Best & Worst of 2015

As seems to happen every time I compile one of these yearly lists, I realized that I was essentially doing a year-in-review for two separate shows. In 2015, there was a Days that aired from January through about July, and then there was the show we got from mid-summer through the present. In scrolling through past entries to see whether I’d missed anything major, I realized that there was, in fact, a ton I hadn’t covered — mostly because it fell into some weird middle ground that made it not as bad as the absolute worst, but nowhere near worth mentioning as the best. Also, I could’ve done about ten different “Return” categories. But I tried to keep things streamlined, so here we go…

Worst Exit: Clyde Weston 

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After more than a year of skulking around, committing various atrocities, and being involved with Kate Roberts, Clyde Weston was unceremoniously extradited to Florida this fall. The character’s goose was cooked for me the minute they had him gloating over the way he’d molested Jordan when she was a teenager, but there was definite potential for him as a villain — especially when the new writers came in, gave him some teeth, and got him mixed up with JJ and Jennifer. But he was shipped off in the most perfunctory of ways, and more inexcusably, there was zero payoff to any of the things he’d done, including his responsibility for EJ’s death, which was a plot point in another half-assed story at the same time! And I’ll never stop being bummed that we didn’t get to see Kate turn her particular brand of rage around on him.

Most Short-Sighted Exit: Will Horton

I get that the Necktie Killer had to claim at least one really significant victim — someone more essential to the fabric of Salem than Serena or Paige. But Will was absolutely the incorrect choice. I don’t particularly believe the conspiracy theory that this was some way of eradicating homosexuality from Salem, but just because it might not have been malicious doesn’t mean it wasn’t stupid. Will is connected to far too many important characters, and he’s had meaningful story himself. This was nothing more than a reaction to a poor recast (who got terrible writing), and the issues with Will could’ve absolutely been solved by resting the character for a year and bringing him back with a new actor in the role. It’s even more perplexing because Freddie Smith, who played his husband, Sonny, was leaving the show. Why not write them out together? The show was gearing up to get rid of Bo, Aiden, and Daniel, any one of whom could have been written as a victim of the Necktie Killer. Instead, they’ve overloaded us with the depressing deaths of those characters anyway, and a perfectly viable legacy character is also dead — at least until the inevitable, cringe-worthy “the DiMeras spirited him away!” retcon or until Chandler Massey deigns to return and they cast him as Will’s twin no one ever knew existed.

Best Return: Steve Johnson

I was a little thrown by the way how, as soon as Steve returned, he and Kayla were thrust right onto the front-burner, especially after their tepid 2006-09 return. And while a lot of what we got felt like fanservice, it didn’t feel to me like fanservice in a bad way. They laid it on a little thick with Steve’s rebellious ways and some of the Steve/Bo stuff, but it always felt like there was effort being made to write him (and Kayla!) in-character, and there’s no denying that they’re one of the most significant pairings in Days history — so to feature them in this way around the time of the 50th anniversary seems fitting. Now that Steve and Kayla are back together, I hope they can transition into a tentpole couple who participate in and inform the new stories without the story being “Will they wind up together or not?” It helps that both actors have generated chemistry with James Lastovic, who plays their SORASed son, Joey, and is growing into the role.

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Weirdest Return: Alison Sweeney as Sami Brady

Sami rushing back to Salem in the wake of Will’s murder was both necessary and right, and her grief was palpable. From her stony facade — which made for an interesting contrast with Lucas’s inability to hold it together — to her emotional reunion with Kate at the funeral, all of that worked. And then they had her receive a letter from dead EJ and go off on some mission to uncover DiMera secrets in Switzerland. I bought that, because Sami has never, ever been one to rest on her laurels, and if there was something that seemed like action, she’d jump on it. But then the story became truly bizarre: she returned from Switzerland, revealed that she’d found access to all sorts of DiMera information and bank accounts, got kidnapped by Andre, and then escaped Salem to go on the run — with half the DiMeras’ money (she left the other half to Belle) and three young children. Couldn’t Sami have just returned for Will’s funeral, hung around for the bicentennial, and then gone back to California to be with her children? If you don’t have an actor onscreen to tell a story — and, in this case, they were basically trying to tell an EJami story with Sami guest appearances and zero EJ — then don’t even try.

