DYNASTY versus DALLAS versus KNOTS LANDING versus the rest of them

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

  1. James from London

    James from London Soap Chat Dream Maker

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    03 Dec 86: DYNASTY: The Secret v. 04 Dec 86: THE COLBYS: Bid for Freedom v. 04 Dec 86: KNOTS LANDING: The Inside Man v. 05 Dec 86: DALLAS: Something Old, Something New v. 05 Dec 86: FALCON CREST: Maggie

    Once again, Soap Land’s fathers are out in force, trying to prevent their impetuous offspring from making unwise romantic choices. While Buck Fallmont’s objections to Sammy Jo as a potential daughter-in-law appear to be solely based on her last name (“Her background is Carrington. That means she’s filth … a Carrington tramp!”), Jason Colby’s argument against his daughter Bliss’s “disastrous love affair” with a Russian ballet dancer is more considered. “You and Kolya, baby, it can never happen,” he tells her gently. “They won’t let him stay and they won’t let you follow. Now that is reality … You can’t change the Soviet system.” Chase Gioberti and Blake Carrington, meanwhile, have each based their opinions of their respective daughter’s new boyfriend on his past reputation. “I know who you are and how you operate. I am not going to let that happen to my daughter!” shouts Blake at Michael Culhane after finding that Amanda has moved in with him. ”He’s an ex-convict, he’s a murderer!” yells Chase after reading in the gossip columns that Vicky is now dating Dan Fixx.

    Predictably enough, Soap Land’s children remain defiant. “Her name is Sammy Jo and she’s a beautiful decent woman,” Clay Fallmont informs his father. “Kolya and I will be together!” Bliss Colby tells hers. “He is good enough,” insists Amanda on DYNASTY. “There’s a reason for what he did,” argues Vicky on FALCON CREST.

    Their fathers’ cases stated, the focus switches to Soap Land’s mothers — can they do a better job of getting through to their lovestruck kids? The results are mixed. FALCON CREST’s Maggie proves surprisingly ineffectual when Vicky turns to her for support in the face of Chase’s disapproval of Dan. “I feel the same way about it,” she admits. Back in the DYNASTY-verse, whereas Sable’s instinct is to defend Jason (“When it comes to your happiness, he’ll do anything,” she assures Bliss), Alexis wins Amanda round by pretending to side with her against her father (“Unlike Blake, I don’t put conditions on your happiness”) even though she and Blake are, for once, on the same side.

    Things are even more topsy turvy in the Ewing-verse where once unassailable matriarchs are under fire from their sons. On KNOTS, Karen Mackenzie is the focus of Michael’s anger when Paige’s feelings towards him begin to cool. “My mother interferes with my life and treats me like a baby,” he complains. On DALLAS, Miss Ellie’s refusal to denounce Wes Parmalee as a fraud provokes threats of desertion from her boys. “I’d hate to see you and I come to a parting of the ways,” JR tells her, “but I will never let another man sit in Jock Ewing’s chair.” “I won’t leave under the same roof as that man, Mama,” echoes Bobby.

    The missing pieces in two characters’ back stories are filled in this week when Michael Culhane makes a full confession to Amanda on DYNASTY and Dan Fixx does the same thing to Vicky on FALCON CREST. “I’ve cheated people,” admits Michael, “I’ve used them. I was even using you at first … to get back at your father.” Dan, meanwhile, tearfully explains the real reason he killed that cop — because he was supplying Dan’s drug-addicted wife with narcotics in return for sexual favours. (“I found them in my bed. He went for his gun, I dove on him, the gun went off.”)

    No sooner are these characters’ histories are explained than fresh cracks appear in another newcomer’s back story. Over on KNOTS, Karen suspects Paige of forging a letter supposedly written by her mother to Mack twenty years earlier. “If Paige is lying about the letter, then what the hell else is she lying about?” ponders Mack as the screen cuts to a graveyard and, specifically, a shot panning down the names on Matheson family headstone. Right at the bottom lies the inscription: “Paige, 1967 - 1985.” Cue the end titles.

    If Paige isn’t really Paige then she’s in good company. There are so many impostors, frauds and characters leading double lives in Soap Land, it’s hard to keep track of them all. Aside from Peter Hollister claiming to be Greg’s brother on KNOTS, Wes Parmalee insisting he’s Jock Ewing on DALLAS and Kit Marlowe pretending to be Skylar Kimble on FALCON CREST, this week sees the unmasking of humble chauffeur Michael as a multi-millionaire on DYNASTY (“I have had you investigated … Why the lies?” demands Alexis) and trophy wife Sue Ellen as the mastermind behind Valentine Lingerie on DALLAS (“I created you,” she informs a stunned Mandy Winger). Meanwhile in the Tuscany Valley, you can’t move for fakes. While Richard Channing is too busy blackmailing Kit Marlowe over her deception to notice that his baby son’s sexy new nanny is really Erin Jones’s vengeful sister in disguise, his sister Emma is being conned twice over: firstly, by the psychic Karlotti who is pretending to channel her dead fiancee Dwayne and secondly, by a flirtatious magazine writer who is really one of the gangsters gunning for the aforementioned Kit. Even Val Gibson’s preppy personal secretary on KNOTS is under suspicion — Ben is convinced he’s really a spy planted by Jean Hackney but scares him off before we can get to the truth of the matter.

    The letter Anne wrote but never sent in 1967 might well be a forgery (“Something about it just seems wrong to me,” maintains Karen), but the mixed emotions it describes at the prospect of facing motherhood alone (“Today I’m crying for happiness because today I gave birth to a beautiful baby girl — our baby, Mack. But I’m also crying because you’re not here with me now”) chime almost exactly with those expressed by Donna Krebbs regarding her unborn child on this week’s DALLAS. (“There’s this new little person in there and I get very excited, and then I get real sad because Ray and I aren’t sharing it together.”)

    On this week’s episode of THE COLBYS, Miles gatecrashes Fallon and Jeff’s ski-lodge vacation, ostensibly to prevent them killing his baby: “They were talking about an abortion … Now they’re going skiing? Wouldn’t it be convenient if Fallon should accidentally fall, losing the baby?” Other Soap Land fathers-to-be are somewhat less protective, however. “I want you to have an abortion,” Clay tells Sammy Jo on DYNASTY. Over on FALCON CREST, Chase is incensed when he learns that Maggie has cancelled the paternity test because she has decided to keep the baby irrespective of who the biological father really is.

    After some soul-searching, Sammy Jo informs Clay that, “I love you but with or without you, I’m gonna have the baby.” “You never said how you felt about abortion, but I think I know a little bit about you,” says Jenna to Ray who is visibly relieved upon hearing that she too plans to keep her baby on DALLAS. Back on FC, Richard Channing equips Maggie with an emotive poem “written by a lady down in Los Angeles” which she then reads aloud to her family to explain why she has also decided against an abortion. (“Come to me, all my children that will never be …”) So it is that Jenna, Maggie, Sammy Jo and Fallon have all considered the option of abortion before electing to keep their babies. While each character’s decision has been based on her own storyline, taken cumulatively, the overall message one is left with as a Soap Land viewer with is that choosing to have an abortion simply isn’t something that a morally good person does. The fact that someone as ethically dubious as Richard supports Maggie in her decision to keep her baby while her own husband doesn’t merely serves as an indication of how far towards the dark side Chase has travelled.

    Redemption, meanwhile, is a recurring theme in this week’s DYNASTY. After returning to Denver to get revenge on Blake, Michael Culhane has now seen the light. “I love you and I could never do anything to hurt your father now,” he tells Amanda. Blake then appeals to bad brother Ben to mend his ways as well. “You’ve got intelligence and drive and ambition. Why don’t you put those wonderful qualities into something positive, something good and decent?” he suggests. Ben seems momentarily tempted, but then quickly pulls down the shutters. “You live your way and I’ll live mine,” he snaps.

    Elsewhere in the episode, Emily Fallmont’s need to confess her affair with Ben Carrington to her husband is driven by her religious beliefs: “If only God would forgive me, but I guess he hasn’t.” Nor is that the only religious reference in the Fallmont household this week. “In church one Sunday,” recalls Buck during a bitter argument with son Clay, “the minister was quoting proverbs … ‘A wise son maketh a glad father.’” He goes on to describe Clay as “a worthless son”. Shortly after this confrontation, Clay has a change of heart about Sammy Jo’s pregnancy and asks her to marry him. And of course, Sammy Jo herself is a prime example of a DYNASTY character trying to make amends for past mistakes. As Krystle reminds her, “You’ve gone through the pain and you’ve grown from it.”

    (It’s interesting to compare these various attempts to Do the Right Thing with the gradual, low-key erosion of Ben Gibson’s integrity on KNOTS LANDING. The mysterious wedges of cash Val finds in his pockets, his bedtime drinking, the abandoning of his cherished journalistic career in order to work for Greg Sumner … it’s all quietly, desperately heartrending — all the more so because there’s nobody he can turn to for help.)

    After Emily tells Buck about her fling with Ben twenty years earlier, it doesn’t take him long, in spite of his permanently drunken state, to figure out that Clay might not be his worthless son after all. Distraught, Emily decides to flee Denver. Dainty as she is, one would be hard pressed to find anything in common between Emily and Phil Harbert, the slob who kidnapped Karen at the end of last season’s KNOTS, yet each character meets a similar destiny. Both attempt to outrun their past mistakes by leaving town — only for fate, in the shape of an oncoming car, to intervene before they can make their escape.

    There are several departures from Soap Land this week. Like Emily Fallmont at the end of DYNASTY, Kolya Rostov appears to die in the final scene of THE COLBYS, having opted to throw himself off a hotel balcony rather than be forcibly returned to Russia. Sylvia Lean, meanwhile, abruptly disappears midway through this week’s KNOTS after Greg offers her the choice of “a condo in Hawaii, a penthouse in Singapore or a little grass shack in Tahiti.” At least DALLAS’s Mandy Winger and FALCON CREST’s Cole Gioberti each get to bid an on screen farewell before heading for a new life in Hollywood and Australia respectively.

    If one accepts that Soap Land is a place where women are defined by their relationships with men and that when it comes to the battle of the sexes, revenge rather than empowerment is as much victory as any female character can hope for, then Mandy’s goodbye scene, which takes place between her and Sue Ellen, is about as feminist as the genre gets. Albeit unintentionally, Mandy and Sue Ellen’s effect on each other’s lives has been almost wholly positive. Just as it was Mandy’s affair with JR that led to Sue Ellen’s transformation into a successful creative business woman so it is Sue Ellen who has turned Mandy into a star.

    Her plan to get Mandy out of Dallas having succeeded, Mandy acknowledges Sue Ellen as “the winner” — but is she? As Sue Ellen herself points out, “You would have been miserable with JR, in or out of marriage.” She also assures Mandy that “when you become a famous movie star, revenge will seem like such a little thing.” So, having been set free from the shackles of Soap Land and the treadmill of misery and revenge that a life with JR would surely entail, doesn’t that make Mandy the real winner? Fast forward twenty-seven years to JR’s memorial service and there’s a similar ambiguity. “You’re the lucky one, Sue Ellen,” concedes Mandy in 2013 while reminiscing fondly about the man they both loved. Meanwhile, her erstwhile rival is hungrily eyeing up the drinks tray.

    While Mandy’s departure is fascinating, Cole’s on FALCON CREST is more conventional as his immediate family line up to wish him bon voyage. However, the emphasis in the scene isn’t really on Cole, but on those he is leaving behind. The estrangement between Chase and Maggie is striking. Far from comforting each other as their only son sets sail to the other side of the world, they barely acknowledge each other’s existence. When Cole observes that “this family’s falling apart,” his mother does not contradict him. Instead, she sets him free from his soap opera existence (“Go, it’s OK”) just as Sue Ellen does Mandy from hers.

    The truth is that Cole’s been on the FC sidelines for some time. Much has been made on screen about Angela bringing Dan Fixx into the family fold as a replacement for Lance, but in terms of his role on the series, it’s really Cole’s position that Dan had usurped. Such is the haste with which Cole is written off the show that the fact that he is leaving without his son Joseph — the same son he has fought so hard to gain custody of in earlier seasons — is mentioned merely in passing. Meanwhile, Cole’s DYNASTY counterpart, Steven Carrington — another longstanding “good son” in danger of being overlooked by the series — gets his first independent storyline in ages when a pretty psychotherapist informs him his son Danny has become introverted and withdrawn, for much the same reasons that John Ross was on DALLAS a few years ago. Whether Christopher Atkins will once again show up in a pair of blue speedos to save the day remains to be seen.

    At the same time as depicting the Soviet government as tyrannical and corrupt, THE COLBYS is careful to portray its leading man, Jason Colby, as an example of the best the USA has to offer. He is described in this week’s ep as both “one of the most powerful men in the United States” and “a man of principle”. The suggestion is that in America at least, power and principles are not mutually exclusive. This week’s KNOTS offers a more jaundiced view of those in charge. “I know world leaders,” Greg tells Laura. “I do business with them, I’ve danced with their wives in DC. Believe me, they define the term mediocre.” We also glimpse, in a scene where Ben Gibson nostalgically surveys some of his past journalistic successes, an eyewitness report he filed from the 1968 Democratic National Convention in Chicago during which thousands of Vietnam War protestors fought with police. It’s a fleeting reminder that the American way of life isn’t always as rose-coloured as the version served up by THE COLBYS.

    There’s more “bigger picture” stuff on DALLAS during a seemingly throwaway scene where Donna lobbies a couple of Washington bigwigs regarding a proposed tariff on imported oil. Their unsympathetic response puts the Texas oil industry, and the parochial world of DALLAS itself, into a wider national context that we have never seen before. “If the oil business is in trouble in this country, it’s getting its just desserts,” sniffs one politico. “While the oil people were riding high, you had nothing but thumbs down for anyone else in trouble,” adds another. However, it’s Donna, a mere woman in a man’s soap opera, who gets the final word: “I am talking about the life of the independent oil company. The majors will never die, but it’s people like you, with the shortsighted view that the Southwest is finally getting its comeuppance, that’s gonna cause us to lose it all — because I believe that without the independent oilman, America does not have an oil industry.” Personally, I’d far sooner listen to Susan Howard deliver this kind of fiery political speech than watch her fawn tearfully over a busload of Down’s Syndrome kids the way she did last season.

    Donna’s impressive performance in Washington and Sue Ellen and Mandy’s newfound mutual respect are not the only positive representations of women in this week’s DALLAS. Throughout the episode, female characters repeatedly challenge and/or exceed men’s expectations of them. Shortly after JR dismisses the notion of women in business as “a flock of hens who can barely carry a briefcase”, Sue Ellen reveals that she is the brains behind Valentine Lingerie. Cliff likewise mocks Pam’s complaint about her lack of involvement at Barnes-Wentworth (“Where do you get all that stuff — have you been reading those women’s lib mags?”) before being stunned into silence by a coolly delivered ultimatum: if he doesn’t turn 25% of the business over to Pam, then she’ll withdraw all her financing from the company. Cliff also sneers at estranged wife Jamie when she tries to hand him the solution to his offshore drilling problems: “I don’t want any advice from the oil business, especially from a female, more especially from you.” There’s more sexist behaviour at Southfork. “Have you discussed this with your wives — or don’t they have any say in this?” challenges Miss Ellie when JR and Bobby issue their threats to leave the ranch. While Pam insists that “Bobby respects a woman who does things on her own”, Donna refuses to live her life to suit Ray: “With a husband and wife, if you have to compromise who you are, you become a very empty person.” Even in the most adversarial of female rivalries, the DALLAS women refuse to lower themselves to the usual Soap Land level of tit-for-tat bitchiness. “I can’t hate Pam. She must love him very, very much,” concedes Jenna graciously, echoing Sue Ellen’s line to Mandy, “I never hated you and I never meant to hurt you.” Instead, Jenna’s focus is on becoming emotionally and financially independent of the man who betrayed her. “I’m angry all right,” she tells Bobby. “I’m also going to sell the boutique that you gave me and I’m also gonna hand you the cheque.”

    Those who assert that this season of DALLAS, as opposed to the one before it, is where the female characters got a raw deal could do worse than checking out this episode again.

    And this week’s Top 5 are ….

    1 (4) KNOTS LANDING
    2 (1) DALLAS
    3 (2) DYNASTY
    4 (3) THE COLBYS
    5 (5) FALCON CREST
     
    Last edited: Aug 7, 2017
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  2. Willie Oleson

    Willie Oleson drilling for soap

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    I think they've used this background story on another soap too...but what was it, and who?
     
  3. Zable

    Zable Soap Chat Fan

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    What comes to mind is an Anglo-Italian production pre-dating Falcon Crest. A movie, which down the totem pole co-starred one Stephanie Beacham.

    One English version title: Super Bitch, recut/edited from either the original Italian thriller or the first English version released for the UK market.

    (American edition is called Mafia Junction. That IMDb intro for it is stupid and misleading. The whole story as given in SB was about an undercover cop gone rogue, playing one side against another in police-initiated drug wars but working only for himself. The guys led in this movie. IMO, elderly mad Mama the Turk – Helen Hayes -- was the alpha female, and there was nothing sexual about her role. There was only 1 man each of the other 2 featured women bared their bods for, and in Ms Beacham's case, her character, Joanne, wasn’t out to manipulate her lover. She was having a simple affair and careful to see that sex and business didn't mix. We don’t actually see her undress with off-hours clients in 2 other instances of sexual romps. Not in SB.)

    I wouldn’t call Super Bitch a soap, but I can see why someone might assume that it is, when you recall it has Ms Beacham, who is so associated with The Colbys & Dynasty. Besides, some things in Joanne’s story found their way into TC.

    Joanne dressed in a rabbit suit got into a sexual romp with a high ranking British civil servant in an reddish/red & gold (? can't recall) room before another male joined them in a sting operation.

    The civil servant was then blackmailed into assisting in an international drug smuggling operation to help outwit Customs. He & Joanne went to an auction to buy an expensive statue to be sent over to the US. The auction was rigged, with planted bidders steeply pushing up the price of the statue. …On TC, Zack used an agent to bid for him at auction in New York, which created a bidding war, pushing the price of the painting Sabella wanted beyond her budget.

    On SB, Morell, a drug supplier, also ran a legitimate business where Joanne mainly worked in the administration. Morell owned a pearl-handled gun kept in a drawer. It became significant later in the story, going from drawer to pocket to out of pocket and changing hands. Similar to the sequence of events on Zack’s yacht the night Sabella was shot, when he took his handgun out of a drawer. ....Joanne knew Morell's gun well enough to recognize it. So did Sabella know which was Jason's favourite shotgun.

    (Like Charlton Heston in real life, Ettore Manni, the actor who played Morell, had been an avid gun collector. Mr Manni too had acted as Mark Antony; opposite Sophia Loren’s Cleopatra.)

    ….On TC, Bliss was Rabbit, and Monica & Neal were often in rooms with red.

    All this was on TC before FC wrote in teary Dan Fixx saying what he did.

    But what emphasizes the similarity of things between the SB and FC 'soaps', apart from the opening triumvirate of rogue cop, drugs & sex?

    Register or to view Spoiler content!
    we finally learn that Joanne’s last name is Morell. It’s implicit in the movie in a couple of places that the drug supplier wasn’t her father.

    So there you have it, the 2nd triumvirate of tears/grief/anger over what’s become of a spouse; a gun going off & death. Dan went to jail. We don’t know if Joanne did in the SB version.
     
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  4. Zable

    Zable Soap Chat Fan

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    Ooops! My bad.

    It's not Morell. Rather, Morrel.

    No relation to those sisters.

    And Joanne may be Joann.

    Neal it isn't, but Neil.
     
  5. James from London

    James from London Soap Chat Dream Maker

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    10 Dec 86: DYNASTY: The Letter v. 11 Dec 86: THE COLBYS: Sanctuary v. 11 Dec 86: KNOTS LANDING: Gifts v. 12 Dec 86: DALLAS: Bar-B-Cued v. 12 Dec 86: FALCON CREST: Hot Spots

    Soap Land’s mid-season exodus continues. Following last week’s departures of Sylvia Lean, Mandy Winger and Cole Gioberti, this week sees the exits of Emily Fallmont (who survives her collision with that taxi cab long enough to make it through the opening scene of this week’s DYNASTY before expiring discreetly off screen), Caress Morelle, Anna Rostov, Wes Parmalee, and Jack and Jamie Ewing.

