Discussion in 'Dynasty' started by James from London, Sep 20, 2016.
I may as well admit, I wish you were only reviewing DYNASTY, now that you're in Season 9.
It's amazing how many times the jungle or farwaway outback seems to be the only alternative location to SoapLand for characters to venture, hide or die.
Matthew Blaisdel, Ben Gibson, Ben Carrington, Jock Ewing, Dr. Vincent Markham….
I found this so-near-yet-so-far-away approach parcticularly unsettling, maybe even more so because it's not happening in a jungle, but in good ol' Dayton, Ohio.
At that point I had no idea what was going to happen, and if she would re-appear on screen at all.
There's something about characters assurances in soap stories that makes me very suspicious.
Eventhough that doesn't explain or excuse the rather bizarre situation of Lucy's upbringing (and how that hardly transpired in the Knots universe), the fact that it's being acknowledged and understood by a soap character like Karen MacKenzie gives this part of the Dallas/KL story a touching epilogue.
I'm not totally buying it, but they make it very easy for me to go with the flow of the current sentiment. Again, thanks to Karen.
Ironically, the idea of Krystle being a lifelong Holly Hobby, which should be totally believable, seems very stuck on.
She didn't even create Sammy Jo's "Flamingo Road" dress for The Party episode.
That is such a Blake-Season 1 thing to say, how could he ever not be a Carrington?
I found Melissa's hospital death-scene to be quite an anti-climax as I preferred the idea of her being literally consumed by the show's ultimate prize: the precious Falcon Crest.
And it looked too similar to Lance and Lorraine's last scene (did he say goodbye to Dina?)
But now you've mentioned the aftermath, perhaps that worked better with the momentum of Melissa's death in the same episode.
30 Nov 88: DYNASTY: She's Back v. 01 Dec 88: KNOTS LANDING: Sex and Violence v. 02 Dec 88: DALLAS: Road Work v. 02 Dec 88: FALCON CREST: Tuscany Venus
In the opening episode of this season’s DYNASTY, Blake spotted a woman with Krystle-style hair standing with her back to him. Believing her to be his missing wife, he approached her. She turned around — and was revealed to be someone else entirely.
The back-of-the-head tease is one we’ve become familiar with in Soap Land over the years. FALCON CREST deployed it twice towards the end of last season. “I thought you were dead,” said Maggie to a man with his back to the camera. “When are you gonna tell Maggie you’re alive?” Angela asked another, likewise positioned. In both cases, the show was playing with audience expectations of a genre in which the dead do not necessarily stay dead by implying that Chase Gioberti might have risen from his watery grave. In both cases, this turned out to be a red herring.
(Ironically, this soap trope actually worked against FC two weeks ago when it wanted to show John Remick’s execution on screen, but due to the actor’s unavailability, could only show him from behind. Our hardened Soap Land instincts told us this must be a back-of-the-head tease, and so even after we were told the dead man was Remick, we were still waiting for a twist — only this time there wasn’t one.)
This week’s DYNASTY opens with Blake waking up in Virginia’s house and looking for Krystle in the room where she apparently spent the previous episode resting. She’s not there. He calls her name. No answer. He walks into the backyard to see … a woman with familiar-looking shoulder-length blonde hair, her face turned away from the camera. Again, our soapy instincts kick in and we steel ourselves for another impostor or maybe even a recast. Even Blake himself looks wary. But no, she turns around and this time it is really her, it is really Krystle, back on screen for the first time in eight months and looking as radiantly serene as ever — seemingly unaware that circumstances surrounding her (including her own history) have significantly altered in the intervening time. Now, as we observe her saying and doing the same old lovey-dovey things she always has, it’s as if we’re doing so from a distance, through a piece of gauze. The effect is oddly poignant and slightly surreal.
This feeling of surreality continues in a more nightmarish way on DALLAS where JR has suddenly landed in a TV spinoff of COOL HAND LUKE (the 1967 prison movie for which the Ewings’ new neighbour, Carter McKay, won an Oscar), full of downtrodden prisoners, chain gangs and sadistic prison wardens. “This is your only world and I am your only God!” bellows the man in charge known only, as was his equivalent in COOL HAND LUKE, as the Captain. And the penal camp JR now finds himself in really does feel like a fully-realised, self-contained world — the setting, location and the casting all solid and believable. Perhaps the least believable element is JR himself. Like Krystle, he remains fundamentally unchanged in spite of his change in circumstances, intent on bragging and bribing his way back to freedom. Eventually, however, the physical reality of their respective situations catch up with both Krystle and JR.
Krystle’s return to the mansion is marked by a family dinner, a typically ornate Soap Land occasion where a typical Soap Land argument is underway (Sammy Jo and Fallon are accusing Adam of burning Steven’s letters). Almost unnoticed at first, Krystle begins to lose control. “Please stop,” she whispers, trembling and clutching at the tablecloth, pulling it towards her. (Disrupting the place settings in a show that some would say is all about place settings? How blasphemous!) “Stop it, stop it, stop it!” she finally cries, as if she were somehow malfunctioning, rejecting the trappings of the Soap Land world in the same way Jaime Sommers rejected her bionics on THE SIX MILLION DOLLAR MAN. JR, meanwhile, is brought to his knees, literally, when he is locked overnight in a tortuously confined space known as “the box” (another plot element familiar from COOL HAND LUKE).
If the penal camp is a direct lift from COOL HAND LUKE, then Emma’s story on FALCON CREST owes something of a debt to Daphne du Maurier’s REBECCA. The forbidding housekeeper speaks of RD Lang’s dead wife in the same reverential terms that Mrs Danvers spoke of the first Mrs de Winter. (“No-one has played this piano since Mrs Lang died.”) And like Mrs de Winter, Mrs Lang died in a mysterious boating accident caused by her husband. FC even goes so far as to name the housekeeper Mrs Anderson, a likely nod to Judith Anderson, the actress who played Danvers in Hitchcock’s movie adaptation of REBECCA.
The bodybag tease, a lesser-known variation on the back-of-the-head tease, is deployed in the opening moments of this week’s FALCON CREST when someone’s corpse is wheeled out of Richard’s house following on from last week’s “Who did Maggie shoot?” cliffhanger. It comes as no surprise to learn that she hit her target, Senator Ryder, rather than her husband — although that’s not much comfort to Maggie herself in the immediate aftermath. “How do I ever live with myself?” she sobs. “I’ve done the most horrible thing one human being can do to another!” This is more remorse than JR, Sue Ellen, Dex Dexter and Jill Bennett combined have shown for the people they killed (or almost killed) at the end of last season.
While Maggie is freaking out over killing someone, Krystle is starting to freak out that she may have killed someone. No sooner has her dinner table outburst subsided (“What happened? I don’t know what happened to me!”) than Sergeant Zorelli arrives to question her about the body at the lake. The scene where the Carringtons meet Zorelli by the mansion staircase is filmed in a strikingly interesting way, with the characters shot from below. Even though Zorelli is courtesy itself, the low-angles makes him an imposing, ominous presence. These shots and the hand-held camera that follows a panicky Krystle up to her bedroom evoke feelings of urgency and claustrophobia, which is very different from the stately camerawork we’re used to seeing on DYNASTY. Conversely, a sense of wide-open space help to sell the big set-pieces on this week’s DALLAS. As well as the scenes in the penal camp, the sequence where Clayton, on horseback, finds that Carter McKay has dammed up the river that runs between their two ranches and is then shot at from a helicopter (“Mr Farlow, you are on Mr McKay’s private property! Please leave at once!”) is very impressively staged.
Lance Cumson is also discovered to be trespassing this week, but when Nick Agretti, now the executor of Melissa’s estate, finds him sitting by the Falcon Crest river, he reacts more magnanimously than Carter McKay’s foreman did. “You don’t need an excuse [to be here],” he tells him. “When Melissa and I were teenagers, this used to be our favourite spot,” Lance recalls. Pilar later reminds him that they too used to swim there — in such a way as to suggest swimming wasn’t all they got up to. Along with the Carrington lake on DYNASTY and the Southfork/McKay river on DALLAS, this becomes the third stretch of water to be imbued with historical significance this season.
