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

    Message Count:
    2,993
    Trophy Points:
    6,327
    Gender:
    Male
    Occupation:
    Actor
    Location:
    Brixton
    Ratings:
    +5,037
    Medals:
    4
    Gender:
    Male
    Member Since:
    Time immemorial
    28 Feb 91: KNOTS LANDING: Bad Dog v. 01 Mar 91: DALLAS: Win Some, Lose Some

    There are two broken engagements in this week’s Ewingverse — each the end result of a chain of events set in motion by a seemingly unrelated incident two weeks ago. During her altercation with Jason Lochner’s uncles on the Mackenzies’ front lawn, Paige sustained a black eye. Upon seeing it in last week’s ep, Greg barred her from attending a meeting with Mrs Richfield and replaced her with Linda Fairgate. Linda’s resultant workload left her and Greg working late at the office together. One thing led another and the episode ended with her “boinking the boss.” Consequently, she fails to show up for a Valentine’s Day dinner at Karen and Mack’s house at the start of this week’s ep. When she uses work an excuse, an angry Michael offers her an ultimatum: “Either you start leaving your work at the office, Linda, and at a decent hour, or you start leaving your engagement ring on the dresser.” She calls his bluff and removes the ring. Later, they break off the engagement. “Wearing this ring has probably meant more to me than anything else in my entire life,” she tells him. “I’m sorry for crying — it just hurts so much.” Michael insists she keep the ring (“We’ll call it a friendship ring”) and we then cut to her coolly flogging it for $3,000.

    Meanwhile, JR, having sought the help of LeeAnn De La Vega’s vengeful sister-in-law, Carmen, to locate her weak spot, learned that the company Liz Adams inherited from her brother has been leasing crucial drilling equipment to De La Vega Oil. Using information he acquired from Stephanie Rodgers in Season 12, he then blackmailed a senator into stalling Cliff’s new political appointment. This week, he tells Liz that the only way Cliff will get the appointment is if she sells him (JR) her brother’s company. “When I cancel those leases and yank those rigs, one Mrs De La Vega is gonna be sitting on a pool of oil and she won’t be able to get at it,” he explains. Liz reluctantly agrees and Cliff gets the job he so desperately wanted. Suddenly, it’s all going Cliff’s way — he has a new life and career in Washington and is about to marry the woman he loves. But then, inevitably, he finds out about the deal Liz made with JR and from there, it’s basically a rerun of what happened when he discovered Afton had slept with Gil Thurman to get him a refinery back in Season 5. “I did it for you!” Liz insists. “That’s so much crap!” he barks at her. “The one thing I thought I had earned all by myself and you had to get it for me! And you had to give in to JR to do it and he knows it. AND HE KNOWS IT!” So it is that Liz finally comes to the same conclusion that Afton, Sue Ellen, Julie Grey and Mandy have before her — Cliff and JR are cut from the same piece of cloth. “You are just as small and as mean as he is and you’re sure as hell not the sort of man I want to spend my life with!” she tells him. Unlike Linda Fairgate, she sees no value in holding on to her engagement ring. “Why don’t you put that back in the crackerjack box where you found it?” she suggests to Cliff, dropping it in an ice bucket.

    Although JR wasn’t exactly discreet about his adulterous liaisons while married to Sue Ellen, this week James does something his daddy never even considered. After staying out all night (“I was at the motorcycle shop tuning an engine,” he explains. “By the time I finished, that engine was really purring”), he brings his latest conquest, DeeDee, home to Southfork for breakfast. Michelle responds by pushing DeeDee in the pool. So James pushes Michelle in with her. The two women start throwing watery punches, recalling both Krystle and Alexis in the lily pond and Marilee Stone and Jamie at the Ewing barbecue. Then, prompted by his daddy (“You better do something … they’re gonna drown each other!”), James reluctantly wades in to break them up. “Things are finally starting to get fun around here again!” laughs Christopher (this should probably have been John Ross’s line but he’s been mysteriously absent for the past few episodes) and he’s right — it is fun, in a nostalgic sort of way. That evening, Michelle strikes back by bringing her male secretary Derrick home for dinner. This is fun too, but before Southfork can degenerate any further into the kind of “anything goes” free-for-all that Falcon Crest became after its few seasons, JR puts his foot down: “My daddy built this house and there are certain traditions and values that we live by here. I won’t have you making a mockery of them,” he tells James and Michelle. To underline JR’s point, DALLAS has already gone to the trouble over the past couple of episodes of reinforcing the Southfork ritual of a family dinner at 6pm preceded by cocktails in the living room. “If you’re gonna be married,” JR continues, “you act married … or get the hell out.” And with this speech, almost unnoticed, he slips effortlessly into the role of Ewing patriarch.

    But Michelle hasn’t given up on trying to disrupt the family unit. To that end, she waits for JR to return home the following evening and then steals naked into his shower. Alas, the younger woman/older man scenario works less well here than it did for Linda and Greg at the Sumner Group. “You’re a conniving little bitch,” JR informs her, dragging her out of his bathroom. “I finally get my son back and if you think a night with you is more important than that, then you’re also a stupid little bitch!” Fortunately, Cliff’s bust-up with Liz means that he is back in the revenge game and he stops by Ewing Oil to suggest to Michelle that they join forces against her new father-in-law: “I’m about to cut JR’s head off and hand it to him on a platter. I thought you might like to help.” “Oh, I think I’d enjoy that,” she smiles, “and if we get James along the way, that’s fine too.”

