DYNASTY versus DALLAS versus KNOTS LANDING versus the rest of them

Discussion in 'Dynasty' started by James from London, Sep 20, 2016.

  1. Willie O! Tannenbaum

    Willie O! Tannenbaum drilling for soap

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    I haven't seen NuTwin Peaks yet. There was so much buzz and anticipation but nobody talks about it anymore.
    It wasn't so difficult to miss it, maybe you blinked?
     
  2. James from London

    James from London Soap Chat Enthusiast

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    10 Feb 88: DYNASTY: Adam's Son v. 11 Feb 88: KNOTS LANDING: The Blushing Bride v. 12 Feb 88: DALLAS: The Best Laid Plans v. 12 Feb 88: FALCON CREST: Stormy Weather

    There was a photo of Pee Wee Herman in Charlie Wade’s locker on last week’s DALLAS. Maybe she got it from the same “movie-star mag” Jeff Colby is anxious to show Sammy Jo on this week’s DYNASTY (“Bruce Willis, Tony Danza’s in it, Pee Wee Herman, Tom Cruise!”). This is the flimsiest excuse any man in Soap Land has yet used to gain access to a woman’s hotel room, but it works and pretty soon they’re kissing each other’s faces off. Aside from this blossoming relationship and a reconciliation between Jessie and Karen Atkinson, it’s nonstop conflict on DYNASTY at the moment — the show is a world away from the “everyone likes everyone else” vibe of this time last year. Things are heating up on DALLAS too. Save for Charlie’s conflict with her parents and Clayton’s Laurel Ellis storyline, every scene in this week’s episode is in some way connected with JR’s plan to take over West Star. It’s pleasingly KNOTSian. This week’s FALCON CREST is concentrated in a different way with the entire episode taking place in one location. It’s a little bit “Winds of Vengeance” (instead of being stranded at Southfork during a hurricane, all the major characters are trapped in Angela’s house during a rainstorm), a little bit “The Three Sisters” (instead of a haunted house story, the ep turns into a murder mystery pastiche) and there are some half-hearted attempts at “Noises Everywhere”-style character introspection (the best of which is a brief cessation of hostilities between Angela and Richard during a game of chess) thrown in for good measure. FC deserves points for trying something different, but I don’t think the ep really works. (The show’s fans seem to love it though!)

    One of the best bits of this week’s DYNASTY is an antagonistic board-of-directors meeting at Denver Carrington. Adam and Steven turn on each other, Fallon turns on both of them, Jeff patronises everyone and Adam tells him to go to hell. Satisfyingly, all these conflicts arise out of the characters’ pre-existing relationships. There’s also a falling out between Jeff and Blake, who disapproves of his son-in-law “secretly buying up enough Denver Carrington stock so you could force your way into running the company.” This results in Jeff resigning as Blake’s campaign manager. Two other long-term male friendships also take a battering this week. Mack and Gary argue about the twins on KNOTS (“Those kids are mine and you know it and you’re gonna have to testify to it!”) while Ray loses his temper on DALLAS when Bobby tries to intercede between him and Charlie. (“Maybe you don’t think I’m a very good father. I really don’t care what you think anymore … This is my house and I make the rules around here!”)

    Elsewhere on DALLAS, Bobby thinks that Lisa Alden has left town — but she is still lurking in the shadows. Meanwhile on DYNASTY, Adam is angry when Jessie Atkinson refuses to leave Denver even after he’s paid him to. The two men come to blows, Karen gets caught in the middle and the next thing you know, everyone’s at Soap Land Memorial Hospital waiting anxiously for her to give birth. No sooner is she delivered of a baby boy than she utters the words we’ve been expecting to hear ever since DYNASTY first introduced this storyline: “I can’t give him up.” Surprisingly, when we do hear them, they feel dramatically (or at least soapily) justified. In any case, this surrogacy-gone-wrong scenario doesn’t seem quite as silly as FALCON CREST’s equivalent did a few years ago.

    Over on KNOTS, Gary prepares to take his child-based dispute to court. “I had my first daughter taken away from me but I am not gonna give up on these twins,” he vows. This isn’t the only reference to the past in this week’s Ewing-verse. “It’s not like the old days, is it?” sighs JR over breakfast in the opening scene of this week’s DALLAS. “There was a time there wouldn’t be an empty chair at this table.” “… Your daddy was here then to control you boys,” Miss Ellie remembers. Also, the name of Holly Harwood is evoked in two separate (though ultimately connected) storylines. First, Kimberly Cryder and JR lure Sue Ellen to a hotel room so she can find them in bed together — just as Holly once did. “It’s amazing how similar it is,” Sue Ellen later remarks. Meanwhile, JR is threatening to tell Bobby that he and April slept together unless she continues to buy West Star stock on his behalf. “He’s got this old-fashioned notion about not sleeping with anybody I’ve slept with,” he explains, citing Holly as an example. Bobby confirms as much when April discreetly enquires about his past relationship with Holly: “Anything JR touches, he fouls. The thought of being involved with one of his ladies — well, it would never happen.” Back on KNOTS, there’s a surprisingly affectionate moment between Gary and Abby which silently acknowledges their history as he walks in on her dress fitting, wishes her good luck for the wedding (“I hope you’ll be very happy”) and then lifts up her veil to kiss her tenderly on the lips.

    Among those stranded at Falcon Crest this week is the recently appointed Sheriff Buckman, a somewhat glum, not especially authoritative figure. His immediate predecessor, Sheriff North, arrives at Lotus Point this week as Charles Scott’s shady associate. There is no shortage of shady associates in Soap Land at the moment: Harry Thresher on DYNASTY, the nameless Dealer on KNOTS and the other twelve members of The Thirteen on FALCON CREST.

    Two nautically-themed mysteries emerge on DYNASTY and KNOTS this week, involving Alexis and Abby’s respective love interests. Regarding the Natumbe oil deal, Dex notes that Denver Carrington’s ship is loaded, but only half the hold is filled with oil — so what else is Sean planning to transport? And why is Charles Scott suddenly so keen for Abby to expand the marina at Lotus Point? He even offers to put up the investment capital. Abby reacts enthusiastically and pitches the idea to Karen and Gary. Everything is going swimmingly until the scene in her office where she is being fitted for her wedding gown. (Big mistake — it is an unwritten law in Soap Land that every time we see a bride-to-be in her dress prior to the ceremony, disaster is just around the corner: just think Fallon and those headaches, Jamie Ewing and those oil barrels.) Here, it’s a chance remark from her architect that makes Abby realise that Charles had the plans for the marina expansion drawn up long before he ever arrived at Lotus Point. Back on DALLAS, Miss Ellie makes an alarming discovery of her own when she spies Clayton in the company of a younger woman.

    Echoing Sue Ellen and Alexis’s reactions to their husbands’ recent infidelities, neither Abby nor Ellie confronts her man directly, choosing instead to discreetly sound him out. When Abby suggests they move away from Knots Landing after their wedding, Charles insists on staying put: “I’ve decided to relocate my company here … I don’t wanna live anywhere else.” This confirms Abby’s worst suspicions — that he’s only marrying her because of the marina. Miss Ellie and Clayton have the opposite conversation when he tells her he regrets giving up his business when they got married (“Selling my refineries was the biggest mistake I ever made”) and that he plans to go back to work. While Miss Ellie frowns anxiously, Abby blinks back tears during a Johnny Rourke power ballad.

    As Abby cries over Charles’s deception — we see her sobbing alone in the powder room, then staring tearfully into an open fire — Sue Ellen laughs (and laughs and laughs) after finding JR and Kimberly together. Instead of hitting the bottle as she did when Holly set her up, she feigns disgust and then shows up at Nicholas’s apartment with a fit of the giggles. Turning a hugely dramatic scenario into a joke is a risky business. One need look no further than this week’s FALCON CREST. A series which has had its fair share of murder mysteries, this week’s ep sees the characters eagerly participating in a murder mystery game, scampering about Falcon Crest as if murder were something they had no personal experience of. (“I love this game!” exclaims Angela, all but looking at the camera.) As a result, when somebody is (inevitably) murdered for real, it’s hard to care because everything just feels so trivial. Sue Ellen’s amused reaction, however, works — partly because it serves to complicate, rather than dilute, the ongoing storyline. Also, it’s a way of portraying her newfound independence (“I hate him so much right now that nothing he could do could bother me”) in a way that’s dramatically interesting (as opposed to simply depicting her as boringly sober and well-adjusted the way the Dream Season did).