As well as Krystle, a re-energised Angela Channing also returns this week — with a new target in her sights. “Everyone has a skeleton in their closet,” she tells an underling. “You find Nick Agretti’s and make sure that skeleton rattles.” Two notable female characters are absent, however. While Alexis is in Africa, wheeling and dealing, Miss Ellie is upstairs. (“Grandma still isn’t feeling well,” Christopher explains.) Whereas there is so much going on in DYNASTY that you don’t really notice Alexis isn’t there, Southfork is looking so underpopulated these days (“I remember when this place used to be packed before dinner — where is everybody?” asks Bobby) that it needs all the familiar faces it can get. Poor Sue Ellen has to resort to taking her real-life daughter out to lunch in order to have someone to confide in.
Three weeks ago, JR Ewing seduced a woman young enough to be his daughter. Last week, Paige Matheson seduced a man old enough to be her father. “It’s just a cultural hang-up,” she shrugs. “What difference does twenty years or so make?” Her seduction technique involved skinny-dipping in Greg’s pool, a move which echoed the flashback scene from a couple of years ago when Paige’s mother (also played by Paige) fooled Young Mack into thinking she was swimming naked, but then lifted herself out of the water to reveal the skimpiest of bathing suits. However, when Paige stepped out of the water in front of an appreciative Greg, there was little doubt that she was completely naked — as is Pilar Ortega when Nick Agretti finds her taking a late night swim on this week’s FALCON CREST. Later in the same ep, she and Lance decide to go skinny-dipping for old time’s sake and there are some rather daring close-ups of jeans being unzipped and underwear sliding down legs followed by what looks like the briefest glimpse of bare Soap Land buttock before they jump into the water. Over on DALLAS, Casey Denault suggests to Lucy that they likewise take an impromptu dip in the pool. While he strips to his underwear, Lucy chastely dives in in jeans and a T-shirt. Whereas Lance and Pilar make post-swim love on the riverside, Lucy explains to Casey that she’s “not ready for that just yet.” He smiles understandingly, then calls her a bitch as soon as she’s out of earshot.
Also on last week’s KNOTS, Mack challenged Paige to a game of one-on-one basketball. She claimed to be a novice but turned out to be suspiciously adept. Something similar happens on this week’s DALLAS when Bobby and Cliff encounter a sexy pool hustler called Tracy. When her opponent turns nasty and refuses to pay up, she declines Bobby’s offer of help. “I can handle Mr Macho myself,” she assures him before whacking Mr Macho in the nuts with a pool cue — a Soap Land first. Another notable moment follows when Tracy asks Bobby if he and Cliff are “an item.” Bobby laughs in reply, without any of the moral indignation that greeted previous suggestions that DALLAS characters (Cliff in Season 1, Peter Richards in Season 6) might be gay.
Speaking of basketball, Nick Agretti’s son Ben and Pilar Ortega’s kid brother Gabriel bond while shooting hoops, forging a narratively useful connection between their two families. There’s something surprisingly appealing about FALCON CREST’s new batch of wholesome, down-to-earth characters. After that long succession of glitzy but ultimately hollow guest stars, they're a welcome change.
The Williamses’ Witness Protection Programme plot reaches a climax of sorts on this week’s KNOTS. When Nicholas Pearce’s cover was blown during his equivalent storyline on DALLAS, April’s nosiness was to blame. This time, Julie’s literacy is the cause, as her success in a local spelling bee leads to unwanted exposure for the family. The parts of the episode where they are terrorised in their own home and Pat is blackmailed at the bank where she works are really gripping, but after Mack rides to their rescue, the story becomes hopelessly far-fetched. While I’ll happily go along with underground satellite surveillance systems at Empire Valley or Ben Gibson being ordered to assassinate someone, I draw the line at Mack posing as a movie director and talking knowledgeably about cold reads and Stella Adler. As for the annoying Peggy mugging furiously as his assistant — as unfunny comedy goes, her performance ranks alongside FALCON CREST as its lamest.
Dead bodies play an unusually prominent role in two of this week’s soaps. In the final scene of DYNASTY, Krystle views the corpse found at the lake to see if it triggers any memories for her. “I’ve never seen him before,” she declares. However, from the expression on his face, it’s clear that Blake has. The second body shows up on KNOTS, somehow planted by Mack and Frank in the apartment of Vincent Donnelly, the hospital orderly-cum-actor-cum-extortionist who’s been menacing Pat and Frank all episode long. Frank uses the same gun Mack tricked Donelly into firing at an audition to shoot the corpse and — oh, it’s just ridiculous really.
And this week’s Top 4 are …
1 (-) DYNASTY
2 (1) FALCON CREST
3 (-) KNOTS LANDING
4 (2) DALLAS
Yeah, there's something about her dying mid-episode, followed almost straightaway by her funeral, which is quite effective.
As soon as you mentioned the river I thought about this scene.
And I remember thinking "was that what I thought it was, or are my eyes deceiving me?"
But he presented himself as a spokesperson for a dangerous organization, didn't he?
So I think there was definitely a sense of danger, and the fact that he turned out to be pretty harmless tapped into the paranoia of the Williamses' story.
Like Karen said: he...he was an actor. An actor!
Maybe it was inspired by the Wizard Of Oz (to add another movie title to this week's soap shenanigans).
07 Dec 88: DYNASTY: Body Trouble v. 08 Dec 88: KNOTS LANDING: A Weekend Getaway v. 09 Dec 88: DALLAS: War and Love and the Whole Damned Thing v. 09 Dec 88: FALCON CREST: Liars Anonymous
“Dinner is served!” announces Krystle Carrington on DYNASTY. “There’s just one thing to do — blow that dam to kingdom come!” declares Ellie Farlow on DALLAS. Yes, this is the week in which two seemingly mild-mannered matriarchs each provide us with a classic Soap Land moment which proves there’s life in the old genre yet.
That said, budget cuts mean that Soap Land is no longer the glamour palace it once was. Aside from KNOTS, which has always paid lip service to the way “normal” people live, each of the soaps seems to have adopted a more “down to earth” approach as a result. This change is most notable on DALLAS, which is now more about sweat stains than shoulder pads. Last week, JR was part of a road gang and this week, Cally’s brothers have him strapped to a horse like some kind of human plough. The series’ new villain, Carter McKay, is a portly, ruddy-faced man of advanced years and this week's ep ends with his men, a bunch of burly mercenary types, taking on some sluggish-looking ranch hands in a barroom brawl that ends in death. It’s a long way from Angelica Nero producing a lethal hatpin from her Travilla turban. DYNASTY and FALCON CREST, meanwhile, are both spending more time with their shows’ “ordinary” folk than is customary. While we’re getting to know the cops investigating the body-at-the-lake mystery, some of the less exclusive areas of the Tuscany Valley — the school attended by Ben Agretti, the bank where Pilar Ortega works and the local town centre — have become familiar settings on FC. These changes result in some interesting “them and us” dialogue. Zorelli’s partner expresses surprise when their boss involves himself in their case: “The captain coming down to the morgue — can you believe that? … You don’t get brass like that hanging out with peons like us.” “You do when the Carringtons are involved in the case — I’m surprised Handler didn’t show up with floats and a marching band,” Zorelli replies. Over on FALCON CREST, Pilar responds angrily when Angela opposes the Hispanic consortium: “I will never understand why the people who own this valley are so reluctant to share it … All this talk about those who have and those who don’t — it makes me crazy!” JR’s current ordeal, meanwhile, has brought him face to face with how the other half lives. “I can’t believe this is happening to me,” he grumbles to Cally. “I am a multi-millionaire. People get out of the way when I walk down the street. I write the rules in Dallas.” “Well, it may not be such a bad thing to find out you’re not all that different from the rest of us,” she suggests. “Honey, if I didn’t think I was different, I’d just as soon your brothers killed me tonight,” he replies.
Almost exactly a month after Sergeant Harry McSween made his final appearance on DALLAS when JR unceremoniously kicked him out of his office, his checked-jacketed counterpart, PI Morgan Hess, makes his final appearance on DYNASTY when Adam Carrington unceremoniously kicks him out of his office. “Private eye?" he scoffs. "That jerk couldn’t find a mountain in the Rockies.” It's as fitting an epitaph as any.
