The 40th annual Daytime Emmy Award nominations will be announced Wednesday during the 8 a.m. hour of ABC's Good Morning America. Will General Hospital add to all its 50th anniversary glory by landing a spot in the Outstanding Daytime Drama category? Can The Bold and the Beautiful turn a bad break — the departure of queen bee Susan Flannery — into good news? Does Days of Our Lives have a lock on the top prize thanks to its acclaimed, groundbreaking gay storyline? You can't handicap the best soap category without knowing which two episodes each show submitted to the blue-ribbon panels — and TV Guide Magazine has the scoop!
The Bold and the Beautiful: After months and months of that hopelessly inane Liam-Hope-Steffy drivel, exec producer-head writer Brad Bell finally put the "bold" back in his show by killing off its longtime matriarch Stephanie Forrester with lung cancer — a move that was painful yet weirdly exhilarating and ballsy beyond belief. Bell wisely submitted the two episodes (shows 6448 and 6449, airdates: Nov. 12-13, 2012) where Stephanie's family and friends gather for an Irish-themed party to celebrate her life, little knowing they'll also be saying goodbye. Watching Celtic Woman perform "Danny Boy" at the bash was enough to put us on the floor, but the kicker left us immobile. Out of nowhere, Stephanie announces that she's going off to die at an undisclosed location and that no one — not even her children — will ever see her again. It was shocking, cruel, heartbreaking and so very Stephanie, who was a control freak to the very end. You've never seen anything like it in soaps, and you never will again.
Chance of a nomination: Excellent.
Days of Our Lives: This time last year I'd have bet the bank that Days had the 2013 Outstanding Daytime Drama Emmy in the bag thanks to the story of Will's coming out, a smartly written, gorgeously acted, constantly surprising arc that deserved more than just GLAAD tidings. The crazy, kinky master-slave interplay between Will and EJ alone was worth some Emmy gold. But, oddly, Days didn't submit any of that, and went instead with the fallout from last summer's underground gas explosions (show 11895, airdate: Aug. 13, 2012) which was marvelous in its special effects and white-knuckle thrills but, in the end, rather soulless like most stunt episodes are. The second, more enticing submission is the ep where Daniel busted Nicole for blaming her miscarriage on Jennifer (show 11957, airdate: Nov. 8, 2012), a feverish hour with the fantastic Arianne Zucker, as nutjob Nicole, knocking it out of the park and right into the next zip code. It's super soapy, in the best way possible, and very compelling.
Chance of a nomination: Good, not great. And that's too bad since this could have been a slam dunk.
General Hospital: A mixed bag, but not so mixed it'll stop the show from being nominated. Set during a dark and stormy night, the first episode (show 12571, airdate: June 1, 2012), directed by exec producer Frank Valentini, is absolutely stunning with both Sam and Tea giving birth and looney tunes Heather chauffeuring dead mobster Anthony around town, Weekend at Bernie's-style. The action is high-octane, the laughs plentiful and robust, the dialogue scathingly brill. It makes you proud to be a soap watcher. But episode two (show 12641, airdate: Sept. 11, 2012) is another story. GH submitted that nonsense where almost everyone in Port Chuck is dying from a germ-warfare pathogen in the water supply while John McBain is down on the docks trying to diffuse a suitcase bomb. Parts of it are truly poignant (this is the late John Ingle's last appearance as Edward) but most of it is laughably bad, which comes from trying to shoot too much too quickly — a common curse of soaps nowadays. At least we get to see a lot of Nancy Grahn's boobs (what else is new?) so it's not a total loss.
Chance of a nomination: GH, as always, is a shoo-in.
One Life to Live: Yes, it still qualifies! OLTL aired for only a handful of episodes in January 2012 before ending its run on ABC, but that's enough to make another run at Emmy. The network submitted the final two hours (shows 11095 and 11096, airdates: January 12 and 13, 2012), a glorious — and gloriously goofy — valentine to OLTL's vibrant history and to the soap-opera genre in general. The eps centered on the sad demise of the long-running Llanview serial Fraternity Row, the perfect opportunity for some wickedly barbed, show-within-a-show commentary from head writer Ron Carlivati. There's also big drama: Jess is Clint's daughter! Destiny's water breaks! Victor is alive! It's all sheer bliss but is it enough to score a nod? When this originally aired, we fans were in the throes of despair and disbelief over OLTL's cancellation and that made the wrap-up all the more moving and meaningful. Now, with some distance, and knowing OLTL has found new life of the Web, the episodes don't quite pack the same punch. Still this is sweet, exuberant fun and about as satisfying as a series finale can get.
Chance of a nomination: Fairly low, unless sentiment still rides high.
The Young and the Restless: Aw, jeez. It seems we're still not done with Maria Bell! CBS chose to submit the dethroned exec producer-head writer's two-episode funeral for the not-very-dead Victor, which may have been the only way to go since Y&R was so bloody dreadful through most of 2012, but still. Why submit anything? Y&R should have taken the high road and said, "We sucked last year and we're taking ourselves out of the contest." Yeah, right. Instead, we get one more musty back-from-the-dead story (shows 9999 and 10000, airdates: Sept. 26 and 27, 2012) with most of the actors phoning in their reactions to Victor's miraculous resurrection because even they're bored stiff. To be fair, there are some minor moments of enjoyment, like trashy widow Sharon showing up at the memorial in what looks like Bjork's old Oscar dress. But it's all so lazy and uninspired it makes you want to scream.
Chance of a nomination: Unfortunately, pretty damn good because Y&R benefits from massive voting power within the TV Academy, enough to push the show into the best soap category year in, year out, whether deserved or not.
Update (Tuesday, April 30): David Michaels, senior executive director at the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences, contacted us to say that, while Y&R did have such voting power in the past, rules are currently in place to prohibit that. Yay, NATAS! —ML