    While his mother is busy dying at Soap Land Memorial Hospital, Clay Fallmont is busy marrying Sammy Jo in “a room service wedding” in Las Vegas. After Lance and Melissa on FALCON CREST and Miles and Channing on THE COLBYS, this is the third elopement of the season. The tackiness of such nuptials is often played for laughs in Soap Land, most overtly by Karen and Mack on KNOTS who succumbed to a fit of the giggles during their Vegas ceremony a few years back, but this time there’s an unspoken poignancy about the anonymity of the proceedings (“If I can have your first names, I’d be happy to decorate the cake with them?” offers the bellhop). It’s as if this marriage was somehow doomed from the start.

    It’s not until the next morning that Clay learns that his mother is dead. He rushes home to be with his father, but it’s too late. By absenting himself from his mother’s deathbed, however unintentionally, Clay has committed the same cardinal Soap Land sin as Sue Ellen when Bobby died and Cliff Barnes when his mother expired. “You’re never around when you’re needed,” snapped JR at Sue Ellen after his brother’s death. “You never were around when you were needed,” snipes Buck at Clay now. Then into the Fallmont living room walks Sammy Jo, and of all a sudden we’re watching a variation on another familiar Soap Land storyline: the son and heir bringing home a surprise bride to meet his dismayed family. Buck combines these two scenarios with his exit line, which echoes JR’s dismissal of Sue Ellen after Bobby’s funeral: “You don’t exist”. “You’re nothing,” Buck informs Clay, “and now you’re married to nothing.”

    Although not the most multi-layered of Soap Land characters, one can’t help but feel sorry for Clay in light of his father’s repeated rejection of him — even more so when one compares their relationship to the one Clay’s mountain-climbing counterpart on FALCON CREST, Eric Stavros, enjoys with his father. Whereas Buck blames Clay for events over which he has no control, Peter Stavros strongly defends his son against Angela’s suggestion that Eric is the one framing her for the toxic waste dumping at Tuscany Downs. However, the most poignant father/son exchange of the week occurs on DALLAS when Wes Parmalee shows up at Southfork demanding to see Miss Ellie. “You know, at first I prayed that you were Jock, but now, even if you are, I don’t think I care anymore,” Ray tells him. “You’re a good man, Ray. Any man would be proud to have you as a son,” Wes replies before going inside the house to tell Ellie that he isn’t Jock after all.

    Just as DYNASTY recalls DALLAS in the aftermath of Emily’s death, this week’s DALLAS also mirrors events from DYNASTY’s past. In the same way that Blake once travelled to Singapore to quiz a doctor about Ben Reynolds, a patient upon whom he had performed extensive plastic surgery, so Bobby flies to South America to ask another doctor about another patient, Wes Parmalee, whose face has been similarly reconstructed. Whereas Blake desperately hoped Ben would turn out to be his son Steven, Bobby is equally anxious for evidence that will prove Wes is not his father Jock. However, luck doesn’t seem to be on Bobby’s side. “He had lost all memory of everything,” recalls the doctor, “and then one morning, I walked into his room. He looked at me. He had tears in his eyes. ‘It came back to me last night,’ he said. ‘I remember who I am. I’m Jock Ewing.’”

    Mandy Winger and Sue Ellen parted on surprisingly good terms on last week’s DALLAS. So do Caress Morelle and Alexis on this week’s DYNASTY. Alexis even tries to persuade her sister not to go: “Cassie, how can you leave? We’ve just started having a relationship like real sisters.” Caress explains that she’s afraid of what Ben will do to her if she stays. “Don’t ever turn your back on him,” she warns before heading off to make a new life in Australia — the same place Cole Gioberti was bound for on last week’s FALCON CREST. Cole may have got a week’s head start, but as Caress is flying and he’s sailing, my money’s on her to arrive first.

    Over on DALLAS, Cliff Barnes takes his soon-to-be-ex-wife Jamie out for lunch, with the aim of achieving a similarly cordial farewell to Caress and Alexis’s — and thus dissolving their marriage without paying out a hefty divorce settlement. However, he hasn’t bargained on Jamie billing him for solving his offshore oil problem to the tune of $2,000,000. “Do you know what you’re doing to me?!” he asks angrily. “Oh yes,” she replies with relish. “I’m doing exactly what you haven’t done to me since just after we got married.” Back in the day, this line actually made me gasp in shock. As far as I was concerned, this was the raciest thing anyone in Soap Land had said since Alexis’s quip to Mark Jennings three years earlier: ”I paid you $100,000 to keep your mouth shut. For a tennis bum, that'll buy a lot of balls — and believe me, you're going to need them!”

    Before they leave DALLAS, Jamie and her brother Jack have one last twist up their sleeves. In order to prevent his ex-wife April getting her hands on fifty percent of his Ewing Oil shares, Jack sells them to Jamie — for a dollar. Jack presenting April with her half of the proceeds — fifty cents — and her throwing it back in his face makes for a really fun exit scene.

    Surprisingly, the saddest onscreen farewell (given that we’re privy to neither Emily Fallmont’s death nor Wes Parmalee’s final words to Miss Ellie) belongs to the most minor departing character, THE COLBYS’ Anna Rostov. Surrounded by assorted Russian and American officials, a team of cops and various members of the Colby clan, she tearfully breaks the news to her brother Kolya, who has chosen to seek political asylum in the States, that she is returning to Russia without him. The ambiguity over whether or not her decision has been coerced makes the situation all the more devastating, and those two Russian kids act the hell out of it.

    “Where’s your heart?” appeals Jason Colby to Sasha Malenkov, who seems determined to take at least one of the Rostov siblings back to Russia whether they like it or not. ”I listen to my head, Mr Colby,” Sasha replies coolly, “not my heart, just as you do. I am a servant to one ideology, you to another. We do what we have to do, what we believe is right.”

    The ongoing real world tensions between the Soviet Union and America also manifest themselves, briefly, on DALLAS during a news report about a group of mercenaries attacking a major Saudi Arabian oil field. “Syria is blaming the Iraqis who are blaming the Iranians,” says the announcer. “Different factions of the PLO are blaming each other while a spokesman for the Soviet news agency issued a strong statement blaming America.” Bobby’s secretary Phyllis wonders if maybe the Russians are right: “That’d be one way of getting oil prices to rise.” “Americans would never stoop to violence like that,” snaps JR patriotically. In this instance, of course, an American has stooped to violence like that — JR himself. Whereas the Americans on THE COLBYS, as represented by leading man Jason, are fair-minded and pure of heart in comparison to the paranoid fundamentalist Russkies, the Americans on DALLAS, as represented by leading man JR, are hypocritical and dangerous, while the Soviets we hear about are bang on the money.

    With so many cast members leaving Soap Land — nine over the past two weeks — there's room for a few new faces. This week sees the introduction of two tertiary characters, both defined by their governmental job titles, Senator Andrew Dowling on DALLAS and EPA Project Director Gwen Fuller on FALCON CREST. While Senator Dowling’s function is to debate the proposed tariff on imported oil with Donna Krebbs, Project Director Fuller’s is to investigate the toxic contamination of Chase’s vineyards. Between Donna and Andrew, and Chase and Gwen is forged an immediate bond of professional respect and courtesy (in sharp contrast to the messy, resentful state of both Chase and Donna’s marriages). In each case, there is just the tiniest suggestion of the professional and personal becoming blurred — Andrew’s polite enquiry about Donna’s pregnancy elicits the information that she and Ray are separated, while Gwen unintentionally overhears a conversation which establishes Chase and Maggie as similarly estranged. Small moments both, but each is significant enough for the dedicated Soap Land watcher to foresee further complications in both the Krebbs and Gioberti marriages.

    There is a younger, slightly less formal variation on this character type on DYNASTY. Like Gwen Fuller, Danny’s pre-school teacher-cum-psychologist Clare Prentice is somewhat prettier than she needs to be and this week finds herself in the middle of an argument between Steven and Sammy Jo, aka the new Mrs Clay Fallmont, who renews her threat to sue for custody of their son. In stark contrast to other recent Soap Land newcomers, these characters slip into their respective shows with no fanfare and little emotional baggage. Not for them the convoluted back stories of Dan Fixx (crippled mother, drug-addicted wife, rap sheet for murder), Channing Carter (a mother she saw die in childbirth, the uncle who may have abused her, a teenage rape and abortion) or Paige Matheson (who might not even be Paige Matheson). The only personal information we’ve been given about Andrew Dowling and Clare Prentice, for instance, is that he is a widower and she is new to Denver.

    Two weeks after Mack Mackenzie received a posthumous letter written (supposedly) by Paige’s mother Anne in 1967, Blake Carrington receives an equally posthumous letter from Emily Fallmont written shortly before her death but dealing with events that also took place in the mid-sixties. “I was the one [in bed] with Ben Carrington the day your mother died,” she admits. It’s enough of a confession to clear Blake of any wrongdoing in his mother’s death and prove Ben and Alexis guilty of perjury — but can he bring himself to go public with it and smear Emily’s reputation? No, he decides: “She was a warm and wonderful woman and that’s how people should remember her, including her sons.” But by the end of the episode, having learned of Alexis’s latest scheme to destroy him, he has changed his mind. “I’m going to use it,” he decides. “I’ll get them. I’ll get the whole pack of them!” Richard Channing also opens a dramatically significant letter on this week's FALCON CREST, but this one is anonymous. “You won’t get away with this, Channing,” it reads, referring to the disappearance of Erin Jones. What Richard doesn’t know, but we do, is that the letter was sent by his son’s live-in nanny, aka Erin’s sister Meredith.

    There is no shortage of significant phone calls in this week’s Soap Land either. Hoping to get to the bottom of the mystery surrounding Paige, KNOTS LANDING’s Karen calls the home of her maternal grandparents, the Winstons. They’re not home so she leaves a message. When Mr Winston later returns her call, it is Paige who answers. Once she realises who it is, she hangs up and pretends to Karen and Mack that it was a wrong number. Later, when Karen admits she has made contact with the Winstons, Paige pretends she did speak to her grandfather and that he was abusive to her. “They’ve always hated me,” she sobs. “Oh God, if only you knew!”

    There’s more deception-by-phone on THE COLBYS when Channing finds herself stranded in a snowed-in ski lodge with Fallon — the woman who is carrying her husband’s baby. Earlier in the episode, we heard her repeat almost exactly Pam Ewing’s recent words regarding Jenna’s pregnancy on DALLAS: “I wish to God that baby didn’t exist!” Now Fallon is sick, meaning that that baby’s life is possibly in Carter’s hands. She calls a local doctor for help, but after dialling the number, suddenly realises that Fallon suffering a miscarriage could be the solution to her problems. The doctor picks up the call, but Channing pretends she can’t hear him. “The phone’s completely dead,” she tells Fallon. It’s really fun watching her later relay this version of events after Frankie arrives on the scene, only for the phone to abruptly start ringing. “I thought you said the phone was dead,” says Frankie, glaring at her with suspicion.

    Meanwhile on FALCON CREST, Maggie, newly separated but equally pregnant, is home alone one evening when she feels her baby kick for the first time. Her first instinct is to call Chase to tell him the news. His phone rings as he’s on his way out of the office. “The work day is over. Let the service take care of it,” he decides. So Maggie calls Richard instead. “I needed a friend,” she explains. “I just happen to be one,” he replies and it feels like a turning point in their relationship. (Admittedly, most every other scene between Maggie and Richard so far this season has felt like some kind of a turning point, as circumstances conspire to bring them slowly but steadily together. In that regard, they’re the anti-Ray and Donna, who seem to be travelling inexorably further apart with every scene.)

    Barbara Stanwyck and Ronald Reagan starred together in the 1954 movie The Cattle Queen of Montana and on this week’s Soap Land they’re sort of co-stars again, albeit off screen. We are asked to imagine that each is on the invisible end of a phone call — one on THE COLBYS, the other on DALLAS. Monica Colby calls her Aunt Constance (Stanwyck), who is still on her never-ending vacation (“They told me you and Hutch flew to Agra to see the Taj Mahal”), to ask her a life-changing question: “I need the answer if I’m ever going to get on with my life. Promise me you’ll tell the truth. Connie, is Scott Cassidy mine? Is he my baby?” Meanwhile, Donna Krebbs’ first meeting with Senator Dowling is cut short when he receives a call from none other than “Mr President” himself (Reagan) — one of the world leaders who “define the word mediocre," as described by Greg Sumner in last week’s KNOTS.

    It’s nearly Christmas, but KNOTS LANDING is the only show to directly embrace that fact with Lilimae wrapping presents, Greg carrying off the indignity of a Santa suit with aplomb and even a festive flashback to ’67 featuring Young Mack and Young Greg. THE COLBYS gets into the festive spirit indirectly with its snowy ski-lodge scenes while the Ewings of DALLAS throw their equivalent of the Lotus Point Christmas Party, i.e., the annual Southfork barbecue. It’s something of a back-to-basics affair this year — JR takes exception to Pam inviting a member of the Barnes clan just as Jock did in the original “Barbecue”, and he and Cliff subsequently get into a verbal spat just like their daddies did. However, Pam slaps JR before he can get any ideas about pushing her out of a hayloft. Other party memories are evoked when Bobby arrives home from South America by helicopter the way Jock conspicuously didn’t in “Barbecue Two” five years earlier. Just as that was the episode that officially killed off Jock, so this is the one that eradicates his ghost/impostor from our screens as Bobby announces Wes Parmalee’s real identity as Wyatt Haynes, another passenger aboard the same chopper as Jock when it crashed.

    The truth, or at least some variation of it, catches up with three of Soap Land’s impostors at the end of their respective episodes. In the penultimate scene of KNOTS, Karen finally speaks to Russell Winston over the phone and explains that Paige is living in her house. “You’re a sick person, Mrs Mackenzie,” he replies coldly. “Paige is dead, my granddaughter is dead!” Meanwhile on DALLAS, Wes Parmalee pulls a disappearing trick before Bobby gets the chance to unmask him, leaving Clayton to vow revenge: “Maybe not today, but one day he’s gonna pay for what he did to my family!” Over on FALCON CREST, the fake Skylar Kimble opens her hotel room door to find the fake magazine writer standing there with a gun. “Kit Marlowe is your real name, isn’t it?” he asks. “You’re gonna kill me, aren’t you?” she assumes, not unreasonably.

    Joining Sammy Jo, Fallon, Donna and Jenna in Pregnancy Corner this week is KNOTS LANDING’s Laura Avery. Her announcement of the happy news to husband Greg is met with a long silence followed by a muttered, “Not a good idea.” It’s as crushing a response as Clay Fallmont telling Sammy Jo to have an abortion on last week’s DYNASTY. Clay is singing from a different hymn sheet this week though. “Thank God you’re gonna have our baby,” he tells his new wife. “I’m gonna be a real father to it.”

    In the same way that borrowing another Ewing’s car invariably leads to disaster on DALLAS (Bobby was kidnapped while driving JR’s Mercedes in Season 1, Sue Ellen was hit by Walt Driscoll while doing the same thing in Season 5 and no good will come of Pam borrowing Bobby’s car at the end of this season) so the gifting of a car at Christmastime is similarly cursed on KNOTS LANDING. Who amongst us can recall the Christmas morning when Laura’s husband and boss each presented her with an automobile without our cringe glands throbbing? Even worse comes to pass in this ep after Gary and Abby give Olivia a car as a reward for passing her driving test. With Lilimae in the passenger seat, a giddy Olivia swerves into the path of another car. One can only hope it’s not the same unfortunate cab driver that Emily Fallmont ran out in front of at the end of last week’s DYNASTY.

    And this week’s Top 5 are …

    1 (1) KNOTS LANDING
    2 (4) THE COLBYS
    3 (2) DALLAS
    4 (3) DYNASTY
    5 (5) FALCON CREST
     
    Last edited: Aug 14, 2017
  6. James from London

    James from London Soap Chat Dream Maker

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    17 Dec 86: DYNASTY: The Ball v. 18 Dec 86: THE COLBYS: Reaching Out v. 18 Dec 86: KNOTS LANDING: Truth Will Out v. 19 Dec 86: DALLAS: The Fire Next Time v. 19 Dec 86: FALCON CREST: False Point

    “Her story is so far-fetched, it could almost be true!” Gender pronouns aside, this line could apply to almost any of this season’s supporting players. Gone are the days when all a Soap Land newcomer needed to make their entrance was to be a greedy sister-in-law or a vengeful ex-husband (Jack Ewing’s greedy ex-wife April being the exception that proves the rule). The original premise of each of the big four soaps having been thoroughly mined for dramatic potential, it now falls to the incoming characters to bring with them story-lines of their own that are sufficiently bizarre and complicated for the been-there-done-that regulars to react to.

    In this particular instance, the story so far-fetched, it could almost be true belongs to KNOTS LANDING’s Paige. It is the tale of how she escaped life with her evil grandparents by faking her own death in a car crash. The circumstances have much in common with those that allowed Wes Parmalee and Kit Marlowe to similarly reinvent themselves — in each case, there was a fiery accident, and a victim who either disappeared or was burnt beyond recognition and whose identity Paige/Wes/Kit then assumed.

    So far, so familiar — but things get more complicated when the perennially suspicious Karen digs a little further and discovers that Paige Matheson “died in a freak boating accident off the coast of France in the Mediterranean.” So, in a sense, Paige has died twice. A unique occurrence in the average Soap Land week, one might think. However, this is the Post-Dream season, where all bets regarding life and death are off and no newcomer’s story can be too tortuously convoluted. So it is that on FALCON CREST, Kit Marlowe is also about to fake her own death for the second time so that she can enter the Witness Security Programme.

    While Mack Mackenzie and Ellie Farlow are inclined to give Paige and Wes Parmalee the benefit of the doubt over their deceptions, their respective spouses are in a less forgiving mood. “The man claimed he was your husband and he wasn’t. The whole thing’s outrageous!” exclaims Clayton on DALLAS. “Mack, ordinary normal young women don’t solve their problems by pretending they’re dead, certainly not dead two or three different ways … That’s the most angry, hurtful thing anyone can do to her family!” argues Karen on KNOTS. “Yes, but there were reasons,” insists Miss Ellie. “I’m just saying we may not have all the reasons,” echoes Mack. However, all Clayton and Karen are interested in is the bottom line. “I don’t care about his reasons,” snaps Clayton. “The man tried to destroy my family and almost got away with it and I don’t see how you can still take his part.” “Either she is Paige and Paige is a pathological liar or she’s an impostor,” maintains Karen. “In either case, she’s a liar.” While Clayton storms off in search of Parmalee (who seems to have vanished into thin air just as Krystle’s impostor did last season), Karen urges Mack to call the Winstons to let them know their granddaughter is alive.

    This leads to one of three episode-ending phone calls in this week’s Soap Land. During all three calls, it is suggested that someone previously assumed to be either dead or alive isn’t. In each case, this is bad news. THE COLBYS’ Jason, who has spent much of the preceding hour trying to track down his sister in India, receives a call telling him, “Connie and Hutch chartered a small plane … There’s not been a sign of them … They just disappeared.” “Anne is alive?!” asks Mack incredulously, having plucked up the courage to call Anne’s father to explain that Paige is, to borrow a phrase from the CIA’s Leo Daltry on DALLAS, “not as dead as we all thought (s)he was.” Agent Daltry is referring to BD Calhoun, previously assumed to have been killed in the botched attack on the Saudi Arabian oil fields. At the end of this week’s DALLAS, Calhoun calls JR himself to confirm Daltry’s prognosis — and issue a threat to JR, whom he blames for the deaths of his men: “Do you ever read the Bible, JR? … Deuteronomy 19, verse 21. ‘Life shall go for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth.’ We’re gonna make your punishment fit your crime.” JR looks scared. Meanwhile, Richard Channing is also unnerved by a phone call he receives on this week’s FALCON CREST, this time from Erin Jones. Here again, all is not what it seems — Erin’s perky sounding message on the answering machine has actually been spliced together from various recordings by her ever-resourceful sister Meredith as part of a ruse to discover Erin’s whereabouts.