We finally find out what’s wrong with Krystle — and so does she. She’s suffering from "an artery to brain malfunction" (which is more information than we got on whatever killed Laura on KNOTS) caused by “that riding accident” back in Season 2. “Wait a minute — are you telling me that you’ve known about this for years?” she asks Blake, her surprise mirroring the audience’s. Something else we didn’t know about: Sable Colby’s pre-existing affection for Blake and Krystle. “I’ve always admired the devotion that you and Krystle share — you can’t imagine what it means to me to see that kind of love,” she tells Blake, even though her only previous encounter with “Krystle” was a somewhat arch encounter with Rita the lookalike. It doesn’t really matter — one scene between John Forsythe and Stephanie Beacham is all we need to sell us on the idea that their characters share a connection. FALCON CREST’s Richard and Pilar also share a past, it would seem. “I went to a lot of trouble, young lady, to bring you back to this valley and set you up with a job at that bank,” he reminds her/reveals to us this week.
“Blondie, you are going through some bizarre personality change — it’s like you’ve been invaded by the Body Snatchers.” That’s Greg Sumner talking to Virtuous, Virtuous Abby on KNOTS — but the description could just as easily apply to Krystle. It feels as if, somewhere along the line and without us even noticing, she too has been invaded, or even replaced, by the Soap Land equivalent of a Stepford Wife — and now that replacement is starting to malfunction. “Dinner is served,” she repeats on a loop, smiling graciously while sending plates flying into the air, colliding with Ming vases and narrowly missing party guests as they go. It’s a brief but remarkable sequence: on one hand, it acts as a sly comment on the sheer vacuousness of Soap Land itself; on the other, it’s genuinely poignant.
Back on KNOTS, Greg’s assessment of Abby’s “personality change” isn’t quite fair. Unlike a lot of “bad” characters who turn over a new leaf, she hasn’t lost her wit or intelligence in the process. (She even laughs at the Body Snatchers gag.) While this may not her most memorable period, she is nonetheless more recognisably “Abby” than she was during most of last season’s Charles Scott storyline. The only real cost is to her screen-time: now she’s no longer scheming, there’s less opportunity for her to take centre stage.
Two crime-related stories are neatly (perhaps too neatly) wrapped up this week. On KNOTS, the Witness Protection Programme storyline comes to an official close when a fake newspaper story convinces the bad guys that Pat and Julie have been killed in a car crash. (This is not to be confused with the fake gravestones that convinced the equivalent bad guys on last season’s DALLAS that Nick Pearce’s parents had also died in a car crash.) Meanwhile on FALCON CREST, another headline (“Phone Bill Sets Facts Straight: Agretti Death Probable Suicide”) exonerates Lance of killing Melissa.
Two other Soap Land investigations are currently underway — one led by Zorelli pertaining to the dead body on DYNASTY, the other conducted on KNOTS by Val, who visits the San Francisco hotel Jill stayed at on the night of the overdose in the hopes of discrediting her alibi. Whereas the enjoyment of the KL plot comes from watching the characters try to piece together what we already know, the thrill of the DYNASTY story is that it’s a complete mystery to us — we don’t even know who the body belongs to or what his death has to do with the Carringtons. Meanwhile, Blake’s covert trips to the cellar have suddenly transformed the mansion into a place filled with secrets and lies. (This is another example of Soap Land budget cuts being used creatively — who needs dresses made of gold and million dollar flower arrangements when you’ve got dark shadows and moral ambiguity with which to fire the viewers’ imaginations?)
Both storylines include some nicely idiosyncratic moments along the way, which aren’t essential to the plot but nonetheless add an interesting texture to the proceedings. When Fallon accompanies Zorelli to the morgue, she quizzes him about the drawers where the dead bodies are kept. “Are all these compartments ever full?” she enquires. “Always, unfortunately,” he replies. “What do you do with the others?” she asks. “It’s kind of ‘first come first served’,” he explains. “The rest wait in a storage freezer.” They’re talking about corpses, but there’s a sexy subtext to the exchange that makes it kind of kinky. Meanwhile, this week’s KNOTS opens with Gary sitting in a psychiatrist’s office, talking directly to the camera about his feelings for Val: “Do I love her? Yeah, I do. But it’s not what you think … She really believes Jill tried to kill her.” He and Karen accompany her to San Fransisco, offering moral support whilst simultaneously hoping she’ll accept the reality of her suicide attempt. Instead, Val finds a hole in Jill’s alibi — no-one at the hotel saw her after 8pm, leaving her enough time to fly back to Knots and commit the crime. Gary still doesn’t buy it, however, which prompts Val to pose an intriguing question: “Would it be easier on you, Gary, if I had tried to kill myself rather than Jill be found guilty of this — would that be less difficult for you?”
The Ewingverse’s May/December romances attract unwanted interference from family members this week. Paige’s father doesn’t yet know who she is involved with (“I didn’t tell Mack,” she assures Greg. “You two have some boyhood rivalry going on that I don’t understand and I don’t wanna understand”), but he still doesn’t approve of the hours she’s been keeping: “I don’t run a hotel here. You’re either gonna live here or you’re not.” Cally’s brothers are even more controlling on DALLAS. “They won’t let me go to work no more,” she explains when JR asks her to go into town and call for help. She does, however, put herself in the firing line when Japhet and Boaz threaten to kill him. “I’d rather die with him here than spend the rest of my life knowing what you done!” she tells them. This leads to her and JR tying the knot in what is literally a shotgun wedding, only screen moments after Sue Ellen has divorced him back in Dallas. The sight of JR in a shabby, ill-fitting suit, reluctantly saying his vows as his demented new family look on proudly is laugh-out-loud funny. As he and Cally are bonded in holy matrimony, a wrinkle appears in Greg and Paige’s relationship. “If Miss Matheson is part of your private life, you’re asking for trouble,” Greg’s publicist Ted Melcher warns him. “I’m not passing judgement, but the public will … Besides, what’s she gonna talk about at embassy parties — the new George Michael single?” Exchange George Michael for John Waite and Ted's just described Taryn Blake, Paige’s former self on PAPER DOLLS.
Elsewhere on KNOTS, Ted flirtatiously compliments Paige on her appearance. “Why do you assume that I wanna be judged on my looks?” she asks him, a sentiment echoed by Tracey Lawton over on DALLAS. “I’d be just as happy if they’d look me in the eye rather than down my dress,” she complains to Bobby while schmoozing for work at an oilman’s shindig.
Tracey isn’t the only supporting character presently looking for employment. Reformed gangster Harold Dyer and Tommy Ortega, sacked from his trucking gig after sneaking a beer, are also in the job market. Whereas Mack offers Harold both moral and practical support, Bobby proves a distraction to Tracey, luring her away from a job interview with the offer of a rematch at pool. Tommy’s pal Paco, meanwhile, turns out to be the devil on his shoulder: “You’re wasting your time, man. I keep telling you: you don’t need a job to make money.”
Meanwhile, Blake appoints Jeff to the Denver Carrington board (“I don’t believe you’re giving Jeff equal power with me — how can you do this to me?!” seethes Adam), Bobby welcomes Cliff as his new partner in Ewing Oil (“There’s gonna be one hell of a bloodbath when JR gets back,” predicts Casey Denault) and Maggie Channing buys a local newspaper, the Tuscany Herald, outbidding her own husband in the process.
DYNASTY and KNOTS each end with a surprise announcement relating to their respective investigations: “The autopsy’s come up with some pretty bizarre findings. The man’s been dead for twenty to thirty years,” Zorelli informs Blake and Fallon. “I met someone at the convention … I had an affair,” Jill tells Gary.
And this week’s Top 4 are …
1 (1) DYNASTY
2 (3) KNOTS LANDING
3 (2) FALCON CREST
4 (4) DALLAS
Unemployment is also very unglamorous. Gone are the days that all and sundry could become a vice-president of something, or so it seems.
Hmmmm…. I'm not quite sure stately and static are the same thing.
