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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 Enthusiast

    Message Count:
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    04 Jan 88: DYNASTY: The Last Hurrah v. 05 Jan 89: KNOTS LANDING: A Many Splendored Thing v. 06 Jan 88: DALLAS: Deception v. 06 Jan 88: FALCON CREST: Solomon’s Choice

    It’s a toss-up as to who’s had the weirdest Soap Land dream of late — Val Gibson just before Christmas, when she dreamt that she was being straddled by her ex-husband as his bewigged girlfriend poured an entire bottle of pills down her throat or Fallon Carrington, who dreams this week of lying on a mortuary slab while her mother’s long-dead boyfriend makes sweet, sweet love her.

    To whom does the dead body on DYNASTY belong? What is the real reason behind the range war on DALLAS? The answers to both questions lie at the heart of their respective series’ back stories. As we now know, the dead man is Roger Grimes, the architect whose affair with Alexis is the reason Blake “banished me from my house and from my children” some two decades earlier, as Alexis reminds relative newcomer Dex this week. Carter McKay, meanwhile, has offered to call off his war with the Ewings if they agree to sell him Section 40 of Southfork — which, as JR informs relative newcomer Clayton, “sits on the biggest oil pool in Texas. Daddy discovered it after he saved the ranch for Mama and her daddy.” Behind each revelation lies further complications. Even as Alexis accuses Blake of killing Roger (“He shot him in the back of the head and then he threw his body into the lake”), Sable suggests that Alexis herself could be responsible (“Roger was proposing to leave you — there were so many rows between the two of you, weren’t there?”). The big reveal at the end of this week’s DALLAS is that McKay is taking orders from someone else. Enter Jeremy Wendell. “I want that oil under Section 40 on Southfork,” he tells McKay, “and whatever you have to do to the Ewings to get it, that’s what you do.” Just as Abby is secretly after the oil under Lotus Point, Jeremy is secretly after the oil under Southfork. Come to think of it, Soap Land is presently full of covert masterminds: Jeremy is behind McKay, Abby is behind Apolune, Sable is behind the company who bought out the Carlton Hotel and Richard Channing is behind the Hispanic consortium on FALCON CREST.

    When Pilar Ortega realises Richard has been manipulating her all along, she calls him a bastard. “Is that any way to talk to the man who has made you a power in the Tuscany Valley, young lady?” he asks her. “You know as well as I do, you can’t give power,” she replies. “Whoever wants it has to take it.” Perhaps acknowledging the debt these words owe to Jock Ewing’s famous “real power is something you take” speech, Richard says that he’s “gonna write that down and frame it.”

    There are discoveries this week about both Pilar and her “new girl” counterpart on DALLAS, Tracey Lawton. It turns out that Carter McKay is not Tracey’s husband but her father. His lying, cheating ways led to her mother’s death and that’s why she now has problems committing to a relationship. Pilar’s big secret is that when she was sixteen, she gave birth to a daughter who has since been raised by her (Pilar’s) aunt. Based on these past experiences, both women are faced with a present day dilemma: Should Tracey keep running from her father the way she always has, or stay in Dallas and build a future with Bobby? (What neither she nor Bobby yet realise is that her daddy is also the man behind the range war.) And should Pilar allow her aunt to legally adopt her daughter or should she finally claim her as her own? (What nobody on screen yet knows — although it’s pretty obvious to the seasoned Soap Land viewer — is who Pilar’s baby daddy is.)

    Just as we’re getting to know Tracey and Pilar, a question mark arises over the past of a third Soap Land new girl — cousin Virginia on DYNASTY. It all starts when a socially concerned Krystle takes Virginia and Sammy Jo on a tour of Skid Row. “These people are just like us,” she declares, referring to the elderly man wheeling his belongings in a shopping cart, the old woman rummaging through a trash can and a family living in a doorway. Once again, a collision between glossy Soap Land characters and “the real world” yields surreal results as, out of nowhere, the sugary sweet Virginia turns first hostile (“These people need a firing squad!”) and then violent, spitting in the face of a drug-pushing, knife-wielding pimp before beating him up for good measure. “No-one talks like you did unless they’ve been on the streets,” deduces Sammy Jo.

    Like Krystle, this week’s KNOTS and FALCON CREST also make a show of solidarity with real world folk. Val explains to Karen that she’s getting her kids back — but more because of a bureaucratic glitch than anything else: “I’m gonna get them back because the system screwed up. Kind of makes you wonder what happens to the kids who really need protection but don’t get it.” Maggie Channing, meanwhile, learns a thing or two from Tommy Ortega’s knowledge of the man on the street: “Every Friday on payday, all the Hispanics pick up the latest edition of the Tuscany Exchange. Then on Saturdays, they go out and buy all the used cars and refrigerators that they’ve seen in the ads. Now, if they’re paying seventy-five cents for that paper and yours comes out at twenty-five cents, which one do you think they’re gonna buy?”

    After her walk on the wild side, Krystle returns to the mansion to find Dr Walt Driscoll waiting for her. “Your only chance of survival is surgery,” he informs her. “There is a possibility that you won’t survive the operation.” We’ve been here before, of course, with Maggie’s brain tumour on FALCON CREST and Karen’s bullet fragment on KNOTS — both supposedly terminal situations that ended in a miraculous recovery. Somehow it feels different this time around, however. The fact that Blake kept Krystle’s condition a secret from her (and us) for years, her two-episode absence at the start of the season, her offhand, almost embarrassed admission to Sammy Jo and Virginia that “I’m probably going to die”: none of this fits any recognisable Soap Land blueprint, except maybe the precedent set by Laura’s death on KNOTS just over a year ago — and the vague feeling, as we move into the final year of Soap Land’s defining decade, that maybe anything is possible.

    Another consequence of Soap Land’s “end of an era” vibe is how much sexier the shows have become. After all, one way to distract viewers from reduced wardrobe budgets is to show the characters taking their clothes off. Bobby and Tracey’s sensual love scene on DALLAS three weeks ago was swiftly upstaged by Paige and Greg’s game of strip croquet on KNOTS (a sequence so memorable that it has transcended both series and centuries to become part of New Blake and Alexis’s back story on New DYNASTY) and this week, Old DYNASTY treats us to a full dialogue-free minute of clothes-ripping, camera-shaking, shoving-each-other-up-against-walls passion between Dex Dexter and Sable’s assistant Joanna Sills. Such scenes makes Lucy Ewing’s striptease in Mitch Cooper’s apartment back in 1980 seem positively demure. In the same way, Greg Sumner recalls the Mercury dime collection that he sold when he was twelve “for a couple of girly magazines. I shudder to think what those dimes would be worth today” only for Mack to reply, “And the magazines wouldn’t even be considered soft porn.” (Heck, back in 1980 even the words “soft porn” would have seemed taboo.)

    It’s always interesting when close Soap Land friends or family members fall out — that’s when you know things are getting serious. (KNOTS has provided the most memorable examples in the past: Laura shunning Val following the Jean Hackney affair in Season 8, Val turning on Karen during “Noises Everywhere” in Season 9, Karen giving Gary the cold shoulder for most of Seasons 4 and 5, etc.) At the start of this week’s DYNASTY, Blake is angrier with Fallon than he has been since — well, possibly ever. “I want the picture you showed to your mother … GIVE IT TO ME!” he demands before tossing the snapshot of him and Roger into the fireplace. “I told you to stay out of this … and now you’ve opened up a wound that may never heal!” Over on DALLAS, Sue Ellen and Miss Ellie clash over JR’s decision to send John Ross to stay with Cliff (yes, Cliff) while the range war is in full swing. “JR just didn’t want to add your conflict with him to the fight we’re having over this ranch and frankly, I agreed with him,” Ellie explains. “My conflict with JR — is that what it’s all about now? Miss Ellie, that man has been cheating, lying and double-crossing everyone for years now … but you’re willing to just sit there and side with him no matter what!” argues Sue Ellen. It’s kind of cool to see Miss Texas 1967 suddenly playing the role of outspoken family outsider.

    Miss Ellie also sides with JR’s decision to bring hired mercenaries onto Southfork, even though Bobby disagrees. “Maybe you’d like to tell me how you plan on protecting your son — or do you want that idiot Cliff Barnes to adopt him permanently?” JR snaps at his brother. An even wackier adoption is mooted in the closing scene of this week’s DYNASTY. In their final meeting of the series, Krystle visits Alexis to ask her to desist in her accusations of murder against Blake. “I may not be around much longer and if I’m not and Blake goes to prison, what will happen to Krystina?” she asks. “If worst came to worst, I’d take care of her myself,” Alexis suggests. Faced with the idea of her nemesis raising her child, Krystle snaps and smashes a (no doubt priceless) vase. “Are you crazy?!” yells Alexis. “No,” she replies calmly, “but everybody thinks I am … I could kill you, Alexis, and no jury in the world would ever convict me.” Anne Matheson employs a similar logic over on KNOTS. “Whatever I do, baby doll, people will say it’s because I’m grieving,” she tells Paige as she helps herself to a rose from the floral arrangement atop her father’s coffin.