    During his storyline with Liz, we saw JR in Cliff’s condo — a rare sight indeed. In fact, it’s only happened once before. Even more incongruous, bordering on the surreal, is the sight of Val stomping around Paige’s apartment, wearing her asymmetrical wig and bright red lipstick, ranting about the whereabouts of “your freeloading gold-digging slut of a mother!” “I didn’t know she knew Mother that well,” Paige later remarks to Gary when he also stops by her apartment — another unusual occurrence. Indeed, Paige has never really spoken to Val or Gary before this week.

    Meanwhile, Paige’s freeloading gold-digging slut of a mother has actually hooked up with Nick Schillace again for another get-rich-quick scheme. Just as Bobby is presently calling himself Bobby Southworth, they too have adopted aliases, Betty and Dimitri. And just as Bobby and Jory have got themselves caught up in a dangerous mystery involving a pawn ticket and a briefcase full of drugs, Anne and Mick are now embroiled in their own dangerous mystery, which involves a doll containing an unknown Maguffin worth $60,000. While Jory is abducted and held for ransom, Anne is held, briefly, at gunpoint. But then comes the screwball twist — remember the recent episode of KNOTS that ended with Anne and Nick staring at two identical suitcases, one of which contained a million dollars and the other a bomb? Well, this ep ends with them staring at a litter of near-identical puppies, one of which has eaten the precious Maguffin. Repetitive yes, but puppies are cuter than briefcases (generally speaking) so it kind of balances out.

    Meanwhile, the dramatic purpose of Malibu Bobby’s generic drugs/kidnap plot becomes clear when he realises that his window of opportunity to save Jory’s life (“They’re gonna kill her if you don’t show up!”) clashes with his only chance to nab Jory’s mother Hilary. Who will win out: Hero Bobby or Vengeful Bobby? Somewhat inevitably, he elects to rescue the damsel in distress (and apprehend the kidnappers to boot).

    Eventually, Jory realises that Bobby isn’t who he claims to be and that he only befriended her to gain access to her mother. Over on KNOTS, Kate now knows that Steve Brewer likewise misrepresented himself when they first met in order to gain access to her mother (who, it turns out, is also his mother). And just as Bobby can’t bring himself to hurt Jory any further by telling her the truth of what Hilary did (“Your mother and I have some unfinished business” is all he’ll say), Claudia is unwilling to reveal the rest of her story, i.e., the identity of Steve’s father. “Why does everyone presume that this is public information?” she asks indignantly. In lieu of an answer, Kate develops her own theory. “She told me that she didn’t have a choice … It sounded like she was raped,” she tells Steve.

    While Jory reacts to the news of Bobby’s deception with mild hysteria — “I cared for you and you didn’t give a damn about me!” she wails — Kate manages to retain her sense of humour in the face of Steve’s. She even presents him with a card that reads, “Roses are a shade of red, my face has turned another. I thought you’d be my Valentine, but it turns out you’re my brother.” This sweet, sad and funny little verse is in stark contrast to another poem on this week’s KNOTS, “A Prayer for Children”, which Mack delivers over a sentimental montage of sick and/or sad-looking children in hospital. Its basic message — that children suffering abuse and other hardships is A Very Bad Thing and there but for the grace of God go the rest of our kids — is something we can all agree on and don’t need to be bludgeoned over the head with. Whereas Jason’s reading from Spoon River Anthology a few weeks ago felt moving and intimate because it arose naturally out of the drama (as does Kate’s Valentine verse), this seems more like a lecture.

    And this week’s Top 2 are …

    1 (1) KNOTS LANDING
    2 (2) DALLAS
     
    Last edited: Sep 11, 2019 at 10:56 PM
    • Like Like x 1
  2. James from London

    James from London Soap Chat Star

    Message Count:
    2,993
    Trophy Points:
    6,327
    Gender:
    Male
    Occupation:
    Actor
    Location:
    Brixton
    Ratings:
    +5,037
    Medals:
    4
    Gender:
    Male
    Member Since:
    Time immemorial
    07 Mar 91: KNOTS LANDING: Gone Microfiching v. 08 Mar 91: DALLAS: Fathers and Sons and Fathers and Sons

    The latest additions to the Mackenzie house and Southfork Ranch are treated in contrasting ways this week. While Karen and Mack do everything they can to make their new foster son Jason feel at home, i.e., making a fuss while trying to make it seem like they’re not making a fuss — James’s wife Michelle finds herself repeatedly left out and made fun of by the men and boys at Southfork. “The famous Ewing men’s club, no women or outsiders allowed,” she remarks upon being excluded from a family cattle drive. “What are you gonna do — slap a sex discrimination suit on me?” JR sneers in reply.

