8th Annual Golden Donuts: The Best of DAYS 2014
For the Week of December 22, 2014
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8th Annual Golden Donuts: The Best of DAYS 2014
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From Ejami to Haiden, Eileen to Blake, Donovan sisters to DiMera brothers, it was a fantastic year for DAYS. Grab a celebratory drink, and let's hand out those Golden Donuts to celebrate the best of DAYS 2014 in this week's Two Scoops.

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Who's up for a party? We'll get dressed up. We'll have some delicious snacks. There will be festive beverages. After all, 'tis the Sweeney to be jolly. (In our defense, this is the last year we can get away with that pun!)

So welcome one and all to our cyber celebration of DAYS 2014! We refer to these festivities as the Golden Donuts -- named after DAYS Grande Dame Alice Horton and her famous pastries. Thus, these awards are steeped in honor, tradition, valor, and probably sprinkles -- obviously, sprinkles. We hope you enjoy!

Best New Character

Laurisa: Paul Narita
Honestly, the first impression was not that great. His whole "Hey, ladies, you know I'm into you because I'm winking and giving you the airgun" was 1-800-NoThanks. But as soon as he planted that smooch on Sonny, I was hooked. Christopher Sean is insanely charming and hardly tough to gaze upon. But what I really liked about Paul is that it gives Sonny a chance to grow as a character. It's nice that the show followed through on this grand life that Sonny had before Will. And I swear the fact that Paul's bothered by Marlena's nosiness has nothing to do with this pick. Nope, nothing.

Tony: Zoe Browning
Not only is Zoe stunning, but she's successful, shrewd, and sassy as well. That's a great combo for any soap vixen. She's also a bit unapologetic, and I like that, too. I especially enjoyed her interactions with Lucas, which you can take as "make this happen, writers!" I think they'd be a fun, lively pairing, but even on her own, Zoe captivated me and has me wanting to learn more about her and her fabulous self. As I always say, "More, please!"

Best Special Guest Star/Recurring Character

Laurisa: T Stevens
I always like me some T. But when he returned for Wilson's wedding, he gave a truly moving speech about friendship and forgiveness. I'm so glad Sonny had the good sense to stick him behind the bar at Club TBD. For without him there, Ben and Abigail wouldn't have gotten that quality time together in the stockroom, Mel wouldn't have such a charming sparring partner, and Chad might actually have to work a shift.

Tony: Kayla Brady Johnson
Though not on-screen as much as my Sweetness-loving heart would like, Kayla's appearances made my Salem life a million times brighter. She's like a drop of sunshine with flawless hair. Whether Kayla was sharing personal tales of tragedy, triumph, redemption, moving on, or simply catching up with her loved ones about dating, she brought out emotions within viewers thanks to Mary Beth Evans's earnest portrayal. Plus, can we just all agree that each time Mary Beth Evans popped up, she looked more radiant than the last? I don't know how she does it, but she does it in spades!

Best Return

Laurisa: Chad DiMera
No doubt, this Chad is different from the original recipe. But I'd argue that it's not that much of a stretch. Old Chad always had a little bit of rebel in him (See: Teenage father who got sent to rehab). But this Chad finally knows what to do with that anger. I buy that the experiences he went through turned him into this guy. And when he told Abigail, "You got off your high horse to sleep with my brother," I nearly applauded. I'm fascinated by his blend of love/hate toward Abigail. I can't wait to see what he does next.

Tony: Susan Banks
In the interest of full disclosure, Susan Banks doesn't exactly fit into the current DAYS landscape because of all her, well, Susanness, but I don't care. A teenage me was doing backflips when kooky Susan showed up. Eileen Davidson seamlessly slipped back into the bucktooth dentures with ease like no time had gone by, and I particularly lost it when Susan prettied herself up for old crush, John. Susan's return also brought a new dynamic to E.J.'s character, that being him interacting with his mother. True, I wish her time with her baby boy Elvis could have lasted a little longer and perhaps ended a little less abruptly, but in any event, Susan came home for few wild, wacky days, and it would be mean, mean, mean of me not to celebrate that!

Most Improved Character

Laurisa: Gabi Hernandez
Gabbers and I haven't always been the best of buddies. But, wowza, with the amazing performance that Camila Banus turned in during Gabi's confession and exit, I couldn't help but root for her/feel a bit upset that we didn't get this Gabi all along. Better late than never.

