Monday, December 21, 2009

The Year In Review

Patrick Erwin beat me to it, and his Best and Worst list is well worth reading, so check it out.

Snapper's best and Worst of 2009

Most shocking television plot twist, hands down:

Dexter's Rita takes a bath. Holy crap. My mouth was literally agape when this aired for the first time. I dreamt of poor Rita that night. What more is there to say?

Most ridiculously joyful moment, night time television:

This one is a tie, and it all belongs to Mad Men's Joan Holloway: between
Joan bashing her obnoxious husband over the head with a vase, and her triumphant return to the world of advertising in the season finale, this character brought me more pure, giddy joy than any other in my recollection. I cheered both times. Literally cheered.

Most lovable dark horse:

Edie Falco's Nurse Jackie. She's an adulteress, a drug addict, an habitual liar, a bitch on wheels. And I couldn't love her more than I already do.

Most unlikley agent of pure evil:

John Lithgow, Dexter. Who the hell knew John Lithgow had it in him? His Trinity Killer is pure, unadulterated evil of the creepiest variety. The man sends chills up and down my spine. Can this really, truly be Roberta, the lovable transexual from The World According to Garp? This bit of casting was inspired, and Lithgow is nothing short of brilliant.

Most frustrating test of patience:

The wait for season 4 of Big Love. I know it's coming in January, but it's been one hell of a wait.

Best Web Series:

Compulsions. You probably haven't seen this. Chances are, you haven't heard of it. Well, now you have no excuse. If you like Dexter...if you think Profit was just too damned good to survive network television...if you enjoy the finger-cutting scene in Bound...if you just love the idea of people leading double lives.... Compulsions is for you. I'm serious. This series is free to view, and everything about it is good: great scripts, fine acting, great camera work. These guys make each 4-6 minute episode feel as complete and jam-packed as an hour of traditional television.

Most effective promotion of a web series:

Crystal Chappell, Venice: The Series. Long before even one second had been filmed, people were chomping at the bit to see this. The hype was over-the-top. Chappell shrewdly flooded not only the soap press, but managed to cross over to mainstream, with an appearence on CNN. Unfortunately the product, itself, is pure crap and there seems to be no technical know-how connected to the production - inexcusable in this medium. Too bad the end-product didn't live up to the hype but, really, what could have lived up to such a build-up?

Most shocking casting coup:

James Franco, General Hospital. Nuff said.

Best performance by a female, daytime:

Beth Maitland, The Young and the Restless. Everyone I talk to who watched that fateful week of Y&R either loved it or hated it, but we all agree on one thing: Beth Maitland was superb. I never realized how much I missed her until she came back and, boy, did she come back with the goods. I'm not forgetting that 2009 was the year that Crystal Chappell knocked it out of the park with the graveyard scene (and so many other scenes), but big is often easier to play than little. Beth Maitland's Traci was, during this stint, a small miracle. She's quietly brilliant, and quiet brilliance is so freaking difficult to pull off.

Best performance by a male, daytime:

Grant Aleksander, Guiding Light. There was a lot of buzz when Grant returned to the role of Philip Spaulding in 2008. Most of us thought he was brought back to help save the show, In reality he returned to make sure Philip came full circle as Guiding Light ended. While he didn't always have the greatest or most believable stuff to work with, Grant reminded me of why so many of us love him.

Best off-screen drama:

Eric Braeden's Mexican stand-off with Y&R. I love you, Eric Braeden. No one at CBS or Sony thought you'd break the unwritten rule and open your mouth about the way these companies seem to think contract negotiations ought to be run (ultimatums sent via email???) but, God love you, you did. You talked and talked and talked, and reminded the world that Y&R is Victor's show. While you did end up taking a significant pay cut in the end, the damage was already done, and TPTB will think twice the next time they pull this kind of stunt with anyone who really matters. And Y&R? Virtually unwatchable since you've been gone. I'm looking forward to your return.

Biggest waste of talent:

Maureen Garrett, Guiding Light. Guiding Light had one hell of an opportunity to do something interesting and challenging with one of the best actors daytime has ever seen. They had her on the set for only one day, true, but they wasted that day. It was nice seeing Holly, again, but what did it achieve? More than anything, the wasted opportunity made me sad.

Best trend spurred on by the cancelation of television's longest-running drama:

Invested fans of Guiding Light hitting the web and making their voices heard. Who better to cover the end of an era, than those who actually followed along for years? The demise of GL brought about dozens of blogs, podcasts, forums, and events - all home-grown by actual fans. Some of this stuff was awful, some of it was great. Either way, it didn't matter - it's now clear that there are a substantial number of bright, articulate people to whom serial drama matters, and they are just as qualified- if not more so - to discuss and critique the genre than some guy at The Wall Street Journal who has never watched a serial drama in his life.

Worst trend spurred by the cancelation of television's longest-running drama:

Blind, overly-invested fans of Otalia and Crystal Chappell deciding that anyone not 100% pleased with the course of the story line, or of Crystal Chappell's looks, words and actions should be considered enemies of the state. The "you're either with us or against us" mentality is a truly ugly by-product of GL's cancelation that will no doubt bite one or two people on the ass.

