In Honor of Its Final Episode, a Recap From When People Still Watched Passions
Friends, today is a sad day in soapland . . . for the seven people still watching Passions. (Or more accurately, for the three of those viewers who still actually enjoy the show.) The last episode will appear today on public access in Winnetka, or Direct TV, or wherever the hell it has allegedly been airing. Our guest blogger Ryan celebrates the end of an era -- a short, horribly written and often poorly acted, cheese-filled era, but an era nonetheless -- with a recap from way back at the beginning of this century. We would have called this a Vintage Suds entry, but feared that calling something from 2001 vintage would make us sound dumber than that Blayne kid on Project Runway who thought the Beatles were popular in the 1930s, so we decided against it.
I used to post a lot on various message boards about Passions, and still have some of my posts that also came to me via email saved. I’ve selected a few to share here, with a bit of present-day explanation and clarification leading each one off.
Right around the time when I wrote this one, I had discovered sites like Television Without Pity and Reality News Online that did full-length humorous recaps of TV episodes, so I decided to try my hand at it with Passions just for the hell of it. Just as in theirs, some of the stuff in here didn’t actually happen but was thrown in for humorous effect (well, hopefully).
I loved the actress who played Norma, Marianne Muellerleile, but the character wore out her welcome because they kept bringing her back to do the same damned thing over and over—bellow and shriek and try to kill Tabitha. Starting around the time of the Rome/Vendetta storyline, though, thankfully they gave her more variety, and the character was more tolerable again.
This is when Theresa was pregnant with Little Ethan but because she thought it was Julian’s, she was planning to have an abortion before Ethan could find out she was pregnant, even though Ivy's already pieced it together. Theresa got on my last nerve for the first few years, as you can tell here. I didn’t start liking her until around the time she and Fox got together, possibly because for the first time she didn’t make everything all about EEEEEETHANNNN-nuh! and FAY-tuh! Lindsay Korman/Hartley also, at this time, wildly overacted with her facial expressions when Theresa thought one of her SECRETS was about to be blown. I think in time she toned down the ridiculous overenunciating too; she definitely grew a lot as an actress during her time there.
Ah, Miguel. I don’t know if Jesse Metcalfe was (understandably) bored to bits with the material, and I won’t presume to make any speculations about him in real life, but I swear he managed to give every line he droned the subtext of “pissy closet case.” Also, this is during the time period in which Kay cast a spell that imprisoned the real Charity in a block of ice and created her Zombie double that was supposed to help Kay land Miguel. It happens. And despite the huge brouhaha that Passions normally makes about EEEEVIL not being allowed in a church (Kay wasn’t the year before this when Hecuba had her soul; Tabitha just recently wasn’t until she renounced her powers), Zombie Charity was in church with no incident here. Another crackerjack job from the people in Passions continuity!
I thought Simone #1, Lena Cardwell, was adorable, if no great shakes as an actress, and Simone #3, Cathy Jeneen Doe, was awesome and made the character one of my favorites during her tenure. But Simone #2 who was in the part here, Chrystee Pharris, grated on me BIGTIME because she made the character an insufferable self-righteous harpy who seemed to positively revel in telling Kay, her supposed best friend, off. Also, it was a running joke among me and my friends that she must have thought Chad was off in the army, given that she was supposedly dating him and they maybe were in the same room about once every couple of months.
This was also during the excruciating year that Sheridan was amnesiac “Diana.” I forget why she and Brian (aka oldest Lopez-Fitzgerald child Antonio) sailed up to Harmony, but as you can see, she was convinced it held the KEY TO HER PAST! So did she immediately hit the police station? Talk to every person she could find to try to see if anyone knew her? Oh no! The dipshit spent all of her time in deserted places yakking away to no one but Brian for a couple of episodes and then they sailed back to St. Lisa’s and stayed there for another four or five months, with her sadly saying that she was so sure the KEY TO HER PAST was in Harmony, but now she’d never know. This would be the equivalent of me entering my local grocery store, parking myself right by the shopping carts for an hour and telling myself that the KEY TO MY SHOPPING LIST was somewhere in there, then turning around and leaving, sadly shaking my head that now I’d never know.
