It's that time again, when we look back over the past 12 months and reflect on the things that stood out the most to us and wonder - was it a good year or a bad one?
On a personal level, I'm happy to put 2008 behind me. I suffered a catastrophic loss earlier this year and found the holidays were little more than a glaring reminder that someone I cherish is forever gone. The truth is, you don't ever really recover from something like that. Sure you eventually move on, learn to smile, and try to find joy in things, but it's never as pure or as sweet again. The loss of a loved one is profound and everlasting.
Most disappointing storyline:
Perhaps that's why I found myself so incredibly disappointed with the recent storyline of Starr's baby girl dying. I had a front row seat to grief this year and it looked nothing like what Starr and Marcie are going through. Maybe I can't feel Starr's pain because she lights up like a Roman candle every time Cole smiles at her. It seems wrong to see a mother panting after a guy when she just lost her baby. Or maybe it's because every time I see Marcie around Chloe she reminds me of Golum getting a glimpse of the precious ring. I always have an overwhelming urge to reach through the television screen and snatch the baby away before Marcie gets too close to her. To me, this was a story with oodles of potential that fell completely flat. The only person I feel for is Chloe because she might end up with Marcie when all is said and done.
Most interesting storyline:
In an ironic twist, it's Jessica's integration story that has captured my heart. When I first read that Tess was returning and locking Natalie in a soundproof room, I groaned. I saw all that before with Viki and her merry band of alters so, truth be told, I wasn't interested in seeing a rehashed version of it featuring Tess and Natalie. I'm not a fan of either character.
Things changed, though, when they decided to have Tess give birth to Jessica's daughter and the baby died. I honestly expected the writers to wimp out and have the baby be stillborn. That wasn't the case, though. In a stunning twist, they revealed that the baby could have been saved had Tess gone for regular prenatal visits. WOW! Now that was a bold move and one that made me sit up and take notice. Mind you, I'm not into infanticide, or anything along those lines, but soaps should push the envelope and this twist did. Tess practically killed the baby. That's going to be a powerful emotional punch for Jessica to deal with when it comes to light. I will be interested to see how Jessica comes to terms with losing two children so senselessly. If you recall, Jessica also suffered the tragic death of a baby girl when Dorian hit Jessica in a car.
This brings me to Mark Lawson (Brody Lovett), whom I consider to be the best newcomer of the show this year. Not only has he grown as an actor, but also as a character. Admittedly, I wasn't all that fond of him when he first joined the show because I saw just another pretty face, beamed down from Planet Hunkalicious, who was going to drool over Llanview's newest tragic heroine, St. Gigi. However, since he woke up to the fact that Gigi wasn't the be-all and end-all of women, he's grown on me. Yes, he's terribly flawed, but not beyond redemption. There's tremendous chemistry between Jessica and Brody and an interesting back-story for Brody. In an odd way, their problems "complement" each other-it makes complete sense that they'd be drawn to each other.
I have to admit, I'm also hoping for Brody to get the urge to shower again.
As far as I'm concerned, that is Vanessa Montez (Jacqueline Hendy). I would have nominated Gigi Morasco (Farah Fath) but she started with the show in October of 2007 so she wasn't eligible. However, Gigi deserves an honorable mention.
Back to Vanessa, though… even if she suddenly turned into an innocent victim who was set up by big bad Ray Montez, I still wouldn't like this woman. It's her skankiness that turns me off. I can't stand people who deliberately set out to sabotage a relationship. That's exactly what Vanessa did every time she paraded around Cris in one of those skimpy nighties or batted her sad cow eyes at him whenever the need for a handy-dandy husband with a US citizenship was mentioned. Using Lola to further her agenda didn't endear her to me, either. The death knell, though, is Vanessa's predictability. There's nothing about this character that would surprise me. Nor does she interest me enough to want to look deeper into her psyche. I couldn't care less what makes her tick and, frankly, her scenes are less than memorable.
Actually there are two. The first character is Susan Haskell (Marty Saybrooke), whose return I highly anticipated. I was so ready to fall in love with Marty all over again, but that never quite happened. Her story was powerful - a woman suffering from amnesia falls in love with the man who once raped her. That's some seriously heavy material to work with and I knew Susan was more than up to the task. Unfortunately, I found myself growing more and more annoyed by Marty.
I understand that Marty suffered amnesia and extensive injuries but that didn't make her stupid. If you were given the opportunity to read about your rape after asking numerous questions about it, why would you not at least learn the names of your rapists? Why wouldn't you make some effort to go outside and see the world? Why wouldn't you ask your old friend for pictures of your past? These small holes in the story eventually ruined it for me.
