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 Star

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    01 Feb 90: KNOTS LANDING: My Bullet v. 02 Feb 90: DALLAS: I Dream of Jeannie v. 02 Feb 90: FALCON CREST: Brotherly Love

    The centrepiece of both KNOTS and FALCON CREST this week is a compellingly awkward gathering at the home of each show’s richest and least predictable character — respectively Greg Sumner, aka “a major imperialist exploitative capitalist pig,” according to his dead daughter’s boyfriend, and Michael Sharpe, aka “one of the most influential financial barons of our century,” according to his son.

    Greg’s gathering is a mini-“Noises Everywhere” with added ghosts. It’s a more impromptu affair than Laura’s wake, but again features a disparate group of characters brought together by a death. Greg’s behaviour as a bereaved father has been no more conventional than it was as a bereaved husband so a concerned Carlos calls Paige and asks her to come over. She’s with Tom, who has only just learnt of her past relationship with Greg and thinks she’s still hung up on him, so she pretends she has a work emergency. (Call this karma for Tom telling her the same lie the night he went to Canada with Mack.) While she is on en route to the ranch, Paula arrives to check in on Greg. Carlos tries to reach Paige to dissuade her from coming but gets her answering machine instead. He leaves a message which Tom hears and realises Paige has lied to him.

    So it is that Greg finds himself surrounded by Paula, with whom he doesn’t really have anything in common, but who by virtue of their affair has become his de-facto next-of-kin; Paige, whose feelings for him run deep but who cannot, for all sorts of reasons, fully express them; and Tom, who ostensibly shows up in his capacity as one of the cops assigned to Mary Frances’s murder, but is really there to catch Paige out in a lie. As if this were not sufficiently uncomfortable, the ghosts of Greg’s father Paul Galveston (fresh from haunting that Scottish castle he blackmailed Bobby Ewing into buying for him a couple of years ago) and Mary Frances herself also put in an appearance.

    But are they ghosts or merely figments of Greg’s imagination — a means of articulating the thoughts he is unwilling or unable to acknowledge by himself? Either way, he’s the only one who can see or hear them. It would be cool to think of Jean O’Brien, the Pam look-slightly-alike on DALLAS, existing in the same way, i.e., only in Bobby’s mind, but as if to dispel this notion, he quickly introduces her to Cliff who sees what he can see. “So it’s not my imagination,” Bobby concludes. “Well, if it is, we’re both hallucinating — she is the spitting image of Pam,” Cliff replies. Intriguingly, he later modifies this assessment to, “She looks just like Pam would have after her surgery” — apparently forgetting that she looks exactly how Pam did after surgery when he met her last season. Adding to the mystery, Bobby later shows Jean a picture of Pam, presumably taken prior to her accident. Her immediate response? “It’s me!”

    The Jean O’Brien story is far more interesting than I remembered. The fact that she clearly isn’t Pam immediately throws the focus back on Bobby. He’s pretty much the last DALLAS character one would expect to fall prey to such an irrational, dreamy fixation. If anything, he’s the anti-dream man, the one who informed Pam (and millions of viewers) that “none of that happened.”

    Then there’s Jean herself. Whereas previous Soap Land doppelgängers Cathy Geary and Samantha Ross had an air of mystery about them, at least initially (DYNASTY’s Rita not so much), Jean is depicted as one of the ordinary “us”, as opposed to the rich and powerful “them”. Whilst talking to a girlfriend, she describes herself as “a middle-class Dallas girl who’s been driving used cars all of her life, not exactly what you’d call a prime catch — especially for somebody like Bobby Ewing.” When Bobby enquires about her background, she tells him she “grew up on the wrong side of the tracks” — a phrase Pam used about herself on at least one occasion. She also has a Texas accent similar to the one Pam had in the series’ early days before years of soapiness washed it away. So while Jean may not be Pam’s identical twin, she is perhaps what Pam would have become had she and Bobby never met.

    According to New DALLAS, Cliff is the only person at this point who knows that Real Pam is dead. For reasons that will become apparent in about twenty-four years time, he has chosen to keep this information to himself. His decision is paralleled in two contrasting storylines in this week’s Ewing-verse. On KNOTS, Meg is thrilled to have won a goldfish at the fair. She and Mack bring it home and put it in a tank, but then the fish stops moving. It’s dead — as dead as Mary Frances and Real Pam — but like Cliff, Mack and Karen elect to keep this news to themselves. Instead, they replace the fish with a doppelgänger and Meg is none the wiser.

    What the Mackenzies do for a three-year-old girl with a goldfish, JR attempts to do for an elderly man with a prostitute. Blackie Callahan is a wildcatting contemporary of Jock and Digger whose expertise JR requires in order to locate oil in the town of Pride. Blackie agrees to come out of retirement on one condition: he wants a night with Beth Anne Templeton, aka “the prettiest thing in Tulsa.” The only snag is, as Blackie’s daughter explains to JR, he hasn’t seen Beth Anne for over fifty years. So, in order to indulge the fantasies of “a crazy old man who wants to spend one night of love with his eighty-year-old ex-girlfriend”, JR enlists the aid of a look-not-very-much-alike hooker who greets her trick with the pre-arranged opening line: “Blackie, at last, we meet again!” Blackie is as satisfied with Fake Beth Anne as Meg is with her fake fish, even though he is not as easily fooled. “Beth Anne? You think I’m crazy? That old broad must be ninety if she’s a day!” he cackles.

    When the Ghost of Mary Frances recounts a childhood memory of a toy bird she cherished then lost, only for Greg to replace it while she was asleep (a story which directly echoes Meg’s goldfish saga), is she describing something that really happened or is Greg, as the Ghost of Paul Galveston insists, “making this up — you don’t know what you remember. You wish this had happened”? Over on DALLAS, Mr None of This Happened is having his balloon similarly popped by Cliff who accuses Bobby of “chasing some fantasy.” “Every time I look at her,” Bobby replies, referring to Jean, “I flash back to the times Pam and I had together.” If Bobby is chasing memories, then Greg is inventing them. “If you haven’t got any authentic Norman Rockwell memories, you can always paint a few of your own,” his father’s ghost tells him.

    There’s one more doppelgänger this week: when Bobby follows Not Pam out of the Oil Baron’s Club at the start of this week’s DALLAS, the restaurant’s never-before-seen lobby turns out to be identical to that of the Sumner Group. One almost expects Mort and Bob to emerge from the elevator.

    Over on FALCON CREST, Michael throws a small dinner party to commemorate Lauren splitting up with Richard and moving in with him. This new living arrangement allows the somewhat intense nature of Michael’s feelings for his sister, which have only been previously hinted at, to come to the fore in a storyline falconcrest.org describes as “crazy and disgusting.” It starts off like a slightly darker version of Monica and Jeff’s relationship during last year’s DYNASTY, with some titillating taboo-prodding: Michael telling Lauren that, as a teenager, “I used to wish that we weren’t brother and sister, that we were both adopted from different families and thrown into the same house, that it was God’s way of putting us together.” Later in the ep, he calls her from his office to tell say, “I’m just sitting here with about $32,000,000 worth of business to take care of and all I can think about is you.” But as the episode unfolds and we start to realise how suffocatingly possessive he is, whether or not he’s physically attracted to his sister becomes almost beside the point; this isn’t a juicily sensational storyline about incest, but a grimly fascinating portrait of a man with an obsessive need to control. At one point during his dinner party, he casually informs Lauren that he has made arrangements to have “your name changed back to Lauren Sharpe … That’s who you are now. You’re Lauren Sharpe. Lauren Daniels doesn’t exist anymore.” “I don’t exist anymore?” she asks, recoiling. “Michael, you live in a tunnel and it is a dark narrow tunnel that goes round in circles … You don’t wanna be a dictator, you wanna be a god, a master of the universe.”

    There are two declarations of love this week. On KNOTS, Tom surprises Paige mid-argument with the admission that “I’ve never felt like this before … I’ve never been in love before.” On FC, Genele does the same thing to Richard over breakfast. “I’ve loved you since the first moment I saw you in the courtroom,” she admits. While Paige is pleased, Richard is circumspect. Nonetheless, Genele seems to regard this as an opportunity to turn her life around. She even goes to confession to redeem herself. (Father Bob and Genele in the same scene? It’s like two worlds colliding.) “I wanna start over,” she weeps. “I believe I have the chance to be happy, but I need first to be absolved of my many sins.” And so she joins the list of Soap Land characters trying in some way to escape their present reality — either by reinventing the past (“If you haven’t got any authentic Norman Rockwell memories, you can always paint a few of your own”) or by retreating into it (“Every time I look at her, Cliff, I flash back to the times Pam and I had together”) or by eradicating it (“Lauren Daniels doesn’t exist anymore”) or, in Genele’s case, by being absolved of it.

