Acting vs writing vs. Charisma

Discussion in 'Knots Landing' started by Jimmy Todd, May 13, 2019.

  1. Jimmy Todd

    Jimmy Todd Soap Chat Well-Known Member

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    That line from Val really irked me. They had done such a great job with having Val and Gary evolve and here it seemed as if she was regressing.
    Even as a teen watching KL I always felt that the writers had a certain level of respect for the audience's intelligence
     
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  2. Wintry North Poleson

    Wintry North Poleson SoapLand Battles Moderator

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    I thought her beauty was rather underplayed because her appearance rarely affected the storylines, except for season 2, perhaps.

    And to answer the original question: what worked best for what actor, then I think the way Abby was written worked for Donna Mills, and I think that Joan Van Ark really made the role of Valene, starting in early Dallas.
    Abby never had to deal with extreme situations like Valene did, so it's hard to say if Donna Mills could have handled it better than Joan van Ark.
     
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  3. Jimmy Todd

    Jimmy Todd Soap Chat Well-Known Member

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    It seemed her beauty would affect several storylines indirectly. In the early seasons, as you pointed out, she's the sexy homewrecker and in later seasons she had men willing to do thing a such as kidnap babies and kill people for her. To me the most alluring thing about her is her intelligence, but not all men would share that sentiment:)
    With the all the makeup and fancy clothes, it may not be part of the plot, but it's still there.
    You're point about Mills being able to play Val is intriguing. You are spot on about JVA as Val. She completely embodied that role.
     
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  4. James from London

    James from London Soap Chat Mega Star

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    As a viewer, I think it's often hard to separate writing from acting. I was talking with a friend of mine recently about why the new series of Doctor Who didn't seem as good as the others. I felt the problem was the acting -- the regulars just seem to stand in line waiting for their turn to speak; it feels a bit bland. My friend, however, who's actually written for Doctor Who in the past, reckoned the problem lies in the writing - the regular characters are all of equal status, they all like each other an equal amount, so there's nothing for the actors to get their teeth into.

    As for charisma, I don't really know how to quantify that. To reference Doctor Who again, the former showrunner Russell T Davies once said he didn't believe in the idea of this magic "chemistry" between actors. He reckons it all comes down to casting -- get that right and the chemistry will take care of itself. Maybe the same thing goes for charisma.

    I think Lonow did a fantastic job. She played the character for real which is all you can really do. If she tried to play for the audience's sympathy, it wouldn't have worked. That's not how Diana was written.

    Yeah, he's great, really understated. The last time I watched Season 13, I thought he and Nicollette Sheridan really shone even when everything around them went a bit weird. Now again, whether that's all down to the actors themselves or whether it's because their characters are especially flexible so it never really felt like they were going out of character, I don't know.

    I thought she gave a really fearless performance. I'd take that over somebody doing "nice" acting just because they want to be liked.
     
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  5. James from London

    James from London Soap Chat Mega Star

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    But people don't carry their history with them everywhere they go. They say what they feel in that moment, or what they want to be true, or what they want the person they're talking to to believe. I'm watching this season at the moment and Val's actions make perfect sense to me.
     
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  6. Wintry North Poleson

    Wintry North Poleson SoapLand Battles Moderator

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    It seems to me that Valene also enjoyed being in love with Danny - or being in love with love.
     
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  7. Avery Merry Christmas

    Avery Merry Christmas Super Moderator Staff Member

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    I guess the frequent negative remarks about Val's line about loving Danny more than anyone she's ever met (however it was phrased) speaks to the importance of writing. The story could have (and did) progress exactly the same as if she'd never said that line. The line could have been edited out for any number of reasons, and no one would have known any different. And yet that line had so much impact on so many of us viewing the series (universally negative impact, but impact nonetheless) because it did not ring true, and sounded like OOC writing. If you start nitpicking individual lines, then you're critiquing the material when they want you to be immersed in it. In a sometimes ridiculous plotline, it's like the high-water mark of what was wrong--but it's solidly pinned on the script writer ("Val wouldn't say that!") and not the actress ("but she just did!").
     