Most Perplexing Decision: Ending the Eric/Nicole Pairing

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There was no shortage of sharp left turns onscreen this year, but none was as jarring as the decision to abandon this coupling. Over the summer, it looked as though the show had righted course and was headed for a triangle in which Nicole would be set to marry Daniel — a seeming safe choice who could give her a life as a doctor’s wife and make her an insta-mom to Parker — while trying to suppress her feelings for Eric, who had hurt her with his inability to forgive. And then the fall came, and the whole thing was dropped. Nicole and Eric actually had a much clearer throughline than Chad and Abigail, the other pairing with which Days struck gold over the summer, and their ability to bounce back from the poor writing that followed their broken engagement seemed to prove how solid they’d be. I still don’t understand why things went this way. Did Greg Vaughan piss off TPTB badly enough that they stopped wanting to write for him? Was this whole group blamed for the ratings drop in 2014 (and if so, why not Abigail/Chad, who were also leading story and airtime)? What are they going to do with Nicole after the events of this coming week? I don’t have much insight into any of this, but I do know that couples that work this well don’t come along that often, and it seems awfully foolish to have abandoned ship.

Best Recast: Umm… pass?

I’m not hating John Paul Lavoisier’s Philip the way many others are, but I’m also not ready to proclaim him as the “best” anything, aside from maybe “best example of someone who needs a haircut.” Were there even any other significant recasts this year?

Worst Recast: Vivian Jovanni as Ciara Brady

I usually wouldn’t count a SORASed kid as a recast, but the child version of Ciara felt fleshed-out and defined, and Lauren Boles (who played Ciara from the time she was a very little girl until this past fall) really made an impression as the character. I totally understand why they wanted an older Ciara for Bo’s return and the ensuing story — even if the timing of her aging was incredibly wonky — but between the facts that this actress doesn’t seem capable of opening her mouth when she speaks and that the writers have largely abandoned the whimsical deviousness of the child version, this casting feels like a big fat fail to me.

Worst Triangle: Will/Sonny/Paul

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On paper, a lot of this worked. A love triangle among three men hadn’t been done in daytime before, and the possibility of all angles being able to mix it up had to be appealing for its freshness. Bringing in Sonny’s ex from before he returned to Salem made sense. And the show wisely made light of the fact that Will came out, got Gabi pregnant, and then jumped into a serious relationship without ever getting to know himself as a single, gay man first. But the execution was a mess, primarily because very little of what Will was doing made sense. Why did he cheat on Sonny… twice? Why did he keep scheming even after Sonny was willing to work on their marriage as long as Will was honest? Why did he have to lie so much instead of just going to the marriage counselor? Things happened in an order that didn’t really make sense, and Will just became stupider and lost rooting value, and by the time it ended, it was hard to care whether the WilSon marriage would be repaired or not.

Best Couple: Abigail & Chad

I was not what you’d call a fan of the original version of this coupling (both original versions, I guess) while Casey Deidrick was in the role of Chad, and despite how strong the Billy Flynn recast was from the outset, it didn’t feel as if the show had a handle on who they wanted Abigail and Chad to be to one another. For a long time, it felt as if Abigail/Ben was the rooting couple and Chad the interloper — but when the shift was made to Ben falling under Clyde’s spell and then becoming the Necktie Killer, it really helped the Abigail/Chad pairing click. What we got was one of the best builds for a couple that I can remember since I started watching, as Chad was fingered for the killings and Abigail became his champion. There are problems, for sure, but the fundamental chemistry between both the characters and the actors — and the fact that the writing actually drew out the obstacles — went a long way toward establishing them as a pairing that could have a long, interesting future.

