KNOTS LANDING versus DALLAS versus the rest of them week by week

Discussion in 'Knots Landing' started by James from London, Sep 18, 2016.

  1. James from London

    James from London Soap Chat Enthusiast

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    30 Oct 86: THE COLBYS: The Gala v. 30 Oct 86: KNOTS LANDING: Pressure Points v. 31 Oct 86: DALLAS: Territorial Imperative v. 31 Oct 86: FALCON CREST: Perilous Charm

    Both of Soap Land’s new marriages — Lance and Melissa’s on FALCON CREST, Miles and Channing’s on THE COLBYS — get off to a complicated start this week. During their first marriage, when they mutually despised and cheated on each other, Melissa and Lance resembled a junior version of JR and Sue Ellen. This week, as they return to Falcon Crest to surprise everyone with the news of their elopement, they’re more like Bobby and Pam (or, more recently, Fallon and Miles). Sensibly, but a tad disappointingly, however, they decide to buck the trend for Soap Land newlyweds to live with the groom’s disapproving family and move into Melissa’s house instead. By contrast, Channing agrees to begin married life under the same roof as the rest of the Colbys, including her husband’s ex-wife Fallon, without complaint.

    That doesn’t prevent either family from interfering, of course. While Lance’s grandmother instructs him to use his new marital status to secure permanent access to Melissa’s harvest, Channing’s mother-in-law pretty much orders her to get pregnant. “I suggest you get busy. Start a family. Now,” Sable tells her briskly. However, there’s a hitch. “The doctors have told me I can’t ever have children — I’m barren!” exclaims Channing.

    Then there’s the small matter of former love interests. Channing may be living in the same house as Fallon, but that doesn’t mean she’ll tolerate Miles carrying a picture of her in his wallet. “Say goodbye to your past, darlin’,” she tells him, ripping the photo in two. Meanwhile, Eric Stavros drops by Lance and Melissa’s place to declare his love for his stepbrother’s new wife.

    Clandestine romances are suddenly all the rage for Soap Land’s younger set. While KNOTS’ step-siblings Paige and Michael are busy conducting a teenage affair behind their parents’ backs, Vicky Gioberti secretly sleeps with her mother’s rapist on FALCON CREST (albeit unwittingly) and Bolshevik ballet star Kolya shares a forbidden kiss with American airhead Bliss on THE COLBYS, both of them unaware of choreographer Sasha glowering in disapproval.

    Thus far, ambitious attorney Monica Colby has been depicted as the antithesis of her bubble-headed sister Bliss. “A woman of the ‘80s,” is how her father described her in the series’ first episode. Indeed, to borrow a phrase of Sue Ellen’s advertising executive from a few weeks ago, she is an example of “today’s modern woman on the go” — but one who is neither a bitch nor a sexual predator. Instead, she is that rarest of Soap Land creatures — a female character not defined by her relationships with men. This is very laudable, but laudable will only get you so much screen time on an ‘80s supersoap. It certainly won’t get you the end-of-episode freeze-frame two weeks in a row. To warrant that, independent Monica must prove herself as capable of unwise romantic choices as the next glycerine-teared damsel. Happily, she’s up to the challenge. To see her swoon this week in the arms of The Actor Formerly Known As Kenny Ward, cast once again as an unfaithful husband, is to see her get in touch with her inner Ginger — or possibly her inner Sylvie (Kenny’s needy mistress from KNOTS’ early days). Can Monica maintain her feminist exterior whilst also being a fool for love? Stay tuned to find out!

    Deathbed scenes in Soap Land are traditionally cathartic affairs: an opportunity for those about to shuffle off this mortal coil to either confess all about a long-buried secret (Digger Barnes admitting to the murder of Hutch McKinney, Kate Torrance to the abduction of Adam Carrington, Tom Carrington to fathering Dominique Devereaux) or simply bid an emotional farewell to their loved ones. One memorable exception to this rule is Cecil Colby, who spent his dying moments raging against his arch enemy Blake. Another is Phil Harbert, whose ignoble passing takes place on this week’s KNOTS.

    After being hit by a car while trying to evade the police, Phil is taken to Soap Land Memorial Hospital where he is told that he has but a short time to live. Instead of a flock of loved ones, he has a police lieutenant and his old frenemy Mack Mackenzie at his bedside. “This man is a felony suspect. I need a declaration before he dies,” the cop tells his doctor. But instead of making a clean breast of his crimes the way Digger Barnes and Kate Torrance did, Phil’s final words are, like Cecil’s, a last ditch attempt at revenge. “I know what you wanna ask me, Mack,” he taunts, “and the answer is yes … Sumner put me up to it, Sumner made me kidnap Karen.” True to form, Phil’s final scheme (to frame Greg) backfires. “I knew he was lying,” Mack later tells Karen through gritted teeth, “like he did when I knew him in law school and after school and then whenever he was in trouble, always lying, always blaming someone else … Greg Sumner had nothing to do with your kidnapping.” Good old Phil. A cowardly, self-pitying, pizza-loving incompetent with a paunch and murderous streak, he was never your average Soap Land guest star, which is kind of what I liked about him.

    A week after the grand opening of the Del Oro Spa on FALCON CREST comes the grand reopening of Lotus Point on KNOTS. Simultaneously, Sable throws a charity gala in aid of her new dance company on THE COLBYS. Guest of honour Kolya treats the crowd to a balletic variation on Michael Jackson’s 'Billie Jean' moves before inviting Miles and Jeff to join him in some more traditional Cossack dancing. (The sight of two tuxedoed regulars summoned to the dance floor by a flamboyant foreigner recalls Francesca Gioberti involving Lance Cumson in her tarantella a couple of years ago — minus the underlying melodrama.) Surprisingly, stuffy old Jeff proves more adept at the squat-and-kick routine than extrovert Miles, who ends up on his back gamely reenacting the Dying Fly (a short-lived dance craze from ‘70s kids show TISWAS). Over at the KNOTS party, a tipsy Sylvia Lean relives her showgirl youth by jitterbugging energetically with a passing extra. Despite the objections of her newly-elected senator son Peter Hollister — he accuses her of making a spectacle of herself — Sylvia’s reckless shimmying wows the crowd and ultimately outshines Kolya’s more disciplined choreography, thereby making her the winner of the inaugural Soap Land Dance-Off.

    In reality, of course, Sylvia is no more Peter’s mother than Kit Marlowe is Peter Stavros’s stepdaughter. Meanwhile, on DALLAS, the jury’s still out on whether or not Wes Parmalee is really Ellie Ewing’s husband. Even as a small part of my brain registers how far-fetched it is, the “Is Wes Jock?” storyline is so persuasively told that I am completely swept along by it. There’s a great scene between a shaken Miss Ellie and best pal Mavis where the same two words keep cropping up. Mavis asks if Ellie believes Wes’s claim could possibly be true. “No, not really,” Ellie admits, “but what if it were? … I have this vision that’s kept me awake every night since he’s appeared — that the man behind that unfamiliar face really is Jock and he’s homeless and rejected by his sons and his wife. My God, Mavis, what if it really is Jock?

    “What if …?” That’s really the power of this story. It asks the viewer to put themselves in Ellie’s shoes. “Could you imagine it?” she asks Mavis (and, by extension, us) at the beginning of the scene. “What if it was Punk and you thought he was dead and then he came back?”

    I’m not sure how exactly what distinguishes a “What if …?” storyline from a regular one, but I know it when I see it. While it was hard to relate to Karen Mackenzie during her abduction ordeal at the beginning of this season’s KNOTS, the situation faced by her family in her absence felt a classic “What if …?” scenario: “What if your wife just suddenly disappears?” Whereas that kind of gritty, ripped-from-the-headlines nightmare isn’t too hard to imagine, the “What if …?” presently posed by DALLAS is altogether more fantastic. As farfetched scenarios go, “What if a man you’ve never seen shows up at your door claiming to be your dead husband, knowing only things he could know?” is up there with “What if your dad’s ghost appeared and told you he was murdered by your uncle who’s just married your mother?” from Shakespeare’s Hamlet. But DALLAS pulls us into this story the same way Shakespeare did — by having its characters react believably to an unbelievable situation.

