Editor's note: Be sure to check in next week when Tony and Laurisa hand out the Alex North Memorial Awards for the Worst of 2010
There are some things that just rock. Finding $10 in your coat pocket. Stumbling across "Bridget Jones's Diary" on cable. The first wear of a new shirt. Waking up early and then realizing that it's Saturday and you can go back to sleep. They're not huge, life-changing events. But, these guilty pleasures make us disproportionally happy.
Soaps fit into this category. Our irrational love for fictional people in a make-believe land helps get us through our real-life problems. And what better way to honor our favorite soap than with an award named after Alice Horton's famous desert? So, for those of you who enjoy your daily hour-long escape to Salem, join with us in celebrating the Best of DAYS in 2010. The following are the winners of the Golden Doughnuts:
BEST NEW CHARACTER
Laurisa: Baby Parker
It's basically a prerequisite that no child may be born unto the soap world without a moderate level of drama. But Baby Parker's drama -- and the sheer number of characters involved in the cover-up of that drama -- has reached all new heights, perhaps only matched by those of his dimpleicious father. I love that I simultaneously know that Parker's world is going to shatter, and yet everyone around him will commit themselves to giving the tiny sir a charmed life. Seriously, when your grandmothers are Kate Roberts and Nancy Wesley, how can you lose?
Tony: Sister Anne
So, a nun walks into a bar…no, really, Sister Anne literally walked into the Cheatin' Heart! Yep, she was that type of gal -- saintly on the inside, tough as nails on the outside. And that's what I appreciated about the good sister. She wasn't afraid to be stern. Of course, by "stern," I mean a holy terror -- the lady called a spade a spade and was a ruler away from slapping the knuckles of anyone who tried to lie, cheat, and/or steal. Plus, longtime DAYS fans got to see Eileen Barnett, who played troublemaker Brooke Hamilton from 1978-1980, again. Amen to that!
BEST "SPECIAL GUEST STAR" CHARACTER
Laurisa: John Callahan as Dr. Richard Baker
There's no reason to like Dr. Baker. He's a gambling addict who sells babies and robs people. But I couldn't help but smile a sinister smile when the good doctor returned from the dead to scam Salem again. The comedic chemistry between Arianne Zucker and John Callahan is flawless. And it was perfect that it took a nut job like Baker to see the real pain in Crazy Hope. The fact that he fell on his own sword for her in the end showed that this baby-selling criminal is just "misunderstood." He's got a heart of gold. (That he'll probably sell to you if the price is right! *wink*)
Tony: Lisa Trusel as Melissa Horton and Melissa Reeves as Jennifer Horton-Deveraux
It's hard to look on the bright side of a sad occasion, especially when that occasion is losing our beloved Frances Reid. But I think Frances and Alice would have wanted us to celebrate her rich life along with her family and friends. Of course, all of the guest stars who ventured to Salem to pay tribute were great, but seeing Melissa and Jennifer return and reunite with Hope made me smile, which wasn't an easy feat during those sad weeks. The three Horton cousins always had a special place in my DAYS-loving heart. Together, they created that "homey" feeling Frances always brought to the table as Alice. Let's just cross our fingers that now that Jennifer is home for good, Melissa isn't far behind (I'll even help her load the U-Haul)!
Laurisa: Jennifer Horton (Melissa Reeves)
Jennifer is the Carrie Bradshaw of Salem. This golden girl makes me want to go hug my best friend, buy a fabulous coat, and crawl into a pint of ice cream while trying to figure out why I always attach idealistic expectations to imperfect men. Jennifer will never be the bombshell vixen or the leading heroine. But, she's the one that we cheer for because she's the one just like us (only with much better hair). Having her come back to settle Alice's estate was the perfect excuse to friend-up Salem. From Hope to Carly to Bo, Jennifer's uncompromising loyalty is an oh-so-welcome sight.
Tony: Judi Evans as Adrienne Johnson-Kiriakis
When Judi left DAYS in 2008, I was bummed. When Wally Kurth came back as Justin in 2009 without Adrienne, I was royally bummed. So imagine my excitement in February when I learned Judi and all her fabulousness were returning -- I threw my back out doing the happy dance like a madman! And Adrienne's return didn't disappoint. Not only did Judi and Wally still have swoon-worthy chemistry, but Adrienne took charge of her life as a single lady. Heck, I constantly wanted to wave my arms in the air and sing "Independent Women" every time she popped up on screen. But Aunt Adrienne also took an important role in Stephanie's life. She was her friend and confidant, but refused to placate Steph's neediness. Can you imagine how different things would have been back in the day if Kimberly or Kayla told sister-in-law Marlena, "Hey, I think Sami might be a little messed up." In any event, Judi is back, and I'm in love all over again!
