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Midyear Reflection on 2015

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  • robbalto
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    #429427

    With Memorial Day behind us, and summer about to close in, this seemed like a good time to reflect on the four daytime dramas thus far this year.

    In February, The Young and the Restless saw big changes as Chuck Pratt took over as Head Writer. The show shifted noticably, even from the first day his material aired. While some viewers complained about compromised characterization, I was actually intrigued. Pratt energized the venerable sudser with new stories, high-stakes scenarios, and intriguing mysteries. He also mixed it up by throwing together characters who had not previously interacted very often. I was eager to learn who killed Austin and who was speaking to Victor in the confessional. My one caveat is that these mysteries needed to have a believable and satisfying payoff. Unfortunately, this was not the case. The solution to both mysteries revolves around a Jack Abbott doppelganger. It’s not just that this twist is lame; the implausible plot turn is driving the majority of sub-stories on the show. The end result? An incredibly boring show. 

    General Hospital continues to be a mixed bag. On the up side, we are seeing more of Michael, Sabrina, Lucas, Olivia, and Jordan. Also, the recent mob wars have resulted in a decreased mob presence. However, there are still issues. The role of the hospital has diminished to the point where only three contract actors portray characters who work at the hospital. Also, the show has taken a wrong turn with two important characters: Jason is being portrayed as though Steve Burton were still in the role; and Nikolas has become inexplicably (and unbelievably) evil. GH needs to focus on more believable characterization.

    The Bold and the Beautiful shook up the world of daytime with a daring storyline about a transgender model.  While one might expect that the show would cautiously relegate this to B-story status due to potential controversy, B&B has instead chosen to live up to its title and feature this as a front-burner story. The rest of the show is somewhat lacking, but the transgender story is undeniably compelling.

    Days of our Lives has had a great year so far. While I acknowledge that their may be long-time fans who do not share in my enthusiasm, I have thoroughly enjoyed the character-driven, family-based drama. The show’s highlights have included the rivalry between Jennifer and Eve, as well as Paul’s effect on Sonny and Will’s relationship. Days is making great use of veterans such as Judi Evans, Wally Kurth, Melissa Reeves, Deidre Hall, and Bryan Datillo. They have maintained a great balance of intrigue and humor. This has been by far the most consistently entertaining show of the year so far.

    This is how I would rank the shows thus far for 2015:

    1. Days of our Lives

    2. The Bold and the Beautiful

    3. General Hospital

    4. The Young and the Restless

    This ranking is significant to me personally because of my own history with daytime. I have watched Y&R since its inception (with some lapses). I have watched GH since 1980 (with lapses). In contrast, I am familiar with Days and B&B, but have never watched the shows daily on a long-term basis until recently. So I find myself surprised to be ranking the shows this way.

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    gdfl
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    #429429

    ^^  Great points, robbalto.
    My opinions are largely similar, but overall rankings differ.

    A  quick summary of my opinions:
    Y&R:  I like the energy of Chuck Pratt’s work.  I find it to be great execution of bad ideas.
    GH:  Characterization is a big problem, as noted above, but when GH is good it’s very good, and the acting saves them on a daily basis.
    B&B:  One great story line, but the rest of the show is weak. 
    DOOL:  This show impresses me more and more every day.  They have all the ingredients of a good soap, and they do each aspect very well, which is rare for any Daytime drama.  I guess my only issue is that Days has always had a certain group of huge fan favourites, but Sami, EJ, and Kristen are gone, and John/Marlena and Hope are Supporting players at present.  That may change with visits for the 50th, but I think they need a front burner story line for Kristen again, or any of Carrie, Austin, Billie, Bo, Anna, or even Carly.

    Overall I think all four are doing good work, but since we’re ranking:
    1.  DOOL
    2.  Y&R
    3.  GH
    4.  B&B
     

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    FreemanGriffin
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    #429430

    As usual, I agree with robbalto on all of his points. I think Days has been amazing this year and remain puzzled by the low ratings. Pratt’s work started out with great promise but he didn’t deliver on that promise with poor storyline resolution choices. The only reason I rate GH higher that B&B is because of their amazing cast, and B&B has really only had one successful story in 2015.