Best New Character: Paul Narita

Paul debuted at the tail end of 2014, but his story didn’t begin in earnest until the new year, when he was revealed to be Sonny’s ex-boyfriend. As messy as the Will/Sonny/Paul triangle was, the character of Paul really clicked quickly. Christopher Sean brought a lot of soul to the role, and the way the show used his Japanese heritage and his baseball career felt both specific and  fresh. They handled his sexuality frankly and then, because this is Days of Our Lives, had to go one step further and tie him to John Black, a connection they’ve barely bothered to reference — let alone use (he hasn’t even met his sister, Belle, onscreen!) — in months. It’s a shame, because Paul was positioned to be a strong character, and it isn’t hard to imagine that they could do something great with him if they tried.

Worst New Character: Lani Price 

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I’ll be damned if I can explain what’s going on here. A new cop shows up, she’s randomly and with zero fanfare revealed to be Abe’s daughter, she flirts a little with Rafe even though he says he isn’t interested at all, she’s on more than Eric or Nicole but most of it is spouting exposition, and she’s promoted to detective within three months. And yet she has no semblance of an actual story, the actress is floundering, and they’re barely using her family connection. What is this point of this? And why are they paying Sal Stowers to play a role that could go to a few dayplayer cops?

Worst Story: The Elephant in the Room

It’s easy to say that the big problem with the Serena Mason story was that so much of it hinged on a dopey elephant statue that had some cheap-looking baubles inside. But truth be told, if the show had woven a compelling tale, I would’ve gone along for the ride. The problem with this story started as one of perspective. What were we supposed to be rooting for here? That Serena, a new character with a just-revealed romantic history with Eric Brady and an offscreen friendship with Melanie Jonas, would get away with some unethical, law-bending mission to return some smuggled diamonds? That Nicole, an underdog for whom we’ve been made to root, could prove that this stranger was up to something and thereby be vindicated before two men who’d been self-righteous assholes to her but clearly cared for her deep down? That Eric would dump a woman who barely seemed to tolerate his presence? It was a poorly constructed story from the get-go, and the inclusion of Xander (a theoretically promising character) just took the onus off Serena even further, as if that would magically made her more likable. The climax actually worked, and the end of the story seemed to spin things off into interesting new directions — Serena’s death and the promising Eric/Nicole/Daniel triangle — but the show chose to focus elsewhere, so now it truly feels as if this was nothing more than a giant pile of dung.

Best Story: The Necktie Killer

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Yes, we were inundated with far too much death and grieving in the latter half of 2015, but as an umbrella story, this one was very effective in shoring up a lot of half-baked threads and spur some exciting movement. Serena and Paige’s deaths generated story, as opposed to just having them float out of town never to be mentioned again, and Ben’s turn to the dark side worked shockingly well at bringing a spark to a previously bland character. The centerpiece of the entire thing was the Chad/Abigail/Ben triangle, which is the kind of emotional backbone you need to make a story like this work. Will’s death remains a major mistake, but the surrounding story was effective. And while I was far from thrilled with the decision to make Aiden a bad guy and sweep him offstage so easily, connecting his downfall with the serial killer story was a deft, um, tie-in. (Even though I’m still waiting for Hope and Chase to react to the news that Ben was the actual killer!) In an incredibly uneven, herky-jerky year in Salem, this was by far the clearest and strongest start-to-finish story the show told.

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24 Comments on “Best & Worst of 2015”

  1. Robbiemac420 Says:

    Y’know, my dear, you are truly the master of blogs and should actually become a writer for DOOL!! Don’t they realize what an asset you would be to help keep everything on track?

    Your insights are spot on, your opinions are wonderfully expressed and your storyline investigation and character analysis is amazing! I agree with everything you said, especially the Chad/Abigail coupling. I would give anything to look into Billy Flynn’s gorgeous baby blues and have him say the warm, loving things to me that he said to Abigail after he rescued her and Thomas. And I’m a LESBIAN!!

  2. Gavin Scott Says:

    Couldn’t agree more with this summary – and it’s a result of all the haphazard mess we’ve put up with onscreen that I’m going into one of my not-watching phases. I held out for the annual Horton Christmas tree episode and then I took Days off my DVR. I’ll be relying on your blog to keep me up to date until, as you say, Chandler deigns to return.

