Best & Worst of 2014

It’s that time again — when we look back at the moments that made us laugh, cry, gasp, and want to drink bleach in the past year. Personally, I would not regard 2014 as one of the better years in Days’s history, though there was plenty that I enjoyed. But let’s break it down and see who gets the prizes…


For all the new faces who have come to Salem this year, Aiden is perhaps the one who should have worked least. Character with no links to Salem shows up and immediately spars with one half of a supercouple, while being played by an actor who had become something of an industry punchline for joining soaps right before their cancellation orders came down. And yet, Aiden works. Daniel Cosgrove has an immensely likable onscreen presence, even when Aiden is being a hard-edged jerk, and his chemistry with Kristian Alfonso (Hope) is palpable. The slow build these two received was such a contrast to the rushed, forced romances for other couples in recent years, and it made all the difference. The fact that many people — myself included, and I’d daresay a majority of viewers — are actually rooting for Hope and Aiden instead of begging to have Bo back says it all. I hope they really delve into Aiden’s past more and build a good mystery out of what happened to his late wife, rather than just playing it for a short burst of intrigue and then sweeping it under the rug. But I could see Aiden making a home in Salem for a long time if things continue going how they have so far.

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On paper, it makes sense. Pair the troubled young man with the sweet, smart ingenue and let his demons stand in the way of their love. But nothing about Paige or her relationship with JJ is working. True O’Brien has been on the show for nearly a full year and has yet to warm up or develop a real screen presence; as a result, Paige comes off as the wettest of blankets. The writing has her being so judgmental of JJ — the time she saw him with a beer and almost lost her mind really pushed me over the edge — that it’s tough for me to fathom why he wants to be with her at all. And even tying her in as the daughter of Eve Donovan, the long-ago rival of JJ’s mom, hasn’t helped much, and it’s instead left me wondering why Eve is so fixated on destroying this relationship. A recast might help, but the writing for Paige has been pretty craptacular, too. Can we send her off to Stanford and put JJ into more interesting story before a very promising young character is ruined?

Best Return, Worst Psycho, and more, including the Best and Worst Stories, behind the cut…

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BEST RETURN: Susan Banks

After an absolutely delicious 2012-13 run as Kristen DiMera, Eileen Davidson’s return as that character this year was, at best, messy. But to me, it was all worth it, because Davidson finally reprised her other role — wacky, good-hearted, Elvis-loving Susan Banks, who popped into Salem for a few days and finally shared some screentime with her son, EJ, before his exit. Susan’s scenes were a delight, from her disdain for Sami to her touching reunion with Marlena to her showdown with John. It wasn’t a big story arc, but it was a wonderful visit from an old friend.

BEST EXIT: Gabi Hernandez

A lot of Salemites booked it out of town this year — some on planes, some in body bags — but the strongest one, to me, was young mother Gabi being taken off to prison for Nick Fallon’s murder. While the wrap-up of Nick’s murder was way too rushed, it was satisfying to have the killer be an established character, and Camila Banus really stepped up to the plate in her final performances. Having Gabi in prison also works well logistically, in terms of keeping her daughter on canvas with Will, and it plants some great seeds for storytelling down the road when Arianna gets older.

WORST PSYCHO: Liam Frasier

As the World Turns vet Mark Collier’s stint as pharmaceutical rep Liam was perhaps the laziest writing on Days this year. Liam gets introduced to Jennifer, they go on two dates, which are spent talking about her troubled son and her ex-boyfriend, and then when she gets back together with said ex, Liam turns out to be a total nutjob who for some reason thinks he needs to be with this joyless shrew. It was poorly motivated (they tried to layer in some backstory about his ex-wife, but enh) and then he was killed in a struggle and almost immediately forgotten. He was also the latest in a series of short-term obstacles for “Dannifer,” who seemed at one point to have a League of Villains working against them. I know that couple is about to put all of us in the crazy house, but it’s not like Liam ever had to endure Maggie’s huffing and puffing about The Great Love of Jennifer and Daniel, so what was his excuse?

