This week, Nita looks at the best of The Young and the Restless from the past twelve months. This is a special two-part column, so be sure to check back next week, when she offers up her thoughts on the worst of Y&R '08.
Throughout 2008, although there were occasionally times I left the table, my belly rumbling in aching, unfulfilled need, many other times, my soap-watching appetite was fully satisfied, even left hungering for a l'il bit more. I doubt there will ever come a time I-or any other faithful fan-will enjoy everything that's seen or done, or like each and every cardboard cutout propped before us, but as long as I have more compliments than complaints, that's enough to keep me watching things in Genoa City for another year.
Though it will be difficult to keep my extremely opinionated tongue from transmitting derogatory data to my typing digits, this column is reserved only for the best of 2008, so I will do as I've been bidden and type only in the most positive of lights. So here's what I think in no particular order.
The best -- Katherine Chancellor. Long, long ago, when I knew nothing at all about Genoa City and its roster of dysfunctional adults, Katherine was the character that originally intrigued me and led to my being irretrievably entangled in Genoa City matters for lo these many years. How ironic that then and now Kay's inability to handle strong drink in an admirable manner is the subject of her storyline, although in actuality, her current inebriation exists only in her loved ones' minds. Like good wine, Katherine has only gotten better with time. And although she has often been relegated to the unwatched back burner, 2008 has proven the Duchess still has it in spades, and can still leave her fans enthralled. As her current story continues to unfold, navigating the twists and turns has me literally on the edge of my sofa seat, in danger of bruising my bottom on the hard wood floor. I am absolutely loving the way this one is playing out as Kay's memories slowly return through glimpses of the distant and more recent past. She and this storyline are definitely my top pick for Genoa City's best.
The best at harboring hatred - Victor Newman. When the year began, love was enormously elusive for the embittered businessman. Although he was still legally linked to Nikki, for all intents and purposes, she had moved on with career criminal, Chow. But that, as they say, was then, and this is the here and now, when the mega-millionaire has more love than he knows what to do with. Having obviously leaped agilely over that much ballyhooed thin line between love and hate, Victor has nothing but contempt for Nikki now and, during the twelve-month period of 2008, the scowling one has been divorced, married, widowed, near suicidally depressed, arrested for murder twice, and is currently entranced and enchanted with another of his exes, Ashley Abbott. But don't expect love to soothe his vengeance-seeking soul or transform his mean old Grinch's growl into a pussycat's purr. Victor is out for blood, and it doesn't take a brainiac to figure out whose bodies he'd like to draw it from. If Jack and Adam thought 2008 was a very bad year, they're bound to find 2009 even more trying.
Best comeuppance - Gloria Fisher Abbott Bardwell Bardwell. Although I kept the fingers of one hand crossed hopefully behind my back, I had secretly begun to doubt Gloria would ever have to reach in her pocket to pay the piper his due. But, it seems there really is a Santa Claus and, even though it's not yet Christmas, I've already received the gift I'll cherish most this year-a picture of Gloria being hauled away in handcuffs. For the unexpected and supremely satisfying way Jeffrey trapped the black widow spider in her own sticky web, there'll be no coal in his stocking this year.
Best comeuppance to come? - To see the face of the receiver of the best example of harvesting the rotten seeds you once sowed, search the site for a picture of Phyllis Newman. Still no fan of this vindictive vixen, I failed to feel her pain at the sight of the liplock between her young beloved and his former bride. Phyllis is proof positive that a snarling leopard can't hide his telltale spots for long, and is also the poster child of the dreaded woman scorned. In my annual letter to Santa, I'm asking him to see that 2009 finds her hoisted high and painfully on her own petard.
Best at getting it oh so wrong - Heather Stevens. If ever a person should contemplate a career change, Heather is that woman. Heather has a preoccupation and obsession with Victor that rivals Jack's. Heather's tunnel vision when it concerns Victor is becoming legendary, and will likely sound the death knell for her future hopes in the DA's office. And it seems she's not much luckier in love than she's been in business. Daniel was a little too young and a lot too laid back for the prudent public prosecutor, and Adam's attempt to use her as a pawn in his high-stakes plan for prison for Papa have probably doused the flames of her infatuation with him. With Brad having already received his pink slip, and the ranks of the few remaining uncommitted Genoa City Romeos mighty meager, Heather's romantic prospects don't appear very likely unless Professor Korbel, as rumored, returns.