This was also when Ivy was blackmailing David Hastings to pretend he was Grace’s first husband, and here she’s arranged for his son John to join him, and he’ll wind up thinking Grace is his mother. Ah, John. Jack Krizmanich was a hot guy, but not exactly a powerhouse in the acting department. Grace kept saying how special he was, and it came across more as the shortbus variety.
Anyway, on with the recap!
PASSIONS, Monday, December 31, 2001: Angels We Have Heard Gag On High
It's New Year's Eve! Time to break out the noisemakers and champagne and countdown till midnight and watch the ball drop!
Well, it's New Year's Eve everywhere except Harmony, that is. Here in Harmony it's still Christmas Eve. There was just so much nonstop jam-packed action this year that now they're a full week behind the rest of us. I mean, God forbid that we would have sacrificed one of Rebecca's "Emailing Ivy's letter proving that Ethan is Sam Bennett's son to the tabloids from Theresa's computer was a stroke of genius!"-es or one of Doom Hilda—er, Charity's—"I sense evil!"-s or one of Tabitha's "If Character X does Action Y, we're DOOMED, Tim-Tim!"-s in order to have a holiday on schedule! No, in Harmony, every little detail counts.
Speaking of Tabitha and Timmy, we open with them cowering against a wall of Harmony Hospital's Pathology Department. "Can you believe it?" exclaims Tabitha. "That crazy Norma is the one who invited us to that stupid psych ward talent show!"
"Who knew?" asks Timmy. Well, we, the viewers, for starters....
Just then they hear Norma bellowing and decide to make a run for it. We are then treated to a horrifying sight...Norma in full Baby Jane Hudson getup being restrained by the orderlies. Yikes! No need to repeat her dialogue; we've all heard it ten million times by now.
Julian is walking down the hospital corridor blithely chatting to his driver on his cellphone after a dreadfully dull hospital board Christmas benefit. The patient in Room 306 is probably having a Code Blue from the cellphone interfering with the hospital equipment, but hey, that's OK—Julian will have his car waiting for him and that's all that matters. Just then, he's smacked in the face with the door as Reese enters. Reese is at the hospital because...well, hey, if the writers aren't concerned about explaining it, why should we care? Reese reminds Julian that at Sheridan and Luis' engagement party, he told Julian he'd help him keep an eye on Tabitha and her doll because he's convinced that doll is...
BAM!!! Tabitha plows right through Julian and Reese in her mad dash to escape, and before they have a chance to recover, Timmy bumps into them and the three go down in a heap. "He's alive!" Julian and Reese exclaim.
Oh, bah humbug, here's Ethan at the orphanage gushing to Theresa about what a good mother she'll be all because she got that baby to stop crying. Theresa is doing her customary facial aerobics, so Ethan asks her what's wrong.
OK, here's the actual dialogue between Pilar and Whitney:
PILAR: My poor Theresa. I prayed for her to stay true to the beliefs that she's had since she was a small child, but I cannot stand to see her hurting so much.
WHITNEY: This has to be so hard for Theresa. I mean, pregnant with Julian's child, fearing she's going to lose Ethan if she finds out...she truly believes that abortion is the best choice.
PILAR: And now that Ivy knows that she's pregnant, Theresa's afraid that she'll tell Ethan real soon. My poor daughter. She's afraid she's about to lose everything.
My friends and I talk this way all the time; doesn't everyone?
Of course, it's ALLLLLLL about Theresa, so we get a big fat close-up of her holding the baby and smiling wanly. Not quite as scary as Norma, but close.
Zombie Charity comes bounding down the Bennett stairs with Kay to find Monotone Miguel waiting for her. Miguel drones that he's disappointed she didn't call him once she was feeling better because he wanted to see her. "Well, you're seeing me now, aren't you?" she chirps, and bounds into the living room. "WHAT?!?" she snaps as Miguel stops her. "I just wanted to give you a kiss," he says in the same tone of voice he'd use to say "The newspaper's on the chair." Zombie Charity gives him a quick peck on the cheek, announces she's off to check her lipstick and runs upstairs. "I'll give you a real kiss, stud," says Hank, then gently but forcefully parts Miguel's lips...
Miguel snaps out of his fantasy and asks Kay why Charity's so darn irritable lately. Well, she's got a monotone closet case for a boyfriend; wouldn't you be?
