Every New Year, the editors and contributors of Soapdom
reflect on the past year in soapdom. From real life
situations, like the untimely death of ATWT’s Benjamin Hendrickson to
major storyline commitments like the 25th anniversary celebration of
General Hospital’s Luke and Laura’s wedding, 2006 held many stand out
Here’s what made the most impact on our columnists and contributors this year. Some focused on one or two shows only. Others took a broader approach. Some pointed out not only the highs of 2006, but a few of the lows as well. Be sure to read through the entire article. My comments will close the piece.
Lori K. Wilson
Sneak Peeks, First Looks & Fresh Peeks
Various Feature Articles
Sonny and Emily breaking up on General Hospital is definitely one of my favorite things about 2006. They NEVER worked as a couple for me. But not only did a bad couple break up, it led to good story for each character. For starters, Emily and Nikolas got back together. Livingston and Tyler Christopher are a much better match as actors and I am happy to see their characters rekindle their sweet romance. Likewise, Sonny reverted his attentions back towards Carly. Laura Wright has proven to be a formidable presence against Bernard and Carly is the only woman, aside from Brenda, with whom Sonny has truly ever clicked. (Jennifer Branford’s brief tenure notwithstanding.) Sonny became a lighter version of his tortured self and by going after his ex, he’s pitted against his recurring romantic rival Jax. Meanwhile, Emily has reconnected with the love of her life and will presumably be involved in helping Nikolas search for his missing son Spencer.
My second favorite event in Port Charles this year was the
big epidemic. The deadly virus involved the entire cast, gave us
great dramatic moments and brought old favorites back. We
tearfully bid adieu to seldom seen but ever-popular Tony Jones, as well
as parted ways with front and center Courtney Matthews. We
weren’t subjected to day players being killed off, but characters we
were emotionally invested in, creating gut wrenching death
scenes. While the whole town was quarantined, tough decisions had
to be made, lovers, friends and family reconnected and the search was
on for the cure. Most importantly, Luke’s innocent act of
bringing a chimpanzee home inadvertently brought his old pal Robert
back to town. Who didn’t feel the excitement from the first
glimpse of Scorpio standing in the middle of the jungle with the words
“and so it begins” typed across the screen? He came in, took
charge, exchanged barbs with Luke and had intense scenes with his
daughter Robin. All in all it was great drama, suspense and
To round out my fondness for GH, I have to say that Patrick Drake (Jason Thompson) has been the number one reason I enjoyed watching this year. Patrick typifies the ultimate player that everyone has fallen for at some point in their life only to have their hearts broken. But while the bad boy routine is fun to watch, there has to be more to him in order to keep the viewers interested. We got to see another side to Dr. Drake when he was exposed to HIV. This put a chink in the arrogant doc’s armor and let Jason Thompson portray Patrick as vulnerable and scared, all while never losing his charm or masculinity. This even led to Patrick falling in love. Since this is soapdom, there had to be that one special woman who could break through his cocky exterior. It took awhile, but Robin (Kimberly McCullough) eventually got the playboy to fall in love with her, enabling all us mortals the opportunity to live vicariously through her. And isn’t that really the reason we all watch soaps in the first place?
Mark Edward Wilows
Soapdom Features Contributor
Oh boy! Those favorite memories of the soaps. Seems like I just wrote last year’s. Anyway...where do I begin. As probably most you know that even though I cover all the soaps and write about them, my two faves that I watch are As the World Turns and Days of our Lives.
On As the World Turns, my favorite memory was the return of Simon (Paul Leyden). Even though I know his tenure in Oakdale was short-lived, I have to say that just to see him in scenes with Katie (Teri Colombo), well let’s just say I was on the other side of the moon.
Even though in my heart I want Simon and Katie to be together, which probably may not happen, or at least not yet, it was great seeing them working together again.
When Katie had her dream of her wedding to Simon, yes I admit it, I was choked up. How many weddings do you see with snow and lambs? It was magical. I can see it over and over.
I also feel that from the other perspective -- Paul Leyden and Teri Colombo have given their best performances. Even though Simon has gone astray and...
