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. Mel O'Drama

    Mel O'Drama Super Moderator Staff Member

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    As a first-time viewer in 1991 completely unaware of who Michelle Phillips was, I can confirm this to be very much the case.
     
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  2. Willie Oleson

    Willie Oleson drilling for soap

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    Yes, rather than a dream or yet another hallucination I would have preferred that story to continue, no matter how impossible that would have been for a glossy prime time soap.
    It was just too big to ignore, and the IMOS project could have played a role in all this.

    But I think I would have wanted to see more before that thing arrived, not necessarily hinting at something extraterrestrial - or at least not in those exact words.
    And it shouldn't have dominated the episodes, just the occasional report of "things" they noticed but couldn't explain, or even misinterpret these signs for something the Russians were cooking up.
    We'd get the idea that something fishy was going on, but without expecting something as outrageous as an alien intervention.
    It would still be a shocker, but less out of the blue, as it were.
     
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  3. James from London

    James from London Soap Chat Dream Maker

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    01 Apr 87: DYNASTY: Valez v. 02 Apr 87: KNOTS LANDING: Our Secret v. 03 Apr 87: DALLAS: War and Peace v. 03 Apr 87: FALCON CREST: Body and Soul

    Last week, aliens landed in Soap Land for the first time. This week, FALCON CREST’s Melissa declares that “You really can’t believe everything you see on television,” which seems like a timely observation. Following that intergalactic interlude, it’s reassuring to hear characters debating more traditional Soap Land themes. “Power and sex, what else is there?” challenges Dirk Maurier on DYNASTY. “There’s love,” counters Alexis Colby, “and power and sex can never replace that.” While Alexis's idealism is newly acquired, the discussion that takes place between Pam and Cliff on this week’s DALLAS could easily have occurred at almost any point in the past nine years. However, knowing that it comes so close to the end of Pam’s tenure gives it an extra significance. “You’re obsessed with revenge,” she accuses her brother. “You’re a Barnes. You should understand that,” he argues. This allows Pam to restate the position she has held since the DALLAS saga began: “I was raised to hate the Ewings just as much as you were, but from the day I fell in love with Bobby, things were different for me. Why can’t you understand that I don’t want to live my life in the middle of a battlefield?” From the day Pam fell in love with Bobby to the first time Richard Channing saw Maggie Gioberti. “When did you get so damn romantic?” Maggie asks him on what might be regarded as their first official date. “I think it was about five years ago at Angela’s house when I first saw you,” he replies. While Richard and Maggie tentatively acknowledge the changing nature of their relationship (“I don’t know what the future holds, but I do know that right now there is no one else I would rather be with,” he tells her), Ray and Jenna do much the same on DALLAS. “Ray and I are not little kids setting up house,” insists Jenna to Miss Ellie. “This isn’t a romance, it’s a friendship — a friendship that no one seems or wants to understand.” Later, she admits to Ray that, “when I was busy defending us to Miss Ellie, I wasn’t thinking about Bobby. I was thinking about you.” “Does that mean you’re finally getting over Bobby?” he asks her. There is no easy answer to this. Instead of replying straight away, Jenna pauses and is then distracted by the baby — Bobby’s baby — kicking inside her. Similarly, back on FALCON CREST, Richard realises that Maggie still has feelings for Chase. “It’s OK. You’re allowed,” he assures her. Things are a little clearer for DYNASTY’s Clay Fallmont. “Something tells me the new you is finally over me and in love with someone else,” Sammy Jo tells him. “It’s as if you had the word Leslie tattooed across your forehead.”

    In fact, it’s almost as if every character on this week’s DYNASTY has their true feelings tattooed across their forehead. No one (with the possible exception of supporting bad guys Dirk Maurier and Neil McVane) says anything they don’t mean. Everybody's dialogue is as literal as three-year-old Krystina’s when she confides to Sarah Curtis that Raggedy Ann is the favourite of her dolls but that she is worried that her other toys will be upset if they find out. (“I don’t like them to be sad.”) Even Sarah herself isn’t so much duplicitous as deluded in the scenes leading up to her kidnapping of Krystina. It appears as if the part of her that tells Krystle and Blake that she is planning to return home to Wyoming has no idea that another part of her has secretly rented an apartment in Denver where she intends to live with “her” daughter.

    “I didn’t realise how desperate she was,” says Mack following Anne Matheson’s suicide attempt on KNOTS LANDING. Equally, neither Blake nor Krystle realises how desperate Sarah is until they discover she’s snatched their daughter — just six days after Krystina’s big sister Fallon was abducted by aliens on THE COLBYS. To paraphrase Oscar Wilde, to lose one Carrington daughter in the space of a week might be regarded as a misfortune; to lose two looks like carelessness. As an increasingly paranoid Ben Gibson rants on KNOTS: “What is it gonna take…? Does somebody have to come in here in the middle of the night and slit your throats or kidnap our children?”

    While the characters on DYNASTY are largely transparent, the atmosphere on KNOTS is decidedly enigmatic. Recurring throughout this week’s episode are dreamlike interludes set in a kind of ethereal ice palace. These appear to be taking place either in Anne’s mind, as she lies unconscious following her overdose, or in some sort of afterlife antechamber where her soul is waiting for the fates to decide if she should live or die. (Heck, following Fallon’s extraterrestrial encounter, this seems as viable a Soap Land scenario as any other.) Each of these scenes is accompanied by the strains of ‘Künstlerleben - Walzer, op. 316’ by Johann Strauss II. We first see Anne sitting peacefully alone gazing into a tunnel of light, then waltzing with an invisible partner and then with Mack in slow-motion. As the dance continues, Anne and Mack slowly turn into younger versions of themselves as seen in the 1967 flashbacks earlier in the season. (Young Anne is, of course, played by Paige who is also Future Alexis, but let’s not think about that now.)

    The walls between cul-de-sac reality and Anne’s dream world dissolve in the scene where Mack, in heroic slow-motion, smashes his way through her living window and takes her unconscious body in his arms. What could be a more classically romantic image? It’s literally a dream come true. Of Soap Land’s three recent suicide rescue missions — Krystle preventing Sarah from gassing herself in her car, Jeff diving into the ocean to save Frankie — this is by far the most dramatic and visually impressive.

    Anne is taken to Soap Land Memorial Hospital where, in addition to the usual anxious-relatives-in-the-waiting-room scenes, there is a very striking shot of Paige walking slowly down an empty corridor towards her mother’s room. She carries a bouquet of flowers, out of which she selects a single rose before allowing the rest of the flowers to drop to the floor and then carrying on her way. There is no music to underscore the scene, just the sound of Paige’s reverberating footsteps (underlying the sense that this is a real corridor rather than a traditional Soap Land set). The sequence feels symbolic of … something, but as this isn’t an episode overly concerned with spelling things out, the viewer is left to their own conclusions.

    The characters’ motives are likewise shrouded with ambiguity. “You don’t think she intended to die, do you?” Paige asks Karen with regard to Anne’s overdose. “Mother is a pro at exhibitions like this.” Anne neither endorses nor refutes this interpretation of events, but her reaction when another bouquet is delivered to her hospital room speaks volumes. “The envelope, please,” she smiles knowingly, as if onstage at the Academy Awards. There’s another theatrical metaphor later in the same episode, again related to deception. “Time for your performance, maestro,” Paige tells Peter Hollister, referring to his seduction of Olivia. “She is ready and tuned. All you have to do is pluck.”

    Unlike the enigmatic Anne or the archly ironic Paige, Olivia is as sincere in her feelings and behaviour as the cast of this week’s DYNASTY. Indeed, the futility of her crush on Peter, a man to whom she is fundamentally unsuited (not only is he much older, but he’s also sleeping with both her mother and her best friend), resembles Sammy Jo’s feelings for Steven, a man with whom she might be sharing her bed, but who can never truly be hers. “Part of me is never going to change, Sammy Jo,” he tells her. “I can’t be the kind of man you want me to be and I can’t lie to myself about it.” “Then what do you want?” she asks. “I don’t know, but it can’t be this,” he replies. Within the heteronormative confines of ‘80s Soap Land, Steven can only be defined by what he isn’t and what he can’t be, rather than who he is and/or might be in the future. This inner turmoil leads to a riding accident that leaves Steven’s son’s favourite horse with a broken leg and being put out to pasture. “I was riding him hard, too hard!” Steven laments. “No one blames you,” Sammy Jo insists. “No one except me,” he replies. This is the one scene in this week’s DYNASTY that can be read metaphorically — it’s clear that by blaming himself for the accident, Steven is really blaming himself for his inability to fulfil the role of a traditional family man.

    Back on KNOTS, Peter’s interest in Olivia is prompted by the news of his fake mother’s off-screen death. Sylvia Lean is the third Soap Land character of the season whose passing we learn of after she has already been written out of her respective show. The circumstances of her demise (“She drowned in a bathtub,” Greg informs him matter-of-factly) might be more prosaic than those inflicted upon Constance Colby Patterson’s (a plane crash in the Far East) or Jamie Ewing Barnes (an avalanche in New Mexico), but the dramatic consequences are no less juicy. Just as Jamie’s death has led to various characters fighting over the ten percent of Ewing Oil she left behind (a fight which reaches its courtroom climax this week), Sylvia’s death has Peter desperate to get his hands on the letter she gave to Olivia before leaving town, to be opened only in the event of something “unusual” happening to her. And in order to get his hands on the letter, Peter must first put his hands on Olivia.

    There are interesting references to a couple of long-departed, rarely mentioned Ewing-verse characters this week. Firstly, in an effort to make Abby take Olivia’s feelings for Peter seriously, Karen recalls her own estrangement from daughter Diana in terms that, in a roundabout but satisfying way, help explain why so little has been heard from Diana since she moved to New York almost three years earlier: “You know how close Diana and I once were … I’m not sure we completely fixed the damage that was done.” Then on DALLAS, after Pam admits to Bobby that she is unable to forget his past relationship with Jenna (“Every time you kiss me, I see you kissing Jenna”), he reminds her of her own involvement with Mark Graison. It’s the first time Mark has been mentioned since his resurrection was obliterated by the dream solution. Since then, we have been no clearer about his fate than we were when Pam went looking for him in Hong Kong. “Oh Bobby, Mark is gone,” she says simply in this ep, which kind of tells us all we need to know about him in the present.

    Towards the end of KNOTS, we return to Anne’s otherworldly ice palace. Strauss is still playing, Young Anne is still waltzing with Young Mack -- until he turns, surprisingly, into Young Greg. Then as the dance reaches its climax, there’s a blurring whirl where Young Greg, Old Mack and Young and Old Anne all seem to be dancing with each other — but the couple we are left with at the end is the present day Anne and Greg. We then fade back to an inscrutable looking Anne in her hospital bed and then to Paige walking back down that same hospital corridor, just as haughty but now also strangely vulnerable.

    The court hearing on DALLAS is one of two in this week’s Soap Land this week. The other is Tony Cumson’s arraignment over his arrest for the murder of Roland Saunders on FALCON CREST. The DALLAS sequence is an enjoyably unruly affair with Jack Ewing (in his final appearance) and Cliff Barnes hurling insults at each other across the courtroom and much gavel-banging from the judge (“Any further outbursts and I will instruct the bailiff to remove both of you from this courtroom!”). While the judge’s decision to award April 5% of Ewing Oil comes as no surprise, the twist is that Cliff is allowed to keep the other 5%. There’s also an unexpected outcome in the Cumson hearing — instead of the case being thrown out, “recently acquired evidence” leads to Tony being charged with first-degree murder. Despite being the end of episode cliffhanger, this is probably Soap Land’s dullest murder investigation to date.

    The final scene of DALLAS and the penultimate scene of FALCON CREST are almost identical this week. On DALLAS, JR is being interviewed by a TV news crew as he leaves the courthouse. “Justice was not served in this case,” he declares. “Not by a long shot.” On FALCON CREST, Maggie is making a televised appeal for information about the whereabouts of her and Chase’s child. Each character is being watched on TV by a woman holding baby who feels no sympathy for their plight. “Oh, justice will be served, Mr Ewing. I can promise you that,” murmurs Nancy Scotfield thrillingly on DALLAS. “You see that lady right there? She and Chase did a terrible thing by sending your little brother Joseph away and they’ve just begun to pay for it,” Melissa tells Maggie’s baby son on FC.

