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

Discussion in 'Dallas - The Original Series' started by James from London, Sep 18, 2016.

  1. James from London

    James from London Soap Chat Dream Maker

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    09 Mar 88: DYNASTY: The Trial v. 10 Mar 88: KNOTS LANDING: Full Disclosure v. 11 Mar 88: DALLAS: To Have and to Hold v. 11 Mar 88: FALCON CREST: Channing Vs. Channing

    “What gives you the right to take a child from its mother? I carried him for nine months!” cries Karen Atkinson on DYNASTY. “I feel like a victim!” wails Pat Williams on KNOTS LANDING. “What about me?! … I’m getting older and I have an ego!” weeps Ellie Farlow on DALLAS. Suffice to say, there’s a lot of emotional grandstanding in this week’s Soap Land.

    Adam and Dana on DYNASTY, Richard, Maggie and Angela on FALCON CREST and Pat on KNOTS all testify on the witness stand this week. The first two cases deal with child access (Karen Atkinson is suing to have her surrogacy agreement with Adam overturned and Angela is demanding access to her grandson) while the trial on KNOTS is the reason Pat and the rest of her family are in the Witness Protection Programme. Meanwhile, DALLAS’s equivalent Witness Protection Programme story, involving Nicholas Pearce, reaches its own climax.

    Whereas the court proceeding on FC is relatively low-key — the set up is similar to John Ross’s second custody hearing during the DALLAS Dream Season where each witness testified privately in front of the judge — DYNASTY throws everything but the kitchen sink at its hearing: an impassioned argument from Karen’s attorney (“I’m speaking about the morality of a very rich family trying to buy my client’s child!”), Dana’s past exposed under cross-examination, a smoking gun (“documented evidence that shows that [Jessie Atkinson] was paid $2,500 to instigate a custody suit”) revealed midway through the trial and Karen interrupting the judge’s summation to thrust her newborn baby into his line of vision: “I wanted you to see him … You’re going to decide who keeps my child and you’ve never even seen him!” Finally, Dana derails the whole shebang by standing up and declaring, “I’m sorry, but I can’t go through with this, Adam … The baby belongs with Karen!”

    Unlike DYNASTY, the really dramatic stuff pertaining to the KL and FC trials takes place outside the courtroom. After the judge on FALCON CREST grants Angela visitation rights to her grandson Michael, Richard arranges to have the boy temporarily snatched during their first outing together in order to make her appear negligent. Meanwhile on KNOTS, Pat is leaving the courthouse after giving evidence when she is stabbed by a nameless associate of the men she is testifying against. Meanwhile, the anonymous associates of the men Joseph Lombardi testified against twenty-three years ago pull a knife on April at the start of this week’s DALLAS. The threat of disfigurement (“Money won’t buy you a new face after I’m finished with it”) is enough to persuade her to spill the beans on the whereabouts of Joseph Junior, aka Nicholas Pearce.

    The opening scene of this week’s KNOTS also contains a strong threat of violence. The ep starts off peacefully enough — a portrait of neighbourhood bliss, in fact: Mack cuddles Meg on the lawn while Pat and Val watch their kids play hopscotch together on the sidewalk. There’s even a definitive moment of community acceptance as Val asks Julie to babysit the twins. Then a workman arrives at the Williams’ house and accidentally breaks a window. Suddenly, all hell breaks loose. Frank emerges from his house wearing a vest and pointing a gun at the workman. The camera work becomes unsteady as Mack and Frank get in each other’s faces, bellowing at one another, spit flying (“You don’t run around the neighbourhood with a gun in your hand, not with kids around! Brandishing a firearm is breaking the law!” “So is trespassing which is what you’re doing — you’re on my property!”). While Frank takes off in his car, Mack goes home to report him to the police. “That clown’s running round out there with a loaded .38 revolver and there’s kids playing in the street … I just can’t believe that that’s happening in this neighbourhood … I just can’t believe it,” he mutters. I’m not saying it’s intentional, or even conscious, but it feels like there’s a subliminal subtext in Mack’s reaction to the loose cannon living next door to him. To put it crudely, if not grotesquely: a black family moves into a respectable cul-de-sac like this one and next thing you know, it’s turned into Boyz N The Hood.

