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KNOTS LANDING versus DALLAS versus the rest of them week by week

Discussion in 'Knots Landing' started by James from London, Sep 18, 2016.

  1. James from London

    James from London Soap Chat Addict Respected DVD Reviewer 15 Years on Soap Chat 10 Years on Soap Chat 5 Years on Soap Chat

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    04/Dec/85: DYNASTY: The Close Call v. 05/Dec/85: THE COLBYS: Family Album v. 05/Dec/85: KNOTS LANDING: Rise and Fall v. 06/Dec/85: DALLAS: En Passant v. 06/Dec/85: FALCON CREST: Inconceivable Affairs

    This week’s KNOTS LANDING opens with Soap Land’s most striking montage sequence yet. As an attempt to appropriate pop video-style visuals into its storytelling, it works far better than anything ever attempted on PAPER DOLLS. With her version of Martha Reeves and the Vandellas’ "Dancing in the Street” playing on the soundtrack, footage of Cathy Geary looking every inch the shiny MTV pop star is juxtaposed with the sight of estranged husband Joshua, plainly dressed and sweaty, preaching to indifferent passers-by in the street. Even as he does so, a giant billboard of Cathy’s face advertising the TV show he used to host is erected on the roof of a nearby building. While effectively setting the scene for what is to follow, there is an interestingly nonlinear, dreamlike quality to the sequence — some of the clips of Joshua are lifted from the previous episode while some are from scenes that will appear later in this ep. Meanwhile, both Cathy’s suddenly sexy image and her secular song choice are somewhat at odds with the religious nature of the TV show in which she is currently starring. (Like “Love Don’t Live Here Anymore”, the Rose Royce song Cathy sang over a previous montage a few weeks ago, “Dancing in the Street” is an old soul classic recently revived by a mainstream pop act. The cover of “Street” Mick Jagger and David Bowie recorded for Live Aid would have reached the US Top 10 only a couple of months before this episode first aired.) So how much of what we see in this montage is “real" and how much is pop video fantasy? It’s hard to say, but given Joshua’s increasingly slippery grasp on reality, the sense of confusion feels appropriate.

    Joshua, whose story reaches its tragic climax this week, has gone from zero to psycho within in the space of a year. A tad implausible perhaps, but Alec Baldwin’s performance has been so transfixing throughout — even the rambling sermons he delivers on the street this week are genuinely interesting — that one has been simply pulled along by it unquestioningly.

    Such character transformations are grist for the Soap Land mill. While DYNASTY’s Claudia Carrington has turned from an achingly sensitive woman into a vengeful, money-obsessed diva almost overnight, DALLAS’s Sue Ellen Ewing, once a status-driven trophy wife, is now a piously recovering alcoholic. Whereas Claudia’s oil well inheritance last week led her to jubilantly declare that, “job hunting's a thing of the past,” Sue Ellen now reveals her intention to finally join the working class. "A lot of nice people have helped me get back on my feet and I want to do more than just stand around on them,” she explains. And while Claudia’s first action upon learning of her inheritance was to move back into the Carrington mansion, “because now I’m an equal to the Carringtons, to any one of them," Sue Ellen has now transcended such worldly concerns. She listens with a condescending smile as Patricia prattles on about the kind of house she should live in after her divorce (“You have to have the right address and who your neighbours are is very important”), before replying loftily, “Would you believe, Mother, that I haven’t given any of that a moment’s thought?”

    This week, Claudia finds herself starring in a one-woman version of the Jock/Jason/Digger storyline from last season’s DALLAS when Blake explains that the oil well she has “inherited” really belongs to him. “Some time back, Matthew and Walter … came to me for a loan … They defaulted and that well was their collateral,” he tells her — only we didn’t see any of that on screen. Instead, like Claudia, we remember “the pressure that you put on Matthew and Walter when they started out. You would have done anything to get that well!” Blake takes offence at this and indeed, within the context of present day DYNASTY, it is unthinkable that he could ever have behaved so dishonourably. “I don’t do things illegally,” he states firmly. This leaves Claudia, recalling something that did happen but couldn’t have happened, stranded in a sort of narrative no man’s land. Grasping for some kind of tangible identity, she turns herself into an archetypal Soap Land vixen as she teams up with Adam for revenge against Blake. “And we will play by his rules,” she vows. "The only thing that counts is winning!” However lacking in logic, this new Claudia is a lot more gripping than the new Sue Ellen, whose change of outlook might be commendable, but also feels somewhat priggish and a bit dull.

    There’s a scene in this week’s DALLAS where Sue Ellen dines with Dusty at a downmarket Mexican restaurant — all laminated menus and condiments on the table. “This place doesn’t have strolling mariachis, does it?” she asks at the beginning of the scene. “I hate strolling mariachis." Then, following a serious discussion about JR’s custody appeal, some strolling mariachis do indeed appear, and she and Dusty laugh. This all feels like an attempt to make Sue Ellen down-to-earth and relatable, but it doesn’t really work. There’s a similar, but more successful, scene in FALCON CREST where Dwayne takes Emma to a burger joint. Emma chowing down on Pearl's Super Chilli-Cheeseburger might seem as incongruous as Sue Ellen ordering a burrito, but here the unlikeliness is incorporated into the scene and becomes part of its charm and humour. Nor is the DALLAS mariachis’ rendition of “Guantanamera” the only Spanish-language song we hear in this week’s Soap Land. The night before their wedding, Peter Stavros turns up at Falcon Crest and awakens an indignant Angela. “It’s the tradition in romantic countries for the bride and groom to have the last dance together before they’re married,” he explains as a Spanish guitar player serenades them with a love song and Angela succumbs to his charms. It’s a very sweet scene. So it is that, in this week’s special Spanish edition of Soap Land Song Wars, FALCON CREST clearly triumphs over DALLAS.

    As well as characters, we also see actors transform themselves this week. On DYNASTY, a dark and dramatic scene in the Delta Rho attic where Linda Evans plays Krystle as sobbing and terrified as she is bound and gagged by Joel is followed immediately by a comedic scene in Blake and Krystle’s bedroom where the same two actors are now giggly and flirtatious. The contrast is effective and slightly mind-bending. And it’s not just Linda Evans playing a dual role here. Even when he’s not pretending to be Dr. Travers, Joel is almost like a completely different person when he’s with Krystle than when he’s with Rita. With Krystle he's a sinister, obsessive Norman Bates type figure — childlike one minute, frightening the next. With Rita, he’s more reminiscent of Cary Grant — a suave, debonair lover, if also somewhat manipulative.

    The DYNASTY-to-COLBYS crossovers continue with no less than three characters — Blake, Dominique, and LB — making the trip from Colorado to California this week. LB, having stumbled upon one secret on DYNASTY — he finds Rita and Joel rolling around in bed together — inadvertently exposes another on THE COLBYS when he shows Fallon, a lady whom he thinks only looks like his mommy, a family photo album, which makes her realise that she is his mommy. “I am Fallon, but I don’t remember!” she cries. Maggie Gioberti is in a similar situation on FALCON CREST when she discovers she wrote an entire novel that she has no recollection of while suffering from amnesia, and now it’s about to be published, Moreover, it appears to be based on people she knows. (“There’s a delightful villainess in it, a woman who runs the valley like her own kingdom,” her publisher informs her). As is increasingly the case on FALCON CREST, this is more the stuff of sitcom than soap opera, but Chase and Maggie’s bemused reactions as they receive the news did make me laugh out loud.

    Meanwhile, the question of whether Dominique and Garrett Boydston will rekindle their past romance now spans both DYNASTY-verse shows. Whereas on DYNASTY Dominique seems weighed down by the past (“There’s a certain sadness about you. Something has gone very wrong in your life,” observes Garrett — and what’s with the photograph of Eric Fairgate’s girlfriend Whitney she keeps hidden in a box?), she seems freer on THE COLBYS, happily flirting with Garrett on the dance floor even after finding out that he was behind the attempted takeover of her record company. Oh yes — Dominique has a record company, which this week she invites Monica Colby to run. With Lance managing Apollonia on FALCON CREST and Cathy a singing star on KNOTS, this means that all three of Soap Land’s California-based shows now have ties to the music business. It turns out Apollonia even has her very own Joshua Rush as part of her back story — a songwriter ex-boyfriend called Walker who used to beat her up. Now he’s back in town and down on his luck. A pathetic figure with bad hair still pretending to be a big shot (he claims to be working with Neil Diamond), Walker reminds me of Guzzler Bennett, Bobby’s old college football pal, from early DALLAS.

    Now that Joshua has now been cut adrift from the cul-de-sac (“If you ever show your face in this neighbourhood again, I’ll file so many complaints against you, it’ll make some defence attorney rich,” Mack promised him in the last episode), he’s in a similar position to the one Sue Ellen was in after JR told her to get lost following Bobby’s funeral. But where Sue Ellen disappeared from the Ewings’ view, thus sparing them the sight of her gradual deterioration, Joshua continues to hover on the periphery of the KNOTS characters’ world. However, even though he is still visible to them, they cannot reach him. Val and Lilimae run into him preaching in a supermarket parking lot and there’s a moment where Joshua starts to cry and Lilimae makes the same kind of small, futile gestures of comfort towards him as she did when she first saw the twins at the Fishers’ house before Val sternly leads her away. Later, as Val sits in her living room with Karen and Mack freely discussing what a danger Joshua has become and what should be done about him, Lilimae listens silently in the kitchen. One wonders if this is what it would have been like for Miss Ellie two decades earlier, mutely standing by while Jock and JR drove her son away from Southfork. Talk eventually turns to having Joshua placed in an institution. This time, the discussion is a lot messier than the recent one that took place between Miss Ellie and JR over Sue Ellen. “I will not have my son committed!” Lilimae insists, regarding Val, Karen and Mack with the same kind of anger and suspicion that Val did her family a year ago when none of them would believe her children were still alive.

    Joshua ends up preaching in a rundown neighbourhood known as the mission district, which kind of feels like the KNOTS equivalent of the alley where Sue Ellen encountered those jive-talkers, hookers, and winos, except this place does have its own code of conduct. When Lilimae follows Joshua there, she gets into an argument with Ken, the ex-boyfriend of the waitress Joshua is now living with. When Ken threatens her, a Hispanic guy comes to her defence. “You don’t come down here threatening people, man,” he tells him, “not in this neighbourhood. And especially not a woman." (Adding another dash of MTV to the cultural mix, Ken is played by the same guy who'll get Madonna pregnant in her “Papa Don’t Preach” video.)

    If Fallon swiping the happy couple from atop Blake and Krystle’s wedding cake and biting off the bride's head in the DYNASTY pilot was one kind of metaphor, then the scene on KNOTS where Joshua accidentally knocks his and Cathy’s equivalent decorations — this time breakable rather than edible — to the floor is another. Watching them smash, he becomes obsessed with the idea of uniting his and Cathy’s souls in eternity by killing them both. The one union his plan does achieve is between the two extremes of his own character: his fervent desire for spiritual meaning and his overwhelmingly violent rage.

    Four out of five of this week’s soaps features a moment of car-related drama. THE COLBYS ends with a freaked out Fallon, shocked at finally learning her real identity, speeding out of a driveway yet again. This time, Miles is left standing in her dust alongside Jeff, both looking on in helpless despair. If Fallon keeps driving long enough maybe she’ll end up on the same Soap Land mean streets where Lilimae is looking for Joshua on KNOTS. Meanwhile, JR, driving at a similar speed to Fallon as she tears out of the Colby estate, pulls into the Southfork driveway in the final scene of this week’s DALLAS, in a bid to stop Sue Ellen taking John Ross away from him. Over on FALCON CREST, Peter Stavros is on his way to marry Angela when his chauffeur abruptly stops the car and pulls a gun on him. He is then forced out of his limo and bundled into the back of a waiting van. Back on KNOTS, there’s another abduction-by-car when Joshua emerges from Cathy’s backseat, then holds a knife to her throat and orders her to drive to the mission district. Lilimae does a sort of vehicular double take when her car passes theirs and she crashes into some trash cans. A minor accident by Soap Land standards, she emerges unharmed and follows Cathy and Joshua on foot.

    Joshua forces Cathy up the staircase to the roof of the building where her billboard is on display. At one point, she manages to break free and runs past him, back down a flight of stairs, only for him to suddenly appear in front of her, having leapt over the bannister from above. It’s like a moment from a horror movie — or from Sue Ellen’s nightmare in last week’s DALLAS where she and John Ross are running away from JR and he suddenly materialises before them. That’s what’s so gruelling about the scene: It feels something from a horror movie or a nightmare, but for Cathy, it is really happening.

    Even by Soap Land’s melodramatic standards, the suffering endured by Cathy in KNOTS and Krystle in DYNASTY during their respective rooftop and attic ordeals this week is notably extreme, perhaps more extreme than might have originally been intended. In the case of the DYNASTY storyline, one imagines that the original pitch was comedic — “let’s put a Krystle lookalike in the mansion!” — with Krystle’s own ordeal something an afterthought. From an audience perspective, while we're still getting our weekly dose of Linda Evans on Blake’s arm it’s easy to overlook the real Krystle, all but forgotten in the Delta Rho attic. Only now that the Colbys have been spun off into their own show and DYNASTY is free once again to concentrate on its own characters does Krystle’s situation come sharply into focus. “That woman who looked like you has replaced you and Blake hasn’t paid any ransom because he doesn’t even know you’re gone,” Joel tells Krystle coldly. “No-one’s looking for you so no one’s going to find you.” Meanwhile on KNOTS, had Joshua been merely the two-dimensional “monster” Lilimae describes him as moments before his death, Cathy's story might have been little more than a marital variation on the familiar psycho-stalks-girl scenario (e.g., Lucy and her crazy photographer in DALLAS). However, Alec Baldwin’s ability to make his character as believable and heart-wrenching as his actions are deplorable makes the whole story even more desperate and tragic (which isn’t to downplay the contributions of Julie Harris and Lisa Hartman, who match Baldwin in emotional intensity on that roof. Hartman is particularly impressive, given that her character was far less developed in the first place.)

    Cathy and Krystle aren’t the only Soap Land characters being held against their will. On DALLAS, Pete Adams, the private eye dispatched to Greece by JR to dig into Marinos Shipping, is now a prisoner of Nicholas, Angelica Nero’s deputy in Athens. Meanwhile, FALCON CREST’s own shipping magnate Peter Stavros is abducted on the morning of his wedding by one of his own employees, his daughter Sofia’s lover Philippe. Nicholas and Philippe are cut from the same Soap Land cloth — both are shifty Europeans with dark Mediterranean colouring who sport equally bouffant mullets. In other words, each could easily pass for Naldo Marchetta’s wayward brother.

    As Joel says, no one’s looking for Krystle on DYNASTY so no one’s going to find her. DALLAS and FALCON CREST’s captors have each taken similarly elaborate steps to ensure no one realises a kidnapping has taken place. In the same way that Joel has infiltrated the Carrington mansion in the guise of Krystle’s doctor, Angelica’s assistant Grace assumes the role of temporary secretary at Pete Adams’ detective agency, the better to arrange a phone conversation where Pete can assure his partner — at gunpoint — that everything is fine. This week’s FALCON CREST, meanwhile, ends with Angela in her wedding dress reading a letter, supposedly sent from Peter, that expresses a similar sentiment to the letter Jenna didn’t send to Bobby on the day of their wedding on DALLAS: “Angela, the wedding is off. I don’t love you enough to marry you, Peter."

    Elsewhere on FALCON CREST, Cole and Melissa have their marriage formally blessed in a church ceremony. There is no “If anyone can show just cause ...” moment this time around, but given that the bride is secretly in love with the priest performing the ceremony and the woman lurking at the back of the church is pregnant by the groom, there are no shortage of meaningful close-ups during the exchange of vows.

    All five soaps conclude with a moment of high drama between a married couple. In ascending order of crisis: Sue Ellen stuns JR on DALLAS by allowing John Ross to remain at Southfork (“Clearly, he’s happiest here — this is where he’ll stay”), DYNASTY ends with Blake ordering “Krystle” to see a doctor of his choosing (“Then we’re really going to find out what's wrong with you, once and for all!”), FALCON CREST has Peter apparently jilting Angela on the morning of their wedding ("I’ve been stood up!”), THE COLBYS finishes with Fallon running away from Miles after discovering her true identity (“If anything happens to that girl,” Miles tells Jeff, “I swear to God I’ll kill you!”) and on KNOTS, Cathy watches in silent horror with Lilimae as Joshua fall to his death just after he has tried to throw them both off the roof.

    And this week’s Top 5 are …

    1 (-) KNOTS LANDING
    2 (1) THE COLBYS
    3 (4) FALCON CREST
    4 (2) DYNASTY
    5 (3) DALLAS
     
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  2. James from London

    James from London Soap Chat Addict Respected DVD Reviewer 15 Years on Soap Chat 10 Years on Soap Chat 5 Years on Soap Chat

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    11/Dec/85: DYNASTY: The Quarrels v. 12/Dec/85: THE COLBYS: Shadow of the Past v. 12/Dec/85: KNOTS LANDING: To Sing His Praise v. 13/Dec/85: DALLAS: Goodbye, Farewell, and Amen v. 13/Dec/85: FALCON CREST: Strange Bedfellows

    “Love is secondary,” snaps King Galen when talking to his son Michael about his marriage to Amanda on DYNASTY. “Love doesn’t conquer all,” cautions Sable (quoting Donna Krebbs) when talking to her son Miles about his marriage to Fallon on THE COLBYS. “And the greatest of these is love,” concludes Reverend Rush (quoting Corinthians) at his son Joshua’s funeral service on KNOTS LANDING.

    Galen and Sable describe their sons' new marriages in similarly unromantic terms. “Your marriage was arranged to strengthen our position … We need Alexis and her fortune,” says Galen. “You’ve created a dynasty — a Colby Carrington dynasty. With this marriage, anything is possible,” says Sable.

    Galen’s newly apparent ruthless streak (“That girl and her mother can be very useful to us”) opens up the possibility that the Moldavian revolution wasn’t quite as morally black and white as has previously been implied. (“Did you ever ask yourself why there was a revolution? Did he govern, or did he merely rule?” Dex asks Alexis.) It’s clear that Galen, while assuring Alexis that he will make her "one of the richest, most powerful women in the world," considers her more expendable than she realises. Similarly on DALLAS, Angelica Nero continues to claim that her co-venture with Ewing Oil will make Jack "one of the richest men in the world” whilst going to extreme lengths to prevent JR from finding out the real truth about Marinos Shipping — whatever that might be. So it is that Soap Land’s two most notorious villains, Alexis and JR, have each been seduced by a duplicitous foreigner's promise of untold wealth and power into making an international deal where all is not as it seems.

    Speaking of shady deals, Gary’s suspicions are now on full alert regarding Empire Valley, especially when Greg offers to buy it from him at twice its value on this week's KNOTS. At first, Greg is his customarily cool self, appealing to Gary’s sense of family history. “You know what land means, what land has meant to the Ewings. Land is the foundation of your family’s fortune, your family’s dignity.” It’s really interesting to hear Greg’s take on the Ewings here, especially his choice of the word dignity. Somehow, one can’t imagine the Ewings themselves, or anyone else in DALLAS, using the word in such a context. Gary, however, remains unimpressed, causing Greg to get increasingly wound up. “Empire Valley was my father’s land, my family’s land,” he continues. "I want it back … Listen, Paul Galveston should never have given you that land in the first place and in your heart, you know that to be true … I gave up the United States senate to run Empire Valley for my father. My father died. Now it belongs to me. Now Paul Galveston was a bastard, but he was my father, not yours. The United States senate for THAT LAND. I became a Galveston for THAT LAND. I admitted to the world that I was his son for THAT LAND. And after I gave up the senate, after I gave up everything I ever wanted in this world, he turned around and he gave the land to YOU.” Still nothing from Gary. Finally, Greg explodes. “IT’S MY LAND AND I WANT IT BACK!!” he yells. In this childlike, red-faced outburst, he could be speaking for every Soap Land character that’s ever felt they’ve been robbed of what is rightfully theirs. If anyone on KNOTS should understand where Greg is coming from, it's Gary — he is a Ewing, after all. Instead, he responds with total cynicism. (“That was very well said. Oh, but you expect me to believe you meant it, don’t you?”). Even more ironically, Greg’s motive might ultimately be heroic — Coblentz has already told him he is prepared to kill Gary and Abby unless Greg can persuade them to sell. In amongst all of this, Gary discovers that Abby has been in cahoots with Greg all along — but what’s a little marital betrayal now that their lives, and maybe their children’s lives, are in danger? (Krystle finds herself facing a similar situation on DYNASTY when Steven arrives unexpectedly at Delta Rho and Joel threatens to hurt her daughter if she calls out to him.) If this scenario is almost identical to the one Gary, Abby and Greg found themselves in towards the end of the Wolfbridge saga two seasons ago, and if the subplot where Gary became some kind of double agent for Coblentz has now mysteriously evaporated, then that’s fine by me. The scenes where Gary faces off with Greg and then with Abby in this ep are a more than fair trade-off. Speaking of that forgotten plot, there’s a tidy symmetry in Gary missing Joshua’s wedding last season so that Coblentz could tell him “the truth” about Empire Valley and Gary missing Joshua’s funeral this week so he can uncover "the truth" about Empire Valley first hand.

    Having already established that she is acting out of maternal devotion to her son, this week’s episode of THE COLBYS has Sable carry out her first wicked scheme. Hoping to cast doubt on Constance's soundness of mind when she gifted her half of Colby Enterprises to Jeff, Sable tries to gaslight her sister-in-law with a disappearing then reappearing bracelet. When her efforts go unnoticed by Jason, she is obliged to up her game by tampering with the saddle on Connie's horse. (The parallel here with the riding accident Alexis arranged for Krystle in early DYNASTY is an obvious one.) However, there's an unexpected twist when her own sister Frankie rides off on the horse. Pretty soon, Frankie’s in trouble, but then Jeff rides to her rescue. Even though nothing has gone quite the way she intended, Sable ultimately achieves the effect she was after when a distressed Constance takes responsibility for the loosened saddle herself. (“Oh my God, Francesca, you could have been killed!”) “You’re shaking,” Jason observes of his wife, which suggests she isn’t as practised at Soap Land deception as Alexis or the rest of the Soap Land schemers. All of these little details add interesting shades of grey to Sable’s personality. Is she really THE COLBYS’ equivalent of Alexis, Abby and Angela, or is she simply a more resourceful version of early Sue Ellen — a desperate, co-dependent wife who has no identity beyond her family and is, therefore, willing to do anything she can to preserve it?

    Adam is the latest DYNASTY character to show up on THE COLBYS. As with Dominique last week, there are minor differences in how he is depicted in each show. On DYNASTY, Blake has designated him the task of dealing with a court injunction against the construction of the Carrington/Colby pipeline. On THE COLBYS, his assignment is to find out why Jason is using Zach Powers’ tankers to ship Blake’s oil out of the South China Seas. And while no one mentions Fallon’s return on this week’s DYNASTY, Adam spends most of his scenes on THE COLBYS demanding to see his sister. When he does and she hurls possibly the most sensational accusation in Soap Land history in his direction, he probably wishes he hadn’t been quite so insistent.

    The subject of Fallon might be off-limits on DYNASTY, but the toy car LB acquired during last week’s trip to California does make an appearance when he accidentally drives it into Rita’s legs. Her angry response (“Dammit, you little creep! Why don’t you watch where you’re going?”) is witnessed by Alexis, thereby kickstarting the long dormant Alexis/Krystle feud. “Krystle is not and could never be the kind of woman that you think she is! One day you’ll regret that you didn’t listen to me!” Alexis rants at Blake. He doesn’t take her seriously — this is the kind of paranoid stuff she’s been saying for years — only this time, of course, she’s speaking the truth: Krystle isn’t who Blake thinks she is because she isn’t Krystle at all! The lookalike plot results in further ironies. While Krystle fends off the advances of an increasingly fixated Joel at Delta Rho, Rita is doing the same thing with Blake at the mansion. The episode is also bookended rather neatly. It starts with the real Krystle banging on the door of one room (the attic at Delta Rho) pleading to be let out and ends with the fake Krystle locking herself in another (a guest room at the mansion) in order to escape Blake’s romantic attentions.

    Krystle and FALCON CREST’s Father Christopher find themselves in similarly uncomfortable positions this week. Joel grants Krystle the privilege of taking a bath but refuses to leave the room while she does so. Similarly, Melissa discovers Christopher skinny-dipping on her property but refuses to avert her gaze so he can retrieve his clothes. Instead, she jumps, fully clothed, into the water with him and pretty soon they’re kissing passionately. Meanwhile, the weird DYNASTY bath scene gets even weirder as Joel, his eyes trained on Krystle’s voluptuous cleavage, laments how “movies today … rely on shock and exploitation, the lowest common denominator.” (Just as Christopher’s impromptu strip is filmed from a discreet distance, Krystle’s onscreen modesty is preserved by an impregnable layer of bath time bubbles.)

    The aftermath of Joshua’s death on KNOTS LANDING is full of the kind of small moments we didn’t see after Bobby’s on DALLAS — awkward silences, people wondering what they should say and how they should feel. In the same way that Miss Ellie concerned herself with staying strong for her family in the wake of her son’s death, Lilimae’s first priority is to keep the truth of how Joshua died a secret. (“I don’t want people to think my son was a killer.”) In order that they get their stories straight, she gives the same instruction to Cathy as Ellie gave to Sue Ellen: “You must pull yourself together.”

    (Something that never previously occurred to me: It’s established this week that Joshua was twenty-four when he died, making him a year younger than Lucy. This means Lilimae might well have been pregnant when Val turned up at her door with Lucy seeking refuge from JR and his good old boys.)

    “Now we’ve both lost brothers,” Val tells Gary, thus creating yet another bond between them that Ben can’t share. Dusty Farlow likewise finds himself frozen out on this week’s DALLAS when Sue Ellen decides to move back to Southfork for the sake of her son. While Ben reminds silently stoic, Dusty packs his bags and leaves. There’s another, more bitter break-up on this week’s FALCON CREST between Richard Channing and his fiancee Cassandra after he refuses to believe he could be the father of the baby she’s carrying. It results in one of those unexpectedly powerful, emotionally complicated FALCON CREST scenes you just didn’t see coming. (“I wouldn’t marry you now for all the money in the world and give some other man’s bastard my name!” Richard shouts. “You are more evil than I ever could have imagined,” Cassandra replies.) Richard’s rush to judgement turns out to have been premature when it transpires his vasectomy didn’t take — a medical error on a par with the one that recently led Jason Colby to believe he had only a few months to live. He tries to find Cassandra and apologise to her, but it’s too late — she’s already skipped town for parts unknown. Perhaps she’s hooked up with Dusty Farlow on the rodeo circuit.

    This week’s KNOTS becomes even more poignant with the arrival of Joshua’s father Jonathan J. Rush who is intimidating, bewildered, angry and heartbroken all at the same time. It makes me wonder how different the atmosphere might have been on DALLAS had Jock had still been around when Bobby died. The scene between Lilimae and Jonathan in Val’s living room is electric. At first, Lilimae is so scared of being left alone with him that she grabs onto Val so she can’t leave the room, as if she were the child and Val the parent. Moments later, she’s brushing a tear from Jonathan's face. Soon after that, she’s angrily criticising him for the way he raised Joshua. "I tried to mould him in God’s image,” he insists. "You mean in your image,” she argues. "You waved him like some kind of trophy in front of your congregation.” Just as the burden of living up to his father may have proved too much for Joshua, a similar dilemma is expressed by Bliss on THE COLBYS: “Tell me, Mother, how do you shine in this family, how do you get any attention when your father is one of the richest men in the world, your mother’s one of the chicest, your sister’s a legal brain and your brother’s an international champion?” The same topic crops up on FALCON CREST too. “I guess it must be difficult growing up with famous parents,” suggests Greg Reardon after witnessing an icy exchange between new girlfriend Jordan and her politician father. “More than you know,” she replies cryptically.

    Soap Land’s mothers also come under heavy criticism for the way their children turned out this week. As an example of Patricia Shepard’s heavy-handed style of parenting, Sue Ellen recalls a dress she forced her to wear to her seventh birthday party — “blue and white dotted swiss.” (This chimes with a memory of Frankie’s in last week’s episode of THE COLBYS about her similarly controlling sister: "Sable, the last time you helped me choose 'something more fun' [to wear], it was polka dots and crinoline.”) “Oh for heaven’s sake, what does it matter what happened when you were seven?” snaps an exasperated Patricia. “Because you were still planning for me when I was seventeen,” Sue Ellen replies. "The night of my senior prom, you picked out my dress and the boy I went with. I came home drunk that night for the very first time.” Jonathan levels an even worse accusation at Lilimae: "You taught [Joshua] to seek after fame and glory and it killed him, body and soul.” If Patricia was too controlling a mother and Lilimae too influential, then Frankie was too neglectful. “Francesca, did it ever occur to you that a boy would rather have his mother than the Colby education or the Colby money?” Jeff asks her. "Right or wrong, I did what I thought was best for you,” she replies. “I did the best I knew how,” echoes Patricia on DALLAS. While Patricia and Sue Ellen end up in a tearful embrace, Jeff and Frankie are brought together after he rescues her from her runaway horse. “You called me Mother!” she gasps happily — a polar opposite moment to Lilimae’s cry of “I'm not your mama!” to her son on last week’s KNOTS. Although Joshua’s no longer around for a parental reconciliation, there’s a very touching moment at his graveside during his funeral when Jonathan’s recitation from Corinthians becomes too much for him and so Lilimae comes to his side, and they struggle through the rest of the passage together. Soap Land doesn’t get much more moving than that.

    Meanwhile on FALCON CREST, Jordan Roberts’ parent/child estrangement storyline is only just beginning. In contrast to her former selves, man-eaters Constance Carlyle on FLAMINGO ROAD and Racine on PAPER DOLLS and would-be seductress Jenna Wade on DALLAS, Jordan is giving out decidedly mixed signals to Greg, repeatedly encouraging his advances only to recoil from them at the very last minute. Likewise, the present incarnation of Jenna Wade withdraws from her relationship with Jack Ewing on DALLAS after he declares his romantic intentions. While Jenna’s reluctance is clearly tied to her grief over Bobby, Jordan’s seemed to be linked to her troubled relationship with her father.

    A couple of seasons ago, JR ironically referred Southfork as "a house of domestic bliss.” By the penultimate scene of this week’s DALLAS, in which three generations of beaming Ewings, Farlows, Krebbses and Wades assemble for a welcome home dinner in Sue Ellen’s honour, it appears to have genuinely become one. The contrast between Sue Ellen and Miss Ellie’s syrupy exchange (“I seem to need this family” “And this family needs you, Sue Ellen") and the shocking accusation at the end of this week’s COLBYS (“You’re the one who raped me — my God, my own brother!”) could hardly be greater. With the extended Ewing clan a suddenly functional family, Sue Ellen and her mother reconciled and Dusty Farlow headed back to the rodeo circuit, the only character in this storyline still behaving like they’re in a soap opera is Mandy Winger. Having come close to being officially acknowledged as JR’s partner, Sue Ellen’s return to Southfork means she’s now back on the outside looking in. This puts her in a similar position to DYNASTY’s Claudia whose inheritance from Walter was meant to legitimise her position as a Carrington, but instead she’s still bitterly referring herself as the poor relation. While Claudia has already joined forces with Adam to get back at Blake, this week’s DALLAS ends with Mandy coming to a similar arrangement with Cliff regarding JR. “Don’t get mad, get even,” he tells her as they clink champagne flutes.

    I totally love the juxtaposition on KNOTS between the funeral scenes and those of Gary discovering what looks like a futuristic underground laboratory hidden on Empire Valley. A cave full of sliding metallic doors, bleeping machines with flashing lights and extras in white coats going about their business, it’s reminiscent of THE SIX MILLION DOLLAR MAN at its 70s sci-fi best. You almost expect Bigfoot or an assembly line of Fembots to appear round the next corner. “Incredible!” Gary whispers to himself just before the end credits. Damn straight it is.

    And this week’s Top 5 are …

    1 (1) KNOTS LANDING
    2 (2) THE COLBYS
    3 (4) DYNASTY
    4 (3) FALCON CREST
    5 (5) DALLAS
     
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  3. James from London

    James from London Soap Chat Addict Respected DVD Reviewer 15 Years on Soap Chat 10 Years on Soap Chat 5 Years on Soap Chat

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    18/Dec/85: DYNASTY: The Roadhouse v. 19/Dec/85: THE COLBYS: A House Divided v. 19/Dec/85: KNOTS LANDING: All's Well v. 20/Dec/85: DALLAS: Curiosity Killed the Cat v. 20/Dec/85: FALCON CREST: False Hope

    Events on DYNASTY and THE COLBYS now seem to be happening concurrently. While Jenna Wade laments that she “can’t go back in time and be with Bobby” on this week’s DALLAS, time travel’s no problem for Adam Carrington. He sticks around for the first seven minutes of THE COLBYS — long enough to get into an unusually sweaty (by Soap Land standards) fist fight with Jeff — before catching a flight back to the previous night’s DYNASTY, showing up two-thirds of the way through the episode for a meeting with Bart Fallmont, the would-be senator behind the pipeline injunction.

    That the explanation for everything that’s happened to Fallon during the past two years — her paralysis, her headaches, her hallucinations, her disappearance, her amnesia and the accusation of rape levelled at her brother — should turn out to be “a guilt fantasy your subconscious created to explain feelings you couldn’t accept, feelings your mind labelled incestuous" is both giddily insane and surprisingly satisfying.

    There’s an exchange between Jason and Sable as they mull over these latest developments that mirrors a moment between Gary and Abby during their confrontation about Empire Valley in last week’s KNOTS. Whereas Gary felt a moral obligation to stop whatever was happening at the site, even though he had done nothing to cause it, all Abby wanted was to take the money and run. “God, are we different,” realised Gary. This week, while Jason is worried for Fallon herself, Sable’s main concern is that Miles will lose out to his cousin: “Jeff wants Fallon back and the Carrington fortune that goes with her.” “My God, that girl’s walked through hell and all you can talk about is her money,” says Jason, regarding her with the same level of dismay that Gary did Abby.

