1. This site uses cookies. By continuing to use this site, you are agreeing to our use of cookies. Learn More.

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 Mega Star EXP: 18 Years

    Threads:
    43
    Messages:
    3,421
    Trophy Points:
    6,636
    Occupation:
    Actor
    Location:
    Brixton
    Ratings:
    +5,903
    25 Jul 12: DALLAS: No Good Deed v. 25 Feb 15: EMPIRE: The Lyon's Roar v. 29 Nov 15: BLOOD AND OIL: Rats, Bugs and Moles v. 06 Dec 17: DYNASTY: The Best Things in Life

    With the end of their first seasons in sight, there’s an exciting sense of events building towards a climax on DALLAS, EMPIRE and BLOOD AND OIL. DYNASTY, which isn’t even halfway through its first season yet, may not share the same sense of urgency (this week’s episode finds time for an archly ironic subplot in which Blake and Fallon compete to give their business clients the most outrageously extravagant Christmas gifts), but some of its scenes carry a surprising amount of bite. It’s a really strong week all round. Semi-forgotten story threads — such as Andre and Rhonda’s open marriage and Lucious’s “Come out and you’re on your own” ultimatum to Jamal on EMPIRE, plus Anders’ knowledge of Cristal’s true identity and the fatal accident Steven unwittingly caused while working for Carrington Atlantic on DYNASTY — resurface with satisfyingly dramatic results.

    One way or another, prisons loom large this week. Following Fake Marta’s death, John Ross is behind bars on DALLAS (“I have hired the best criminal defence attorney in the country,” his mother assures him) and the scene where he is savagely beaten by some Scary Venezuelan inmates is Soap Land at its most violent and gritty. At the other end of the scale, the final scene of BLOOD AND OIL sees Hap Briggs’ wife Carla, clad in a slinky party dress, led away in handcuffs having been arrested “for bribery of a public official, trading in influence and violation of the RICO Act.” EMPIRE, meanwhile, begins and ends with Cookie flashing back to her past life as a prisoner. In the opening scene, we see her at the start of her seventeen-year sentence saying goodbye to her three kids, all of whom are too young to understand what’s happening. At the end of the ep, we see her alone in her cell, singing quietly to comfort herself. It’s an effective way of grounding the character; however outlandish Cookie’s behaviour may get in the present, it’s always tethered to what's happened in her past. There’s a similar juxtaposition on DYNASTY between Cristal’s glamorous present and her grim past when she flashes back to a time when she was barefoot, pregnant and living with her sister Iris, whom she can hear being beaten by her boyfriend (another Scary Venezuelan) in the next room.

    John Ross is hospitalised following his beating and Sue Ellen is left with a moral conundrum. “For the past twenty years,” she tells Ann, “I’ve tried to walk this side of right, but the only way I can see for me to help John Ross is if I cross a line, a big one, and if I do that, what does that make me?” “A mother,” Ann replies. John Ross is not the only murder suspect lying unconscious in a hospital bed — BLOOD AND OIL’s Garry is too. He regained consciousness last week, just long enough to mumble Billy LeFever’s name. Before he can wake up again and say anything else, Billy pays a visit to his bedside where it looks like he’s about to switch off Garry’s life support thingy — but then he’s interrupted by the ever-suspicious Sheriff Tip.

    Down the corridor in the DALLAS wing of Soap Land Memorial Hospital, John Ross also receives an unscheduled visitor. This one, however, is shrouded in mystery. First, we see a pair of cowboy boots, followed by a door swinging open, then a glimpse of a darkened figure, before the silhouette of a Stetson against a hospital curtain pretty much gives the game away — yep, instead of the C21st equivalent of Katherine Wentworth or Pamela Lynch or even Mary Frances Sumner’s boyfriend wielding a fatal syringe, it’s JR. He looks down at his sleeping son, a concerned expression on his face, before reaching out and touching his hair.

