19 Nov 86: DYNASTY: The Mission v. 20 Nov 86: KNOTS LANDING: A Turn of Events v. 21 Nov 86: DALLAS: Who's Who at the Oil Baron's Ball? v. 12 Nov 86: FALCON CREST: Nepotism The secret missions instigated by Blake Carrington and JR Ewing (to break Caress Morelle out of prison and blow up the Saudi Arabian oilfields respectively) both step up apace this week. While BD Calhoun and his gang of mercenaries head to the Middle East on DALLAS, Dex Dexter and Clay Fallmont travel to Venezuela on DYNASTY. Whereas JR has taken care to distance himself from BD’s actions (“Whichever way it goes, I want the trail to stop with you,” he told him last week), Blake has to be actively dissuaded from accompanying Dex and Clay on their undertaking. “I don’t like other people fighting my battles for me and this is my battle,” he protests. Over on FALCON CREST, Richard Channing instigates an assignment of his own, albeit more locally. Appropriating the Empire Valley toxic-waste-disposal storyline from last season’s KNOTS LANDING, he bribes an official to dump poisonous chemicals from Peter Stavros’s company onto land belonging to Angela which will then seep into adjacent vineyards recently acquired by Chase — neatly sabotaging three of his enemies in one fell swoop. Bad guys they might be, but JR’s and Richard’s dastardly schemes both come with a similar caveat. “I don’t want anybody hurt on this project,” JR told BD last week. “I want to make sure that any life-threatening chemicals are properly disposed of,” orders Richard this week. Blake voices a similar concern about the rescue mission on DYNASTY. “Explosives? That’s out of the question. There must be a better way,” he tells Dex — only for Dex to insist that there are no other options. Blake and JR regard these overseas missions as a way out of their present business difficulties. In each case, however, outlandish soap plotting cuts no ice with the legal system. “You’re asking the district attorney’s office to believe that Benjamin Carrington kidnapped you, somehow managed to fly you to Venezuela and had you put into prison — all this when there’s no record that any of it took place?” scoffs ADA Ferguson on DYNASTY when Caress and Blake go to him with their story. “You’re a rich and powerful man, but if the agency ever found out you were involved in something like this, you’d need a lot more than money to keep you out of a federal pen,” an FBI agent warns JR when questioning him about Calhoun on DALLAS. Last week’s FALCON CREST afforded us our first glimpse into Dan Fixx’s tangled back story. As if the revelation that Angela crippled his mother in a car accident when he was a young boy was not enough, it also transpired that he’s recently completed a prison sentence for killing a police officer. After bedding Adam on this week’s DYNASTY, Dana Waring treats him (and us) to an insight into her own bizarre past. “I went to the same high school as you,” she tells him. “I followed you here to Denver. I got a job at your father’s company … so that in some strange way I might be near you again.” “I don’t remember you,” Adam admits. “Of course not,” she replies. “I was Dana Waring — long straight hair and hand-me-down clothes, the girl who had a dream that one day you would notice me, look at me, make me smile because I was desperately in love with you.” In this regard, Dana’s status resembles that of Dan’s, the classmate Lance tried to bully when they were young — the invisible high school kid from the wrong side of the tracks. Much of the action on KNOTS and DALLAS currently focuses on a male outsider — Peter Hollister and Wes Parmalee respectively — who is so isolated from the rest of the characters that he has no one onscreen to whom he can confide his innermost thoughts. Consequently, each of this week’s episodes uses a non-linear narrative device to convey these thoughts to the audience. At the end of last week’s KNOTS, Peter’s sister Jill fell off a cliff shortly after threatening to expose his true identity. The opening scene of week’s ep juxtaposes the sight of Peter abandoning the scene of the accident with a succession of flashbacks that illustrate his conflicted state of mind. It’s a great sequence that seems to go on forever: lots of short, sharp shots of Abby, Greg and Jill, variously taunting, threatening and cajoling Peter until he doesn’t know which way is up. In fact, it may be Soap Land’s most effective use of flashbacks yet. DALLAS, meanwhile, makes the bold choice of a dream sequence in order to give us an insight into Wes Parmalee’s frame of mind. In contrast to DALLAS’s last dream sequence, it’s brief (twenty-seven seconds as opposed to thirty-one episodes) and economical. It takes place in the cockpit of an aircraft during the middle of a storm. Everything is shaking. A hand struggles frantically with a control stick. Altitude