Best returning character No. 1 - Billy Abbott. A devoted fan of the original Billy Abbott, I found this latest incarnation surprisingly likable. Although he's only just gotten his tootsies wet, I'm pleased with his performance so far and look forward to some interesting times ahead. A mix of Mommy and Daddy, I think he has a kinder heart than his big brother, although, for the most part, he works hard at keeping that part of his personality under heavy wraps. Cane and Jill might be furious with him for what they call a backstabbing betrayal, but if Jill were honest, she should see plenty of herself in her baby boy. I guess she's forgotten her long-ago shenanigans and just how she managed to waltz away with those Jabot shares.
Best returning character No. 2 - Ashley Abbott, formerly known as the top billed star of the shameful semen-snatching saga. Those humiliating days of infamy finally beginning to fade from many fans' minds, Ashley has returned to town, seemingly much less fragile than when she departed. It's hard to believe she once paraded around in a bathrobe, toting a bedraggled blanket she insisted was the boy who never breathed outside her womb. While still refusing to board the Ashley-Victor bandwagon, so far, I'm enjoying this refurbished version of a steel-spined Ashley, who seems unlikely to tolerate any mess or manipulation from her scheming brother.
Best new character - Adam Victor Wilson. Despite a character that started out low then unbelievably shot downhill, there have been moments of shining excellence in all the muck. Like the time he expertly sent Sabrina's tabloid-headline-seeking mom packing, and his unexpected defense and staunch support of his father's young wife. As I've mentioned before, I haven't given up hope that this son can somehow be successfully integrated into the Newman clan, dysfunctional though it is. There was at least one rather sweet moment between half-brother and sister (that same Sabrina Mom moment) and it would definitely be nice to see some brotherly love. I don't expect that Nikki would ever be much more than chillingly civil to the boy she didn't birth, but a reconciliation and new understanding between Victor and Adam could be wonderful if written right. There's got to be more to Adam than the rude abrasiveness that has turned him into the family punching bag.
Best new character no longer with us - Sabrina Costelana Newman. I still wish this little lamb hadn't had to be sacrificed just so a certain black wolf could have a more complex, compelling storyline, but I certainly understand why her death had more mileage than perhaps her coma and recovery would have. For this fan, Sabrina's abilities grew slowly on me and by the end I was sad and sorry to see her go. But I must say I thought the handling of her demise was one of Y&R's best. Several times I found myself wanting to scream "Noooo!" at the screen to keep her from climbing in Chow's limo to keep her date with death and, even though I hadn't heard anything different, I admit I was one of the fans hoping 'til the bitter and irrevocable end that she would have a miraculous recovery.
Best Puffs moment - The days of Sabrina's passing. When her time finally came, it was a mound of Puffs moment for me, and I give the actress her props for making me believe she was really exiting the earth. In the scenes between her and Jana, she was both brave and heartbreaking, and the two had me near tears again at what could have been, both between them and Sabrina's possible interaction with everyone else in town. Oh well. Sniff, sniff, and a final farewell.
Best male manipulative liar - Jack Abbott. 2008 has taught me there is no new low to which Jack Abbott won't stoop and belly-wriggle under. His marriage was a joke that never became believable, mostly because he couldn't open his mouth without telling an elaborate, lie-filled tale. Which brings me to another best - the unbelievable and hilarious sex addiction lie. Jack, a sex addict? The man to whom casual is loosening his tie? He doesn't even seem like he likes the act of love all that much, let alone supposedly plagued by an undeniable need to do it all the time. And Jack's ability to sell the sex addiction scenario without so much as a single stifled giggle had my stomach aching from gales of cackling laughter.
Best female manipulative liar, romance-wrecker, and resident stalker chick - Chloe Ashby. Of all the women ever to tip tap their way through Genoa City, this fan finds the conscienceless Chloe the most despicable of them all. Though she's considerably shorter, she's definitely a Phyllis in training. Woe to the poor woman hooked to a man Chloe wants for her own, because clearly this little gremlin will stop at nothing to bring down and capture her prey.
Best at being a manipulated martyr - Lily Winters. We know she's not Daddy's baby, but her rollover behavior has me wondering whether there's a chance she's somehow Mommy's maybe. Yes, I know, Dru is really her mother, but she certainly didn't inherit her spunk and stick-to-it-ness. So I'm adding a P.S. to my letter to Santa. Please toss a backbone in your bag for Lily.
