Three of our top Experts at predicting the Daytime Emmys -- Nelson Branco (Soap Opera Uncensored), Michael Fairman (Michael Fairman Soaps) and Dan J. Kroll (Soap Central) -- square off in a smackdown worthy of any of the daytime dramas they cover with such passion and insight.
Nelson Branco: "General Hospital"
Last year’s best soap operas, "One Life to Live" and "Bold and the Beautiful," were not nominated so I don’t really care who takes this prize home. No wonder NATAS is ending this year’s ceremony with the Best Morning Show Award (though with only two nominees, the “show-stopping” award won’t be a nail-biter or anything to write home about).
While "All My Children"'s final two episodes are the race’s best and most well-rounded submissions, "General Hospital" will not lose its 11th Emmy win, thanks to Luke’s intervention and Jake’s death (which practically every nominee submitted, which should bode well in the final wins overall). After all, I’ve seen "GH" win Best Drama with lesser material against stiffer competition. Plus: I believe the industry threw their support to a show on the brink of cancellation earlier this year, which is why the gold standard,"OLTL," was unfairly and unforgivably snubbed despite its mediocre submissions.
"Days of Our Lives" and "Young and the Restless"? E!’s "Dirty Soap" stands a better chance at winning best soap. Of course, the irony here is "OLTL" showrunners, Frank Valentini and Ron Carlivati, who weren’t nominated for their show, are now helming "GH" and saved it from cancellation; and if "GH" wins, the fired honchos, who helped run the show into the ground, will pick up their umpteenth statues. Moreover, it’s clear the business didn’t want Brad Bell to break the industry record this year by nominating him (if he had been nominated and won, he’d have been the first showrunner to win four consecutive Best Drama wins).
Michael Fairman: "General Hospital"
In predicting this year’s Daytime Emmy race for Best Drama Series it really comes down to a two-horse race between emotional impact and emotional heart. "General Hospital" for all intent and purposes looks to be lock with two standout episodes of their 2011 Emmy calendar year. With little Jake’s death, which gave the "GH" performers material to seek their teeth into, and the already lauded Luke’s "Intervention" episode which has garnered its director, William Ludel with a DGA award for this work, it’s a perfect mix of episodes to submit for the award. With compelling storytelling, and an innovative way to stage, what we have all come to know as a soap opera drug or alcohol intervention, this one looks like it could have been produced on the Broadway stage.
If voters decided to honor one of the two shows booted off the ABC canvas after 40 some years, then this award could fall into the hands of "All My Children." "AMC" did a wise choice of submitting their final two episodes in the history of the series. The first one was the episode that had everyone and probably the judges, grabbing for the hankies! It features the extraordinary work of David Canary as twins Adam and Stuart Chandler. Stuart is brought back to life by Dr. David Hayward and willed back by his other half, Adam. That, plus the beautifully written dialog by Lorraine Broderick and Agnes Nixon, and the "AMC" writing team at that time, gave viewers one last memorable view of Pine Valley. And who could resist Michael E. Knight’s speech as Tad of what Pine Valley is all about, as friends and loved ones toast to each other in the final episode? Of course, there is the Erica Kane relationship drama with Jack and JR shooting someone, maybe himself, but perhaps honoring "AMC" on their final Emmy try for Drama Series is in store. Too bad that "One Life to Live" was unfairly left out of this race, when it was the show to beat for the 2011 season! Enough said.
"The Young and the Restless" and "Days of our Lives" seem to be bringing up the rear. "Y&R" submitted flashy episodes of the Diane Jenkins' murder, complete with "Desperate Housewives" voice over effect from the talented Maura West (Diane) and a standalone episode featuring the talents of Melody Thomas Scott as boozin’ Nikki finding her way with the help of a guardian angel. But something about these two episode feels too familiar, like we have seen it all before, and they did not have the emotional wallop of "GH" and "AMC."
