Well it's that time of year again. It seems like just yesterday I was biting my nails over my first column and now a year has passed. So without further ado, here is my best and worst of 2006.
The best storyline that Days had all year was told last January. Zack's death was a story that had many ripple effects and something that is still being dealt with now. The acting was impeccable (and if Kristian Alfonso especially doesn't at least get an Emmy nod there is no justice in the universe), raw and believable. Claire ended up with Zack's liver, although no one knew at the time he was really her uncle through Shawn instead of her cousin through Philip, and Abe ended up with Zack's corneas, which allowed them to make a lovely little tribute to the child he and Lexie raised for nearly two years. Zack was a very loved little boy and his senseless accidental death at the hands of his newfound sister just made for good tv.
Okay, with that said (you knew I wasn't going to be able to help myself didn't you?) there were definitely a lot of things wrong with this story. First of all, Billie jumping in and taking the blame for Chelsea is where a good story started to become a debacle. Bo was trying to keep the truth from Hope until he felt she was strong enough, but unfortunately Patrick Lockhart beat him to the proverbial punch. Hope was, of course, angry and devastated. That said, I refuse to believe that Hope would leave town and basically not let anyone but Shawn know where she was going (Alice, Jennifer, Maggie, anyone?), or that she would decide that sleeping with Patrick was a good idea. I also don't believe that it took so long for Bo and Hope to put two and two together about Chelsea's email and telephone manipulations, even with their total communication breakdown. About as much as I believe that Patrick has satellite TV on his boat that just so happened to be turned to a manhole cover in Salem. And don't even get me started on Hope not being at Shawn's wedding. I am willing to suspend my disbelief about a lot of things, but Hope not being at her surviving son's (not to mention first-born) wedding is just something I didn't get. Shawn said that he wasn't going to tell her the wedding date was moved up (because of Bon-Bon's fake heart attacks) because she needed the time away. WHAT?? My Mom wouldn't care if she was in Fiji having her face eaten by snakes, I better at least call her and tell her what's up. And that folks, is the way to turn a great storyline into borderline crap.
Alex North. Was there really any doubt? I can't believe that they brought back such a beloved actor and made us despise him so much. This story kind of worked (and I use "kind of" very loosely) when he was just an anonymous doc that was treating Marlena for her amnesia after she fell down the stairs and miscarried. It started to get stupid when he claimed that he needed to be with her 24/7 in order to treat her properly. Ridiculous happened when they brought in Lois Banks and decided to make Alex Marlena's crazy, abusive first husband that no one had ever heard of. Absurdity jumped on the train when Marlena began to get her memory back and Alex just happened to have some magic injectible serum that would only make Marlena forget that she hated and feared Alex and loved John. Towards the end, he was shooting her up with that stuff so much, it was a wonder she could still maintain bladder control. Powers that Be, if you are out there, please take note: This storyline was horrible! Not only was it drawn out to the point we wanted to take dull butter knives to our wrists, there was no real reason for it other than to keep Marlena and John apart and make Marlena the damsel in distress. Again. I am tired of Marlena being kidnapped every year. She is a doctor, mother and grandmother. Certainly something else can be found for her to do other than chaining her to a wall for three months out of every year.
BEST NEW CHARACTER
It's a tie folks. The first winner is E.J. Wells and his fabulous portrayer James Scott. E.J. came to town as a fairly normal guy, even though he was a famous international race car driver. He was charming, handsome and a good friend to Sami, heck he even helped Austin and Carrie cover up the fact that they were cheating on Sami and Lucas for what seemed to be the sparing of Sami's feelings. Then we find out that E.J. is in fact Stefano's son, and that he is more than a little bit crazy. He's sleeping with Kate, he's committing the "black glove" crimes, he's beating Patrick like he owes him money, he's plotting to impregnate Sami and kill at least three more people and you know what? I still like him. There is something in the way that he is portrayed that makes me unable to hate him. Maybe it's James Scott's eyelashes or maybe it is how he can go from charming to psycho in 5 seconds but he lights up the screen every time he is on it.
Tied for best new character is Nick Fallon as played by Blake Berris. You all know I am a fan of the underdog and I especially have a soft spot for nerdy guys, but what I like most about Nick is that he has a brain. He may not be the most socially adept cat ever to live, but he is honest (I'm not talking about his little Lonely Splicer subterfuge). Brutally honest. He never tries to be mean about it but he calls a spade a spade and does not try to candy coat situations to be liked better. He is who he is and calls people on their crap. That is absolutely refreshing and I hope they don't change him too much.