    The titular scene in this week’s DYNASTY, where Alexis encounters the real Krystle in the Big Oaks Lodge, feels like an equivalent to the scene on KNOTS almost a year ago where Val served Abby coffee in the diner in Shula, Tennessee. As well as the novelty of seeing Abby and Alexis in less than salubrious surroundings (“Is this the new ‘in’ place?” asks Alexis sarcastically), we're also presented with the unusual sight of Abby and Krystle trying desperately to communicate with their arch enemy — Abby to ascertain when and if Val is planning to return to California, Krystle to convey that she is being held against her will — but without success. All Val can see is a stranger with real pretty eyes, while as far as Alexis is concerned, she has caught Krystle in flagrante with a man who claims to be her doctor. (“Psychiatrist, no doubt,” she says archly. Could this be a reference to Nick Toscanni?) If anyone is suffering from Verna-style delusions in this scene, it’s Joel Abrigore, who seems to believe that he and his hostage are out on a genuine date.

    There’s an equivalent double-identity scene on this week’s DALLAS where Pete Adams’ detective partner Sam Barker sees Grace at the Oil Baron’s with JR, Pam and Angelica and realises his temporary secretary is an imposter. Thus, Sam becomes the DALLAS equivalent of KNOTS LANDING’s Frank Elliot — an innocent bystander who stumbles onto something that neither he nor we fully understand and must be disposed of. When the news of his death in an automobile accident makes the morning paper, Angelica congratulates Grace on a job well done. “I don’t know why they say that auto-mechanics is a masculine hobby,” drawls Grace in her light Dutch accent. “I’ve always thought it was rather useful." A ruthlessly efficient Girl Friday who seems to enjoy her work, however murderous it becomes (although it’s hard to be certain as she is so coolly inscrutable), Grace is a character one might more typically expect to find on cartel-era FALCON CREST. On DALLAS, she and Angelica are a welcome astringent antidote to the increasingly cosy Ewings.

    “What a dump,” says Alexis, quoting Elizabeth Taylor in Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf quoting Bette Davis in Beyond the Forest, upon entering the roadhouse. “A stupid little trick … from an old movie. It never works,” says Joel of Krystle’s attempt to alert Alexis and Dex to her plight by writing HELP on a matchbook. “I feel like I’ve died and gone to a science fiction movie,” says Mack on KNOTS when Gary shows him the futuristic control centre at Empire Valley. "I saw you on the four o’clock news, you looked as handsome as Robert Redford in The Candidate,” Emma tells aspiring senator Greg on FALCON CREST.

    Still coming to terms with her past and now caught between Jeff and Miles, Fallon describes herself as two people. She’s not the only one. Joel’s decision to furnish Krystle’s attic with a TV set backfires when she sees news footage of her imposter on Blake’s arm, causing her to lose control and smash the set. I’m not sure Soap Land gets more meta than this — a fictional character on a TV programme watching an even more fictional version of herself on a fictitious news programme, then destroying a representation of the medium on which they both appear. The meta-madness continues on FALCON CREST as Maggie’s novelised version of events in Falcon Crest is serialised in the New Globe. The amused reactions of everyone but Angela reflects the comedic tone of both the storyline and, increasingly, the series itself. Chase’s description of Andrea Chandler, the book’s villainess, as “a hoot” also mirrors the recent shift in the show’s depiction of Angela from sinister to comical.

    As one amnesia-related mystery is resolved on THE COLBYS, Maggie’s novel sparks another on FALCON CREST. If all the characters in her book are based on people she knows, does the heroine’s mystery lover mean that Maggie had an affair during her period of memory loss? Chase fears the worst and Maggie has no recollection of that period with which to assuage his anxieties.

    Marriages “in name only” are this week’s big trend. “It’s clear we’re married in name only,” Blake tells his fake wife on DYNASTY. “Right now you’ve got a marriage in name only," Jeff tells Miles on THE COLBYS. And while the opening scene on DALLAS reestablishes JR and Sue Ellen’s new-old arrangement — presenting a united front as they put their son to bed before returning to their separate bedrooms (or in JR’s case, the beds of Mandy Winger and Angelica Nero) — THE COLBYS ends with Jason refusing to sleep in the same room as Sable. "I don’t think I know you anymore and I don’t sleep with strangers,” he tells her.

    Although Blake and “Krystle’s" present estrangement feels like a pastiche of all of their previous marriage-in-crisis storylines, it is nonetheless played completely straight. In contrast to the overtly comedic tone on FALCON CREST, there is nothing in the acting, direction or score to signal whimsy or comedy to the audience. Quite the opposite, in fact. “Am I going to have to force you into remembering what we have together?” snarls Blake, grabbing Rita, pinning her to the bed and kissing her against her will. Then he stops himself. “Once before, just this way, I almost destroyed what we had,” he remembers. How utterly fascinating that it should be in this parodic storyline that Blake recalls something one assumed had been whitewashed from DYNASTY’s history — his rape of Krystle in Season 1. Meanwhile, Blake’s Hall of Mirrors counterpart, Joel Abrigore, tries to force himself on the real Krystle. She manages to fend him off — for the time being. “You can’t begin to know what it’s like to be loved by a man who knows women the way I do, but you will,” he promises her, sounding laughably absurd and genuinely threatening at the same time.

    Over on KNOTS, Abby also becomes a hostage of sorts when Gary takes control of the threat hanging over his family. After sending Olivia and Brian into hiding, he instructs Abby to join him at Empire Valley. (“They’d never think of looking for us there.”) When she refuses, he explains that she has no choice: “You’re coming with me if I have to tie you up and carry you. You got me into this mess and you are, by God, gonna be with me when it’s over with.” Thus, she must clamber into the shapeless overalls he has assigned her and allow him to smear mud over her immaculately made-up face. (Alexis isn’t the only soap diva slumming it this week.) When they infiltrate the underground site at Empire Valley, it feels like we’re back in Bionic territory. Specifically, we’re in one of those crossover episodes where THE SIX MILLION DOLLAR MAN and THE BIONIC WOMAN join forces -- only in this episode, Steve and Jaime are really, really pissed off with each other. When Gary orders Abby to train a gun on a security guard, there’s a fleeting moment where it looks like she's considering using it on him (Gary) instead.

    The other main storyline on this week’s KNOTS is the continuing aftermath of Joshua's death. Whereas Jenna gratefully accepted Miss Ellie’s invitation to stay on at Southfork after Bobby died on DALLAS, the prospect of remaining under the same roof as Joshua’s family fills Cathy with dread. She tries to explain as much to Lilimae in a brilliantly awkward post-funeral scene in Val’s kitchen: “I thought it might be good for me to get away. There are a lot of memories in this house and they’re painful.” Belatedly, Jenna finds herself in a similar situation this week. “I’m stuck, Miss Ellie,” she admits. "I can’t go back in time and be with Bobby and I can’t seem to go forward.” While Ellie gently advises her to look to the future (“Don’t punish yourself for having new, different good times with someone else”), Lilimae is less willing to let her daughter-in-law move on with her life. “Cathy, I would dearly love for you to stay here ... I know Joshua would want us to be together. Family always came first with Joshua.” When Val and Karen take Cathy’s side, the scene erupts into a terrific four-way argument. “You stay out of this, Karen Mackenzie. You are not family!” barks Lilimae.

    While Cathy gratefully accepts Ben’s offer to stay at his beach house, Jack Ewing takes Jenna’s request to leave her alone to heart. “I’ve got to get away, alone,” he decides before taking off for some unknown destination. It's reassuring to know that such well-travelled guys as Ben and Jack have their priorities sorted. “Would you water my plants?” Ben asks Cathy on KNOTS. “I appreciate that you’re gonna come by and water the plants,” Jack tells Jamie on DALLAS.

    Just as Jack’s feelings for Jenna prompt him to leave town, thereby abandoning his new post at Ewing Oil, so Father Christopher’s feelings for Melissa on FALCON CREST cause him to take a leave of absence from the priesthood. But whereas Jack’s trip takes him offscreen and out of JR’s reach (much to Angelica’s frustration), Christopher ends up at the heart of his show as he moves into Falcon Crest itself. Meanwhile, the convalescing King Galen moves into Alexis's penthouse on DYNASTY, and Ray and Donna move in with the rest of the Ewings at Southfork after their own house is flooded due to a plumbing-related mishap. While a suspicious Dex strongly resents Galen’s presence, the Krebbses’ move is greeted with uncomplicated laughter from all concerned, even though it’s only a matter of months since Ray bitterly informed Donna that she belonged in “the big house” and he didn’t.

    Minor trend of the week: men of a certain age offended at the idea of taking financial help from their women. On THE COLBYS, Hutch Corrigan is annoyed when Constance deposits $200,000 in his bank account and insists she take it back. (It is this flurry of monetary activity that alerts Sable to their relationship.) Meanwhile on DALLAS, Clayton Farlow, having admitted to his lawyer that he is in serious financial trouble, is angered by the suggestion that he should turn to his wife for help. Interestingly, Miss Ellie’s hesitant, eager-to-please behaviour towards her clearly preoccupied husband this week is very similar to Donna Reed’s when she and Clayton first returned from their honeymoon. This suggests Reed’s and Barbara Bel Geddes’s instincts weren’t that far apart after all when it came to playing the new Mrs. Farlow.

    In contrast, when Steven Carrington defends his father against Bart Fallmont’s allegations of raping the land and poisoning the environment on this week’s DYNASTY, he could just as easily be arguing against his Season 1 self. "I think you sold this country out,” Al Corley’s Steven told Blake back then. "You didn't develop this country's resources when you had the chance to. No, you developed the Arabian fields instead because it was cheaper. You made billionaires out of the oil sheiks.” “My father’s a man who's done a hell of a lot to make this country grow, to create jobs, to supply necessary energy where there was none,” counters Jack Coleman’s Steven this week.

    While Bart’s bid for the senate on DYNASTY mirrors Greg Reardon’s political aspirations on FALCON CREST, his environmental objections to the Carrington/Colby pipeline parallel those of Bliss’s boyfriend, and Clean Earth campaigner, Sean McAllister on THE COLBYS. “You are your father’s daughter,” teases Sean when Bliss comes to Jason’s defence. “You’re your father’s son,” says Bart contemptuously when Steven comes to Blake's. Whereas Bart’s family background is well known (both his father and grandfather were senators), it emerges this week that Sean is the secret nephew of Zach Powers who harbours an as yet unexplained grievance against the Colbys.

    Gifts of expensive jewels and jewellery recur throughout the week. Blake tries to bridge the gap between himself and “Krystle" with a pair of diamond earrings. Rita’s tearful reaction ("No man’s ever loved me the way he does and it isn’t me he loves!”) is very funny. Meanwhile, JR presents Mandy with an equally glittering bracelet as compensation for Sue Ellen moving back to Southfork. After finding out he has spent the night with Angelica Nero, Mandy flushes it down the toilet. Elsewhere in the same episode, Pam opens a package sent for Bobby containing a large uncut emerald, “the first return on Bobby’s investment.” Phyllis explains how Matt Cantrell, an old friend of Bobby’s, stopped by Ewing Oil a year earlier and asked him to finance his emerald-hunting expedition. Overriding JR’s objections, Bobby agreed. Much like the pivotal altercation between Fallon and Adam on the night of her wedding to Jeff, none of the events Phyllis describes were depicted onscreen at the time.

    This week’s KNOTS culminates with one of those classic scenes where several different parties converge on the same location at the same time. Previous examples include Gary's ranch, the Belmar Hotel, and the Fisher residence. This time, the destination is the transmission tower adjacent to the Empire Valley complex, and those headed towards it are Gary and Abby, Greg, an anonymous hitman and the Mackenzies. This time, instead of anyone getting shot or driving off with a baby, Gary pulls the rug out from under the rest of the characters (and us) by blowing up Empire Valley. Even when you know it’s coming, it’s still a thrill. In a way, this is KNOTS’ belated equivalent of DYNASTY’s Moldavian massacre or Katherine running over Bobby on DALLAS — a moment, a possibility, a symbol of extreme grandeur, absolute happiness, ultimate power (or some combination thereof), shattered by an act of wanton violence and destruction. In each case, there’s a sense of a price being paid: this is what happens when you fly too close to the sun.

    And this week’s Top 5 are …

    1 (2) THE COLBYS
    2 (1) KNOTS LANDING
    3 (3) DYNASTY
    4 (5) DALLAS
    5 (4) FALCON CREST
     
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  4. James from London

    James from London Soap Chat Addict Respected DVD Reviewer 15 Years on Soap Chat 10 Years on Soap Chat 5 Years on Soap Chat

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    25/Dec/85: DYNASTY: The Solution v. 26/Dec/85: THE COLBYS: The Reunion v. 26/Dec/85: KNOTS LANDING: Aftershocks

    In each of the DYNASTY-verse’s central storylines this week — the Krystle lookalike plot and Sable’s scheme to have Constance declared mentally incompetent — there’s a sense of events spiralling out of control towards a yet unknown climax. “Let’s just get what we can and take off before this whole thing blows up in our faces!” Rita begs Joel on DYNASTY. “Oh God, when did this nightmare all start?!” Sable asks Frankie on THE COLBYS. The atmosphere’s a little different on KNOTS LANDING where the climax — the explosion at Empire Valley — has already happened and the characters are now left to pick up the pieces. Such aftermath episodes can be very interesting, sometimes even more than the Big Event that preceded them.

    This might be a fanciful comparison, but there are elements of DYNASTY's lookalike storyline that remind me of some of Shakespeare’s plays, specifically those where an equally far-fetched plot development involving disguise and/or mistaken identity (the ones I’m familiar with are Twelfth Night, A Midsummer Night’s Dream and The Merry Wives of Windsor) results in scenes both dramatic and farcical. As in those plays, the Rita storyline shifts between moments of comedy, dark menace and romantic melodrama, sometimes within the same scene. Joel Abrigore provides a comic-book villainy as he prepares to not only double-cross Sammy Jo by stealing her money, but also betray Rita by running away with Krystle. At the end of this episode, he becomes an even darker figure as he orders Rita to minister a fatal potion to Blake (and it doesn’t get much more Shakespearean than that). Meanwhile, comic misunderstandings arise when Alexis runs into “Krystle” and taunts her over her liaison with the mystery man in last week’s episode. Krystle looks bewildered and one's mind is momentarily scrambled before remembering that the Krystle Alexis encountered at the roadhouse is not the one she’s speaking to here. Back at the mansion, Blake hits the roof after finding Rita and Joel in a compromising position. While this plot can hardly claim to provide any great insights into the human condition in the way Shakespeare’s did, Blake and “Krystle’s" situation does serve as an allegory of sorts. “What’s happened?” demands Blake of his supposed wife. "You look the same, you talk the same, but it’s as if my real wife has slipped away and a stranger’s taken her place.” Of course, we grasp the double meaning intended by the writers, but the drama also works on a surface level. If Blake and Krystle’s marriage were genuinely falling apart — not because of external plot machinations, but because one had simply fallen out of love with the other — then this is what it might look like and there’s a certain vicarious thrill in seeing John Forsythe and Linda Evans play out this scenario.

    Over on THE COLBYS, a similar marital situation is happening for real between Jason and Sable. "My God, what’s happened to you?” Jason asks his wife, echoing Blake’s question to Rita. “Look around you. You’ve got your home, your family, your paintings, half the money in California. How much is enough?" Sable and Jason provide Soap Land with a rare opportunity to examine a long-term married couple whose relationship has begun to crumble. (Indeed, there have only been three other couples in any of the main four soaps whose marriages lasted more than a decade — Jock and Miss Ellie on DALLAS, Sid and Karen on KNOTS, and Chase and Maggie on FALCON CREST.)

    The "married in name only" trend continues this week. As Jason arranges to have his personal belongings “moved into the west wing as soon as possible,” Gary withdraws from Abby on KNOTS. "I woke up this morning alone in my bed and I thought, ‘I don’t know what’s happening,’” cries Sable. “My marriage is a mess!” "Two people can’t live in the same house totally ignoring each other,” insists Abby. "You’re my husband, I’m your wife!” “I don’t know what that means anymore,” Gary replies.

    In amongst all the accusations and hurt feelings, there’s a rather moving scene on THE COLBYS where Miles offers Fallon an annulment: "I love you very much, Fallon, but I can’t handcuff you … Our marriage isn’t binding in California because of your amnesia … You don’t owe me anything.“ This gesture is all the more touching for being so unexpected. Indeed, THE COLBYS has an interesting habit of establishing characters with recognisable personality traits, then subverting them. As well as the petulant, self-absorbed Miles behaving so selflessly, this episode also includes the scheming Sable suddenly breaking down in tears in front of her sister and the revelation that the morally righteous Jason once betrayed his brother Philip by sleeping with Philip’s wife (later his own wife’s sister!) while Philip was fighting in Vietnam. Moreover, Jason seeks to rekindle that same affair at the end of this week’s episode.

    "Digger Barnes was in love with Ellie,” recalled Rebecca Wentworth in DALLAS Season 5. "So was Jock Ewing. Two men in love with the same woman, happens all the time … History has a way of repeating itself. This time, the triangle is Cliff, Sue Ellen, and JR.” Soap Land storylines and dialogue have a way of repeating themselves too. “Do you know what it’s like watching Jeff and Miles in love with the same woman?” Jason asks Frankie this week. “Like history repeating itself — you and me and Philip,” she replies.

    After Rita slips some of the poison into his brandy at the end of this week’s DYNASTY, Blake starts exhibiting symptoms (hand tremors, fatigue) during the following night’s edition of THE COLBYS where he is finally reunited with Fallon. After discussing her dilemma regarding Miles and Jeff, he tells her, “I want to help you more than anything, but if you feel that you want to tackle this problem by yourself, of course I’ll understand.” This line serves the same purpose as Miss Ellie’s to Gary at the beginning of this season’s DALLAS: “I love you with all my heart, but we don’t have to be together to keep that love.” In each case, the message is the same — if you love someone, set them free to star in their own spinoff series.

    There’s a strong media presence in this week’s Soap Land. On DYNASTY, Alexis is dismayed to find herself the subject of a World Finance cover story which describes her as "a woman who forsakes family and fortune to save her royal lover from the jaws of death.” Over on KNOTS, Lilimae is interviewed for a cover story on Joshua for Inner Force magazine. The reporter compares Joshua to James Dean, John Lennon and Elvis Presley, “young men that had meteoric rises to fame and who suffered untimely deaths.” Here, Soap Land and reality intersect — Julie Harris’s most famous role (outside of the US, at least) was as James Dean’s girlfriend in East of Eden, while Elvis was, of course, married to DALLAS’s Jenna Wade. When Lilimae repeatedly reminds Cathy how her name will forever be inextricably linked to Joshua's (“His fans … loved him and they love you because you were married to him” “You will always be Mrs. Joshua Rush” “This will always be Joshua’s show”), it’s not hard to draw a parallel with Priscilla Presley's life. Much of the rest of this week’s KNOTS is spent with the media, represented by Ben, trying to get to the bottom of the explosion at Empire Valley. Towards the end of the episode, he returns home from a press conference where Greg has characteristically managed to extricate himself from any responsibility in the matter (“Sumner whitewashed the whole thing!”) to finds Gary in his and Val’s living room. The irony is not lost on Ben: “I have professional reporters out all over the place looking for you and I find you in my home keeping my son up way past his bedtime.”

    While the lookalike story on DYNASTY has reignited the Alexis/“Krystle" rivalry — there are two traditionally bitchy encounters between them in this week’s episode — this week’s KNOTS contains Karen and Abby’s first scene as adversaries since last season. Theirs too is a kind of "back to basics” argument as Abby reminds her old enemy of a few facts: “The truth is, Karen, Lotus Point, this place, is mine. It wouldn’t exist without me. You’re only here because you’re my brother’s widow. You lucked into it because of a stupid little piece of property that was left to you in my uncle’s will."

    Meanwhile, what has felt like an experiment to turn Greg Sumner and Gary Ewing into the KNOTS LANDING equivalent of JR and Bobby on DALLAS, Chase and Richard on FALCON CREST, or even Jeff and Miles on THE COLBYS, i.e., quasi-sibling rivals fighting over land and birthrights, has begun to yield some fascinating results. We’ve already seen Gary blow up Empire Valley, and now this week’s episode ends with Greg, in time-honoured Soap Land fashion, addressing a soliloquy to his late father’s portrait. Traditionally, such speeches are an opportunity for a son to reaffirm his devotion to his daddy’s memory. "You built Ewing Oil from the ground up,” JR told Jock’s painting in Season 4. "Whatever it took, you did it for Ewing Oil and I'm gonna do the same. I'm gonna pass it on bigger and stronger to my son." Here, the sentiment is somewhat different. "I let you reach back from the grave and manipulate my life,” Greg tells Paul Galveston’s likeness. "I allowed it because I was weak, because I wasn’t mean enough or hard enough or cruel enough … I wasn’t a barbarian like my father. Well, Dad, congratulations, you have hatched a new breed of barbarian, a creature determined to surpass even you in creating his own world.” Just as JR told his daddy, “Nobody's gonna take Ewing Oil away from me or my son or his son,” Greg also insists that "nothing's gonna stand in my way — not you, not anybody.” Both speeches end in a solemn vow. "I swear to you, by God I'm gonna make you proud of me,” JR tells his father. "I swear on your face never to have a son that I might treat as brutally as you have treated your son,” Greg tells his.

    And this week’s Top 3 are …

    1 (3) DYNASTY
    2 (1) THE COLBYS
    3 (2) KNOTS LANDING
     
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  5. James from London

    James from London Soap Chat Addict Respected DVD Reviewer 15 Years on Soap Chat 10 Years on Soap Chat 5 Years on Soap Chat

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    02/Jan/86: THE COLBYS: Fallen Idol v. 02/Jan/86: KNOTS LANDING: Unbroken Bonds v. 03/Jan/86: DALLAS: The Missing Link v. 03/Jan/86: FALCON CREST: Fair Game

    The characters on THE COLBYS grow ever more interesting. The “good” ones (Jason, Frankie) are now the most morally compromised, the “bad” ones (Sable, Miles) the most vulnerable. A few years ago on DALLAS, Bobby Ewing described Sue Ellen as living “in a fantasy world where everything is perfect. She’d rather crawl into a bottle than face reality.” This week, Sable admits to Miles that she too has spent her life seeking perfection. Having failed to find it in life, she has sought refuge, not in alcohol, but in art. “Do you see that world in there?” she asks, indicating a painting. “That is perfect. It needs nothing. It asks for nothing. No one can spoil it or change it or touch it … That’s what the Colby Collection means to me. If I can’t give your father perfection in his marriage, I can give it to him here." Although Sable is presently unaware of Jason’s romantic involvement with her sister, Miles is not.

    Last week’s KNOTS LANDING ended with Greg Sumner delivering the most scathing of speeches to his father’s portrait ("I swear on your face never to have a son that I might treat as brutally as you have treated your son”). This week’s episode of THE COLBYS concludes with Miles issuing a similarly powerful dismissal to his own father (so powerful, in fact, that Jason is reduced to tears). Whereas Greg has always despised Paul Galveston ("I probably even hated you before I knew who you were”), Miles has had his father on a pedestal from childhood. “I spent my life trying to be like you, act like you, think like you,” he tells him. “I loved you, Dad. You were my idol, a man to be proud of, the man I wanted to be proud of me." His parting words, “You don’t have a son anymore," echo Lilimae’s to Joshua on KNOTS three weeks ago: “I’m not your mama.” From Sue Ellen's conflict with her mother on DALLAS to Lilimae’s disavowal of her son and Greg’s of his father on KNOTS, to Miles’s confrontation with Jason this week and whatever is going on between JJ and Jordan Roberts on FALCON CREST (“Some secrets are best kept in the family,” mutters Jordan darkly), the wounds inflicted by parents and children upon each other during this Soap Land season feel somehow deeper and rawer than ever before.

    Having conquered the business world over the last couple of seasons, Soap Land’s women now find themselves on the receiving end of more diverse job offers. On this week’s DALLAS, Sue Ellen and Donna embark on new careers as charity fundraiser and helper at a special school respectively. Meanwhile on KNOTS, Karen Mackenzie is surprised to receive an invitation to join the state planning commission. In each case, it is the woman’s personal rather than professional experience that qualifies her for the job in hand. While Sue Ellen’s hunch that “people seem more generous when they’re dressed up” is based on “years of dressing up”, Donna is assured that all the requirements she needs for her new position are “love, love, and more love.” Over on KNOTS, Jill Bennett explains that Karen's “concern for the environment” is what has brought her to the governor’s notice.

    While KNOTS' depiction of Karen as a concerned conservationist is a wholly positive one, the DYNASTY-verse portrays the environmentalists campaigning against the Carringtons and Colbys as either unreasonable or untrustworthy, or possibly both. On last week’s DYNASTY, Bart Fallmont's refusal to even consider Steven’s suggestion of a compromise regarding the pipeline implied that his main interest in pursuing a court action was to enhance his own political reputation. Meanwhile on THE COLBYS, Clean Earth campaigner Sean McAllister has been using his relationship with Bliss to spy on her father for his uncle. Indeed, it is the information Sean has been feeding Zach Powers that leads directly to an oil spill in this week’s episode. Unaware that Zach deliberately engineered the spill, Jason is ready and willing to take full responsibility for the clean up. “We’re not going to try and duck out from under this,” he insists, apparently more concerned about the environment than the environmentalists themselves.

    Soap Land sons Bobby Ewing and Joshua Rush may be gone, but new storyline developments ensure that neither will be forgotten just yet. On KNOTS, the investigation into Joshua's death is reopened after his girlfriend Linda alleges he was killed by Ken Forrest. Meanwhile, Bobby’s “best friend ever since we were kids”, Matt Cantrell, shows up in DALLAS. While Pam offers to continue financing Matt's emerald-mining expedition as a way of keeping Bobby’s dream alive (“Bobby was stuck here so he put all of his dreams with Matt”), Lilimae refuses to tell the police the truth about Joshua’s death. “The only thing my son has left is his good name and I am not gonna stand by and let you or anyone else take it from him,” she tells daughter-in-law Cathy. When Cathy protests that they can’t let an innocent man go to prison, Lilimae reminds her that she has her “career to think of and it’s going so well. I would hate for a scandal to ruin it."

    Indeed, Soap Land’s girl singers are on the rise: While Pop View magazine puts Cathy on its cover under the banner "Hot New Teen Star”, FALCON CREST's Apollonia is off on a worldwide tour and Lance, in his capacity as her manager, is going with her — or is he? “If I decide not to go back to the priesthood,” his half-brother Christopher tells him, "I could be here [at Falcon Crest] indefinitely … Sometimes brothers are asked to share things that an only child can keep all for himself.” “You mean like land and wineries and all that sort of thing?” asks Lance. So it is that Lance and Christopher replace KNOTS' Greg and Gary as Soap Land’s sibling rivals du jour as Lance elects to remain at Falcon Crest to protect his interests. (This echoes Pam's description of Bobby’s situation at Ewing Oil: “Bobby was stuck here.”)

    Apollonia thinks Lance is confused. “You don’t want [Falcon Crest] when it’s yours, you want it when someone’s trying to take it away from you … You don’t know what you want in life.” Fresh from blowing up Empire Valley on KNOTS, Gary Ewing admits to feeling the same way. “I don’t know how to look ahead,” he tells Mack. "I know a lot of guys have got a masterplan … but I don’t do that. I walk around and I say, ‘OK, what’s next? Surprise me.’” No sooner are these words out of his mouth than Jill Bennett appears from nowhere and asks Mack to help fix her car. Despite never having met her before, Gary volunteers for the job instead and they exit the scene together. Blatant proof, if it were needed, that as one Soap Land storyline draws to a close, another Soap Land storyline begins.

    Donna Krebbs’ first day at the Woodgrove School on DALLAS is not the week’s only disability-themed storyline. Monica wanders into a cowboy bar on THE COLBYS (a culture shock equivalent to Alexis’s recent roadhouse excursion on DYNASTY) and commits the faux pas of ordering a Perrier water. This attracts the derision of a guy at the bar, Wayne Masterson, who first turns out to be blind and then turns out to be a singer. The song he subsequently performs, a country and western number with the exquisitely torturous title of "Maybe You Should Try Getting Over You”, is the first of two sappy ballads in this week’s Soap Land. The second is a cover of Michael Bolton’s "How Am I Supposed to Live Without You?” performed by Cathy for her cable TV show on KNOTS. While Wayne’s song is enjoyably hokey, Cathy’s is dull and generic. Also, for the star of a religious TV programme who doesn’t wish to draw attention to her recent personal tragedy, a secular ballad about grieving for a lost love seems an odd choice (not to mention the see-through black top she performs it in). Therefore, the winner of this week’s Soap Land Song Wars is … Wayne Masterson.

    When Monica decides she wants to sign Wayne to Dominique’s record label, she encounters resistance from her fellow executive, Neil Kitteridge, just as Donna did from Ray when she decided to keep their Down’s Syndrome baby. However, it is not Wayne’s blindness that Neil has a prejudice against, but his musical genre.

    Disability may not be a theme on this week’s FALCON CREST, but with a bizarrely dressed pop singer and a lapsed Catholic priest currently residing under her roof, no one can say Angela Channing isn't doing her bit for diversity. There’s also a whiff of social concern when a distraught teenage girl bursts into Richard’s office looking for Jordan (“He beat me! I can’t go back there! He’s gonna do it again!"), her messy hysteria quite at odds with the glossy Soap Land surroundings.

    Popular innuendo of the week: “Dominique’s put us in bed together and I’d like to make that work,” Monica tells co-worker Neil on THE COLBYS. “Problem is, we can’t both be on top, can we?” he replies knowingly. “I like a woman who’s on top of things,” JR tells Angelica flirtatiously during a business call on DALLAS. “Where my number one client is concerned, I always like to stay on top of things,” smirks Lance with regard to Apollonia an hour later on FALCON CREST.

    And this week’s Top 4 are …

    1 (2) THE COLBYS
    2 (3) KNOTS LANDING
    3 (-) FALCON CREST
    4 (-) DALLAS
     
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  6. James from London

    James from London Soap Chat Addict Respected DVD Reviewer 15 Years on Soap Chat 10 Years on Soap Chat 5 Years on Soap Chat

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    08/Jan/86: DYNASTY: Suspicions v. 09/Jan/86: THE COLBYS: The Letter v. 09/Jan/86: KNOTS LANDING: Web of Lies v. 10/Jan/86: DALLAS: Twenty-Four Hours v. 10/Jan/86: FALCON CREST: Conundrum

    Freak accidents and social issues are the prevalent themes in Soap Land this week. Following the disaster that befell Jamie in last week’s DALLAS when a load of oil barrels randomly fell on top of her, much of the drama in this week’s ep centres around her worsening condition at Soap Land Memorial Hospital. Towards the end of this week's COLBYS, Constance is also whisked away in an ambulance after being knocked down by Sable's car. Less seriously, KNOTS LANDING’s Ben arrives home on crutches after an offscreen incident involving a swivel chair. As this arbitrary occurrence serve no narrative purpose, one assumes it was added to the script in order to accommodate a real-life injury sustained by the actor. Indeed, the non-dramatic way it’s dealt with — everyone’s just sort of amused by the whole thing — feels refreshingly naturalistic. (This isn’t the only real-life ailment to impact onscreen events this week. A back complaint suffered by Victoria Principal means Pam is conspicuous by her absence from several key scenes on DALLAS, most notably those at the hospital involving Mark, Cliff and Matt Cantrell where Sue Ellen seems to be filling in for her.)

    While Sable and Constance’s collision on THE COLBYS is partly a chance occurrence — eager to speak to her sister-in-law, Constance is running unseen towards her car when she is hit — it also arises out of the ongoing conflict between them. Certainly, Jason makes it clear that he holds Sable responsible. “I don’t want you anywhere near her,” he snarls when she attempts to accompany the rest of the family to the hospital. By contrast, all the central characters on DALLAS — be they Ewing, Barnes, Wade, Graison or Farlow — are united by Jamie’s accident. Indeed, the ongoing absence of inter-family conflict during this period of DALLAS renders it almost unrecognisable from the series it has been for the past seven years. However, viewed on its own terms, the episode’s “the next twenty-four hours are critical” structure, which is punctuated throughout by close-ups of ticking clocks as the Ewings embark on a race against time to locate Jamie’s brother Jack so that she can be given a life-saving blood transfusion, works well enough. Nevertheless, the story’s only real frisson derives from JR’s silent belief that Jack’s blood won’t be able to save Jamie because he isn’t her real brother.

    While this week’s DALLAS feels unfamiliar, FALCON CREST makes a pleasing return to its Season 1 roots with Angela and Lance sabotaging Chase’s harvest and the Giobertis fighting back with pluck and ingenuity. The main difference is that the characters are far more openly antagonistic now than they used to be. “I’m gonna bury you. Get out of my house!” Chase yells at Angela unambiguously.

    Issues of race, sexuality, disability, child abuse and even blood donation are all touched upon in this week’s Soap Land. This can sometimes feel a little incongruous — such as when Sue Ellen, aka Miss Self-Involved 1967, earnestly implores the rest of the Ewings to donate blood (“It won’t do Jamie any good, but it’ll help replenish the blood bank's supply”) or when The Bitch Formerly Known As Racine on PAPER DOLLS and Constance on FLAMINGO ROAD is depicted as a volunteer counsellor at a halfway house for abused children on FALCON CREST. While Donna Krebbs takes up sign language in preparation for her new volunteer position on DALLAS, singer Wayne Masterson accuses Monica on THE COLBYS of pitying him for his blindness. (“Hey, don’t feel sorry for me,” he chides. "I got a head full of visions and a way to make people see them … I can see without eyes, Ms. Colby, just like I can sing without your company’s help!”) More subtly, during a scene on DALLAS where JR is speaking to a police contact over the phone, there is a poster, strategically positioned on the wall behind the cop’s desk, of a black man in a police uniform with the heading, "Why not make a difference?” Doubtless it was this recruitment initiative that inspired New DALLAS’s Sheriff Derrick to take up a career in law enforcement.

    “Isn’t this whole abused children thing turning into another Salem witch hunt?” asks gubernatorial candidate JJ Roberts on FALCON CREST. In a way, this feels like a response to the recent trend for Soap Land characters (Joshua Rush, Greg Sumner, Sue Ellen Ewing) to blame their parents for the way they've turned out. The "I’m not your mama!”/“You don’t have a son anymore!" theme continues when JJ’s wife tells their daughter Jordan that her father is on the verge of disowning her following her announcement to the press that she won’t be voting for him in the upcoming election. “He disowned me when he forced himself on me, Mother,” Jordan replies angrily. "Three damn years of hell … Those nightmares never stop!” If Morgan Fairchild seemed out of place as a volunteering do-gooder, then the emotional force with which she delivers this revelation is all the more powerful for being so unexpected.

