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.
He left amidst controversy in 1997 and went to work on Sunset Beach before creating Passions. His new series would encapsulate everything he had been working toward and give him the freedom to push the genre in a direction few would have dared to go. Filling Passions with the supernatural, the strange, and with pop culture parody, it became a cult hit, even if its rating remained low. All the same, NBC still brought him back to Days to fix it after it had taken a nose dive following his departure. Although he was eventually taken off of Days again, the show has significantly declined once again without him. Sticking with Passions, he continued to push the boundaries as far as they would go, mocking the sacred cows of the entertainment industry by trying to get an Emmy for an orangutan and seeming to enjoy his reputation as an enfant terrible. He parodied himself on the show when he created a corrupt and perverted judge with a name nearly identical to his and, in interviews, sometimes compared himself to Alistair Crane. With his magnum opus now drawing to a close, he's rumored to be retiring from the world of daytime and leaving behind a career as one of television's greatest punks.