DAN J KROLL
Dan is the founder of soapcentral.com and the host of the weekly soap opera entertainment radio show, Soap Central Live. His "must see" soap is All My Children, but his work on soapcentral.com has given him an appreciation for all of the soaps -- and he watches each soap on a regular basis. Dan started soapcentral.com as part of his personal home page in 1995. Dan has appeared as an extra on As the World Turns and as a soap expert on the SOAPnet reality-ish program, Relative Madness.
I'll start with the one that didn't have remote scenes: All My Children. This was an episode that screamed soapiness: David Hayward walked into the courtroom just as his wife, Greenlee, had been found guilty of his murder. I was a bit distracted by the over-the-top shenanigans in the first half of the episode -- people were jumping up and down in the courtroom, and it was pretty much a parody of a trial. However, there were three notable confrontation scenes that really worked. Marissa slapped the heck out of her father, David, for making her believe that she'd lost another parent. Kendall stormed in and blamed David's fake death for Zach's real plane crash. David telling Greenlee that he'd heard her heartfelt declaration of love when he was "dead" added great sentiment, and the use of flashbacks was very helpful in giving viewers backstory.
The Young and the Restless' video quality on the remote scenes didn't look quite the same as those taped in the studio. However, the underlying story was movie-like. The bluesy background music, the camerawork, the creepy way Adam followed Sharon... even the weather cooperated. I'm sure the cast and crew would have preferred sunshine, but the rain added a layer of drama. I'll overlook the fact that it was raining one moment and then sunny as Sharon rounded the corner. It was clever to have Christian LeBlanc mention that the weather needed to decide what it wanted to be. I really liked the tarot card reading. There's something about a fortune-teller that is fascinating. The Jack and Diane scenes didn't seem to fit in, and they were a bit distracting. I wanted more New Orleans. Since voters also can only judge by what they see in this one episode, folks who don't follow Y&R would have no idea what its final scene meant.
General Hospital also had the movie feel going in its scenes. Some have called the hospital shooting a ripoff of Grey's Anatomy, but there was more to the episode than just the hospital drama. It also had a whole lot of James Franco, and I can't help but wonder if ABC is hoping that some folks cast their vote for GH just because of the star factor. The location scenes looked very much like they were filmed in the same place as the studio scenes. There was no jarring quality difference. Some of the extras were a bit distracting because their acting wasn't up to par with the professionals. The ending featured Adam Lambert's haunting rendition of "Mad World" as Franco tumbled from the roof and fell to his death in the middle of the museum.
The Bold and the Beautiful also featured a memorable musical ending. The two episodes submitted by B&B feature no shootings, no kidnapped babies, and no special guest stars. If there is any reason for voters to vote against B&B, it's because the episodes may seem too much like a Public Service Announcement. I don't think the show came off too preachy, even if the message could be seen as heavy-handed. What I liked was the realistic response from characters who are quite well-off when they encountered characters that were nowhere near as fortunate. Stephanie assumed that Dayzee must have a drug issue -- or that she was a teen mom. That's what people do -- they make assumptions. Couple that with Stephanie's nothing-to-lose attitude due to her Stage Four lung cancer, and there was some amazing contrast.
Who I'd like to win: All My Children or The Bold and the Beautiful
Who will win: The Bold and the Beautiful or General Hospital (Possible tie)
The final rankings: The Bold and the Beautiful, General Hospital, The Young and the Restless, All My Children.
OUTSTANDING LEAD ACTOR
Attempted suicide, mental illness, domestic abuse, troubled relationships, and a surprise proposal -- those are the themes of the episodes submitted for the Lead Actor category. Only one of the clips skews toward comedy -- and there shouldn't be any trouble figuring out which that is.
The same can be said for Maurice Benard (Sonny Corinthos, GH). A father sees his daughter bloodied and bruised at the hands of a lover -- but he has no way of knowing that his daughter lied about who'd abused her. From the confrontation to the announcement that he's going to put a hit out on the supposed abuser, it was a roller coaster of emotion. The thing that nails the scene home is Sonny's bedside breakdown when he recalls the abuse his mother suffered at the hands of his stepfather.
Ricky Paull Goldin (Jake Martin) is the only clip that ventured into humor. A surprise proposal turns into a surprise flashing. I don't know how voters typically react to comedy in a dramatic acting category -- so it's tough to say how Goldin's reel will be received. I enjoyed the humor, and thought that Goldin's acting perfectly conveyed the lengths that a man in love will go to.
Christian LeBlanc's (Michael Baldwin) submission sort of confused me. There were two highlights for me: Michael telling the fake Lauren that he won't have sex with her until she gets some help, and Michael later lamenting to Jack that his best friend was now a stranger to him.