    Speaking of babies, following the longest-spanning pregnancy in Soap Land history (two full seasons), Donna Krebbs finally gives birth on this week’s DALLAS. As befits her character, she does so in a thoroughly no-nonsense manner — there’s no falling down the Colby staircase or going into labour on Angela Channing’s doorstep for Donna. The one moment of dramatic irony takes place after the blessed event when she calls Ray’s house to give him the news. Jenna, herself heavily pregnant, answers instead. “I really wish you the best,” Donna tells her erstwhile rival, gracious to the last. “You too,” Jenna replies. And thus the two women — who in the alternate universe of Pam’s Dream shared the most intense of friendships — bid each other a low-key, bittersweet farewell. There’s a far less civilised scene on FALCON CREST between Maggie and the woman who has moved into her husband’s life, Gabrielle Short. Frantic with worry about the missing baby, Maggie turns up at Chase’s looking for help. “I really admire the way you’re handling this,” Gabrielle tells her somewhat patronisingly. “What an incredibly stupid thing to say,” responds Maggie contemptuously. It’s a hugely satisfying moment and one of the few times this episode really comes alive.

    And this week’s Top 4 are …

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

    James from London Soap Chat Dream Maker

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    08 Apr 87: DYNASTY: The Sublet v. 09 Apr 87: KNOTS LANDING: Breakup v. 10 Apr 87: DALLAS: Ruthless People v. 10 Apr 87: FALCON CREST: Loose Cannons

    “You’re not Paige’s father, Mack,” says Anne Matheson on this week’s KNOTS. “Peter Hollister is not your brother,” Abby informs Greg in the same episode. “Alexis Carrington Colby is not your mother,” Neil McVane tells Adam on DYNASTY.

    Adam’s downward spiral starts to resemble Sue Ellen’s at the beginning of the DALLAS Dream Season. Both are triggered by a loss of identity. “You don’t exist — you’re just a bad memory that doesn’t know when to go away,” JR told his wife back then. “I don’t know my name,” Adam admits this week. Where Sue Ellen staggered dazedly down a sidewalk full of drunks and hookers, Adam staggers drunkenly into a down-at-heel boxing gym and tries to pay someone to fight him. Unlike the predators and opportunists who plagued Sue Ellen at every turn during her lost weekend, the guys in the gym are too honourable to take Adam’s money. At least, most of them are. One man follows him into an alley, beats him and then robs him of his cash and ID. Just as Sue Ellen was subsequently identified by the police as a penniless Jane Doe, the cops who discover Adam dismiss him as “just another drunk, another wise guy.” “Why didn’t you just leave me there?” Adam asks his mother angrily when she collects him from jail. “To let you rot?” Alexis replies, echoing the words of Sue Ellen’s doctor to Miss Ellie last season: “She was rotting out in there in the streets, in your home.”

    Adam’s closest Soap Land equivalent at present is KNOTS LANDING’s Ben Gibson, who is going through his own kind of meltdown. This week, Lilimae persuades him to ask Abby for his old job back, but halfway through their meeting, he changes his mind. “I must be crazy,” he tells Abby. “I would never work for you or anyone even remotely like you ever again.” His sense of liberation is short-lived, however. Upon his return home, he thinks that Val has turned into Jean Hackney.

    With the 86/7 season drawing to a close, that indefinable “end of era” atmosphere starts to permeate some of the shows, most notably DALLAS. “I’ve had it, Pam,” Bobby tells his wife. “I’m getting out … I’m gonna sell my shares of Ewing Oil … They just don’t mean anything anymore.” “… At least we’ll have a chance at a relationship that doesn’t include all this fighting, that doesn’t include JR,” proffers Pam. If one didn’t know better, one might suspect that both Pam and Bobby were about to leave the show. Meanwhile, the Krebbses finally come to terms with their past as Ray and Donna make peace following the birth of their little girl, and Ray reaches a cordial understanding with Andrew Dowling. Over on FALCON CREST, Chao Li is apparently dying, which leads to an unusual, and surprisingly touching, conversation between Lance and Chao Li’s acupuncturist (“That person you’re poking those needles into, doc, is very important to me”). This is Soap Land’s first glance at alternative medicine since Mark Graison’s offscreen search for unorthodox treatments on DALLAS a couple of years ago.

    Sometimes the sense of finality is more apparent in retrospect. The foreknowledge that Ben is on his way out of KNOTS, for instance, turns his meeting with Abby into an unintentional farewell scene (Ben: “You can be guaranteed, I won’t be back ever again.” Abby: “Oh — and I was afraid this meeting was going to end unpleasantly”) in much the same way that Donna and Jenna’s awkward phone conversation on last week’s DALLAS serves as their de facto adieu. Meanwhile, the unexpected reinvention of DYNASTY’s Nick Kimble as a multi-millionaire who sweeps Dominique off her feet in a manner reminiscent of Blake’s courting of Krystle at the beginning of the series (chartering a private jet to San Francisco on a whim, hiring an entire restaurant for an intimate dinner) makes more sense when one realises Dominique only has a few episodes in which to fall in love and leave Denver with her new man. With further foresight, Nick also feels like an antecedent to the fresh batch of young black billionaires on New DYNASTY.

    This week, Krystle and Blake on DYNASTY and Maggie and Chase on FALCON CREST are each the parents of a missing child. Whereas the Carringtons know that it was Sarah Curtis who took their daughter, the Giobertis have no idea that former daughter-in-law Melissa is behind their son’s abduction.

    While Blake finds Krystle in Sarah’s old room, frantically searching through her belongings for clues to her whereabouts, Richard Channing finds Maggie in her and Chase’s marital bedroom, looking for things to smash — keepsakes, ornaments, even pictures of her children: all are up for grabs. Each woman blames herself for her child’s disappearance and neither is interested in being consoled. “Dammit Blake, don’t patronise me!” Krystle yells. “Who are you angry with — God, fate, Sarah? … What about me? … I’m the one who brought her into this house!” “I am not in the mood for cute, Richard,” Maggie snaps. “Giving up my baby was so easy I thought I might as well give up the rest of my past while I’m at it.” Whereas Krystle is eventually able to channel her anger constructively (it is her initiative that leads to Krystina’s discovery at the end of the episode), Maggie remains bitter and pessimistic. “When I came here six years ago with a houseful of furniture, two grown kids, a husband, I had something I could reach out and touch, protect, be protected by, and now I have nothing,” she reflects.

    Krystle and Sarah Curtis make similarly curious wardrobe choices this week. In spite of the claustrophobic situations in which they each find themselves — Sarah holed up in an apartment with a sick child, Krystle waiting tensely at home for news of that same child — both women spend the ep dressed formally, in trouser-suits and buttoned-up blouses complete with fussy ties and bows. (Even when trying to sleep, Krystle does so in a tightly-belted twinset.) Each looks uncomfortably overdressed — but perhaps that’s the point: Krystle and Sarah are both emotionally straitjacketed by their circumstances and that also manifests itself physically.

    It’s hard to say who is the more inappropriate surrogate mother to the child she has abducted — Sarah or FALCON CREST’s Melissa. While Sarah addresses Krystina as if she were her dead daughter Cathy, Melissa treats the newborn Kevin to the following review of her latest nightclub performance: “The audience just adored me. It was almost as if they were making mad passionate love to me with their eyes.” (When Dan Fixx finds out about Melissa’s secret profession this week, she gives him the same “becoming my own person” spiel Lucy Ewing gave Ray Krebbs when he discovered her double life as a waitress, and he promises to keep her secret, just as Ray did Lucy’s.)

    This week’s episodes of DYNASTY and FALCON CREST conclude similarly. Just as Krystle arrives at the door of the apartment Sarah has secretly rented and hears her daughter’s voice coming from inside (“Mommy! … I want my mommy!”), Melissa is scarcely through the door of the apartment she has secretly rented when she discovers Angela holding the baby she (Melissa) has stolen from Chase and Maggie. (“I thought I’d give your nanny the day off,” Angela purrs.)

    There is further doorstep action in this week’s Ewing-verse. On KNOTS, Mack shows up unexpectedly at Anne’s door and hears her on the phone to Karen, mocking her way of life (“Your little tract house, your little dead-end street, your little dead-end life, with your little outdoor barbecue grill and your little ‘Kiss the Cook’ apron — it all makes me sick”) and freely admitting that her suicide attempt was staged (“I never intended to die. I intended to bring Mack to his senses”). Elsewhere in the same episode, Olivia pays an uninvited call to Peter Hollister’s apartment and glimpses a semi-nude Paige coming out of his bathroom. Mack receives a second, even nastier, surprise on Anne’s doorstep in the final scene when she informs him that Greg is Paige’s real father.

    DALLAS, meanwhile, is bookended by house calls from Jeremy Wendell. In the opening scene, he visits April’s condo with the intention of buying her five percent of Ewing Oil, only to find JR waiting for him: “Wendell, you just flat underestimated me … It’ll be a cold day in hell before you ever own a piece of Ewing Oil.” “You made a fool of me,” Jeremy concedes. “I will have to try to see it doesn’t happen again.” He makes good on this intention in the closing scene when he makes another visit, this time to the home of Nancy Scotfield in Navarro. Here, he’s on the front foot, assuring Mrs S that he can do what her local newspaper can’t: expose the evidence against the Ewings she has obtained from the CIA while protecting her and her family: “There’s only one man that’s going behind bars and that’s JR Ewing.”

    The story of the Anne/Mack/Karen triangle culminates in a reaffirmation of both the Mackenzies’ core values and those at the heart of KNOTS itself. “I love our house … I love how quiet it is on a cul-de-sac,” declares Mack after he has invited Anne to witness him present his wife with a string of hot dog sausages while wearing the aforementioned ‘Kiss the Cook’ apron. In fascinating contrast, the core value at the heart of DALLAS — the Ewing family sticking together against outsiders (“That’s what makes us unbeatable,” as Miss Ellie once said) — come under fire from several quarters this week, not least from Ellie herself.

    It starts in an interestingly low-key way, with a minor news report in the Dallas Press: “Navarro Weekly Sentinel Reports Ewing Oil-CIA Cover-Up.” The Ewing boys’ first instinct is the traditional one — to unite against their enemies — and so Bobby and JR visit Mr Harrigan, editor of the Navarro Sentinel to strong-arm him into retracting the story. JR sounds decidedly Trumpian as he rewrites history to suit his own ends: “My family built Texas into the great state it is right now and this is the thanks we get for it?” Harrigan is resolutely unimpressed: “Thanks? You want thanks? What for — putting half this county on the unemployment line? … You’re as guilty as sin and you know it. Otherwise, you wouldn’t be down here.” The brothers, with a little help from the CIA, succeed in shutting Harrigan up, but the damage to the Ewing reputation has already been done.

    There follows a little gem of a scene where Miss Ellie and Clayton, attempting to escape the tense atmosphere at Southfork, arrive at the Oil Baron’s Club for dinner but find no respite. “If I was a member of that family I’d put a mask on before I’d venture out on the street,” proclaims one nameless diner, loud enough for them to hear. Be it small-town newspaper editors tearing a strip off JR and Bobby, day players heckling Barbara Bel Geddes, or Mrs Scotfield storing photocopies of incriminating evidence in her refrigerator the way Mack Mackenzie stores hot dog sausages, there’s something hugely satisfying — not to mention excitingly subversive — about seeing the high and mighty Ewing family knocked off their pedestals by their social inferiors. After nine years, DALLAS still has the power to surprise.

    This all leads to Miss Ellie’s terrific speech delivered to JR and Bobby in which she disavows the whole notion of ‘Ewings Unite’: “I always thought that no matter what happened, I’d always stand by my family. It was always that way with the Ewings ... We always stuck up for each other, even when we knew we were wrong. But no more. It’s gone too far and I won’t defend either of you any longer … You’re both on your own now and as far as Ewing Oil goes, it should have died with your daddy … Don’t you ever, ever speak his name in front of me again.”

    All this and the return of Mandy Winger!

