Welcome, welcome, welcome to the Ninth Annual Alex North Memorial Awards! It seems almost soap-sacrilegious to throw shade at Salem and give DAYS some much-needed tough love in a year that's celebrated the Golden Anniversary and the return of some pretty epic actors and characters, but Laurisa and I went to the College of Clairee Belcher -- the school motto being, "If you don't have anything nice to say about anybody, come sit by me!"
Though we love our DAYS to the point where some may say we're a little obsessed (in the Kristen way, not the bad way, of course), let's face it, some stretches were just hard to watch. Whether it was a wonky storyline or a normally cool character acting a'fool, sometimes sitting through an hour-long show could make one a little anxious. At times, we should have gotten paid in Limoncello and Maggie's pancakes for not hitting fast-forward -- or, at the very least, be provided with one of Alice's special doughnuts prepared by J.J. to bring us back to our happy places, because some of the year was downright brutal.
In fact, at times we were waiting for Tom's ghost to return, kick over the hourglass in the opening credits like a mic drop, and nonchalantly exclaim, "Cry about that, too, bitches." Of course, Jordan's cat Arthur would probably come by and use the sand as a litter box. It was that kind of year at times.
So, as The Facts of Life theme song has taught us, "You take the good; you take the bad." Well, last week we took the good during the Golden Donut Awards, and this week, we're tackling the bad. In a year that can only be described as maddening to saddening we, err, celebrate the Worst of DAYS 2015 without any further ado!
Miss Cleo Caroline "Clairvoyant" Brady
Okay, I'm stretching the rules here, but remember how loved and embraced New Coke was? Yeah, me neither. That's how I feel about the New "1-900-Dial-A-Psychic" Caroline. Why, oh, why did they mess with the original recipe? Who didn't love a feisty, whiskey-swigging, clam chowder-making, sweet, yet tough love-giving family matriarch who has a freaking baseball bat and isn't afraid to swing it if her kin get out of line!? What brain trust thought, "You know what would make Caroline even better? Let's give her psychic abilities. Oh, oh! And let's get some beloved younger soap star to come back as Philip and have him champion the idea." It's hurts muh head. It hurts it a lot.
Tony: Chloe Lane
This has absolutely nothing to do with the talented, beautiful, and all-around lovely Nadia Bjorlin. It was nice to see her again. Chloe? Not so much. Our gal pal Chlomiester returned to town and was written all out of character from when we'd last seen her. It seemed like she was merely brought back to fight with Nicole just to give Nicole another person to apologize to and show how much she's changed. At that point, Nicole had already had that oh-so-fun talk with Dr. Dan (about a thousand times, which including too may tears shed), Maggie, Jennifer, Melanie, the doorman at the apartment complex, the guy at the corner store, two hobos, and a fire hydrant. Chloe didn't need to return just to wave the "Nicole's a reformed gal" banner, too.
Tony: Justin Kiriakis
Wally Kurth is a talented, cool dude dipped in chocolate and dimples. He can't lose. Sadly, I can't say the same thing for his alter ego, Justin. Actually, Golden Donut Award cowinner for Best Lines, Steve Johnson, summed up my beef with Justin perfectly. Patch said, "Adrienne told me about you cheating on her. She didn't say you turned into a pompous ass." That. Pretty much that. Oh, and add in that he was a total asshat to Chad, you know, his son's business partner and best friend, too. That D.A. thingy totally went to his head. It may take another year of Justin playing Santa to make up for his general douchery in 2015.