    Bart Fallmont’s public remarks about the Carringtons and the Colbys ("It’s time those people realised they don’t own this state, that they cannot put profits in their pockets at the expense of our quality of life!”) leads to an equally memorable confrontation on this week’s DYNASTY. The fight scene between him and Steven Carrington, who is outraged about this slur on his family’s good name, is fascinatingly bizarre. It takes place in an otherwise empty gym and culminates in the two men circling one another, each pushing against the other while gripping each other’s shoulders. The camera is placed in-between them, alternately representing each man’s point of view as they stare into each other’s eyes (i.e., down the camera lens). The struggle intensifies until both men’s faces contort in a grimacing climax. Then they collapse to the floor, Steven on top of Bart. He rolls off him and the two men lie next to each other as if coitally spent, still making lingering eye contact. To describe the sequence as homoerotic doesn’t really do it justice; it’s more surreal than that. The whole thing feels simultaneously coy and explicit as though the two men have just engaged in some kind of telepathic sex act right in front of us. The only other Soap Land fight scene this week is a martial arts session between Lance and Chao Li on FALCON CREST. Needless to say, it doesn’t carry quite the same sexual charge.

    Elsewhere on FALCON CREST, Soap Land’s least romantic, and probably funniest, wedding to date takes place when Terry blackmails Richard into marrying her. The ceremony takes place in his office, they impatiently skip over the vows and the minister has to cajole the groom into kissing the bride. (“At least give me that much,” he pleads.) When Richard finds Terry waiting in his bed on their wedding night, he points her in the direction of the guest room down the hall — thus making it clear that they will be joining Blake and “Krystle", Jason and Sable, Miles and Fallon, and JR and Sue Ellen on the “married couple, separate bedrooms” bandwagon. KNOTS LANDING’s Gary and Abby might still be sharing the same bed, but that’s about it. “There's no us,” Gary tells his wife this week. "There’s only you and what you want. That’s all there ever was.” Jason has a similar speech about his marriage on THE COLBYS, but it is spoken more in sadness than anger. "Sable’s happiness is a family fiction,” he tells Frankie. "We want her to be happy, we pretend she’s happy, but she isn’t and she never will be. Nothing’s ever right. Nothing’s ever enough."

    At the same time, other romantic partnerships are beginning to blossom. While Sable shares an illicit kiss with Zachary Powers in his New York penthouse, Gary Ewing has dinner with Jill Bennett in the same Hotel of Adulterous Liaisons previously frequented by JR and Kristin on DALLAS and Field and Lane, and Constance and Julio on FLAMINGO ROAD. Meanwhile, Sable's daughter Monica and her associate Neil Kitteridge mix business with pleasure and Peter Hollister flirts with Abby (albeit clumsily) in the elevator of Galveston Industries.

    While KNOTS’ Greg and Abby agree that their enduring association is forged on mutual suspicion (“I don’t trust you any more than you trust me,” he tells her. “That’s why it works — we have the perfect system of checks and balances,” she replies), FALCON CREST’s Lance insists that Richard and Terry’s marriage is based on love: “She loves his newspaper, he loves her vineyards.” “My sister is marrying my husband’s brother — I feel like I’m in a soap opera,” quips Maggie Gioberti, echoing Eric Fairgate’s observation from earlier in the season: “Living in this cul-de-sac’s like living in the middle of a soap opera.”

    There's more self-referencing with the introduction of DYNASTY's Caress Morelle whose forthcoming book, Sister Dearest, is "the true story of Alexis Morelle Carrington Colby Dexter, as told by her sister”. With Sudden Friendship, Maggie Gioberti’s fictionalised account of life in the Tuscany Valley, awaiting publication on FALCON CREST, it’s like 1982 all over again when Donna Krebbs’ biography of Sam Culver went head to head with Capricorn Crude, Val Ewing’s thinly veiled account of her experience with her Dallas in-laws. On this week’s KNOTS, Val’s sister-in-law Cathy reveals that she too has been approached to write a tell-all book (“the life and times of Joshua Rush”), but has declined the offer. She does, however, have a record deal. In contrast to her KNOTS predecessor Ciji’s recording contract, which was significant enough to fuel a season’s worth of storylines, this fact is mentioned only very briefly in passing. Nevertheless, it puts her on a par with Wayne Masterson, who signs with Titania Records on this week’s episode of THE COLBYS, and FALCON CREST’s Apollonia who bids a bittersweet backstage farewell to Lance on the opening night of her tour, even as the audience can be heard clamouring for an encore. It reminds me of the scene in DALLAS’s fourth season when Sue Ellen breaks up with Dusty upon his victorious return to the rodeo circuit.

    It’s a busy week for Adam Carrington who pulls a diabolical double shift on DYNASTY and THE COLBYS. On the parent show, he takes advantage of Blake’s ill health by “laying the legal groundwork to take over the entire company!" On THE COLBYS, he goes one better by showing Jeff an old letter sent from Philip Colby to his brother Cecil (and hidden in Cecil's Logan Rhinewood file, no less) that includes the following titbit: “And I know that the baby Francesca is carrying is not my child.” “It turns out you’re not even a Colby!” laughs Adam. Conversely on DALLAS, it turns out Jack is a Ewing after all, in spite of Angelica Nero’s claims to the contrary, when his blood proves a perfect match for Jamie’s.

    Angelica isn’t the only Soap Land female whose scheme suffers a serious setback this week. In fact, the final shot of each of the remaining four shows is of a woman faced with the consequences of a foolhardy plan she embarked upon some weeks earlier. At the end of DYNASTY, Sammy Jo, who conceived the idea of a Krystle lookalike in the first place, begins to suspect that Rita is poisoning Blake. On FALCON CREST, Melissa, who came up with an ill-thought through surrogate mother scheme at the end of last season, learns that her chosen surrogate has now absconded with the baby. Over on KNOTS, her attempts to keep the truth about Joshua’s death having resulted in the arrest of an innocent man, Lilimae finally goes to the police to change her statement. Best of all, Sable on THE COLBYS is shown appearing to do the right thing by praying for Constance’s recovery in front of her portrait (“I’ve never begged for anything in my life, but I’m begging you now — you mustn’t die. Please, oh please don’t die!”), but then finding the crumpled up letter which reveals that Philip was not Jeff’s father. Just before the freeze frame, her expression thrillingly transforms from one of tear-stained remorse into something harder and more calculating.

    It's the Rise of the Teenager in this week's Ewing-verse where Olivia Cunningham's request to wear coloured nail polish on KNOTS and Charlie Wade’s to go to boarding school on DALLAS are stonewalled by their respective mothers. "All the other kids are wearing it,” insists Olivia. “What all the other kids are wearing doesn’t matter,” replies Abby firmly. “Dana and Elizabeth are going to Whitley Academy. Can I go too?” pleads Charlie. “Absolutely not,” retorts Jenna. While it’s fun to see Jenna laying down the law to her cosseted daughter, I kind of miss Abby’s less conventional parenting style from the days when she was more likely to laugh at her children’s precocious behaviour than forbid it. Admittedly, her newly conservative stance makes sense given her change in social status. In any case, Olivia and Charlie each gets the last word by referencing her erstwhile Ewing father figure. “No wonder Gary doesn’t want to come home anymore,” Olivia huffs. “If Bobby were here, he would let me go,” Charlie pouts.

    And this week’s Top 5 are …

    1 (1) THE COLBYS
    2 (-) DYNASTY
    3 (2) KNOTS LANDING
    4 (3) FALCON CREST
    5 (4) DALLAS
     
  7. James from London

    James from London Soap Chat Addict Respected DVD Reviewer 15 Years on Soap Chat 10 Years on Soap Chat 5 Years on Soap Chat

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    15/Jan/86: DYNASTY: The Alarm v. 16/Jan/86: THE COLBYS: The Turning Point v. 16/Jan/86: KNOTS LANDING: The Confession v. 17/Jan/86: DALLAS: The Deadly Game v. 10/Jan/86: FALCON CREST: Checkmate

    There are two contenders for Eccentric Soap Land Cameo of the Week — one a lascivious, cackling pawnbroker to whom Robin Agretti hocks her watch on FALCON CREST (“top quality merchandise,” he says, eyeing her breasts), the other a portly, middle-aged, camp newspaper researcher who describes himself as "a great admirer of Mrs. Dexter” on DYNASTY. “If a business tycoon could have a fan, I’m one,” he boasts. While the pawnbroker reinforces FALCON CREST’s depiction of the big city, outside of its air-conditioned offices, exclusive restaurants and luxury penthouses, as a sordid, dangerous place, populated by crackpots and weirdos, DYNASTY’s researcher is the closest Soap Land has gotten to putting one of its own viewers on screen. “Wasn’t that something?” he says to Caress Morelle, recalling Alexis’s first onscreen appearance at Blake’s murder trial. "I can personally quote it all to you, chapter, verse, and cross-examination.” He even recalls her outfit: “She was dressed in black and white with a picture hat, black veil and dark glasses.” Still researching her biography of Alexis, Caress relishes these tidbits, as well as the revelation that her sister married Cecil Colby on his deathbed. “That woman has a thing about death,” she concludes, "an obsession. They call it necrophilia." In fact, there is a rich seam of what one might term “necrophiliac comedy” running through this week’s DYNASTY, including a scene where Joel makes love to Rita as they plot Blake’s murder. And is it mere coincidence, following the mention of the monochromatic outfit Alexis wore to Blake’s murder trial, that Rita is dressed in the same colours when she administers Blake his final fatal dose of poison? Then there’s the terrific final scene where Blake staggers onto the Carrington staircase complaining about a pain in his chest and reaches out to “Krystle” for help. To his bewilderment, she backs away from him. After he tumbles past her down the stairs, Rita forces herself to keep walking up them as if he weren’t there. We then see her from below, peering through a crack in a door, shrouded in guilt and shadows. Without a doubt, it’s the freeze frame of the week.

    There are plenty of references to past events in this week’s Soap Land. As well as Alexis’s exploits at Blake’s trial and Cecil’s deathbed, the St Denis Club and the burnt champagne Alexis served Dominique at their first meeting also get a mention on DYNASTY. Caress’s account of Alexis and Blake's first encounter — "They’d had nothing more than one dance together when she waltzed over to me and she whispered, 'I have just met my husband and the father of my children’” — is echoed by Cole telling Melissa on FALCON CREST, "I’ve been in love with you since the very first day I met you. I knew there was something special between us.” “You should have forgotten me the day I married Lance,” Melissa tells him. On KNOTS, Cathy’s previous murder conviction and Lilimae’s attempted murder of Chip are brought up by the cop in charge of the ongoing investigation into Joshua’s death, and Abby raises the subject of Karen’s drug problem as they compete for a seat on the state planning commission. As an added bonus, we’re given a glimpse of the origins of Abby's feud with Karen. "She and I have never agreed on anything, including the fact that she married my brother,” she recalls.

    Three of last week’s soaps — DYNASTY, KNOTS and FALCON CREST — ended on a shot of a female character — Sammy Jo, Lilimae and Melissa — being faced with a crisis of her own making. It takes Sammy Jo most of this week's episode to confirm her suspicions that Rita and Joel have been poisoning Blake. “What’s happened to you?” she asks Rita when she finally admits the truth. “Why’d you have to change? … What took over?” echoes Lilimae on KNOTS during another of those speeches to an inanimate object (this time, a photograph of her son) that that have become increasingly prevalent this Soap Land season. Already we’ve had Miss Ellie talking to Bobby's grave and JR to his office chair on DALLAS, and Jeff Colby, Greg Sumner and Sable Colby speaking to the portrait of their respective ex-wife, dead father and sister-in-law. In each case, it’s a way of conveying the character’s innermost thoughts to the audience.

    On last week’s KNOTS, after an innocent man was arrested for Joshua's murder, Cathy admitted to Mack that she and Lilimae had been covering up the truth of his death. On last week’s DALLAS, Angelica Nero’s claim that Jack was Dimitri Marinos’s son was found to be false when Jack’s blood proved a perfect match for Jamie’s. This week, Lilimae and Angelica are each compelled tell the truth — or as little of it as they can get away with. While Lilimae confesses to the police that she was with Joshua when he died, she leaves out the fact that Cathy was there too and that Joshua tried to kill her. Meanwhile on DALLAS, in order to win back JR’s trust, Angelica discloses the real reason Jack Ewing is so important to her — his uncanny resemblance to Dimitri Marinos. “You want Jack to impersonate Dimitri — that’s it, isn’t it?” JR realises. Yes, as one lookalike scheme is exposed on DYNASTY (“Steven, it’s about your father — I think he’s gonna die!” exclaims Sammy Jo), another is revealed on DALLAS. What Angelica fails to mention is her ultimate plan “for JR and Jack Ewing.” We don’t know what it is yet either, but judging by the ominous music that wells up on the soundtrack whenever she and Grace refer to it, we know it’s Something Bad.

    After wrestling with her conscience, Lilimae eventually makes a full confession to the police, only to find that she and Cathy are now in the frame for Joshua’s murder. This unwieldy (by KL standards) storyline seems to chiefly exist to provide a dramatic context for Lilimae’s grief, of which her monologue to Joshua’s picture is the climax.

    Meanwhile on FALCON CREST, there’s nothing Melissa can do about surrogate mother Robin running off with her baby other than offering a $10,000 reward for information on their whereabouts. (That is precisely half the amount put up by JR on last week’s DALLAS to help find Jack, and which he subsequently donates to Graison Research this week.) As she waits anxiously for news, Melissa follows Sheila Fisher on KNOTS and Ray Krebbs on DALLAS to become the third Soap Land character of the season to be depicted staring tearfully into an empty crib as a music box tinkles plaintively in the background. Although helpless in this situation, Melissa does make a moral decision on another matter, electing to end her affair with Father Christopher in favour of saving her marriage to Cole. Thus far, Melissa and Christopher have managed to keep their relationship a secret — that is until Angela walks in on their farewell embrace at the end of the episode.

    On THE COLBYS, Sable decides to drop the incompetency suit against Connie, but the damage has already been done — Jason tells her he wants a divorce. The speech she subsequently delivers to her lawyer ("I like being Mrs. Jason Colby. I like the way she lives: her home, her art, her friends, her children, her husband. It’s a good, very good life. Help me keep it”) reminded me of Sue Ellen's speech to Pam after JR and Bobby’s plane crash in DALLAS Season 1 (“The country clubs, the committees, the invitations — it is all because I am Mrs. JR Ewing … Everything is because I am Mrs. JR Ewing”).

    Compared to previous instalments, this week’s episode of THE COLBYS is a little slow. It only really catches fire two-thirds of the way through, after Miles drunkenly lets slip to his mother about Jason’s involvement with Frankie, but when it does, it takes off like a rocket. There are further echoes of JR and Sue Ellen’s dynamic in the explosive final scene. When Jason comes home late to find Sable waiting with an intimate supper for two, it feels like one of those doomed seduction scenes from early DALLAS where Sue Ellen fails to entice JR into her bed. Then when Jason rejects her, it turns into one of those later scenes where Sue Ellen fights fire with fire. “If you divorce me, I will tell the world just what kind of woman my sister really is,” snarls Sable. “I’m not divorcing you because of Frankie,” Jason replies. “It’s because I can’t stomach you.” Wow. Of all the cruel things JR has ever said to Sue Ellen, he's always stopped short of suggesting he’s physically repulsed by her. Not surprisingly, Sable slaps Jason and he grabs her by the wrists to restrain her. As well as resembling one of JR and Sue Ellen’s more visceral altercations, one can imagine this being the kind of fight Blake and Alexis would have had during their marriage. And when Jason walks out, leaving Sable to whisper vengeance to an empty room, it directly parallels the moment where Blake did the same thing to Alexis four years ago. “Oh no, Blake,” vowed Alexis under her breath, "it’s not gonna end this way, I may have lost you now, but I’m not gonna lose everything!” “You had your chance, Jason,” an equally breathy Sable promises, "and now by God, I’ll make you eat your words!”

    JR and Sue Ellen and Blake and Alexis aside, the soap couple Jason and Sable most strongly remind me of at this point are Den and Angie Watts. During this same period, early 1986, Den and Angie were becoming the breakout stars of the BBC’s fledgling soap EASTENDERS, just as Jason and Sable’s marriage is emerging as the most dominant storyline on THE COLBYS. (Whether it was originally intended to be that way I don’t know, but it feels like THE COLBYS’ writers are now responding organically to the chemistry they’re seeing on screen, in the same way KNOTS might have given Joshua those direct-to-camera sermons last season as a direct response to Alec Baldwin’s remarkable intensity.) Like Den Watts, Jason Colby has had enough of living with a neurotic, co-dependent wife. He longs for a future with the cooler, more contained woman he has always loved (Den’s posh mistress Jan, Sable’s sister Frankie). Like Angie, Sable clings on tenaciously, desperately, lashing out like a cornered animal. There’s an unpredictability, a sense of danger Sable and Angie share — the ability to turn from brittle laughter to white hot fury in the space of a sentence. Sable does it here: “Oh my God, it’s almost funny!” she laughs. “Even now, I am meant to ask you for forgiveness after what you have done to me.” By the time she’s reached the end of that line, she’s angry enough to hurl a book at Jason. Sable’s cut-glass English accent is a lot more refined than Angie’s East End cockney one, of course, but while there’s no evidence that Sable was ever anything but to the manor born (save for Zach’s suggestion a few episodes ago that they each married into money), there’s nonetheless a sense that “Mrs. Sable Colby” is a construct, a facade, and whatever lies beneath it isn’t quite so elegant. It’s a feeling one doesn’t get from her All-American sister Frankie, so effortlessly serene even as she solemnly assures her new fiancee Roger Langdon that she isn’t marrying him to escape her feelings for Jason. Heck, she may have even convinced herself that that’s true.

    There’s a certain irony that the fur coat JR gives to Mandy on this week’s DALLAS should be, of all things, a Russian sable. Behind the smiles and kisses, this relationship has also become a mockery of its former self: Mandy is presently spying on JR for Cliff and JR knows it.

    In the best scene of this week’s DALLAS, Mark Graison gets a touch of the Dex Dexters, barking jealously at Pam over her deepening involvement with Matt Cantrell and his Colombian emerald mine, just as Dex continues to disapprove loudly of Alexis’s financial involvement in King Galen’s Moldavian counterrevolution. We already know that Dex’s suspicions about Galen are justified and the final scene of this week’s DALLAS reveals that Mark is right to be wary of Matt as well.

    In fact, KNOTS and DALLAS each concludes with a similar reveal. In the same way that Pam has recently formed a platonic bond with a man connected to her dead ex-husband, so Cathy strikes up an innocent friendship with saxophonist Sonny who offers a sympathetic ear as she continues to mourn her husband’s death. The ends of this week’s eps reveal that neither Matt nor Sonny has the grieving widow’s best interests at heart. While Matt is in JR’s pocket, the recording device hidden in Sonny’s pocket suggests he is some sort of undercover reporter.

    Elsewhere on KNOTS, the scene that introduces Peter Hollister’s money-minded mother hints that he isn’t exactly who he appears to be either. “I need that cheque. It doesn’t buy half as much as when Galveston first started sending them,” she says mysteriously. Meanwhile on THE COLBYS, Sean McAllister bucks the young-man-pretending-to-be-someone-he-isn’t trend by admitting to Jason that he is really Zach Powers’ nephew.

    Angela and Richard each makes a separate but similar appeal for family unity in this week’s FALCON CREST. “In life, the most important thing is the family and without it, we’re nothing,” declares Angela to Emma, Lance and Christopher. “This is a time for family to stick together, Chase,” Richard tells his half-brother. "Now that I’m married to your wife’s sister, we’re really family ... two brothers married to two sisters — a united family striving together against insurmountable odds!” What Angela and Richard appear to be after is what the Ewings of DALLAS have now achieved. Without any apparent effort or narrative explanation, they have somehow been transformed into a happy, functional family. The nearest we get to conflict during a picnic-cum-barbecue on the Southfork patio this week is Sue Ellen gently chiding John Ross for helping himself to too many cookies. Things aren’t as harmonious when Emma’s fiance Dwayne shows up at an equivalent family gathering at Falcon Crest without Angela’s approval. She orders him to leave, but when Julia (on a one-episode visit from the Convent Magdalena) stands up to her, she backs down — further proof that Angela’s bark is now worse than her bite and that Falcon Crest, like Southfork, is no longer the lion’s den it once was.

    The scene between Richard and Chase is more intriguing. "Together we can crush Angela, everybody in this valley — crush 'em all!” insists Richard eagerly. Once again, Chase coldly snubs his brother's offer of friendship. "Every time I hold my hand out to you, you slap it away,” says Richard, looking hurt. It’s interesting how one’s sympathies go to Richard, the rejected orphan, in such situations, even though one can’t fault the logic of Chase’s argument: “To go into business with a man who can speak so glibly about crushing people makes me wonder about when he might turn on me."

    This week’s DYNASTY, KNOTS and FALCON CREST all boast juicy scenes of confrontation between two women, each following in a different Soap Land tradition. On DYNASTY, Alexis strides into Blake’s office and immediately starts talking to him, even though his chair is turned away from her. In due course, the chair spins round to reveal … Dominique sitting in his place! A crisp exchange of insults, threats and vague ultimatums follows. (“If you persist in pursuing this rather reckless course of action, you better be looking behind you because I’m going to be watching you every step of the way!”). The equivalent scene on KNOTS is the only one of the week to pass the Bedchel test (i.e., it features a conversation between two women which isn’t about a man). This time, it’s Karen barging into Abby’s office (“Don’t bother knocking, Karen, just come right in”), armed with accusations, to deliver what Abby describes as “this morning’s tirade.” (“You couldn’t resist, could you? … You knew I was gonna get that appointment so you went after it yourself … I’m gonna fight for it, with every bone in my body!”). Back on DYNASTY, Amanda follows Elena, aka the Duchess of Branagh, aka the leader of the Moldavian underground resistance, into the La Mirage ladies’ room for a “Keep your hands off my man” showdown. Amanda’s complete disregard for the revolution itself is very funny: “You may be able to fool other people with your political idealism and your love for Moldavia, but you can’t fool me because I know it’s my husband that you want!”

    Maggie and Terry’s scene on FALCON CREST occurs in a more domestic environment, the Gioberti kitchen. Over coffee, Terry explains to her sister why she married Richard: “I have been snubbed, laughed at and called a slut by just about every person in this entire valley. Now I am Richard’s wife, maybe not totally respectable yet, but I’m on my way … Power is the one thing that people understand and I have power.” (This is the opposite scenario to the one on THE COLBYS where Sable promises to destroy Frankie’s reputation: “I know what you think about Frankie — dear, sweet saintly Frankie … The truth is my sister, your mistress, is a tramp … Jason, if you divorce me I will tell the world just what kind of a woman my sister really is.”) When Maggie expresses misgivings about the marriage, Terry gets defensive. “Maybe what you really want is to have Richard for yourself,” she suggests. “It’s no secret he’s always had the hots for you.” “Is that why you married him?” counters Maggie. There’s no reply and the scene ends with several unanswered questions left hanging in the air. There’s further ambiguity later in the episode when JJ Roberts begs his daughter Jordan's forgiveness for the sexual abuse he inflicted on her as a child. “Every day I wake up and realise I lost my daughter and it’s my own fault,” he weeps. It’s a disturbing, pathetic sight, but Jordan is moved (“I never heard you accept any blame for it before”) and they embrace. Then something happens as he strokes her hair and calls her his special little girl that causes Jordan to recoil in horror — it’s unclear as to whether their close proximity has triggered a childhood recollection of hers or a sexual response in him. Either way, it’s a succinct illustration of how terribly damaged both of these characters are. For all the glossiness, superficiality and general lightheartedness surrounding it, there is something about this storyline that rings emotionally true.

    Business trend of the week: secret acquisitions. While Greg Sumner anonymously acquires three banks on KNOTS, all of whom do business with Lotus Point, Miss Ellie turns out to be the secret buyer of the holdings Clayton has had to sell off to keep his main company afloat. Elsewhere on DALLAS, JR surreptitiously sells all three members of the cartel a third of his share of the Marinos deal, each without the others’ knowledge, while arranging some healthy percentages for himself along the way. “In other words, you’ll get all of the benefits with none of the risks,” spells out Sly for our benefit. It’s reassuring to know that at least one DALLAS Ewing hasn’t entirely mellowed out.

    And this week’s Top 5 are …

    1 (2) DYNASTY
    2 (1) THE COLBYS
    3 (3) KNOTS LANDING
    4 (4) FALCON CREST
    5 (5) DALLAS
     
  8. James from London

    James from London Soap Chat Addict Respected DVD Reviewer 15 Years on Soap Chat 10 Years on Soap Chat 5 Years on Soap Chat

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    22/Jan/86: DYNASTY: The Vigil v. 23/Jan/86: KNOTS LANDING: Alterations v. 24/Jan/86: DALLAS: Blame it on Bogota v. 24/Jan/86: FALCON CREST: Collision Course

    “I don’t like watching good people get hurt in the name of Falcon Crest … I will never go back there,” vows Christopher Rossini to his grandmother — but even as one illegitimate Soap Land son turns his back on his family legacy, another emerges to claim what is rightfully his. “Won’t it be great to see me sitting here, finally getting what’s due me — my birthright?” crows Peter Hollister while showing his mother around Greg's office on KNOTS. Adam Carrington echoes this sentiment on DYNASTY. Following his collapse at the end of last week’s episode, Blake Carrington spends most of this week’s ep lying unconscious at Soap Land Memorial Hospital where Adam visits him. "I am your son, a true heir. I am a Carrington and you owe me so don’t you dare die!” he commands, standing over his father’s bed.

    Alexis is concerned about Blake too, much to the annoyance of Dex who complains about having to “wait in line” for her attention. "I’ll leave you to your memories of Blake and your future with Galen,” he huffs. Mark Graison is in a comparable situation on DALLAS as Pam flies off to Colombia to look for emeralds with Matt Cantrell, but he deals with it very differently. "I have to let her get this trip of her system,” he explains to Sue Ellen. “She’s doing it for Bobby. It may be the last trip she needs to take or it may be only the first. I love her, but this is the only way for me to find out if I belong in her future.”

    Dex is also angered when Galen asks Alexis for another $2,000,000 to help him regain his Moldavian empire. Cliff Barnes, meanwhile, eagerly offers the exact same amount to become Pam’s partner in the emerald mine. Alexis and Cliff are both being duped. Galen, who has regained the use of his legs but contains to feign paralysis in order to take advantage of Alexis's hospitality, plans to dump her as soon as he is back in power, while JR uses an unsuspecting Mandy Winger to feed Cliff false information about the mine’s value — Cliff thinks he and Pam are sitting on a fortune when in reality it’s worthless.

    The Carringtons pace the floor of Soap Land Memorial while awaiting news of Blake’s condition just as the Ewings and Cliff did on DALLAS two weeks ago while awaiting news of Jamie's. The scene where Blake’s doctor tells Krystle, aka Rita, the good news (“Your husband’s going to be all right”) plays like a parody of the equivalent scene in DALLAS. Where the Ewings beamed smiles of undiluted joy for Jamie, Rita struggles to do the same thing when this prognosis is actually the last thing she was hoping to hear.

    Rita and Cliff are at Blake and Jamie’s respective bedsides when they regain consciousness for the first time since their ordeals. The scenes that follow, however, are very different. Blake is more frightened, more enfeebled than we’ve ever seen him as he finally realises the truth. “You’re not my wife!” he shouts weakly at Rita, who is possibly even more terrified than he is. In contrast, when Jamie wakes up on DALLAS, Cliff burbles on sweetly about how she’s going to be all right until they’re both in tears. It’s a touching little scene and, at the risk of damning with faint praise, probably the highlight of the episode. Indeed, I find myself rooting for Jenna Wade this week as she withdraws mentally from this strange new DALLAS in which she now finds herself — humming dreamily in an empty boutique instead of lunching with the beatific Donna; insisting on talking about Bobby at the Ewing dinner table when the rest of the family would sooner chit-chat about emerald mines or discuss day-trips to Southfork for disadvantaged kids.

    While this is by no means my favourite period of DALLAS, there are still small pleasures to be gleaned from it. There’s a nice scene where JR drops by Southfork in the middle of a working day, hoping to ascertain why his mother is making unusually large financial transactions. Miss Ellie isn’t giving anything away so he’s obliged to behave as if he’s simply there to enjoy her company. It’s as close to an unguarded moment between mother and son as I can remember. Also, the faded opulence of the hotel in Las Gatos where Matt Cantrell and Pam pitch up at the end of the episode is quite evocative (“What an odd place for the middle of nowhere,” Pam observes) while the dramatic emphasis placed on the warning Matt receives from the local chief of police just before the freeze frame (“The last time you did business in our city, you made many enemies. They remember you well. Be very careful, amigo”) is unusual and intriguing.

    I especially like the dynamic between Angelica Nero and her subordinates, particularly the amused glances she and Grace exchange while the humourless Nicholas fusses over the details of their master plan. FALCON CREST’s Angela now has a Grace equivalent of her own, a deviously efficient Girl Friday known as Miss Jones. As well as their ruthlessness and work ethic, Grace and Miss Jones share the same taste in knowing one-liners. “I’m a woman who enjoys her work,” Grace purrs, referring to her on-the-clock seduction of Jack Ewing. “I do like an incentive programme,” quips Miss Jones when Angela tells her how handsomely she’ll be rewarded for sabotaging Chase’s wine shipment.

    While Ben Gibson hobbles manfully back to work on this week’s KNOTS, Victoria Principal’s offscreen ailment means that Pam remains almost entirely absent from DALLAS. In fact, she doesn’t appear until literally the very last minute when she and Matt arrive in Los Gatos. As if to compensate for the Pam deficit, Soap Land arranges for her DYNASTY equivalent, Krystle Carrington, to have a knock down drag out fight with … herself. Yes, at long last the two Krystles come face to face and immediately pay homage to the show’s own past by knocking seven bells out of each other in Krystle’s attic prison just as Krystle and Alexis did in Alexis’s studio four years earlier. (This act of self-referencing is the DYNASTY equivalent of Bobby being shot in the Ewing Oil offices four years after JR was — while no one on screen acknowledges the allusion, any semi-regular viewer will get the gag.) The fight itself is a dizzying blur of drama, pastiche and unintentional comedy (the dish mop wigs obscuring the stunt-women’s faces), with echoes of '70s sci-fi (Jaime Sommers battling her own double on THE BIONIC WOMAN) thrown in for good measure. Plus there’s the same subversive kick that made the original Krystle/Alexis catfight worth referencing in the first place. The inelegant sight of two DYNASTY women scrabbling about on the floor — hair mussed, legs splayed, clothing torn — serves as an antidote to the very thing that gives the show its USP: the poise and glamour of its female protagonists. The one function the Krystle/Rita fight serves that the Krystle/Alexis original didn’t is to further the plot. Fake Krystle may have been the one who entered the attic when the fight began, but Real Krystle is the one who leaves it (having rendered her opponent unconscious) — only to run into her captor Joel just before the closing titles!

    A week after Sable delivered her ultimatum to Jason on THE COLBYS — “If you divorce me, I will tell the world just what kind of woman my sister really is” — Olivia Cunningham comes up with an equivalent (albeit more clumsily phrased) threat on KNOTS. Having decided she’d sooner live with the Mackenzies than her mother, she tells Abby, “If you force me to go back with you, I will tell any court in the world that you knew that Gary was the father of Val’s twins and you knew that they were alive and kidnapped and you didn’t do anything about it.” Olivia's accidental discovery (she overheard Greg threatening Abby over on the phone) serves two narrative purposes. On one level, it means that Abby’s chickens have come home to roost, and that's great — it’s always interesting to see Abby backed into a corner. On another, it functions as a Maguffin for Olivia to act like any normal fifteen-year-old who wakes up one morning and suddenly decides she hates her parents.

    Likewise, the ongoing tabloid interest in Joshua’s death serves as a dramatic catalyst for Lilimae to behave as irrationally as any real life grieving mother might. This week, she has something of a breakdown in a supermarket when she sees her picture plastered all over the front page of World Secrets. "People in the media have no sense of responsibility,” she complains. "We have got to stop these scandal papers telling lies about our family.” Her sentiments are echoed by Angela on FALCON CREST. “Chao Li, will you take that rag out and burn it?” she requests after the New Globe prints a gossipy article about Peter Stavros becoming a recluse. “The next Howard Hughes,” Lance suggests (or indeed, the next Dimitri Marinos — another Greek shipping magnate who has vanished mysteriously from public view). Angela proves more sanguine about the printed word elsewhere in this week’s FC, surprising Maggie by showing up at her book signing to request an autographed copy of her novel just as JR did at Val's on KNOTS three seasons earlier.

    Child abuse, a hot-button topic in mid-80s America due in part to the likes of Oprah and Donahue, has once again succeeded in penetrating the insulated walls of Soap Land’s fantasy world. While Greg Sumner jokes about being accused of such a crime while babysitting Laura’s two sons on KNOTS, Abby angrily informs the Mackenzies that her runaway daughter is “not some battered child that needs to be protected from a couple of monster parents” — a line that chimes with JJ Roberts’ question on FALCON CREST a couple of weeks ago: “Isn’t this whole abused children thing turning into another Salem witch hunt?”

    When Olivia runs away from home, she has a near miss with a sinister looking man who encourages her to get into his car. (The same thing happened the last time she made the crosstown trek from Gary’s ranch to the cul-de-sac.) This is yet another example, like Robin Agretti’s interaction with the pawnbroker on last week’s FALCON CREST or Sue Ellen’s misadventures during her lost weekend at the beginning of this season’s DALLAS, of how Soap Land's mean streets are paved with predators. However, the houses of the rich and respectable can just as perilous. As we discovered in Season 6 of DALLAS, it was behind such doors that Edgar Randolph molested Barbara Mulgravy, the daughter of his family’s housekeeper, and on this week's FALCON CREST, Jordan Roberts has an even worse story to tell. “His hands, his breath, they’re all over me. I can’t wash them off after all these years,” she tells Greg Reardon, referring to her own father — pillar of the community JJ Roberts.

