Dear Readers, I hope you had a merry Christmas, ah Hanukah, a delightful Kwanza, a groovy Festivus, or any other holiday you celebrate.
For me, it's Christmas, and as I write, a "to do" list of 50 things is glaring down at me, but for now, I'd rather be writing to you than making potato salad or getting a Christmas pedicure. Okay, the second one is a lie. I'd rather be getting festive toes, but it's raining, and I don't want to walk to the mall in the rain.
I needed to get an early start here because we have a lot to cover. Once a year, Soap Central asks its columnists to weigh in on the best and worst of our soap for the year, and 2015 is proving challenging to me because it was so lopsided with Worsts.
Where do I even begin? Part of me wants to start small and work my way up to the Worst of Worsts, but I am still so angry, I can't delay my gratification and just have to blurt it out.
The worst thing on GH in 2015, maybe ever, was the never-ending obviously changed-in-the-middle saga of Fluke. Tony Geary is a Daytime TV legend and he deserved his retirement to be a grand and glorious send-off. That's not what he got. It was small and dark and unbefitting of a legend.
Back in the 80s, Luke and Laura's wedding had 30 million viewers. To put that into perspective, last week's highest-rated TV show was The Big Bang Theory -- the episode where Sheldon finally sleeps with Amy, and it had eight million viewers.
Sure, it's a different time, and there are a gazillion more channels than in the 80s. But even so, the fact that 30 million people tuned in to see a soap opera wedding is substantial -- and impressive. The Super Bowl barely gets 30 million viewers. TV Guide ranked the wedding of Luke and Laura on the top 100 TV moments of all time, and the wedding of Luke and Laura was named the number one moment in soap history.
I share all those stats to say that Tony Geary was not honored in the way he should have been. He deserved parades, fanfare, and at least two whole episodes of flashback clips spanning the decades. He got none of that, and I am still really angry about it.
I hoped the new writers would swoop in and say, "No, no, we can't have Luke Spencer end like that!" and bring him back for a few goodbye episodes, but alas, no such luck.
In like tone, another worst for me is having Laura back on canvas -- the other half of the dynamic duo, and barely using her. Give this legend a storyline, pronto!
For the beginning of Ron Carlivati's reign, he was GH's salvation. He clearly loved the show and did all the right things to get it back on track. He knew GH's history and used it. He brought back legacy actors and characters and integrated them into the landscape of Port Charles. I adored him. In spite of his missteps along the way, I still feel as though his heart beat with a love for GH.
But the pacing was off, and by the end of the Fluke storyline, he had lost viewers who just couldn't take it anymore.
On the up side of that storyline, the ending on GH's 52nd anniversary, with flashbacks from that creepy house on Elm Street into Luke and Bobbie's past, was absolutely riveting. I loved seeing Laura Wright playing Luke and Bobbie's mom, but I wish somewhere along the line, someone would have mentioned her resemblance prior to the episode. The people cast as young Luke, Bobbie, and Patricia were so good, it made me wish we could find roles for them in current day Port Charles as Valerie's siblings. That storyline tied together so much of Luke's past and solved decades-old mysteries, and yet -- the way he was written off left me so empty and disenchanted.
Those two episodes were well written, acted, and directed, but the long and winding road we took to get there lost too many viewers along the way. By the time we reached that climax, a big chunk of viewers weren't around for the payoff. It's a delicate balance between adding suspense and boring people to death.
In like manner, it took way too long to find out Jason's real identity, Back when the fabulous Billy Miller first arrived in town, he had little flashes of his past, and we thought the truth would come out soon, but instead, an entire year passed while we waited for him to have even a single other flicker.
And in dragging this out for so long, it cemented Liz and Nikolas as villains. If they had kept the secret for two weeks, it would be almost understandable, trying to figure out how and when to break that bombshell, but now, how can they be redeemed? These acts were totally against character for Liz and Nik, who have been sympathetic heroes over the years. They have been flawed and made mistakes, as we all do, but mostly fought their own worst impulses and did the right thing.