Billy Photo 4 Yann Bean[1]

BEST RECAST: Billy Flynn as Chad DiMera

I was skeptical about this recast working, since as likable as the former portrayer, Casey Deidrick, was, Chad was never quite a fully fleshed-out character able to drive his own stories. But the show wisely used his year away from Salem as a “reset” of sorts, and by saying that he spent those months with Stefano, it was plausible that Chad’s darker side came to the forefront. He returned to Salem with much more of a DiMera edge, and though they’re in danger of making him a little too much of a jerk, it’s generally working. It doesn’t hurt that the new actor, Billy Flynn, is comfortable onscreen, has chemistry with his costars, and seems to be having fun with the material. This is one case where a recast is definitely going to give a character a longer shelf life than he would have otherwise had.

BEST WEDDING: Sonny Kiriakis and Will Horton

This was not a year with a ton of weddings — just this one and the Sami/EJ remarriage — but Days actually went to the trouble of making a real event out of this, and it made all the difference. Though it was held in the Kiriakis living room, people besides the grooms actually showed up. You could tell it was important to the show to do its first same-sex wedding right, and from Marlena’s officiating to Caroline’s touching speech, this was a real soap wedding full of love.

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WORST EVENT: The St. Luke’s Gala

One of the reasons it’s shocking that Hope and Aiden have clicked as a couple is because so little has been invested in them. Case in point: we spent months hearing about this gala they were planning for the new St. Luke’s school, and when it came time for that party? Hope and Aiden got dressed up, hung out in a back room, and watched the event on closed-circuit TV, which is all we ever got to see. They even had to have their predictable-but-exciting Waltz of Lust in the damn supply room! Besides being a visual letdown, this was just depressing as hell. Bonus points for that bizarre Patti Stanger cameo and Marlena’s insane last-minute emcee work, though.


This is one of the situations in which I’d kill to be a fly on the wall during the writers’ meetings, because I cannot for the life of me ascertain what the point of this story was. Days spent a solid year building this romance between Eric and Nicole, finally got them together, and then not only had Nicole screw it all up (which is a plausible obstacle), but proceeded to spend months and months having Eric scream and yell at her. It’s to the point where I’m not sure why she still wants to be with this guy, because he’s been so unappealing for so long — and that’s a shame, because Greg Vaughn is great and Eric was so enjoyable for that first year.

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WORST COUPLE: Daniel and Jennifer

I was very tempted to make JJ and Paige the “winners” here, because their romance has not worked for me at all, but it’s tough to sell them as more offensive and migraine-inducing than the scourge that is known as “Dannifer.” They were only together in 2014 for approximately the length of one terribly planned pizza party, and they still exhausted me. All the childish misunderstandings and juvenile yelling at one another reached its zenith of ridiculousness, leaving me with no clue as to why the writers would expect us to root for these two. Throw in the insane amount of propping from other characters, who would sometimes just pop into scenes to espouse the apparent virtues of Daniel and Jennifer’s love, and it was simply too damn much. What’s even more perplexing is that their recent scenes, as friendly exes, have been so easygoing and charming. Why couldn’t they have been written that way when they were being shoved down our throats as a couple? Never fear (or cower in fear, perhaps): there’s no way these two are done for good. It’s only a matter of time before their love for the ages is resurrected and we have to watch Salem throw yet another ticker-tape parade for these doofuses.

WORST TWIST: Daniel and Kristen get it on

This might have been the nadir of 2014 for me. It was forced and painful to watch fan favorite Kristen be shoved into this improbable tryst with Salem Jesus. And to make matters worse, Brady — who walked in on his alleged close friend getting with his former fiancée —  forgave Daniel in about ten seconds, because he’s Daniel. It was almost as if the show just couldn’t resist this for trainwreck value. I’m still not sure what the point was (Kristen will return and Brady will think the baby is Daniel’s?). They went out of their way to have Kristen and Daniel clarify repeatedly that they stopped before the main event could take place, but that’s cold comfort to me.



Months later… what?!