    When Jordan speaks of the authority figures who failed her when she turned to them for help ("I tried to tell people when I was little, my mother and a counsellor and our minister. No one helped me, no one believed me”), one thinks of the similarly named Jonathan J. Rush on KNOTS — another respected member of his own community, another minister, another father who violently abused his own child. In that case, the abused became the abuser. In this one, the abused became Morgan Fairchild.

    Indeed, Jordan’s backstory resonates strongly with those of her previous Soap Land selves. “He gave me everything as a child,” she remembers, "beautiful dolls, beautiful dresses, a pony … He was the perfect father, so everyone said.” DALLAS's original Jenna and FLAMINGO ROAD’s Constance were both also largely defined by the pampering they received from their fathers — until Lucas Wade died, leaving his heiress daughter with nothing but debts, and Constance discovered Claude Weldon had been lying to her about her parentage for her entire life. And while Jordan’s wilderness period (“I went through a pretty self-destructive couple of years … too much dope, too much booze”) neatly coincides with Jenna’s jet-setting in Europe after she jilted Bobby, PAPER DOLLS was cancelled before we could learn the dark family secret Racine was running away from before she, like Jordan, reinvented herself as a successful career woman.

    That FALCON CREST, often so jaunty and trivial in tone, should prove capable of producing a character as utterly wretched and bleak as JJ Roberts (at least Jonathan J. Rush had his faith) is impressive. While JJ is cursed with a clear understanding of the horror he has inflicted upon his daughter, he continues to view himself as a victim. (“Don’t do this to me,” he pleads after Greg resigns from his political campaign.) In the final scene of the episode, he calls Jordan from his office. After apparently taking full responsibility for what he did to her (“You were just a child … You trusted me and I betrayed that … It was never your fault”), he commits the unfathomably cruel act of killing himself while she is still on the other end of the line.

    When the gun goes off, the camera freezes on Jordan and Greg’s reactions, just it did on Karen and Mack's after Dr Ackerman blew his brains out on last season’s KNOTS. This week, the baby-stealing gynaecologist resurfaces in his other guise of DALLAS banker Franklin Horner. Even though Horner predates Ackerman, such is the sinister impression he made on KNOTS that when Miss Ellie visits his office to request a loan, one can’t shake off the feeling that he’s about to reach across his desk and do something terrible to Mama.

    And this week’s Top 4 are …

    1 (4) FALCON CREST
    2 (1) DYNASTY
    3 (3) KNOTS LANDING
    4 (5) DALLAS
     
  9. James from London

    James from London Soap Chat Addict Respected DVD Reviewer 15 Years on Soap Chat 10 Years on Soap Chat 5 Years on Soap Chat

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    29/Jan/86: DYNASTY: The Accident v. 30/Jan/86: THE COLBYS: Thursday’s Child v. 30/Jan/86: KNOTS LANDING: Friendly Enemies v. 31/Jan/86: DALLAS: Shadow Games v. 31/Jan/86: FALCON CREST: Shattered Dreams

    This week’s DYNASTY opens with a nifty bit of role reversal as Krystle impersonates her own impersonator in order to escape her kidnapper Joel. She then hotfoots it to Blake’s bedside at Soap Land Memorial Hospital — but how to convince him she’s really the Real Krystle? By recounting an intimate conversation that took place aboard his private jet, way back in the pilot episode, that’s how. Sable attempts a similar move on THE COLBYS in order to rekindle Jason’s ardour. She tries to recreate their first scene together (was it only two and a half months ago?) where she stepped naked out of the bathtub and he dried her off. This time around, however, he hands her a towel and lets her get on with it. Meanwhile on KNOTS, Mack recalls the beginning of that series, albeit unintentionally, when he delivers the male equivalent of Karen’s midlife speech from “Let Me Count the Ways" to explain why he has Jill Bennett’s hotel key in his pocket. (“One day I looked in the mirror and realised much of my life had gone by. The things I dreamed of doing I wasn’t going to do … It’s not about using the key, it’s about having it … It made me feel just a little more alive.") Karen is no more impressed by Mack’s efforts than Jason is by Sable's. Clayton Farlow has more success explaining his male identity crisis to Miss Ellie on DALLAS ("I left a lot of things behind so I could take up life with you at Southfork. I gave up Southern Cross, I left Houston … Farlow Industries is all I have left that I can point to and say, ‘That’s mine’”), even if their “scene from a marriage" takes place in the somewhat unconventional setting of a ladies powder room.

    Elsewhere on DALLAS, Jenna Wade would dearly love to return to the past. “Do you think if I wished hard enough, I could go back to before all the mistakes were made?” she asks Bobby at his graveside. “I wanna go back ... I just don’t know how to get there.” Over on FALCON CREST, the original Jenna, aka Jordan Roberts, has the opposite problem. She is haunted by nightmares of herself as a little girl dancing with her abusive father to a tinkling music box tune. It's like a more sinister variation of Val Ewing’s dream of waltzing with Gary when she was in Shula.

    There is much coming and going at Soap Land Memorial this week. While DYNASTY’s Blake and DALLAS’s Jamie each returns home from the hospital, THE COLBYS’ Constance remains behind, making slow progress after her collision with Sable’s car. Following an altercation on last week’s FALCON CREST when she and Dwayne surprised some bad guys who were after Chase’s wine shipment, Emma Channing is also admitted and, like Constance, diagnosed with a concussion. Over on KNOTS, Cathy is off work with laryngitis — a comparatively minor complaint which nonetheless sets in motion a chain of (somewhat contrived) events leading to the exposure of the undercover reporter in her midst.

    In the meantime, Lilimae continues to brood over the tabloid articles written about her son’s death. “Pretty soon they’ll find something else to write about,” Val assures her. Well, they will if Alexis Dexter has anything to do with it. “KRYSTLE CARRINGTON — LOVE SLAVE!” is the headline she pitches to the editor of the National Informer at the end of this week’s DYNASTY. “There’ll be a stampede to every supermarket in the country,” she tells him. Over on FALCON CREST, Jordan gloomily predicts that the New Globe’s next big front page story will be “THE BIG UNSOLVED MYSTERY OF JORDAN ROBERTS!” after Richard tells her he knows about her father abusing her. However, he promises her he won’t make the information public. (Let us call this soap karma — during Richard and Jordan’s previous incarnations on FLAMINGO ROAD, he took great delight in sadistically rubbing her face in her family's deep dark secrets.)

    With Ben Gibson’s foot still bandaged on KNOTS and Pam Ewing still largely absent from DALLAS (the facially obscured stand-in used for most of her scenes, while obvious, is nonetheless more convincing than Krystle and Rita’s bewigged stunt replacements during last week’s DYNASTY), I find myself on the lookout for other real life injuries and ailments that might have made it onscreen. While Cathy’s hoarse voice on KL certainly sounds authentic, it’s surely too integral to the plot to have been unplanned. The surgical dressing on Miles Colby’s hand, however, is another matter. It serves no narrative purpose and when Zach Powers comments on it in passing, Miles attributes it to an injury sustained during a brawl in the last episode. “I didn’t know I actually broke it until the day after,” he adds as if to explain away its sudden appearance. This suggests that Maxwell Caulfield might have fallen prey to the same off screen Soap Land curse as Doug Sheehan and Victoria Principal. Miles’s fight took place while he was slumming it in a merchant seamen’s bar, looking for evidence that Zach himself was behind the recent oil spill from one of Colby Enterprises’ tankers. Miles’s FALCON CREST equivalent, Lance Cumson, follows his lead this week, posing as a dock worker to find out information about Peter Stavros’s whereabouts. (Well, it’s more plausible than the tabloid reporter currently masquerading as a saxophonist on KNOTS.) By the end of the episode, Lance is preparing to travel to Monte Carlo to question Peter’s son-in-law Philippe, “a high-stakes gambler who doesn't like to lose.”

    Hopefully, Lance will have better luck than Jeff Colby who this week flies to Athens to speak with Captain Lavados, the man whom Zach blackmailed into doing his dirty work, only to find him dead in his apartment. Conversely on DALLAS, Angelica Nero’s accomplice Nicholas flies in from Athens with the news that another shipping tycoon, Dimitri Marinos, is also dead. Angelica’s instinctive response is not dissimilar from the “million dollar spit in the ocean” game that Fallon introduced Krystle to in DYNASTY’s first season (“the poor cut back in hard times — that’s why they’re poor; the rich know that’s the time to spend”). She takes to the stage at Sue Ellen’s charity auction and pledges a million dollars to Graison Research on behalf of Dimitri, whom she assures everyone is alive and well.

    Elsewhere at the party, JR gets the better of Cliff by outbidding him to the tune of $12,000 on a crystal duck which he then magnanimously donates back to the auction. This is a lighthearted variation on the recent art auction on THE COLBYS where Zach anonymously outbid Sable on a prized Matisse painting before presenting it to her as a gift. This week, Sable angrily orders him to take it back after she discovers his nephew has been using Bliss to spy on Jason: “I want your painting out of my collection and you out of my life immediately.” She slaps him, he slaps her, they passionately kiss, he exits the scene and she’s left smouldering in close up.

    Two of this week’s soaps contain a scene where a woman sides with a rapist against his victim. At JJ Roberts’ funeral on FALCON CREST, his wife Harriet blames their daughter Jordan for his suicide, despite being aware of the abuse he inflicted upon her as a child. The situation is a little different for Sable on THE COLBYS. When she accuses Fallon, whom she learns is planning to return to Denver, of deserting her son, she is unaware that Miles had raped her the night before.

    Like Kirby after her rape by Adam in DYNASTY’s third season, Fallon chooses to keep her ordeal a secret, at least for the time being. The viewer is kept at the same emotional distance as the other characters onscreen and so it is hard to get a real sense of her suffering (aside from a flash of anger towards Sable when she tries to persuade her to stay with Miles: “I’m not his property!”). In contrast, when Miles wakes up the morning after the night before, his shame and self-disgust are written all over his face. By Soap Land standards, Miles is a relatively complex figure whereas Fallon, due in part to her recast, her memory loss and subsequent identity crisis, remains something of a blank canvas. Weirdly, this puts the viewer in a position of being able to identify, and maybe even sympathise, more easily with a rapist than his victim. Intentional or not, this sense of imbalance, this moral lopsidedness where we're not quite sure who we’re meant to be rooting for at any given moment, is part of what makes THE COLBYS so fascinating and unique among the soaps.

    Over on DYNASTY, Jackie Devereaux explains to her mother Dominique that she has gotten herself expelled from her Swiss finishing school so that,“I can be near you … I love you and I want to get to know you more.” By way of contrast on this week’s KNOTS, Abby is obliged to wait outside Olivia’s school to even catch a glimpse of her. “I don’t want to talk to her,” Olivia insists. As Abby tries to explain about her participation (or lack thereof) in the kidnapping of Val’s twins (“I didn’t even know about it until after the fact”), DYNASTY’s Sammy Jo attempts to explain her role in Krystle’s abduction (“I was angry and I wanted my money ... but it got out of control.") While Olivia screams in her mother’s face, Krystle tells her niece she’s “so angry with you, I’d like to shake the hell out of you if I thought it would do any good.” However, she grudgingly agrees not to press charges against her and Sammy Jo’s genuine contrition seems to mark a turning point for her character.

    As one Soap Land heroine’s abduction ordeal ends on DYNASTY, another’s begins on DALLAS — and is it mere coincidence that just two days after Krystle’s kidnappers, Joel and Rita, mysteriously disappear (last known destination: South America), Pam Ewing is snatched by person or persons unknown in the jungles of Colombia?

    Also on this week's DALLAS, the disabled pupils from Donna's school enjoy a trip to Southfork. The kids themselves are sweet, their interactions with Ray, Clayton and the horses as cute and unaffected as you’d expect from any unscripted child performers. However, Donna and Miss Ellie’s responses to the children are so gushy and mushy, it kind of kills the sequence stone dead. THE COLBYS, meanwhile, uses the making of Wayne Masterson’s debut pop video to combine Soap Land’s ongoing interest in disabled characters with its current trend for MTV-style music montages. After the shoot, Monica raves about the video to Wayne — “Wait till you see it!” — then catches herself and apologises. Again, Wayne accuses her of pitying him his blindness and asks her to describe the video to him. This develops into a kind of romantic moment between them. Sure, it’s a little hokey, but it’s still preferable to the moments on DALLAS where Miss Ellie gets uncharacteristically teary listening to Donna rhapsodise about how “special” her kids are. While Wayne’s story is, to an extent, about Monica’s well-intentioned but patronising attitude towards him, the DALLAS equivalent simply is well-intentioned but patronising. Crucially, Wayne has a voice with which to challenge Monica’s behaviour (“Come on, girl, quit walking on eggshells because I’m blind”) whereas the Woodgrove kids must necessarily play second fiddle to Donna and her emotions.

    Questions have been raised over the past few weeks regarding the paternities of Jeff Colby, Peter Hollister and Hope Gioberti, but no one is quite sure who or what to believe. (It’s almost as if everyone involved was watching DALLAS when Angelica Nero suckered JR with her convincing yarn about Dimitri Marinos being Jack’s real father and has since realised such things can’t be taken at face value.) On THE COLBYS, Jeff flies to Rome to ask his mother the truth about Phillip’s letter from Saigon. She insists that Phillip “was exhausted, under pressure, sick with malaria” when he wrote it and that he is indeed his real father. Jeff seems satisfied, but the final line of the episode, delivered by Jason, puts a whole new spin on things: “Frankie, I have to know. Is Jeff my son?” “I’m your brother ... Paul Galveston was my father too,” announces Peter on KNOTS. He is somewhat unnerved at how casually Greg accepts the news. (“He said he believed me,” he tells his mother, “but what Greg Sumner says and what he believes are rarely the same thing.”) Meanwhile on FALCON CREST, the jury (or more specifically, the DNA analysis) is still out on who the heck fathered Robin Agretti’s kid.

    There is a broad selection of cultural references in this week’s Soap Land. On DYNASTY, Alexis compares Krystle to Patty Hearst to bolster her argument that she must have slept with Joel Abrigore while he held her captive in the attic. And while Zach Powers assures Sable that, “I’m not Machiavelli, I’m just a simple man who wants a very complicated woman” on THE COLBYS, Mack Mackenzie describes the realisation that “I was never gonna stand in a gin mill in Casablanca and watch Ingrid Bergman walk in“ during his midlife speech on KNOTS. Over on DALLAS, Cliff tells Jamie how “the scene with the mother” in Bambi “gets me every time” — which kind of makes it the Disney equivalent of Cliff’s own “scene with the mother", i.e., the one with Rebecca and the liquorice.

    And this week’s Top 5 are …

    1 (3) KNOTS LANDING
    2 (-) THE COLBYS
    3 (2) DYNASTY
    4 (4) DALLAS
    5 (1) FALCON CREST
     
  10. James from London

    James from London Soap Chat Addict Respected DVD Reviewer 15 Years on Soap Chat 10 Years on Soap Chat 5 Years on Soap Chat

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    05/Feb/86: DYNASTY: Souvenirs v. 06/Feb/86: THE COLBYS: The Pact v. 06/Feb/86 KNOTS LANDING: A Key to a Woman's Heart v. 07/Feb/86: DALLAS: Missing v. 07/Feb/86: FALCON CREST: Gambit Exposed

    “I feel betrayed,” Karen confides to Val. “I feel so violated,” Krystle admits to Steven. Indeed, it’s been an emotionally volatile week in Soap Land, especially on DYNASTY and KNOTS LANDING. While Alexis smashes Dex’s picture against a wall (“Damn you!” she yells to an empty room), Mack breaks a bedside lamp during a shouting match with Karen. While Alexis scratches Dex’s face when his jealousy towards Galen erupts once again, the Mackenzies draw blood metaphorically as each aims for the other’s Achilles heel. “You think you can joke your way out of everything. You think it’s cute,” mocks Karen. “I’m married to the standard bearer — Miss Self-Righteous-Make-The World-A-Better-Place,” sneers Mack.

    Meanwhile, Krystle Carrington and Cathy Geary both behave erratically after finding themselves front page news. "CARRINGTON ABDUCTOR - POLICE STILL STYMIED: Will He Strike Again?” asks the Denver Chronicle. "Evangelist Rush Tried To Murder Songbird Wife,” reveals World Secrets. While Cathy trashes her dressing room after learning that Sonny betrayed her to the tabloids, Krystle startles Steven by frantically pulling dresses from their hangers and throwing them across her bedroom: “You were here, you saw her — did she wear this, or this?"

    The creepy scene where a kindly nanny turns out to be a reporter hungry for a salacious quote from Krystle is DYNASTY's equivalent of the Sonny the saxophonist storyline on KNOTS but told succinctly and effectively in one scene instead of being spread out over several episodes. The nanny’s warning as she is led away by security (“You people in your mansions with your fancy cars and your jewels, you’ve forgotten what it’s like to live in the real world … You cannot isolate yourselves in an ivory tower!”) echoes the sentiments of Susan, LB's real nanny from Season 3.

    By the end of their respective episodes, Krystle and Cathy have each achieved a kind of catharsis. Krystle revisits the attic where she was held prisoner (“I had to know that I could be in this room and be able to walk out … that I’m free,” she explains to Blake), an act which has always rung psychologically true to me regardless of the far-fetched circumstances leading up to it. Cathy, meanwhile, achieves closure by simply punching Sonny in the face.

    There’s more punching when Mark Graison and Matt Cantrell come to blows on DALLAS. The brawl is kind of fun but compared to the recent DYNASTY-verse fights between Steven and Bart Fallmont, Jeff and Adam, and Krystle and Krystle, a little conventional. Outbursts of emotion are no longer permitted at Southfork itself, however, as a grieving Jenna discovers when she attempts to visit her fiancee’s grave one evening. She is forcibly prevented from doing so by Clayton and after she has been bundled upstairs, he and the rest of the Stepford Farlow-Krebbs-Ewing clan discuss how best to suppress such behaviour. Mention is made of “something to quiet her” and “getting her some help.”

    Following the recent run of DYNASTY to COLBYS crossovers, the traffic flows the other way this week, with no less than three characters making the trek from California to Denver. While Fallon gets reacquainted with her relatives, Miles apologises for raping her and Zach drops by Alexis’s penthouse to inform her that she’s the most exciting woman he has ever known — in other words, the same thing he’s been telling her cousin Sable on a weekly basis since THE COLBYS began.

    Dominique, on the other hand, guests on THE COLBYS, but doesn't appear on her “home" show, which is a first of sorts. She also becomes the first person to compete with themselves in a round of Soap Land Song Wars. At the opening night of her new Los Angeles nightclub, Dominique sings two songs, jazz standard “Come Rain or Come Shine” as a solo, and Willie Nelson’s wistful country ballad “Crazy” as a duet with Wayne Masterson. Perhaps eager to prove she still has what it takes (her last musical performance on DYNASTY having ended abruptly when she collapsed to the floor mid-song), she delivers both numbers at full-throttle. While she steamrollers over “Crazy”, all but drowning out her singing partner in the process, “Come Rain or Come Shine” proves more resilient to her take-no-prisoners style. It also benefits from some good old-fashioned Ciji-at-Daniel’s staging, whereby the camera cuts to significant reaction shots of Jason, Sable, Fallon, Miles and Jeff (who are all sitting in the audience) whenever is most lyrically appropriate.

    Back on DYNASTY, King Galen once again offers to make Alexis his queen. She is clearly tempted but insists she loves her husband. Nevertheless, a quasi-coronation takes place when Galen persuades her to try on the royal tiara. As she kneels before him and he places it on her head, church bells toll on the soundtrack. Meanwhile, Sue Ellen is anointed “the new queen of Dallas fundraising” by the rest of the Ewings on DALLAS and Richard Channing predicts on FALCON CREST that “Angela’s days as the great queen are numbered” now that he and Chase have joined forces against her.

    Elsewhere on DYNASTY, King Galen is so outraged to learn Amanda has asked his son Michael for a divorce that he forgets to pretend he’s paralysed and leaps out of his wheelchair. (Constance Carlyle once made a similar faux pas on FLAMINGO ROAD.) Michael is appalled by the deception. "All my life I looked up to you and respected you … You make me sick!” he tells his father, sounding as disillusioned as Miles Colby did when he discovered Jason's involvement with Francesca a few weeks ago. (For his part, Galen’s power mad ravings resemble those of Cecil Colby during his Logan Rhinewood period.) Over on THE COLBYS, Miles’s own marriage to Amanda’s sister isn’t faring any better. When he begs Fallon not to file their annulment papers and she does anyway, one feels genuinely bad for him. Miles’s later line to his sister Bliss — “You ever feel like something inside you pushing you to the edge and you think, ‘Maybe, this time, I’m going over'?” — recalls the demise of KNOTS LANDING’s Joshua. Both Miles and Joshua are (or were) arrogant, self-destructive and guilty of extreme violence towards the wives they claimed to love, yet somehow they remain sympathetic. Following his death, a reporter compared Joshua’s celebrity and untimely passing to James Dean's. Miles also displays elements of Dean’s persona — his quasi-‘50s quiff, a history of reckless driving (Sable describes to Fallon this week how Miles once nearly killed himself in an auto wreck) and a profound disappointment in his father which resembles the father/son dynamic in REBEL WITHOUT A CAUSE much more than it does the traditional Soap Land equivalent — Miles is openly contemptuous of Jason in a way that neither JR Ewing nor Adam Carrington would ever dream of being towards their daddies.

    “I feel like a drive,” a skittish Miles tells Bliss. "Wanna come along? … Come on, let’s just leave the world behind us, huh?” Miles isn't the only character seeking to escape reality by speeding dangerously down Soap Land’s highways in a red convertible this week. “When I’m behind the wheel of a car,” Gary explains to Jill on KNOTS, "I can’t worry about anything but the road. Everything else just vanishes.” FALCON CREST’s Lance started out the season this way too — as a fast-driving thrill seeker trying to block out the death of his wife. Over the course of the season, Lance has gradually grown more responsible (even playing musical Svengali to Apollonia just as Gary once did to Ciji) while Gary has grown less so. Now, while Gary is driving fast cars and pursuing an extra-marital affair with Jill, Lance is focused on his family. This week, he goes to extraordinary lengths to learn what has become of his grandmother’s erstwhile fiancee.

    And just as Lance flies to Monte Carlo to find out whatever the hell happened to Peter Stavros, JR travels to Los Gatos to find out the same about the recently abducted Pam Ewing. Both trips require a degree of subterfuge — Lance adopts an alias while JR uses the same cover story as Jason did to explain his visit to Frankie in last week’s COLBYS: as far as anyone is concerned, he has taken a quick business trip to Europe. The best moments of this week’s DALLAS come when Sly delivers this cover story to Angelica Nero and Mandy Winger. While Angelica twitches nervously, afraid that JR has somehow gotten wind of Dimitri Marinos’s death and has flown to Athens to find out more, Mandy's dismay when she realises JR didn’t even bother to let her know he was leaving the country is a poignant indication of how far out of favour she has fallen.

    When I first watched this ep, I remember being disappointed by JR’s concern for Pam’s safety: “If something happens to that woman … I’ll never be able to look at myself in the mirror again." I saw it as yet another example of how the Ewings were being softened at this point in the series. I would have preferred JR to derive the same sort of sadistic pleasure from Pam's abduction as Alexis has from Krystle’s on DYNASTY. (This week, she taunts Krystle by speculating about how Blake and Rita got along “in their more intimate moments” together.) However, we do get an enjoyable cat and mouse scene between JR and Rueda, the local chief of police. (“I always like dealing with a man who can't be bought too cheap or too fast,” JR tells him approvingly.) And it’s not as if JR’s desire for Pam’s safe return is entirely selfless: “Nobody who knows how she and I felt about each other will ever believe I wasn’t responsible for this whole damn thing."

    Lance, meanwhile, goes undercover as a high-stakes gambler, complete with fake identity and 007 tuxedo, in order to infiltrate the guarded villa where Peter is being held captive by his son-in-law Philippe. This scheme contains elements of other recent Soap Land storylines. Where Sable and JR have each tried to prove that neither Constance nor Pam is sufficiently competent to manage her own business affairs (making Connie appear senile, tricking Pam into investing in a worthless emerald mine), Philippe and his wife Sofia have taken the even more drastic step of holding Peter against his will till they can force him into signing control of Stavros Shipping over to them. “The company needs a visible leader,” insists Philippe, echoing what Angelica Nero has been saying about Marinos Shipping on DALLAS. After several scenes where Lance feigns drunkenness at Philippe’s card table (whereas JR’s encounter with Rueda is brief but enjoyable, Lance’s with Philippe threatens to drag on forever), he finally manages to rescue Peter — only for the two of them to be apprehended by armed guards just before the freeze frame.

    And so to this week’s Soap Land Paternity Watch: While Sable has a vested interest in proving Jeff isn’t Phillip’s son on THE COLBYS, Abby has a stake in helping Peter Hollister prove he is Greg’s brother on KNOTS. Both ladies strike a deal. Sable promises not to challenge Jeff’s paternity (or Frankie’s reputation) in court on the condition that Jason drops divorce proceedings against her. Conversely, Abby agrees to fund Peter’s bid to prove his paternity in court in return for information about Galveston Industries. Likewise, FALCON CREST's Angela offers to foot the bill for Robin’s custody battle with Cole (who turns out to be Hope’s biological father after all) for no apparent reason other than to spite the Giobertis.

    Mack Mackenzie and Sue Ellen Ewing each delivers a similar line this week, but with a very different meaning behind it. "I don’t know how the world knew what it was doing until you came along,” a bitterly sarcastic Mack tells Karen during their big fight. “I don’t know what the world would even be like without Pam being around,” a super-earnest Sue Ellen tells Jamie in the wake of Pam's disappearance. Miss Ellie’s response to the news, meanwhile, sounds somewhat disingenuous. “I feel as if we were living under a curse — first Jock, then Bobby and now Pam,” she says. It’s the DALLAS equivalent of Maggie Gioberti’s and Eric Fairgate’s “I feel like I’m living in a soap opera” quips from earlier in the season.

    Dietary fad of the week: dessert. On DYNASTY, Alexis suggests to Fallon that they celebrate her return from the dead with a helping of “the most divine chocolate mousse pie" at La Mirage. When a heavily laden dessert trolley pulls up in front of them on KNOTS LANDING, Laura proposes to Greg they order “one of each, sport." Contrarily on DALLAS, Christopher is surprised when Miss Ellie tells him what his daddy’s favourite food was as a child. “He liked broccoli?” he asks in wonderment.

    And this week’s Top 5 are …

    1 (3) DYNASTY
    2 (1) KNOTS LANDING
    3 (2) THE COLBYS
    4 (4) DALLAS
    5 (5) FALCON CREST
     
  11. James from London

    James from London Soap Chat Addict Respected DVD Reviewer 15 Years on Soap Chat 10 Years on Soap Chat 5 Years on Soap Chat

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    12/Feb/86: DYNASTY: The Divorce v. 13/Feb/86: THE COLBYS: Fallon’s Choice v. 13/Feb/86 KNOTS LANDING: A Very Special Gift v. 14/Feb/86: DALLAS: Dire Straits v. 14/Feb/86: FALCON CREST: Finders and Losers

    Bad girls Alexis Dexter and Abby Ewing are both on the receiving end of some unpleasant surprises this week. On DYNASTY, Alexis's latest catty exchange with Krystle results not in her getting the last word, but her breakfast tipped in her lap. Meanwhile on KNOTS, Abby can’t have predicted that this week's confrontation with Karen, where she tells her that Mack is having an affair with Jill Bennett, would conclude with Karen literally laughing her out of her office.

    And that ain’t the half of it. Early on in this week’s episode, Alexis finds her husband and daughter in bed together at La Mirage. She wastes no time in divorcing one and disowning the other. “I have nothing to say you,” she tells Amanda. "Stay out of my life.” Peter Stavros similarly renounces his daughter Sofia on this week’s FALCON CREST (“I have nothing to say to her,” he informs a servant. "See that she leaves this house at once”) in spite of her having killed her husband to save his life. (Given that this is the first instance of a Soap Land wife — and a heavily pregnant one to boot — shooting her spouse, one only wishes it was bit more exciting.) Abby's equivalent discovery to Alexis’s at La Mirage comes when she calls Jill’s room at the Bryant Hotel and hears Gary’s voice coming from the shower. (A Ewing brother taking a shower in the same week that Cliff Barnes utters the line, “It was Bobby’s dream, now it’s Pam’s nightmare” on DALLAS — hmmm, I’m sure one could find some unintentional foreshadowing in there somewhere if one looked hard enough.)

    Abby’s immediate response is to assign a detective to “find out everything you can” about Jill Bennett. "Let me be the judge of whether it’s of any value,” she adds. Over on DYNASTY, Adam Carrington is a little more specific when he likewise contacts a PI after witnessing some intriguing body language between his brother Steven and Bart Fallmont: "I want to know where he went school, who his roommates were, anything you can find out about the man’s personal life.” Meanwhile on DALLAS, JR tells Sly “to dig every piece of information you can on Dimitri Marinos … I want to see every frame of newsreel footage available and read every article ever written about him.” Sly proves a faster worker than either Abby or Adam’s detectives and by the last scene of the episode, JR is wading through newspaper clippings and fast-forwarding through video tapes. My own attention was caught by the clip of a British newsreader who mentions in passing a “closely contested match" where "Worcester defeated Surrey by three runs.” A reference to English county cricket in Soap Land — what could be more incongruous?

    Romantically speaking, it's an eventful week for the DYNASTY-verse women. As fast as Alexis divorces Dex in the Virgin Islands, her cousin Frankie weds Roger Langdon in London. Alexis’s plans to then “marry a king” are quickly abandoned when she discovers Galen has been faking his paralysis all along. Her daughter Amanda’s hopes of divorcing a prince to marry her stepfather are similarly dashed when Dex tells her he still loves her mother. Meanwhile in California, Fallon finally chooses Jeff over his cousin Miles.

    Having broken the bad news to Miles, Fallon rather unwisely accepts a ride from him in his red convertible. In a parallel scenario on KNOTS, Gary has finally persuaded Jill to join him for "a fast stretch" in his red convertible. Pretty soon, both women are hanging on for dear life. Each car’s acceleration is indicated by a close up of the speedometer. Even though Miles’s only climbs from 65 to 80, compared to Gary's 70 to 120, THE COLBYS’ sequence is by far the more thrilling of the two — erratically swerving both oncoming traffic and cliff edges. The shaky camera work reflects the driver’s state of mind. While Gary is having a ball (“Tell me you’re not excited!” he shouts gleefully at Jill), Miles is in a rage ("You’ve just turned this whole world ugly!” he yells at Fallon). When Jill asks Gary to stop ("I’ve had enough, please!”), he does so, laughing that whooping laugh of his the whole time. When Fallon pleads with Miles to do the same ("You’ll kill us both! … Stop the car! Let me out!”), he ignores her. Finally, she pulls the key from the ignition, jumps out of the car and runs dangerously close to the cliff edge to escape him. He chases after her. “Now you know what it’s like to have your life taken out of your control!” he snarls. In a way, this sequence — Miles’s aggression, Fallon’s helplessness, him ignoring her cries to stop — functions as a more graphic substitute for the rape scene in last week’s ep. Whereas this incident appears to draw a line under Fallon and Miles’s relationship, the KNOTS' equivalent serves as foreplay for Gary and Jill’s. “I’m not riding with you,” Fallon tells Miles, before throwing his car keys back at him and flagging down a passing car. “Wanna do it again?” Gary asks Jill and she nods mischievously.

    Soap Land is indeed a fast-paced world and the fact that Steven Carrington, Lilimae Clements and Jenna Wade are each still mourning for a departed loved one (Luke Fuller, Joshua Rush and Bobby Ewing respectively) is deemed as a cause for concern in this week’s Soap Land. “There is such a thing as too much grief, too much pain, more than you are able to bear,” Donna Krebbs informs Jenna with evangelical certainty on DALLAS. Krystle expresses the same sentiment in milder form on DYNASTY. “I know what it is to grieve,” she tells Steven. “That doesn’t mean we shut out the rest of the world forever.” Lilimae has been doing a pretty good job of shutting everyone out on KNOTS recently (“Whenever I go by her bedroom, the door’s closed,” observes Ben), to the point where she hasn’t appeared on screen in the last two episodes. “I’m getting worried about her,” frets Val.

    Like Lilimae, DYNASTY’s Claudia has been a no show for the last couple of weeks. Her onscreen absence, explained by a letter sent to her husband (“It’s goodbye, Adam — don’t try and find me”), is really due to Pamela Bellwood's offscreen pregnancy. Likewise, Pam’s abduction storyline on DALLAS has been constructed to accommodate Victoria Principal's own medical condition. In Pam's absence, the focus of the story shifts to Matt Cantrell who has been chosen to deliver the ransom money to her kidnappers. In this respect, the story plays out like a Colombian variation of “Kidnapped”, the story of Bobby’s abduction in Season 1. Back then, the designated go-between was Cliff Barnes whom the Ewings didn’t trust any more than Cliff and Mark trust Matt now. They suspect he is either in league with the kidnappers themselves or plans to make off with the ransom money ($100,000 — a mere pittance compared with the million dollars that Krystle discovers Rita and Joel withdrew from her account during their kidnapping scam). Eventually, we learn that Captain Rueda, the local chief of police, was the real mastermind behind Pam’s kidnapping. Perhaps one shouldn’t be surprised — the actor playing Rueda also orchestrated the abduction of Field and Constance during their honeymoon on FLAMINGO ROAD. (He got away with it that time as well.) Then as now, Sam Curtis, aka Mark Graison, was part of the rescue team.

    Speaking of actors recurring in similar roles, remember Oscar Stone, the “old coot” whose land Alexis wanted so badly she ended up singing 'See What the Boys in the Back Room Will Have' for him in a saloon? Well, he had previously shown up in DALLAS’s first season as Wally Kessell, another “old buzzard" whose oilfields Cliff and the Ewings squabbled over. This week, he appears in FALCON CREST as Carl Beck, owner of yet another much-coveted piece of land. This time, however, there’s a twist — his vines have been infected and the land is now worthless. Facing ruin, he offers to sell out to Chase at a rock bottom price. Instead, Chase takes pity on him and so fools Angela into believing the land is still valuable and that he himself plans to buy it for a healthy sum. Eager to beat him to it, Angela makes Carl an offer of $75,000. He gladly accepts, then hightails it out of the country before Angela realises she’s been tricked into paying a small fortune for a worthless property.