    1 (2) DALLAS
    2 (1) KNOTS LANDING
    3 (3) DYNASTY
    4 (4) FALCON CREST
     
    Last edited: Dec 29, 2017
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  5. James from London

    James from London Soap Chat Dream Maker

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    29 Apr 87: DYNASTY: The Affair v. 30 Apr 87: KNOTS LANDING: Parental Guidance v. 01 May 87: DALLAS: The Dark at the End of the Tunnel v. 01 May 87: FALCON CREST: The Great Karlotti

    The relationships between Clay Fallmont and Leslie on DYNASTY and Peter Hollister and Paige on KNOTS each move up a notch this week. While Leslie agrees to move in with Clay, Paige drops some heavy hints about her and Peter’s future. “I could be the perfect wife for the rising politician,” she tells him. Both couples are then rocked by a similar bombshell. Just as Anne Matheson claimed that at the end of the last episode of KNOTS that Greg Sumner is Paige’s real father, Buck Fallmont insists at the start of this week’s DYNASTY that Ben Carrington is Clay’s. Not that either Anne or Buck is necessarily a reliable witness. “She’s unstable,” Karen points out on KNOTS. “He’s nothing a drunken liar,” insists Clay on DYNASTY. In both cases, the mother in question is no longer around to give her side of the story: Emily Fallmont is dead while Anne has high-tailed back to Long Island between episodes. But what if Buck and Anne are telling the truth? “It means your niece is sleeping with her brother!” Buck tells Blake. “She’s dating Greg Sumner’s brother!” Karen tells Mack — which would mean that Paige is sleeping with her uncle (except that she isn’t because Peter and Greg aren’t really related). Interestingly, the word incest is avoided on both shows.

    Prior to this week, the pairing of Leslie and Clay has felt a bit forced. Sparring work colleagues whose initial antagonism belies a mutual attraction, it seemed like the writers were aiming for a screwball-comedy battle-of-the-sexes romance with a ‘80s twist, but instead, the characters came across as smug and robotic. Paige and Peter are a pretty smug couple too — smug to the point of narcissistic in Paige’s case (for example, the scene in this week’s ep where she lists her attributes while admiring herself in the mirror: “I’m pretty, but don’t intimidate other women, I’m rich, but not too rich to embarrass the middle class, well-read, properly schooled and always au courant.”) The big difference is that on KNOTS, the characters’ self-regard has been factored into the story-telling. In fact, Abby exploits both Peter’s and Paige’s vanities in order to split them up this week.

    Once Clay and Leslie became caught up in the wider story of Fallmonts and the Carringtons, however, they instantly become more sympathetic. As Blake says, “these are two innocent kids,” which makes it easier to forgive their previous shortcomings. Likewise on KNOTS, for all of Paige’s self-involvement (“You are so spoiled you think that wanting something automatically makes it yours,” Peter tells her), there’s an inbuilt vulnerability about her — due in part to the fact that, for the bulk of this week’s episode, we know, but she doesn’t, about the question mark hanging over her paternity.

    “You can’t believe Mother. She just said it to be vindictive,” Paige insists tearfully when Mack eventually breaks the bad news, echoing Leslie’s reaction to Clay’s bombshell: “This can’t be true! We can’t be brother and sister!”

    There are some noteworthy female encounters in each of this week’s soaps. DYNASTY begins and ends on familiar ground, with Alexis and Krystle clashing over the arrangements for Adam and Dana’s wedding at the mansion. In the final scene, Krystle calls Alexis to complain about the unscheduled appearance of a workman in the house. When Alexis asks to speak to the man, Krystle realises he has disappeared — a situation deemed significant enough to warrant an end-of-episode freeze-frame of her surprised face.

    Over on DALLAS, there’s a great scene where Pam pays a visit to new neighbour Jenna in an effort to “break the ice” now that “we’re going to be moving in some of the same circles.” Jenna remains enjoyably defiant throughout (“We can’t just smoke a peace pipe and be pals — there’s been too much history,” she declares) but Pam still gets the last word. “There’s a new time coming, Jenna — for all of us,” she says spookily.

    Abby and Sue Ellen deal with their female adversaries more circuitously. On KNOTS, Abby reacts to the discovery that Paige has been sleeping with Peter by encouraging her in her belief that Peter wants to marry her. (“Maybe when you two set the date, we can have the reception right here at Lotus Point,” she adds sweetly). At the same time, Abby tricks Peter into thinking that she is willing to marry him herself — but only after he has told Paige to “take a hike”, which he eventually does.

    Over on DALLAS, whatever game Sue Ellen is playing regarding Mandy Winger is less clear. The women share two scenes this week, but without speaking or even making eye-contact. The first is an impressively shot sequence where Sue Ellen observes Mandy from a distance during a sexy photo shoot. She listens as Ozwald Valentine and Bruce Harvey lavish praise on Mandy. While Ozwald refers to her as “the goddess of lingerie”, Bruce describes her as “a very rare and profitable commodity.” As Bruce chatters on about movie scripts (“the usual potboiler detective-psycho-killer-type things, but they could be special if the psycho was to stalk Mandy Winger in the hot tub”), the camera moves in on Sue Ellen, scrutinising her as closely as she is scrutinising Mandy. The scene ends with her face in extreme close-up, her expression giving nothing away. In the second scene, Sue Ellen arranges for Mandy and JR to run into each other in a restaurant. Again, she watches from a distance, unobserved. This is Soap Land Scheming 101, but turned on its head so that the traditional victim, Sue Ellen, is now the one pulling the strings.

    Alas, the scenes between Angela and Melissa on FALCON CREST are memorable for all the wrong reasons. The episode starts promisingly with Angela telling Melissa that she doesn’t intend to inform Chase and Maggie of their missing baby’s whereabouts. “And ease Chase’s mind? Don’t be silly,” she says casually. This would appear to herald a return to the wantonly cruel Angela of FALCON CREST’s early years, a welcome development after the increasingly benign, almost sitcom character she has become over the last couple of seasons. But what happens next is just baffling. As the price for keeping quiet about her baby-napping, Angela orders Melissa to put on a silly dress and record a song in her (Angela’s) living room with some long-haired musicians. That’s it. An equivalent scenario would be Greg Sumner reacting to the discovery that Abby knew about the kidnapping of Val’s twins by forcing her to wear an unflattering shade of eyeshadow and perform a stand-up routine at Lotus Point. Even judged on its own infantile terms, Angela’s punishment makes little sense. The dress she makes Melissa wear is, in truth, scarcely more over-the-top than a regular Soap Land party gown. If the idea is to humiliate Melissa, wouldn’t it be more effective to force her to dress plainly and without makeup? And why order her to sing when that’s what she wants to do anyway? And why would Angela leave Melissa and a bunch of reprobate musicians alone in her own house? I’ll willingly go along with Moldavian massacres, dream seasons, UFOs, doppelgängers and any number of characters returning from the dead, but this plot development has me genuinely stumped — not because it’s far-fetched or illogical, but because it’s just so half-hearted, so limp, that it scarcely qualifies as drama or comedy or anything else. It’s hard to imagine anyone over the age of ten finding it satisfying.

    Three weeks after Donna Krebbs gave birth to daughter Margaret on DALLAS, Laura Avery gives birth to daughter Marguerite on KNOTS. As with Donna, the delivery befits Laura’s understated persona, occurring discreetly offscreen with zero dramatics. The soapy stuff comes later when Mack confronts Greg, busy celebrating his newly acquired daughter, with the possibility that he could also be Paige’s father. “What happened twenty years ago?” Mack asks him. “Whatever happened doesn’t make babies,” he replies emphatically before adding, “one daughter a day is enough.” (Watching this scene with hindsight, the ironies are inescapable. Just as Mack will eventually “lose” Paige to Greg, Greg will eventually “lose” Meg to Mack.)

    “He’s gone,” says Krystle of the missing workman at the end of DYNASTY. “With the wind?” quips Alexis in reply. “We will make Gone with the Wind, but further down the line,” Bruce Harvey assures Sue Ellen during Mandy’s photo shoot. Casablanca is also referenced on DALLAS when the freshly minted April celebrates the acquisition of her new restaurant by first firing the concierge who had previously refused to seat her as an unaccompanied woman (within the parameters of mid-‘80s DALLAS, this pretty much counts as a major feminist victory), and then by telling her pianist to “play it again, Sam.” On FALCON CREST, Vince Karlotti shows up to his and Emma’s wedding rehearsal so heavily disguised that their adoptive son Wendell calls him Inspector Gadget.

    However, the most prominent cultural reference of the week is made by Ben Gibson on KNOTS when he compares himself to the English officer in Bridge Over the River Kwai (“Alec Guinness played him in the movie”) who became so obsessed with the assignment he had been given that he ended up endangering his own men. “I wasn’t protecting my family. I was ruining it,” Ben realises. No sooner does he announce his intention to get back to work than he is offered an overseas assignment. “The old boy is back!” says Val with relief. So why does this feel more like an ending than a beginning? Mostly because of the conversation Ben then has with Gary about the twins. (“It’s kind of nice to know that there’s someone who feels responsible enough for your kids to take over. That’s the kind of insurance that money can’t buy.”) The scene is a bit like a companion piece to the one between Ray Krebbs and Senator Dowling on last week’s DALLAS. There is a similar tone of conciliation between the two men, but whereas Ray made it clear that he will remain Margaret’s father no matter what, here Ben is all but handing parental responsibility for Bobby and Betsy over to Gary.

    As Pam says, “There’s a new time coming … for all of us.” It just might not be coming in a way the characters anticipate. As Val waves Ben off on his trip, she is unaware of the grim expression on his face as his cab pulls away from the cul-de-sac. On DALLAS, the rest of the family follow Bobby’s lead and decide to sell their shares of Ewing Oil to JR. The consensus is that this is a positive move, one that represents a fresh start for all concerned. “I thought I’d be mourning the loss of Ewing Oil but all I feel is relief, like a giant stone has been lifted from my shoulders,” says Bobby. “This breakup of the company, I really think it’s going to be for the best,” declares Miss Ellie who allows herself to believe that, “after all the dust is settled, everything will fall into place and things will be right in this family.” Running counter to the Ewings’ optimism, however, is Jeremy Wendell’s visit to the Justice Department in Washington where he discreetly hands over “some very regrettable information” about “one of my fellow oilmen.” These two storylines collide at the end of the ep when Senator Dowling informs Donna that the government is gunning for Ewing Oil. This sets in motion a slightly bonkers chain of events as Donna calls Southfork to tip off Miss Ellie who then turns into a hysterical, blubbering mess which in turn sends Clayton into a murderous rage. He physically attacks JR and ends up falling down the stairs, Sable Colby-style. “He’s not breathing!” JR exclaims.

    On this week’s DYNASTY, Sarah Curtis visits her daughter’s grave in Wyoming (“Cathy Curtis, beloved daughter of Boyd and Sarah, 1983 - 1987”) accompanied by Krystle. On this week’s FALCON CREST, Maggie Gioberti visits her rapist’s grave in Chicago (“Jeffrey Wainwright 1948 - 1986”) accompanied by Chase. Sarah has been in denial about Cathy’s death since kidnapping Krystina and it’s only now that she is able to face the truth, thus bringing her storyline to a close. Maggie, meanwhile, has been spooked by the sight of Jeff’s identical brother and wants to make sure he’s really dead. She breaks down at the graveside and starts hitting Chase. This leads to a pivotal scene where Maggie and Chase discuss their feelings of resentment towards each another, really for the first time. While bringing them closer together (“All the hard feelings between us just start to take a back seat,” says Chase), it also makes them realise that their marriage is definitely over. (“This is never gonna work out, is it?” Maggie realises). This puts the Giobertis in a similar position to the Krebbses on DALLAS. “Donna and I did a lot of talking while I was in Washington and that part of my life is behind me,” Ray tells Jenna before kissing her for the very first time. Likewise, upon returning from Chicago, Maggie finally admits to Richard that she is “a little in love” with him.

    On DALLAS, Bobby’s claim that he has been “in touch” with brother Gary in California regarding the dissolution of Ewing Oil (“I have his power of attorney. He’s agreeable to the sale on any terms I approve”) is interesting given that, as far as Gary and everyone else in KNOTS LANDING is concerned, Bobby is still dead and buried. There’s another reminder of the Dream Season on FALCON CREST. “Sometimes I wish I would wake up one morning and find this whole past year had been a bad dream,” says Maggie knowingly.

    Two months ago, Francesca Colby became the first Soap Land bride to faint at the altar. In the closing scene of this week’s FALCON CREST, Emma becomes the second. This time, the cause of her collapse isn’t the sight of a back-from-the-dead husband but the appearance of her bigamist groom’s four other wives, one of whom tries to shoot him. This sequence is a slight improvement on the Angela-makes-Melissa-wear-a-dress scenario but nonetheless feels like a soap opera pastiche created by people who don’t really like soap operas. But then, in true schizophrenic FC style, the episode ends with a quintessentially soapy twist as Eric Stavros upstages Emma’s non-wedding by announcing that “three days ago, Vicky Gioberti and I got married!”