    Arguably even more unlikely than BD Calhoun quoting from Deuteronomy is Alexis Colby paraphrasing Gertrude Stein. “‘A trailer is a trailer, but you are you are you,’” she coos at Dex on DYNASTY. But perhaps the week’s most unusual reference to the real world is Donna Krebbs and Senator Andrew Dowling discussing the pros and cons of US intervention in Nicaragua. “You’re just like all the other conservatives,” Andrew concludes. “You scream ‘communist takeover’ even before the ballots are out.” This is one of those DALLAS conversations that one can’t imagine taking place any earlier in the series — it belongs strictly to the Post Dream era. That Dowling and Donna are now comfortable enough to freely debate their differences is evidence they are already on more familiar terms than they were during last week’s ep. They’re not moving nearly so fast as Gwen Fuller and Chase Gioberti on FALCON CREST, however. “If I was your wife, I’d fight like hell to keep you,” purrs Gwen before inviting Chase back to her hotel and kissing him. While he doesn’t fully reciprocate, he doesn’t exactly push her away either.

    The focus of this week’s DYNASTY is Alexis’s Black and White Ball held at the former Carrington mansion. Meanwhile, the Ewing barbecue is in full swing at the start of this week’s DALLAS. Needless to say, the two parties have a very different atmosphere. While her guests are decked out in monochrome, Alexis makes her grand entrance in a bright red ballgown. Over at Southfork, the dress code is strictly down-home. Instead of ballgowns and tuxedos, there are Stetsons and cowboy boots — and that’s just the women.

    Still, both shows use their parties as dramatic backdrops in very similar ways. At the end of last week’s DALLAS, Bobby brought the storyline that has dominated the first ten episodes of this season to a close when he announced at the barbecue that Wes Parmalee was not Jock Ewing, but a man named Wyatt Haynes. At the end of this week’s DYNASTY, Blake likewise interrupts the ball to bring Alexis’s eleven episode reign as mistress of the mansion to an end. Having amassed sufficient proof that she and Ben lied about his mother’s death in court, he vows to expose their perjury unless Alexis signs his company and his house back to him. A similar turning-of-the-tables takes place on FALCON CREST where Lance is about to take over the New Globe. At the last minute, Richard produces an eyewitness to several of the crimes Lance committed over the years. “You wait till the authorities find out about this — which they will unless you sell your stock and stop your takeover bid,” he tells Lance who, like Alexis, has no choice but to comply.

    Elsewhere on DYNASTY, Blake accuses Alexis of exploiting Amanda’s relationship with Michael Culhane for her own devious ends: “You’re dealing with a man who’s destroying your daughter’s life!” Over on THE COLBYS, Sable’s motives in trying to reunite her daughter Monica with the son she gave up for adoption appear to be selfless — until we learn that she too has an agenda, to worm her way back in her husband’s good graces: “One way or another, I’m going to give Jason Colby his grandson … and no one is going to stop me!” Alas for Abby on KNOTS, there’s simply no way for her to capitalise on her daughter’s current predicament — it appears Olivia is hooked on cocaine. While Abby is able to put her experience as a soap vixen to good use — she snoops and she follows until she is able to confirm that Olivia is buying drugs — her plotting is not accompanied by her customary malicious glee. This is a whole new ballgame for Abby.

    Still reeling from the discovery that her biological child is being raised by Cash and Adrienne Cassidy, Monica Colby has a baby-related nightmare spookily similar to the one experienced by Val Ewing almost exactly two years earlier. Then, familiar faces from Val’s life (her doctor, mother, brother, ex-husband and current boyfriend) appeared at her bedside dressed in hospital scrubs to take her newborn twins away from her. Here, it’s Cash and Adrienne, also dressed in surgical scrubs, who approach her as she lies in a hospital bed asking to see her baby. “You don’t have a baby. You’ve never had a baby,” they tell her. Her pleas for her child (“You’ve taken my son!”) fall on deaf ears just as Val’s for her twins did and she wakes up screaming.

    It’s another busy week in Pregnancy Corner. When Sammy Jo’s doctor tells that her pregnancy is all in her imagination, she refuses point blank to believe it. (Her denial chimes with that of KNOTS LANDING’s Olivia who continues to angrily refute accusations of drug use even after she is caught red-handed.)

    Meanwhile, two middle-aged mothers-to-be, both separated from their husbands, are each hit by a moment of sad realisation. On DALLAS, Donna Krebbs is distracted during a political soiree in Washington by thoughts of home. (“It’s the Ewing barbecue — first time in six years that I haven’t been there.”) Over on FALCON CREST, Maggie Gioberti is overcome by loneliness when she finds herself in her obstetrician’s waiting room surrounded by happy young expectant couples.

    Upon her return to Dallas, Donna solemnly asks Ray for a divorce. (After so many beautifully poignant exchanges between them on either side of the dream season, this scene feels strangely anti-climactic — but then maybe that’s exactly how the end of a marriage is supposed to feel.) Meanwhile, Maggie goes to visit Chase, only to find him in an embrace with Gwen Fuller. She drives away before she can be seen but subsequently collapses. Unlike Fallon, whose medical emergency in last week’s COLBYS turned out to be a false alarm, Maggie’s situation is deemed serious enough for her to be wheeled into the operating room. In spite of her resentment towards him, she calls out for Chase, proving Jenna Wade’s observation in this week’s DALLAS to be true: “Emotions aren’t like faucets, Donna. You can’t turn them on and off.” (That’s kind of a terrible line, but for some reason, it’s always stayed with me.)

    Over on KNOTS, Greg and Laura arrive late to the same debate that has featured on each of the other shows in recent weeks. “We have to be responsible for this accident,” Greg tells Laura, referring to her pregnancy. “So what do you want me to do — you want me to have an abortion?” she snaps. “I’m not so sure the world is ready for another Greg Sumner,” he replies.

    “I hate you and I love your daughter,” Michael informs Blake on DYNASTY — a position the young Mack Mackenzie would surely sympathise with. As this week’s KNOTS flashbacks illustrate, Soap Land fathers were even more disapproving in 1967 than they are in 1986. When Mack asks Anne’s father for her hand in marriage, he simply ignores him. (This scene takes place in the grounds of the Winston residence, which is now the Agretti house on FALCON CREST — the very house Melissa almost throws Lance out of this week, until he kisses her hard on the mouth and she changes her mind.)

    After stumbling on the truth about Jill Bennett — that her real name is Dorothy Simpkins and Peter Hollister is her brother — Gary Ewing turns to Mack for advice: “I want to know what to do when someone has been dishonest about who they are.” “If it’s someone that you love,” Mack replies, clearly thinking about Paige, “maybe you need to give them a chance.” Let's hope Tony Cumson is taking notes — he’s fallen for Skylar Kimble not realising she’s really Kit Marlowe or that she’s about to fake her own suicide.

    If Mack and Gary’s conversation seems unusually intimate — I mean, these two guys are pally but they’re not best buds like Mack and Ben are — then it’s the not the only male friendship in Soap Land that has been intensified for storyline convenience. “You’re one of the few people in the world that Blake really trusts,” Alexis tells Dex, forgetting that up until a few months ago, the two men hated each other.

    And this week’s Top 5 are …

    1 (1) KNOTS LANDING
    2 (3) DALLAS
    3 (2) THE COLBYS
    4 (4) DYNASTY
    5 (5) FALCON CREST
     
    Last edited: Aug 20, 2017
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  7. Willie Oleson

    Willie Oleson drilling for soap

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    I can imagine how the writer struggled to come up with the perfect comparison. Lights? Cars? Hi-fi equipment? It all sounds tacky, but to use a word like "faucets" is even more ridiculous. Nobody knows what it is, let alone how to turn it on or off.
     
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  8. James from London

    James from London Soap Chat Dream Maker

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    31 Dec 86: DYNASTY: Fear v. 01 Jan 87: THE COLBYS: Power Plays v. 01 Jan 87: KNOTS LANDING: The Unraveling v. 02 Jan 87: DALLAS: So Shall Ye Reap v. 02 Jan 87: FALCON CREST: Missed Connections

    “Alexis, I have never seen you this frightened before,” observes Dex on DYNASTY. “Your lies frighten me. You frighten me,” admits Abby to her daughter on KNOTS LANDING. “Don’t sound so nervous, JR,” chides BD Calhoun on DALLAS. “I think she’s lonely,” says Dan Fixx of Angela on FALCON CREST.

    Alexis, Abby, JR and Angela — each of these tough guys is unusually vulnerable this week and each, in a different way, is dealing with an enemy within. For Alexis, it’s Ben Carrington. When she tries to sever their business partnership, he threatens, in a juicily noir-ish scene, to send both of them to jail. “No more talk about getting rid of me ever,” he tells her. For Angela, it’s her grandson Lance whom she believes (wrongly) to be the person who framed her for the toxic waste dumping. This is one of those FALCON CREST plot points that might just as easily be glossed over, or even played for laughs. Instead, the episode chooses to explore Angela’s more emotional side as she weeps in Dan’s arms. Abby’s enemy within is her daughter Olivia who continues to beg, borrow and steal to feed her coke habit. While Olivia herself is presented less as a character than a case study, acting out a checklist of various behaviours associated with the stereotypical addict, Abby becomes the figure we identify with — out of her depth and grappling for a way to cope. By the end of the episode, she’s adopted the old adage, keep your friends close and your enemies closer. “I’m gonna lock you in — with me,” she informs her daughter. By contrast, JR Ewing and his opponent, BD Calhoun, don’t even meet this week. Instead, BD demonstrates how easily that he can infiltrate JR’s ivory tower, first by leaving a dead body in his office, then by bugging the place and finally introducing himself to Sue Ellen at the Oil Baron’s Club as an old friend of her husband’s.

    As DYNASTY brings to a close Alexis’s reign at the mansion and DALLAS mops up the remains of the Wes Parmalee mystery, each of this week’s instalments could be described as a transition episode. Just as JR drew a line under the past last week by informing his long-term banker Franklin Horner, who had sought to take advantage of the Ewing boys’ recent problems, that his services would no longer be required, Alexis does the same this week to prize reporter Gordon Wales after he asks one too many questions about her decision to return Denver Carrington to Blake. JR’s relationship with another long-term recurring character also comes under pressure when he instructs his trusted dogsbody Harry McSween to dispose of the corpse sitting in his office. For the first time ever, Harry questions JR’s orders: “I don’t see how I can cover this one up. The man was murdered.” “Harry, I made you a rich man,” JR reminds him, “but I also have enough information on you to ruin your career …” Harry has no choice but to submit, but it’s a nice reminder that no Soap Land relationship can ever be taken for granted.

    Amidst all the comings and comings in these transition eps, we are given our first look at two sets that will become long-term fixtures of their respective shows: Alexis’s suite at the Carlton Hotel and April Stevens’ condominium in downtown Dallas. Meanwhile, as Blake and Krystle move back to the Carrington mansion, Donna Krebbs leaves Southfork. Donna’s departure makes for a touching scene, especially when one realises with hindsight that this is the beginning of her permanent exit from the show. “I have to do it for Ray,” she explains to Miss Ellie. “My being here makes it impossible for him to even visit. You’re his family, not mine.” Her reasoning combines logic and poignancy in a way that is rare on Soap Land. After all, this is a genre where husbands often continue to live under the same roof as their ex-wives even after they’ve married other women. In spite of Miss Ellie insisting “this isn’t goodbye” and “please don’t think you’re not a part of this family”, and Donna replying that “I really care about all of you very much”, the sad truth is (if I remember correctly) that Donna won’t set foot on the ranch again. In fact, I don’t think Susan Howard and Barbara Bel Geddes ever appear on screen together after this scene. The mawkish dream season aside, these two always made a great combination.

    As DYNASTY regroups, it takes the opportunity to relive some of its past glories: there’s a silly but fun catfight between Alexis and Dominique (which serves as a housewarming of sorts for the former’s new abode), Blake and Krystle celebrating their return to the mansion by reprising one of their patented fireplace love scenes, and even a flashback to Alexis getting slung into jail at the end of Season 4. However, the episode ends on an exciting new alliance as Alexis and Adam team up against Ben. Alexis orders her son to Australia to find out what secrets Ben might be hiding. “It’s a matter of life and death,” she tells him.

    This phrase is repeated by Jeff Colby the following night. “We’re trying to respect your traditions here, but please, this is a matter of life and death,” he says to a monk in a Nepalese monastery where he and Miles are trying to unravel the mystery of Connie’s disappearance. Not since Chase Gioberti went hunting in Chinatown for the eyewitness to Carlo Agretti’s murder has Soap Land strayed so far into another culture.

    In a DYNASTY-verse week packed with enjoyable girl-on-girl confrontation scenes — Alexis v Krystle, Alexis v Dominique, Sable v Frankie, Sable v Monica, Adrienne v Monica, Fallon v Channing — the pick of the bunch is a restaurant encounter between Sable and Adrienne where the former calmly asks the latter to hand her over son. “We want him back, to raise as a Colby with all the advantages that that implies … Just think what we could do for him.” Up until this point, Adrienne has consistently been depicted as the neurotic, clinging obstacle to Monica and Cash’s happiness. Now in front of our eyes, mid-scene, there is a shift. She is now the sympathetic, relatable one. When she tells Sable, “You’re amazing … and more than a little crazy,” it’s hard to disagree.

    Two tabloid articles provoke threats of libel action in this week’s DYNASTY-verse. While the Denver Mirror prints an amusing item about “the vastly overrated Dominique Devereaux, who was never more than a glorified saloon singer,” the American Informer publishes an article implying that Jason Colby is “not above selling out his country if the price is right.” While everyone already knows that the Mirror is a mouthpiece for Alexis, it takes a little digging before Jason discovers that the Informer is secretly owned by Channing’s uncle Lucas Carter. While Dominique confronts Alexis (“The truth? I hope you say that when I sue you in court for libel”), Jason faces down Lucas’s lawyer, the delightfully unsavoury Sam Erskin. “I’m filing a twenty million dollar libel suit against Lucas and his sleazy scandal sheet,” he informs him.

    Soap Land’s latest batch of blondes, meanwhile, are serving themselves up on a platter. Babysitter Claire Prescott’s response to Steven Carrington arriving home drunk on DYNASTY is to put him to bed and then slip under the covers alongside him. KNOTS LANDING’s Paige gains access to Peter Hollister’s apartment while he’s at work (“Your building supervisor likes blondes”) in order to surprise him with a home-cooked seven-course Italian meal. “This could take all night,” he says. “So could dinner,” she coos, plonking herself down on his lap. And while DALLAS’s April Stevens doesn’t bat an eyelid when Jeremy Wendell suggests she sleep with JR in order to get information on him, FALCON CREST’s fitness instructor Dina takes advantage of Melissa’s infidelity to get Lance into bed.

    It’s also a big week for some of Soap Land’s prepubescent males. Five-year-old Christopher Ewing has his first on-screen argument with his mom when Pam refuses to let him go on a field trip to Fort Worth. “Do you know how many bus accidents there have been lately?” she says to Bobby by way of explanation. As perils go, this isn’t exactly up there with the dangers faced by Olivia on KNOTS — teen prostitution, jail, even death — but Pam’s overprotective streak stems from the perceived threat Jenna’s unborn baby poses to Lucas.

    Bobby’s line to Christopher, “I love you too, partner. You know, it’s real important we never feel embarrassed to say that to one another”, made me fast forward mentally to their relationship on New DALLAS which, as Bobby hopes, will turn out to be far more emotionally open than any of the father/son relationships in the original series. In fact, one could argue that almost all of the drama on Old DALLAS springs from the lack of communication between Jock and his sons. If he had been able to express his love for his boys directly then they wouldn’t have gone to such lengths to gain his approval, even after his death.

    Over on KNOTS, twelve-year-old Brian Cunningham gets more scenes than he has in years by playing unwitting patsy to his scheming sister — lending her his pocket TV which she then sells for drugs and fetching the bleach she needs to contaminate her urine sample. I’m not sure what age Jason Avery is supposed to be at this point, but he too gets an interesting scene in which he confides to his recently acquired stepfather Greg that he’s “not doing so hot” with his multiplication tables. “Mom’ll have a cow.” To make the boy feel better, Greg makes a confession: “I flunked math two straight years. Then I stopped and I started looking around at all those kids who were getting straights As and they all had one thing in common. They all had their underwear on backwards.” When speaking to Laura, who has overheard the conversation, Greg admits that his confession was a lie: “I told ya I wasn’t a very good role model.”

    “I think Greg’s a fool for not wanting to have a baby with you,” Karen tells Laura. “You’re right, but I still love him,” she replies. Maggie pulls no such punches towards Chase on FALCON CREST when he tries to console her over the jeopardy her unborn child now faces. “You didn’t even want me to have this baby. How sorry could you be?” she snaps. Meanwhile, Sammy Jo’s pregnancy might be imaginary on DYNASTY but Emma’s plan to conceive a child with her dead fiancee by using her a psychic as a middle man on FALCON CREST is something else. (Obviously, it’s not believable, I just wish it was funny.)

    While Monica Colby and Mack Mackenzie face-off with those who raised their children instead of them (“I’ll die before I lose my son and by God, so will you,” Adrienne Cassidy tells Monica; “You’re the one who kept me from even knowing I had a daughter … You had no reason for it,” Mack tells Russell Winston), DALLAS’s expectant fathers, Bobby and Ray, are both determined not to end up in the same position. “When that child is born, I’m gonna do everything in my power to make sure it knows its father,” Bobby promises Jenna. “Get me some control,” Ray instructs his lawyer after learning of Donna’s intention to raise their baby in Washington.

    FALCON CREST and THE COLBYS both contain examples of a wife, Melissa Cumson and Sable Colby, taking revenge on her husband. After learning that Lance sabotaged her business partnership with Eric Stavros, Melissa strikes back by taking Eric to bed. As Zach Powers points out, sex is no longer an option for Sable: “You can’t hurt [Jason] in the bedroom anymore, but you can in the boardroom.” And so Sable uses her first board meeting as a Colby shareholder to cast the deciding vote against Jason’s attempt to acquire an electronics company. (There’s slightly more to it than that, but my minuscule business brain couldn’t quite grasp it.) Jason calls her “petty, spiteful … a willful, dangerous child.” Eric is no more impressed when he realises Melissa has used him to get back at Lance. “The two of you are just a perfect match. You both use people without a thought for their feelings.” Eric’s words send Melissa into a tailspin. “There’s something wrong with me,” she tells Father Bob. “I have something evil in me and I can’t make it go away.” Sable’s gloating is also interrupted when Jason gets a call from Jeff at the end of the episode with the shock news of Connie's death.

    Back on KNOTS, while Russell Winston confirms that Paige is really Paige, Jill Bennett admits to Gary that she’s really Peter’s sister — which leads Gary to assume she’s also a Galveston. The plot thickens on FALCON CREST where Guy Stafford, the bad guy who pretended to be a reporter but then turned out to be an undercover FBI agent, turns out to be a bad guy after all — and that’s after he’s also pretended to be Kim Novak’s secret lover.

    Stafford, or whoever he is, has an interesting take on one of FC’s other impostors. “Kit Marlowe has not only taken on the identity, she believes she is Skylar Kimble … She’s run so far from her past, she’s forgotten she had one.” This chimes with a theory put forward on this week’s DALLAS as to how Wes Parmalee was able to “cheat” the polygraph test when he claimed he was Jock: “It might be possible with a little self-hypnosis … he went back in his mind to a time when he really did believe that he was Jock.” For what it’s worth, I’m now leaning towards the idea that Wes actually was Jock, but realising his sons would never accept the fact, chose to walk away from his family rather than destroy it — and that this is what he explained to Miss Ellie (who had already chosen Clayton over him) during their final, pivotal conversation that took place off screen. It would help explain why Ellie has no anger towards Parmalee and now just wants the whole matter dropped.

    And this week’s Top 5 are …

    1 (3) THE COLBYS
    2 (2) DALLAS
    3 (4) DYNASTY
    4 (1) KNOTS LANDING
    5 (5) FALCON CREST
     
    Last edited: Aug 30, 2017
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  9. James from London

    James from London Soap Chat Dream Maker

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    07 Jan 87: DYNASTY: The Rig v. 07 Jan 87: THE COLBYS: The Legacy v. 08 Jan 87: KNOTS LANDING: No Miracle Worker v. 09 Jan 87: DALLAS: Tick, Tock v. 09 Jan 87: FALCON CREST: Dark Passion

    “All those terrorists running around … who know where they might strike next?” wonders Sly in this week’s DALLAS. And it’s true — almost without one noticing, this Soap Land season has been gradually infiltrated by all manner of mercenaries (DALLAS), mobsters (DYNASTY, FALCON CREST), drug dealers (KNOTS LANDING) and government agents-turned-bad (FALCON CREST, KNOTS). It’s too soon to say which category COLBYS’ newcomer Hoyt Parker fits into, but he’s clearly up to no good as well. And those on the right side of the law cannot necessarily be counted on to help. “What happens between you and BD is your business,” FBI agent Leo Daltry informs JR after he learns about the body Calhoun dumped in JR's office. Meanwhile, the fact that FALCON CREST’s new sheriff is played by future KNOTS mobster Manny Vasquez only adds to the sense of lawlessness,.