Grace asks Ivy if she's going to midnight mass in that tone of voice that indicates, "PLEASE say no." Why, Ivy wouldn't miss it! David chimes in that he's going too. "Oh! Great!" says Grace with a smile that couldn’t be any more frozen if it were a Birdseye product, then runs off to go vomit. David calls Ivy a hypocrite for plotting to break up Sam and Grace's marriage. "And on Christmas Eve, too! I really am a horrible person!" she smirks. She tells David she's sent a limo for her surprise, and when it arrives, Sam and Grace's marriage is HISTORY!!!111!!!! DUH-DUH!!!
A driver ushers an unseen man into the limo. Of course, we all know it's John, but we have to milk every last drop of fake suspense out of everything. It's the Harmony way.
Oh boy. Here's Luis moping over Sheridan at the wharf. "Was my mother right?" he asks a passing dust particle. "Can I really hope for another miracle this Christmas?" Well, hey, we viewers didn't get our Christmas miracle of plausible plots, intelligent dialogue, and decent acting, so why should you rate, buddy?
"Look, Brian, there it is!" shouts Sheridan excitedly on the deck of the boat with the same perfect K-Mart glow in the dark stars backdrop as always. "There's the Harmony wharf, and the giant Christmas tree with someone standing by it!" Gee, there's a natural-sounding sentence. She then has a flashback of standing next to that Christmas tree with THE MAN SHE LOVED, because God forbid she ever have a flashback of one of the twenty million times she said, "Oh, Luis!" She remembers this wharf! Brian informs her that there are thousands of wharves all up and down the eastern seaboard that look just like this one. They all came from the same Acme Quik-N-Easy New England Wharf-In-A-Box kit, $169.99 at Sears. But no, Sheridan's convinced it's THIS one, the key to her past is in Harmony, yadda yadda yadda...
Julian and Reese both say, "He's alive...and I've got an eyewitness!" at the exact same time, then buy each other Cokes due to the jinx laws. That imp knows Crane secrets, declares Julian, and now he's going to die!
Tabitha spots a golden opportunity to use her fill-in-the-blank all-purpose line. "If Norma's (CHARACTER X) got Timmy (DOES ACTION Y), we're DOOMED!"
Norma flings the orderlies off her with accompanying cartoon sound effects...neat trick! "NOBODY'S GONNA MAKE A ZOMBIE OUTTA NORMA!" she bellows. Of course not; Zombie Charity's the zombie! Limit one per program. She yanks her ax from where it's stuck in the wall aaaaannnnddd....she's off!
Ethan tells Theresa he knows she's upset because the little baby she's holding doesn't have a mother or a father. Yeah, sure, that's it. But this is a good orphanage, and someone will adopt and love that baby. A passing toddler hands Ethan a sledgehammer; Ethan takes it and thanks him politely. "I just wish more mothers would give their children up for adoption instead of having an abortion," he says. KER-CHUNG!!! He goes off to say goodbye to the orphanage proprietors. Pilar spots an "in" and runs over to remind Theresa that what she's planning goes against everything the Church has taught her. "I know, Mama. I think about it all the time," says Theresa, beaming at the baby she's holding like a contestant in a Junior Miss pageant.
Luis is off to midnight mass, but not before he looks at the "LLF + SC" heart on the bench. He has a flashback of carving it with Sheridan, and amazingly they both have the exact same hairstyles they do now! Hmm....you don't think this was a manufactured flashback that never really happened solely contrived to play with our emotions, do you? Nah...they'd never do that on Passions! Apparently in Harmony the "True Love" clause overrides all other laws, such as defacing public property...not that Luis, a cop, should have any knowledge of or concerns about laws, right?
Brian and Sheridan have docked. "Hey, it's almost time for midnight mass!" exclaims Sheridan. Amazing the things these amnesiacs remember! Brian has a flashback of walking to the church with Pilar as a boy, then tells Sheridan that finishing docking the boat will take too long to make it to church. "I'll take care of the boat for ya!" announces the harbormaster, who's apparently come to Harmony by way of Brooklyn. “Great!” says Sheridan; now they can go to church after they check out the Christmas tree...why, she's drawn to that tree! Luis feels that Sheridan's close by as Sheridan walks closer to the tree and exclaims, "Oh, my goodness!" I'm sorry; I have never used the phrase "Oh my goodness" seriously in my entire life.