WORST NEW CHARACTER
This too is a tie. Willow is one of the worst characters to hit Days in a looooooooong time. It's not her portrayer's fault. I'm sure she is a perfectly lovely girl in real life, but her character on the show is a psycho hose beast. Not only is she a former prostitute who met Shawn when she was trying to make him one of her tricks, she is manipulative, catty, jealous, and nuts. You've got to be just a little loose in the head to go to your lover's mother's house, who has never made a secret of the fact she does not want you anywhere near her son, to get her to try to make him not break up with you. And then to slap a cherry on top, you decide that since you feel rejected, what better way to make yourself feel better than to gather all of said lover's child's possessions and set them on fire. In an apartment building. Where other people live.
I'm sorry to say this but the other character that tied for my worst new character is Stephanie Johnson. I loved her when she started and she had so much potential. She was a feisty race car driver with attitude to spare. She could have played off of E.J. or any of the guys on the show, but what happened? Her dad came back from the dead (not any everyday occurrence, I know) and they turned her into a whiny, basket case who's sole goal was to make sure her parents were reunited. She dated her uncle Max (I know no blood, but ew) and when he decided to break up with her after a few dates and about two kisses, she freaked out and hyperventilated like they had been dating for ten years, forcing him to backpedal and finally have his brother (!) do the breaking up for him. This folks is another example of how to turn an intriguing character into a hot mess.
Sami and Lucas, hands down. They spent most of the year apart, pretending to be in love with other people who were pretending to be in love with them, but after Lucas caught Austin and Carrie making out of the roof, it seemed it would only be a matter of time before Lumi found their way back to each other. Ooop, not so fast, there was still the little matter of Sami blackmailing Lexie, which caused Lucas and Will to disown Sami, again. This time it only lasted for about a week this time, though. Soon enough Lucas and Will moved back in with Sami to try to make a go of this family thing again, and it was no time at all before Lucas and Sami couldn't deny their attraction for each other. Even with E.J. in the picture trying to make Sami his baby mama, you know that Sami and Lucas are each other's true love and you root for them to be together. Plus, aren't they more enjoyable to watch when they are working together instead of Lucas having a girl fit and berating Sami in every scene? Yeah, I think so too.
Yep, Austin and Carrie. I don't understand why you would bring back two quite beloved characters just to make me hate them both. Austin was always a good guy back in the day. A little dumb, but a good guy. I was never a big Carrie fan, but she was always Miss goody-goody, especially in comparison to Sami, and seemed for the most part to be stable. Well, this year is where they fell apart. First, we were expected to believe that Carrie, who has no experience whatsoever, was named CEO of a cosmetics company named High Style which she ran so poorly it was just ripe for a takeover. Then we were supposed to believe that Austin, who had just formed his own company with Sami and Nicole, managed to secure financing and stage a hostile takeover of High Style without ever finding out who the CEO was. That made for angst, angst, angst when poor wittle Carrie found out that her company was gone. It didn't last long though, because less than three months later Carrie was trying to pick between Lucas and Austin to be her mate for life. Enter Lexie, who after being blackmailed by Sami, told Carrie she and Austin would never have healthy children together. So Carrie married Lucas for his sperm. But she slept with Austin like the day after her wedding and the same night that he proposed to her sister. My point to this whole thing is that they took two fairly moral and upstanding characters and made them sleazy, selfish and unsympathetic. They had their happily ever after when they married and left town, but the whole thing got under my skin. Everyone was telling Carrie that it was all Sami's fault and that she was a good person even though she had cheated on her husband and broken his heart. All I have to say is no one held a gun to her head and made her marry Lucas. And now Carrie is a serial cheater.
MY HONORABLE MENTIONS
Some things just have no set category or there is no "worst" to their "best," but I wanted to make sure I made mention of it.
Best new head writer: Hogan Sheffer. I know, I know we have treated Mr. Sheffer's hiring as the head writeras the second coming, but he has given a lot of us something that we had lost under the regime of Reilly: Hope. Not Hope as in Hope Williams, but hope that the show would get back to it's romantic and familial roots. And hell, it's even funny now without being campy or silly. He still has some work to do, and some other people's work to undo, and we can't expect perfection, but I am sure willing to give him a shot because I already see the improvement. Storylines are faster, payoffs don't take twenty years, and even the actors seem to have a sparkle in their eyes like they are really enjoying their jobs (case in point: take a good look at Drake Hogestyn the next time he's in a scene. He GLOWS). Congratulations Mr. Sheffer, and I hope that you bring us more good things in '07.
