Part one of a two-part look back at the events of the past year in Salem. This week, our columnists discuss the best that Days of our Lives had to offer in 2008.
Gather 'round the tree, Days fans, Uncle Tony is going to tell you a story …
When I was in sixth grade I was chosen to play Santa in the school's annual holiday pageant. What an honor, right!? Well, it could've been because I was chubby back then, but, let's not dwell because that honor came complete with a musical number! My class's song of the season was "Must Be Santa," a tune that basically lists everything Jolly Old St. Nick wears or is known for … a beard that's long and white, a suit of red, a long cap on his head, a big red cherry nose and so on and so forth. I was also slated to end the number, the entire show for that matter, with a hearty, yet squawky pubescent, "Ho, Ho, Ho! Merry Christmas!"
When the big night finally arrived, I was proud as a peacock in my Santa suit! But, that feeling didn't last long. Tragedy struck! By the end of the song my long, white beard was dangling from my chin, the pants of my red suit were bunched around my ankles revealing my holiday print boxers, my long cap was covering my eyes, and my foam big red cherry nose was rolling across the floor of the auditorium. It seemed like a total bust. Yet, much to my surprise, when it was all over there everyone stood-- clapping and cheering because, despite some hitches, we still put on a great show!
The moral of the story you might be wondering? Like my big, botched moment in the spotlight, Days hasn't gone off without a few hitches of its own this year, but there were still many reasons to stand up, clap, and cheer! And that's why we're here - to celebrate what we thought were the best and brightest spots of our favorite soap in 2008! But, before we officially get the ball rolling, I'd like to mention two programming notes.
First, you might be wondering - what is a Golden Doughnut Award anyway? That's simple! Laurisa and I named our "Best Of" Days event in honor of Salem's most beloved leading lady, Alice Horton, and picked her most famous baked good as a symbol that embodied the festive spirit of the awards! Second, if you'd like to find out who we chose last year, please check out Laurisa's blog
for a list of the winners as well as critique of our picks one year later.
Now, without any further ado, Laurisa and I thank you for joining us and welcome you to the Second Annual Golden Doughnuts Awards!
Best New Character
Laurisa: Ava Vitali
. When she showed up crazy, I went crazy for her. She was the most interesting part of Steve and Kayla this year AND she brought out some excellent scenes from Detective Hope Brady. But then a funny thing happened. When Ava turned uncrazy, I still liked her! I thought she was a good (temporary) fit for John and an even better fit for Nicole. Here's hoping we haven't seen the last of her!
Tony: Ava Vitali
. Crazy A was one interesting lady! She was wicked, yet remorseful. Tough as nails, yet vulnerable. Playful, yet intense. Had a lesser actress tackled the role I think we would've had a major disaster on our hands, but Tamara Braun created such a layered psychotic mess that it was impossible to see her merely as some crazy chick that nearly came between two supercouples! I felt sympathy for her at times. She enraged me at times. And, when she hung out with BFF Nicole, she simply cracked me up. The only thing she did that I didn't like? She left Salem way too soon!
Best "Special Guest Star/Character"
Laurisa: Deidre Hall as Samantha Evans
. It was a move that could very easily fall into the "stunt casting" category because Deirdre is world-known for playing Marlena. But, when Deirdre sported a snazzy wrap dress and took on the role of Marlena's dearly departed sister, Samantha Evans, I remembered how talented Deirdre Hall really is. Samantha was funny, witty, and very perceptive. I had to keep reminding myself that, yes, that actually is Deidre Hall playing both roles.
Tony: Patsy Pease as Kimberly Brady
. Although tragedy brought her back to Salem, it was wonderful to see Kimberly (and Patsy) again! A lot of times, writers use exasperating excuses like, "Kim couldn't get a flight out of L.A., but she wanted to be here," but this time she was there and I was thrilled! Patsy effortless jumped back into the role and having Kim there seemed to be exactly what the Bradys (and the viewers) needed to help them through their mourning. It was a bittersweet moment on many levels - Shawn's death, of course, but also because fans got just a short, but sweet, reunion with such a beloved character.