Tony: Victor Kiriakis
Writing Victor as "Worst Vet" saddens my John Aniston-loving heart, but, alas, even the mighty Victor isn't above a Two Scoops-sized slap on the wrist now and then. Of course, I could go on about Victor's strong suits and how John Aniston's line delivery is a gold star standard, but it's not that kind of award. In addition to Victor's slut-shamming and general misogynistic remarks -- which isn't anything new, really, but seemed to reach astronomical levels in 2015 -- Victor did what Victor would balk at anyone else for doing. He turned against family. The way he treated Xander was sorely out of character, especially since Xander was the Andre to Victor's Stefano. That is, he trusted Xander enough to do most of his dirty work, but wouldn't let him sit at the family table? I get that he wanted distance because of the nature of their business dealings, but it was strange and rather disappointing to see Victor "Family First" Kiriakis treat an actual blood relative as a black sheep while practically spoon-feeding Maggie's lemon bars to Dr. Dan.
Laurisa: Hope for not dealing with little Ciara
I never, ever got why Hope demanded respect from everyone else except her brat of a daughter. I get that kids will act out, but the pattern grew stale really fast. Ciara would mouth off, Hope would try to laugh, and I would cringe. Sass of that nature needs to be met with an appropriate counter. But it never was. Thank goodness they aged the character and swapped her for one with more than a one-note schtick that had worn out its welcome.
Tony: Rafe Hernandez
Though I'm finally aboard the Rafearoni n' Cheese train, one little ongoing annoyance nearly derailed that. For the love of all things holy in Soap Land, I'm still scratching my head that Rafe and all of his white horse riding to the rescueness wouldn't believe Chad when he claimed something was amiss with Abigail when Chad went to him, still bandaged from the last beating, with tears in his eyes. Meanwhile, Rafe was awesomely staying objective/didn't believe Chad killed anyone. That further added to the confusion. Rafe, you might need to explain that one to me over a beer at the pub because that was not one of your finest moments.
Tony: Anne Milbauer
I enjoy Anne most of the time. She's the snarky, catty kinda gal I'd want to have drinks with if I'm having a bad day and want to make myself feel better by making fun of other people, because, you know, that's how it works. But if trends tell me that I have to give up comfy wide leg jeans and slither into skinny ones, then Anne has to let go of the wrap dresses. At this point, she kind of just looks like a cartoon character always in the same outfit. Meredith Scott Lynn has an amazing figure, and they should showcase that with more than a wrap, especially since Anne's best friend (sometimes) is a freaking fashion designer. Just saying.
Laurisa: Aiden Jennings
This is perhaps the most literal award I've ever given. The writers made him a completely unnecessary scapegoat for Bo's return. The revelation that Aiden had been working for Andre and Stefano this whole time gave me cartoon whiplash. So apparently, all that time Hope and Aiden spent hating each other, each of them trying to get off committees that the other was on, Ciara bullying Chase, etc., was all just part of an elaborate scheme to get Hope away from Bo. (I guess Father Louis is on the DiMera payroll, too, since he kept making them work together?) Look, no one this side of sane thinks that Hope would have actually chosen Aiden in the end. So, why run the bus over him? It was just silly.
To add insult to injury...or more specifically, injury to insult, when the writers needed to put a final nail in Clyde's chances at redeemability by having him beat a man with his bare hands, who'd they pick? Yup, send in Aiden.
Tony: Chad DiMera
Aww, poor Chad! He couldn't escape the rule that a DiMera must be blamed for all that is bad in the world. And, boy, did he get blamed a lot. Actually, blaming Chad was on Ben's résumé, but Ben wasn't alone on the Charge Chad with Everything crusade. I mean, the guy was accused of murder by nearly everyone in town, especially by Justin, Chad's best friend's father, whom he'd never had a beef with, and Eric, Chad's other best friend's uncle, whom he never had a beef with. It all added up to a lot of bull, and I'm glad Chad's good name has been redeemed, sort of. You know, until someone sneezes and he's blamed for creating air pollution. He's a DiMera, after all. Ugh.
Laurisa: Melanie Jonas
They saw her great friendship with Brady and decided that pairing them romantically would make the most sense. Instead, what they should have done was protect the rare, platonic, non-related friendship and pair her with Chad. Or they could have kept her out of the dating pool and made her a cool mini-me sidekick to Nicole. There's no doubt in my mind that a Nicole/Melanie combo would have taken on Kristen to find Tate. Melanie didn't need to be reduced to the annoying giggly mess she was with Brady just to have justification to help him.