    Back at the FC dinner party, Michael’s son Danny brings new girlfriend Sydney over for coffee. He is anxious that she and his dad hit it off, but the encounter goes about as well as Greg’s with his daughter’s boyfriend Robert. “You didn’t deserve Mary Frances,” Robert declares. “She caught your bullet. You should have been sitting in that chair.” “You should be put in jail for what you did to Emma,” Sydney snaps at Michael. Greg and Michael react to these displays of youthful self-righteousness sardonically. “I’m not real happy having met you either, Robert,” replies Greg drily. “I’ll have to be content with the notion that you were simply a lapse in my daughter’s good judgement.” “Uh oh, she’s getting angry — get rid of the knives and forks!” wisecracks Michael, referring to Sydney’s recent bout of husband-stabbing. After Sydney storms out, Michael gets serious, ordering Danny to fire his girlfriend from her job at Falcon Crest: “Drop her from the payroll and if I find out you’re still seeing this ungrateful little twist, then you’re off the payroll too.”

    Mary Frances was sitting in Greg’s office chair when she was shot, just as Bobby Ewing was in JR’s when he took a bullet at the end of DALLAS Season 6. Back then, JR was presumed to be the intended target and so he quickly surrounded himself with bodyguards. The same thing happens with Greg now. (The withering contempt with which he regards his security staff is really fun to watch.) But in each case, this proves to be a red herring. Just as the DALLAS shooter turned out to be after Bobby all along, so Mary Frances's, it transpires, was after her. But why?

    Mary Frances’s death, rather like the discovery of Roger Grimes’ body on DYNASTY, is the beginning of a storyline rather than the climax of one. Greg finds a fake passport and a notebook full of indecipherable data amongst her belongings. In an enigmatic yet touching end to the ep, Mary Frances (or the spectre thereof) appears to her father one last time and listens patiently as he lays out the questions her death has left him with: “What were you doing that got you killed? What was in that notebook? What were you doing in my computer …? What were you researching? I run one of the largest privately held corporations in the world, I can’t even begin to estimate my net worth, and I can walk the streets at night. You? You run around the globe with a dirty duffel bag to your name and somebody wants you dead — you, not me. What were you doing?” Without replying, Mary Frances slowly fades away.

    Guest of honour at Michael’s dinner is an old high school buddy, Joey Walts. Like Guzzler Bennett, Bobby’s pal in “Fallen Idol” (DALLAS Season 1), Joey was a sporting hero in his youth who has never recaptured his former glory (“We all just stood there staring at you, wishing we were you — it was biblical,” Michael recalls). Again like Guzzler, he has since fallen on hard times and is now reaching out for financial backing for a new business venture. So too is James Beaumont on DALLAS. Whereas James is pitching “an upscale, extremely trendy New York-style bistro”, we’re never told directly what Joey’s project is. While James promises a couple of good old boy Texas bankers that “this is the best investment you’ll ever make”, Joey assures Michael that his is “an idea whose time has come … The franchise possibilities are international.” It’s clear that Michael derives some satisfaction from seeing his former hero coming to him hat in hand, while the DALLAS bankers quickly lose interest in James’s proposition once they realise the rest of the Ewings aren’t involved (“The only reason we even agreed to this meeting is we thought we were doing business with JR”). Michael, however, agrees to help Joey out — on his terms. “This deal will work if I make it work … Companies don’t make me, I make companies,” he crows.

    But then Michael slowly becomes fixated on the idea that Joey is sleeping with his sister behind his back. (“Thinking you’d slip her one while you were in town, is that it?”) When he finds they’ve had lunch together without telling him, he loses it completely and tells Joey at the last minute that the deal is off. When Joey tries to salvage their twenty-five year friendship, he yells at him to get out. By the end of the episode, Michael has lost Lauren too. “I have just got to get away from you,” she tells him. “You are a deeply disturbed person and you need help … I am not a thing you can own, I am just a person who happens to be your sister … YOU CANNOT OWN ME!”

    There is further financial disappointment on KNOTS when Harold, who’s gotten himself into hot water over some gambling debts, asks Mack for a $13,000 loan. Not realising how serious the situation is, Mack turns him down.

    “No wonder this city’s falling apart,” huffs James, after the bank declines his proposition. His pessimism is shared throughout Soap Land. “These are sad days for Dallas,” Jean O’Brien’s realtor boss tells Bobby. “We’re putting up more houses than we can sell. It’s like living in a ghost town.” “Wineries are going under all the time these days,” echoes Joey on FALCON CREST.

    When a disillusioned Cally complains to James about JR (“I don’t have to worry about him and other women, I have to worry about him and Ewing Oil!”), she joins a long line of Soap Land wives who have found themselves playing second fiddle to their husbands’ work. “Your damn all-consuming business was your mistress,” Alexis once told Blake. “I was closer to you, closer to the core of your life, when I was your secretary,” Krystle once told Blake. And although Pam once conceded that “Bobby’s never been unfaithful to me”, Sue Ellen was quick to point out it was “because he has a new mistress, Pam — Ewing Oil. It’s the same mistress that JR has.”

    Minor trend of the week: Random presidential references. On FALCON CREST, Lauren jokingly accuses Michael of being “knee-deep in some of the most amoral, shameless business deals since the Teapot Dome scandal.” Having no idea what a teapot dome scandal could be, I googled it. According to Wikipedia, it was “a bribery scandal involving the administration of United States President Warren G. Harding from 1921 to 1923.” Over on DALLAS, Blackie Callahan refers to the incumbent President, George Bush Sr (like Blackie, a former Texas wildcatter) as an old friend: “To quote an old oilfield buddy of mine, ‘Read my lips’ — there is oil under Buck Flat.” Granted, it’s not quite Alexis Colby reminiscing about Portofino with Henry Kissinger, but still.

    And this week’s Top 3 are …

    1 (1) KNOTS LANDING
    2 (2) FALCON CREST
    3 (3) DALLAS
     
    Last edited: May 24, 2019
  2. James from London

    James from London Soap Chat Star

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    08 Feb 90: KNOTS LANDING: The Ripple Effect v. 09 Feb 90: DALLAS: After Midnight

    Val drives out to Gary’s ranch at the start of this week’s KNOTS to tell him of her marriage to Danny, but he already knows. Given that their elopement took place three episodes ago (the third quickie wedding of the season following Emma and Charley’s on FALCON CREST and Carter McKay and Rose’s on DALLAS), this isn’t very surprising. It’s indicative of how eventful KNOTS has been of late that Val’s new marriage only becomes a front-burner storyline this week. Over on DALLAS, Bobby wakes April up in the middle of the night with some equally controversial news. “I’m caught up in something and it’s something that I have to finish,” he begins. Like Gary, April’s not completely clueless either. “Does this have anything to do with that woman, the one that looks like Pam?” she asks. Whereas Gary reacts wearily to Val’s news (“I did not elope to hurt your feelings,” she insists. “Oh great, you’re worried about my feelings but you’re not worried about your own safety,” he replies drily), April is borderline hysterical when Bobby asks her to be patient with him while he works things out. “April, please wait for me!” he pleads. “Who do you think I am — St April the Martyr?!” she asks him incredulously. “I have to deal with this 'getting over Pam' crap?!” Bobby is also in an unusually emotional state in this scene. In fact, I don’t think we’ve ever seen him so highly strung, not even after Pam’s accident. It’s as if meeting Pam’s lookalike has triggered a kind of delayed reaction to her disappearance. The scenes between Val and Gary, and Bobby and April end similarly, with Gary and April each unwilling to let the other two off the hook. “For the first time in my life, I’m really happy. Doesn’t that mean anything?” Val asks her ex. “Great, everything’s fine, ‘Val’s happy’ — so what do you want from me?” shrugs Gary. Meanwhile, April is no more impressed with Bobby’s situation than Gary is with Val’s. “I can’t take this anymore! I’m fed up of dealing with the Kay Lloyds of this world and the Pam lookalikes!” she wails.

