Dan recently celebrated the 22nd anniversary of Soap Central, the go-to soap site he created. His life is not nearly as exciting as what you might see in Port Charles or Genoa City, but he has dubbed his home Kroll Manor in an effort to keep up with the Quartermaines and Newmans. He recently discovered a child he never knew was his. Okay, it was a rabbit that someone abandoned on the streets of Philadelphia. He opted not to run a DNA test to determine if he was the father. Dan is also a renowned snacker and takes strange pride in never having been nominated for anything.
As has been the case for the past few years, Dan will share how he would have voted if he were an Emmy voter and also offer his thoughts on who the pool of Emmy voters will select. Sometimes the two choices are the same -- and sometimes they are wildly different. And somehow, they are usually both still wrong.
▸ Skip ahead to Dan's picks for Drama Series
▸ Skip ahead to Dan's picks for Lead and Actress
▸ Skip ahead to Dan's picks for Supporting Actor and Actress
▸ Skip ahead to Dan's picks for Younger Actor and Actress
▸ Skip ahead to Dan's picks for Guest Performer
2016: 3 for 8
2015: 2 for 8
2014: 1 for 8
2013: 6 for 8
2012: 3 for 8
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
For whatever reason, the Drama Series reels were not released to the general public again this year. I was, however, able to hack into the Emmy mainframe to find out exactly which episodes were submitted. Okay, there was no hacking involved, but it made it sound far more exciting.
I think this category is, for the first time in a long time, a slam dunk. Despite what my fellow prognosticators have told you in their predictions, I fully believe that The Young and the Restless will win this hands down. Of course, by my saying that, it probably means that All My Children will win -- and that show hasn't been on the air in four years.
I will start from the bottom and work my way up. I strongly question General Hospital's reel selection this year. Viewed out of context, the back-to-back episodes certainly offer a compelling argument for why someone should tune in to GH. There were shootings, a hostage-taking at a wedding, and other assorted drama -- and Sonny Corinthos saves the day. But it's gimmicky to me as someone who watched the entire year. If you look at General Hospital's acting nominees, only one person (Lexi Ainsworth) selected a scene that appeared in the reels submitted by the show as its best episodes -- and if you continue reading, you'll find out what I think of that scene. So maybe those Emmy-worthy performances fell in episodes where the rest of the hour was subpar? I don't know. With so many strong performances throughout the year, it seems wrong to select episodes that were essentially Emmy bait. Where is the "heart" in the storytelling? To be clear: this is not a trashing of General Hospital. I really did like the two submitted episodes, but these episodes are not what GH is about or should be about. Alexis battling alcoholism, Morgan contemplating suicide, Kristina trying to figure out her sexuality, strained relationships... that is the GH that I find the best.
Days of our Lives also sort of falls into the same bucket as General Hospital. The storyline involving Yo Ling was fraught with angst and drama... but attempting a high stakes plot with a soap opera's meager budget sometimes... well, it sometimes just comes up short. But the episode did feature Tobin "Jigsaw" Bell, who still scares the pants off of me. It should make this year's Red Carpet interesting. The show's second episode really earns high marks from me because it was one hour of fully contained story. No jumping back and forth between storylines and no need to have to try to pay attention or figure out what was going on. I found it more suspenseful than wondering if GH's Lulu would drown. (Spoiler alert: she survived -- so did the two main characters that were shot.) I think DAYS choosing an episode that showed a child potentially in danger is a great mind trick to generate interest from voters.
The Bold and the Beautiful will win Directing honors this year. Or maybe they won't. Brad Bell and the team at B&B make their remote shoots look so friggin' easy. I can't even successfully take a selfie in the backyard. The ease and frequency with which B&B does these epic remotes may no longer wow voters. Visually, B&B's episodes were stunning, but in much the way that I chastised GH for picking two episodes that seemed to have been intentionally created for Emmy submission, I am not sure if amazing-looking episodes automatically warrant an Emmy. Having four consecutive episodes, though, allows voters to be able to track the entire plotline much more easily. I think the throughline of Eric and Quinn's forbidden relationship plays well, and there was also that epic Steffy smackdown of Quinn.