    It’s unusual for departed Soap Land characters to pop up for a one-off reappearance the way Anne does this week. While her presence doesn’t advance the plot, it does serve to flesh out Paige’s world in the same way that Ray Krebbs’ temporary return to DALLAS helps bolster the Ewings’ side of the range war. It also prompts some nicely acidic lines. “Are you wracked with grief or is it the gin?” Paige asks her when they meet by the casket. “Of course he does — and I’m the Queen of England!” Anne scoffs when Paige insists that Greg loves her.
    But it’s true. Two weeks ago, Greg pulled the romantic rug from under us, not once but twice: first when he declared his love for Paige, and then almost immediately afterwards when he asked Abby to marry him. With the blissfully ignorant Paige out of town, he spends most of this week’s KNOTS trying to persuade Abby to accept his proposal. “Do I have to court you — corsages, hand-in-hand walks in the park? … Don’t you think we’re a little old for that rigamarole?” he asks her. “Experienced. I prefer the word experienced,” she clarifies. Also this week, Blake Carrington and Harold Dyer re-propose to Krystle and Olivia respectively, the reclusive RD Young asks Emma to marry him on FALCON CREST and Casey Denault hints to Lucy about an important partnership he has in mind for her, “just as soon as your divorce is final.”

    As part of his pitch, Greg disparages some of Abby’s previous suitors. Now that Michael York is safely out of earshot, he finally can say what we’ve all been thinking: “Charles Scott? Come on, he makes Pee Wee Herman look like Cary Grant.” This is the soaps’ third reference to Pee Wee (last season, Charlie Wade had his picture in her locker while Jeff Colby spoke of a movie magazine which featured him) which I guess makes him Soap Land’s most significant contemporary cultural figure.

    “I don’t like pizza," smiles Fallon on DYNASTY, letting Zorelli down gently after he asks her out on a date. “You like pizza?” a surprised Sue Ellen asks Cliff on DALLAS when he invites himself round for dinner with John Ross and Christopher. “It’s right up there with Chinese food,” he confirms. Meanwhile on KNOTS, the idyllic staycation the Mackenzies have planned starts to go wrong when the pizza they’ve ordered turns up with the wrong topping (“Anchovies — I hate anchovies!” complains Mack). By the end of the ep, Mack has put in for an indefinite leave of absence from his job and Karen has sent him away to the mountains. “You just need some time alone,” she tells him, before admitting: “You’re driving me crazy.” This might well qualify as Soap Land’s first lighthearted marital separation.

    While Michael Fairgate suggests Karen and Mack might be “victims of too much togetherness”, there is simply no such thing for Krystle and Blake. “Nothing can separate us … you are my heart,” says Krystle simply.

    And this week’s Top 4 are …

    2 (2) DYNASTY
    3 (3) DALLAS
    4 (4) FALCON CREST
  2. James from London

    James from London Soap Chat Enthusiast

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    11 Jan 89: DYNASTY: The Wedding v. 12 Jan 89: KNOTS LANDING: Cabin Fever v. 13 Jan 89: DALLAS: Counter Attack v. 13 Jan 89: FALCON CREST: Suspicion

    It’s Krystle Carrington’s last week in Soap Land and, like Laura Avery and Pam Ewing before her, her departure takes the form of a self-imposed exile, “to keep me from becoming a burden to the people I love.” As Pam did Bobby, she presents Blake with divorce papers: “If I come out of this operation and I can’t hear or speak or recognise you … my divorce from you will become automatic and you’ll place me in an institution where I’ll have no contact with the family.” Unless he sign the necessary documentation, she tells him she won’t have the operation needed to save her life. The ensuing argument between them is the equivalent of Laura and Greg’s “I just don’t want you to watch me” scene on KNOTS when she tells him she has chosen to die alone.

    Ultimately, like both Bobby and Greg, Blake has no choice but to comply with his wife’s wishes. “This is the hardest thing that I’ve ever been asked to do,” he tells her. “All my life in business, I’ve managed to keep out of corners. I’ve always given myself lots of options. I’ve never allowed myself to be pinned down, but now you’re forcing my hand … I have no choice. I’ll sign the divorce papers.”

    Blake is not the only powerful Soap Land magnate obliged to face his own helplessness and/or frailties this week. On KNOTS, Paige finally confronts Greg over his decision to marry Abby. “Why are you doing this?” she asks him. “What are you afraid of — are you afraid I’m gonna leave you? Are you afraid I’m gonna die or that you’re gonna die? What are you so scared of?” It’s fascinating: even though Paige is the one in tears, helplessly pleading with Greg to change his mind, it’s actually Greg — calm, quietly spoken, implacable Greg (“I don’t wanna fight about this. I made a decision. I’m gonna go ahead”) — who ultimately emerges as the more broken and damaged of the two.

    Over on DALLAS, it’s a surprise to find JR seeking help from a psychiatrist after being plagued by “Previously … on Haleyville” style dreams. Paige’s question to Greg, “What are you afraid of?” is echoed by the psychiatrist. “Are you afraid to tell me what you really feel?” he asks. After some prodding, JR starts to open up about how it felt to be held prisoner. “Of course it bothered me — I’m JR Ewing. I’ve got money and power. I could buy that whole state and nobody cared … For the first time, I felt I was mortal. I’d lost my invincibility. I wasn’t any better than anybody else.” Any hopes of him developing further insight into his own psyche are soon dashed, however. Just as Greg shut down Paige’s line of questioning with a measured response of “I don’t think it’s wise to continue this discussion”, JR decides that the solution to his problem is to double down on his previous ruthless behaviour: “I am gonna become so big, there won’t be a hick town in this country that won’t know my name. No sir — no more Mr Nice Guy!”

    Elsewhere in the same ep, Jeremy Wendell’s short-lived alliance with Sue Ellen comes to a bitter end. As with Greg and Paige, you assume the odds will be stacked in the man’s favour, but Jeremy’s familiar threats (“Just remember one thing … you’re either my friend or my enemy”) pale next to Sue Ellen’s more personal observations. “You’ve never had children, have you, Jeremy? … In a way, I feel very sorry for you,” she says coolly and we can see she’s got under his skin.

    The depiction of Sue Ellen we’ve been presented with so far this season is an intriguing one. The last time she and JR split, much was made of the fact that she was living as a single woman for the first time and the show followed her progress as a vulnerable divorcee closely. At least then she had her son with her. This time around, John Ross is living at Southfork and she is really is alone, yet the show views her from a comparative distance. We’re more likely to see her in her office than her home and her grief over Nicholas Pearce’s death has been pretty much unexplored. The glimpses we do get of her life are intriguing: she is clearly unhappy (“He loves me, but he doesn’t want me,” she reflects bitterly while looking at a picture of her son), but is more angry and defiant than tearful and dithery — witness the tellings off she gave Miss Ellie last week and Jeremy in this ep.

    Wedding arrangements feature in no less than three of this week’s soaps. When Blake and Krystle renew their vows on DYNASTY, the pomp and formality associated with previous Carrington weddings is stripped away, leaving the bride to make her journey down the aisle by candlelight while ‘Somewhere’ from West Side Story plays quietly in the background. There isn’t even anyone to officiate the ceremony. “We don’t need a minister to marry us because what I want is for our vows to be blessed not only by God, but all the love I feel in this room,” Krystle explains. In contrast to such minimalism, KNOTS LANDING’s Abby wants her and Greg’s wedding “to be more than a wedding … It should be a media event.” Angela Channing feels similarly when it comes to organising Emma and RD Young’s big day. “That is going to be at Falcon Crest,” she decrees, “with just the family and a few of our close friends — and some of the friends from the valley …” This is all too much for the reclusive groom-to-be.

    Two of our prospective brides observe the “old, new, borrowed, blue” tradition, albeit for their own, other than traditional, reasons. On DYNASTY, Krystle indulges her daughter by letting her play at being the bride which, in turn, allows her to present her with something old — a locket containing a picture of Krystina herself as baby. “I was gonna give it to you when you’re older,” Krystle tells her. “Do you still have that bracelet of Mother’s that Sid gave you?” Abby asks Karen during a really fun phone conversation on KNOTS. “I was wondering if I could borrow it.” “Sure,” replies Karen. “You’re supposed to ask me why,” Abby persists. “I wanna borrow it because I need something borrowed.” Karen is uncharacteristically slow on the uptake, forcing Abby to spell it out to her: “Something borrowed, something blue, something old, something new?” “You’re getting married?” Karen realises. “Yes, and the bracelet can be something old and something borrowed,” she explains. When Abby tells her who she’s marrying, Karen sniggers — before realising it isn’t a joke.