    Back at the cul-de-sac, Karen and Mack throw a dinner party to welcome Danny to Seaview Circle. While this serves as a way of integrating “the new stepfather on the block” into the regular cast, for the individual couples in attendance — the Mackenzies, the Williamses and the newlyweds themselves — it’s more of a duty than a pleasure. “I have nothing in common with this guy Danny,” Mack complains. “We can’t ignore the fact that she married the man,” argues Karen. We drop in on the Mackenzie house throughout the evening to see how the party is progressing. These scenes are a great example of what Tommy K wrote on his blog about how mundane domestic tasks work best on KNOTS when they serve as a backdrop to a more dramatically significant issue: “There had to be something simmering sub-textually that the actors could play.” In this case, underlying the social obligation of welcoming a new arrival to the neighbourhood is the unspoken question: “Can this new arrival be trusted in light of the allegations made against him by his ex-wife?” When the party starts, there is a degree of awkwardness, but as the evening wears on and Danny develops in confidence, out come his funny stories and everyone starts warming to him. Initial misgivings are forgotten and they all seem to be having a good time. Then, over post-dinner drinks, Danny makes an off-the-cuff, lighthearted remark about the twins needing “a few good whacks on the old behind.” This acts as a psychological warning for Karen in the same way as holding Danny’s watch to her forehead served as a psychometric one for Aunt Ginny a few weeks ago. She keeps up the social niceties for the rest of the party, but once the last guest has gone, she and Mack turn and look at each other. “He did everything Gary said he did,” she says gravely. Mack has an equivalent epiphany of his own later in the episode about Tom Ryan: “Our man’s a dirty cop!” Both moments are hugely satisfying payoffs we didn’t even realise we’d been waiting for.

    Out of all his employees in the Sumner Group, Greg entrusts the task of finding out what his recently murdered daughter was looking for in his computer to Michael Fairgate. There’s something oddly moving about the show’s most jaded character putting so much faith in its most innocent one. What Michael finds out — something to do with the shipping of dangerous chemicals — links Mary Frances’s death back to Oakman Industries. Greg is mulling over this revelation on a sidewalk (“Oakman Industries is like a B-movie monster,” he says to Paula, “it’s always showing up, always haunting me”) when he suddenly emits a muted “ow!”, as if he’s just stubbed his toe, and then falls to the ground. Only then do we see the blood on his shirt. If anyone in Soap Land can get shot in a casually understated way, it’s Greg Sumner.

    Two supporting characters depart KNOTS this week — Amanda Michaels and Harold Dyer. Whereas Amanda’s performance has always been a bit dull (which, in fairness, works for her mousy character), Harold’s innate wit and ability to turn on a dime from humour to explosive anger has enriched every scene he’s been in. Nonetheless, both farewells feel equally poignant. After finally standing up to Danny (“Drop dead, you slimy son of a bitch”), and then introducing Gary to the concept of condom jewellery, Amanda exits the way she arrived, over the phone. “I wanna get on with my life,” she explains tearfully. “You’re the best phone pal a person ever had. Goodbye, Gary.” Harold, meanwhile, following a botched attempt to blackmail Tom Ryan, learns of a tidy sum of money Olivia has kept hidden from him. He steals it, pays off his debtors and hops the next bus to Miami. Over on DALLAS, April also threatens to leave town after coming down with a bad case of the Bobby Blues (“Since we broke up, I just hate it here”). She is eventually persuaded to stay, at least temporarily, by Michelle, but I’m not sure I would have been all that heartbroken if she had left.

    When April first arrived in Dallas, she was as much fun as Harold, but somewhere along the line, she became as drippy as Amanda, and even though the distinguishing feature of her and Bobby’s relationship has been their shared sense of humour, the jokiness between them has often felt laboured. That said, the pair act their hearts out during the “getting over Pam crap” scene — both actors end up in tears and I think I spotted some actual snot leaking from April’s nose. As couples-in-crisis scenes go, however, it pales in comparison to a blisteringly good one on KNOTS where, after catching him out in yet another lie, Paige ruthlessly interrogates Tom (“Maybe if I look long and hard enough into your eyes, I’ll see them flicker or dilate or something when you lie to me”) before coldly informing him that “it’s over … I am not interested in your stories anymore.” “… I love you!” he yells angrily. “Oh Tom, you said that very well,” she replies coolly. “Your eyes didn’t even flicker. Maybe it is the truth, but how could I ever tell?”

    As one Ewing romance with an unlikely premise ends (Gary and Sally’s Friend), another begins. In spite of Bobby telling April that “there’s nothing between us, it’s not a relationship”, he accepts an invitation to Jeanne O’Brien’s apartment where he finds her wearing a copy of one of Pam’s old dresses. He then allows her to seduce him. Although Jeanne is clearly taking advantage of Bobby’s fixation (“Hey look, if he’s got a thing about his ex-wife then why shouldn’t I use it?”), DALLAS does not portray her as either your average Soap Land gold digger or as a mentally unstable stalker along the lines of Connie, Ray’s one night stand who cut her hair to look like Jenna’s and then stabbed him. Instead, Jeanne is depicted as an ordinary working girl who has been offered a once-in-a-lifetime golden ticket to the right side of the tracks: “He is so fascinated by me. I keep thinking that the clock is gonna stroke twelve and he’s gonna snap out of it.”

    Whereas storylines on KNOTS are getting ever knottier — Danny’s assimilation into the cul-de-sac; Mary Frances’s link to Oakman Industries — DALLAS has become very compartmentalised over the past few eps. Almost every central character now has their own storyline: Bobby and the Pam lookalike, JR and Blackie the wildcatter, Cliff and Lesley Ann Down, etc. Even lovers James and Michelle each have separate business plots. James’s brings him into contact with Duke Carlisle, a good ol’ Texas boy who wants to build a racetrack next to Southfork, and his daughter Melinda. (That’s Melinda Carlisle — any nomenclative resemblance to a former Go-Go is presumably as coincidental as JR’s recent mistress Diana having a husband called Charles.) Melinda is a spoiled, sexually voracious Soap Land princess in the fine tradition of Lucy Ewing, Constance Weldon, Fallon Carrington and Melissa Agretti. There seems to be a little bit of Paige Matheson in there too as she tries to enlist James in a game of strip archery, but he declines. “I want you in my bed, James Beaumont, and what I want I get,” she pouts. “Don’t make me unhappy. Daddy doesn’t like that … One word from me and you can kiss your little deal goodbye.” But just as his father once told Sue Ellen that “I’ll be damned if you can come in here and use me like some kind of stud service”, James insists that he is “not some stud for hire.”

    And this week’s Top 2 are …

    1 (1) KNOTS LANDING
    2 (3) DALLAS
     
  3. James from London

    James from London Soap Chat Star

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    15 Feb 90: KNOTS LANDING: The Grim Reaper v. 16 Feb 90: DALLAS: The Crucible v. 16 Feb 90: FALCON CREST: Finding Lauren

    Following on from Greg’s shooting at the end of last week’s KNOTS come the traditional hospital waiting room scenes. Normally, these are populated by concerned family members, but in this case, there is no family and precious little concern. “Greg used to be your best friend … He could die!” Karen exclaims after Mack declares that he has no interest in visiting him. So instead of loved ones waiting anxiously for news of his condition, we have the Mackenzies debating whether or not “the world would be diminished by Greg Sumner’s death.” “I think all life is to be cherished,” Karen argues. “Oh yeah? What about Idi Amin or Hitler?” retorts Mack, giving the Führer his first Soap Land shout out since the DYNASTY finale. (“Does the name Adolf Hitler ring a bell?” Alexis asked Sable.)

    While Bobby Ewing continues to date a woman who willingly dresses up as his ex-wife on DALLAS, Lauren Daniels embarks on her own whacky voyage of self-discovery on FALCON CREST. Following Val’s example in KNOTS Season 6, she leaves her wealthy family to become a waitress in a diner — only she forgets to switch personalities first, and instead of a sweet little town like Shula, she decides to slum it in the scuzziest part of Chinatown she can find. As so often happens when Soap Land ladies venture outside of their glamorous comfort zone, almost every man she encounters is a predator of some kind — all her customers at the diner want to either date her or rape her. To start off with, her waitressing skills are as poor as Lucy Ewing’s at the Hot Biscuit, but by the end of her first shift, she’s slinging hash like Verna Ellers on a good day. Returning to the flophouse where she’s staying, she is approached for help by her neighbours, a Chinese couple, the wife of which has gone to labour. They speak only enough English to convey to Lauren that she must not call for help, which suggests they are in the country illegally, and so she ends up delivering the baby herself. FALCON CREST isn’t interested in this couple or their predicament; they exist solely to make Lauren feel good about herself in the same way that the Down’s Syndrome kids who appeared on DALLAS during the Dream Season were only there to make Ray feel better about the baby he and Donna were expecting.