    There’s a fascinating encounter between Wes Parmalee and Sue Ellen this week. It’s most unlike Sue Ellen to involve herself in storylines that don’t directly concern her. In fact, the only time it’s happened previously was when she accompanied Pam to Hong Kong to look for Mark Graison, and that was more to give Linda Gray some screen time than anything else. These days, Sue Ellen has the unexpected success of Valentine Lingerie to keep her busy, but she nonetheless finds time to drop by Wes’s motel room. “Whether or not you really are Jock, your being here is driving JR crazy and I can’t tell you how much that brightens my life,” she tells him. “I’m here to help … How much do you need?” The idea of JR’s trophy wife offering the founder of the Ewing fortune financial aid is all kinds of ironic, as is the fact that this is a longer conversation than Sue Ellen ever had with the original Jock. As they talk, not only does she start to believe Wes’s story, but he sees through her mask too. “Used to be whenever JR shouted boo, you headed straight for the bottle. Have you turned over a new leaf since I’ve been away?” he asks her. Sue Ellen hasn’t changed that much, however. Her response when Wes invites her to take a seat — she instinctively looks beneath her to make sure she’s not about to sit on anything unpleasant — is the same as the one she gave when she visited Rita Briggs’ one-room apartment in “Black Market Baby” back in Season 1.

    Elsewhere, Soap Land’s two bonafide impostors — Peter Hollister on KNOTS and Kit Marlowe on FALCON CREST — are each concerned that their deception is about to be exposed, Peter’s by the increasingly unpredictable Sylvia, Kit’s by Richard Channing who has stumbled on her real identity. This, in turn, leads them to commit further crimes. While Peter tampers with Sylvia’s blood pressure medicine, Kit forges Angela’s signature on a cheque so that she can skip town. At the last minute, she is prevented from doing so by Richard. He tells her he will keep her secret. “In return, I expect you to do whatever you have to do to break up Angela’s marriage.”

    Back at the Colby gala, old jealousies resurface between Jeff and Miles and they end up duking it out in the pool, Southfork-style. When some of the guests take this as a cue to rip off their own clothes and jump in after them, the party starts to recall the opening night of La Mirage four years earlier. Back then, Fallon was the principle instigator of the hi-jinx while Jeff looked on with prim disapproval. Now, the situation is reversed — Jeff is the one in the pool while a distressed Fallon watches tearfully from the sidelines.

    Fallon is not the only former hostess-with-the-mostest whose status and confidence appear to have diminished. Karen Mackenzie, once the hub of the Knots Landing community and chief architect of the Lotus Point dream, appears at its reopening this week as an ill-at-ease outsider. Abby compounds the situation by making a deliciously condescending speech welcoming Karen back “to her family, to her friends and to our hearts” before sweeping regally past her.

    Meanwhile, the competition for most rebellious teen in the Ewing-verse hots up. As Olivia Cunningham offers Paige drugs on KNOTS, Charlie Wade puts makeup on on DALLAS. While Paige coolly declines Olivia’s invitation (“I don’t do drugs. I think they’re stupid”), Jenna turns out to be just as strict about underage eyeshadow as Abby was last season (“You get back in that house and take that warpaint off now!”). Worse follows when Bobby, Pam and Christopher happen upon Charlie hanging with a group of bikers outside a burger joint. The moment where Charlie snubs Christopher is quietly heartbreaking while Bobby suspects her friends might share Olivia’s fondness for “stupid” drugs: “What’s that you’re smoking, son?”

    On this week’s FALCON CREST, Julia has her prison sentence commuted for time served, “which means she’s off the hook forever.” Suddenly, she has everything she ever wanted — her freedom, a reconciliation with her mother and a future with the man she loves — and yet she has nothing. “I don’t deserve happiness,” she declares. “It doesn’t matter what the judge said. I killed two people … I’m guilty.” Her decision to leave her family and return to the convent in a kind of self-imposed exile is unexpectedly moving. Sure, FC could have kept her around as its resident nut job — a bit like Claudia in her final season on DYNASTY — but choosing instead to have her acknowledge the consequences of her actions, even if it means her leaving the series, feels like a gutsier move, on the part of the series as well as the character.

    While FALCON CREST treats Julia’s need for atonement with sensitivity, it doesn’t extend the same courtesy to her sister Emma’s interest in Eastern religion, which is greeted with smirky condescension by the other characters and, by extension, the programme itself. “I was just telling Skylar about the Raghu Bhasha. He’s the most spiritual man I’ve ever known,” Emma tells her step-father. “Where did you meet this man, Emma?” he asks. “On the San Francisco cable access channel,” she replies. “He’s awakened my kundalini.” “… How nice.” While one could argue that the scene is taking potshots at the peculiarities of cable TV as much as religion, it’s notable that KNOTS managed to critique both topics through the character of Joshua Rush, but without sneering at either. Nevertheless, Emma’s shy enthusiasm is played with sweet sincerity by Margaret Ladd.

    Where FALCON CREST has kundalinis, DALLAS has Bedouins. BD Calhoun, the mercenary leader JR is on the verge of hiring, explains that he will be using them to smuggle the equipment he needs to blow up the Saudi Arabian oil fields. Belying his image as a monosyllabic thug, Calhoun speaks of the tribe with intelligence and respect: “The Bedouins are are an interesting group of people. They’re like the gypsies. They’re the only tribe alive who can travel those Arabian sands freely.” Whereas the Hindu references on FALCON CREST are there for the sole purpose of derisive humour, the Arabic ones on DALLAS add a cool sense of authenticity.

    And this week’s Top 4 are …

    1 (1) DALLAS
    2 (2) FALCON CREST
    3 (4) KNOTS LANDING
    4 (5) THE COLBYS
     
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  2. James from London

    James from London Soap Chat Enthusiast

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    05 Nov 86: DYNASTY: The Arraignment v. 06 Nov 86: THE COLBYS: Bloodlines v. 06 Nov 86: KNOTS LANDING: Brothers and Mothers v. 07 Nov 86: DALLAS: The Second Time Around v. 07 Nov 86: FALCON CREST: Flashpoint

    It’s another very strong week in Soap Land. As the Lorimar shows continue to experiment with form and tone, DYNASTY has now become the most traditional of all the soaps. This week’s ep is pure fun. Nearly all of Alexis’s entrances, of which there are several, made me laugh out loud, either at the ridiculousness of her outfits (such as the wildly inappropriate hat she wears to visit Blake in jail) or at her sheer melodramatic chutzpah. There’s also a terrific, quasi-Shakespearean turn from Christopher Cazenove as Ben Carrington in which he sheds real tears, suddenly overwhelmed with guilt over his mother’s death. Meanwhile, THE COLBYS regains its dramatic momentum, due in large part to Sable sticking her nose into other people’s business, and DALLAS does a great job of balancing nostalgia with forward-looking storylines. KL and FC are no slouches either in the drama department either.

    Lying on his hospital deathbed in last week’s KNOTS LANDING, Phil Harbert unintentionally absolved Greg Sumner of any involvement in Karen’s kidnapping. On this week’s DYNASTY, Jackie Devereaux is also in her hospital bed when she inadvertently exonerates Blake Carrington of any involvement in the fire at La Mirage. So it is that two storylines left dangling after last season’s cliffhangers are finally brought to a close.

    Just as the fire spelt the end for La Mirage, the equivalent disaster on FALCON CREST — the Tuscany Valley earthquake — has resulted in the closure of Richard’s racetrack. As he explains to Angela after selling her his share of the business, “Tuscany Downs is being condemned … I built the damn thing right on top of on earthquake fault.” This is the second time in as many seasons that Angela has been duped into spending a fortune on land which later turns out to be worthless.

    The more of the 86/87 Soap Land season I watch, the more of a divide there seems to be between the years before Pam’s dream and the post-dream period we’re in now. This applies not only to DALLAS but to the genre as a whole. At this point, DALLAS, DYNASTY and FALCON CREST are all well past the halfway point of their respective runs while KNOTS will reach that milestone in three episodes’ time. The gratuitous display of wealth and glamour one immediately associates with the ‘80s supersoap has already reached its peak. “You are talking about boom times. I’m not sure we’re ever gonna see those times again,” says Cliff Barnes after April Stevens tells him how much Ewing Oil was valued at after Jock’s death four years earlier. Even though the characters are still rich, the novelty of displaying their wealth at every opportunity has worn off. The age of La Mirage, Tuscany Downs and Empire Valley is over. This is now the era of the Carlton Hotel, the Del Oro Spa and Valentine Lingerie.