Tony: Serena Mason
D'oh! The writers almost had this one. In the days leading up to Serena's death, she became an interesting character I could finally get behind...and then she died. I'm trying to hold onto the memories of those last few days of Serena as I seek treatment for my PESD (Post Elephant Stress Disorder).
Laurisa: Paul Narita
The good Dr. Seuss could have written a great tale of Paul's declarations of love for Sonny...
Paul would confess his heart's great truth.
He didn't need an old phone booth.
He would confess it over text.
If that failed, he'd try the next.
He'd confess in person, or just by wave;
He'd even wait around Will's grave!
It mattered not, Sonny's reply;
Paul's bound to give it one more try.
For as long as his chest had air
He would confess it anywhere.
Tony: Nicole "I'm Sorry" Walker
O-to-the-M-to-the-G. Oh, Muh Gawd. And let's throw a "Lordy me!" in there, too, because if I had to listen to Nicole apologize one more time in 20-15, my head was going to explode. Nicole begged for Salem's collective forgiveness more than Evita begged for Argentina's, and there wasn't even one fun song or dance number in Nicole's apologizing to soften the blow of this once fierce hellcat who transformed into Dr. Dan's Stepford Fiancée because that's what he wanted. I blame Dr. "I Insult Nurses" Jonas. He probably wouldn't let Nicole sing and dance, anyways, because he hates choreography, and she should, too -- though I'm sure Nicole would also apologize for that. Good grief. Just please, oh, please, let me tell Maxine what he said about that nurse, and he'll be the one begging and apologizing.
Finally, Abs beat herself up for not knowing that Ben was a psycho crazy pants, which was ridiculous because Ben had all of Salem fooled! No one in their right mind would blame Abigail for what Ben did! But, yet, she hasn't seemed to get it that she needs to make some serious changes in herself because she was too weak to just decide to be with the man she wants. She's Jack and Jennifer's daughter -- a legacy kid. The show named her baby after Tom Horton! And her bravery at that cabin of terror showed moments of cool. Yet she's still a far cry from the America's Sweetheart that everyone keeps trying to make her out to be.
Tony: Will Horton
I know you're not to speak ill of the dead (even the soap dead), and Will's death is still a fresh scab, but if any of us are really being honest here, Will was being slowly killed by the old writers prior to his actual death. They turned Will from a newly confident and comfortable in his own skin, eager journalist and young father, who'd finally allowed himself to fully love and be loved in return, into a career-obsessed/Sonny-be-dammed serial cheater who couldn't accept the blame for any of his wrongdoings...oh, right, until moments before he was murdered, of course. There's that little nugget. Having watched how amazing Will's coming out was, how his relationship with Sonny evolved and grew, it made his decent back to a needy, insecure blame-dodger all the more maddening and ruined the legacy of a blossoming young lead character.
Tony: Marie Horton
True. How can she really be "underutilized" if she didn't even appear in 2015? That's sort of the point. In a year that celebrated the show's landmark fiftieth anniversary, you'd think the writers could have woven Marie into a storyline, especially considering that Maree Cheatham, who played Marie, is an original cast member from 1965 and is still working in the industry today. While Julie was the original troubled teen, Marie was the original heroine who suffered a string of unfortunate events. Some throwaway line in November by Julie about how "Aunt Marie would have loved to have been here" only made Marie's absence sting worse. It's like the show threw a birthday party but forgot to invite the b-day gal, buy a cake, or reserve the bouncy house. #epicfail
Tony: Clyde Weston*
The sad part is, I think James Read is a fantastic actor (and based on his Tweets, an all-around nice guy) -- let's bring him back as a new character someday. The maddening part is that Clyde was a few scenes short of replacing the hourglass in the opening credits. He was everywhere and was involved with so many characters, I needed a flowchart. Most of his interactions were either Clyde talking about his Scrooge McDuck money pit while throwing around his donations and payrolling Ben's life or him threating people who could have easily taken him to task. Sure, some of his dealings were brilliantly creeptastic, especially his scenes with Jennifer. Those were chilling, but Clyde and his overall, overextended Clydeness didn't really deliver anything more than a spittoon full of yuck that stank up Salem. Oh, well. At least James went out on an acting high note because his final scenes with Robert Scott Wilson's Ben were epic. There's that.