How can they be redeemed? I saw a flash of something this week as Franco took Liz under his wing and escorted her to the Nutcracker Gala. Nina is awfully busy at Crimson, and Franco seems bored, so I saw the potential for a Franco and Liz friendship to develop. Liz could become a more well-rounded person, no longer saint Liz, but embracing the part of herself that kept that secret and becoming stronger in the process,
In other strange tales, at one point in 2015, half the town was in jail together, and now all of them are out roaming around town again, with the exception of Madeline, who is in jail. Ava gets off, Sonny is pardoned, Johnny is "on the run" but wandering around Port Charles undetected, Julian and Alexis are engaged as though nothing ever happened, Nina is now a magazine editor, and Franco is an art therapist again, hired by his good buddy and GH chief of staff Dr. Obrecht. They were all incarcerated over the past year, but no one had to actually pay for their crimes!
More worsts -- pointless deaths. Why did Silas have to die? After he saved Ava, there was a sweet flicker when we thought their old romance might rekindle, and then it was suddenly dropped and he got a knife in the back. If you wanted to give Kiki a reason to drink, I think having Denise DeMuccio end up being her mom and her boyfriend Morgan banging her mom again would have been plenty to drive her to the bottle. Michael Easton was one of my favorites, and he was wasted on GH. I could gladly trade Jordan, Paul, Valerie, Kiki, or Dillon for Silas.
Next up -- Duke. Did we need to kill a legacy character? If you wanted him gone, just let him leave Anna on the pier and sail off into the night to protect her honor. But killing Duke supposedly to have Anna go rogue and kill Carlos was pointless the day Carlos waltzed back into town alive.
Finola Hughes has done amazing work this year and should win buckets of awards for her performance in spite of the convoluted storyline that got her there. I wish Duke was alive, too -- but with so many zombies already walking the streets of Port Charles, I am hesitant to wish for another resurrection. For all we know, Emily is down in the Cassadine laboratory and will come home with Robin and save Nikolas.
Another character assassination this year has been Dante. Dante has been true blue all these years, and now, he's kind of a jerk. Having him sleep with Valerie once when he felt his wife was cheating on him was understandable, but everything that happened next is not understandable. Marriages do survive infidelities, but this one might not because Dante is not making any effort to stay away from Valerie after swearing he wanted to save his marriage.
Lulu is not blameless. She told the initial lie that set this chain of events in motion, but as soon as she told Dante the truth and that her brother's life was on the line, he said he understood and forgave her. I have heard people say, "This love triangle has no villain." That is false. Valerie is the villain for chasing a married man, and Dante is the villain for letting himself be caught. The biggest lie cheaters tell is "I didn't mean for this to happen!" Liar! You went someplace alone with a person of the opposite sex, knowing she wanted you, and then slept with her. When you let her in the door, you meant for it to happen. I want Lulu and Date to reconcile. I want that frozen embryo to get implanted in Lulu's body before it melts. I want Valerie to go steal Nikolas from Hayden or have a fling with and become impregnated by Johnny Z.
Another worst of 2015 on GH to me was one that has made my worst list every year for a decade, I think -- dropped storylines.
• For instance, what is Rosalie's secret? Where is she? Is she still married to Brad?
• Are Brad and Lucas still a couple?
• Who is Hayden and how did she get to be a Wall Street broker instead of the con woman she was when she arrived?
• What did Luke write to Laura in that goodbye note?
• If Li'l Jake is alive, whose organs are in Josslyn's body? And where is Josslyn? And how old is she? Why doesn't Jax ever call to check in on her?
• What happened to Michael's clinic that was being built in the house from hell?
• Will Sabrina ever get her nursing career back on track?
• What did Helena do to Li'l Jake and why is he so angry?
• Where is Ric? Will he see Molly for Christmas? Will he show up to comfort Liz?
• Why did Kristina come to town and then vanish? What trouble is she in?
• Where are Lucy, Doc, and Scotty? Is Max okay?
• Did anyone tell Spinelli that Jason's face popped up on his computer and if so, why hasn't he shown up in Port Charles to worship Stone Cold?
• Is Molly still with T.J.? If so, why don't they ever call, write, text, Skype, visit, study, and date?
• Does Delia Ryan know that Ava isn't pretending to be Denise anymore?
So many questions left unanswered! Maybe this is why I have insomnia. No, no, it's probably still the hot flashes.
Now for storylines that just annoyed me... Drunken Kiki. Heaven help me, but if that girl goes back to the bottle, you will never be reading about her in my column because I will fast-forward all of her scenes. I just can't watch that anymore.
Olivia and her baby Leo. Once upon a time, Olivia was cool and tough. She was having a hot little fling with Johnny Z. Now she is annoying, clingy, needy, stereotypical, passing off her baby as an adopted kid, and meddling in her son's marriage. I hate the way they have butchered a character that used to be one of my favorite GH chicks.
