Well, my fellow fans, here we are again. Near the close of another calamity filled year in the lives of our fictional friends. Genoa City: The ultimate land of make believe; the place to go when one needs relief from one's repetitive real life toils. When you look back on it from then to now, it really was an eventful year filled with ups and downs for all. So much has happened to so many people, I can't possibly chronicle it all. But, here's my stab at some of it.
HOME ON THE NEWMAN RANGE. We'll begin our look back on the outskirts of town, where the Newman's share their not so humble abode with an ever-growing number of displaced denizens and impoverished persons.
Once upon a time, Nick was a nice young man and one of my favorites. But somewhere along the way, someone must have whispered in his ear that nice guys almost always finish last. And obviously Nick listened and changed accordingly. Because there's certainly no trace of the man he used to be. For Nitwit Nick-a-louse, the year's trials and tribulations have done little to humble this arrogant oaf, and just as he did at the beginning of the year, the end finds him behaving as if he was born with a whole silver service stuffed in his big mouth. Okay, so he was born that way, but that's no enough excuse for his rude and obnoxious ways. Despite living a life most men would murder for, this surly simpleton still found plenty to pout about throughout the year. Apparently incapable of granting forgiveness to anyone other than his serial adulteress wife, Nick repeatedly punished his Papa for his own wedded witch's unfaithfulness. Just my opinion, but he actually seemed to enjoy burying that jewel encrusted blade of betrayal in his Daddy's back. But even as he picked painfully at the scabs covering each of his father's faults, curling his lip into a condescending sneer of superiority and moral righteousness, Nick had no problem sucking up the juice from his father's fruits. And if I hadn't seen it and heard it with my very own eyes and ears, I never would have believed Victor would reward him so handsomely for his insolence. Allowing him to gallop away with that which he so desperately desired - the reins of Newman Enterprises clenched tightly in his inexperienced fists. Not that Nick showed much appreciation for Victor's vote of confidence in allowing him total control without peeking over his shoulder. No, his small mind closed to all ideas save his own, the tiny-brained tyrant wasted no time selecting Neil's neck to lay across the chopping block. At the rate he's going, by the time 2006 rolls around, there may not be much left to pass down to the rest of the Newman's.
Over the past year, I've slowly become convinced the Victor some fans love while others hate isn't really Victor at all. I believe the real Victor was captured while on one of his annual treks of self-discovery and replaced with an outwardly identical but spaghetti spined clone. How else to explain why Victor now seems a mere shadow of his once formidable self. And I don't mind saying that watching this once strong man kowtow completely to his brainless boy hasn't been a pretty or enjoyable sight. Once upon a time, Victor's frowning countenance was enough to make the knees of even the bravest knave knock together inside his knickers. But that single smothering smooch from the lips of his soul-destroying daughter-in-law was the beginning of Victor's great fall and apparently left him in frozen fear of doing anything that might alienate his undeserving dolt of a son. Presumably the many humbling events of 2004 were designed to prove even The Great Victor Newman had a few chinks in his formerly impenetrable armor, and actually had a heart that could be broken, but I'm one fan who just wants the old Victor back. The Victor that would never let anyone, not even the son from his loins; treat him like yesterday's smelly bag of garbage. But, speaking for myself alone, in spite of all the volleys of division that have been aimed at it from nearly every direction practically every day of the year, I'm happy to see the union of Victor and Nikki is still mostly intact.
Now completely recovered from the trauma of supposedly cold-cocking a Kirsten to death, and then being pursued nearly to the mindset of madness by his alleged ghost, Sharon has moved on to other matters. As it isn't likely she's learned from her past mistakes (the residents of this city rarely do), it's presumed that eventually her tendency to become entangled with a man other than the one she's legally linked to, will cause cracks to form in her for the moment stable marriage. Of course, even if the young Newmans succeed in keeping other men or women out of their marital sheets, something both of them have thus far proven unable to do, there is still one other thing that has the potential to toss their marriage right back on the rocks. The fact that Nick is the secret Santa writing Sharon's Jabot employment checks.