...turned into a jewel thief and God only know who else, I still can
see the twinkle of love in Katie’s eyes. Yet, she still wants him
I also cannot forget the great Jennifer Landon (Gwen) and the day she found out that baby Johnny was not her baby and that her baby actually died. It was the usual soap twist of switched babies, but to see her give up Johnny and then visit the grave of her baby was a tug of the heart scene. I also love the fact that As the World Turns is giving Landon a chance to explore her wonderful talented voice. Is it only me, or does she sound like Janis Joplin? Probably I’m showing my age, but someone out there has to agree with me.
And every time I see poor Gwen trying to be happy with her husband Will (Jesse Sofer), something, or should I say someone, always gets in the way. I admit that it makes interesting watching, and definitely turns my world.
Now on to “Like Sands through the Hour Glass” so are the Days of our Lives. Boy this past year the sands really flowed with many complex storylines, and ending the year with the possible return of Stefano (Joe Mascolo). But my fave moment was the death of Zak.
Bad enough the kid was killed by a hit and run, but that hit and run turned out to be his step sister behind the wheel. I think the story played out well from the grieving to the funeral, to how life is after the loss of a child.
Now the parents of Zak, who are Hope (Kristian Alfonso) and Bo (Peter Reckell) need to be complimented on an outstanding acting job.
The clips of little Zak, especially at Christmas was even heartbreaking to me. I should know that this is only a show, but it made my heart heavy. Now, despite the fact of what happened with Zak, everyday was riveting to see Bo and Hope’s marriage unravel.
I’m really into real life situation stories, and I think this was one that can bring tears and jeers to just about anyone. I think this was also a story that for anyone faced with the situation of the loss of a child can relate to, but more importantly, I liked the different angles of the story showing that no matter the obstacle, and to any regular viewer, there were plenty! But it can be worked through.
As we begin the new year, I’m looking forward to Bo winning back Hope, and they can ride off again into the sunset on that motorcycle.
Soapdom Columnist: Busted to Blissful
Various Feature Articles
Steve and Kayla Return to Days
For anyone who was a fan of Days of Our Lives in the 80’s, it was all about Steve and Kayla. Stephen Nichols and Mary Beth Evans became famous playing the unlikely love story between the good girl nurse and the bad boy from the wrong side of the tracks with a heart of gold. They were one of the first supercouples to usher in the idea of a theme song (The Rose) and to develop their own cult following.
Returning to the show 16 years after leaving, Nichols and Evans still have the same spark. The flashbacks from their heyday have been a treat for long time fans, as well as a good introduction for new ones. In a lot of ways, it feels like no time has passed at all when watching these two. It takes me back to when I was a kid first falling in love with the soaps, of which Steve and Kayla were a big part.
Laura Returns to GH
Even though Genie Francis was only able to return for a four week run on General Hospital, her brief homecoming was special for anyone who was ever a Luke and Laura fan. It was a brilliant move for the show to time her appearance to coincide with the 25th anniversary of Luke and Laura’s wedding . The knowledge her run would come to end made viewing her scenes with Luke and their children bittersweet.
But it's a good thing that a little of Francis can go a long way though, as she brought out the best in every one of her scene partners. Luckily for fans, GH wisely chose not to kill Laura, but left the possibility open for her return whenever Francis wants.
Dixie Comes Home on AMC
This was the year for homecomings, and none were as poignant as Cady McClain’s return to Pine Valley on All My Children. After a four year absence, she picked up right where she left off, even though her son and step son were recast while she was gone. Fortunately, Dixie’s true love Tad, and his...
...portrayer, Michael E. Knight, are still in Pine Valley, and when Dixie revealed herself to Tad, who thought she was dead, it was one of those classic soap moments we all yearn for. Knight’s expressive face spoke a thousand words.
Unfortunately, it’s been all down hill in terms of story for this
duo since then, but at least fans have that one magic moment to hold on
LuLu’s Abortion on GH
General Hospital wisely cast newcomer Julie Marie Berman in the pivotal role of Luke and Laura’s SORASed teenage daughter, Lulu. Instead of coming off as a willful brat, like some teenage girls on other shows, Lulu’s abandonment issues with her parents, combined with her feisty personality, made her a chip off the old block.