Laurisa: Chandler Massey as Will Horton
Remember when Will was that obnoxious brat who blamed his parents for everything wrong in the world? I do. I hated that twit. Guess what? Thanks to Chandler Massey, Will is a changed man! Chandler has managed to craft Will into the humorous, tormented, and passionate young man that the character's genes dictated. Will has heart, and it was never more apparent than during the aftermath of E.J.'s shooting. Will grieved for Gabi, strategized with Rafe, and emotionally supported Sami. Bottom line, Chandler turned Will from a token soap kid into leading-man material. I am excited to see what he'll do next.
Tony: John Martin as Bill Horton
When news broke that there would be a "very special" memorial for Frances Reid and Alice, one big question was, "Who would play Bill Horton?" There was no way fans would put up with, "He's in the other room," this time. He had to be there. And he was! John Martin bravely stepped into the iconic role and did so flawlessly. Not only is John a handsome leading man, but he had great, instant chemistry with everyone from Lauren Koslow to Jamie Lyn Bauer to his on-screen children, Roark Critchlow, Melissa Reeves, and Bryan Datillo. Of course, I was extra-excited to see John because I loved his work on *moment of silence* Sunset Beach. It was an all-around win, and I hope to see his Bill visit again soon!
Laurisa: E.J. DiMera
I had to go all the way back to the first Friday of the year, but that was the day we found out that E.J. was behind Sydney's kidnapping. I did not see that one coming. It's not that I didn't think E.J. was capable of it. I just didn't think E.J. could fool Stefano. But when E.J. showed up at Anna's cabin, I was floored. It was the kind of jaw-dropping moment that makes soaps great for those fans like me who stay spoiler-free.
Tony: Vivian Alamain
Auntie Viv's sinister schemes might not always -- or ever -- turn out how she'd like them to, but she's sure to leave a trail of destruction in her wake nonetheless. Heck, Carly probably still cringes when strolling past a graveyard, and now we can add Maggie to that list, too. And that's the fun part about Vivian -- she's like an evil Energizer Bunny, she just keeps going and going and going with only a dangling carrot of vengeance to keep her on task. Besides, anyone who has done all the nasty things she's done and is still avoiding a jail cell or padded room certainly deserves some cred.
Me-ouch! Be it catty comments or full-fledged fist fights, the best battle of 2010!
Laurisa: Hope vs. Statesville
Sure, beast-woman Charlene may have gotten in one cheap shot, but other than that, Hope was kinda a badass in prison. You know she's going to bring down that snake of a warden. And, she had no problems ninjaing her way passed Keisha or Tina thanks to her police training. To top it off, after the violence, Hope calmly said, "I just neutralized the threat like I've been trained to do." Kristian Alfonso owed that creepy-yet-very-cool tough gal persona. Eat your heart out, Angelina Jolie.
Tony: Stefano DiMera vs. Kate Roberts-DiMera
This fight hurt mainly because I love this dastardly duo! But as much as I hate that they're on the rocks, the scenes were amazing. It was like the ultimate heavyweight match. Joseph Mascolo and Lauren Koslow both came into the scenes with their wonderful acting chops polished and guns blazing. The writers backed up their fight by playing on the strong histories of both characters. And there were two big reveals to further treat the fans! However, their tiff wasn't just a fight -- it was a lovers' quarrel, which made it all the more deliciously painful to watch. Let's just hope they settle for couple's therapy instead of divorce court!
BEST COMEDIC SCENE STEALER
Sure, drama's nice, but comedy is, too, and this character always managed to tickle our funny bone!
Laurisa: Evil Brady Black
How do you make burying someone alive seem comical but not campy? Let Eric Martsolf brilliantly craft Brady's delightful descent into madness. Evil Brady was part Zoolander, part Soup Nazi, and part Norman Bates (dude did have mother issues). I knew this wasn't the "real" Brady, but I didn't care. His dark comedy entertained me to no end.
Tony: Nicole Walker-DiMera
Arianne Zucker simply makes me happy. I've always thought she was hysterical, but this year -- between her rounds of heavy, dramatic hitting -- she really knocked comedy out of the park. I'm not sure if it Nicole's drunken antics or her snappy lines made me laugh more, but, then again, it could have been her banter with Baker, her battles with Arianna, or, perhaps, her nasty exchanges with Victor, E.J., and, well, just about everyone else. When it comes to Ari Zucker's comedic flair, I say, "More, please!"