Even though on the surface, Nikki appears none the worse for wear, she is another Newman who's been through an emotional wringer this year. The hate-hate relationship she shared with her dim bulb daughter-in-law when the days of 2004 began finally gave way to one of at least tolerance, if not respect or undue liking. Coming to terms with the searing pain of watching her son betray his father before the entire business world took another chunk from her shattered soul. Then insecurity momentarily reared its ugly head when the shroud of secrecy around Abby's parental origins was yanked away and Ashley tried but failed to get her manipulative mitts on Nikki's mate. And that only got her about halfway through the year. The remainder was swallowed up with nightmares of a recently remembered but long ago past when her five year old self accidentally took the life of her best boy pal. Which led in a roundabout way to the presence of the little boy's brother, Bobby, inhabiting one of her guest bedrooms. The little that remains of 2004 will likely be used to calculate how much money it will take to quiet her guilty conscience.
Two of the remaining Newman's, Cassie and Noah, have been pushed so far out of the family fold, their faces are little more than unrecognizable blobs in the family portrait on the piano. During the year, Cassie both gained and lost the father she never knew at exactly the same second, but lost little, if any, sleep over it. And lastly, Victoria, who exited the city near the start of the year in great despair over the failings of her faulty family, while she has been massively missed by many, despite recent mutterings of her name, she or a reasonable facsimile of her likeness has yet to make an appearance.
IT APPEARS TO BE A WONDERFUL COSBY LIFE AT THE WINTERS. Even though the patriarch of the Winters clan recently rejoined the ranks of the unemployed, their skies haven't all been gray. After burning half the bridge that connected him to Newman with his no-notice resignation, Neil returned at Nick's request and set fire to what little remained. And if Dru doesn't monitor her motor mouth, a feat that's proven patently impossible in the past, after berating the boss for his lack of appreciation for Neil, she may find herself beating the bushes for employment right alongside her husband. If that happens, I wonder where both Winters might find someone willing to pay them what they're convinced they're worth? Why, at Chancellor Industries, of course, where Jack is sure to soon be in charge.
But all that's business. When it comes to the personal, despite multiple battles through the year over business and more recently, an orphaned, semi-belligerent boy, the Winters' marriage shows almost no sign of stress and strain. And while daughter Lily no longer speaks longingly of the lovely Parisian life she left behind, she is still Lily, if not yet a Drama Queen rivaling her Mother, she's at least a Princess in Preparation. From the moment she slid a slender slipper onto the shifting soil of Genoa City, this unlucky lass has careened crazily from romantic calamity to calamity. I can't help but wonder if the absence of her father in her formative years contributed to her penchant for fixating ferociously on any man who appears momentarily in her life. First it was Wes, then Kevin, and now the man causing her to weep inconsolably into her pillow is Uncle Malcolm for deciding to exit the city after winning her heart. But Lily will soon be able to dry her tears, although she'll need to pass the crying towel to her mother, once she learns Malcolm won't be going anywhere, at least not yet.
Devon's integration into the family has definitely been a lot smoother than I predicted. Except for his recent history class skipping caper, he's been a model member of the clan. Considering the many, many times, Lily and her private school companions have skipped classes for one reason or another, that whole responsibility lecture was laughable. By the way, am I the only fan who finds the Winters' family meal time maddening? There have been many comparisons to their similarity to the Cosby clan, but I have to disagree. The Cosby's appeared natural. The Winters definitely do not.
The question that runs through my mind nearly every time Mama Winters appears is: Who gave up their throne so she could be crowned Queen of the City? From the bubbling brook of her spokesperson's mouth, through the nonsense of the ridiculous orchid that wouldn't die story, followed by the unwisely straightened hanks of hair that fell from her head, and threaded through it all, her infantile feud with Phyllis the shrilly screaming banshee, Dru's belief that the whole world revolves around her goes back long before 2004. Although as usual, she set out to accomplish her own ends completely the wrong way, all eventually ended well with Devon, once Neil pulled that rigid stick out of his spine and bent just enough to allow Devon to join their fractured family circle. But obviously, despite Dru's best and most outrageous diva demands, when it comes to Malcolm, the current focus of her frustration, I doubt things will work out the way she wants..