    Soap Land consequently feels a very dangerous place at the moment. The week starts with Ben Carrington shooting his brother Blake at point blank range on DYNASTY (as part of a dream sequence, admittedly) and ends with the gunning down of two unarmed women on FALCON CREST. Characters aren’t even safe in their own beds. No sooner does this week’s DALLAS end with BD Calhoun breaking into Southfork as the Ewings lie sleeping than FALCON CREST begins with a group of armed men invading Richard Channing’s home and snatching his baby son from his crib. Three of this week’s soaps end in cliffhangers that place characters in mortal danger (a gas explosion aboard an offshore rig leaves Blake trapped under some debris on DYNASTY as Ben looks on impassively, Hoyt Parker aims a rifle at Jason and Frankie on THE COLBYS, and JR wakes up to find himself face to face with a bomb on DALLAS). Highlights of this week’s KNOTS include Abby breaking down her daughter’s bathroom door with an axe (“You wanna get high? You let us watch you get high!”) and a drug dealer beating up her twelve-year-old son. There’s more kiddie violence on DALLAS when John Ross and Christopher come to blows for the very first time after John Ross cheats in a swimming race. (JR subsequently congratulates his son on his “competitive edge … Your winning made your daddy real proud of you.”)

    But when it comes to gratuitous violence, this week's FALCON CREST is streets ahead of its competitors. In the first ten minutes alone, there is a threat of infanticide (“Police or FBI = Dead Child,” reads a note Michael Channing’s kidnappers leave for Richard), Guy Stafford threatening to shoot Kit Marlowe unless she commit suicide by throwing herself off a bridge, and a knock-down drag-out fight between Stafford and Tony Cumson which results in Stafford going over the bridge instead. Tony assumes he has killed Stafford, but he later shows up alive — only to be immediately garrotted by his underworld superiors. “Boy finds girl, boy loses girl, boy loses life,” wisecracks his anonymous mobster boss in what is probably the grimmest death scene in Soap Land history — at least until the Jones sisters (Erin and Meredith the undercover nanny) are mown down at the end of the episode by a different group of anonymous mobsters. Oh, and there's also Melissa threatening to slash her own throat with a pair of scissors after finding Lance in bed with Dina the fitness instructor.

    Death hangs over THE COLBYS as well, specifically Connie’s — although let’s not forget poor old Hutch Corrigan who perished alongside her. Connie’s death — overseas, off screen, the result of a mysterious air crash — parallels Jock Ewing’s on DALLAS. In place of an entire episode of Ewings flashing back to memories of their patriarch, roughly a third of this week’s episode is given over to characters recalling scenes they shared with Connie during last season and even quoting her lines. Back on FALCON CREST, Kit Marlowe, with some help from Tony, has managed to convince everyone that she — or rather her alter-ego Skylar — is also dead.

    In the absence of bodies to bury, Connie and Skylar/Kit are granted matching memorial services, each set against a picturesque Californian backdrop. While the minister at Connie’s service assures the mourners that “her spirit is here with us where she lived,” Skylar/Kit really is there. Yes, in a Soap Land first, she’s shown up her own memorial service, watching from a discreet distance.

    In their grief, Connie’s brother Jason and Skylar’s stepfather Peter withdraw from their respective other halves, Frankie and Angela — just as Bobby Ewing will from wife Anne following JR’s death on New DALLAS. Frankie eventually persuades Jason that he needs a break and they travel together to the Colby family ranch where Hoyt Parker lies in wait for them. Peter Stavros also decides to get away, but refuses to take Angela with him. “I need to be alone,” he tells her. Like Angela, Miss Ellie is disappointed when Clayton rejects her idea of a vacation as way of recovering from recent events. It seems as if DALLAS is struggling to move on from some of its recent character departures. “It hasn’t been the same between us, has it, since the Wes Parmalee business,” Miss Ellie tells Clayton. “None of them matches Mandy Winger. Not one of them even comes close,” admits Sue Ellen as her search for a new Valentine Girl proves fruitless. Meanwhile, April is preoccupied with tracking down Jamie Ewing: “She now owns my five percent of Ewing Oil and I want it.”

    Hoyt Parker is one of three significant characters making their Soap Land debut this week. Each appears only briefly. Firstly, DYNASTY’s Adam is in Sydney, Australia when he happens to overhear a young woman in a telephone kiosk trying to track down Ben Carrington. She turns out to be Ben’s daughter Leslie (“I haven’t seen him in a very long time”), but disappears before he can question her further. Then the mysterious Hoyt Parker, whose name has been mentioned in connection with Connie’s death, is seen checking into a modest looking hotel on THE COLBYS (“Welcome to Los Angeles, Mr Parker”). And then finally, at the end of this week’s KNOTS, Mack Mackenzie opens the door of his New York hotel room to find Anne Matheson standing there, a dreamy smile on her face. (“Daddy told me you were here. Hi.”)

    This week’s KNOTS is unusual is that it focuses exclusively on just two storylines — Olivia’s drug problem and Mack’s visit to New York to see Anne — and features no more than a half dozen of its regular adult characters (two of which, Gary and Val, only appear in one scene apiece). Whereas Olivia’s story is full of big gestures and histrionics, the Mackenzies’ scenes are more nuanced, focusing on minor bits of character behaviour. Rather than deal with Mack’s impending reunion with his first love directly, he and Karen distract themselves by discussing insignificant details — what top he’s going to wear, how he plans get from the airport to the Winston residence, etc.

    A Soap Land taboo is quietly broken when Karen, already anxious about Mack and Anne, worries if the sweater she’s wearing is too tight. “I look fat!” she tells Val. My only previous memory of a non-pregnant woman’s weight being directly addressed in Soap Land is the jarring moment in DYNASTY Season 3 when Alexis refers to a nurse as obese. On one level, the “I look fat!” dilemma and the girly chat that follows it (“Have you gotten to be a big girl?” Val teases. “I’m afraid to weigh myself!” Karen kvetches) serve to make the characters seem more relatable to their audience. They have the same insecurities that you do, the scene is saying. At the same time, Karen’s groundless anxiety serves to highlight the fact that no one on KNOTS LANDING, or anywhere else in Soap Land, is even remotely overweight — at least no one deemed worthy of any significant screen time. So in trying to relate to its audience, KNOTS also distances itself from it. That isn’t to say that watching Val trying to stretch the sweater while Karen is still wearing it isn’t good fun.

    And this week’s Top 5 are …

    1 (1) THE COLBYS
    2 (3) DYNASTY
    3 (5) FALCON CREST
    4 (2) DALLAS
    5 (4) KNOTS LANDING
     
    Last edited: Sep 3, 2017
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  10. James from London

    James from London Soap Chat Dream Maker

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    14 Jan 87: DYNASTY: A Love Remembered (1) v. 15 Jan 87: THE COLBYS: The Home-Wrecker v. 15 Jan 87: KNOTS LANDING: My True Love

    Like last week’s KNOTS LANDING, this week’s DYNASTY focuses on only just two storylines and features a similarly reduced, immediate-family-only cast. The main plot is, of course, the reunion of Blake and Alexis, brought about by Blake’s amnesia. Following last week’s oil rig explosion, he can’t remember anything past 1964 and assumes that he and Alexis are still happily married. Meanwhile, the focal point of this week’s KNOTS is Mack’s reunion with Anne Matheson. 1967 was the last time these two saw each other, since when Anne has been labouring under the misapprehension that Mack was bought off by her parents. He denies it. “I saw one of the cheques made out it to you,” she insists, “for five thousand dollars” — the exact amount JR once falsely claimed to have given Valene to get her to abandon Lucy. While Mack manages to convince Anne that her father lied, Alexis allows Blake to continue to believe they are still together.

    The initial motivation for Alexis’s deception is to trick Blake into signing her share of the China Sea oil leases back to her, but this soon changes. In the same way that a softer, more vulnerable part of Abby’s personality emerged when she shut herself away with Olivia on last week’s KNOTS, so a different side of Alexis’s character surfaces after she spirits Blake away to a villa in Singapore. (“I don’t want Mr Carrington to receive any phone calls or any visitors,” she instructs the staff). Even Blake, in his clouded state, notices the difference. “Something’s happening to you,” he observes. “There’s a lightheartedness, a wonderful lightheartedness that I seem to have forgotten … Now, suddenly, it’s as if I have back with me that spectacular girl that I had met so many years before.”

    Like Alexis, Anne Matheson engineers some alone time with her ex, just as her daughter had predicted. “I wouldn’t bother cleaning up the house,” Paige tells Karen. “I bet Mother finds a way of keeping Mack in New York for a while. She’ll catch a cold or break a leg or something. She really is very good.”

    After observing her for five seasons, we are sufficiently familiar with Alexis to understand the conflict her current situation presents her with. On one hand, she is motivated by power and revenge, as represented by the China Sea leases. On the other, she is still in love with Blake, and it’s quite beguiling to see her let her guard down and allow herself to fall for him all over again. By contrast, Anne Matheson is an unknown quantity and it’s very interesting meeting her for the first time. She is both ditzy and cunning, romantically vulnerable and casually manipulative. When she and Mack finally land in California, Karen meets them at the airport in the family station wagon. Anne couldn’t be more gushingly grateful yet somehow contrives to sit up front with Mack on the drive home leaving Karen squashed on the backseat with all of her (Anne's) luggage. On this week’s COLBYS, Adrienne Cassidy accuses her husband Cash of turning her “into one of those desperate women who drink too much, who wear too much makeup, who have too much of everything except love.” It’s too soon to say how closely this description applies to Anne.

    Certainly, there is no shortage of desperate women in Soap Land. THE COLBYS’ latest recruit is Kolya’s new dance partner Georgina who looks like a younger version of Marilee Stone and is determined to make Bliss believe she is she is sleeping with Kolya even though he has no interest in her. This week, she hides in his apartment and waits for Bliss to arrive before emerging in her underwear. These days, such behaviour might be regarded as unstable, if not illegal, but in the mid-eighties, it’s simply par for the course for Soap Land's single career women. (See DYNASTY’s Claire Prescott climbing into bed next to an unconscious Steven and FALCON CREST’s Gwen Fuller propositioning Chase Gioberti for other recent examples.)

    While Anne and Mack and Alexis and Blake stroll down memory lane, each couple recalling the first time they made love (‘Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered’ was playing in the background for Blake and Alexis while Mack and Anne were both “really scared”), Karen and Krystle are left worrying on the sidelines. Krystle, once the perennial outsider in the Carrington household, is offered every support by her husband’s family, even his estranged brother Ben, as she travels to the Orient to search for Blake. Karen, meanwhile, once Seaview Circle’s redoubtable matriarch, is continually undermined by her stepdaughter Paige. “They must have an awful lot of catching up to do, Mack and Mom. I’d love to be there to see them — wouldn’t you?” Paige asks her mockingly.

    When Blake finally presents her with a contract for the China Sea leases, Alexis responds by tearing it in two. “What’s important to me is being with you,” she tells him, “laughing, dancing, remembering the old and good times … Now is not the time to worry about leases.” By contrast, after a couple of episodes spent focusing on her daughter’s drug problem, Abby is back to her old self on this week’s KNOTS, informing Gary that the generous divorce settlement he is offering is “not enough,” and mischievously referring to Jill Bennett as “a brunette Valene.”

    Wedding rings play a significant role in this week’s DYNASTY-verse. When she is initially informed by Blake’s doctor of his amnesia, Alexis turns one of her rings round to make it look like a plain wedding band before going in to see him. Over on THE COLBYS, Zach removes the wedding ring from Sable’s finger and replaces it with a diamond engagement ring. “I want everyone to know you are mine,” he tells her. Back at the Colby house, Sable cannot resist flaunting it in front of Jason, but then her real feelings show through. “I never thought I would see another man’s ring on this finger,” she tells him emotionally. “Did you?” “No,” he replies.

    And this week’s Top 3 are …

    1 (5) KNOTS LANDING
    2 (1) THE COLBYS
    3 (2) DYNASTY
     
    Last edited: Sep 6, 2017
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  11. James from London

    James from London Soap Chat Dream Maker

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    21 Jan 87: DYNASTY: A Love Remembered (2) v. 22 Jan 87: THE COLBYS: Manhunt v. 23 Jan 87: DALLAS: Night Visitor v. 23 Jan 87: FALCON CREST: When the Bough Breaks

    The search is on for three missing persons in this week’s Soap Land: Blake Carrington on DYNASTY, Scott Cassidy on THE COLBYS and Richard Channing’s son Michael on FALCON CREST. The circumstance of each disappearance is different. Suffering from amnesia, Blake has been spirited away to a secluded villa by Alexis who leads him to believe they’re still happily married. Scott, meanwhile, has run away in response to his parents’ breakup and Michael has been kidnapped by Mr Green (a professional mercenary, like BD Calhoun) who demands fifty million dollars and Meredith Braxton from Richard for his return.

    “I don’t want this part of our lives to end,” Alexis tells Blake in Singapore. “I wish I could freeze this moment forever. I wish I could always feel the way I do right now as though nothing could hurt us or interfere with our lives,” echoes Pam on DALLAS, enjoying some quality time with Bobby and Christopher. While Alexis is acutely aware that her time with Blake is running out, Pam is oblivious to all the misfortune that is soon to befall her. So is the first time viewer. It’s one of those Soap Land scenes that becomes more significant in hindsight.

    In the same week that Clayton Farlow’s private eye (played by none other than DYNASTY’s Ted Dinard) admits that his search for Wes Parmalee has reached a dead end, “the best detective in Singapore” comes up trumps by leading Krystle to Blake. Meanwhile, Monica Colby successfully intuits that Scott at the Griffith Observatory. However, neither Krystle nor Monica is congratulated for their efforts. “I don’t know who this woman is,” Blake tells Alexis when Krystle embraces him. “You’re not my friend. You just pretend to be nice to me so you can be with my dad!” Scott yells at Monica. “I like you very, very much, more than you could know,” Monica insists, mirroring Alexis’s line to Blake, “You’ll never know how much the past few days have meant to me, Blake — being with you, loving you again.” In the event, it is Alexis who tells Blake the truth. “I’ve lied to you,” she admits. “That woman is your wife.” There’s a similar twist elsewhere in the same episode when Sammy Jo, rather than Clay, decides to end their marriage following his discovery that she lied about her pregnancy. “Sammy Jo, all I want is for us to stay married and be happy,” he tells her. “We’re strangers to one another … I have to end this,” she replies. It’s an unexpectedly poignant moment.

    After Fallon, Sammy Jo and Maggie Gioberti, Donna Krebbs becomes the fourth pregnant woman in recent weeks to be admitted to Soap Land Memorial Hospital following a health scare. While Fallon’s turned out to be a false alarm, Maggie’s proved more serious and Sammy Jo’s revealed she was never actually pregnant in the first place, Donna is diagnosed with a serious-but-not-too-serious case of appendicitis. From a dramatic point of view, its main function is to put her soon-to-be ex-husband Ray and potential suitor Andrew Dowling in the same room.

    On last week’s COLBYS, during an oddly retro disagreement reminiscent of Bobby objecting to Pam working at The Store back in ’78, Jeff argued with Fallon’s decision to start an interior design business while carrying a baby. Fallon’s response, that being pregnant is a condition, not a disability, is echoed by Miss Ellie on this week’s DALLAS. “That’s typical, a man telling a woman to take it easy just because she’s pregnant. I remember with my sons, the energy I had! To me, it was a miracle. To my doctor, it was a medical condition.” Ellie is talking to Jenna for the first time since Jenna found out she was carrying Bobby’s baby. “I want only the best for my grandchild,” Ellie tells her. “Miss Ellie, that’s one thing this baby can never be,” Jenna insists. “There can be no ties with the Ewing family, for all our sakes.” This dynamic is mirrored on THE COLBYS. “I am your son’s grandmother,” Sable tells Cash Cassidy. “Let me set you straight,” he replies. “Scott is my son, Adrienne and mine’s legally. That’s all you need to know.” While Miss Ellie stands open-mouthed following Jenna’s pronouncement, Sable immediately calls her lawyer.

    Jeff Colby and Chase Gioberti travel to Boise, Idaho and Ridley, Oklahoma this week, to investigate the pasts of Hoyt Parker and Dan Fixx respectively. Between them, they encounter a virtual whos-who of character actors from Soap Land’s past — among them Jock Ewing’s first wife, Karen Mackenzie’s shooter, the doctor who erroneously informed Jason Colby that he was dying, the cop who investigated the shooting of Claudia Blaisdel and Verna Ellers’ coffee shop boss from Shula, Tennessee.

    Ridley is a particularly interesting location. It’s almost the Soap Land version of S Town: a strange, remote, inward-looking place full of intriguing characters hiding murky secrets. Like previous close-knit communities depicted in Soap Land, it doesn’t take kindly to outsiders asking too many questions. As a result, Chase receives a pasting from some anonymous locals, just as the Dallas Ewings did in Landowne (“The Dove Hunt”, Season 2) and Gary Ewing did in Shula (KNOTS Season 6).

    Once again, violence permeates this week’s episodes. On DYNASTY, after Dominique refuses to let Gary Tildon and his group of mobsters manage her singing career, he sends some boys round to her recording studio to interrupt her rendition of Gershwin’s ‘I Can’t Get Started’ and knock her around a bit. Nick Kimble rides to her rescue using a variety of musical instruments as offensive weapons. Not since Gary drunkenly disrupted Ciji Dunne’s recording session has a Soap Land music studio seen this much chaos. “Those creeps won’t be back,” Nick assures her. The same cannot be said for BD Calhoun who stalks Sue Ellen throughout this week’s DALLAS.

    Following the tabloid article that accused him of betraying his country and made him the target of death threats, Jason Colby has been obliged to beef up his personal security. After JR discovers BD’s little bomb at his bedside, he feels the need to the same thing at Southfork. “Doesn’t anybody read the newspapers?” he asks the rest of the Ewings. “Here we are, an enormously rich family right out in the middle of nowhere. We’re fair game for anybody … In this day and age, anybody with three dollars more than their neighbour is a target … With all the nuts and all the terrorists, it wouldn’t surprise me if the Eskimos started hijacking airplanes.” This rant reminds me of Fallon Colby’s after her son was kidnapped on DYNASTY four years ago: "My father worked very hard for all of this. He had genius and he had guts and he got it all for us, and until now it never occurred to me that people might hate him for that, might hate us, might even hate our baby enough to take him from us. Is this way it really is for people like us, Jeff?” This time, however, JR’s knee-jerk paranoia is a smokescreen for his own wrongdoing. As a further precaution, we also see him practising his aim at the local firing range. It’s kind of refreshing to see JR shooting a gun instead of being on the receiving end of one for once.

    Speaking of shootings, the safeguards taken by Jason Colby cannot prevent the assassination attempt against him at the end of this week’s ep. It takes place at the Jefferson Hotel during a press conference and is the best staged Soap Land shooting since the Belmar Hotel sequence at the end of KNOTS’ fifth season. Now as then, the wrong person is shot as Cash takes the bullet for Jason. (Oh my God — they killed Kenny!) I particularly liked the double-cross moment in the ensuing chaos where the bad guys’ inside man on the hotel security team shoots the assassin dead (“You. You set me up”). DALLAS tried something similar during the Martinique shoot-out last season’s, but that moment was nowhere near as effective.

    The last time I watched the scene of Cash’s shooting, I remember noticing that Monica’s hair had been styled in an unusually ‘60s way and that her clothes resembled those of Jackie Kennedy’s on the day of JFK’s assassination. This time around, the comparison seems less obvious — although the moment where she kneels over Cash’s body, her hand covered in his blood, suggests that perhaps I wasn’t imagining things after all.