Biggest career boost spurred on by the cancelation of television's longest-running drama:

Tina Sloan. Many of us knew who Tina Sloan was, and how damned good an actress she was long before Guiding Light was cancelled. For a whole generation of people who only knew Tina as the too-often back-burnered Lillian Raines, though, Tina's charm, humor, intelligence and range came as a pleasant surprise. Not one to take adversity sitting down, Tina's career seems to have been ironically re-invigorated by the demise of GL - her one-woman show has been a smashing success, she's secured a publishing deal for her book (due out in 2010), she's blogging at Huffington Post, she's just wrapped up filming a movie with Natalie Portman, and she's a fan favorite on Facebook and Twitter. This is, IMO, a well-deserved career boost - those of us who have followed Tina for years did not like the idea of her sitting on the back burner for so long.

Best podcast:

Pancakes and A Valium. I find podcasts pretty tiresome and boring, as a rule, but PAAV was and is consistantly funny and amusing, not to mention smart, clever and thought-provoking. And, before you write in to say I'm only mentioning PAAV because I like Liz and Dani Pancake, flip it around, kids: I only got to know and love Liz and Dani because I stumbled on to their great podcast one day and got hooked. Is there a law against liking cool, smart, funny people?

Best comeback:

Patrick Erwin, A Thousand Other Worlds. When Patrick decided to call it a day and stop blogging, my heart sank. How psyched was I, a few weeks later, when he had a change of heart and wrote his "Never mind" entry?


Simone said...

Agree with your list almost in its entirety except for one - James Franco. I wouldn't exactly consider it a casting coup for a couple of reasons.

One, Franco himself wasn't really targeted by GH, in fact he himself wanted to do the role for several reasons. It's not like GH said, "we need James Franco!" and then went about wooing him and succeeded. Basically all they had to do was agree to pay him and write something for him. I suppose they get credit for not bungling the signing.

Two, I don't know about you, but I've found his role, his acting, and the overall character to be completely underwhelming. Perhaps this is influenced by the sheer amount of hype, but it hasn't been anything exciting or groundbreaking to me. Plus I find the whole "film actor slumming it" angle much of the press has taken to be annoying. James Franco hasn't been like a second coming for soaps.

In my opinion, it's a role I imagine Jeff Branson could have done just as well.

(I also heard from my friend about some of JF's diva demands on set.)

Simone said...

One last thing - I'm not disregarding the amount of press and coverage his appearance on GH has garnered for the soap (always a positive in the current landscape). I just haven't been wowed by any of the actual substance that's come of it.

Snapper said...

I haven't seen any of Franco's stuff on GH - I actually find that show unwatchable, for a number of reasons. So, yeah, when I call it a casting coup, I'm referring to the PR value of the whole thing. At the end of the day, it's clearly a research piece for him and a PR piece for them. But, dang, what a PR piece. People may be talking about Franco slumming it, but it's also garnered GH more publicity than they've had in years....and the ratings for GH among the 18-34 yr demographic spiked the minute Franco hit the airwaves. For a show that's in pretty serious trouble, ratings-wise, that's a coup.

Simone said...

True, but I don't think a spike is going to help GH long-term. I would be shocked if that ratings hike didn't drop back off fairly soon (if not already).

I'm also just loathe to give GH the credit for any kind of coup when it essentially fell into their laps. They're been the the proprietors of some astounding asshattery lately. They need to do some serious work on the writing, and asap, or they'll be in serious trouble - and even Matt Damon won't be able to save them.

Snapper said...

Some people will hate me for saying so, but GH should have been cancelled long ago. Certainly long before GL was pulled off the air. I can't remember the last time it wasn't a mess.

Anonymous said...

What spike? Franco was a ratings bust. His first day on GH (Friday, Nov. 20) was the lowest-rated day of the week for GH. Ratings for his first full week (Nov. 23-27) were lackluster and actually dropped in the 18-34 demo.

Those who are interested should check out the ratings archive at SON Community for both ratings and some informative discussion on Franco's much-hyped stint.

Snapper said...

This is the ratings spike I'm referring to:“general-hospital”-is-the-week’s-no-1-program-in-daytime-in-the-key-demo/34226

Anonymous said...

The TV by the Numbers you linked is for the week of Nov. 9. As Rob in the comment section notes, Franco's first day on GH was Nov. 20.

SON Community is a better source than TV by the Numbers. It provides Compared to Last Week/Compared to Last Year ratings. TV by the Numbers is an ABC press release spun to cast ABC ratings in the best possible light.

Snapper said...

Ah, I stand corrected. To be honest? I included James Franco as most casting coup because it really did come as a shock to people, and considered it a PR coup. I don't really care about GH's success or failure, either way.

As Simone pointed out, "coup" might be the wrong word to use for the casting of Franco, but the item stays on my list because there's no way around the fact that it caught everyone I know off guard.

Patrick Erwin said...

Oh, Lana - thanks for the love. Right back atcha!

And ITA with everything on your list. Especially Tina Sloan, who we should just have a national holiday for.

Anonymous said...

I am anxious to read your Kish comments on their New Year's Eve love scene.

Snapper said...

The long and short of it re Kish: Loved it. It was sweet and pretty, just like all soap supercouple first time sex scenes are. More in a bit.