    Elsewhere on this week’s FC, Emma and Dwayne follow the example set by Mark and Cliff on DALLAS by travelling south of the border to investigate a kidnapping — that of Dwayne’s truck Ursula. They even find a characterful police chief of their own with whom Emma flirts into helping them retrieve Ursula safe and sound. It’s a slight but amusing subplot and a lot more entertaining than the episode’s main abduction drama unfolding in Peter Stavros's Monte Carlo villa, which is possibly Soap Land's most boring storyline to date.

    More excitingly, it’s a three-horse race in this week’s Soap Land Song Wars. After her two-song stint on last week’s COLBYS, Dominique crosses back to DYNASTY for an impressive, everything-but-the-kitchen-sink rendition of 'I've Got You Under My Skin'. (It’s supposed to be a casual run-through with a pianist, but she gives it all she’s got.) In contrast, the lullaby Fallon delivers at her son’s bedside is barely audible. Ultimately, however, THE COLBYS’ Wayne has them both beat with a genuinely lovely ballad entitled 'Sweet Monica'. “You were my inspiration,” he tells Monica somewhat unnecessarily.

    Soap Land’s two disability-themed storylines each takes a turn for the personal this week. While blind Wayne kisses Monica on THE COLBYS (after that pretty song, how could she resist?), DALLAS's Donna bonds with a deaf boy at the Woodgrove School.

    On last week’s DALLAS, Angelica Nero ordered Grace to “get close to Jack, get him in bed.” On this week’s KNOTS, a rather more discreet Greg Sumner suggests to Peter that he “cultivate a relationship with Abby — a little social intercourse could prove invaluable to our team." What Greg doesn’t yet realise, however, is that Peter and Abby are already in bed together, metaphorically speaking. While Peter is confident he can play one off against the other, his mother Sylvia is less certain: “I’m not sure I like all this double dealing. It’s dangerous.”

    Indeed, there are examples in this week’s Soap Land of how easily such deceptions can backfire. While Sean McAllister explains to Bliss how he came to spy on her on THE COLBYS ("I thought I was doing the right thing — you, the spoilt daughter of a capitalist bandit, and me, the defender of the environment — except I fell in love with you”), Mandy confesses to the same crime on DALLAS. (“I was hurt,” she tells JR. "I had to punish you … [Cliff] told me there was a way to get even … There’s no excuse for what I did.”) Alas, there doesn’t seem to be a way back for either couple. “I can’t forgive you, not for using me,” Bliss tells Sean. “Maybe we can’t fix what’s gone wrong between us. I’m not sure I even want to,” JR tells Mandy. And when Peter runs into Gary and Jill at the end of this week’s KNOTS, we learn of yet another lover with a secret agenda. “Does he suspect anything?” Peter asks once Gary is safely out of earshot. “No, I don’t think so,” Jill replies.

    Just as the shadow of James Dean continues to loom over Miles on THE COLBYS — it's there as he speeds recklessly through the California hills with Fallon, and again during the electric father/son confrontation at the end of the ep where Jason backhands Miles across the face then immediately regrets it (“I've never hit you in your life, this is the first time, the first time, I’m sorry”) — there is also a late '50s vibe in the way teen rebellion is depicted on KNOTS LANDING. Watching Olivia Cunningham, who closely resembles the young Natalie Wood, defy her mother by applying lipstick on the way to school and then flirting with a Hispanic boy on a motorbike, she's could easily be a character from GREASE or WEST SIDE STORY. While her defiant attitude qualifies her for membership of the Pink Ladies, the reaction of her wholesome cousin Michael when he finds a joint in her bedroom is pure Sandra Dee. “This kind of thing doesn’t go on here,” he tells her solemnly. (There again, perhaps he’s recalling the trouble his brother Eric got into when faced with almost the exact same scenario during "Man of the Hour”, back in Season 2.)

    And this week's Top 5 is …

    1 (2) KNOTS LANDING
    2 (1) DYNASTY
    3 (3) THE COLBYS
    4 (4) DALLAS
    5 (5) FALCON CREST
     
  12. James from London

    James from London Soap Chat Addict Respected DVD Reviewer 15 Years on Soap Chat 10 Years on Soap Chat 5 Years on Soap Chat

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    19/Feb/86: DYNASTY: The Dismissal v. 20/Feb/86: THE COLBYS: The Trial v. 20/Feb/86: KNOTS LANDING: Irrevocably Yours v. 21/Feb/86: DALLAS: Overture v. 21/Feb/86: FALCON CREST: Flesh and Blood

    The Moldavians may be gone, but pomp and protocol live on in the DYNASTY-verse thanks to arrival in California of the British vice counsel and his wife, Lord and Lady Langdon, aka Frankie and her new husband Roger. The reception to welcome them to Los Angeles is the centrepiece of this week's COLBYS and strongly recalls Blake and Krystle's wedding at the start of DYNASTY. The procession of fancy cars through the gates, the oh so civilised ambience, the characterful bit part players (let's hear it for Mary, "the diplomat's wife who can sense a chilly silence at five hundred paces") — they all combine to create a strong backdrop against which the hushed conversations and stolen moments between Jason and Frankie, Jason and Roger, and an especially sizzling showdown between Frankie and Sable, can play out.

    The latter is one of two long-awaited sisterly confrontations to take place in Soap Land this week. After lurking around the periphery of DYNASTY for the past few episodes, Caress Morelle finally comes face to face with her sister Alexis. Whereas Sable and Frankie's encounter takes place in an ultra-refined public setting, Alexis and Caress’s meeting takes place in private, over lunch in Alexis’s office. On THE COLBYS, the dramatic tension arises from Frankie and Sable's efforts to retain their outward composure even as they level accusations and insults at one another ("Why do you hate me so much?" "Stop playing Bo Peep!"). On DYNASTY, the tension works the other way around. Caress and Alexis each maintain a facade of politeness, even though it is clear they loathe each other. The condescending way Alexis pities Caress ("Darling, my life's been a fairy tale compared to yours") recalls a line Sable delivered to Frankie earlier in the season: "Life hasn’t been very kind to you, has it, poor darling?”

    There are no sisters in DALLAS. Instead, we have Donna and Jenna who have forged, to borrow the title of Maggie Gioberti's novel, a sudden friendship that is as intense as it is unlikely. (At least, it's intense on Donna’s side; Jenna appears to have no say in the matter.) They too have a private conversation which threatens to turn public this week as Donna accuses Jenna during a restaurant scene of lying about attending her therapy sessions. Jenna stands up to leave, but then a weepy Donna grabs her by the arm and begs her to sit down. Jenna complies. "I don't know what's happening to me anymore," she admits. Watching the scene, I kind of know how she feels.

    Indeed, it’s an indication of how upside down this period of DALLAS is that Donna, a character I’ve always really, really liked, due in no small part to Susan Howard’s truthful, no-nonsense approach to the role, has now become so cloying and needy that I almost hate her. Her only real competition for the Most Irritating Person in Soap Land Award at present is her furniture-rearranging accomplice Miss Ellie. “I can't think of many things I like more than taking a long walk and picking flowers," trills Ellie this week. I'd find that line far more acceptable, and believable, from Donna Reed's version of the character.

    Over on FALCON CREST, the original Jenna, Jordan Roberts, is also under pressure to seek therapy, this time from boyfriend Greg who is frustrated by her continued avoidance of any intimate physical contact. KNOTS LANDING's Karen is similarly uncomfortable with the idea of making love with Mack and avoids the act almost as strenuously as Rita did Blake's advances earlier in this season's DYNASTY. When questioned by Mack, Karen isn't able to explain herself any better than Rita did. “It’s … um …,” she manages weakly. Whereas Blake threatened Rita with divorce, Mack pretends he'd sooner watch TV anyway. FALCON CREST's Greg, meanwhile, storms off in a huff after being rejected by Jordan who then transforms herself into her vampy alter-ego Monica. This recalls Val's attempt on last season's KNOTS to turn herself into a sexy man-eater, dragging herself up as if she were a regular TV viewer who had watched one too many Morgan Fairchild movies. “You are beautiful and there isn’t a man in town who wouldn’t want you just the way you are,” she told her reflection. Where Val failed miserably at being Morgan Fairchild, Jordan/Monica proves rather more adept at it - that's if the string of one night stands she's accrued over the past few episodes is anything to go by.

    This week's FALCON CREST delivers its own version of Abby and Val/Verna's coffee shop meeting on KNOTS when Terry approaches Jordan in a night-club, only for Jordan to fail to recognise her. "Sorry lady, you've got the wrong number. My name is Monica Smith," she tells her. "I'm afraid you've mistaken me for someone else," echoes Jill Bennett on KNOTS when a passer by on the street interrupts her and Mack, addressing her as Dottie Simpkins. The woman then apologises and Mack and Jill continue their conversation without skipping a beat. There’s a similar moment on DALLAS where JR meets with Harry McSween at a street-side coffee shop and asks him to dig into Jerry Kenderson's past. It’s the kind of scene we’ve seen a dozen times before, but the director adds a little flavour to it by having a vagrant come up to their table. Harry hands him some change and then he and JR, like Mack and Jill, carry on talking without referencing him. While the DALLAS encounter is of no narrative consequence, the one involving Jill later provides us with a clue as to her real agenda.

    This is the first time we've seen Harry McSween on DALLAS since he apprehended Katherine Wentworth at the beginning of last season. Likewise, recurring PI Morgan Hess makes his first appearance of the season on this week's DYNASTY. It’s never occurred to me before, but with their similar height, age, colouring, narrative function and taste in jackets, Harry and Hess could almost pass for twins.

    While Blake is still looking for the mysteriously vanished Rita and Joel on DYNASTY ("You people have had enough time on this thing ... Try harder!" he shouts at the police), Richard Channing continues his search for the equally elusive Cassandra Wilder on FALCON CREST ("You let her slip through your fingers ... You're fired!" he shouts at his detective). Whereas reformed bad girl Sammy Jo tries to make amends by helping Blake with his quest (hence the return of Morgan Hess), the not so reformed Terry deliberately sabotages Richard’s search by keeping crucial information about Cassandra's whereabouts from him. This leads to Richard and Terry putting their own spin on the Soap Land fight scene. Last week, Krystle tipped Alexis’s breakfast in her lap and that theme continues as Richard pours a glass of milk over Terry’s head. They then proceed to pelt each other with soft furnishings, leading up to the inevitable anger-turns-to-passion moment ( “I despise you!” “I wouldn’t have it any other way!”).

    On this week's DYNASTY, Alexis undergoes a dramatic turning point while she is asleep. It occurs during a dream sequence which is part flashback (a montage of past fights with Dex followed some of her more romantic moments with Blake), part fantasy ("I've never stopped loving you and I never will," Blake tells her during a stylised, soft focus embrace). She then awakens with the realisation, “Oh Blake, it’s always been you, always!” KNOTS LANDING similarly relies on flashbacks and voiceovers to convey what is taking place in Lilimae’s mind. Firstly, we see her in her bedroom where she has spent the last couple of episodes. Her actions — the way she puts down her bible, straightens the bedcovers, looks tearfully at Joshua's photo and adjusts a picture on the wall — have an air of finality abut them. She then comes downstairs where Val and Ben are busy with the twins in the kitchen. Rather than speak to them, she watches them unobserved for a moment before quietly leaving the house. One last hesitation, one last look behind her, and she's gone. It's very much like the scene in Season 4 where Richard Avery leaves the cul-de-sac for the very last time.

    But whereas we never saw Richard again, here we continue to track Lilimae on her journey. Just as DYNASTY's Krystle recently revisited the attic where she was held captive so Lilimae returns to the Mission District where Joshua died, her pilgrimage accompanied by appropriate flashbacks. As she approaches the building from which he fell, she "sees" Joshua's body where it landed in the street. Then she looks up and there's Cathy's billboard as it was on that fateful night. Is she "seeing" this as another flashback or is it there in the present? As with Alexis's dream/realisation (“Oh Blake, it’s always been you!"), there's a sense that the barrier between the character’s conscious and subconscious is breaking down in order to move the narrative forward. As Lilimae climbs the stairs to the roof, her last proper conversation with Joshua plays on the soundtrack, concluding with her line: "I would give my life to make that up to you.” Indeed, the implication is that "giving her life" is what she has planned. However, after reliving Joshua's final moments on the roof and then breaking down, she evidently has a change of heart and returns home to the cul-de-sac. (In the meantime, Val has grown anxious about her unexplained absence in the same way that Miss Ellie and Donna worry when Jenna is late for dinner at Southfork after skipping a session with her psychiatrist.) "I wasn't the best mother to Joshua," Lilimae tells Val and Ben as they are putting to the twins to bed. "I can't do anything about that now ... but there is something else I can do ... I will be the best grandmother that I can be to two little pumpkins." Having made her own pilgrimage, to Bobby’s emerald mine in Colombia, Pam Ewing comes to terms with the past in a similar way this week. “You've been right all along," she tells Mark. "I’ve been following a dream that belonged to Bobby. I guess I had to ... but now it’s time for me to move on." Lilimae and Pam both then pay touching tribute to the men who now serve as Joshua's and Bobby's replacements. "Do you know what makes me the happiest? That you were here to see me through it,” Pam tells Mark. "I lost a son -- I would dearly love to have another son," Lilimae tells Ben. Mark and Ben are both moved. "I don't know what to say," Mark admits while Ben responds to Lilimae with a silent embrace.

    Back on DYNASTY, Alexis has a proposition for Blake. In order to appease environmental concerns about the Carrington/Colby pipeline, she suggests donating "Lake Colby and the surrounding acres" to the state as a sanctuary for wildlife. "If both of our companies did this as a joint venture, it would prove how pro-environment we were and it would totally disarm our critics." (Interestingly, no one on DALLAS raises any environmental concerns when Matt Cantrell explains what constructing an emerald mine in the middle of a jungle entails. "You're practically going to be building a town," Pam remarks cheerfully.) Meanwhile, JR invites Sue Ellen to accompany him to the upcoming oil conference in Martinique. “We used to be a hell of a team,” he reminds her. "We should join forces," Alexis tells Blake. "We could accomplish so much together." In the final scene of their respective episodes, Alexis and JR each makes it clear to their former spouse that what they really want is a reconciliation. "I've divorced Dex. It's over between us," Alexis informs Blake. "Mandy's a thing of the past. It's over with," JR assures Sue Ellen. Neither Blake nor Sue Ellen is interested, but while Blake is adamant ("Whatever we had died years ago and there's no way to breathe life into it") Sue Ellen does at least leave JR with a sliver of hope ("Nothing is going to change between us — until you do").

    "Vengeance can eat a man's guts out ... chewing away till there's nothing left," warns Jason Colby this week. In spite of this, Soap Land has had some exciting end-of-episode vows of revenge recently. At the end of KNOTS two weeks ago, Greg Sumner unveiled his plan to "recover what Gary Ewing stole, Empire Valley, and ... bring down Gary and Abby Ewing." Last week's instalment of THE COLBYS ended with Miles telling his father to "be sorry for that tramp you fell for. I know what she is and I'm going to prove it! Maybe I can't make you help me, but by God I'll make you watch!" This week, it’s Alexis’s turn to join the vengeful fray after Blake rejects her. "I'll make you pay for this, Blake, and I know just the man who's going to help me do it ... your brother Ben. You're going to regret this. Damn you!"

    This week, while Greg is still reeling from the news that Gary has deeded half of Empire Valley to Val's babies ("He what??!"), Miles springs into action on THE COLBYS by instigating the inter-family court case we’ve been teased with since the series began — only instead of Connie’s mental competency, it’s Jeff’s legitimacy as a Colby that is being challenged. But the aim remains the same — to wrest Connie’s half of Colby Enterprises back from Jeff.

    While Miles is out to prove that Jeff isn't Phillip's son on THE COLBYS, Gary Ewing's gift to the twins "amounts to a public statement that you fathered another woman's children" on KNOTS. "You just can't accept it, can you, that Fallon chose me? ... Don't you realise how pathetic this makes you look?" Jeff asks Miles. "You hate your ex-wife so much ... that you decide to humiliate her in public ... You are still so self-centred, you're blind to the rest of the world," Ben tells Gary. Fallon and Val each adopt a more tactful approach when appealing to their ex to change his mind, but to no avail. "You're the cause of all this," Miles tells Fallon. "You never even told me you were having my babies," Gary reminds Val. While Ben finally gets through to Gary with a stirring speech about fatherhood which manages to be sentimental and gritty at the same time ("There's a lot more to being a father than passing genes and a pot of land ... How may teeth does Betsy have? What was Bobby's first word? A father knows ... A father is there"), nothing's going to stop Miles from having his day in court. "I have to do this, I just have to — for me," he explains when Constance suggests a compromise similar to the one Clayton offered Jamie to dissuade her from taking the Ewings to court in last season's DALLAS. “Then God help you, Miles -- God help us all,” says Connie after Miles turns her down. Dex has an equivalent line to Prince Michael on this week's DYNASTY: “I'm sorry for you, Michael — I'm sorry for all of us.” While Dex's words refer to the damage already done by his affair with Amanda, Connie's serve as an ominous warning that the worst is yet to come.

    There are further similarities between the Colby lawsuit and Cliff and Jamie's fight against the Ewings last season. The letter Phillip wrote when he was Vietnam insisting he was not the father of Frankie’s baby serves the same dramatic purpose as Jamie Ewing’s copy of Jason's hand-written agreement splitting Ewing Oil into thirds. Phillip Colby and Jason Ewing are both depicted as unstable, unreliable men, but the veracity of the papers themselves cannot be refuted. Just as the Depression of the 1930s provided a historical context for Jason and Digger's actions, Vietnam in the late '50s does the same thing for Phillip's frame of mind. ("They hated us over there. After two years of that we were all ready to snap," his soldier buddy recalls on the witness stand.)

    Subpoenaed by the prosecution to testify as to her marital fidelity, Frankie is the case's sacrificial lamb, just as Claudia Blaisdel was at Blake's murder trial. "Did you ever cheat on your husband at any time?" she is asked while her present husband Roger sits in the courtroom the same way Matthew Blaisdel did. Will Frankie tell the truth about her affair with Jason the way Claudia did about hers with Steven? We'll never know because before she can answer, a last-minute surprise witness arrives. Instead it being a vengeful ex-wife in a big hat, it's Phillip's medical officer, Captain Timothy Holmes (hey, that's my cousin's name!) who states that medical tests performed on May 23rd, 1957 (hey, that's exactly one year before my parents got married!) revealed Phillip to be sterile. "Therefore, he couldn't have been the father." Cue dramatic music and a succession of stunned reaction shots that seem to go on forever.

    Elsewhere this week, Blake and Sable both attempt to distract their blonde and slightly useless daughters, Amanda and Bliss respectively, from their recent relationship break ups (Dex having dumped Amanda, Bliss having dumped Sean) with offers of trips and jobs. Blake invites Amanda to join him on a business trip to Hawaii while Sable asks Bliss to work at the Colby Collection. "The answer to Hawaii is no ... because I'm in love with Dex," sighs Amanda. "That works for you, Mother, but not for me," sighs Bliss. "You're not happy unless you've someone special in your life," suggests Sable. "What life? I don't have one of my own ... I have nothing to share, nothing to give," replies Bliss, sounding exactly like Lucy Ewing a year ago. Ah, the difficulties of being a blonde twenty-something heiress. In any case, Amanda and Bliss are both back with their unsuitable boyfriends by the end of their respective episodes. "I want you. Only you," Dex tells Amanda. "I love you. I don't care about the rest," Bliss tells Sean.

    Meanwhile on KNOTS, Abby can’t even interest her daughter Olivia in a caesar salad during their weekly dinner date — she'd rather sneak off to the john to smoke grass. Somewhat inevitably, it's her innocent cousin Michael who eventually gets busted after she leaves a couple of joints under his passenger seat. While this storyline continues to echo "Man of the Hour", it's DALLAS's Peter Richards -- another hapless blond pretty boy found by the police with drugs in his car -- whom Michael most resembles here. In contrast to Olivia's slouchy, snarly demeanour, her DALLAS equivalent Charlie could scarcely be perkier or more obedient this week, offering to help John Ross with his homework and dressing up as a Victorian doll for dinner at Southfork. Her sole act of defiance is to decline JR’s arm on the way to the dining table.

    When Olivia ran away from home a few episodes ago after hearing something unpleasant, she sought refuge with the most wholesome couple on her show: Karen and Mack. When little Joseph runs away on FALCON CREST after hearing his parents fight one too many times, he makes a similar choice, turning up at Chase and Maggie's door in the middle of the night. "Olivia is not some battered child that needs to be protected from a couple of monster parents,” Abby subsequently snapped at the Mackenzies and Cole adopts the same defensive tactic here. "What do you think we're doing — abusing him?" he shouts at Maggie. "You bet I think you're abusing him, in one of the worst ways possible," is Maggie's surprising response. She goes on to describe Cole and Melissa as “fighting some kind of a battle to the death.” It's the same metaphor Alexis uses to describe her relationship with her newly ex-husband Dex (“We're enemies on a battlefield"). By the end of this week’s FC, after Cole surrenders legal custody of his daughter to Robin, it looks like his battle is over. "We're lousy parents and we have a lousy marriage," he tells Melissa. She responds by slapping him then telling him that said lousy marriage is over. Likewise on DYNASTY, Amanda finally convinces Michael that their lousy marriage is over when she admits she loves Dex. "I think I always have." Instead of slapping Amanda as Melissa does Cole, Michael takes a swing at Dex, but Dex is too quick and grabs him in a headlock. “I could break you in two. You know that,” Dex tells him. “You already have, Dexter,” he replies. That's Prince Michael of Moldavia's very last line and it's a genuinely poignant one. I’ll miss him — I don’t think a week’s gone by where I haven’t laughed out loud at his specifically English strain of impotence. Still, now we've got THE COLBYS' Lord Langdon to provide that.

    Sudden Friendship, Maggie Gioberti’s thinly veiled expose of her super-soap in-laws, has, of course, much in common with Capricorn Crude, Val Ewing's thinly veiled expose of her super-soap in-laws. In each case, the original manuscript was sent to a publisher without the writer's consent and now, just like its predecessor, Sudden Friendship is well on its way to becoming a national best-seller. As the unassuming author finds herself plunged into the media spotlight, a super-organised, super-enthusiatic PR guy rides to her rescue. Just as Chip Roberts showered Val's book with genuine-seeming praise so Jeff Wainwright does the same thing to Maggie's. Whether Jeff will turn out to be quite so psychotically dangerous as Chip remains to be seen. Given that he's played by Quisto from THE YELLOW ROSE, aka the nicest soap character who ever lived, it seems unlikely.

    Finally, it's the Battle of the B Word with Sable Colby and Abby Ewing each deploying it to maximum effect this week. "You have no right to tell the world that your family means less to you than Val's bastards!" snarls Abby at Gary on KNOTS. "I don't give a damn about your little bastard — or you, you slut!" Sable informs Frankie on THE COLBYS before turning on her heel and walking calmly away, leaving her sister and each of their husbands open-mouthed in shock. Sable wins.

    And this week’s Top 5 are …

    1 (3) THE COLBYS
    2 (1) KNOTS LANDING
    3 (2) DYNASTY
    4 (4) DALLAS
    5 (5) FALCON CREST
     
  13. James from London

    James from London Soap Chat Addict Respected DVD Reviewer 15 Years on Soap Chat 10 Years on Soap Chat 5 Years on Soap Chat

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    05 Mar 86: DYNASTY: Masquerade v. 06 Mar 86: THE COLBYS: My Father's House v. 06 Mar 86: KNOTS LANDING: High School Confidential v. 07 Mar 86: DALLAS: Masquerade v. 07 Mar 86: FALCON CREST: Hidden Meanings

    Let the battle of the masquerade balls — one thrown by Alexis Colby on DYNASTY, the other by Angelica Nero on DALLAS — commence. Behind each woman’s hospitality lies a devious plan requiring the identity of one guest in particular to be concealed until the end of the party. “I have got a reunion planned for you and your brother that he’s never going to forget,” Alexis explains to Ben Carrington. "I can’t wait to see Blake’s face when he first sees you!” “I thought it would be the best way for you and Jack to be seen,” Angelica informs JR, "but at the same time hidden behind masks. The oil people should see just enough of Jack to be sure he is Dimitri."

    While the DALLAS party is thrown at an anonymous venue in Martinique, the choice of location for the DYNASTY bash — a fundraising event in aid of the Carrington/Colby wildlife preserve — is more controversial. Krystle is taken aback to hear Alexis declare on television that the ball is to be held at the Carrington mansion. “You announced a party that Blake never agreed to and then you had the nerve to say it was being held here,” she complains. "If you think we’re going to go along with it, you’re wrong!” Over on THE COLBYS, Jeff is equally opposed to Fallon’s suggestion that their upcoming wedding should take in the Colby mansion. "I will never think of Jason Colby as my father. I will not be married in this house,” he says firmly. While Fallon refuses to take no for an answer, Blake gives into Alexis. “We should let her have the party here,” he tells Krystle. "Denver Carrington has got to be on the side of protecting the land.” (From the Office of Land Management in the early days of DALLAS to Gary and Greg’s squabbles over Empire Valley at the beginning of this season’s KNOTS LANDING to the current controversies surrounding the pipeline on both DYNASTY and THE COLBYS, “protecting the land" has proven to be the most useful Soap Land Maguffin of all.)

    The Carrington and Colby mansions both come under the spotlight this week. Alexis, in recalling “the wonderful parties that Blake Carrington and I used to have at the mansion when we were married, superb elegant parties that Denver hasn’t seen since I was mistress there,” paints a picture of the Carrington house as a kind of Manderlay with herself as the first Mrs. de Winter (one who has no need of a Mrs. Danvers to sing her praises). Meanwhile on THE COLBYS, as Sable sets her sights on the Colby estate as part of her divorce settlement, the house itself suddenly acquires a history reminiscent of Southfork’s or Falcon Crest’s. We learn that it was built by Jason’s father on land bought by his grandfather and that “Andrew Colby’s will stated that the Colby house was irrevocable Colby property, never to be sold or bargained away … Old Andrew considered that house to be the heart of the Colby family.” The very fact that it is so sacred makes Sable all the more determined to fight for it. This an unusual plot development for Soap Land, where the finer details of a divorce settlement are customarily glossed over (the parties involved being either too rich or too noble to worry about such material concerns). Things are simpler for Cole Gioberti on FALCON CREST, but not necessarily easier. “It’s kind of a shock to see your entire married life reduced to three hundred and forty-seven words,” he says of his joint-custody agreement with Melissa.

    "I tried to make Phillip a hero for you,” Constance Colby tells Jeff of the man he grew up believing to be his father. “You’ve made him a legend for me,” Jackie Devereaux tells Dominique of the man she’s grown up believing to be her father. While Dominique is still reluctant to disillusion her daughter, Constance comes clean about the kind of man Phillip Colby really was — a gambler who embezzled from the family business and left his brother Jason to cover his debts. This isn’t the only tale of sibling betrayal alluded to in the DYNASTY-verse this week. While Ben Carrington refers darkly to “the land my brother stole from me," Caress Morelle continues to blame her sister Alexis for the five years she spent in prison.

    In the same week that Jack Ewing finally impersonates Dimitri Marinos (pretty feebly, it must be said), Alexis makes a decent stab of mimicking Caress’s voice when she intercepts a call from her publishers. (An infamous episode of DOCTOR WHO the following year will require Kate O’Mara, in turn, to impersonate her younger, squeakier co-star Bonnie Langford, to somewhat bizarre effect.) Following the call, it doesn’t take Alexis long to discover Caress’s hidden copy of Sister Dearest: The True Story of Alexis Morelle Carrington Colby Dexter. (Like DALLAS’s Lady Jessica before her, Caress keeps her most confidential documents in the dresser next to her bed.) While Maggie Gioberti found Jeff Wainwright’s manuscript darkly compelling in last week’s FALCON CREST, Alexis is less impressed when she reads what her sister has written about her in her opening chapter. Her response is the same as JR’s was when Val wrote her novel about the Ewings: she buys the publishing house.

    Just as Alexis is scheming to get rid of her sister Caress in Denver, cousin Sable is scheming to get rid of her sister Frankie in California. To this end, Sable enlists the aid of Zach Powers — whom Caress, rather knottily, describes in this week’s DYNASTY as "the man I happened to be in love with" before Alexis stole him from her. (As if this weren’t incestuous enough, the establishing shots of Alexis’s and Zach’s apartments seem to suggest that they live in the same building.)

    Much in the spirit of PEYTON PLACE’s “suddenly, out of nowhere” method of storytelling, DYNASTY has recently invented a whole new batch of characters — Blake’s brother Ben, Alexis’s sister Caress, Senator Buck Fallmont and his wife Emily — each of whom arrives in the series with pre-existing ties to each other and/or the Carringtons and/or Zach Powers. It’s a bit of a tangle, but I like the inter-connectedness of it all.

    Two weeks after FALCON CREST introduced us to Peter Stavros’s son Eric, this week’s DYNASTY presents Buck Fallmont’s son Clay. Whereas Eric’s thrill-seeking mountain-climbing rich-kid credentials were established in his first scene ("Where were you?” asks Peter. "Nepal, climbing Annapurna,” Eric replies), Clay’s are indicated even earlier — during the opening credits where a shot of a man scaling a mountain is used as his character backdrop. (We’re treated to further such derring-do at the beginning of this week’s COLBYS when Miles rescues Jeff from the mountain ledge he landed on after last week’s fall. Any hope of a truce between the brothers is soon dispelled, however. "I’d have done the same for a stray dog,” Miles assures Jeff.) Eric and Clay both seem amiable enough, each seemingly unencumbered by emotional baggage and so free to flirt with the first good-looking twenty-something divorcee with a chequered past that crosses his path: for Clay, that means Sammy Jo, while Eric already has his sights set on Melissa.

    Whereas Sable almost sleeps with Zach Powers in an attempt to get Frankie and her diplomat husband reposted overseas, KNOTS LANDING's Abby does sleep with Peter Hollister in order to persuade him to lure Jill Bennett away from Gary. So far so resourceful, but there are twists in both tales that Sable and Abby know nothing about. While Sable remains unaware that a detective hired by her sister-in-law is observing her and Zach, Abby has no idea of the pre-existing conspiracy between Peter and Jill. We don’t yet know what connects the two characters either, but at the end of this week’s episode, Peter enjoys telling Jill about Abby’s complicity in Val's twins’ kidnapping. Meanwhile, this week’s episode of THE COLBYS ends with a brand new child abduction mystery when LB disappears. Who could be responsible — Joel and Rita? Mexican bandits? Another of Peter Stavros’s offspring? Or maybe LB's just run away in his pyjamas like cute little Joseph Gioberti did on FALCON CREST a couple of weeks ago.

    While Abby pimps Peter out to Jill on KNOTS, JR urges Jack to snuggle up with Grace on DALLAS in the hopes that she’ll spill the beans on Angelica’s real plans for the two of them. “It’s a dirty filthy job, but somebody's gotta do it,” he tells him. Conversely on FALCON CREST, Peter Stavros urges his son Eric to "think with your head, not with other parts of your anatomy” when it comes to negotiating with Melissa for the Agretti harvest. Eric sleeps with Melissa anyway, prompting a wince-inducing put-down from Lance: “Good old Melissa, the social disease of the Tuscany Valley.”

    DALLAS’s Sue Ellen and FALCON CREST’s Maggie also share personal encounters with business associates this week. Over dinner with her boss Jerry Kenderson, Sue Ellen asks why he never married. “I never found the right woman ... till now,” he replies, whereupon he reaches across the table and takes her hand. She doesn’t object. Meanwhile, Maggie asks her publicist Jeff Wainwright why he didn't marry his fiancee. “She was murdered, strangled,” he replies. Shortly thereafter, he declares his love for Maggie, making a pass at her and refusing to take no for an answer. After fending him off, she severs their professional relationship.

    Later, we watch Jeff watching Maggie promote her book on a TV talk show. (Although Maggie makes for a more confident, less nervy guest than Val Ewing did on THE MIKE DOUGLAS SHOW three years earlier, she is likewise depicted as modest and unassuming, with an emphasis her humble beginnings: "I didn’t come from a rich family so I think I did my travelling by reading.”) The most intriguing part of Maggie’s interview is Jeff’s reaction to it. He’s watching on videotape in his bedroom, thus allowing him to rewind and re-watch it obsessively. (That's technology for you: four years earlier, Roger Larsen had to make to with a wall of Lucy Ewing photographs.) Suddenly, a woman appears behind him and puts her hands on his shoulders. It’s Maggie herself! Two Maggies in the same scene — one on TV, one in the flesh — immediately makes one think of two Krystles, specifically in the attic scene where the real Krystle watched the fake Krystle on TV. Here, the real Maggie is the one inside the television set while the one in Jeff’s bedroom (and pretty soon in his arms) is a fantasy version. In a way, this is an extension of Alexis’s recent dream sequence on DYNASTY where Blake embraced her and swore his undying love. Upon awakening, Alexis sought to turn this dream into a reality but failed (Blake's rejection prompting the vendetta we now see unfolding in this week’s episode). Jeff Wainwright’s will would appear to be stronger than Alexis’s — the Maggie in his room may not be real, but she is most definitely there, posed submissively on his bed in naught but a teddy. “You will be gentle with me, won’t you?” she asks. But then, Jeff makes the fascinating meta-mistake of turning off the television set which housed the real Maggie, thus breaking his connection to the imaginary Maggie on his bed who promptly evaporates into thin air.

    Although Soap Land is prepared to climb inside the mind of an obscure character like Jeff Wainwright to show us both the agony and ecstasy of his obsessive nature, when it comes to the mind of KNOTS LANDING's Olivia, whom we have seen grow up over the past five seasons, it remains firmly on the outside. Olivia’s drug use is the dominant storyline of this week’s episode yet the show views her solely from an adult perspective as bad-tempered, sulky and withdrawn. While these are certainly common teenage traits, they are not the whole story. The thrill of adolescent rebellion — after all, nobody would bother dabbling in drugs to begin with if it wasn’t fun and exciting — isn't even remotely hinted at. Stoned or straight, Olivia is perpetually whiny and sullen — a one-note dilemma for the show’s resident problem solvers, Karen and Mack, to grapple with.