    There is a different kind of Asian stereotyping on DALLAS when Carter McKay encounters Mr Inagaki, the front man for a highly powerful Japanese investment firm — Abby’s fictional Murakame Corporation come to life. Mr Inagaki delivers a speech to Mack very similar to the one Mack himself gave the Ewing brothers last season. “The days of the American oil barons are over,” Inagaki announces. “You are dinosaurs. I represent the real money in this world now … My countrymen are now travelling by the hundreds and thousands, spending millions of dollars abroad … We are building hotels and buying others, and malls and stores, so these millions of dollars that are spent are spent in our stores, our hotels, and that money returns to our homeland.” Yes, those “damn foreigners” that JR and Jordan Lee were so concerned about taking over their town last season have arrived!

    Back on KNOTS, we are introduced to Dianne Kirkwood, the producer of Karen’s talk show. The two women clash after Karen spontaneously introduces her son Eric to the audience halfway through her show. “You know that I’m your biggest fan,” Dianne begins, “but there is a fine line between being spontaneous and being corny, and that was just a bit much.” Dianne might be a little cold, but interestingly, every point she makes to Karen has a kernel of truth to it. When Karen argues that she cannot be “effective on the show unless I do it my own way”, Dianne accuses her of pulling a star trip. “Star trip — just because I’m interested in the content of my own show?” Karen argues. “‘My show’? -- The programme is called OPEN MIKE not THE KAREN MACKENZIE SHOW,” Dianne points out. Like Cliff’s new image-maker Stephanie Rodgers on DALLAS, Dianne is a big-haired, ball-busting throwback to the kind of female executive who ruled the Soap Land roost way back in Ye Olde ‘80s. Indeed, now that Angela’s in a coma, Abby’s in Japan and DYNASTY’s off the air, Dianne and Stephanie are the only two female bosses left. While Dianne clashes with Karen, Stephanie does the same with JR. “Why aren’t you home fixing lunch for your husband instead of taking up parking spaces?” he yells at her during a parking lot skirmish. “You need teaching a lesson, you truly do,” she tells him in a later scene after he calls her “a woman’s libber” — a term that was fashionable in the 70s but sounds decidedly archaic in 1990. There’s a similar feeling of the feminist clock being turned back on FALCON CREST when Lauren, after half an episode of starring in what feels like a pilot for her own insane spinoff series, returns home and tells Richard that she’d quite like to continue working for a living. “I want my independence,” she says. “I don’t know what that means,” he replies. “Separate bedrooms? … Separate lives? … What about the children?” “There are a lot of families that have both working parents and they do OK,” she explains patiently. This conversation is taking place twelve whole years after Pam Ewing introduced the concept of a working wife to Soap Land. It’s almost like the ‘80s never happened.

    No sooner is Lauren home than she finds herself caught up in another bizarre storyline as Richard takes a leaf out of Bobby Ewing’s book and tries to make her over in his dead wife’s image. First, he buys her clothes that resemble Maggie’s and then drops hints about her appearance: “Have you ever had your hair short? … A lighter colour?” “Unless I’m very much mistaken, most of the places we’ve gone are places you took Pam,” Jeanne O’Brien tells Bobby on DALLAS this week. “Did you ever go there with Maggie?” Lauren asks when Richard suggests they stay at a bed-and-breakfast in Santa Barbara. “Probably,” he admits. “I don’t wanna go,” she tells him. So he books them somewhere else to stay — the place, it turns out, where he and Maggie went on their honeymoon. Whereas Jeanne is willing to go along with the charade (“How else was someone like me gonna have a chance with someone like you?” she says to Bobby), Lauren is not (“What are you doing to me? I’m not Maggie … I can’t compete with a dead woman,” she tells Richard). Both situations come to a head in their respective show’s final scene. Bobby realises that, in order to say goodbye to Pam, he needs to say goodbye to Jeanne. In other words, he’s subconsciously created their entire relationship in order to end it — which makes a pleasing sort of emotional sense. After breaking things off, he leaves Jeanne’s apartment and then whispers into the night, “Goodbye, Pam”, which feels like a much sadder and more significant moment now we know for sure that Pam is dead. Richard isn’t quite as ready to let go of Maggie as Bobby is of Pam. “It would be like having her die all over again, I can’t bear that,” he tells Lauren. “I don’t want you to forget her, ever … I just don’t wanna have to be her,” she replies.

    There are two offscreen drownings in this week’s Ewing-verse. On KNOTS, former Oakman Industries executive Robert Willis is found floating face down in the ocean — eerily foreshadowing the death of his real-life lookalike, newspaper magnate Robert Maxwell, the following year.

    Robert Willis, pension fund fraudster, drowned 1990 in KNOTS LANDING:

    [​IMG]

    Robert Maxwell, pension fund fraudster, drowned 1991 in REAL LIFE:

    [​IMG]

    Meanwhile on DALLAS, we learn that Atticus Ward, a never previously mentioned acquaintance of Clayton, “was deep sea fishing in Florida when his boat went down in a storm.” The Farlows attend his will-reading where another old pal, Curly Morrison, mysteriously drops dead mere seconds after learning that he was to be the principal inheritor of Atticus’s estate. However, the real mystery is: what the hell does any of this have to do with us?

    Greg’s storyline takes a turn for the traditional at the end of this week’s KNOTS when his would-be assassin shows up at Soap Land Memorial Hospital to finish the job, thereby following in the footsteps of Katherine Wentworth, Pamela Lynch, Charley St James and whoever it was that tried to suffocate Alexis with that pillow. “There’s a chance you’ll die from your gunshot wound but I want to make sure,” Mary Frances’s boyfriend Robert (for it is he) explains to his victim, as he injects his IV with poison — Camaride, to be precise — the very product that Greg himself, by turning a blind eye, enabled Oakman Industries to manufacture in Africa where it fatally infected hundreds of people including his own daughter. “I want you to suffer the way your victims suffered,” Robert continues. “Robert Willis, he didn’t suffer much when I killed him today … but it was satisfying. I hated killing Mary Frances, but I had to. We needed the publicity for the cause. Besides, she was dying anyway. She had Camaride poisoning — like you do now.”

    “What I don’t understand … is what are we trying to do with Falcon Crest?” Ed, Michael’s lawyer, asks him this week. He’s talking about the winery, not the series itself, of course, but the question still applies. “I haven’t decided yet,” Michael shrugs. “Meanwhile, it’s a good training ground for Danny.” “It’s a slap in the face to have a teenager running the show,” Ed replies. Long term viewers may feel the same way, but for me, the wanton disregard Michael displays for the legacy at the heart of the series is absolutely fascinating. “I never used to think much about wine,” he says during a great scene with Pilar. “I never drank the stuff. Occasionally, I’d look over in a restaurant and see people performing this silly ritual. I never quite got it. I mean, we’re Americans. We don’t care.” In nine years of listening to Angela speak so reverently and proudly about the many generations of Giobertis who toiled in the fields and nurtured the vines and passed down the heritage, it’s never previously occurred to anyone, friend or foe, to question the importance of it all. Now, finally, someone is saying, “So what — who cares?” As if to counteract such heresy, Lance goes the other way and gets a tattoo of what appears to be the show’s logo on one of his biceps. “Now you’re a warrior,” his tattooist assures him. Pilar’s initial reaction when he takes off his shirt is one of alarm and disbelief: “I don’t understand you! … What did I marry?!” She looks at him as if he’s gone completely nuts. What a difference twenty-nine years make — these days, getting a tattoo is about as shockingly unconventional as applying for a mortgage.

