The 11th Annual Golden Donut Awards: The Best of DAYS 2017

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The 11th Annual Golden Donut Awards: The Best of DAYS 2017
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It's time to put on your holiday best, grab some champagne, and toast to a few of our favorite things as Two Scoopers Laurisa and Tony team up to present the Eleventh Annual Golden Donut Awards: The Best of DAYS 2017 in this week's Two Scoops!

To read Tony and Laurisa's take on the year that wasn't so great, be sure to read
The Alex North Memorial Awards: The Worst of DAYS 2017.

Hearing, "Like sands through the hourglass, so are the days of our lives," will never get old to us. Never! Even when DAYS hits the occasional rough patch...umm, patches...okay, most of last winter and spring, which we'll discuss in malicious meticulous detail next week during the 11th Annual Alex North Memorial Awards. So even when DAYS is a bit rough, we'll forever stand by our soap with foam fingers, face paint, and, perhaps, a few festive cocktails. 'Tis the season and all...

With that, we're here to honor the best of DAYS for 2017! It is and always will be a show -- an institution -- worth celebrating, especially as the show added another candle to its birthday cake this year. That's 52 candles, to be exact. And that's a huge accomplishment for the dedicated, hardworking, and all-around talented cast and crew of our favorite daytime drama. And with a renewal, a new gifted head writer, and a new surge in ratings, yep, 2017 offered a lot to cheer about when all is said and done.

Another reason we love life in Salem is all the traditions, especially this time of year. We enjoy being present when one of our favorite residents reads The Christmas Story at the hospital. We think we speak for nearly every fan that all of us want our own personalized Horton ornament! And, for us, we get to share a DAYS tradition that we started back in 2007 with the very first Golden Donut Awards!

Named to honor Alice Horton via her famous baked goods, the Golden Donuts celebrate what we loved about DAYS throughout the year. While it's impossible to give accolades to every actor, crew member, character, and storyline, we do our best to spread the love as much as possible without overlapping. We're sort of like the Santas of Salem -- we have one shot to get everything right, yet occasionally you end up with socks instead of that cool iThingy you were drooling over. But, hey, socks are useful, too, but we digress...

Ultimately, everyone watches DAYS for different reasons, but we all tune in, which makes Salem connect us all in a magical way. So be sure to share your favorites below in the Comments section, on the Soap Central message boards, or on Twitter. And without any further ado, please enjoy the 11th Annual Golden Donut Awards: The Best of DAYS 2017!

Best Debut
New to the show or newly returned, we were thrilled to see them!

Laurisa: Tripp Dalton
First, Lucas Adams is a find. He's got great chemistry with everyone from Stephen Nichols to Olivia Rose Keegan, which is good because Tripp has relationships with a lot of Salem! Whereas most "teen scene" kids tend to stay isolated in their next-gen bubble, Tripp got to mix it up with multiple characters, including a great recent plot point with Kate. Second, unlike most surprise kids, this one actually makes sense. Steve was missing for the better part of a decade, and we knew he had a romantic relationship during that time. There wasn't much rewriting that had to happen for this paternity check to work out. Finally, the whole "Ava's murder and cover-up" was a huge cloud hanging over the show that needed to be corrected. It was a little wonky to have Stayla's otherwise great kid go through life like nothing happened after he committed drunken murder. Tripp's arrival gave Steve, Kayla, and Joey a chance to bring that storyline to a resolution, not to mention give the actors some of their best material of the year.

Tony: Eve Larson-Kiriakis
A veiled figure interrupted a clandestine meeting in a shadowy cemetery. Ooh! Victor and Brady wondered who this mysterious individual was. The veil was pulled back with panache. Boom! It was Eve. That moment was extremely soaptastic, as were the rest that have followed.