    I was an east coast soap guy, so having only four west coast soaps where I have never been totally crazy about any of them. I only watched Days during it’s bad periods because of Alison Sweeney’s Sami (I hated James Reilly’s writing for Days as I hate sci-fi stories on soaps).

    For me Days has struck gold with Sonny/Will/Paul and especially Adrienne & Lucas. There have been dull episodes, yes, but the show is by far the most conistent and the best written of the four shows.

    GH dies for me with the insistence that Sonny is a viable worthwhile character. I don’t care for Alexis with Julian. I love Brad & Lucas and want them on more. I want more Hospital and less mob. Spencer is the best kid on daytime. Nikolas going bad has been poor writing but Tyler Christopher’s acting (esp. during Spencer’s ordeal with the fire) has been phenomenal. That’s the crux of the problem I have with GH: great acting but with awful storytelling. (And: I love love love Lisa Lo!)

    My rankings:

    1. Days
    (huge gap between #1 and #2)
    2. GH
    3. Y&R
    4. B&B (despite a terrific storyline, there does need to be more than one compelling story)

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    robbalto
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    #429431

    Gdfl, you make an interesting point about Days losing many of their leads. It seems like more of an ensemble show, which I do not mind. This speaks to why we sometimes hesitate when categorizing actors as lead or supporting. The lack of supercouples may be alienating some fans, but I think they need to create new ones rather than fall back on pairings from the 80s. For example, Lucas and Adrienne are pretty great together.

    B&B is typically my least favorite show. However, their initiative in doing their current story is noteworthy. I feel like they are trying to do a storyline of substance, whereas GH and Y&R are falling back on overplayed cliches.

    I too enjoy many of the actors on GH and Y&R. They keep me hanging on. 

    Freeman, like you, I prefer the style of the east coast soaps.  Right now, Days comes the closest to recapturing that style, which is why I prefer it. I thought Ron C. would recapture the OLTL zeitgeist on GH, but that has not quite materialized.

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    gdfl
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    #429432

    ^^  I agree that the ensemble nature of Days is one of its (many) strengths.  So I guess what I’m looking for is some sort of anchor.  Like in 2013, the show was balanced and awesome on all counts, but Eileen Davidson, Sweeney/Scott, and, to some degree, Martsolf, were quarterbacking the show very nicely.  I feel like that’s lacking now with most of them gone.  
    To give an example from another show, GH has always had loud and loyal fans, and I believe that Jason/Sonny/Carly as permanent and predictable fixtures provided an anchor that kept the show afloat despite its unpopularity, whereas now one of its major shortcomings is that it’s a free-for-all in terms of who gets a story line and how that character is going to behave.
     

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    EmmyLoser
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    #429433

    gdfl, I completely agree with what you said about DAYS.  Over the last few years, if there was a rare episode that didn’t feature Kristen, Sami, EJ, Hope or Marlena, it felt untethered to me.  Obviously the episode could still be great (although since most of the stories involved those characters to some degree, that essentially meant most of what we were getting was decidedly B-story), but it did seem to need an anchor.  I’ve had to let that idea go to a large degree, because three of those five characters are gone, and most of both Hope’s and Marlena’s storylines has been enjoyable with little urgency.  (The exceptions are the week Hope was with Aiden in the cabin and Marlena’s last tussle with Kristen, but even that is because of Kristen.)  I think when DAYS loses an actor, they tend to move on rather than attempting to replace that actor.  That’s generally a good thing, but there’s no one who really stands out as the face of the show anymore.  It certainly could be Kristian Alfonso if she had a more prominent story, or Deidre Hall.  It could be Arianne Zucker if Nicole weren’t saddled in the go-nowhere pairing she has with Daniel.  A Nicole/Brady/Theresa triangle has the potential to be the show’s A story for a long time, even though eclipsing the other storylines in terms of screentime.  