    When it comes to their respective guest lists, Abby is easily persuaded by PR guy Ted to jettison close friends in favour of business contacts (“We have limited space at the church as it is and a lot of players who have to be there”), whereas there is only room for those most precious to Blake and Krystle at their ceremony. “Thank-you for including me,” says Jeanette the maid tearfully. Back on KNOTS, Greg’s manservant Carlos is included whether he likes it or not when it comes to keeping his master’s engagement a secret from Paige. Finally, he can hold his tongue no longer. “I think you should tell her,” he says to Greg. “I intend to tell her,” Greg shoots back. “I’ve always intended to tell her. Who are you — Jiminy Cricket? I’ve got a conscience of my own, thank you.” Over on FALCON CREST, RD Young’s housekeeper, the forbidding Mrs Anderson, also voices an unwanted opinion on her boss’s impending nuptials. “I foresee a disaster,” she declares. “When do you foresee anything else?” he replies.

    In the same way that the handwritten book of stories Krystle gives to Krystina echoes the dresses Laura Avery bought for Meg to wear as she gets older (“There’s something special for each of the birthdays you’re gonna have until you’re a very big girl … stories about me and how I felt at the age you’re going to be”), her and Blake’s wedding is DYNASTY’s equivalent of Laura’s wake in “Noises Everywhere”, i.e., a chance to put series conventions to one side and reveal a more spontaneous side to the characters. After walking down the aisle, Krystle breaks with protocol by tickling the best man. “I can’t tell you how long I’ve waited to do that,” she says to Adam. “Sometimes you’re such a stuffed shirt!” Later, Blake catches her counting aloud as they make their way down the Carrington staircase. “I always wondered how many steps there were. I just never got around to counting them,” she explains.

    The request she makes to her wedding guests — “What I really want tonight is that you share in the vows that Blake and I are going to take, that you promise to care for each other and be bound to each other for the rest of your lives” — is a Krystalised version of Bobby Ewing’s deathbed request nearly four years earlier: “Be a family.” Her final scene, where she and Blake are waved out of a fake driveway as they depart for a second honeymoon in Paris, recalls another DALLAS departure: Jock Ewing’s at the end of DALLAS Season 3. Our very last glimpse of Krystle feels unique to her situation, however. We watch her smiling and waving from the back of the limousine, blissfully unaware of what Jeff is telling Fallon and Sammy Jo: “There’s not going to be a honeymoon … The doctor just called. He wants them to fly directly to the clinic in Switzerland. The operation is scheduled for the day after tomorrow.” “Oh dear God, protect her!” exclaims Fallon as the episode ends on Krystle’s radiantly happy face, forever frozen in time.

    DYNASTY has cousin Virginia, DALLAS has Tracey Lawton, FALCON CREST has Pilar Ortega, and now KNOTS gets its own new girl — Paula the forest ranger, whom Mack encounters during his stay on Wild Horse Mountain. Whereas those other girls arrived in Soap Land with varying amounts of emotional baggage (Pilar’s angst over her secret daughter, Tracey’s problems with her father, Virginia’s admission to Krystle this week that she “slept under porches [and] ate out of trashcans” as a teenager), Paula insists that there’s no great mystery in her past. “You were the one who came up here to run away, not me,” she reminds Mack. Her job as a ranger means she can avoid another Soap Land convention — dressing up. “When I wake up in the morning, I don’t have to worry about what I’m gonna wear. Not only that, but I look great in greys and greens,” she grins. In this regard, she resembles the glamour-resistant Virginia whom Sable turns into her pet project this week, determined to make her over in time for Blake and Krystle’s big night (“Come along, Virginia — now I’m going to torture you with some eye shadow”). Paula also has something in common with DALLAS’s Tracey — an aversion to serious relationships. “I think families are great,” she says, “just not for me … I like my solitary life.” This does not, however, prevent her from giving Mack her room number — just as Joanna Sills did Dex on last week’s DYNASTY. To our surprise, it looks as if Mack will succumb to temptation the way Dex did — we see him enter a darkened bedroom and unbutton his shirt while smiling at someone off screen — but then the camera moves down to reveal Karen as the object of his desire. And so DYNASTY ends up not being the only show to celebrate its most enduring couple this week.

    While Krystina enters into the party spirit at her parents’ wedding — she manages to cajole one of her nephews into dancing with her (LB, I think, but he and Danny are pretty much interchangeable since their most recent recasts) — Abby’s children are decidedly nonplussed by their mom’s latest engagement. “You don’t love him,” Olivia insists. “This is really weird,” Brian decides. Another Soap Land kid, Christopher Ewing, proves a useful plot device when he is shot at during the range war (as an innocent caught up in a much bigger feud, this is a portent of his eventual fate on New DALLAS), thereby spurring Bobby to take matters into his own hands. “I’m gonna take care of this myself … McKay is mine!” he declares. Bobby’s played the hero before, of course — rescuing niece Lucy from various kidnappers, for example — but this storyline requires a whole new level of derring do: jumping out of helicopters, setting explosives, overpowering an entire squad of mercenaries almost singlehandedly. In other words, we’re in Dex-breaking-Caress-out-of-jail or Lance-scaling-walls-to-take-on-the-Cartel territory. Daft as such scenarios invariably are, DALLAS’s visuals give this one the edge, the exterior nighttime shots of Southfork and the McKay ranch covering a multitude of plot holes. Then there’s the quasi-Shakespearean moment where Bobby comes face to face with McKay — and realises he’s the father of his new girlfriend.

    “Can you imagine? My daughter is in love with the son of the family I’m at war with,” sighs McKay. Of course Bobby can imagine it. “That happened to me once before, with my first wife,” he replies. Just as this situation takes us right back to the beginning of DALLAS, so this week’s DYNASTY reminds us of its own beginning, with several references to the first time Krystle married Blake. “How angry I was at Daddy … for marrying you,” Fallon recalls. “I hated you! I thought you were just some opportunist trying to steal him away from me … I don’t think that anymore. I haven’t for years. In fact, you’ve brought us all so much closer as a family than we ever could have been without you.” (If one were looking for a moment of closure from this season of DYNASTY, that speech might just be it.) Virginia goes so far as to superimpose herself retroactively into the pilot episode. “I came to your wedding,” she tells Krystle. “I hitched all the way from Dayton, then I walked ten miles and stood in front of those huge gates. I looked inside and I said to myself, ‘I’m not going inside there. That place is a palace.’” She was lucky not to get mown down by Walter Lankershim.

    Towards the end of this week’s DALLAS and FALCON CREST, there are parallel walk-and-talk scenes where relatively new characters, Carter McKay and RD Young, explain to Bobby Ewing and Emma Channing the circumstances that led to their respective wives’ untimely deaths. Each has been previously implicated in said death, but now insists that the woman’s demise was a direct result of her own infidelity. “You know where she was going on the night she was killed?” McKay asks Bobby. “She was going to meet her lover … All the things she accused me of doing was what she was doing … She turned the kids against me pretty good.” “She took a lover,” echoes RD. “She drowned … She and her lover were on the boat alone. Nobody’s sure how it happened. Neither of their bodies was found.”

    While RD’s hard luck story appears chiefly to be a Maguffin to ensure that the perpetually unlucky-in-love Emma loses yet another chance at happiness (“Emma, I can’t marry you — I don’t think that I could stand to go through that again”), it’s hard to know what to make of McKay’s. In the space of an episode, he turns from villain to hero, when he saves Bobby’s life by shooting one of his own men, and then back into villain when he walks into Jeremy Wendell’s office and tells him to shut his face (“All of these years that you’ve been taking the bows and I’ve been the brains behind you”) before claiming to have “told Bobby Ewing one of the world’s greatest sob stories and he fell for it … I’m gonna get Section 40 for us if I have to kill everyone of the damn Ewings to do it!” Despite having watched this episode periodically over the past few decades, I’m still not entirely sure where the lies end and the truth begins.

    In the same week that Krystle celebrates her love for Blake, her FC counterpart Maggie celebrates the launch of her own newspaper. Whereas Krystle seems more of a rounded character than ever, Maggie is suddenly vapid — declaring everything to be either “fabulous” or “terrific” or both, and delivering lines like “Richard, you always make me feel beautiful, even when my hairdresser’s out to get me” without a trace of irony. Still, when one reflects on the nonstop traumas she’s endured over the past few years — from amnesia to abduction to alcoholism, with rape, widowhood and manslaughter thrown in for good measure — it’s hard to begrudge her a bit of brainless Fembot time. Besides, it looks as if she might be about to inherit Krystle’s mantle as Soap Land’s social conscience. Instead of championing the homeless, she listens sympathetically to Tommy Ortega’s gang battle problems.