The incomparable Kassie DePaiva returned to the role seamlessly with multilayered performances. From Eve's ongoing grief over the loss of her daughter all the way to full-blown opportunistic, scheming survivor, Kassie has kept me wanting more and more...and more. Heck, Eve even brought out the best in Deimos by letting him embrace his worst. Combine all that with the powerhouse scenes between Eve and Brady (I mean, how malevolently marvelous is Eric Martsolf?!), and it's just a huge, winning "Welcome back!" for Kassie's Eve.

Best Special Guest Star/Recurring Character

Laurisa: Ben Weston
The dude kicked off one of the year's best storylines, and he did it in a show-stopping way -- by interrupting a wedding and getting punched right in the face. He's so deliciously bonkers, he loops back around into empathetic at times. I believed him when he said he came back to bring people good news about Will. There wasn't anything in it for him. No one said, "Oh, you mean you only killed three people instead of four? Well, that changes everything!" Ben's lunacy, not to mention Robert Scott Wilson's intoxicating portrayal, is a true asset to the show. I'd love to see him pop up again.

Tony: Sami Brady
It's a rarity to witness a character that nearly all viewers have a heated opinion about, but, from love to loathing, everyone has something to say about Sami and, as Bonnie Raitt might sing, Sami "gives them something to talk about." For those on the adoring side, having a familiar face with such driving force behind it was just what many DAYS fans needed to shake off the bad Higley juju. Not only that, but Sami's whirlwind tour created many beautiful scenes between her and family, friends (still love Abe and Sami's scene!), frenemies (always a sucker for Sami/Kate scenes, too!), and, of course, Lucas -- best friend, co-parent, and co-hot-mess. Then there was the crazy train extravaganza of Sami's confrontations with Susan and when Sami out-psychoed psychopath Ben! Epic. Epic, just like Alison Sweeney. Oh, sweet, talented Alison! She. Did. Not. Miss. A. Beat. Stellar work from the beginning to the end of her guest run. Of course, I have to say it -- "More, please!"

Most Improved

Laurisa: Safe
I'll admit, I braced myself for massive annoyance when I saw the preview of Sami and Rafe hitting the sheets. But instead, Sami's stay in Salem brought a lot of funny Safe moments. This time around, she wasn't desperate for his approval. He wasn't trying to micromanage her life. Together, they were downright charming. For all her faults, Sami actually has good relationships with her exes. That's because, deep down, Sami's a good person, and no one close enough to her to fall for her would go without noticing that. And obviously, these guys have a slight element of sainthood for keeping up with Sami for any amount of time.

Tony: Chloe Lane
It wasn't that Chloe's concerns about Holly's best interests were that unwarranted, but the repeated chants of "my child" came across as pretty darn cold for a woman who just lent her womb to her bestie. When that was all over, the Chloe I've adored since the "Last Blast" days returned. Like, really, Chloe turned out to be the definition of a best friend. From ultimately having Nicole's back to paying her debts back to Brady to encouraging Lucas to back off the booze (and, you know, help him when he woke next to "Dead Anj"), Chloe was a re-welcomed sight every time the radiant Nadia Bjorlin showed up on-screen. Not only were Nadia's dramatic performances superbly subtle, but I also loved that she got to share her comedic side, too. Chloe's scenes with Julie were a granted wish I hadn't realized I wished for!

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Best Villain

Laurisa and Tony: Stefano DiMera
We're breaking our rules not to pick the same winner for a category to go with this sentimental and all-time favorite villain pick. It's the last year Stefano will be eligible, and what better way to go out than to lure the gang into an international chase -- complete with a Shane sighting and masquerade ball -- only to discover that Stefano has cheated death once again. He'll forever be somewhere out there, which casts a looming shadow over Salem for those who feared him. We also love that everyone is still talking to his photo. His effects are still being felt. We don't see that ever going away. So, here's to Joe Mascolo and the ever-rising Phoenix. We hope he's flying high!

Best Brawl Me-ouch! Be it catty comments or full-fledged fistfights, the best battle of 2017!

