others who totally get why life in Salem is so amazing. We hope everyone has a fantastic holiday and that we see you again next week as we move from toasting to roasting as we present the Tenth Annual Alex North Memorial Awards: The Worst of DAYS 2016!
As always, thanks for reading!
Laurisa and Tony
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