    It’s also the era of mullets with frosted highlights and jackets with the sleeves rolled up, as modelled by the newly-sexualised Michael Fairgate on KNOTS LANDING. (One of Michael’s garishly multi-coloured socks even receives its own closeup this week after he leaves it in Paige’s hotel room and she has to conceal it from his mother.) Pam Ewing’s wedding dress in this week’s DALLAS is also an interesting symbol of the times. I vaguely remember reading that the gown in which she married Mark Graison at the end of the dream season was the single most expensive outfit ever worn on DALLAS. As such, it represented a pinnacle of sorts for Soap Land glamour. The dress she wears for her wedding to Bobby, though hardly plain, is comparatively modest. Instead of a bejewelled soap diva, she looks more like a pretty pixie getting married in a woodland fairytale. The raggedy, elbow-length fingerless gloves she wears appear to be have been influenced by Madonna (as well as eerily foreshadowing the bandages she will be covered in at the beginning of next season).

    The simpler, lighter dress also symbolises the new post-dream Pam. For the first time in years, she isn’t weighed down by emotional baggage — there’s no desperate searching for Mark, no silent pining for Bobby. Nor is she caught up in a raging feud between JR and Bobby or the Barneses and the Ewings. For once, she’s unburdened by the past and free to enjoy her good fortune — until the end of the episode, that is.

    With Lance and Melissa remarrying on FALCON CREST and Pam and Bobby about to do the same thing, there’s a sense of Soap Land revisiting its past, but this time with a kind of ironic self-awareness. “Knowing how much our family members love each other, we’ll be picking bullets out of the wall till Christmas,” quips Lance after agreeing to have his and Melissa’s wedding reception at Angela’s place. Later, at the party itself, Melissa explains to Dan Fixx why she invited him: “I thought you might like to see how the other half lives.” “Apparently, they keep marrying each other. You must have more china than you know what to do with,” he replies.

    Pam and Bobby, meanwhile, go so far as to reenact the car journey they made to Southfork at the very beginning of the series. Just as they stopped off at a gas station for a little smooch in “Digger’s Daughter”, so they pull over on the way to Pam’s wedding shower for the same reason. This time, however, Bobby gets tangled up in his seat belt and Pam gets the giggles — a tacit acknowledgement that they’re not quite the starry-eyed youngsters they used to be. It feels charming rather than overtly knowing — even if it’s hard to know quite what to make of Bobby’s throwaway line, “I need a shower”, at the end of the scene.

    In fact, there is no shortage of self-referential moments in this week’s soaps. Most blatant is the one on KNOTS where Val sells the screen rights to Capricorn Crude (her thinly-veiled account of life with the Texas Ewings), to Ramilor Studios (KNOTS’ thinly-veiled version of Lorimar Pictures). In effect, this means that DALLAS is being reduced to a made-for-TV movie within its own spin-off show. (Could this be KNOTS’ revenge for DALLAS turning Bobby’s death into a dream sequence?) Meanwhile, on FALCON CREST, Richard’s secretary wonders why he continues to refer to his bride-to-be as Miss Jones rather than by her first name, Erin. “One of the Walton children was named Erin. I can’t seem to get past that,” he explains. This is one of FC’s occasional nods to its creator Earl Hamner’s other hit show. Elsewhere in the same ep, one of Kim Novak’s past successes is also referenced when her character meets Richard Channing by the Golden Gate Bridge in an almost shot-for-shot recreation of a scene between Novak and James Stewart in Hitchcock’s VERTIGO. It’s Jason Colby’s PLANET OF THE APES “Damn it all to hell!” moment on DYNASTY all over again. (The precise term for this kind of pastiche is, apparently, ‘intertextual’.)

    Each of this week’s DYNASTY-verse episodes includes a scene from a minor couple’s unstable marriage. In both cases, the husband is a former senator. On DYNASTY, Buck Fallmont upsets wife Emily by railing drunkenly against “my esteemed friends, the Carringtons” in front of their son Clay and his girlfriend Sammy Jo. He also accuses Emily of favouring Clay over their other son Bart. Meanwhile, on THE COLBYS, Adrienne Cassidy breaks up a cosy tete-a-tete between husband Cash and his former mistress Monica by announcing her intention to join him in Los Angeles while he is working on the IMOS Project.

    “I read an article that said that some men are intimidated by today’s woman,” Jamie informs Cliff on DALLAS. Perhaps some women are too. While Monica Colby represents “today’s woman”, her new-old adversary Adrienne, a wronged wife in furs, feels a throw-back to the pre-dream era. Adrienne makes the distinction between herself and Monica during their first onscreen confrontation. “Funny, I always imagined you carried your own baggage,” she tells her. “All that independence … You were a college girl, I was a senator’s wife. I’d have done anything to protect that … If you have any ideas of picking up where you left off with my husband, forget it. You’re not an innocent college girl anymore. This time, no kid gloves.”

    Trend of the week: characters squabbling about the sacking and/or reinstating of an employee. “I fired Dana Waring as my assistant. You had no right to hire her,” complains Ben Carrington at Denver-Colby. “Who are you to tell me what to do? … I answer only to Alexis!” snaps back Adam. Alexis gets the last word. Describing Dana as “a very valuable contact”, she sides with Adam. Likewise, at the Del Oro Spa on FALCON CREST, Lance is annoyed when Angela promotes Dan Fixx to concierge a week after he sacked him from his position as a bellhop. “I’m the general manager of this place and I want him out of here,” he insists. “Well, I’m the owner and he stays,” Angela replies. Over on THE COLBYS, Jason attempts to remove Cash Cassidy from IMOS for personal reasons. “You can’t fire a man because your daughter got involved with him,” protests Monica. “The hell I can’t,” counters Jason, “I’m making a formal request — Cash Cassidy goes.” This time, it’s Zach Powers who intercedes, secretly using his political influence to block Jason’s decision. “You make sure Cassidy stays on the project,” he instructs an unknown someone in Washington. “He’s too useful to me right where he is.” There are no such hirings and firings on KNOTS, but Abby and Karen nonetheless clash when the former gives Eric the afternoon off from his job at Lotus Point. “Eric reports to me, Abby,” Karen insists. “I thought he was an employee of the corporation,” replies Abby. “An employee who reports to me,” Karen maintains. “Well, golly whizz, Karen, what would you like me to do — get him back?” Abby asks, smiling sweetly.

    The DYNASTY-verse’s illicit romances are subject to interference from concerned third parties this week. While Steven plays the protective big brother towards Amanda on DYNASTY (“I want to know what you’re up to,” he tells Michael Culhane. “I’ll stop you before you hurt Amanda”), choreographer Sasha is every inch the autocratic Soviet when it comes to Kolya’s relationship with Bliss on THE COLBYS (“I warn you, Kolya, if you persist in seeing this Colby girl, I shall be forced to report you”). Over in the Ewing-verse, Cliff Barnes’ and Michael Fairgate’s trysts with sexy young blondes are rudely interrupted by disapproving family members. “You bastard!” yells Cliff's wife Jamie, hurling a champagne bottle in the direction of him and April Stevens after catching them "working late" at Barnes-Wentworth. On KNOTS, Eric arrives home unexpectedly to find his younger brother Michael canoodling with their step-sister Paige. While Jamie subsequently walks out on Cliff, Eric and Michael come to blows.

    The Fairgate brothers’ fight is nowhere near as embarrassing as I remember from previous viewings. Granted, it’s less conventionally macho and more emotionally messy than Soap Land’s usual sibling fisticuffs (e.g., Jeff and Miles’ duel in the pool during last week’s party on THE COLBYS, Chase punching Richard during this week’s party on FALCON CREST), but when one remembers that this is the first time Eric and Michael have ever physically fought — or even properly argued, for that matter — the fact that they both dissolve into tears makes a kind of emotional sense. Less plausible is the fragility of the Mackenzies’ living room furniture — curtains are ripped and a coffee table demolished within seconds of the brothers starting to trade blows.