    James Beaumont and Danny Sharpe both stand up to their interfering fathers this week. “I’ve had it — to hell with you and the horse you rode in on,” James tells JR after he nixes his deal with Duke Carlisle. “You are an ungrateful little pup so if you wanna piece of me, boy, come and get it!” snarls JR in reply. Michael likewise accuses his son of ingratitude after he refuses to dump Sydney. “What have I done to you that you should treat me like this?” he asks him. “I gave you a place to live, a car, a job, a whole company to cut your teeth on. I ask one small thing in return.” “… I really don’t feel you have the right to ask that,” Danny replies. “You’re right,” agrees Michael. “It’s always a mistake to ask so I’m ordering you — get rid of Little Lady Macbeth.”

    And this week’s Top 3 are …

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

    James from London Soap Chat Star

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    22 Feb 90: KNOTS LANDING: Wrong For Each Other v. 23 Feb 90: DALLAS: Dear Hearts and Gentle People v. 23 Feb 90: FALCON CREST: Walking Money

    Eric Fairgate makes his last appearance on this week’s KNOTS. In his final scene, Karen watches as he packs to return to his job, sadder but wiser, resigned to the fact that his marriage is over. For the most part, he puts on a brave face (“I’m better off without her … chalk this one up as experience, you know?”), but then sort of crumples into his mother’s arms at the end of the scene. “You deserve to be happy,” she whispers to him. This is immediately followed by a scene between Karen and Mack where she delivers her lovely “I wish I’d raised my sons where it snowed” speech: “They would have known what it was like to have to shovel the snow … feel the cold air, slip on the ice. They could have seen how pretty the snow could be and how dangerous … how inconvenient, how wonderful, how out of our hands. Snow would have been good for them.”

    This is Karen’s (and also KNOTS’) way of acknowledging, indirectly, how unusually meek and mild her sons have always been. As a genre, Soap Land is not especially interested in the ups and downs of conventionally boisterous adolescent boys, and so Eric and Michael have, by default, been muted — made conveniently placid and compliant. Perhaps, if they’d grown up somewhere harsher and grittier than glossy, sunny Soap Land, they might have been better equipped to deal with the slings and arrows of outrageous storylines that now greet them as Soap Land adults. Not only does Karen’s speech — nay, aria — make dramatic use of this genre limitation, but it elevates it into something approaching poetry.

    Fascinatingly, Eric’s ex, Linda, then provides us with the flip side of Karen's perspective. Angered by Michael’s refusal to resume their relationship even after Eric has left town, she also addresses the brothers’ timidity. “You’re afraid of a good idea,” she tells Michael, “you’re afraid to enjoy life, afraid to fall in love. You’re just afraid. You’re as pathetic as your brother.” In a different context, Paula Vertosick makes a similar observation about Greg, Michael’s polar opposite, describing him as “sensitive, afraid of being hurt, so he alienates himself from the people who want to be close to him.”

    While Eric flies the nest on KNOTS, April returns to it on DALLAS, visiting her hometown of Springdale, Ohio to reflect upon her recent bust-up with Bobby. We meet her mother, who was also Ciji’s mother on KNOTS Season 4. Both moms are religious, but while Ciji’s was cold and judgemental, April’s is rosy-cheeked and apple-pie-wholesome, more interested in church socials and “singing some of those good old spirituals” than condemning her daughter from on high.

    Nevertheless, she, like Karen, has her own ideas of what might have improved her child’s life — only they don’t involve snow. “I think you’d have been happier if you’d never moved from Springdale,” she tells April. “You’d be raising kids by now, be married.” She urges her to consider “coming home to a small-town life. It’s still safe here, still decent.” Back in Dallas, Cally is no happier than April — her marriage to JR is going from bad to worse — but returning home is no longer an option for her. “I’m not a country girl anymore,” she laments. “JR’s changed me and now I don’t fit in anywhere.”

    The image we’re given of April’s picture perfect childhood doesn’t quite match up with the character who arrived in DALLAS three seasons ago and was willing to sleep with any man for financial gain, up to and including Jeremy Wendell. There’s a much clearer connection between Genele Ericson’s present way of life and the upbringing she describes on this week’s FALCON CREST. “I don’t need you to tell me what I am,” she tells Danny Sharpe during the best scene of a terrific episode. “Believe me, I’ve had a lot of help getting this way. Men have been coming on to me every day of my life since I was thirteen years old. They say they want me, but they don’t. They don’t see me, they don’t know me, they don’t care about me — just my body, and when they’re finished with it, they move on. You get used often enough, you become a user yourself.”

    While Cally has become increasingly disillusioned about life with JR — this week, he checks into a hotel just to get away from her — an even newer bride receives a rude awakening about her marriage on this week’s KNOTS. After Val puts an end to Danny’s plan to adopt the twins, he first sulks, then apologises, then loses his temper, then turns spiteful and sarcastic, and finally starts smashing furniture — all within the space of one scene. She looks astonished — this is a 180° turn from how Danny has presented himself to her thus far. When he informs her sneeringly, “If you don’t want your husband to adopt your fatherless children, you’re crazy, Val!”, it’s a shame Val’s daughter Lucy isn’t around to point out what she’ll tell her grandmother on DALLAS the following night: “Only poor people are called crazy; rich people are always called eccentric.” FC’s Genele, meanwhile, makes a brilliant observation about the rich: “Being rich might be a consolation prize for not being quite human.” This might just be the line of the week, if not the entire season.

    In the tense opening scene of this week’s KNOTS, a mute Greg eventually manages to convey to Mack that his IV has been tampered with. A subsequent analysis confirms that “it was heavily injected with Camaride … known to cause liver damage, kidney failure, blood disorders.” Meanwhile, autopsy results on DALLAS reveal that Clayton’s pal Curly Morrison did not die of a heart attack at the end of last week’s ep as had previously been assumed. Instead, he too was poisoned. In each case, a man called Robert is arrested for the crime — Mary Frances’s boyfriend, who hands himself into the police, and Robert, aka “Rabbit”, Hutch, who protests his innocence but was next in line after Curly to inherit Atticus Ward’s fortune. Clayton bails Rabbit out of jail, only to later find him hanging from a noose.

    Each of this week’s soaps includes a scene where a male character lays his feelings on the line for the woman he loves. For Tom Ryan, that means making a full confession. “I did everything your father said I did,” he admits to Paige. “I even arranged to meet you so I could find out what your father knew about Oakman Industries … I did these things before I fell in love with you … I’ve changed because of you … I’ll always love you.” For Bobby Ewing, it means following April to Springdale to try and make amends. “I said goodbye to Pam the other night,” he tells her, “and now I wanna make things up to you on whatever terms you want … I love you, April.” “I love you and I want you,” echoes Danny Sharpe, talking to Sydney on FALCON CREST, but in his case, it’s more of an ultimatum: “I’ve done everything I can to prove it to you … Do you want me or not?” Turns out she does.

    Two middle-aged blonde women return to the Ewing-verse this week. On KNOTS, Paige is surprised to find her mother Anne standing in her apartment. “I haven’t been the world’s greatest mother,” Anne concedes, “but I do know the importance of family — I was shocked to hear the news that Greg Sumner lost his daughter.” “It must have ruined a whole afternoon on the slopes,” Paige quips. “Where’d you drop from — Heaven?” asks JR when his favourite hooker Serena walks into his office after an absence of two years. While all Anne has to do is mention Tom by name for Paige to say, “He's too young for you, Mother”, JR blames his problems with Cally on their age difference. (“We don’t have anything in common and I can’t see that we’re ever gonna have anything in common.”) A slice of afternoon delight with Serena helps him put his marriage in perspective (“Why should old JR put up with incessant nagging and punching a time clock?”) and the episode ends with him making the symbolic gesture of scribbling out the ‘Ewing’ part of Cally’s signature on her portrait of him that hangs in his office.

    The “tycoon-defaces-art” theme continues at the start of FALCON CREST with Michael Sharpe unwrapping a $40,000 painting by “a hot young French painter” and then punching a hole in it — in order to access the $1,000,000 bearer bond smuggled within. “I bring these things in every week from overseas,” he explains to his son Danny. It’s some sort of tax dodge I don’t begin to understand.