    While Sue Ellen contemplates crossing over to the dark side and B&O good guy Billy comes dangerously close to committing murder, it transpires that Soap Land’s bad guys have their limits — or at least, some of them do. When a bruised and battered John Ross regains consciousness, he refuses to point the finger at Vicente for killing Fake Marta for fear of endangering the rest of the Ewings. “These people are dangerous, Christopher,” he tells his cousin. “I’ve already put our family through enough … If I wasn’t so damn desperate to drill that oil, to measure up to JR —” Hap Briggs likewise exhibits some unexpected family loyalty when Carla suggests pinning the blame for the stolen report on one of his children. “I already have one ex-wife,” he reminds her. “If you ever even think about throwing my kids under the bus again, you’ll be the second.” But Carla will not be stopped. “When it comes to protecting Briggs Oil, I can and will do whatever it takes,” she vows. And that is what leads to her arrest at the end of the ep.

    Whereas John Ross refuses to drag his daddy down with him (“This is my mess to clean up, not JR’s”), DYNASTY’s Steven, EMPIRE’s Andre and B&O’s Wick all continue to plot behind their respective father’s backs. Meanwhile, Sue Ellen finally crosses that line she was so worried about to help her son. It’s fair to say none of these schemes goes according to plan.

    On EMPIRE, Andre puts himself forward to become the interim CEO of the company, which means he would automatically assume control should Lucious becomes incapacitated. “And if I’m the temporary CEO, it shouldn’t be too hard to go from temporary to permanent,” he reasons. B&O’s Wick, meanwhile, still eager to pay his father back for sleeping with his girlfriend, agrees to wear a wireless transmitter for the FBI. “Get your father talking about how he illegally acquired the USGS report and we’ll have enough evidence to put him away for twenty-five years,” they assure him.

    DALLAS, BLOOD AND OIL and DYNASTY all feature a black law enforcer who is only too willing to assist his respective show’s richest (and whitest) characters. While it might be unfair to describe DALLAS’s Sheriff Derrick as the Ewings’ pocket cop — there has been no indication thus far that he is in any way crooked — he nonetheless makes special visits to Southfork to keep Bobby abreast of John Ross’s case and agrees without question to Christopher’s request to run a background check on Rebecca. Like Derrick, BLOOD AND OIL’s Sheriff Tip seemed pretty much incorruptible back when the series began, but since then his buddy-buddy friendship with Hap Briggs has made him appear increasingly suspect. This week, he goes so far as to slip Hap the following titbit: “One of my deputies overheard the federal agent on the phone and it was crystal clear — the informant is in Hap Briggs’ executive ranks … I’m telling you this because we’re friends.” Hap subsequently has all his employees, including kin, searched for some kind of surveillance device, Wick only manages to escape detection by the skin of his teeth. The prize for Soap Land’s most corrupt cop, meanwhile, goes to Police Chief Stansfield on DYNASTY.

    When Steven was arrested for Matthew Blaisdel’s murder at the beginning of the season, he didn’t undergo anywhere near the kind of ordeal John Ross has since Fake Marta’s death. (In fact, he was out on bail so fast we never even saw him behind bars.) He makes up for that this week when his investigation into Stansfield results in him being apprehended by some heavies who place a hood over his head and bundle him into the back of a truck. The real shocker comes when the hood is removed and Steven comes face to face with his abductor — his own father. “How else am I supposed to get you to understand who serious this is?” Blake asks him. “Next time it is going to be Stansfield … I know what he’s capable of and I know he can get away with it … If you care about this family, you will leave this alone.” This gives Steven something else in common with John Ross — both have awakened an enemy that now endangers their entire family. But whereas John Ross has been scared into silence, Steven is more determined than ever to nail Stansfield. “I’ve never seen my father the way he was last night,” he later confides to Jeff. “He was scared. That tells me he’s lost control of Stansfield.”