For Olivia, the lonely nights just keep getting longer. Like library books, in the past couple of years, Liv has checked out her sister's ex-husband, her best friend's then husband, her sister's ex-lover, and now, eyes gleaming with naked need, is bearing down hard on her own former husband, coincidentally also another ex-lover of her sister's. The son we no longer see, once trotted out regularly as a boy in need of a male role model, is once again being dangled, in absentia, this time, like a carrot just out of Malcolm's reach. Malcolm might not be the same man he was three years ago but Liv is still the same man-hungry woman she always was. Does she always have to be so transparently desperate?
Ahh, Malcolm, enough is enough and once more will make it way too many. Africa, Africa, Africa. I've become sick of the very sound of the name. And I'm equally sick of his bitter, everybody done me wrong mode. I realize Malcolm's angry at practically the entire civilized world, but how many people have to beg him to stay before he gives it a rest? And his constant antagonistic attacks against Damon make no sense. Given the length of time Malcolm's known Phyllis, he ought to know any muddy messes she find herself wallowing in are most likely ones she made herself. He's actually caused me to begin to root for Damon, someone I've never been able to feel all warm and fuzzy about. Obviously the animosity between the two will increase now that Malcolm's coincidentally become acquainted with Damon's ex-wife.
BALDWIN/FISHER - DYSFUNCTION IS STILL THEIR MIDDLE NAME
My admiration for Michael has mounted by leaps and bounds throughout the year. No matter which Genoa City-an he might have been facing, he more than held his own. Before Victoria tiptoed tearfully from the City, I lived for and eagerly devoured every encounter between these two. Equally enjoyable was the relationship of respect and friendship that slowly grew between him and Victor. He has been superb in his role of protective big brother and the still injured though he won't admit it son of Gloria.
Cautiously crowning Kevin most Reformed Rascal, he's come a very long way from the bitter boy he used to be. While I'll agree with those fans who feel he hasn't paid nearly enough for all the dastardly deeds he's done, I have thoroughly enjoyed watching his antics. When he toyed carelessly with Lily's young heart, tried to torch Colleen, and time after time successfully got away with most of his misdeeds, he repeatedly made my most hated list and caused me to cross my fingers that the soap scribes would soon erase him. From the second I saw him I found him a thoroughly unlikable lad and I didn't think there was any part of his black soul that would inspire an instant of pity at his plight. But that was before he revealed his vulnerable longing to be loved with Lauren, before I saw the pitiful mistreated manchild cowering fearfully in the closet, before I watched horrified the jolting, slow motion jailhouse beating, and before I found myself weeping through my Puffs through all the heart tugging brother to brother moments. Why, before I knew it, darn if Kevin hadn't somehow softened my stony heart. Yes, it would have been nice if Kevin had actually gotten some professional help exorcising his demons. That is as long as he didn't choose the therapist who failed to detour Tricia from her murderous path. But why should Kevin seek mental assistance to cure his sickness when none of the other near nuts freely committing crimes against persons or property did? Phyllis, Diane, Ashley, Sharon and Paul are just a handful who immediately come to mind. Head shrinking help notwithstanding, Kevin does seem to have changed, although it remains to be seen whether the change will be permanent. For now, he's managed to carve out a spot for himself in Genoa City society, even made two friends. The only thing missing is a love of his own and the rumors hint he may have a chance of that with one of them, although it will likely cause him to lose the other.
Gloria, a relative newcomer to the City, didn't waste any time landing one of the bigger and more gullible fishes in the Genoa City sea. Easily outmaneuvering long time contender for the Mrs. title, Gina May-I-Take-Your-Order Roma, Gloria hooked in about a month what Gina has angled for for years. Although Gloria for the moment has the wool pulled tightly over John's infatuated eyes, hopefully he'll eventually be able to make out the faces of the sons she's kept hidden from him. But then again, we are talking about John, still in the dark, not only about Abby's real Daddy, but Ashley's as well. Gloria portrays tasteless better than anyone I've seen in a long time. It will be interesting to see if her successor can do as well.