    Of course, we know that Frank’s rage has nothing to do with racial or cultural stereotypes. The source of his pain is identical to Solid Old Ben’s at the end of last season. “While trying to protect my family, I have become the enemy … My family needs protecting against me,” he tells Pat. Also, when Pat is on the witness stand, we learn that she is, or was, a doctor. What could be more respectable, more … white? This being an ‘80s soap, the Williamses’ skin colour is never mentioned, just as Dominique’s wasn’t on DYNASTY, not even in passing. Well, there is one reference later in the ep when the Mackenzies come round with a peace offering of bagels. “Soul food,” replies Pat, which at least acknowledges the elephant in the room.

    By this point, Karen and Mack have figured out Frank and Pat’s big secret. “They’ve done everything they can to hide their past,” Mack realises. “We’ve done everything we could to uncover it,” adds Karen. In other words, they are to the Williamses what April has been to Nick on DALLAS. Just as Frank grabbed for his gun when he heard the sound of breaking glass so Nick goes for his pistol when his apartment doorbell rings. His visitor turns out to be Sue Ellen, confused as to why her new boyfriend has been given his own storyline.

    When the bad guys do track him down, Nick tries to convince them that his father (the one they’re after for testifying in the first place) died in prison years ago. When that doesn’t work, he brings them to his parents’ house — the place we met them in last week’s ep. This time, however, the man who answers the door tells Nick that “Mr and Mrs Pearce were killed” in an automobile accident six months earlier. We know this must be a lie, but confusingly, Nick’s fake breakdown, performed for the benefit of the thugs, is even more moving than Pat Williams’ real “I was a doctor!” one on the witness stand. It’s undeniably clunky and not a little hammy, but nonetheless effective. I guess it’s down to Nick’s innate likability which manages to transcend both his stupidly big hair and tendency to say cheesy things like, “Nothing confuses a beautiful woman more than a man who won’t mix business with pleasure.” There’s also some compelling faux emotion on display on FALCON CREST when an enraged Richard interrupts Angela’s birthday party to berate her for allowing his son to wander off while in her custody — an incident he himself engineered.

    Elsewhere on DALLAS, Ray Krebbs banishes his recently acquired step-daughter to Switzerland just as Richard did his on last week’s FC. The difference is that Charlie is being sent to boarding school while Vicky is currently languishing in prison — although one suspects the distinction may be lost on Charlie. (“You wanna control how I think, how I look, how I feel!” she yells at Ray. “Don’t I get to say anything about my own life?!”) To his dismay, Jenna decides to accompany her daughter abroad and stay “for as long as Charlie needs me.” Maggie Channing, on the other hand, has no idea her daughter is even in Switzerland, much less a jail cell. According to the postcard she receives this week, Vicky and Eric are “doing Paris, London, Rome.” Out of her earshot, Richard compliments his henchman Garth on the convincing handwriting on the card. “The man I use is the best,” Garth replies. In the last scene of this week’s KNOTS, Val also receives some significant mail from overseas — significant enough to cause her to drop her groceries in shock. “Finally out of danger. I miss you, I love you. Hug the kids for me. See you soon, Ben,” it reads. DYNASTY likewise ends with an apparent communication from a seemingly lost husband. Having been informed that the man killed in the tanker explosion was not Sean Rowan but Harry Thresher (shame, I liked Harry), Alexis insists that Sean must still be dead — until she receives an anonymous call at the end of the ep. “Sean? Sean, is that you?” she asks. Cut to a tantalising shot of a bright red London telephone box with the receiver left dangling. While Val and Alexis each appear to have regained a husband, DALLAS ends with Miss Ellie dispensing with one. “I want you out,” she informs Clayton after finally confronting him about his relationship with Laurel. His explanation is almost a carbon copy of the reasons Jock gave for consorting with Julie Grey ten years earlier: “She made me feel like a man again. Everyone else was making me feel like a damned invalid, most of all you.” Whereas Ellie met Jock’s indiscretion with authority and stoicism, times have changed. Now she’s older, more vulnerable, more frightened. “What about me? What about me?” she keeps asking.