    This episode of FALCON CREST is a brilliant hour of twisty-turny soapiness. It focuses on Genele who, like Kristin in DALLAS Season 2, is the seemingly ideal mistress who can’t resist pushing her luck a little too far. Having learnt of Michael’s bearer bond scam, she thinks it might be her ticket to freedom. So she seduces Michael’s dweeby assistant Brian — a younger version of Bob from the Sumner Group — into giving her the crucial information she needs to steal one and then bribes a clerk at the depot into looking the other way when she intercepts the next delivery. However, when Michael realises someone’s ripped him off, he puts a tracer on the bond which means Genele can’t sell it without him finding out. Meanwhile, she’s being blackmailed by both Brian and the clerk but doesn’t have the cash to pay for their silence. Desperate, she turns to Richard who agrees to sell the bond on the black market on her behalf. He then double-crosses her by keeping the money and — in his most devilish move of the season — frames Danny to make it look as if he was the one who stole the bond in the first place. Unable to bear the idea that his own son has betrayed him, Michael shifts the blame onto Danny’s girlfriend (“It’s the girl! I know it’s the girl!”) and pays a dodgy looking guy with a dodgy sounding name, Johnny Sacco, to tamper with her car. (“I don’t want her to get hurt. I just wanna send a message.”) Then he arranges to meet Sydney for lunch. Suspicious, Danny decides to take her place — and borrows her car to drive to the restaurant. The episode ends with a waiter delivering Michael the bad news: “We just got a call from the highway patrol. It’s about your son. It seems there’s been an accident.”

    It’s kind of ironic in that in its final year, FALCON CREST feels more like a new series than one that’s been running for almost a decade. Like DALLAS back in its second full season, when it was still writing the Soap Land rules as it went along, FC is no longer afraid to take risks, to explore its characters and see how far it can take them. It’s bold and reckless and not remotely interested in playing safe.

    And this week’s Top 3 are …

    1 (1) KNOTS LANDING
    2 (2) FALCON CREST
    3 (3) DALLAS
     
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  5. Jimmy Todd

    Jimmy Todd Soap Chat Active Member

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    You make some interesting points about Karen and her sons. Was she overbearing to the detriment of her sons? I always liked the character, but many posters here don't view her too favorably. I recall a scene between her and Linda later where Linda calls her out for how she raised her sons. At the time I took it as Linda being bitchy, but maybe she was right. Hmmm.
     
  6. Jimmy Todd

    Jimmy Todd Soap Chat Active Member

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    You make some interesting points about Karen and her sons. Was she overbearing to the detriment of her sons? I always liked the character, but many posters here don't view her too favorably. I recall a scene between her and Linda later where Linda calls her out for how she raised her sons. At the time I took it as Linda being bitchy, but maybe she was right. Hmmm.
     
  7. James from London

    James from London Soap Chat Star

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    08 Mar 90: KNOTS LANDING: Devil on My Shoulder v. 09 Mar 90: DALLAS: Paradise Lost v. 09 Mar 90: FALCON CREST: Vigil

    This week, KNOTS LANDING opens with Val stabbing her latest husband — Danny Waleska — in self-defence (thereby following in the recent footsteps of FC’s Sydney St James). The life of another Danny also hangs in the balance at the start of this week’s FALCON CREST where Danny Sharpe is in critical condition at Soap Land Memorial Hospital following his car crash at the end of the last episode.

    His father Michael attempts to bring his considerable wealth to bear on the situation, just as previous Soap Land tycoons in his position have done. But whereas Blake Carrington would demand “the best insert-field-of-speciality surgeon in the country” be flown in from wherever, Michael favours a more direct approach. “I will pay you anything to save my son’s life,” he tells the medic in charge, “anything. A castle in Europe, a yacht, whatever — you name it.” “Mr Sharpe, I’m a doctor,” comes the patient reply. “I don’t need to be bribed. Now please, let me do my job.”

    Two weeks ago, Anne Matheson returned to KNOTS after hearing about Mary Frances’s death. This week, Anne Bowen arrives in FALCON CREST after learning of her son Danny’s accident. There are several similarities between the two Annes. Just as Anne M knew Mack and Greg in the late ‘60s when the two men were still friends, Anne B knew Michael and Richard in the early ‘70s when they were business partners rather than deadly enemies. Mack is the father of Anne M’s daughter; Michael is the father of Anne B’s son (and also her ex-husband). Although both Annes are from New York, only one is a college professor. There is also an unanswered question about each of them: If Anne M is the rich heiress Karen describes her as to Paula, why do we then see her pawning her jewellery? If Anne B, as she claims, only knew Richard professionally when she was married to Michael, why is enigmatic piano music played on the soundtrack when the two are left briefly alone together?

    While a judiciously applied ballpoint pen saves Danny Waleska’s life on KNOTS, some vigorous earlobe tugging on DALLAS leads Miss Ellie and Clayton to conclude that Arlen Ward is his own twin brother Atticus come back to life and that he is responsible for the murders of Curly Morrison and Rabbit Hutch. There’s more marital sleuthing on FALCON CREST where Lance and Pilar deduce that Michael must have sabotaged Sydney’s car and is therefore responsible for Danny’s crash. When reminded that Arlen/Atticus has an alibi, Ellie suggests that “he could have hired somebody to kill Rabbit.” “Sharpe’s not gonna tamper with the car, he’d hire someone,” echoes Richard when Lance and Pilar tell him their theory. Whereas the Farlows’ murder mystery is disconnected from the rest of the action on DALLAS, Richard views Michael’s involvement in the accident as “a chance to get Falcon Crest back in the family … With the right information, we’ll have the power to make Sharpe do anything we want him to.”

    While Danny S undergoes life or death surgery, Danny W recovers sufficiently from his stabbing to sit across the table from Val at some sort of police hearing to determine which of them is responsible for the stabbing. Val is indignant. As far as she is concerned, she was protecting herself (“This man attacked me!”) and now wants to forget the marriage ever took place. But it’s not that simple. “It’s your word against his,” Mack explains, “and he’s the one who got stabbed.” Unsurprisingly, Danny plays for sympathy: “I don’t know why this happened,” he tells the hearing. “My marriage to Val is the most important thing in my life … I love you, Val.”

    Val and Danny aren’t the only Ewingverse couple to air their marital laundry in front of a professional third party this week. At JR’s suggestion, he and Cally visit a marriage counsellor: “Maybe he can get to the root of our problems.” Cally’s main grievance — JR neglecting her in favour of his business — chimes directly with Anne Bowen’s account of her life with Michael on FC: “I never understood how you could be gone so much and still expect to have a marriage,” she tells him. JR and Cally’s counsellor seems unusually pessimistic about their relationship. “Sooner or later, it was bound to go wrong,” he tells Cally. “I don’t think JR is going to change.”

    It transpires that JR isn’t really interested in making his marriage work. Rather, the visits to the counsellor are part of an elaborate plan to get Cally to leave him. But why doesn’t he just kick her off the ranch? Because that would upset Miss Ellie and John Ross, of course. “My family adores Cally,” he explains to Serena. “Mama loves her like a daughter, my son thinks she’s his best friend … If I kicked her out of the house now, I’d be the one sleeping in the dog house.” This explanation is so weak, even Serena questions it: “Don’t you think you’re overreacting?” It’s as if JR has become so addicted to his own deviousness that he has started inventing reasons to scheme. “When Cally leaves me, as I assure you she will, there won’t be a person on earth who doesn’t feel sorry for old JR!” he crows. But even though this storyline plays like a bargain basement version of his past attempts to drive Sue Ellen off of Southfork, there’s still an undeniable frisson in watching the old master plot against his nearest and (supposedly) dearest. The final scene of the ep where he visits the counsellor's office, supposedly to tear a strip off him for the negative advice he’s been giving Cally, is a hoot. “You’re doing a hell of a job busting up my marriage,” he snaps, before tossing a bundle of cash onto the desk. “Keep up the good work!” he adds with a chuckle. KNOTS likewise ends with a last-minute marital twist — no sooner has Val finished explaining to the twins that “Danny’s not gonna be Mommy’s husband after all” than Danny himself walks through the front door. “I’m home!” he announces with a smile.

    While JR and Val want Cally and Danny gone, Bobby wants April back from her hometown of Springdale. But April’s had enough of living in a soap opera. “If I go back and marry Bobby,” she tells her childhood friend Beth, “I’ll be caught in the middle of all those battles and power struggles. I’m not sure I can do it anymore.” She’s not the only one. In the most abrupt Soap Land departure since Grace McKenzie disappeared halfway through an episode of THE YELLOW ROSE, it transpires that Sydney has run away from FALCON CREST in-between episodes, never to be seen again. It’s a most unexpected turn of events — for a while, she looked set to be the show’s new heroine.