    To become Empire’s interim CEO, Andre needs to win a board member over to his side and decides that Janet Blakely, an attractive former model, is his best shot. “Guess what she likes even more than Mr Blakely?” he asks wife Rhonda. “Girls — blondes in particular. If only I knew someone who could entice her to vote for me. Know any hot blondes who like to use sex for power?” Rhonda, who is, of course, a hot blonde, takes the hint and is happy to help. Even when she and Andre are en route to dinner with the Blakelys and he tells her there has been “a slight change in strategy” and it is now Mr Blakely who wants to sleep with her, she remains unfazed. That’s before they get to the Blakely apartment and she realises sees he’s a fat old man in a wheelchair.

    There’s more pimping on BLOOD AND OIL. Now that Sheriff Tip’s tip-off has rendered Wick’s transmitter useless, the Feds come up with an alternative device — an exact replica of Hap’s phone, only with a listening device inside of it. They task Wick with the job of swapping the duplicate phone for the real one, but how can he get close enough without alerting his father’s suspicions? Enter Jules, who has just discovered Hap’s had another woman on the go all along. “I can see now what a bastard he is,” she tells Wick, insisting that it’s now him (Wick) she loves and Hap she hates. “What if I told you there was a way to get back at him?” Wick asks her. And so it is that Jules, eager to prove her allegiance to Wick, agrees to have sex with Hap one last time, in order to switch the phones. After she’s done the dirty deed, however, Wick rejects her anyway. “I love you,” she insists. “Last week you loved Hap,” he reminds her, “and today you made it possible to put him in federal prison. That’s a hell of a way to love someone, isn’t it, Jules? I think I’ll get out while I can.” Jules subsequently gets drunk before taking an overdose of pills.

    Back on EMPIRE, Rhonda likewise hits the bottle when faced with the prospect of sleeping with a disabled old man. When Mr Blakely casually mentions over dinner that Stephen Hawking can still get an erection (“There are some men that can’t be held back, even by a wheelchair”), she promptly throws up over the table, thereby bringing the evening to an abrupt end. On the drive home, she tells Andre she’s had enough of their extra-marital games. “Maybe you could just be a man and not turn your wife into a geriatric whore,” she suggests, “because I am so over it.”

    In the event, all of Andre’s scheming comes to nought when Lucious vetos him as interim CEO and accuses him of “campaigning behind my back.” Over on DALLAS, Sue Ellen’s scheme also backfires. First of all, she pays a visit to the coroner presiding over Fake Marta’s autopsy and, using a combination of bribery (“I’m going to be the next Governor of Texas — you could be the next Chief Medical Examiner”) and blackmail (“You have been writing more prescriptions than Michael Jackson’s doctor — which is odd since all of your patients are dead”), strong-arms him into ruling Fake Marta’s death a suicide. But then, having sacrificed her integrity, broken the law and jeopardised her political future, she realises she needn’t have bothered as the charges against John Ross have been dropped anyway. To muddy the waters still further, she learns from the medical examiner that Fake Marta didn't commit suicide: “The victim had defensive wounds. Since your son is innocent, that means I just let the real killer walk.” “… No-one has to know about this,” she insists, that moral line she crossed now a long way in the distance.

    Fake Marta’s isn’t the only death to have been falsely ruled a suicide in recent weeks. A few episodes ago, Matthew Blaisdel’s friend Willy was found dead from a seemingly self-inflicted gunshot wound alongside a suicide note confessing to Matthew’s murder. But now that Claudia has admitted to killing Matthew, Steven tells Jeff that he’s pretty certain Stansfield bumped off Willy himself “and made it look like a suicide ... to keep suspicion off me and my dad … Stansfield went rogue.”

    So, while Wick bugs his father’s phone on B&O, Steven bugs the fountain pen on his father’s study desk before summoning Stansfield in for a meeting. He raises the subject of Willy’s “suicide," but Stansfield is too wily to incriminate himself. “I don’t know anything about that,” he says, “but it does remind me of another coverup … to do with an oil rig worker who died in the field. Nothing too unusual except the faulty rig had just been inspected, signed off on by some inexperienced, unqualified kid... The guy fell and snapped his neck and died instantly. Now luckily for Carrington Atlantic, the idiotic inspector was the boss’s son … His daddy paid his best field engineer Blaisdel to bury the truth — all so you could keep living in your sanctimonious bubble.” So, instead of Steven incriminating Stansfield on tape, Stansfield has just done the same thing to Steven. And so another fine plan bites the dust.

