The B&Best and Worst of B&B 2017, Part Two
For the Week of January 1, 2018
COUPLE: Thomas and Sally
Suave playboy plus sassy girl from other side of tracks is nothing new on soaps, but the spark was undeniable once Thomas Forrester met the 21st century Sally Spectra at Il Giardino. Quickly graduating from sparring partners to kissing partners, Tally proved they weren't just about hot lovin' when Sally was willing to wear prison fashion for stealing from Forrester and Thomas saved both Sally and Spectra. By the time their designs hit Monte Carlo, they were a team to be reckoned with. Too bad Pierson Fodé's exit threw water on the flames, but Tally was nice while they burned.
WORST COUPLE: Bill and Brooke
Their adulterous 2012-2013 beginnings had already left such a bad odor, Febreze couldn't get it out. Brill finally tied the knot in 2017, but they might as well have written "failure" on their license. Brooke wouldn't say why she ditched Ridge, and Bill didn't ask questions when Brooke did the proposing. Bill was so blinded by victory, he didn't see he was merely a rebound, and Brooke torched their marriage so fast after learning Bill torched Spectra, it was like she'd been waiting for an excuse to split. Let's hope they've gotten the urge to merge out of their systems.
BEST WEDDING: Zende and Nicole
If you're going to make up for sleeping with your boo's sister, rolling up in a horse-drawn Victorian carriage and proposing during a fake photo shoot is a good way to do it. Zende swept a resistant Nicole off her feet and into stylish, elegant nuptials (and didn't need a zipline to pull it off). The old school ceremony gave Steffy a chance to get back at Sally for covering her with cake -- but, best of all, Zende's parents, Kristen and Tony, who haven't been seen in more than a decade, were surprise attendees. What a Valentine's Day!
MOST OVERUSED PLOT DEVICE: Sky
You know it's bad when a model skyscraper gets more airtime than most of B&B's characters. Bill spent no less than eight months plotting the erection (ahem) of his prized high-rise, with apparently nowhere in L.A. to build it except over the remains of Spectra Fashions. Gleefully ruining lives to make it happen, Bill named his tower and talked to it so much, his sons were ready to have him fitted for a straitjacket. Not to mention, if the Dollah had felt "Sky" up any more, "she" could have sued for harassment. Talk about running a groundbreaking into the ground.
BEST RETURN: B&B's Original Theme
Like many soaps, B&B updated their tried-and-true theme in 2004-ish, with another revamp in 2011. But there was no way to know how much the original opening was missed until the show surprised us with it for their 30th anniversary on March 23. A slightly modernized, definitely computerized presentation, but all the current characters got the '80s-'90s treatment with the familiar still photos taking the place of live action shots. The show even sneaked premiere date "032387" on the opening shot's camera lens. Better still, it wasn't a one-day present, but a gift that's given ever since. High upon this love!
WORST RETURN: Sheila
It was a shock for the ages when Quinn wandered into suspected shooter Katie's house and came face to face with Sheila Carter's real face! But the first sign of trouble should have been Sheila pooh-poohing her apparent Y&R demise. The naughty nurse immediately contradicted her claims of intriguing rehabilitation by chasing after Eric using portraits, fake ailments, and masseurs to displace his current wife. Even new-to-the-game Quinn knew Sheila had lost her diabolical touch; meanwhile, no one told Sheila's ultimate nemesis, Lauren, that Sheila lives. Sheila is a character rich with history and potential -- let's put a face on them in 2018.
BEST CHEMISTRY: Ridge and Quinn
Last year's Best Enemies were exactly that until they ended up in a hotel room with a bottle of tequila. Ridge finding Quinn's realness endearing exploded into a surprising kiss, which led to (perhaps too many) months of stolen looks, dangerous flirting, and the near-inability to keep their hands off each other. Of course, Quidge should never actually be, over and above his three-decade history with Brooke and her marriage to sweet Eric. But even now, long after their forbidden smooching, the sparks still fly when they inspect jewelry together. If only the real couples made smelling salts this necessary!
MOST FRUSTRATING STORY: The Adoption of Lizzie
Nicole became extra attached to bio-daughter Lizzie, especially after learning that being Rick and Maya's surrogate probably left her barren. Conveniently, Carter found a glitch in Lizzie's original paperwork that left Nicole wondering if she should keep her baby. Did we get a raucous court battle? Did Nicole catch feelings for babydaddy Rick? Alas, no. Instead, all the Avants badgered Nicole to sign new documents, except usual hothead Julius. This was a chance to explore the layers Nicole's surrogacy originally missed; however, Zende merely talked Nicole into giving Lizzie back to Raya, and it was done, delivering the same stillborn tale twice.