    Along with Alexis Colby, Pam Ewing, most of the KNOTS gals and Sue Ellen on a good day, Krystle and Maggie have both helped promote and perpetuate the idea of the ‘80s woman who “has it all”. So it seems fitting, now that the decade is drawing to a close and particularly in the week that we say goodbye to Krystle, that this myth should be debunked by one of Soap Land’s newcomers. “You’re incredible — the hometown girl who feels just as comfortable in a boardroom as in a kitchen,” marvels Nick Agretti on FALCON CREST. “Superwoman — that’s how we’re all supposed to be these days, aren’t we?” Pilar Ortega replies. “But not everyone pulls it off,” he tells her. “I have news for you: nobody pulls it off,” she declares unequivocally. Pilar may not "have it all", but she certainly has a finger or two in more than her fair share of storylines at present: a burgeoning relationship with Nick, a love triangle with Lance and Cookie Nash, a complicity with Richard, a secret daughter, an intriguing flirtation with her predatory slob of a boss. None of these stories has quite caught fire yet, but it’ll be interesting to see what happens when they do.

    And this week’s Top 4 are …


    2 (2) DYNASTY

    3 (3) DALLAS

    4 (4) FALCON CREST
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  3. James from London

    James from London Soap Chat Enthusiast

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    19 Jan 89: KNOTS LANDING: Merger Made in Heaven v. 20 Jan 89: DALLAS: The Sting v. 20 Jan 89: FALCON CREST: There Goes the Bride

    In spite of the traumatic circumstances surrounding it, Krystle and Blake’s wedding went off without a hitch on last week’s DYNASTY. Not only was their nemesis, Alexis, absent from the ceremony, she didn’t even appear in the episode. The same cannot be said of the primary obstacle to Greg and Abby’s big day on this week’s KNOTS. The ep opens in the Mackenzie kitchen with Mack, Karen and Michael all making light of Abby’s impending nuptials (“I wonder if she’s gonna keep her own name?” “Well, she has a choice — Fairgate, Cunningham, Ewing, Sumner.” “Sounds like a law firm!”), but the scene’s focus is firmly on Paige. Her expression is detached and she barely speaks. If one didn’t know better, one might mistake her demeanour for indifference. However, we do know better. This one of those interesting situations where only the viewer at home knows what a character on screen is really going through and so a complicity is forged between her and us. In fact, the aspect of this story that really wins us over to Paige’s side is the way she pridefully conceals her heartache from her family. She doesn’t look for sympathy or succumb to emotional indulgence the way another character might. No-one’s about to pop a bottle of pills down her throat and call her “Poor Paige”.

    She does, however, engage in some classic Soap Land manipulation to keep Greg off balance. First, she shows up with Ted Melcher to the club where he and Abby are in attendance and makes sure he sees Ted nuzzling her neck on the dance floor. The next morning, she arrives for work wearing the previous night’s dress. This is hardly subtle stuff, and Greg’s smart enough to see what she’s doing, but that doesn’t mean he isn’t as rattled by it as any regular soap sap would be. “Don’t start these stunts with me,” he snarls at her. “You come in here dressed like Carmen Miranda. What’s that supposed to signal me — that you’ve been spending the night with Mr Congeniality? … You call that dancing you were doing last night? Looked to me like you were grinding coffee!” (Over on FALCON CREST, Angela makes a similar observation about Lance and Cookie Nash: “The other night at dinner … you were pressed so close together, you could have eaten off the same plate.” The big difference here is that Angela is speaking approvingly.) Paige persists in her campaign by sending the engaged couple a croquet set as an anonymous wedding gift. “Is this what passes for wit in your generation?” responds Greg, all but hurling the mallets back at her. “What did you think was gonna happen when I opened this eight-grade gift — you think a light was gonna pop on in my head and I was gonna decide all of a sudden that I shouldn’t marry Blonde #2, I should marry Blonde #1?” This is the kind of common sense question soap characters in Greg’s position don’t normally think to ask.

    Despite his protests to the contrary, Paige’s behaviour starts to affect Greg’s thinking. “This republic’s in a sorry state when a guy as confused as I am gets to run for elective office,” he broods to manservant Carlos, who is fast becoming a confidante equivalent to Richard Channing’s Man Friday Garth on FALCON CREST. When Carlos asks if he still plans to go through with the wedding, Greg doesn’t reply. His ambivalence is mirrored by FC’s groom-to-be, RD Young. After calling off his wedding to Emma at the end of last week’s episode, he changes his mind this week, only to get cold feet yet again on the day of the ceremony.

    No-one’s getting married on DALLAS this week. Quite the opposite, in fact. “Lucy and I are engaged to be married,” insists Casey Denault. “We’re what?! … You’re nothing but a conman. You always were, you always will be!” Lucy snaps back. This brush-off seems almost gentle compared to Sue Ellen’s response to Jeremy Wendell’s proposal: “I would hope that one day in the future you would consider becoming my wife.” “Let me make my position perfectly clear, Jeremy,” she begins, before launching into Soap Land’s most brutal romantic rejection since Michael Tyrone destroyed Lute Mae Sanders on FLAMINGO ROAD. “I don’t like you. You make my skin crawl when you touch me. I would rather sleep with JR than sleep with you and I’d rather sleep with a carnival geek than sleep with JR. Does that give you any idea as to where you rank in my affections? … As bad as my life is right now, it can only improve with you out of it.” Such is the harshness of this speech that it has the effect of making Wendell, one of the genre’s coldest and creepiest characters, appear fleetingly sympathetic.

    At the beginning of this season’s KNOTS, Harold Dyer shot dead his Uncle Manny in order to save the life of Mack Mackenzie. On last week’s DALLAS, Carter McKay did the same thing to foreman Fred Hughes to save Bobby Ewing. Both men’s actions clearly indicated a desire to renounce his criminal past and start over. But then things went sideways — Harold was arrested on a drugs charge and McKay went back on his word almost immediately when he publicly informed the Ewings of his plan to continue harassing them until they sold him Section 40 of Southfork. Both situations are finally resolved this week, but it takes some credulity-stretching behaviour by our regular characters (not dissimilar to Bobby’s Jack Bauer-style heroics last week) to get us there.

    First off, KNOTS LANDING’s Olivia Cunningham is transformed from teen airhead into Soap Land’s least likely amateur sleuth, quizzing both a Lotus Point security guard and her cousin Michael before deducing that her mother must have framed Harold (something about Abby seeing his arrest record before the cops did). The pay off for this contrivance comes in a cracking scene that marks a sea change in both Olivia’s relationship with her mother and her own evolution as a character. A self-satisfied Abby is soaking in the bubbliest bubble bath you’ve ever seen when Olivia confronts her with her discovery. Instead of the sulky petulance and strident yelling we’re used to, Olivia remains calm and reasonable, even as she blackmails her mom: “We’re gonna go ahead and get engaged … We expect your blessing and if we don’t get it, I’m gonna tell the whole world that you planted the cocaine in Harold’s locker … That would bump your wedding off the front page, wouldn’t it?” Conversely, the ordinarily cool and collected Abby is now so furious that she can barely bring herself to even look at Olivia. “You see? I am your daughter,” Olivia concludes. “I just don’t want the things that you want.”

    Meanwhile, DALLAS goes a bit SCOOBY DOO as we learn that McKay and the Ewings have secretly joined forces to outwit Jeremy Wendell. In his final ever scene, DALLAS’s shrewdest villain is ultimately outwitted by those meddling pensioners, Miss Ellie and Clayton, who goad him into bragging about how far he was willing to go to destroy them (“I told Hughes to kill anyone who stood in my way”). Next thing we know, Jeremy is being dragged away by the police, Angelica Nero-style. “We’ve got enough on tape to arrest you on a dozen charges!” they crow.

    As Wendell is arrested on DALLAS, the drug charges are dropped against Harold on KNOTS. He attends Abby and Greg’s wedding as Olivia’s guest, unaware that the bride was the one who framed him in the first place. McKay, meanwhile, is invited to dinner at Southfork. (The newfound bonhomie between him and the family means that, confusingly, there are now two characters in the Ewingverse who answer to the nickname of Mack.) While Abby is icily polite to Harold at the wedding, Mack receives a more openly hostile greeting from Bobby’s dinner date, his own daughter Tracey. “Leave me alone!” she yells at him.

    Meanwhile, at Emma’s wedding on FALCON CREST, Nick Agretti and Cookie Nash are no happier to see Pilar on Lance’s arm than Abby is to see Olivia on Harold’s. Whereas Nick, who has quietly fallen for Pilar, does his best to mask his disappointment, Cookie, who has been sleeping with Lance on the sly, makes a point of blanking her — before pretending to struggle to pronounce her last name (another example of the casual racism running through the Tuscany Valley this season).

    Mack Mackenzie and Bobby Ewing each tries to repay the man who saved his life by putting in a good word on his behalf. Whereas Mack’s appeal to Abby (“Let’s give Harold a little credit for wanting to change his life … He’s a good guy”) ultimately has little effect, Bobby has more success in persuading Tracey to give her father a second chance. (“He’s an honourable man, Tracey. He helped us put away Jeremy Wendell and that counts a lot in my book.”)

