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 Enthusiast

    Message Count:
    2,229
    Trophy Points:
    6,327
    Ratings:
    +3,608
    01 Feb 89: DYNASTY: Delta Woe v. 02 Feb 89: KNOTS LANDING: Colonel Mustard in the Conservatory with the Wrench v. 03 Feb 89: DALLAS: The Switch v. 03 Feb 89: FALCON CREST: True Confessions

    There are more echoes of DALLAS than usual in this week’s DYNASTY. For starters, the post-coital scene between Fallon and Zorelli at the start of the ep is almost identical to the equivalent scene between Sue Ellen and Nicholas Pearce last season (following the cliffhanger where they ripped each other’s clothes off). Back then, the hungry lovers feasted on spaghetti; here, they make do with pizza. Where Sue Ellen looked ravishingly ravished, her hair sexily tousled, while wearing Nick’s bathrobe, Fallon looks even better in just her red underwear. All is well until it becomes apparent that Fallon, like Sue Ellen before her, isn’t planning to stay the night. At this point, Zorelli, just as Nicholas did, cops an attitude and suggests that she had an ulterior motive for going to bed with him in the first place. Whereas Nick accused Sue Ellen of using him to make JR jealous, Zorelli reckons Fallon did the deed to get her father off the hook for murder: “You were hoping that if you and I got together, then I wouldn’t be so hard on your old man.” During a later phone conversation with Zorelli, Blake suggests that the shoe is on the other foot: “I will not tolerate you using my family!”

    There are similar accusations at the start of this week’s DALLAS. Arriving back at April’s condo after the Oil Barons Ball, JR makes it clear he expects to sleep with her, even though he is now married to Cally. April declines, offering him the couch instead. Then she realises: “She’s gonna think we spent the night together. Is that what this is all about?” “Don’t you think I wanna make love to you?” JR asks her. “Not really. I think you’re just using me to get rid of her,” she replies. Across town, Cliff suggests that Tammy Miller also has a hidden reason for inviting him to spend the night at her apartment (which, weirdly, has the same exterior as Jill Bennett’s place on KNOTS). “I think you were ready to prove to yourself that you didn’t care about Bobby anymore. What better way to do that than to go to bed with me?” he asks.

    Fallon makes it back to the Carrington mansion in the early hours of the morning to discover Adam lurking in the shadows — which is just where Sue Ellen used to find JR when she would return to Southfork after one of her trysts with Dusty or Clint in DALLAS’s early years. The exchange that follows sizzles with the same kind of venomous animosity the feuding Ewings shared. “Well, if it isn’t Cinderella … I guess you got your ticket to the Policeman’s Ball,” sneers Adam. “You really are an ass, aren’t you?” Fallon retorts. “And what are you, Fallon — what would you call the woman who’s sleeping with the cop who’s trying to put her own father in jail?” “A lesson in morals from a man who has none!” And on they go, the insults landing thick and fast. They talk over each other too, as people do all the time in real life but hardly ever in Soap Land (KNOTS being an occasional exception), not least because it makes editing a scene a major hassle. The overlapping dialogue works really well, adding both momentum and verisimilitude to their sparring.

    Fallon’s late night doesn’t go unnoticed by her father either. “I don’t know you anymore, Fallon. My own flesh and blood and I swear, I don’t know you,” he tells her coldly over breakfast the next morning. By the time JR gets home to Southfork (having slept on April’s sofa), breakfast is over. His plan to upset Cally by his absence has worked, but when she asks him directly, “Did you make love to her?”, he cannot bring himself to lie, which is the first indication that his attitude towards her might be softening.

    Back on DYNASTY, even the dead are giving Fallon a hard time for sleeping with Zorelli. The most blatant of the episode’s DALLAS references is the scene in which the three most memorable aspects of Bobby Ewing’s resurrection — a dream sequence, a dead man and a shower — are conflated into one: a dream sequence involving a dead man that takes place in a shower. Fallon is doing her ablutions when she is visited once more by Roger Grimes, his appearance distorted by the steamed-up glass of the shower door and his voice by an echoey vocoder-style effect. “If you really cared for me, you wouldn’t be fooling around with him!” he snarls at her. It’s as mental as it sounds, but also really good.

    Another DALLAS-style scene takes place as the extended Carrington family (which now includes Dex, Sable, Virginia, Jeff and Sammy Jo) gather in the library for pre-dinner cocktails. Adam and Fallon continue to bicker like a blood-related version of JR and Sue Ellen, Virginia throws her martini at Dex and storms off, Blake follows her, Jeff, Sable and Dex each make their excuses and leave, and Sammy Jo is left to referee Adam and Fallon over dinner.

    Sable’s discreet exit comes after she hears Sammy Jo describe the intruder who spooked her at Delta Rho in last week’s ep. She realises that it must be Gibson, the man she paid to dive to the bottom of the Carrington lake (for reasons we have yet to ascertain) at the start of the season. She tracks him down to a motel where she finds him in bed with an anonymous blonde and gives him his marching orders: “You were brought here to do a job. You were paid and very well … Time to go home, Mr Gibson.”