As for "Days of our Lives," their problem lies within the first episode of their two episode submission. It is understandable why they submitted the first one to make sense of the explosive high-drama of the second one, where Will walks in on his mother Sami having grief-sex with EJ, when she believed their little boy Johnny was dead. But we think they may suffer because of the slow-plodding of the first episode. But, who knows? This is "Days" highest nomination count yet in the history of the show! Could grief-sex spell E-M-M-Y?
Dan J. Kroll: "All My Children"
"All My Children" was the only soap to select two consecutive episodes for its Emmy reel -- and they were the final two episodes of the soap's 41-year run. If cohesion is a factor in voting, the episodes selected were perfect. There were clear story arcs that wrapped up (sort of) during the episodes. Clearly, there is a bit of sentimentality involved here that could sway voters. That aside, there was soapy goodness everywhere you looked -- Adam saving his flat-lining twin just by being there, Jackson walking out on Scarlett O'Kane, and JR shooting his gun at... someone. There was a beautiful flashback montage to kick of the second episode, and a wonderful speech that Tad made the entire assembled cast. The cliffhanger ending irritated fans because it meant the series ended with some unresolved issues; when it comes to voting, I'd have to think that the ending might have left them wanting more. There weren't any dead children involved, there were no murder mysteries, but the reel does convey was "All My Children" always did best: telling stories about families and people that we cared about.
"Days of our Lives" had a very schizophrenic pair of reels. In the first reel, many of the people that we cared about were gathered for a "farewell" to John. Sami put aside her differences to go ... and then someone started firing off shotgun blasts in the pub. There was good drama, but the thing that bothered me about it was that it seemed to go on a little too long, and it was choppy. Every two to three minutes, there was a ten-second blip of a masked man loading a gun. The scenes of gunfire were riveting, and I found myself wondering how they pulled off the special effects. The rest of the episode seemed like filler. "Days" second show had the soapy angle covered. In a fit of rage, Sami and E.J. surrendered to passion and had sex ... and then Sami's son walked in and saw it happening. Eek! Even in the moments with no written dialogue, you could read exactly what Sami and E.J. were thinking and feeling -- regret, anybody? -- thanks to the powerful acting of James Scott (E.J. DiMera) and Alison Sweeney (Sami Brady). I wish "Days" had submitted the snowstorm episode that it selected for the Writing Team category.
"General Hospital"'s first episode was a definite tearjerker. There is nothing more heartbreaking than the death of a child. The storyline harkened back to a classic storyline that the show did in the 1990s. Usually the original is the best. There were moments within the episode that were superb. Rebecca Herbst and Jonathan Jackson's acting was top-notch. The operating room scenes were a bit heavy-handed. The show hasn't featured hospital storylines on a regular basis in years! In the course of a single episode, the youngster was diagnosed with a rare form of kidney cancer and a donor match was found right in the same hospital. The second "GH" episode was Luke's intervention. The episode was masterful -- directing and acting were top-notch. There was excellent use of flashbacks -- some from more than a decade ago. At times I wanted to throttle Luke for not getting that he had an alcohol problem, but I guess that was part of the point of the episode. It's also a reason that Anthony Geary (Luke Spencer) will win an Emmy -- even though he didn't submit this particular episode as part of his reel.
For whatever reason, I wasn't as moved with "Y&R"'s first entry as I wanted to be. I'm a sucker for a whodunit, so this episode was tailor-made for me. Maybe I am just still bitter about Maura West being fired unnecessarily. This episode reminded me of the "Who Killed Carmen Mesta?" saga of a few years back. It was well-conceived, but something in the execution was just off. I can't put my finger on it. I'm not sure if perhaps I wanted an answer at the end of the episode; after 37 minutes, I still wasn't any closer to solving the murder than I was before the episode started. "The Young and the Restless" second clip was golden. Sure, this is the umpteenth year in a row that the show has submitted some sort of "It's A Wonderful Life" episode, but if it's not broken... I thought Melody Thomas Scott scored big time with the episode, and I'm a little miffed that she (again) didn't get an Emmy nomination. Were there some hokey parts? Sure, but that's the whole point of the visits from the angels/spirits.
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