The Soaps: Tune In Tomorrow

A Soap Opera Year in Review

The best thing about the soaps in 2012 was "General Hospital." And the best thing about "GH" is the team of executive producer Frank Valentini and head writer Ron Carlivati.

Valentini and Carlivati performed magic on "One Life to Live," but it was not enough to save the show from cancellation. ABC wisely moved the pair to "GH" after "OLTL" was canceled. Serendipity came when the show was given the same time slot that "OLTL" had. Valentini and Carlivati slowly started bringing some of their former show's most popular actors to "GH." Despite fears of "GH" stalwarts that the transplants would supplant the show's already huge cast, the duo balanced the blend and integrated the new characters into the "GH" framework.

The former "OLTL" crew also bought back many long-missing characters from the "GH" of old, and meshed them beautifully into the current story. Yes, there were missteps. We never want to hear the name Franco again. Why were we made to actually care about Joe Scully and cheer on his relationship with Tracy only to have him killed off? OMG, how could Anna kiss the mask-covered face of Faison and not know it was rubber? The show's high point came following a low point in life, the death of John Ingle, who played Edward Quartermaine. His demise was tied in with the return of his not-so-dead grandson, A.J. It was high drama that advanced the story. The show even pulled off the shocker of keeping the secret that Robin was not killed in the lab explosion. Fans knew the actress was leaving, so no one imagined Robin would live. Her "death" did fuel other well-told stories.

Stories not so well-told ran rampant on "The Young and the Restless." There may be a new writing/production regime at the helm, but many of the show's current stories are no more scintillating than the ones that were aborted when the shift occurred. Major kudos to the story of Paul's (Doug Davidson) anguish upon discovering his estranged son, Ricky, was a monster, and of Paul's guilt over being responsible for his son's death. Davidson has often been underutilized and underrated. This year he got to act his brains out.

Actually, most of last year's bright spots for "Y&R" came from acting. We even felt something for the dastardly Adam, thanks to Michael Muhney's performance. No matter how stupid the storylines were, the actors shone. There really should be a moratorium on Victor disappearing and showing up in another city with amnesia.

On "The Bold and the Beautiful" we hoped to finally see the end of the Liam/Hope/Steffy triangle, but it is currently being rehashed yet again. No matter how appealing the actors in these roles are, this triangle has dominated most of the program's airtime. The show made the proverbial lemonade out of lemons when original cast member Susan Flannery retired. It is still unthinkable that Stephanie's machinations are no longer driving much of the narrative. Her exit was handled beautifully, except for the absence of favorite son Ridge. Ronn Moss, also an original cast member, chose to leave, and, for unknown reasons did not come back to say farewell to his mom. Their relationship was so central to the show that a recast would have been preferable.

We have been a lot happier with "Days of our Lives" than in many a year. Most of the actors have hit their strides. Oddly, we were never fans of Eileen Davidson when she was on the show previously, but her current stint as Kristen has energized things. Newly returned fan faves Marlena and John (Deidre Hall and Drake Hogestyn) were wearing out their welcome until Kristen arrived. Yet, the show has turned the wonderfully likable Jennifer (Melissa Reeves) into a shrill harridan. We never thought it possible.

The "gay" story was handled with a deft hand, however. It does not hurt that young Chandler Massey (Will) is one of daytime's best actors. He makes everything believable. Sticks and stones for the way the show chose to write out Bo (Peter Reckell). After a series of red herrings, he went out not with a bang but a whimper. It is as if he joined Bobby, a character from "All My Children," who went into the attic to look for his skis and never returned. Oh well, there's always next year.

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