    Gibson, the diver, is to Sable on DYNASTY what Mrs Bailey, the forger, is to Jill Bennett on KNOTS — a loose end who needs to be silenced before they can incriminate her. While Sable rams her point home by threatening Gibson with his own knife, Jill does something far worse to Mrs Bailey — but we aren’t told precisely what. Just as DYNASTY ends with an exchange of gunfire between Gibson and Sammy Jo, each of them falling to the ground after being shot, KNOTS also concludes with a life hanging in the balance. Mack and co. discover Mrs Bailey lying in a hospital bed in some kind of catatonic state, unable to answer any of their questions about Jill. “She’s not going to recover,” says Frank. Cut to Jill eavesdropping in the hallway, smirking triumphantly.

    There are no exterior scenes in this week’s DYNASTY, presumably for budgetary reasons, but such limitations work to the show’s advantage. In the same way that Alexis’s continued absence adds to her stature, the resultant hemmed-in, claustrophobic atmosphere only increases the episode’s tension. Again, I’m reminded of early era DALLAS where, towards the end of a season, the show would become increasingly studio-bound just as the dramatic stakes were getting higher.

    While DYNASTY looks inward, the KNOTS and FALCON CREST universes expand. KNOTS does a nice line in one-scene characters as Mack and Frank, during their search for Mrs Bailey, encounter an assortment of her neighbours, past and present, each of whom manage to make an impression in the space of a few screen minutes. My favourite is an eccentrically cantankerous landlord who, upon seeing through Mack’s claims to be Mrs B’s nephew who ran away to sea, calls him a bird brain. FC, meanwhile, introduces some new tertiary characters, one of whom, Cookie Nash’s father Justin, is played by DYNASTY’s dead major-domo, Joseph. Whereas Joseph was vehemently against his daughter Kirby getting involved with a Colby or Carrington, Justin is as eager to marry Cookie off to Lance as Angela is. While Kirby first arrived on DYNASTY after breaking up with a man called Jean Pierre, Cookie hasn’t “slept with anyone since Jean Claude left me. That was six months ago.” Or so she tells Lance when he asks if he is really the father of the baby she is carrying.

    “Any woman who builds her life around her husband is headed for disaster,” declared Sue Ellen on DALLAS a couple of years ago. Exchange the word “husband” for “man” and there’s no shortage of Soap Land gals who have yet to heed her warning. Take Tommy Ortega’s girlfriend Kelly on FALCON CREST, for example. We met her briefly a few weeks ago, but this week’s ep is our first opportunity to see how desperately needy she is. She’s clearly threatened by Tommy’s newfound fulfilment in his work at the Tuscany Herald. “You’ve got a job that you love and that’s great,” she lies. “I have a man that I love and I wanna be with him … Work doesn’t have to be your whole life.” There’s something heartbreaking about the way she clings onto him even as she realises that in doing so, she’s actually driving him away. “Is there somebody else?” she asks. “No,” he replies — but it’s not true. In a gender reversal of the May/December romances between Cally and JR, and Paige and Greg, Tommy has quietly fallen for his boss, Maggie Channing. And as with Peter Richards’ infatuation for Sue Ellen, his feelings are writ large for everyone to see.

    Whereas FC’s Kelly is stuck in a small-town dead-end job, KNOTS LANDING’s Jill is a successful attorney — at least by day. By night, she’s even more unhealthily obsessed by a man than Kelly is. In fact, her behaviour more closely resembles Ray Krebbs’ spurned girlfriend-turned-stalker Connie from last season’s DALLAS. We see her spying on Gary through the window of his house then letting herself in when he’s not there. While Kelly brings up the subject of marriage to a reluctant Tommy, Jill goes so far as to buy and then wear a wedding dress in preparation for her and Gary’s nonexistent big day. (After her thrillingly original campaign against Val at the end of last season, such behaviour feels a tad psycho-for-beginners.)

    Unlike Kelly and Jill, DALLAS’s Cally has already married the object of her desire. She just needs him to acknowledge the fact. To that end, she turns to her predecessor for advice. “To JR, the chase is more important than anything,” Sue Ellen explains. “You have to tease him and tantalise him … The more he can’t have you, the more he’s gonna want you.” As Sue Ellen and Bobby have already stated, we know that Cally “would be better off just forgetting about the marriage and going on back home”, yet we’re still rooting for her to achieve her goal. To borrow Cally’s own phrase, “That’s kind of sick, ain’t it?”

    Jill and Cally each subsequently succeed in turning the tables on her respective Ewing man. When Gary, hoping to find “something that would prove … one way or the other” her involvement in Val’s overdose, is apprehended breaking into Jill’s apartment, she seizes the opportunity to accuse him of harassment: “Gary, can’t you see yourself? You’re acting crazy!” Meanwhile at Southfork, once Cally remembers to leaves her bedroom door open while she’s trying on a pair of silk stockings, JR quickly becomes the one who’s getting hot and bothered over her.

    Sable Colby and JR Ewing each conduct business in a den of vice this week. From behind a one-way mirror in a gambling club (“a temple for illegal pursuits”), Sable and Dex observe Fritz Heath, Colby Co’s controller, “happily racking up debt after debt with no idea that we both have him in our crosshairs … He’s like a science project. Let’s dissect him, shall we?” Meanwhile, JR meets Rattigan, his younger, more physically imposing Harry McSween replacement, in a daytime titty bar — a kind of televisual precursor to Tony Soprano’s Bada Bing, but without the casual nudity. At one point, however, a girl in an itty-bitty bikini dances in front of JR with her back to the camera. After he tucks a wad of notes into her briefs, she removes her top and throws it to him. As Soap Land depictions of the female form go, this is certainly more grubby than glam, but in a way that hearkens back to the DALLAS’s early years. The bar is populated by the same kind of middle-aged male clientele who used to ogle the big-breasted waitresses at the Cattleman’s Club, the show’s original hang out before Soap Land fell under DYNASTY’s designer spell.