Say what!? The character, on average, who always came up with the finest zingers!
Laurisa: Vivian Alamain
I've never seen an actress commit to crazy the way Louise Sorel does. Her brilliant portrayal of Vivan Alamain is the kind of stuff that dialogue writers live for. And we lucky viewers get to sit back and chuckle at the kind of lines she can get away with. Furthermore, giving the bad guy some of the smartest lines reminds us that Vivian has a dangerous amount of genius to put into her devious plots. And that makes them all the more interesting!
Tony: Victor Kiriakis
Last year, I presented Victor with this award, and I think it would be a crime not crown him a winner again this time around. I mean, John Aniston is simply really "the man" and "the man" can deliver a line like no one else. When he comes on screen, I perk up in anticipation of what he'll say. Heck, NBC.com even created a special section called "Stuff Victor Says" on their DAYS page. Besides, I don't want to be on Vic's bad side, or he might tell me something like, "The Three Stooges on crack could have come up with a better plan." So, I came prepared with a shiny cyber-trophy just for him!
Petersen Woods DiMera
His punk-chic style really works for me. Of course, it helps that Casey Deidrick is built like an 80s rock star and puts just the appropriate amount of swagger into Chad. Plus, I sorta dig the fact that in the midst of Stefano and E.J.'s expensive Italian suits, is a kid who wears tuxedo t-shirts and carries a pocketknife.
Tony: Maggie Horton
As many redheads will tell you, it's not always easy to find clothes that work. Suzanne Rodgers doesn't seem to have that problem. Big Red always looks radiant. I think the words "class" and "sophistication" sum up her style perfectly. Love the bags, love the shoes, love everything! Although I think Maggie's best accessory this year was definitely Victor!
DAYS' Hottest Female Eye Candy
Laurisa: Judi Evans (Adrienne Johnson-Kiriakis)
Judi looked fit, happy, and fabulous every time she came on screen. And can we talk about the hair for a minute? Who would have thought that any woman could look so amazing sporting a bleach-blonde version of the "Donald Trump" cut? Judi Evans, I bow down.
Tony: Arianne Zucker (Nicole Walker)
Once upon a time, Arianne was a model. Then she was an actress who played a model on TV. Therefore, it's easy to see why she snagged "Best Babe," especially after she returned from her maternity leave with a radiant glow and looked more beautiful than ever. However, Ari's beauty isn't only skin deep -- she has a genuine, down-to-earth quality and quirkiness about her that just transcends the screen and grabs my attention. She's gorgeous, talented, and funny. What's not to love!?
DAYS' Hottest Male Eye Candy
Laurisa: Shawn Christian (Daniel Jonas)
Getting rid of those stank Backstreet Boy highlights was just the beginning. Shawn really won me over in his tender scenes with Molly Burnett and Crystal Chappell. That desperate ruffled brow of '09 gave way to a charming smile, and I loved it! The fact that the writers actually let Daniel detach his face from Chloe's helped too. It turns out that Shawn is a good-looking guy! He should really do soap operas.
Tony: Eric Martsolf (Brady Black)
There's no denying Eric is a total stud. On the outside, he's everything a soap god should be and more. But that's not all -- he slices, he dices, and he's one heck of an actor. And perhaps I'm falling into the notorious trap of picking a "bad boy," but if being bad looks that good, sign me up!
MOST IMPROVED CHARACTER
Laurisa: Chloe Lane
Ghoul girl has finally worn me down. She's still a mess, but what a hot mess she is. Thanks to the magical powers of one Crystal Chappell, Nadia Bjorlin and Chloe worked for me this year. Chloe's scenes with Carly showcased Chloe's true remorse and solidified that Chloe's mistakes, while devastating, were never malicious. Now that she's a new mama, Chloe's going to have to draw upon that good credit and protect her son from all of the destruction she created. And, I find that I'm actually rooting for Chloe. It's a Christmas Miracle!
Tony: Brady Black
Sing-a-long Sound of Music Brady and I did not get along. Even Brady Black, Textbook Hero to the Rescue, didn't always sit well with me. But this new and, um, "improved" bad boy Brady has all the rights moves, and you can tell Eric Martsolf s having a ball playing the sinner instead of the saint. New Brady is one part John Black hero, one part snarky Victor, and one part lush-like Nicole. That's one heck of a combo, and it did some serious favors for the young Mr. Black.