    Back on DYNASTY, Leslie Carrington surprises Jeff by showing up at his new apartment with all her belongings. Now that he and Fallon are divorced, she explains, she expects to move in with him — even though they only slept together once several months ago. Leslie plays the scene like she’s in a screwball comedy, but it’s more like an inept version of Fatal Attraction as Jeff politely shows her the door. Meanwhile on DALLAS, Kay Lloyd surprises Bobby by showing up at his office with what looks like all her belongings. “Sometimes I get a little crazy and impulsive,” she smiles. However, she assures him, “I’m only here for the day.” They subsequently share their first kiss while dancing the Texas Two-Step to ‘Lookin’ for Love’ by Charlene Tilton’s ex-husband (Johnny Lee, not Mitch Cooper).

    Over on FALCON CREST, Lance’s determination to get to the bottom of Richard’s role in Curtis Esterbrook’s death and John Remick’s disappearance leads him to the Justice Department where he encounters his own Kay Lloyd equivalent named Catherine (played by a future Dr Who girl!). Like Kay, she’s industrious, eager to help and hides her glamorous looks behind a pair of bookish glasses. While Kay calls herself impulsive, Catherine insists “she’s a bit of a rebel.” But that’s where the similarity ends. The final scene of the ep finds her talking to Rosemont, the head of the Thirteen. “If [Lance] gets too close to the truth, you will have to kill him,” he tells her. Whereas all the would-be murderers during the first half of this season’s FC began to blur into one, this revelation feels quite exciting — probably because it’s part of a more focused narrative.

    Maggie’s overnight transformation into a fully fledged alcoholic is fascinating. On last week’s FC, she had her first proper drunk scene in which she polished off a decanter of brandy and then fell over. This week, she’s sworn off the booze, suffers withdrawal symptoms and gets defensive when Richard gently suggests seeking help for her “problem.” By the end of the ep, she’s secretly nipping from the bottle of cooking wine stashed in her bedside cabinet. It’s as if Sue Ellen’s first year on DALLAS had been compressed into two episodes. As a realistic portrayal of addiction, therefore, it’s somewhat lacking. As a way of externalising the loss of Maggie’s psychological bearings since her marriage to Richard, it works perfectly.

    Speaking of out-of-nowhere ailments, Krystle suddenly feels faint on this week’s DYNASTY and has to sit down. It could be nothing, of course, but this is Soap Land — and come to think of it, wasn’t dizziness the first symptom of Laura’s brain tumour on KNOTS …?

    And this week’s Top 4 are …

    2 (4) FALCON CREST
    3 (3) DYNASTY
    4 (1) DALLAS
    Last edited: Jun 11, 2018
  2. James from London

    James from London Soap Chat Dream Maker

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    16 Mar 88: DYNASTY: The Proposal v. 18 Mar 88: DALLAS: Dead Reckoning v. 18 Mar 88: FALCON CREST: False Faces

