Acting vs writing vs. Charisma

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

  1. Jimmy Todd

    Jimmy Todd Soap Chat Active Member

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    Ah! Great point, and that's what I want to learn. Is an actor's true talent often in the average, understated scenes?
     
  2. Willie Oleson

    Willie Oleson drilling for soap

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    Maybe it's more difficult to get the point across without the emotional outbursts?
    There was a scene when Joshua was extremely rude and unfair towards Valene, and when he left she just sat at the table (or was it her desk) and she didn't even look particularly sad or upset, but in that moment I felt so sorry for her. I think because it looked so humble.
     
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  3. Jimmy Todd

    Jimmy Todd Soap Chat Active Member

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    I remember that scene. JvA could convey so much through her facial expressions.
     
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  4. Jimmy Todd

    Jimmy Todd Soap Chat Active Member

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    So, Willie, you gave me something to think about regarding Kevin Dobson.
    Any other thoughts anyone has on him I'd love to hear.
    However, let's look at: Tonya Crowe. I usually do not like child characters on t.v. shows because they never seem to act the way real kids do Ms. Crowe, in my opinion, is the exception. I never felt her character was a contrived idea of what some adult thinks a child/teen/young woman is. That, of course, reflects the writing. However, I think TC really conveyed Olivia's emotions well. I remember a scene with Abby during the drug storyline. There was an anguish on her face and in the delivery of her lives that reflected the confusion and anguish the character was going through. I was generally moved. I recall her doing this again when Paige tells her Abby is sleeping with Peter, and when Olivia stammers over the word "lover," meaning Paige and Peter, and Paige smugly repeats it.
    I also loved that intelligent, strong-willed Abby could spar with the likes of JR and Greg, but her daughter seemed to unnerve her the most.
    All in all, fine job Ms. Crowe(who might be more surprised than Ms. Lonow that their performances from the 1980's are still being discussed):)
     
    Last edited: May 22, 2019
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  5. Jimmy Todd

    Jimmy Todd Soap Chat Active Member

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    Michelle Lee- I've noticed that many people are a bit turned off by the character of Karen because she comes off as overbearing. While I am not a fan of overbearing people, I always liked the character and never saw her as overbearing. Karen is opinionated, assertive, and a at times a bit narcissistic(as we all can be), but I always liked her because she was such a good person at heart. From what I remember, she always adhered to her own principles; I can't think of a scene where she was revealed to be a fraud or hypocrite. Whenever Katen came off as a bit heavy handed, I always saw this as real. No one is 100% likeable 24/7. Is this the writing or the actor's talent and charisma. I'd say definitely all three. When all are working in unison, Karen is A+ all the way. When one or two are off balance, which can't say is too often, the performance is not as appealing.

    Ms. Lee is a very talented actress, and the writing served her well most of the time. Seasons 3 to 6 were especially good, particularly Karen mourning Sid's desth. I also loved her relationships with Richard and Gary.


    The times I liked Karen the least were mainly due to the scripts: when she was being stalked by the psycho who was obsessed with her, the "Pollyanna" speech (I found it to be even too "Karen" for Karen, if that makes sense), and convincing Greg to give up Meg to her and Mack
    The only thing I ever thought Ms. Lee could really benefit from is a director who would get her to reign in her performance at times. I'm saying this as a person who has no experience with acting so I'm really just guessing. Those of you who do, would have more insight into this.
     
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  6. Knots Blogger

    Knots Blogger Soap Chat Active Member

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    Ugh on the Pollyanna speech; why does this scene keep coming up like it’s some super important piece of the series? It’s one scene that’s not very memorable during season 12 when nobody was really watching anymore, but you can’t listen to an interview with Lee without her bringing this up.
     
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  7. Jimmy Todd

    Jimmy Todd Soap Chat Active Member

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    It seems in Ms. Lee's opinion it's Karen at her best. In my opinion, it's Karen at a very low point. I can point to many litle scenes from season 4 and 5 where Ms. Lee shines. Unfortunately, Ms. Lee isn't returning any of my texts:embarrass:
     
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  8. Jimmy Todd

    Jimmy Todd Soap Chat Active Member

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    By the way, Knots Blogger, I read many of your commentary on your own site, which I found on this one. You do a great job, and I enjoyed reading them:ex:
     
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  9. JROG

    JROG Soap Chat Well-Known Member

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    I'm currently watching Season 12, and I found Dobson heartbreaking during the Jason storyline and admitting his own childhood abuse. I'd never been moved so much by him before. It's quite something when a character shows you something new 9 seasons in!
     