The Young and the Restless has been the number one soap since dinosaurs roamed the earth. Or maybe a few years less than that. Being number one for decades could easily make any showrunner complacent. If the show is #1 when its stories are great and #1 when its stories are not so great, why sweat it? Mal Young has taken his role as executive producer of Y&R seriously. He's taking chances -- and not the kind of chances Guiding Light took with its odd filming techniques and reusable sets. These are chances that are paying off. The explosion at the cabin that killed Adam? The special effects for that scene alone probably rivaled my snack budget for the entire year. The episode also coincided with Y&R's 11,000th episode and the special actor memories segments that were shown. What screams Emmy more than actors celebrating a milestone and explaining why their show is so awesome? The show's second episode had a great soapy moment: Hilary reading the teleprompter and revealing that she'd caused Mariah's on-air face-plant. It closed with more of Y&R's great experimenting: the great production values of Devon's high-speed crash. But don't mistake my praising Y&R for its splashy production as hypocritical. Y&R also had strong storytelling and acting in both of its reels.
Last year, I argued that B&B would win best show based on the strength of its storyline about a transgender woman. I was wrong. So clearly, voters look for different things than I do.
Who will win: The Young and the Restless
My final rankings: The Young and the Restless, The Bold and the Beautiful, Days of our Lives, General Hospital
I will admit that I have no idea who will win in this category -- and I also have no idea who I would vote for. I'm torn between two -- maybe three -- of the nominees. Here's how my mind processed the reels.
Peter Bergman's two episodes were great picks. The way he and Gina Tognoni played off of each other was like a master class in acting. You'll notice Gina also received a nomination for her work in the storyline. One of the things I liked most about the reel is that Peter deftly shows Jack's outrage -- but he never went over the top with the performance. I believe that less is far better than more -- unless you're talking about bacon or cupcakes. The other big plus is that the storyline was told succinctly in the 13-minute reel. Man loves woman, woman cheated on man with man's brother, man tells woman to kick rocks. I like a performance that makes me feel something. And this one really did that.
Scott Clifton is fun to watch. The next time he has an emotion-filled scene, when you're done watching it, press rewind. Then put your hands or some other device over your eyes so that you can only see Scott's eyes. It's odd, but I swear he acts with his eyeballs. I question if voters watching the reel might be turned off by the soap amnesia storyline of a guy named "Adam" and a gal named "Eve." I'm sure the show took some ribbing -- ahem -- for that. The episode where Liam learned what Quinn had done to him was top-notch, which of course makes those Adam and Eve scenes mandatory in the reel. I would have stopped the reel there. The final scene with Liam confronting Bill about his affair with Brooke? It showed a different side of the character and, in turn, Scott's acting.
Billy Flynn throws furniture around a room and gets an Emmy nomination. I do it -- and the police get called. Such is the life of an actor, I guess. This may sound like a horrible thing to say, but hear me out. I've never thought of Billy Flynn as a lead actor. I've interacted with him on Twitter, and he's affable, witty, and smart. If you had asked me to list off his most memorable scenes, I am not sure that I could have done that easily. When the scenes in his reel aired on DAYS, it was like meeting Billy all over again. I knew the second of his two episodes would garner Emmy attention. The first episode with Billy and the late, great Joseph Mascolo takes on a whole new dimension now that Joe has passed away. There was a tenderness... a humanity in the reel that I liked. So while I once never thought of Billy Flynn as a leading actor -- I now do. I also think of him as a likely Emmy winner.
Vincent Irizarry is at his best when he plays a bad guy who has been wronged. I loved him as David Hayward on All My Children. If All My Children were ever re-resurrected, I wouldn't accept anyone other than Vincent playing the role of the dastardly doctor. Vincent is already an Emmy winner -- and there's a reason for that. He's a talented man. I actually would have preferred if some of the scenes that John Aniston selected for his Supporting Actor reel had found their way to Vincent's reel. I would have liked to see the jerk that Deimos was. Just seeing the softer side of Deimos wasn't enough for me when compared to some of the other reels. However, if they award bonus points for being able to play the piano, then he's an absolute shoo-in.
What more is there to say about Kristoff St. John? Last year, I gushed about how much I like watching him play the angry, ticked-off character. I said I would have given him the Emmy last year. I was wrong. So what do you do if you're Kristoff St. John? You submit episodes that are the complete opposite of what I say will win an Emmy. I'm sure it was just a coincidence, so Kristoff, if you're reading this, I won't take it personally. There was an almost child-like innocence in parts of Kristoff's reel. There are probably far too many folks who are out there wondering why a parent deserted them. So many questions... and in Neil's case with his mother... so little time. Watching Kristoff and Nichelle Nichols together was magical. If the key to winning an Emmy is how you end your reel, then this is it. The way Neil cried "mommy" at the end of the reel was heartbreaking. Absolutely devastating.