WORST STORY: The Perils of Tammy Sue

There was a lot of mediocre-to-bad crap on Days this year, but nothing gave us more bang for our terrible buck than the tale of Jordan Ridgeway, née Tammy Sue Weston. This new character was crammed onto the canvas, given Rafe (who is not a core character) as her primary link to Salem, and then spent months looking nervous while nothing happened. A whole slew of people from her past showed up — her former roommate, her half-brother, her sleazy stepfather — and some revelations trickled out, but none were particularly interesting, and basically nothing has happened still. Moving Jordan from her dull romance with Rafe to one with Chad has at least made her scenes somewhat more tolerable, and the configuration of the entire mess with Jordan/Chad/Kate/Clyde/Ben/Abigail is impressive, but I really cannot even muster the strength to care about anything Tammy Sue-related at this point. This is going to go down as one of the bigger duds in Days history, if people even remember it at all. And you know they’re never going to solve the real mystery: where did her glasses go?

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BEST STORY: Sami’s Revenge

While it wasn’t perfect, the unexpected Sami/EJ/Abigail triangle drove a ton of story in 2014, and the writing was clever and also honest about Sami and EJ’s dysfunction as a couple. It was also successful in boosting Abigail to a top-tier character (which makes it even more of a shame that she’s now back to being a supporting player in Jordan’s story), and seeing Sami join forces with her longtime enemy, Kate, was delicious. The whole thing made for a wonderful last hurrah for Sami Brady, whose presence is sorely missed already.

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10 Comments on “Best & Worst of 2014”

  1. DancingDays Says:

    Couldn’t have said it better myself. All of this year was craptastic.

    • mykleraus Says:

      What’s weird is that there were a lot of bright spots for me, but so few of them were driving the show. This malaise started to creep in and basically taken over by year’s end.

  2. Dylan Says:

    I love how you put the Paige smelling poop in the brady pub picture for her. I agree that she’s definitely the worst, right up there with Tammy Sue. I feel like there were a lot of duds this year, in fact I completely stopped watching the show for September and October. However, now that they’ve added Paul and Melanie & Serena, it seems like things might be a little more interesting.

    • mykleraus Says:

      It’s just gotten progressively more and more boring. It’s not offensively bad (usually), just dull. I feel like we need one BIG storyline to kick things up about 20 notches.

      And I wasn’t gonna miss an opportunity to use that Paige photo again, LOL.

  3. w Says:

    Love the Most delightfully Weird moment award.

    And spot on with almost everything else.

    ( I found Sami’s revenge a bit contrived and EJ’s eventual demise was just half assed and both actors seemed a bit over the whole acting thing)

    • mykleraus Says:

      I could definitely see the seams of the Sami story at times, but I thought it was generally a strong showcase for the characters. The Sami/EJ reunion and his death happened waaaaay too fast, though, I agree.

  4. Jamie Says:

    Love it! I agree with all of your picks for the best/worst.

    Sadly, I use the fast-forward button so much more often now while watching. Any time Tammy Sue is on screen (unless it’s with a SHIRTLESS Chad), I’m hitting the FF. Same with Paige. And anything involving Daniel that doesn’t involve Melanie or Nicole.

    How about a “Worst Exit”, if you had that as a category, who would you pick between EJ and Sami? I want to say EJ, as he got taken-down by a day-player who “didn’t understand the signals”, but then Sami’s exit was all so sudden and silly…it’s a toss-up, really.

    • mykleraus Says:

      I think EJ’s was worse than Sami’s. It was waaaaaay too rushed. I thought Sami’s (aside from the Hollywood silliness) was well done, in terms of taking the time to do goodbyes, showing flashbacks, and sending her out of town on a high note.

  5. Marie Says:

    Don’t understand why you referred to Rafe as not a core character. The only reason he was backburnered for so long was to prop the golden couple who have finally left and now Daniel the super doc, detective. No wonder they fired Rafe daniel is solving all the crimes in Salem. Blech you should have a catagory Most Wasted Talent and that would be Rafe ,Galen Gering

    • mykleraus Says:

      What I mean is, he’s not innately stitched into the fabric of the show. There are people like Nicole and Rafe who are tough to anchor a new story/character because they aren’t super-connected to the core of the show, so if you put them with a new character in a separate story, it kind of exists apart from everything else. Rafe has no relatives in town besides baby Ari, Sami and her kids are gone, his professional relationships with Hope and Roman aren’t played up, etc. I like what they’re doing as far as integrating him with Victor (and I don’t think I’d mind if they tried him and Jen together, actually).

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