    Like Abby and Olivia, Emma and Angela share a mother/daughter scene prior to the former’s wedding, but theirs is closer in spirit to the affectionate heart-to-heart between Krystle and Fallon on last week’s DYNASTY. Where Fallon acknowledged how much her step-mother has done for the family, Angela admits to her daughter that “I haven’t always done what was right in my time, but I did what I thought was best.” “I think I realise that — finally,” Emma replies. As Abby did with Karen and Krystle did with Krystina, they then observe the “something old” tradition as Angela presents Emma with the string of pearls her own mother gave to her when she married Douglas. “They’re very lucky,” she tells her. So when the necklace subsequently breaks and the pearls fall to the floor, it can only be a bad omen. Sure enough, the groom-to-be then appears in the doorway of Emma’s bedroom with a grim expression on his face. “You’re not supposed to see me before the wedding,” she says nervously.

    We aren’t privy to the conversation that follows, but we do get to witness an equivalent scene on KNOTS where Paige steals into Greg’s room just as he is preparing to walk down the aisle and tearfully begs him not to. Once again, her pleas fall on stony ground. “What I want is for you to get out of my face and marry some nice white bread guy who will ask you to be a better person than you already are,” he tells her. But it’s what he says next that really hits home: “Look, if we spent any time together, the way you feel right now is the way you would always feel. I don’t think that you want that.”

    KNOTS ends ambiguously, with Greg and Abby meeting at the altar while Paige hovers in the background between them. It recalls the freeze frame from DALLAS where Cliff suddenly stood up in the middle of JR and Sue Ellen’s wedding. Back on FALCON CREST, Emma and Daniel both fail to appear for their wedding. Instead, they leave behind a note explaining that they have eloped. Just as Krystle’s wedding doubled as her departure from DYNASTY so Emma’s does from FALCON CREST. “We’re going to go away for a while,” she writes. “I feel it’s better to start off our future together away from so many reminders of the past.”

    Back on DALLAS, Ray Krebbs is also reminded of the past as he too prepares to leave. “Ray, it’s just not the same here anymore,” Bobby laments. “You going off to Europe, Gary out in California, Daddy’s gone, Sue Ellen, Pam — it’s altogether different.” Add Krystle and Emma to that list and he could be talking about Soap Land as a whole. “Maybe I’m leaving here at the right time — it’ll always be the same in my memory,” Ray replies, perhaps speaking for Soap Land's departing viewers.

    It’s not over quite yet, however. We’ll see Krystle and Ray again in their respective series’ reunions and Emma will be back next year. More immediately, this week’s DALLAS and FALCON CREST both conclude with a long-lost relative arriving unannounced at the front door — JR’s shotgun bride Cally and Ben Agretti’s presumed-dead mother Anna. Whereas Anna, in her chic hat and fur stole, is the embodiment of ’80s soap glamour, Cally is so simply dressed it’s as if the 1960s, let alone the 1980s, completely passed her by. While Anna exudes European inscrutability, Cally is all wide-eyed country girl innocence. As the naive hayseed blonde who shows up claiming to be Mrs JR Ewing, it feels like the joke should be on her (and if this scenario were playing out on FALCON CREST a year ago, you could be sure it would be), but instead, it’s JR’s discomfort that we find ourselves enjoying. There’s something fundamentally joyous about watching Larry Hagman stutter and squirm as Miss Ellie asks him, “JR, did you marry this girl? … Then you own up to it and do the right thing!” “Mama, look at her. You think she’s gonna fit in in Dallas?” he protests. When Cally exasperatedly demands to know “what’s so all-fired wonderful about Dallas?!” she (unintentionally) hits the same irreverent funny bone that Krystle did when she tickled Adam at her wedding last week.

    For all that the town of Haleyville and its inhabitants were stuck in a 1950s time-warp, Cally’s arrival at Southfork seems to herald a new era for the Ewings. Her last line before the freeze frame, “I think I’m gonna like it here”, serves as a declaration of intent in the same way JR’s did at the end of “Digger’s Daughter” (“I underestimated the new Mrs Ewing — I surely won’t do that again”). Bobby was more correct than he realised when he said, “it’s just not the same anymore … it’s altogether different.”

    And this week’s Top 3 are …


    2 (3) DALLAS

    3 (4) FALCON CREST
    Last edited: Oct 21, 2018
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  4. James from London

    James from London Soap Chat Enthusiast

    Message Count:
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    25 Jan 89: DYNASTY: Ginger Snaps v. 26 Jan 89: KNOTS LANDING: Mrs. Peacock in the Library with the Lead Pipe v. 27 Jan 89: DALLAS: The Two Mrs. Ewings

    Will Krystle survive her operation? Will Greg and Abby’s wedding actually take place? These were the burning questions we were left with at the end of the last episodes of DYNASTY and KNOTS LANDING. This week, however, neither show is in much of a hurry to answer them. We’re four scenes into DYNASTY before we learn that Krystle’s surgery took place two narrative weeks earlier and that she’s been in a coma ever since. “Blake, it’s over,” says Dr Walt Driscoll flatly. “Her heart’s still beating, but she’s dead … You’ve got to accept it. She’s gone.” He urges Blake to return home from Switzerland and get on with his life. “So I’m supposed to just leave, not even take time to mourn?” Blake asks. It’s an interesting question — and the point at which DYNASTY’s audacious decision to set Krystle’s prognosis at some unspecified point in the past really pays off. With the honourable exception of the year Karen Fairgate took to mourn Sid on KNOTS LANDING, Soap Land’s never been very comfortable when it comes to portraying the grieving process (Jeff Colby reprimanding his wife Kirby for not being over her father’s suicide on the day of his funeral being a prime example). “Blake, you’ve been mourning her for three years now, ever since I first told you about her condition,” Dr Walt points out. Combine this argument with the terms of Krystle’s living will (“She knew it might come to this and she wanted freedom for both of you”) and it’s clear that DYNASTY has learned from the not-so-final finality of Bobby Ewing’s death and the clunky exit of Pam Ewing two years later and even found a way around the awkward questions surrounding Laura Avery’s decision to die alone, and come up with the departure of a major Soap Land character that gets to have its cake and eat it too — a “death” that feels satisfyingly conclusive while still leaving the door open for a possible return.

    As a consequence, the scene where Blake gathers the Carringtons to tell them that “Krystle is gone [and] I am determined to carry out her wish, that our lives must go on” feels far less jarring than the equivalent moment in last season’s DALLAS where Bobby told the Ewings to consider Pam “a closed subject.” The loss of the family matriarch might be the single most tragic thing to have happened to the Carringtons since the series began, but in the spirit of moving on, Blake goes directly from this scene into a furtive meeting with Dex about an entirely different, more dramatically pressing matter.

    Indeed, now that Krystle is dead on DYNASTY, Greg and Abby are married on KNOTS and the range war is over on DALLAS, it’s time for other storylines that have been simmering quietly in the background — involving the repercussions of JR’s adventures in Haleyville, Jill’s attack on Val and the discovery of the body at the lake — to take centre stage once again.

    DYNASTY’s ongoing mystery, which has already shifted from “Who is the dead man at the lake?” to “Who killed Roger Grimes?”, now expands to include “What else is Blake trying to hide?” His cryptic conversation with Dex provides more questions than answers. “If what happened at the bottom of the lake ever came to light … it would put shame onto the families,” says Dex. “We have to protect that secret,” Blake concurs.

    There’s a great twist on KNOTS, meanwhile, when David Lamb, the guy Jill picked up on the night of Val’s overdose, resurfaces to accuse her of giving him syphilis. (“Do you know how many times I’ve been unfaithful in fifteen years? Once … and I have the stinking luck to do it with a slut that’s got VD!”) Perhaps surprisingly, KNOTS was a little more circumspect than DALLAS and DYNASTY when the soaps started making reference to AIDS and safe sex about a year ago, but it now gives us a lecture that’s practically ‘STDs 101’ — but with a strong sense of irony running through it. Lest we forget, Jill didn’t sleep with David even though he thinks she did. However, for the sake of her alibi, she is obliged to put herself and an extremely pissed off Gary through the indignity of getting tested. In the process, Gary inadvertently learns of Jill’s prescription for secobarbital “and she got the prescription filled the same week she went to San Francisco,” he tells Mack. Watching them finally start to put the pieces of the puzzle together is immensely satisfying.

    Abby and Greg appear only a couple of times on this week’s KNOTS. The first is on their wedding night, which is when we realise that the ceremony must have gone without a hitch. It also becomes apparent that, unlike Richard Channing and Terry Ranson who got married for similar reasons on FALCON CREST a few years ago, they fully intend to consummate their union. “It’s not like we haven’t made love before,” Abby reminds Greg. “Yeah, but that was a long time ago. It doesn’t count,” he tells her. “You mean this is gonna be like the first time — exploration, discovery?” she says provocatively as she starts to unbutton his pyjamas.

