Who Killed Passions?

As NBC today announced the demise of its ratings-plagued daytime drama PASSIONS, more than a few fans lashed out at the network via message boards. Most indicated that they would not watch TODAY – the expansion of which was widely blamed for the soap’s death – and others vowing to shun all of the network’s programming.

But in truth, the blame for the sudser’s end can be placed squarely on the shoulders of NBC execs and creator/executive producer/headwriter James E. Reilly. Rumors of PASSIONS’ axing have been floating around for years, as has a general dissatisfaction on the part of fans who complained that the show moved at a snail’s pace and refused to have storylines pay-off. Case in point: tortured lovers Luis and Sheridan (as played by Galen Gering and McKenzie Westmore), who spent more time apart than together thanks to the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune. (And it doesn’t get much more outrageous than the fact that each was mistakenly declared dead numerous times.) Popular pairing Ethan and Theresa (portrayed by Eric Martsolf and Lindsay Hartley) didn’t have much better luck: Despite the heroine’s insistence that the fates wanted them together, Reilly and company kept the pair from ever coming together. Of course, every soap tries to balance what the audience wants (a happy ending) with what the medium requires (happy = boring in the world of daytime), but PASSIONS pushed viewer patience to the limits. The show had an incredibly small number of weddings (the soap equivalent of hitting the jackpot) over the course of eight years, but had no shortage of outrageous plots which left more traditional viewers cold. And therein lies the problem: At any point, the folks at NBC could and should have taken the show in a different direction. Instead, they allowed Reilly to continue stringing an increasingly shrinking and dissatisfied audience along. Rare is the soap that doesn’t, in a time of crisis, at least attempt to salvage things by bringing in a new headwriter to shake things up. Rather than pulling the plug outright, NBC should have allowed a new creative team to come in and try to save what worked.

And there were many things that worked. No soap in recent memory has done humor better than PASSIONS, thanks in large part to such talented actors as the inimitable Ben Masters (Julian) and his alter ego’s wicked bedmate Rebecca, as played by sizzling sexpot Andrea Evans. And while her character — a 300-year-old witch who tended to serve as a one-woman greek choir — may have been a bit on the campy side, there’s no denying the pleasure in watching Juliet Mills (Tabitha) work her magic. In addition, while some of the more outlandish plots failed, PASSIONS often went where few soaps dare to tread, including having two young characters fall into bed despite believing themselves to be brother and sister.

In the meantime, PASSIONS is expected to continue unspooling until the fall, meaning that while we may be eulogizing the soap, it is not completely dead. Instead, it will continue limping along like a brain-dead patient waiting for someone to pull the plug. The good news is that with months to go before the final episode, Reilly has plenty of time to script happy endings for the couples of Harmony, meaning Theresa just might land Ethan yet.

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  • I had no idea you were so “passionate” about Passions. These are some pretty long posts from you on this subject matter.

  • Sam

    As much as I want to tell myself that this doesn’t bother me too much because I’d stopped watching as much, the truth of the matter is that it’s really sad. Passions was the first daytime drama I’d ever seen and is still the only one I watch (besides the occasional AMC or DOOL views). It inspired me to create my own ‘soap’ as well. I might be taking this really hard come August or whenever.

  • Mr. Brightside

    Well Sam, don’t get too attached to DOOL as that dumbass NBC president Zuker says it will end in 2009! Why would Zuker say that? I mean it makes no sense (not that anything NBC has done makes sense) but REALLY? Will fans continue to invest in a show that they now know won’t be on in 2 years? They could have persuaded all the PSNS fans to start watching DOOL. They are so retarded.

    “Daytime soap Passions has been canceled after an eight-year run to make room for a fourth hour of Today, which will air on all network affiliates, though only about half will initially air all of Today in a continuous block, says NBC Universal Television president Jeff Zucker. The worsening economics of daytime soaps led NBC to choose expanding Today. Passions will likely finish its run in August, but NBC is discussing continuing the soap on a cable network (such as SoapNet) or online. Zucker suggested that NBC’s only other soap, Days of Our Lives, is unlikely to continue past 2009.”


  • Sam

    Well that’s different. Days already ousted JERk and they’ve been on thair for decades. I’d imagine there would be a lot more angrier people with NBC if that ever happened. Not to mention that if they canceled both soaps, TODAY failed, and they created more, people would be hesitant to watch them.

  • Tim

    Okay, now I’m mad. I have been a soap fan since childhood due to my grandmother. It was our time together and one of things we constantly had in common. lol In life, sometimes it’s the litle things we remember and hold dear. I totally agree with the statement Passions should have cut Jim Reiily years ago. No offense to his talent, but he didn’t do Days any favors until his recent leaving. He headwrote both shows for NBC for a while. I love Days and had pretty much given up on it while Reilly was dragging out bad plots and etc. New Head Writer Hogan S. is doing terrific so far. I can’t beleive the announcement that Dyas will probably end in 2009. You’re not doing yourselves any favors NBC. Shame on you !! TimWilkins aka college virgin aka theaccent.org’/home

  • Common Sense

    Four hours of the same talking heads, and I never watch a moment. NBC might as well run paid-programming in daytime. Way to kill a network, there, Jeff. Good thing you struck gold with your Thursday comedy lineup, which, as I recall, had to be suggested by folks such as TV Addict before the move was made.

  • Jonathan Foley

    Passions will air on one of Allarco Entertainments brand new pay tv networks starting this October in Canada. You will need subsribe to it and it will only be aired in digital format, in my opinion it is worth it though. The company in still in talks with satellite/cable companies.

    Save Passions is now reporting this story in full:


    Their number is 780-430-2828

  • Jonathan Foley

    This new network will be called SuperChannel. Go to http://www.allarcoentertainment.com to read all about it.