    Once her tears have dried, Abby tasks some unknown minion with investigating Charles’s finances. “I want to know more about Charles Scott’s business than he does,” she declares. “That could be pretty tough to do,” the minion replies. “The next time you see a labourer up on a roof mopping hot tar for minimum wage, call me, tell me how hard your job is,” she snaps. I’ve always found this response interesting. It seems to be a way for Abby to distance herself from Charles’s blue-blood world of privilege and ally herself with her own blue-collar upbringing. Abby Ewing, class warrior? Unlikely perhaps, but this is the most recognisably “Abby” she’s been in weeks.

    Back on DYNASTY, Alexis continues to toy with Leslie and Sean over their affair. She makes Leslie squirm by enquiring about the bracelet she gave her — the same one she then found under her own bed. For a while, it looks as if Alexis is playing the same game of cat and mouse that Blake did when he found out about the emerald necklace Krystle pawned back in Season 1 — but then she blows her cover by accusing Sean directly: “I think you’ve been having an affair with her in our bed and in Africa and God knows where else!” Sean comes up with a lame excuse which, interestingly, Alexis chooses to believe (how very vintage Sue Ellen of her). But in the penultimate scene of the ep, Dex tells her about Sean’s real parentage and then gets down on one knee to deliver the soapiest line week: “Alexis, he married you to destroy you!” Over on KNOTS, it looks like Abby has something similar in mind for Charles. Far from ending their marriage plans when she (like Alexis) discovered Charles (like Sean) had been deceiving her from the beginning, she is proceeding with them. “I don’t want Charles to get away,” she smiles ambiguously. Sue Ellen ends this week’s DALLAS on a high note too. When JR finds her in their bedroom packing, he assumes she’s about to leave Southfork and file for divorce. “That’s the last thing I’m gonna do,” she tells him cheerily. Instead, she explains, she’s moving back into her old room across the hall: “See you at breakfast!”

    And this week’s Top 4 are …

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

    It's really extraordinary. It's like nothing else.
     
    Last edited: May 20, 2018
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  3. Ked

    Ked Soap Chat Dream Maker

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    Was it set to have just one season?
     
  4. Willie O! Tannenbaum

    Willie O! Tannenbaum drilling for soap

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    Always at his most charming on his ex-wife's wedding day (Ben and Valene). It's almost cruel.
    And since when does she indulge in frivolous games? I thought her game was plotting and bullying.
    Maybe it's hard not to giggle at such an obvious been-there-done-that soap trope. The big drama returned in TNT Dallas, ironically when she was feeling more secure and in control than ever before.
     
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  5. James from London

    James from London Soap Chat Enthusiast

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    I'm not sure. I think so.

    Ha! Yes, that's true.

    Yes, that's it -- it feels frivolous.

    How true.
     
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  6. James from London

    James from London Soap Chat Enthusiast

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    02 Mar 88: DYNASTY: The Scandal v. 03 Mar 88: KNOTS LANDING: A Fair Race v. 04 Mar 88: DALLAS: Crime Story v. 04 Mar 88: FALCON CREST: Wheels Within Wheels

    Having been tipped off to Sean’s real identity by Alexis, Blake flies to Natumbe with Dex to find out what he’s really up to. Lance likewise plays detective on FALCON CREST, travelling to Las Vegas to find out what reporter Curtis Esterbrook was investigating before he was killed. Both parties make parallel discoveries: while Blake and Dex learn that Sean is using Blake’s tankers to smuggle illegal arms out of Africa, Lance discovers Richard was responsible for bringing illegal arms into Africa in order to aid the country John Remick’s army was fighting against. When Lance suggests to Maggie that her husband had Curtis murdered to keep this discovery quiet, she refuses to believe it. “This is insane!” she protests. Conversely, when Morgan Hess informs Alexis of her husband’s colourful past (cop-killing, car bombing, terrorist kidnapping) and concludes that “this is a dangerous guy, Mrs Colby”, she does not disagree.

    There’s further travelling elsewhere in this week's Soap Land. Bobby Ewing goes to Washington as part of his efforts to get the Ewing Oil name back — and, scandalously, kisses Kay while technically still dating April! He also delivers an enjoyably nostalgic speech about his early days at Ewing Oil: “I guess in polite circles you could call me a bag man … My job was to pass out the three Bs — booze, broads and booty.” Back on FC, Eric and Vicky journey to Geneva to clean out Richard’s Swiss safety deposit box. Their “heist” is pitifully staged, but the overall plot — Richard easily outwits them and casually orders they be kept in a foreign jail indefinitely — is so good, it doesn’t really matter.

    The crime wave continues back at home. Charles Scott’s former associates, Manny Vasquez and his nephew Harold, step out of the shadows on KNOTS. Harold is an unassuming, happy-go-lucky guy — who thinks nothing of breaking a restauranteur’s arm over a late payment. Meanwhile, this week’s DALLAS ends with April returning home after getting dumped by Bobby only to be apprehended by two FALCON CREST-looking thugs right outside her apartment.

    This season’s run of DYNASTY, shorter than the rest of the soaps by about eight episodes, is now in the home stretch and things are moving very fast for the Carringtons and Colbys — everyone’s on red alert having learned how dangerous and vengeful Sean is. In contrast, KNOTS is taking its time in its depiction of Paige’s pursuit of Greg Sumner. As it did when Abby set her sights on Gary, KL is playing the long game here. In spite of Paige’s blatant attempts to get his attention, such as kissing Johnny Rourke passionately in front of him, Greg’s response remains inscrutable. Is he playing hard to get? Is he even aware of her interest? Or does his grief over Laura simply preclude an involvement with another woman so soon after her death? And so, while everyone on DYNASTY is frantically speculating about Sean’s motives and intentions, KNOTS finds time for a cross-cutting montage in which Paige quizzes Karen and Mack, and Johnny questions Michael, and they all try to figure out what makes Greg tick. Meanwhile, the elusive object of their fascination is shown in long-shot riding one of his horses around the track. It may be nearly five years since Greg arrived on the show but he still proves impossible to pin down.

    Paige is using Johnny for sex and to make Greg jealous and doesn’t pretend otherwise. “You’re not in the running,” she tells him flatly. I’m not sure there’s been a “friends with benefits” relationship quite like this one in Soap Land before. To my surprise, I find myself warming to Johnny. So long as he forgets to either sing or pretend to be Irish, he’s quite a good supporting character. Over on DALLAS, Laurel Ellis has acquired her own version of Johnny, i.e., an ex-boyfriend who has followed her from Europe. A snobby Brit by the name of Brett Lomax, he is borderline xenophobic in his contempt for Texas and its inhabitants. “What is there for you here, living in this foreign place surrounded by people who … hardly speak our language?” he asks, before insisting that she return to England with him. (Knowing that Brett will eventually transmogrify into FALCON CREST Anti-Christ Charley St James adds an extra level of fascination to his character.) While far less possessive than Brett, Johnny is starting to get serious about Paige and gives her an expensive necklace as an indication of his feelings. She is not unappreciative, but all it takes is a call from Greg to turn her head once more. Meanwhile on DYNASTY, Alexis presents Sean with a watch engraved with the inscription, 'To Sean, undying love — Alexis.’ This is part of the vaguely Hitchcockian scenario she now finds herself in where she must play the adoring wife so as not to arouse his suspicions that the family are onto him. The gift comes back to haunt her in the closing moments of the episode when Blake calls her from Africa with the news that “there’s been an explosion on one of my tankers … Sean is dead … They took a watch off a body and the inscription read, ‘To Sean, undying love — Alexis’.” But then look! There’s a man swimming away from the ship — it’s Sean!!

    Elsewhere on DYNASTY, there’s a surprise confession from jailbird Charlie Braddock, who admits that it was he who kidnapped Adam all those years ago in a doomed attempt to win the heart of Kate Torrance. This means that Adam really was Adam all along (kind of the opposite of New Adam on New DYNASTY who was never Adam at all) and puts Blake and Alexis in the unusual position of having accidentally adopted their own biological son. As convoluted as all this is, George Murdock elevates the scene with a great performance as the haunted Braddock — it’s the acting highlight of the Soap Land week.

    No sooner have two Soap Land custody disputes been resolved (Bobby and Betsy’s on KNOTS, Christopher’s on DALLAS) than two more spring up to take their place. “‘Karen Atkinson versus Adam Carrington’ … They’re suing to nullify the surrogate contract. They’re suing for my child!” Adam tells Dana on DYNASTY. “I’m suing for visitation rights as Michael’s paternal grandmother,” Angela informs Richard on FALCON CREST.