Laurisa: Hattie Adams vs. Hope Brady -- "Don't touch my things!"
Monday, September 11, 2017
Hattie was easily the best part of the doppelgänger storyline, and this scene was Deidre Hall's best showing. As Hope tenderly tried to convince her friend to come clean, Hattie felt the pressure of all she'd done wrong. She flung herself around the room in frustration. When she got to the line, "Don't touch my things," Hattie was so desperate and regretful that it was hard not to feel a little pity for her. All Hattie wanted was to be loved...and a fashion blog. I don't think that's too much to ask out of life.

Tony: Maggie Kiriakis vs. Deimos Kiriakis
Tuesday, May 30, 2017
Granted, there was always a wave of joy brought to my Deimos-hating heart anytime someone confronted him. Oh, and I'm still beaming that our favorite stoner with a heart of gold, Rory, played a part in his downfall. That was fantastic. But -- BUT -- when Maggie had finally had enough of his douchery and lit Dirty D up like Uncle Lewis did to Clark Griswold's tree, it was like Christmas morning for fans who'd had more than enough of everyone's least favorite new Kiriakis on the block. Among other hits to Deimos' ego, Maggie told him he wasn't a real man. Ouch! She -- "she" being Maggie, one of the nicest characters ever -- then completely and utterly shamed him by confessing that she "had believed that everyone had good in them, until [she had] met Deimos." And mic drop, Maggie. You win. Suzanne Rogers was brilliant in those scenes and made a great sparring partner against the devious flair Vincent Irizarry pulls off like no other. Yep. Win and win meet win!

Best Tear-jerker

Laurisa: Marlena asking Will, "Can I have a hug?"
Tuesday, November 21, 2017
Seeing Will again made me want to jump through the screen and hug Chandler Massey myself. So, I give Marlena all the credit in the world for showing restraint as Will was justifiably freaked out by all the people hugging him, kissing him, and trying know...convince him he's not an Italian crime lord named after an American rock and roll singer. Marlena's emotion was palpable when she made one last offer to show Will his former life. Yet she did it without the slightest bit of pressure. And as she turned to leave the room, I thought, "No! Mar! That's your 'my dear boy'! You have to hug him!" Thankfully, she asked for a hug. Thankfully, he obliged. And I cried the awwwww kind of tears. It was wonderful!

Tony: Abe's "He's My Boy" Moment
Friday, December 1, 2017
The shooting storyline has been gripping and has produced many misty-eyed moments for viewers, but when Abe welled up at the candlelight vigil and softly said, "He's my boy," I completely lost it. It was a moment when three simple words described everything that Theo meant to Abe. He's his boy. He's his heart and soul. It was a gut-wrenching moment of grief and fear hauntingly portrayed by James Reynolds. James sincerely deserves every single accolade that comes his way and every morsel of gold in the statuettes that should surely come his way as well!

Best Comedic Scene Stealer Sure, drama's nice. But comedy is, too, and this character always managed to tickle the funny bone!

Laurisa: Belle Black
It's not easy to steal a scene from Alison Sweeney. But Martha Madison did just that. I howled when Belle pointed at herself as "baby on the black market" during the argument with Sami. It was also one of those rare moments when the character actually says the thing you're hoping they'll say in that moment. If I could have high-fived Belle through my TV, I would have. More Martha all the time, please!

Tony: Austin Reed
Nope. Never. Never in a million years would I have suspected that Austin Reed could totally tickle my funny bone, but the man had me in stitches. If we're being real, Austin spent most of his existence in Salem as a well-meaning hunk who fulfilled the rope role in the tug-o-war between women. An important role, sure, yet his character never screamed, "Excitement!" And then he became an accountant. So when he showed up in Europe with the "Prague Pack" last January I was steadying myself for a polite but unenthused, "Oh, hey, Austin. Nice to see you again." Instead, I was like, "Oh, my God, Austin! Come sit by me. When did you become hilarious!?" Austin Peck completely stole the show with his one-liners and looks, most directed toward Austin Reed's zany mother-in-law, Anna. Austin Peck, you win. You just win, sir!