    JR’s dancer at the titty bar and Gibson’s bed partner at his motel are both nameless blondes mostly shown naked from behind. We know nothing about them, but that doesn’t prevent characters from referring to them as if they were a lesser species. “Your wit is about on par with your women,” Sable tells Gibson after she has ordered the girl to leave them alone. “You don’t wanna go home with this, JR,” says Rattigan, handing the dancer back her bikini top.

    As the breakout star on THE COLBYS, the decision to bring Sable over to DYNASTY was in one sense a no-brainer. Looked at another way, however, she’s almost the least likely character to cross over. As the ultimate “woman who builds her life around her husband”, Sable’s entire existence focused on Jason and their children. Even after their divorce, she went to remarkable lengths to remain in the family home. How would she, of all people, fare as an outsider in another city in another show about another family? The answer is, of course, remarkably well. But whereas her motives on THE COLBYS were easy to read — everything she did was to protect her family and/or her place within it — here, they are shrouded in ambiguity. Aside from revenge on Alexis, what does she want? And why has she gone to such lengths to befriend the Carringtons — is she after a future with Blake or a tumble with Dex? Or both? And what reason could she have for sending a diver to the bottom of the Carrington lake? Sable’s newly mercurial nature is reflected in her vocal delivery which is both fascinating and ever-changing. In some scenes, her mood seems to shift from one line of dialogue to the next. One second, her voice will be dripping with honey and generosity, the next, it’s suddenly ice cold and full of malice.

    Speaking of unclear motives, I’m not at all sure why Richard Channing spends most of this week’s FALCON CREST in Chicago with Pilar Ortega and a man called Malcolm St Clair while pretending to Maggie that he’s in New York, except that it has to do with banks and consortiums and dummy corporations and takeovers. I’m intrigued, but also plain baffled. I don’t know if that reflects a fault in the storytelling or just my own limited grasp of such matters. Or perhaps we’re not yet meant to fully grasp whatever is going on. We do at least get some kind of explanation at the end of the ep: “We’re gonna have it all — the whole of the Tuscany Valley!” crows Richard to St Clair. The music swells, the frame freezes and it feels like a satisfyingly dramatic end to the episode — even if “the whole of the Tuscany Valley” seems like pretty small potatoes next to “the entire California wine industry”, which is what Richard was after when he first arrived in FC — but I guess times are tough.

    Minor trend of the week: Bosses rejecting their secretaries’ interior design ideas. On DALLAS, Cliff and Jackie bicker over a tastefully scenic painting she thinks “would have looked great hanging in your office.” “… I’m not paying $12,000 for that!” he argues. Throughout this week’s KNOTS, Peggy tries out various trees and plants as decor for Mack’s new office, all of which he rejects. What should be a running gag becomes instead a running irritant thanks to Peggy’s ham-fisted attempts at comedy.

    Krystle Carrington and Pam Ewing cast a shadow over their respective shows this week. “We’re all so fond of Mrs Carrington. It hasn’t been the same since she’s been gone,” laments a touchingly awkward Jeanette on DYNASTY. Meanwhile on DALLAS, Bobby talks to his son about his relationship with Tracey Lawton. “What if Mama came back and you were married?” Christopher asks. “Mama is never coming back,” insists Bobby firmly. Over on FALCON CREST, there’s a sweet little scene where Ben Agretti gets to say the kind of things to his long-lost mother that Christopher will never have the chance to say to Pam: “I always thought that I’d done something wrong and that’s why I didn’t have a mom … I wanted you so much, I didn’t know if I could ever forgive you for leaving me.”

    And this week’s Top 4 are …

    1 (3) DYNASTY
    2 (2) KNOTS
    3 (1) DALLAS
    4 (-) FALCON CREST
     
    • Like Like x 3
  2. James from London

    James from London Soap Chat Enthusiast

    Message Count:
    2,229
    Trophy Points:
    6,327
    Ratings:
    +3,608
    08 Feb 89: DYNASTY: Tankers, Cadavers to Chance v. 09 Feb 89: KNOTS LANDING: Without a Clue v. 10 Feb 89: DALLAS: He-e-ere's Papa! v. 10 Feb 89: FALCON CREST: And Baby Makes Three

    As Pam Ewing learnt to her cost way back in the DALLAS mini-series, barns can be dangerous places in Soap Land — and never more so than this week. DYNASTY opens with the stables at Delta Rho not only on fire but with Sammy Jo and her assailant Gibson unconscious inside, each wounded after shooting the other. Over on KNOTS, Jill steals into Gary’s barn and sabotages his saddle. The last person to play such a trick was Sable on THE COLBYS as part of a scheme to gaslight her sister-in-law Constance. We’ve already seen Jill shopping for a wheelchair (“My fiancee broke his leg,” she informs the shop assistant) so she presumably has a more Misery-inspired scenario in mind. (Although the movie version of Misery had yet to be released in early ’89, the original novel had been a big hit the previous year.)