    Intentional or otherwise, it’s not the only cultural reference of the week. On DYNASTY, the amnesiac Blake peruses newspapers looking for a familiar name. “The only one I recognise after twenty-three years is Paul Newman,” he tells Alexis who co-starred with Newman in Rally Round the Flag, Boys! back in ’58. There’s more movie magic on DALLAS where a waitress observes Sue Ellen reading Star Struck magazine. “Mandy Winger,” she says, referring to the magazine’s cover girl. “Now she’s a movie star. In real life, she’s very shy. My sister has a friend who used to know the girl that did her nails.”

    There’s also some literary name-dropping in this week’s Lorimar soaps with DALLAS and FALCON CREST referring to the most famous character created by Henry Fielding and Harper Lee respectively. Having gathered his courage to ask Donna out on a date, Senator Dowling suggests a crab restaurant where they “let you get positively Tom Jones-ish about it all.” Meanwhile, Dan Fixx’s former lawyer insists that “Clarence Darrow himself couldn’t have done any better” at defending him.

    Two weeks after Karen’s “I look fat!” outburst on KNOTS, more female bodies are discussed in terms we’re not used to hearing in Soap Land. On THE COLBYS, Kolya wants Georgina Sinclair replaced as his dance partner. “She’s gained weight — she’s getting too heavy for the lifts,” he complains. “She doesn’t weigh an ounce!” replies Sable. Over on DALLAS, Sue Ellen and her PR guy pass comment on a parade of potential Valentine Girls, all of whom are filmed from the neck down, the better to emphasise their lack of identity. “This girl has a very pretty face but no --” “Bust?” “She’s just flat, no --” “Fanny? … It’s all right to use those terms in your presence, Mr Barton. I’m a trained professional,” Sue Ellen assures her colleague. Nevertheless, hearing her critique another woman’s fanny feels as incongruous as the sight of Abby Ewing sticking her hand down a toilet bowl did a couple of weeks ago. Belonging to the same category is the scene in FALCON CREST where Angela Channing explains the workings of a feeding tube to Melissa, who is refusing to eat after being hospitalised for her breakdown: “They put it up your nose and you swallow it down into your tummy. I know it sounds terribly uncomfortable but after a couple of days, you can’t live without it.” Melissa promptly takes a bite of the nearest apple.

    And this week’s Top 4 is …

    1 (-) DALLAS
    2 (2) THE COLBYS
    3 (-) FALCON CREST
    4 (3) DYNASTY
     
    Last edited: Sep 10, 2017
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  12. Willie Oleson

    Willie Oleson drilling for soap

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    That seems like a turning point in the Dynasty saga, doesn't it? Besides giving Blake an update of the situation, she also acknowledges Krystle as Blake's wife.
     
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  13. James from London

    James from London Soap Chat Dream Maker

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    28 Jan 87: DYNASTY: The Portrait v. 29 Jan 87: THE COLBYS: All Fall Down v. 29 Jan 87: KNOTS LANDING: Never Trick a Trickster v. 30 Jan 87: DALLAS: Cat and Mouse v. 30 Jan 87: FALCON CREST: The Cradle Will Fall

    Reconciliation is in the air in this week’s Soap Land. On DYNASTY, Blake holds out his hand to his estranged brother: “You saved my life, Ben, I want to thank you for that.” “You saved my life,” echoes Jason on THE COLBYS. He’s talking to Cash Cassidy who intercepted a bullet intended for him at the end of last week’s episode. “I was wrong about you,” he admits. KNOTS LANDING’s Karen likewise sees Paige in a new light after meeting her mother Anne. “I never realised what Paige was up against … I really feel sorry for her,” she tells Mack. With Cash unconscious after the shooting, there’s not much Jason can practically do for him. Blake and Karen, however, offer Ben and Paige a roof over their respective heads. “I’d like you to come home, Ben,” says Blake. “I think Paige should live with us,” says Karen.

    There’s also a thawing of hostilities between various feuding exes. After four years of animosity, DYNASTY’s Steven and Sammy Jo are now sleepover buddies. Even more surprisingly, Blake forgives Alexis for deceiving him while he had amnesia. “I was angry,” he concedes, “but now I’m very grateful to you for all the ways that you helped me then.” And in spite of JR being somewhat culpable in Sue Ellen’s recent abduction, the ordeal serves to bring them closer. “We’ve been through some major battles, Sue Ellen,” he tells her, “but no matter what happens between us, the last thing I wanna see is for you to be hurt.”

    The reconciling doesn’t stop there. Steven also patches things up with Alexis while FALCON CREST’s Emma forgives nephew Lance for using a psychic to trick her into signing over her proxy in the New Globe to him. “I guess I’ll keep you as my nephew after all,” she giggles, hugging him. Lance himself turns to his formerly estranged father Tony for support following Melissa’s “temporary psychosis.” Even Tony and Angela — two FC characters who have despised each other since long before the series even began — are suddenly cordial towards one another.

    As last season’s DALLAS demonstrated, too much harmony between characters can kill a soap stone dead. However, there are enough hostile reactions to these truces to fan the flames of dramatic conflict — at least for now. While Dex is predictably jealous of Alexis and Blake’s newfound understanding, Steven’s friendship with Sammy Jo leads to both a dance-floor punch-up between he and Clay and a bitchy exchange between Sammy Jo and Alexis. Meanwhile, Krystle remains wary of Ben. “As far as I’m concerned, you’re still on trial,” she warns him. However, the juiciest response to a rapprochement belongs to Anne Matheson. “If Paige is staying in Knots Landing, then so am I,” she announces.

    As Paige comes face to face with the mother she hasn’t seen since she faked her own death, DYNASTY’s Leslie Carrington arrives in Denver to confront the father she hasn’t seen since she was a little girl. Whereas Leslie’s meeting with Ben is all raised voices and overwrought emotions (“You walked out on us and I’ll never forgive you for that!” “That’s not true, Leslie! … You must believe me, please!”) Anne’s reunion with Paige is far, far chillier — and, for added social awkwardness, unfolds in front of Karen and Mack. “If I collected on your death, it’s because you abandoned me and I deserved it,” Anne tells Paige. “And where did you go on my death — to Cannes?” Paige asks. ”Rio,” Anne replies.

    On DALLAS, Ray has been advised to curtail his friendship with Jenna in order to increase his chances of winning custody of his and Donna’s unborn baby. This has affected Jenna more than she expected. “You miss him, only you won’t say it — so say it!” challenges Charlie on her way out the door. “Yes, I miss him, very much,” confesses Jenna tearfully to an empty kitchen. Over on FALCON CREST, Vicky Gioberti is even more direct when confronting her pregnant mother about her true feelings for a platonic male friend (who, like Ray, just happens to be the half-brother of the father of her unborn child). “Are you falling in love with Richard Channing?” she asks. Maggie proves more circumspect than Jenna in her reply, however: “I am five-and-a-half months pregnant. I am not gonna be having a romance with anybody.” While Jenna worries that Charlie has grown “too attached” to Ray, Maggie faces the opposite problem with her daughter. “Fair warning, Mother — if this friendship with Richard gets any deeper, I’m outta here,” Vicky tells her.

    This week’s DALLAS and FALCON CREST each include what might be called “a mini-abduction”. When Sue Ellen returns home after a night away from Southfork but cannot remember where she’s been, the family assume she’s fallen off the wagon — but things are not what they seem. When two men burst into Tony Cumson’s office and tell him, “Our employer would like very much to talk to you about Skylar Kimble” and then refuse to take no for an answer, the audience assumes the mobsters looking for Kit Marlowe have caught up with him. Again, things are not what they seem. While Sue Ellen later discovers she had been kidnapped, Tony is taken to Greece, where he finds Peter Stavros desperate for answers about his stepdaughter’s suicide: “Why did she do it, Tony? She had every reason to live.”

    It then falls to Tony to hand-deliver a letter from Peter to Angela. “My dearest Angela,” it reads, “I hope you can understand what I’m going through and why I cannot return to Falcon Crest … I can’t ask you to tear yourself away from your home and your family. The time that we’ve shared has been the happiest of my life … I’ll always love you, Peter.” DYNASTY’s Michael Culhane delivers a similar letter to Blake from Amanda, who has also decided against returning to Soap Land: “Dear Daddy, you and Michael were forcing me to choose between you. Well, I can’t. I love you both too much.” “She says she’s leaving for London and not to try to follow her,” Michael adds. Yet another significant piece of mail is delivered to JR on DALLAS. It contains a set of photos of an apparently naked Sue Ellen unconscious in BD Calhoun’s hotel room. “Thought you might like to know where your wife spent the night,” reads the accompanying note.

    Peter’s rejection of the Tuscany Valley as a whole (“I kept her in the valley,” he says of Skylar. “I let it poison her … I have no desire to go back there“) chimes with Fallon’s outburst on this week’s COLBYS: “Sable and Channing and Miles — these people, this house. I’ve gotta get out of here … I can’t stay locked up in this castle forever!” she yells at Jeff. His response is interesting. “It’s time you grew up,” he snaps. “Ever since I married you, you’ve had everything your way. You married me, you divorced me and you ran out … If you wanna run, go ahead and run, but this time I’m not running after you!” This speech serves to bring the somewhat sugary nature of Fallon and Jeff’s relationship as depicted on THE COLBYS in line with the more volatile version we saw previously on DYNASTY.

    Corporate intrigue of the week: While Hoyt Parker purchases $2,000,000 worth of Colby Enterprises anonymously, Greg Sumner is, as Peter Hollister puts it, “convinced somebody’s hacked into his computer so he’s feeding it false information to smoke out the culprit … trying to trap some imaginary bad guys.” The illicit passing of information continues on DALLAS where Pam innocently mentions Ewing Oil’s interest in acquiring MacArthur Mining to Cliff who then relays this information to Jeremy Wendell who subsequently instructs April to pick up a little pillow talk from JR on the subject.

    Back on KNOTS, Greg’s plan succeeds: “Someone took the bait … a South African named Rudolf Bauer. He’s a shady investor … All of his investments make sense only if he’s got the information I put in my machine. This guy is gonna lose millions … Our friend Rudy hangs around with some nasty people — mercenaries, arms dealers. Rumours have it that he even finances a terrorist group.” Mercenaries, arms dealers, terrorists — these are becoming increasingly common terms in Soap Land with THE COLBYS’ Hoyt Parker, DALLAS’s BD Calhoun and FALCON CREST’s Mr Green fitting at least one of these descriptions each.

    Peter Hollister paints a very interesting picture of Greg this week: “He used to be pragmatic. Now he’s isolated, eccentric, paranoid … He almost never goes to work in his corporate headquarters anymore … His ranch is crawling with electronic sensors.” This sense of paranoia and isolationism is reflected in the other soaps as well. “It could be a conspiracy. We don’t know how many are involved,” says Miles Colby following the most recent attempt on his father’s life. Meanwhile, Bobby Ewing accuses JR of “endangering your entire family” by his involvement with Calhoun. “Do we all have to pack guns from now on?” he asks. Suddenly everyone’s battening down the hatches and “beefing up security”. “You’re safe here,” Miles assures Fallon. “Between the sensors and the guards and the dogs, lord knows, this house is as tight as a drum.” Similarly, the Ewing boys elect to keep their sons home from school (“Calhoun’s just crazy enough to nab one of them”) and Bobby persuades Pam not to go into work either. “Do you know that I’m afraid to leave the house — what if he comes after me again?” asks Sue Ellen, summing up this new atmosphere of intimidation.

    In response, characters start taking the law into their own hands. Bobby’s first impulse after learning that Calhoun kidnapped Sue Ellen is to call the cops. “I wouldn’t do that,” JR tells him. “Why not?” he asks. “Because if the feds find out about this,” JR replies, “Ewing Oil will lose its franchise. They’ll shut us down, Bobby, and you and I will go to prison.” As a result, it’s up to the Ewing brothers to deal with Calhoun themselves. The final scene of this week’s DALLAS finds them both armed and ready to burst into BD’s hotel room. “I’m gonna kneecap him. That’ll slow him down,” JR mutters. “Protecting the family” is leading the Ewings into some very murky waters, both morally and legally. The same can be said for Ben Gibson on KNOTS. “You and the kids are the only things that I care about in my life,” he tells Val. She takes comfort from this statement, but it’s also the reason Jean Hackney has been able to persuade Ben to spy on Greg Sumner. And there’s worse to come. In fact, the final lines of both of this week’s Ewing-verse shows set the stage for an impending fatal showdown. “Your assignment is to kill Greg Sumner,” Jean tells Ben. “Now you’re an enemy worth killing,” Calhoun informs JR.

    Once again, FALCON CREST takes these theme of violence and lawlessness to a whole different level. The majority of this week’s episode is taken up by two separate storylines, one involving Richard, the other Chase, each of whom must do battle with a different set of anonymous bad guys who are out for blood. Bizarre highlights include Meredith Braxton bursting out of her own coffin to gun down a bunch of mercenaries and Chase digging his own grave at gunpoint. For better and/or worse (and this instalment is actually quite engrossing), we’re a very long way from FC’s original soapy premise of a feuding family battling each other for control of their shared legacy.

    And this week’s Top 5 are …

    1 (1) DALLAS
    2 (-) KNOTS LANDING
    3 (3) FALCON CREST
    4 (2) THE COLBYS
    5 (4) DYNASTY
     
    Last edited: Sep 16, 2017
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  14. James from London

    James from London Soap Chat Dream Maker

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    04 Feb 87: DYNASTY: The Birthday v. 05 Feb 87: THE COLBYS: Guilty Party v. 05 Feb 87: KNOTS LANDING: A Plan of Action v. 06 Feb 87: DALLAS: High Noon For Calhoun v. 06 Feb 87: FALCON CREST: Topspin

    BD Calhoun quotes the Bible again on this week’s DALLAS. “The sins of the father shall be visited on the sons,” he tells JR (a sentiment THE COLBYS’ Zach Powers would heartily agree with). But it’s another Biblical passage — “What will it profit a man if he gains the whole world, yet forfeits his soul?” — that springs to mind elsewhere in this week’s Soap Land. “You have more money and more power than you ever could have imagined,” says Laura to Greg on KNOTS. “I never know who you are anymore.” This sentiment is mirrored on DYNASTY. “In my lifetime, I have made more money than I ever dreamed I would make,” Dominique tells Dex. “Sometimes when I look in the mirror, there is no one looking back at me.” She and Dex are chatting over drinks in a bar. Even though these two characters have coexisted onscreen for about three years, it’s the first significant discussion I can recall between them, yet one immediately buys them as good friends with a shared history. There exists a similar connection between Ray Krebbs and Jenna Wade during this season’s DALLAS. Dex and Dominique are both smarting from tiffs with their respective love interests so it would be the easiest thing in Soap Land for them to wind up in bed together. Instead, the characters — and the show itself — have different ideas. “You just don’t go to bed with a friend to strike out at someone,” declares Dominique, clearly not up to speed on the book of Soap Land clichés. “Even if you find that friend warm and appealing?” teases Dex. “Especially if you find that friend warm and appealing,” she replies firmly, drawing any possibility of romance between them to a close. The situation isn’t entirely devoid of soap tropes, however, as evidenced when Alexis finds them in a friendly embrace and inevitably misreads the situation. An even rarer, more tantalising Soap Land pairing than Dex and Dominique? Greg Sumner and Val Gibson, who share their first scene on this week’s KNOTS. While their conversation is fairly inconsequential, the scene derives its tension from the fact that Val knows, but Greg doesn’t, that her husband has been ordered to kill him.

    Viewed with hindsight, the scene of Dominique taking stock of her life seems to anticipate her low-key departure from DYNASTY at the end of this season. There’s a similarly ruminative quality to the lovely scene on DALLAS where Andrew Dowling asks Donna about her marriages to Sam Culver and Ray Krebbs. This provides Donna, who is also on her way out, with an opportunity to look back to when she arrived on the show, and in particular her first meeting with Ray (her description of which is slightly different to what played out on screen at the time, but no matter). “He was young and vibrant, everything the years had stolen from Sam,” she remembers, her eyes closed in reverie. She is brought sharply back to the present by a kick from her and Ray’s unborn child. Andrew picks up on an unspoken thought. “Ray isn’t gonna let you go easily, is he?” he asks. Over on FALCON CREST, Maggie Gioberti experiences a similar combination of nostalgia and loss after attending her first Lamaze class. She tells Richard about her awkwardness at “being in that class with all those young couples. When Vicky was born, it was such a happy time.” “Just where do you and Chase stand now, if you don’t mind me asking?” Richard asks her gently, displaying a sensitivity similar to that of Senator Dowling in his conversation with Donna. “We don’t really communicate,” she admits. Neither do Greg and Laura on KNOTS. When Laura tries to tackle Greg directly about their problem, he suggests that “if you’re so unhappy around here, maybe you should go back to the cul-de-sac.” So she does, joining Donna and Maggie as Soap Land’s latest middle-aged mom-to-be currently estranged from her husband. (“Pregnant women alone seem to be the fashion nowadays,” remarked Donna at Bobby and Pam’s wedding — in which case, Laura is bang on trend.)

    Things aren’t looking much rosier for the three couples who eloped earlier on in this Soap Land season. The most recent newlyweds, Sammy Jo and Clay, sign their annulment papers on this week’s DYNASTY while FALCON CREST’s Lance and Melissa are now sleeping in separate bedrooms. Over on THE COLBYS, after Miles accuses her of pushing her pregnant sister-in-law down the stairs, Channing announces that “the nightmare’s over and so is this marriage.”

    As if to redress the balance, Vince Karlotti and Adam Carrington pop the question to Emma Channing and Dana Waring on FALCON CREST and DYNASTY respectively. Emma declines but Dana accepts, making her and Adam Soap Land’s third currently engaged couple, alongside Jason and Frankie on THE COLBYS and Gary and Jill on KNOTS. Meanwhile, Zach Powers continues to pressure Sable for an answer to his proposal.

    DALLAS opens with John Ross and Christopher breaking a vase while playing ball in the upstairs hallway of Southfork. A similar misdemeanour on THE COLBYS has far more serious consequences when it transpires that Fallon’s fall down the stairs wasn’t caused by a vengeful Channing, but by LB leaving his marbles on the staircase. While LB, John Ross and Christopher are suitably apologetic, an unrepentant Joseph Agretti/Gioberti/Cumson (delete where necessary) is sent to his room for calling Lance a butthead on FALCON CREST. As contemporary vernacular goes, “Butthead” is up there with Jason Avery’s recent “have a cow” remark on KNOTS. These phrases will, of course, be popularised by BEAVIS AND BUTTHEAD and THE SIMPSONS, but interestingly, neither cartoon had made its TV debut at this point.

    This week's FALCON CREST takes a narrative jump forward of about six weeks which means that Maggie is suddenly seven months pregnant. Laura’s pregnancy on KNOTS appears to have accelerated, too, mainly due to the actress’s real-life condition. By contrast, DALLAS’s Donna is still carrying the baby she conceived almost two years ago.

    As a result of her fall, Fallon is taken to Soap Land Memorial Hospital where is she told that the complications surrounding LB’s birth five years earlier mean that her second child must be delivered immediately by caesarian section. This is one of two pregnancies that occurred during the 1981/2 season to impact this week’s Soap Land. The other is Emma Channing’s miscarriage on FALCON CREST which, she is now informed, has left her unable to conceive.

    Fallon’s new baby is a girl, just as we learn Laura’s will be on KNOTS. (“Two boys and now a little girl,” remarks Karen. “Yeah, just like you,” Laura replies.) Exactly like the last time Fallon gave birth, Jeff is nowhere to be found. Back then, he was in bed with Claudia Blaisdel (who is unexpectedly name-checked by Alexis on this week’s DYNASTY). This time, he’s busy tailing Hoyt Parker.

    Birthday parties are comparatively rare occurrences in Soap Land. (As a general rule, this is not a genre that actively seeks to draw attention to the ageing process.) Nonetheless, there have been three such events in recent weeks: Peter Stavros’s seventy-fifth birthday bash on FALCON CREST, Kolya Rostov’s twenty-somethingth on THE COLBYS and, this week, Krystina Carrington’s third on DYNASTY. Somewhat predictably, each celebration ends in relative disaster. Skylar’s nonappearance at Peter’s gathering on FC led those who were in attendance to fear that she had committed suicide. An altercation between Bliss Colby and Georgina Sinclair resulted on Georgina sitting on Kolya’s birthday cake (not so much a cat-fight as a cat-splat). And now Krystina’s party is cancelled after she experiences breathing difficulties and has to be admitted to Soap Land Memorial Hospital.