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  8. Wintry North Poleson

    Wintry North Poleson SoapLand Battles Moderator

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    But not many people like to think of their new love as second best (or third best). That's not a great attitude to start a new relationship, that's not how you want the rest of your life to be.
    It's a nice idea that we can save the best for last, whether it's true or not. Maybe that's what it was all about.
     
  9. James from London

    James from London Soap Chat Mega Star

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    Yeah, and Val needed to believe she loved Danny the best. She needed to prove to herself, to Gary, to Jill, to everyone, that she'd moved on, that she didn't need Gary anymore, that she wasn't Poor Val anymore. And if she could believe she was a waitress called Verna, she could pretty much believe anything.
     
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  10. Wintry North Poleson

    Wintry North Poleson SoapLand Battles Moderator

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    They could have soundtracked it with Donna Summer's This Time I Know It's For Real, but as that would complicate the release of Knots on DVD I'm glad they didn't (still slightly optimistic).
    The line "love Danny more than anyone I've ever met" may not be the Gary/Valene shipper's cup of tea, but a) she doesn't know that she's a soap character and she's not aware of any fans rooting for whatever relationship, and b) by saying it, it almost becomes a magic spell. She said it, and now it's going to work and she doesn't want to hear any nasty rumours about alleged rape because then it doesn't make sense anymore.
    Danny doesn't have all that Ewing baggage, he's not an alcoholic, he doesn't sleep with Abby - better still he's never met her - he's not an ex-terrorist on the run for Jean Hackney so, all in all, and certainly from a Knots p.o.v. he's quite a catch.
     
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  11. James from London

    James from London Soap Chat Mega Star

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    Absolutely.

    And when you're madly in love, it's like when you're really starving hungry or really freezing cold -- it kind of blots out all the other times it's happened. You can't really remember being quite this hungry/cold/loved up ever before.

    And/or maybe he was just fantastic in bed.
     
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  12. Wintry North Poleson

    Wintry North Poleson SoapLand Battles Moderator

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    You could almost say that the infamous line means everything and nothing. Hopefully that fills the quota for our Late Sunday Paradox.
     
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  13. Avery Merry Christmas

    Avery Merry Christmas Super Moderator Staff Member

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    Luckily Karen manages to set Val straight on this subject in the first episode of season twelve, a few episodes before Danny ends up dead.

    Val: "My record in the husband-picking department is not that good."
    Karen: "But this is Gary we're talking about, as in 'I hope Gary and Val get back together again'."
    Val: "People still say that?"
    Karen: "Only at the mention of your name or his."

    Maybe Val claiming she loved Danny most of all was another attempt at 'proving' to everyone that she knew what she was doing, that she wasn't some basket case. She could choose a man just as well as Karen could, just as Val could make the coffee just as good as Karen's. But it makes you wonder just how awful Val's coffee must have been.
     
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  14. Jimmy Todd

    Jimmy Todd Soap Chat Well-Known Member

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    I agree 100% with James' comment about Ms.Lonow giving a fearless performance. She was excellent. However, actors also want to keep working. If an audience reacts negatively to them, they could find themselves written out of the show. I wonder how much that would affect them getting cast in another show. Could casting directors say, "She's a great actress, but audiences don't take to her very well"? It's not fair, but could it happen. I don't know, but many of you might have some insight into that

    I read Donna Mills did not want Abby to actually be the one to kidnap Val's babies because the audience would react badly to her character. I think Ms.Mills was very smart because it would have made Abby a cartoon villain twirling his mustache, as opposed to a layered person. It also was a factor in elevating the plot from just an OTT soap arc
    Back to Diana, Ms. Lonow deserves credit for a wonderful performance during one of KL's peak seasons.
     
