The Best in Soaps 2012

TV Guide

Anthony Geary | Photo Credits: Craig Sjodin/ABC

With only four soaps left, you might think there'd be slim pickings when it comes to selecting the year's top work. Oh, hell, no! If anything, the precariousness of daytime drama has almost everyone acting their butts off and one dynamic behind-the-scenes duo giving us some honest-to-goodness hope for the future. Cartini rocks!

Best Soap: General Hospital

How can you not believe in miracles? This time last year, General Hospital was considered dead as disco, a show merely waiting to be officially canceled by ABC, which had already dropped All My Children and One Life to Live in favor of cheap reality programming. Instead, suds hatchet man Brian Frons exited the network and GH was handed to OLTL's head writer, Ron Carlivati, and exec producer Frank Valentini, who quickly amped up the action, humor and romance and energized the cast by adding top stars from GH's past as well as popular refugees from Llanview. Voilà! Dreary, messy GH was suddenly a thrilling, surprise-packed, can't-miss experience. And the ratings soared! The moral of the story? They don't need to cancel our soap operas. They just need to make them better.

Best Actor: James Scott

Every time I watch this bodacious Brit playing EJ DiMera on Days of Our Lives, I think the same thing: Why isn't he the biggest movie star on the planet? Or at least on Starz playing Spartacus? Scott had a dynamite year — but, then, he always does — as EJ made a ruthless run for mayor of Salem, flip-flopped disastrously between Nicole and Sami, and blackmailed gay teen Will into a skeevy master-slave relationship. How long can Days hang on to him?

Best Actress: Jane Elliot

It's about damn time! Too long relegated to supporting others, this multisoap survivor finally achieved leading-lady status as General Hospital's megarich überbitch Tracy Quartermaine and left us breathless with her hilarious, ferocious, utterly brilliant work. There's no reason we should've given a fig about toxic Tracy — not even when her beloved daddy, Edward, died and stiffed her in his will — but we just couldn't help ourselves. That's the magic of Elliot.

Best Supporting Actor: Doug Davidson

They say nice guys finish last, which may explain why this quiet powerhouse — who plays one of the few true heroes in soaps — has yet to get that much-deserved Emmy. What's it gonna take? Now in his 34th year as The Young and the Restless' Paul Williams, the actor tackled his toughest story yet when his character unintentionally killed his own son and nearly went to the slammer. Davidson's performance was so beautiful and poignant it made our souls ache.

Best Supporting Actress: Robin Mattson

Like her costar Elliot, this General Hospital great gets away with murder, only in this case literally. Mattson returned in all her high-camp madness last spring when her character, Heather Webber — whose rap sheet includes baby-napping, baby-selling and baby-switching, plus a few homicides — was somehow declared sane and released from the Ferncliff asylum. Lucky us! She's so fab, we don't care if she bumps off half the peeps in Port Charles.

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