Laurisa: Stefano DiMera
. I know, I know… technically I picked him last year too. But, Joseph Mascolo was gone for such an extended amount of time that he's eligible for the award again this year. (Don't worry. I cleared it with my partner Tony first.) I didn't realize how much I missed him until he returned and proved that he can command a room and a scene even if he's just sitting there doing nothing. I absolutely loved the fact that Stefano planned a hospital take over while he was still in a coma!!!
Who else could pull that off? No one but our dear Mr. DiMera!
Tony: Dr. Lexie Carver
. She's fired. She's hired. She's fired again. Yep, that pretty much explains Renée Jones's career with Days in '07. But, this year she managed to return yet again and in a big way - Lexie was promoted to Chief of Staff at University Hospital! Although a bit shocking considering her medical license had been revoked when we last saw her, I didn't care - she was finally back for good! She also managed to be involved in several powerful storylines none of which included her cheating on Abe! That is reason enough to celebrate!
Laurisa: Eric Martsolf as Brady Black
. This was the perfect storm of recasts. First, the storyline with RoboJohn absolutely dictated that Brady return to see his dad. Second, Nicole was suffering an identity crisis because she was missing connection with any single character from her past. Then, to complete the trifecta of awesomeness, the heavens opened up and the soap gods dropped Eric Martsolf right smack dab in the middle of Salem. Eric is doing an incredible job. He's physically believable as both John's son and a Kiriakis man. And, his chemistry with Arianne Zuker is absolutely effortless. Did I mention that he's pretty dreamy too?
Tony: Alina Foley as Claire Brady
. I wouldn't feel right announcing my pick for this award without giving a thunderous round of applause to my runner up, Eric Martsolf, as he's proving to be one of the best recasts in Days' history! Hoorah, Eric! But, in the end, I had to go with the pint0sized spitfire who stole our soap-loving hearts this year! Aside from being downright adorable, and a fine little actress to boot, Alina's aged Claire played a very important part in humanizing RoboJohn, thus easing us as an audience into his new blunt personality. Her presence also managed to add another dimension to the plane crash that claimed Shawn Sr.'s life - having her there, seeing that tragedy through a child's eyes, made it all the more terrifying. Though she may be gone, sweet little Claire-Bear and her antics with John are definitely not forgotten. All together now - aww!
Laurisa: Nick Fallon
. Bonus points to the writers for giving Nick something to do other than be the guy who gets taken advantage of by Chelsea/Willow/Kate/China Lee/basically every woman in Salem. Furthermore, insanely genius Nick Fallon (played by the equally genius Blake Berris) made me wonder why more soaps don't have this kind of villain. The smartest guy in the town, not necessarily the most flashy, has both the means to commit great crimes and the ability to still gain sympathy from the viewers. It's rare that we actually feel sorry for the bad guy, but I did with Nick! The fact that they threw in the pill addiction leaves the door wide open for Blake Berris to return to Salem as a productive and oh-so-enticing citizen.
Tony: Trent Robbins
. The Mean Dean definitely lived up to that nickname! Although he didn't have the resources to pull off extravagant sinister schemes like holding his enemies hostage on seventh floor of the hospital (hats off to Stefano for that one), Trent emotionally held his victims captive. He also proved time and time again that he was evil to the core … the man pimped out his daughter to save his own neck and that was just one of his malicious misdeeds! On the whole, not a nice guy, but he was excellently portrayed by soap vet Roscoe Born!
Me-ouch! Be it catty comments or full-fledged fist fights, the best battle of 2008.