    In the meantime, Olivia’s cousin Michael continues to take the rap for the joints found in his car, but Karen suspects the truth. When she attempts to broach the subject with Abby, she receives predictably short shrift: “You just can’t face the fact that your little angel broke the law so you’re finding fault with Olivia. You’re blaming my daughter because she’s my daughter." Meanwhile, on DALLAS, an equally well-meaning Pam blurts out the truth about her and Bobby's reconciliation to Jenna and receives an even more hostile response. “I’ll never forgive you! I hate you!” Jenna tells her. Over on FALCON CREST, Terry confronts Jordan with the truth about her double life (in the form of compromising photographs) so she can blackmail her into passing on information about Richard’s business dealings. Although Jordan won’t go along with Terry’s blackmail, her split personality Monica will. She even tells Terry to take the compromising photos and “splash them right across the front page of the New Globe. I can’t think of a more perfect way to ruin Jordan once for all.” The headlines splashed across the cover of the National Informer on this week’s DYNASTY (“SENATORIAL HOPEFUL ADMITS GAY PAST: COLLEGE ROOMMATE WAS LOVER”) look set to do the same for Bart Fallmont’s political future. When Steven realises Adam is behind the story during the masquerade ball, a fight breaks out between them.

    Visually, DYNASTY's ball has the edge over DALLAS's. Everyone on DYNASTY is in fancy dress all the time anyway so extravagant costumes and spectacle are par for the course. The prize for the best costume goes to Adam Carrington for his amusingly appropriate huntsman outfit. Funniest is Emily Fallmont as Little Bo Peep. (Imagining her wearing this outfit when she removed Maggie Gioberti’s brain tumour on FALCON CREST made me laugh out loud.) Ben Carrington, meanwhile, carries off his disguise with a good deal more panache than Jack Ewing does his. While Ben’s costume is a sort of musketeer-cum-pirate ensemble that includes a fake beard, eyepatch and hat, Jack is concealed twice over, first as Dimitri Marinos (old man make-up, grey hair) and then as Dimitri in disguise (a birdlike mask and headdress). Despite the presence of jugglers and acrobats and sundry extras milling about in masks and costumes, the DALLAS party looks strangely drab, the camera work displaying none of the flair of the Oil Baron’s Ball or Southfork Rodeo sequences earlier in the season. Certainly, the moment where Jack’s would-be assassin falls from a balcony after being shot by Nicholas is nowhere near as dynamic as the sight of Adam almost pushing his brother Steven over the balcony of the Carrington landing (only a week after Miles Colby did push his brother Jeff from a cliff on THE COLBYS) as a crowd of party guests watches aghast from below.

    The climax of the DYNASTY and DALLAS parties each arrives during a speech. Blake is mid-way through his equivalent of the “thank you for coming and being so generous” address Sue Ellen delivered at the medical fundraiser on DALLAS a few weeks ago when brother Ben removes his disguise to reveal his true identity. And it’s when a reluctant Jack is brought to the podium to make a speech as Dimitri Marinos that his would-be killer takes aim (with a bow and arrow as opposed to a gun, which at least is novel). JR shouts out a warning, he and Jack take cover and a shootout, nowhere near as excitingly staged as the Moldavian massacre, occurs in which no significant characters are harmed.

    The final moments of each episode really sum up the difference between them. After exchanging a variety of threats and ultimatums with Blake, Ben strides up to Alexis, who is dressed as Madame de Pompadour at this point, takes her gloved hand and kisses it. They then glower and gloat at each other malevolently as the music builds to a crescendo around them. It’s really over the top and funny. DALLAS, meanwhile, ends with JR and Jack both sat on their bottoms wearing silly capes and looking a bit bewildered. “I think the masquerade is over,” JR concludes. Well, someone had to say it.

    And this week’s Top 5 are:

    1 (3) DYNASTY
    2 (1) THE COLBYS
    3 (2) FALCON CREST
    4 (-) KNOTS LANDING
    5 (4) DALLAS
     
  14. James from London

    James from London Soap Chat Addict Respected DVD Reviewer 15 Years on Soap Chat 10 Years on Soap Chat 5 Years on Soap Chat

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    12 Mar 86: DYNASTY: The Subpoenas v. 13 Mar 86: THE COLBYS: The Outcast v. 13 Mar 86: KNOTS LANDING: Distant Rumblings v. 14 Mar 86: DALLAS: Just Desserts v. 14 Mar 86: FALCON CREST: In Absentia

    The masquerade balls may be over, but this week’s DYNASTY and DALLAS begin with the Carringtons and Ewings still in their party outfits as they mull over last week's events. In Denver, Blake broods (“It’s very private, very personal,” he says when Krystle asks about his feud with his brother), Alexis gloats (“We’ve won the first round, we have triumphed!” she crows) and Ben threatens (“I can be even more of an enemy to you than Blake ever was,” he warns Alexis). Meanwhile, in Martinique, JR, Jack and Grace sit around looking glum while being interviewed by a police inspector (Michael Ranson’s old hospital boss from FALCON CREST, sporting a different accent but the same gruff demeanour).

    Three long-established Soap Land characters announce their intentions to leave town this week: Dex Dexter (“Alexis, I didn’t come here to argue, I came to say goodbye”), Cathy Geary (“I need to get away from Knots Landing … I’m going stale here”) and Jenna Wade (“We are leaving Dallas and that is final”). As one ill-advised affair between a young blonde woman and an older married man ends on DYNASTY (“I don't love you … It was a mistake,” Dex tells Amanda), another is about to begin on KNOTS as Cathy and Ben find themselves kissing.

    Since abandoning her royal princess role a few weeks ago, it’s as if Amanda has been trying to reinvent herself in the mould of early Fallon. If Dex was her Nick Toscanni (an older man less interested in her than in one of her female relatives) and her choice of costume at the masquerade ball an unconscious homage to the one Fallon wore at the opening of La Mirage (1920s flapper girl), then her responding to Dex dumping her by blaming her father (“What did you do,” she asks him, "write him a cheque for a million dollars and say, ‘Lay off Amanda'?”) is the equivalent of Fallon accusing Blake of beating up Michael the chauffeur in Season 1. Of course, Blake is no longer the kind of man to have his daughter’s lover beaten up or bought off. “My God, how could you think I’d do a thing like that?” he asks her in dismay. It turns out Amanda isn’t very good at playing early Fallon after all and, rather sweetly, she and Blake end up weeping in each other’s arms. “Maybe this is what we both needed — a good cry,” he suggests.

    Blake isn’t the only patriarch in the DYNASTY-verse to exhibit an unusual amount of vulnerability when it comes to his children this week. While Buck Fallmont struggles to accept the fact that his son Bart is gay, Jason Colby is visibly moved when Jeff finally acknowledges him as his dad. Fatherhood — specifically step-fatherhood — is also a predominant theme on this week’s KNOTS. Karen pays tribute to Mack’s parenting skills (“I realise how lucky my kids are to have you”), Mack criticises Gary's (“You better make a decision, pal — you’re either gonna be in Olivia’s life or you’re gonna be out") and Ben lays claim to the twins as his own (“They’re in my blood”). Meanwhile on DALLAS, Ray broaches the subject of adoption with Donna after falling for deaf kid Tony.

    Just as LB’s bout of meningitis on THE COLBYS a few weeks ago was essentially a plot device to bring Fallon and Jeff closer together, his disappearance at the end of last week’s episode serves chiefly to bridge the gap between Jeff and Jason. This, in turn, leads to Jeff agreeing to wed Fallon in the Colby house. At this point in Soap Land’s evolution, one brother marrying the other’s former wife in the family home really shouldn’t be all that remarkable. After all, the concept of opposing characters coexisting under the same roof began in the very first episode of DALLAS when Bobby brought Digger’s daughter home to Southfork. Since then, the idea of feuding relatives, divorcees and former in-laws all living together has become increasingly commonplace. Earlier this season, DYNASTY had Steven Carrington living in the same house as both of his ex-wives (one of whom is now married to his brother) without anyone appearing to notice. If THE COLBYS were to follow this trend, then it would simply skate over the complications of the Miles/Fallon/Jeff and Sable/Jason/Frankie triangles. Instead, the show uses these conflicts as the basic fuel for its drama. “Here — in this house?? You can’t be serious!” exclaims Sable in disbelief when Jason fills her in on Jeff and Fallon’s wedding plans. "Miles brought Fallon to this house as his bride. If he sees Jeff marry her in this house, think what it’ll do to him!” Adding to the insanity of this situation is the tenuous nature of Sable and Jason’s own relationship. "This will always be my home,” Sable reminds Jason, "divorce or no divorce.” “You wanna go on playing Mrs. Jason Colby?” he responds. "Fine … but you’ll do it my way. This is going to be the best damn wedding Los Angeles has ever seen and you know why? Because my wife is going to see to it.”

    Back at the office, Jason contemplates giving Sable a quickie divorce. The far-reaching implications of such a move, as described by his lawyer Garrett Boyston, are fascinating. “She may ask for more than money,” he warns. "You control eleven major corporations. You put any of that voting stock into a settlement, you’re gonna scare a lot of people — banks, stock markets, governments … Colby Enterprises employs some sixty-thousand people all over the world, all of them depending on your success … This isn’t just any marriage.” Meanwhile on KNOTS, the end of another long-running Soap Land marriage is dealt with far more mundanely. “I’ve got some news that’ll cheer you up,” says Laura casually as she helps Val pick up some spilt trash from the sidewalk. “My divorce is final." In fact, divorce is very much in the air this week. “Our weary marriage is over,” Claudia tells Adam as she moves out of the Carrington mansion on DYNASTY, while KNOTS ends with Gary telling his wife, “I’m divorcing you, Abby.”

    Trend of the week: Ex-spouses delivering home truths. “You know people’s weaknesses, but you don’t understand them,” Dex tells Alexis on DYNASTY — a really interesting observation that Alexis attempts to shrug off, but which seems to get to the heart of her character. Over on THE COLBYS, Miles is beside himself with anger when he learns of Jeff and Fallon’s wedding plans and there’s an excitingly shot scene in the Colby garage where he grabs Fallon and shows her her own reflection in a car window: “Look at yourself — the girl who’d 'make something of Miles' and you did — a fool, someone to feel sorry for. Now you want to rub my nose in it!” Meanwhile on KNOTS, Val drops by Soap Land Memorial Hospital where Gary is recovering after crashing his racing car in last week’s episode. “I know about dry drunks,” she tells him. “Sometimes I think you still feel the need for the high." If she’s hoping her words will have the same kind of impact on Gary as they did when she visited him in jail at the end of Season 4, then she’s in for a disappointment. News of her visit does, however, result in a wonderfully sad speech from Ben that captures the emotional toll that living in a soap opera can take on an ordinary, decent man. “I don’t think I know right from wrong anymore,” he tells Val wearily. "Is it right for me to expect you not to care about the suicide course your ex-husband has set for himself? Is it right for me to resent you for going to visit him? … You could save his life. What is my resentment compared to that? You’re doing what’s right for you and I respect you for it. And if I also resent you for it, then I guess it’s my problem, isn’t it?”

    As a man caught between the woman he loves and her ties to her ex, Ben is hardly unique in Soap Land. DYNASTY’s Dex and DALLAS’s Mark Graison have both been in similar situations this season. Whereas Dex reacted to Alexis’s preoccupation with King Galen by losing his temper and storming off pretty much on a weekly basis (“I’m rarely in a mood to admit that somebody else might be right,” he concedes this week), Mark has coped with Pam’s need to honour Bobby’s memory with commendable fortitude (“Pam’s feelings for Bobby always stood between her and me,” he admits to Jenna, "but in the end, my love for Pam helped put that behind me.") In dealing with his own situation, Ben has occupied a middle ground between Dex and Mark. He’s emotionally intelligent enough to understand Val and Gary’s connection, but sufficiently flawed (i.e., human) to be jealous of it. This conflict makes him both the most relatable and the most interesting of the three men. Meanwhile, Mark’s patience pays off at the end of this week’s DALLAS when Pam offers to sell Christopher’s share of Ewing Oil back to JR. “The fight’s just not important anymore,” she says simply. While not the most soapily dramatic move Pam could have made, it does make sense given her character’s emotional journey this season. The time has finally come for her to put the past behind her and move on with her life. Meanwhile, after the extraordinary lengths to which JR has gone to gain control of the company over the years, there's something sweetly ironic and strangely touching about the way it just suddenly drops into his lap.

    In the final scenes of this week’s DALLAS and DYNASTY, each show’s leading man speaks aloud to a dead parent. JR’s father is represented by his portrait, Blake’s mother by her gravestone. “Well, Daddy, it’s taken a long time … but finally, it’s all mine,” a victorious JR tells Jock, while Blake recalls fondly how his mother used to chide he and his brother as children: “You’re both going to shape up. You will — by God, you will — or my name is not Ellen Lucy Carrington!” Blake's reverie is interrupted by the arrival of said brother Ben and the episode ends with Blake branding him as “the man who killed his own mother!” There’s an equivalent moment on KNOTS when Jill Bennett explains her preoccupation with Wesphall to Mack by revealing how Paul Galveston drove her father to suicide — but even that’s not the whole story. “What we’re doing is important and delicate,” Peter Hollister tells her mysteriously in another scene. "Clear-headedness is paramount.”

    Peter's concern is that, through her involvement with Gary Ewing, Jill has fallen prey to “the spy who loved me” syndrome — it’s what happens when one Soap Land character becomes sexually involved with another for duplicitous reasons only to then fall in love with them for real. Other recent cases include Cassandra Wilder losing her heart to Richard Channing on FALCON CREST, Sean McAllister becoming genuinely smitten with Bliss on THE COLBYS, and Grace falling in love with Jack Ewing on DALLAS and then betraying Angelica in order to save his life. “You don’t have to fall in love with everyone you sleep with,” Peter tells Jill. "It gets messy!” It sure does for Grace this week when Angelica shoots her dead as payback for choosing Jack over her — even if director Linda Gray ensures that any actual mess (i.e., both the shooting itself and Grace’s dead body) remains discreetly off-screen.

    There are several parallels between the Martinique storyline on DALLAS and the recent plot on FALCON CREST involving Peter Stavros’s abduction. Each centre on a foreign character (Angelica Nero, Philippe Hubert) who is willing to go to extraordinary lengths, including kidnap and murder, to assume control of a Greek shipping company. The climax of each story takes place in an exotic French-speaking location (the Stavros villa in Monte Carlo, the Caribbean island of Martinique) and ends with one co-conspirator killing another (Sofia shoots Philippe, Angelica shoots Grace). The main advantage the DALLAS plot has over its FC counterpart is Angelica herself. For a supposedly one-note femme fatale, she has managed to display several different aspects of her character. When she pulls her gun on Grace, for instance, she seems genuinely heartbroken over what she is about to do.

    When JR learnt a few weeks ago on DALLAS that Mandy was spying on him for Cliff, he didn’t confront her about it. Instead, he gave her a sable coat to keep her off balance. Having found out on last week’s DYNASTY that her sister Caress has been writing a tell-all biography about her, Alexis does exactly the same thing — she keeps quiet about it and gives her a sable coat. More specifically, she tosses the coat at her feet so that Caress has to bend down to pick it up. It's a neatly unspoken demonstration of Alexis's power over her sister. Over on THE COLBYS, Sable makes nice to her sister, inviting Frankie to Jeff and Fallon's wedding — but then adds a stinging proviso: “Stay out of my way and, if you can control yourself for a change, stay out of my husband’s bed too.” Meanwhile on KNOTS, sisters-in-law Karen and Abby come dangerously close to a rapprochement after Olivia comes clean about her drug use and agrees to join a support group. Smiles, hugs, and apologies ensue. “She’ll be all right — she’s got a good head on her shoulders,” Karen assures Abby. “At least she used to before she moved in with you,” Abby zings back.

    There’s nothing equivocal, however, about Pam and Jenna’s conciliatory embrace on this week’s DALLAS. Following a flashback scene where Jenna revisits her final conversation with Bobby — the equivalent of Krystle's return to the attic or Lilimae's pilgrimage to the roof where Joshua died — she is finally able to accept that her relationship with Bobby ended before his death. Watching the scene where Jenna explains all this to Pam, I found Pam’s response surprisingly touching. “It doesn’t matter anymore who Bobby was going to marry,” she says. "What matters is how happy you were when you were with him … and how lucky we both were.” It reminded me of the scene in New DALLAS where Sue Ellen and Mandy meet at JR’s memorial service — their long-standing rivalry seems to melt away and all that’s left is the common bond of having loved the same man. The scene where JR, after returning from Martinique, tells Sue Ellen how he felt "when Angelica pointed that gun at me” also takes on new significance in hindsight. "The one thing I feared most was that I was gonna die and you would never know how much I love you,” he tells her. This line never meant much to me before, but now it seems to foreshadow the letter Sue Ellen receives from JR after his death and then reads aloud at his funeral — he did get to tell her how he felt at the end after all.

    Now that Fallon and Jeff have found each other again after such a long separation, their position on THE COLBYS is somewhat reminiscent of Gary and Val’s at the beginning of KNOTS. Where Gary had previously been the more restless partner in that relationship but was now ready to finally put down roots in California, here that role is taken by Fallon: "I’ve been running away ever since I was old enough to open the front door, but … I really want to belong here. I think you do too.” Jeff, meanwhile, is like Val — cautious and slightly doubtful that this new spinoff series is where they belong.

    DYNASTY’s Dominique crosses over to THE COLBYS once again this week, this time to host Fallon and Jeff’s engagement party at her club. The dramatic climax of the party comes during a speech, just as it did during DALLAS and DYNASTY's masquerade balls last week. As a drunk and bitter Miles makes his way onto the stage ("I wanna say a few words. I got a right to”), everyone watching — characters and viewers alike — steels themselves for the same kind of humiliating toast Jeff himself made at his Uncle Cecil’s party during DYNASTY’s first season. Ultimately, however, Miles is just too heartbroken to go through with it. “To Fallon and Jeff, be happy,” is all he can manage. It’s a very touching way of subverting our expectations.

    Just as Pam and Jenna appear to be “letting go” of the past on DALLAS, Fallon is hopeful that Miles’s toast means that he is doing the same. Meanwhile on FALCON CREST, Maggie Gioberti assumes that now that her book tour is over, Jeff Wainwright is out of her life. Both women are mistaken. In the final scene of this week’s COLBYS, as Jeff and Fallon start to make love for the first time since their reunion, the camera pans to the window to reveal Miles watching them. “You’ll never be free of me, Fallon, never,” he murmurs, as he winds her scarf tightly around his fists. It’s creepy, sad and kinda hot, all at the same time. Over on FALCON CREST, Chase and Maggie are likewise getting amorous when they are interrupted by the latest in a succession of anonymous phone calls. At the other end of the line is Jeff Wainwright whom we learn has just moved to the Tuscany Valley. Over on KNOTS, it's Ben who can’t escape Gary. “Every time I turn around, he is there. He won’t leave us alone,” he complains to Mack.

    DYNASTY’s Ben Carrington and KNOTS LANDING’s Peter Hollister are each suing for a share of their respective father’s estate. As Blake and Dominique receive subpoenas regarding Ben’s $125,000,000 lawsuit, Greg Sumner makes Peter and his mother Sylvia a settlement offer of $5,000,000. (“With five million dollars, you oughta be able to afford an apartment with a window," Greg tell Sylvia in an amusing little scene.) While Dominique wonders what her newly acquired half-brother is up to on DYNASTY ("Would you please explain to me why your attorney expects me to testify on your behalf when I am one of the people that you are suing?” she asks Ben), Peter sees through Greg’s offer on KNOTS (“The five million dollars is bait,” he tells Sylvia. "He’s hoping we’ll bite and swallow it and relinquish all claim to the rest of the fortune”). Meanwhile on FALCON CREST, a different Greg and Peter (Reardon and Stavros) are also on opposite sides of a legal action as Greg R hands Peter S a subpoena in a bid to have his power of attorney to run Falcon Crest revoked. This is the third episode since Angela's mysterious disappearance and members of her family are beginning to suspect foul play. However, just as the Martinique police inspector describes Angelica Nero as "a very elusive criminal”, so FALCON CREST’s Judge Deeds regards Angela Channing the same way: “As far as I am concerned, Mrs. Channing fled the area to avoid prosecution.”

    The corporate fight may not be important to Pam Ewing anymore, but it still is to FC’s Peter who has gone to great lengths (including the possible abduction of Angela) to embezzle $30,000,000 from Falcon Crest — not, as Angela’s family suppose, to shore up his own company, but to buy the mortgage on Richard’s racetrack. Curiouser and curiouser.

    And this week’s Top 5 are:

    1 (2) THE COLBYS
    2 (4) KNOTS LANDING
    3 (1) DYNASTY
    4 (5) DALLAS
    5 (3) FALCON CREST
     
  15. James from London

    James from London Soap Chat Addict Respected DVD Reviewer 15 Years on Soap Chat 10 Years on Soap Chat 5 Years on Soap Chat

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    12 Mar 86: DYNASTY: The Subpoenas v. 13 Mar 86: THE COLBYS: The Outcast v. 13 Mar 86: KNOTS LANDING: Distant Rumblings v. 14 Mar 86: DALLAS: Just Desserts v. 14 Mar 86: FALCON CREST: In Absentia

    The masquerade balls may be over, but this week’s DYNASTY and DALLAS begin with the Carringtons and Ewings still in their party outfits as they mull over last week's events. In Denver, Blake broods (“It’s very private, very personal,” he says when Krystle asks about his feud with his brother), Alexis gloats (“We’ve won the first round, we have triumphed!” she crows) and Ben threatens (“I can be even more of an enemy to you than Blake ever was,” he warns Alexis). Meanwhile, in Martinique, JR, Jack and Grace sit around looking glum while being interviewed by a police inspector (Michael Ranson’s old hospital boss from FALCON CREST, sporting a different accent but the same gruff demeanour).

    Three long-established Soap Land characters announce their intentions to leave town this week: Dex Dexter (“Alexis, I didn’t come here to argue, I came to say goodbye”), Cathy Geary (“I need to get away from Knots Landing … I’m going stale here”) and Jenna Wade (“We are leaving Dallas and that is final”). As one ill-advised affair between a young blonde woman and an older married man ends on DYNASTY (“I don't love you … It was a mistake,” Dex tells Amanda), another is about to begin on KNOTS as Cathy and Ben find themselves kissing.

    Since abandoning her royal princess role a few weeks ago, it’s as if Amanda has been trying to reinvent herself in the mould of early Fallon. If Dex was her Nick Toscanni (an older man less interested in her than in one of her female relatives) and her choice of costume at the masquerade ball an unconscious homage to the one Fallon wore at the opening of La Mirage (1920s flapper girl), then her responding to Dex dumping her by blaming her father (“What did you do,” she asks him, "write him a cheque for a million dollars and say, ‘Lay off Amanda'?”) is the equivalent of Fallon accusing Blake of beating up Michael the chauffeur in Season 1. Of course, Blake is no longer the kind of man to have his daughter’s lover beaten up or bought off. “My God, how could you think I’d do a thing like that?” he asks her in dismay. It turns out Amanda isn’t very good at playing early Fallon after all and, rather sweetly, she and Blake end up weeping in each other’s arms. “Maybe this is what we both needed — a good cry,” he suggests.

    Blake isn’t the only patriarch in the DYNASTY-verse to exhibit an unusual amount of vulnerability when it comes to his children this week. While Buck Fallmont struggles to accept the fact that his son Bart is gay, Jason Colby is visibly moved when Jeff finally acknowledges him as his dad. Fatherhood — specifically step-fatherhood — is also a predominant theme on this week’s KNOTS. Karen pays tribute to Mack’s parenting skills (“I realise how lucky my kids are to have you”), Mack criticises Gary's (“You better make a decision, pal — you’re either gonna be in Olivia’s life or you’re gonna be out") and Ben lays claim to the twins as his own (“They’re in my blood”). Meanwhile on DALLAS, Ray broaches the subject of adoption with Donna after falling for deaf kid Tony.

    Just as LB’s bout of meningitis on THE COLBYS a few weeks ago was essentially a plot device to bring Fallon and Jeff closer together, his disappearance at the end of last week’s episode serves chiefly to bridge the gap between Jeff and Jason. This, in turn, leads to Jeff agreeing to wed Fallon in the Colby house. At this point in Soap Land’s evolution, one brother marrying the other’s former wife in the family home really shouldn’t be all that remarkable. After all, the concept of opposing characters coexisting under the same roof began in the very first episode of DALLAS when Bobby brought Digger’s daughter home to Southfork. Since then, the idea of feuding relatives, divorcees and former in-laws all living together has become increasingly commonplace. Earlier this season, DYNASTY had Steven Carrington living in the same house as both of his ex-wives (one of whom is now married to his brother) without anyone appearing to notice. If THE COLBYS were to follow this trend, then it would simply skate over the complications of the Miles/Fallon/Jeff and Sable/Jason/Frankie triangles. Instead, the show uses these conflicts as the basic fuel for its drama. “Here — in this house?? You can’t be serious!” exclaims Sable in disbelief when Jason fills her in on Jeff and Fallon’s wedding plans. "Miles brought Fallon to this house as his bride. If he sees Jeff marry her in this house, think what it’ll do to him!” Adding to the insanity of this situation is the tenuous nature of Sable and Jason’s own relationship. "This will always be my home,” Sable reminds Jason, "divorce or no divorce.” “You wanna go on playing Mrs. Jason Colby?” he responds. "Fine … but you’ll do it my way. This is going to be the best damn wedding Los Angeles has ever seen and you know why? Because my wife is going to see to it.”

    Back at the office, Jason contemplates giving Sable a quickie divorce. The far-reaching implications of such a move, as described by his lawyer Garrett Boyston, are fascinating. “She may ask for more than money,” he warns. "You control eleven major corporations. You put any of that voting stock into a settlement, you’re gonna scare a lot of people — banks, stock markets, governments … Colby Enterprises employs some sixty-thousand people all over the world, all of them depending on your success … This isn’t just any marriage.” Meanwhile on KNOTS, the end of another long-running Soap Land marriage is dealt with far more mundanely. “I’ve got some news that’ll cheer you up,” says Laura casually as she helps Val pick up some spilt trash from the sidewalk. “My divorce is final." In fact, divorce is very much in the air this week. “Our weary marriage is over,” Claudia tells Adam as she moves out of the Carrington mansion on DYNASTY, while KNOTS ends with Gary telling his wife, “I’m divorcing you, Abby.”

    Trend of the week: Ex-spouses delivering home truths. “You know people’s weaknesses, but you don’t understand them,” Dex tells Alexis on DYNASTY — a really interesting observation that Alexis attempts to shrug off, but which seems to get to the heart of her character. Over on THE COLBYS, Miles is beside himself with anger when he learns of Jeff and Fallon’s wedding plans and there’s an excitingly shot scene in the Colby garage where he grabs Fallon and shows her her own reflection in a car window: “Look at yourself — the girl who’d 'make something of Miles' and you did — a fool, someone to feel sorry for. Now you want to rub my nose in it!” Meanwhile on KNOTS, Val drops by Soap Land Memorial Hospital where Gary is recovering after crashing his racing car in last week’s episode. “I know about dry drunks,” she tells him. “Sometimes I think you still feel the need for the high." If she’s hoping her words will have the same kind of impact on Gary as they did when she visited him in jail at the end of Season 4, then she’s in for a disappointment. News of her visit does, however, result in a wonderfully sad speech from Ben that captures the emotional toll that living in a soap opera can take on an ordinary, decent man. “I don’t think I know right from wrong anymore,” he tells Val wearily. "Is it right for me to expect you not to care about the suicide course your ex-husband has set for himself? Is it right for me to resent you for going to visit him? … You could save his life. What is my resentment compared to that? You’re doing what’s right for you and I respect you for it. And if I also resent you for it, then I guess it’s my problem, isn’t it?”

    As a man caught between the woman he loves and her ties to her ex, Ben is hardly unique in Soap Land. DYNASTY’s Dex and DALLAS’s Mark Graison have both been in similar situations this season. Whereas Dex reacted to Alexis’s preoccupation with King Galen by losing his temper and storming off pretty much on a weekly basis (“I’m rarely in a mood to admit that somebody else might be right,” he concedes this week), Mark has coped with Pam’s need to honour Bobby’s memory with commendable fortitude (“Pam’s feelings for Bobby always stood between her and me,” he admits to Jenna, "but in the end, my love for Pam helped put that behind me.") In dealing with his own situation, Ben has occupied a middle ground between Dex and Mark. He’s emotionally intelligent enough to understand Val and Gary’s connection, but sufficiently flawed (i.e., human) to be jealous of it. This conflict makes him both the most relatable and the most interesting of the three men. Meanwhile, Mark’s patience pays off at the end of this week’s DALLAS when Pam offers to sell Christopher’s share of Ewing Oil back to JR. “The fight’s just not important anymore,” she says simply. While not the most soapily dramatic move Pam could have made, it does make sense given her character’s emotional journey this season. The time has finally come for her to put the past behind her and move on with her life. Meanwhile, after the extraordinary lengths to which JR has gone to gain control of the company over the years, there's something sweetly ironic and strangely touching about the way it just suddenly drops into his lap.

    In the final scenes of this week’s DALLAS and DYNASTY, each show’s leading man speaks aloud to a dead parent. JR’s father is represented by his portrait, Blake’s mother by her gravestone. “Well, Daddy, it’s taken a long time … but finally, it’s all mine,” a victorious JR tells Jock, while Blake recalls fondly how his mother used to chide he and his brother as children: “You’re both going to shape up. You will — by God, you will — or my name is not Ellen Lucy Carrington!” Blake's reverie is interrupted by the arrival of said brother Ben and the episode ends with Blake branding him as “the man who killed his own mother!” There’s an equivalent moment on KNOTS when Jill Bennett explains her preoccupation with Wesphall to Mack by revealing how Paul Galveston drove her father to suicide — but even that’s not the whole story. “What we’re doing is important and delicate,” Peter Hollister tells her mysteriously in another scene. "Clear-headedness is paramount.”

    Peter's concern is that, through her involvement with Gary Ewing, Jill has fallen prey to “the spy who loved me” syndrome — it’s what happens when one Soap Land character becomes sexually involved with another for duplicitous reasons only to then fall in love with them for real. Other recent cases include Cassandra Wilder losing her heart to Richard Channing on FALCON CREST, Sean McAllister becoming genuinely smitten with Bliss on THE COLBYS, and Grace falling in love with Jack Ewing on DALLAS and then betraying Angelica in order to save his life. “You don’t have to fall in love with everyone you sleep with,” Peter tells Jill. "It gets messy!” It sure does for Grace this week when Angelica shoots her dead as payback for choosing Jack over her — even if director Linda Gray ensures that any actual mess (i.e., both the shooting itself and Grace’s dead body) remains discreetly off-screen.

    There are several parallels between the Martinique storyline on DALLAS and the recent plot on FALCON CREST involving Peter Stavros’s abduction. Each centre on a foreign character (Angelica Nero, Philippe Hubert) who is willing to go to extraordinary lengths, including kidnap and murder, to assume control of a Greek shipping company. The climax of each story takes place in an exotic French-speaking location (the Stavros villa in Monte Carlo, the Caribbean island of Martinique) and ends with one co-conspirator killing another (Sofia shoots Philippe, Angelica shoots Grace). The main advantage the DALLAS plot has over its FC counterpart is Angelica herself. For a supposedly one-note femme fatale, she has managed to display several different aspects of her character. When she pulls her gun on Grace, for instance, she seems genuinely heartbroken over what she is about to do.

    When JR learnt a few weeks ago on DALLAS that Mandy was spying on him for Cliff, he didn’t confront her about it. Instead, he gave her a sable coat to keep her off balance. Having found out on last week’s DYNASTY that her sister Caress has been writing a tell-all biography about her, Alexis does exactly the same thing — she keeps quiet about it and gives her a sable coat. More specifically, she tosses the coat at her feet so that Caress has to bend down to pick it up. It's a neatly unspoken demonstration of Alexis's power over her sister. Over on THE COLBYS, Sable makes nice to her sister, inviting Frankie to Jeff and Fallon's wedding — but then adds a stinging proviso: “Stay out of my way and, if you can control yourself for a change, stay out of my husband’s bed too.” Meanwhile on KNOTS, sisters-in-law Karen and Abby come dangerously close to a rapprochement after Olivia comes clean about her drug use and agrees to join a support group. Smiles, hugs, and apologies ensue. “She’ll be all right — she’s got a good head on her shoulders,” Karen assures Abby. “At least she used to before she moved in with you,” Abby zings back.

    There’s nothing equivocal, however, about Pam and Jenna’s conciliatory embrace on this week’s DALLAS. Following a flashback scene where Jenna revisits her final conversation with Bobby — the equivalent of Krystle's return to the attic or Lilimae's pilgrimage to the roof where Joshua died — she is finally able to accept that her relationship with Bobby ended before his death. Watching the scene where Jenna explains all this to Pam, I found Pam’s response surprisingly touching. “It doesn’t matter anymore who Bobby was going to marry,” she says. "What matters is how happy you were when you were with him … and how lucky we both were.” It reminded me of the scene in New DALLAS where Sue Ellen and Mandy meet at JR’s memorial service — their long-standing rivalry seems to melt away and all that’s left is the common bond of having loved the same man. The scene where JR, after returning from Martinique, tells Sue Ellen how he felt "when Angelica pointed that gun at me” also takes on new significance in hindsight. "The one thing I feared most was that I was gonna die and you would never know how much I love you,” he tells her. This line never meant much to me before, but now it seems to foreshadow the letter Sue Ellen receives from JR after his death and then reads aloud at his funeral — he did get to tell her how he felt at the end after all.

    Now that Fallon and Jeff have found each other again after such a long separation, their position on THE COLBYS is somewhat reminiscent of Gary and Val’s at the beginning of KNOTS. Where Gary had previously been the more restless partner in that relationship but was now ready to finally put down roots in California, here that role is taken by Fallon: "I’ve been running away ever since I was old enough to open the front door, but … I really want to belong here. I think you do too.” Jeff, meanwhile, is like Val — cautious and slightly doubtful that this new spinoff series is where they belong.

