Vincent Irizarry, John Aniston

Nominations for the 38th annual Daytime Emmy Awards won't be announced until May 11 but we can tell you right now which soaps are most likely to land in the Outstanding Daytime Drama competition. Here's a look at what each of the seven serials submitted for the top prize and how they stack up.

All My Children (episode 10,505; airdate November 23, 2010)
A strong, crackling hour during which Dr. David Hayward — not dead after all — walks into the courtroom during his murder trial and shocks the snot out of everyone in Pine Valley. Oddly, there are no out-of-the-park performances here but the noir-ish flashbacks detailing how the dastardly doc (played by fan fave Vincent Irizarry) faked his demise and tried to frame his rival Ryan are exceptionally well crafted and quite riveting. The stuff of grand memories? Not really. But this is good, solid work and in some years (like this one) that's more than enough to put a show in the race.

Chance of a scoring a nomination: Pretty damn good.

As the World Turns (episode 13,741; airdate April 5, 2010)
I never much cared for the premise of this anniversary episode where Oakdale icons Bob and Kim (Don Hastings and Kathryn Hays) find out the minister who married them 25 years ago was a fraud, and I didn't change my mind re-watching it. Still, I can see how the judges might fall for the hour's sad, sweet, poignant charms. And it all ends with a dazzling cameo by ATWT grad Julianne Moore. This is the show's last time at the Emmys, so one wishes P&G had picked something more powerful, like one of those great, searing episodes near the finale involving the death of Dr. Reid Oliver. But mush won out.

Chance of scoring a nomination: Not bad, especially if sentiment guides the voters.

The Bold and the Beautiful (episodes 5922 and 5923; airdates October 14—15, 2010)
God bless Brad Bell for trying to move soaps forward and doing it so transcendently. These back-to-back episodes find stage 4 lung-cancer victim Stephanie Forrester (Susan Flannery) roaming L.A.'s Skid Row in search of a young woman who has possession of her heirloom scarf. The adventure proves a life-changer when rich, privileged Stephanie sees how people are living on the streets a mere 20 minutes from her mansion. She decides to devote her final days to helping them. Flannery does her best work ever here, and that's saying something given her four lead actress Emmy wins. It's all stunningly, artfully filmed on location, and sure to wrench your heart, lift your spirit and make you shed a few cathartic tears. Can the judges ask for more?

Chance of scoring a nomination: Excellent.

Days of Our Lives (episode 11,492; airdate December 29, 2010)
This show smartly submitted Caroline's accidental announcement (in church, no less) that Philip is Chloe's babydaddy, a fabulously sordid, classically soapy event that leaves you dying to know what happens next. And isn't that the mark of a truly successful eppy? Everyone plays the hell out of the situation, most notably Molly Burnett as Melanie and the always divine Peggy McCay as Caroline. This tasty trash is intercut with other enticing developments (EJ working a marriage deal with Nicole, Brady trying to outsmart villainous Viv). The lighting is glam and the sets are lush (the Christmas décor helps) and there's some very witty dialogue, much of it from John Aniston's priceless Victor. A surprisingly mighty entry from a soap few take seriously at awards time.

Chance of a scoring a nomination: Highly likely.

General Hospital (episode 12,106; airdate July 23, 2010)
Franco-phrenia didn't score all that well with viewers, but GH is counting on it to impress the Emmy panel. And it might just work. The episode submitted, which has James Franco's serial killer character doing an epic performance piece at L.A.'s Museum of Contemporary Art, seemed limp and cheesy and hurriedly staged when it aired last summer but, weirdly, it comes off much better when you re-watch it with lowered expectations. The judges may well be impressed by Franco's psycho-sexual hambone performance and the unique, flashy style of the hour, which also includes a shocking revenge shoot-out at the hospital. This is not the pretentious mess I thought it was.

Chance of scoring a nomination: Good. Better than good, actually.

One Life to Live (episode 10,687; airdate May 17, 2010)
I will be brief and kind (given the cancellation news) and simply say that the OLTL execs made a grievous mistake by submitting that musical episode set at the Llanview High prom.

Chance of scoring a nomination: None whatsoever.

The Young and the Restless (episode 9535; airdate November 29, 2010)
What were they thinking — or smoking — over at Y&R when they decided to pick this episode as their best shot an Emmy gold? The set-up: Nutcase Sharon Newman (Sharon Case), torn between two brothers, flees to New Orleans to sort out her emotions. There's a lot of swell Big Easy scenery but next to no drama and, as a result, the performances are serviceable at best. Case is downright snoozy as her character wanders aimlessly about town. The directing is sloppy. The casting of the local day players is startlingly inept. And even scenes back home in GC with Victor (Eric Braeden) and Nikki (Melody Thomas Scott) battling over her affair with Deacon have little power out of context. The best part of the episode — the cliffhanger revealing Skye Lockhart is alive — will be meaningless to anyone who doesn't follow the show. Y&R traditionally picks well and grabs a slot in the best soap race. What went haywire?

Chance of a scoring a nomination: Marginal at best.

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