Laurisa: Bo Brady vs. Philip Kiriakis
. I loved it when they squared off in the police station about why Bo really hid the evidence that incriminated Philip. They weren't really arguing over evidence. They were arguing over being Kiriakis boys. Up until that point, the only thing the brothers had in common was some paternal DNA. But, at this point Bo realize that he and Philip may just share the same idea of "family". As Dr. Phil would say, this argument was productive.
Tony: Nick Fallon vs. Maggie Horton
. Although more of a one sided screamfest, Nick's verbal assault on Big Red left me with such a punched in the gut feeling! The combination of his cruel, insensitive stare and her crushed, quivering, tearful expressions was downright chilling. I wanted to look away, but couldn't - Blake and Suzanne were great!
Best Comedic Scene Stealer
Sure, drama's nice, but so is comedy and this character always managed to tickle our funny bone!
Laurisa: Dr. Rolf
. Five words: 1)pottery 2)class 3)and 4)tango 5)lessons. Brilliant! Has anyone seen him lately?
Tony: Anna DiMera
. Between her hilarious facial expressions and her wacky words, this woman totally cracks me up! I mean, come on, she brought a cross to the hospital when she heard Stefano was coming out of his coma! And let's not forget the warped "How to Land a Man" list she shared with Stephanie. Hysterical! The only thing not funny about her is that she's not on nearly enough.
Say what!? The character, on average, who always came up with the finest zingers!
Laurisa: John Black DiMera
. You know what's cool about this category? I actually had a hard time choosing between John, Philip, Nicole, Sami, Melanie and Stefano. Usually I'm excited if there is one good line a week, but this year was great in the one-line-zinger department. In the end, I have to bow down to the king of sarcasm, John Black DiMera. I'm sure he'd find that "good to know."
Tony: John Black DiMera
. I suspect that when Stefano and Dr. Rolf erased John's memories they filled the void with an endless supply of colorful comebacks! Be it hilarious or harsh, "RoboJohn" kept me thoroughly entertained. However, the most amusing aspect of things - those rather snarky remarks came from former do-gooder John "That's A Fact" Black! Who would have thought he had it in him!?
Laurisa: Alison Sweeney
(Sami Brady). I just love Alison's style. Sure, she's a beautiful woman and she's got tons of natural beauty to work with. But even when she was styled to look like she "wasn't" pregnant, Alison still looked amazing. Plus, any woman who can rock a scarf and a long necklace is super cool in my book.
Tony: Arianne Zuker
(Nicole Walker). Simply put - the woman knows how to dress! Her outfits always seem to be this odd combo of funky, sexy yet classy and chic, but those styles all seems to mesh together and work perfectly for her lively character. It also doesn't hurt that Arianne Zuker has the body of a Barbie Doll and could probably make a burlap sack look great!
Best Babe, Days' Hottest Female Eye Candy
Laurisa: Nadia Bjorlin
(Chloe Lane). She's so stop-and-stare gorgeous that I don't even get mad when Chloe is shown with perfect hair and makeup all the time. I honestly believe Nadia wakes up in the morning and looks like that. Heck she probably looks like that when she's donating bone marrow or running in from an outdoor shower. I just know it.
Tony: Sandra Robinson
(Dr. Charlotte Taylor). She might be a recent addition to the cast, but, man, oh man, she's a welcomed one! Sandra's simply radiant! I should confess that I've had googly eyes for her since first seeing her as Amanda Corey on Another World, but, if it's possible, I think she's even more beautiful now!
Holy Hunk, Day's Hottest Male Eye Candy
Laurisa: Jay Kenneth Johnson
(Philip Kiriakis). The guy has Mary Poppins syndrome- he's practically perfect in every way - those dimples, those eyes, that skin…. He heats up the screen no matter who he is with. And, it doesn't hurt that the dude looks great in a suit.
Tony: Darin Brooks
(Max Brady). (Max Brady). I'll admit it -- Darin's not your typical chiseled, model-like, designer-clothes-wearing soap stud, but the guy still has the goods. He's got tons of charisma, a captivating playful grin, a mischievous twinkle in his eyes, and a fun, funky style. Not to mention the guy's at his best when he's being downright silly, and I think funny trumps perfect abs any day of the week!