    If there’s a certain innuendo in Abby’s delivery of the word “discovery”, it’s pretty mild in comparison to the following exchange on DYNASTY. “As you know, I’m expanding rapidly,” says Dex, explaining his reason for offering Joanna Sills a job with his company. “Yes, I noticed that the other night,” she purrs in reply. For ‘80s Soap Land this is pretty racy stuff and very much in keeping with the ramped up sexiness that’s been on display of late. Likewise on DALLAS, the (brilliant) line JR delivers following a spat with Bobby — “Mama shoulda had her tubes tied together right after I was born” — seems to belong specifically to this era. (It also paves the way for the kind of explicitly gynaecological dialogue we now hear on New DYNASTY almost as a matter of course. New Alexis’s recent putdown — “You low-level vaginal climber" — springs most immediately to mind.)

    Unlike Abby and Greg’s honeymoon, JR and Cally’s new marriage is very much about separate bedrooms. “You’re not gonna sweet-talk me into bed again,” says Cally. “Either you tell everybody I’m your wife or you can just stay away from me.” Whereas Jock encouraged JR to “see to your wife” on Pam’s first night at Southfork ten years ago, Miss Ellie is on hand to make sure JR doesn’t see too much of Cally on hers.

    Greg has another reason to be excited on his wedding night. “Tomorrow morning, I’m finally gonna see what you look like without your eye makeup,” he tells Abby. It’s not like we haven’t seen Abby without her eye makeup before, but maybe that was so long ago it doesn’t count either. Ultimately, she manages to keep one step ahead of both Greg and the cameraman when she steps out of the shower the following morning mascara intacta.

    Makeup — or more specifically, makeovers — play a specific role on this week’s DYNASTY and DALLAS as well. Just as Sable insisted on glamorising a reluctant Virginia prior to Krystle and Blake’s wedding, so Lucy volunteers to do the same for Cally in preparation for her first family dinner at Southfork. (She starts by taking her clothes shopping: “I’m gonna teach you the only two words you need to know … ‘Charge it.’”) When Sable presented Virginia to the wedding guests as “the sleeping beauty who has awakened”, everyone was thrilled. When Lucy presents Cally, looking more like a baby fawn disguised as a hooker, everyone is stunned.

    Cally’s fish-out-of-water situation is funny — it’s not every day you see a Ewing wife reminiscing fondly about pig-feeding or searching for the nearest laundry tub — but it’s not Cally herself we are laughing at. Well, OK, maybe it is — especially when she tries to sit down in that too tight, too low-cut black dress Lucy has wickedly picked out for her (a moment reminiscent of Karen’s “slave to fashion” faux pas on last season’s KNOTS) — but we’re rooting for her nonetheless. She may be a cornpone archetype on paper, but she’s also as vulnerable and real a character as anyone else in Soap Land right now. And while the tone of her storyline is as lighthearted as DALLAS has ever been, the behaviour of nearly all the remaining Ewings is reassuringly in character. By tarting Cally up, Lucy is revelling in the family’s embarrassment just as she did when Bobby first brought Pam back to the ranch and she encouraged Ray to kiss the bride. As for JR, his reaction to seeing his new wife so gaudily attired is the same as when Sue Ellen tried to impress him with sexy lingerie back in the mini-series. “What the hell is that?” he asks in dismay before running for the hills: “Mama, I’ll be having dinner in town tonight.” Most resonant of all is Miss Ellie bestowing on Cally the same lecture she gave Pam in Season 1: “The Ewing men are very tough and the Ewing women have to be even tougher. I had to take a horsewhip to the boy’s father before he’d do right by me and you may have to do the same thing.” I really love how the horsewhip tale recurs all the way through the Ewing saga: from “Old Acquaintance” in ’78 to “The Early Years” in ’86 to this episode in ’89 to, albeit less directly, Cally’s reappearance as a middle-aged woman at JR’s memorial service in 2013.

    Interestingly, the one Ewing who doesn’t react to Cally’s arrival as one might expect is Bobby. In place of moral indignation at JR having taken advantage of an innocent young girl there’s a kind of amused detachment, as if he were a viewer watching at home. This results in some fun exchanges between the brothers. “She’s nothing but a little hillbilly,” JR insists. “She’s hillbilly with a marriage license,” counters Bobby. “Well, I’m gonna take care of that soon enough,” JR replies. “Yeah, I guess you’re right — divorcing her would be a lot kinder than staying married to her,” quips Bobby. This last line is essentially a jokier version of the point Greg made to Paige just before his wedding to Abby last week: “If we spent any time together, the way you feel right now is the way you would always feel.”

    Back on DYNASTY, cousin Virginia undergoes a second makeover in as many episodes, but this time it’s all her own handiwork. After exhibiting an unexplained hostility towards Dex, she shows up at his apartment. “You really don’t remember, do you?” she asks him. While he is distracted by a phone call, she swiftly applies some Abby-style eye makeup, redoes her hair and slips off her raincoat to reveal a dominatrix-style variation on Cally’s tight black dress. “Do you remember now? … I used to call myself Ginger,” she pouts. Dex’s slack-jawed response suggests that he certainly does remember.

    As if one redheaded relative who answers to the name of Virginia was not enough, another arrives in Soap Land this week — Val’s Aunt Ginny Bea on KNOTS. Like her DYNASTY namesake she has secrets, but hers involve homemade cookies and beat poets rather than prostitution and eating out of trashcans. The cookies are those she’s been feeding to Bobby and Betsy on the sly, while her claim that she has never previously visited California turns out to be a fib. “I visited California in the fifties,” she admits to Karen. “I used to listen to Ginsberg read poetry at City Lights.” The real reason for her current visit is to check on Val. “Honey, I didn’t want her to think I was spying on her,” she explains.

    While Ginny has Val’s twins literally eating out of her hand, their cousin John Ross is less receptive to the new relative in his midst. At first, he mistakes Cally for a friend of Lucy’s, but soon learns to follow his father’s lead and regard his new stepmom with contempt: “Don’t expect me to call you Mother … I already have a mother who looks and acts like a mother, not like one of the girls in my class.”

    John Ross putting Cally down feels like a turning point as significant as Olivia calmly standing up to her mother on last week’s KNOTS. Whereas Olivia finally seems to be emerging from her brat phase, John Ross is now entering his. Perhaps it’s no coincidence that these character developments are happening just a few months before Abby and Sue Ellen’s respective departures from Soap Land. Both Olivia and John Ross have been very much defined by their relationships to their moms and without them around, they’ll need to be established as more independent personalities.

    During a talk with Christopher, John Ross admits to a certain ambivalence regarding Sue Ellen: “She shot my dad. But she’s my mom. I don’t know what to think about her.” Needless to say, these mixed feelings will carry over into their relationship on New DALLAS. Over on DYNASTY, Adam makes a similarly interesting admission about Krystle. “We didn’t get that close, but now that she’s gone I miss her,” he tells Virginia.

    Elsewhere on DYNASTY, Zorelli endears himself to Fallon when he shows up at her son’s skating lesson and takes a tumble on the ice. This is a near-identical scenario to Bobby and Lisa Alden’s meet-cute on last season’s DALLAS. One might chalk this up to coincidence if David Paulsen, himself a former ice skater, was not the producer of both episodes. This time around, however, Paulsen resists the urge to make a cameo appearance as a skater unsteady on the ice, leaving the prat falls to Zorelli instead.

    Zorelli and Fallon wind up back at his place for a taking-off-each-other’s-clothes scene that’s a more sweetly uncertain variation on Sue Ellen and Nicholas’s breathy strip from last season’s DALLAS. Zorelli’s apartment isn’t as fancy as Nick’s. Its exposed-brickwork-and-dartboard decor more strongly resembles Mack’s new office space on KNOTS — a suitably “authentic” environment for two macho yet caring Italian-American justice-seekers who don’t always play by the rules. Mack’s realtor makes sure to play the authenticity card in her sales pitch: “This is the original hardwood floor. It’s a real neighbourhoody neighbourhood — no strip shopping centres, no big national chains.” Mack’s first order of business as an attorney-for-hire is a pro-bono case on behalf of a group of homeless people, which he wins with ease. (Krystle would surely have applauded.) The bad news is that despite changing his job, he still hasn’t been able to ditch his perpetually gurning, aren’t-I-just-adorable secretary, Peggy, who has replaced FC’s Melissa as the one Soap Land character who makes me swear irrationally at the screen.