Most Likely to Return

Laurisa: Sami Brady
Sami Brady is DAYS' shot of espresso. She invigorates the show and the army of characters she's woven around. Having her back for no reason at all is still a good thing for DAYS. But in this case, there are two really great reasons for us to see her again. First, when Will does get his memories back, it would be nice to get a Sami/Lucas/Will scene as a payoff. Second, we now know for certain E.J. is alive. Sami needs to return to play out that beat. You don't drop that massive of a gauntlet without hopes of one day addressing it.

Tony: Joey Johnson
Cards on the table, having Joey kill Ava was a horrible mistake on so, so many levels. It really boxed the character into a corner, much like the "brills" idea by the former head writer to have Hope riddle Stefano with bullets like he was a clown at a carnival shooting gallery, but I digress. Both were disasters all around and some comeuppance was due. So when Joey couldn't handle the guilt anymore, he bravely came forward and confessed to the crime. It was admirable. I give him credit. The acting was remarkable. The scenes were poignant. It was also the best way to right that wrong, but I kind of miss that endearing fella. James Lastovic's earnest portrayal made me feel for Joey, and I believe Joey has more stories to tell, especially with Tripp still in Salem. Their literal bromance was becoming something special for DAYS, and I hope that Joey gets the "Get Out of Jail Early" card that so many other Salemites have gotten before him. Just in case he doesn't, I'll bake him a cake with a file in it. Well, after we're done with the awards!

Best Surprise

Laurisa: Doug's Place 2.0
Awhile back, Tony and I made a wish list of things that should happen in Salem. One of them was to reopen Doug's Place. It's an institution in Salem, not to mention a nod to one of its best leading men. So imaging our joy when this dream came true! Better yet, this time around, it came with Chloe and Julie's oddly charming friendship! Sure, they kinda can't stand each other at times. But Chloe doesn't have the reverence for Julie that Julie can use to wield control over other characters. That evens the playing field, making these two divas a delight to watch. Save us a table, ladies! We want one in the front row for the first open mic night!

Tony: Two Not-Dead DiMeras for the Price of One!
Tuesday, November 21, 2017
It was perhaps one of the best ten to fifteen seconds on DAYS in 2017 for many fans who've never given up hope that certain, let's say, flawed characters aren't really six feet under (or fifty feet down, in one case). Yep. In a quick scene at the end of the Tuesday, November 21, episode, it was revealed that Kristen AND E.J. are alive. Yas queen! And those undeads came about because of the grander storyline revealing Will is alive! Three beloved Salemites. I repeat, "Yas queen!" Eileen Davidson was flawless as Kristen relished in her resurrection, and, you guys, E.J. is alive, too! It's like, you get a car! You get a car! You get a car! And you certainly get a car! And Laurisa gets a car. And I get a car, but I can't drive because I'm still happy dancing, but, yay. Just yay all around!

Best Couple

Laurisa: Eric Brady and Nicole Walker
Oh, it was brief. But I'd argue that the ten seconds we got of Ericole happiness generated enough heat to burn down every other couple in Salem this year. For this fangirl, to put those Rollerblades back on just for one night was wonderful. There's genuine care between these two characters, all along the spectrum from friendship to passion. That's a credit to the nuances Greg Vaughan and Arianne Zucker put into their respective characters. Neither shines as bright with any other pairing as they do with each other. And these two had some heavy lifting to do in a short amount of time. Thanks to a previous writing regime's inexplicable allegiance to St. Daniel of Jonas, Nicole had become a hardened ball of hate when it came to anything connected with her ex-fiancé. It was a bad place for my Nicole to be. (It got her to fall in love with Deimos, for crying out loud.) Eric was the catalyst for bringing Nicole a step closer to the loving person she is at her core. For that alone, they were the couple of the year.