    It’s an unwritten Soap Land rule that characters trapped in a fire must be rescued by one of their show’s leading men rather than an anonymous member of the emergency services. So it is that Jeff Colby joins the heroic likes of Mark Jennings, Bobby Ewing and, most recently, Lance Cumson as he drags Sammy Jo to safety. Gibson makes it out of the barn on his own and, like Sammy Jo, winds up at Soap Land Memorial Hospital where KNOTS LANDING’s Mrs Bailey is also in residence. Whereas Jill is satisfied that Mrs B no longer poses a threat to her (“They can ask you all the questions they want, you’re never gonna be able to answer,” she gloats during one of her thought bubble thingies), Gibson remains a thorn in Sable’s side. “You’ve got something to hide from somebody,” he tells her over the phone. “Either you get me out of here fast or I’m gonna spread my name and yours in every newspaper in this city.”

    Mrs Bailey may not be able to incriminate her verbally, but Jill suspects she has “a lot of interesting things at home — I bet you’re the type of woman that holds onto all sorts of thing that should have been thrown away.” Mack reaches the same conclusion, but while he’s waiting for a warrant to search her apartment legally, Jill simply lets herself in. Back on DYNASTY, there’s a parallel scenario as Adam, intrigued after seeing Dex hand Virginia a letter (“I put some thoughts down on paper — please look it over, maybe you’ll understand what I did”), sneaks into her room to look for it. He and Jill each rifle through the drawers of a bureau (the place where Julie Grey once hid her key to the Red Files), but without success. Jill then finds a shoebox under the bed (Digger Barnes’s hiding place of choice for various legal documents), but this also proves a red herring. Adam eventually hits pay dirt when he locates the letter in a bedside dresser (the same place Jessica Montford and Caress Morelle hid their own highly confidential documents) while Jill gets lucky when she finds copies of Mrs Bailey’s forgeries in a hatbox (where Sue Ellen used to secrete her booze). Before either has time to savour their victories, they hear the sounds of voices and approaching footsteps. Hark, it is Mack arriving with his warrant and Virginia returning to change clothes. Tension mounts: are Adam and Jill about to be caught redhanded? Not likely — while he dives into a wardrobe, she makes her exit through a conveniently placed back door.

    We don’t get to see what is in Dex’s letter, but it apparently contains enough about Virginia’s unhappy past for Adam to pull the same “we’re both outsiders” shtick he used on Kirby in an attempt to get her into bed. Over on FALCON CREST, Anna Cellini uses nostalgia to try to rekindle the passion between her and Nick Agretti. “Let’s be seventeen again,” she suggests. Virginia and Nick each succumb to these methods of seduction. Jill, on the other hand, becomes only further isolated from her former KNOTS friends. Following Mrs Bailey’s all-too-convenient stroke, neither Mack nor Gary bother to conceal their suspicions about her. Ironically, this allows her to play the “Poor Jill” victim card. “It’s Val, isn’t it? … She sucked one more person into her little fantasy … What you think I did, Mack? Do you think I had Mrs Bailey write her suicide note?” she asks indignantly over the phone while burning the very papers she swiped from Mrs B’s closet (and wearing one of her hats for good measure).

    “What do I have to do to prove to you people I’m innocent — take a lie detector test?” she continues. And so Jill Bennett becomes the first Soap Land character to submit such a test since Wes Parmalee on DALLAS two years ago. Just like Wes, she passes with flying colours. In both cases, there is no explanation as to how the character has been able to outwit the machine, beyond a reminder that it is not a hundred per cent accurate. Karen’s suggestion, “Maybe Jill’s so far gone, she actually believes what she said was true”, echoes a similar line about Wes (“Maybe he went back to a time in his mind when he believed he really was Jock”) and is as close as we get. When the results of the test fail to convince anyone of Jill’s innocence, she begrudgingly agrees to see a shrink of Gary’s choosing, played by the same therapist who counselled Sue Ellen during her stay at the Dream Season Sanatarium. Dr Gilbert, as she is now known, turns out to be as wrong about Jill (“It is my considered opinion that she is not a danger to anyone”) as she was perceptive about Sue Ellen (specifically, her tendency to blame others for her problems). Lie detectors, shrinks and psychics — ultimately, they are as accurate as Soap Land’s plots require them to be.

    Just over a year ago, FALCON CREST’s anti-hero, Richard Channing, became a respectable married man when he wed the wholesome Maggie Gioberti. More recently, his Ewing-verse equivalents, Greg Sumner and JR Ewing, have followed suit by marrying Abby and Cally. Whereas JR is unhappy with this state of affairs (“Marriage was not on my agenda and married I do not wanna be,” he informs his new bride, who responds by planting a cream pie in his face), Greg appears to embrace it: “I didn’t think I’d ever get a shot at a life like that again. I didn’t want one. Things have changed. I feel like I’m part of a family now.” Both he and Richard make a public display of their new “family man” image this week.