Most Improved Character
Laurisa: John Black DiMera
. I know that his robo schtick is wearing thin on some fans, but I still enjoy him. It had been years since I was actually eager to see what happened next in John's storyline, but that's exactly how I felt as soon as I met the new John. He's funny, he's poignant, and he's still got the hots for Blondie. He's still got a long way to go with his storyline too, which leaves a lot on the table should John need more material in the future……
Tony: Shawn Douglas Brady
. Whereas he sailed off into the sunset a bit too soon, Shawn D. finally grew up during his last few months in Salem. Simply put -- he handled the news from Belle that she cheated with a shocking amount of maturity, and even ended up forgiving both her and Philip! That certainly wasn't the same reaction our hotheaded little Sailor Man of '07 would've had. Of course, once he became likeable and actually started to act like the son of awesomely awesome Bo and Hope, he left. Go figure.
Most Likely to Succeed
Laurisa: Stephanie Johnson
. If you would have told me a year ago that I'd be picking Sweetness Jr., I'd have laughed. Right in your face. But, since Stephanie broke up with Max and focused on Philip, she's been on an upswing. And, I can even stomach her feud with Melanie if it's over Philip, rather than Max. While I had difficulties watching Steph berate her boyfriend's sister, I can understand her snipping at the secretary who locks her in a vault. As long as Steph focuses on the future and NOT getting revenge for the past, the Johnson Family might just be ok.
Tony: Brady Black
. The guy has success written all over his handsome, square-jawed face! Not only did he return to Salem new, improved, and drug-free, it's only a matter of time before this supercouple spawn takes the reigns and becomes Salem's next leading man. If he can avoid getting too tangled up in a certain femme fatale's twisted web, I think this Kiriakis/DiMera/Brady hybrid will definitely come out on top in '09.
Most Likely to Return
Laurisa: Brandon Walker
. Yah, it's a far-fetched theory, but go with me on this one. When Nicole's secret comes out (and you know it will), Nicole will have next to no one to pick up the pieces. I'm harboring extreme hopes that Brady will help her through it, but with the way that TPTB have a hankering for triangles, I don't see Brady's support being unconditional and unwavering. So when no one else is there for her, Nicole will turn to the only family that she really loves. Enter Brandon Walker. Darn. That may mean that Matt Cedeno will appear too. How ever will I manage?
Tony: Eric Brady
. Unfortunately, I don't think we'll ever see Jensen Ackles tackling the role of Sami's MIA twin again, but I suspect 2009 might be the year a new actor brings Eric Brady back to Salem. Not only has he been gone far too long, but Sami's gearing up for some serious trouble next year, and she'll need a moral compass to guide her through the dark DiMera days ahead. Not to mention the fact his return might stir up old feelings for Nicole, potentially causing an Eric vs. E.J. battle that would be a multilayered slugfest sure to entertain!
Laurisa: E.J. and Sami Discuss the Rape
. Regardless of how you feel about E.J. and Sami as a couple, the integrity of the storyline needed this conversation. I honestly never thought the writers would get there. For such an important event, I'd expect nothing less than for James Scott and Alison Sweeney to bring their big acting chops to this scene. And they did. This conversation may never win over hard-core opponents of this couple, but the significance of a man raised to be a DiMera and a woman raised to be a Brady having such a raw and honest conversation about the demons that they've both known was certainly not lost on a storyline junkie like me.
Tony: Marlena's Revenge!
If any character, on any soap deserved to settle the score it's definitely Doc Evans! For the past, oh, twenty plus years, she's been terrorized by Stefano. He's kidnapped her countless times, messed with her brain, imprisoned two of her "dead" husbands and tortured them, and … ok, heck, the list's practically endless - point being, she's scored more frequent victim miles than any other heroine because of the guy. But in January that all changed - Marlena stuck it to the Phoenix by sticking him with a syringe filled with an untraceable drug cocktail that left him comatose yet mentally aware of the world around. Yep, she
and in his own body! Revenge, meet your new best friend, Dr. Marlena Evans!
