FALCON CREST versus DYNASTY versus DALLAS versus KNOTS LANDING versus the rest of them, week by week

Discussion in 'Falcon Crest' started by James from London, Sep 23, 2016.

  1. James from London

    James from London Soap Chat Dream Maker

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    18 Feb 88: KNOTS LANDING: Lawfully Wedded v. 19 Feb 88: DALLAS: Farlow's Follies v. 19 Feb 88: FALCON CREST: Legacies

    Two weeks ago, FALCON CREST’s Maggie and Richard ditched their plans for a big wedding and tied the knot in a quickie ceremony instead. Abby and Charles do the same on this week’s KNOTS. The morning after, Abby summons her attorney to annul the union — thereby making it Soap Land’s shortest marriage since Alexis and Cecil Colby’s five years earlier.

    Despite this brevity, Abby has somehow found time to deposit a cheque for $2,000,000 — a wedding gift from her groom intended to finance the marina expansion at Lotus Point. Her financial gain is in contrast to Maggie’s financial loss. Upon marrying Richard Channing, she activated a codicil in Chase’s will that transferred her inheritance to Angela. And at the start of this week’s FC, which is full of the kind of atmospheric darkness and urgency lacking from last week’s ep, she hands over control of Chase’s winery to her new mother-in-law.

    When Abby accuses Charles of marrying her under false pretences, he admits that “I came here for Lotus Point, but I didn’t expect to fall in love with you again … Let’s forget Lotus Point.” Over on DALLAS, JR delivers almost the exact same pitch to Kimberly Cryder: “What started off between you and I as a game, as part of a business deal, has grown into much more and I’m not gonna give you up, with or without West Star.” Neither woman is entirely convinced, but while Abby calls Charles’s bluff directly (“OK, let’s sell Lotus Point.” Silence. “That’s what I thought. Bye, Charles”), Kimberly is slightly more circumspect (“If you’re not man enough to make the move that I was willing to make, maybe you’re not worth waiting for”).

    Elsewhere on KNOTS, Frank Williams is turning into an amalgam of Ben Gibson and Richard Avery at their most unstable. He loses his sales job but is too depressed to care, is overly protective of his family, and sees danger behind every suburban corner. The clatter of a trash can, the silhouette of a meter reader, an intrusive question from a nosy neighbour — each innocuous incident causes him to break into a cold sweat and/or reach for the nearest baseball bat. During the course of the episode, the reasons for his strange behaviour are gradually revealed. “How did your testimony go?” he asks Pat after she returns from a mysterious overnight trip. “Were they in the courtroom when you testified?” Later, during an argument, he blames his crummy job prospects on her “little agreement.” Finally, during an even bigger argument, a woman called Christine in whom Frank and Pat appear to confide comes right out and says it: “The Witness Security Programme has never lost a witness who followed procedure!”

    Meanwhile on DALLAS, an unobserved Miss Ellie catches Clayton in a seemingly intimate situation with Laurel for the second week in a row. When Sue Ellen found JR in bed with Kimberly last week, she surprised him by not falling apart and hitting the bottle. Here, Miss Ellie surprises everyone by falling apart and downing the best part of a bottle of whisky.

    These two storylines — Frank and Pat’s, Ellie and Clayton’s — have next to nothing in common, except that this week’s episodes provide the female half of each partnership with a flashy scene in which to strut her stuff. In both cases, it’s not a moment too soon. Since Pat’s arrived on KNOTS, one’s had the sense of her trying too hard, in front of both the neighbours and the viewers. To Mack and Karen, she’s been trying desperately to come across like a normal person leading a normal life. To the audience, she’s been working hard to sell the idea that she and hubby are still hot to trot after however many years of married life. Miss Ellie, meanwhile, has spent much of this season either bursting into tears or meekly acquiescing to Clayton. Such behaviour is even less reminiscent of the stoic, earthy matriarch of the first five or six years of DALLAS than Donna Reed’s more regal take on the role. Now they've been given the chance to bust loose, Pat shows what she’s made of while Ellie reveals an aspect of her personality that we’ve never really seen before.

    Pat’s outburst is prompted by the reaction of her handler (Christine) to the news that “the guy next door is some kind of special investigator for the governor.” Christine insists the Williamses need to be relocated once again, but Pat has had enough. In a speech that’s fiery, passionate and, let’s face it, black, she embraces what Gary and Abby once negatively described as “life in a goldfish bowl”: “You want us to move because we have nosy neighbours?!” she asks. “They seem nosy to us because they’re interested in us and they’re just lousy at hiding it. They don’t lie well. Honey, I like people who don’t lie well … We have an obligation to give Julie the very best life that we can, a normal life … I want her to able to play hopscotch on the sidewalk because it’s her sidewalk … I don’t want to leave.”