Michael Park (Jack Snyder, ATWT) had a nice reel, but it lacks emotional impact for someone who doesn't understand Jack and Carly's history. There are some flashbacks, but I don't know that they are enough to convey the emotion of the scenes.
James Scott (E.J. DiMera) was my pick in this category last year -- and I am picking him again. There is something haunting about the way Scott plays agony. From the start of the episode to the end, you can see quite clearly the pain of a man spiraling out of control. There's enough flashback to let viewers know what's going on.
Who I'd like to win: Ricky Paull Goldin
Who voters will pick: Maurice Benard
The final rankings: James Scott, Maurice Benard, Ricky Paull Goldin, Michael Park, Christian LeBlanc
OUTSTANDING LEAD ACTRESS
I love Susan Flannery (Stephanie Forrester) -- even though I've never had the chance to interview her, and she has never agreed to appear on Soap Central Live. She pretty much rocks everything that she does. She turned in another stellar performance in two episodes that were filmed on Skid Row in Los Angeles. There were so many things that I loved about this reel, and very little that I didn't like. Flannery's work was believable. Stephanie lives in a squillion dollar mansion and is not in touch with the everyday issues of "regular" people. You could see that in the way Stephanie made assumptions about Dayzee. And when Stephanie "got it," you could see the wheels turning.
Alicia Minshew (Kendall Hart, AMC) selected a great episode. I had thought she might select a subsequent episode where Kendall showed up in court and went off on David Hayward. This episode had the emotion factor. Sure, it has the crying and hysterics that soaps are often dogged for, but here it was appropriate. The acting of Minshew's co-stars is on point, which always helps. Plus, the scene's ending -- Kendall calling her husband's phone so she could hear his voice on the voicemail -- and accompanying music ("I can't believe it's over" is part of the refrain) make this a winner.
Debbi Morgan (Angie Hubbard) was great in the episode she submitted. At six minutes, it's about half the length of every other submission in this category. When the reel ended, I sort of looked around, waiting for more -- and the ending itself was very abrupt. Still, Debbi was really great in her scenes.
Michelle Stafford (Phyllis Newman) picked a great episode. I liked how the clip started off reserved, as Phyllis tried to remain calm about the fact that her husband had slept with another woman. There was also great use of flashbacks to show exactly how happy Phyllis and Nick had been. Near the end, though, you could see that Phyllis was tired of being gracious -- and she erupted into tears of sadness and rage.
Laura Wright's (Carly Jacks, GH) reel would have been the perfect reel for Chad Duell to submit in the Younger Actor field. There was a lot of great "mom" material, but I think some of the scenes were a little short and choppy -- but those scenes had to be included per Emmy rules and regulations. At the end, when Carly goes to see Dante and holds a gun at him... that left me wanting more and wishing that whatever happened next (remember that I have to pretend that I don't know in order to judge properly) would have been included in the reel.
Who I'd like to win: Every one of these women deserves a win for their work over the past year
Who voters will pick: Michelle Stafford
The final rankings: Alicia Minshew, Michelle Stafford, Susan Flannery, Debbi Morgan, Carly Wright
OUTSTANDING SUPPORTING ACTOR
Having watched the episode that Jonathan Jackson (Lucky Spencer, GH) submitted for Emmy consideration when it first aired "live," I was tempted to not even bother watching the other nominees' reels. At the time the episode aired, I said that Jackson would win an Emmy -- and I still stand by that. But it's not fair to have that bias, so I went into this category, being as open-minded as possible. I'm glad I did because every one of this year's nominees is deserving of recognition.
Doug Davidson (Paul Williams, Y&R) is in the Supporting Actor category this year after a couple of nominations as Lead Actor. He shares scenes with Stacy Haiduk (Patty Williams) who, somehow, was not even considered for an Emmy after having carried the show's storylines for an extended period of time. I thought Davidson did a great job of showing the pain one must feel when a loved one has lost their grasp on reality. The clip was just the right length, too.
Brian Kerwin (Charlie Banks, OLTL) is really underrated in my book. He always did a great job when given meaty material, but often he wasn't given the material to show his skills. In the submitted episode, Charlie tried to hide that he's been drinking again. When he realizes the truth is going to come out one way or another, Charlie comes clean to his wife, Viki, who vows to stay by his side. There's rage and denial, all of which make for good drama. And Kerwin's clip features Erika Slezak (Viki Banks), who has won a squillion Emmys of her own.
Last year, Billy Miller (Billy Abbott, Y&R) picked up an Emmy in this category for submitting an "It's A Wonderful Life-themed storyline -- and he appeared in every last minute of that episode. His performance was great, and he deserved to win. This year, his Emmy reel was decidedly more subdued, and he was much more "supporting." (I'd argue that his submission last year was more that of a Lead Actor.) There was nuance, there was anger, there was compassion, and there was even some humor regarding his Superman underwear. Billy comes off as a loving man, the kind of guy that anyone would want as a husband/partner.