Best reconciliation - Amber and Daniel. It took awhile, but much to my great surprise, I went from fighting an urge to press the fast forward the second I saw Amber's face or form, to tolerating her, and finally, actually rooting for her to win back her man. Even though I found I enjoyed her with Professor Korbel, probably partly because it made Colleen turn that jealous shade of pea green envy and Phyllis that bright tint of enraged red, I wanted her back with Daniel because I thought they were good together.
Best woman-to-woman relationship - Didn't have a lot of these to choose from, so I picked Jana and Sabrina and Amber and Mrs. C. Lily and Colleen would have been my first choice, but what kind of best bud develops a yen for your best girl's once-best boy? That was crossing the line, but it wasn't the first time Colleen didn't hesitate to step across the line of good taste.
Best at inadvertent abstinence - Brad Carlton. Been a long drought for poor Bradley. Will he end the year with a little love? Hopefully it won't be Sharon to give him this dubious gift before his likeness is permanently painted over on the GC canvas.
Best at being wacky - Jana Fisher. From tumor-plagued murderess to can't we all just get along, the zany, platitude-prattling Jana belongs at that Ashram with Lowell. Watching Jana match her hair extensions to her outfit each day, and listening to her go on and on about good and bad karma, getting right with the universe and the like, I couldn't help but wonder if some vital brain matter was removed with that brain tumor. Has Jana lost her temper, even once, since that successful operation?
Man most likely to revert to past bad behavior - Kevin Fisher. Kevin's maniacal bent was showing clearly when he went on a rampage, tearing up the back room in Crimson Lights searching desperately for that missing money. He seems finally to be fed up with Jana and her constant talk of karma and journeys. It's about time! And I say, let the games begin. And begin them he did when he tossed that acidic glass of orange juice on Jeffrey's pulverized hamburger face. I can't wait to see what he'll be up to in 2009.
Best 'whaaat' moment - Michael saying he was an officer of the court with an obligation to stamp out crime wherever it pokes its dishonest head. Or words somewhat similar to those. After I picked my stunned self up off the floor, I snatched up my remote to hit rewind, certain I must have heard him wrong. It will be interesting to see if he can hold tight to those newly discovered scruples the next time one of his family members pulls something criminal.
And lastly, my pick for most surprising storyline twist of the year - Lowell River Baldwin. Instead of the high-moraled man placard his son had erroneously hung about his neck, the stuck-in-the-sixties faker turned out to be nothing but a thief in a tie-dyed tee. Of them all, Jeffrey seemed to be the sole resident to see the rot beneath the placid exterior. Perhaps it takes one flim-flam man to recognize another.
And some quickies:
Best at projecting to the nosebleed seats - Michael Baldwin. Christian LeBlanc is an amazingly talented actor. His expressive facial expressions and understated delivery won me as a fan long ago and kept me riveted to any scene he was part of. My hope is that 2009 finds him returning to what works so well for him.
Best at being the B word - Jill Abbott. If you've been watching at any time this year, you'll understand why this one needs no explanation.
Best ghost - John Abbott. Now that he can finally view everything from the other side instead of only the missteps of his namesake, I don't mind his occasional visits. Originally not very patient with his ghostly appearances, he finally won me over with those individual family chats.
Best at being the supremely supportive spouse - Identical blue ribbons go to Lauren Baldwin and J.T. Newman, I mean Hellstrom.
Best few days - During Old Home week at Katherine's funeral. It was great to see former Genoa City residents: Nina, Danny, Brock, Traci, Dena, and Gina. The Abbott children gathered around the breakfast table, complete with ghostly visits by John, was one of the highlights.
Best at being a flip-flopping man - Neil Winters. He enraged me during his Carmen Mesta-chasing days and I was no less annoyed to see him constantly inserting his in-law-by-adoption, Tyra, in front of his betrothed, Karen.
Best at being torn between two yet never getting splattered by much maligning mud - Nick Newman.
Best as selling sex - Phyllis Newman and her painted-on lingerie. Oh that we all should be built to wear it that well and with such fearlessness.
And last, but certainly not least -Daytime Emmy Statuettes to the talented scribes for always giving me something good (or bad) to write about. You talented ladies and gents have really turned this soap around. Just so you know, fans like me are very appreciative. Looking forward to more chills and thrills in 2009.
Next week: The thumbs down! Until then, here's what fans had to say about Genoa City stuff this week. here.