  15. Avery Merry Christmas

    Avery Merry Christmas Super Moderator Staff Member

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    I hate to derail a topic, but it needs to be said: Claudia Lonow has acknowledged many times that she was addicted to cocaine during her tenure on Knots, so some of her "raw" performance might very well have been less from acting choices and more from lack of sleep. She may have been unconcerned about how she came across on screen because she was more pre-occupied with her off-screen issues. The booger-sugar tends to do that to a person. Or so I've heard.
     
  16. James from London

    James from London Soap Chat Mega Star

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    For whatever it's worth, I tweeted Claudia Lonow a while back about this excellent article about Season 5 which rightly sings her praises.

    http://thatsallsiknow.blogspot.com/2018/07/knots-landing-season-5.html

    She replied and seemed quite taken aback that anyone should even be discussing her acting anymore. I can't find her exact words, but she said something to the effect that all she ever tried to do as Diana was make her as real as she could. That doesn't sound like someone who didn't care about their work. Lonow does seem very open, and funny, and self-deprecating about her past so I tend to take her word for it.

    For whatever it's worth, part 2: I've taken cocaine and I've acted, although never at the same time (well, there was that one time ...), and I really don't think you can give a full-blooded emotional performance while off your face (you'd be hard-pressed to remember your lines), much less deliver the kind of nuanced work that Lonow did during the on-the-run-with-Chip scenes in Season 5. Just look at the scene in the car where he tells her he killed Ciji for her and she goes from being terrified of him to falling in love with him all over again, all without saying a word. It's a crucial turning point in the whole saga and she absolutely nails it. That's an actor delivering a delicate, emotionally subtle performance, not some gurning off-her-face druggie.
     
    Last edited: May 20, 2019
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  17. Wintry North Poleson

    Wintry North Poleson SoapLand Battles Moderator

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    Or was it a matter of convenience? They all knew and liked Gary and Valene, it would be so much easier if they would simply live together in the house next-door.
    She could have been a little more evil imho, but it's mostly the accidental development and the interference of a "nobody" that makes it such an amazing storyline. If she was fully responsible for the twins fate then it would have been too straightforward.
    Part of the fun was to watch Abby at the end of her tether because she was somewhat involved.
     
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  18. Avery Merry Christmas

    Avery Merry Christmas Super Moderator Staff Member

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    Abby's kids were once kidnapped (by her ex-husband), and throughout that whole ordeal she was an emotional basket case. If they had written Abby as the mastermind of the twins' kidnapping, it would have totally negated that memorable acting performance by Mills, and made her look like a total hypocrite. My guess is Donna Mills saw viewers (especially the mothers in the audience) would never allow Abby to continue on the show (Abby would have to be punished severely, perhaps written out) if she had a direct hand in the kidnapping of Val's twins, so Mills put her foot down with the producers. Mills likely knew quite well that Abby's longevity depended on not going too far with her schemes, even if the writers may not have known it.
     
  19. Jimmy Todd

    Jimmy Todd Soap Chat Well-Known Member

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    Kevin Dobson: Acting vs. writing vs. charisma.
    I really like Mr. Dobson and the character of Mack was a fantastic addition to the cast. I'm trying to decide how much his acting abilities shone through. I honestly am not sure about him. He did a fine job overall, although there were some scenes in later seasons that seemed contrived, but a lot of that was due to be the writing.
    I cantc think of a scene where he really made me think, wow, he's good, the way JVA did when she is told her babies died. This does not mean he wasn't necessarily a great actor. I'm definitely not an expert.
    I just don't know where to place him. My instinct is charisma then acting ability.
     
  20. Wintry North Poleson

    Wintry North Poleson SoapLand Battles Moderator

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    Or maybe he was so good because you didn't notice it.
    Acting skills are not only defined by extremely emotional scenes, although he did have a flair for the melodrama, and he could be a little narcissistic sometimes.
     
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