    Eric Stavros and Clay Fallmont arrived in Soap Land within a week of each other, roughly two-thirds of the way through last season. Back then, they had a lot in common: an outdoorsy, daredevil reputation, a well-meaning nature and a weakness for young, high-maintenance divorcees. A year or so later, their paths have diverged. While Clay has knuckled down to an honest job working for Dex Dexter, Eric has become a pleasure-seeking playboy since hooking up with the equally wayward Vicky. Traditionally, when one person in a Soap Land relationship is irresponsible or decadent, their behaviour is tempered by that of their more sensible partner, e.g., Fallon and Jeff in early DYNASTY; Lucy and Mitch on DALLAS. This is the first instance I can think of where both parties are equally hedonistic. With no restraining influence, where will Eric and Vicky end up?

    If the new Eric Stavros resembles any current DYNASTY character, it is Dirk Maurier’s enjoyably sleazy nephew Gavin, who’s like a younger Peter de Vilbis with an English accent. He’s in Denver looking for money and so sweeps Alexis off her feet in much the way de Vilbis did Fallon. This week, he takes Alexis for a spin on his motorbike and, in an MTV-style montage scored to Kenny Loggins’ ‘Danger Zone’ (continuing the trend begun by this season’s KNOTS of using original pop recordings for such scenes rather than tinny soundalikes à la PAPER DOLLS), introduces her to the dizzy delights of milkshakes, hotdogs (Mack ‘Kiss the Cook’ Mackenzie would surely approve) and disco dancing. Gavin’s even younger than Dex but, unsurprisingly, there is no reference to the age difference between them, unlike on KNOTS where this week Abby freely describes herself as “an older woman” in relation to Peter Hollister.

    Trend of the week: subordinates in distress. Mrs Gunnerson sulks on DYNASTY when Alexis brings in outside caterers for Adam and Dana’s wedding, Phyllis cries on DALLAS when Bobby tells her Ewing Oil is being dissolved, and Chao Li continues with his duties on FALCON CREST in spite of his worsening physical condition. These people live to serve.

    And this week’s Top 4 are …
    1 (1) DALLAS
    2 (2) KNOTS LANDING
    3 (3) DYNASTY
    4 (4) FALCON CREST
     
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  6. Daniel Avery

    Daniel Avery Super Moderator Staff Member

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    In true Greg Sumner fashion, he can't help but inflate Meg's birth weight every time he tells the story. What started as 8 lb. 3 oz. then became 8/6oz. when asked by someone, then 8/8oz. when asked again. "She's the spittin' image of her old man...she's even got teeth!"
     
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  7. Willie Oleson

    Willie Oleson drilling for soap

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    But let's not forget that PAPER DOLLS had a real rock star (eventhough it took me a while to realize that he was a real person and not a character).
     
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  8. James from London

    James from London Soap Chat Dream Maker

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    06 May 87: DYNASTY: Shadow Play v. 07 May 87: KNOTS LANDING: Do Not Fold, Spindle, or Mutilate v. 08 May 87: DALLAS: Two-Fifty v. 08 May 87: FALCON CREST: Chain Reaction

    The penultimate week of the Soap Land season and there’s a birth on DALLAS, a death on KNOTS LANDING and a wedding on DYNASTY. FALCON CREST weighs in with a murder trial, a couple of kidnappings and a poignant scene in which Chase and Maggie agree to a divorce without actually mentioning the word itself.

    The theme of men abandoning their families for their own good, which began with Ben Gibson driving away from Seaview Circle on last week’s KNOTS, continues in this week’s DYNASTY. First, Ben Carrington decides to leave Denver. “The less you have of me in your life the better,” he tells daughter Leslie. Then Ben’s nephew Steven tells his young son that he too is leaving town “because I have another job in another city.” Alone with Sammy Jo, Steven admits that the job is a lie and that he is moving away for Danny’s sake: “As long as we’re in the same town, Danny will never understand why we’re not living under the same roof.” Back on KNOTS, Val discovers that Ben has been lying about his out-of-town job as well. “He’s not working for us,” say the news agency he is supposedly on assignment for.

    “The girl I’m in love with may be my sister!” says Clay on DYNASTY. “I almost married my uncle!” shouts Paige on KNOTS. Still reeling from last week’s paternity bombshells, both characters confront the men who might be their real fathers. While Clay barges uninvited into Ben Carrington’s office, Paige turns up unexpectedly at the Sumner ranch to find Greg and Laura cooing over their new baby. Where Clay insists on a paternity test, Paige asks about Greg’s relationship with her mother. Each is denied a satisfactory conclusion. On DYNASTY, the blood tests prove inconclusive. “Either Ben or Buck could be my father,” says Clay. “We’ll never know for sure.” Meanwhile, Paige cannot be certain that Greg is telling the truth when he insists that he never slept with Anne behind Mack’s back. (“I always thought there was something there,” Paige’s grandfather tells her when she asks him about the relationship.)

    Blood tests also figure on FALCON CREST. During a punch-up with Lance in the Agretti house, Chase upsets a wastepaper basket and out spills the stolen blood sample that would have proved him to be the father of Maggie’s baby. This leads him to conclude that, not only have Lance and Melissa failed to empty their trash for about three months (looks like Anne Matheson isn’t the only Soap Land character to need the concept of “garbage day” explained to her), but that Melissa must be the one who kidnapped Kevin.

    “I don’t care what Greg Sumner says. You’ve become a daughter to me and … I love you,” Mack tells Paige. Blake and Alexis feel pretty much the same about Adam’s on DYNASTY. “You’re our son. You always have been, you always will be our son,” they tell him, before making it legal by presenting him with adoption papers on the day of his wedding to Dana.

    Clay and Paige might not get to the bottom of their respective paternity mysteries, but DYNASTY and KNOTS each employ the use of flashbacks to answer those questions for the audience. While looking at her photograph, Buck Fallmont recalls his wife’s final words: “Clay is your son, I swear to you.” “I believe you, Emily,” he replies in the present. “Clay is our son and if I had to lie, it was worth it. At least now no more Fallmonts will be sleeping with Carringtons.” Buck’s gesture, however twisted — he has sacrificed his relationship with his own son in order to save him from what he believes to be a terrible fate, i.e., “sleeping with Carringtons” — slots neatly into the ongoing theme of fathers giving up their children for their own good. Over on KNOTS, Greg flashes back to a scene of his younger self making a move on the young Anne. “Even if I weren’t seeing Mack, I still wouldn’t give you the time of day,” she tells him categorically. As with Buck, Greg then confirms the truth of what we have just seen by speaking aloud in the present. “Your dad struck out,” he tells his baby daughter. It’s very cool how the 1967 flashbacks have spanned the entirety of this season’s KNOTS, serving different purposes along the way — from illustrating Mack and Anne’s courtship to explaining Mack and Greg’s past relationship with Phil Harbert to resolving the issue of Paige’s paternity.

    With the Fallmonts’ storyline concluded, Clay becomes the latest character to join the Soap Land exodus. (Dominique Devereaux also makes her final appearance this week, her low-key exit in stark contrast to the grand entrance she made almost exactly three years earlier.) It’s the end of the road for KNOTS LANDING’s Peter Hollister too. The farewell scenes between Clay and Leslie on DYNASTY and Peter and Paige on KNOTS could not be more different. “I’ll try not to think about you,” says Clay as he takes Leslie in his arms for one last tearful embrace. “God, it’s not going to be easy.” “You son of a bitch!” screams Paige, throwing plates at Peter. “My father — your brother. That’s why you didn’t marry me, right?” Peter laughs in surprise; this the first he’s heard of the matter. It’s also the last thing he ever hears — for next time we see him, Olivia is kneeling over his bloodied corpse while looking up at Abby who is frantically wiping her hands. This is one of those scenes that’s even more rewarding to watch in hindsight than it was the first time around.

    Given that it’s the season finale, this week’s DYNASTY is unusually conflict-free. Adam and Dana’s wedding is Soap Land’s most harmonious since Pam Ewing and Mark Graison’s a year ago, with the Carringtons, including Alexis, acting like one big happy family. It’s only in the last three minutes of the episode after the newlyweds have left on their honeymoon and the guests have gone home, that things go suddenly nuts. While Alexis’s car plunges off a bridge and into a river, a bunch of men speaking in a foreign language, each with a strange insignia on his hand, infiltrate the mansion and proceed to take the remaining Carringtons hostage.

    In contrast to the cordial Carringtons, the Ewings of DALLAS are divided following the news that the company is being investigated by the Justice Department. “You’re on your own on this one … As far as I’m concerned, you can go to hell in a handcart,” Ray tells JR. “Let the boys handle Ewing Oil. We’ve got our own lives to lead,” Clayton tells Miss Ellie. “There may not be a Ewing Oil left, get out while you can,” Pam urges her brother. Ironically, Cliff is the one character who cannot bring himself to desert JR’s company in its hour of need. “I just can’t let go,” he admits. But however much they might like to, the Ewings cannot disentangle themselves from one another quite so easily. “They hang, they all hang together,” Senator Dowling tells Donna gravely.

    Consequently, this week’s DALLAS might easily be subtitled “Mr Ewing goes to Washington” as JR spends most of the episode in the nation’s capital calling in markers, trying to make the evidence against him disappear. To that end, he gets to enact his own version of the Deep Throat scene from All the President’s Men, complete with a darkly lit parking garage and anonymous informant. FALCON CREST stages its own movie reenactments too. A week after April Stevens told her pianist to “play it again, Sam,” Richard Channing surprises Maggie with a Casablanca themed dinner for two, complete with costumes and a piano playing ‘As Time Goes By’. (To be honest, it’s a bit naff — Richard and Maggie are strong enough characters to carry a romantic scene without resorting to such gimmickry.) Later in the same ep, as part of a prolonged flashback sequence during Tony Cumson’s murder trial, Kit Marlowe and Roland Saunders deliver their own equivalent of Casablanca’s final airport scene — the same scene referenced by Blake, Krystle and Sarah Curtis on DYNASTY a couple of months ago, only here the “homage” is more blatant. More fun is noting the parallels between Kit’s surprise court appearance and Alexis’s on DYNASTY six years earlier. Like Alexis, she makes her big entrance in a hat and veil, then gives testimony about a prior relationship with a rich man who neglected her, prompting her to seek comfort in the arms of someone else. The rich man found them in bed together, had the lover beaten up and then separated her from her child. However, the best moment of the trial is Peter Stavros suddenly standing up and confessing to Saunders’ murder. First Clayton Farlow trying to kill JR and now this — elderly stepfathers with murderous impulses are becoming something of a trend.

    While cultural references are common enough, it’s more unusual for Soap Land to allude to real-life news events. So the following stand out: On KNOTS, when Karen overrides Abby’s decision to fire Paige from Lotus Point “because she’s had a rough time lately and she deserves a second chance,” Abby argues that “the Ayatollah Khomeini has had a rough time lately and I don’t think he deserves a second chance.” Even more topical is JR’s line to CIA Agent Daltery on DALLAS: “I understand that when the Iran scam broke loose, they shredded enough paper to bury fifty people.” “I remember when Reagan was a Democrat,” quips Bobby in the same episode.

    Even more interesting, and also strangely moving, is Soap Land’s first acknowledgement of the AIDS epidemic. This takes place on DYNASTY during one of those meaty father/son chats that often occur on the morning of a big Carrington wedding. Steven tells Blake that he intends to leave Denver. It’s when he mentions his plan to move to “the East Coast, I was happy there once” that alarm bells start ringing for Blake: the East Coast means New York, New York means Ted Dinard, Ted Dinard means gay sex, and these days gay sex means … “Don’t do it,” he urges. “Suddenly the world out there is different. There are new things to consider. I’m worried about you being out in that kind of a world.” “You’re talking about AIDS, right?” surmises Steven. “I’m talking about a disease that kills,” Blake replies. “It’s no longer just a gay disease. It doesn’t matter if somebody’s gay or straight, it’ll catch up with you if you’re not careful.” But of course, it does matter, otherwise why make Steven the focus of this topic? That contradiction isn’t peculiar to DYNASTY, however; it reflects the prevailing mindset of the time. “Dad, I’m as aware of the problem as you are and I can take care of myself,” Steven assures his father. “I know about safe sex and I know about celibacy if that becomes necessary.” While it’s ironic that Steven, arguably Soap Land’s least sexually active character, should be the one to introduce the concept of safe sex, there’s also something fascinating, and kind of touching, about Blake’s conviction that his son will be OK so long he remains within the glossy, heteronormative confines of DYNASTY itself; it’s only in “the world out there” that the danger lies: “This choice that you’re making is scaring the hell out of me. Son, I love you. I don’t want to see you die.” By the end of the episode, the lives of Steven, Blake and the rest of their family are all in jeopardy anyway, AIDS or no AIDS.