    Other Zorelli/Mack parallels: While Fallon nicknames Zorelli Zorro, Mack recalls “a deli that was on the block when I was growing up on New York called Lazorro’s and I played Zorro because I was always ripping off apples and carrots and stuff.” And just as Mack made a song and dance about finding anchovies on his pizza a few weeks ago, Zorelli also proves somewhat particular on the subject: “A pizza should be hot and dripping with onion and cheese and anchovies, if a person likes that kind of thing.”

    Alexis, a no-show for the second DYNASTY episode in a row, is proving to be a more impressive business woman off screen than on. “She has managed to put out most of the fires we started at her overseas offices,” complains Sable. Sue Ellen, meanwhile, appears impressively assertive onscreen, coolly announcing her intention to own and run a Hollywood movie studio. However, she does lose serious business points for rolling her eyes at a guy who tries to pitch the concept of an ATM machine to her (“We’re gonna go world-wide with these Automatic Teller Machines! They’ll take any credit card, any bank card and they’ll automatically compute the rate of exchange in foreign countries!”) “From now on, I don’t wanna see any more people like that coming in for financing,” she informs her secretary dismissively.

    As an heiress with no discernible talent for business, DALLAS’s Lucy serves pretty much the same purpose as Emma on FALCON CREST — to deliver wisecracks at family functions and get her heart broken on a regular basis. As this role is not compatible with a lasting relationship, it makes sense that Emma should be written out of FC immediately following her wedding to RD Young at the end of last week’s episode. Likewise, Lucy’s return to DALLAS must necessarily spell the end of her marriage to Mitch and thus she receives her final divorce papers in this week’s ep.

    Lucy’s too upset to attend the annual Oil Barons Ball which is a shame because it’s the last Ball of the series and the most fun one since 1983 when Cliff was voted Oil Man of the Year and the Barneses and Ewings beat each other up. This year’s party plays like an extended version of the powder room scene from that Ball when Pam, Jenna, Katherine, Afton and Sue Ellen all came face to face. Here, sparks fly when various combinations of female characters who are or have been involved with Bobby (Tracey, Tammy, April), JR (Cally, Sue Ellen, April again) and even Cliff (Tammy, Marilee Stone) interact. Unlike DYNASTY and FALCON CREST, DALLAS has never been all that interested in bitchiness for its own sake, so each of these confrontations feels specific and dramatically juicy. The best of the lot is the first meeting of Cally and Sue Ellen which, in turn, leads to a showdown between Sue Ellen and her ex-husband: “JR, you got that little girl into bed by telling her that I was a drunk, a cheat and I neglected my child!” She then lands a punch on him even more impressive than the whack Sable gives Jeff Colby at the end of this week’s DYNASTY when he accuses her of trying to get her claws into Blake: “Ever since my father had the good sense to get rid of you, you’ve been on the prowl for a new coat of arms.”

    While DYNASTY ends on a shot of Sable seething and KNOTS with Jill looking scared after realising Gary may be onto her, DALLAS concludes with a great freeze frame of the Ball in disarray, with various characters looking or heading in different directions following the news that Carter McKay is the new Head of West Star. “It won’t be long before we’re wishing Jeremy Wendell was back!” predicts JR.

    And this week’s Top 3 are …

    1 (3) DALLAS
    3 (-) DYNASTY
    Last edited: Nov 1, 2018
  5. James from London

    James from London Soap Chat Enthusiast

    Message Count:
    Trophy Points:
    01 Feb 89: DYNASTY: Delta Woe v. 02 Feb 89: KNOTS LANDING: Colonel Mustard in the Conservatory with the Wrench v. 03 Feb 89: DALLAS: The Switch v. 03 Feb 89: FALCON CREST: True Confessions

    There are more echoes of DALLAS than usual in this week’s DYNASTY. For starters, the post-coital scene between Fallon and Zorelli at the start of the ep is almost identical to the equivalent scene between Sue Ellen and Nicholas Pearce last season (following the cliffhanger where they ripped each other’s clothes off). Back then, the hungry lovers feasted on spaghetti; here, they make do with pizza. Where Sue Ellen looked ravishingly ravished, her hair sexily tousled, while wearing Nick’s bathrobe, Fallon looks even better in just her red underwear. All is well until it becomes apparent that Fallon, like Sue Ellen before her, isn’t planning to stay the night. At this point, Zorelli, just as Nicholas did, cops an attitude and suggests that she had an ulterior motive for going to bed with him in the first place. Whereas Nick accused Sue Ellen of using him to make JR jealous, Zorelli reckons Fallon did the deed to get her father off the hook for murder: “You were hoping that if you and I got together, then I wouldn’t be so hard on your old man.” During a later phone conversation with Zorelli, Blake suggests that the shoe is on the other foot: “I will not tolerate you using my family!”

    There are similar accusations at the start of this week’s DALLAS. Arriving back at April’s condo after the Oil Barons Ball, JR makes it clear he expects to sleep with her, even though he is now married to Cally. April declines, offering him the couch instead. Then she realises: “She’s gonna think we spent the night together. Is that what this is all about?” “Don’t you think I wanna make love to you?” JR asks her. “Not really. I think you’re just using me to get rid of her,” she replies. Across town, Cliff suggests that Tammy Miller also has a hidden reason for inviting him to spend the night at her apartment (which, weirdly, has the same exterior as Jill Bennett’s place on KNOTS). “I think you were ready to prove to yourself that you didn’t care about Bobby anymore. What better way to do that than to go to bed with me?” he asks.

    Fallon makes it back to the Carrington mansion in the early hours of the morning to discover Adam lurking in the shadows — which is just where Sue Ellen used to find JR when she would return to Southfork after one of her trysts with Dusty or Clint in DALLAS’s early years. The exchange that follows sizzles with the same kind of venomous animosity the feuding Ewings shared. “Well, if it isn’t Cinderella … I guess you got your ticket to the Policeman’s Ball,” sneers Adam. “You really are an ass, aren’t you?” Fallon retorts. “And what are you, Fallon — what would you call the woman who’s sleeping with the cop who’s trying to put her own father in jail?” “A lesson in morals from a man who has none!” And on they go, the insults landing thick and fast. They talk over each other too, as people do all the time in real life but hardly ever in Soap Land (KNOTS being an occasional exception), not least because it makes editing a scene a major hassle. The overlapping dialogue works really well, adding both momentum and verisimilitude to their sparring.

    Fallon’s late night doesn’t go unnoticed by her father either. “I don’t know you anymore, Fallon. My own flesh and blood and I swear, I don’t know you,” he tells her coldly over breakfast the next morning. By the time JR gets home to Southfork (having slept on April’s sofa), breakfast is over. His plan to upset Cally by his absence has worked, but when she asks him directly, “Did you make love to her?”, he cannot bring himself to lie, which is the first indication that his attitude towards her might be softening.

    Back on DYNASTY, even the dead are giving Fallon a hard time for sleeping with Zorelli. The most blatant of the episode’s DALLAS references is the scene in which the three most memorable aspects of Bobby Ewing’s resurrection — a dream sequence, a dead man and a shower — are conflated into one: a dream sequence involving a dead man that takes place in a shower. Fallon is doing her ablutions when she is visited once more by Roger Grimes, his appearance distorted by the steamed-up glass of the shower door and his voice by an echoey vocoder-style effect. “If you really cared for me, you wouldn’t be fooling around with him!” he snarls at her. It’s as mental as it sounds, but also really good.

    Another DALLAS-style scene takes place as the extended Carrington family (which now includes Dex, Sable, Virginia, Jeff and Sammy Jo) gather in the library for pre-dinner cocktails. Adam and Fallon continue to bicker like a blood-related version of JR and Sue Ellen, Virginia throws her martini at Dex and storms off, Blake follows her, Jeff, Sable and Dex each make their excuses and leave, and Sammy Jo is left to referee Adam and Fallon over dinner.

    Sable’s discreet exit comes after she hears Sammy Jo describe the intruder who spooked her at Delta Rho in last week’s ep. She realises that it must be Gibson, the man she paid to dive to the bottom of the Carrington lake (for reasons we have yet to ascertain) at the start of the season. She tracks him down to a motel where she finds him in bed with an anonymous blonde and gives him his marching orders: “You were brought here to do a job. You were paid and very well … Time to go home, Mr Gibson.”

    Gibson, the diver, is to Sable on DYNASTY what Mrs Bailey, the forger, is to Jill Bennett on KNOTS — a loose end who needs to be silenced before they can incriminate her. While Sable rams her point home by threatening Gibson with his own knife, Jill does something far worse to Mrs Bailey — but we aren’t told precisely what. Just as DYNASTY ends with an exchange of gunfire between Gibson and Sammy Jo, each of them falling to the ground after being shot, KNOTS also concludes with a life hanging in the balance. Mack and co. discover Mrs Bailey lying in a hospital bed in some kind of catatonic state, unable to answer any of their questions about Jill. “She’s not going to recover,” says Frank. Cut to Jill eavesdropping in the hallway, smirking triumphantly.