monitors spiral like crazy. The helicopter plummets. Waves rise up to meet the camera. Then Wes wakes up in a cold sweat similar to the one Peter’s covered in by the end of his flashback montage. Being a dream, of course, there’s nothing conclusive about it, but the implication is clear. “He went through the same kind of accident that Jock must have had,” as Dr Danvers declares in a later scene after surveying x-rays of Wes’s battered body. “This man deserves our respect,” he tells Bobby and JR. “He endured more pain than you or I hopefully ever will know.” Back on KNOTS, Peter eventually makes an anonymous call for help on Jill’s behalf. Her retrieval from the bottom of the canyon is depicted using what looks hand-held footage of a real-life mountain rescue, interspersed with more conventional reaction shots of Peter watching from a discreet distance. It’s a far from seamless blending of styles, but there’s something pleasing about it. By now, this storyline is so layered with secrets and lies, misunderstandings and innuendo, that the chopping and changing of camera footage seems somehow appropriate. Vicky Gioberti’s almost identical accident on FALCON CREST rendered her unconscious for most of last week’s episode and therefore unable to raise the alarm about Jeff Wainwright’s return to the Tuscany Valley. Jill’s even more serious injuries mean that she is in no condition to either expose Peter as a fraud or exonerate him of any involvement in her fall. Nonetheless, speculation is rife: was Jill’s fall a suicide attempt or the result of a lovers’ tiff between her and Peter? This leads to some first-class scenery chewing from Greg Sumner. “The woman is dying in the hospital under mysterious circumstances … If they implicate you, it’s over!” he bellows at Peter. A gloating Jean Hackney puts it even more succinctly: “This is Peter Hollister’s Chappaquiddick and an end to Sumner’s obsessive aspiration to the White House.” While Greg conjures up the kind of headline that could wreck Peter’s career and his own dreams of power (“You see the papers now —‘STATE SENATOR’S FORMER LOVER PLUNGES OVER CLIFF AFTER SECRET MEETING’”), Blake Carrington and Angela Channing are the subjects of some genuinely bad press. ‘NEW CARRINGTON SCHEME: EXPERTS LABEL CRATER GAS FIELD WILD SPECULATION,’ reads the front page of the Denver Mirror. ‘COP KILLER FINDS PATRON: A well-known killer continues to serve guests at Angela Channing’s Del Oro Spa,’ trumpets the New Globe. “Everything you’ve written about the crater so far is fiction,” Krystle tells Gordon Wales on DYNASTY. “Isn’t journalism a respectable profession that this woman [Alexis] is defiling? … I used to respect you as a reporter … I’m afraid she’s corrupted you.” The subject of journalistic integrity also comes up on KNOTS. “I never thought of you as a gossip monger. You’re classier, more of a hard news guy,” Greg tells Ben Gibson who is under pressure from Jean Hackney to tie Peter to Jill’s accident. “You put [the insinuation] on the air, the press will print it. That’s what headlines are made of,” she urges him. “I am not a yellow journalist,” he insists. “It has never been nor will it ever be my style.” Two more Soap Land women are revealed to be pregnant this week, bringing the current total to six. Just as Donna Krebbs, Fallon Colby, Maggie Gioberti and Jenna Wade were, DYNASTY’s Sammy Jo is surprised to find herself with child, but at least she’s happy about it. (“I have a chance to do something right,” she tells Krystle.) She does, however, follow the Soap Land tradition of keeping the father-to-be in the dark. “I’m scared what he’ll say when he finds out,” she admits, echoing Laura’s concerns in last week’s KNOTS about broaching the subject of having a baby with Greg. An even more unexpected pregnancy is revealed at the end of KNOTS when Jill’s condition takes a sudden turn for the worse. A flock of extras in scrubs descend upon her hospital bed and wheel her away, one of them muttering, “I didn’t know she was pregnant.” Cut to Gary and Abby’s shocked reactions. Back on DYNASTY, Sammy Jo is urged by her obstetrician — a fifty-something woman with a blonde bouffant and kindly face — to make a hospital appointment to have her pregnancy confirmed. Over on FALCON CREST, Maggie is urged by her obstetrician — a fifty-something woman with a blonde bouffant and kindly face — to make a hospital appointment for her amniocentesis and paternity tests. In each case, the pregnant woman fails to keep the appointment. Abortion continues to be a common Soap Land topic. On DYNASTY and FALCON CREST, it’s referred to somewhat obliquely. “I’m gonna keep this baby,” Sammy Jo states firmly before her Aunt Krystle has a chance to assume otherwise. “The sooner you know the facts, the sooner you and Chase can make a clear-headed decision,” Maggie’s