Tony: Doug and Julie Williams
True, their tale started out more "tabloid" than "fairytale" back in the day, but today, Doug and Julie continue to remind viewers in spades just what it is to be a supercouple. While they didn't share the same screen time as other Salem couples, they played an important role for many longtime fans this year. When "despair" seemingly became the new norm on DAYS, Doug and Julie's appearances gave viewers hope that there still can be "love in the afternoon" amidst the wonky would-be pairings and lackluster love stories of 2017. They set the bar incredibly high for romance (take note, next generation Salemites). From French toast brunches to reopening Doug's Place to serenading each even after all these years, the love shined bright for this legendary Salem couple (and was played to perfection by the equally legendary Bill Hayes and Susan Seaforth Hayes). In fact, Julie said it best when she called Doug the "Crown Prince of Romance." That he is, Jules.

Best Legacy Character Some love for the next generation who have to carry the banner!

Laurisa: Will Horton
We'll get into the storyline surrounding Will's return later, but just Will being back in Salem's rotation corrects one of the biggest wrongs in DAYS history. It makes things a lot cleaner -- for a lot of people involved. Sami and Lucas' son should be wreaking havoc for the next generation. Him involved romantically with another legacy character just makes sense. Will represents a do-over mothering chance for Marlena. And poor Arianna Grace -- already named for two aunts who died way too early -- didn't deserve to have a dead father, as well. Add in the fact that the suburb Chandler Massey gets to continue what he started, and I'm a very happy Scooper.

Tony: J.J. Deveraux
A fusion of flawed but charismatic Jack and warmhearted, plucky Jennifer, J.J. has a strong mix of both his parents, for better and worse, at times. As such, he's a captivating character to have at the forefront of Salem's next generation. This year, J.J.'s storylines have run the gamut, but Casey Moss's unwavering dedication to the role was the driving force behind J.J.'s depth as a character throughout writing changes and uneven-at-times storylines. Casey's intense portrayal of J.J. can only be considered "must-see!" performances, especially the past few weeks as the depths of J.J.'s anguish over shooting Theo have unfolded. It was simply brilliant work by a gifted actor. The luminous talents of Camila Banus and Sal Stowers, acting opposite Casey through the year, have also been a highlight for Salem's younger set, as have J.J.'s interactions with the vets of the show as displayed in pretty much any scene between Casey Moss and James Reynolds.

Best Veteran Character

Laurisa: Roman Brady
Hey, hey, 2017 didn't treat Roman so bad! I wasn't sure about him leaving the police force, but I bet he's never been gladder to jump off a sinking ship in his life. Plus, sticking him behind the bar at the Brady Pub tripled his airtime! Roman is great in the advice-giver role, especially since a lot of his advice is more the "what da hell" variety. Also, this was the best year for his love life! He kissed both Hattie and Kate! Go on, Ro Ro!

Tony: Steve Johnson
Ah, the Patch Man! His year hasn't been all afternoon drinking with John and tender stolen moments with his Sweetness, but the man is a fighter. He fights for love. He fights for his family. Heck, he even fought Kate and won! That's impressive. At the root of it, Steve's heart is his secret weapon. He will move heaven and earth for his loved ones, but also simply stand by their sides when needed. Stephen Nichols masterfully navigates Steve through grandiose scenarios while still maintaining Steve's truth as a humble, harmonica-playing dude who will do anything for those he loves and who loves a good beer at the pub. He's our everyday hero, and like Kayla, I love it!

Best Supporting Performer

Laurisa: James Reynolds and "Abe Carver"
Let me start out with two facts: Abe Carver is the longest-running black character in soap opera history. James Reynolds has played him since the beginning -- every day -- for 36 years. That's longer than Kristian Alfonso's Hope, Drake Hogestyn's John, or John Aniston's Victor. To say this man is an institution is an understatement. Given his tenure, I'm embarrassed that I ever took his skill for granted.