MOST CONNIVING CHARACTER: Bill
Dollar Bill's never been a saint, but 2017 saw his trademark scheming going into overdrive. First, he painted a target on hapless Sally and tried to tank her collection so he could pave over her design house with a high-rise. When that didn't work, Bill told Sally's boyfriend, Thomas, that Thomas' ex, Caroline, was dying so Thomas would withdraw financial support from Sally. Burning the place down failed, too, so Bill demolished it with Liam inside -- oops. But the topper may be Bill fulfilling an eight-year fantasy by doing his daughter-in-law, Steffy. Even Sheila could have taken lessons from him.
DUMBEST CHARACTER: Wyatt
How can such a dreamboat be such a dim bulb? Building on this same superlative from 2016, Wyatt continued thinking he had a chance to save his marriage to Steffy, who acted like a toddler trying to squirm out of its parent's grasp. The solar showerer even teamed up with Eric and Quinn to bribe Steffy with her own cosmetics line. Wyatt finally got wise and fast-tracked Statt's divorce but promptly caught Bill-itis, essentially going along with the Dollah no matter how nefarious the scheme. Snatching up Katie is the only thing keeping Wyatt's IQ out of the cellar.
BEST NEW CHARACTER: Sally
Like her apparent great-aunt 28 years earlier, namesake Sally Spectra blew onto the canvas like a hurricane of fresh air. Instantly clashing with Steffy and her 1% tribe, the ginger upstart demonstrated spunk in trying to launch Spectra's retooled brand, winning Thomas' heart in the process. But nuSally also inherited her family's heart of gold, hurting when little sis Coco got mixed up in Spectra's passé design-stealing duplicity and being willing to go to jail for her. Sally's been quiet since crushing on Liam and nearly getting crushed by a building, so here's hoping her Bucko groove returns for 2018.
In fact, soapcentral.com named Courtney Hope as the best female newcomer in all of soaps for 2017. You can read more about that -- and who the best male newcomer was -- here. http://soapcentral.com/soapcentral/n..._newcomers.php
WORST NEW CHARACTER: Shirley Patrika Darbo is as wonderful as she was on DAYS, but the original Grand Diva's heretofore unheard of sister, Shirley, is as one-dimensional as the cartoonish situations she finds herself in. To get her way, she pushed granddaughter Sally into ripping off Forrester with a spy camera and taunted her that new boyfriend Thomas would always want his baby mama, Caroline. Shirley turned Team Thomas when he dropped $100K to save Spectra, only to defect to Team Liam when he started putting up cash instead. Shirley is like Scrooge McDuck in Rainbow Brite rags; please buy her some character development.
BEST EVENT: #Bold30
Anniversary shows on soaps can be hit or miss, but B&B's 30th anniversary installment was like Goldilocks' porridge: just right. In the days leading up to it, the show capped each episode with a series of clips going all the way back to 1987. When March 23 came, we got a spiffy new/old opening with a glittering "30" woven into the title. While most of the episode focused on newlyweds Liam and Steffy partying on an Australian beach, we were treated to more all-encompassing flashbacks and Brooke and Eric commemorating the three decades behind them. Most definitively bold. And beautiful.
WORST SOCIAL ISSUE: Coco's Texting
Teen stories are usually reserved for summertime, so it wasn't surprising when R.J. and Coco took to the road in his father's vintage Camaro around July Fourth. No sooner had Coco gotten behind the wheel than she whipped out her phone to text Darlita, which sent her, R.J., and the Camaro careening into a tree. R.J. got bandaged, Coco got a stern lecture from Brooke, and the Camaro...? It's an important message, but this ABC Afterschool Special already ran in 2012 when Marcus (remember him?) thought he ran someone over while autocorrecting, and this updated model wasn't any less preachy.
BEST FEUD: Sally and Steffy Let them eat cake! Though these two don't use forks. It wasn't channeling their namesakes, Queen Stephanie and Mustang Sally, that made these horn-lockers work. It wasn't that they fought with food and water within days, while their predecessors took years. Steffy and Sally's recipe for success is that, despite their snarling, there's a sense they truly like each other, as evidenced by Sally's goodbye gift of a design and Steffy helping to rescue Sally from Spectra's rubble. The show should probably decide if the ladies are friends or enemies, but even with these vague parameters, they're a winning combination.