* Please note, the bloody area rug that nearly took six weeks to be cleared from Hope's house was a close runner-up for this award.
Tony: Kill Will Volume 1
Seriously. Lemme get this straight. Will -- a groundbreaking legacy character whose parents are Sami Freaking Brady and Lucas Horton; whose grandparents are Marlena Evans, Roman Brady, Kate Roberts, and Bill Horton; who had half of his siblings as part DiMera; and who was married to a Kiriakis/Johnson heir -- was murdered because he was essentially in the wrong place at the wrong time while waiting for the cable guy as a favor to his indecisive cousin!? Lemme repeat, "Seriously!?"
Ugh. I barely have the energy to go into the fact that Will was just as fit as any other Salem heartthrob, but was so discombobulated by a toss to the fridge that he couldn't fight back. Alllll riiiggghhhttt. Out of all the victims to that point, he had a child and husband to live for -- to fight for -- yet the writers seemed like he couldn't die fast enough. His entire death was the time and place where besties "Insult To" and "Injury" met and fell in love.
Laurisa: Kill Will Volume 2
I'm talking on both accounts. First, there was the complete decimation of his character. To think, last year I thought he'd hit rock bottom when he wrote the Sami article. Little did I know that he'd cheat on the love of his life for no reason other than he's a weak sap who couldn't control himself when a hot boy smiled at him. Twice.
And second, there was utterly no reason whatsoever to kill of this legacy character. Will's death didn't fit with the killer's M.O. The people of Salem were no more invested in solving this crime than they were before Will's death. Heck, the Hortons and Bradys were literally kicking up their heels and dancing at the Bicentennial Celebration a week later! Sure, it brought out some great performances from the likes of Freddie Smith, Alison Sweeney, and Deidre Hall. But you know what? They're good actors! Give them any good material and they'll shine! You don't need to kill off a character who's been driving storyline since he was a fetus just to see the magic!
Tony: Xander Cooke
I'm taking death exits out of the equation for my pick this year because, A. there were too many, B. Laurisa's pick above is perfectly spot on and I stand behind her about a million and one percent, and C. we'd probably dedicate the rest of this article to Will's death alone. So, let's take a look at Xander's exit. After showing promise as one of the most intriguing new characters in ages, the guy gets written out as a chump because Theresa claims he tried to rape her. You know, reformed girl Theresa, that is. I can't believe that Victor, who knows what Xander knows about the family business, would have just let him get carted off to jail, never to be heard from again, especially on Theresa's word. Even Stefano attempted to protect Andre and all of his sinisterness. It's sad Vic didn't do the same for his supposed right hand man. Boo.
Tony: Hope Brady
Let's summarize. Hope hesitated to get involved with Aiden because, 1. her heart was still broken from believing Bo abandoned her and 2. because she also suspected Aiden might have killed his first wife. Then she vowed to protect the secret that a young Chase accidentally killed his mother, only to have Aiden actually attempt to kill her on...their wedding night. The good news? Bo didn't abandoner her! He was just being held captive and tortured, only to escape and die of a brain tumor in Hope's arms...within a day of her wedding night/widowed night with Aiden. Two great loves, two dead husbands, and all within 24 hours. Poor Hope! Let's just pray that Julie, Maggie, and Caroline have enough common sense not to ask Hope to be on the bicentennial commemorative scrapbooking committee, as Hope might have a slightly different take on that night than everyone else.