But 2017 brought James the challenge of playing a desperate, grieving father going on and off the rails as he deals with a messy family tragedy, heightened by social issues, in a storyline that has caution tape all over it. Yet James Reynolds has been flawless. He blends so many emotions within Abe. I simultaneously want to hug and cry with Abe the dad yet punch Abe the mayor/bully right in the nose. When Abe yells at you, you know you've been yelled at. When Abe breaks down, you feel it. Other actors -- fantastic actors -- shrink in his presence, but in the most respectful way. It's rare to find an actor equally capable of soothing or terrifying an audience. Yet James has that magic. It's the very reason why when Abe's not "okay" -- whether due to grief or over-the-top rage -- the audience isn't okay either. There are only a few we trust with that kind of power. James Reynolds is among the best of them.

Tony: Lauren Koslow as "Kate Roberts"
While Kate may never find herself on the "nice" column of Santa's infamous list, one thing you can bet your blue streak on is that Kate Roberts will ignite any storyline she slithers into because of the captivating talents of Lauren Koslow. On paper, there's hardly a reason to like Kate, making what Lauren brings to the role even more astonishing. I'm often wonderstruck by the depth of Lauren's performances and, because of them, how much I care for a character I shouldn't (but do) care about. Lauren has a way of humanizing Kate even in the soapiest of circumstances. It's truly humbling to watch her on a daily basis.

Best Lead Performer

Laurisa: Deidre Hall as "Marlena Evans"
When looking back at my picks, I realized that I'd praised Deidre as both Hattie and Marlena. So there's really no other choice for me for best lead performer. Deidre tackled both comedy and drama this year with aplomb. She got to play a variety of personas with a cast of characters that aren't in Marlena's usual orbit -- tenderness with Susan, bawdy with Bonnie, scheming with Angelica, lustful with "Mr. Roman," and flat-out fun with Kate, Kayla, and Val for girls' night. It was nice to see Deidre have one last scene with Joe Mascolo. Her chemistry with Chandler Massey and Alison Sweeney is the stuff that makes soap fans hang in through the rough times. And, of course, Drake Hogestyn and Deidre fit together like the most comfortable pair of socks you could ever own. You can see the shorthand they have with each other in every scene. Yes, Deidre Hall was like DAYS bacon in 2017. Pair her with anything, and it gets better.

Tony: Greg Vaughan as "Eric Brady"
Without a doubt, Greg Vaughan is one of the finest actors in the industry. In one breath, he sold Eric's utter despair. Greg fearlessly dug deep into Eric's tormented soul. He left everyone convinced that Eric hated himself more than anyone else could possibly hate him. It was ugly. It was genuine. It was brilliant. Yet in another breath, Greg, sometimes without words, expressed Eric's abiding love for Nicole so richly that the audience could almost hear his heart beating solely for her and, later, breaking because of her. Greg's sincere chemistry with all of his costars also added to Eric's depth as a character. Across the board, his performances were simply magnetic.

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Best Storyline

Laurisa: J.J. shoots Theo
I'm right at the front of the line to roll my eyes when soaps tackle real-life issues, as soaps usually skip over the "reality" part of those storylines. And to be fair, DAYS shouldn't be telling certain real-life storylines because they'd have to bend characters out of form in order to do so. But this storyline, with these characters at this moment, is truly something special.

First, there's the production of it all. My praise for James Reynolds is well documented, but Casey Moss, Lauren Koslow, Camila Banus, Billy Flynn, and Lamon Archey have been spectacular as well. The art of this storyline -- directing, lighting, and wardrobe (especially wardrobe) -- is heightened to a level that I haven't seen on DAYS in quite awhile. So, from the technical side of things, it's a joy to watch.