    Whereas Steven plans to leave Denver and venture into an offscreen real world fraught with danger, Mandy Winger expresses a desire to remain in Dallas and leave behind an offscreen fantasy world of Hollywood stardom. Mandy’s agent is almost as alarmed by her decision as Blake is by Steven’s. “You must be out of your mind!” she tells her. “Valentine Lingerie means a lot,” Mandy insists. “It’s given me everything I have.” “It’s given you some things and it’s taken away others,” replies Sue Ellen icily.

    While Sue Ellen retains a veneer of politeness towards Mandy, the gloves are finally off between Abby and her younger rival on KNOTS. Intriguingly, Abby’s opening salvo is aimed at Paige’s background: “You’re nothing but a little spoiled rich kid.” She then proceeds to define herself against Paige’s privileged upbringing: “Everything I have, I’ve earned. Everything you have, you’ve been given. I know it galls you. It galls people of your class to see a woman like me who’s earned what you thought was yours by birth. People like you are threatened by people like me because, deep down, you’re worried you won’t be able to cut it without your trust fund.” Hmm, I guess it’s how you define the word “earned”, but Abby’s depiction of herself here doesn’t quite jibe with the carefree woman who moved into the cul-de-sac seven years earlier with an eye for married men and a work ethic no stronger than Anne Matheson’s on garbage day. There’s a similar disconnect on DYNASTY between Alexis’s portrayal of herself as an independent woman of the ‘80s (“God, what is it with you men? Is it something that feeds your little ego that you think that a woman isn’t complete unless she’s either with one of you or pining for one of you? … I can take care of myself and I don’t need anyone”) and the emotional mess she becomes as soon as Dex calls her “a very lonely lady with nothing and no one in your life.” Minutes later, she’s tearfully driving herself off a bridge.

    While counselling a younger woman — anxious bride-to-be Dana and lovelorn Olivia respectively — DYNASTY’s Krystle and KNOTS LANDING’s Abby each find the time to recall an old love affair this week. “When I went to work for Denver Carrington, I met a man,” Krystle recalls. “He was lonely and needed someone to talk to. We became friends and then, eventually, involved.” “When I was just a little bit older than you are now,” Abby tells her daughter, “I fell in love … He was a graduate student. I knew we were going to get married.” Whereas Krystle’s recollection ends happily (“I met and fell madly in love with Blake and from that moment, the past didn’t matter”), Abby’s story concludes more poignantly: “He went and married someone else. I thought I was going to die. I really did.” In both cases, the writers have ulterior motives for sending their characters down memory lane. Krystle’s story sets us up for the end of the season cliffhanger when the man in question, Matthew Blaisdel, makes a shock return from the dead (almost exactly a year after Bobby Ewing made a shock return from the dead for the end of season cliffhanger on DALLAS). “I’ve come back for what belongs to me, what you stole from me,” he tells Blake while looking at Krystle. Maybe he wants his sex tape back. And the reason behind Abby’s little anecdote? Well, that has yet to be revealed.

    Following Donna Krebbs and Laura Avery, Jenna Wade becomes the third Soap Land mother in little over a month to give birth in a straightforward, non-melodramatic fashion. Once again, the soapy complications arise outside of the delivery room. Bobby, rather than Ray, is on hand when she goes into labour and it falls to Pam, of all people, to track down Ray and Charlie and bring them to the hospital where the nurse inevitably mistakes Ray for the daddy. “Congratulate him. He’s the father,” says Ray pointedly, looking at Bobby.

    And this week’s Top 4 are …

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

    That was one of those instances where a real person in a fake world looks even faker than everyone else around him.
     
    Last edited: Jan 14, 2018
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  9. James from London

    James from London Soap Chat Dream Maker

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    14 May 87: KNOTS LANDING: Cement the Relationship v. 15 May 87: DALLAS: Fall of the House of Ewing v. 15 May 87: FALCON CREST: Desperation

    It’s season finale time and on each show, a central character is attempting to cover up and/or get away with a major crime.

    KNOTS LANDING’s Abby, believing that her daughter Olivia has killed Peter Hollister, spends most of the episode trying frantically to hide all evidence of the murder, including the body itself, while simultaneously covering both Olivia’s tracks and her own. She’s in a comparable position to DYNASTY’s Alexis back when she discovered son Adam was poisoning Jeff Colby, but whereas Alexis allowed herself the luxury of panicking, Abby must keep a cool head. In fact, much of the pleasure of the instalment comes from watching her think on her feet and deal with each new complication as it arises. From dragging Peter’s corpse into the DJ booth in the Lotus Point clubhouse, only for his foot to trigger the switch that operates the turntable, thereby causing loud music to suddenly burst through the speakers, to digging up the body she has already buried in order to retrieve Peter’s car keys, there’s a rich seam of Hitchcockian black comedy running throughout the ep.

    In contrast to KNOTS, which is as carefully plotted as Abby is thorough, the FALCON CREST finale is somewhat slapdash, reflecting Melissa’s ill-thought through scheme to flee the country with Chase and Maggie’s baby. Whereas the sight of the petite Abby struggling under the weight of Peter’s body as she attempts to bury it contributes to the tension (and humour) of her situation, FC offers no such attention to detail. The baby Melissa is running around with is clearly a fake and she is able to physically overpower the bigger, stronger Dan Fixx (to whom she has stupidly confided her plan) whenever the storyline requires. (That said, the stunt where Dan climbs from his moving motorcycle into the back seat of Melissa’s speeding car is pretty darn cool.)

    Over on DALLAS, with the government still breathing down his neck, JR looks for a way to bury the proof of his involvement with BD Calhoun. He meets again with his Deep Throat contact, but realising in the nick of time that he is being set up, makes his excuses and leaves. “I nailed the Abscam people, I’ve nailed senators, congressmen. How the hell did this Texan get off the hook?” complains his would-be entrapper. “This was just gonna be the icing on the cake anyway,” his associate assures him. “We got enough to nail this guy.”

    Indeed, whereas Abby’s and Melissa’s luck holds out almost until the end of their respective episodes, JR is pretty much doomed from the outset. This brings us to Donna Krebbs’ last scene of the series. Senator Dowling comes to her with the bad news: “The charges are coming in and they’re gonna bury the Ewings.” However, there is hope. “Justice can be served in a number of ways,” he explains. “Not everyone’s out for blood.” For instance, he could try to persuade the parties involved to come up with an alternative deal that doesn’t involve jail time for the Ewing boys. The implication is that Andrew will do this if Donna wants him to. “This doesn’t have anything to do with me anymore,” she tells him, almost pleadingly, as if she does not want to be given this responsibility. “Well, you can tell me how you feel,” he persists. “I think a thousand years behind bars would be just great for JR Ewing,” she replies, “but I don’t want to see the family hurt.”

    No previous character has been written out of Soap Land in quite the way Donna has. She moved away from Dallas and the Ewings some fifteen episodes ago which is when, theoretically, her story should have ended. Instead, the show travelled with her to Washington and has, in effect, watched over her until she has become settled in her new life. Now we know that she’s happy (“I think I’m very fortunate to have you, Andrew Dowling”), we can leave her there. However, there’s something poignantly open-ended about the fact the Ewing brothers will never know they have her to thank for keeping them out of jail.

    Two-thirds of the way through the episode, Ewing Oil is lost. What’s so striking is that this hugely significant moment comes not with a bang — with the DALLAS equivalent of Joan Collins standing atop a staircase gloating about the fact that she’s destroyed JR once and for all — but with a whimper, in a poky little office where some pissed-off day player informs JR and Bobby that the only way for them to stay out jail is to hand over one third of the company’s two billion dollar fortune. “Ewing Oil would be required to divest itself of all assets [including] the Ewing building … and the name must be retired.” There are no fireworks, no sentimentality. Harve Smithfield’s insistence that the Ewings are “patriotic American citizens” cuts no ice. The family’s credibility is down the crapper, and it’s really very satisfying.

    Actually, the Joan Collins moment comes in the penultimate scene when Jeremy Wendell shows up at Ewing Oil to deliver his equivalent of Alexis’s “Take this junk and your blonde tramp and get out of my home” speech to JR: “Take your boy and get out of my building … and take this eyesore with you.” The latter refers to the portrait of Jock he starts to remove from the wall. Instead of rushing up the staircase to throttle Jeremy as Blake did Alexis, JR manages to stop his opponent dead with a bark: “WENDELL! You touch that painting and I’ll kill you where you stand.”

    Back on KNOTS, Abby has buried Peter on the construction site of the children’s playground at Lotus Point. Construction then continues, the playground is finished and it looks like she’s got away with it — until the final scene when Karen notices a crack in the cement. “I hope it’s a settling crack, or else it could be structural … What do you think, Abby?” she asks. The season ends before Abby can reply.

    Elsewhere on KNOTS, Val has an eerie presentiment about the missing Ben, almost as if she has read next season’s script in advance. “I’m gonna be waiting by that phone tomorrow night at nine and the next night and every single night after that, hoping that I am wrong, but he won’t call because he’s not coming back,” she tells Lilimae.

    Watching these episodes in hindsight makes one even more precognitive than Val. One already knows that this is the last week we’ll see Victoria Principal or Chase Gioberti on screen, and so their scenes carry an extra weight. Upon hearing Pam’s final, reassuring words to Christopher (“You’re our son and you’ll always be our son”), one mentally fast forwards twenty-seven years to Jesse Metcalfe learning about her death on New DALLAS.

    At the end of the episode, Pam gets the news she’s been waiting for. “The doctor says everything looks fine. He thinks I can carry a baby the full term,” she tells Bobby over the phone just seconds before her car drives into a truck and explodes. (Even though I know it’s coming, the suddenness of the collision still shocks.) In a way, this is a variation of what happened at the end of “Swan Song”: Pam is too happy, she is flying too close to the sun — and so she must burn.

    Chase is also happy on FALCON CREST (missing baby notwithstanding) and he tells Gabrielle that he’s looking forward to “planning our future together.” However, it’s his vow to Angela that really resonates. “I’ll be haunting your every move,” he tells her.

    As well as being the most meta Soap Land season thus far, 1986/7 has also been the year of the flashback. KNOTS’ contribution has been the saga of Young Mack, Young Anne and Young Greg set in New York, 1967, which has been a rich ongoing thread spanning the entire year. The casting was creative too — Anne played by her onscreen daughter, Greg by his offscreen son and Doug Savant giving a spot-on version of Mack. DALLAS and DYNASTY, meanwhile, each flashed back to an iconic scene from their own backstory: Bobby and Pam’s 1978 wedding in New Orleans and Blake confronting Alexis in 1964 over her affair with Roger Grimes. On these occasions, the original actors gamely played younger versions of themselves. Now FALCON CREST does something even more inventive by flashing back to a young Angela Channing played by a young Jane Wyman (in actuality, a clip from her 1951 movie, The Blue Veil) for a scene in which her doctor tells her that her baby has died. Along with Anne and Mack dancing to ‘Dedicated to the One I Love’ on KNOTS, it’s the most pleasingly meta moment of the Soap Land year and helps sell the huge revelation that Angela’s firstborn child was … Richard Channing. (“He didn’t die. Douglas and Jacqueline Perrault stole him to hurt you. They faked the death certificate and sent him off to be raised in Europe. The boy grew up fed on hate.”) The loss of Ewing Oil may be what today’s TV kids call a game-changer, but Richard as Angela’s son? That’s the biggest Soap Land bombshell, like, ever.

    The final scene of FALCON CREST contains several familiar-seeming moments. First, Melissa’s car plunges into the water and sinks just as Alexis’s did on DYNASTY last week. Then Chase and Richard dive in after her, just as Jeff Colby did to save his mother in the penultimate episode of THE COLBYS. Then Maggie, waiting anxiously on the pier, wraps up the season by re-enacting Val Ewing’s slow-motion head-spin from the finale of KNOTS Season 6.