Tony: Daniel Jonas and Nicole Walker
I hate the musical My Fair Lady for the same reason I can't stand the story of The Ugly Duckling. Sure, each is meant to give a audiences that kitten clinging to a tree branch "hang in there" type of encouragement and inspire personal growth, but the outcomes are the same -- if you sound like a socially accepted elitist or become the most beautiful creature in the barnyard, everything is fine and dandy in the end, but, for God's sake, you're not good enough now and need to change. And that's pretty much what Dr. Dan did to Nicole. If she became good enough, if she apologized enough, if she wore a metal cilice like Silas in The Da Vinci Code, then he might consider stamping her with the grade of "Good Enough" for him. So whoever said romance is dead hasn't met Dr. Dude. All he needed was some forcible changing of his gal and a thousand and one apologies from her. RomCom writers should take notes from this humble Casanova.
Laurisa: Theresa is scared of Kate
I get that Theresa has self-confidence issues. She's cut from the same cloth as Nicole and Sami. However, there's nothing about Theresa that would ever suggest that she's scared to go after what she wants. Yet there she is, shrinking away from Kate like a delicate flower when Kate goes all Devil Wears Prada on her. The Theresa I know wouldn't have needed a pep talk from Nicole to tell Kate to back off. This is the same girl who gleefully sent a psycho after Jenny Horton and Dr. Dan just because they ticked her off. So I just don't understand how Kate's all-talk insults can affect Theresa in any way, other than to motivate her to work harder.
Tony: Welcome Home, Caroline!?
I'll be honest here. There were a lot of things about last year that left me scratching my head. Like, a boat load, but just under the buzzer, we got the gem that was Victor asking Caroline to move into the Kiriakis Mansion with him and Maggie. Right. Even Roman gave it a "What 'da hell!?" and two confused scowls. I admire that Victor wants to keep Caroline safe, I do! But maybe her son -- Salem's Police Commissioner -- or daughter -- Salem University Hospital's Chief of Staff (whose fiancé is a badass, soon-to-be private eye, no less) -- could handle that task. Bonus points, nobody knows where Roman lives, so Caroline would surely be safe there. Anyways. Combine that invitation with Caroline's psychic abilities, and I'm cringing at this Three's Company scenario. It's just a matter of time before Maggie spots Victor and Caroline snogging in the rose garden, snaps, and kills the rest of Salem. Ugh, for good measure, I'm sure those psychic-rendering pills also make people fertile again, and Caroline will end up pregnant only to have Mags tie her up to a burning bed. As Liz Lemon said, "Shut it down."
Tony: ...And the "Wilson" picture blows away!
Wow. Remember that thing about insult and injury I spoke about earlier? The same applies to the "End of Wilson." It reeked of the same non-EJami exit we got last year. That is, Freddie Smith left as Sonny of his own accord and some brainiac decided to let Guy Wilson go (so fast the guy nearly got windburn while being shown the door), but instead of the promise of a happily ever after offscreen for Sonny and Will, we got death and despair instead.
That's right, Will ended up dead -- again while waiting for the cable guy -- and Sonny ended up heartbroken and headed back to Paris, but not before Paul had the chance to make his feelings known one last time, you know, on Sonny's husband's freshly filled grave. Nope, 2015 was not a kind year to Wilson, but the end was just a slap in the face to fans who rallied behind this groundbreaking couple. I'm sure that picture on Will's grave that floated away in the wind was supposed to be some kind of bittersweet symbolism, but it came across as a promise from someone in charge to homophobic fans who condemned Wilson and threated to hold their breath forever as, "Congrats, you won't have to worry about their kind anymore. And we'll backburner the other one, too, don't worry. We've got your backs." Then again, the writers didn't do that bang-up of a job writing for hetero couples last year, either, so maybe (and I hope) I'm wrong about my hunch.