    This leads to a truly bizarro final scene in which a wheezing Krystina rides maniacally on her rocking horse. As the situation builds, there is some frantic cross-cutting between her and her sleeping parents, followed by her slow-motion collapse. (It’s somewhat reminiscent of her big sister Fallon freaking out on a merry-go-round horse back in Season 4.) “Blake, she’s not breathing!” yells Krystle. Just as last week’s FALCON CREST finished on a slow-mo shot of Angela, her voice echoing as she announced: “Nobody walks out on me and gets away with it — NOBODY!” this scene ends the same way, with Krystle’s pleas reverberating as she cries, “Somebody help me — HELP ME!” By chance, the closing scene of THE COLBYS also takes place at Soap Land Memorial with the news that Fallon’s baby, just like her three-year-old aunt on DYNASTY, is struggling to breathe. “We’ve got her back on the respirator but that’s not gonna help her to live too much longer,” her doctor warns Jeff and Miles gravely.

    The lives of the Ewing-verse children are also in danger, but for them, the threat is malevolent rather than medical. In the opening scene of this week’s KNOTS, Ben Gibson calls Jean Hackney’s bluff by refusing to assassinate Greg Sumner. “Do your worst. Kill me,” he challenges her. “It’s not just you we’ll kill, Daddy,” she replies. In the last scene of this week’s DALLAS, the threat is even more overt. “What I’m gonna do is kill him and let you watch him die,” BD Calhoun informs JR while pointing a gun at his son.

    In fact, this week’s KNOTS and DALLAS run along very similar lines. Following Jean’s threat to Ben and BD’s to JR (“Now I know you’re an enemy worth killing”), both men decide that the time has come to tell those closest to them (Val in Ben’s case, the rest of the Ewings in JR’s) about the dangers they are facing. While Ben tells Val the truth about his previous involvement with Jean, JR spins the facts about his association with BD to make him look like the innocent party. Ironically, in so doing, his and Ben’s stories end up sounding almost identical. Ben describes himself to Val as “a guy that got involved with a group that planted a couple of bombs … this guy had no idea that the bombs were even being planned on.” “Calhoun came to me,” claims JR. “He wanted to get support for his organisation … I thought they were just one of those patriotic outfits, good solid Americans … I gave him some money and then I found out that what he wanted to do was blow up the oilfields in Saudi Arabia.”

    Upon hearing Ben and JR’s stories, Val and Pam react the same way. “We should go to the police,” says Val. “Why not just call the police?” asks Pam. It is impressed upon each of them that this is not a good idea. “We can’t take that chance … The kids could be killed,” insists Ben. “If the police get involved, Ewing Oil may find itself in serious jeopardy,” argues Bobby.

    As far as Ben and the Ewing brothers are concerned, there is only one solution: to get the women and children out of town. “The most important thing is to get those kids and you and Lilimae safely out of their reach,” Ben tells Val. “Our first priority has to be to protect the family. You and Sue Ellen have to take the boys away,” Bobby tells Pam. For the Ewings, “away” means California; for the Gibsons, “out of reach” means anywhere but California.

    While Pam might be angry about the situation (she scoffs at JR's attempt "to convince us he’s just some innocent bystander that this person just latched onto”), she reluctantly goes along with the plan. Over on KNOTS, Lilimae adds an extra complication to the drama. The Gibsons need her help (not to mention her savings) to make their getaway, but cannot risk letting her know what is really happening, and so she is dragged into a situation she has no understanding of. However, having got her cooperation and Ben having dumped his car and stolen another, the Gibsons are finally on their way to safety. Back on DALLAS, with the Ewing wives and sons stashed in California, JR, Ray and Bobby wait armed and ready for Calhoun to make his next move. But for all their precautions, both families have been outmanoeuvred.

    When Jean Hackney and BD catch up with their prey, they each adopt the same faux friendly tone. “Hi, what a coincidence!” Jean calls out cheerily to Ben as she pulls up alongside his car. “I see you’re out shopping with the entire family. You know, I know a wonderful store nearby that’s having a sale on vitamins.” “JR, how you doing, old buddy?” asks BD amiably over the phone. “I knew you were expecting my call so I didn’t wanna disappoint you. I just wanted you to know that I have a couple of other things on my agenda first before I get to you so you can relax a little.“ While Jean’s implication is clear — her reference to vitamins is a way of letting Ben and Val know she’s been keeping tabs on the twins, Lilimae having spent the morning trying to get their prescription filled — BD’s is more subtle. JR doesn’t yet realise it, but Calhoun is calling from the very hotel Pam and Sue Ellen have taken the kids to (it’s also the place where Jill Bennett resides on KNOTS) and “a couple of other things on my agenda” include kidnapping John Ross. When BD contacts JR again, it’s to trade his son for him.

    Throughout this episode of KNOTS, Ben impresses on Val that “the important thing right now is we behave as usual, nothing out of the norm. Remember, when you go into the house there’s a possibility that it could be bugged.” This need to pretend adds a whole extra layer of tension to their situation. By contrast, the Dallas Ewings’ words and deeds are concealed from prying eyes — or so it seems. After they arrive in California, JR, Ray and Bobby also put on an act for the benefit of whoever might be watching — although we viewers don’t realise it at the time. On the morning of JR’s showdown with BD, Ray and Bobby approach their elder brother. “We’re going with you,” Ray tells him. “Oh no you’re not,” JR insists. As eventually becomes clear, they do follow him and are the ones who shoot Calhoun dead just as he’s about to kill John Ross. Thus, another of this season’s bad guys comes to a memorably gruesome end. (See also Phil Harbert and Erin Jones.)

    And this week’s Top 5 are …

    1 (2) KNOTS LANDING
    2 (1) DALLAS
    3 (4) THE COLBYS
    4 (3) FALCON CREST
    5 (5) DYNASTY
     
    Last edited: Sep 26, 2017
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  15. James from London

    James from London Soap Chat Dream Maker

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    11 Feb 87: DYNASTY: The Test v. 12 Feb 87: THE COLBYS: Fallon's Baby v. 12 Feb 87: KNOTS LANDING: Survival of the Fittest v. 13 Feb 87: DALLAS: Olio v. 13 Feb 87: FALCON CREST: A Piece of Work

    “I hate to feel powerless,” says Dominique on DYNASTY. “I feel so helpless,” complains Fallon on THE COLBYS. “I’m sick and tired of waiting … feeling helpless,” echoes Jeff. If there’s a theme connecting this week’s DYNASTY, KNOTS LANDING and THE COLBYS, then it’s one of impotence. While Krystina Carrington and Fallon’s as yet unnamed baby are at the mercy of the fates, Ben Gibson’s family are at the mercy of Jean Hackney.

    The message from the medical staff to the characters on both sides of the DYNASTY-verse is the same: everything that can be done is being done, all you can do is wait, etc. Much fretting and pacing of the hallways of Soap Memorial Hospital ensue. Not surprisingly, several characters’ thoughts turn to religion. “I wish I had your faith,” sighs Bliss Colby when boyfriend Kolya introduces her to Catholicism. “Everyone has faith,” he assures her. “It’s just that some people have to reach deeper to find it.” “If there’s a God in Heaven, he’ll hear us,” declares Jeff confidently. Over on KNOTS, in the absence of an explanation for recent events from her family, Lilimae Clements announces her intention to “look for answers in my Bible.” Steven Carrington also reaches for the Good Book, a copy of which he keeps on his mantlepiece, before choosing to commune with the Lord in his own words: “Dear God, Krystina has so much love here ... Please let her live.” His sentiment is echoed by Bliss: “Please let Fallon’s baby live and be healthy.” She then adds a delightfully soapy postscript: “Whichever one of my brothers is her father, please don’t let it destroy my family.”

    On DYNASTY, Krystina is diagnosed with congestive heart failure — one of those occasional Soap Land emergencies for which no one is responsible, no one is to blame. In this regard, it’s reminiscent of Jamie’s freak oil drum accident on last season’s DALLAS. Just as the Ewings were then, the Carringtons are suddenly getting along like a house on fire. This means, with nearly all their family hatchets buried, everyone is free to drop by Soap Land Memorial Hospital and lend Blake and Krystle their support.

    The biggest surprise during the equivalent DALLAS storyline was how concerned JR was about his cousin. Here, it’s Alexis’s concern that stands out. While we knew all along that JR had an ulterior motive, Alexis’s sympathy for Krystina seems quite genuine. This makes Krystle’s unprovoked outburst towards her all the more interesting. In fact, it’s the only point in this week’s DYNASTY where the drama really catches fire. “You don’t care about Krystina,” she tells Alexis. “You never bothered about her, you never asked about her … ” “Believe me, I have nothing against your little girl,” Alexis insists. “Then what’s changed?” Krystle snaps. “You obviously had something against my first child. I’ve lost one child because of you. I don’t want you near Krystina.” “… I’d never harm Krystina,” Alexis replies. “You’ve harmed everyone I’ve ever loved!” Krystle shouts. For once, Krystle is the aggressor and Alexis is the innocent party — it’s a very unusual dynamic. Over on THE COLBYS, Fallon reacts to a hospital visit from Channing with the same degree of hostility and suspicion — “You stay away from my baby … Stay away from this hospital” — and Channing is just as taken aback as Alexis is. Meanwhile on KNOTS, Val is similarly protective of her twins (“Don’t you lay a hand on them … Don’t you touch my children”), but this time the threat posed by Jean Hackney is all too real.

    DYNASTY explores Krystina’s condition with unusual detail. Towards the end of the episode, she undergoes a heart biopsy to determine the cause of her problem. It’s a relatively minor, even pain-free procedure, but one that requires the patient to be conscious throughout, and the show elects to depict it in its entirety. The intention seems to be to portray Krystle and Blake as “every-parents” struggling to master their own emotions and comfort their frightened daughter as she undergoes this bewildering procedure. This sober approach is also reflected in the episode's wardrobe choices. Instead of turning up to the hospital in cocktail dresses, as is customary in Soap Land, everyone’s suddenly in winter coats and scarves.

    However, the soap must go on. On DYNASTY, Blake insists that Adam and Dana continue with their wedding as arranged: “I want you to make your plans. Don’t let anything stop you.” On THE COLBYS, Fallon says the same thing to Frankie about her and Jason’s forthcoming nuptials: “I want you to go ahead with your wedding. Our lives have to go on, all of our lives.”

    If Krystina’s storyline is an attempt to make the rich and glamorous Carringtons seem more accessible by putting them in a situation that the average viewer can relate to, then the Gibsons’ ordeal on KNOTS is the opposite. The suburban lifestyle depicted (however superficially) on KNOTS is readily identifiable to the audience and so the show rings the changes by taking Solid Old Ben and thrusting him into a high-octane nightmare. The cosily familiar trappings of suburbia are still there — neighbours Mack and Ben attending a basketball game, Ben sitting out on the lawn on a Sunday morning fixing his kids’ swing (shades of Richard Avery doing odd jobs around the house just before disappearing out of his family’s lives for good), but nothing is quite as it seems. Even Ben and Val’s more intimate ‘scenes from a marriage’ turn out to be conversations conducted for the benefit of Jean Hackney’s surveillance equipment. Instead, their true communications take place via notepad and pen. Subtext has taken on an unexpectedly literal meaning on KNOTS LANDING.

    While the “normalising” of Krystle and Blake isn’t terribly involving (although far less grating than DALLAS’s attempts to do the same to the Ewings last season), the transformation of Ben into an assassin is gripping stuff. Just as last week’s DALLAS climaxed with the showdown between JR and BD Calhoun followed by the fatal shooting of BD, this week’s KNOTS concludes with Ben aiming a gun at Greg followed by the sound of a shot ringing out. Whereas the DALLAS gun battle took place in an abandoned amusement park, giving JR and BD plenty of room to run and hide, Ben and Greg’s showdown occurs in an enclosed space — Ben’s office — and is far more intense. While Ben might be the aggressor, pointing the gun and issuing orders (“You’re gonna commit suicide, you’re gonna leave a suicide note,” he tells Greg, as if he’s been picking up pointers from the Kit Marlowe story on FALCON CREST), he is also the more overtly terrified of the two men. Greg remains comparatively measured and calm, almost paternal. It’s a fascinating dynamic.

    In spite of all the gun battles, kidnappings and hospitalisations of recent weeks, a feeling of fatigue is detectable in this Post-Dream Soap Land era. It’s understandable — the four big shows have been on the air for the best part of a decade, the budgets aren’t what they were, and it must be hard for long-term characters to sustain the requisite sense of dramatic urgency week in and week out. This sense of ennui manifested itself last week in Dominique Devereaux’s and Greg Sumner’s low-level identity crises. This week, it’s the turn of Alexis Colby and Bobby Ewing. “You should be jumping at this!” exclaims Michael Culhane as he tries to galvanise Alexis into investing in a new deal. “Don’t you ever get tired of jumping?” she responds wearily. “I’m tired of it,” echoes Bobby during a scene with JR. “I’m tired of you getting into trouble and then me and the rest of the family having to pull your fat out of the fire… If you can’t stop this secretive crap [I’m pretty sure that’s the first time that particular c-word has been used in Soap Land, at least in a non-gambling context], then I’m out. We can sell Ewing Oil, we can divide up everything and I’m on my way … There’s not a member of the family with a share in the company that wouldn’t do the same thing. They’re all fed up with you.”

    JR’s response is interesting. First, he delivers his by-now-familiar apologetic spiel (“Don’t you think I realise I almost cost my son his life … and why? Just to get the price of oil back up. Hell, all the oil in the world is not worth a hair on that boy’s head. I never should have got involved with Calhoun … I’m sorry, Bobby”), and then he does what Jock used to do whenever Bobby got a little antsy. He offers him a taste of power: in this case total, if temporary, control of Ewing Oil. “You can run the company any way you want to,” he tells him. Pretty soon, Bobby’s no longer worried about JR’s “secretive crap” — he’s too busy cutting a fast deal for Park Bell Oil and delivering some ‘Ewings Unite’ rhetoric to Jeremy Wendell: “Whatever goes on between JR and me, when it comes to you, we’ll be together and when we’re together, we are one tough family, Wendell.”

    But why does JR feel the need to manipulate Bobby into staying at Ewing Oil in the first place? Possibly, it’s because he isn’t in a position to buy Bobby's, or indeed the rest of the family’s, shares of Ewing Oil and fears the company falling into outside hands. Or could it be that the idea of autonomy has lost some of its lustre for JR? Perhaps some residue of Pam’s Dream, during which JR discovered that his late lamented brother meant more to him than their father’s company, has seeped into this version of reality. Or maybe he’s just grasped that no man is an island — something the reclusive Greg Sumner also seems to realise on this week's KNOTS. Not only does he regret sending his pregnant wife packing, but there’s also his surprising reaction when, while watching a basketball game on TV, he spots Mack and Ben in the crowd. “Hey — Mack and Ben!” he calls out excitedly. “Mack and Ben are on the tube!” The only person around to hear him is his manservant Carlos who is unsure of how to respond. “Perhaps you should have joined them, sir,” he suggests politely. “Yeah, I wasn’t invited,” Greg replies, deflated — it’s a fleeting moment that’s both funny and sad, and one gets the sense of Greg understanding how his lifestyle choices have denied him the mundane pleasures of an ordinary life. (Not that ordinary, of course: Ben has only lured Mack to the game so he can tell him that he has been ordered to murder Greg.)

    Alexis, meanwhile, deals with her listlessness by taking a trip to California. Theoretically, it’s to visit Fallon and her dangerously ill newborn, but Jeff doesn’t even pretend to believe that’s the real reason. “Why else did you come to Los Angeles?” he asks. “I know that it has to be more than being worried about Fallon and the baby.” The Jeff/Alexis scenes are curious, for while Alexis is in Colby Land, she’s not actually on THE COLBYS. Instead, Jeff has been spun back onto DYNASTY. Yet he’s still in California. It’s like they’ve been caught in some no man’s land — or no man’s beach — between their respective shows. Here, both characters are more relaxed and informal than we’ve ever seen them before. Even their speech patterns are different. Jeff teases Alexis affectionately and she responds by laughing at herself in a way that would ordinarily be unthinkable. She lets her guard down sufficiently to relate a rare anecdote about her childhood in wet and windy England where she used to pine for “this fantastic place I’d read about called California.” For a moment, this could almost be Joan Collins describing her young self dreaming of a movie career in Hollywood. (Other surprise revelations in this week’s Soap Land: Richard Channing used to ride a motorbike and Greg Sumner once played Brutus in a college production of Julius Caesar.) Meanwhile, Jeff’s maybe-baby is hovering between life and death, but that seems to be happening in a parallel universe. However, the following night’s episode of THE COLBYS finds him weeping once more in the hallways of Soap Land Memorial as if he’d never left.

    Fascinating-in-hindsight moment of the week: Greg and Paige meet for the first time. “Hi. You’re Mack’s daughter, right?” “And you’re Laura’s husband.”

    This week’s DALLAS deals with the aftermath of last week’s shooting. It's all consequences, recriminations, cover-ups and, most interesting of all, the almost instantaneous rewriting of recent history. No sooner has JR placed his immediate family in mortal danger — resulting in the abductions of his wife and son — than said wife and son hail him as a hero. Meanwhile, his shady CIA contact resurfaces to inform him that all charges against him and his brothers for the death of Calhoun are to be dropped. While Bobby is initially angry at JR, he is soon distracted by the responsibilities of running Ewing Oil. That leaves Pam as the only character with sufficient clarity to see JR for what he is. “JR did it again. He got everybody in trouble,” she declares. “Pamela, that is a terrible thing to say,” Sue Ellen replies. “Well, it’s the truth, isn’t it?” Pam argues. “If he hadn’t gotten involved with Calhoun, none of this would have happened.” It’s a simple truth that is quickly buried in a smokescreen of sentimentality and revisionism. In a way, it’s a dry run for how JR will be deified after his death in 2013. Then it will be Elena Ramos who succeeds Pam as the speaker of truth when she calls the family out on their “rush to sentimentalise” JR. Pam’s stance also parallels Krystle’s attitude on this week’s DYNASTY. While the rest of the Carringtons, including Blake, seem happy to forgive and forget whatever Alexis has done in the past, it falls to Krystle (like Pam and Elena, her show’s original outsider) to hold her accountable for past sins. “I’ve lost one child because of you,” she reminds her.

    While THE COLBYS' final scene resolves one issue of paternity (“Oh, thank God!” gasps Jeff), the closing scene of FALCON CREST makes another more complicated. “No one knows better than you what it feels like to be a bastard in this world and you should have thought of that before you got Maggie pregnant,” says Angela to an incredulous Richard. Just then, Maggie herself bursts through the door and promptly goes into labour in the Falcon Crest hallway. The show’s heroine about to give birth in an enemy territory? It's a quintessential Soap Land scenario. Indeed, when Melissa turned up at Cole’s door in the same condition back in Season 2, it felt like the Soap Land equivalent of a Bronte novel. Alas, the impact of this cliffhanger is spoilt at the last minute by Angela putting her hand to her face and raising her eyebrows in a comedic “I’ve-seen-it-all-now” gesture. It’s one of those increasingly common moments on FALCON CREST that conveys a message of “isn’t this all very silly?” to the viewer and makes the drama that bit harder to invest in.

    It’s interesting to compare this ending with the closing scene of DALLAS which shows Sue Ellen on the phone to an unknown caller. Her melodramatically gobsmacked response (“Oh no! Oh my God! How? … There was an accident … Jamie’s dead!”) is played with endearing earnestness. In spite and/or because of that earnestness, it made me laugh out loud. Angela’s gesture at the end of FC, meanwhile, skips any pretence at sincerity and goes straight for the laugh. As a result, it falls flat.

