by pat howard

PASSIONS | The final bow

In Passions on August 5, 2008 at 12:06 am

After nine years of supernatural (and often shockingly stupid) doings in Harmony, Passions is closing up shop as of Thursday, August 7. It was cancelled last year by NBC to make way for a fourth hour of Today , a fact the show’s bang-up dialogue took more than a few shots at. The final season has aired on DirecTV’s The 101, which is now making room for another NBC castoff, Friday Night Lights (the two will share the show in an arrangement that seems to be becoming common practice for the once-proud Peacock).

After initially cutting down from five to four episodes per week, DirecTV slimmed the show down to just three installments weekly, which actually sort of energized the show and kept it moving at a reasonable pace — for a soap, anyway. And with an end in sight, it seems like the show actually intends on wrapping up some storylines and giving loyal viewers their storybook ending, a rarity for a genre that thrives on its open-endedness.

I have to give the writing staff props for the show’s tongue-in-cheek style over the years. No matter how outlandish the storylines became, the show had some sense of self-awareness. It came across at times like an elaborate parody of its genre, which was perhaps an explanation of why it was constantly passed over for various Daytime Emmys.

Even the cost-cutting measures employed in the last several months were adeptly woven into the scripts. Some characters appeared only one day each week. Presumably to cut back on child labor, eons-old witch Tabitha’s daughter Endora was made invisible for a long arc of episodes, only to reappear recently as a much-older girl…by magic. Magic was one of the show’s biggest aces in the hole, a convenient means to explain away plot holes or exposit goings on in Harmony via Tabitha’s magic bowl.

Some say the show’s appeal died with Timmy, the doll Tabitha brought to life in the show’s early seasons. But I was more partial to Beth trapping Sheridan in a pit in her mother’s basement in an elaborate attempt to steal Sheridan’s baby. There was also the mystery of T.C.’s shed, which turned out (disappointingly) to contain a car.

Passions was nowhere near perfect, but it was my favorite of TV’s many daytime soaps, and the only one I could commit to for longer than three or four days. Sure, they repeated whole scenes in their entirety from day to day. The passage of time was often slower than real time itself, especially in this final month of episodes, which has unfolded over a 48-hour period. The more palatable actors, including the original Fox and Miguel, jumped ship long ago for greener pastures. And the jokes were often groan-inducingly terrible.

But I put up with it, all out of a misguided hope that Theresa will at last end up with Ethan instead of that shrew Gwen. And this week, we’ll find out if it was all worthwhile. But with a finite resolution on the horizon, I find myself wishing the show could have been salvaged. Why not toss it to one of NBC U’s various cable properties, like the recently acquired Oxygen? As if they’re not desperate for original programming, no matter how low-budget.

With all the meteorological plotlines over the years (remember Passions‘ Summer Storm?), including this year’s major storms and potential volcanic eruption (because we all know of the high frequency of volcanoes in New England), Passions could just as easily adapt to the lineup of NBC’s latest get: The Weather Channel.

Alas, it seems to be the end of the line for this once-lauded soap, hailed as a supernatural savior after Sunset Beach failed to catch on in the wake of Another World‘s cancellation. Seems like another lifetime ago, but Guiding Light has been going for 70 years or something, right?

The final episodes air Monday – Thursday at 2p/1c on DirecTV’s The 101. A marathon of these final four episodes will air Friday.

  1. My daughter got me hooked on passions and I hate to see it end.
    Will there be reruns or start overs on the soap channel or any other channel? I hope there will be.

  2. Sadly, I think this is the end of the line. SciFi optioned the rerun rights a few years back, but seemed to meet with limited success in starting the show from the beginning.

    Canadian viewers can catch classic Passions weekdays at noon and 2pm (MST) on SuperChannel 3.

    As for American fans, we can console ourselves with “Passions Remembered” at

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