    While this week’s DALLAS finds Soap Land’s original female alcoholic, Sue Ellen, on fine sardonic form (“How’s the centre of my universe tonight?” she smiles at a clearly fuming JR. “I’m going to stay married to JR till the end of time — just so you can’t get him and he can’t get West Star,” she cheerfully informs Kimberly Cryder), KNOTS LANDING’s Jill and FALCON CREST’s Maggie both follow Miss Ellie’s recent example by starting to drink alone. Gary spending more and more time with the twins (and by extension Val) affords Jill the opportunity of downing a bottle of wine in his absence. Meanwhile, the complications of living with Richard — his ongoing feud with Angela, Lance’s allegations against him, the oppressive and continuous presence of his security staff — take a cumulative toll on Maggie who starts hitting the brandy in earnest.

    Nearly a year after Bobby announced his decision to leave Ewing Oil (“I’ve had it right up to my ears with JR and the whole way he does things — I’m getting out”), brother Gary tells Karen and Abby that “I’m getting out of Lotus Point … I’ve spent my last day worrying about what colour to paint the bridal suite and where to get the best deals on sheets.” Interestingly, Gary’s decision (“No hard feelings — I just don’t care”) comes across less as soap fatigue (as Bobby’s did) and more as soap restlessness. I guess it’s because Gary isn’t defined by his job the way the rest of the Ewing boys, including Ray, are. Rather he is defined more by his own searching, questing nature. Fortunately, KNOTS is flexible enough to incorporate this restlessness into the series. Were he a character on a more rigidly structured soap, he might wind up searching and questing his way off screen for good.

    In the same week that Charlie Wade is told by Jenna that “Randy is out of your life!” and is then caught sneaking out of the house to see him, Abby lies in wait for Olivia to return from her first impromptu date with Harold Dyer and then insists there will be no second date until she gets to meet him. Olivia reluctantly complies and Harold is all smiles and good manners when he and Abby meet, just as Randy was while sitting through a parental lecture from Ray — although there was kind of a subversive edge to Randy, as if underneath all the smiling and nodding you could tell he was really thinking, “Yeah, whatever you say, old man — in a couple of years, I’m gonna be Brad Pitt!” Harold’s subversion comes in the shape of his Uncle Manny whom he brings along to meet Abby (“I was impressed by your desire to meet my nephew,” he explains. “Most parents don’t care who their children associate with”). She is charmed and Manny uses it as a chance to pick up where Charles Scott left off. “Karen, I’d like you to meet Manny Vasquez,” says Abby in the final scene of the ep. “I think we can do business together.”

    And this week’s Top 4 are …

    1 (1) DALLAS
    2 (2) KNOTS LANDING
    3 (-) DYNASTY
    4 (-) FALCON CREST
     
    Last edited: Jun 5, 2018
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  7. Willie O! Tannenbaum

    Willie O! Tannenbaum drilling for soap

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    LOL And the only way to discover this is to watch these stories "in versus".
    How delightfully sleazy, and yes, there is something old-fashioned about it.
    I liked him too!
    *grumbles*
    But at least he knows how to transmogrify. I don't know what it means and I'm not going to look it up because some words should remain mysterious.
    Oh my god!
     
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  8. James from London

    James from London Soap Chat Enthusiast

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    And this week’s Top 4 are …

    1 (2) KNOTS LANDING
    2 (4) FALCON CREST
    3 (3) DYNASTY
    4 (1) DALLAS
     
    Last edited: Jun 11, 2018
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  9. Willie O! Tannenbaum

    Willie O! Tannenbaum drilling for soap

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    I could interpret a black diva on Dynasty as something exotic, like a blacker Angelica Nero. Except that it was all about black skin threatening the precious Carrington bloodline.
    As a result it felt as if there was a lot of non-dialogue going on, words screaming to be spoken out loud, and yet it was buried under more fur, more companies, more international financial success by the impeccable Ms. Deveraux.
    But how to do it on Knots? Just mention it, or is it going to be a topic? And does that mean Mack has to get on his soapbox again?
    Personally, I think it's easier to do it wrong. America is multicultural (like most countries these days) but Knots is a white show - and similarly, so is my life. I grew up and live in a place with no ethnic diversity whatsoever.

    O, I suddenly remember something: there was a successful business man in our town who was married to a pretty black woman who always wore lots of jewelry and big furcoats. Gee, how could I forget that we had our very own Dominique living in our tiny white town!
    Whenever she entered one of our local typical-village stores, people didn't know where to look first because it was such a double whammy.
    I've only seen her a few times, I guess they lived in a bigger house outside the town and they moved away after several years. But I also remember that big white furcoat (loved it, of course).
    And there was a Turkish family and our neighbour was Indonesian, married to a white woman….but anyway, the fact that I remember them as being non-white illustrates how unusual it was and still is.

    But how unusual should it be for Knots Landing? Once you start to tackle it it's very difficult not to get tangled up in a web of "do's" and "dont's".
    Is it ignorant to ignore it, or is it ignorant to acknowledge it? Was it progressive to have a black family living in the cul-de-sac, or was it faux-progressive since their skin colour never became an issue (good or bad, one way or another)?
    A black family in the Witness Protection Programme - "ah well, those people are never far away from trouble".
    A black family in the Witness Protection Programme? - "seriously? they couldn't have made them more white if they tried".

    I can't escape the feeling that this will always be a no-win situation because there are so many interpretations, and that's just the interpretation of a white man.
    I think it's very difficult to translate this to a worldwide audience in a satisfactory manner.

    On a less serious note:
    Sometimes the could-be-parody writes itself: they discover that the Williamses are black!
     
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  10. Ked

    Ked Soap Chat Dream Maker

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    Personally, that sounds awesome. :D
     
  11. Mel O'Kalikimaka

    Mel O'Kalikimaka Super Moderator Staff Member

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    Recently I listened to Fenella Fielding's biographical audiobook, and this has reminded me of a line she describes as "a bit special" from Skins, where her character's grandson brought a girl home to meet her:

    Could Knots have pulled off this approach, I wonder?

    If Lilimae hadn't left by this point I could just about imagine her directing that line towards Julie Williams (followed by Valene rebuking her with a stern "Momma!"). In her absence, the only person who could possibly have got away with it in late Season Nine is Greg, though I think it may be too much even for him.

    However, I really like the idea of PC Karen having a momentary slip and saying it to Frank.



    But in Knots terms, I'm also reminded of Eric's earlier bewilderment that nobody commented when he brought Whitney home.

    Which takes us in turn to James's observations on that matter:

     
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  12. James from London

    James from London Soap Chat Enthusiast

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    And this week’s Top 3 are …

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

    Yeah, when there's so few representations of black people on television, those that do make it on screen then carry the burden of representing all black people and it becomes a "damned if you, damned if you don't" situation.

    It really used to bother me that Dominique and the Williams' skin colour could not be acknowledged on screen. It made it seem like black was a dirty word, something to be ashamed of, and that having the Williamses "created" in the Witness Protection Programme was a convenient way of wiping out what had come before, i.e. their cultural history, so that they'd never be able to talk about their pasts as freely and as colourfully as, say, Lilimae and Val could about Husky Corners.

    Looking at it again from a present-day New DALLAS/New DYNASTY/EMPIRE perspective, it feels like the Williamses and Dominique were evoluntionary stepping stones that have got us to the place where there are ethnically diverse super soaps and those ethnicities can be treated as both relevant and irrelevant, as each case may be.

    I still find it fascinating, though, that when PEYTON PLACE brought in a black family twenty-odd years before KNOTS, they felt free to discuss race from a variety of angles -- like the scene where Eudora Weldon worries that she might be subconsciously racist!
     
    Last edited: Jun 14, 2018
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  13. Ked

    Ked Soap Chat Dream Maker

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    I forget, did Fallon find out about Jeff proposing to Sammy Jo in this episode or the next? Because either way, I'd love reading your reaction to one of my favorite Fallon moments; because, in my opinion, that was the point where it was like a switch went off in Emma Samms' head and she became the "real" Fallon.
     
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  14. Willie O! Tannenbaum

    Willie O! Tannenbaum drilling for soap

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    She was more racist on Flamingo Road because she didn't want an Hispanic girl to become her daughter-in-law.
     