    If one were so inclined, one could also read a meta-subtext into the boys’ conflict. When Eric calls his brother stupid for getting involved with Mack’s daughter, Michael responds by calling him jealous. Jealous of Michael getting Nicollette Sheridan into bed? Sure — but also, maybe, jealous of the fact that KNOTS is now presenting Michael as a full blown Tiger Beat cover star, complete with a washboard stomach and front burner storyline. Indeed, Michael’s onscreen development from goofy prepubescent to sexually active pinup is a unique one in Soap Land. Over the same period, Eric has progressed from shy skater boy to a square in a suit whose biggest adult plot-line thus far has required him to lie in an arsenic-induced coma. Meanwhile on DALLAS, try as Charlie Wade might, neither her mother nor the series itself will let her grow up. (By my reckoning, the Charlie we met in Season 1 would be about seventeen by now, but the Shalane McCall version been hovering between fourteen or fifteen for about three years at this point.)

    Last week’s punch up between brothers Miles and Jeff and this week’s between Eric and Michael leaves Sable Colby and Karen Mackenzie in similar positions. “This war you’re having with Jeff, fighting in the pool like a couple of water rats — what is going on?” Sable asks her son. “I want an explanation and I want one right now!” demands Karen of her sons. While Eric and Michael’s silence turns the newly unconfident Karen inward (“I blame myself for not being able to figure out what’s wrong with the family”), Miles’s ignorance of whatever provoked Jeff makes Sable even more curious. “What is making everyone in this house so sensitive lately?” she wonders.

    There are three sort-of weddings and a funeral in this week’s Soap Land. Preparations for Bobby and Pam’s nuptials dominate DALLAS, although the instalment ends before the vows have been exchanged. As well as Lance and Melissa’s reception, FALCON CREST features Soap Land’s first fake wedding since Nicole Simpson tricked Jeff Colby into thinking they were man and wife on DYNASTY two seasons ago. This time, Richard Channing pulls the same trick on Miss Jones for reasons yet to be revealed. Meanwhile, Phil Harbert’s funeral on KNOTS is a low-key affair with only two mourners, Greg and Mack, in attendance. A wistful, not-in-so-may-words truce takes place between the two men (“Are we getting older?” asks Greg. “I hope we’re getting smarter,” Mack replies), marking the scene as a turning point in the KNOTS saga. I really like Greg’s line when one of the organisers asks if he’d like a reading at the graveside. “Sure,” he replies, “if you’ve got Camus or Kerouac — something with a lot of answers.” It’s a nicely inconclusive coda to Phil’s story.

    A couple of weeks after a photofit of Phil’s face on the front page of the local paper led to his capture on KNOTS, Jeff Wainwright’s photo on the cover of the New Globe leads Vicky Gioberti to finally realise that the lover she has gone away with on a romantic road trip is the very same man who kidnapped her mother. Can she raise the alarm without arousing Jeff’s suspicions? It’s a familiar but exciting scenario. Just like Diana Fairgate and Jenna Wade before her, we see Vicky making a frantic call for help from a payphone, only for Jeff to disconnect the call in the same way that Chip Roberts and Naldo Marchetta both did previously. There are other echoes of past scenes: Vicky standing helplessly by as Jeff assaults a gas pump attendant recalls the same scenario that featured Lucy Ewing and Willie the crazy trucker back in DALLAS Season 1, while an attempted rape in a motel room recalls Naldo’s attack on Jenna in DALLAS Season 7.

    There is plenty of baby-related drama this week. While Jenna turns to her ex’s brother on DALLAS (“Ray, I’m pregnant … it’s Bobby’s!”), Fallon confides in her mother-in-law on THE COLBYS (“Frankie, this is my baby, but I don’t know whether Jeff or Miles is the father!”). Channing, meanwhile, tells Sable about a high school rape which resulted in a pregnancy and botched abortion that’s left her unable to conceive. It’s a quintessentially lurid Soap Land back story, but thanks to a scene where we see Channing secretly taking birth control pills, Krystle Carrington-style, we also know it isn’t true. Just as DALLAS’s Cliff has been pretending to his wife that he is impotent in the hopes of getting an annulment (“You’re not impotent, you’re just worn out!” Jamie concludes after finding him with April), Channing is pretending to her husband Miles that she is barren for reasons that only become clear towards the end of this week’s episode. Impotence, infertility — familiar Soap Land subjects both. Like Sue Ellen’s detective scam at the beginning of the season, these are two more examples of characters in the post-dream era understanding the conventions of the genre and then subverting them for their own ends.

    Nor is Channing the only recently arrived character to be shown lying about her past this week. On KNOTS, Paige assures Karen that her mother’s death has left her financially well off: “Money’s not a problem.” We later see her on the phone arguing with her bank about a bounced cheque. We’re also given hints about the secret pasts of two other Soap Land newcomers. On THE COLBYS, Adrienne thanks Monica “for not telling Cash about the agreement you and I reached all those years ago,” while on FALCON CREST, Lance asks Angela with reference to Dan Fixx, “How much longer are you gonna have to pay for what you did to his mother?” “The rest of my life,” she replies gravely.

    This week’s COLBYS and DALLAS both end on a pregnancy revelation. So does the penultimate scene of FALCON CREST. THE COLBYS’ scenario is the cleverest, DALLAS’s the most dramatic and FC’s the weirdest. After sending Channing to Dr Waverly for a second opinion regarding her infertility, Sable later drops by the doctor’s office hoping to find out the results. For once, a Soap Land doctor honours her Hippocratic oath and keeps shtum about the fact that Channing can conceive after all. She does, however, inadvertently reveal that Fallon is further along in her pregnancy than Sable had supposed. All it takes is a look at Fallon’s medical file (which Sable browses through as casually as if it were a novel in a bookstore) and a couple of flashbacks for her to figure out the truth. “Why, Miles, it appears you’re going to be a father after all!” she beams delightedly. While there’s no one around to hear Sable’s words, the same cannot be said of Ray’s similarly-themed announcement at the end of DALLAS. “You’re walking down the aisle with Pam while Jenna is carrying your baby!” he shouts at Bobby — loud enough for Pixie Pam (who, unlike Channing, really is barren) to overhear.

    FALCON CREST’s pregnancy disclosure, meanwhile, takes place under circumstances even more extreme. Having dressed Vicky up as her mother (complete with a blonde wig left over from the Krystle lookalike story on DYNASTY) and tied her to a chair, Jeff now semi-believes that she really is Maggie. This is conveyed to the audience by Susan Sullivan and Dana Sparks alternating the role of Vicky-dressed-as-Maggie. Jeff then threatens to stab her. Terrified for her life, Maggie-as-Vicky-as-Maggie blurts out the truth: “You kidnapped her, you raped her and now she’s pregnant!” As if this wasn’t sufficiently bonkers, the scene ends on a blackly comic note with Jeff solemnly informing Vicky that “this means we’re gonna have to quit seeing each other.”

    Whereas THE COLBYS and DALLAS conclude with Sable and Pam stumbling on the truth about Fallon and Jenna’s respective baby daddies, DYNASTY and KNOTS both end with bedroom scenes. While Dex and Alexis take refuge in each other’s arms during a storm, KNOTS cuts between Ben and Val toasting her movie deal in bed and a post-coital conversation between Jean Hackney and an unknown lover. As Ben and Val laugh happily, Jean’s voice plays ominously on the soundtrack: “It’s been hard enough getting him [Ben] to agree to spy on Sumner. Imagine how he’s gonna react when he finds out his real assignment is to kill the man.” FALCON CREST ends on an even more murderous note as Jeff pulls a gun on Vicky, they struggle, she topples over a cliff and he takes off, leaving her for dead.

    And this week’s Top 5 are …

    1 (4) THE COLBYS
    2 (1) DALLAS
    3 (-) DYNASTY
    4 (3) KNOTS LANDING
    5 (2) FALCON CREST
     
    Last edited: Apr 17, 2017
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  3. Willie Oleson

    Willie Oleson drilling for soap

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    Who knew SoapLand inhabitants could be so clever? It fascinates me, and I agree with you that re-using those classic soap vehicles in a different way underlines that feel of "before & after" (although I didn't know that DALLAS' dream was the landmark, but it makes sense).
     