    Last week’s DALLAS opened with the bad guys threatening April Stevens with a knife. This week’s DYNASTY opens with Sean Rowan about to knife Alexis in her sleep. This turns out to be a dream, of course, because Sean’s dead — right? Wrong! He shows up alive and vengeful later in the episode and steals into Alexis’s hotel suite with a gun. When she returns from walking the dog (not a euphemism), he hides in the bedroom. Rio’s no fool and starts growling at the bedroom door. Sean stands poised on the other side, ready to pull the trigger. Unless I’m very much mistaken, this is the first time in Soap Land history that a dog has been in mortal danger. In the event, Sean exits through a window and Alexis remains unaware of his visit. Instead, she summons Leslie Carrington to her office where she returns “the bracelet that you dropped in my bedroom when you were doing whatever it was you were doing”, calls her the company tramp, the company slut and the company whore and then fires her. There’s an equivalent scene in DALLAS that’s almost as satisfying where Nicholas Pearce reads April the riot act after she threatens to report last week’s bad guys to the police. “Hasn’t that mouth of yours gotten us into enough trouble already?” he barks. “You got me in trouble, you got people I love in trouble. Now I want you to take that nose while you still have one and keep it out of my business!” He’s less verbally insulting than Alexis but does slam April up against a wall to get his point across.

    Nick shares a far more affectionate scene with his younger brother Sal, which serves to tie up the loose ends of their Witness Protection Programme storyline. It’s one of those scenes that becomes unexpectedly touching when watched in hindsight as you suddenly remember that Nick is not long for this soap opera and this is probably the last time the brothers will ever see each other.

    Back on DYNASTY, only a week after his divorce from Fallon, Jeff asks Sammy Jo to marry him. This is her second marriage proposal of the season. Offhand, the only other character I can recall receiving such an honour is Sue Ellen during DALLAS’s fourth season when JR and Cliff were vying for her hand. As she mulls over her decision, she turns to her aunt. “You should know there are gonna be some problems,” Krystle points out. “Why?” Sammy Jo asks, an edge of defiance in her voice. “Is it gonna be uncomfortable on the holidays when the whole family’s here at the house? … Blake will be angry if I separate Jeff from Fallon.” “Sammy Jo, Fallon will always be a reality in both your lives,” Krystle replies. These objections are similar to the ones raised by the Ewings a year ago when Jenna and Ray decided to live together. Back then, they had the close proximity of Pam and Bobby to contend with. Here, it’s Fallon and Steven who are the problem. Steven confronts Jeff on the subject in a scene that is as interesting and juicy as any between Bobby and Ray when they were at odds over Jenna. He calls Jeff’s proposal “a big mistake” and accuses him of rebounding from Fallon. Jeff, in turn, accuses Steven of trying to control Sammy Jo: “For the past year, you’ve had her under your brand of protective custody and it’s smothering her.” As with Nick and Sal’s exchange on DALLAS, knowing Steven is on his way out of the show adds an extra layer of poignancy to the confrontation. “What are we doing anyway?” asks Jeff. “We’ve known each other a long time, we’ve been friends and buddies and we’re standing here yelling at each other and looking like a couple of jerks … If you tell me you’re the right one for Sammy Jo, the best thing for her, I’ll back away.” Proud to the last, Steven exits the scene without replying.

    On the subject of departing characters, Charlie Wade makes her final appearance on DALLAS this week. “I can’t wait to get out of here,” she declares before flouncing off to Switzerland. Ray is on his way back from driving her and Jenna to the airport when he spies his next storyline, a pretty gal named Connie, standing on the side of the road with a flat tyre. FALCON CREST’s Lance and Shannon recently met-cute in pretty much identical circumstances. They looked set for a big romance until the revelation that Shannon was the mother of Lance’s half-brother whereupon she disappeared as abruptly as she had arrived. Time will tell if something similar is in store for Connie and Ray.

    The wheels of justice are currently grinding slower in Denver than they do in the Tuscany Valley. In the time that Adam Carrington and Karen Atkinson have been waiting for the judge to make a ruling about the future of their baby, Angela Channing has already been awarded visitation rights to her grandson, had those rights revoked and is now planning to sue for full custody of the child on the grounds that “the mother drinks [and] the father is an inch away from prison.”