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  15. James from London

    James from London Soap Chat Enthusiast

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    30 Mar 88: DYNASTY: Colorado Roulette v. 31 Mar 88: KNOTS LANDING: Mother Knows Best v. 01 Apr 88: DALLAS: Never Say Never v. 01 Apr 88: FALCON CREST: Flying Blind

    The same lakeside cabin where Lute-Mae Sanders fought off her rapist on FLAMINGO ROAD and Chase watched Dr Lantry take a fatal overdose on FALCON CREST this week becomes a hideout on DYNASTY for Sean Rowan, who has snatched Adam’s baby, aka “Blake and Alexis’s precious little grandson.” Leslie is his accomplice-cum-hostage who gets on his good side by serving up a breakfast of scrambled eggs on toast. “I never knew you were such a good cook,” he remarks — which is probably the nicest thing he’s ever said to her. This is one of several noteworthy breakfasts in this week’s Soap Land. On KNOTS, Mack whips up a romantic feast of blueberry pancakes for Karen which she runs out on because of a prearranged breakfast meeting with Manny Vasquez. That breakfast takes an unexpected turn when Manny kisses her. The following morning, Karen cooks breakfast for Mack in return and he jokingly accuses her of having a guilty conscience. He doesn’t know how right he is. “I enjoyed it,” she confesses to Pat, referring to Manny’s kiss. On FALCON CREST, the mere sight of Garth’s home-cooked breakfast has Maggie, undergoing alcohol withdrawal, running for the bathroom. On DALLAS, it isn’t breakfast but dinner that is the significant meal as Connie, aka “the lady with the flat tyre”, shows up at Ray’s door with groceries and offers to cook for him. Feeling lonely and abandoned in Jenna’s absence, he accepts.

    When Sean overhears Leslie revealing their whereabouts over the phone, he becomes demented with anger. As the character teeters on the verge of madness so the man playing him, James Healy, reaches the edge of his acting abilities. Consequently, there’s an out-of-control quality to his performance that is quite compelling. Healy reminds me of George Lazenby, the weakest actor to play James Bond who nonetheless starred in the best Bond film, On Her Majesty’s Secret Service. Just as Lazenby’s limitations worked for that film (or at least didn’t impede it), Healy has proven a perfect fit for this B-movie revenge storyline. Ergo, Sean Rowan is the George Lazenby of Alexis’s husbands. (Broadly speaking, that means Blake is Sean Connery, Cecil is Roger Moore, Dex is Pierce Brosnan and New Blake is Daniel Craig.)

    Sean then beats up Leslie in Soap Land’s most overt display of male-on-female violence yet. It’s brutal without being very realistic and I’d be lying if I said I didn’t enjoy it.

    The Farlows on DALLAS have been married almost as long as the Mackenzies on KNOTS and there’s a sense that both couples have been taking each other for granted of late. Last week, when Karen told Mack that Manny had been flirting with her at Lotus Point, she was disappointed by his lack of reaction and miffed by the suggestion that Manny’s attentiveness might simply have been a business tactic. Whereas Karen and Mack’s relationship insecurities result in small moments of character observation (Mack comparing Manny’s dress sense with his own) and humour ("What'd you do?" asks Pat when Karen tells her about Manny's kiss. "I shot him," she replies), Clayton and Ellie’s marital disharmony manifests itself plot-wise. Clayton’s discontent was first signified by his preoccupation with a painting. This led to the introduction of a whole new subset of characters, resulting in blackmail, accusations of an affair, a marital separation and now Clayton being arrested on a murder charge.

    “The Ewing family has always banded together against trouble from the outside,” Ellie says when Clayton thanks her for standing by him following his arrest. That attitude is reflected on DYNASTY where Adam and Steven finally bond after banding together to rescue Adam’s baby. “I never thought I needed you,” Adam tells his brother. “You’ve always struggled to belong and in my own way, so have I,” Steven replies.

    Towards the end of this week's DYNASTY, Steven leaves an envelope addressed to Blake in the library. We’re not privy to its contents, but from the “Goodbye, Dad” he utters to an empty room, we can make a pretty good guess. KNOTS kicks off with the discovery of another letter. “My housekeeper found a note from Olivia saying she and Harold had run off to get married,” Abby informs Manny Vasquez before ordering him to stop the wedding. There’s more letter action elsewhere in the ep as Jill drops by the airport and persuades a man on his way to Honduras to mail a letter addressed to Val once he arrives. Over on FALCON CREST, in the Swiss prison where she and Eric are being held without trial as if they were starring in a unisex version of Midnight Express, Vicky goes to even more circuitous lengths to send a letter to Maggie — of which more later.

    Three of this week’s soaps include a scene where one female character visits another to discuss a man with whom they are mutually involved. “You called?” asks Fallon sarcastically after being summoned to Delta Rho by Sammy Jo. “I know I should have called first, but it was hard enough for me to come over here at all,” Jill says after surprising Val in the cul-de-sac. “If you’re looking for Clayton, he’s at the office,” says Miss Ellie after Laurel Ellis shows up at Southfork. Sammy Jo, Jill and Laurel each then offer an olive branch. “You don’t like me and I don’t like you, I wouldn’t be so dumb to suggest we’d ever become friends, but we can’t be enemies,” says Sammy Jo to Fallon. “I’m not saying that I think we could ever be friends, but I would really like to try to stop being enemies,” echoes Jill, extending her hand to Val. “It’s you I want to talk to,” Laurel explains to Miss Ellie, “to tell you the truth about Clayton and myself … Nothing ever happened between us … I’m truly sorry I’ve been responsible for any of this.” While Fallon is unconvinced by Sammy Jo’s words (“You wanted to be a Carrington so you married Steven — now you wanna be a Colby so it’s Jeff’s turn,” she replies), Val is taken in by Jill’s and agrees to a truce (“Maybe when Ben gets back, we can all go for pizza,” Jill suggests wickedly). Meanwhile, Ellie’s discussion with Laurel about Clayton mirrors one she had with Julie Grey about Jock a decade earlier. “There aren’t many women who intimidate me — you’re one of them,” Julie told her back then. These days, Ellie cuts a less imposing figure. “At my age, it’s hard to put your dreams back together once they’ve been shattered,” she tells Laurel.

    Laurel’s visit to Southfork serves another narrative purpose — it brings her into the orbit of JR, who immediately propositions her and later has Harry McSween bring her to his office where he can behave like even more of a pig. “I don’t know about Clayton, but if you’d have been with me, you would have been properly and frequently bedded, my dear,” he leers. JR’s on excitingly obnoxious form this week.

    Following her scene with Sammy Jo, Fallon winds up in bed with Jeff. They are enjoying a full-blown montage sex scene (the first we’ve seen since Greg and Laura’s last night together) when the doorbell goes — it’s Sammy Jo accepting Jeff’s proposal! Meanwhile, Johnny Rourke and Paige are rolling around in bed in the Mexican village of Santa Tecla when the phone rings — it’s Manny Vasquez ordering Johnny to prevent Harold and Olivia’s marriage! Later in the same episode, Paige is the one who does the interrupting when she finds Johnny in bed with Debbie, a sexy archaeologist whose interest in pre-Colombian artefacts Paige shares. Refreshingly, Paige takes Johnny’s dalliance in her stride and by the end of the ep, they’re canoodling once more.

    The penultimate scene of this season’s DYNASTY includes a moment that couldn’t be soapier if it tried — Alexis is taking a bubble bath when the champagne glass she holds is shot at point blank range by her back-from-the-dead husband. “That’s for my father!” he snarls. A struggle over the gun then ensues between her third and fourth husbands as Alexis, now clad demurely in a peach bathrobe, watches in alarm. Suddenly the gun goes off! But before we can see who took the bullet, Claudia or Krystle — I mean, Dex or Sean — it’s all over. Bye-bye, everyone; see ya next season. But wait! There’s one more scene to go! Back at the mansion, Blake finds his and Krystle’s bedroom in a state of disarray. (In reality, it’s no more untidy than the average teenager’s. Then again, this is Soap Land.) Jeanette tells him that Krystle left the house a little while ago and he swears her to secrecy. However, it’s the season’s final line — “My God, Krystle, I thought we had more time!” — that pulls the narrative rug out from under us, in the same way that Bobby Ewing’s “Good morning” and the disembodied voice asking, “You want out, Mrs Mackenzie?” did at the end of the 1985/6 season.

