Gentle Readers, something odd is about to end. We have no idea how it got here, and now it's going out into that good night. It's been a long strange trip. No, I'm not talking about George Bush's presidency! I'm talking about the soap opera, Passions.
Yes, it's another soap blog. I'm like Michael Correlone when it comes to soaps; just when I think I'm out, they pull me back in. However, with Passions ending soon, I thought I should add my two cents when it came to one of the most decisive, odd, weird ass soaps that ever aired on television.
Passions was controversial from the start. It didn't help matters that Another World, a fan favorite for thirty-five years, was canceled to make room for Passions. The first week of the show, we had Sheridan Crane (Mackenzie Whitmore) remembering a old friend. The old friend? Princess Diana. Apparently, she was on her way to visit Sheridan before she went in the tunnel. Oh, boy. This ticked off many people, including Prince Charles cousin Princess Elizabeth of Yugoslavia, who called it "exceedingly bad taste." However, it wasn't Sheridan that wasn't getting the attention. It was the oddest couple to hit the soaps.
The show also was odd in the fact there were witches. Oh, did I mention that? Yes, witches. Witches, spells, and people getting sudden headaches when something is about to happen. Juliet Mills played one of the witches. She was Tabitha Lennox, a frizzy haired woman who always remembered grudges and they were going to pay. She also had a friend, hence the odd couple. Her friend was Timmy. Timmy was a doll. Yes, you read that right. A doll. When they were alone, Timmy came to life, played by Josh Ryan Evans. Evans was a dwarf, but his stature didn't stop him from being one of the biggest hits on the show.
Although the show wasn't a hit ratings wise, it got something better: A cult following. It found itself on the cover of TV Guide, and featured in an article in Entertainment Weekly. Maybe it was the far out plots (Charity stuck in the closet which turns out to be hell!) The actors trying not to laugh at some of the lines they are given: "After we saved Charity from the zombie that took over her body..." Maybe people needed something different, something fun.
I watched Passions for a month to see what the big fuss was. I saw one girl named Theresa obsessed with Ethan Crane, who had to marry her or she would just die! Another woman Ivy Crane was obsessed in getting her old boyfriend Sam Bennett back, so she hired a man to pose as Sam's current wife's husband to get Sam back. Now there's nothing wrong with this per se, it's a old soap plot to get the man you want, even if he's not into you. However, these women weren't interested in anything else. They didn't have any hobbies, anything to do other than getting their men back. And it would drag on and on and on.
That was another thing about Passions. The storylines would....last...forever. One day would be two months on the show. Maybe this was supposed to be a spoof of soaps in the fact that some days on soaps stretch on for weeks, but two months? Come on. It also didn't help matters the characters were as dumb as a bucket of wet hair-I just wanted to yell at the TV set "For God's sakes! Don't go in the closet! You did that before and you never got out because the closet was the pit of hell!"
James E. Reilly created Passions. Normally I don't like judging a writer by their material, but I'm just going to say it: James E. Reilly is an odd little man with his writing. A soap vet, he took over Days of Our Lives in 1995 and then had the show's heroine Marlena Evans taken over by the devil. Yes, you read this right. For days Deidre Hall had to wear these odd eyes that made her look possessed. I could never take the show seriously after that.
Along with Passions, Reilly returned to Days and did another storyline when all the beloved characters on the show died: Caroline Brady, Jack Devereux, Maggie Horton, and countless others died by the hand of a serial killer. Who turned out to be, Marlena Evans. I don't know what Deidre Hall did to James Reilly, but he must have it out for her. In one scene, Marlena killed Alice Horton (Frances Reid) the most beloved figure on the show, with one of Alice's prized doughnuts. This caused my friend Christian to say: "Does NBC get the fact we watch soaps to escape? We have to watch the news about Iraq and Abu Ghiab. We don't want to watch Alice Horton get killed by her own doughnuts." Although it turned out no one was dead and everyone was living on a deserted island, the storyline left a bad taste in people's mouths.
Another thing about Reilly: he really follows the soap trend that he doesn't seem to like his women characters very much. In 2005, a good portion of women was raped on the show. Alistair Crane raped his wives (yes, wives) Katherine and Theresa. Fancy Crane was raped during a police sting. In addition, it's not just the women who get raped; several men have been raped as well. I'm sorry, I just don't get how rape can be seen as entertainment. It is not pushing the envelope, it's just disgusting.
I think the true death of the show was in 2002. Josh Ryan Evans was going to have surgery, so they had Timmy "die" and go to Heaven, but eventually he would come back down when Evans was well enough to come back to work. He never did. Josh Ryan Evans died after complications from an open-heart surgery. Timmy died the same day. It was weird and so odd, but so fitting to Passions. Evans was mourned by Passions fans, and by non-Passions fans as well. He endeared himself to people because he packed a lot in his twenty years, and he played Timmy with such naiveté, such sweetness.
Passions was canceled by NBC a year ago, and then picked up by DirectTV. Now it's gone for good next week. I can't say I'll miss it, but as Tom Casiello said on his blog, the cast showed up, did their jobs, worked hard, and shared their lives with us. Okay, bizarre woman hating lives, but still, they worked hard.
Here's a martimmy to Passions. One weird ass show that will be missed by some.
Causes Jennifer Gibbons Supports
Gilda's Club, Greenpeace, Rosie's Broadway Kids,Westwind Foster Family Agency, Amber Brown Fund, Linda Duncan Fund for Contra Costa Libraries