    And this week’s Top 5 are …

    1 (1) KNOTS LANDING
    2 (2) DALLAS
    3 (3) THE COLBYS
    4 (5) DYNASTY
    5 (4) FALCON CREST
     
    Last edited: Oct 1, 2017
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  17. James from London

    James from London Soap Chat Dream Maker

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    25 Feb 87: DYNASTY: The Mothers v. 26 Feb 87: THE COLBYS: Answered Prayers v. 27 Feb 87: DALLAS: Revenge of the Nerd v. 27 Feb 87: FALCON CREST: Hat Trick

    There are two weddings and two divorces in this week’s Soap Land. Jason Colby is an active participant in one of each. The divorce scene between him and Sable on THE COLBYS is simply a knockout. It’s also one of three recent instances of an estranged couple signing a legal document in a civilised manner that belies the more complicated feelings of heartache and bitterness underneath the surface. On last week’s FALCON CREST, Maggie thanked Chase for signing her son’s birth certificate as the father. “I didn’t expect you to,” she admits. “I was very touched.” “It seemed like the right thing to do,” he replies. However, any hopes that his gesture might lead to a reconciliation are promptly dashed when Maggie apologises for her decision not to have a paternity test performed before the baby was born. “What am I supposed to do — just accept this apology, come running back to you?” he snaps at her. Meanwhile on last week’s DALLAS, Ray and Donna both signed a property settlement in which they each renounced any financial claim on the other. So far so amicable, but when Donna reaches out to him afterwards, Ray proves to be just as resentful as Chase. “If I sound bitter about this, I’m sorry, Donna, but I just can’t help it,” he says. “Why don’t you just go back to Washington, do whatever it is that makes you happy back there? I’m fine. It’s taken me a while, but I think I’ve finally got you out of my system.”

    Chase and Maggie, Donna and Ray — for a long time, these were two of the most dependably solid couples in Soap Land. The Krebbs and Gioberti marriages provided an emotional ballast to the soapy turmoil surrounding them (the relationships of Bobby and Pam, Gary and Val, and Jeff and Fallon, for instance, which seem almost teenage in comparison). To watch these same characters now behaving towards each other with coldness and indifference — well, it’s a bit like watching your mum and dad split up.

    Affecting though these scenes are, they pale in significance next to the divorce-paper-signing-scene in Jason’s office in this week’s COLBYS. It is the moment Sable has moved heaven and earth to avoid, but finally, she gives in and signs on the dotted line. She even manages a brave little joke. “I had a plan,” she admits to Jason. “You know that pen of mine that always leaks? Well, I was going sign with that and then hope a huge inkblot would invalidate everything.” The deed done, she stands to leave. She makes it as far as the doorway before turning around. “Don’t marry her, Jason,” she pleads, referring to Frankie. “Please don’t marry her … You need me.” Begging the man you’ve just divorced not to marry your sister isn’t an experience many viewers can identify with, but the feelings behind them, the pain and humiliation, are universal. The line where Sable acknowledges her loss of dignity is particularly striking. “I do know how ridiculous I’ve made myself for you,” she tells Jason. “There are smiles and whispers when I enter a room. Did you know that?” This is a rare instance of a soap character recognising how their behaviour must appear to the outside world. If DALLAS was happening in real life, for instance, Sue Ellen’s social standing would have been in tatters years ago. As stars of their own TV show, however, she and JR are regarded indulgently as “practically an institution.” Sable continues to implore Jason (“Don’t be my husband — I’ll learn to accept that — but please, I beg you, don’t be hers”), but to no avail. “I will marry her. I will be happy,” he insists, quietly but firmly.

    THE COLBYS’ divorce scene ends with Sable gliding down a hallway swathed in furs, her back to the camera. She appears the image of cool and collected glamour yet we the audience know how broken and defeated she is. It’s a juxtaposition which encapsulates the series’ USP: the messiest of human emotions wrapped up in luxurious artifice and the soapiest of contrivances.

    The Krebbs marriage also comes to an end this week. Their divorce takes place in a courtroom where Ray and Donna have their attorneys to speak for them — not that there’s much left to say. (“It’s all been said,” as Miss Ellie acknowledges during what amounts to a farewell lunch with Donna). In contrast to the emotional nature of Jason and Sable’s parting, there’s a numbness, almost an anti-drama about the Krebbs’ situation which feels as just real.

    In spite of everything, Sable and Ray each make a last minute attempt to act selflessly. Realising that Jason really is going to marry Frankie, Sable manages to find it in herself to wish him well. “I hope that you’re happy … I won’t make it difficult for you,” she promises him. Ray, meanwhile, quietly signals his lawyer to drop any attempt to challenge Donna for custody of their unborn child.

    Following their respective divorces, Ray retreats into the past by drowning his sorrows in the saloon bar where he and Donna first met while Sable looks to the future by vacationing in Morocco with new lover Zach Powers — at least, that’s the theory. In reality, her ex-husband’s wedding is Sable can think about. Meanwhile, Ray returns home from the bar to find his future, in the shape of Jenna and Charlie, waiting for him. Jenna wakes up having dozed off on the couch, but Ray tells her to go back to sleep and then sits next to her in the dark. It’s a touching little moment. Watching this season of DALLAS with hindsight, it’s hard to pinpoint precisely where Ray and Jenna’s relationship shifts from the platonic towards something more intimate, but this scene seems significant in that regard. Likewise, the confrontation between Richard and Chase on this week’s FALCON CREST seems to mark a turning point in the Chase/Maggie/Richard triangle. “What in the hell are you doing running around with some cheerleader while your wife sits home with a newborn baby?” Richard demands of his half-brother. “Maggie is one of the finest women I’ve ever known. She gets raped by a maniac and you turn your back on her … I told you this once before — you turn your back on Maggie and I may just come courting.”

    As for the two weddings in this week’s Soap Land, one is a low key affair (Emma and Vince Karlotti’s on FALCON CREST) while the other, Jason and Frankie’s on THE COLBYS, is anything but. The final scene of this week’s episode takes two show-stopping Soap Land scenarios — the wedding day bombshell (e.g., Pam Ewing learning that Jenna is carrying Bobby’s child just before she walks down the aisle) and a resurrection from the dead (e.g., Pam Ewing finding Mark Graison in her back garden and then collapsing into his arms) — and combines them in one almighty cliffhanger. Midway through her wedding vows, Frankie spots Hoyt Parker in the congregation and freezes. “Oh my God … him!” she finally gasps. Jason follows her gaze and manages to identify the man as “Phil, my brother!” before Frankie, just like Pam Ewing before her, faints in his arms.

    It’s a toss-up as to who looks the more amazed — Jason and Frankie upon seeing the long-dead Phillip Colby at their wedding or Peter Stavros when he spots his more recently deceased stepdaughter Skylar in a hotel lobby on FALCON CREST. Merely with the aid of a curly wig, Skylar — or rather Kit — manages to convince Peter that she’s someone called Madeleine McKittrick and makes her getaway. (Madeleine is Kit Marlowe’s third persona of the season, thus bringing her level with Wes Parmalee/Jock Ewing/Wyatt Haynes.)

    At first, the story of Krystina’s heart condition on DYNASTY was about what happens when the rich and powerful are confronted with a situation over which they have no control. In spite of Krystle’s protests (“Blake, this can’t be happening … It can’t be true, I won’t accept it … She’s my baby, I won’t let them hurt her, I won’t!”), there are basic medical facts that money and prestige cannot override. “Her heart muscle is deteriorating and without a transplant, she’s not going to make it,” her doctor states. However, once the search for a transplant donor begins, it becomes a different kind of storyline. The Carringtons’ name and connections mean they can launch a nationwide appeal. (How convenient that newspaper magnate Alexis turned from bitter enemy to eager ally just in time to assist with this latest crisis!) From this point, the situation plays more like a traditional Soap Land kidnap scenario with various family members huddled tensely round a telephone, waiting for the all-important call. It also makes them vulnerable to those “real world” whack jobs against whom they would otherwise be insulated — perverts, extortionists and crazy people. Or in the case of the wonderfully creepy Adele whom Krystle encounters in a hospital corridor, a crazy person who is also an extortionist. “I can get you a heart,” she tells her eagerly. “You’ll pay me to get you a heart, won’t you?”

    The “real world” people depicted on this week’s DALLAS are generally more benign. When Bobby informs John Carter, a company employee from the town of Pride, that Ewing Oil is shutting down the town’s wells for economic reasons, he greets the news with quiet defeat. “These are some times,” he sighs wearily. “Those oilfields have been the lifeblood of that town.” Things are looking similarly bleak on FALCON CREST where “twenty-six vineyards in the last month and a half” have been swallowed up, Jeremy Wendell-style, by the Tuscany Land Company. “Somebody’s trying to destroy the family vineyards in this valley,” concludes Tony Cumson.

    Then there are the three seemingly nondescript people we meet in the final scene of DALLAS, working in a basement room of the FBI. With its coded entry system, whirring computers and bunker-style surroundings, there’s a bit of a sci-fi/Empire Valley vibe about the place. The people themselves, however, are reassuringly down-to-earth. There’s Agent Leo Daltery, whom we’ve seen before with JR, complaining lightly about the demands of his job and engaging in some low-level flirting with a file clerk called Henrietta, whose status as “ordinary” is emphasised by the fact that she’s played by Gary and Abby’s Hispanic housekeeper Maria from KNOTS. There’s also an anxious-looking character called Alfred who wears a bow-tie and mutters about cross-referencing and different numbered forms. He’s the kind of socially awkward tech geek that’s since become ubiquitous on TV, but this is the first time one has found his way into the glamorous world of Soap Land. His ears prick up when he hears Leo instructing Henrietta to take the evidence the FBI has on Ewing Oil’s association with BD Calhoun and “deep six it forever.” As Leo, Henrietta and all that dirt on the Ewings disappear out of shot, the camera lingers on Alfred long enough for him to get the freeze frame. It’s a unique introduction to a Soap Land character, especially one as unprepossessing as Alfred. I’ve always assumed that the title of this episode, “Revenge of the Nerd”, refers to Cliff getting one over on the Ewings, but maybe it applies to nerdy Alfred too.

    There’s a tenuous but emotive theme running through this week’s Soap Land to do with parents surrendering their children. It’s there in the DALLAS courtroom when Ray gives up his custody fight and in the hospital waiting room on DYNASTY where Blake gently persuades Sarah Curtis to give away what is left of her child’s life. (“You have a child with a healthy heart. I have a child that’ll die if she doesn’t get a strong healthy heart. We have a chance to save one of them.”) It also surfaces in two paternity test denouements, one on THE COLBYS, the other on FALCON CREST. First, a magnificently bitter Miles Colby is obliged to relinquish the possibility that he is the father of Fallon’s baby to his brother Jeff: “First you take my wife, then my dad. Now you want my little girl, my only child.” Then it’s Chase Gioberti’s turn to be informed that “you are not the father of this baby.” Compared to Miles, his response is muted. Of course, the extra twist in this situation is that Chase’s blood sample has been switched so maybe he is the father after all.

    While Madeleine McKittrick, Kit Marlowe’s latest alias on FALCON CREST, is another intertextual reference to Kim Novak’s film ’Vertigo’, the final scene of this week’s DYNASTY evokes the ending of another classic Hollywood movie: an airport runway at night, a small private plane, characters in raincoats, a huge sacrificial gesture, the final shot where the camera pulls up and away to reveal Blake, Krystle and Sarah Curtis as smaller parts of a bigger picture — it feels like the start of, if not exactly a beautiful friendship, then a strange bond between the Carringtons and this grieving woman.

    DYNASTY, dominated as it is by Krystina’s story, currently has more in common with the three-hankie, women’s weepies of old Hollywood than the inter-family feuding we’re used to seeing in Soap Land. However, the episode does contain one deliciously soapy scene where Neil McVane, freshly released from the Soap Land Penitentiary, lies in wait for Adam in his suite at the Carlton Hotel. The lighting is dark and ominous music plays on the soundtrack. A framed photo of Alexis at her most ridiculously glamorous prompts McVane to flash back to the dramatic moment in Season 3 where he tried to strangle her. “No one will save you this time, Alexis, no one,” he murmurs alone in the darkness. The confrontation between him and Adam that follows is just as juicy. “I’m certifiably sane,” McVane insists, looking anything but. He then casually rewrites Carrington history by announcing that “Adam Carrington, the real Adam Carrington, died the day after he was kidnapped.” Adam — if indeed he is Adam — looks stricken, as well he might. The impostor who doesn’t even know if he is an impostor — it’s an interesting variation on the fake identity theme that has been running throughout this season.

    Elsewhere on this week’s DYNASTY, Alexis encounters Dirk Maurier, aka “the man World Finance called a financial genius.” Meanwhile, Angela has a new associate on FALCON CREST, Roland Saunders, aka “the rudest billionaire in the Fortune 500.” Beyond their reputations, little is known of either man, but both seem quite unsavoury, if not downright sinister. In terms of villainy, Saunders gains the advantage when he orders the execution of the mother of his child, Kit Marlowe. Moreover, he wants to watch it happen. “I just want to be there to say goodbye,” he explains.

    The last episode of DYNASTY found a disillusioned Alexis on a beach in California, questioning her life choices. There have been similar moments involving Greg Sumner, Dominique Devereaux and Bobby Ewing in recent weeks, and now Ellie Farlow becomes the latest character to succumb to soap fatigue. “I just can’t bear anymore,” she complains. “There’s been no peace in this family for as long as I can remember.” Clayton responds by calling her “the rock that holds this family together.” “I don’t want to be a rock!” she insists, thereby rejecting her primary dramatic function. As if that weren’t shocking enough, she then says the unthinkable: “Sometimes I think I should just sell the ranch, period, and let everybody go on their way.”

    FALCON CREST heats up this week with several disparate plots — the Kit Marlowe story, Angela’s association with Roland Saunders, the mysterious Tuscany Land Company, Chase’s love life and the ongoing feud between Angela and Richard — starting to converge in interesting ways. It also finds time to go back to its roots with Angela giving Vicky a guided tour of the family gravesite and a brief character sketch of each of the ancestors buried there. (No other soap family is as interested in its forebears as the Giobertis.) The scene is a blast from the past in more ways than one — Angela shared a near identical scene with Vicky’s brother Cole during the first season.

    DALLAS also revisits its backstory as Cliff’s surprise inheritance of Jamie’s ten percent of Ewing Oil reignites the Barnes/Ewing feud. “They cheated old Digger Barnes and they laughed,” he recalls. “Jock Ewing treated him like dirt just like his son JR treats me like dirt and now it’s my turn. There is no price you can put on that.” The manner in which Cliff, after years of scheming and struggling, suddenly lucks into a slice of the company is reminiscent of the way JR was unexpectedly offered complete control of Ewing Oil by Pam at the end of the dream season. Whereas the tone of that story had an end of an era momentousness about it, this one is mostly just fun. Watching Cliff trying to keep his mounting hysteria in check as he realises all his dreams are about to come true is a blast.

    However, one can also detect an underlying darkness to his obsession, especially in the scene where Pam asks him to sell Jamie’s ten percent to her so she can put it a trust for Christopher. “You don’t deserve it and you are going to destroy us. I am begging you to sell me those shares,” she pleads. “No way on earth,” he replies flatly. The Cliff we see here and during a subsequent confrontation with Bobby is a very different man to the one who behaved so generously and compassionately towards Jamie's friend Mary Elizabeth in last week’s episode. As he himself acknowledges, he is now “smelling blood, Ewing blood” and has consequently acquired a tunnel vision where nothing else matters, not even his sister and his nephew. Amidst all the funny stuff, we can glimpse the monster he’ll become in New DALLAS.

    And this week’s Top 4 are …

    1 (-) THE COLBYS
    2 (2) DALLAS
    3 (-) DYNASTY
    4 (3) FALCON CREST
     
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  18. James from London

    James from London Soap Chat Dream Maker

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    04 Mar 87: DYNASTY: The Surgery v. 05 Mar 87: THE COLBYS: Return Engagement v. 05 Mar 87: KNOTS LANDING: Nightmare v. 06 Mar 87: FALCON CREST: Battle Lines

    The most interesting scenes in this week’s DYNASTY-verse delve into the past to evoke themes of identity and betrayal. First, on DYNASTY itself, Adam visits Dr Edwards, that most reliable of recurring characters who pops up every season or two to doggedly recount the same old story of Adam’s unhappy childhood — an unhappiness due to some intuitive sense that he was an outsider (i.e., a Carrington) who didn’t belong in the backwoods of Montana. However, pressed by Adam this week, the good doctor admits that he has been lying all along, that he has always secretly believed Adam to be Michael Torrance. It’s a surprising admission that casts everything that went before in a new light. “You were playing with my life, do you realise that?” Adam/Michael barks at him. On the following night’s COLBYS, Jeff finally comes face to face with the man he grew up believing to be his dead father. Turns out he was wrong on both counts. “I knew your mother would raise you as my son,” Phillip tells him. “In the POW camps, I used to imagine a kid halfway across the world growing up in this house talking about his dad. Sometimes it hurt, sometimes it helped.”

    “This prison camp — how long did the Vietcong keep you there?” Jeff asks. “The first one? Twelve years,” Phillip replies. It occurs to me that, with the exception of Chase Gioberti, virtually all the Soap Land characters to have served in the Vietnam War have been depicted as morally twisted. The duplicitous Ed Haynes (Pam Ewing’s first husband who used his wartime internment as a ruse to pretend they were still married), the vengeful Nick Toscanni, Michael Brandon’s disturbed character on EMERALD POINT NAS and now Phillip Colby — they all carry a trace of Colonel Kurtz in their DNA.

    Phillip is a first-class Soap Land addition. Simply by his presence, without appearing to do anything, he pits the Colby family against itself. All of a sudden, there are newly divided loyalties, power struggles and love triangles everywhere you look. As for Phillip himself, he has a charismatically subversive presence reminiscent of Greg Sumner or Joshua Rush. The actor has a habit of looking downwards during conversations, averting his eyes from whomever he is speaking to. This is common enough human behaviour in the real world, but within the stylised environment of Soap Land where most scenes consist of close-ups of faces looking at one another, it feels quietly transgressive.

    In the same way that the appearance of Frankie’s first husband on last week’s COLBYS wrecked her wedding to Jason, the actions of Gary’s first wife on this week’s KNOTS scupper his plans to marry Jill. Only a few weeks after her former brothers-in-law took it upon themselves to shoot BD Calhoun on DALLAS, Val decides to the same thing to Jean Hackney (whom she thinks has murdered Ben) . However, Val being Val, and KNOTS being KNOTS, procuring a gun proves more complicated than it usually does when a Soap Land character is suddenly possessed by an urge for murderous vengeance. Throughout the episode, Val makes several thwarted attempts to obtain a weapon before finally ransacking Gary’s bedroom to find his gun. “It was my grandfather’s. I inherited it,” Gary later explains, neatly connecting this latest drama to the Ewing family backstory.

    Gary’s subsequent efforts to prevent his ex from doing something crazy prompts the second Mrs Ewing (Abby) to give the soon-to-be third Mrs Ewing (Jill) “a friendly warning: the first Mrs Ewing doesn’t go away. Ever.” The same, of course, could be said for the first Mrs Colby. When we initially encounter Sable this week, she is in a Moroccan hotel bedroom with Zach, claiming to have come to terms with the past. “I was reborn the moment I knew Jason and Frankie were finally married,” she declares. “I feel a sense of freedom, a release … What’s past is gone.” As soon she receives word that the marriage didn’t take place, however, her first instinct is to fly home to console Jason and taunt Frankie.

    “My sister’s about to say, ‘I do’ when the groom’s dead brother, coincidentally the bride’s ex-husband, returns from the dead,” Sable recounts mockingly. She’s not the only character to acknowledge the farfetched nature of recent events in Soap Land. “This just can’t be true! … That is insane! … I just don’t believe this! It’s crazy!” interjects Karen Mackenzie at regular intervals as Mack finally brings her up to speed on the Jean Hackney storyline with the aid of multiple flashbacks and reams of exposition-heavy dialogue that resembles the summation at the end of an especially complicated SCOOBY DOO episode.