    The ailing Dr Styles is also running out of time on DALLAS. In this episode’s penultimate scene, his daughter Kimberly brings Cliff Barnes to meet him in the hope that he will join forces with them to defeat JR. But Cliff no longer seems to care about winning. “You know what I hope?” he asks the doctor. “I hope this war between you and JR just explodes and blows the both of you all to hell and back.” He flounces off and Styles reaches for his oxygen supply. “I think we’ve lost,” he tells Kimberly. She then goes to JR and essentially begs him to spare her father’s life. “I’ll convince my daddy to back you. You can have West Star,” she promises. (Anyone else getting a vaguely Shakespearean vibe from all this?) “What about you?” JR asks. “You don’t have to marry me,” she replies. “I’ll be yours whenever you want.” “What makes you think I want you at all?” he sneers. “And as far as calling it off, I’m afraid that’s impossible … Your daddy wanted a war and he got one. There’ll be no truce. I want an unconditional surrender. I’m gonna break him and take West Star away from him.” As one Soap Land war rages on, another is declared. At the end of last week’s FALCON CREST, Richard learned, to his alarm, that the Thirteen are “plotting the economic destruction of the United States … There are going to be riots in the streets, people are going to be killing each over a slice of bread. You’ll be destroying everything this country stands for and for what?” “For us,” Rosemont replied simply. (Anyone else getting a not so vaguely Trumpian vibe from all this?) This week, Richard decides to stop them. “I will do whatever is necessary,” he vows. “Very well — so shall we,” counters Rosemont.

    While Vicky Stavros is in Geneva bribing a prison orderly into mailing a letter to her mother, Paige Matheson is in Santa Tecla “making a donation to the preservation of Mexican national treasures”, i.e., bribing the local police into delaying the construction of a highway through the site of the archaeological dig. The political system in Washington proves no less corrupt as Kay Lloyd introduces Bobby to Senator O’Dell, with a view to getting the Ewing Oil name back. In his previous Soap Land incarnations, O’Dell was Titus Semple on FLAMINGO ROAD and Paul Galveston on KNOTS LANDING and appears to share their amoral streak. And like Galveston, he’s not particularly keen on discussing business matters with women, referring Kay as “a mighty pretty little thing” (at least he didn’t call her Cookie) and instructing her to leave him and Bobby to talk man-to-man. “I was mighty fond of your daddy,” he tells him. “Some of my fondest memories are of deals that he and I put together — JR too, for that matter.” (Paul Galveston wheelin’ and dealin’ with JR and Jock — now there’s an image to conjure with.) “Yes, sir, the two of them really knew the bottom line when it came to making a deal,” he continues. Whereas Galveston encouraged Gary to believe himself the equal of his Ewing brothers, O’Dell challenges Bobby to show his true Ewing mettle by forking out for “a little retirement place” — a castle in the Scottish Highlands worth $2,000,000. (This rare Soap Land reference to Scotland partially compensates for Karen describing Mack to Manny as “a smiling Irishman who makes terrific blueberry pancakes.” When he first arrived in KNOTS, Mack identified himself as Scots-Italian.)

    After a full FALCON CREST hour of sleep-walking, sweats, nightmares and mood swings, Maggie Channing appears to licked her four-episode booze problem and she and Richard are happy once again. Back on KNOTS, Gary and Jill have their first argument about her drinking. “Do you think I have a problem?” she asks challengingly. “You tell me,” he replies. “You’re the one that’s been sitting around here all day drinking — alone.” This culminates in Jill holding out a glass of wine to Gary, inviting him to drink with her. (“That’s an incredibly sick stupid way of trying to get my attention.”) Jill’s gesture is mirrored by Maggie in the final scene of this week’s FC when Richard returns home to find her nursing a bottle of brandy, as yet unopened. What has happened? She’s received Vicky’s letter, that’s what. (“Eric and I are in jail in Geneva,” it reads. “I don’t know anyone but Richard who could be doing this to us.”) Bitterly, she opens the bottle, pours a drink and raises it towards Richard, just as Jill did her glass to Gary: “What we need here, Richard, is a toast — to my daughter in Switzerland.” Then she spills it on the floor.

    And this week’s Top 4 are …

    1 (-) DYNASTY
    2 (1) KNOTS LANDING
    3 (2) FALCON CREST
    4 (-) DALLAS
     
    Last edited: Jun 23, 2018
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  16. Michael Yule Torrance

    Michael Yule Torrance Soap Chat TV Fanatic

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    Sorry, but New Blake is more of a Timothy Dalton in my eyes.

    The two most interesting characters (and most ruined eventually) of season 1 are thus leaving the stage in preparation for season 9. I am looking forward to your updates for these episodes!
     
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  17. James from London

    James from London Soap Chat Enthusiast

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    Yeah, it was that episode ('The Proposal'). It's a nice scene, one of those interesting library heart-to-hearts.

    Interesting!
     
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  18. Willie O! Tannenbaum

    Willie O! Tannenbaum drilling for soap

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    James goes Bond! I wanna play.

    And what a fight it was! Diamonds Are Forever?
    Live And Let Die!
    He reminds me of James Beaumont.
    upload_2018-6-24_1-9-19.png
    He was a bit of a one-trick pony with his constant anger, either restrained or no holds barred.
    And yet, in his scenes with Joan Collins he often pushed the right bottoms, and made her act more physical too.
    Sean's motive was also his weakest point because I just couldn't picture Joseph as the patriarch of his own little dynasty.
    Why wasn't he Cecil Colby's previously-unknown son?

    Speaking of husbands, what was the episode that an embittered (and slightly drunk?) Alexis complained about her love life?
    "Look at them, Fallon. THE men in my life. What a bunch!" (I've borrowed the "what a bunch" for my own little catchphrase on this forum).
    It was unintentionally funny - Alexis' "Bette Davis" moment - not to mention the kitsch and bizarre image of her Collection Of Husbands on display.
    Yes, it looks a bit like the set of a deserted soap, a ghost soap. It could have been more eerie if they had focussed the sound on the room itself.
    Blake's footsteps, the doorknob, the furniture. Rooms and houses have stories to tell. Maybe it looks better in black & white?
    I liked that she said that. It made her appear more feminine, more Knots season 1 & 2.
     
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  19. James from London

    James from London Soap Chat Enthusiast

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    02 Nov 88: DYNASTY: Broken Krystle v. 03 Nov 88: KNOTS LANDING: Borderline v. 04 Nov 88: DALLAS: No Greater Love v. 04 Nov 88: FALCON CREST: Farewell, My Lovelies

    No less than six Soap Land characters make their final appearances this week. On DYNASTY, Dana Carrington walks out on husband Adam, and it turns out she’s saved her best scenes till last. I’ve always found the actress’s need to emote at every opportunity a bit distracting, but in her final scenes she’s too drained, too defeated to do much more than simply deliver her lines and that’s all that’s really needed. When Adam tries to stop her leaving by taking her to bed, she silently acquiesces, then quietly makes her exit once he’s asleep. Our final glimpse of Dana is particularly striking: Fallon spots her as she descends the Carrington staircase with her cases and calls her name. Instead of replying, Dana simply walks out of the scene and off the show. Meanwhile, Fallon is immediately distracted by the news of Krystle’s disappearance and so doesn’t even acknowledge her departure. It reminds me of how no-one noticed the Wards leaving KNOTS at the end of Season 4 because they were too caught up in the events unfolding around them.

    There’s another abrupt departure on DALLAS where, after ten years’ loyal and crooked service, JR unceremoniously shows Harry McSween the door after he refuses to snatch John Ross from Sue Ellen. “If a cop can’t break the law, what the hell use is he?” JR asks. “Get outta here. I don’t wanna see you round here anymore.” And that’s that. Mitch Cooper also makes one last appearance on DALLAS as he tries, like Peter Stavros did on last week’s FALCON CREST, to persuade his estranged wife to return home with him. Lucy doesn’t give him a definitive response, but now she’s back in the opening credits, it doesn’t look hopeful. Angela, meanwhile, lets Peter down gently. “If I ever leave the valley, it’ll be with you,” she tells him. Peter has more success persuading Vicky to leave Tuscany in order to visit Eric, currently recovering in a Swiss clinic after being mentally “hung out to dry” by the Thirteen. “Come back soon, OK?” Maggie asks her daughter, but their tearful goodbye suggests a more permanent parting. Lastly, Carly Fixx bids an equally emotional farewell to Angela before leaving the valley to be with Dan. Now that they’re no longer brother and sister, they’re free to hook up — kind of making them Clay Fallmont and Leslie Carrington in reverse.