    As Steven reels from the discovery that he is responsible for one death, B&O’s Cody LeFever is shocked to learn of her husband’s participation in another. Moreover, she hears about it from the dead man himself. Having received word that Garry has regained consciousness, she rushes to Soap Land Memorial to ask him why he spoke her husband’s name in last week’s ep. “They chased me off a cliff,” he replies, referring to Billy and Wick. “I was bleeding. I begged for help, for mercy … He just walked away and left me for dead.” These turn out to be Garry’s last words before he finally dies of his injuries. Cody reacts the way many previous Soap Land wives have upon realising that the Mr Perfect they married has feet of clay: she packs a suitcase, tells her husband she doesn’t know who he is anymore and walks out the door while muttering something about needing time to think. Back on DYNASTY, Steven deals with his bombshell altogether more decadently — by snorting lines of cocaine as he arranges to hook up with his junkie ex, Ted Dinard, in New York.

    It’s at a party to celebrate the thirty-fifth anniversary of Briggs Oil that Wick’s plan to bring down his father goes wrong. Persuaded by his daughter to cut loose on the dance floor, Hap removes the jacket containing his all-important phone and it ends up in the study. And so the phone records Carla, rather than Hap, discussing the illegal deal they made with a crooked politician, which is why she’s the one who ends up in handcuffs.

    It’s also party time on EMPIRE and DYNASTY. (There again, when is it not party time on EMPIRE and DYNASTY? Scarcely an episode of either goes by without some kind of glitzy gathering.) This week, it’s the White Ball on EMPIRE and the annual Christmas tree lighting ceremony on DYNASTY. As ever, Soap Land gatherings are an opportunity for female characters to dress glamorously while exchanging catty remarks. At the Ball, Cookie has her first encounter with Hakeem’s older girlfriend (Naomi Campbell) whom she immediately identifies as “a cougar bitch who’s clearly taking advantage of his mommy issues … You need to stay your tired ass away from my son.” (As if Naomi Campbell’s ass has ever been even remotely fatigued.) On B&O, Carla also plays the age card when Hap’s first wife Annie shows up to celebrate the company she claims to have started: “I never forget an anniversary.” “I’m happy to see that your advanced age hasn’t caused memory loss,” replies Carla sweetly. Both bitchy exchanges end with an oral sex gag (no pun intended). “Don’t mess with me, Cookie — I’m not one of your jailbird mates, OK?” warns Naomi. “I wish you were,” Cookie purrs in reply. “You probably would have made a good bitch for me — you look like you got a long tongue.” This makes Annie’s putdown to Carla — “I got into the oil business on my own two feet, not on my knees” — sound positively demure by comparison. Meanwhile, at the Christmas tree ceremony, Fallon performs DYNASTY’s stunt of the week by locking a naked Michael and Kori on the roof of the city library.

    Elsewhere at the White Ball, Lucious delivers an uplifting speech to Jamal about their family legacy (“You gotta remember why God put us on this planet, Mal — regardless of how we fight or how we feel about each other or try to hurt each other — the music, man. The music, that’s forever … Tell your truth in the music”) which has the unintended effect of inspiring Jamal to use music to publicly come out there and then. He takes to the stage and alters the gender pronouns of one of his father’s best-loved numbers to get his message across. ”It’s the kind of song that makes a man love a man,” he sings. Sure enough, the performance makes headlines. “He came out,” Cookie shrugs. “The world is still spinning, Lucious. No-one cares that he’s gay.” “But I do. I care so much,” Lucious insists, his voice trembling. “This is not a family, it’s a disgrace!” Bobby Ewing expresses a similar sentiment on a visit to his mama’s grave. “Our family is as fractured and dysfunctional as always,” he sighs. (Bizarre but touching: we now have scenes of both Bobby and Miss Ellie delivering soliloquies at each other’s gravesides.)