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  10. Knots Blogger

    Knots Blogger Soap Chat Active Member

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    Before beginning my rewatch I would have said hands down that Karen is my favorite character; I now recognize Karen post season 4 slowly but surely starts to get more and more over then top, she’s bizarrely bad for instance in top of season ten with I WANT MY FAMILY BACK! I think Michele Lee does think Karen’s at her best when she’s at her noisiest but I prefer first four seasons Karen.
     
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  11. Jimmy Todd

    Jimmy Todd Soap Chat Active Member

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    I agree. I loved Karen the most in seasons 3 and 4.
     
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  12. Jimmy Todd

    Jimmy Todd Soap Chat Active Member

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    Personally, I was moved more by Mack in the final season with the Mary Robson story arc. Although there were things about the plot I didn't love, Mr. Dobson elicited a lot of sympathy from me, especially when Claudia took advantage of him and his desperation.
    The question is why I was a little turned off by the whole Jason story. It wasn't the acting. I recall KD being very good. I think the writing had some contrived elements
    and was coming off as Movie of the Week or Very Special Episode at times.
     
  13. Daniel Avery

    Daniel Avery Super Moderator Staff Member

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    I agree that the Jason Lochner storyline seemed sort of shoe-horned into the show, an attempt to do a social-issue story that wasn't very subtle. It played more like a daytime soap treatment of a social issue, right down to how they wrote him in, played his story out, then wrote him out without a mention ever again.

    We "met" Mack's father in an episode earlier in the series. Though they did not explicitly state in his one-episode appearance that the elder MacKenzie hit/abused his kids, the prickly relationship between the two reflected some bad blood, so the show had some continuity in that regard.
     
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  14. Jimmy Todd

    Jimmy Todd Soap Chat Active Member

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    Constance McCashin, Julie Harris and William Devane.
    I'm putting them together in this post because I think they had all three: acting, charm, and great writing. There characters are so layered and interesting, I can't recall ever being bored by them I any scene or plot.
    The only plot I could criticize a bit would be Laura finding out she is terminal to her final scene because it was a bit rushed. However, don't blame the actress or the writing because from what I understand her mid-season departure was mandated by whoever is ultimately in charge of such things, so it's out of their hands. For a character who wasn't the center of the stories the way Karen, Val. and Abby were, her absence was really felt. I really would have liked to have seen her be married to Greg for the rest of the series' run. Those two had chemistry to burn.
    A standout season for Ms. McCashin is season 5. Her husband ditches Laura and her kids, Laura's friend Ciji has been murdered, and she sees her friends grow rich, get remarried, and become famous. She wants something good to happen to her so she joins Abby. It looks as if she's turning to the dark side, but this is no abrupt, out of character plot twist. She flirts with corruption but pulls back when her conscience asserts itself. This is all done in such a human way, she deserved an Emmy, imo.
    I've read there's an episode from the first season where she is almost raped that is supposed to be superb, but I haven't seen it.
    Regarding Mr. Devane, he's a phenomenal actor and has such charisma that I often wonder if he suddenly lost the talent, would it be noticeable? He reminds me of Jack Nicholson. Woody Allen once said that Jack Nicholson is a great actor who also had the old 1940's Hollywood magic about him. I say this applies to WD as well. Mr. Nicholson could make one movie and be a terrific actor, and he could make another one where he's just playing Jack Nicholson. This is not an insult against either actor. I see it as a compliment because there are levels to their screen presence.
    Julie Harris: If someone can point out when Ms. Harris gave a less than stellar performance, please do so. Seriously, it's not to mock her, but examine the craft. Her worst performance is probably on par with most actors' best. I think she's so good that if the writing did drop in quality, it would be buoyed by her talent.
    Of course, I'm an armchair critic with no real experience in this area. Could I be too intimidated by all the accolades and awards Ms.Harris has earned to objectively analyze her work, and merely gush over every performance? Hmm. I have a feeling Ms. Harris, may she rest in peace, would appreciate the former much more than the latter.
     
    Last edited: May 30, 2019
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  15. Knots Blogger

    Knots Blogger Soap Chat Active Member

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    We recently finished up season 12 (in fact, we have now passed beyond the dark days of The Romano 15 in season 13 and we just have the Ann Marcus portion left and then season 14 and we'll be all done) and the Jason storyline went down in my esteem. The first time I watched series, I would have told you this was Mack's ultimate storyline, that Dobson desperately deserved an Emmy, but now I don't feel that way. Instead of it seeming like "Give this man an Emmy!", it now sorta seems like, "Come on, give me an Emmy, won't you? We're talking child abuse and social issues over here, can I please have an Emmy? I know it's season f-u-c-k-i-n-g 12, but Emmy!" I think Thomas Wilson Browne does a good job as Jason and I'm a big fan of character actor Guy Boyd who plays his dad, but this time it definitely felt like an afterschool special, and his dad is just a little too snarling and moustache twirling for me. Make no mistake, it's far better than illiterate waitresses, but it's still not this masterpiece of television I had made it up to be in my heart. Finally, as others have said, it doesn't help that Jason is quickly shipped off the series as soon as we hit 1992 and I don't even know if he's mentioned again.
     