MOST LIKELY TO SUCCEED
Laurisa: Melanie Layton
She got a real family this year. She went out and got herself a career, and by all accounts is extremely successful. Sure, her love life is going to blow up in her face, but with Daniel, Brady, Carly, and (trump card) Maggie in Mel's corner, she can't lose.
Tony: Chloe Lane
You might detect a little sarcasm in my pick. And you might be a little right. But when deciding on a winner for this category, the lyrics to "I Know A Girl" from Chicago kept popping into my mind. I'll share a few lines from the song, and I think you'll be able to figure out where I'm going with this. Velma sang, "I know a girl, a girl who lands on top. You could put her face into a pail of slop. And she'd come up smelling like a rose. How she does it, heaven knows." Yep, that pretty much describes Chloe. She's cheated, lied, and even tried to kill someone, yet everyone either forgave her, covered for her, and/or, in some cases, even apologized to her. That all adds up to me believing there ain't no stoppin' the Chloemeister now.
MOST LIKELY TO RETURN
Laurisa: Steve Johnson
His daughter is completely bananas. His mother-in-law is off her rocker. His wife is trying to straighten the both of them out. His sister is going through a painful divorce. His best friend is trying to take on a corrupt prison system. If there was ever a time when someone needed to come to Salem and whoop some tail, that time is now and that guy is Steve. Besides, Joey has to be old enough for boarding school/ski camp by now. Someone send up the Patch Signal stat!
Tony: Jack Deveraux
Presuming Jennifer gets her groove back and falls for a new studly Salemite, I have no doubt Jack will be back. Jennifer's happiness has always got Jack's Spidey Senses tingling, even when he's supposed to be dead. Therefore, it's very "Jack" of him to come back to ask for a
second fifteenth chance at the most inopportune moment. Then again, I wouldn't mind. Even though Jack can be a jerk, he and Jen are like peanut butter and jelly -- both great separately, but even better together.
Laurisa: Hope vs. Carly: An Education in Class
I'm always up for a good rivalry, but too often soaps just rely on cheap cattiness in place of actual storyline. With Carly and Hope, the writers stayed true to each character and allowed each to behave like the ladies that they are. No hair-pulling, no name-calling, just dealing with a difficult situation like adults. It was insanely refreshing. Bravo, ladies!
Tony: Kimberly and Shane Reunite (And It's Believable)!
To any fan who's had to wait a year or two for their favorite couple to get together, sorry, pals, I've got no sympathy -- try waiting over twenty years and then we'll talk! That's how long Kimberly and Shane fans had to wait for their reunion. And it didn't disappoint! Not only did Patsy Pease and Charles Shaughnessy still have their special brand of super-couple chemistry, but the writers didn't insult viewers with a quick "aw, shucks, let's hug out twenty years of bad blood" reunion. They promised fans Kimberly and Shane would try to work out their problems and, whereas they had issues, they still had love and that was a great place to (re-)start.
Laurisa: Victor and Maggie
He's a man who hasn't known real love in years. She's a woman having to live without it for the first time in ages. They are worlds apart in every way. Yet, I can't help but root for them to help each other love again. He brings out her feisty side, and she pulls his good heart out from hiding. The last time someone tried to pair such opposites, we got the chocolate-covered pretzel. And I think we all know how great that turned out.
Tony: Tom and Alice Horton
Tom and Alice were undisputedly the first couple of Salem, but watching their wedding tape during Alice's Memorial reminded me of how great they really were. They exuded class and sophistication while still remaining down-to-earth, kind, and loving. They basically set a 45-year standard for all future would-be couples to strive to achieve. And, as much as we miss them, somewhere in soap heaven Tom and Alice are exactly where they belong -- together!
BEST VETERAN CHARACTER
Laurisa: Alice Horton
If ever there was a year of Alice Horton, it was 2010. She's more than a character. She's an institution that stands for what makes soaps great. And in saying goodbye to her, Ken Corday did right. He gave us a beautiful episode arc that celebrated, mourned, and yes, left me crying the "ugly cry" on my couch. Alice may be the best vet of all time. It's not just that we miss her. It's that we realize we'll never have another one like her.