MOST CONTRIVED CONFLICT: Quinn and Ridge's "Affair"
Ridge and Quinn knew even while locking lips they were headed for trouble, based on his engagement to Brooke and her marriage to Eric. But something went wrong as the news reached L.A.'s town criers. Sheila slammed Quinn for her "affair," which consisted of four kisses; Sheila did far worse trying to get pregnant by Connor while married to Eric herself. Brooke oddly wouldn't tell anybody why she ditched Ridge. Just when all was squared away, Thorne showed up labeling Ridge a cheater, despite his once cheating on Macy with Darla. Quidge was wrong, but isn't their scarlet lettering overkill?
BEST PAYOFF: Bill's Building Backfires
Bill did everything but have the Spectras kidnapped so he could bulldoze their family property, deciding to play a dynamite game of chicken when Liam staged a sit-in to stop him. Thinking he had the all-clear, Bill finally got to flick that red switch and watch the place go boom...only to find out Liam and Sally had gone back into the building. The horror on Bill's face was pure comeuppance, and he proved where his loyalties truly lie when he tunneled through Spectra's wreckage to rescue his son; Steffy even got rival Sally to safety. Now that's an explosive conclusion.
MOST ANTICIPATED EVENT WITH NO PAYOFF: Caroline is "Dying"
Bill cruelly told Thomas his son's mother, Caroline, was about to expire from an unspecified autoimmune disease so Thomas would abandon girlfriend Sally and leave Spectra ripe for the taking. Caroline found out but went along, figuring Bill's plan to reunite her and Thomas might work. Soon, Liam and Steffy got wind but kept silent, and Thomas remained in the Big Apple with the suddenly healed Caroline, only discovering the dupe in Caroline's worried fantasy. Thomas and Sally still don't know their breakup was engineered, plus Pierson Fodé (and the audience) was robbed of a boffo reaction to the revelation.
BEST FOLLOW-THROUGH: Eric's Reaction to Quidge
It took ex-wife Sheila Carter to tell the still-trusting Eric he'd been played. Learning his wife had swapped spit with his son, the patriarch took a piece out of both of them then split. Eric half-heartedly reconnected with Sheila (good thing Quinn doesn't know about their motel room kiss); however, when tail-between-his-legs Ridge came by, Eric laid down the smackdown so hard that even Sheila was in tears. Eric only forgave Quinn after he tested her by making her sign divorce papers awarding her nothing. John McCook can make us smile, but give him a shot at drama, and he soars.
MOST WASTED CHARACTER: C.J.
Mick Cain came back to usher in a new faction of Spectras, but C.J. Garrison soon became a one-trick pony -- he was mostly there to rain on nuSally's parade by doubting her ability to rejuvenate his mother's fashion legacy. His other duty: hemming and hawing over whether to sell the building to big bad Bill Spencer. C.J. didn't have a single scene with former frenemy Rick, and he got upstaged by new faces instead of taking the helm of his family's ship himself. Give C.J. some life and love in 2018. Bring papa Clarke back while you're at it.
BEST SHORT-TERM COMEBACK: Deacon
When someone used Quinn for target practice, naturally the newly returned Sheila went to the slammer for it. Suddenly, in strutted Deacon, cracking jokes that Quinn was being fired at by a "Sharpe" shooter. Freaky Deaky soon got extra freaky by whipping out a gun and blasting his ex-wife for dumping him off a cliff and dumping him for a Forrester. The off-the-wagon Deacon was sexy and menacing, delivering Quinn more than a little karma for the torment she had caused Liam, Aly, etc. Deacon's back in jail, but with Hope coming home, maybe he can be sprung for good behavior.
DUMBEST AXING: Winsor Harmon
Winsor Harmon's Thorne had been reduced to protesting weddings and burying children until news came the fan favorite was heading back to kick ass and take names...with GH vet Ingo Rademacher in the role. Rademacher is awesome, but why ditch Harmon after 21 years? Because Rademacher and Thorsten Kaye bear a closer resemblance? Thorne chasing after Brooke (despite divorcing her in 2001 for loving Ridge) is something Harmon could have done, plus we'd have gotten all those killer Throoke flashbacks. So far, Rademacher's Thorne feels like a stranger, and with Harmon gone, two-thirds of Thorne's history has gone with him.
BEST USE OF HISTORY: Still
In 2009, a barely legal Steffy began flirting with Dollar Bill, culminating in near lovemaking in 2011. The sexy CEO has been Team Liam ever since, but even Jacqueline MacInnes Wood and Don Diamont admitted they always play Still's sultry subtext. This year, the sparks flew again after Brooke left Bill and Liam kissed Sally; Bill and Steffy found themselves alone with their lips thisclose. Turned out they had sex off-screen, but the flashbacks are no less fiery. Stillers may be disappointed it hasn't led to romance, but it was smart of the show to rake over coals that were "Still" burning.