Passions is brought to us today by Double Quilted Bounty. This show could use a good quicker picker upper, alright.
Surely you didn't think that all that "Oh my goodness"-ing was over Sheridan seeing Luis, did you? Nah, it's just that this tree looks exactly like the tree in her memory! Why, she's drawn to this tree! And this wharf! And this town! And this snowflake! And this empty beer can! And this candy wrapper! And...zzzzzzzzz...
Sheridan notices her and Luis' initials on the bench. "Whoever this couple is, I hope they're just as happy now as the day they carved it," she gushes. Alanis Morissette pops up from beneath the wharf boards to ask us, "Isn't it ironic? Don'tcha think? It's like RAAAAAAAAIIIIIINNNN..."
As the Bennetts and crew file into the church, they pass one of those perfectly bedecked Victorian caroler groups that pop up on every TV show and movie with a Christmas theme singing their little hearts out. They must raise them on a farm somewhere. Jessica asks Simone why in the world Kay is acting like Charity's best friend all of a sudden. Maybe Kay really has changed, shrugs Simone. Jessica's jaw drops to the floor and she urges Simone to indulge her usual inner high-horsed harpy. But no, Simone feels bad that they're always so suspicious of Kay and that maybe they should give her the benefit of the doubt...after all, it is Christmas Eve! Thinking quickly, Jessica stabs Simone in the stomach and she doesn't bleed...she malfunctions! "I thought we were friends," Stepford Simone says over and over as she drops endless coffee cups. Jessica is terrified...she's sure she's next!
OK, so maybe not that last part.
Masochist Miguel tells Zombie Charity he has her Christmas present. "Ooh!" she squeals and claps her hands in glee. She opens it to find a heart necklace. "Thanks," she says flatly, reacting as if it were an Amazing Chia Herb Garden. "Do you like it?" drones Miguel. "Sure! I SAID thanks, didn't I?" she snaps. "Oh, well, just because I gave you your Christmas present doesn't mean you have to give me mine," he mumbles. Nice passive-aggressiveness there, Tiger. Oh, well, gee, she didn't get him one...she just didn't have any money this year, you know... "That's OK," says Miguel, adjusting his choke collar a little tighter. "Thanks, honey, I knew you'd understand!" she beams, then runs off singing "Oops! I Did It Again". "I bet Justin from *NSYNC would have gotten me a present," sniffles Miguel as he stands there holding the empty gift box.
Inside the church, David feels bad for Sam and Grace. Ivy snaps at him to stay focused; the most important part of her plan is arriving any minute now and when it does, Sam and Grace are FINISHED!!!111!!! Thanks, Ivy. I don't think I caught that the first two million times you mentioned it.
"We should be arriving any minute," the driver tells the mystery passenger, whom the camera reveals to be...Shirley MacLaine?!? MAN, that is some murky shadow lighting.
Timmy swears to "Mr. Crane" that he doesn't know any of the Crane secrets! "Does he?" wonders Reese. Julian evades the question...why, they have a scientific marvel on their hands and he wants to be in charge of dissecting him! Timmy, no fool, tears out of there as fools Julian and Reese collide with each other.
Norma is running amok as she hears the Passions stagehands read lines like "She went this way!" and "Be careful! She's got that axe!" directly from the script off-camera. It dawns on Norma that she might be a wee bit conspicuous in her Baby Jane getup, so she ducks into a nearby closet to change, startling poor Miguel out of his wits.
Tabitha and Timmy meet up and she tells them they need to get away from this nightmare...she can't imagine anything worse! She obviously hasn’t been watching this episode. Naturally, that's the cue for Reese and Julian to start bellowing that they know Timmy's alive and around here somewhere. Uh-oh, realizes Tabitha, now “Ross” will have proof she's a witch! They duck into a nearby closet. "Can't a guy get a moment's peace around here?" snaps Miguel.
Like we didn't see this coming a mile away...there's Norma at the back of the closet dressed like a doctor and brandishing her ax! Cue maniacal music and fade!
Reese and Julian decide to split up to cover more ground. In the closet, Tabitha apologizes to the doctor for making a wrong turn and says she'll be out of there in a jiffy! No wonder insurance rates are so high with doctors goofing off like this, sniffs Tabitha to Timmy. That's no doctor, realizes Timmy...it's...