    Whereas Pat wants to join the world that KNOTS has to offer, Miss Ellie “just wants the world to go away.” Her equivalent outburst is angry, heartbroken and, let’s face it, drunk: “You wanna talk about the mysteries of life, Sue Ellen?” she asks her hapless daughter-in-law. “Let’s talk about disappointment … People who let you down, who break your heart, who make you wish you were someone you weren’t … Those are the good subjects, Sue Ellen. You wanna share your expertise on one of those subjects?” While it’s ironic that Sue Ellen should be the one to find Ellie in such a state, it’s even more ironic that she turns out to be no more equipped to deal with an embittered drunk than anyone else. It’s great to see Ellie sink her teeth into this material, even if her three-dimensional reaction to a two-dimensional storyline (man fixates on painting, man buys painting, man and girl in painting become platonic friends) feels a little out of whack.

    As one relatively minor movie star (Michael York) exits Soap Land, another arrives to take his place. Rod Taylor turns up in FALCON CREST as Melissa’s not very Italian-looking uncle, Frank Agretti. His backstory, as recounted by Angela — “Carlo robbed you of your half of the Agretti vineyards and threw you out of the valley” — is a familiar one, recalling similar sibling feuds between Jock and Jason Ewing and Blake and Ben Carrington. Likewise, the reasons for his visit — a terminal illness and a wish to reconcile with family — echo those of Miss Ellie’s brother, Mack Mackenzie’s father and Chance McKenzie’s mother.

    There are other fresh faces too: Harold Dyer (though he has yet to be identified as such on screen) speaks his first lines on KNOTS, senatorial aide Kay Lloyd debuts on DALLAS and Rosemont, the wonderfully creepy head of The Thirteen, emerges out of the darkness on FALCON CREST to utter Soap Land's line of the week: “Channing is my kind of soul — good at the centre with just a little taint of evil around the edges.” Counted alongside Pat, Frank and Julie on KNOTS, Rosemont is currently Soap Land’s fourth significant black character — something of a record.

    Charles Scott may have left KNOTS LANDING with his tail between his legs but, intriguingly, his storyline remains. “We’re in business,” Harold informs The Dealer, who in turn gives Johnny Rourke the thumbs up. DALLAS and FALCON CREST’s current business plots each take a similarly unexpected turn in this week’s closing scenes. While JR declares war on Dr Styles (“If it’s war you want, JR, you’ve got it,” the good doctor replies), Richard joins forces with The Thirteen and proposes a toast “to the destruction of Angela Channing.”

    And this week’s Top 3 are …

    1 (3) KNOTS LANDING
    2 (1) DALLAS
    3 (4) FALCON CREST
     
    Last edited: May 26, 2018
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  2. James from London

    James from London Soap Chat Dream Maker

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    And this week’s Top 4 are …

    1 (1) DALLAS
    2 (2) KNOTS LANDING
    3 (-) DYNASTY
    4 (-) FALCON CREST
     
    Last edited: Jun 5, 2018
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  3. James from London

    James from London Soap Chat Dream Maker

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    And this week’s Top 4 are …

    1 (2) KNOTS LANDING
    2 (4) FALCON CREST
    3 (3) DYNASTY
    4 (1) DALLAS
     
    Last edited: Jun 11, 2018
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  4. James from London

    James from London Soap Chat Dream Maker

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    And this week’s Top 3 are …

    1 (3) DYNASTY
    2 (4) DALLAS
    3 (2) FALCON CREST
     
    Last edited: Jun 14, 2018 at 10:43 PM
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  5. James from London

    James from London Soap Chat Dream Maker

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    24 Mar 88: KNOTS LANDING: Her Letter v. 25 Mar 88: FALCON CREST: Dirty Tricks

    KNOTS picks up directly from where it left off two weeks ago with Val, having received Ben’s letter, bolting out of her house to share the news with Karen. She finds her at Williamses, which gives us the opportunity of seeing Val through the eyes of her new neighbours, just as we have been watching them through Karen and Mack’s for the past few months. “I get the impression that she isn’t very realistic,” decides Pat.

    Like Val, FALCON CREST’s Lance receives a missive from someone believed to be dead: “Keep after Channing. I’ll be in touch, Remick.” It’s less affectionate than Ben’s “I miss you, I love you, hug the kids for me” but it gets its point across.