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  4. James from London

    James from London Soap Chat Enthusiast

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    12 Nov 86: DYNASTY: Romance v. 13 Nov 86: THE COLBYS: Deceptions v. 13 Nov 86: KNOTS LANDING: Over the Edge v. 14 Nov 86: DALLAS: Bells Are Ringing v. 14 Nov 86: FALCON CREST: Double Jeopardy

    Miles Colby and Peter Hollister each admits to a serious crime this week — rape and attempted murder, respectively. Each confesses to a family member rather than the authorities but receives a very different reaction. “I raped my wife,” Miles tells his mother. “I’m not proud of it, but that’s the truth. Are you satisfied?” “Yes, enormously!” Sable replies, beaming with pride. “I can’t believe I actually thought of killing somebody,” Peter tells his sister, referring to his slow poisoning of fake mom Sylvia. “Thought, Peter? You tried to do it!” exclaims Jill in disgust. “You’re no better than [Paul Galveston] was!”

    Bearing in mind what we’ll later learn about the circumstances of Miles’s own conception, Sable’s dismissal of her son’s rape of Fallon is fascinating. “Darling, we’re not perfect works of art,” she tells him. “We’re human, You were overwhelmed by your loss, by your love of the girl, out of control. It happens.” Meanwhile on KNOTS, in spite of her anger towards Peter, Jill helps him conceal Sylvia’s sudden disappearance when Ben Gibson comes calling. “You’re innocent, Peter, so act like it,” she tells him. (It later transpires that Sylvia has grown suspicious of Peter and is hiding out at Abby’s ranch.)

    Sable, of course, has a surprise of her own to deliver: “Miles, the baby, the baby she’s carrying, is yours. Fallon’s baby is yours!” So it is that Miles Colby, Bobby Ewing and Jeff Wainwright each now knows that Fallon, Jenna and Maggie are — or at least might be — pregnant with their respective babies.

    Miles and Bobby confront their corresponding baby-mothers-to-be, both adopting a similarly indignant tone. “Hiding this from me — how could you?” Miles chides Fallon. “Why didn’t you tell me about the baby? … I had a right to know,” demands Bobby of Jenna. Both women make it clear they want nothing to do with these men. “This is Jeff’s baby,” insists Fallon. “I know it’s Jeff’s and nobody else’s opinion counts … Nobody’s!” “As far as I’m concerned, this baby doesn’t have a father,” snaps Jenna. Over on FALCON CREST, Jeff Wainwright’s meeting with Maggie is even less harmonious. After smashing his way into the Gioberti house, killing a cop and knocking Chase unconscious in the process, he attempts to take her hostage again. She pulls a gun on him. “Is this any way to treat the father of your child?” he asks, grabbing her by the hair.

    Miles and Bobby must also deal with the feelings of the other women in their lives, new bride Channing (who claims to be barren) and bride-to-be Pam (who really is barren). While Miles favours one approach (“This has nothing to do with you, Channing … This is strictly between me and Fallon and Jeff”), Bobby adopts another. “You’re the one I love,” he assures Pam. “I can’t imagine spending the rest of my life without you.”

    “Pregnant women alone seem to be the fashion these days,” observes Donna on this week’s DALLAS. Alone or not, I can’t remember a time when there were so many expectant mothers in Soap Land. And if Laura Avery gets her way on KNOTS LANDING, there’ll soon be one more. “I really wanna do it all again — teething, diapering, potty training,” she tells Karen. But even in this situation, there’s a snag. Laura admits that she hasn’t “had the courage” to broach the subject with hubby Greg.

    Amongst all these complicated pregnancy storylines, the subject of abortion inevitably surfaces. “It’s crossed my mind,” Jeff Colby admits to Fallon. She is appalled. “You’re wrong!” she yells. Bobby Ewing, meanwhile, can’t even bring himself to say the word. “You’re not thinking of …?” he asks when Jenna tells him she’s undecided about having the baby. While Jeff apologises profusely (“I don’t wanna hurt your baby,” he tells Fallon, “I wouldn’t do that for anything in the world”), Jenna remains impressively defiant. “It’s none of your damn business what I do,” she tells Bobby.

    “If they put this in a movie, you wouldn’t believe it,” complains Gary on KNOTS when Peter shows up at Jill’s door in the middle of the night asking for a heart-to-heart talk. “Romance novels have more truth to them than Parmalee’s story, believe me,” echoes JR in DALLAS. But how much truth does Val’s novel about the Ewings contain? A whole lot, according to Gary. “Read it? I lived it!” he laughs when Val asks him to reread it to see there’s anything he’d prefer left out of the TV adaptation.

    While Val and Gary speculate over who’ll play their younger selves in the movie, Bobby and Pam play their own younger selves when this week’s DALLAS flashes back to their original wedding, which occurred just before the series began. This belongs to the same recent trend for prequel scenes as the 1967 flashbacks in KNOTS and DYNASTY’s reenactment of the night when Blake found Alexis in bed with Roger Grimes. The black and white footage of Bobby and Pam exchanging their vows in 1978 takes place as they are exchanging them again in the present day. Like the non-linear Parmalee flashbacks a few weeks ago, it’s an atypical DALLAS sequence that one cannot imagine occurring any earlier in the series. Similarly, the warning that Cliff amusingly delivers as he’s escorting Pam down the aisle — “You’re walkin’ straight into hell” — seems to belong exclusively to the post-dream era.

    As DALLAS revisits the origins of Bobby and Pam’s story, Gary and Val also recall their early life together on KNOTS. “The daughter we couldn’t raise, my drinking, the marriage I was too ignorant to appreciate,” recounts Gary. With KNOTS reaching the halfway point of its entire run in two weeks, it’s fitting that Gary should be in such a reflective mood. This week, he looks back, not only on his history with Val, but with JR (“I let my brother mess up my life when I was a kid”), Abby (“Sex was never our problem”) and Olivia, whom he poignantly describes as “the only one I got a chance to raise.” This makes it sound as if he regards her as a sort of Lucy surrogate, which had never really occurred to me before. It also echoes Bobby’s line to Charlie on last week’s DALLAS: “You’re like a daughter to me.”

    In fact, the theme of raising someone else’s child recurs throughout this week’s Soap Land. Before learning that he could be the father of Fallon’s baby, Miles is surprised when his father suggests that he and Channing consider adopting a baby. “It wouldn’t matter to you that it didn’t have Colby blood?” Miles asks. “It’s what’s in the head and heart that matters, not the blood,” Jason replies. This sentiment is echoed by both Peter Stavros on FALCON CREST (“I treat you as my own because you are my own — blood has nothing to do with it,” he assures the woman he thinks is his stepdaughter Skylar) and Bobby on DALLAS (“Christopher’s our son, no matter how he came to be,” he tells Pam). However, as Skylar aka Kit points out, “Not everybody’s capable of treating another person’s child as lovingly as they treat their own.” Certainly not Sable Colby, judging by her dismayed reaction to the prospect of an adoptive grandchild. “Of course, I’ve got nothing against adoption — under certain circumstances,” she adds hastily.

    At the end of last week’s DYNASTY, divorcees Alexis and Dex unexpectedly wound up in bed together. Even more unexpectedly, exes Gary and Abby do the same thing on this week’s KNOTS. Whereas Dex insists that he and Alexis now have a future (“We were together again last night and we belong together for thousands more”), Mr and Mrs Ewing mutually agree that their reunion was a one-off. “I sure had a good time last night,” Abby tells Gary. “Yeah … but it’s not enough, not anymore,” he replies. “Who said it was?” she shrugs.

    As if he has caught the remarrying bug from Lance and Melissa on FALCON CREST and Pam and Bobby on DALLAS, Dex re-proposes to Alexis. “I’ve tried marriage,” she replies, letting him down gently. “It doesn’t seem to be one of my talents … I need my freedom now.” She then adds, as though she’s been casting an envious eye towards her cousin Sable’s dance company on THE COLBYS, that she wants to “endow museums, start a new opera company, become a civic leader.”

    While Dex urges Alexis to sever all ties with Ben Carrington (“Will you stay out of this?” “Not until I get him out of your life, Alexis!”), Gary presents Jill with a direct ultimatum: “Peter Hollister or me … I love you and I think we could have a hell of a future together … but we’re never gonna find out until you get rid of Peter Hollister.” What neither Dex nor Gary realises, however, is that Alexis and Ben, and Jill and Peter, are each bound together by a secret — that Peter isn’t Greg Sumner’s brother but Jill’s, and that Ben and Alexis are both guilty of criminal conspiracy and perjury.