    Mack watches briefly while Greg and Abby are portrayed as “the perfect American family” during a TV interview before turning his attention to Meg’s diapers: “I’d rather change it than listen to it.” On FC, Maggie has other concerns when she watches Richard being interviewed alongside Pilar Ortega on the 6 O’Clock News regarding his role as “benefactor of the new community centre.” “I told Richard not to wear that purple tie,” she frets. Richard goes on to explain that his newfound altruism is due to “the example set for me by my wife Maggie, to whom generosity is second nature.” Beneath the public facades, however, lie more complicated questions. “Is there anything going on between you and Pilar Ortega?” Maggie asks. Richard assures her there isn’t. “Did you know Pilar before she came back to the valley?” she continues. Again, he says no. Neither answer is the full truth. Back on KNOTS, Ted Melcher broaches an even thornier subject: “Why did Greg Sumner give up his baby?” “… Who cares? It doesn’t relate to the issues,” Greg replies. “That’s what Dukakis said when Bush started to talk about the pledge of allegiance,” retorts Ted.

    This is Soap Land’s first reference to George Bush Sr, who was sworn in as President of America just three weeks before this episode originally aired (Ronald Reagan having held the office since the day before Abby first met JR until the day after she married Greg). In another sign of the times, Michael Fairgate and his latest unrequited crush Ellen more or less invent the internet — or at the very least Google. “First, you start with your knowledge base which is kind of like a library of facts … then you write a programme called an inference engine which uses the knowledge base to draw to conclusions,” Ellen explains. “You guys must have been eating your Wheaties,” marvels their professor. Over on DALLAS, Sue Ellen, after rolling her eyes at the concept of an ATM machine a couple of weeks ago, claws back a modicum of credibility by introducing the term “significant other” to Soap Land. “That’s what they’re calling them these days,” she informs a slightly baffled Carter McKay. (DALLAS seems to be setting McKay and Sue Ellen up as future allies, but I think this ep is the last time we see them together.)

    While Clayton and Miss Ellie are off screen “having a wonderful time” in Europe for the second week in a row, Alexis is finally back from Natumbe. As this is her first appearance since Krystle’s poignant departure, one might have expected an acknowledgement in the same “let bygones be bygones” spirit of JR’s parting words to Ray Krebbs on DALLAS two weeks ago (“Right now, I only remember the good times”). Instead, Alexis’s sole reference to her former bête noire occurs as she is taunting Sable for trying to move in on Blake. “What a pity that Krystle’s still alive; that does cramp your style rather. Maybe you should send one of your henchmen to Switzerland and pull the plug on her,” she suggests. Sable is genuinely taken aback: “I don’t know another soul on earth that would make a remark as low as that.” Maybe not, but JR comes close as he quizzes Sue Ellen about Nicholas Pearce’s background, the first time he’s mentioned the man since killing him at the end of last season: “You two must have talked once in a while — couldn’t have spent all your time in the sack.” But even this remark pales in comparison to what he says after a vengeful Joseph Lombardi abducts him and demands to know who should be made to pay for his son’s death. “If anyone’s to blame, it’s my ex-wife Sue Ellen,” he insists. “If it hadn’t have been for her, your boy would still be alive.”

    The standout scene on this week’s DYNASTY is a mano-a-mano confrontation at the mansion. In front of the assembled Carrington clan, Zorelli angrily accuses Blake of using his influence with the police department to have him removed from the Roger Grimes case. “They put me behind a desk, took my gun … Do you have any idea what that means to a cop?!” he yells. “Sounds a bit like castration, doesn’t it?” snipes Adam on the sidelines. Blake is outraged by the allegation, Jeff and Adam take his side, Fallon defends her boyfriend, Virginia attempts to play peacemaker and pretty soon everyone’s shouting over each other, the camera’s shaking and Blake has to be restrained from physically attacking the younger man. “Get him out of here before I kill him!” he shouts. The whole thing is thrillingly out of control, in a KNOTS Season 4 type way.

    Just as Jill is now an outsider on KNOTS, Fallon’s decision to side with Zorelli places them on one side and the rest of the Carringtons on the other. After all the convoluted romances and storylines Fallon has experienced over the past nine years, it’s kind of remarkable that this relationship should feel as important as it does. While it obviously helps that their affair is tied into a much bigger storyline and that Fallon herself has been revamped so successfully this season, another crucial ingredient is Zorelli — arguably the show’s most rounded and certainly most down-to-earth male character since Matthew Blaisdel back in Season 1.

    KNOTS’ best scene is also a face-off between two men. Whereas Blake and Zorelli’s encounter is loud and chaotic, Greg and Mack’s is measured and controlled and takes place in the privacy of the latter’s office. In place of raised voices and snide remarks, there is small talk (Greg: “I was surprised to hear you were leaving the government” Mack: “I was surprised to hear you wanted back in”), prevarication (Greg: “Time has a tendency to change your perspective” Mack: “When did you become so philosophical?”) and an unspoken tension which is finally broken by Mack saying what Greg cannot bring himself to: “You want Meg back.” It feels significant that for this scene, Greg is dressed the same way he was for the speech in “Bouncing Babies” last season when he formally handed Meg over to the Mackenzies (camel brown overcoat, slicked-back hair). But whereas he stared directly into the camera lens back then, he now hides behind dark glasses, suggesting an inability to look either Mack or himself directly in the eye.