    Despite the influx of non-caucasian faces in C21st Soap Land, there hasn’t been any sense of the shows “tackling” race as an “issue”. Happily, we’re kind of beyond that now. But neither does Soap Land ignore the subject the way it mostly did in the ‘80s. Rather, conventionally soapy storylines — father/son issues, corrupt cops — are informed by the characters’ racial identities, thus adding another layer to them. On EMPIRE, for instance, Jamal starts dating Ryan, a filmmaker, who is also black (as well as Australian). They discuss the difficulties of coming out to their fathers. “The joys of being the son of a black man,” says Ryan ironically.

    On DYNASTY, Jeff Colby’s contempt for Stansfield being Blake’s pocket cop is all the more significant because they are both black. “Clearly you’ve forgotten the value of your freedom or you wouldn’t have taken a gig as an errand boy for some corrupt and unremarkable white man,” says Jeff. “We can’t all be overnight billionaires,” Stansfield sneers. “Before I was rich,” Jeff replies, “I was just a kid who looked up to you. I’d see you on the news, taking down bad guys, taking care of people. My daddy couldn’t get it together, but you showed me it was possible to in a world where we have to work twice as hard to get half as far.”

    Things get really complex in a blistering showdown between Lucious and Andre on EMPIRE. “I voted against you because I can’t trust you,” Lucious informs his son. “The moment you brought that white woman into my house, I knew then I couldn’t trust you. I knew then that you didn’t want to be a part of my family.” “… You know why my family hates me?” Andre snaps back. “Because I’m not talented — not the way you want, right? Because I studied in school and got good grades and went to college. You hate me because I want to be accepted.” “And they will NEVER accept you!” Lucious shouts. “They will accept your money, Dre, but they will never accept your black ass and I don’t give a damn how many white women you marry, they will NEVER accept you!” In part, Andre is following in the classic Soap Land tradition of Adam Carrington, Richard Channing, JR Ewing and now John Ross — no matter how hard he works or how frantically he schemes, he can never fully win his father’s approval. But the racial aspect adds a fascinating extra dimension: Andre needs to succeed in the “white” business world because there is no real place for him in his own (black) family as he has no musical ability. An unexpected link later arises between Lucious’s relationship with Andre (“The moment you brought that white woman into my house, I knew then I couldn’t trust you”) and the one between Blake Carrington and his as-yet-unseen daddy Tom. “My own father didn’t come to our wedding because he didn’t approve of her pedigree,” admits Blake to Anders during a discussion about Cristal.

    Like Steven on DYNASTY (doing coke) and Jules on BLOOD AND OIL (overdosing on pills), Andre on B&O also winds up pounding on the self destruct button. In a really powerful scene, we find him sitting alone in the same recording booth where he’d watched the rest of his family singing together earlier in the episode. He puts a gun to his head and pulls the trigger. When the chamber proves to be empty, he howls in despair.

    Amidst all the deceit and the self-destruction, there are a couple of genuinely touching reconciliations this week. “Why’d you do it — after everything I’ve done?” asks John Ross after learning that Christopher exchanged his precious methane whatnot with Vicente for evidence that would prove him (John Ross) innocent of murder. “I realised … we’re not so different after all,” Christopher replies. “We’re both just trying to make our fathers proud.” They shake hands. It’s a simple enough exchange yet oddly moving in a way equivalent reconciliation scenes between JR and Bobby on the old series never were (and probably weren’t intended to be). It’s hard to pinpoint the difference exactly — except to say that it’s as if everyone on New DALLAS has had a layer of skin removed; they’re all that bit more sensitive, that bit more vulnerable. Everything matters. Meanwhile, at the start of this week’s EMPIRE, Hakeem and Andre agree to put their differences aside in light of their father’s illness (“Look, we just gotta do whatever it is to make Dad happy”), only to soon start squabbling again. However, towards the end of the episode, there is a surprisingly sweet scene where the normally spoilt and self-involved Hakeem visits Jamal after the latter has come out. “I came, brother to brother, to tell you how proud I am of you … It’s the bravest thing I’ve seen in my life,” he tells him, and Jamal rewards him with a big old hug.