Berman can act circles around a lot of adults, and never was this more evident than the storyline where 18 year old Lulu had an abortion. Kudos to GH for not shying away from the story and having viewers learn about Lulu’s decision afterwards. Viewers got to see all sides of every argument as various characters counseled Lulu. GH also never used the fallback “termination” or “procedure” like other shows, and wisely chose to call Lulu’s abortion what it was.
Whatever your stance on this controversial issue, one couldn’t help but be moved by Lulu’s moral dilemma, and feel her pain over a decision not made lightly. GH has also realistically played the aftermath, as Lulu struggles with her conscience and wonders whether she did the right thing. Of all the stories on any soap this year, this was by far the most realistic and engrossing, thanks to stellar writing and acting.
Nick Has an Affair with Phyllis on Y&R
Nick had been married to Sharon for ten years on The Young and the Restless, during which time they both had affairs. Yet, their marriage managed to survive. But when Nick slept with Phyllis, you could tell it was different. This was no meaningless one night stand, as evidenced by the duo continuing to sneak off together for trysts. Phyllis eventually became pregnant, Nick left Sharon, and married Phyllis.
It was a good twist to see the writers decide to make Nick and Phyllis a real couple instead of a fling. Not only did it shake up the marriage of Nick and Sharon, but it breathed new life into the characters as well as Phyllis and her on again/off again ex husband Jack. All four characters were taken in a new direction by Nick and Phyllis’ actions, and it couldn’t have come at a better time for the show.
Features Articles Contributor
East Coast Reporter
During its 49-year run on ABC, General Hospital has become the one serial so well-versed in pulling off "stunt" episodes that its only been in recent years that insiders have caught on and begun to cry foul, their argument resting on the fact that GH's sole purpose is to utilize said episodes around Emmy time as the rest of its program falls by the wayside and can only be considered mediocre at best. 2006 was no different. Let's run down the list, shall we? Sam learns Alexis is her mother and proceeds to seek revenge from dear mama for tearing her away from gang banger boyfriend, Jason, by sleeping with Alexis' hubby, Ric. If this wasn't enough of a shock, viewers also had hurled at them the fact that Alexis contracted cancer.
Then, of course, there was the tepid and ridiculous romance between Sonny and Emily. For anyone who suffered from insomnia in the earlier part of the year, I'm sure many patients refused the NyQuil recommended to them by physicians and went for the much cheaper option: looping scenes shared by the aging mob boss and pseudo medical student who so far has only displayed the aptitude of a candy striper.
Maxie pretending to be pregnant with Lucky's baby? You know the man she loves... I believe that Days of our Lives owns the rights to these kinds of stunts until new headwriter Hogan Sheffer really takes command.
What did work ... what sprinkled with magic was the reunion of Luke and Laura. It was real where it counted: In the hearts of the characters and the actors fulfilling those roles. Anthony Geary (Luke) and Genie Francis (Laura) exposed such vulnerability, all the while putting their characters' children's (Nikolas, Lucky and LuLu) needs ahead of their own. Sure, we were forced to suspend reality what with Robin's ridiculous brain concoction, but it was worth it ... and the audience was more than willing to immerse themselves, rather than mock, these two legendary stars and their fictional reunion. And when those two were forced to say good-bye, Luke and Laura fan or not, you felt the pain, you wiped the tears, and this time around, didn't feel quite as silly for becoming so invested in a storyline because it was done well. Most, if not all, must be attributed to Geary and Francis.
Many times, people question Geary's number of Emmy wins because of his contracted extended holidays that prohibit him from garnering as much screen time as someone who is featured every day. But this is the long and short of it: When Geary is on, he rejuvenates not only a storyline, but the entire show ... and perhaps the daytime medium. He is the greatest of our time.
On a more personal note, I was terribly saddened to learn the death of Benjamin Hendrickson (Hal, As the World Turns). While working for Soap Opera Update, I had many chances to run into the Emmy winner in the green room or throughout the studio's hallways. However, there was one time when I felt we really connected. My Grandmother had just entered a rehabilitation facility for an injury she suffered at our home. I was quite upset about the lack of care she had been receiving -- she is a victim of Alzheimer's and cannot answer for herself -- and wished there was some way I could ensure she was being looked after as a human being and not a rag doll. Hendrickson listened to me and explained that he, too, struggled with a similar dilemma as his mother had only recently entered a home and already he was concerned with the quality of care. I could see in his eyes that he...