    At one point, their conversation turns to Laura’s death. “You looked like it didn’t matter,” says Mack. “Just because I didn’t flip over backwards and break into tears on the casket doesn’t mean I didn’t care,” Greg replies. The same accusation could be levelled at Sue Ellen following the death of Nicholas Pearce. She hasn’t flipped over backwards either, even though we’ve previously seen her dissolve into a self-piteous heap over far less. Maybe she’s done her grieving in private, away from both the other characters and the audience — as if she’s already started receding from our view, in preparation for her departure at the end of the season. A simpler explanation is provided by Sue Ellen herself in the last and best scene of this week’s DALLAS which, like Mack and Greg’s, is an office-based encounter. “I wanted to shut it out, to forget that evening ever happened,” she tells Joseph Lombardi, who wants to know if her account of the events leading up to Nick’s death matches JR’s. “You’re the only one left who can speak for my son,” he tells her poignantly.

    Given Lombardi’s “eye for an eye” philosophy, Sue Ellen essentially holds JR’s life in her hands — will she blame or exonerate him regarding his role in Nicholas’s death? The scene is also her only opportunity to express her grief on screen and Linda Gray makes the most of it, managing to imbue even a line as clunky as “I hated JR so much, I shot him and when he survived, I was furious” with genuine emotion. Proving how far she’s come since that Dream Season therapy session with Jill Bennett’s doctor, Sue Ellen ultimately takes the high road and admits responsibility for her own role in what occurred: “Nicholas loved me, he’d do anything for me, and because of that, he’s dead … If only I hadn’t insisted on him helping me look for John Ross, if only we hadn’t gone to JR’s condo that night, if only I had stopped the fight between JR and Nicholas before it got so violent. If only, if only — they’re such empty words.” It’s a little gem of a speech.

    FC also saves its best scene for last. Pilar sees Lance’s revelation that Cookie Nash is carrying his child and raises him a nine-year-old-daughter he never knew he had. Heck, he doesn’t even remember it being conceived. In circumstances remarkably similar to Adam and Dana’s backstory on DYNASTY, Pilar was a high school girl from the wrong side of the tracks with a big crush, Lance was a troubled teen too inebriated to know what he was doing, and together they made a baby. While Dana had an illegal abortion, Pilar went the unofficial adoption route (as did Greg with Meg) and gave the kid to her aunt to raise as her own.

    Minor trend of the week: witches. Dex Dexter alludes to Macbeth when he finds himself face to face with Sable and Joanna. “Now all we need is one more witch and a cauldron,” he quips. Meanwhile, Jill Bennett evokes Arthur Miller’s The Crucible during a wonderfully indignant speech to Gary: “During the Middle Ages, if they thought a woman was guilty of witchcraft, they’d bind her hands and feet and throw her in some water and if she sank, she was innocent — she was pretty much dead, but she was innocent — and if she floated, she was guilty. So they took her out, dried her off and burnt her at the stake. It was a no-win situation. Gary, I know exactly how those women felt.”

    And this week’s Top 4 are …

    1 (2) KNOTS LANDING
    2 (1) DYNASTY
    3 (3) DALLAS
    4 (4) FALCON CREST
     
    • Like Like x 3
  3. James from London

    James from London Soap Chat Enthusiast

    Message Count:
    2,229
    Trophy Points:
    6,327
    Ratings:
    +3,608
    15 Feb 89: DYNASTY: All Hands on Dex v. 16 Feb 89: KNOTS LANDING: The Spin Doctor v. 17 Feb 89: DALLAS: Comings and Goings v. 17 Feb 89: FALCON CREST: Dinner at Eight

    “You are hardly what I imagined a soldier of fortune would look like,” Alexis remarks when she is introduced to Cray Boyd on DYNASTY. “You’re not quite what I imagined,” echoes Sue Ellen when introduced to movie director Don Lockwood on DALLAS.

    Cray and Don are two of four significant male characters making their Soap Land debuts this week. Cray, Adam Carrington’s old pal-turned-mercenary, is played by the same actor as John Remick, Chase Gioberti’s old pal-turned-mercenary, on last season’s FALCON CREST. But for the fact that Remick had only one leg the last time we saw him, Cray could be the same character under an assumed name. Both men come from a fancier background than your average soldier for hire — Remick’s brother was a US senator while Boyd studied international law at Yale (“so I’d know how to break it”). The only notable difference between them is that Cray is somewhat suaver than his FC twin — and a lot flirtier (“I can think of more exciting things to seize than your ships,” he tells Alexis in front of her son). Meanwhile, Carter McKay’s son Tommy, who shows up this week on DALLAS, turns out to be the spit of DYNASTY’s corpse du jour, Roger Grimes. “You look great!” exclaims his sister Tracey when he first appears. “Why not? Haven’t done much but lay around the past couple of years,” he replies. Roger Grimes looked great in his first scene too, and he’d spent the previous twenty years laying at the bottom of the Carrington lake.

    Tommy McKay also has a few things in common with DYNASTY’s other new face, Tanner McBride — similar names, big hair (Tanner wins the battle of the bouffants) and a preoccupation with drugs. Whereas Tommy has just served a prison term for possession, do-gooder Tanner bursts into Sammy Jo’s hospital room, mistakes her for a teenage junkie and proceeds to tear a teddy bear apart looking for her secret stash. (Turns out Tommy keeps his in his suitcase.) Over on FALCON CREST, it looks like Anna Cellini might have a drug habit too, what with all those furtive trips to the bathroom where she injects herself with morphine. However, it eventually transpires that she is dying of cancer and doesn’t want her family to know.