    The most conspicuous absence of the week, however, is Krystle’s. In the same way that the Pam we met on last week’s DALLAS was an unfamiliar looking woman who claimed to have turned her back on her family — almost an Anti-Pam — so the Krystle that is spoken of on this week’s DYNASTY resembles no Krystle we’ve ever encountered on screen. While Krystina tearfully claims that her mother has turned into a witch (“She said she was going someplace where nobody could find her, not even me!”), the figure described by an anguished Jeanette sounds positively ghostlike (“It was the middle of the night … All she had on was a thin little nightgown. I called out to her, but she just kept walking … She turned and I can’t describe the look in her eyes …”). Blake’s search for his wife leads him into a nightmarish version of Skid Row (not unlike the alley Sue Ellen found herself in during Pam’s Dream or the Mission District Joshua ended up on in KNOTS), full of graffitied walls and overflowing trash cans, where the woman he thinks is his wife turns out to be a grotesque parody dressed in a Krystle wig and a leather don’t-be-a-slave-to-fashion mini-skirt. The closest we get to the Krystle we know are some pictures in a photo album Blake looks through. The first couple of images, from their original wedding, are reassuringly familiar, but the next, from their second wedding, has Krystle’s face torn out of it. Presuming this is the Anti-Krystle’s handiwork, does that mean she isn’t a fan of Season 4?

    “These past few years, she hasn’t been herself,” says Jeanette. “I think it’s started and I don’t know what to do,” Blake tells someone over the phone. “She could be capable of almost anything,” warns Krystle’s doctor. We have no idea what any of them are talking about. We don’t even know why Blake was so upset that Krystle had apparently gone out for the day that it became last season’s finale cliffhanger. Yet this very “not-knowing” is what makes the story so bizarrely fascinating. It’s almost as if, while we’ve been watching Krystle on screen all these years, there’s been a whole other Krystle existing just beyond our field of vision. It turns out there’s a lake she likes to visit (“She goes there when she wants to be alone,” claims Sammy Jo) and a diary she’s kept religiously for years — who knew? Arriving at the lake at the end of the episode, Sammy Jo and Jeff spy a body on the shore. Is it Krystle’s? Or is Krystle somehow responsible for it? “She could be capable of almost anything,” remember, so at this point, it seems possible.

    On the way to this never-previously-mentioned lake, Jeff manages to drop in an intriguing bit of info-dumping: “I was here once when I was a kid. It wasn’t a lake then. It was a mine or some kind of excavation that Jason and Blake’s father were involved in.” Not to be outdone, Miss Ellie delivers an equivalent tidbit about a never-previously-mentioned river while showing prospective buyer Carter MacKay round Ray’s ranch on DALLAS. “It’s very soothing. I think the river’s even prettier here than when it reaches Southfork … This used to be part of Southfork long ago,” she continues, referring to the surrounding land. “My first husband gave a section to Ray Krebbs years ago and I gave him another section when he got married this year.” At the start of Season 9, we were given the impression that Ray had moved off his Southfork land and bought an entirely separate ranch as a statement of independence. Now, suddenly, it was part of Southfork all along. DYNASTY and DALLAS are rearranging their narratives in front of our very eyes and it’s quite exhilarating to watch.

    This seems to be part a growing trend in Soap Land — events, even entire lives, going on under our noses that we weren’t privy to at the time: Punk’s affair with his secretary that Mavis Anderson disclosed to Miss Ellie on last season’s DALLAS, Michael Fairgate admitting to Olivia on KNOTS that he contemplated suicide after being dumped by Paige, Cesar Ortega working at FALCON CREST for thirty-five years without anyone noticing. Along the same lines, Ben Gibson’s death is suddenly being treated as fact by everyone on KNOTS.

    “There are people in this world that have no conscience. They don’t think they’re bad people, they’s just practical. They do what they do because it’s good business … I understand the mentality, Karen … I was so selfish and self-centred that it took my daughter trying to kill herself before I realised there was anything wrong with that kind of thinking.” While KNOTS LANDING’s Abby is newly repentant and FALCON CREST’s Angela is newly frail, DYNASTY’s Alexis is newly frivolous. It takes her a couple of scenes to recover from the shock of her husband trying to kill her in her bathroom, but then she’s rolling around on the floor drunk, singing Cole Porter songs and cooing over Dex’s muscles before abruptly passing out. This is part of a new lighter atmosphere running counterpoint to the graver Krystle-Not-Krystle mystery. Yes, the same playfulness that infected DALLAS and KNOTS in the immediate post-dream era has finally filtered through to DYNASTY. When else in the show’s history could one expect to find Dex Dexter squeezed into a small bathtub, one leg hanging over the side, chomping on a cigar and flicking through a copy of Sports Action? Or Fallon, currently competing with Sammy Jo over Jeff, pulling down the zip of her top to emphasise her ample cleavage before coming face to face with her less endowed rival who responds by self-consciously buttoning up her own outfit?

    Whereas Cliff Barnes wants out of the rat race on DALLAS (“I’m getting out of the oil business,” he tells Bobby, offering to sell him Barnes Wentworth. “I just don’t enjoy the stress and the battle of it anymore”), Greg Sumner wants back in on KNOTS. (“I can’t control the things that are near and dear to my heart,” he complains to his new publicist Ted Melcher. “I’m a former United States senator … I wanna find out what my options are.”) Such is the fickle nature of Soap Land that Clayton Farlow and an off-screen Dan Fixx also decide to sell their businesses — the very same business they went to great lengths to start up only a few months ago (while Clayton risked his marriage, Dan risked his life). Like Cliff, Clayton offers Bobby first refusal on his refineries, while Pilar Ortega makes Dan an attractive offer on behalf of “a consortium of local Hispanics, people who thought they’d never have a chance to work for themselves. Now, with the help of the bank, they do.” It’s notable that while the Ortgeas are free to acknowledge their ethnicity on FALCON CREST, the Williamses have yet to do so on KNOTS.

    Bobby and Gary Ewing are both taken aback when one woman in their lives makes an outrageous claim about another. While a spiteful April accuses Pam of abandoning her family (“She doesn’t wanna know about you … nor even about Christopher … She’s gonna marry her surgeon. Isn’t that sweet? I guess he was taken by his own handiwork!”), a desperate Val accuses Jill of attempted murder (“She’s insane, Gary. She was wearing a wig and those rubber gloves and she threatened to kill our children … and then she held a gun to my head and prised my mouth open and poured those pills down my throat”). Bobby responds angrily to April’s outburst (“Get out of my office!”), but her words hit home (“Why don’t things work out the way you think they should, ever? Why can’t two people just fall in love and get married and live happily ever after?” he asks Tammy Miller after showing up drunk on her doorstep.) Gary is a lot gentler with Val, but that doesn’t mean he believes her (“Val honey, what happened to you was awful … but honey, you took an awful lot of pills and you’ve had some kind of nightmare”).

    In fact, nobody believes Val, including the cops. In other words, it’s “My babies are alive!” all over again. This becomes an issue when, in one of those interesting Soap Land collisions where melodramatic events have “real life” consequences, Val receives a visit from child services. In an effort to appear rational enough to look after her own children, Val claims her overdose was an accident. The social worker knows she’s lying, but thinks she’s trying to cover up a suicide rather than murder attempt. In the end, rather than let them fall into Jill’s clutches, she sends the twins to stay with Lilimae. Val’s behaviour is fascinating here. On one hand, she’s terrified for her life; on the other, she’s trying desperately not to act like the professional victim that Jill (accurately) accused her of being.

    There’s further upheaval for Soap Land’s kids this week. FALCON CREST’s Michael freaks out over Richard’s return (“You’re not my daddy! My daddy’s dead!”) while on DALLAS, Sue Ellen now has custody of John Ross and together they move into a big new house. Like Abby’s current beachfront property on KNOTS, it’s impressive, tasteful and somewhat anonymous, lacking the idiosyncratic charm of both the town house Sue Ellen lived in after her first divorce from JR and Abby and Gary’s original beach house back in Season 4. Things ain’t goin’ too good at the new house between Sue Ellen and John Ross, partly because she shot his daddy. JR’s mama may be able to forgive and forget what Sue Ellen has done (“Let that be an end to it,” she decrees), but it’s not so easy for his son. The sweet little scene where he confronts Sue Ellen was reenacted by Linda Gray and Josh Henderson twenty-five years later:



    In addition, John Ross clearly misses his life at Southfork. This storyline is ultimately resolved the same way it was in the Dream Season, with Sue Ellen allowing her son to remain at the ranch with JR. Back then, however, Sue Ellen was depicted as boringly pious. Here, contradictory aspects of her personality are allowed to co-exist (a trick New DALLAS would also cotton onto, with fascinating results) which results in a great scene at the end of the ep where she switches from self-sacrificing (“I’m willing to let him stay here if that’s what makes him happy”) to vengeful in a heartbeat. “If you think that by him being here settles any score between the two of us, you are sadly mistaken,” she tells JR. “The one thing I have to look forward to is evening the score and, believe me, I will!” There follows a terrific freeze frame of her walking away from JR (and her past at Southfork), all smouldering eyes and Medusa-like curls.