...was weary and I do believe he saw the same look in mine.
That exchange was the longest I had ever had with Hendrickson, but from
that point on, he would always inquire about my grandmother. So
many times, people will applaud actors for just remembering your
name. But Hendrickson took the time to care about my own worries
... very rare in the business we work in ... and he never, ever forgot
my name. I hope that wherever he is, Mr. Hendrickson is free of
pain and a lot less weary. You'll forever be missed, Benji.
Phyllis A. Tremblay
Features Article Contributor
I talk about One Life to Live on a daily basis with my dad who watches it with me after supper. Thank goodness for VCRs; they may be a bit behind the times but they work. I also discuss the show with my good friend, Jackie. Therefore, this memorable OLTL moment is titled, “It’s Only Our Opinion.”
First on our list is Rex Balsom. This character has evolved from punk to pest to private eye in just about a year. He has come full circle and has taken all of us with him. John Paul Lavoisier is a gem of an actor. While Rex will be chewing up the scenery, Lavoisier delivers memorable performances time and time again. Way to go JP!
Rex has done such a wonderful job as a PI that he should start looking for all the missing children on milk cartons. He found Todd’s baby right in Llanview and he located Paige’s long, lost son, Hugh Hughes. Why did the powers that be create such a build up to who Paige’s son was only to kill him off? Hugh was starting to endear himself to several major characters; Nora, Marcy, Kelly and he just found his birth mother. Upcoming storylines could have been rich with conflicting emotions and anger. There could have been the conflict between the biological parents vs. the adoptive parents. Just think of what Spencer could have started! So why did they kill off Hugh?
What a better lead in to the grieving now happy McBain family. We were so impressed with the performance that Nathaniel Marston (Michael McBain) turned in when he identified the burn victim as his brother, John (Michael Easton). He displayed such raw emotion that we really felt his pain. Of course, the audience was already hearing the rumors that John was NOT dead but nonetheless, Marston’s performance was nothing short of brilliant. Michael Easton has always been known for his bright blue eyes among other things so it was so appropriate for the eye color to be the hint that maybe the man trapped in the gauze-covered tomb was not Hugh. Imagine John’s anguish when he heard Vincent talk about his feelings for Natalie. Easton’s emotions were right on especially when he tried to make a fist. But why did they kill off Hugh?
Let’s talk about Hugh’s predecessor, Nora Hannen. We have NEVER seen an actress deliver such an outstanding performance as the one that Hillary B. Smith did while portraying the stroke victim. Her facial expressions had us questioning if she really did have a stroke. Our hats are off to Hillary.
Lastly but most important; when will Asa find out that David Vickers is his son? Can you imagine his chagrin? How about Dorian? She had a Buchanan in her bed and let him get away. Think about the conflicts. This is enough to cause Spencer to have a real emotional breakdown.
Speaking of emotions running amuck, let us not forget the always
suffering, Dorian. Will she EVER get a man! We can’t wait
to see Dorian’s face when she finds out that David is richer than she
is! David Buchanan, it has a ring to it, don’t you agree?
I am taking a broader approach to the past year to include more overall memorable moments. For example, for the very first time since the dawn of the Daytime Emmy Awards, they were held in Hollywood, California at the Kodak Theatre. ABC Daytime hosted the broadcast and they took leaps and bounds to engage the fans by creating things like the Fan Zone outside the theatre where winners got to speak to and thank the fans directly, and opening the program with long-time General Hospital heart throb Rick Springfield reviving his 80’s hit, “Jesse’s Girl.”
Which brings me to this: The return of favorite characters and actors. Rick Springfield was among the first to return to General Hospital as Dr. Noah Drake. On his heels came Tristan Rogers (Robert Scorpio), Finola Hughes (Anna Devane Scorpio Lavery Scorpio Hayward), Emma Samms (Holly Hutton Scorpio) and capped it off with the piece de resistance, Genie Francis herself, reprising the role of Laura Spencer to help husband Luke (Tony Geary) celebrate the 25th wedding anniversary of Luke & Laura. On Days of our Lives, Austin (Austin Peck) and Carrie (Christie Clarke) paved the way for the return of Patch (Stephen Nichols) and Kayla (Mary Beth Evans). Fan favorite Galen Gering (Luis, Passions) returned to Harmony in the early part of the year. Paul Leyden (Simon, ATWT) hit Oakdale to stir things up for about six months. All My Children’s Dixie Cooney Martin (Cady McClain) returned to Pine Valley. It is expected that we will see this trend continue into 2007. It is already being rumored that Grant Aleksander (Phillip) may be returning to Guiding Light this year.