WORST USE OF HISTORY: Spectra Clones
Bringing in the gregarious grand-niece of the inimitable Sally Spectra was a master stroke and a wonderful tribute to the departed Darlene Conley, but her shenanigans became all too familiar too fast. First, nuSally surrounded herself with young tailor Saul (grandson of old tailor Saul), and ditzy Darlita (!), who may be ditzier than the pre-Thorne Darla; within days, they took pages out of Spectra's '90s playbook by sneaking into weddings and stealing designs. Since they got that off their chests, all but Sally have no identities of their own. Even Hollywood reboots put new spins on source material.
BEST CATFIGHT: Sheila and Quinn, Round One
Soap vixens once threw down like street fighters, but in this PC age, fisticuffs are waged with kid gloves. Leave it to catfight queen Sheila Carter to remind us how it's done. Her battles with Y&R's Lauren were legendary; while the hostility between her and newest contender Quinn ramped up too quickly, the two psychos shelved the Nerf bats in favor of fire pokers, actually breaking furniture and causing bloodshed. Granted, it's not to glorify violence, but the catfight is classic; though Sheila and Quinn engaged again two other times, it's their first smackdown that partied like it was 1993.
WORST EXIT: Sasha
Like Beyoncé, this Sasha was fierce. But she came to L.A. with only two items on her to-do list: reveal herself as Julius' illegitimate daughter and steal Zende from new sister Nicole. After that, the show didn't seem to know what to do with her. Sasha had a quick something with ladies' man Thomas until he gravitated back toward baby mama Caroline; the poor thing was last seen begging Nicole to let her attend her wedding to Zende -- on Valentine's Da,y no less -- disappearing without even a goodbye to offset her total humiliation. Hopefully she's getting better treatment in Paris.
MOST SUPRISING COUPLE: Katie and Wyatt
He collected Liam's leftovers while she lost her husband to other women. If putting these losers in love together was a snake, it would have bit us. Wyatt encouraged anal-retentive Katie to embrace her spontaneous side. Katie managed to tame Wyatt's impulsiveness. Their let's-just-see-where-this-goes attitude is refreshing for a soap, and they're bringing sexy back to the show's often formulaic love scenes. They still have to address Wyatt being okay dating a woman who aimed a gun at his mother and Will asking why his brother might become his father, but Watie's so much fun, those points are amazingly easy to overlook.
WORST SISTER: Maya
Because Maya never really atoned for the shady things she did with Rick to carve out a place as top model and Mrs. Forrester, it shouldn't have been surprising she was also willing to do her sister dirty. Nicole had just learned being Raya's surrogate had most likely left her infertile, so Maya gave Nicole a hug and became threatened by her sib's attachment to bio-baby Lizzie. Wanting Lizzie for herself, Maya arranged for Nicole's insta-designer hubby Zende to get a gig in Paris, forcing Nicole to move thousands of miles away. Maya's colder than a winter in the French Alps.
BEST FLASHBACKS: The O.S. (Original Sally)
Sally Spectra retreating to tropical isles after the death of Darlene Conley left a giant hole in the show. So nuSally stepping into the old Spectra building (without explaining how it reverted back from Jackie M) pulled heartstrings by itself. But C.J. thinking back to his mom's high points won first prize. Seeing Sally strutting down the runway from the '80s to the aughts generated misty nostalgia for the lady with big hair and an even bigger heart. While the new characters also inexplicably "flashed back" to Sally, C.J. was there for most it, making his recollections the most meaningful.
MOST WASTED OPPORTUNITY: #Bold30 Omissions
It's impossible to cover three decades in one special episode, or even month, but, as amazing as B&B's nods to their 30th anniversary were, they had the whole year at their disposal. The returns of C.J., Sheila, Deacon, and James were fitting, but why not Jessica, who's never been seen with half-sister Ivy? Connor could have come back to hear if he fathered Caroline with Karen. We could have learned Macy was comatose somewhere. Even Taylor didn't pop in to daughter Steffy's wedding; the possibilities were endless. The few tastes of Bold gone by just created more hunger the show didn't satisfy.
BEST SCENE STEALERS: Wyatt and Liam
Abbott and Costello's got nothing on them. The Spencer bros spend a lot of time fighting over women and business, but when they join forces in humor, they're comic gold -- especially regarding Bill. His kids were on point making fun of him wanting his requisite mirrors all over his building; Liam and Wyatt constantly let Bill know they have his number with rib-tickling yet insightful asides that don't let the Dollah and his idiosyncrasies off the hook. At times they're even known to get the stoic Justin in on the act; their sardonic show is worth buying tickets for.