14 Dec 88: DYNASTY: Alexis in Blunderland v. 15 Dec 88: KNOTS LANDING: The Briar Patch v. 16 Dec 88: DALLAS: Showdown at the Ewing Corral v. 16 Dec 88: FALCON CREST: Life with Father
Alexis is back on DYNASTY after her two-week visit to Natumbe, JR is back in Dallas after his three-week ordeal in Haleyville (somehow it seems longer) and, best of all, Abby is back to her good old, bad old ways on KNOTS.
From a character standpoint, Alexis’s two-episode absence has worked in her favour. Whereas her existence has traditionally revolved around thwarting Blake’s happiness, she now has interests beyond what we can see on screen and this makes her seem a stronger, more rounded figure. It’s ironic that Blake and Krystle’s marriage should now be facing its biggest threat and Alexis isn’t involved. When Adam tells his mother about Krystle’s recent strange behaviour, she’s interested but detached. “Krystle throwing plates? … I’ve known her for years — she’s never even been able to throw a tantrum!” she quips before moving swiftly on to more pressing matters.
The damage caused by Sean Rowan and Manny Vasquez at the end of last season has left both Alexis and the Lotus Point gang on KNOTS in a financially vulnerable position. This week, each is approached by an interested party who offers to take the Carlton Hotel and Lotus Point off their respective hands. Looking to consolidate her holdings, Alexis agrees and asks Dex to deal with the sale. He proceeds to negotiate somewhat flirtatiously with an attractive representative of the as-yet-unnamed corporation. Meanwhile, Gary and Abby persuade Karen that the only way to avoid bankruptcy is to sell out to Murakame Holdings, ostensibly “a Japanese investment firm located in Hawaii”, but really a front for Abby herself. (FALCON CREST’s equivalent resort, the Del Oro Spa, appears safe for the time being. In fact, Angela hosts the show’s very first Christmas celebrations there.)
“How soon after I own the property outright can I start drilling?” Abby asks Rick Hawkins, her new business associate-cum-confidante. “And how soon after that could I be pumping oil to a refinery?” While Abby is secretly getting into the oil business, Sable Colby is hatching a plan to anonymously acquire seven shipping tankers currently owned by Alexis. “I never thought of you as the type to be involved with shipping,” remarks her new business associate-cum-confidante Hamilton Stone. “They’re Colby ships,” she replies briskly. “It’s only fitting they should end up with someone who has a right to that family name.”
The precise moment when Abby learned there was oil under Lotus Point and decided that contrition wasn’t as much fun as defrauding her business partners or planting drugs in her daughter’s boyfriend’s locker isn’t clear. As with Blake learning about Krystle’s AVM, it’s a turning point we weren’t privy to. For all we know, Abby’s “new leaf” was a smokescreen to lull everyone (including the viewer) into a false sense of security and this is what she had planned all along.
And if the discovery of oil is to Abby what Krystle’s AVM is to Blake — i.e., something they have known about for an unspecified period of time without informing the viewer — then Sue Ellen is to Jeremy Wendell (“All these years that I’ve disliked JR … there’s one thing I’ve always envied him — and that’s you”) what Blake and Krystle are to Sable (“I’ve always admired the devotion that you and Krystle share”) — i.e., a source of long-standing affection that, again, we have been unaware of.
Back in Haleyville, JR absconds from his new family’s farm by starting a fire, knocking his brother-in-law unconscious and stealing the keys to his truck, before driving off into the night. When he runs out of petrol in the middle of nowhere, one is reminded of the night Karen Mackenzie was pursued by Phil Harbert through the pitch-dark countryside, having also fled from a fire. When JR flags down a truck and asks for a ride, you half expect the driver to turn out to be a webbed-fingered psychopath and so when JR finally makes it to safety and calls Sly to send a helicopter for him, one feels a genuine sense of relief. There’s a great camera shot the following morning in which the foreground is dominated by a back view of Sly’s legs as she waits for JR’s chopper, seen from a distance but viewed through her legs, to land. I don’t know how to that sound any less pornographic so here’s a picture:
The resemblance to the poster for the 1981 James Bond movie, For Your Eyes Only, may not be entirely coincidental as the shot underlines the fact JR has finally escaped his hayseed hell and returned to the comparatively Bondian world of helicopters and sexily efficient secretaries.
“JR, what happened to you? … Those clothes, the way you look!” exclaims Sly. “You ever have a nightmare?” JR asks her by way of reply. “You take the worst one you ever had and triple it and that’s halfway to where I’ve been.” JR’s bad dreams might be over on DALLAS, but Fallon’s are just beginning on DYNASTY as she finds herself “haunted” by the body in the morgue. “Here we go again,” sighs Jeff. This time around, however, Fallon’s supernatural tendencies serve the drama a lot more effectively than they did on THE COLBYS. Whereas her extra-terrestrial encounter effectively ended that series’ run, figuratively as well as literally — there was simply nowhere the show could go after she disappeared in that flying saucer — her ghostly dreams serve to pull her (and us) further into the mystery at the heart of this season.
In the same way that New DALLAS will later have fun combining different aspects of Sue Ellen’s character (e.g., making her a drunk and a savvy businesswoman simultaneously), this season’s DYNASTY isn’t afraid to mix and match different eras of Fallon. The scene where she hides in the back of Jeff’s car then startles him by stroking his ear with her bare foot is pure Fallon Season 1 (mischievous, provocative) while her dream of the dead body on the slab coming back to life recalls her Randall Adams period (ethereal, troubled by memories that are just out of reach).
Whereas Emma Samms blossoms in this new era of DYNASTY, Heather Locklear is on less solid ground. Her previous character transition, when Sammy Jo turned from a gold-digging minx to into a more solemn, lovelorn personality almost overnight was surprisingly convincing. With Jeff still hung up on his ex, she is still playing the role of neglected lover as she did opposite Clay Fallmont and Steven — only the world she and Jeff now inhabit is faster-moving, the dialogue more flippant, and the actress appears a tad unsure of where to pitch her performance. Take the scene where Jeff calls her “Fallon” in bed by mistake — should she mine this moment for pathos, as DALLAS’s Afton did when Cliff came out of his coma saying Sue Ellen’s name, or for screwball comedy?
Fallon and Sammy Jo’s rivalry over Jeff culminates in an old-fashioned DYNASTY catfight — but just as Sue Ellen subverted our expectations by bursting into laughter instead of tears upon finding JR in bed with Kimberly Cryder during last season’s DALLAS so this soap trope is likewise turned on its head when both women also collapse with a fit of the giggles as they realise neither of them really want the man they’re fighting over. On one hand, this is not Soap Land’s most convincingly staged fight — the characters are required to keep up a full conversation even while they’re scrapping and rolling around in a pool of mud. On the other, there’s something genuinely liberating and joyful about how much fun they end up having.
Upon his return to civilisation, JR’s first port of call is Ewing Oil to see his new office. “Oh,” he says, visibly disappointed by the size of it. “It won’t take much to decorate this, that’s for sure.” As if this wasn’t bad enough, he then discovers Cliff Barnes installed just across the hall. (“My office is a little bit larger than yours, but I’m sure you’ll understand,” Cliff smirks.) In keeping with the general theme of Soap Land downsizing, Maggie Channing sets up shop at the Tuscany Herald by also moving into an office far more modest than what we’re used to seeing. “What do you think?” she asks husband Richard. “It looks like a newspaper office,” he replies diplomatically, and indeed it does — a traditional, small-town newspaper office that more closely resembles a set from THE WALTONS than the executive suite Richard himself has at the New Globe.
Economic reality continues to nip at Soap Land’s heels as Krystle’s bag is snatched on DYNASTY. She sets off in pursuit of her assailant who turns out to be a little kid living in a shack with his family. “Why are those people going inside the box — do they live there?” Krystina asks her mommy who tells her that yes, they do. It’s a different kind of “the box” to the one where JR was sequestered during his stay at the penal colony, but not much bigger. Krystle’s instinct is to throw a hundred bucks at the problem. “We don’t need charity,” snaps the child’s mother. This being ‘80s prime-time TV, this depiction of “reality” actually feels more surreal than real. In fact, with public interest in Soap Land’s glamorous fantasy world steadily weakening, this glimpse of extreme poverty feel like a crack in the genre — a nightmarish netherworld that cannot be held at bay much longer.