    The subject of drugs crops up again during two parent/child conversations in this week’s Ewingverse. On KNOTS, Olivia disapproves of Abby attempting to take Meg from the Mackenzies. “Why would you wanna start again and screw up some new kid’s life?” she asks her. “Oh I am a terrible mother, aren’t I? Look at the way I got you off of drugs,” replies Abby sarcastically. “Why do you think I started drugs to begin with?” Olivia retorts. Meanwhile on DALLAS, there is an uneasy reunion between Tommy McKay and his father. “Maybe we’ll end up one big happy family,” Tommy suggests, somewhat ironically. “Maybe we will if we try — and if you stay off of drugs,” replies Mack. “Speaking of which, have you quit drinking yet?” Tommy shoots back.

    Cray Boyd and Don Lockwood are central to Alexis and Sue Ellen’s latest schemes, both of which are unveiled this week. Whereas Sue Ellen’s has been hinted at over the past few weeks — her acquisition of a movie studio, clues about the film she intends to make — Alexis’s plot is both hatched and set in motion within the space of an episode. Having had her ships swiped from under her nose by Sable at the end of last week’s episode, she hires Cray to get them back. “What you’re asking is no small operation,” he warns her, sounding not unlike BD Calhoun during his preliminary conversations with JR on DALLAS two years ago. “The Bay of Natumbe is not an easy place to operate. It’s going to take helicopters, armed speedboats, some sophisticated tracking equipment … Some very good men are gonna be on the line, with wives and kids … Whatever comes down, nobody will be able to trace anything to you. I just wanna make sure it works the other way around too.” Meanwhile, Sue Ellen pitches her movie idea to Don as “a Texas version of Citizen Kane” before flashing back to the scene at the end of Season 1 where JR had her committed to a sanatarium. That’s when we understand for sure what (or rather, who) her movie is all about. “It’ll be a dream come true for me — and a nightmare for the person it’s dedicated to,” she smiles.

    Once Don has agreed to write and direct the film, Sue Ellen enlists Lucy, aka “the only Ewing who feels the same way about JR as I do”, to supply him with a few JR-related stories of her own. This leads to a second flashback, between JR and Val from ten years earlier. The Val we see here bears almost no relation to the one in this week’s KNOTS, but there is one connection between them. “Get the hell out of here!” Val tells JR in 1979 after he barges into her motel room. “Would you please leave?” she asks JR’s brother Gary in 1989 after he all but insists on spending the night on her couch (“I don’t trust Jill,” he tells her). Like JR before him, Gary ignores her wishes and spends the night in his car outside her house instead. This leads to a really fun scene the following morning where almost the entire cul-de-sac ends up peering curiously through his car windows, where the camera has assumed his point of view, which means that they’re all peering at us. Back on DALLAS, Lucy concludes her recollection by alluding to an ongoing estrangement between her and Val: “We did get together, but it didn’t last for very long.” Meanwhile on DYNASTY, there is talk of another crossover character after Blake learns that Sable was behind Gibson’s dive to the bottom of the Carrington lake and concludes that she must be in cahoots with her former husband. He orders Jeff “to find Jason, talk to him, tell him that I’ll meet him anytime, anywhere.”

    Blake’s discovery also leads to the best scene of this week’s DYNASTY where he confronts Sable in her suite at the Carlton over what he regards as her betrayal: “We took you into our home, we trusted you. You were even part of our wedding.” Before she has a chance to justify her actions, they are interrupted by Alexis. (Ah, the joys of hotel living in Soap Land: arch enemies barging into each other’s living quarters without any need of explanation.) Whereas Sable is elegantly dressed in a ballgown for this scene, Alexis looks magnificently tacky, as if she were her own drag queen impersonator off to shimmy the night away. “What have we here — a lover’s quarrel?” she drawls. “I simply don’t believe my eyes — poor Krystle barely breathing on life support in Switzerland and her devoted husband breathing heavily down that trollop’s neck … But then you never really did care about your wives, did you, Blake? I was forced into an affair with Roger Grimes because of your indifference, but poor Krystle — she found her own way out just in time.” Poor Krystle — how interesting that Alexis has taken to referring to her blonde rival with the same prefix that Jill Bennett does hers.

    “Are you going to hit me, Blake, like you hit Roger Grimes? I bet if you had a gun, you’d shoot me too,” she continues, the acuity of her jibes making the insults Cliff throws at JR during a showdown on this week’s DALLAS (their first since they started working at Ewing Oil together) appear cumbersome by comparison: “JR, you are a proctologist’s dream — the biggest horse’s behind I have ever seen!” Alexis’s gasp-inducing remark to Sable about Krystle in last week’s DYNASTY (“Maybe you should send one of your henchmen to Switzerland and pull the plug on her”) is matched by Abby on this week’s KNOTS as she and Karen argue over Meg. “Do you think Laura would have you raise her child?” Karen asks. “Well, she doesn’t have much to say about it anymore, does she? She’s dead,” Abby replies coldly. And just as the prospect of Alexis raising Krystina (“If worst came to worst, I’d take care of her myself”) triggered a violent impulse in Krystle during their final scene together, so the idea of wicked, wicked Abby bringing up Meg (“I’ll be a wonderful mother … I promise you”) prompts Karen, after nine years of on-screen animosity, to finally slaps her sister-in-law across the face. Having been similarly struck by Laura in Season 2 (“You are such a slut”) and Val in Season 3 (“I can have him anytime I want him”), Abby has now completed the Seaview Circle hat trick (or hit trick).