Most improved character: Chelsea Benson. I still don't like Chelsea but I care about her character. Sure, she's spoiled, bitchy and a manipulator, but we are finally seeing that there might be another side to her. You could see it later in the year when she was comforting Billie about Steve, or on Thanksgiving when she was trying to apologize to Hope that she doesn't seem to like the way she has been any more than we do. If she would just get off of the whole "my parents belong together" thing for five minutes, she may just have a chance. And I hope she ends up with Nick. He can calm her down some.
Biggest waste of time: Mimi Lockhart. I love Mimi. I really do. That said, we had to watch her go on for nine months (AGAIN) about keeping a secret from the man she loves, namely that he was Claire's real dad. It wouldn't have been so bad if we just hadn't went through this with her LAST FREAKIN' YEAR with the whole abortion storyline. The moral of the story is this: Mimi, your mom is a bad influence. Stop hanging out with her because she does not have your best interests at heart. Ever. Unless your best interests benefit her in some way.
Most convoluted storyline: The Fertility Four and the In-Vitro Caper. Okay, we are going to pretend that I have no medical or legal training (I do) and try to keep this simple. First of all, most doctors will only consider in-vitro if you have been unable to conceive on your own the good old fashioned way for at least a year. Belle and Philip decided that after trying without success for about a week that they would have this very expensive procedure. Mimi, having been rendered sterile after she neglected to have any follow up treatment after her abortion, and Shawn consulted with Lexie (the worst doctor ever) and she thought they might be good candidates for in-vitro. Here's where it gets stupid: Mimi miscarried the embryo and was forced to use a surrogate because her body just could not support a pregnancy. Philip found Shawn and Mimi and surrogate, and after barely meeting her they decide to hire her. Many jokes were made about Shawn and Philip's tandem collections (ew gross) and their little swimmers were used to fertilize their wives' eggs. One problem, the gloved hand decided to switch the dishes which left Belle carrying Shawn's baby and the surrogate carrying Philip and Mimi's. This was of course (could there be any doubt) the catalyst that brought Claire's true paternity to light and also the break up of both marriages. Belle miscarried Shawn's baby and Mimi and Philip decided that they don't really care what happens to their biological child, so they signed over all rights to their surrogate who is a stranger. Not a virtual stranger, an actual stranger, as in Philip couldn't even remember her name when Mimi brought up the termination of the contract. Now we're supposed to believe that Philip is gearing up for a custody battle for Claire, who is actually his grand-niece, while he lets his bio-child with Mimi twist in the wind. ???????? Other than to reveal Claire's paternity, what the hell was the point?
Biggest waste of talent: Billy Warlock (Frankie). He's a lawyer. He's a member of a core family. His portrayer is an Emmy winner, for damn good reason. So Days brings him back and what do they do? Make him Jack and Jennifer furniture. That storyline was so ridiculous I'm not even going to rehash it here because, frankly it makes me angry. I understand cutting the fat, but this was a bad decision in my opinion. Every soap needs a lawyer and since they don't seem to plan to bring Mickey back, what are they going to do next time someone gets in trouble? Bring in some under-five to be the lawyer for the day? Pass. I hope they resurrect A.J. on GH and bring him back.
Best reveal: Bo is the father of Hope's baby. Of course, this makes no sense for those of us that can add, but who cares? Patrick has been running around town for months hissing "my baby, my baby" every time someone talks to him, knowing (apparently) good and well that Bo was really the baby's father. This is kinda like when Zack was born and they thought he was John's son and there was no way that he should have been Bo's, but alas, he was. So I will suspend my disbelief, because I love Bo and Hope and want to see them see them get back together. And I want Hope to chill out with the whole trust thing and I think a new baby will help her and Bo really find their way back together instead of the surface thing it's been for the last couple of months. You know what I mean, they are working it out, but as soon as something happens where she would be required to trust Bo, she turns her back on him. It doesn't last, but it's annoying to watch. Here's to hoping (pun intended) that our favorite supercouple is REALLY a supercouple in 2007.
So scoopers, what do you think next year has in store? Will we find out what the DiMera Brady feud is all about after all these years? Will Chelsea fall for Nick? Will Max fall for Abby? Will Sami and Lucas actually make it down the aisle? Will they give Roman a girlfriend (not Billie)? Will they give Billie an unmarried, unattached love interest (not Roman)? Only time and our TV's will tell!!!