Alongside Abby’s new pal Rick Hawkins, another seemingly minor flunky is introduced this week — Colby Co controller Fritz Heath. Like Cesar Ortega on FALCON CREST, Heath is one of those long-standing employees we’ve never heard of before. “How long did you say this guy’s been with Colby Co?” Dex asks Alexis. “About twenty years,” she replies. Heath’s DALLAS equivalent would be Pete, the only ranch hand left at Southfork after Carter McKay’s henchman has driven the rest away with a combination of threats and hard cash. “I’ve been on this ranch twenty years,” Pete explains to Clayton. “Southfork’s about as close to home as I’ve had.” Cesar Ortega echoes this “loyal retainer” sentiment back on FC. “The Channings have always been good to the Ortegas,” he declares. “Pop, the Channings are only good to those who stay in their place and that’s it,” argues his daughter Pilar. The political edge the Ortgeas have brought to FALCON CREST is really interesting. As well as social inequality, feminism and racism are also matter-of-factly referred to this week. “She never heard of equal rights?” Gabriel asks of his late mother. “She heard of it. She just never thought it applied to her,” Cesar replies. Gabriel’s older brother Tommy, meanwhile, describes the Del Oro Spa as “a lily-white club” and “Anglo turf”. Here again, there’s a strange sense of “reality” seeping through Soap Land’s once impenetrable walls. Was it only last season that FC was full of gravity-defying ninjas and SCOOBY-DOO holograms?
The subject of racial discrimination is also raised when Tommy is out looking for work: “That ad only came out today, man. He didn’t fill that job — he’s just waiting for some Anglo boy to walk through the door.” But then Maggie offers him $7.50 an hour in return for “hauling boxes, answering phones, making deliveries, doing what we all do, which is a little bit of everything.” Harold Dyer is also offered a job on KNOTS. By the end of this week’s episode, however, he’s been arrested after cocaine is found in his possession. Similarly on FC, Tommy is pursued by the cops when his buddy Paco is caught dealing drugs in the Del Oro Spa men’s room.
While DYNASTY’s Adam makes out with new secretary Clare on the floor of his office, Bobby Ewing and Tracey Lawton slowly peel off each other’s clothes on DALLAS, accompanied by a slinky version of George Benson’s ‘Love Dance’ on the soundtrack. Latter-day DALLAS has produced some surprisingly sensual love scenes (see also: Jenna’s and Sue Ellen’s respective seductions of Ray and Nicholas Pearce last season). Elsewhere in the ep, it emerges that Tracey is the woman Carter McKay’s been looking for during the past few episodes. Might he be the possessive older husband she told Bobby she ran out on? She and McKay share a really good, emotionally gutsy scene in this week’s ep (“I told you I wished you were dead. Did you think that was some kind of a joke? … I have been running from you for years!” “… I’ve been living in Hell. I sold my soul to the Devil to find you and no matter how you feel, I’m not letting you go again!”), but their precise connection remains as mysterious as — well, Blake’s connection to the dead man at the lake. Watched in hindsight, however, there’s a pleasing symmetry in the fact that Mack and Tracey come face to face in the very week that J. Eddie Peck “awakens” (albeit inside Fallon’s dream) on DYNASTY.
There are parallel “When Storylines Collide” moments towards the end of this week’s DYNASTY and DALLAS. Fallon, determined to get to the bottom of what Blake knows about the body, marches into the Carrington library to have it out with him once and for all. “Daddy, we’ve gotta —,“ she starts only to be cut short by the sight of him consoling a red-eyed Krystle. “Fallon, please call the family together. We have something to tell them,” he informs her gravely. JR, meanwhile, bursts angrily into the Southfork living room to confront Bobby. “Are you out of your mind — what is Cliff Barnes doing at Ewing Oil?” he barks. “The last thing on my mind is Ewing Oil,” Bobby snaps back. “We’re in a range war with the man who bought Ray’s place!”
And this week’s Top 4 are …
1 (2) KNOTS LANDING
2 (1) DYNASTY
3 (4) DALLAS
4 (3) FALCON CREST
And yet, they never managed to give up that glamour altogether.
In the 1990s and beyond, there were quite a few dramas about (slightly) more realistic people, but they often got involved with (or were connected to) extremely wealthy people.
To me, this often came across as too "Cinderella" - what are the odds that this billionaire would fall in love with "her"? Eventhough that's exactly how DYNASTY began.
But the difference is that Krystle entered the Carrington world, and in those slightly-more-realistic dramas the Carrington entered the world of the Krystle Grants.
Well I guess that's what Jock Ewing and Paul Galveston did to KNOTS LANDING.
Somehow they just can't resist to glitz it up a little bit.
I'm not referring to dramas like THE WIRE, of course.
04 Jan 88: DYNASTY: The Last Hurrah v. 05 Jan 89: KNOTS LANDING: A Many Splendored Thing v. 06 Jan 88: DALLAS: Deception v. 06 Jan 88: FALCON CREST: Solomon’s Choice
It’s a toss-up as to who’s had the weirdest Soap Land dream of late — Val Gibson just before Christmas, when she dreamt that she was being straddled by her ex-husband as his bewigged girlfriend poured an entire bottle of pills down her throat or Fallon Carrington, who dreams this week of lying on a mortuary slab while her mother’s long-dead boyfriend makes sweet, sweet love her.
To whom does the dead body on DYNASTY belong? What is the real reason behind the range war on DALLAS? The answers to both questions lie at the heart of their respective series’ back stories. As we now know, the dead man is Roger Grimes, the architect whose affair with Alexis is the reason Blake “banished me from my house and from my children” some two decades earlier, as Alexis reminds relative newcomer Dex this week. Carter McKay, meanwhile, has offered to call off his war with the Ewings if they agree to sell him Section 40 of Southfork — which, as JR informs relative newcomer Clayton, “sits on the biggest oil pool in Texas. Daddy discovered it after he saved the ranch for Mama and her daddy.” Behind each revelation lies further complications. Even as Alexis accuses Blake of killing Roger (“He shot him in the back of the head and then he threw his body into the lake”), Sable suggests that Alexis herself could be responsible (“Roger was proposing to leave you — there were so many rows between the two of you, weren’t there?”). The big reveal at the end of this week’s DALLAS is that McKay is taking orders from someone else. Enter Jeremy Wendell. “I want that oil under Section 40 on Southfork,” he tells McKay, “and whatever you have to do to the Ewings to get it, that’s what you do.” Just as Abby is secretly after the oil under Lotus Point, Jeremy is secretly after the oil under Southfork. Come to think of it, Soap Land is presently full of covert masterminds: Jeremy is behind McKay, Abby is behind Apolune, Sable is behind the company who bought out the Carlton Hotel and Richard Channing is behind the Hispanic consortium on FALCON CREST.
When Pilar Ortega realises Richard has been manipulating her all along, she calls him a bastard. “Is that any way to talk to the man who has made you a power in the Tuscany Valley, young lady?” he asks her. “You know as well as I do, you can’t give power,” she replies. “Whoever wants it has to take it.” Perhaps acknowledging the debt these words owe to Jock Ewing’s famous “real power is something you take” speech, Richard says that he’s “gonna write that down and frame it.”
There are discoveries this week about both Pilar and her “new girl” counterpart on DALLAS, Tracey Lawton. It turns out that Carter McKay is not Tracey’s husband but her father. His lying, cheating ways led to her mother’s death and that’s why she now has problems committing to a relationship. Pilar’s big secret is that when she was sixteen, she gave birth to a daughter who has since been raised by her (Pilar’s) aunt. Based on these past experiences, both women are faced with a present day dilemma: Should Tracey keep running from her father the way she always has, or stay in Dallas and build a future with Bobby? (What neither she nor Bobby yet realise is that her daddy is also the man behind the range war.) And should Pilar allow her aunt to legally adopt her daughter or should she finally claim her as her own? (What nobody on screen yet knows — although it’s pretty obvious to the seasoned Soap Land viewer — is who Pilar’s baby daddy is.)