    Having failed in her mission “to keep Mr Cumson out of the country for three months or to make sure he didn’t come back at all”, Rosemont declares Thirteen operative Catherine “beyond salvage.” All her experience as a highly trained assassin then deserts her and she becomes a standard girl in peril. Like April on DALLAS a couple of weeks ago, she returns home to find the bad guys waiting outside her apartment. She runs away and turns to Lance, the very person she tried to kill last week, for help. He arranges for her fake to her own death, which seems to be the standard response in such situations.

    Elsewhere on FC, Richard and Maggie are leaving for a fancy dinner when he realises she is drunk again. You can feel his heart sink just by looking at his face. “We’ve got a problem, Maggie,” he begins before broaching the subject of a clinic in Colorado. “I want you to get well.” KNOT LANDING’s Jill is proving more successful at hiding her solitary drinking from Gary — or maybe he’s just too preoccupied with his ex-wives and their various offspring to notice. There’s a great moment when, in response to Val calling the ranch for the nth time, Jill responds by tipping a glass of wine over the phone. Even Sue Ellen didn’t think of that one.

    The gesture is whacky, but also understandable. It’s interesting how sympathetically Jill has been portrayed throughout this season. Val might be the more established, more loveable character, but Jill is technically the wronged woman in their triangle with Gary and has largely conducted herself with patience and good grace. Nor has the KNOTS shied away from showing how self-involved and difficult Val can be, most recently in her custody dispute with Gary over the twins. Likewise, Maggie has always been FALCON CREST’s moral centre but since developing a drinking problem, she’s become increasingly high maintenance. So much so that we find our sympathies shifting towards Richard — the same Richard that currently has Maggie’s daughter locked up in jail without her knowledge. The line between good and bad in Soap Land is getting blurry. And so, when we learn in the penultimate scene of this week’s KNOTS that Jill is responsible for the letter Val believes she has received from Ben, how should we react? We’re shocked, of course — Poor Val! Poor Ben! — but we’re also kind of thrilled — Clever Jill!

    This week’s KNOTS is also The One Where Karen Wears A Leather Mini-Skirt To A Business Meeting. Fashion faux pas are rarely, if ever, acknowledged in Soap Land. After all, this is the ‘80s: who can say for sure where Travilla ends and faux pas begin? The closest we’ve come recently is Alexis’s publicist’s suggestion that she tone down her style for the electorate and Judith Scott’s implication about Abby’s tacky appearance. Here, the balance is redressed when Abby first watches with incredulous amusement as Karen arrives for their meeting with Manny Vasquez wearing said skirt and later delivers the cautionary quip: “Don’t be a slave to fashion.” But it’s really Karen, squirming in her chair as she struggles to retain her modesty, who sells the scene. Physical comedy is rare in Soap Land and even rarer when it works. (For an example of how excruciating it can be when it doesn’t work, I refer you to Melissa and Richard’s “sexy” dance to ‘Do You Love Me?’ by the Contours on this week’s FALCON CREST. Presumably intended to titillate and amuse, it instead makes one’s toes curl with embarrassment.)

    Each of this week’s shows contains a satisfying example of When Storylines Collide. On FALCON CREST, having finally agreed to enter a clinic, Maggie has her bags packed to leave when Lance turns up at her front door. He shows her the note from John Remick and warns her about Richard: “He’s a dangerous man.” What will she do? To be honest, I was hoping she’d go on an almighty bender, but instead, she meets with Emma and articulates the crux of her dilemma: “I love him and yet so many people mistrust him, hate him. What if they’re right and I’m wrong?”

    A week after Jeff Colby popped the question to Sammy Jo on DYNASTY comes another controversial marriage proposal, this time from gangster Harold to seventeen-year-old Olivia on KNOTS. While Sammy Jo has yet to give Jeff an answer, Olivia’s response is immediate: “I will, I will!” And so is Abby’s: “Over my dead body you’ll marry him!” Paige, meanwhile, finally makes a move on Greg (“How would you explain why you go to such trouble for all these other women when I’m right here?”) only for him to look at her like she’s nuts (“Are you joking? … You’re very young … You’re Mack’s daughter”). Piqued, she accepts Johnny's invitation to accompany him on a business trip to Mexico. These two storylines converge in the final scene of the ep. Johnny and Paige are at the airport waiting for his associate, who turns out to be Harold. He too has brought a guest along — Olivia. “We’re eloping,” she explains. Mexico proves a popular destination this week — it’s also where FALCON CREST’s Catherine is headed to start her new life.

    And this week’s Top 2 are …

    1 (-) KNOTS LANDING
    2 (3) FALCON CREST
     
    • Winner Winner x 1

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