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  16. Willie Oleson

    Willie Oleson drilling for soap

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    I thought Mack's pompous bedroom monologues were awful. It was An Important Message To The Audience, it had nothing to do with Knots Landing anymore.
    They wrote the father as evil as possible, just in case the audience still didn't understand the seriousness of child abuse.

    It's not the story itself that bothers me, and it doesn't surprise me that it would involve the MacKenzies, but it doesn't feel like a story.
     
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  17. Jimmy Todd

    Jimmy Todd Soap Chat Active Member

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    Joan Van Ark

    There's an interesting story about the actress Shelley Duvall and the director Stanley Kubrick. It seems that during the making of The Shining, Mr. Kubrick was pretty hard on the actors, especially Ms. Duvall. He made her redo a scene so many times I think it holds the record for number of retakes. After filming was completed, Ms. Duvall was left sick for several months. I like to think that based on what I have read about Ms. Van Ark, when filming that infamous scene and the director decided it was perfect, SHE would have said, "Stanlety. let's just do it once more. Just to be sure." He might have met his match with her:)
    My point is that when it comes to acting vs charisma vs. writing, I put JVA squarely in the acting category Not because I don't think she has charisma or that she didn't benefit from excellent writing. It's that she really embodied Valene and there are some scenes that are so good, I think her talent for the craft could more than take over if the other two factors faltered. I have also read she is a perfectionist when it comes to her profession, and it shows.
    Unfortunately, the writers in the latter seasons didn't truly understand Valene the way JVA and the previous writers did. This is why I disliked the marriage to Danny so much. This is not the wiser Val from season 4. She may have given Danny more of the benefit of the doubt than othere would, but she would not become his fool.
    Characters like JR could call her a tramp and a wimp,she could be relegated to the air headed, victim, but that's not Valene, and JVA, imho, really knew how to convey that. When an uneducated woman from a poor, simple background could go through umpteen traumas and tribulations (unwed teen, abandoned by her mother, married to an alcoholic, had her children stolen from her--twice!, a mental breakdown, divorced, Jill Bennett, etc , etc) and can still hold onto an essential goodness and maintain hope in the world, it's a not a sign that, as Greg would say, she's a "daffy blonde." It's that she's interwoven with steel. In fact Greg's backstory is that he was an idealist who became disillusioned by the corruption of the world and ceded to it. Val never gave into cynicism or corruption, even though after all she's been through, very few would blame her if she did. Greg and JR can take on tycoons, corporations, and even foreign governments, but they had millions of dollars and tons of power behind them. JR threatened to have Val killed if she ever came back to Dallas, and she still eventually came back to Lucy, and refused any bribes from everyone's favorite Texas villian. THAT takes more guts than anything they did.
    I don't think that JVA ever let that true nature of Valene become completely eclipsed by the lesser writing that came along later, which in Val's case. is an example of writers' abusing the character.
    Although, when Val started boiling hermit crabs, it came close

    Three seriew' scenes of note: 1.Val is told her twins died in birth. Her reaction is so real, so visceral I don't know how any other actress, even the likes of Streep or Mirram, could do a better job.
    2 Val lets Sheila Fisher hold the twins one last time. I could be totally projecting onto this scene, but the look on Val's face and her body language say, "I feel badly for you, you're a victim here, too, but don't even think of running off with either of them because I will turn into Mrs. Rambo and STOP you!"
    3. Val going for a run and falling into a fit of laughter after hearing Jill Bennett is dead. This not relief laughter, shock laughter or scheaudenfraude. It's all of them to varying degrees. It's a human being's reaction to another over the top situation, not a soap herione's reaction.
    I won't forget to give the writers credit here for Knots Landing gold. They did outstanding work. I'm just that taken with her performance

    All this is to say Ms.Van Ark may never havec received an Emmy, but if I ever taught an acting class, I'd show clips of her performances over a barrel full of Emmy winners. As for Hollywood movies, I would have loved to see what JVA could have done if cast in The Shining, not to mention Badlands
    Coming Home, and Terms of Endearment
    Of course, I'm not actually in the business, so I could be wrong about everything:)
     

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