Tony: Rafe Hernandez
To be fair, I've been a tad hard on Rafe in the past, but this year, he and I inched closer to becoming friends civil. In fact, I kind of started to like the guy. His romance with Jordan helped a lot, as he was matched with someone he didn't feel like scolding all the time, but more so, big-brother Rafe and detective Rafe were at their best this year. His support and dedication to those he loves brought out a side of Herr Hernandez I didn't mind seeing on a daily basis. Throw in that he teamed up with Victor and the compassionate way he helped Sami deal with E.J.'s death, and I was a fan...finally.

Best Villain

Laurisa: Nick Fallon
Getting the best of the braintrust that is Will and Gabi was not hard. But out-maneuvering Sami, Kate, and E.J. at the same time was virtually unheard of before Nick. Yet the truly evil genius took advantage of his time spent "dead" and concocted a plan that kept him one step ahead of Salem's best schemers all season. Be it photos, emotional manipulation, or just good ol' blackmail, Nick did it all. In fact, I'm still not convinced that he's actually dead as much as he brainwashed Gabi to claim that she shot him just to give him time to hack into all of Salem's email and get the goods on his next round of enemies. (Coincidentally, we'll have a list for Nick ready next week with our Alex North Memorial Awards.)

Tony: Kristen DiMera
So, last year girlfriend was in love with the hunky town lush. When she lost him because, you know, she may have been using him as a pawn in a revenge match, she did the only logical thing. She drugged and raped a priest -- his stepbrother -- to exact more vengeance on her enemies. Oh, yeah, and videoed it, for good measure. This year, she blackmailed bargained her way out of all lingering charges, well, after kidnapping someone as bait to draw said hunky town lush back into her web so she could explain things, naturally. And when all that went surprisingly to pot, she stole his and his gold-digging ex-wife's embryo so she could carry around a piece of him. Naturally. Mazel tov, you glorious crazy bitch!

READ THIS WEEK'S OTHER YEAR-IN-REVIEW TWO SCOOPS COLUMNS
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Best Brawl
Me-ouch! Be it catty comments or full-fledged fistfights, the best battle of 2014!

Laurisa: E.J. DiMera vs. Sami Brady (dream sequence)
It's something we never see. Two characters basically got the whole first act of the episode to play out the range of emotion that happened when Sami found out that E.J. had strayed. Of course Sami was mad at E.J. And she flung a morbid tapestry of tears, heartache, and self-loathing right at him. But he was also just as horrified by his own actions, and he scrambled to offer up anything that would make her stay. And the benefit of it all being a dream (nightmare? daymare?) was that we were treated to this manic display of hysteria to go alongside the actual plotting Sami did to exact her revenge. Were it real, we wouldn't have gotten the months worth of fallout storyline. But, man, it was nice to see James Scott and Alison Sweeney pull out all the stops for just half an episode.

Tony: Eric and Nicole
I really wish the writers had quit while they were ahead because they hit gold with Eric and Nicole's original blowout once he decided not to go back to the priesthood. Sure, they had similar run-ins for months after, but this was the first and most powerful. The always amazing Greg Vaughan and Arianne Zucker brought their A-plus Game to create raw, honest, emotional scenes that punched every Eric and Nicole fan in the gut...hard. Come on, guys, can't you put on some rollerblades and hug it out? I'll even spring for Java Café!

Best Tearjerker

Laurisa: Wilson wedding
Budgets aren't what they used to be on soaps. Gone are the days of elaborate weddings in far-off Greek lands. But yet, DAYS made this one work thanks to the heart-touching performances of the actors. Caroline's moving speech, T's toast, the vows, even the comic relief of Sami vs. Adrienne were all delightful. It hit right to the heart of what makes families so great. And I loved it all!
Click here to watch Laurisa's pick for Best Tearjerker!

Tony: EJami's "You Were Worth Everything" speeches
E.J. gave one to Sami. Gulp. Sami gave one to E.J. Double gulp. And I lost it both times and then some. And then after all of that, they went and had Sami jump into Brady's arms, not saying a word, and I lost it again for like the millionth time. Look up "blubbering idiot" in the dictionary, and it's a puffy-eyed, red-nosed picture of me with a box of tissues, my EJami foam finger, and a pint of ice cream so I could eat my feelings. Well played, DAYS. Well played.
Click here to watch Tony's pick for Best Tearjerker!

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

Laurisa: Kate Roberts
To my neverending glee, Kate backed off from the Rafe clone she was last year and took charge of her life again. From pajama parties with Sami to a nonchalant, "Oh, that. Yup. I did that." to Jordan, Lauren Koslow played Kate with the perfect blend of reckless abandonment and over-it-'tude to make Kate even more deliciously dry and sarcastic this year than ever before.