    The tentative way the Mackenzies and Jason behave towards each other is very touching. In a season of KNOTS that’s been uncharacteristically heavy-handed, Thomas Wilson Brown’s delicately truthful performance as Jason has been a saving grace. Moments like the closing scene where he quietly breaks down after the family surprise him with a birthday cake could so easily have been cloying but are instead very moving.

    Although DALLAS doesn’t cast Michelle in as sympathetic a light as KNOTS does Jason (“She doesn’t like kids,” observes Christopher — even Alexis and Angela liked kids!), it doesn’t dismiss her easily as JR does either. We’re privy to moments that the rest of the Ewings don’t see — her sadness as she takes one last look around April’s apartment before putting it up for sale; her admission to Cliff that she doesn’t regard her marriage to James solely as a business transaction (“Maybe it’s crazy but … I really want him to fall in love with me”). In fact, in the topsy turvy world that is DALLAS’s final season, the show’s biggest opportunist is also its major underdog. So it’s cheering when James starts to soften towards his new wife. “You get under my skin sometimes but there’s a lot there to like too,” he concedes. At this, Michelle’s pretty little face lights up — maybe there is a future for her at Southfork after all! But then in the final scene of the episode, a plainly dressed young woman shows up at the ranch claiming that she is James’s wife. And that’s not all. “This is James’ son,” she says, producing a blond toddler out of thin air. “You’re not gonna wake up one day and find out we don’t want you,” Mack assures Jason at the end of KNOTS. “We’re it, pal. You’re stuck with us.” By the end of DALLAS, Michelle’s position is looking a lot more precarious.

    While Christopher likens the squabbling between JR, James and Michelle to “watching the Three Stooges on TV”, Steve Brewer finds Claudia’s story about the circumstances leading to his conception — a college romance with a history professor who was unable to leave his paralysed wife — about as convincing as a romance novel: “Danielle Steel couldn’t have done a better job.” On balance, Steve being a Danielle Steel reader seems even less likely than ten-year-old Christopher being a Three Stooges fan.

    Early on in this week’s KNOTS, Julie Williams broaches the topic of “safe sex against AIDS” with her father Frank. What follows is Soap Land’s most in-depth discussion on the subject thus far. They get as far as comparing latex and lambskin condoms before Julie makes it clear that she isn’t concerned for herself, but for Frank. Watched in hindsight, there’s an irony to this scene that just feels horribly sad.

    Now she’s gotten past her rebellious phase and stopped pointing rifles at people, Julie has become a really charming presence on KNOTS, graceful and self-possessed. She deflects her father’s overprotectiveness, which sometimes threatens to tip over into sitcom buffoonery, with casually understated humour and a lovely lightness of touch. It’s not a quality we’ve seen in any of Soap Land’s previous teen girls.

    While Frank talks about moving on at Pat’s graveside (“Charlotte’s a nice woman … I know she’d be good for Julie”), fellow widower Bobby is also ready to let go of the past. “There comes a time when you have to stop looking for revenge. Caring for the living is important,” he tells Christopher. Frank ends up splitting with Charlotte when he realises he’s more serious about their relationship than she is. This inevitably leads to him encountering a succession of potential girlfriends who are “hilariously” unsuitable — a sequence made totally worth it by the date who stares at him with contemptuous boredom as he delivers another anecdote about how adorably hapless he is.

    This is Episode 350 of DALLAS and the Ewing cattle drive gives the instalment a pleasingly back to basics feel. It also includes another of those "Things You Thought You’d Never See on DALLAS" moments to file alongside Jordan Lee’s phone box murder and JR schtupping Sly: “Yeah, that’s your Uncle JR on a horse,” Bobby confirms. “This is the age of miracles.”

    During the drive, there are a couple of quietly momentous conversations where JR and Bobby discuss ageing and the passage of time, subjects they’ll revisit in New DALLAS. Over a campfire, JR’s thoughts turn to the recent death of Blackie Callahan, one of Jock’s wildcatting contemporaries. “Most of those old oil giants are gone now,” remarks Bobby. “Yeah,” JR replies, “Daddy, Seth Stone … Jordan Lee … even old Digger Barnes. You know, they were young vital men when we were kids. They were the ones who made the Texas oilman a legend around the world … The world I know is disappearing real fast.” As well as the wildcatting world JR grew up in, DALLAS itself and Soap Land as a whole are also disappearing. “What am I gonna do with myself?” JR wonders. “Can you imagine me sitting poolside at Southfork, just day after day?” Here, he sounds more like the viewer at home than he ever has before — just another working man nearing retirement age and facing the reality of his own obsolescence.

    “You and I have spent our entire lives trying to win Daddy’s approval by fighting with one another, neither one of us giving up till we were sure we were his favourite,” Bobby tells him. Exactly fifty episodes ago, when they were trapped in that elevator together instead of enjoying the wide-open plains, JR finally acknowledged to his brother that “you were his favourite from the day you were born.” Now it’s time for Bobby to concede the title: “I’m giving up the fight, JR. You are Daddy’s son. As a matter of fact, you’re Jock Ewing right now.”

    And this week’s Top 2 are …

    1 (2) DALLAS
    2 (1) KNOTS
     
    • Like Like x 1

Share This Page