Jason Thompson (Patrick Drake, GH) shared the bulk of his screen-time with Kimberly McCullough (Robin Scorpio), who turned in a great performance. I have to wonder what she submitted on her Emmy reel, because she rocked in this episode. If there were an Emmy for Outstanding Duo, this episode would definitely warrant the win.
In daytime, we typically see women berating men for affairs. In Jonathan Jackson's clip, he was the one who got to lash out. He called the woman he loved, Elizabeth, every name in the book -- at least all the ones that can be uttered on network television. The confrontation was excellent, but it may have been spread over too much time within the episode. There was also some really good soul-searching at the end of the episode.
Who I'd like to win: Brian Kerwin
Who voters will pick: Jonathan Jackson
The final rankings: Jonathan Jackson, Brian Kerwin, Doug Davidson, Billy Miller, Jason Thompson
OUTSTANDING SUPPORTING ACTRESS
Tricia Cast (Nina Webster) broke my heart with her scream at the top of this clip. She started windmilling and yelling at Ronan, her son, for shooting and killing her other son, Chance. That fact wasn't really cleared up until later in the clip, so for viewers who didn't know what was going on, that might not have had the same emotional impact. The reel was short, but there were all the elements that I needed to be impressed.
Melissa Claire Egan (Annie Chandler, AMC) submitted what I would consider to be a very complicated Emmy reel. There's a whole lot of stuff that viewers need to know (that isn't shown or explained in this reel) in order to get the full gist of what's going on.
Nancy Lee Grahn (Alexis Davis, GH) has such a great year. The material involving Kristina's abuse gave her something to sink her teeth into for the first time in a long time. When you have that knowledge of someone's entire body of work, it sometimes clouds your judgment when you see one standalone episode. I'd also watched Lexi Ainsworth's Younger Actress submission prior to this, and I thought Grahn was phenomenal in that episode.
For the past few years, Bree Williamson (Jessica Buchanan) has played alters -- part of a character's dissociative identity disorder. Keeping in mind that voters don't always know that, I think this clip might lose them. There is mention of Jessica having thought she was a 17-year-old girl and almost being raped by her insane father. I watched these episodes and I have to admit that it even stretches the limits of my understanding. Bree deserves an Emmy for somehow being able to keep it together, and she's hilariously campy as Tess, but I don't think voters will respond to this episode.
Heather Tom's (Katie Logan) reel starts off a bit slow, but that slow build is very much worth it. I liked that Katie started off looking forceful and determined, but as the clip ended, we got to see that Katie wasn't quite as strong as she'd led her husband to believe. It absolutely broke my heart to see Katie have to tell Brooke that she might never be able to trust her again. This wasn't hysterical sobbing, but real, gutwrenching emotion. I liked it a lot.
Who I'd like to win: I wouldn't mind a five-way tie
Who voters will pick: Heather Tom or Nancy Lee Grahn
The final rankings: Tricia Cast, Heather Tom, Nancy Lee Grahn, Melissa Claire Egan, Julie Pinson, Bree Williamson
OUTSTANDING YOUNGER ACTOR
At four minutes, Chandler Massey (Will Horton, DAYS) had the shortest Emmy reel of any nominee. The scenes were sweet -- young Will was offering loving, and somewhat parental, advice to his mother, Sami. After he'd told her that she was an amazing mom, he showed that his priorities were still very much in place -- and announced that he had to get to school for a math test. While it was sweet and well acted, I don't think it was enough to earn the Emmy this year.
Chad Duell (Michael Corinthos, GH) is a fine actor, but I' a little perplexed about the episode that he'd chosen for his Emmy reel. I personally do not feel that the episode selected was indicative of his best work -- and in much of the five-minute clip, he played second fiddle to other actors. As I mentioned above, there were other episodes that I thought showed more of Duell's work, because this young actor is very deserving of an Emmy.
There was a lot going on in Scott Clifton's (Liam Cooper, B&B) episode. The first half of his submission reel featured a lot of on-screen time by his co-stars. While Clifton's contributions were not the bulk of the content, the ensemble performances helped to make the reel much more engaging. The exposition also helped explain what was going on and why Liam didn't want William to be his dad. I think that this is Clifton's year to finally win the elusive Emmy.