    There’s yet more reconciliation in the air towards the end of DALLAS as Christopher’s attitude towards Rebecca starts to soften. “I’m so tired of being angry … I wanna let it go, Rebecca,” he admits, “but I’m not sure I can. I need to know there’s nothing else you’re not telling me. I need to be sure there are no more secrets.” “There aren’t,” she insists — thereby setting us up for a great final scene where she receives a visit from her gold-digging brother Tommy whom she thought she’d gotten rid of. He’s still after Christopher’s methane extraction thingy: “The technology’s worth billions!” When Rebecca tries to argue with him, he kisses her full on the mouth, causing our minds to reel for the few seconds it takes for him to come up for air and deliver his next line: “Man, are you so deep in this lie that you still think we’re brother and sister?” (It’s a suspended moment similar to the one on Old DALLAS when Clayton admitted to Ray and Donna that Jessica was Dusty’s mother a full five seconds before adding that he wasn’t his father.) While we’re still wrapping our heads around the idea that Tommy and Rebecca aren’t siblings after all, he gives her an ultimatum: “If you don’t steal me that technology, I’m gonna tell Christopher everything!”

    Rebecca isn’t the only character caught between a rock and a hard place. Lucious is torn between the two women in his life, his ex-wife and his fiancee. “You want Cookie’s nookie? Ditch the bitch,” says the former. “Marry me tomorrow,” instructs the latter. Lucious being Lucious, he agrees to both demands. Meanwhile, the Scary Venezuelans on DYNASTY track Cristal down and demand $30,000. She turns to Anders for help, which leads in turn to another reconciliation. “It is my duty to protect this family, including those that I can no longer pretend aren’t part of the family,” he declares, before helping her pay off the bad guys. However, their truce comes to an abrupt end when he discovers that she has been taking an IUD behind Blake’s back (which calls to mind Original Monica’s quip about Sable: “Mother is so straight she once thought the IUD was a federal agency”). This time, Anders refuses to keep the truth from Blake. “I will protect the secrets of your past but I won’t lie if it affects his future,” he tells Cristal.

    Flattery of the week: In the opening scene of EMPIRE, Cookie tells Lucious he is “still the only man I’ve ever been with.” “I’ve been with a whole lot of women, Cookie,” he replies, “but I was always looking for you in them.” Jeff similarly compliments Fallon on DYNASTY when she asks about the woman he spent Thanksgiving with: “I was with someone and she was hot — but she wasn’t you.” (The reality is she wasn’t anybody — she’s a lie he made up to conceal the fact that he was actually visiting his father in prison.)

    And this week’s Top 4 are …

    1 (1) DALLAS
    2 (2) EMPIRE
    3 (3) BLOOD AND OIL
    4 (4) DYNASTY
     
    Last edited: Mar 26, 2020 at 1:28 AM
    • Winner Winner x 1
  2. Willie Oleson

    Willie Oleson SoapLand Battles Moderator

    Threads:
    265
    Messages:
    12,261
    Trophy Points:
    9,250
    Occupation:
    marriage counselor
    Location:
    Plotville, Shenanigan
    Ratings:
    +22,518
    That was a biggie, James!
    I am very intrigued by EMPIRE's André, he seems like a great schemer with issues.
    I really liked Carla, she didn't have a fixed position in the story. Sort of an anti-Donna Krebbs, with a touch of Hillary Clinton.
     
    • Like Like x 1
  3. James from London

    James from London Soap Chat Mega Star EXP: 18 Years

    Threads:
    43
    Messages:
    3,421
    Trophy Points:
    6,636
    Occupation:
    Actor
    Location:
    Brixton
    Ratings:
    +5,903
    I know! I thought I was gonna be writing it for the rest of my life.

    Yeah, I think he's the most interesting character on that show.
     

Share This Page