: Tony and Laurisa! Okay, okay, I kid. But seriously, Tony and I are about the only couple that's still together. I'd like you to join me in a brief moment of silence for all of the pairs that TPTB have chosen to pass on this year, for one ridiculous reason or another: Philip/Chloe, John/Marlena, Nick/Chelsea, Lucas/Sami, Brady/Chloe, Daniel/Chelsea, EJ/Sami, Stefano/Kate, Max/Morgan, John/Ava, Philip/Morgan, Nick/Melanie, Max/Stephanie, Lucas/Chloe, and Daniel/Kate. You'd think out of that bunch, they would be at least ONE pair worth giving a lasting, happy storyline. But never fear! I did pick a great couple for this award. My best couple is Shawn and Caroline
. Yes, I know that Frank Parker's last scene was way back in February. But, the way that Caroline continues to celebrate Shawn's life and the lessons he taught his family restores my faith that some people still believe in those vows of "all the days of our lives."
Tony: Abe and Lexie Carver
. Never, ever would I've thought I'd pick these two as "Best Couple," but, lo and behold, this year proved that they actually do work well together - after a little therapy that is. Although they didn't have many chances for romantic encounters, they learned to appreciate each other and managed to work together while dealing with Theo's autism diagnosis. The icing on the cake? They became the Mayor and First Lady of Salem! Not bad progress for a couple where one spouse *cough Lexie* has cheated a whopping three times!
Best Veteran Character
Laurisa: Victor Kiriakis
. He had an awesome year because he was involved in multiple storylines at one time and playing different levels of characters. We got to see his paternal side with Chelsea. We saw his protective side when it came to Brady and Chloe. We got to see his business side with Philip. And, we got to see his "I really mean" business side when it came to Crawford Decker. I loved them all!
Tony: Mayor Abe Carver
. 'Ole Honest Abe might not have obtained his career-long goal of capturing Stefano, but he spit in the face of corruption and greed by refusing to play by the shady mayor's rules. How did he do that? Abe "Partner" Carver quit the police force! I was shocked, but his "Norma Rae" moment had me wanting to stand up beside him and fight "the man." Abe even continued to travel the high road and got revenge on his enemy by deciding to campaign against him! Sure, he won because Marino was murdered, but he still rocked the vote and got his groove back all at the same time! Not to mention he did all that while dealing with one personal crisis after another. In 2008, Carver could - and did!
Laurisa: Thaao Penglis as Tony DiMera
. I noticed something about Thaao that makes him a delight to watch. He seamlessly meshes with every scene partner that he has. He can hold his own in the smug department with James Scott (EJ) and Drake Hogeystn (John). He can be sarcastic with Lauren Koslow (Kate). He can be compassionate with Leanne Hunley (Anna). And, he can even be nurturing with Kristen Renton (Morgan). It's no wonder why fans have an excuse to celebrate every time Tony appears on our screens.
Tony: Stephen Nichols as Steve "Patch" Johnson
. Stephen Nichols is always great. His intense interactions with Tamara Braun were great. His chemistry with Mary Beth Evans, Shelley Henning, Kristian Alfonso and Peggy McCay is always great. Heck, even when the guy's stuck in a subpar storyline he makes it work and is great. But what soared beyond great was his performance when Steve found out Stephanie had been raped. He managed to express feelings of utter rage, total helplessness, deep sorrow, remorse, and support all in the same breath. Watching him simply broke my heart! I just hope a certain cuddly-wuddly Emmy crew doesn't forget him come awards time!