doctor tells her, referring to the tests she needs to take. Over on DALLAS, the possibility of Jenna having an abortion is tackled head on, generating some meaty — and sometimes surprising — exchanges between various sets of characters. (This is unusual territory for DALLAS. Customarily, it’s only the latest fight for Ewing Oil that would elicit such an array of opinions.) Donna sides with Bobby who wants Jenna to keep the baby. This leads to another disagreement between the Krebbses. “The baby is hers,” says Ray. “Whether or not she keeps it, that is her choice … As far as Bobby goes, he just wants to have everything his own way.” “Don’t we all?” Donna snaps back. Cliff Barnes, meanwhile, suggests to his sister that if he were her, “I’d be sticking pins in a voodoo doll.” Pam guilty admits that “it would be easier if that baby were never born.” JR, surprisingly, is on the same side as Ray and Pam. He advises Bobby not to interfere with Jenna’s decision: “Just let things run their course … You’d be ruining your marriage before it even got going.” Bobby is understandably suspicious of his brother’s motives. “Maybe you’re more concerned that if I have another child, that adds up to one more Ewing heir,” he suggests. “This may come as a surprise, Bobby,” JR replies, “but not all my motives are selfish. Maybe sometimes yours are.” Ray and JR both accusing Bobby of being the selfish brother — now that’s something you don’t see every week. And it’s part of a wider trend of showing Soap Land’s heroes to be more fallible than we’re used to seeing them. Bobby and Pam behaving selfishly on DALLAS (“I hate myself for it,” says Pam), Karen Mackenzie thinking uncharitable thoughts about Mack’s daughter on KNOTS (“I hate myself for feeling this way,” she echoes), Chase Gioberti riding roughshod over people’s feelings on FALCON CREST (“It’s time to put aside friendships for the good of the valley,” he declares) — suddenly, these paragons of Soap Land morality have feet of clay. And all are more interesting, and relatable, as a result. As Cliff says to Pam, “Welcome to the human race.” The most pronounced of these character changes belongs to Chase. “I have never seen you like this before,” Maggie tells him. As this once courageous and selfless character grows darker by the week, becoming ever more arrogant and power hungry, DYNASTY’s Sammy Jo travels in the opposite direction, revealing a surprising vulnerable, even fragile side, as her feelings for Clay Fallmont deepen. Whereas this new Sammy Jo bears little relation to the scheming little minx we’ve come to know and love, the new Chase feels like one we’ve occasionally glimpsed out of the corner of our collective eye during FALCON CREST’s first five seasons — his innate self-righteousness has simply been twisted in a new direction. And it sure makes for some interesting sparks between him and Maggie. “It’s time for a change,” he tells insists. “Does that mean turning your back on everyone who’s ever meant anything to you?” she asks. him There are more juicy marital scenes in DALLAS where, thanks in large part to the narrative disruption caused by Pam’s Dream, the depiction of Ray and Donna’s estrangement now has an unusual rhythm to it. Almost every week, there’s a scene between them that’s dramatically meaty and/or achingly poignant, and which feels much more character-based than plot-driven. “If two people are willing to compromise, they can work things out,” asserts Ray. “Compromise? Why is it that when people use that word they always mean ‘do it my way?” scoffs Donna in reply. “You don’t wanna compromise, Ray Krebbs. You don’t wanna do it my way — anymore than I wanna do it yours.” “When someone does something you hate, do you try to ignore it to save the relationship? How much can you ignore about a person and still call it a relationship?” That’s not a quote from Ray or Donna — it’s actually Melissa talking about her marriage to Lance on FALCON CREST — but the question still applies to the Krebbses. There are similarly tense bedroom scenes between Soap Land’s recent newlyweds-for-the-second-time this week — Lance and Melissa, and Bobby and Pam. At Southfork, Pam arrives home late, using shopping as an excuse to avoid being alone with her new husband. “There is a problem, but I don’t like my response to it,” she admits, referring to Jenna’s pregnancy. “Lance, when we go to bed at night, am I supposed to forget everything that’s happened all day?” pouts Melissa, alluding to her new husband's mysterious alliance with Richard at the New Globe. Both disagreements are resolved by the end of the scene, at least temporarily. ”I’d probably run away if I could, but I need you too much,” Pam tells Bobby and they kiss. “I know what I’m doing,” Lance assures Melissa and they kiss. Soap Land’s best-selling novelists, Val Gibson and Maggie