Ultimately, it's sad that no one learned from the EJami mistake last year. At the very least, Will could have simply gone to Paris to try win Sonny back while sending Ari Grace to Salem every other month to be with Gabi. Not perfect, but leaps and bounds better than what we got. If nowhere else, in my mind, Wilson are happily living in Paris, visit EJami often, bump into Kristen at the Champs-Élysées, and walk home together, hand in hand, while singing Lily Allen's "F--- You." Ah, dare to dream!
Tony: No Bo/Hope/Aiden Love Triangle
So. The writers had the talents of Kristian Alfonso and Daniel Cosgrove on contract. Peter Reckell agreed to a three-month-ish guest return. Fans make shrines to "Bope," yet a lot were also coming around to "Haiden," especially if they couldn't have Bope. Did it not dawn on the writers to have these three in a love triangle for a while before Peter left? Hope would have surely picked Bo in the end, yet Peter could have still wrapped up his stint, redeeming Bo and saving Hope's life from some other threat while perhaps dying himself in the process, thus leaving a heartbroken Hope to pick up the pieces and maybe reconcile with a guy who, until the new writers came in to crush him, was a pretty solid selection for Salem's resident Fancy Face if Bo wasn't an option. Instead, Aiden's dead, Bo's dead, Hope's soul is almost dead, and neither fan base was particularly breaking out the Champagne.
And when it came to Xander, all Serena could muster were these half-arsed, "He's not a good person" warnings. She had physical proof that Xander was a criminal sitting right there in her bank account. Yet she chose to keep vaguely unhelpful when Nicole and Eric asked her direct questions, and wouldn't you know it, they almost died for their troubles! The claim that she tried to warn them about Xander is absolutely true -- the same way it's true that a person who whispered "help" out the window as they casually drove past a burning building technically helped. Oh, well, at least at the end of it all, we got Nicole and Daniel solidified as a couple. So, there's that.
Tony: The Bicentennial Gala
I loved the sets, and the toasts to Tom and Alice were nice. Insert: uneasy giggle. And while the festivities weren't completely without their charms and tender moments, on the whole, I was greatly let down by what was promised to be a magical night that celebrated 200 years of Salem (and 50 years of DAYS). Instead, it was a frenzied, oddly paced, crazy long night following weeks, err, months, of murder and sadness leading up to the event. There was such a non-party mood that even Marlena nearly skipped out on all the, umm, fun. Next time, Doc and I are staying home and watching Golden Girls reruns. We've already discussed this, but I digress...
The gala itself had a few nice flashes of remembrance and merriment but fell way short overall. Hell, Shawn-Douglas wasn't even in the sparse Horton Family picture. Seriously!? There weren't any special guest stars from DAYS gone by stopping in to celebrate. As stated above, Marie should have been there, Liz Chandler could have been the entertainment, and Calliope Jones could have helped party plan or design the clothes. But, nope. Not at all.
Not to mention, the gala saw normally sane Caroline acting bonkers enough to be hospitalized (but, psych -- she was just stalling Hope and Aiden's wedding), we witnessed Aiden having drawn-out daydreams of killing Hope, and Bo and Steve were beaten up in one action flick stereotype after another (again, some of those moments were not without their charms, but...). I'm not sure how I was supposed to enjoy that, or remember to reflect on the lovely DAYS gone, before and after seeing Aiden visualize choking Hope, Caroline visualizing Bo's death, knowing that Abigail was being held hostage by the Necktie Killer, or that Joey could have died from a drugged soft drink. I'm sure I'm forgetting some other disaster, but the point is, don't invite me to a festive wine-tasting event then pee in my Pinot. Not cool, writers. Not cool.
Thank you all for joining Laurisa and me as we celebrated the Ninth Annual Alex North Memorial Awards! Don't forget to take your swag bags on your way out. This year, they consist of two broken elephant statues, blood diamonds, pills that may or may not make you psychic, a wrap dress, a big wig, slightly used neckties, a bloody area rug, and tear-stained Bicentennial flyers. Par-tay!
Happy New Year, and looking forward to brighter DAYS!
Laurisa and Tony
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