As everyone knows, this has been the final week for Passions, barring some surprise resurrection in the future. Unlike some of the characters on the series, I have little faith in such things and have been watching the show quickly move to its fated conclusion. Now everyone has seen the conclusion and has gotten the ending they wanted or didn't want. Tonight, we can each say a little goodbye to all of our favorite characters. I know I'll say goodbye to Tabitha and Endora, to Esme, to Vincent, Julian and Kay, to Sheridan, Luis and Beth, to Precious, Edna and Norma and once again to Alistair since he won't be raised from the grave. I have watched since the beginning. Knowing that the end was coming, each day since the cancellation was announced has been a strange mixture of pleasure and sadness. Although the series never gained a substantial audience and was frequently trashed or ignored by critics and much of the general daytime audience, it's always had a special place in my heart that no other show will ever fill. I can honestly say that no other television show has ever meant as much to me or given me as much delight.
From its first episode, when it caused a scandal by linking Sheridan to the recently dead Princess Di, its makers were bent on doing something television makers rarely do — genuinely challenging the audience. And not in a safe or high brow way, nor in the equally safe manner reserved to sketch comedy and satire. Instead, they embraced a strange grey zone half way between seriousness and ruthless mockery. They challenged the use of time, stretching out a few minutes of story time into a week at some points. They stretched the bounds of sexuality, the convolutions of plot and the complexity of philosophical and theological argument. As stupid as Passions often seemed superficially, when subjected to deeper analysis, it comes off as one of the most clever and subversive series on TV.
There's always been something brave, or perhaps just loony, about the way it has consistently broken with all of the rules concerning good taste, good storytelling, good marketing and just about anything else. To a degree, Passions was an anti-soap opera. Most of the people I know who watched it, enjoyed it for two reasons. The first was because it was funny in a unique and rare way; sometimes acidly sardonic and at others disarmingly cute; the show's cartoon cruelty appalled some and made others laugh hysterically. But another thing that attracted people to it was that it never did what soaps were supposed to do. It embraced all of the conventions and the most ridiculous aspects of the genre and delighted in mocking everything and turning it upside down. But the creative team rarely took the easy way out, sometimes stretching the most unbelievable or ridiculous things on for periods of time which aggravated much of the audience. While this was no doubt an unwise marketing decision, it displayed a degree of creative drive, self-discipline and chutzpah almost completely lacking in popular entertainment. Believe it or not, the hardest thing in writing a script isn't telling the story, it's not telling the story, and not telling a story for years at a time is a unique achievement in the annals of TV history.