Tony: Marlena Evans
Yes. You read that right. Marlena is my pick for "Best Comedic Scene Stealer." Sure, it's unconventional, but I was pleasantly surprised when Deidre Hall got to flex her funny bone this year. Lady brought the laughs! From her hysterical hijinks at the gala to her run-ins with Anne Milbauer to her whimsical chats with Roman, you could tell that Deidre was having a blast, showcasing another side of Doc's personality that I don't recall ever seeing before. More Funny Girl Marlena in 2015? Yes, please!

Best Lines
Say what!? The character, on average, who always came up with the finest zingers!

Laurisa: Rory
Rory gets this award for two reasons. One, he had funny lines like "Tapz de keg" that dipped right into his Spicoli charm. Two, he was the voice of reason more than once when it came to Paige and J.J. He was the first -- and to my memory the only -- one who pointed out that Jack's ancient history really isn't any of Paige's business. Party on, my long-haired friend.

Tony: Anne Milbauer
Whoops! I almost gave Brady Black this award until Laurisa pointed out that by "lines," it didn't mean cocaine. So, with that there was no other person more deserving of this award than the first lady of snark, Anne. I mean, really! Meredith Scott Lynn is a black belt ninja of delivery. She cracked me up on a daily basis. I really couldn't get enough. I don't even care why Anne is such a hateful, yet delusionally hopeful bitch anymore. I don't. Meredith's killer delivery is worth the price of admission in and of itself.

Best Style

Laurisa: Theresa Donovan
Jen Lilley is so stunning that sometimes it's hard to look past her face and take in the rest of her. But when you do, you see that Theresa is one well-dressed schemer. From awesome leather jackets to super cute hairstyles, this lady is dressed to kill...er...not really kill but definitely put into a coma for a few months. As a bonus, Dame Lilley's red carpet look at this year's Emmys was the one of the most fabulous things ever.

Tony: Kate Roberts
This year, lady made style her bitch. From corporate wear that's a blend of Prada, sass, and punk, to sensational silk robes for power breakfasts, Kate had a killer ensemble for every occasion. The only look that Kate couldn't rock was Clyde on her arm, though who was looking at him anyways, due to all her fabulousness?

Best Babe
DAYS' Hottest Female Eye Candy

Laurisa: Kassie DePaiva as Eve Donovan
No judgment here, J.J. We get it.
Also, on a personal note, I just have to gush about how nice it is to see Kassie be such a proud, card-carrying member of the soap family. You can tell she loves her job. I adore that she reaches out to OLTL viewers and urges them to watch DAYS. She's kind of the best.

Tony: Jen Lilley as Theresa Donovan
Theresa may be a hot mess, but Jen Lilley is simply hot. It's not just her flawless complexion, the way she rocks every outfit she wears, or her general killer looks, but the gal is funny with a capital "F," too. She's like the trifecta of sexy.

Holy Hunk
DAYS' Hottest Male Eye Candy

Laurisa: Rob Wilson as Ben Rogers
I mean, I guess if you're into that tall, dark, handsome, sorta-looks-like-Superman thing.

Tony: Justin Gaston as Ben Rogers
And if you like your Ben a little more scruffy and rugged, Justin is your man! Sure, he was Ben 1.0, but the original in this case is just as dreamy as the 2.0 version. Same handsomeness. Same soap abs. Just more facial hair. I dig it.

Most Likely to Succeed

Laurisa: Abigail Deveraux
With everyone willing to cover up every mistake she'd ever make, how could she fail? Okay, okay. That comment was more about the knuckleheads who surround her. The truth is that Abigail herself has been totally honest from the beginning about how E.J. didn't take advantage of her. She didn't buy into the narrative that everyone was trying to play for her. So, I think she's got it in her to do good things. I'm not sure if her mom is the best influence on her, but here's hoping she finds another mentor soon. Spending some time with either Victor or Caroline wouldn't be the worst thing for her.

Tony: Brady Black
Mr. Black is no stranger to bad decisions. In fact, I'm pretty sure that was his major in college. So it was pretty impressive that he sobered himself up, freed himself of all the crazy chicks in his life, and decided to accentuate the positive. I like his new, take-charge attitude. With his new lease on life, I can't imagine him not succeeding next year, well, unless he meets another train wreck in a short dress. That's kind of his kryptonite. But in any event, with the über talents of Eric Martsolf leading the charge, Brady will remain Must-See TV.