    There are no exterior scenes in this week’s DYNASTY, presumably for budgetary reasons, but such limitations work to the show’s advantage. In the same way that Alexis’s continued absence adds to her stature, the resultant hemmed-in, claustrophobic atmosphere only increases the episode’s tension. Again, I’m reminded of early era DALLAS where, towards the end of a season, the show would become increasingly studio-bound just as the dramatic stakes were getting higher.

    While DYNASTY looks inward, the KNOTS and FALCON CREST universes expand. KNOTS does a nice line in one-scene characters as Mack and Frank, during their search for Mrs Bailey, encounter an assortment of her neighbours, past and present, each of whom manage to make an impression in the space of a few screen minutes. My favourite is an eccentrically cantankerous landlord who, upon seeing through Mack’s claims to be Mrs B’s nephew who ran away to sea, calls him a bird brain. FC, meanwhile, introduces some new tertiary characters, one of whom, Cookie Nash’s father Justin, is played by DYNASTY’s dead major-domo, Joseph. Whereas Joseph was vehemently against his daughter Kirby getting involved with a Colby or Carrington, Justin is as eager to marry Cookie off to Lance as Angela is. While Kirby first arrived on DYNASTY after breaking up with a man called Jean Pierre, Cookie hasn’t “slept with anyone since Jean Claude left me. That was six months ago.” Or so she tells Lance when he asks if he is really the father of the baby she is carrying.

    “Any woman who builds her life around her husband is headed for disaster,” declared Sue Ellen on DALLAS a couple of years ago. Exchange the word “husband” for “man” and there’s no shortage of Soap Land gals who have yet to heed her warning. Take Tommy Ortega’s girlfriend Kelly on FALCON CREST, for example. We met her briefly a few weeks ago, but this week’s ep is our first opportunity to see how desperately needy she is. She’s clearly threatened by Tommy’s newfound fulfilment in his work at the Tuscany Herald. “You’ve got a job that you love and that’s great,” she lies. “I have a man that I love and I wanna be with him … Work doesn’t have to be your whole life.” There’s something heartbreaking about the way she clings onto him even as she realises that in doing so, she’s actually driving him away. “Is there somebody else?” she asks. “No,” he replies — but it’s not true. In a gender reversal of the May/December romances between Cally and JR, and Paige and Greg, Tommy has quietly fallen for his boss, Maggie Channing. And as with Peter Richards’ infatuation for Sue Ellen, his feelings are writ large for everyone to see.

    Whereas FC’s Kelly is stuck in a small-town dead-end job, KNOTS LANDING’s Jill is a successful attorney — at least by day. By night, she’s even more unhealthily obsessed by a man than Kelly is. In fact, her behaviour more closely resembles Ray Krebbs’ spurned girlfriend-turned-stalker Connie from last season’s DALLAS. We see her spying on Gary through the window of his house then letting herself in when he’s not there. While Kelly brings up the subject of marriage to a reluctant Tommy, Jill goes so far as to buy and then wear a wedding dress in preparation for her and Gary’s nonexistent big day. (After her thrillingly original campaign against Val at the end of last season, such behaviour feels a tad psycho-for-beginners.)

    Unlike Kelly and Jill, DALLAS’s Cally has already married the object of her desire. She just needs him to acknowledge the fact. To that end, she turns to her predecessor for advice. “To JR, the chase is more important than anything,” Sue Ellen explains. “You have to tease him and tantalise him … The more he can’t have you, the more he’s gonna want you.” As Sue Ellen and Bobby have already stated, we know that Cally “would be better off just forgetting about the marriage and going on back home”, yet we’re still rooting for her to achieve her goal. To borrow Cally’s own phrase, “That’s kind of sick, ain’t it?”

    Jill and Cally each subsequently succeed in turning the tables on her respective Ewing man. When Gary, hoping to find “something that would prove … one way or the other” her involvement in Val’s overdose, is apprehended breaking into Jill’s apartment, she seizes the opportunity to accuse him of harassment: “Gary, can’t you see yourself? You’re acting crazy!” Meanwhile at Southfork, once Cally remembers to leaves her bedroom door open while she’s trying on a pair of silk stockings, JR quickly becomes the one who’s getting hot and bothered over her.

    Sable Colby and JR Ewing each conduct business in a den of vice this week. From behind a one-way mirror in a gambling club (“a temple for illegal pursuits”), Sable and Dex observe Fritz Heath, Colby Co’s controller, “happily racking up debt after debt with no idea that we both have him in our crosshairs … He’s like a science project. Let’s dissect him, shall we?” Meanwhile, JR meets Rattigan, his younger, more physically imposing Harry McSween replacement, in a daytime titty bar — a kind of televisual precursor to Tony Soprano’s Bada Bing, but without the casual nudity. At one point, however, a girl in an itty-bitty bikini dances in front of JR with her back to the camera. After he tucks a wad of notes into her briefs, she removes her top and throws it to him. As Soap Land depictions of the female form go, this is certainly more grubby than glam, but in a way that hearkens back to the DALLAS’s early years. The bar is populated by the same kind of middle-aged male clientele who used to ogle the big-breasted waitresses at the Cattleman’s Club, the show’s original hang out before Soap Land fell under DYNASTY’s designer spell.

    JR’s dancer at the titty bar and Gibson’s bed partner at his motel are both nameless blondes mostly shown naked from behind. We know nothing about them, but that doesn’t prevent characters from referring to them as if they were a lesser species. “Your wit is about on par with your women,” Sable tells Gibson after she has ordered the girl to leave them alone. “You don’t wanna go home with this, JR,” says Rattigan, handing the dancer back her bikini top.

    As the breakout star on THE COLBYS, the decision to bring Sable over to DYNASTY was in one sense a no-brainer. Looked at another way, however, she’s almost the least likely character to cross over. As the ultimate “woman who builds her life around her husband”, Sable’s entire existence focused on Jason and their children. Even after their divorce, she went to remarkable lengths to remain in the family home. How would she, of all people, fare as an outsider in another city in another show about another family? The answer is, of course, remarkably well. But whereas her motives on THE COLBYS were easy to read — everything she did was to protect her family and/or her place within it — here, they are shrouded in ambiguity. Aside from revenge on Alexis, what does she want? And why has she gone to such lengths to befriend the Carringtons — is she after a future with Blake or a tumble with Dex? Or both? And what reason could she have for sending a diver to the bottom of the Carrington lake? Sable’s newly mercurial nature is reflected in her vocal delivery which is both fascinating and ever-changing. In some scenes, her mood seems to shift from one line of dialogue to the next. One second, her voice will be dripping with honey and generosity, the next, it’s suddenly ice cold and full of malice.

    Speaking of unclear motives, I’m not at all sure why Richard Channing spends most of this week’s FALCON CREST in Chicago with Pilar Ortega and a man called Malcolm St Clair while pretending to Maggie that he’s in New York, except that it has to do with banks and consortiums and dummy corporations and takeovers. I’m intrigued, but also plain baffled. I don’t know if that reflects a fault in the storytelling or just my own limited grasp of such matters. Or perhaps we’re not yet meant to fully grasp whatever is going on. We do at least get some kind of explanation at the end of the ep: “We’re gonna have it all — the whole of the Tuscany Valley!” crows Richard to St Clair. The music swells, the frame freezes and it feels like a satisfyingly dramatic end to the episode — even if “the whole of the Tuscany Valley” seems like pretty small potatoes next to “the entire California wine industry”, which is what Richard was after when he first arrived in FC — but I guess times are tough.

    Minor trend of the week: Bosses rejecting their secretaries’ interior design ideas. On DALLAS, Cliff and Jackie bicker over a tastefully scenic painting she thinks “would have looked great hanging in your office.” “… I’m not paying $12,000 for that!” he argues. Throughout this week’s KNOTS, Peggy tries out various trees and plants as decor for Mack’s new office, all of which he rejects. What should be a running gag becomes instead a running irritant thanks to Peggy’s ham-fisted attempts at comedy.

    Krystle Carrington and Pam Ewing cast a shadow over their respective shows this week. “We’re all so fond of Mrs Carrington. It hasn’t been the same since she’s been gone,” laments a touchingly awkward Jeanette on DYNASTY. Meanwhile on DALLAS, Bobby talks to his son about his relationship with Tracey Lawton. “What if Mama came back and you were married?” Christopher asks. “Mama is never coming back,” insists Bobby firmly. Over on FALCON CREST, there’s a sweet little scene where Ben Agretti gets to say the kind of things to his long-lost mother that Christopher will never have the chance to say to Pam: “I always thought that I’d done something wrong and that’s why I didn’t have a mom … I wanted you so much, I didn’t know if I could ever forgive you for leaving me.”

    And this week’s Top 4 are …

    1 (3) DYNASTY
    2 (2) KNOTS
    3 (1) DALLAS
    4 (-) FALCON CREST

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