Laurisa: Rachel Melvin as Chelsea Brady
. It's really a special thing when viewers get to watch an actress develop along with the character. This year the character of Chelsea accepted her "Chelsea-ness". She'll never be as sweet as Abby or as sensitive as Stephanie. But she is Bo and Billie's daughter. She has her dad's unapologetic audacity and her mom's vigorous determination. She buried the hatchet with Shawn D., formed a believable bond with Hope, and put that mean 'ole Ford Decker in his place. But it was Rachel's heartbreaking scenes with Peter Reckel during the transplant storyline and then her shivering realism with Blake Berris in the prison scenes that made me even more ticked that this chick doesn't have an Emmy. Don't look now, but Rachel also has some pretty good comedic timing with Darin Brooks and Jay Kenneth Johnson. Comedy and drama … what's not to like?
Tony: Peggy McCay as Caroline Brady and Arianne Zuker as Nicole Walker
. Sorry, I hate to pull out the old tie, but I couldn't make up my mind as both actresses completely wowed me this year! First up, Peggy McCay. Not only did she deliver her superb loveable, feisty portrayal of the Brady matriarch as usual, but, between the grief she expressed when Shawn Sr. passed away, the stoic way she tried to move on over the months afterwards, and her terrified yet optimistic approach to being arrested for Trent's murder, I couldn't look away. She was amazing! And as for Arianne Zuker, she also knocked my socks off! Not only did she seamlessly and brilliantly step back into Nicole's comedic yet villainess stiletto heels, but she managed to bring a dimension to the character we haven't seen before. Just thinking of her reaction to losing the baby is simply gut-wrenching! Like all of our other picks, I'm crossing my fingers that both of these ladies land themselves on the short list for a free trip to the Emmys next year.
Laurisa: Paul Hollingsworth's Disappearance
. This storyline involved a majority of the cast and touched on a topic that has since been largely ignored by the writers - Bo and Philip are both Victor's sons. It's something more than them being "brothers" - they are "Kiriakis Brothers". It also brought together Philip and Morgan and I thoroughly enjoyed their romance. Sure, they broke up too quickly but you know the saying: It's better to have loved and lost than to be stuck dating your uncle.
Tony: The Doomed Return Flight from Ireland
. Horribly disgusting and inappropriate crash site sex aside, this storyline was downright compelling! Actually, it reminded me of vintage Days when action and adventure were a weekly occurrence. What really set this apart for me were the levels of sheer terror the situation triggered. For example, when everyone passed out from the lack of oxygen, it was downright chilling, as there was this eerie calm, yet frantic, ambiance all at the same time. The actors also did a great job conveying panic while trying to be strong and take care of a sick Bo, a young Claire, and an elder Shawn Sr. And then there's Shawn Sr. -- the man gave his life to save his son! What a heroic way to go, and it proved he was a family man 'til his dying breath. And, when it was all over, there was a one shocking twist left -- Stefano wasn't even responsible!
Parting Thoughts …
And there you have them, friends and fellow Days-o-holics, the winners of the Second Annual Golden Doughnut Awards! Again, we'd thank you all for joining us and invite you back next week when Laurisa and I get to be as nasty as Nicole, as saucy Sami and as sinister as Stefano - yep, we get to bring you the worst of Days 2008, The Second Annual Alex North Memorial Awards
! And, like Laurisa did with the 2007 "Doughnut Awards," I'll be posting a list of last years "Alex Award" recipients on my blog
complete with our year-end review of our last year's year-end review! On behalf of Laurisa, we'd like to wish everyone a Happy Holiday and an amazing New Year!
As always, thanks for reading and happy viewing!
Tony and Laurisa
Need more Two Scoops? Head over to read blogs by Laurisa or Tony for more ranting, raving and all-out randomness
Two Scoops is an opinion column. The views expressed are not designed to be indicative of the opinions of soapcentral.com or its advertisers. The Two Scoops section allows our Scoop staff to discuss what might happen, what has happened, and to take a look at the logistics of it all. They stand by their opinions and do not expect others to share the same view point.