Just as we’re getting to know Tracey and Pilar, a question mark arises over the past of a third Soap Land new girl — cousin Virginia on DYNASTY. It all starts when a socially concerned Krystle takes Virginia and Sammy Jo on a tour of Skid Row. “These people are just like us,” she declares, referring to the elderly man wheeling his belongings in a shopping cart, the old woman rummaging through a trash can and a family living in a doorway. Once again, a collision between glossy Soap Land characters and “the real world” yields surreal results as, out of nowhere, the sugary sweet Virginia turns first hostile (“These people need a firing squad!”) and then violent, spitting in the face of a drug-pushing, knife-wielding pimp before beating him up for good measure. “No-one talks like you did unless they’ve been on the streets,” deduces Sammy Jo.
Like Krystle, this week’s KNOTS and FALCON CREST also make a show of solidarity with real world folk. Val explains to Karen that she’s getting her kids back — but more because of a bureaucratic glitch than anything else: “I’m gonna get them back because the system screwed up. Kind of makes you wonder what happens to the kids who really need protection but don’t get it.” Maggie Channing, meanwhile, learns a thing or two from Tommy Ortega’s knowledge of the man on the street: “Every Friday on payday, all the Hispanics pick up the latest edition of the Tuscany Exchange. Then on Saturdays, they go out and buy all the used cars and refrigerators that they’ve seen in the ads. Now, if they’re paying seventy-five cents for that paper and yours comes out at twenty-five cents, which one do you think they’re gonna buy?”
After her walk on the wild side, Krystle returns to the mansion to find Dr Walt Driscoll waiting for her. “Your only chance of survival is surgery,” he informs her. “There is a possibility that you won’t survive the operation.” We’ve been here before, of course, with Maggie’s brain tumour on FALCON CREST and Karen’s bullet fragment on KNOTS — both supposedly terminal situations that ended in a miraculous recovery. Somehow it feels different this time around, however. The fact that Blake kept Krystle’s condition a secret from her (and us) for years, her two-episode absence at the start of the season, her offhand, almost embarrassed admission to Sammy Jo and Virginia that “I’m probably going to die”: none of this fits any recognisable Soap Land blueprint, except maybe the precedent set by Laura’s death on KNOTS just over a year ago — and the vague feeling, as we move into the final year of Soap Land’s defining decade, that maybe anything is possible.
Another consequence of Soap Land’s “end of an era” vibe is how much sexier the shows have become. After all, one way to distract viewers from reduced wardrobe budgets is to show the characters taking their clothes off. Bobby and Tracey’s sensual love scene on DALLAS three weeks ago was swiftly upstaged by Paige and Greg’s game of strip croquet on KNOTS (a sequence so memorable that it has transcended both series and centuries to become part of New Blake and Alexis’s back story on New DYNASTY) and this week, Old DYNASTY treats us to a full dialogue-free minute of clothes-ripping, camera-shaking, shoving-each-other-up-against-walls passion between Dex Dexter and Sable’s assistant Joanna Sills. Such scenes makes Lucy Ewing’s striptease in Mitch Cooper’s apartment back in 1980 seem positively demure. In the same way, Greg Sumner recalls the Mercury dime collection that he sold when he was twelve “for a couple of girly magazines. I shudder to think what those dimes would be worth today” only for Mack to reply, “And the magazines wouldn’t even be considered soft porn.” (Heck, back in 1980 even the words “soft porn” would have seemed taboo.)
It’s always interesting when close Soap Land friends or family members fall out — that’s when you know things are getting serious. (KNOTS has provided the most memorable examples in the past: Laura shunning Val following the Jean Hackney affair in Season 8, Val turning on Karen during “Noises Everywhere” in Season 9, Karen giving Gary the cold shoulder for most of Seasons 4 and 5, etc.) At the start of this week’s DYNASTY, Blake is angrier with Fallon than he has been since — well, possibly ever. “I want the picture you showed to your mother … GIVE IT TO ME!” he demands before tossing the snapshot of him and Roger into the fireplace. “I told you to stay out of this … and now you’ve opened up a wound that may never heal!” Over on DALLAS, Sue Ellen and Miss Ellie clash over JR’s decision to send John Ross to stay with Cliff (yes, Cliff) while the range war is in full swing. “JR just didn’t want to add your conflict with him to the fight we’re having over this ranch and frankly, I agreed with him,” Ellie explains. “My conflict with JR — is that what it’s all about now? Miss Ellie, that man has been cheating, lying and double-crossing everyone for years now … but you’re willing to just sit there and side with him no matter what!” argues Sue Ellen. It’s kind of cool to see Miss Texas 1967 suddenly playing the role of outspoken family outsider.
Miss Ellie also sides with JR’s decision to bring hired mercenaries onto Southfork, even though Bobby disagrees. “Maybe you’d like to tell me how you plan on protecting your son — or do you want that idiot Cliff Barnes to adopt him permanently?” JR snaps at his brother. An even wackier adoption is mooted in the closing scene of this week’s DYNASTY. In their final meeting of the series, Krystle visits Alexis to ask her to desist in her accusations of murder against Blake. “I may not be around much longer and if I’m not and Blake goes to prison, what will happen to Krystina?” she asks. “If worst came to worst, I’d take care of her myself,” Alexis suggests. Faced with the idea of her nemesis raising her child, Krystle snaps and smashes a (no doubt priceless) vase. “Are you crazy?!” yells Alexis. “No,” she replies calmly, “but everybody thinks I am … I could kill you, Alexis, and no jury in the world would ever convict me.” Anne Matheson employs a similar logic over on KNOTS. “Whatever I do, baby doll, people will say it’s because I’m grieving,” she tells Paige as she helps herself to a rose from the floral arrangement atop her father’s coffin.
It’s unusual for departed Soap Land characters to pop up for a one-off reappearance the way Anne does this week. While her presence doesn’t advance the plot, it does serve to flesh out Paige’s world in the same way that Ray Krebbs’ temporary return to DALLAS helps bolster the Ewings’ side of the range war. It also prompts some nicely acidic lines. “Are you wracked with grief or is it the gin?” Paige asks her when they meet by the casket. “Of course he does — and I’m the Queen of England!” Anne scoffs when Paige insists that Greg loves her.
But it’s true. Two weeks ago, Greg pulled the romantic rug from under us, not once but twice: first when he declared his love for Paige, and then almost immediately afterwards when he asked Abby to marry him. With the blissfully ignorant Paige out of town, he spends most of this week’s KNOTS trying to persuade Abby to accept his proposal. “Do I have to court you — corsages, hand-in-hand walks in the park? … Don’t you think we’re a little old for that rigamarole?” he asks her. “Experienced. I prefer the word experienced,” she clarifies. Also this week, Blake Carrington and Harold Dyer re-propose to Krystle and Olivia respectively, the reclusive RD Young asks Emma to marry him on FALCON CREST and Casey Denault hints to Lucy about an important partnership he has in mind for her, “just as soon as your divorce is final.”
As part of his pitch, Greg disparages some of Abby’s previous suitors. Now that Michael York is safely out of earshot, he finally can say what we’ve all been thinking: “Charles Scott? Come on, he makes Pee Wee Herman look like Cary Grant.” This is the soaps’ third reference to Pee Wee (last season, Charlie Wade had his picture in her locker while Jeff Colby spoke of a movie magazine which featured him) which I guess makes him Soap Land’s most significant contemporary cultural figure.
“I don’t like pizza," smiles Fallon on DYNASTY, letting Zorelli down gently after he asks her out on a date. “You like pizza?” a surprised Sue Ellen asks Cliff on DALLAS when he invites himself round for dinner with John Ross and Christopher. “It’s right up there with Chinese food,” he confirms. Meanwhile on KNOTS, the idyllic staycation the Mackenzies have planned starts to go wrong when the pizza they’ve ordered turns up with the wrong topping (“Anchovies — I hate anchovies!” complains Mack). By the end of the ep, Mack has put in for an indefinite leave of absence from his job and Karen has sent him away to the mountains. “You just need some time alone,” she tells him, before admitting: “You’re driving me crazy.” This might well qualify as Soap Land’s first lighthearted marital separation.
