Friday, May 2, 2014

Thoughts on the 2014 Daytime Emmy Nominations

1. Poor General Hospital. Last year it had the most buzz (centered largely around the 50th-anniversary episodes), but with only six contenders for Outstanding Drama Series (including All My Children and One Life to Live, both of which were briefly resurrected in online incarnations), it couldn't even parlay all of its good press into a measly nomination. GH was also overlooked for its writing and directing. Had it been left off the final ballot in only one of these categories, it would have been easy to blame it on the episodes that were submitted. But a three-way shutout signals sometimes more.

I have a theory: While GH is endlessly entertaining, always fully stocked with supervillains, outrageous plot twists and comic relief, it falls short of one long-time hallmark of the daytime soap: It lacks heart. I'm rarely bored while I'm watching GH, but aside from Robin and Emma's reunion during Patrick's wedding to Sabrina (above), I don't recall ever being moved by the soap in 2013. In some ways, executive producer Frank Valentini and head writer Ron Carlivati have created the daytime equivalent of the nighttime serial Revenge (not exactly a Primetime Emmy darling), one in which characters are constantly doing dastardly things and getting away with it. This might make for an hour of riveting television. But whom are we supposed to root for and relate to?

2. Who does Alison Sweeney have to sleep with to get her first Daytime Emmy nomination? Will they finally reward her next year for her final season on Days? (Based on what she's done so far, her work during last week's "dream" sequence in which Sami found out about EJ and Abigail's affair would be her best bet)? And why are there only four Best Actress nominees compared to five in the other acting categories.

Although the final four is a pretty formidable line-up, I wish GH's Maura West and especially Finola Hughes had made it in. But the problem, once again, might be GH's current style. West's Ava Jerome is like the Virginia Grayson of GH, which might affect overall love for her performances. Meanwhile, Hughes' work during the episodes in which she was playing another character (Dr. Liesl Obrecht, normally brought to deliciously evil life by the also sadly overlooked Kathleen Gati) pretending to be Anna Devane while wearing an Anna Devane mask was some of the best acting I saw in 2013, but the details of the storyline were so intricate and arcane that the greatness of Hughes' work might not have been apparent to those voting on the submitted reels if they weren't regular GH viewers. In this case, their loss.

3. Days did so much right last year, but it really fumbled Nick Fallon's prison-rape storyline. Blake Berris did exceptional work in 2013, and should have been a Best Supporting Actor shoo-in for an arc similar to the one that got GH's Chad Duell the first of his three Outstanding Younger Actor nominations. But they rushed through Nick's healing process, showing a few scenes of post-traumatic anguish with Gabi and Maggie but no follow-up therapy. After a few episodes of contrition, he was back to scheming, which didn't allow Berris time to garner more audience sympathy while showcasing other sides of his talent.

4. The CM nominated in Outstanding Younger Actor category should be Casey Moss, not Chandler Massey. I'm at a loss to explain this one. Moss (right) did some incredibly powerful work as J.J. Devereaux in 2013, particularly in the scenes after he found out that his late father, Jack Devereaux, once raped his aunt Kayla. He exhibited all of the fire and rage that first made us notice Chandler Massey at the beginning of Will's coming-out story. Meanwhile, Massey spent most of 2013, grinning and underplaying everything, coasting up to his exit in January of this year.

5. It's about time Emmy finally noticed the most underrated hunk in daytime. Kudos for the inclusion of first-time nominee Eric Martsolf in Best Supporting Actor. In the past few years, he's successfully transitioned Days' Brady Black from a milquetoast, square-jawed hero into a frequently sloshed antihero who can make you want to slug him and hug him in one scene.

6. The One Life to Live love is a few seasons too late. How ironic that OLTL scores an Outstanding Drama Series nomination for a season that was vastly inferior to that of fellow Prospect Park online soap All My Children, especially when it couldn't get arrested in the category during its last few years on ABC, when it was arguably the best daytime soap on TV. I can't argue with the inclusion of Kelly Missal (OLTL's Dani Manning) in Outstanding Younger Actress. If there is a soap goddess, she, not her former TV sister Kristen Alderson (who won in the category last year for playing Starr Manning on GH, but is nominated this year for playing Kiki Jerome, a different character) will be making an acceptance speech on June 22 at the Beverly Hilton Hotel in Beverly Hills.

7. Where's Greg Vaughan? Best Actress nominee Arianne Zucker (Days' Nicole Walker) couldn't have worked her magic in Days' The Thorn Birds storyline last year without Greg Vaughan (Father Eric Brady) as her costar. Vaughan submitted himself in the Best Supporting Actor category, but he belongs in Best Actor along with GH's Maurice Benard, whose hallelujah moment while betraying his son Morgan (Outstanding Younger Actor contender Bryan Craig, who deserves that prize more than anyone, save non-nominee Casey Moss) was one of the soap's most-rewindable moments of 2013. Did The Young and the Restless's Peter Bergman and Doug Davidson do anything in 2013 that you just had to see more than once?

Click here to read a complete list of the nominees.
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