    Phillip and his “widow” don’t meet until the end of this week’s COLBYS when Frankie comes out of her bathroom to find that he has let himself into the pool house. He proceeds to reminisce about the visits they made there years earlier. (“We used to come here in winter. Nobody would come near it then. You remember — just the two of us.”) The scene takes place at night, as did a similar encounter earlier in this season’s DALLAS. Then it was Miss Ellie who was surprised when her previously dead husband, Wes Parmalee, stole onto the Southfork patio and began recalling intimate moments from their marriage. (“That time that Punk lent us his lodge down at the lake for that second honeymoon I took you on … Neither one of us were kids then, Ellie, but it was like we were eighteen again.”) In each instance, the man’s words exert a power over the woman which has nothing to do with logic and everything to do with emotion and sensuality. Frankie’s hair is damp and she is clad in a simple bathrobe. Consequently, she looks more naturally beautiful and less like a Nolan Miller mannequin than she ever has before. It feels both shocking and inevitable when she and Phillip kiss. The wonderfully ridiculous living arrangements of the Colby household mean that Sable is just closing her bedroom window for the night when she spies them together across the grounds.

    Just as THE COLBYS concentrates on the fall-out from Phillip’s shock resurrection at the end of last week’s instalment, this week’s KNOTS focuses on the repercussions of Greg Sumner’s surprise reappearance at the end of its previous episode. As a result, this ep resembles a slightly less bloodthirsty version of recent FALCON CREST. Instead of Meredith Braxton bursting out of her own coffin, we have Ben Gibson discovered alive and well inside a body bag. In lieu of Meredith blowing away a bunch of bad guys with relative ease, we’ve got Jean Hackney bungling a last-ditch attempt to assassinate Greg during a faux seduction scene where he ends up pulling a gun on her. Meanwhile, Gary prevents Val from inadvertently shooting a cleaning woman.

    Ben finally makes it home in the third-to-last scene of the ep. Instead of Val fainting Frankie Colby-style when she sees him, she, Ben, the twins and Lilimae enjoy a touchingly emotional reunion reminiscent of the one that took place between Val and her babies after their kidnapping.

    The stolen twins storyline is also echoed on FALCON CREST. Such is the unsympathetic reaction Maggie receives from those around her as she agonises over whether or not to put her son up for adoption, it’s almost as if they were conspiring to force her to give her baby away. While Angela is characteristically cruel (“It’s amazing how much he looks like his father,” she sneers upon visiting the baby and threatening to one day tell him the truth about his paternity), Vicky is surprisingly callous, calling her mother “totally insane” to even contemplate keeping “Wainwright’s bastard.” Meanwhile, Emma’s insensitivity (“You don’t have to give Douglas up for adoption — you can give him to me!” she suggests excitedly) is matched by Chase’s — he chooses this week to begin sleeping with his younger girlfriend. And the cold efficiency of her adoption lawyer prompts to Maggie to exclaim that “we are talking a living breathing helpless little baby here, not some kind of a business merger!” Such behaviour allows Richard to emerge as the sole voice of compassion, suggesting to Maggie that they leave the valley and raise their sons together. However, she is not convinced and tearfully hands over her baby to a stern-looking nurse.

    Even though it’s never had quite the same impact on me as it did on first viewing, the final scene of this week’s KNOTS is very memorable. It takes place the morning after Ben’s return and begins with an establishing shot of the cul-de-sac looking idyllically peaceful. It then cuts to the happily reunited Gibsons lying next to each other in bed. “Good morning,” they say to one another. After promising to clean out the garage, Ben gets up and Val starts to follow him to the shower. (All the clues were there …) Suddenly Jean Hackney appears and pumps three bullets into Val. Ben rushes back to find his blood-splattered wife lying on the floor. Before we can process what has happened, Ben wakes up again, this time frightened, gasping and covered in sweat. This is his reality now. The sequence is kind of a metaphor for KNOTS itself: There’s no going back. This is no longer a show about everyday suburban folk who can contentedly revert to the mundane status quo once their latest storyline is over. Neither the characters’ own psyches nor the inflationary demands of Soap Land drama will allow it.

    And this week’s Top 4 are …

    1 (1) THE COLBYS
    2 (-) KNOTS LANDING
    3 (3) DYNASTY
    4 (4) FALCON CREST
     
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  19. James from London

    James from London Soap Chat Dream Maker

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    11 Mar 87: DYNASTY: The Garage v. 12 Mar 87: THE COLBYS: Devil's Advocate v. 12 Mar 87: KNOTS LANDING: Neighborly Conduct v. 13 Mar 87: DALLAS: The Ten Percent Solution v. 13 Mar 87: FALCON CREST: Nowhere to Run

    Still grieving for her husband and daughter, Sarah Curtis tries to kill herself on this week’s DYNASTY. Krystle finds her in time, gets her to hospital and then invites her to move into the Carrington mansion to recuperate. At the end of the episode, Sarah speaks to Krystle’s daughter as if she were her own lost child. The loss of her family, a suicide attempt, lodging with the Carringtons, confusing one child for another — this is more or less Claudia Blaisdel’s entire Season 2 arc compressed into a couple of episodes. Whereas we’d had the previous season to get to know Claudia, Sarah’s almost as much a stranger to us as, well, New Claudia on New DYNASTY who has also been bereaved twice over — and what’s the betting she too will to be invited to stay at the mansion after being knocked down by New Blake?

    Old Blake, meanwhile, has his doubts about Sarah’s visit. “I think it’s a bad idea,” he tells Krystle. “It’s not good for her, not good for the baby, not good for any of us.” Frankie feels much the same about Phillip on THE COLBYS: “He shouldn’t be staying at the house … Please, Jason, make him leave. You’re gambling with our happiness.” Karen Mackenzie is just as unhappy on KNOTS when she finds that Anne Matheson has moved into the cul-de-sac: “I don’t even like seeing her occasionally. Now she’s gonna be right next door!”

    If Sarah Curtis is following in Claudia Blaisdel’s footsteps, then Anne is following in Susan Philby’s. Just as the sophisticated ex of Karen’s last husband showed up on her doorstep to find her with dirt on her face and her hair in bunches (back in the Season 1 episode “Civil Wives”), Mack’s old flame arrives in Seaview Circle on the very morning that Karen is clearing out the garage whilst wearing a headscarf. Nor are these the only examples of Soap Land déjà vu this week. Back on DYNASTY, Neil McVane sidles up to Michael Culhane at Dirk Maurier’s cocktail party and tries to enlist him in his anti-Alexis gang (“Welcome to the club. From the inner circle to the bleachers … she tossed you out”), just as he did Mark Jennings at the Carousel Ball three seasons earlier.

    A week after Val Gibson went after Jean Hackney with a gun on KNOTS, Kim Novak pulls a pistol on her tormentor, Roland Saunders, on FALCON CREST. “Go ahead,” Saunders tells her. “Pull the trigger, Susan. Or is it Kit? Or Madeline? You couldn’t still be Skylar.” Indeed, at this point, Novak's aliases are proving almost impossible to keep track of. The double lives led by Adam Carrington/Michael Torrance and Phillip Colby/Hoyt Parker are relatively straightforward in comparison. Both of these DYNASTY-verse “impostors” (the jury’s still out on Adam) receive an unexpected windfall this week. Blake reinstates Adam/Michael in his will while Jeff promises Phillip/Hoyt a third of his shares in Colby Enterprises. Even though this is what both men have wanted all along, their reactions are interestingly ambivalent. “You’re acting like Blake just invited you out for lunch,” observes Adam’s fiancee Dana as he hides his identity crisis behind a veneer of indifference. Phillip’s response to Jeff, meanwhile, is possibly the Soap Land highlight of the week. Upon learning he’s in line for $150,000,000, the normally impassive Phillip doubles over in sudden laughter which subsides as abruptly as it began. He then apologises and seems genuinely moved. “I didn’t expect it, your generosity,” he murmurs. “I wish things were different. I wish you were my son … I don’t know how to thank you.” He embraces Jeff with an edge of desperation, then collects himself again.

    Jeff’s gift provides Phillip with the chance to repay a $2,000,000 debt owed to “some people you don’t disappoint” — unless Jason can find a way to discredit his brother before the transaction is finalised. Cliff faces a similar deadline on DALLAS. When he refuses to sell Jamie’s 10% of Ewing Oil to West Star, Jeremy Wendell calls in his $6,000,000 debt. “You have three days to come up with the money,” he tells him. After an attempt to seduce Marilee Stone into giving him a loan goes amusingly wrong, Cliff contemplates selling his share of Wentworth Tool & Die, a company that has acquired sacrosanct status within the Barnes family almost overnight. (“Wentworth Tool & Die was Mama’s legacy to us!” Pam exclaims. “I can’t believe you would even think of selling it. Do you know what that company meant to her? Don’t you have any integrity?!”)

    Hoping to find some dirt on Phillip, Jason makes a secret trip to Singapore. He soon runs into some red tape and goes to the British Embassy Vice Consul for help. Rather neatly, this turns out to be Roger Langdon — the very man whom Frankie recently divorced in order to marry Jason. “Ironic isn’t it? Her next husband consulting her last husband about her first,” muses Roger. The third Mr Frankie then gives the soon-to-be-fourth Mr Frankie a friendly warning about the woman they both love: “She’s quite a woman, but she does have her flaws … I don’t think she knows herself what she wants. You see, when it comes to men, the latest voice seems to be the most persuasive.” And that’s not the only COLBYS conversation to echo Abby’s advice to Jill on last week’s KNOTS. “I want to give you a tip,” Adrienne Cassidy tells Monica during a drunken late night phone call. “Try stepping down off that pedestal. Cash likes that … You see, he thinks he wants a lady, but what he really wants is a whore.”

    As the episode title suggests, much of this week’s KNOTS is set in the cul-de-sac, with the action taking place against a backdrop of everyday life — spring-cleaning, jogging, a neighbourly dinner party. However, this is less a depiction of suburbia than suburbia-with-a-twist. To the left of the Mackenzie house, we have fish-out-of-water Anne attempting to adhere to the norms of neighbourhood life whilst simultaneously exhibiting a passive-aggressive desire to disrupt the domestic status quo. This results in a kind of sly parody of suburbia, the high point of which is Karen and Mack’s response to the nude photos of Anne hanging on her living room wall: “They’re very … nude.” To the right, we have Ben and Val, each trying to move on from their recent ordeal at the hands of Jean Hackney by retreating behind a facade of normalcy. “It’s like nothing ever happened,” whispers Val, still clearly traumatised, while Ben sits staring into space as Lilimae tries to talk to him.

    Consequently, when a delivery package is left on the Mackenzie doorstep, it is not simply a delivery package left on the Mackenzie doorstep. For Ben, it’s potentially a bomb sent by Jean Hackney to wipe he and his family off the face of the earth; for Anne (to whom the package is addressed and who has pre-arranged for it to be dropped off next door), it’s a way of luring Mack over to her place while Karen is working late. I don’t think this is a precise example what the following passage in @TommyK's fascinating essay describes, but the basic principle still applies:

    ”The brilliance of Knots Landing -- as with the best domestic dramas -- is that the mundane tasks were always a backdrop (and more often than not, an outlet) for issues of real importance. If Val helped Karen stretch a sweater that seemed tight, it wasn't about the sweater: it was about Karen's insecurities, after spending time away from her family and coming back to find so much changed. If Mack and Karen started squabbling about trivial matters -- like what color the living room should be painted, and which way the toilet paper should come off the roll -- it wasn't about paint chips and toilet paper; it was about Mack having a midlife crisis. (As I mentioned in my Season 6 essay, that season's headwriter, Richard Gollance, would always ask, "What is the scene about?" There had to be something simmering subtextually that the actors could play.)”

    http://thatsallsiknow.blogspot.co.uk/2017/10/knots-landing-season-13.html

    What happens when there isn’t “something simmering subtextually that the actors could play” is illustrated by a couple of domestic-themed scenes in this week’s DALLAS. First, Clayton chortles as Miss Ellie mock-chides him for eating salsa and chips late at night, then John Ross coos over a puppy in a pet shop as Sue Ellen looks on in mock-exasperation. “What is the scene about?” indeed. Presumably, each of these scenes is intended to show the Ewings as more relatable, rounded characters. Instead, the absence of subtext robs those characters of what made them interesting and unique in the first place and so they end up sounding the same as any other bland, generic characters on any other bland, generic TV show. Scenes of this nature were prevalent on DALLAS during the Dream Season so it’s probably significant that this episode was written by cast member Susan Howard, a vocal champion of that period of the show.

    A more intriguing idiosyncrasy of Howard’s writing reveals itself at the start of this episode. Her previous ep, last season’s “Overture”, began with JR in a meeting with his boot supplier and this instalment also opens by focusing on a major character’s choice of footwear. “I heard they do that in Los Angeles, but this is Dallas,” says secretary Jackie with reference to Pam’s hightop trainers (or the 80s equivalent thereof).

    There are three awkward social gatherings in Soap Land this week. The first is set up, somewhat uncharacteristically, by Jason on THE COLBYS. Upon his return from Singapore, he summons the entire family to a formal dinner party at the house. He then springs a nasty surprise on them: Bianca Jagger. She promptly identifies Phillip as “Hoyt Parker. So this is where you’ve been hiding yourself!” Cue dramatic music, shocked close-ups and a freeze frame of Phillip looking shifty. Anne’s housewarming-cum-dinner party on KNOTS, meanwhile, is played for light comedy rather than melodrama with a reluctant Karen obliged to make nice to her hostess while Mack is slowly bored to death by Anne’s stockbroker date. The engagement party Angela throws for Dan and Vicky on FALCON CREST, meanwhile, is not so much awkward as an unmitigated disaster. The groom-to-be is a no-show while the bride arrives drunk and tries to get Eric Stavros into bed. Not to mention the small matter of Roland Saunders' dead body being found in the winery, after Kit/Skylar/Madeline/Susan has chosen cigar-injected-with-poison over an everyday shooting as her preferred method of murder.

    It’s notable that Maya Kumara, Bianca Jagger’s character on THE COLBYS, is introduced as Hoyt Parker’s “mistress”, despite being the wealthier and more powerful of the couple and the fact that she rather than he was married during their affair. Soap Land’s other current big name guest star, FC’s Kim Novak, is defined in the same way. “You were born to be the mistress of a man like me,” Roland Saunders tells her prior to puffing on that fatal cigar.

    Sartorial trend of the week: Donna Krebbs and Maggie Gioberti each turning up to a black-tie affair in a plain winter coat. In Donna’s case, she unintentionally crashes a formal dinner party in order to apologise to Senator Dowling for rebuffing his offer of support earlier in the episode. Maggie, meanwhile, marches into Angela’s house during the engagement do demanding to see the child Emma has secretly adopted, believing it to be the baby she gave away (and now wants back, having found out Chase is the father after all). She is stunned into silence when a ten-year-old black boy appears. (Unless one counts Dominique Devereaux’s “the same daddy” revelation to Blake back in ’84 or the non-reaction to Eric Fairgate's black girlfriend on KNOTS a year later, this is the first time race has been used as a punchline in Soap Land — and it works, in a DIFF’RENT STROKES sort of way. It’s certainly funnier than most of FC’s recent attempts at humour).

    Just as the first soap of the week ended with a mother addressing someone else’s baby as her own (“Goodnight, my darling,” said Sarah Curtis to Krystina) so does the last. In the final scene of FALCON CREST, we discover that Melissa has somehow taken possession of the child Maggie put up for adoption. “You’re not Maggie’s, you’re not Chase’s — you’re my little Roberto, my little Bobby,” she coos.

    And this week’s Top 5 are …

    1 (1) THE COLBYS
    2 (2) KNOTS LANDING
    3 (-) DALLAS
    4 (4) FALCON CREST
    5 (3) DYNASTY
     
    Last edited: Nov 13, 2017
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  20. James from London

    James from London Soap Chat Dream Maker

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    18 Mar 87: DYNASTY: The Shower v. 19 Mar 87: THE COLBYS: Betrayals v. 20 Mar 87: DALLAS: Some Good, Some Bad

    Very occasionally on DYNASTY, the Carringtons engage as a member of the household staff someone who displays nothing but contempt for both their employers and their own duties. Mrs Johnson, Krystina’s negligent new nurse, is such a person. “Mrs Carrington, I’ve taken care of children for a long time now. Don’t you think you’re being overly protective?” she asks Krystle coldly, her eyes full of loathing. She’s really fun. For me, her appeal is enhanced by the fact that she is played by the well-meaning Adoption Lady from DALLAS’s Dream Season who paired Donna and Ray with cute deaf kid Tony. It’s as if she has cast off the sentimental shackles of that treacly storyline and embraced the darker side of child care.

    DYNASTY also echoes the Dream Season by continuing to have its central characters behave towards each other with uncharacteristic niceness. Whereas it felt on DALLAS as if the Ewings had been replaced by cyborg replicants, on DYNASTY it’s the other way round: the characters appear less stiff and more human than they did previously. The once smug and preening Dex, for example, is now likably humble while Alexis and Dominique’s exchange of light-hearted bon mots during Dana’s wedding shower make a refreshing change from their countless threats and counter-threats to destroy each other’s companies. Elsewhere, Steven’s nonjudgmental attitude towards Adam’s heavy drinking (“Call it a [wedding] gift,” he smiles after bailing him out of jail) makes him seem more relaxed and, well, just nicer than he has been since he was played by Al Corley.

    If Steven and Adam’s newfound brotherly bond is endearing then the sibling conflict that erupts between Bobby and Ray on this week’s DALLAS is downright exciting. “I just think it’s a little strange — three-and-a-half seconds after your divorce, they move in,” remarks Bobby upon finding Jenna and Charlie living with Ray. “Are you sure you’re not trying to make her a substitute for Donna?” Ray responds by taking a swing at him, thereby finally repaying Bobby for the disco punch he landed on him way, way back in the second ever episode of the series. “There’s not another man alive that I’d let get away with that,” Bobby snarls.

    There’s more sibling rivalry on THE COLBYS. In the opening scene, after Jason exposes his double-life as Hoyt Parker, Phillip has to be physically restrained from attacking his big brother who then orders him to leave the house. At the end of the episode, Jason finds Phillip in bed with his fiancee. (Interestingly, the fact that Phillip and Frankie are both fully-clothed at this point, as opposed to tastefully nude in the Soap Land tradition, i.e., bare shoulders and strategically placed bedsheets, makes their liaison seem unusually grubby — and kinda sexy.)

    Jason’s expose of Phillip was intended to discredit him in Jeff’s eyes. Instead, Jeff finds himself torn between his recently acquired biological father and the man he grew up believing to be his father. “I don’t know Phillip,” he concedes, “but how well do I know Jason?” He still wants to help Phillip out financially, but Jason insists that Phil “doesn’t deserve it.” “Why does he have to deserve it?” Jeff shoots back. “He’s family, he’s broke and he’s in trouble … It makes me wonder. God forbid any of the rest of us should fall out of line.” This is a situation as richly complicated as it is soapily convoluted, and one that places Jeff in a similar position to Ray on DALLAS during the Wes Parmalee storyline — each son caught between the man he has briefly known as his true father and the one that has “returned” to him. “You’re the only good thing that came out of this mess,” Phillip tells Jeff who is moved in the same way that Ray was when Wes told him how proud he would be to have him as his son. Just as Ray wanted to believe that Wes was genuine so Jeff wants, maybe even needs, to believe the best of Phillip. (Adding to the power of this storyline is John James's performance. James is one of those Soap Land actors it’s easy to overlook, but he more than holds his own opposite Charlton Heston and Michael Parks.)

    If Jeff is Ray caught between two fathers, then Frankie is Miss Ellie caught between two husbands: “It was different when I thought he was dead, but now …”

    Ray’s relationship with Jenna returns him to the role of family outsider in this week’s DALLAS: “If the Ewings can’t accept the way I live my life, then they can go hang.” Interestingly, he has company: “I wish to hell I’d never even heard of the Ewing family. They’ve brought me nothing but misery and heartache,” says cousin Jack upon his return to Dallas. And how ironic is Jack describing his sister’s death to Bobby, of all people, as “a nightmare that just doesn't end”?

    So it is that a week after Mack's old flame (Anne Matheson) moved in next door to he and Karen on KNOTS LANDING, an ex of Bobby’s (Jenna) moves in next door to the Ewings. “I don’t even like seeing her occasionally. Now she’s gonna be right next door!” Karen complained to Laura. “Things were bad enough with her living in Braddock. Now she’s living with your brother?” echoes Pam to Bobby. “The next thing you know he’ll be bringing her to dinner right here at Southfork, baby and all!” (The lighting fixture falling off the wall after Pam exits angrily out of the scene is a specifically Season 9 touch.)

    And this week's Top 3 is ...

    1 (1) THE COLBYS
    2 (3) DALLAS
    3 (5) DYNASTY
     
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