HATRED - THY NAME IS ABBOTT
The Abbotts and Brad might disagree on everything else, but there's one subject they'll never argue about. How much they hate Victor Newman. Jack and Brad, and this past year, even John, have been like an old 33 RPM record stuck in the same annoying groove, endlessly repeating itself. I can't believe that 350+ days later, this trio is still whining that Victor is the author of every act of misfortune in their miserable lives. Ashley steals Victor's seed to forever have a part of him to call her own, tosses her marriage away with both hands because she fantasizes Victor somehow told her to - Victor's fault. Jack moves his ex into the house he shares with his wife, pulls a Me, Tarzan, you Jane, so quit your Newman job or Diane will work at Jabot act on his wife, thereby tossing his marriage away with both hands - Victor's fault. Newman's bribes proved bigger than Jabot's, Jack's mouth overpowered his brain in his desire to have the second to last laugh at Victor's expense, and the Board chose short term relief over a long-term court battle, immediately squandering the money on renovations they didn't need and salaries for people who never work, and now are crying - Victor's fault. And if John is ever told who is really Abby's Daddy, I guess that will be Victor's fault as well. As for Ashley, after Victor coldly rejected her latest request, she's probably as close as she's ever going to get to hating him.
2004 has seen couples come and couples go.
Wes, after sampling both Winters women went, leaving Liv and a broken engagement behind.
Damon stayed and chose Phyllis over Vanessa, which, in hindsight, considering the conspiracy to commit murder charge he's now facing, might not have been the best decision he ever made. Jack, as earlier stated, picked business as the bone of contention that spun him and Phyllis in different directions. With scarcely a breath or a bed she paid for with her own funds in between, Phyllis immediately moved in with Damon and wasted no time destroying his life.
Danny Romalotti came, caught Chris, on a sort of rebound ... and then left, taking Paul's blue robe with him, but leaving the boy that wasn't really his behind, having come out the loser in a war of words, in which the truth of the past was stretched until it was barely recognizable. Phyllis, the truth bender, rejoiced momentarily over winning back her long denied boy, but pushed him and whatever problems he might have had aside, in order to concentrate more fully on the problems in her lover's life.
When it was clear Brittany preferred Marsino's experience over Raul's na´ve charm, he packed up his duffel and disappeared.
Daniel barely had time to be part of a couple, his lie about his age exposed by J.T..
His eye on a rock star dream, J.T. and Colleen's coupling crashed and burned. With Raul out of the picture, Mac convinced J.T. his friendly feelings for Brittany amounted to much more, but instead of sharing his love-like feelings, at the last moment moved aside so Britt could wed the man who made all her dreams come true, the much older Mr. Marsino. J.T.'s gone back to playing the field, but with Colleen due within the week, Cupid may already have his name inscribed on one of his arrows.
Love was no kinder to the over 50 set either. Thanks to her daughter, for Kay a long ago love miraculously appeared, then left. Judge Hendricks and his half-mad stepson was a storyline waste that as near as I can tell, served no useful purpose.
With no strings attached to the other, Jack and Jill frolicked lustfully up and down the hill until a love called Elliott knocked on Jill's bedroom door. A knock she should have ignored. Because after helping himself to all his off shore bank account could hold, like the thief in the day he was, Elliott went, but thanks to Jack, was unknowingly relieved of all the stolen Chancellor loot he'd lifted.
After being rejected by Jack and Damon, both apparently preferring the redhead she despised, Diane must have given up on love because her shadow hasn't been seen on any Genoa City walls for weeks.
Topping the list for currently compatible Genoa City couples is Lauren and Michael. Lauren began alone, shared a Mrs. Robinson kiss or two with Raul, linked arms and legs momentarily with Paul, led Kevin around the mulberry bush a time or two, and wound up with the best of the boys, Michael. Hopefully, after striking out with Chris, then Victoria, the third time will be the charm for Michael.