    And this week’s Top 3 are …

    1 (2) DALLAS
    2 (1) KNOTS
    3 (4) FALCON CREST
     
    Last edited: Jan 17, 2018
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  10. James from London

    James from London Soap Chat Dream Maker

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    23 Sep 87: DYNASTY: The Siege (1) v. 24 Sep 87: KNOTS LANDING: Missing Persons v. 25 Sep 87: DALLAS: After the Fall: Ewing Rise/After the Fall: Digger Redux

    At the end of last season’s DYNASTY, Alexis Colby lost control of her car and plunged into a river. At the end of last season’s DALLAS, Pam Ewing lost control of her car and crashed into an oil tanker. At the beginning of this new season, Alexis is pulled to safety by a mysterious passerby while Pam is being flown by medical helicopter to Soap Land Memorial Hospital. As Alexis recovers in her hospital bed, her blood pressure is recorded at 100/55 and her pulse at 70, while x-rays indicate “possible internal injuries with no evidence indicating any internal bleeding.” The medic administering to Pam, meanwhile, records her blood pressure as 80/30, her pulse as “very high, erratic”, and reports that she has “extensive third-degree burns … broken bones, internal bleeding.” Pam also suffers a cardiac arrest en route. No sooner does Alexis regain consciousness than she checks herself out of the hospital. By way of contrast, Pam cannot move and her prognosis is bleak.

    In some respects, the siege at the Carrington mansion in this week’s DYNASTY recalls the one at Southfork way back in the original DALLAS mini-series. Back then, the chief hostage taker was Luther Frick, played by Matthew Blaisdel’s old college pal Jake Dunham. This time around, Matthew himself is running the show. Where Luther forced Sue Ellen to don her Miss Texas swimsuit, Matthew insists that the Carrington servants, Mrs Gunnerson and Jeanette, put on Krystle’s jewellery in front of her. Where Pam pretended to Bobby over the phone that she and JR were about to play backgammon in the hopes of making him realise something was amiss, Krystle and Blake fake an argument in order to trick Matthew into believing that Blake is really willing to surrender his wife to him.

    Leslie Carrington, meanwhile, bases her escape strategy on Abby’s in “Moments of Truth”, the baby shower siege episode from Season 2 of KNOTS. As Abby did, she comes onto one of the gunmen in an attempt to grab his weapon. Instead of being told that she is “such a slut” by Laura Avery, Leslie receives an admonishment from Matthew Blaisdel after he foils her plan: “Sex is obviously some kind of plaything to you, Miss Carrington. These men have never met women like you.” In lieu of Laura slapping Abby, the gunman strikes Leslie. Dex intervenes and winds up getting shot, which kind of makes up for him being the only character not to get shot the last time a Carrington wedding was overrun by armed men.

    Bo Hopkins is just as compelling as Matthew as he was seven years ago — maybe even more so now he’s been transformed from a gentle but weary family man into … what? He has emerged from the same South American jungles that Wes Parmalee/Jock Ewing did a year ago. Just as the years away had changed Jock beyond recognition (to the extent that we weren’t even sure if he was Jock), we don’t quite know who Matthew is anymore either. Is he still the same rounded character he used to be or he is now just a two-dimensional villain? Perhaps he’s a bit of both. On one level, he’s angrier, more violent than he was, as well as being some kind of tribal leader. On another, he relates to the Carringtons as if this was still Season 1 and the rules of the show hadn’t changed. For instance, after all the tip-toeing around the topic of Steven’s sexuality last season, Matthew just comes right out and asks him, sympathetically, if he is “still having trouble with the gay bashers, the fag haters — like your father?”

    There’s something weird going on with time in this new Soap Land season. Fallon flew off in a spaceship at the end of THE COLBYS in March, six weeks before the DYNASTY season finale. When DYNASTY visits California in this week’s episode, it’s the same night it was in March and Jeff has only just become aware of Fallon’s absence. I recall Fox Mulder talking about the concept of “lost time” in an early episode of THE X-FILES — a missing period of time that invariably follows an alien abduction — but it’s supposed to last a matter of minutes, not months. There are further time discrepancies on KNOTS. Last season, Peter Hollister’s death took place the day after Ben Gibson left town. In this week’s episode, Peter’s been “gone for weeks” while Ben has been absent for three months.

    Then there are the anomalies in the “Last season on …” recaps at the beginning of this week’s DYNASTY and DALLAS. Amongst the clips of what we saw at the end of last season’s DYNASTY is something we didn’t see — Blake on the phone to Fallon in California, inviting her and Jeff to Adam’s wedding. How could they have spoken while she was in outer space? While Fallon shows up when she shouldn’t, Pam Ewing fails to appear when she should — Victoria Principal is nowhere to be seen in the DALLAS recap. She’s even missing from the clip of Pam’s car colliding with the truck. It’s like she’s been erased before she’s even gone.

    Pam isn’t gone, but she isn’t really here either. She’s not in the opening credits, she’s covered in bandages, she can’t speak, she’s barely conscious and she won’t be able to leave the hospital for a long, long time. “She’s in for a long haul with those burns … She’s got a lot of bridges to cross, some of them very, very difficult,” her doctor tells Bobby gravely. This is not the kind of medical prognosis we’re used to hearing in Soap Land where everything’s usually “a matter of life and death” followed by a speedy recovery. Pam’s not-quite-absence weighs heavily over the show. She’s not dead so no one can mourn her, but there’s no dramatic against-the-clock momentum about her situation either. All that’s left is a kind of oppressive sadness as the rest of the characters continue with their ongoing storylines as best they can. It’s oddly fascinating.

    Speaking of oddly fascinating, KNOTS unveils its new, radically altered opening titles this week. They are slow and dreamlike, the antithesis of all previous Soap Land openings which have been upbeat, fast-moving, bold and vaguely triumphant. Like Fallon in the DYNASTY-verse, Ben Gibson and Peter Hollister are still missing, but again, there is a distinct lack of urgency regarding their absences. While Val is resigned to the idea that her husband has gone for good (“I have to stay healthy for the kids’ sake because they only have one parent now,” she says sadly), Greg has no interest in his fake brother’s whereabouts (“Dead or alive, his career is over,” he shrugs). Meanwhile, Abby and Olivia keep their heads down and pray the whole thing just goes away.

    As one political storyline peters out (“Governor Appoints Hollister Replacement,” reads a small headline), another is just getting started. “That was a reporter from the Chronicle,” Matthew tells Blake after taking it upon himself to answer the Carrington phone. “She wanted to know if the rumour was true, that you’re being considered as a candidate for the upcoming gubernatorial primary?” This is the first we’ve heard of such an idea, but it won’t be the last.

    Blake somehow manages to convince Matthew into letting him leave the mansion long enough to obtain sufficient funds to finance his (Matthew’s) getaway with Krystle. When he subsequently returns (having alerted the authorities), he finds that everyone — his family, the servants, Matthew, his henchmen — has mysteriously vanished. Likewise, in the penultimate scene of DALLAS, Bobby finds that Christopher is missing from Southfork.

    As if to redress the balance, Jeff finds Fallon unconscious in front of the entrance to the Colby mansion. It’s as if she’s collapsed while trying to get back inside her old show, not realising it’s been cancelled. And at the very end of KNOTS, a discovery is made at Lotus Point: “Oh my God … I think it’s a body!”

    There are also some fresh arrivals in this week’s Soap Land. On DALLAS, Jeremy Wendell has, surprisingly, been replaced as the head of West Star by the younger, slightly sassier Wilson Cryder. In the most quintessentially ‘80s soap scene of the week, Cryder informs April Stevens that “The only time JR will cease to be a threat is when JR is dead.”

    The week’s other newcomers can be divided into two categories. In one corner, there are Alexis and Sue Ellen’s soon-to-be love interests. Both are younger men, both are darkly handsome in a slightly artificial, late-eighties sort of way. DYNASTY’s new recruit is the mystery man who saved Alexis from drowning. She tracks him down to thank him and finds him grumpily chopping wood. In spite, or perhaps because of his rudeness (“this wood isn’t going to chop itself,” he mutters, terminating their conversation), their first encounter leaves her looking intrigued while chewing thoughtfully on the arm of her sunglasses. Where Alexis’s nameless hero is surly, Sue Ellen’s prospective new business advisor, Nicholas Pearce, is charm personified and their introductory scene ends with some lingering eye contact.

    There are two more new faces, also male, but neither is conventional love interest material. Each is past the age of retirement and seems to fit the curmudgeonly sitcom stereotype of such elderly men. “You know how many hundreds of thousands of acres of trees are destroyed every year to make cups that people only use once and then throw away?” complains messenger guy Al on KNOTS. He may be new to us, but he’s sufficiently well known around Mack’s office to have gotten under Peggy’s skin. (“He never leaves without helping himself to the coffee,” she huffs.) Al’s DALLAS equivalent is Harrison “Dandy” Dandridge, a boozy old wildcatter. “Don’t you tell me I’m full of hot air!” he shouts in his first scene, knocking down a drinking buddy who has grown bored of his tales of smelling oil under the ground and the rich fields he was cheated out of. As if he didn’t already bear sufficient resemblance to Digger Barnes, the drunk he knocks down is played by one of the same drunks who listened to Digger’s equivalent story in his introductory scene nine years earlier. If Wes Parmalee was the new Jock, then Dandy is the new Digger. The similarity isn’t lost on Cliff who happens to be in the same bar, drowning his sorrows over Pam, and the two strike up a friendship.

    Al and Dandy exhibit a similarly ambivalent attitude towards Mack and Cliff’s respective offers of money. They’ll accept it, or in Dandy’s case simply help himself, but are at pains for it to be known that they aren’t merely freeloaders. “You gave me shoeshine money yesterday,” Al demurs when Mack offers him cash, but then allows him to tuck the notes into his waistcoat pocket anyway. Dandy, meanwhile, avails himself of the contents of Cliff’s wallet — but only so that he can restock Cliff’s refrigerator.

    Two former friendships are restored in this week’s Ewing-verse. Both reconciliations are informed by recent sad events. On KNOTS, prompted by Ben’s disappearance (as well as some cajoling from Karen), Laura stops by the cul-de-sac to see Val, whom she hasn’t spoken to since the whole your-husband-tried-to-kill-my-husband thing. While the dialogue is minimal (“I thought you’d like to see the baby, Val … This year’s been a bitch, hasn’t it?”), their reunion feels very significant, even more so in retrospect. On DALLAS, Ray comes to Southfork to offer Bobby his support following Pam’s accident. These two haven’t seen eye-to-eye since Ray moved Jenna into his house, but Bobby cordially acknowledges his concern. JR, however, is the brother he chooses to break down in front of. “She was so happy, JR,” he weeps. “She was so happy. She’d just come from the doctor and he’d told her that she could carry a baby till term. Do you know how long we’ve waited for that?” Since JR pushed Pam out of that hayloft, that’s how long.

    Bobby and JR’s relationship is suddenly fascinating again. The primary sources of their conflict have always been Pam and Ewing Oil, both of which have now been swept away — so where does that leave Soap Land’s original Cain and Abel? Nine years ago, JR vehemently objected to his brother coming to work at Ewing Oil. This week, he buys him his own office. “Even if we’re not working together, we’re still in the same business,” he reasons. “We need the competition, Bobby. Both of us do … I think it’s time we find out which one of us is the best man to fill Daddy’s shoes.” Even though JR is fully independent at long last, he still needs his baby bro to define himself against. He’ll even manufacture a(nother) contest between them in order to do so. This feels psychologically very rich — until one remembers that JR also has an ulterior motive. He’s already snuck a look at Pam’s will and discovered that “If Pam dies, little Christopher gets it all and Bobby gets to control it for him. Well, I guess Bobby and I will just have to get closer to one another again.”

    Theme of the week: traumatised kids sharing their parents’ beds. Olivia, who has taken to calling Abby “Mommy” since Peter’s death, comes to her room after one of her periodic nightmares and ends up bunking with her. “I’m scared, Daddy … Can I sleep with you tonight?” Christopher asks Bobby who agrees. This week’s scenes between Bobby and Christopher feel a lot more touching to me than on previous viewings. I’m sure that’s partly to do with seeing their subsequent relationship on New DALLAS — and of course, there’s the tragic irony that that series ends with Christopher trapped inside a burning car just as his mother was in this one.