    “Even you wouldn’t send your own brother to jail,” says Peter after Jill threatens to expose their deception. “I trust you’re ready to go to jail,” Ben tells Alexis, threatening to expose their deception after she orders him out of her life. “We’d probably get ten years … I love you, but I swear I’ll destroy you before anyone else has you,” he continues as Alexis twitches nervously. It’s the juiciest scene of the episode. (And at the end of this week's KNOTS, it starts to look as though Peter might be capable of similarly drastic action in order to keep Jill quiet.)

    Blake Carrington and JR Ewing both believe that the only way to regain their former status in the oil business is to stage an overseas coup. For Blake, that means springing Caress Morelle, the only person who can prove Ben and Alexis perjured themselves against him in court, from the Venezuelan prison where she is being held. For JR, it means blowing up the oil fields in Saudi Arabia that produce the cheap crude which is crippling the Texas oil industry. To achieve these ends, they require the services of Dex Dexter and BD Calhoun. “If we could break Caress out of that prison, bring her back here to Denver and prove that Ben kidnapped her, once and for all we’d be rid of Ben,” Blake tells Dex persuasively. “I don’t care about the nuts and bolts, I just want the price of oil to go up,” JR tells BD curtly, handing him a downpayment of a million dollars.

    Last week, Jason Colby tried to fire Cash Cassidy after he found him kissing his daughter Monica. This week, Blake Carrington fires Michael Culhane when he finds him kissing his daughter Amanda. Blake isn’t the only character to find Michael and Amanda together. Fallon and Jeff cross over from THE COLBYS to DYNASTY, ostensibly in order for Jeff to finalise some pipeline business with Alexis, but really so that Fallon can catch her sister and her old flame in an embrace. “Amanda, he’s bad news!” she declares. There’s more sisterly interference on THE COLBYS when Russian ballerina Anna pleads with Bliss to stop seeing her brother Kolya: “It is very dangerous for him. If Sasha reports him … they will send him back to Russia and he will not be allowed to leave ever again or to dance again … If he is not allowed to dance again, he will do something terrible!” (Anna delivers this speech with so much tremulous emotion, I can’t tell whether she’s the best actor in this week’s Soap Land or the worst.) While Amanda dismisses Fallon’s concerns with a smile, Bliss heeds Anna’s warning and breaks things off with Kolya. Meanwhile on KNOTS, Karen adopts a less direct approach when she spots new houseguest Paige knocking on her son Michael’s bedroom door wearing just a towel — she buys her a welcoming gift of a robe.

    Last week’s FALCON CREST ended with Vicky Gioberti falling off a cliff during an altercation with Jeff Wainwright. This week’s KNOTS LANDING ends almost identically with Jill Bennett plunging off a similar precipice while arguing with Peter Hollister. There’s a further variation on this scenario at the end of THE COLBYS. As on KNOTS, it’s another sibling showdown, this time between Miles and Jeff on top of the Colby building. Whereas Jill and Peter’s altercation is solely verbal, Jeff and Miles’s soon turns violent and here it’s Miles who topples over the edge. After Jill falls on KNOTS, she manages to grab on to a branch and calls out to Peter for help. Miles similarly grabs onto a lower ledge of the building. Whereas Peter hesitates instead of immediately reaching out to his sister, Jeff instantly grabs onto his brother’s hand and tries to pull him up. While Jill’s branch snaps and she continues to plummet down the hillside, THE COLBYS concludes with a shot of with Miles’s hand slipping dangerously out of Jeff’s. (DYNASTY also ends with a close up of two men’s hands, as Blake and Dex seal their agreement to rescue Caress with a handshake.)

    Whereas the staging of Jill’s fall on KNOTS feels a little clumsy — you can kind of tell where they’ve used a stuntwoman and her final landing place seems to take place on a studio set rather than a real location — THE COLBYS’ rooftop scene feels impressively cinematic. The inclusion of rain and mist add to the drama and atmosphere, and the cliffhanging moment itself is a real nail-biter in the classic “Saturday Morning Picture Show” tradition.

    The climax of this week’s FALCON CREST is even more action-oriented. Following his attack on the Giobertis, Jeff Wainwright is shot in the arm and forced to flee in Chase’s truck pursued by police. A lengthy chase sequence ensues. Then as the truck reaches a bridge, a bomb is detonated by Richard’s fake bride Erin Jones, who mistakenly believes Chase to be the driver. The bridge collapses and the truck goes up in flames. This collision of storylines is a familiar Soap Land convention, but the tone of the sequence itself is more rock video than soap opera. The emphasis is more on the pounding synthesised soundtrack and visual effects — the car chase, the camera lingering on the burning truck in sadistic slow motion as it plunges off the bridge and explodes — than on the characters. It’s not unimpressive; it just feels a bit anonymous. And I’ve kind of lost track as to why Miss Jones would still be trying to kill Chase at this point anyway.

    As well as these big action sequences, there’s also room for a couple of fun moments in this week’s Soap Land where Jack Ewing and Melissa Agretti angrily push Cliff Barnes and Lance Cumson into swimming pools. (The DALLAS scene is the funnier of the two, due to Cliff being fully dressed at the time.)

    And this week’s Top 5 are …

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

    James from London Soap Chat Enthusiast

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    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 further 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 — any more 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
     
    Last edited: May 29, 2017
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  6. Daniel Avery

    Daniel Avery Super Moderator Staff Member

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    I know @Sarah's head would have exploded so loudly, I would have heard it all the way over here in the USA.
     
  7. James from London

    James from London Soap Chat Enthusiast

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    26 Nov 86: DYNASTY: The Choice v. 27 Nov 86: THE COLBYS: And Baby Makes Four v. 27 Nov 86: KNOTS LANDING: Touch and Go v. 28 Nov 86: DALLAS: Proof Positive v. 28 Nov 86: FALCON CREST: Slow Seduction

    The intertexuality is through the roof in this week’s Ewingverse. On KNOTS LANDING, Val is informed by Lorimar — I mean, Ramilar — Productions that the screen adaptation of Capricorn Crude needs to be rushed into production because “another network is working on a similar story … set in Texas.” As Capricorn Crude has already been established as an (even more) fictionalised version of DALLAS (a fiction within a fiction, if you will), then what can be the real life equivalent of this “similar story … set in Texas”? Surely the only candidate is THE YELLOW ROSE — the oil-and-ranching drama in which Mandy Winger made her Soap Land debut. And where do we find Mandy this week? Why, watching her own image projected onto a movie screen as she performs an audition scene on the set of Karen and Mack’s KNOTS LANDING kitchen. To make matters even more meta, the scene itself is a pastiche of MIAMI VICE (not a “similar story … set in Texas” this time, but DALLAS’s real-life time-slot competitor) with Mandy as the long-suffering girlfriend of a Sonny Crockett type played Soap Land’s future Tommy Mackay/Roger Grimes. While the ongoing Ramilar gag on KNOTS feels a bit too broad and knowing, the sly digs at MIAMI VICE (“You drive around in that sports car all night playing terrible music so loud you drive everybody crazy!”) are light and — that word again — playful. The sequence also manages to advance Mandy’s storyline in a way that is both poignant (the success of her screen test means the end of the road for her and JR) and thrilling (Sue Ellen is secretly behind the whole thing!).

    This week’s DYNASTY is volatile and fast-paced and slightly mad — in a good way. The scene where Caress lunges at Ben (“You scum!”) as Alexis looks on in alarm has a similarly visceral quality to the brilliant scene in “Divorce Ewing Style” (DALLAS Season 2) where Sue Ellen physically attacks JR during a family gathering. Caress goes on to demand $1,000,000 from Ben and Alexis, “for each of the five years I was buried alive.” Over on DALLAS, April Stevens mentions the same figure when she tries to offload her five percent of Ewing Oil onto Cliff Barnes. “I came into this town with nothing,” she reminds him. “A million dollars would be very nice walkaway money.” While Ben and Cliff each react to their respective propositions with a derisive chuckle, Alexis’s response is more surprising. In the same way that JR caught his brother Bobby off-guard in last week’s DALLAS by giving him some selfless advice about his marriage, Alexis wrong foots her sister by offering her a no-strings-attached job as the Denver Mirror’s new society columnist. The gesture is as satisfying as it is unexpected, as it makes Alexis appear (as JR did last week) a more rounded character. Caress’s response is very interesting too. Even though she accepts the position, it soon emerges that she has no interest in working for a living, however well-paid. In her craving for wealth and luxury, she’s like an addict — she wants it all and she isn’t even prepared to wait for her first paycheque to get it.