  3. underyourwing Says:

    hey myk just curious….who do you think they should have killed off instead of will?

    • Shea Says:

      I’m not myk but at the time my votes were Kate or Roman. Kate is just the town mattress and I just can’t make myself give a rat’s ass about who she is going to be bedding down with next….and it would have been a little poetic justice given her role in bringing Clyde to town.

      In retrospect with the loss of Bo I guess Roman wasn’t that great of a choice on my part but when I first started watching again in the summer, I cringed every time Roman was on screen. I will say that I found him much more tolerable later in the year.

      But I will say that at the time I had no issue with killing Will…I needed him off my screen. Let’s be honest…if the writers want to they can always find a way to bring Will or any other character back…no matter how implausible the plot would be. There have been rumors that another character who was killed by a serial killer in the 80s may be coming back…

      • mykleraus Says:

        I love Kate too much to see her killed off, but I do see your point there.

        Roman’s been bugging me less, too! Maybe because he’s had a little more to do besides bark at people in a police capacity.

        I wanted Will GONE, too, but sending him to Paris with Sonny (or to L.A. with Sami, or to lick his wounds on a soul-searching trip, or whatever) would’ve accomplished the same thing without adding to the grief parade and eliminating future story. But yeah, they’ll wind up bringing him back if they want anyway, and I’m so tired of undoing onscreen deaths.

    • mykleraus Says:

      I would say:

      – Bo: They only had him back for a limited time anyway, and he had to die. So have the killer attack Hope or Ciara, Bo manages to save them, and he dies a hero, without all the rushed brain tumor stuff.
      – Aiden: They wanted to get rid of him, so have the killer off him. Hope’s single again, Bo returns, ta-da!
      – Daniel: Again, dying anyway, and it could’ve achieved the same thing as this car accident without miring us in so much death. Plus I wouldn’t have minded seeing him strangled. 🙂

  4. marypickford Says:

    Great list! I agree it is two different shows, pre writer change and after. Most of the “worst” comes in the first half of the year … but not all! I think TomSell had decent summer, with Ericole and Chabby. But there was so much to love in the fall, especially the serial killer story, which I agree was that rare unicorn – a good story from start to finish.

    Looking forward to 2016!

    • mykleraus Says:

      The summer was really strong, though I still wonder exactly how much of that was TomSell and how much was transition work. I’d kill to know what their next steps would’ve been…

  5. Shea Says:

    Since I wasn’t watching until late in the year I can’t exactly say who qualifies as a “new” character but I’m not sure I would say Lani is the worst new character….she is certainly the least developed new character. I keep seeing people trash Sal Stowers and her acting but honestly I don’t think I have seen her really act enough to judge anything.

    I would say the worst new character is the Fynn. With Daniel leaving I do see the need for another doctor but his persona is not something I see a need for.

    • mykleraus Says:

      God, I forgot Fynn even existed. Hahaha. He’s only been on, what, four episodes? So he hasn’t driven me insane yet. I actually LIKED Sal Stowers on the Hulu version of All My Children, but she’s soooooo flat here. I don’t necessarily think that’s her fault — her dialogue has been almost all exposition.

  6. ADW Says:

    I’m not Chabby fan although I agree with you in most of your superlative choices especially the Necktie Killer s/l especially because the first two victims (who I wanted to leave) had their best work/writing right before and following their deaths. I didn’t care for the Will recast but, I agree, I wish Will and Sonny could have left for Paris together and split time with Ari, who is now scarcely seen. I would have liked to have seen more reaction from people in Salem after Clyde’s drug bust/charges in Florida as well as Ben being the “Neck Tie Killer.” When Eduardo gave Kate an “out” I would have liked to see Kate say, “well you can’t possibly be worse than than my ex boyfriend, Clyde Weston who I brought to Salem…” Yada, yada, yada.

    • mykleraus Says:

      I really, really wanted some Kate/Clyde fallout. Their breakup was beyond lame. “I don’t want to see you anymore.” “Oh yeah?” “Yeah.” And she never did!

  7. Denise Says:

    Excellent analysis and really spot on!