Most Likely to Return

Laurisa: Shane Donovan
As I've said in several Two Scoops columns before, if super-spy Agent Donovan doesn't have some sort of hand in tracking down his grandchild, there is something wrong with the soap universe.

Tony: Chris Kositchek
With DAYS' big fiftieth anniversary coming up, we're going to get some blasts from the past. I vote for Chris! He was always an upstanding guy, even with a serial killer as a brother. And with Kayla venturing into online dating, it would be a great time for her to cyberly bump into old flame Chris and reunite with him. Sure, they'd have to recast the role since Josh Taylor played Chris and is now playing Kayla's brother, Roman, but there are plenty of great actors out there I'd love to see in Salem tackling the role. #whowouldyouchoosetoplaychris

Best Surprise

Laurisa: Kristen steals Theresa's baby
To be honest, I wasn't sure that DAYS had it in them anymore. That move was so terrible, so great, and so soapy. It was a move all shades of James E. "Marlena was possessed by the devil" Reilly. And sometimes a soap needs that. Not only does it set up brilliantly for Kristen's return, but it ushers in a next generation of the Kiriakis family. I'm hoping for a girl. Chelsea and Ciara needs some help holding down the dude-heavy family.
Click here to watch Laurisa's pick for Best Surprise!

Tony: Eric Martsolf wins the Emmy
I worship at the altar of the fabulous Eileen Davidson. I knew she'd win the Emmy. I was tremendously thrilled (and may have shed a few tears of joy) but not surprised. Chandler and all his talents were also a shoo-in, especially since he left the show (Emmys seem to follow stars that have exited, don't they?). But whereas I could do a Wayne and Garth-like chant of "We're not worthy!" to Eric Martsolf and totally mean it, I sometimes fear he's seen to the non-DAYS-watching world as that former stud from Passions who always had his shirt off. Stud, yes, but anyone who's watched Eric on DAYS knew he deserved every ounce of gold in that statuette and every accolade possible as the man cranked out one amazing performance after another (and still is)! So, again -- congrats, Eric! I'm glad everyone else is in on the secret us DAYS fans already knew!
Click here to watch Tony's pick for Best Surprise!

Best Couple

Laurisa: Aiden Jennings and Hope Brady
I really enjoy these characters together. I liked them when they were sparring. I like them even more now that they are dating. I even like that the show kept their kids as part of their storyline. They're both established professionals in their respective careers, as well, which is nice. It's rare to see two good guys make it work as a couple, but these two have managed to do it with poise, class, and a touch of mystery. I like it!

Tony: E.J. and Sami DiMera
EJami fans waited and waited and waited for these two to get together. Waited years, in fact. I won't say we waited patiently. We didn't. We're not that kind of a crowd. But we did wait! And when E.J. and Sami finally got together, it was an exquisite moment for fans who've waited for this epically flawed, yet wildly compelling, couple to finally find their way together. It didn't last as long as any of us would like, but, like fireworks, they burned brightly and beautifully if only for a moment.

Best Veteran Character

Laurisa: Sami Brady
DAYS devoted a good chunk of the year to the Sami swan song, and for the most part, they couldn't have done it better. From heartbreaking confrontations to romantic reconciliations, Sami had a great 2014. But easily, the moment that best summed up Sami's time of DAYS was the touching, sweet speech Sami gave to Will when he questioned her (totally justified/shut your face, Will!) anger surrounding E.J. and Abigail. Delivered and peppered with such honesty and vulnerability, it read as a perfect plea for imperfection:
"I understand that if this was fiction, I wouldn't be the heroine. But you can't pick what parts of me you accept. That's not what love and real family is all about. You don't have to agree with everything or like all of the decisions I make, but if you accept me, then you gotta take all of me. And if you don't, then that's your choice. But then you decide to walk away, and then you get nothing."

Tony: Victor Kiriakis
This cantankerous tycoon pretty much makes my day every time he shows up to tell it like it is. It's like he detonates truth bombs wherever he goes. Still, under all the snark, Victor has a heart bigger than the Grinch's after it grew three times. He loves his family. He'll do anything for them. He's their protector. He's their tough-love giver. He only wants the best for them and will resort to anything to make that happen, even if that "anything" is a wee bit shady. This is the guy you want in your corner at all times, or just to have a drink with because guy is all shades of hilarious!