I honestly believe that this is a toss-up between Bergman, Flynn, and St. John.
Who voters will pick: Billy Flynn
My final rankings: Kristoff St. John, Billy Flynn, Peter Bergman, Scott Clifton, Vincent Irizarry
Here's another category that I think is a little too close to call.
Nancy Lee Grahn turned in some great work in 2016. I will say that I am sometimes surprised when something that I think is surefire Emmy material doesn't end up making a reel. That was the case here. I found it interesting that several of the reels this year placed material out of sequence. Nancy Lee's reel did just that. It worked. There is undeniable chemistry between Nancy Lee Grahn and William deVry. It would be amazing if we were to find out in 50 years that they didn't like each other because no one would ever believe it based on what we see on-screen. In addition to the chemistry, what I liked is that Nancy didn't try to do that all-too-common over-the-top drunken mess that we see on television. I also liked that there was a bit of mystery in the reel. With Alexis not knowing how she woke up in a sleazy no-tell motel, the episode become more engaging. It wasn't just the flashbacks that helped build the suspense. Nancy Lee Grahn's expressions said it all. I had to rewatch the reel just to be 100% certain that there were no new lines uttered during that portion of the reel. There weren't -- it was just the flashbacks. Yet Nancy somehow was able to convey pages of dialogue with just her actions, her expressions, and her breathing.
Gina Tognoni's courtroom outburst is the sort of thing that Emmy voters love. Who can forget Judith Light's Karen Wolek proclaiming that she was a hooker? And while Phyllis may not be a hooker (knock it off!), watching her break down as she explained that a man who looked just like her husband had forced himself on her was riveting. It was, as I said in the Lead Actor with Scott Clifton, possibly a bit off-putting for voters who may not be soap fans. As a side note, I would love to know the breakdown of voters in the soap categories. Are they only soap actors, or can folks from other daytime fields vote? That being said, Gina's scenes with Peter Bergman were so great. The two have only been working together a short time, but you could feel a connection. I've often said that some actors are so good that they somehow elevate the work of other, greener actors in their scenes. I am not sure if Gina and Peter worked on these scenes together before they were taped, if there was discussion, or if they just walked in cold and let the magic happen. That might be a question for the Red Carpet.
Heather Tom. No, that's really all I have to say. Fine. I suppose I need to offer a bit more explanation even though just saying "Heather Tom" speaks to on-screen magnificence. I suspect that Heather's reel plays more strongly to folks who are familiar with The Bold and the Beautiful than those who are not. Heather's reel was the perfect example of a reel that used out-of-sequence scenes that somehow made more sense out of sequence than they did when they aired chronologically on television. The reel was a bit heavy on the buildup to Katie learning that her husband was cheating on her with her sister. To me the most masterful moment was the very end when Katie tells Brooke that she's beautiful... and that while she will always be her sister, this was their goodbye. I don't know how the reel could have been pruned to get to that moment a little quicker, but to me, that was one of the moments in all of soaps in 2016.
Jess Walton's reel had the greatest variety of emotion. There was a bit of humor -- albeit a bit choppy at the top of reel -- when Jill showed up to bail Billy out of jail. But that snippet of a scene was so incredibly important to the reel as a whole. Walton's reel was a look at the relationship between a mother and her child. Jill was overbearing, she was a buttinsky, and she was a mother anguished over the possibility that she might outlive her child. The reel did not contain some of the epic highs that other reels might contain, but it was entirely relatable. That may be what tips the odds in her favor.
Laura Wright's reel told a story. It was very much the same flow that Jess Walton had in her reel. The reel opens with the setup of a mother telling her son how proud she is of him. Fast-forward a bit to where Carly tells Sonny to drop his vendetta against Julian before someone gets hurt. Clearly the reel telegraphs what comes next: Morgan gets caught in the crossfire. From there, the reel goes back to Carly blaming Sonny for killing their son. Wright used every second of the 20-minute time limit thoughtfully. Laura makes the work look effortless -- especially in the confrontation scenes with Maurice Benard.
No matter who wins in this category, it will not be a surprise. Every one of these reels is deserving of an Emmy, but unless some sort of odds-defying magic happens, only one will win. So for me, this is entirely a guess.
Who voters will pick: Nancy Lee Grahn
My final rankings: Gina Tognoni, Heather Tom, Nancy Lee Grahn, Laura Wright, Jess Walton