    Maggie’s headlong descent into alcoholism continues apace. By the start of this week’s FALCON CREST, she’s already drinking in the mornings and hiding bottles in the plant pot. If this seems accelerated, so is Cliff Barnes’s overnight addiction to tranquillisers on DALLAS. After popping a couple of pills during last week’s ep, he’s suddenly begging his doctor for repeat prescriptions and nodding out on the office couch. He blames it on the stress caused by the fluctuating value of the West Star stock JR is forcing him to buy, but he’s surely been through worse crises over the past ten seasons. More likely, he’s simply worn out. Now that DALLAS has taken away the two things that meant the most to him — his sister and the Barnes/Ewing feud — the character is running on empty. “I just can’t take it anymore! I don’t even feel like fighting!” he complains. If that isn’t a sign of soap fatigue, I don’t know what is.

    Whereas Sue Ellen’s alcoholism was largely depicted (Pam’s Dream notwithstanding) as decadent and kinda glamorous, even when she was seven months pregnant and passed out, Maggie’s feels almost pathetically real. Instead of drinking from crystal glasses in fancy restaurants, she’s nipping from coffee mugs in the kitchen. Rather than deliver cynical one-liners at cocktail time, she snaps at her toddler children and nags the housekeeper until she resigns. Instead of trading thrillingly vicious insults with her husband the way Sue Ellen used to, she pretends to be sober and cheerful in front of Richard while slurring her words. Rather than rub her face in her misery as JR would, he looks silently back at her, a mixture of confusion and disappointment on his face.

    So it is that in the same week that Richard Channing, with some assistance from the Thirteen, gets into the Empire Valley business, acquiring “television stations, a movie studio … and a communications satellite”, he also finds himself as helpless as Poor Val when she was trying to deal with Gary’s drinking in “Bottom of the Bottle”. There’s something uniquely poignant about the last scene of this week’s FC which reveals the usually omnipotent Richard standing at the back of an Al-Anon meeting listening to “ordinary” people talk about experiences that mirror his own.

    DYNASTY and DALLAS each end with a central character suspected of a serious crime. Karen and Jessie Atkinson, who have sort of become the DYNASTY equivalent of Harry and Sheila Fisher (only this time the husband is the liability rather than the wife), arrive at Soap Land Memorial Hospital to discover Karen’s baby is missing. “How could this be? Adam couldn’t take my baby!” she shouts hysterically. Clayton Farlow, meanwhile, opens his hotel room door to find himself surrounded by cops and “under arrest for the murder of David Shulton.” Has Adam gone from kidnappee to kidnapper? Was the beating Clayton gave Shulton earlier on really enough to finish him off? There’s another a murder on FALCON CREST, but here we’re left in no doubt as to who is responsible. Catherine, Lance’s new pal from the Justice Department, has travelled with him to Africa, supposedly to help him find out what really happened to John Remick. When Remick’s mercenary buddy Westcott figures out she’s up to no good, she shoots him in cold blood. This is the second time Westcott has been shot dead in Soap Land. A decade earlier on DALLAS, he was Al, the weirdo member of the gang who abducted Bobby Ewing and then got mown down at the end of the episode.

    Last week, Nicholas Pearce led the bad guys to the graves where his parents were buried. The graves were fake, but the bad guys bought it. At the end of this week’s FALCON CREST, an African general points Lance in the direction of the military gravesite where John Remick is buried — only Lance isn’t buying it. “Remick died six months ago … This grave ain’t near that old,” he tells Catherine. He starts digging, and for a minute it looks like we might be about to see Soap Land’s first exhumation, but the grave turns out to be empty. Were that not twist enough, Catherine then pulls a gun on him. “Too bad. I was really starting to like you,” she says. Were that not twist enough either, Lance then produces the bullets he has taken from her gun. “I was really starting to like you too,” he replies, “but I stopped trusting you.”

    And this week’s Top 3 are …

    1 (3) DYNASTY
    2 (4) DALLAS
    3 (2) FALCON CREST
    Last edited: Jun 14, 2018 at 10:42 PM

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