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 was All My Children, but his work on soapcentral.com has given him an appreciation for all of the soaps; 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.
Note from Dan: It seems that if I pick someone to win, it's the Emmy kiss of death. It's hard to know what voters look for when they cast their Emmy ballots. So I've opted to pick who I think the Emmy voters will select, and then I offer my own rankings that reflect how I would have voted.
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See Dan's predictions from past years
2011: 3 for 8
2010: 2 for 8
2009: 3 for 8
2008: 5 for 8
2007: 2 for 8
2006: 5 for 8
2005: 3 for 8
2004: 0 for 8
2003: 2 for 8
2002: 2 for 8
2001: 1 for 8
There was a beautiful flashback montage to kick of the second episode, and a wonderful speech that Tad made to 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 what 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 clip 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, which you'll read more about below.
General Hospital's 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.
For me, it comes down to a two-show race: AMC and GH. I think that All My Children should win, but I strongly suspect that voters will get behind GH since it is a soap that is still on the air.
Who I'd like to win: All My Children
Who will win: General Hospital
The final rankings: All My Children, General Hospital, The Young and the Restless, Days of our Lives.
Six Daytime Emmy wins. Obviously, Anthony Geary is doing something right. All someone has to do is to watch the episode that Geary submitted for consideration this year to see why. I have to say that I was really surprised that Geary did not submit Luke's intervention. That episode was tailor-made for an Emmy. (General Hospital did, however, submit that episode as one of its two Outstanding Drama Series entries.) Luckily, the episode that Geary did submit was also made for Emmy. The episode started off slowly, but by the end reached a stunning climax. It was uncomfortable to watch as Luke denied being an alcoholic, and even more so when he later announced that he was happy that he'd killed little Jake. Killing a child, he said, made him irredeemable. There was even a strong showing by a dayplayer, Lupe, a woman Luke had enlisted to spend "quality time" with him.
John McCook submitted scenes that are unlike any other Emmy reels I've seen in the past. That's partly because the scenes revolved around a topic that doesn't often get play on daytime television: intimacy between people who are not in their 20s or 30s. The episodes featured Eric wanting intimacy from Stephanie, and Stephanie pushing back because her battle with cancer had left her feeling unattractive. There were layers of humor, honesty, and heartbreak. I remember being disappointed when the show dropped the storyline last year and moved in another direction. McCook shined in the scenes, and Susan Flannery (Stephanie Forrester) was equally brilliant.
Darnell Williams turned in a stellar, heartbreaking performance. There's a reason this man has two Daytime Emmys: he's a great actor. Angie and Jesse are two of the most recognizable characters in soap history, and it's virtually impossible to have a bad scene when Williams and Debbi Morgan (Angie Hubbard) are involved. Much of Williams' work in the episode amounted to a soliloquy, as Angie was unconscious for much of the time. My main concern with the episode is that some voters might discount Williams' performance because of the high unbelievability factor: it just so happened that minutes after his daughter died, Jesse ended up in the same spot as another baby, one that had been abandoned by her mother.
Robert S. Woods's reel was more of an ensemble performance than anything else. I mentioned earlier that I deducted points from Benard's reel because he didn't "lead" the action; the same can be said for Woods's episode. It featured a strong performance from Erika Slezak (Viki Lord). The problem that I had with the reel was that every time Bo tried to explain how difficult his situation was, Viki one-upped him. She, too, had a child die. She, too, had to donate an organ from a deceased loved one.
Who I'd like to win: Darnell Williams
Who voters will pick: Anthony Geary
The final rankings: Anthony Geary, Darnell Williams, John McCook, Robert S. Woods, Maurice Benard
I've always been a huge fan of Debbi Morgan -- and I have to say that it was a bit overwhelming to finally get a chance to her at All My Children's final press junket last year. I picked Debbi to win the Emmy a couple of years back when Angie and Jesse reunited after 20some years. There's such a powerful connection between Debbi and Darnell Williams (Jesse Hubbard) that you can't help but feel what they're conveying on-screen. Nothing is more emotional than the death of a child. For months, AMC fans watched as Angie, blind because she stopped taking medication that could have harmed or killed her unborn child, was unaware that her child had been stillborn. When she finally learned what had happened, Angie went to her child's unmarked grave and grieved. The imagery and screams of anguish are still ingrained in my mind.
Erika Slezak is the Queen of the Daytime Emmys. Oprah may be a little upset that I called someone else that, but all good things come to an end... and for all intents and purposes, perhaps her time has come. Erika submitted the big hour-long tribute that One Life to Live crafted to mark her 40th anniversary with the show. It was a brilliant homage to Slezak's television legacy -- a battle of the alters Viki, Niki, and Jean. Erika was in top form, and it was a treat to fans everywhere. Not to mention that Erika was on-screen for just about the entire episode: 30 minutes. It was by far the longest acting reel this year. My concern is that there is a certain level of campiness involved. It was perfect for fans because we "got" what was taking place. For voters, it may have been a little too goofy to earn their vote. Interestingly, this was not what Erika wanted to submit; the material she wanted to submit (Viki walking in on Echo and Charlie) played out over two separate episodes, which meant she could not enter it for consideration.
With an Emmy win this year, Heather Tom would become the first actress to win all three acting categories -- Lead, Supporting, and Younger. She has a really good chance at it, too. Heather portrayed vulnerable and ballsy all at the same time. Her character had recently suffered a heart attack, but rather than pleading for Bill, the man that cheated on her, to come back, she let it be known that Bill would have to be the one who begged her for another chance. The drawback is that a lot of the great material is loaded on the front side of the clip, and some of the latter part was repetitious. Still, Heather made it look easy... which is why she's a three-time Emmy winner already.
I had an usual reaction to Laura Wright's entry. I saw this episode of General Hospital "live" when it aired, and I remember being blown away. When I watched it again, the entire episode didn't hold up for me. You'll see more of my reasons why above in the Drama Series category. Most of it was pacing because the key scenes were edited out because Carly wasn't involved in them -- which may or may not impact voting. What I loved was how Laura was able to go from portraying Carly as a worried mom in one scene, to feeling like a bit of a jerk for having to ask a friend to donate a kidney from their just-deceased child.
Who I'd like to win: Debbi Morgan
Who voters will pick: Debbi Morgan
The final rankings: Debbi Morgan, Heather Tom, Crystal Chappell, Laura Wright, Erika Slezak