In more casting moments, many actors either left or were asked to leave their respective soaps. Some of the most memorable was the exodus of cast from Days of our Lives who lost Austin Peck (Austin), Christie Clarke (Carrie), Jason Cook (Shawn), and soon Brody Hutzler (Patrick) and Judi Evans (Bonnie) among others. On One Life to Live, Dan Gauthier (Kevin) and Emmy winner, Heather Tom (Kelly) bit the dust along with Tuc Watkins (David) and Josh Casaubon (Hugh Hughes). Of note is the recast and casting again of Christel Khalil as Lily on the Young and the Restless. The actress left the show to pursue other interests. The part was recast with Davetta Sherwood for about six months, and then it was announced that Christel Khalil was returning to reprise the role. Talk about a revolving door policy.
Acting-wise, I was blown away by Michael E. Knight’s (Tad, AMC) performances as he revealed to Dixie (Cady McClain) that he is the one who murdered, albeit inadvertently, Greg Madden, as well as his performances over the holidays as he struggled with his conscience and his feelings of loss over his absent daughter, Kate. Genie Francis (Laura, GH) was likewise amazing as she first came out of her catatonic state, then slowly regained her memory, then met with the realization that her visit back to normalcy was to be short lived, then her heartfelt goodbyes to her family and friends as she...
...drifted back to the catatonic state. Not to mention Tony Geary (Luke), Greg Vaughan (Lucky) and Julie Marie Berman (LuLu) who all did amazing work with this storyline. Winsor Harmon (Thorne, B&B) and Hunter Tylo (Taylor, B&B) as they struggled with the accident which killed Darla and then their emerging feelings for one another. And let’s not forget Y&R’s Joshua Morrow (Nick), Sharon Case (Sharon), and Michelle Stafford (Phyllis) and Peter Bergman (Jack) as they struggled with infidelity and found new loves.
Another memorable trend was the featuring of musical guests. From Il Divo on Y&R to Mary J. Blige on OLTL, contemporary musical performances reached a crescendo in 2006. Along with the above, some of the most memorable performers and performances included Smokey Robinson and Clay Aiken on Days, Rihanna and Jesse McCartney on AMC, and jazz vocalist Karrin Allyson on B&B. This is another trend that will continue through 2007 as it’s already been announced that Nelly Furtado will appear on OLTL and Scissor Sisters will be conjured up on Passions early this year.
Let us not forget the trend where mega couples were led astray, broke up, and in some cases, dissolved their long time marriages. Days of our Lives saw two such mega couples part ways. Marlena (Deidre Hall) and John (Drake Hogestyn) and Bo (Peter Reckel) and Hope (Kristian Alfonso). On Guiding Light, Reva (Kim Zimmer) was diagnosed with cancer and therefore estranged herself from long time love of her life, Josh (Robert Newman), because she didn't want to saddle him with her illness and what could have been her ultimate death. Noble, but not very sensible, if you ask me. It did, however, make way for some additional story for both Cassie (Nicole Forrester) and Billy (Jordan Clarke, who won an Emmy nomination in 2006). On As the World Turns, Carly (Maura West) and Jack (Michael Park) divorced, as did Nick (Josh Morrow) and Sharon (Sharon Case) on the Young and the Restless.
For me the most memorable moment of 2006 was the untimely passing of Benjamin Hendrickson (Hal) of As the World Turns. A proverbial fixture in Oakdale for many years, Hendrickson played the town’s police chief with panache. The world of soaps lost a wonderful person, a fine actor, and another of its great characters. My hope is that he is at last in peace. On a more personal note, 2006 saw the relaunching of Soapdom.com after almost two years of development and beta testing. A highlight of the year for me was being asked to appear as a guest expert on the Game Show Network’s series “Anything to Win,” for an episode on the daytime ratings wars. The show aired in April.
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