While Michael Fairgate suggests Karen and Mack might be “victims of too much togetherness”, there is simply no such thing for Krystle and Blake. “Nothing can separate us … you are my heart,” says Krystle simply.
And this week’s Top 4 are …
1 (1) KNOTS LANDING
2 (2) DYNASTY
3 (3) DALLAS
4 (4) FALCON CREST
I still find it unfathomable that anyone could not like pizza... well, okay, that's a bit of an exaggeration, anyone can not like anything... but still...
Maybe she would like a green asperge pizza?
11 Jan 89: DYNASTY: The Wedding v. 12 Jan 89: KNOTS LANDING: Cabin Fever v. 13 Jan 89: DALLAS: Counter Attack v. 13 Jan 89: FALCON CREST: Suspicion
It’s Krystle Carrington’s last week in Soap Land and, like Laura Avery and Pam Ewing before her, her departure takes the form of a self-imposed exile, “to keep me from becoming a burden to the people I love.” As Pam did Bobby, she presents Blake with divorce papers: “If I come out of this operation and I can’t hear or speak or recognise you … my divorce from you will become automatic and you’ll place me in an institution where I’ll have no contact with the family.” Unless he sign the necessary documentation, she tells him she won’t have the operation needed to save her life. The ensuing argument between them is the equivalent of Laura and Greg’s “I just don’t want you to watch me” scene on KNOTS when she tells him she has chosen to die alone.
Ultimately, like both Bobby and Greg, Blake has no choice but to comply with his wife’s wishes. “This is the hardest thing that I’ve ever been asked to do,” he tells her. “All my life in business, I’ve managed to keep out of corners. I’ve always given myself lots of options. I’ve never allowed myself to be pinned down, but now you’re forcing my hand … I have no choice. I’ll sign the divorce papers.”
Blake is not the only powerful Soap Land magnate obliged to face his own helplessness and/or frailties this week. On KNOTS, Paige finally confronts Greg over his decision to marry Abby. “Why are you doing this?” she asks him. “What are you afraid of — are you afraid I’m gonna leave you? Are you afraid I’m gonna die or that you’re gonna die? What are you so scared of?” It’s fascinating: even though Paige is the one in tears, helplessly pleading with Greg to change his mind, it’s actually Greg — calm, quietly spoken, implacable Greg (“I don’t wanna fight about this. I made a decision. I’m gonna go ahead”) — who ultimately emerges as the more broken and damaged of the two.
Over on DALLAS, it’s a surprise to find JR seeking help from a psychiatrist after being plagued by “Previously … on Haleyville” style dreams. Paige’s question to Greg, “What are you afraid of?” is echoed by the psychiatrist. “Are you afraid to tell me what you really feel?” he asks. After some prodding, JR starts to open up about how it felt to be held prisoner. “Of course it bothered me — I’m JR Ewing. I’ve got money and power. I could buy that whole state and nobody cared … For the first time, I felt I was mortal. I’d lost my invincibility. I wasn’t any better than anybody else.” Any hopes of him developing further insight into his own psyche are soon dashed, however. Just as Greg shut down Paige’s line of questioning with a measured response of “I don’t think it’s wise to continue this discussion”, JR decides that the solution to his problem is to double down on his previous ruthless behaviour: “I am gonna become so big, there won’t be a hick town in this country that won’t know my name. No sir — no more Mr Nice Guy!”
Elsewhere in the same ep, Jeremy Wendell’s short-lived alliance with Sue Ellen comes to a bitter end. As with Greg and Paige, you assume the odds will be stacked in the man’s favour, but Jeremy’s familiar threats (“Just remember one thing … you’re either my friend or my enemy”) pale next to Sue Ellen’s more personal observations. “You’ve never had children, have you, Jeremy? … In a way, I feel very sorry for you,” she says coolly and we can see she’s got under his skin.
The depiction of Sue Ellen we’ve been presented with so far this season is an intriguing one. The last time she and JR split, much was made of the fact that she was living as a single woman for the first time and the show followed her progress as a vulnerable divorcee closely. At least then she had her son with her. This time around, John Ross is living at Southfork and she is really is alone, yet the show views her from a comparative distance. We’re more likely to see her in her office than her home and her grief over Nicholas Pearce’s death has been pretty much unexplored. The glimpses we do get of her life are intriguing: she is clearly unhappy (“He loves me, but he doesn’t want me,” she reflects bitterly while looking at a picture of her son), but is more angry and defiant than tearful and dithery — witness the tellings off she gave Miss Ellie last week and Jeremy in this ep.
Wedding arrangements feature in no less than three of this week’s soaps. When Blake and Krystle renew their vows on DYNASTY, the pomp and formality associated with previous Carrington weddings is stripped away, leaving the bride to make her journey down the aisle by candlelight while ‘Somewhere’ from West Side Story plays quietly in the background. There isn’t even anyone to officiate the ceremony. “We don’t need a minister to marry us because what I want is for our vows to be blessed not only by God, but all the love I feel in this room,” Krystle explains. In contrast to such minimalism, KNOTS LANDING’s Abby wants her and Greg’s wedding “to be more than a wedding … It should be a media event.” Angela Channing feels similarly when it comes to organising Emma and RD Young’s big day. “That is going to be at Falcon Crest,” she decrees, “with just the family and a few of our close friends — and some of the friends from the valley …” This is all too much for the reclusive groom-to-be.
Two of our prospective brides observe the “old, new, borrowed, blue” tradition, albeit for their own, other than traditional, reasons. On DYNASTY, Krystle indulges her daughter by letting her play at being the bride which, in turn, allows her to present her with something old — a locket containing a picture of Krystina herself as baby. “I was gonna give it to you when you’re older,” Krystle tells her. “Do you still have that bracelet of Mother’s that Sid gave you?” Abby asks Karen during a really fun phone conversation on KNOTS. “I was wondering if I could borrow it.” “Sure,” replies Karen. “You’re supposed to ask me why,” Abby persists. “I wanna borrow it because I need something borrowed.” Karen is uncharacteristically slow on the uptake, forcing Abby to spell it out to her: “Something borrowed, something blue, something old, something new?” “You’re getting married?” Karen realises. “Yes, and the bracelet can be something old and something borrowed,” she explains. When Abby tells her who she’s marrying, Karen sniggers — before realising it isn’t a joke.
When it comes to their respective guest lists, Abby is easily persuaded by PR guy Ted to jettison close friends in favour of business contacts (“We have limited space at the church as it is and a lot of players who have to be there”), whereas there is only room for those most precious to Blake and Krystle at their ceremony. “Thank-you for including me,” says Jeanette the maid tearfully. Back on KNOTS, Greg’s manservant Carlos is included whether he likes it or not when it comes to keeping his master’s engagement a secret from Paige. Finally, he can hold his tongue no longer. “I think you should tell her,” he says to Greg. “I intend to tell her,” Greg shoots back. “I’ve always intended to tell her. Who are you — Jiminy Cricket? I’ve got a conscience of my own, thank you.” Over on FALCON CREST, RD Young’s housekeeper, the forbidding Mrs Anderson, also voices an unwanted opinion on her boss’s impending nuptials. “I foresee a disaster,” she declares. “When do you foresee anything else?” he replies.
In the same way that the handwritten book of stories Krystle gives to Krystina echoes the dresses Laura Avery bought for Meg to wear as she gets older (“There’s something special for each of the birthdays you’re gonna have until you’re a very big girl … stories about me and how I felt at the age you’re going to be”), her and Blake’s wedding is DYNASTY’s equivalent of Laura’s wake in “Noises Everywhere”, i.e., a chance to put series conventions to one side and reveal a more spontaneous side to the characters. After walking down the aisle, Krystle breaks with protocol by tickling the best man. “I can’t tell you how long I’ve waited to do that,” she says to Adam. “Sometimes you’re such a stuffed shirt!” Later, Blake catches her counting aloud as they make their way down the Carrington staircase. “I always wondered how many steps there were. I just never got around to counting them,” she explains.