NORMA!!! AAAAHHH!!! RUN!!! REPEAT THE EXACT SAME SEQUENCE WE ALL HAVE MEMORIZED BY NOW IN A NEW SETTING!!! OH, THE HILARITY!!!
Who's the new character in the church? Oh...that's just TC. It's been awhile. He's there with Eve. Never mind that there's a maniacal escaped psych ward patient with an ax chasing one of your neighbors back at the hospital, Eve; you just go ahead and enjoy your little church service. The two of them yak with Sam and Grace about David and the annulment papers and Ivy's housewarming gift. Eve wonders what Ivy's up to. Grace thinks there must be some good to Ivy; after all, she came to church tonight, didn't she? I don’t know that I would put too much stock in that as there’s Zombie Charity. Apparently the Vatican decided evil soulless creatures are hunky dory in churches this Christmas.
And here’s Theresa walking into the church with Ethan. One might think that these “strong beliefs” of Theresa might give her pause as she enters the Catholic church, considering she's planning to have an abortion ASAP, but nah, she’s beaming as though she hasn't a care in the world. Father Lonigan recognizes them and says he needs to speak with them.
Speaking of hell, apparently it's frozen over because Chad brings up Simone to Whitney! You see, with all the time they spent in Bermuda and being Theresa's enablers (he doesn't actually say that but I'm happy to), they never had a chance to tell Simone the truth. Right...why take care of your own life when you can worry and fret about Theresa? Whitney neatly sidesteps the issue by reminding him there is no "us"; she promised God in the hospital that she'd give Chad up if Simone lived to harp another day, and she (unlike Theresa, who'd do it at the drop of a hat) won't break her promise to God or Simone. Chad thinks that neither God nor Simone would expect Whitney to keep her promise, and all they have to do is explain to Simone--
"Explain what, Chad?" chirps Simone. AAAACK! She's dressed like a refugee from a Debbie Gibson video! AAAACK! Then again, all Whitney needs are some big hoop earrings and a tutu and she could pass for a Jody Watley impersonator. Ah, yes, 1987 is alive and well for the Russell girls. Then again, given the speed of Passions, maybe it really is still 1987 in Harmony.
Father Lonigan wants to talk to Ethan and Theresa about a baby...a very special baby! Theresa attempts to distract Ethan by doing her impression of a guppy.
Luis flashes back to when he found out Sheridan was alive in the church last Christmas. Some people get ties every Christmas...Luis gets Sheridan back from the dead. Next year, Luis, ask for a nice TiVo. Pilar notices him and comes over to commiserate and yak.
Julian and Reese notice Norma chasing after Tabitha and Timmy. "Good! One of the doctors is after him!" says Reese. "Must be some sort of new surgical instrument!" observes Julian of the ax. The five run around the hospital at double speed with cartoon chase noises. OK, I'll give the show a break; it is kind of funny. Naturally, there are no doctors in the halls; Eve's at midnight mass, remember? Timmy ends up escaping into an empty hospital room. He hopes his miracle happens soon...it's almost Christmas! Aww. (Sincerely.)
Whitney concocts some lame excuse about how they needed to explain to Simone that Chad was planning to wait until after church to give her her Christmas present. Simone falls for it hook, line, and sinker, and drags Chad off to light a candle. She's so glad they gave him leave from Afghanistan for Christmas!
“Oh no...does Father Lonigan know I'm pregnant?” wails Theresa to herself, lips aquiver. Nah, he just wants Theresa to put the baby Jesus in the manger at the altar during the ceremony. Oy. Ethan says they'd be honored....and let's go say hi to Mother! Theresa quickly scans the room for sharp objects. Ivy's pleased to hear the orphanage visit went well, and oh, what a shame she already bought Theresa's present because that coat is getting too tight on her! Theresa and Ivy have a smirk and glower faceoff as an oblivious Ethan is so glad his mother and fiancée are hitting it off!
Pilar and Luis yak some more about Sheridan and memories and miracles. Nothing we haven't heard before ad nauseam.
Sheridan notices Brian seems hesitant to go to midnight mass, but he covers and agrees to take her there. "I don't know why, but I just have this feeling something is waiting for me in Harmony," chirps Sheridan. The Talking Tree conks her in the head with an apple and tells her to get some new dialogue already.