Gioberti, are each back at the typewriter this week, struggling to put their real life experiences on paper. On KNOTS, Val attempts to adapt Capricorn Crude for television amidst various distractions. “It’s what you call a backyard pilot,” explains Lilimae to someone on the phone. “If they like it and the ratings are good, they could turn it into a regular series.” (In other words, Val is writing a parallel universe version of the original DALLAS mini-series.) Maggie, meanwhile, is trying to write “an article, an essay, therapy …” based on her ordeal at the hands of Jeff Wainwright. A sympathetic Richard offers to print it in the Globe. Maggie, still angry at the coverage he gave Jeff’s novel (“If you had thought for one moment how those articles would provoke that sick mind …”), points out that Richard himself features in her piece. “Are you gonna print something that calls you what you are?” she challenges him. “Sure, why not, if it’s the truth,” he replies seriously, then adds, “… and if it’ll sell more newspapers.” Maggie laughs despite herself. The scene in DALLAS where Pam confides in her brother about her feelings of anger towards Jenna’s baby has a similar dynamic. Like Richard, Cliff responds with compassion and understanding (“All of us are selfish at one time or another …”) and then immediately undercuts this by making a knowing gag at his own expense (“… even me”). Like Maggie, Pam laughs. Karen’s instinctive mistrust of Paige on KNOTS is met with scepticism from Val and agreement from Lilimae who takes the opportunity to remind them both of her own clairvoyant abilities. “I know you don’t trust my premonitions,” she tells Val, “but I was right about Karen and all that fire, and I know I’m right about that girl.” Indeed, Soap Land has always approached the paranormal with a surprising lack of scepticism. (The psychics consulted by Alexis, Pam and Blake were all genuine, for instance, and let’s not forget all the supernatural stuff that took place towards the end of FLAMINGO ROAD and in the “Three Sisters” episode of KNOTS.) This week’s FALCON CREST, however, features Soap Land’s first psychic charlatan. When Emma consults a medium named Karlotti in the hopes of communing with her late fiancé Dwayne, he covertly flicks a switch that causes lights to flicker on and off at the appropriate moment. It’s a bit SCOOBY DOO. Val finding Gary with Abby, Alexis discovering Dex with Amanda, Donna walking on Ray and Bonnie, Sue Ellen catching JR with Holly Harwood, even Angela seeing Lance with Morgan Fairchild — numerous Soap Land characters have walked into a room and been shocked to find a loved one with their shoes parked under the wrong bed. KNOTS recently gave us a variation on this scenario when Gary caught Abby in bed with Peter Hollister but failed to raise an eyebrow. This week, it gives us another. Late one night in the Mackenzie household, Karen creeps into her sleeping son Michael’s room to collect his dirty laundry. So far, so mundane. It’s only when she turns around to straighten his blankets that she realises that he’s sharing his bed with his stepsister Paige. At the other end of the age range, this week’s DALLAS is bookended by scenes of Clayton accusing Miss Ellie of betraying him with another man. “Ellie, what are you doing here with him?” he demands in the opening scene after finding her and Wes Parmalee at a museum. “How could you stand there while that man makes a mockery of your family, of our marriage?” he asks her in the closing scene, after Wes has taken to the stage of the Oil Baron’s Ball and publicly declared himself to be Jock. In each case, Miss Ellie dithers, unable to provide a satisfactory answer — another indication that Donna Reed’s less assertive portrayal of Mrs Clayton Farlow wasn’t so wide of the mark after all. The TV and movie business seem to have replaced the music industry as Soap Land’s go-to branch of showbiz this season. A week after KNOTS introduced us to the husband and wife team in charge of Ramilar Productions (fictionalised versions of Bernard Lechowick and Lynne Marie Latham, perhaps?) who are making Val’s TV movie about the Dallas Ewings, DALLAS itself introduces its own Hollywood producer — Rocket Films’ Bruce Harvey. Last seen getting electrocuted at Empire Valley, he is now a sleazy “tinsel town dummy” who “does more exploitation pictures than anybody in the business.” Spotting an opportunity to get Mandy Winger out of Dallas once and for all, Sue Ellen engineers a meeting between her and Bruce. Imagine the irony if Rocket Films were to pass on Mandy and Ramilar ended up casting her as Sue Ellen in Val’s TV movie instead. And this week’s Top 4 are … 1 (3) KNOTS LANDING 2 (1) DALLAS 3 (4) DYNASTY 4 (5) FALCON CREST Yes, that's interesting. Ana, Kolya's sister, sort of feels like the Duchess of Branagh in reverse.