    But as we move ever closer to the new writing regime and all the changes they’ll bring with them, these things get harder and harder to discuss.

    My overall soap ranking are always with the caveat that my sampling size of Y&R/B&B is quite small.  That said, I’m also not just tuning in to random episodes of those shows, so in theory the episodes I do see should be stronger than the others.

    1. DAYS: As you guys said, it has all the right ingredients and is balanced and consistent with some great highlights so far this year.  If they’re ramping up to an exit story for Clyde (seems like they are?), then what I said above would be my only criticism.

    2. B&B: If I go by what I’ve seen, B&B edges out GH ever so slightly.  It’s true I’ve only seen one good storyline, and some of the characters are insufferable, but I also have to take into account that the show is only a half hour.  I may get a little more from GH, but I’m watching or fast-forwarding through a lot more to get it.

    3. GH: Such a mixed bag, though I’m finding that so far this year, unlike last year, even most of the things I like I don’t love like I did in 2014 (recent Maxie/Nathan story, for example), and some things I once thought had strong potential have totally turned me off (Nina as a character).

    4. Y&R: I enjoyed parts of it when I saw it, but not as much as I did with the other three.  I don’t find any of these three all that far apart, though, among Y&R, B&B and GH.  I guess my biggest critique of Y&R is that the things I think are supposed to be drawing me in (two Jacks! Gina T as Phyllis!) are, at best, making almost no impression on me. 

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    Matt McClamrock
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    #429434

    Here’s a big one – THE YOUNG AND THE RESTLESS is ghastly.  I can’t turn it on without laughing endlessly.  I’ve read Pratt’s comments in response to viewer reaction and he simply does not care.  I do not understand how this type of treatment is allowed daytime’s once “Grand Dame” of soap operas only to think this is CBS’ way of ridding themsleves of another serial.  Days and GH have been relative snoozefests of late but GH would certainly get my vote for Best Series wiith the entire Fluke reveal, Duke’s death, the prison break, etc.  B&B runs a close second with Maya’s story, Brooke’s drinking, Hope’s miscarriage, etc.  Days did a pretty good job with the Eve/J.J. reveals but the rest has been moving at a snail’s pace.  It’s time to give Jennifer Horton a new love interest.  Isn’t Justin single?  Plus what a great dynamic with Jennifer and Adrienne being sister-in-laws and Adrienne’s affair with Jen’s brother, Lucas.  Or what about John and Jennifer?  Sure he’s twice her age, but anything’s better than Dr. Dud.  

    If I were giving Emmys today based on this year’s work:

    Best Series:  General Hospital
    Best Actor:  Anthony Geary, General Hospital
    Best Actress:  Maura West, General Hospital
    Best Supporting Actor:  Jacob Young, The Bold and the Beautiful
    Best Supporting Actress:  Finola Hughes, General Hospital
    Best Younger Actor:  Casey Moss, Days of Our Lives
    Best Younger Actress:  Hunter King, The Young and the Restless

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    FreemanGriffin
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    #429435

    Here is what my prenominations list would look like at the half year mark:

    Best Actress:
    Sharon Case, Y&R (Is Sharon a murderer? Dylan isn’t sure)
    Jessica Collins, Y&R (Avery confronts Joe)
    Kassie De Paiva, Days (Jennifer Confronts Eve: “don’t ever go down memory lane with me”)
    Finola Hughes, GH (Anna grieves Duke)
    Jen Lilley, Days (Teresa believes she is pregnant)
    Karla Mosley, B&B (Maya tells Rick the truth)
    Melissa Reeves, Days (Jennifer confronts Eve)
    Kirsten Storms, GH (Maxie is reunited with her daughter Georgie)
    Melody Thomas Scott, Y&R (Drunk Nikki)
    Maura West, GH (Ava wants to die)