    As fun as Karen and Abby’s showdown is, my favourite moment from this week’s KNOTS is a brief but atmospheric scene that occurs on the grounds of Gary’s ranch. Earlier in the ep, Jill’s efforts to injure Gary by tampering with his saddle backfired after he lent his horse to Julie Williams and she took the fall intended for him. (This is another echo of Sable’s saddle-tampering scheme on THE COLBYS in which Frankie became her unintended victim.) Pat has just learned from Pete the ranch hand (not to be confused with Pete the ranch hand from earlier on this season’s DALLAS) that Julie’s supposed accident was no such thing when she spots a figure lurking outside Gary’s boathouse. It’s raining heavily, the view is blurry, we can only see what Pat sees, but the figure appears to be Jill. Pat calls her name and clambers up a hill towards her, but by the time she gets near, the figure has disappeared. And that’s it. But there’s a lingering eeriness about the scene that for some reason reminds me of Magic, the spooky 1978 thriller that starred Anthony Hopkins, Ann Margaret and a demented ventriloquist’s dummy.

    This is the week that Cally Ewing takes up painting and discovers the Southfork exercise room. “It’s a great way to work off whatever’s bothering you,” explains Lucy while lifting a few bars. “Instead of smacking someone, you just start pumping away.” As if to illustrate her point, this week’s FALCON CREST opens with Lance playing an energetic game squash against himself — a neat metaphor for his present inner conflict: Should he try and build a future with Cookie Nash, the mother of his unborn child and the woman Angela wants him to marry, or Pilar Ortega, the mother of a child she hid from him and the woman he actually loves? Adam Carrington has trodden similar narrative ground in recent seasons (the return of a high school lover, the discovery of a secret pregnancy in the past, a conflict over a pregnancy in the present), but DYNASTY has now dropped all that and he’s back to being the vicious twisted bastard he used to be — which is much more fun to watch. This week, he exhibits some hitherto unexplored sexual predilections when he tries to force Virginia to dress up as a prostitute for him — “Madonna by day, hooker by night,” as he puts it.

    In what I think is a Soap Land first, FC’s Pilar receives two marriage proposals in the space of one episode. The first comes from creepy (and married) Malcolm St Clair, with whom she apparently had an affair before her return to the Tuscany Valley. Pilar toys with St Clair’s affections for a while, even trying on the engagement ring for size, before turning him down: “This has nothing to do with marriage, Malcolm. You just wanna make sure I back up your story about Troilus with the SCC.” This is a reference to a business manoeuvre I wish I understood better. Basically, Richard and St Clair each need Pilar on his side. Otherwise, Richard will go to jail for business fraud (or something like that) or St Clair will lose out on a fortune. “I’ll back whoever makes it most worth my while,” Pilar tells them. Her second proposal comes from Lance and she immediately accepts it. The look of triumph on her face as they embrace suggests she might not be motivated by love alone. Not everything goes her way, however. Richard’s way of getting her on side is to threaten the wellbeing of her secret daughter.

    Soap Land’s kids play a prominent role on each of this week’s eps, apart from DYNASTY. Much of KNOTS deals, very believably, with the fallout from Greg’s decision about taking Meg back — Karen and Mack’s bewildered “this can’t be happening” reaction reminds me of Sid’s after he found himself accused of rape back in Season 2. Olivia unintentionally adds to their stress when she takes Meg for a walk and then doesn’t return for hours. The Mackenzies’ role as Meg’s de facto parents parallels Cally’s position on DALLAS. In the absence of both Sue Ellen and Pam from Southfork, she is starting to become a surrogate mother — but to Christopher rather than John Ross. This is a surprisingly touching development that I hadn't really registered on previous viewings. Cally also takes a Kristin-style dive off the Southfork balcony to save John Ross when he knocks himself unconscious and falls into the pool after sassing her (his mixture of cockiness and vulnerability once again anticipating Josh Henderson’s interpretation of the role). Like Cally, Richard Channing’s son Michael exhibits an artistic streak when he presents Angela with a drawing he has done of her while playing in his father’s office. She smiles indulgently — until she turns the drawing over to discover an incriminating memo. “I’ve just discovered that you’ve been running Troilus all along!” she tells Richard at the end of the episode. It’s a suitably dramatic moment, but one I’d enjoy even more if I could fully understand what was going on.

    KNOTS and DALLAS both end with a woman manipulating her (ex) husband’s public image. On KNOTS, Abby overrides Greg’s wishes (“I will not go to the newspapers with a sob story about my wife, I will not use my daughter for cheap publicity”) when she informs a journalist that, “my husband has had a very tragic personal life.” While she hopes to evoke sympathy and support for Greg, Sue Ellen has something else in mind for JR: “When this picture is released, he’s going to be the laughing stock of Dallas … JR is going to be so embarrassed, he’ll never be able to show his face anywhere and that is going to be my ultimate revenge.”

    Headline of the week: “Secretary Swallows Chimpanzee To Save Her Boss From Mauling,” yells the front page of the National Informer we see Sammy Jo reading in hospital.

    This week’s Top 4 are …

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

Users Who Have Read This Thread (Total: 6)

Share This Page