Not to be one-upped, Brian tells a speck of lint that what's waiting for Sheridan is nothing compared to what's waiting for him at church, no give-tos, no givebacks, nyah nyah!
Reese and Julian nab Timmy and gloat that now they have proof he's ALIIIIIIVE!!!111!!! Jesus, these two are starting to sound like a bad Vincent Price movie.
Father Lonigan hands Theresa Pie Jesu and Neanderthal Ethan gushes, "Doesn't Theresa look wonderful holding a baby? I can't wait until she's holding a real baby!", then smacks the little filly on the butt and tells her to get him a beer. "Well, it might happen sooner than you think, Ethan!" smiles Ivy. Theresa glowers. Father Lonigan announces the service is about to start and a relieved Theresa says they'll wait in the back, yanking on Ethan's leash to signify he should follow. Grace smiles to Sam that Ivy seems to be a lot more accepting of Theresa's relationship to Ethan. Loaded up on the tomato soup cake today, did we, Grace?
David plops himself down next to Ivy, giving her a glorious opportunity to inform those viewers who have been on a bathroom break for the past month or so that soon Ethan will know the "little strumpet" is pregnant with Julian's baby and dump her, and once her surprise arrives, Sam will be hers FOREVER!!!111!!! David excuses himself for a breath of fresh air. Lord knows there are none of those to be found in Passions scripts.
The limo stops and the mystery man (John! We know it's John already!) gets out.
From out of the clear blue sky, Father Lonigan tells Theresa he senses she's deeply troubled about something, he senses she doesn't want to talk about that something, to look to the Church for her answers, and to play Sweet Gal Sue to show in the fifth. Theresa wipes her eyes and nose and does some miscellaneous facial scrunching for good measure.
Chad and Whitney go to take their seats and Simone sprints in between them so fast she makes Marion Jones look like a slacker. The entire church sings "Angels We Have Heard On High". Triple threat Eve proves it's possible to sing, smile, and look constipated all at the same time. Oh, Hank's there! He hasn't had any lines. Pity.
Theresa proceeds down the aisle with the baby Jesus as Ivy narrowly avoids upchucking in the Holy Water. But you'd have to own stock in Pepto Bismol to be armed adequately for what comes next....
Theresa places the doll in the manger...and it becomes a real baby!!!111!!! The endless quick cuts between a scrunching, crying, snot-nosed infant and a scrunching, crying, snot-nosed emotional infant are indescribably terrifying and quite possibly one of the signs of the Apocalypse.
Tabitha runs to find Timmy. Norma runs to find Tabitha. It's only Norma's second episode back and already it seems like ten million years. Sigh. Timmy panics about being unable to go back into doll mode while Reese and Julian have him in their clutches....then he realizes that must mean he's a real boy after all!
David's regaling a falling snowflake about Ivy's evil schemes when he notices the mystery man walking up. "No!" he gasps. "No, it can't be..." John, David. John. Get with the program!
Back in the church, Ivy says that her surprise should be there any minute, and when it gets there, Grace and Sam's marriage is HISTORY!!!111!!!! Funny, but I don't recall this particular hymn being in the Monthly Missalette. Then again, maybe it is; I can certainly say it right along with Ivy by now.
"I know this is an emotional holiday for you," lifetime DENSA member Ethan tells sobbing, scrunching Theresa, still watching the sobbing, scrunching baby. Oh please. Theresa could be standing over Ivy's dead body with a bloody knife and Ethan would tell her she should use a wooden spoon to stir spaghetti sauce, silly! Oh, and careful...you've dripped some on Mother.
"Please God, help my Terecita stay true to her beliefs," implores Pilar. Being that Theresa's only belief is that Ethan is the air that she breathes and she'll die without him, I don't think Pilar has to worry.
Luis is still moping and praying for Sheridan in the vestibule. Wouldn't you know it, that's right when Sheridan walks in the vestibule, although not before helpfully adding, "I can't help but think that there's something waiting for me here!" There's nothing like that fifty millionth repetition to really cement an idea, is there, Sheridan?
Will Luis and Sheridan finally meet again? Don't hold your breath unless you're suicidal, in which case, seek counseling, just like I'm doing for watching this show.