    While Blake searches frantically for Krystle on DYNASTY, Mack is still looking for Paige and Michael on KNOTS, only now aided by Harold Dyer. The Mackenzie kids are being held by a couple of Manny’s goons who are waiting for the order to kill them. This kind of hostage stuff is generic TV fodder, but KNOTS manages to put a fresh spin on it. (“What would you like me to do — hit him over the head with a lamp?” Paige asks Michael sarcastically. “Do you know how hard it is to knock somebody out by hitting them over the head? It’s practically impossible. They do it on TV, not in real life.”) Johnny unexpectedly rides to their rescue and decides the best way to make it back to US soil safely is by hitching a ride in the back of a truck carrying illegal immigrants over the border. Back at Lotus Point, Gary and Abby find Karen wailing at her desk and assume the worst. Then they realise she’s not crying, but laughing with relief at the news that Michael and Paige are alive and well. It’s the same switcheroo DALLAS pulled last week when it looked like Bobby was trying to hide his tears at JR’s bedside when really he was trying not to laugh — only KNOTS doesn’t pull it off quite so well. The truck makes it across the border, but its occupants aren’t out of the woods just yet. First, they are greeted by some armed racists who rob them. Then they find themselves locked in the back of truck in the middle of nowhere with no means of escape. Meanwhile, the sun beats down relentlessly — the first time sunlight has been used as an end of episode cliffhanger.

    Among those trapped inside is a young mother played by Isabel, Melissa’s last remaining servant on FALCON CREST. Arguably, Isabel’s better off in that truck. On FC, she’s obliged to watch as Melissa spends the ep ticking off the remaining items on her Random Crazy Person Behaviour checklist: singing nursery rhymes to a stuffed toy in the middle of the night, having a panic attack halfway during a one-night stand, firing a gun at the furniture, planning a birthday party for a child who won’t be able to attend because he lives on the other side of the world and, finally, setting the house on fire while still inside it.

    And this week’s Top 4 are …

    1 (2) DALLAS
    2 (1) KNOTS LANDING
    3 (-) DYNASTY
    4 (3) FALCON CREST
     
    Last edited: Aug 3, 2018
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  20. James from London

    James from London Soap Chat Enthusiast

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    09 Nov 88: DYNASTY: A Touch of Sable v. 10 Nov 88: KNOTS LANDING: Deserted v. 11 Nov 88: DALLAS: The Call of the Wild v. 11 Nov 88: FALCON CREST: Dust to Dust

    Following a rash of Soap Land departures, it is time for some new faces. While Sergeant Zorelli shows up on DYNASTY to investigate the dead body at the lake, the search for Krystle is concluded when her cousin Virginia appears to inform Blake that Krystle, somewhat dazed and confused, has returned to her hometown of Dayton. Over on DALLAS, the Ewing boys are on a hunting trip when JR spots “a little beautiful unspoiled thing” called Cally slinging hash. (We also glimpse an as-yet-unnamed woman on Carter Mackay’s staircase before she is sternly ordered back up to the bedroom.) And on FALCON CREST, Nick Agretti, the long-lost son of Melissa’s long-lost uncle shows up at her funeral, with his own son Ben in tow.

    Whereas Zorelli immediately picks up on Sammy Jo’s last name (“Carrington? Any relation to …?”), Cally looks at JR blankly after he proudly introduces himself. “That supposed to be some famous name or something?” she asks. And while DYNASTY’s Virginia has fond memories of growing up with her cousin Krystle (“She made my sister’s dress for the senior prom — she was up all night to make sure every stitch, everything, was perfect”), FC’s Nick is no memories of growing up with his father Frank at all (“Where the hell were you — some emerald mine, some country thousands of miles away from me?”).

    KNOTS and DALLAS take parallel walks down memory lane this week. Waiting for news of her son Michael, Karen looks through old family photo albums with Val and regrets the Little League games and Tooth Fairy moments she missed out on when he was a kid. Val looks wistful — might she possibly be thinking of the things she never got to experience with her own firstborn? “You can’t make that time up to them,” Karen sighs. “I know,” Val agrees. “I know you know,” Karen replies meaningfully and we realise that, yes, Val really was thinking about Lucy. Back on DALLAS, it’s Lucy herself who interrupts JR and Bobby’s cosy anecdotes about the hunting trips they took with Jock and Ray back in the good old days. “What about Uncle Gary, huh?” she asks. “I didn’t hear anybody mention his name.” “Gary wasn’t interested in things like that,” JR replies. “The first time he had to bait his own hook, he almost fainted!” “I don’t like that much either,” admits John Ross. “Careful, John Ross,” warns Lucy, tongue only partially in cheek, “your daddy’s liable to disinherit you.” Like Lucy, DYNASTY's Fallon manages to inject some spice into the family cocktail hour by evoking the memory of an absentee member. Slapping a glass out of Adam’s hand, she accuses him of taking advantage of Steven’s non-appearance at a Denver Carrington board meeting: “You deliberately tried to humiliate him in front of an entire board of directors … The look on your face was pure glee!”

    The parallels continue. While Adam sneers at the farewell letter Steven left for Blake (“Oh how touching — baby brother’s bi-annual bye-bye,” he scoffs before throwing it on the fire), JR is equally dismissive of his own brother’s literary efforts. “He used to like to write poetry,” he says of Gary. “Now can you imagine a real man who would rather write poetry than go hunting? Not me!” When Lucy argues with him, JR suggests she cross over to KNOTS LANDING (“Darlin’, if you feel so strongly about it, why don’t you move in with your daddy in California and stop inflicting yourself on us?”) in the very same week that Sable Colby crosses over to DYNASTY.

    Sable is actually one of three Soap Land returnees this week, all of whom have been in some way transformed since we last saw them. To quote April Stevens, “A whole new brash, cocky Casey Denault” is back in DALLAS, having struck it big in Oklahoma. (“It may not be Spindletop, but it is a gusher!” he crows.) Senator Peter Ryder returns to FALCON CREST, now sporting a moustache and acting shadier than usual. As for Sable, she’s swapped her magnificent obsession with husband Jason for a more malevolent one focused on cousin Alexis. After spying on her in a Los Angeles restaurant, Sable issues the following order over the phone: “I want you to find out what that witch is doing here … Alexis holds a very special place in my heart.” She then arranges to bump into Alexis and Dex at a nightclub where she offers her sympathies over the loss of Alexis’s husband. “I see you’re grief-stricken,” she observes archly, eyeing Alexis’s low-cut party gown. “I understand you lost your husband too,” Alexis responds. “Traded you in for your sister, didn’t he?” This is the episode’s only reference to Sable’s former life on THE COLBYS. Back on DALLAS, April becomes the first character to offer condolences to Sue Ellen following the season finale death of her big-haired love interest. “I’m so sorry about Nick,” she says. “I know how hard this is for you.” “It is,” Sue Ellen concedes, but neither she nor Alexis have time to sit around weeping. While Alexis is intent on retrieving her oil tankers from the Natumbe government, Sue Ellen is focused on getting back at JR. To that end, she suggests to Cliff that they reignite their old affair, but he has no interest in revenge. “I don’t want it anymore,” he says — nor does he want anything else, it would seem. “I could care less,” he says when April tells him about Casey’s strike. “I just wanna be left alone.” This is the severest case of soap fatigue we have yet seen.

    As Paige and Michael cross the Mexican border only to find themselves locked in the back of a truck and the Ewing brothers embark on a hunting trip with their sons, it’s goodbye Santa Tecla, hello Haleyville. Both towns are quaintly old-fashioned on the surface, but share an undercurrent of violence. Granted, that’s pretty much how all small towns have been depicted in Soap Land, from Landsdowne (where Jock and co went hunting in DALLAS Season 2 and ended up getting shot at) to Shula (where Val found refuge as Verna and Gary got beaten up when he came looking for her) to the close-knit community where Dan Fixx’s in-laws lived on FALCON CREST and Chase Gioberti found himself digging his own grave.

    The Ewing boys are in town to ostensibly hunt wildlife, but it soon becomes clear that Cally, aka “the belle of the ball around these parts”, is JR’s real quarry. “I’ll bet you all your life you’ve had men around you hemming and hawing, afraid to tell you what they really think,” he says to her. “I knew what they were thinking by the time I was fourteen. It don’t matter where they come from or how old they were, they all acted the same,” she replies, exhibiting the same self-awareness that Mandy Winger did when she and JR first met. (“I’ve always known I was beautiful. That’s the reason men come onto me.”) Whereas Mandy had already channelled her appeal into a career prior to meeting JR, Cally has yet to realise her potential.