Nina and Franco. Oh, my, I love me some Roger Howarth and Michelle Stafford. But the writers seemed to lose the magic they created when they paired Nina and Franco together. Now they are playing house with drunken Kiki in the murder apartment. What went from a sweet and tender quirky love story has become dull and repetitive. That's my biggest beef with the new writers -- Carlivati made some questionable choices, but at least he never bored me. Since the new writers have taken over, I have actually nodded off while watching GH because I am bored out of my skull.
How can you take two powerhouses like Stafford and Howarth and make them dull? I was never bored with Phyllis Newman, and I was never bored with Todd Manning. It's not these two phenomenal actors; it's the snoozy scenes that are being written for them. And I see them fighting it, trying to light up the night with their internal sparkle, but it's so hard with the drivel they've been handed. My 2016 wish list includes someone who will write to the strengths of GH's phenomenal acting cast. Go back and watch their previous work if you need inspiration.
Losing Tony Geary was a huge blow to GH fans (although I would totally want to retire, too!) And in another blow to GH fans, our beloved Dr. Patrick Drake, Jason Thompson, is exiting the show, too.
I have a photo of myself with Jason Thompson from some soap event here in San Diego several years ago. He was very kind and gracious to me. Knowing that the nice guy character I loved on GH was, in fact, a nice guy added to the enjoyment of his work all these years. (On the other hand, one of his costars at the same event was a total witch, but I won't name names.)
He's heading over to The Young and the Restless, and if you turn on Y&R on any given day, you will see half of old Port Charles over there. Tristan Rogers, Steve Burton, Kelly Sullivan, Sharon Case, and Judith Chapman all have GH roots in their history. In return, of course, GH has a bunch of former Y&R stars. Funny isn't it?
Jason Thompson will take on the role of Billy Abbot from Burgess Jenkins. Since I watch both shows, I win, because I will get a Billy with a sparkle that B.J. never managed to have, which was a core of the character when Billy Miller played him. But I will also lose because GH just lost one of its only doctors. We need some fresh hospital blood immediately.
We are also shy on villains. With Helena's death and Jerry soon to be gone again, Dr. Obrecht being much less villainous these days (but still an utter delight), and Faison off bonding with Britt, we are left with the mortal villainy of lying Paul Hornsby and criminal Ava.
Poor Tracy continues to have bad luck with men and I don't see that changing anytime soon.
Now let's use that to transition to the best of 2015.
I love the friendship between Tracy and Monica these days. All these years of bickering have led to a respect and unspoken affection between the two ladies. Jane Elliot and Leslie Charleson are still powerhouse actors, and any scene with the two of them is a treasure.
While I hate what the writers did to Elizabeth this year, Rebecca Herbst is killing every scene and making me believe the reasons Elizabeth chose to lie. While I hate what the character has done, I love her portrayal of a conflicted woman desperately clinging to this man she loves. Here's my hope for 2016: Liz's one true love was always Lucky. Bring him back. Bring him back as Jonathan Jackson, or bring him back with the newly unemployed Greg Vaughn, I don't care which. But bring Liz back to her roots and let Lucky help rehabilitate her heart.
On the romance front, I absolutely love Julian and Alexis together. For years, Alexis has been alone in a series of bad love matches, and finally, finally, finally, she has a rock on her finger and a hunka-hunka- burning love in her bed, and I could not be happier. Julexis is my happy place on this year's GH.
One isolated sweet moment in 2015 was when Spencer was burned and wearing his Phantom of the Opera mask and got a visit from his deceased mother, Courtney, in angel fashion that gave him the courage to remove his bandages. It was wonderful to see Alicia Leigh Willis again and for her to finally share screen time with her on-screen son. What will Spencer do if Emma moves away? I hope we don't lose him from GH, too. Nicolas Bechtel is solid gold!
Also in the Cassadine universe, I like the pairing of Nikolas and Hayden, although I fear it won't end well. We still don't know much about Hayden and what she is really up to -- only that she is working with Tracy, probably trying to seduce his stock shares away from him for Tracy's gain.
On the Corinthos front, I liked a lot of that. I loved that Carly got to be the person to find out Jason was Jason and to be the one to give Jake the news. Laura Wright is phenomenal, and her emotions in those scenes seemed raw and real, and it was powerful to watch. I hope she is compiling her Emmy reel because she certainly deserves one this year.
