Revisiting “Passions”

Are you, too, occasionally struck by the words “Miguel Lopez-Fitzgerald” in the middle of your day? Does the word “Martimmy” mean nothing to you? Did you spend your summer days glued to the exploits of Sheridan Crane, Theresa Lopez-Fitzgerald and Tabitha the witch? Does the theme song, “Breathe in, breathe out/You keep me alive/You are the fire burning inside of me/You are my passion for life” ever get stuck in your head? Yeah, you’re a “Passions” fan too – admit it.

My friends and I were OBSESSED with “Passions” when it originally aired. We’d been fed a steady diet of “Days of Our Lives” by our parents – and the hometown bar – who watched it faithfully every day at noon. As “Passions” aired immediately after, it was a simple segue into a new soapy world. While “Days” and other soaps of its ilk did often feature teen characters, “Passions” had a definite focus on its young people, like crazy-obsessed Theresa and devious Kay Bennett and her sweet, gifted cousin Charity Standish. There was a supernatural element that appealed to a younger viewer, too; angels, devils, demons and a blind priest who could sense evil. We got addicted fast.

“Passions” ran from 1999-2008, moving from NBC to various other providers. It certainly made its mark, though. No one will ever forget Timmy the doll who came to life (RIP Josh Ryan Evans) or Vincent, the intersex villain who carried his own father Julian Crane’s child. There was an ape nurse with a storyline. “Passions” went there. It went there hardcore. It was completely bonkers and that’s what made it great. Everyone has a fondness for “Passions.” I tweeted about it and tons of people came out of the woodwork to discuss its craziness with me; it seems that more than a few of us were tuning into its timeslot.

So it pleased me a great deal to find that you can watch the whole show on YouTube. I should have assumed this, of course, since the world is on YouTube, even weird obscure toy commercials I remember from 1992. I sat down to watch bits of the first few episodes of “Passions” and this is what I was struck by.

1. Susan Lucci’s daughter Liza Huber plays debutante Gwen Hotchkiss, who is engaged to Hot Rich Guy Ethan Crane. She is not meant for soaps like her mother. This IS a pilot, so everyone is pretty wooden, but she’s particularly bad.

2. Theresa Lopez-Fitzgerald is certifiably insane. She should have been served more than a few restraining orders by the Crane family, and probably would have. Stalking a member of the city’s most prominent family would’ve caused more concern than comic relief.

3. WHO greenlit the idea of Juliet Mills (sister of “The Parent Trap” star Hayley) as a witch with a doll who comes to life? It’s brilliant, but who thought, “Yep, this is great soap opera material.”

4. What happened to all these actors? We know where Jesse Metcalfe went (“Desperate Housewives,” “John Tucker Must Die”), but the rest seemed to have faded into obscurity. A few did the rounds on other soaps, including “Days,” but the rest have vanished. They don’t even show up on “SVU.”

5. Remember how they wanted us to think Sheridan Crane was best friends with Princess Diana? She stands and prays to her for true love. And then they try to make us believe she IS Princess Di? I guess stranger things happened on “Passions.”

6. I guess when your new soap is teen-driven you can’t expect stellar acting, but it sure took “Passions” more than a few episodes to find its stride. Almost no one looks comfortable on camera besides Juliet Mills. (That’s probably why she remained a major focus of the show for as long as she did.)

7. This show was written by 14-year-olds, wasn’t it? The way Kay talks about Miguel is like how you chat on AIM with your friends about a boy you like.

8. Is Julian Crane the greatest, sleaziest character in NBC soap history? He’s a gem. He gets some really insane storylines later on in the series and never stops being impossibly charming.

9. The Lopez-Fitzgerald brothers are mad hot. They could have pulled their family out of that pseudo-poverty by doing bachelorette parties in Harmony, duh.

10. What happened to Whitney’s Serena Williams-style tennis talent? That plotline died, didn’t it.

11. WHY DO THEY MAKE US WAIT SO LONG FOR THE STAR OF THE SHOW, TIMMY? He doesn’t appear for far, far too long – episode 4 is his sparkling debut. (And I forgot he spoke in the third person.) Even though he wasn’t on the show for long, it’s the beautiful relationship between Tabitha and Timmy that made “Passions” unforgettable. TC mark

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