Then, there's the storyline. It's amazing what an organic story can do for characters we love. We don't have to stretch to see how this would happen. Yes, J.J. is a bit of a hothead, though not at all malicious. Yes, Theo is easily manipulated, but not above breaking the law. Yes, Kate is a buy-now, pay-later type of gal. Yes, Abe knows the law, but has already buried his wife and can't grasp losing his son, too. Yes, Val and Kayla are great surgeons, but not miracle workers. Yes, Chad's protection of Theo is fierce, but he's not as powerful as Stefano was. Yes, Lani loves her family, but she's also a cop who loves J.J., too. Yes, Jennifer wants Theo to get well, but she's been protective of J.J. for years. Yes, ghost Jack comes back when his family is in trouble! The list could go on. Ron and his team did their homework and have done right by every character involved. Bravo doesn't even begin to cover it.

Finally, there's the message. Unlike "Who's the daddy" or "Discover the bad guy" storylines, this one won't have a ta-da resolution. This shouldn't wrap up nicely. And that's exactly the whole point. Police shootings are horrible for everyone involved. There's a spectrum of pain that doesn't leave anyone out. The true villains in these situations are the ones who walk away from this not learning a darn thing and return to the status quo. So I'm glad there are characters pushing hard on both sides of the issue. "These things happen" isn't good enough in real life, and it's not good enough here. Theo deserves better than that. Abe deserves better than that. J.J. deserves better than that. Chad, Abigail, Jennifer, Lani, Gabi, Eli all deserve better than that. Okay, Kate probably does deserve that, but I'm getting off track. The point is that a storyline where the process is more important than the outcome rarely happens on soaps. But it's happening here. And it's downright stunning.

Tony: Will-united...And It Feels So Good!
In case you haven't heard, Will Horton is alive! Yes. He. Is. Not only did this storyline right a colossally ill-conceived wrong, as Will should have never been killed in the first place, but it also un-deaded E.J. and Kristen DiMera, which were two other terribly thought-out designs by a certain former head writer with a hankering for misery and shock value instead of solid storytelling. The resurrection of three intriguing Salemites in one storyline!? I'm in. The DAYS universe is much more interesting with them in it. But that's not all...

In addition to a majority of the current cast playing a part in the saga, which is always a draw, especially with a cast as talented as DAYS', Will's resurrection brought back some beloved heavy hitters. Alison Sweeney as Sami; Eileen Davidson as Susan, Sister Mary Moira, andKristen; William Utay as Dr. Wilhelm Rolf; James Read as Clyde Weston,; and it all started off with the devilishly delicious Robert Scott Wilson as Ben -- excuse me, Benjamin -- Weston. Between the current cast and guest stars, it was like an avalanche of amazingness.

Oh. Oh! And because Ben Benjamin was back, Abigail had nightmares about him, which gave Marci Miller and Billy Flynn even more time to shine (which is pretty darn shiny, as these two enchanting acting powerhouses already glow). Said nightmare led to an entertaining stand-alone episode on Halloween, complete with special -- and completely shocking -- guest stars Melissa Archer and True O'Brien as Serena Mason and Paige Larson. Lemme just say, Melissa and True were perfection and then some. Again, I say, "More, please!"

Admittedly, there were some wonky moments here and there, and while a grander-than-soap-normal-sized suspension of disbelief was certainly a must to accept this storyline, it was worth it. Inspired performances. Great guest runs. Fantastic Friday cliffhangers. And Chandler "Once, Twice, Three Times an Emmy Winner" Massey stepping effortlessly back into the role complete with a baton-passing-back blessing from former Will portrayer Guy Wilson, who humbled us all with his class, warmth, and exuberance for the role.

Parting Thoughts...
Though we tried, our word count doesn't always let us express the gratitude and respect we have for the entire cast and crew of DAYS, who work tirelessly to entertain us. We can simply and humbly thank them all for our daily hour-long escape to the land of Salem. So, raise a glass of something bubbly and festive to Team DAYS -- may the sands continue through the hourglass all the days of our lives!

Happy holidays, everyone, and see you next week for the Alex North Memorial Awards!
Tony and Laurisa

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