The request she makes to her wedding guests — “What I really want tonight is that you share in the vows that Blake and I are going to take, that you promise to care for each other and be bound to each other for the rest of your lives” — is a Krystalised version of Bobby Ewing’s deathbed request nearly four years earlier: “Be a family.” Her final scene, where she and Blake are waved out of a fake driveway as they depart for a second honeymoon in Paris, recalls another DALLAS departure: Jock Ewing’s at the end of DALLAS Season 3. Our very last glimpse of Krystle feels unique to her situation, however. We watch her smiling and waving from the back of the limousine, blissfully unaware of what Jeff is telling Fallon and Sammy Jo: “There’s not going to be a honeymoon … The doctor just called. He wants them to fly directly to the clinic in Switzerland. The operation is scheduled for the day after tomorrow.” “Oh dear God, protect her!” exclaims Fallon as the episode ends on Krystle’s radiantly happy face, forever frozen in time.
DYNASTY has cousin Virginia, DALLAS has Tracey Lawton, FALCON CREST has Pilar Ortega, and now KNOTS gets its own new girl — Paula the forest ranger, whom Mack encounters during his stay on Wild Horse Mountain. Whereas those other girls arrived in Soap Land with varying amounts of emotional baggage (Pilar’s angst over her secret daughter, Tracey’s problems with her father, Virginia’s admission to Krystle this week that she “slept under porches [and] ate out of trashcans” as a teenager), Paula insists that there’s no great mystery in her past. “You were the one who came up here to run away, not me,” she reminds Mack. Her job as a ranger means she can avoid another Soap Land convention — dressing up. “When I wake up in the morning, I don’t have to worry about what I’m gonna wear. Not only that, but I look great in greys and greens,” she grins. In this regard, she resembles the glamour-resistant Virginia whom Sable turns into her pet project this week, determined to make her over in time for Blake and Krystle’s big night (“Come along, Virginia — now I’m going to torture you with some eye shadow”). Paula also has something in common with DALLAS’s Tracey — an aversion to serious relationships. “I think families are great,” she says, “just not for me … I like my solitary life.” This does not, however, prevent her from giving Mack her room number — just as Joanna Sills did Dex on last week’s DYNASTY. To our surprise, it looks as if Mack will succumb to temptation the way Dex did — we see him enter a darkened bedroom and unbutton his shirt while smiling at someone off screen — but then the camera moves down to reveal Karen as the object of his desire. And so DYNASTY ends up not being the only show to celebrate its most enduring couple this week.
While Krystina enters into the party spirit at her parents’ wedding — she manages to cajole one of her nephews into dancing with her (LB, I think, but he and Danny are pretty much interchangeable since their most recent recasts) — Abby’s children are decidedly nonplussed by their mom’s latest engagement. “You don’t love him,” Olivia insists. “This is really weird,” Brian decides. Another Soap Land kid, Christopher Ewing, proves a useful plot device when he is shot at during the range war (as an innocent caught up in a much bigger feud, this is a portent of his eventual fate on New DALLAS), thereby spurring Bobby to take matters into his own hands. “I’m gonna take care of this myself … McKay is mine!” he declares. Bobby’s played the hero before, of course — rescuing niece Lucy from various kidnappers, for example — but this storyline requires a whole new level of derring do: jumping out of helicopters, setting explosives, overpowering an entire squad of mercenaries almost singlehandedly. In other words, we’re in Dex-breaking-Caress-out-of-jail or Lance-scaling-walls-to-take-on-the-Cartel territory. Daft as such scenarios invariably are, DALLAS’s visuals give this one the edge, the exterior nighttime shots of Southfork and the McKay ranch covering a multitude of plot holes. Then there’s the quasi-Shakespearean moment where Bobby comes face to face with McKay — and realises he’s the father of his new girlfriend.
“Can you imagine? My daughter is in love with the son of the family I’m at war with,” sighs McKay. Of course Bobby can imagine it. “That happened to me once before, with my first wife,” he replies. Just as this situation takes us right back to the beginning of DALLAS, so this week’s DYNASTY reminds us of its own beginning, with several references to the first time Krystle married Blake. “How angry I was at Daddy … for marrying you,” Fallon recalls. “I hated you! I thought you were just some opportunist trying to steal him away from me … I don’t think that anymore. I haven’t for years. In fact, you’ve brought us all so much closer as a family than we ever could have been without you.” (If one were looking for a moment of closure from this season of DYNASTY, that speech might just be it.) Virginia goes so far as to superimpose herself retroactively into the pilot episode. “I came to your wedding,” she tells Krystle. “I hitched all the way from Dayton, then I walked ten miles and stood in front of those huge gates. I looked inside and I said to myself, ‘I’m not going inside there. That place is a palace.’” She was lucky not to get mown down by Walter Lankershim.
Towards the end of this week’s DALLAS and FALCON CREST, there are parallel walk-and-talk scenes where relatively new characters, Carter McKay and RD Young, explain to Bobby Ewing and Emma Channing the circumstances that led to their respective wives’ untimely deaths. Each has been previously implicated in said death, but now insists that the woman’s demise was a direct result of her own infidelity. “You know where she was going on the night she was killed?” McKay asks Bobby. “She was going to meet her lover … All the things she accused me of doing was what she was doing … She turned the kids against me pretty good.” “She took a lover,” echoes RD. “She drowned … She and her lover were on the boat alone. Nobody’s sure how it happened. Neither of their bodies was found.”
While RD’s hard luck story appears chiefly to be a Maguffin to ensure that the perpetually unlucky-in-love Emma loses yet another chance at happiness (“Emma, I can’t marry you — I don’t think that I could stand to go through that again”), it’s hard to know what to make of McKay’s. In the space of an episode, he turns from villain to hero, when he saves Bobby’s life by shooting one of his own men, and then back into villain when he walks into Jeremy Wendell’s office and tells him to shut his face (“All of these years that you’ve been taking the bows and I’ve been the brains behind you”) before claiming to have “told Bobby Ewing one of the world’s greatest sob stories and he fell for it … I’m gonna get Section 40 for us if I have to kill everyone of the damn Ewings to do it!” Despite having watched this episode periodically over the past few decades, I’m still not entirely sure where the lies end and the truth begins.
In the same week that Krystle celebrates her love for Blake, her FC counterpart Maggie celebrates the launch of her own newspaper. Whereas Krystle seems more of a rounded character than ever, Maggie is suddenly vapid — declaring everything to be either “fabulous” or “terrific” or both, and delivering lines like “Richard, you always make me feel beautiful, even when my hairdresser’s out to get me” without a trace of irony. Still, when one reflects on the nonstop traumas she’s endured over the past few years — from amnesia to abduction to alcoholism, with rape, widowhood and manslaughter thrown in for good measure — it’s hard to begrudge her a bit of brainless Fembot time. Besides, it looks as if she might be about to inherit Krystle’s mantle as Soap Land’s social conscience. Instead of championing the homeless, she listens sympathetically to Tommy Ortega’s gang battle problems.
Along with Alexis Colby, Pam Ewing, most of the KNOTS gals and Sue Ellen on a good day, Krystle and Maggie have both helped promote and perpetuate the idea of the ‘80s woman who “has it all”. So it seems fitting, now that the decade is drawing to a close and particularly in the week that we say goodbye to Krystle, that this myth should be debunked by one of Soap Land’s newcomers. “You’re incredible — the hometown girl who feels just as comfortable in a boardroom as in a kitchen,” marvels Nick Agretti on FALCON CREST. “Superwoman — that’s how we’re all supposed to be these days, aren’t we?” Pilar Ortega replies. “But not everyone pulls it off,” he tells her. “I have news for you: nobody pulls it off,” she declares unequivocally. Pilar may not "have it all", but she certainly has a finger or two in more than her fair share of storylines at present: a burgeoning relationship with Nick, a love triangle with Lance and Cookie Nash, a complicity with Richard, a secret daughter, an intriguing flirtation with her predatory slob of a boss. None of these stories has quite caught fire yet, but it’ll be interesting to see what happens when they do.
And this week’s Top 4 are …
1 (1) KNOTS LANDING
2 (2) DYNASTY
3 (3) DALLAS
4 (4) FALCON CREST
Maybe it would have been interesting if Blake remembered (in a black & white mini-flashback) how the first Mrs. Carrington said those exact same words to him.
Separate names with a comma.