BIGGEST WASTE OF TALENT: The Backburner Crew
Used to be B&B focused on story for one set of characters, wrapped that up, then different residents moved to the front burner. Now folks go entire years without turning on the stove. Pam and Charlie emerged for 2017, but Pam never found out Charlie was Sheila's stooge. Carter's only there for legal papers and weddings. Ivy did nothing all year but make jewelry. Even Rick and Maya surfaced for a single watered-down adoption story, failing to develop the fallout from the bigoted encounter Zende saved Maya from. We know B&B's capable of balance; these forgotten fashionistas should get some luv in 2018.
BEST SPECIAL EFFECTS: Spectra's Implosion
With increasingly tight budgets, we see characters implausibly living together, scenes shot in parking lots, and forget about the good old-fashioned soap disaster. So when Bill decided to level Spectra Fashions, he predictably flirted with the red switch; maybe he'd flick it and we'd hear an explosion and see people screaming. But B&B showed an actual building falling in on itself in an extended sequence; that was either damn good CGI or they filmed a real demolition. Not to be outdone, the wreckage Liam and Sally were trapped under looked eerily realistic. You could say this scene was the bomb.
WORST TREND: The Devil's in the Details
Any soap story can only have so many layers, given the limited screen time and the amount of cast on that screen. But lately our soap requires too much suspension of disbelief. Details are dropped in favor of flashbacks and establishing shots. Fashion houses turn out entire collections overnight. History is often rewritten to service current arcs -- even recent history. Characters act out of character, and conflicts are resolved far too easily. And conversations are repeated enough that viewers can recite the line coming next. B&B would benefit from a continuity person, if they don't already have one, to smooth things out.
BEST NON-COUPLE: Liam and Sally
She'd just been thrown over for "undying" love. He wanted to pull a Spike Lee and do the right thing. When Liam repeatedly put his cape on to defend Sally from big, bad, building-obsessed Bill, Sally came to appreciate Liam's finer qualities while Liam couldn't get why his dad kept victimizing the scrappy designer. Sally's crush on Liam was pure rebound, and Liam never forgot he was Steffy's husband, but when their sit-in to block Bill's demolition ended with them fighting for their lives, Lally shared some sweet kisses under the rubble. And those sparks are just from them being platonic.
WORST STORY: Katie vs. Quinn
Katie developing a sudden fascination for Eric seemed strange, given that never came up before. As expected, Eric's wife, Quinn, came on strong, but Katie never did anything about Ms. Fuller tip-toeing back up to the dark side. Instead, Katie went from being a busybody, trying to catch Quinn and Ridge's too-close moments, to blackmailer, forcing Quinn to give her a job designing jewelry in exchange for her silence. When Katie got canned because her baubles blew, she grabbed a convenient loaded gun and threatened to blow Quinn's head off, soon shaking and crying uncontrollably while spying on the Forrester estate with a telescope. And it all might have made sense...had Katie been drinking again. Cold sober, Katie's behavior was an exercise in head-scratching that went on for months. Now Katie runs around like none of it ever happened; her acne-ridden 1987 version would never believe how she's gonna roll in 30 years.
BEST STORY: Liam Takes Over Spencer Publications
Watching Liam repeatedly going up against Dollar Bill was like watching that old spoof cartoon Bambi vs. Godzilla -- Liam always got flattened. The same was so as Bill aimed his considerable corporate weaponry at tiny Spectra Fashions, hoping to flatten them. But when Bill took a BIC lighter to the place, Liam had enough. He got his gloating dad to make a second confession, recorded it on his phone, and gave Bill a choice: step down from Spencer or the audio file would go to the police! Some viewers said Liam was no better than Bill, but it was hard to deny the delight in seeing Liam growing a pair and using his powers for good in revamping Bill's heartless working conditions. Bill regained his dominion effortlessly (like Liam wouldn't have kept additional copies of his recording), but for a while, Liam put on his big boy pants, and they fit perfectly.
Now, some of you are thinking, "that dude is spot on!" Others of you are thinking, "that dude is full of $#)^!" Into which category did my Best & Worst column qualify for to you? Tell us your thoughts and what you think should or shouldn't have been included in the Comments section below or on the soapcentral.com message boards, or simply click here to submit feedback. Your comments could wind up in a future column!
Happy 2018, Scoopers!
Thanks as always for supporting my columns. And you know I'm gonna say it: keep watching, be alert, and most of all, be bold. Because now more than ever, no matter color, creed, religion, gender identity, or orientation, we're all beautiful.
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