    Zach Powers is well-utilised in a crossover appearance from THE COLBYS. As well as helping Michael Culhane infiltrate Blake’s latest business venture (a sneaky scheme that is speedily executed within the space of a few scenes), his presence affords Caress the opportunity to call in an outstanding debt. “How much are your past mistakes worth to you, Zach?” she purrs. He responds by writing her a cheque for $250,000. “Is that fair?” he asks. “For now,” she replies smugly. Here, alas, she has overplayed her hand. “It would never end, would it, Caress?” Zach realises, snatching back the cheque and ripping it into pieces. “Therefore, it must never begin.” As much as Caress would love to be a Soap Land femme fatale, she can’t quite pull it off. She’s too pathetic, too needy to compete with the big boys and so Zach — the man she has described as the love of her life — is able to swat her away without so much as a second thought.

    As Caress loses out on $25,000 from ex-lover Zach, April tries to offload her piece of Ewing Oil onto ex-husband Jack for the same amount. Jack, however, isn’t biting. “It’s looking more and more like our share of Ewing Oil may come to nothing — which is a hell of a lot more than you deserve,” he snaps at her. Caress is no more successful in her efforts to extort a measly $100,000 from Emily Fallmont. “I can’t raise that kind of money. Every cent I have is in Buck’s name!” Emily sobs.

    Thwarted gold-diggers they might be, but Caress and April are very different characters. Whereas Caress can’t help but emit a scent of desperation (she blackmails Emily with tears in her eyes), April has fun as she schemes. In spite of the setbacks she encounters in this week’s episode, her twinkle never wavers and she always has a ready quip to hand. In this regard, and in the carefree way she sashays in and out of scenes, her blonde curls bouncing as she goes, she reminds me of no one so much as early Abby on KNOTS. Caress, meanwhile, is more like DALLAS's Kristin or FALCON CREST’s Pamela Lynch as they teetered on the brink of their respective downfalls. Like Caress, they were both self-described “wronged women” who made the mistake of thinking they could turn the tables on their ex-lovers (JR and Richard Channing) only to be outmanoeuvred at the last minute. But whereas Kristin and Pamela then sought revenge by trying to kill JR and Richard, here it’s Caress who finds herself dodging a hail of bullets (Kit Marlowe-style) in an underground parking garage.

    It’s strange to see DYNASTY characters as glitzy as Emily Fallmont and Caress Morelle scrabbling around for a mere $100,000 (the Soap Land equivalent of loose change) and it adds an interesting edge to the show. In fact, DYNASTY as a whole is looking less grand this season. Blake’s latest office suite and Alexis’s new headquarters at the Denver Mirror are significantly smaller than their previous showrooms at Denver Carrington and Colby Co, while most of the Carringtons are still camping out in the comparatively modest surroundings of the Carlton. Indeed, Blake and Krystle’s hotel suite pales next to the swanky one presently occupied by Wes Parmalee on DALLAS. “You’re living high on the hog — and on the cuff,” observes Ray, also making reference to the fact that Wes is now dressing in bespoke suits courtesy of Jock Ewing’s old tailor.

    While DYNASTY has the kind of fast-moving momentum one associates with the end of a season, the atmosphere on DALLAS is more sombre, while suggesting that the show is similarly headed towards a point of no return. “There’s a time coming when people are gonna have to decide once and for all,” predicts Wes while talking to Ray about his claim to be Jock.

    Then there’s the bittersweet scene between JR and Mandy in his box at Texas Stadium. “This was the first place you brought me when we met,” she remembers. “You were so sweet, the way you courted me. You treated me like a queen.” She goes on to explain that she has been offered a Hollywood movie contract. “It’s everything I’ve ever dreamed of.” However, “I’ll turn it all down, I’ll give all that up … if you move off Southfork right now and tell the whole world that I’m to be the next Mrs Ewing …” “We both know that will never happen, don’t we?” JR tells her. “I guess we always knew,” she agrees sadly. On paper, this is a rerun of their breakup scene that took place in the penultimate episode of the Dream Season. Back then, it was an overseas modelling assignment that Mandy was willing to sacrifice if only JR would make an honest woman of her. JR turned her down then too — but whereas that version of events left Mandy in a sobbing heap on the floor, here she gets to keep her dignity. As she turns to leave, JR stops her with the line: “If it woulda happened with anyone, it woulda happened with you.” “But it didn’t,” she replies before carrying on her way, her heart broken but her head held high.

    “I guess we always knew …” says Mandy. There’s a similar sense of predestination in the best scene of this week’s FALCON CREST. “It never changes — Cole has the dreams, Lance has the schemes,” Cole sighs when his erstwhile rival drops by for a not-in-so-many-words farewell scene. “Take care, cousin,” replies Lance fondly, giving him a thumbs up. This exchange comes out of nowhere — at this point, Cole hasn’t announced his intention to leave the valley — and yet it manages to silently acknowledge six years of history between these two characters, who could have easily been close friends had the circumstances they were born into not pitted them against each other.

    Young love — and the parental disapproval thereof — remains an ongoing theme. In the same way that Michael Fairgate showed up late to an important family dinner on KNOTS a few weeks ago because he was in bed with his stepsister Paige, Amanda Carrington fails to show up to an equally significant family gathering on this week’s DYNASTY because she’s in bed with ex-chauffeur Michael. “I wanna spend all my time with you,” Michael tells her by way of pillow talk. “All I care about is you,” echoes ballet dancer Kolya on the sister show after breaking into the Colby grounds at night to woo Bliss in her bedchamber. Neither Blake nor Jason hold back in voicing their displeasure when they find out what their daughters have been up to. “You chose to be with that man rather than with your family. It’s a sad choice,” Blake tells Amanda sternly. “I don’t want to see you near my house again or my daughter,” Jason informs Kolya emphatically.

    In contrast to the strong moral certainty exhibited by the patriarchs of the DYNASTY-verse, Mack and Karen cannot decide how best to confront Michael and Paige over their relationship. The Mackenzies’ discomfort and indecision is both funny and relatable. “I don’t know what we should say,” Karen kvetches. “I don’t wanna say the wrong thing.” “Don’t overanalyse this,” Mack replies. “It’s plain and simple, black and white — they were kids and they were wrong to have sex.” When Karen insists that “the worse thing we could do is to make a big deal out of this,” it’s as if she’s already watched this week’s episodes of DYNASTY and THE COLBYS and doesn’t want to come across as heavy-handed a parent as Blake and Jason have.

    Karen’s more considered approach appears to pay off. Whereas the DYNASTY-verse daughters remain defiant in the face of their fathers’ disapproval (“I won’t give him up, Daddy!” insists Amanda; “I’ll never forgive you for this — never!” Bliss vows to her daddy), Paige is downright apologetic when her stepmother tactfully suggests that sleeping with Michael might not have been such a good idea: “You’re right. I’m sorry … It won’t happen again. The last thing I ever wanted to do was hurt you or Mack.” (This doesn’t, however, prevent Paige and Michael from continuing their relationship in secret.)

    A grownup child leaving the family home is always A Major Deal in Soap Land and the prospect crops up several times this week. As well as Mandy challenging JR to “move off Southfork”, DYNASTY ends with Amanda announcing, “I’m moving in with him!” when her father forces her to choose between her family and Michael Culhane. “You want us to move out?” asks Michael Fairgate when Mack objects to his romance with Paige on KNOTS. Over on FALCON CREST, Cole Gioberti presents his family with the idea as a fait accompli: “In ten days time, my boat and I have a date with the Pacific. I’m sailing to Australia where I’ve been asked to be a permanent partner in a new wine venture … It’s something I have to do.”