    “I’ve come back for what belongs to me, what you stole from me,” Matthew told Blake at the end of last season’s DYNASTY. At the end of this week’s DALLAS, another forgotten face from the past also shows up to claim what she believes is rightfully hers. “I’m going to have everything that was yours,” Katherine tells Pam. I must admit to being so engrossed in Bobby and Christopher’s story that I forgot she was coming.

    And this week’s Top 3 are … this was a very close round …

    1 (1) DALLAS
    2 (-) DYNASTY
    3 (2) KNOTS LANDING
     
    Last edited: Jan 23, 2018
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  11. Mel O'Drama

    Mel O'Drama Super Moderator Staff Member

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    Wow. I hadn't thought of it that way.


    I'd love to know the story behind this added scene. Was it shot for the previous episode and omitted because it would raise too many questions from the viewer. Or was it specifically shot for the résumé? Each answer would be as fascinating as the other.


    Love it!


    During the end credits of this first episode - which followed the discovery of Peter's body - I convinced myself that the image was actually of the concrete itself. So I was quite surprised when the new look continued beyond these first few episodes.
     
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  12. Daniel Avery

    Daniel Avery Super Moderator Staff Member

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    I stress at every opportunity how much I loathe that two-season theme monstrosity. What were they thinking???
     
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  13. James from London

    James from London Soap Chat Dream Maker

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    30 Sep 87: DYNASTY: The Siege (2) v. 01 Oct 87: KNOTS LANDING: The Trouble with Peter v. 02 Oct 87: DALLAS: The Son Also Rises v. 02 Oct 87: FALCON CREST: Opening Moves

    At the end of last week’s DYNASTY and DALLAS, Blake Carrington entered the Carrington mansion to find his entire family had disappeared while Bobby Ewing discovered his son Christopher was missing from Southfork. Who will be the first man to track down his loved ones? While it takes Blake eighteen screen minutes to trace the remaining Carringtons to the old Lankershim/Blaisdel drill site where Matthew is still holding them hostage, Bobby learns within six screen minutes that Christopher has hitched a ride to Soap Memorial Hospital in the hopes of seeing his mother.

    During the DYNASTY siege, the Carrington servants confront their own mortality. “Oh Gerard, I don’t think we’re ever going to get out of here,” whispers Jeanette before lamenting all the things they had talked about doing but never gotten round to (“a Sunday afternoon picnic … ice skating at Christmas”), presumably because their lives revolve around serving their rich masters. Similarly, as Chao Li lies at the bottom of the FALCON CREST staircase after taking a Clayton Farlow-ish tumble at the end of last season, his priority is not himself but his employer’s daughter Emma, currently teetering on the edge of the roof in a white nightdress as if she was Joan van Ark in a remake of “Three Sisters”. Things aren’t quite so extreme for Phyllis on DALLAS, but when Bobby gives her the go-ahead to start furnishing his new offices, she nonetheless breaks into a smile of disproportionate joy.

    Falling down stairs isn’t the only thing Clayton and Chao Li have in common. Each refuses to take medical advice this week. “It’s my body and my life!” insists Clayton after being warned against over-exerting himself. “It’s my body! I won’t allow it!” echoes Chao Li when his doctor tells him surgery is “unavoidable”.

    DYNASTY’s Morgan Hess becomes the latest character to exhibit signs of soap fatigue this week when he refuses to fulfil his primary dramatic function — in this case as a money-hungry private eye. “Why don’t we forget it?” he suggests when Alexis orders him to find the man who saved her life in last week’s episode. “You know, every time I get involved with you, I end up in nothing but trouble … Sometimes the bucks just aren’t that important.” Hess’s DALLAS equivalent, Harry McSween, reacted similarly last season when JR told him to dispose of Garrett Gordon’s body and, for the first time, he refused to take orders. Just as JR was able to change Harry’s mind, Alexis wins Hess round by admitting that this is “a personal thing, an affair of the heart.” JR similarly opens up when Harry reappears on this week’s DALLAS, explaining his decision not to hang Jock’s painting in his new office until “I do something he’d be proud of.” But while JR is candid about some things, he is less forthcoming about others. “It would help if I knew why you wanted all of this,” Harry ventures, regarding his latest assignment. “All you need to know is that you paid for your last house in cash,” JR replies tersely. Over on FALCON CREST, Angela sends out similarly mixed messages to her consigliere, Jay Spence. First, she entrusts him with the highly sensitive revelation that Richard Channing is her son, but then blackmails him over an unspecified marital infidelity into making sure Richard never finds out: “I want that evidence buried so deep it’ll take another earthquake to dig it up.”

    During his discussion with Steven about AIDS at the end of last season, Blake painted a grim view of the outside world: “I’m worried about you being out in that kind of a world … I don’t want to see you die.” This week, Matthew suggests to Steven that the world outside is not as dangerous as the one he is currently living in. “You can’t survive in Blake Carrington’s world,” he tells him, “a jungle where men kill each other for sport or gain or survival.” Whereas Blake begged Steven to stay in Denver, Matthew asks him to accompany he and Krystle to “a place your father never allowed you to know … a good place, no war, no greed.”

    Is Matthew talking about the jungles of Peru or somewhere more otherworldly? Since his return, we’ve seen him endure a series of painful-looking headaches. As this is Soap Land where a headache is never simply a headache, might we assume that he is dying and this whole escapade has been some kind of elaborate suicide mission? Speaking of unexplained symptoms, Laura Avery suffers a slight dizzy spell on KNOTS. While in the real world, this could easily be the result of low blood pressure, the ominous musical score suggests otherwise. Could Laura’s light-headedness be somehow connected to the news that she has reestablished communication with her ex-husband?

    Yes, following Matthew Blaisdel and Katherine Wentworth, Richard Avery is the third character from Soap Land’s past to resurface unexpectedly in recent weeks (albeit offscreen). Just as Katherine insists on this week’s DALLAS that she has seen the error of her ways (“Bobby, I’ve changed … I was sick before. A sick person can get better … I’m me now”), Richard has apparently also turned over a new leaf. “I really think he’s cleaned up his act,” says Laura. “Yeah, and I’m Pope John,” Greg retorts. Equally cynical about Katherine’s claim, Bobby challenges her to turn herself over the authorities “and give up the plush life you’ve been leading in Europe.” “Bobby, my life has been anything but plush,” she replies.

    If anyone in Soap Land has been leading a plush life in Europe it’s the mysterious French woman we are introduced to in this week’s FALCON CREST via an impressive montage sequence: an establishing shot of London (Big Ben, the House of Parliament) followed by a woman, her features obscured, in a luxurious apartment, stepping out of her bath then plunging her face into an ornate bowl of ice. We see a maid setting out her clothes then lighting her cigarette, followed by an expensive perfume bottle smashing to the floor as the news of Chase Gioberti’s death is announced by a radio newsreader with a cut-glass English accent. (Would the news of Chase’s apparent demise really make the morning news on the other side of the Atlantic? For the purposes of this montage, yes, dammit, it would.) Finally, the camera pans across the room to a signed photograph of a poignantly youthful, beardless Chase.

    Having made her way to San Francisco (by private jet, inevitably) Mysterious French Woman checks into the Del Oro Spa. “I won’t be staying long,” she declares, as two full luggage carts are wheeled on behind her. C’est très Dominique Devereaux — only this time it’s not just the name that’s French-sounding. Whereas Dominique waited for a few episodes to land her shock pronouncement on Blake (“We have so much in common — our blood, our genes, our daddy”), Mysterious French Woman lets Maggie have it straightaway: “You may be Chase Gioberti’s widow, but I own you — lock, stock and vineyard.”

    Chase’s “probable” drowning dominates this week’s FALCON CREST as Peter Hollister’s murder does KNOTS. When questioned by the police, most KL characters are keen to distance themselves from Peter. “I didn’t know the guy personally,” says Gary. “I didn’t really know him — I mean, not personally,” echoes Karen. “I can’t say that I was intimately involved with every aspect of my brother’s affairs,” adds Greg. Conversely, we see the news about Chase impact people all over the world — a past amour in London, a wartime buddy in North Africa, an indolent daughter in Morocco.

    Gaining access to Pam Ewing’s last will and testament was relatively straightforward for JR on last week's DALLAS — all he needed to do was blackmail a nameless underling over some unknown misdemeanour. When it comes to sneaking a peek at Peter’s and Chase’s wills, Greg and Richard Channing do not find it so easy. Greg fails to persuade his attorney to break the law and show him the relevant documents. (The lawyer does reveal this much: “It seems Mrs Ewing owns slightly more than half of your brother.”) Richard, meanwhile, has henchman Garth break into Chase’s office to steal what appear to be the pertinent files, only to find a handwritten note from Chase instead. “Guess I’ve always been one step ahead of you,” it reads.

    When JR learnt that Bobby would gain control of Pam’s fortune in the event of her death, he decided that the best strategy would be to make nice to his brother. Greg takes the opposite approach: “Abby figures she’s gonna inherit a small fortune, but don’t bet your mortgage on it. It’ll be a cold day in hell before that woman sees a penny.” To that end, he tries to pin Peter’s murder on her: “Something good ought to come out of all of this and hanging Abby Ewing out to dry might just make Peter’s death seem worthwhile.” Richard also takes action — he summons John Remick, that old soldier pal on the North African frontline, to the Tuscany Valley to fulfil his duties as the executor of Chase’s estate.

    Back on DALLAS, even as JR tries to take advantage of Bobby’s crisis, he still insists that his gift of a new office came “from the bottom of my heart”. On FALCON CREST, Richard exhibits a similar duality towards Chase. Even as he schemes to gain control of his sometime cousin-sometime brother’s estate, he still refuses to stop looking for him. (“What do you mean you’re giving up the search? … I’ll hire my own damn navy if I have to!”) “I don’t know why I get so damn sentimental about family. I sure as hell never had any reason to,” he tells Garth ruefully before suddenly losing control and smashing a picture frame.

    Maggie’s reaction to the loss of Chase is just as intriguing. It mirrors Val’s attitude to Ben’s recent disappearance on KNOTS. Both women seem almost eager to believe their husbands have gone forever. “I don’t wanna be filled with false hope,” Maggie insists, even as the search for Chase continues. “Last night I had this feeling … an emptiness, a coldness … Chase is probably dead. I need to come to terms with that.” This odd trend flies in the face of Soap Land convention. Usually when a soap character — be it Jock Ewing, Mark Graison, Steven, Fallon or Val’s twins — is presumed dead, those closest to them simply refuse to accept it. Val and Maggie’s behaviour could be another version of soap fatigue — worn down by all the traumas they have suffered over the years, it’s simply become easier to assume the worst.

    Maggie is the most compelling Soap Land character at present. In one fell swoop, she finds herself reunited with her lost baby, in love with Richard and in mourning for Chase. While juggling these different emotions, she has gone from being balanced and reliable to volatile and unpredictable. When John Remick offers his help, she is suspicious. When Angela offers her condolences, she is hostile (“You come in here, you expect me to embrace you? As far as I am concerned, your hands are as bloody as Melissa’s … You turned your back on Chase a long time ago. Don’t you think I’m ever gonna forget that”) and when Chase’s grieving girlfriend Gabrielle comes calling with an olive branch, she’s even more coldly dismissive than Jenna was towards Pam at the end of last season’s DALLAS. “I am not your friend. I am never going to be … Maybe in time, I will learn to forget you,” she informs her briskly, showing her the door.

    While this week’s DALLAS concludes with a pleased-looking JR hanging up Jock’s portrait following his first meeting with Casey Denault, the final scenes of the rest of the soaps each focus on a tense gathering of characters. Alexis joins Blake outside the bunkhouse for the climax of the siege on DYNASTY, everyone but Val and Lilimae convenes at Greg’s ranch for Peter’s memorial service on KNOTS, and Richard meets with Angela for a poolside summit at Falcon Crest to discuss “the interesting repercussions” of Chase’s death.

    Each of these scenes culminates in an act of violence — Steven stabs Matthew to save Blake and Krystle, Abby strikes Gary when he accuses Olivia of killing Peter, and Angela’s pool man tries to shoot Richard (Jay Spence’s somewhat drastic way of ensuring Richard never learns who his real mother is). This puts Angela in the peculiar position of saving the life of the son she is trying to deny. “Tell him, Mother. Tell Richard who he really is,” urges Emma as the episode ends.

