As 2010 draws to a close, it is time to reflect on the year of soaps. It was, to crib from the true king of serialized drama, Charles Dickens, the best of years and the worst of years. This column is about the worst: the biggest storyline flops, the worst behind-the-scenes decisions, and the just plain stupid moves of 2010.
Dante Lies about Sonny Shooting Him In The Chest – “General Hospital”
“General Hospital”s‘ Dante (Dominic Zamprogna) was a breath of fresh air when he joined the show. I embraced the sexy cop who hated organized crime. I looked forward to the drama that would ensue when he learned he was the long lost son of mob boss Sonny (Maurice Benard). Finally, there was a leading character with a strong sense of right and wrong. I anticipated that they would have a conflicted relationship that might finally cause Sonny to reconsider his life choices. Instead, after Sonny shot him in the chest, Dante lied to protect him. His vague motivation was that he wanted Sonny to go to prison for shooting Claudia instead. That decision tarnished Dante, turning him from a strong counterpoint to all the other characters to just another mob apologist. Now Dante comes off as a hypocrite, which is unfortunate since he is on every single day. GH did not just damage a character, it squandered the opportunity to restore the balance between good and evil to Port Charles.
Dueling Dopplegangers – “The Young & the Restless“
Evil twin storylines can be fun, but this was one case where more was definitely not better. After writing the crazy Patty into a corner, the show decided to attempt to find a way to keep Stacy Haiduk, the talented actress who played her, on the show as her lookalike Emily — who Patty had undergone plastic surgery to look like — came to town. She was a boring workaholic psychiatrist with no discernible personality. Meanwhile, Lauren (Tracey Bregman) also acquired an evil double — Sheila’s never before mentioned sister Sarah who had her appearance altered via plastic surgery. Never mind that Sheila had altered herself to look like Phyllis just a few short years ago. Having Patty conspire with Sarah was not a clever wink at the audience, it was insulting. If it had happened on “Passions,” it might have worked, but Y&R has always been a relatively realistic soap. When it was all over, Sarah was dead and Patty and Emily left town. None of the other characters have sufficiently addressed the doppelganger epidemic plaguing the town. Worst of all, the show recently decided to revisit the storyline by bringing back Sarah’s niece Daisy. This is one storyline that should be forgotten.
The Ford Family Takes Over Llanview – “One Life To Live“
Everything that went wrong in Llanview in 2010 can be traced to the arrival of Robert Ford (David Gregory) on “One Life To Live.” That may sound like an exaggeration, but think about it. When he first popped up as the hunky producer on David’s (Tuc Watkins) reality pilot, Langston (Brittany Underwood) was a likable teenage girl in a sweet romance with a classmate. Her affair with Robert turned her into a selfish bimbo. Robert attempted to blackmail Eli (Matt Walton), then kept silent about his true identity, allowing him to terrorize the city. He drove Hannah (Meaghan Fahey) crazy, which led to Hannah kidnapping Starr (Kristen Aldserson), which led to Cole (Brandon Buddy) murdering Eli and being sent to prison. The rest of Robert’s family showed up to town. His father kidnapped Nora (Hillary Smith) before getting murdered. His mother drugged Bo (Robert Woods) and convinced him that they had sex. When Dani (Kelley Missal) dumped Matthew for Robert’s brother Nate, Matthew (Eddie Alderson) turned to the dark side. So many characters lives were ruined for a few generically hot guys that, judging by on-line comments, most of the audience does not like. The Fords are already evoking comparisons to the last family that invaded Llanview, the reviled Rapapports.
Brenda’s Return Is Bungled – “General Hospital”
Vanessa Marcil Giovinazzo’s return to “General Hospital” was the most anticipated daytime event in years. Would she reunite with her Sonny, or Jax (Ingo Rademacher), or find love with her marriage-of-convenience to Jason (Steve Burton)? If “General Hospital” had let a focus group of a dozen randomly selected fans come up with her return storyline, the results would probably be better than what has played out on air. Brenda spent what seemed to be an eternity moping around Italy, removed from the rest of the show. There were no real obstacles to her reunion with Sonny. When a story finally emerged — she was being pursued by a criminal named the Balkan because she killed his son, Dante helped her cover it up, and she has a baby who is presumably the Balkan’s grandson stashed somewhere — it was lame. Judging by the ratings, Brenda’s return has not brought any viewers to the show. GH has fumbled what should have been a slam dunk storyline.
“As The World Turns” is Canceled
“As The World Turns” was a show with plenty of life left in it. Its ratings were low, but not much lower than all the other soaps, with the exception of Y&R. Since the cancellation of “Guiding Light,” it was the longest running soap on the air. It was the last soap produced by Procter & Gamble. The show’s historical importance alone should have given it the benefit of the doubt. It was also the home of daytime’s only gay male characters under contract, showing that it was more than just a show for Midwestern grandmothers. Unfortunately, CBS gave up on the series, and decided to replace it with “The Talk,” which is cheaper to produce. ATWT’s departure is without a doubt the worst thing to happen to daytime in 2010.
What do you think were daytime TV’s biggest blunders of 2010?