Who I'd like to win: Chad Duell
Who voters will pick: Scott Clifton
The final rankings: Scott Clifton, Chad Duell, Chandler Massey
OUTSTANDING YOUNGER ACTRESS
Emily O'Brien's (Jana Hawkes, Y&R) is half as long as the other two submissions in this category. I have a feeling that she might be at a disadvantage not just because of the shortness of the reel, but also because much of what happens in the episode is contextual. Voters are supposed to vote solely on what happens in the nominee's reel, and not consider any other factors, including work in other episodes. Because of that, some voters might not understand why O'Brien's character was being locked in a box. On the plus side, O'Brien's screams in the scene are piercing. They really made me hurt for her character.
Both Brittany Allen (ex-Marissa Tasker, AMC) and Lexi Ainsworth (Kristina Davis, GH) have the luxury of having episodes that offer a bit of an explanation as to what is going on. Allen's character revealed that she'd had an affair, while Ainsworth's Kristina confessed that she'd been abused by her boyfriend. The two actresses also have heavy-duty support from other great actors with whom they share scenes.
Allen and Jacob Young (JR Chandler, AMC) feed off each other's energy. There's also great range. Instead of the usual outrage from the maligned party, in this episode JR actually feels compassion for Marissa, instead blaming the guy that Marissa slept with for the affair. Later, Allen gets to show some rage as her not-so-good dad, David, arrives on the scene to drive her home. At the end, there's a tearjerker moment when Marissa tells her stepson that she'll always be his mom, even if they don't live in the same house.
Ainsworth has Nancy Lee Grahn (Alexis Davis, GH) in her scenes, and both women turn in amazing performances. The discussion is topical: Kristina admits that she'd felt pressured into having sex with her boyfriend, Kiefer, because she worried that he'd leave her if she didn't. The scene where Kristina and Alexis wipe tears from each other's eyes was very tender. Later, I'm not sure if it was intended to be humorous or not, but there was a great moment with Ainsworth and Maurice Benard (Sonny Corinthos, GH). Sonny takes the blame for Kristian's abusive boyfriend, but Kristina assures him that, while she blames him for a lot of things, she doesn't blame him for Kiefer.
Who voters will pick: Lexi Ainsworth or Brittany Allen
The final rankings: Lexi Ainsworth, Brittany Allen, Emily O'Brien
OUTSTANDING WRITING IN A DRAMA SERIES
As the World Turns
Days of our Lives hasn't been nominated in this category in more than a decade. It got the nod this year, but in an ironic twist, the show's head writer was sent packing shortly after the nominations were announced. How's that for gratitude. The Emmys have a strange sense of humor, so it wouldn't surprise me if the show won. That being said, I really enjoyed this episode. The dialogue between Sami and Johnny was very touching. There was also some fun stuff -- Vivian's takeover of Titan, and Maggie and Victor's banter come to mind.
While The Bold and the Beautiful's homelessness story arc was very well acted and visually appealing, I don't know that the writing will be honored this year. It's one of those weird sum of the parts scenarios. I think everything works together, but when being judged individually, I worry that the voters might get storyline fatigue -- B&B submitted the same episodes for Outstanding Drama Series, Writing, Directing, and Susan Flannery's Lead Actress reel.
It was confusing as I don't know what to me to see All My Children's Bianca, Maggie, Jonathan, Mia, and Richie all cavorting together on The Young and the Restless. I watched Tricia Cast's Supporting Actress reel before I watched this episode, so it was nice to "fill in the blanks" to see what else happened in the episode. I thought the dialogue was good, but there were some non-writing things that impacted my opinion of the episode.
How do you wrap up 54 years of television history? It's not easy -- not that I've ever tried. However, I feel that the As the World Turns writers did a very solid job of doing so. Perhaps it's sentiment, but I think the writing captured everything that is good about soaps
Who I'd like to win: Days of our Lives
Who voters will pick: The Bold and the Beautiful
The final rankings: As the World Turns, Days of our Lives, The Bold and the Beautiful, The Young and the Restless
OUTSTANDING DIRECTING IN A DRAMA SERIES
I honestly believe that the frontrunner in this category is General Hospital. The show did an amazing job of splicing together hostage drama, medical woes, a kidnapping, and the location shoot at the Museum of Contemporary Art. It isn't just the location shoot that puts GH across the finish line first, because The Bold and the Beautiful was also outside of the studio for its Emmy reel. I'm not sure how to properly explain this, but B&B told a story with its Emmy reel. I don't know that its primary focus was on the direction (but that isn't to say that it was lacking). I think GH went into their episode thinking about each camera angle, and it showed in the final product. One Life to Live, on the other hand, did a great job with its musical episode. The Directors Guild of America awarded the show its top honor. Still, I think the movie-like feel of GH's reel will give it the edge.
Who voters will pick: General Hospital
The final rankings: General Hospital, The Young and the Restless, and One Life to Live, The Bold and the Beautiful