    “I’m gonna open a whole new world for you, a world you have never seen,” JR promises her. It’s a world Deanna, the Mexican mom presently trapped in the back of that truck on KNOTS, along with her daughter, Paige, Michael, Johnny and three others, has probably never seen either, except on TV. “All of my daughter’s teachers say that she is very smart,” she says. “She could be a doctor or a scientist [or] a ballerina. Also, she’s a very good writer. In the United States, she can choose what she wants to be, no? … We plan to live near a bus line until we get a car … and we hope to have a yard with a strong fence … and maybe we hope to have a microwave and a Maytag.”

    Where Paige dismisses Deanna’s “bloody dreams”, JR encourages Cally’s. “I can get you anything you want, anything you’ve dreamed of. You have dreams, don’t you?” “Sure I have them,” she admits, “but when I wake up I’m right back here in Haleyville. Reckon I always will be.” These words are echoed later in the same ep by JR wannabe Casey as he dumps Sly: “Honey, you’re just a secretary and that’s all you’re ever gonna be. I got my eye on a lot bigger game.” Back in Haleyville, JR refuses to accept Cally’s gloomy prognosis for herself. “I don’t think the good Lord intended that for you,” he insists. Back on KNOTS, Deanna also invokes a Higher Power. “God will not permit us to die,” she tells the others as they languish inside the truck for a day and a night.

    “I’ve been special all my life. There isn’t anything I wanted I didn’t get,” JR brags matter-of-factly. It doesn’t seem to occur to him that the reason he can have whatever he wants is that he was born rich. (Remind you of anyone?) But then, isn’t that what the American Dream is all about — believing that if you want it badly enough, it’s yours for the taking? “Most people are afraid to go after what they really want,” JR continues. Going after what they want is what put Deanna and her daughter on that truck and prompted Casey to dump Sly for Lucy Ewing. “Damn, do I love this place,” he says to himself as he eyes up Southfork.

    After Mack finally frees everyone from the truck, the Mexican passengers are immediately rounded up for deportation back to where they have just come from. “If it is God’s will, we will return,” declares Deanna. However, it is the will of the scriptwriters that Deanna and her daughter be given a hopeful ending. Mack reaches through the fence separating them and hands her the bundle of cash he swiped from Manny’s body at the beginning of last week’s ep. We can’t see how much is there, but Michael’s line “Here, take it — you want her to be a doctor, don’t you?” suggests it’s a life-changing amount of money. While there’s something neatly ironic about a disadvantaged family becoming the ultimate benefactors of Manny Vasquez's heinous deeds, it also lets everyone else — the remaining characters, the show's writers and us viewers alike — off the hook. We need no longer concern ourselves with the social and racial inequalities we have just witnessed because, hey, in the end, nice things happen to nice people — and so we are free to refocus our attention on the pretty folks on the cul-de-sac with their glossy lives and exciting problems. Heck, they even live near a bus line! Such liberal handwringing doesn’t concern Bobby Ewing who happily talks to the desk clerk at the Haleyville hotel like he’s subnormal. I get the nasty feeling we’re meant to share Bobby’s sense of superiority and amusement towards the local yokels. When Paige turned on Deanna in the truck (“She is the one who needs a lecture about bringing a kid into a situation like this — what kind of a mother would do that?!”), Michael was at least there to oppose her: “Paige, I swear to God, if you don’t shut up, I’m gonna slap your face!” If only there was somebody in that hotel lobby to challenge Bobby in the same way.

    Blake Carrington is less overtly patronising than Bobby when he sits in Virginia’s modest front room and watches her darning a shirt. “Till I met Krystle, it never crossed my mind that somebody could find pleasure in sewing — she enjoys it, even now,” he smiles, romanticising the kind of domestic drudgery Soap Land’s rich need never concern themselves with. But while Mack’s generous gift and Blake’s rose-coloured anecdote wrap up the lives of those less advantaged with a tidy little bow, the promises JR has made in his pursuit of Cally (“You belong where I come from, not working in some little backwater bar. You need your own place with fine clothes and jewellery, servants to wait on you,”) have awoken a dormant restlessness in her: “You’ve got my head so swimming, I don’t hardly know what’s real.” There is no going back for Cally after this — she can no longer be content sewing like Krystle or dreaming of a Maytag like Deanna.

    Elsewhere in Haleyville, the scenes where JR teaches his son to hunt are a little hard to stomach. When faced with the reality of shooting a defenceless animal, John Ross is initially reluctant. After JR scolds him for “acting like your Uncle Gary”, he overcomes his reservations, pulls the trigger and hits his target. Lo, a new Ewing hunter is born. While the boy is all smiles from then on, his prior hesitation apparently forgotten, his fleeting ambivalence seems to lay the foundation for the adult John Ross’s inner struggle over how much like his father he really wants to be.

    The Mackenzie kids return to a seemingly endless (but not unenjoyable) get-together back at the cul-de-sac where virtually every member of the cast, save Gary and Jill, shows up at Karen and Mack’s and they all get on like a house on fire (no disrespect to Falcon Crest intended). Abby embraces everyone from Val to Paige to Harold without so much as a sardonic eye-roll. (There’s further un-ironic bonding on FC where Richard consoles Angela as they stand in the ruins of her burnt-out family home.) For a while, it looks as if KL Season 10 might be turning into one of those “everyone likes everyone else” seasons (see also: DYNASTY Season 7, DALLAS Season 8). However, running counter to all that harmony, there's a mounting tension as word of Val’s overdose spreads around the party. Finally, she erupts, sending a tray of hors-d’oeuvres flying in the process.

    Not counting the deer slaughtered by John Ross, there are three dead in this week’s Soap Land. Two are nameless — the young man whose body is found by the lake on DYNASTY and the elderly man who expires during the truck ordeal on KNOTS. The third is more familiar: FALCON CREST’s Melissa Agretti Cumson Gioberti Cumson Agretti. While nowhere near as devastating, her death recalls Sid Fairgate’s on KNOTS in that both tragedies ignore some unspoken rules of TV grammar, occurring at the start of a new season while both characters are still in the opening credits. Each has survived the climactic incident (her fire, his crash), only to later die as a result of their injuries in hospital. Even more unusually, Melissa expires midway through an episode.

    When it does come, I have to admit that Melissa’s death, or more specifically, Lance’s reaction to it, is quite touching. The fact that we see her dead body means there’s no chance of a Richard-style return from the grave anytime soon (or is there?) In the aftermath, the ep achieves a few moments of real gravitas — the scene where Maggie calls Cole in Australia to break the news is particularly affecting. This sense of genuine emotion carries through to the storyline involving Frank Agretti and his son Nick. Estranged parent/child plots are as old as the Soap Land hills, but this one feels freshly poignant, due in part to the presence of Nick’s son Ben — a likably awkward and believable teenager, as opposed to the more traditional Tiger Beat pinup.

    The last time a Soap Land madwoman set herself and the building she was in on fire for no discernible reason — DYNASTY’s Claudia — Blake found himself under arrest for arson and causing wrongful death. In the final scene of this week’s FALCON CREST, its Lance’s turn. DYNASTY likewise ends with a regular character suspected of murder. Even though Krystle has been found, she remains stubbornly off screen for the entirety of this week’s ep. Instead, we are continually assured that she, like Death in that poem, is in the next room. While she is sleeping, Virginia casually mentions to Blake that Krystle told her “something about running away from a lake … and that she had killed a man … but it’s ridiculous. I mean, Krystle committing murder?” Virginia’s incredulity is matched by Gary’s on KNOTS when Jill tells him that she’s “worried about what Val might do … As scared as she says she is of me, I’m equally scared of her.” “Val would never hurt anyone,” he insists.

    At the end of last season’s Ewingverse, Val and JR were each left for dead. The closing scene of this week’s KNOTS finds a terrified but vigilant Val sitting up all night in her living room, a knife clutched in her hand. In contrast, the end of this week’s DALLAS finds a complacent JR, having fallen asleep after seducing the town virgin, waking to find himself staring down the barrel of yet another gun. "You're a dead man," Cally’s brother Japhet informs him. As Sue Ellen remarked to April earlier in the episode, “I guess he’s destined to die in bed.”

    And this week’s Top 4 are …

    1 (3) DYNASTY
    2 (2) KNOTS LANDING
    3 (4) FALCON CREST
    4 (1) DALLAS
     
    • Winner Winner x 2

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