    And this week’s Top 3 are …

    1 (1) KNOTS LANDING
    2 (2) FALCON CREST
    3 (3) DALLAS
     
  8. James from London

    James from London Soap Chat Star

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    08 Mar 90: KNOTS LANDING: Devil on My Shoulder v. 09 Mar 90: DALLAS: Paradise Lost v. 09 Mar 90: FALCON CREST: Vigil

    This week, KNOTS LANDING opens with Val stabbing her latest husband — Danny Waleska — in self-defence (thereby following in the recent footsteps of FC’s Sydney St James). The life of another Danny also hangs in the balance at the start of this week’s FALCON CREST where Danny Sharpe is in critical condition at Soap Land Memorial Hospital following his car crash at the end of the last episode.

    His father Michael attempts to bring his considerable wealth to bear on the situation, just as previous Soap Land tycoons in his position have done. But whereas Blake Carrington would demand “the best insert-field-of-speciality surgeon in the country” be flown in from wherever, Michael favours a more direct approach. “I will pay you anything to save my son’s life,” he tells the medic in charge, “anything. A castle in Europe, a yacht, whatever — you name it.” “Mr Sharpe, I’m a doctor,” comes the patient reply. “I don’t need to be bribed. Now please, let me do my job.”

    Two weeks ago, Anne Matheson returned to KNOTS after hearing about Mary Frances’s death. This week, Anne Bowen arrives in FALCON CREST after learning of her son Danny’s accident. There are several similarities between the two Annes. Just as Anne M knew Mack and Greg in the late ‘60s when the two men were still friends, Anne B knew Michael and Richard in the early ‘70s when they were business partners rather than deadly enemies. Mack is the father of Anne M’s daughter; Michael is the father of Anne B’s son (and also her ex-husband). Although both Annes are from New York, only one is a college professor. There is also an unanswered question about each of them: If Anne M is the rich heiress Karen describes her as to Paula, why do we then see her pawning her jewellery? If Anne B, as she claims, only knew Richard professionally when she was married to Michael, why is enigmatic piano music played on the soundtrack when the two are left briefly alone together?

    While a judiciously applied ballpoint pen saves Danny Waleska’s life on KNOTS, some vigorous earlobe tugging on DALLAS leads Miss Ellie and Clayton to conclude that Arlen Ward is his own twin brother Atticus come back to life and that he is responsible for the murders of Curly Morrison and Rabbit Hutch. There’s more marital sleuthing on FALCON CREST where Lance and Pilar deduce that Michael must have sabotaged Sydney’s car and is therefore responsible for Danny’s crash. When reminded that Arlen/Atticus has an alibi, Ellie suggests that “he could have hired somebody to kill Rabbit.” “Sharpe’s not gonna tamper with the car, he’d hire someone,” echoes Richard when Lance and Pilar tell him their theory. Whereas the Farlows’ murder mystery is disconnected from the rest of the action on DALLAS, Richard views Michael’s involvement in the accident as “a chance to get Falcon Crest back in the family … With the right information, we’ll have the power to make Sharpe do anything we want him to.”

    While Danny S undergoes life or death surgery, Danny W recovers sufficiently from his stabbing to sit across the table from Val at some sort of police hearing to determine which of them is responsible for the stabbing. Val is indignant. As far as she is concerned, she was protecting herself (“This man attacked me!”) and now wants to forget the marriage ever took place. But it’s not that simple. “It’s your word against his,” Mack explains, “and he’s the one who got stabbed.” Unsurprisingly, Danny plays for sympathy: “I don’t know why this happened,” he tells the hearing. “My marriage to Val is the most important thing in my life … I love you, Val.”

    Val and Danny aren’t the only Ewingverse couple to air their marital laundry in front of a professional third party this week. At JR’s suggestion, he and Cally visit a marriage counsellor: “Maybe he can get to the root of our problems.” Cally’s main grievance — JR neglecting her in favour of his business — chimes directly with Anne Bowen’s account of her life with Michael on FC: “I never understood how you could be gone so much and still expect to have a marriage,” she tells him. JR and Cally’s counsellor seems unusually pessimistic about their relationship. “Sooner or later, it was bound to go wrong,” he tells Cally. “I don’t think JR is going to change.”

    It transpires that JR isn’t really interested in making his marriage work. Rather, the visits to the counsellor are part of an elaborate plan to get Cally to leave him. But why doesn’t he just kick her off the ranch? Because that would upset Miss Ellie and John Ross, of course. “My family adores Cally,” he explains to Serena. “Mama loves her like a daughter, my son thinks she’s his best friend … If I kicked her out of the house now, I’d be the one sleeping in the dog house.” This explanation is so weak, even Serena questions it: “Don’t you think you’re overreacting?” It’s as if JR has become so addicted to his own deviousness that he has started inventing reasons to scheme. “When Cally leaves me, as I assure you she will, there won’t be a person on earth who doesn’t feel sorry for old JR!” he crows. But even though this storyline plays like a bargain basement version of his past attempts to drive Sue Ellen off of Southfork, there’s still an undeniable frisson in watching the old master plot against his nearest and (supposedly) dearest. The final scene of the ep where he visits the counsellor's office, ostensibly to tear a strip off him for the negative advice he’s been giving Cally, is a hoot. “You’re doing a hell of a job busting up my marriage,” he snaps, before tossing a bundle of cash onto the desk. “Keep up the good work!” he adds with a chuckle. KNOTS likewise ends with a last-minute marital twist — no sooner has Val finished explaining to the twins that “Danny’s not gonna be Mommy’s husband after all” than Danny himself walks through the front door. “I’m home!” he announces with a smile.

    While JR and Val want Cally and Danny gone, Bobby wants April back from her hometown of Springdale. But April’s had enough of living in a soap opera. “If I go back and marry Bobby,” she tells her childhood friend Beth, “I’ll be caught in the middle of all those battles and power struggles. I’m not sure I can do it anymore.” She’s not the only one. In the most abrupt Soap Land departure since Grace McKenzie disappeared halfway through an episode of THE YELLOW ROSE, it transpires that Sydney has run away from FALCON CREST in-between episodes, never to be seen again. It’s a most unexpected turn of events — for a while, she looked set to be the show’s new heroine.

    And this week’s Top 3 are …

    1 (1) KNOTS LANDING
    2 (2) FALCON CREST
    3 (3) DALLAS

    Maybe. I quite like that there's no clear cut answer.
     
    Last edited: Jun 13, 2019 at 11:23 AM
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  9. Jimmy Todd

    Jimmy Todd Soap Chat Active Member

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    That there was no clear answer is one of the things that made KL such a great show. It's like life. There so often isn't one definitive answer, but rather shades of grey and wonderful ambiguity:)
     
  10. James from London

    James from London Soap Chat Star

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    15 Mar 90: KNOTS LANDING: Home Sweet Home v. 16 Mar 90: DALLAS: Will Power v. 16 Mar 90: FALCON CREST: Dark Streets

    It’s hard to imagine how Jock Ewing would have reacted to one of his daughters-in-law discussing her marriage on a TV talk show, but that’s exactly what Cally does on this week’s DALLAS — and we’re not talking about a respectable series like OPEN MIKE (“the thinking person’s talk show” as it was described on KNOTS a few weeks ago), but the far more tawdry LIZZIE BURNS SHOW, with its provocative host and a studio audience primed to boo and cheer at the slightest opportunity. While Karen interviews someone about compost on this week’s OPEN MIKE, Lizzie Burns interrogates four young women who have married “rich and powerful Texans old enough to be their fathers.” Ironically, Lizzie is played by Susan Philby, Sid Fairgate’s ex-wife, who looked down on Karen so imperiously during KNOTS’ first season. As talk show rivals, they have now swapped positions: while Karen occupies the high-minded Oprah role, snooty Susan is now the lowest common denominator equivalent of Sally Jessy Raphael, Jerry Springer, et al.

    To Cally’s dismay, it soon becomes apparent that Lizzie Burns is intent on portraying her and the other women on the show as gold-digging home-wreckers. At least one of the other wives, Nancy Ann, is only too eager to play up to that stereotype, referring to her husband’s first wife as “a dried-up old Texas matron” who “deserved what she got … It’s a fact of life — men don’t go for a diet of prunes if they can have fresh plums!”