Best Actor

Laurisa: Blake Berris as Nick Fallon
On one hand, Nick is basically the lovechild of Hannibal Lector and Maleficent. On the other hand, he's played by Blake Berris -- who is so careful and so smart with his acting choices that every minute Blake was on-screen, I believed that Nick was both totally committed to his scheme and on the verge of change. Perhaps nothing better illustrated this point than when, in his penultimate scene, Nick broke down to Julie (a great use of her character's history, by the way) and declared that he wanted to be a better man. Nick was smart enough to get away with what he was doing and also smart enough to know that his terror would eventually consume him. And Blake masterfully played Nick's genius as both a trump card and his greatest detriment. Well done, Mr. Berris.

Tony: James Scott as E.J. DiMera
There was this one scene during the summer months. James was silently reacting to the lashing Alison Sweeney's Sami was giving E.J. He didn't speak. He expressed about a million different emotions without even saying a single word. I was completely wowed. But overall, James is an acting force fans were drawn to. He could naturally go from rage-filled to remorseful and back within a second, and we believed every feeling he expressed. In fact, he managed to create such a compelling character so layered that we sometimes forgot that he's supposed to be one of the bad guys. Bad. Good. It didn't matter. James is simply amazing. I'm grateful for his contributions to DAYS. He is missed and remembered in awe. Bravo, James!

Best Actress

Laurisa: Eileen Davidson as Kristen DiMera
Seriously, Kristen is a terrible hosebeast of a woman. She's a criminal and belongs in jail, or the nuthouse, or the ground. I know all of these facts to be true. But, darn it if Eileen Davidson doesn't manage to make Kristen utterly captivating. It's got to be freeing to write for Kristen because, really, there's nothing that she wouldn't do. But playing her is different. In order for good people like Brady, Jennifer, and Daniel to see something good in Kristen, Eileen has to inject just enough humanity into Kristen that we see her charm and get why characters keep giving her chance after chance. And when Kristen broke down by herself in her hotel room after Brady had left her for good, we saw it. Unlike a lot of other villains, Kristen is just as hard on herself as she is on others. And Eileen works magic around Salem

Tony: Alison Sweeney as Sami Brady
I don't even know the best words to use to describe Alison's work this year. Phenomenal? Astounding? Triumphant? Those terms don't seem powerful enough for the epic performances La Sweeney dazzled us with. She captivated. We cried with Sami when her heart was broken. We cheered beside her when she succeeded. We wanted to slap her and hug her, sometimes at the same time. We were simply lucky enough to witness a series of brilliant accomplishments from a lovely actress many of us grew up watching. She made me proud not only to be a card-carrying member of the Alison Sweeney Fan Club but proud to be a soap fan, too. So, thank you, Alison. Thank you for the years of wonderful, wild memories and a swan song that can only be described as truly amazing.

READ SOME OF TONY AND LAURISA'S OTHER BEST OF DAYS COLUMNS
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Best Storyline

Eric and Nicole
This one goes all the way back to the first few weeks of 2014. Before Nicole decided that she might be in love with Daniel uh-gain. Before Eric decided to make a run at the longest consecutive days with pout-face in soap history. Never mind that there was a recast and more than a decade since the first round with these two. The chemistry Arianne Zucker and Greg Vaughan masterfully crafted over the slow burn made me downright ache for Ericole when, chained together in a basement about to die, Eric finally told Nicole that he loved her.

I've heard the "you deserve the best" speech a lot in my soap-watching career. And 99 percent of the time, it's total hooey. But Eric might be the only character genuinely good enough to pull it off. When he told her that she deserved someone who could be everything she wanted, it solidified my opinion that Eric is by far Nicole's best partner. All you ride or die Ericole fans, get on board. I'm ready to drive this bus over anything in our way. Sorry, Serena.

Tony: Kami's Revenge
Okay. So a pissed-off Sami teamed up with a pissed-off Kate, and you know what happened? Magic! I've always considered Alison Sweeney and Lauren Koslow one of DAYS's best pairs. And for the better part of twenty-some years, they were Must-See sparring partners. But this year, they partnered up and did what no man could -- they toppled the DiMera empire. It was "Girl Power!" that Scary, Sporty, Baby, Ginger, and Posh would be proud of. Yet through all the dirty deeds and conniving capers, there was heart to this storyline. Sami and Kate had each other's backs, as reluctant as that was at times. They created a bond that was as deep as it was unexpected. Both actresses shined brightly, and I couldn't have loved this storyline more if I tried. Viva la Kami!

So there you have it. Just in case you were wondering, there are a few ground rules governing why Sami and E.J. didn't win everything we spread out the love on our awards. 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 snack recipes and drink recommendations, should you be so inclined.

Merry Christmas! Happy Hanukkah! Happy Kwanzaa! Joyous Festivus! Whatever you celebrate, raise a glass to DAYS!

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