October 2004 ~ Passions

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The good and bad of Passions right now

In this month's Busted to Blissful, Soapdom's Lesleyann Coker sees both sides of Passions.  What is it about the goings on in Harmony that busted her bubble and what has put her in bubblicious bubble bliss?  Read on!

Busted ~ Julian Crane Loses his Edge on Passions 

Where oh where has Julian Crane gone?  When Passions premiered five years ago, Julian (played by the incomparably gifted Ben Masters) was a drunk, cheating louse.  He never met a woman he didn’t like (except for his wife Ivy), his interests ranging from the Crane maids to the gold-digging mother of his son’s girlfriend, Rebecca Hotchkiss.  Julian was always on the prowl with a brandy in hand and a quick-witted quip for anyone who dared oppose him.

However, in 2004, there is scant evidence that that other Julian ever existed.  His all consuming love for Dr. Eve Russell (a docile Tracey Ross) has turned him into a sensitive and caring man.  He is even tender with Eve, in effect causing him to become a shadow of his former self.  Now Julian is a harmless, gentle, lost soul.  And this from the man who tried to kill his sister Sheridan, not once, but twice?

Where is the Julian who sparred with Ivy (the now rarely seen but much missed, wonderful Kim Johnston Ulrich)?  The Julian who drank so much he thought he was hallucinating every time he saw the late Timmy?  The Julian who played “dress-up” with Rebecca and swung from a vine with Tabitha?  The old Julian was snarky and fun, and unlike any other villain in daytime.  Julian was so completely over the top, that you got the feeling if he had a mustache, he’d be twirling it.  And in Masters’ hands, it was never too much.  Julian could say or do anything (including wearing that ridiculous New Year’s baby getup, complete with a diaper) and the outrageousness worked.  Masters practically winked at the audience, to let us know he got the joke, and never took himself or the role too seriously.  He was just having fun with the unique material that he had been given.

With another actor playing the part, Julian could easily have become a caricature.  But with Masters at the helm, Julian’s antics never grated.  They were always believable and enjoyable within the context of the character and the show, which is off the wall in general.

I can understand the show’s desire to “redeem” Julian -- to have him atone for his role in trying to kill Sheridan, in order to make him a more suitable suitor for the good Dr. Eve.  But to erase his randy traits completely, hardly seems true to the character, and unfair to an audience who had grown to love the amusing rouge that Julian was.

Blissful ~ The Brother/Sister Reveal on Passions

From the day Chad Harris set foot in Harmony, James E. Reilly has teased and tantalized the audience with the secret that Chad was probably Julian and Eve’s long lost son.  It appeared to be a foregone conclusion.

We watched as Simone (Eve’s youngest daughter) befriended Chad and developed a crush on him.  This seemed harmless enough.  If they turned out to be half-siblings, then no real damage would have been done.  But then we watched Chad fall in love with Whitney (Eve’s oldest daughter), and after initially resisting his advances, she eventually fell in love with him too.  Whitney even lost her virginity to Chad.  This was a bit hard to take (let alone watch), knowing they might be related.  After the relationship was consummated, we hoped Reilly wouldn’t be so twisted as to have a brother and sister fall in love with each other.  And the clues that pointed to Chad as Julian and Eve’s son were almost too obvious.  There had to be a different twist coming.

The twist was that there was no twist, and it was recently revealed that Chad and Whitney do indeed share a mother.  In spite of the writing on the wall for almost five years, when the secret finally came out, it still managed to shock and surprise.  Reilly even took the taboo of incest one step further and made Whitney pregnant with Chad’s baby!

As of this writing, Whitney has not told anyone she is pregnant.  What will happen when she tells Chad that he is both an uncle and a father-to-be to the same baby?  And how will Eve react when she discovers that she is going to be the baby’s only grandmother?

Reilly has an opportunity to tell a compelling and groundbreaking story.  Whitney is a good Catholic girl, so will she even consider an abortion?  Either way would be a an almost unheard of thing on daytime.  Lots of characters consider abortion, but rarely go through with it.  And has any character ever given birth to a baby born from incest?  The obvious answer is for Whitney to have a miscarriage.  But I tend to think that since Reilly has gone this far, he will not opt for the easy way out, and will see this story through to completion -- no matter the outcome.

Even though the content has been uncomfortable to watch at times, the acting has been superb.  Brook Kerr (Whitney) who has basically served as Theresa’s “talk to” the last five years, has really come into her own with the expansion of this storyline.  Kerr has never been better than in the scene where Whitney learned the truth, and traversed the emotions of denial, anger, disgust, grief and acceptance, all playing out across her face in simultaneous bursts.

Charles Divins (Chad) has finally been able to get out of the shadow of his predecessor in the role, Donn Swaby, and offer some impressive depth and range to complement his good looks.

And an honorable mention should go to Rodney Van Johnson (TC Russell).  Eve and Julian had better beware of TC's wrath.  Van Johnson showed his strong acting chops both in the scene where TC realized that Eve had a love child with Julian, and also the scene where he found out that that love child was Chad.  It was wonderful to see this dependable supporting player have his moment in the spotlight.  Hopefully, there will be more to come for Kerr, Divins and Van Johnson as this plot unfolds.  It’s their reactions that help make this story not only believable, but impossible to stop watching.

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