    Women passing judgement on other women is a recurrent theme throughout this week’s Soap Land. “I didn’t realise that women like you still existed,” Paula Vertosick tells Anne Matheson on KNOTS, referring to the air of shameless decadence she exudes. It’s the same air Abby and Alexis used to give off in their first seasons before they started power dressing and taking themselves seriously. “I’ll take that as a compliment,” Anne smiles. “You would,” Paula replies.

    Anne makes an observation of her own: “I don’t see what the big deal is about women in the workforce — nobody seems to be having any fun.” This would certainly apply to Michelle Stevens, who argues loudly with everyone she comes into contact with — her boyfriend, her sister, her contractor — over her and April’s warehouse project on this week’s DALLAS. During an introspective moment, she admits to James she’s plagued by the fear that “it will all disappear and I’ll be on the outside again, my face pressed up against the candy store window. Everybody’s inside, they all have what they want, and all I can do is look.” This echoes what April told Casey Denault a couple of seasons ago: “You’re just all the other bitter little people on the outside — you’re just trying to figure out how to get what you don’t have.”

    Soap Land being what it is, it’s not just women who are criticising women in the workforce. JR makes a comment about Stephanie Rodgers which must rank as one of the darkest lines he’s ever delivered: “She’s the kind of woman a man likes to see kneeling at his feet, begging for mercy.”

    Even Miss Ellie is uncharacteristically mean-spirited when she hears that Arlen Ward’s squeeze (and alibi) Honey North is an actress and model. “Actress and model indeed!” she scoffs. “I can just imagine the kind of films she was in!” I’m pretty sure that’s the first time Southfork’s matriarch has made a reference to porn.

    Two of Soap Land’s wives decide to revisit their pasts this week, incurring their husbands’ disapproval in the process. On KNOTS, Pat Williams’ decision to resume the medical career she was forced to abandon when she entered the Witness Protection Programme prompts Frank to pack a suitcase and threaten divorce. Over on FALCON CREST, the race is on to find Johnny Sacco, the junkie Michael Sharpe paid to tamper with Sydney’s car and whom he now wants dead. Overriding Lance’s objections, Pilar volunteers to draw on her experiences as a teenage runaway and go undercover on Skid Row. (Her claim that she has “lived in the streets, in the dirt” requires some creative tweaking to her backstory. Previously, we’d been told she left the Tuscany Valley as a teenager to have a baby but was taken in by relatives.) This affords FC another opportunity to take one of its rich characters for a walk on the wild side. First, there was Lance playing Scorpion Roulette in Juarez, then Lauren slinging hash and delivering babies in Chinatown and now it’s Pilar’s turn to adopt the homeless-but-chic look. (As ever, Soap Land’s depiction of how poor people live is kind of wonky.)

    It doesn’t take long for Pilar to befriend Johnny’s girlfriend, Mooshy Tucker, “part-time waitress, part-time hooker and a full-time survivor.” Pilar doesn’t look down on Mooshy the way Miss Ellie does on Honey and neither does FALCON CREST itself. When Clayton and Ellie, in their capacity as self-appointed super-sleuths, visit Honey at a photo shoot, they find her posing provocatively in lingerie. So far so Mandy Winger, except that Honey looks to be at least forty. That, combined with her claims to artistic legitimacy (“You may think you’re talking to a dumb blonde with big assets, but I’ve got a BA in Theatre Arts, I’ve got talent!” she squeaks), makes her seem kind of delusional, like a low-rent Norma Desmond or Baby Jane Hudson. FALCON CREST’s Mooshy also has artistic aspirations, but FC takes them more seriously — perhaps a little too seriously. Just as FC’s last hooker, Samantha Ross, was also a photographer, Mooshy turns out to be a painter (of homeless people, obviously). Unlike Soap Land’s current artist in residence, Cally, she refuses to even consider selling her work. “No way!” she tells Pilar. “I do a lot of things for money, sell a lot too, but sell my paintings? That’d be like selling my soul and that’s something I ain’t never gonna do!”

    Back on KNOTS, Danny Waleska’s refusal to vacate the cul-de-sac results in Val, Ginny and the twins decamping to Gary’s ranch until further notice. Danny marks the occasion by throwing Val’s clothes and belongings off the balcony of “his” house in the same way JR did Sue Ellen’s off of Southfork’s the last time she left the ranch. “She’s not setting foot in here again — never again!” Danny instructs his lawyer. JR, meanwhile, is having a harder time getting rid of his present wife. “You hypnotise her or tranquillise her or do whatever you have to do, but get that woman out of my house!” he barks at the marriage counsellor he hired to break them up. Conversely on FALCON CREST, Michael Sharpe is determined to have his ex-wife Anne living back under the same roof as him and their son Danny. “She belongs with me,” he insists.

    KNOTS’ Harold Dyer also wants his wife back. He calls Olivia from Miami to deliver a speech that manages to be both anti-romantic and romantic at the same time. “I hate talking about feelings,” he begins. “I think it’s stupid, dumb, and I wanna gag when I hear somebody say that they’re always gonna be there for you. I wanna ask them, where are they gonna be — on the corner of 3rd and Hudson? But I have to say all those things I hate because I miss you …”

    Even though Karen is the one Abby asked to keep an eye on her daughter, it’s Val to whom Olivia turns in her hour of need. “I, me, Valene Ewing Gibson Waleska of the three husbands and the three broken marriages, I still believe in love,” Val tells her. “I still believe that love is the most important thing in your whole life. So I would still, if I were you, base my decision on whether or not I loved the man.” Whereas Val has been married thrice, April’s mother on DALLAS has been married only once, “to a man who died far too soon.” Nevertheless, she feels the same way Val does. “I’m glad I married him,” she tells her daughter. “I’m glad I had those years with him, no matter how few they were because I got to love and be loved back and you don’t ever want to walk away from that.” This sweet little speech becomes all the more resonant when one remembers how brief April’s own marriage to Bobby will be.

    Olivia and April each act on the advice they’ve been given. Olivia joins Harold in Miami, thus becoming the third young character to depart Soap Land in recent weeks, following her own cousin Eric and FALCON CREST’s Sydney. Whereas Sydney left a goodbye note behind for Pilar and Lance, Olivia leaves a five thousand dollar cheque for Gary — the same cheque she tricked him into signing, but then couldn’t bring herself to cash. April, meanwhile, surprises Bobby not just by returning to Dallas unannounced, but by filling his office with fake snow for good measure. Paige is even more shocked when she walks into her apartment to find her boyfriend and her mother together. “You were practically on top of her and she was practically naked!” she yells at Tom who promptly gets down on one knee and proposes.

    Starting with the freak drowning of Maggie in FALCON CREST, it’s been a remarkably grim year in Soap Land. Since then, we’ve seen a husband rape his wife, wives stab and shoot their husbands, three young characters fatally shot down in their prime and elderly people variously tossed out of windows, pushed down stairs, suffocated, poisoned and even hanged. This week’s DALLAS ends with the most luridly gruesome image in its history: Arlen Ward drowned in his own fish tank, mouth agape, eyes partially open. Nice!

    This macabre atmosphere even begins to permeate the studio of OPEN MIKE when Karen’s producer, Dianne, recounts the tale of a female newscaster she once worked with who was strangled to death by a sexually obsessed fan. There’s a ripped-from-the-headlines quality about this story — such tragedies have occurred in real life — yet KNOTS approaches it with an air of campy black comedy. Dianne is cautioning Karen against becoming too familiar with a particular fan — or she simply trying to keep her in line by making her paranoid? “Maybe I’ll get lucky. Maybe he’ll bring a gun and shoot her,” she wisecracks to her assistant. Later, the overzealous fan does indeed sneak backstage where he is wrestled to the floor, but he then turns out to be a harmless dweeb who has knitted Karen a sweater. Meanwhile, we see another man lurking outside the studio. The episode ends with him watching Karen from afar as she reads a note he has apparently placed on her car windscreen. “You are the most beautiful woman I have ever seen,” she reads. “I would love to have a photo of you … in your birthday suit … My love always.” Karen looks around nervously. At least she’s not dead in a fish tank with her mouth open. Yet.

    And this week’s Top 3 are …

    1 (1) KNOTS LANDING
    2 (3) DALLAS
    3 (2) FALCON CREST
     
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