Tony: Dr. Kayla Brady-Johnson
Steve might want to think of a new nickname for his wife because Kayla was anything but sweet when she found out what Caroline and Stephanie were up to. Those scenes were amazing. Mary Beth effortlessly took Kayla through utter disbelief, confusion, and rage. She was a daughter stunned by her mother's outrageous confession, a mother royally outraged that her own mother was putting her daughter in jeopardy, and a dedicated doctor who absolutely knew what they did was wrong and wasn't going to stand for it. Aside from leaving things a bit unresolved, which was the only snafu, I thought Kayla shined with her brand of tough love, compassion, and commitment to do the right thing.
Laurisa: Joseph Mascolo
Stefano may be a lot of things, but vulnerable was never one of them. That is, until this year when he got his heart ripped out, twice. The first time was when Stefano found E.J. lying in bed with a bullet in his head. The second was when Stefano's shocked himself by realizing he had fallen in love with Kate, but his stupid ego was making him send her away. In each case, Joe amazed me by bringing such compassion to his performances. He showed that Stefano was simultaneously committed to, yet repulsed by, his actions. It might be a tortured one, but, yes, Stefano does have a soul, and Joe brought that out this year.
Tony: James Scott as E.J. DiMera
I might not always agree with everything E.J. does, but I can't help but marvel in James Scott's talent. He's like an acting force of nature. He has the power to make you disgusted by and enthralled with E.J. at the same time. He's also a pro at layering E.J.'s inner turmoil -- you can actually see his inner struggle through just a look James gives off. If he didn't snag that Emmy this year, he should be a sure bet for next!
Laurisa: Alison Sweeney
Sami may not be high on my Christmas Card list. But, Alison Sweeney is Working. It. She goes toe-to-toe with the big-boy actors. She makes the not-so-great actors shine. She works with kids! Her touching performance when Sami set up the "secret code" with Johnny about broke my heart. Alison Sweeney is amazing, and I'd sign up to watch her deliver blinking techniques. Come on, Academy! Give Alison an Emmy to go with her Golden Doughnut!
Tony: Kristian Alfonso
Not many actresses can make you fall in love with a character for nearly thirty years, then cause you to dislike that character for a while, and then make you fall in love with her all over again, but Kristian did that his year with Hope. Although the "Sleeping Pill" storyline was a little suspect at times, Kristian was amazing during it and afterward as we watched Hope rebuild her life all the while trying to keep it together for her daughter and for herself as she grieved the loss of her uncle and beloved "Gran." You can tell Kristian always pushes herself to be the best and this year she exceeded that. I'm not sure what's better than the best, but Kristian is it!
Laurisa: Mr. and Mrs. Victor and Vivian Kiriakis
The wedding alone was the best episode of the year in my book. Additionally, this unholy union spawned so many other great storylines that I can't imagine the year without it. Brady turned to the dark side. Nicole had to grow a conscience. Victor admitted that he was in love with Maggie. But ultimately, this storyline exemplified what DAYS does better than any other soap out there -- blending comedy, entertainment, and drama into one wonderful cocktail of awesome.
Tony: Alice's Memorial
Dignity. Grace. Class. Those are a few words that could easy describe Frances Reid and Alice Horton. And when she passed, it was a blow felt by every DAYS fan. Yet what came of such a sad occasion was a beautifully crafted storyline that paid honor to a beautiful woman and character. The returns were wonderful, every actor shined as they grieved and celebrated her life, the memories shared were moving, and the atmosphere that the actors and writers managed to create was exactly what you would experience when saying goodbye to a loved one. You could feel the loss of Alice when the characters stood in her home, but at the same time, you could also feel her warm, welcoming presence still in the room. Through Frances, Alice created a home, which was extended to every DAYS fan, and I, for one, was glad to be welcomed in it for so long. Please raise your cyber-glasses and join us as we toast the wonderful woman to whom these awards are an homage -- to Frances and Alice, and as Hope said that sad day, "You look out for us for all the rest of the days of our lives." Until we meet again. Cheers!
Ta-Da! The winners of the Golden Doughnuts are now welcome to join us at the after-party celebration at the Kiriakis mini-bar! Remember, you break any of the gold-rimmed stemware -- you buy it!
Of course, we'd be remiss if we didn't mention the best news of the year -- DAYS received a two-year pick-up! That means we get to come back next year and see what characters defended their titles. I don't know for sure because those people never actually talk to me, but I bet that the actors and writers are anxious for the opportunity to have another Golden Doughnut!
Finally, just so you don't think that we've gone all softie on you, check back next week for The Alex North Memorial Award where we will point out all the things and characters that sucked at life in 2010. On a serious note, we hope you all had a wonderful holiday season, and send you best wishes for the New Year!