    Best Actor:
    Darin Brooks, B&B (Wyatt confronts Quinn)
    Tyler Christopher, GH (Nikolas grieves over a burned Spencer)
    Scott Clifton, B&B (Steffy confronts Liam)
    Chad Duell, GH (Michael taunts Sonny)
    Anthony Geary, GH (Luke learns he killed both his parents)
    Justin Hartley, Y&R (drunk Adam loses it at Billy & Chelsea’s engagement party)
    Eric Martsolf, Days (Brady confronts Kristen, “cat and mouse”)
    Freddie Smith, Days (Sonny remembers; confronts Will)
    Kristoff St. John, Y&R (Neil can see; confronts Devon and Hillary)
    Jacob Young, B&B  (Maya tells Rick the truth)

    Best Supporting Actress:
    Lauralee Bell, Y&R (Paul and Christine grieve)
    Eileen Davidson, Days (Brady confronts Kristen, “cat and mouse”)
    Jane Elliot, GH (Tracy learns about the two Lukes)
    Judi Evans, Days (Adrienne talking to Justin, then learns that Sonny has been stabbed, and goes to the hospital)
    Deidre Hall, Days (Marlena has a therapy session with Paul)
    Lauren Koslow, Days (Kate is confronted by Lucas)
    Rebecca Herbst, GH (Liz almost tells the truth about Jason)
    Lisa Lo Cicero, GH (Valentine’s Day, she loves Ned)
    Jacqueline MacInnes Wood, B&B (Steffy confronts Liam)
    Rena Sofer, B&B (Quinn confronts Brooke)

    Best Supporting Actor:
    Robert Adamson, Y&R (death of Courtney)
    John Aniston, Days (Victor makes a deal with God)
    Ryan Carnes, GH (Valentine’s Day)
    Bryan Datillo, Days (Kate is confronted by Lucas)
    Doug Davidson, Y&R (Paul and Christine grieve)
    Billy Flynn, Days (Chad grieves Kristen)
    Ryan Paevey, GH (Maxie and Nathan delcare their love)
    Christopher Sean, Days (Paul has a therapy session with Marlena)
    Parry Shen, GH (Brad goes to Nurses Ball, asks Lucas to marry him)
    Greg Vaughan, Days (Eric confronts Serena)

    Best Younger Actress:
    Kristen Alderson, GH (Kiki says goodbye to Franco)
    Reign Edwards, B&B (Maya’s secret)
    Camryn Grimes, Y&R (Mariah loves Kevin)
    Hunter King, Y&R (Austin’s funeral)
    True O’Brien, B&B (cat and mouse with Eve about JJ)
    Haley Pullos, GH (nice talk with her dad)

    Best Younger Actor:
    Nicholas Bechtel, GH (Spencer is burned and sees his mother’s ghost)
    Bryan Craig, GH (Morgan kisses Denise a.k.a. Ava)
    Casey Moss, Days (JJ is devastated)
    Tequan Richmond, GH (T J is arrested)

    Best Daytime Drama Series:

    B&B (Maya tells Rick the truth/2 episodes)

    Days (Sonny is found stabbed in the park/Brady and Kristen play cat and mouse)

    GH (50th anniversary – Lukes learns about his past/the case of the missing ballot box)

    Y&R (the earthquake – Austin’s murder/Billy & Chelsea’s engagement party)

     

    My Picks;

    Series, Directing & Writing: Days Of Our Lives

    Best Actor: Freddie Smith, Days Of Our Lives

    Best Actress: Maura West, General Hospital

    Best Supporting Actor: John Aniston, Days Of Our Lives

    Best Supporting Actress: Judi Evans, Days Of OUr Lives

    Best Younger Actor: Nicholas Bechtel, General hospital

    Best Younger Actress: (not sure yet)

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    robbalto
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    #429436

    I was on the phone with my mom tonight and she starting ranting about Y&R and GH, saying that they are both so stupid. Her complaints seemed to me almost apocalyptic, because she has watched both shows for decades and rarely ever complains (unlike me, lol).

    In watching the three hour-long soaps, I realize that I have the same negative reaction when watching the characters of Stefano DiMera, Sonny Corinthos, and Victor Newman. I find it unfathomable that “the fans” want to see these characters, especially given the manner in which they are written. 

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