    I think I would have picked Eduardo as best new character (I have an A Martinez bias though). I find him very interesting, and loved his interactions with KDP. I’m hoping he gets some more meaty stuff as time goes on and they don’t waste him. I’d love to see them throw him into John and Steve’s new PI firm (if they ever get back to that).

    I’d add a category – Most Improved Character: Rafe Hernandez. I found him a total bore at first, but they really made me come to love him over the Summer in the serial killer storyline. Let’s hope they keep that going for GG and don’t just use him as “Hope’s love interest.” – or, of course, Ben Weston! But can you call someone “improved” if they’ve been turned into a serial killer?

    That would lead to Most Ruined Character I guess, but I can’t think of anyone off the top of my head 🙂

    • Shea Says:

      I think most people would give the “most ruined” to Aiden since he seems to have had his fans who were furious he was “thrown under the bus” for Bo. I actually never liked Aiden and felt like he was always meant to be a sleazy character but that is just because he was an attorney who took on the Westons as clients…

      • mykleraus Says:

        I actually almost did Aiden as Worst Exit, and then I was mulling over something like Most Ruined for him. I don’t think he was ever established strongly enough to say that the turn they took with him didn’t fit, but it definitely happened too quickly, and I hated the blatant rewrite that he’d been working for Stefano all along.

    • mykleraus Says:

      I almost went with Eduardo, actually. I’m a little annoyed that he seems earmarked for Kate, especially because the dynamic between him and Eve is so fascinating, but I see a lot of potential with him.

      I’m actually enjoying Rafe, too. I found him super-annoying back in the Sami/Rafe days, but he works well as a cop who kinda sorta can’t believe how insane everyone around him is. I like that they seem to have slowed down on the Hope/Rafe thing — if it’s going to work, it has to build organically.

      • Denise Says:

        I had only known Rafe previously from the Rafe/Sami stuff on youtube, then, when I tuned back in, all he seemed to do was moon around after Hope. But then suddenly, he was this guy who seemed to be the ONLY one who recognized all the craziness going on around him, and became, well, like US, LOL, the voice of reason – or maybe a representative of the audience. I’m glad they have slowed things down as well with Hope and Rafe. That Bo/Rafe scene where Bo basically handed over custody of Hope burned my tail-feathers. I’d like to see more of a slow burn there, with a great friendship turning into something more.

        Aiden is a good choice for Most Ruined Character, but then, I guess, so was Will. Despite any deficiencies on the part of the actor, they really wrote him a crummy storyline with no backstory for why he turned into such a jealous bunny-boiler, or cheater for that matter. I guess Eric would probably fit into this category too. I’m still mad about what they’ve done to him!

      • mykleraus Says:

        The writing really did Guy Wilson zero favors. He was bad, but I don’t think Daniel Day Lewis could’ve made sense of Will’s actions or made him sympathetic. The writing was dreadful.

        I was all for Rafe/Hope last year, when it felt like it was going to bubble up from friendship. That hard sell they tried to give us in the fall really turned me off, but if they stay backed off and just let it build, I could get onboard.

  8. fluffysmom Says:

    I’m very disappointed about the way Clyde left Salem. I wanted to see Stefano and Victor team up and have him killed. The only crime he’s paying for is putting a hit out on someone in Florida. We suffered through the worthless storyline with Jordan and no one ever found out what Clyde did to her. I wanted to see Kate find out all of his crimes and rue the day she brought him to Salem.

    I agree that killing Will was shortsighted. He was a tool but they could have sent him away. His death hasn’t even generated any story since his funeral other than occasional scenes showing Lucas mourning his son.

    • mykleraus Says:

      None of the Jordan crap EVER paid off! Ben wound up being relevant in a totally different way, but absolutely nothing about Jordan’s backstory or her family really mattered after the year-and-a-half we were forced to sit through it.

      Will’s death really hasn’t had many effects because so many of the people he was closest to in story aren’t even in Salem. If Sami and Sonny were still around, maybe it would’ve generated more, but you’re right — we just see Lucas’s grief, and occasionally Marlena’s, and then everybody goes back to burying the latest dead body.


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