Now Marty is hell-bent on revenge. I understand hating Todd, but she's got what she's been dreaming of having - her old life back. Why isn't she embracing all that she has gained now that the truth is out - friends and most importantly a child? To me, that doesn't make sense. Nor does it make sense for her not to seek professional help for what happened to her. Her friends and loved ones can attest to the fact that it helped in the past. Heck, she was a therapist herself. That should speak volumes to her about the power of therapy.
The other disappointing return goes to Tina Lord (Andrea Evans), who was brought back to -- what? Remind us of days gone by? After all the hype and anticipation, Tina's return not only turned out to be completely pointless, but she disappeared in the blink of an eye despite of months fighting to remain in Llanview. Whoever made the decision to send Tina off should be taken out back and flogged with one of David Vickers leashes.
Any time David Vickers appears, I'm a happy camper. I just love that man. No one makes me smile the way that David does, so I'm delighted by each of his returns.
Most underused character:
The most entertaining, but tragically the most underused, character is Roxy Balsom. Ilene Kristen is a gold mine for comic relief. More importantly, she has a secret that I'm dying to learn about. Who is Rex's father? Why is Roxy so afraid to reveal his identity? Is it Mitch Lawrence, as some speculate, or someone even more shocking? How about Asa Buchanan? The possibilities are endless, and I want to see this storyline explored mainly because I want Roxy to have a real storyline. Ilene is more than up to the task!
The most senseless demise award needs to go to Asa Buchanan (Phil Carey). Since Asa's death, I've seen more of Phil Carey on this show than I have in the last five years. At least it seems so. Why kill off a character that clearly still has a purpose? With useless characters like Vanessa and Lola fluttering about, it infuriates me to see someone like Asa written off.
By the time Adrrrriaaannnaaaaa, left town I was more than happy to see her go. My only regret is that she didn't take Gigi with her. However, as far as exits went, Adriana's was well written. Her marriage was a mess, her behavior shameful, and her mother the bane of her existence. It made perfect sense for Adriana to bug out. And even more sense to bug out to Paris!
Worst plot twist:
Actually this was more a case of a dropped plot twist than a worst plot twist. For weeks we were unmercifully teased about the fact that Allison Perkins had a big ugly secret that would totally blow apart Jessica's world. The secret was so juicy that Natalie and Jessica were willing to break loony Allison out of St. Anne's to find out what she was hiding. Yet what happened to that secret? Abso-freaking-lutely nothing, that's what! It seems the writers chucked the secret over the side of the building along with Allison and scrapped the whole storyline. It's when writers waste my time like that I get miffed. If you are going to set up a storyline, at least have the decency to follow through with it.
Best plot twist:
I LOVED it when we discovered that Talia was Carlo's long-lost daughter! What a great development. Not only did it give Talia a connection to Llanview, but it also opened the door for more Carlo sightings in the future. Sadly, though, the writers haven't taken advantage of the opportunity as of yet. I'm hoping that they do with Kamar de los Reyes' (Antonio Vega) exit. Talia is a character with tremendous potential and it would be great to see her embrace her inner Hesser.
Sadly, we have very few to choose from. Sarah and Cris appear to be kaput, or darn near, and Viki and Charlie haven't been back together long enough for me to decide if I like them again or not.
Surprisingly the best couple on the show right now is probably the oddest couple we've ever had on this show since one of the pair is dead. Yes, that's right, I said dead. I'm talking about Dorian and Mel. We've seen him a couple of times this year, but only once in his original form. The other times, Mel visits Dorian as other people and manages to talk sense into her. It's the healthiest relationship on this show at the moment, and probably the most interesting one.
We have a cornucopia of people to select from but hands down, the worst pairing on the show is Marty and Todd. Let's set aside the issue of whether what happened between them recently was rape or not. There is still the matter of full disclosure. Todd knew he had been the ringleader of Marty's rape in college and he knew that she didn't know. If she had, Marty would never have asked him to make love to her.
If Todd had truly loved Marty, as he claims he does, he would have told her the truth about the rape, but also (especially) about Cole. It's as simple as that.
Well folks, that's it. I hope you enjoyed my review of 2008. I'd love to hear from you, so please feel free to drop me an email to share your thoughts about the past year.
Liz Masters is a freelance writer who occasionally submits news stories for Soap Central. She is filling in for Dawn this week.