    DYNASTY’s Dominique crosses over to THE COLBYS once again this week, this time to host Fallon and Jeff’s engagement party at her club. The dramatic climax of the party comes during a speech, just as it did during DALLAS and DYNASTY's masquerade balls last week. As a drunk and bitter Miles makes his way onto the stage ("I wanna say a few words. I got a right to”), everyone watching — characters and viewers alike — steels themselves for the same kind of humiliating toast Jeff himself made at his Uncle Cecil’s party during DYNASTY’s first season. Ultimately, however, Miles is just too heartbroken to go through with it. “To Fallon and Jeff, be happy,” is all he can manage. It’s a very touching way of subverting our expectations.

    Just as Pam and Jenna appear to be “letting go” of the past on DALLAS, Fallon is hopeful that Miles’s toast means that he is doing the same. Meanwhile on FALCON CREST, Maggie Gioberti assumes that now that her book tour is over, Jeff Wainwright is out of her life. Both women are mistaken. In the final scene of this week’s COLBYS, as Jeff and Fallon start to make love for the first time since their reunion, the camera pans to the window to reveal Miles watching them. “You’ll never be free of me, Fallon, never,” he murmurs, as he winds her scarf tightly around his fists. It’s creepy, sad and kinda hot, all at the same time. Over on FALCON CREST, Chase and Maggie are likewise getting amorous when they are interrupted by the latest in a succession of anonymous phone calls. At the other end of the line is Jeff Wainwright whom we learn has just moved to the Tuscany Valley. Over on KNOTS, it's Ben who can’t escape Gary. “Every time I turn around, he is there. He won’t leave us alone,” he complains to Mack.

    DYNASTY’s Ben Carrington and KNOTS LANDING’s Peter Hollister are each suing for a share of their respective father’s estate. As Blake and Dominique receive subpoenas regarding Ben’s $125,000,000 lawsuit, Greg Sumner makes Peter and his mother Sylvia a settlement offer of $5,000,000. (“With five million dollars, you oughta be able to afford an apartment with a window," Greg tell Sylvia in an amusing little scene.) While Dominique wonders what her newly acquired half-brother is up to on DYNASTY ("Would you please explain to me why your attorney expects me to testify on your behalf when I am one of the people that you are suing?” she asks Ben), Peter sees through Greg’s offer on KNOTS (“The five million dollars is bait,” he tells Sylvia. "He’s hoping we’ll bite and swallow it and relinquish all claim to the rest of the fortune”). Meanwhile on FALCON CREST, a different Greg and Peter (Reardon and Stavros) are also on opposite sides of a legal action as Greg R hands Peter S a subpoena in a bid to have his power of attorney to run Falcon Crest revoked. This is the third episode since Angela's mysterious disappearance and members of her family are beginning to suspect foul play. However, just as the Martinique police inspector describes Angelica Nero as "a very elusive criminal”, so FALCON CREST’s Judge Deeds regards Angela Channing the same way: “As far as I am concerned, Mrs. Channing fled the area to avoid prosecution.”

    The corporate fight may not be important to Pam Ewing anymore, but it still is to FC’s Peter who has gone to great lengths (including the possible abduction of Angela) to embezzle $30,000,000 from Falcon Crest — not, as Angela’s family suppose, to shore up his own company, but to buy the mortgage on Richard’s racetrack. Curiouser and curiouser.

    And this week’s Top 5 are:

    1 (2) THE COLBYS
    2 (4) KNOTS LANDING
    3 (1) DYNASTY
    4 (5) DALLAS
    5 (3) FALCON CREST
     
  16. James from London

    James from London Soap Chat Addict Respected DVD Reviewer 15 Years on Soap Chat 10 Years on Soap Chat 5 Years on Soap Chat

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    23 Mar 86: DALLAS: The Early Years v. 26 Mar 86: DYNASTY: The Trial (2) v. 27 Mar 86: THE COLBYS: The Honeymoon v. 27 Mar 86: KNOTS LANDING: Phoenix Rising

    On last week’s DYNASTY, Mr. Crenshaw, Ben Carrington's attorney, dismissed Dominique’s testimony about Ellen Carrington’s death as “a fairytale told to you on your mother’s knee.” In the opening scene of this week's DALLAS (a movie-length prequel to the Ewing saga), JR speaks about the origins of the Barnes/Ewing feud in similar terms: "I’ve heard lots of stories about the early years … Tall tales are an art form in Texas … You see, that’s the trouble in all these stories. You can’t tell what’s real and not real.”

    Truth and lies, myth and memory, dreams and reality, fake and genuine — these have been prevalent themes throughout this Soap Land season. Just as Rita replaced Krystle on DYNASTY so Jack Ewing impersonated Dimitri Marinos on DALLAS. While FALCON CREST’s Jordan has divided herself into two personalities to cope with the truth of her incestuous past, DYNASTY’s Fallon changed her identity to deal with the fantasy of an incestuous past. And the climactic moment of this week’s KNOTS has almost all the principle characters — Karen, Mack, Ben, Val, Gary, Abby, Greg — lying to one another about something each of them already knows the truth of (i.e., the paternity of Val’s twins). “It must be very confusing for you, trying to separate the truth from your lies,” suggests Blake to Alexis on this week’s DYNASTY. “Randall — she existed. It happened. You know it did, don’t you?” Miles asked Jeff on last week's COLBYS. "One of the symptoms of my disease is to deny that I even have a problem,” says Gary about his alcoholism on KNOTS.

    The final shot of the opening scene of DALLAS: "The Early Years”, before it flashes back to events of the past, is a lingering closeup of Jock’s portrait hanging in the reception area of Ewing Oil. It suggests that the story about to be told is based upon the memories of a dead man — a dead man trapped inside a painting caught inside a dream and filtered through the KNOTSsian sensibilities of David Jacobs (writer and producer of “The Early Years”).

    We never learn the identity of the unseen writer JR is speaking to in this introductory sequence. (For all we know, it could be DYNASTY’s Caress shopping for another salacious oil-based expose after Alexis nixed the publication of Sister Dearest.) Likewise at the beginning of this week’s KNOTS, Abby is in a meeting with someone we never see — her attorney. Whereas JR does all the talking in his scene, here the camera concentrates on Abby's silent reaction as the lawyer explains the legal implications of Gary’s divorce petition. Just as Garrett Boydston recently reminded Jason during his equivalent storyline on THE COLBYS that California is "a no-fault divorce state", Abby’s attorney tells her that “in the state of California, both you and your husband are entitled to a divorce if either party wants it. Nothing prevents one partner from divorcing another.”

    Abby’s response to Gary’s petition parallels Sable Colby's to Jason’s. Initially, she is shellshocked, then she fights back (“Gary, you have no right to throw away our marriage like this!”), and finally she makes an outrageous demand as part of her settlement. Sable’s insistence that she be granted ownership of the Colby mansion has essentially halted their divorce (at least for the time being), while Abby resorts to blackmail. “If you don’t guarantee me, in writing, that Empire Valley is mine, your divorce will make history,” she promises Gary. "I will drag your precious Valene, her precious Ben and those precious little babies of theirs into the court … It’ll be a long trial, Gary, and it’ll be very messy.” “This isn’t 1956,” counters Gary. “No, but it’ll feel like it,” she assures him. Back on this week’s DALLAS, it isn’t 1956 either. In fact, it's mostly 1933, but sometimes it's also 1951.

    Jacobs’ version of the origins of the Barnes/Ewing feud differs greatly from both the account(s) given during the series itself and by Lee Raintree’s novelisation. However, it feels just as valid. The dynamic between Jock, Jason and Digger as depicted in “The Early Years” is less black and white than the one we heard about during last season’s Cliff and Jamie storyline. Of the two Ewing brothers, Jason is presented as the real oil expert (he is referred to as "one of the best mineral men in the business”) whose reckless streak is counterbalanced by Jock's innate conservatism. Moreover, Jason’s belief in Digger’s ability to find oil “with his nose” is initially stronger than Jock’s, and it is he who encourages Jock to keep the faith.

    There’s something poetic and poignant about the fact that the Ewing fortune, and by extension the entire Soap Land genre, with all its glamour and grandeur, should be built upon the intuitive gifts of a shabby, drunken and ultimately tragic dreamer like Digger Barnes. In the scenes where Digger divines the oil’s location underneath the ground, his physicality — turning in a circle, eyes closed, arms outstretched — resembles his drunken dancing as an old man in “Barbecue” as seen in the original mini-series. At one point, he even sings the same song in “The Early Years” as he did then, “The Yellow Rose of Texas”.

    The topic of alcoholism, or at very least the consequences of very heavy drinking, is touched upon in each of this week’s soaps. During a scene with his stepdaughter Olivia on KNOTS, Gary recalls the very first time he got drunk. While "The Early Years” concludes in 1951 with the first encounter between Bobby and Pam as small children, Gary’s recollection extends the Ewing back story by a few more years. If my calculations are correct, “this isn’t 1956” either. Instead, it's 1957: "I was fourteen the first time I got drunk. One Saturday night I sat down, I had three sixteen ounce cans of beer, got drunk as a skunk, sick as a dog, threw up all over the place, swore to God I’d never do it again. Next Saturday night — boom, right back out there.“

    After Digger attempts to shoot him at the Southfork barbecue in 1951, Jock wonders aloud to Ellie, “Why now, why today?" There are a couple of answers to that question. Firstly, it gives David Jacobs a chance to dramatise the drunken claim made by Digger in the very first episode of DALLAS (also written by Jacobs): “I tried to kill Jock Ewing once or twice, but I bungled it”. More immediately, Digger has just discovered, thanks to his infamous nose, that the near-forgotten parcel of Southfork land he inherited from his father — the same section which he has only recently sold to Jock for booze money — is the very part of the ranch that contained the oil Miss Ellie’s daddy needed so badly during the depression. If the Southworths had only drilled that field at the time, they would have had enough money to save the ranch and Miss Ellie would have had no need to seduce Jock into marriage in the first place. This irony is unbearable for Digger and so he aims the gun at his former best friend-turned-enemy. Gary’s speech on KNOTS about his own drinking on KNOTS suggests a third reason. He describes himself as "the kind of drunk that had to hit bottom. I had to hurt everybody I loved. I had to hurt everybody who loved me.” Seeing the strong bond that exists between Digger and Jock at the beginning of “The Early Years”, it occurs to me that one of the people Digger loved, and who loved him, and thus as an alcoholic he felt compelled to hurt, was Jock himself.

    Another Digger/Gary parallel: the morning after Digger introduces Jock to Ellie in 1933, he comes to to find that Jock has poured all his booze away. This is Jock’s idea of playing fair: he is giving Digger one chance to sober up and make an honest woman of Ellie before he makes a play for her himself. Instead, Digger is so incensed by Jock’s interference that he gambles away his share of their oil leases with the flip of a coin. This echoes a scene from “Bottom of the Bottle” at the end of KNOTS Season 1 (another episode written by Jacobs) where Gary’s doctor offers him the choice between a shot of booze and a dime to call his wife, and he chooses the booze.

    In character terms, Digger is also the Soap Land progenitor of Franklin, the former rigger turned alcoholic who provided an alibi for Ben Carrington on the day of his mother’s death during last week’s DYNASTY trial. In this week’s episode, Blake tracks him down to his seedy one-room apartment where he admits his testimony was bought and paid for. “When you’re a drunk,” he explains, "the truth only comes out of a bottle and then it’s usually paid for by somebody else.” Now two days sober, he is anxious to make amends. And so just as Jock repeatedly trusted Digger before their big bust up, Blake puts his faith in Franklin and brings him back to court to recant his prior testimony. However, when Franklin takes to the witness stand, he is inebriated and incoherent (just Digger is after he tries to shoot Jock) and so the judge rules against Blake.

    Meanwhile on THE COLBYS, Miles follows in the unsteady footsteps of Sue Ellen, Gary Ewing and Cliff Barnes to become the latest Soap Land character unable to remember whether or not he committed the murder he is accused of due to an alcohol-induced blackout. He admits as much to his mother Sable when she visits him in jail and her reaction taps into the familiar Soap Land theme of denial and deception. She first pretends not to hear his confession, then refuses to believe it (even though we know that she already harbours her own doubts about his innocence), and then finally orders him to keep quiet: “You must promise me you will never say that again, not to anyone.”

    For the past eight years, the issue of race has never once been acknowledged in the Ewing-verse (unless one counts the scrupulous non-acknowledgement of Eric’s girlfriend Whitney’s ethnicity on last season’s KNOTS). However on this week’s DALLAS, there is an impoverished black community, two uses of the N word and a cameo from the Ku Klux Klan. It’s a far cry from Dominique Devereaux swishing imperiously around her La Mirage hotel suite in this week's DYNASTY. The black sharecroppers Jock, Jason and Digger happen across in their quest for oil are largely depicted as long-suffering, humble and stoical — and almost as mutely passive as the special needs children Donna and Ray Krebbs have become involved with during this season’s DALLAS. So why, when the depiction of the disabled kids has consistently grated on me, do I find myself drawn into the sharecroppers’ story? Maybe it’s because these characters exist as part a of a bigger picture rather than just as an object of sentimentality. And while the idea of the wildcatters and sharecroppers teaming up against the ruthless landowners and big oil companies is a romantic one, it also creates a contagious all-for-one-and-one-for-all vibe — certainly, the eleventh hour oil strike that takes place on the land leased by Seth Foster is the most thrilling in Soap Land since Lankershim/Blaisdel #1 came in on DYNASTY — and it means that when the Jock/Jason/Digger partnership begins to fracture, as we know it will, one feels it all the more keenly.

    (The sharecroppers and Dominique aside, the only other black faces in this week’s Soap Land belong to the locals Jeff and Fallon encounter during their Jamaican honeymoon. While Jeff attempts to limbo with some smiling extras, Fallon has her palm read by a fortune teller named Odessa who freaks her out by foreseeing “blood" and “trouble” in her future. Given that Fallon lives in a prime time soap opera, I’d say “blood" and “trouble” are the least she could expect.)

    During the DYNASTY trial, we learned how the seeds of Blake and Ben Carrington’s feud were sewn on the day their mother was killed in a fire. On DALLAS: "The Early Years", Jock and Jason Ewing’s falling out also takes place against the backdrop of a fire. After Jason gets cold feet and sells out Jock, Digger and the sharecroppers to the racist landowners, the latter show up at the oilfield in their KKK regalia and inadvertantly set the rigs ablaze with their torches. The inferno that follows is easily Soap Land’s grandest, most cinematic to date. As the Ewing brothers watch their dreams go up in flames, Jock turns on Jason, forcing him to look at the damage he has wrought: “This is your work ... You’re my brother and you did this to me, to all of us! … You’re responsible, brother! Look! Look!” “When you look into the flames, Alexis, what do you see?” echoes Ben Carrington at the beginning of this week’s DYNASTY as he gazes into the fire burning in the hearth of Alexis’s penthouse. “Blake at the stake,” she quips. “I see victory rising from the ashes,” he murmurs malevolently.

    If one subscribes the theory that Jock and Jason are two halves of the same personality, then the brothers’ final exchange before going their separate ways takes on extra significance. “You and your damn honour,” scoffs Jason. "You think you’re some kind of white knight or something …" “I’m sorry if you think my honour is something I’ve got to overcome,” Jock replies. “Maybe it is. You let me find that out on my own.” While the Jock depicted in “The Early Years” is resolutely noble, the one we got to know in the first few seasons of DALLAS (before his posthumous sanctification) was decidedly less so. Perhaps, once his brother is no longer around to absorb his dark side, Jock evolves into the morally ambiguous character we first got to know. Just as Jason sneers at his brother’s sense of morality on “The Early Years”, so Adam Carrington does the same thing regarding his brother Steven’s idealism on this week’s DYNASTY. “Camelot’s a dream,” he tells him. "I deal in reality.”

    Ben Carrington and Peter Hollister are each trying to claim a slice of their father's respective fortune — that much we already know. This week, it is revealed — to the viewers at home if not the characters at large — that both claims are fraudulent. “Trust you — the same woman who lied on that witness stand?” mocks Ben during his fireside scene with Alexis. “I lied for you, Ben,” she reminds him. Meanwhile, a sneaky bluff by Abby on KNOTS elicits the following admission from Peter Hollister’s “mother” Sylvia: “I told Peter he didn’t match my son’s medical history … but then he went ahead with this anyhow.”

    Just three weeks after Angelica Nero pointed a gun at JR during a masquerade ball in 1986, Digger Barnes points a gun JR’s father during a Ewing barbecue in 1951. (Fascinatingly, the barbecue depicted in 1933 uses the front exterior of the first Southfork, as seen in the original mini-series, while the 1951 equivalent use the poolside/patio back view of the second Southfork we’re more familiar with.) And just three weeks after the fundraising ball in aid of the environment on DYNASTY, the characters on KNOTS LANDING attend a charity event for the same cause. “I don’t know why they have to have a benefit for wildlife — there’s enough animals in this room to start our own zoo,” wisecracks Greg. Instead of Digger's gunshot, this time the festivities are interrupted by a shock announcement. “I knew about Val’s babies all along, Gary. I knew about the kidnapping!” shouts Abby — a revelation deemed so significant that it is immediately recapped following the ad break, thus creating a Soap Land precedent.

    While Jock Ewing catches the bouquet at the wedding of his brother Jason to Dimitri Marinos’s future mistress (give or take a parallel universe or two), THE COLBYS' Frankie and Roger agree to to a divorce, making theirs shortest-lived Soap Land marriage since Vicky Gioberti and Nick Hogan’s in FALCON CREST, closely followed by Claudia and Adam’s on DYNASTY.

    Speaking of Claudia, she is very much marching to the beat of her own drum these days. After arbitrarily testifying against Blake on last week’s DYNASTY and then claiming she was tricked into doing so, she pops up in two random scenes in this week’s episode. In the first, she suggests to Steven that they team up to get revenge on Adam. In the second, she appears unexpectedly in Adam’s bed and tries to seduce him. In both instances, Steven and Adam regard her as if she were quite mad.

    And this week’s Top 4 are …

    1 (3) DALLAS
    2 (-) KNOTS LANDING
    3 (1) DYNASTY
    4 (2) THE COLBYS
     
  17. James from London

    James from London Soap Chat Addict Respected DVD Reviewer 15 Years on Soap Chat 10 Years on Soap Chat 5 Years on Soap Chat

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    2 Apr 86: DYNASTY: The Vote v. 03 Apr 86: KNOTS LANDING: The Legacy v. 04 Apr 86: DALLAS: J.R. Rising v. 04 Apr 86: FALCON CREST: Unholy Alliance

    There’s a sense of impending end-of-season doom as Denver Carrington’s stock plummets on DYNASTY, a direct consequence of the scandal caused by Ben and Alexis’s recent lawsuit. Meanwhile, balloon payments (whatever they are) loom large on both DALLAS and FALCON CREST. “If it were anyone else borrowing this amount of money, I wouldn’t recommend that they take the risks involved,” JR’s banker warns him ominously. "If you default you could lose Ewing Oil." Meanwhile on FC, Peter Stavros offers to postpone Richard’s balloon payment on Tuscany Downs "for another year … contingent on certain considerations on your part.”

    Back on DYNASTY, Ben offers to use his newly acquired fortune, gained of course at Blake’s expense, to bail his brother out of trouble, in return for a couple of seats on the Denver-Carrington board of directors. Over on KNOTS, Abby Ewing makes a similar proposition to Greg when she offers to sell him Empire Valley (which Gary has recently signed over to her as part of their divorce settlement). "It’ll only cost me a couple of television stations, several million dollars and a choice seat on the board of Galveston Industries,” says Greg looking over her letter of agreement. While Blake responds to Ben’s proposition with hostility (“I try to deal with clean money and decent people — that’s something you haven’t been since the day you let Mama die in that fire!”), Greg regards Abby’s with suspicion (“You’re too kind to me all of a sudden”). He is right to be wary. Abby has just stumbled on the fact that Galveston Industries "dumped several hundred metric tonnes of acid and arsenic” at Empire Valley and the whole place is toxic.

    A week after Abby blackmailed her estranged husband Gary into giving her Empire Valley on KNOTS, DYNASTY’s Claudia blackmails her estranged husband Adam over the power of attorney he tricked Blake into signing when he was ill. Claudia finds the incriminating document when routing through Adam’s desk at Denver-Carrington. The last time we saw her doing such a thing was when she was spying Jeff for his Uncle Cecil in Season 2. Back then, her actions were fully understandable and she was an achingly sympathetic character. These days, the motives for her erratic behaviour are a complete mystery. It’s as if she’s floated beyond our reach. As a result, her present wackiness is both fun and oddly poignant.

    “You put my picture on the cover of your magazine … and I’ll have your head!” Blake Carrington tells pushy World Finance reporter Gordon Wales following a combative interview. “I don’t care about those magazines,” declares Mandy Winger on DALLAS, turning down an overseas modelling assignment that would mean appearing on the covers of Paris Match, Elle and Vogue. She'd sooner remain in Dallas on the (increasingly remote) chance of reconciling with JR. Conversely on KNOTS LANDING, Cathy Geary is on the brink of getting involved with Ben Gibson when she decides to leave town to go on tour. FALCON CREST’s equivalent songbird, Apollonia, is currently on tour in Paris from where she sends Lance back the jewellery he gave her as a going-away present — an indication that she won’t be returning.

    The alliances between Ben Carrington and Peter Hollister and the women financing their respective (fraudulent) claims to their fathers’ estates have each taken a turn for the complicated. “Alexis, we’ve never really trusted each other. We never will, so why start now?” Ben asks just before attempting to seduce her. “Peter, we’re partners. If you can’t trust me, who can you trust?” coos Abby just before blackmailing him for “51% of everything you get from Greg Sumner." When Ben kisses Alexis passionately, she reciprocates, yet still seems somewhat preoccupied. (I particularly like the way she pauses to reapply her lipstick in the middle of their make out session.) Meanwhile, Abby and Peter continue to flirt even as she urges him to bed Jill Bennett.
    Trend of the week: Characters sitting behind someone else’s desk. “May I ask what the hell you’re doing in here?” asks Blake when he finds Alexis seated at the head of the Denver-Carrington boardroom on DYNASTY. “Well, it might be that I’m mentally designing this room,” she replies. "This chair — I think I’d be much more comfortable with something that doesn’t swivel so much." “Get your feet off my desk and get out of my chair,” Police Captain Rueda orders Matt Cantrell on DALLAS. “What is that ridiculous chair doing here?” demands Angela Channing as she returns from Europe to find Peter Stavros making himself at home in her study.

    The boardroom showdown between Blake and Alexis is centrepiece of this week’s DYNASTY. While hardly striking any new dramatic ground — he reminds her of the last time she sat at the same table in the same room and made the same vow to take over his company — it doesn’t diminish from the drama of the situation. Somehow the show still manages to make it matter. Ditto on this week’s DALLAS where the scenes in which JR tries to win back Sue Ellen for the umpteenth time are the closest the episode gets to recapturing the show’s former sizzle.

    Part of the reason Blake and Alexis’s longstanding feud suddenly feels so fresh is due to Blake’s decision to finally fight fire with fire. “Let’s get ‘em. Let’s get Colby Co!” he snarls as he launches a counter takeover of Alexis’s company. Steven, caught once more between his feuding parents, feels obliged to point the dangers involved: "Colby Co is bigger than we are. A takeover’s a risky move." (There’s a similar David and Goliath vibe in this week’s DALLAS when Pam observes that “this is the first time JR’s ever had total control of Ewing Oil — I don’t think Cliff’s any match for that.”)

    Over on KNOTS, Laura Avery attempts to instil some of Blake's can-do attitude in Greg Sumner during a scene that is both unexpectedly excellent and unusually long (a full six minutes!). Greg is being his familiar world-weary self during lunch in his office when Laura suddenly snaps. “Cynicism may be fashionable, but it is really, really boring,” she begins. "You are one of the richest men in the world. At least be good at being rich. I mean, move to Cannes or Scotland or bring irrigation to the Sahara or jobs to the reservation. Do something with your money! … Stop posturing, stop playing at being a shaker and a mover, stop giving lip service to having a passion for something and get passionate!” This outburst elicits two responses from Greg in quick succession. The first is a proposal ("Hey, whaddya say we get married?” he asks. “I appreciate the offer and I’ll seriously consider it,” Laura replies), the other is a sacking (“You’re out,” he casually informs his fake brother Peter).

    “It won’t be over till we’ve got the whole town pitted against each other. We’re going to destroy all those people who murdered our father,” Michael Tyrone told Sandie Swanson on FLAMINGO ROAD four years ago. That was how we discovered Michael and Sandie were secretly brother and sister out to avenge the death of their father. "Galveston destroyed our parents. They were a business obstacle to him yet he killed them as sure as if he held a gun to their heads and fired … I’m gonna make them pay for what they did," Peter Hollister tells Jill Bennett at the end of this week’s KNOTS. So it is we learn that Peter and Jill are secretly brother and sister out to avenge the deaths of their parents.

    As Peter and Jill’s true identities are revealed on KNOTS, Angelica Nero’s fake one is accepted on DALLAS as she reenters the US brandishing a phoney passport and a cryptic smile on her face. But whereas Angelica’s return goes undetected by the Soap Land authorities, Angela Channing’s does not. No sooner is she back from Europe than she is arrested and subjected to the same fingerprint/mugshot indignity as Miles was on THE COLBYS two weeks ago. She is then placed in a holding cell with a bunch of fallen women just as Sue Ellen was at the beginning of this season’s DALLAS. Whereas an incarcerated Linda Gray howled and writhed for all she was worth, Jane Wyman plays her equivalent situation for laughs. “This cell is becoming a no-smoking area,” she announces crisply, snatching a cigarette from a stereotypically dressed hooker’s mouth and stubbing it out.

    On last week’s DYNASTY, the alcoholic Franklin was the key witness who fell apart on the stand — he was too drunk and broken to make coherent sense, much less exonerate Blake of any wrongdoing in his mother’s death. On this week’s FALCON CREST, that role is taken by Miss Jones, the private eye initially employed by Angela to hijack Chase’s trucks and who is currently in Richard’s pocket. Having been promised immunity, Miss Jones was all set to testify against Angela, but now that Richard has struck a deal with Peter Stavros, she instead feigns flakiness on the witness stand — claiming to take career advice from her pet cat and boasting of psychic abilities. As a result, the case against Angela collapses and she is a free woman once more.

    Whereas Miles’s arrest followed hard on the heels of Jeff and Fallon’s wedding on THE COLBYS three weeks ago, the same order of events is reversed on this week’s FC. No sooner are the words, "I wouldn’t marry you if you were the last man on earth,” out of Angela’s mouth than we cut to a scene of her and Peter exchanging vows in a church ceremony. As Soap Land weddings go, this is actually quite sweet and is a good deal more affecting than Jeff and Fallon’s much grander ceremony. Instead of Blake and Steven crossing over from DYNASTY in honour of the occasion, Julia is released from her "sanctimonious penitentiary” (as Richard later describes it) to attend the ceremony. “I always enjoy your weddings,” Julia tells her mother, which is a fair indication of the lighthearted tone of much of this week’s ep. More effective for me are the darker scenes — the ones involving Jeff Wainwright, for instance, or the fascinating encounter between Richard and Julia where she asks forgiveness “for all the pain I’ve caused you. Nothing I can ever say will bring your mother back to life.” Richard responds with a compelling combination of compassion and cynicism. “I find all this very touching … You want me to spring you from the convent?" By the end of their conversation, one is left with the sense that Julia is not quite so neatly reconciled to her new life of penitence as has previously been suggested. It’s a great scene, one that recalls the darkly sinister FALCON CREST of old.

    A week after Gary recalled his first drink on KNOTS LANDING, Sue Ellen recalls her "last great lost weekend” on DALLAS. “I’m a firm believer that blackouts are a blessing in disguise,” she says wryly. Miles Colby, currently under arrest for a murder he can’t remember if he committed or not, might beg to differ. So might Jordan Roberts on FALCON CREST. As Jenna Wade did a few weeks ago, she is seeing a psychiatrist to get to the bottom of her memory lapses — “the blackouts and the missing hours and days." Also like Jenna, when her doctor gets too close to the truth — in this case, the possibility that she is suffering from some kind of multiple personality disorder — she panics and leaves (“I am not insane! … It was a mistake to come here!”), choosing instead to retreat further into her fantasy world — which leads directly to Angela Channing returning from her honeymoon to find her naked in Lance’s bed.

    It’s a cool week to be Soap Land kid. While Danny Carrington gets his own pizza-delivering robot on DYNASTY, John Ross’s daddy takes him for his first lunch at the Oil Baron’s Club on DALLAS. Elsewhere in the same ep, Jack Ewing gives Charlie Wade a shooting lesson, using some old cans as target practice. In this relaxed environment, Charlie is transformed into a totally cool and laid-back young chick chatting about boys and New York and stuff, without a trace of a whine in sight.

    Meanwhile, Eric Fairgate and his former girlfriend Whitney are each the subject of a dramatic storyline without having to do very much themselves. Eric spends this week’s KNOTS unconscious in a hospital bed suffering from an unknown illness (which eventually turns out to be arsenic poisoning) while Whitney, now answering to the name of Jackie Devereaux, doesn’t even appear in this week’s DYNASTY, having run away from home after learning that Dominique lied to her about her paternity. In her absence, Dominique finally admits to Garrett Boydston that he is the daddy.

    This week’s DALLAS and FALCON CREST throw up contrasting cultural references: “Maybe I watched too many Doris Day films growing up,” sighs Sue Ellen as she frets about her love life. “She always knew what to do in a romance.” (Well, she can’t have watched that many — surely the whole point of those rom-coms Day made with Sammy Jo’s father is that she didn’t know what to do?) Maggie Gioberti, meanwhile, is surprised and then disturbed to receive a first edition of Dante’s Divine Comedy as an anonymous gift. It turns out to be Jeff Wainwright’s way of announcing his arrival in the valley. “Did you know a woman named Beatrice inspired him to write all his work? He even named a character in the book after her,” he tells a freaked out Maggie, evidently better informed about Dante than Sue Ellen is about Doris.

    And this week’s Top 4 are ...

    1 (2) KNOTS LANDING
    2 (-) FALCON CREST
    3 (3) DYNASTY
    4 (1) DALLAS
     
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  18. James from London

    James from London Soap Chat Addict Respected DVD Reviewer 15 Years on Soap Chat 10 Years on Soap Chat 5 Years on Soap Chat

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    9 Apr 86: DYNASTY: The Warning v. 10 Apr 86: THE COLBYS: Double Jeopardy v. 10 Apr 86: KNOTS LANDING: Arsenic and Old Waste v. 11 Apr 86: DALLAS: Serendipity v. 11 Apr 86: FALCON CREST: Dangerous Ground

    In the opening scene of this week’s DYNASTY, Blake is turned down for the same kind of billion dollar loan recently acquired by JR on DALLAS. “The truth is the oil market’s very weak right now. We don’t know what kind of money you’re going to be able to get for your oil,” his banker explains. In the opening scene of this week’s DALLAS, JR informs an underling that “any stripper well producing less than fifteen barrels a day gets shut down … It’s just not profitable anymore. Costs more to produce than we can sell it for." Such remarks suggest that both shows currently occupy the same economic universe. There again, as Blake points out, “that’s the nature of the business. It’s always been that way.”

    Immediately following the meeting with his employee, JR receives a visit from an angry Mark Graison. “You stay away from Pam and me and you stay the hell out of my life or I’ll take that head of yours off at the shoulders!” he yells. Chase Gioberti makes a similarly worded declaration to Jeff Wainwright on FALCON CREST: “I want you to stay away from my wife … I want you out of this valley!”

    The strongest episodes of the Soap Land week belong to DYNASTY and KNOTS LANDING, but the feel of each is quite different. Where DYNASTY hits the ground running and never lets up — there’s an exciting sense of dramatic urgency driving through the ep — the pace of KNOTS is slower, allowing for interestingly introspective moments such as when Greg Sumner explains to Laura how he spends his day conducting the city from the lofty viewpoint of his executive terrace (“making the cars go in the right direction, softening the sirens, bringing up a crash or two … I conduct the sun up and sometimes I conduct the moon down”). There’s also an impromptu slow dance between Ben and Cathy in his office which feels both illicit and sad, and a rare sentimental speech from Abby about her late brother: “Sid was always so sweet, so strong … Sometimes when I’m alone in the car or in the shower, I think about him and he becomes so real and then I realise he’s gone.” (By contrast, Miss Ellie is unusually clear-eyed when recalling her late husband in this week’s DALLAS. "Your granddaddy in his own way was a very difficult man to live with,” she informs John Ross.)

    While Blake Carrington and Greg Sumner are obsessed with taking over Colby Co and Empire Valley respectively, those near to them do not share their vision. “You’re crazy, you know that? Somebody’s got to tell you. It might as well be me,” Blake’s business associate Dex Dexter tells him. "You and Alexis have pledged to destroy each other and you’re willing to kill anything that gets in your way … I am not gonna allow you to take me with you.” Laura puts it more succinctly on KNOTS. "I have had it, I am out of here,” she tells Greg. “Take Empire Valley to dinner … let it poison the rest of your life.”

    Caress Morelle gets an unusual amount of screen time on this week’s DYNASTY as she digs into the past in order to learn the identity of the mystery woman Ben Carrington was in bed with on the day of his mother’s death. Her investigation leads her to a bordello in Colorado Springs, the kind of house of ill-repute we haven’t seen since the days of Lute-Mae’s in FLAMINGO ROAD. While the girls themselves are a much fresher looking bunch than the backcombed streetwalkers Angela Channing briefly shared a cell with in FALCON CREST last week, the establishment's flame-haired, luridly made-up madam, the terrifically named Cora Van Heusen, wouldn’t look out of place in a John Waters movie. The subsequent scene where Caress toys with Emily Fallmont before getting a squirming admission out of her that she was "the young bride” married to a senator with whom Ben was having an affair all those years ago is just great.

    This week’s KNOTS and DALLAS each feature a scene where a male character takes a shower while his partner competes with the sound of running water for his attention. On KNOTS, the privacy of the shower curtain gives Ben temporary respite from Val as she prattles on about Cathy’s impending departure, oblivious to his feelings on the subject. “You didn’t hear a word I said, did you?” Val challenges him when he fails to respond. Then she probes deeper: "Are you, OK? … You seem so quiet.” By now, Ben has collected himself sufficiently to burst out of the shower singing opera as a way of lightening the situation.