    There’s more moving out on DALLAS. “Part of you thinks that Wes Parmalee is your dead husband come back to you and as long as that is so I cannot live in this house,” Clayton tells Miss Ellie before leaving Southfork. And how ironic that JR should be the most vocal about wanting his stepfather back at the ranch! “What’s he doing in a hotel for crying out loud?” he barks angrily. “How could you let him do something like that, Mama? … I’m gonna get him on the phone and you’re gonna talk him into coming back here!” At this, Ellie puts her foot down. “In this house, I’ll tell you what your business is,” she informs him in no uncertain terms. Nor is she the only head of the family to pull rank this week. “Breaking in, sneaking into my daughter’s bed? Not in my house!” decrees Jason Colby. His sentiment is echoed by Mack on KNOTS. “This is a big deal,” he tells Karen. “Your son and my daughter have had sex in our house.” Back on DYNASTY, Blake feels the loss of his own house keenly. “Ever since we’ve moved out of our home, I feel like I’ve lost contact with my children,” he admits to Krystle.

    It’s been another busy week in Pregnancy Corner. While Fallon makes a surprise threat to Miles on THE COLBYS (“If you don’t stop [harassing me], I swear to God I’ll have an abortion”), Jenna and Maggie reach identical conclusions on DALLAS and FALCON CREST. “I can’t abort this baby,” Jenna tells Charlie. “I’m going to keep this baby,” decides Maggie after hearing its heart beat during her amniocentesis. Over on KNOTS, Jill Bennett miscarries on the operating table.

    There are similarly contrasting reactions to the prospect of fatherhood. Whereas Clay Fallmont’s reaction to the news that Sammy Jo is pregnant on DYNASTY is lukewarm — he manages a smile, but we can see from his expression as he hugs her that he is far from thrilled — Miles wastes no time in asserting his legal rights as the presumptive father of Fallon’s baby on THE COLBYS. (“It looks like the three of us are having a baby and there’s not a damn thing you can do about it,” he tells Fallon and Jeff gloatingly.) And while Bobby Ewing is too busy dealing with the threat posed by Wes Parmalee to deal with Jenna’s pregnancy on DALLAS, his brother Gary spends pretty much all of KNOTS reeling first from the shock of Jill’s pregnancy and then from the news that she’s miscarried. Meanwhile on FALCON CREST, Chase chooses to bury himself in his various business projects rather than face the uncertainties surrounding his wife’s pregnancy. Somewhat inevitably, Maggie turns to Richard for support instead.

    As new brides who have recently discovered that their husbands have impregnated other women, Channing Carter Colby and Pamela Barnes Ewing have a lot in common. This week, each approaches her adversary on enemy territory (Channing confronts Fallon in the new Colby nursery while Pam visits Jenna at her boutique) to make a desperate plea. Channing asks Fallon to return to Denver for the remainder of her pregnancy while Pam, unaware that Jenna has already decided against an abortion, tries to persuade her to have the baby and then let her and Bobby adopt it. “I’m not asking you, I’m begging you,” pleads Channing. “This is wrecking my marriage … Please just give us some time.” “Oh Jenna, please,” entreats Pam. “This is the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do … I’m trying to make the best of a horrible situation.” While Fallon tries to point out that Channing’s request is unrealistic (“out of sight is not out of mind, not with Miles”), Jenna accuses Pam of trying to buy her baby and furiously orders her out of the boutique. It’s particularly satisfying to see Jenna — for so long the passive underdog in the Bobby/Pam saga — energised by her anger towards the happy couple and finally regaining the upper hand over her rival.

    Elsewhere, Emily Fallmont and Adrienne Cassidy continue to battle it out for the title of Most Long-Suffering Wife of a Former Senator in the DYNASTY-verse. Both are haunted by secrets relating to an extra-marital affair that took place years before. Caress is once again threatening to expose Emily’s fling with Ben Carrington (“My family is my whole life!” Emily wails) while Adrienne delivers the shock revelation that her eight year old son is really the result of Cash’s affair with Monica — only Monica doesn’t know! Turns out it’s all Barbara Stanwyck’s fault. “She said if I didn’t let you adopt Scott,” Adrienne tells Cash, “she’d drive you out of the senate … I loved you. I couldn’t let her destroy you so I swallowed my pride and took in your bastard.” Wow — that’s the plot of a whole Douglas Sirk movie right there.

    And this week’s Top 5 are …

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

    James from London Soap Chat Enthusiast

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    And this week’s Top 5 are ….

    1 (4) KNOTS LANDING
    2 (1) DALLAS
    3 (2) DYNASTY
    4 (3) THE COLBYS
    5 (5) FALCON CREST
     
    Last edited: Aug 7, 2017
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  9. Mel O'Drama

    Mel O'Drama Super Moderator Staff Member

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    I've been looking forward to the next instalment of Versus, James, and it's been well worth the anticipation. Your insights consistently challenge me to look at familiar shows in a different way. The themes you've picked out this time round are fascinating.
     
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  10. Daniel Avery

    Daniel Avery Super Moderator Staff Member

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    Ben's "eyewitness account" always stuck out as a writer's mistake to me. If Ben was "filing an eyewitness account" from the 1968 DNC, he must have been doing it for his high-school paper.
     
  11. James from London

    James from London Soap Chat Enthusiast

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    And this week’s Top 5 are …

    1 (1) KNOTS LANDING
    2 (4) THE COLBYS
    3 (2) DALLAS
    4 (3) DYNASTY
    5 (5) FALCON CREST

    Aw, thanks!
     
    Last edited: Aug 14, 2017
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  12. Daniel Avery

    Daniel Avery Super Moderator Staff Member

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    One bit that has always bothered me about KL's "not-quite-dead" Paige:

    The camera panned across "Paige"'s tombstone dramatically, showing her buried alongside several Matheson family relatives. This really doesn't jive with the established history, which states that Anne was only briefly married to "Mr. Matheson" (I don't think they even gave his name) when Paige was little. After the divorce, Paige was raised at the Winston mansion with her grandparents as Anne led a jet-set lifestyle (and wishing to remain unencumbered by a small child). After the divorce, Mr. Matheson had no real contact with step-child Paige. If Paige died in a boating accident as the Winstons were led to believe, it would make more sense that Paige would be buried in the Winston family plot, not among a bunch of Mathesons who were basically strangers. Not that there was a body to bury in any case...
     
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  13. James from London

    James from London Soap Chat Enthusiast

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    And this week’s Top 5 are …

    1 (1) KNOTS LANDING
    2 (3) DALLAS
    3 (2) THE COLBYS
    4 (4) DYNASTY
    5 (5) FALCON CREST
     
    Last edited: Aug 20, 2017
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  14. Daniel Avery

    Daniel Avery Super Moderator Staff Member

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    Laura: "Maybe the test will show I'm expecting another me."

    And in fact, she was. Meg was so much me that it was years before Greg could even be around Meg without looking like he was going to fall apart.
     
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  15. James from London

    James from London Soap Chat Enthusiast

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    And this week’s Top 5 are …

    1 (3) THE COLBYS
    2 (2) DALLAS
    3 (4) DYNASTY
    4 (1) KNOTS LANDING
    5 (5) FALCON CREST
     
    Last edited: Aug 30, 2017
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  16. Willie Oleson

    Willie Oleson drilling for soap

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    You gotta love SoapLand's impossible witnesses. They can't tell, can't talk or can't speak. And it all started with little Kim Schuster.
    How Trump-y.
    Although Dominique herself never managed to convince me otherwise (but I don't always "get" the stage & jazz genre).
    :lol:
    Half-truths are so dangerous, as they usually only complicate the situation.
    I'll refer to little Kim Schuster again, although she wasn't really accountable for withholding all the information.
     
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  17. James from London

    James from London Soap Chat Enthusiast

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    And this week’s Top 5 are …

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

    James from London Soap Chat Enthusiast

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    And this week’s Top 3 are …

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

    James from London Soap Chat Enthusiast

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    And this week’s Top 4 is …

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

    James from London Soap Chat Enthusiast

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    And this week’s Top 5 are …

    1 (1) DALLAS
    2 (-) KNOTS LANDING
    3 (3) FALCON CREST
    4 (2) THE COLBYS
    5 (4) DYNASTY
     
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