I also like Sonny being immobilized and humbled. I like watching him having to fight his way back to strength and having Epiphany as his physical therapy coach is inspired. The two of them together are gold! I have read rumors that Sonny will be able to walk and keep it hidden to trick Ava into thinking he is weak before leveling her. That sounds promising -- sign me up!
Even though it happened in a flash, I am glad Michael and Sonny reconciled. Angry Michael just doesn't cut it for me. Yes, Sonny killed A.J., and by rights, Michael should never forgive him, but let's face it, if everyone in Port Charles held grudges against everyone who wronged them, we'd have no soap to watch.
Also on the plus side, as I noted last column, was the hope of a rekindled bromance between Sonny and Jason. It's just barely been touched upon, but I am waiting for a big weepy climax when Jason's memory finally returns. On that note, I want all of his memory to return. I want a true integration of Jason Quartermaine and Jason Morgan. I hope that whatever cures him opens up the brain to his entire life and he is a hybrid of brilliant medical student and stone cold hit man. Those nuances would be so wonderful to play, and Billy Miller has the chops to pull it off. Have him remember being Emily's big brother and have him recall being Edward and Lila's grandson, flashbacks of Alan and Monica, his marriage to Courtney, his romance with Robin, bring it all flooding back!
Maxie is back at Crimson! Enough said.
Ava. Okay, folks, I know Ava is a criminal. I know she is devious and naughty and has killed people and that she's got a cruel streak, and yet, I find myself enthralled when she is in a scene. Maura West is a gift to daytime, and she has made any role I've ever seen her in pop and sizzle. Is Paul her love match? Maybe. I could also see her with Ric. I could also see her with Scott. I didn't even hate it when she had a fling with Sonny. She puts some pizazz back into snoozy Port Charles -- although I am really glad Denise is gone. Side note -- baby Avery is a peach!
Sam. Kelly Monaco has done some stellar work this year -- one of the episodes that really broke my heart was Sam and Jason's anniversary at Noodle Buddha, where the grandma insisted Jake was Jason, and they renewed their vows (See! Sometimes crazy old ladies are right!). Kelly has a great way of emoting with her eyes and making you feel every emotion in her heart. Losing Patrick, not yet having Jason back -- she is in limbo right now and alone, although I expect she will slowly find her way back to her husband. The journey will be believable and bearable with Kelly at the helm.
I can't neglect to mention Morgan Corinthos and the bipolar storyline. Why? Because it gave Bryan Craig a chance to shine and have something meaty to play, and because it was realistic and brought attention to an issue that many fine people struggle with every day. When Bryan Craig first joined the cast of GH as a SORAS'ed Morgan, I dismissed him as eye candy. I was wrong. He's been doing a fantastic job fleshing out Morgan's battle to accept his diagnosis.
And finally, you are the best. Your comments, your tweets, your emails -- your affection for my column and for me is a gift to my life all year long. When I was a kid, my mom and I used to sit at the table and read Erma Bombeck's column together and laugh and laugh. So when people write me and say, "My mom and I read your column together every week and laugh and laugh," it really touches my heart. I am so happy that I bring you joy (and sometimes piss you off). In short, I am thankful my words can move you and that you keep coming back to read them. I love you. Truly.
What will happen in 2016, dear readers? Will Robin's potion be able to bring real-life people back from the dead -- like Edward and Lila? Will Eddie Maine sing at Julian and Alexis' wedding? Will India Arie become a permanent fixture at the Floating Rib karaoke night? Will Laura get to do more than chastise Nikolas for his bad behavior? Will Franco bring Liz back to life the way he did Nina, and if so, will Nina go mental again and try to stab Liz? Will Jake go back to Liz in spite of her lies when Li'l Jake goes off the deep end when Jason moves out? Will Sam follow Jason around with the dragon and phoenix until he remembers?
Will Carly hire better security for the bar at the Metro Court so her archenemies can't stop by for afternoon appletinis? Will Santa Carlos put his baby in the sleigh and fly off to the North Pole? Will Robin and Patrick stay in Paris? (Maybe Y&R's Adam and Chelsea can sell them that place they bought?) Will Mac get another scene in 2016? Will Felicia ever get to be mayor?
Only tomorrow knows, dear readers, and I will tune in tomorrow as long as there are tomorrows.
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