    The equivalent DALLAS scene is light-hearted to from the start. It begins in Pam’s bedroom where Mark is complaining about JR, following their run in earlier in the episode. “I can’t believe somebody hasn’t tried to do away with him by now,” he says as he heads for the bathroom. “Somebody has, but he recovered,” Pam replies from her bed. “They ever find out who it was?” Marks calls as he turns on the shower. Ironically, while 30,000,000 viewers shout “It was Kristin!” at their television screens, Pam fails to hear the question. “I’ll bet they had a list of suspects from here to Houston and back,” Mark guesses correctly.

    It goes without saying this somewhat disingenuous reference to “Who shot JR?” is a massive wink to the audience. It’s also the first time DALLAS has poked fun at its own history in such a blatant way. While the “Who shot Bobby?” cliffhanger was a spin on the earlier storyline in a way that most viewers would have been aware of, the show itself played it completely straight. With hindsight, we know that the DALLAS shower scene also serves another narrative purpose — it foreshadows what will occur in the final scene of the season in three episodes time. (Pam makes the same journey from her bed to the shower as she will then.) Consequently, this seemingly unremarkable scene becomes significant for the fact that it self-consciously references the two most infamous moments in DALLAS history: the shooting of JR and Bobby’s return in the shower.

    However, and at the risk of getting boringly bogged down in continuity, it’s somewhat implausible that Mark Graison — a Dallas native familiar with the Ewings long before his first onscreen appearance in Season 5 — wouldn’t have already known about JR’s shooting. There’s a similar instance in another scene in this week’s episode where Cliff Barnes fills Mandy Winger in on the on/off nature of JR and Sue Ellen’s past relationship. “They’ve been through this before?” she asks in total surprise, in spite of the fact that last season she knowledgeably referred to the couple as “practically an institution — you’ll have your fights, but you’ll never marry anyone else.” There again, looked at another way, might Mark and Mandy’s sudden ignorance of past events be a clue that what we’re currently watching is about to be revealed as a dream?

    Ironically, DALLAS is one of only two Soap Land shows in which we don’t see a character dreaming this week. On DYNASTY, Blake has a nightmare, a terrible nightmare, which is essentially a flashback of his brother accusing him of killing their mother in court. “I must have been dreaming that same dream again,” he tells Krystle upon awakening. “I can’t bear to see you go through this night after night,” she frets. Over on FALCON CREST, Chase is similarly concerned about Maggie. “Nightmares? I’m worried about you,” he says when she wakes up from what she describes as "the strangest dream … scary.” Meanwhile on THE COLBYS, Sable’s dreams are more pleasant. Like Blake's, they consist of flashbacks — but this time of happy occasions between her and Jason. As a result, she awakens more determined than ever to effect a reconciliation with her estranged husband.

    While the dream sequence is now a convention familiar to each of the soaps (even if DALLAS had never had one before this season), there is another narrative trope unique to the DYNASTY-verse. Whenever a character flies off to Reno or Acapulco or somewhere equally scenic for a quickie divorce, it is an unwritten law that they will be approached at a cocktail bar by either a horny barfly or a hardbitten divorcee eager to bed them and/or share the wisdom of their own marital experience. This week, it's the turn of Frankie, in Acapulco to end her short-lived marriage to Roger Langdon, to encounter Brenda, a divorcee from New York whose hair is as almost as red as Cora Van Heusen’s and who speaks almost entirely in slogans: “A quickie divorce means a quickie recovery … It’s a man’s world, honey … People who feel guilty never get what they want … Life’s too short … This could be your last chance — go for it!” Brenda’s list of cliches ultimately serves the same narrative purpose as Sable’s dream sequence — it gives Frankie permission to pursue a future with Jason with renewed purpose. So it is that Sable and Frankie are set once again on a collision course.

    KNOTS gathers pace in its final act after Abby tells Gary and Karen what she knows about the source of the arsenic contamination at Empire Valley. Suddenly, there’s a sense of urgency: “The gas is moving fast … it could contaminate all of Lotus Point! … What are we going to do?” exclaims Karen. Gary declares that Greg must be held accountable for the pollution (“His father buried those chemicals … His company’s still responsible”) only for Abby to turn the tables and argue that Gary himself is to blame. “Those chemicals were buried in containers that were lined and sealed,” she points out, "and they stayed that way until a few months ago when you got it into your head to blow up those buildings at Empire Valley … You did it, Gary. You’re responsible!” Linking this current KNOTS crisis back to Gary’s seemingly heroic act earlier in the season is a very satisfying twist.

    While Gary and Abby are one estranged Soap Land couple currently bound together by an external emergency, Sable and Jason are another. (In this instance, it’s the murder charge hanging over Miles.) Whereas Gary has no trouble keeping his wife at an emotional distance, Jason is less successful. In fact, Sable has now convinced herself that they are on the verge of getting back together “I can think of nothing to stand in the way of a reconciliation,” she tells Miles confidently. Meanwhile on DALLAS, JR is on the brink of winning back his estranged wife. “There’s a magic between us, Sue Ellen. I know that and so do you,” he tells her. Over on DYNASTY, Dex favours a similar, if less poetic approach, towards his ex. “Face it, Alexis, I’m the best man you’ve ever had in your bed and you know it and you miss me,” he informs her. But then when she leans in for a kiss, he pushes her away.

    There’s a slight sense of deja-vu running through KNOTS this week. Abby stumbling on the truth about the arsenic poisoning at Empire Valley and then keeping it to herself is a rerun of her "missing babies” dilemma, only instead of waiting almost a year to admit what she knows, it only takes her an episode. Elsewhere it’s Season 3 all over again — Laura dealing with Greg’s depression has echoes of her relationship with Richard during his breakdown, while Ben working late in the office to avoid coming home to Val who waits fretfully in the cul-de-sac for him feels like the build up to Gary’s affair with Abby all over again. Lilimae is even on hand to offer the same kind of advice she did then. “Stand by your man, not on top of him,” she counselled Val in 1982. "Sometimes a man needs a little space … Ben’s only human,” she tells her in 1986. This last sentiment is echoed by Sable on THE COLBYS. “Your father is an extraordinary man, but he’s only human,” she tells Miles.

    At the end of last week’s FALCON CREST, Angela returned from her honeymoon with Peter Stavros to find Richard Channing’s attorney in bed with her grandson Lance. This week’s episode of THE COLBYS starts with Jeff and Fallon returning early from their honeymoon as a gesture of support towards Miles following his arrest. Miles’s cool response — “You should have called first. I’d have told you stay and work on your tans” — mirrors Angela’s towards Jordan at the beginning of this week’s FC which picks up where last week’s left off. “I would offer you breakfast but I think it would be awkward for one of us,” she tells her. “It’s not what it looks like,” Jordan insists when boyfriend Greg arrives on the scene. “It’s worse,” Angela assures him.

    Later in the episode, Greg receives a distraught phone call from Jordan asking for his help, but by the time he arrives at her place, she’s squeezed herself into a sexy cocktail dress and is once again answering to the name of Monica. Likewise in the final scene of this week’s DALLAS, JR answers an emergency summons from Mandy only to find her posed seductively in a bath full of bubbles. “You said you wanted to talk,” Greg reminds Jordan/Monica. “Talk? That’s all we ever do is talk. You like what I have on?” she replies. “When you called, you said it was important,” JR tells Mandy. “It is, but I still have to bathe,” she coos, stepping naked out of the tub.

    KNOTS concludes with a similarly sultry scene as Ben shows up at his beach house to find Cathy wearing only an old shirt of his. Whereas DALLAS ends with JR unable to tear himself away from the sight of Mandy's nude form, Cathy and Ben give into their feelings and the ep ends with them kissing passionately in a way that echoes Gary and Abby’s kiss at the end of “China Dolls” (Season 3 again).

    Actress Concetta Tomei shows up twice in this week’s Soap Land, as a financial informant DYNASTY and as Jordan's psychiatrist on FALCON CREST. In the former role, she finds herself on the receiving end of Alexis Colby’s sharp tongue ("Miss Robson, you have the reputation for being one of the shrewdest insiders in the Wall Street community and you are not telling me anything I couldn’t find out from a bank teller!”). In the latter, she must deal with Jordan’s provocative alternate personality. “Think I’m attractive, doctor?” Monica purrs. "I’m just wondering what kind of woman I’m dealing with.”

    Having established themselves as Soap Land’s most reckless drivers earlier in the season, Miles Colby and Gary Ewing are now preoccupied with other matters. In their absence, DYNASTY’s Amanda Carrington and DALLAS’s Angelica Nero each take a spin in the driver’s seat. Amanda’s behaviour behind the wheel alarms even professional thrill-seeker Clay Fallmont who throws himself into the passenger seat in a Mickey Trotter-style attempt to stop her from harming herself. While he can’t prevent her from crashing, he gallantly takes the blame when the police arrive on the scene by insisting that he was driving. Angelica, meanwhile, is stopped for speeding, but it’s only after the cop spies a gun in her purse that she is hauled in for questioning. There’s more firearms action on FALCON CREST where we see Jeff Wainwright in a gun store after his altercation with Chase. "That’s perfect. I’ll take it," he says gleefully, holding an air rifle in firing position. Back on DALLAS, Angelica’s second scene of the ep ends on a similarly ominous note. Having been released by the police, she is free to continue on her journey. “Which way you heading?” a cop asks her. “Dallas!” she snaps in reply. (In the case of both Jeff and Angelica, the threat they pose is clear to the viewer at home, but not to the people they are speaking to onscreen — the gun store owner and policeman respectively.)

    While Krystle pays an unexpected visit to Ben at Alexis’s penthouse on DYNASTY, Jamie Barnes pays an equally unexpected visit to JR at Ewing Oil on DALLAS. Both women are concerned about their husbands. “You’re destroying him,” Krystle tells Ben, referring to Blake. “I’m worried about him,” Jamie informs JR, referring to Cliff. "I thought that he’d finally forgotten about Ewing Oil, but that’s all he ever talks about again.” It soon transpires that Krystle and Jamie are out to make peace. "What would it take for you to give this up?” Krystle asks her brother-in-law. "Is it the money? Then keep the money. Just tell the truth and clear his name.” "JR, I want to strike a deal with you,” Jamie tells her cousin. "If I can promise to keep Cliff away from you and Ewing Oil, will you leave him alone? Can we all just go our own ways in peace?”

    While there’s a certain novelty value to seeing JR interact with Jamie for the first time in over a year — he responds to her proposition with the same laid-back attitude he exhibited in the introduction to "DALLAS: The Early Years" a few weeks ago (“That feud has always been one-sided. It’s all in Cliff’s mind … I give you my word that I won’t go after him first. I’ve got more important fish to fry than him”) — Ben's response to Krystle is in another league, dramatically: “Lady, you don’t know what it feels like to be an outcast, despised by your family, a scapegoat for something beyond your control, but Blake did it — blamed me for something I didn’t do. So now he’s suffering? Good! Clear his name? Why should I? I haven’t enjoyed anything so much in years!” “He hates you,” Krystle later tells her husband. "I've never seen anyone so angry … He won’t be satisfied till he’s destroyed you … It’s like Cain and Abel. He wants to see you dead!”

    Speaking of death, no sooner do we hear on DALLAS that “a major earthquake has struck Colombia … the town of Los Gatos has been virtually destroyed with the death count in the thousands" (“Oh my God — Matt!” exclaims Pam) than Chao Li’s long lost daughter Lee Ying turns up on FALCON CREST, having been "chosen at the last minute to represent my country at an international symposium on earthquakes.” A dedicated manservant and his overseas-educated daughter, the dynamic between Chao Li and Lee Ying clearly echoes that of Joseph and Kirby on DYNASTY three years earlier. There is an awkward moment when Lee Ying, while dining at Falcon Crest as Angela’s guest, insists on helping her father serve the meal: “I am your daughter. If you serve, I serve.” “Mrs. Channing has been good to me. It is not dishonourable to live this way,” Chao Li tells her in a later scene. “I know, but it makes me sad,” she replies. Issues of race and class are quickly glossed over when it emerges that the real cause of Lee Ying's sadness is a boyfriend she’s just split up with in China. (More echoes of Kirby, who arrived in Denver with a disastrous love affair as a recent part of her back story).

    Lance is immediately smitten by Lee Ying, but in a more chaste way than his one night stand with Jordan/Monica at the beginning of the episode might have led one to expect. In fact, his starry-eyed attitude towards her ("She’s so pretty, grandmother!”) mirrors that of Ray and Donna’s prospective son Tony towards Charlie Wade during a getting-to-know-you dinner at Southfork on DALLAS. Between both pairings the subject of pop music arises, but in a way that feels more bobby-sox '50s than MTV ‘80s. “Would you like to learn how to dance?” Charlie asks Tony. "I have to practice anyway.” “Any rock and roll in China?” Lance asks Lee Ying. “We could listen to the latest hits."

    And this week’s Top 5 are …

    1 (3) DYNASTY
    2 (1) KNOTS LANDING
    3 (2) FALCON CREST
    4 (-) THE COLBYS
    5 (4) DALLAS
     
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  19. James from London

    James from London Soap Chat Addict Respected DVD Reviewer 15 Years on Soap Chat 10 Years on Soap Chat 5 Years on Soap Chat

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    16 Apr 86: DYNASTY: The Cry v. 17 Apr 86: THE COLBYS: A Family Affair v. 17 Apr 86: KNOTS LANDING: A Change of Heart

    DYNASTY’s Krystle and KNOTS LANDING’s Mack each occupy the same role this week, that of a loyal-but-concerned spouse watching from the sidelines as their other half works around the clock, searching for a solution to the predicament in which they now find themselves. While Blake works frantically to raise the money he needs to take over Colby Co, Karen is desperately looking for a way to clean up the pollution at Lotus Point.

    Just as Krystle assures Blake that “there are people here who know what kind of man you are, who’ll stand by you and love you,” Mack praises Karen for having “the willingness to go to the mat” for her principles and beliefs. “I lie awake at night,” Krystle tells her husband, "watching you try to sleep. You toss and you turn.” “If you’re gonna sleep, why don’t you try it at home?” Mack suggests when he finds Karen resting her head on her office desk.

    “Dreams are about anxieties,” suggests Olivia Cunningham on KNOTS. Recent Soap Land scenes, such as those on last week’s DYNASTY and FALCON CREST where Blake Carrington and Maggie Gioberti each awoke from a nightmare related to their current storyline, seem to bear out this theory. This week, it’s the turn of Olivia herself. Her screams upon waking from a dream in which she has witnessed her childhood teddy bear being torn in two are the most piercing since Sue Ellen’s on DALLAS following her nightmare about JR snatching John Ross away from her earlier in the season. KNOTS being KNOTS, Olivia is able to put her hysteria to one side long enough to analyse her own subconscious. “I guess the dream was about the divorce,” she concludes, referring to Abby and Gary’s split.

    Karen also talks about dreams in this episode of KNOTS, this time in the aspirational sense of the word — but like Olivia, with a degree of self-awareness that is specifically KNOTSian. “I look at this,” she says, surveying the contaminated land at Lotus Point, "knowing what it could have been, and I keep thinking, 'There goes my dream.' And it embarrasses me … because it’s corny. I’ve never had a dream. I’ve had opinions, causes, beliefs … but never one focused vision, never anything as corny as a dream, until Lotus Point.”

    Dreams and showers — as this particular Soap Land season nears its end, it’s hard not to look for significance in scenes involving either. Last week, Ben Gibson and Mark Graison each partook of a hairy-chested rubdown and this week, Jeff Colby, having spent the night in jail, is anxious "to wash off the stink of that place.” Just as last week’s equivalent scene on DALLAS ended with Pam joining Mark in the shower for a sexy smooch so this one concludes with Fallon doing the same thing with Jeff. The most notable difference is that Jeff and Fallon's bathroom appears to be at least three times the size of Pam’s.

    Following closely on the heels of Jeff and Fallon on THE COLBYS and Angela and Peter on FALCON CREST, KNOTS LANDING’s Laura and Greg become the latest Soap Land couple to tie the, er, knot. Even though we don’t see the ceremony itself (which takes place in a Vegas wedding chapel), this is the by far the most satisfying wedding of the three. There is much to enjoy — from Greg’s funny yet touching speech to Laura outside the chapel (“I l-l-l-love you”) to the reactions of the rest of the characters to the news (tight smiles from Karen and Abby, dismay from Jason) to Laura’s encounter with her new husband’s lawyer who tries to get her to sign some kind of post-pre-nuptial agreement. (“You can guarantee marital harmony with a contract? My, my, my, my!” she quips airily.) There are also the unpredictable twists and turns of the relationship itself. “Married less than twenty-four hours and you’re already trying to redefine my conscience,” says Greg after Laura requests, as a wedding present, that he foot the bill for the Empire Valley/Lotus Point clean-up. “What I do need — a memo confirming every conversation you and I have, proving who said what?” she later asks him, when she realises Greg has little or no intention of doing what he led her to believe he would.

    THE COLBYS’ Sable and KNOTS LANDING’s Abby each displays a softer side towards her estranged husband this week. While Sable appears contrite (“I’ve made some pretty bad decisions and I nearly lost Jason over them, but that’s all over”), Abby seems unusually vulnerable. “I’m a little scared,” she tells Gary. "I made a bargain for some land that turned out to be totally polluted, I’m getting divorced — Lotus Point is all I have. I don’t wanna lose it.” It soon becomes clear that both women have ulterior motives, however. Combining the clinginess of Val Gibson with the brazen determination of her cousin Alexis, Sable first wheedles her way back into Jason’s bed (although nothing sexual occurs between them) and then invites herself along on a plane ride to Greece with he and Frankie. Abby, meanwhile, persuades Gary to "slow down" their divorce. Whereas Sable’s real agenda is transparently obvious — she wants a reconciliation with Jason and to sabotage his relationship with her sister along the way — Abby’s is harder to read.

    The best scenes in this week’s COLBYS and KNOTS are office confrontations that begin similarly. On THE COLBYS, we first see Jason glaring across his desk at someone offscreen, his hands clenched. He then swivel rounds in his chair so his back is to the camera. “I’ve got a deal for you,” he tells his unseen visitor. We then cut to a shot of Jason’s front which reveals Zach Powers sitting in the background. “Well, then I’m glad I accepted your invitation to stop by,” Zach replies smoothly. The equivalent scene at the end of this week's KNOTS starts with a profile shot of Greg Sumner lighting a cigar. “I didn’t think you’d show,” he tells his unseen visitor. He then takes a step to the right. The camera follows him to reveal … Karen Mackenzie standing in his office. “To tell you the truth, I’m desperate. I’d go anywhere or talk to anyone,” she admits, far less smoothly than Zach.

    Jason and Greg each make their guest an attractive-sounding proposition. “How would you like the Carrington oil, all of it?” Jason asks Zach. "I’m willing to clean up Empire Valley and Lotus Point … spend an unspeakable fortune and make the place perfect in four months,” Greg informs Karen. In each case, inveitably, there’s a catch. “You let my boys off the hook on those phoney murder charges,” Jason tells Zach. "I want Empire Valley. Your job ... is to get it for me,” Greg explains to Karen.

    While KNOTS ends with Greg’s ultimatum left hanging in the air (“Get me Empire Valley or you can kiss Lotus Point goodbye”), the situation on THE COLBYS is more complicated. Zach insists he has got nothing to do with Miles' and Jeff's arrests. He also finally reveals his grudge against the Colbys. “It’s very simple. You killed my father,” he tells Jason. "He was an insect for your father to crush without even realising it … The great Colby conglomerate swallowed him up and took everything.” In other words, it's Peter Hollister and Jill Bennett on KNOTS all over again ("Galveston destroyed our parents. They were a business obstacle to him yet he killed them as sure as if he held a gun to their heads and fired.”) When Jason objects that he personally had nothing to do with what happened to Zach’s father ("My God, I was a kid!”), Zach’s reply — “And the father's sins are visited on his sons” — is pure Soap Land logic. It also mirrors Greg’s connection to the contamination at Empire Valley. “Your father is responsible for dumping that stuff there in the first place,” Karen reminds him.

    And this week’s Top 3 are …

    1 (4) THE COLBYS
    2 (2) KNOTS LANDING
    3 (1) DYNASTY
     
    Last edited: Nov 21, 2016
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  20. James from London

    James from London Soap Chat Addict Respected DVD Reviewer 15 Years on Soap Chat 10 Years on Soap Chat 5 Years on Soap Chat

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    30 Apr 86: DYNASTY: The Rescue v. 01 May 86: THE COLBYS: The Reckoning v. 01 May 86: KNOTS LANDING: His Brother’s Keeper v. 02 May 86: DALLAS: Thrice in a Lifetime v. 02 May 86: FALCON CREST: Cease and Desist

    Alexis Colby rediscovers her maternal instinct on this week’s DYNASTY. First, she saves her daughter Amanda following a suicide attempt and then forgives her her affair with her own husband Dex. In the penultimate scene of the episode, she visits Amanda in her bedroom at the Carrington mansion. “I just want you to know that I love you and I’d give my life for you, darling,” she tells her tearfully. "You’re my daughter and you’re very, very special.” This is as unguardedly sentimental as we’ve ever seen Alexis (she’s certainly never had a conversation as intimate as this with Fallon), and the contrast between her demeanour in this scene and the one that immediately follows with Blake is striking. Ignoring her ex-husband’s angry calls, she sweeps imperiously down the Carrington staircase swathed in fur. Only upon reaching the bottom does she turn to face him and snarl her latest vow of vengeance: “Take a deep breath, Blake, because the children and this house and everything that belonged to me is going to be mine again!” Yes, just like her cousin Sable, Alexis now “wants the house.”

    In fact, Sable herself is involved a similar juxtaposition of scenes — a demonstration of maternal devotion followed by one of ruthlessness — near the end of this week’s COLBYS. First, we see her talking to her son Miles in his bedroom where she offers to supply him with a fake alibi for the night of the Mahoney murder. “You are my son,” she insists. "You come before anything — even the law.” A couple of scenes later, she is engaged in a bitter argument with her sister-in-law Constance regarding her marriage to Jason. “I love my brother and I’ll be damned if I’ll stand by and watch you bleed him dry!” barks Connie. “He needs a settlement before he can get a divorce,” Sable retorts. "I can hang on for years — so many years, you’ll never live to see the day.”

    The mood at the end of this week’s DALLAS is very different, but also includes a display of parental intimacy. This time it’s JR, reading his son a bedtime story. Once John Ross is asleep, he continues to sit at his bedside. Then he is interrupted by Sue Ellen, who surprises him with a kiss on the lips.

    There are major turning points for Soap Land’s two disabled characters this week: blind singer Wayne on THE COLBYS and deaf kid Tony on DALLAS. When I watched the original run of THE COLBYS, I was so convinced that a blind actor had been cast in the role of Wayne that during the scene in this week’s ep where he tells Monica his sight has been restored, I genuinely thought the actor was only pretending he could see. (I also remember thinking that he didn’t do a very convincing job.) Over on DALLAS, there’s a nice scene where Tony hesitantly informs Donna that he has decided to accept her and Ray’s invitation to become a part of their family. It's the first time this storyline has focused on Tony’s feelings rather than the Krebbses’ and the young actor gives a sweetly touching performance. As if in response, Susan Howard dials down her own emotional intensity and seems more like her old down-to-earth self than she has in months.

    It’s not often that one finds DALLAS’s Donna and DYNASTY’s Alexis singing from the same hymn sheet, but each dispenses similar maternal advice this week. “It’s safer not to love, isn’t it?” Amanda asks her mother. “Maybe it is,” Alexis replies, "but it’s a lot emptier.” “You can’t be afraid, because loving is the best part of life,” concurs Donna during her scene with Tony.

    Two lines in this week’s Ewing-verse have always resonated with me. “I feel as if I were standing at the edge of my life, looking back at all the wonderful things that aren’t there anymore,” Miss Ellie tells JR during a touching scene on DALLAS. Meanwhile, during a conversation with Ben on KNOTS, Cathy makes a simple but achingly acute observation about his relationship with Val: “I know she doesn’t mean to, but she hurts you.”

    Cathy's isn’t the only interesting character observation of the Soap Land week. “While the rest of this family manipulates and turns brother against brother, you stand by, radiating this glow of passive acceptance,” Claudia tells Krystle in the best scene of this week’s DYNASTY. Patricia Shepard accused Miss Ellie of radiating a similar glow on DALLAS a few months ago: “Where were you when all this was happening?” she asked her, referring to the disintegration of JR and Sue Ellen’s marriage. “Sitting at the head of the big Ewing dinner table and watching?” In spite of Ellie and Krystle's objections (“I don’t deserve that!” protested Ellie then, “What has this family ever done to you besides loving you, supporting you?” Krystle asks Claudia now), there is a grain of truth in each of these accusations (even if DYNASTY is obliged to depict Claudia as a madwoman for daring to speak out in such a manner). Likewise, the speech Abby delivers to Karen on this week’s KNOTS, while not entirely fair, is not entirely unfair either: “You can’t stand the fact that Greg Sumner can deal with a problem that Karen Mackenzie can’t,” she says in regard to the contamination crisis at Lotus Point. "If you could admit for one minute that he can fix something that you can’t, we would be halfway to saving Lotus Point, but your idealism is getting all mixed up with your pride, Karen, and evidently your pride is more important than Lotus Point, and God knows, we have to save Karen’s pride — even if it costs us Lotus Point. That’s the bottom line, Karen. Admit it.”

    Cathy’s observation about Val aside, her affair with Ben isn’t quite as satisfying a storyline as I remember from previous viewings. Like her predecessor Ciji, Cathy has always been a passive character, mainly just reacting to the circumstances in which she finds herself. As long as the plots surrounding her have been sufficiently well-structured, she’s always been a highly watchable and sympathetic presence. Since Joshua’s death, however, she’s felt increasingly exposed — more a plot device than a real character. Rather than merely passive, she now seems a bit blank.

    She’s not the only one. Following her cliffhanging overdose at the end of the last ep, Amanda Carrington is the focus of attention on this week’s DYNASTY. Like Cathy, she isn’t the brightest blonde in the hair salon, but there again, nor is she meant to be. Like Lucy Ewing, Skipper Weldon and Bliss Colby, Amanda is one of those endearingly aimless Soap Land twenty-somethings with no real purpose other than to fall in love with the least appropriate person available. Alexis describes her this week as "a frightened, vulnerable little girl” and that’s about the size of it. Certainly, no one would ever mistake Amanda for a rocket scientist — or an earthquake seismologist, come to that, which brings us to Cathy’s and Amanda’s FALCON CREST equivalent in this regard, Chao Li’s daughter Lee Ying. Impressively intelligent she may be, but aside from delivering some carefully enunciated exposition in order set up the end-of-season cliffhanger, there isn’t a lot to her. Yet in spite of Lee Ying's lack of personality, Lance and Cole both seem utterly beguiled by her. If one recalls that the last woman they both became involved with was Melissa at her smouldering, femme-fatale peak then their reactions seem all the more incongruous. When it comes to depicting a young Asian woman on her first journey outside of her own country, FALCON CREST is understandably somewhat out of its comfort zone. In contrast, DYNASTY has been having fun for several seasons with the various Chinese ministers who occasionally pop up as part of the never-ending "China Seas oil lease" saga — the latest of whom, Mr Lui, has spent the last few eps being charmed by Alexis into doing her bidding. However, there’s a twist in the tale. As we learn this week, he is secretly in cahoots with Ben Carrington.

    Minor trend of the week: Mystery Bens. On DYNASTY, Dex meets Ben for the first time since the latter's arrival in Denver. “Where do I know you from?” he wonders. "I know your face, Carrington. I saw you once with a group of men … I promise you, I’ll dig to the bottom of the barrel till I find out who you are!” The scene ends with a close-up of Ben, a shifty look in his eyes. Over on DALLAS, old-timer Ben Stivers, a new character hired by Clayton and Ray to work on the ranch, gets a faraway look in his eyes when he is introduced to Miss Ellie. “You’re a lucky man, Clayton,” he murmurs enigmatically.

    Blank blondes and mystery Bens aside, if there’s one overriding theme in this week’s Soap Land it’s that the wheels of justice often grind excruciatingly slowly. On DYNASTY, Ben Carrington travels to Caracas, hoping to get the troublesome Caress extradited back to Venezuela in order to serve out the rest of her prison sentence. On THE COLBYS, Jason flies to Athens, hoping to prevent his son Jeff from being extradited on a murder charge. (Typical — you wait eight years for one Soap Land storyline involving extradition charges and then two come along at once.) “Extradition is a long and complicated legal process — it could take years,” the prison governor in Caracas informs Ben. “I’ll take care of the legalities,” he replies, producing a wad of notes. Jason doesn't kowtow to legal niceties to achieve his objective either — but instead of waving money around, he uses his status. "I’m simply making a reasonable request,” he assures the deputy minister in Athens after demanding access to the cab driver who claims to have taken Jeff to the scene of the murder, “and I’ll go on making it, all the way up to the prime minister if I have to.” (Ironically, while Jason succeeds in exposing the driver as a fraud, the very crime he himself gets away with scot free, i.e., suborning a witness, is described by Chase’s attorney on this week’s FALCON CREST as “one of the seven deadly sins” — and it’s this very “sin” which Chase now believes he has sufficient evidence to nail Angela and Richard for.)

    Enticed by the promise of a $50,000 payoff, Caress joins Ben one of those clandestine two-cars-pull-up-alongside-each-other-in-a-rainy-side-street scenes. There was a similarly staged blackmail scene between Melissa Gioberti and Pamela Lynch on FALCON CREST almost exactly a year ago. Ever the writer, Caress acknowledges the clichéd nature of the setting: “A parked car in a dark alley, Ben? This is a business deal — I’m not selling state secrets.” But then Ben has his henchman chloroform her, along with the following instructions: “She goes air freight to Caracas.”

    Meanwhile on KNOTS, the bureaucratic red tape facing the Lotus Point gang when they turn to government agencies for a solution to their pollution problem is overwhelming. “You may conservatively expect the appeals to last for years,” they are informed. “Because of the size of the thing and the insurance involved, the excavation alone will cost two and a half million dollars,” Laura explains. “Because of the contamination itself, Lotus Point isn’t good as collateral,” Karen adds. "They won’t even give us money to do the research to find out how bad the problem really is.” Nor is the law much use to the Giobertis in FALCON CREST. Even though Jeff Wainwright has already been linked to the murder of one woman, the local sheriff is powerless to protect Maggie from his attentions. “Harassment is hard to prove,” he tells her. A judge eventually issues a cease-and-desist order, “barring Mr. Wainwright from making any direct contact with Mrs. Gioberti” — but even this cannot prevent him following her at a distance, and the episode ends with Maggie and Chase watching Jeff watching them, scared yet powerless. "Until he breaks the law, there’s nothing I can do,” the sheriff explains.

    In my mind, DYNASTY’s Claudia and KNOTS LANDING’s Laura both occupy a similar space in Soap Land. Each is (or was) the most relatable, least soap-like female character on her respective show, and therefore receives less screen time than her more flamboyant contemporaries. Now, however, they are on divergent paths. While Laura’s recent marriage to Greg Sumner places her right at the heart of KNOTS’ current crisis, Claudia is intent on cutting her ties with the rest of the characters on DYNASTY. “I really feel caught in the middle here,” Laura tells Karen and Mack. “For the first time in my life, I really feel like I can make it on my own,” Claudia tells her former stepson Danny during a final visit to the Carrington mansion. As a three year old, Danny may not be the ideal confidante, but he’s literally the only person Claudia has left to talk to. And just as former allies Claudia and Krystle part as enemies so Laura finds herself on the receiving end of a couple of bitter jibes from her friends as the tension mounts over the situation at Lotus Point. “Gee, that’d keep it in the family, wouldn’t it, Mrs. Sumner?” snaps Gary when Laura points out the benefits of allowing Greg take over the cleanup. “So long as you’re happy,” sneers Mack when she tells him she believes Greg is genuinely sincere about his offer. “Poor Laura — she’s so confused,” says Karen, more sympathetically. “Well, that’s what happens when a nice person marries a jerk,” Mack shrugs.

    In the final scene of this week’s KNOTS, Karen learns that groundskeeper Charlie Lee has died of as a result of the arsenic poisoning at Lotus Point. Just like Dimitri Marinos on DALLAS, Charlie Lee has never appeared onscreen yet his death has significant repercussions. “I’m not gonna be responsible for any more sickness or any more death — I’m closing Lotus Point,” Karen declares. This is her equivalent of Miss Ellie’s “I’ve had enough of this insane competition between you two — I’m going to court to break Jock’s will and then I intend to sell Ewing Oil” bombshell on DALLAS a few years ago, albeit on a slightly smaller scale.

    This week, DALLAS is far more atmospheric than it has been of late. A sharper, more interesting script and Lance Rubin’a plaintive piano-based score are contributing factors. The highlight of the ep is a fascinatingly atypical, even subversive scene that takes place between a garrulously enthusiastic bomb maker-for-hire and Angelica Nero. Angelica does not speak in the scene — instead, she stands by looking enigmatic and chic in a Baader-Meinhof beret and raincoat ensemble while the bomb guy chatters on. He isn’t identified on screen — although Angelica later refers to him as “a very patriotic fellow” — but IMDb lists him as ‘Freddie the Bomb Manufacturer' so let's go with that. “Motive’s important to most people, but me — I don’t have motive like you have motive,” Freddie is telling Angelica while putting the final touches to an attache case rigged with explosives for her. "For me, it’s my country. Always been that. Fourth of July, Vietnam — same thing. Lots of people don’t remember their first fourth of July … I couldn’t forget mine if I wanted to … I just couldn’t believe what you could do with a firecracker. I think I blew up everything by the time I was ten.” Then Angelica pays him for the rigged case and leaves. “‘In God we trust,’” Freddie calls after her. "You know we’re the only people that says that on our money? … Some country, huh?”

    Sure, Freddie’s a nut job, same as Claudia on DYNASTY, but just as Claudia’s paranoid speech contained an undeniably intriguing critique of Krystle (“You allow the treachery and that makes you the most dangerous Carrington of them all”), so the idea presented within Freddie’s crazy ramblings — that patriotism and war, religion and money, and violence and murder are all somehow inextricably bound together in the American psyche ("Fourth of July, Vietnam — same thing") — also contains an element of truth. If anything, the scene feels more pertinent than ever in late 2016.

    And this week’s Top 5 is …

    1 (1) THE COLBYS
    2 (2) KNOTS LANDING
    3 (3) DYNASTY
    4 (-) DALLAS
    5 (-) FALCON CREST
     
    Last edited: Dec 6, 2016

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