    Back in DYNASTY’s first season, when relations between Steven and Blake were at their worst, Matthew became something of a surrogate father to Steven. If one thinks of Blake and Matthew as Steven’s two fathers, then there’s something symbolic about the fact that Steven ends up killing Matthew — as if he were killing the part of himself that Matthew represents (the Al Corley part, perhaps). Nor is that the only moment on this week’s DYNASTY that might be read metaphorically. Directly after Fallon flashes back to her UFO experience, she tells Jeff that she wants to move to Denver — almost as if her alien abduction and THE COLBYS’ cancellation are one and the same thing. There is literally no going back after that.

    And this week’s Top 4 are …

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

    My guess is the latter. It feels like a hasty reminder, just in case anyone might have forgotten, that Fallon and Jeff still have a connection to this half of the DYNASTY-verse.

    That's great -- I'd never thought of that!

    I kinda like it!
     
    Last edited: Jan 30, 2018
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  14. James from London

    James from London Soap Chat Dream Maker

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    07 Oct 87: DYNASTY: The Aftermath v. 08 Oct 87: KNOTS LANDING: Under Pressure v. 09 Oct 87: DALLAS: Gone with the Wind v. 09 Oct 87: FALCON CREST: Obsession, Possession

    It’s Flashback Central on this week’s DYNASTY. With Matthew’s words from last week echoing in his ears (“You can’t survive in Blake Carrington’s world!”), Steven drives dangerously close to the edge of a cliff, Fallon flashes back to her alien encounter yet again as she plucks up courage to recount the experience to Jeff, and Alexis’s preoccupation with the Mystery Wood-Chopping Man manifests itself in her reliving their encounter from the season opener.

    Whereas Steven becomes withdrawn and depressed after killing Matthew, KNOTS LANDING’s Olivia grows increasingly nervy and erratic in the aftermath of Peter Hollister’s murder, for which everyone — her mother, the viewers and, by the end of this week’s episode, even the police — thinks she is responsible. Their respective parents are concerned, but while Blake and Alexis cordially agree to differ over whether or not Steven requires psychiatric help (“Why don’t I talk to him? Maybe he’ll confide in me,” Alexis suggests), Gary infuriates Abby when he goes against her wishes and hires Olivia a defence attorney. (“Do you want her to look guilty? Then get rid of him. And stop trying to help, Gary. Every time you to try to help, you just make things worse!”) While Steven’s eventual decision not to drive off that cliff (“You’re wrong, Matthew — I can survive!”) and get on with his life effectively draws a line under last season’s DYNASTY cliffhanger, the situation surrounding Peter’s death on KNOTS grows ever more complicated. In the final scene of this week’s episode, Abby finds Mack gently explaining Olivia’s rights to her as she is being arrested and suddenly announces that she killed Peter herself.

    Fallon’s UFO storyline is one of two current Soap Land scenarios that have often been cited as examples of the genre at its most campily bizarre — the other being Pam’s mummified state on DALLAS. In each case, it’s the husband’s response, Jeff’s on DYNASTY and Bobby’s on DALLAS, that is most revealing. Having inherited the UFO scenario from THE COLBYS, DYNASTY is quick retrieve it from the realms of science fiction and turn it into a more conventionally soapy drama. The burning question is no longer, “Does intelligent life exist elsewhere in the universe?” but, “Will Jeff support Fallon through her latest trauma?” The immediate answer to that would appear to be “No”. “His skin was leathery and there was a scent of cinnamon,” says Fallon, earnestly describing the creature who beckoned her aboard the spaceship. “Cinnamon?” repeats Jeff with a straight face. “Was he baking?”

    Jeff’s amusingly dismissive attitude to Fallon’s story gives the audience permission (as if we needed it) not to take it seriously either. Conversely, the times Pam’s situation on DALLAS feels most believable is when we see Bobby’s heartbroken reaction to it. It’s when he’s emoting tearfully, either with family members at Southfork or at his wife’s hospital bedside, that I can most strongly believe that the person under all those bandages is the same character Victoria Principal played for the previous nine seasons, and the awfulness of her predicament comes into focus.

    Although Alexis tracks down Mystery Chopping Man in the final scene of this week’s DYNASTY, we still don’t know his name. The identity of Mystery French Woman, however, is revealed in the second scene of this week’s FALCON CREST. “My name is Nicole Sauguet,” she informs Maggie, adding that she and Chase were lovers during the Vietnam War: “For five years, Chase was like a husband to me. We didn’t stop loving each other just because he came home to you.” As if this were not shocking enough, we also learn that during some offscreen interlude at the very beginning of the series, “Chase came to see me in Paris. He was moving to California and needed money to start a new business. I loaned him thirty-million dollars.” First, the revelation that Richard is Angela’s son, and now this: not only does the marriage of the most wholesome couple in the Tuscany Valley turn out to have been a lie all along, but Chase’s mistress secretly financed FALCON CREST’s first six seasons! It’s exhilarating stuff — as if the rug were being pulled out from under the series itself. Is anything in FC still as we thought it was?

    Soap Land’s dead are commemorated in interestingly ambivalent ways this week. Nicole tells Maggie that, unless Chase’s loan is repaid within seven days, she will take control of his assets. “All this will be mine,” she declares. “I will tear up the vineyard and I will build a hospital, the Chase Gioberti Children’s Hospital, in remembrance of the man who saved little children. That was the man I loved.” The idea of Chase as two different men, the one Nicole loved and the one Maggie remembers, is echoed on DYNASTY. “The Matthew you knew never left the jungle. Whoever that was wasn’t the man I remembered,” Steven tells Krystle. Meanwhile, Greg takes receipt of Peter’s ashes on KNOTS. “As long as you’re gonna be hanging around the house, you might as well make yourself useful,” he says, mixing some of Peter’s remains in with the contents of a flower pot. “You had an opportunity to make this entire country grow. Now you’ve been relegated to fuel for these flowers, these dumb distractions,” he muses, managing to make this little speech sound both irreverent and wistful. “You never asked me why I let you be my little brother. I guess you must have known I was using you … You were my ticket to the White House. And you were perfectly willing, for a price, to be my stand-in.” Over on DALLAS, JR Ewing has acquired a Peter Hollister of his own. With his business reputation once again in tatters following the dissolution of Ewing Oil, he uses Casey Denault, posing as a young Oklahoman oilman “with a lot of old money newly acquired", as a dummy corporation in human form, secretly fronting for the deals that are going to “buy me back into power.”

    DYNASTY may have cornered the market in flashbacks this week, but there are other ways for Soap Land to convey its characters’ innermost thoughts. While Mack puzzles over the cheery messages that Paige left on Peter’s answering machine the day he died (“She was furious [with him], but on her phone messages she was friendly”), we see Paige herself thrashing anxiously about in her sleep before waking up in a cold sweat as if she’s just realised … something. Like Fallon following her alien abduction dream-cum-flashback on last week’s DYNASTY, it looks as though Paige just might have gained access to a memory her subconscious had conveniently repressed. Meanwhile on FALCON CREST, Richard suffers a creepy, hall-of-mirrors-style nightmare in which his newly acquired mother Angela snatches his baby son from his crib. Much like Ben Gibson after he awoke from the dream in which Jean Hackney shot Val, Richard’s relief upon waking is eclipsed by his real-life anguish. “She didn’t want me … She’s my mother,” he weeps in Maggie’s arms. There are some brilliant, emotionally raw turns from both Richard and Maggie in this week’s FC as each grapples with their own recent life-changing events.

    Back on DYNASTY, Blake’s servants politely decline his offer to take time off following the siege. “We belong here, Mr Carrington, with you and the family,” Gerard insists. So much for the Sunday picnics and ice-skating at Christmas he and Jeanette were pining for last week. Over on FC, Angela informs Chao Li that, as he refuses to undergo the life-saving surgery he requires, she’ll have to replace him as her manservant. Miss Ellie gives Clayton a similar ultimatum: either he starts taking care of his health or he leaves Southfork. Their bluffs called, Chao Li and Clayton each give in and agree to follow doctor’s orders.

    The Ewing-verse’s grumpy old men, Al the messenger guy and Dandy the boozy old wildcatter, have both taken to hanging around the offices of their new pals, Mack and Cliff respectively, and making presumptuous remarks. “Do me a favour — put more coffee in your coffee,” Al tells Peggy. “You better start getting in earlier — it’s the middle of the day already,” Dandy tells Cliff. They each then take a further liberty. On KNOTS, having persuaded Mack to hand over the keys to his office for the night (unlikely much?), Al invites a dozen or so shabbily dressed extras up for a sleepover. On DALLAS, Cliff finds Dandy making business calls from behind Pam’s desk and angrily throws him out. The topic of homelessness arises during both storylines. Mack’s altruistic gesture arises from a concern that Al might be living on the streets (his hurt expression when Peggy asks him, “Don’t you have a home to go to?”) while Cliff goes looking for Dandy following their altercation fearing “he might be asleep on the streets someplace.”

    “I don’t know what I should be feeling right now,” admits Angela to Father Bob on FALCON CREST. “How can I love the baby I lost and hate the man he’s become?” Later, sparks fly at Chase’s memorial service just as they did at Peter’s on last week’s KNOTS. “You are my mother — you cannot walk away from that!” Richard tells Angela. “As far as I’m concerned, my son died forty-five years ago,” she replies through clenched teeth. Jenna, Ray and Bobby don’t really know what they should be feeling regarding their current baby situation either. When Bobby is finally granted access to his baby son at Ray’s ranch, he is surprised to find Jenna just as hostile towards him as she was before Pam’s accident. She explains that she is making this concession “not for you, [but] for Ray … Do you know how much your brother loves and worries about you? … Do you know what he’s going through just letting you see your son?” Indeed, Ray’s attempt to do right by his brother takes a personal toll. “I thought I could handle it,” he admits to Jenna afterwards. “I saw Bobby here. I felt like an outsider in my own living room.” But it’s too late to turn back now. “Tell Bobby he can’t see his own child again after he’s already seen him? It would kill him!” Ray exclaims. So where does that leave Jenna? “It’s not just you that has to live with it. It’s me too,” she reminds him. I never realised before just how multi-faceted this situation is. Let’s call it the Ben Gibson Factor: everyone involved is trying to behave as selflessly they can (Ray by putting Bobby’s feelings before his own, Jenna by putting Ray’s before hers), but each is too flawed (i.e., human) to be able to deal smoothly with the consequences.

    Speaking of soap characters behaving suspiciously like actual human beings, I’ve always found the conversation between Bobby and his mother, where he talks about Pam seeing her face in the mirror for the first time since the crash, very interesting. “I’m scared about the way she’s gonna feel,” he says. “You remember how you felt after you had your mastectomy, the problems you and Daddy had because you didn’t think you were the same woman he fell in love with? … What if Pam has those same feelings?” It’s always felt to me as if, by focusing on Pam’s reaction, Bobby is deflecting his concerns about his own response to her burns. Perhaps the most relevant comparison here isn’t between Pam and Miss Ellie, but between Bobby and Clayton when Clayton quietly confided to Ray his fears about seeing Ellie in a state of undress after first learning of her mastectomy. However, such considerations are rendered seemingly moot when Bobby turns at Soap Land Memorial Hospital to find Pam’s bed empty. “I’m sorry, Mr Ewing. She’s — she’s gone.”

    And this week’s Top 4 are …

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

    James from London Soap Chat Dream Maker

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    14 Oct 87: DYNASTY: The Announcement v. 15 Oct 87: KNOTS LANDING: Half-Truths v. 16 Oct 87: DALLAS: The Lady Vanishes v. 16 Oct 87: FALCON CREST: Redemption

    Three episodes into the new season, DYNASTY feels freshly invigorated, its characters more sharply defined than they have in a long while. Last year, Adam was the helpless victim of an identity crisis. Following Blake’s announcement that he is running for governor, he’s back to his former competitive, paranoid self. “I wasn’t seated next to Father at dinner — Fallon was,” he broods. “I was not invited into the library for an intimate chat — it was Steven. What will it take to be treated like an equal around here?” Last year, Leslie was a cloyingly irritating good girl. This week, she overhears Fallon explaining her extra-terrestrial encounter to Jeff and then makes fun of her to Dex — officially reclassifying herself as a bitch. The most notable character transformation is Steven’s. After years of being uptight and conservative, he’s suddenly full of outspoken opinions and insights. “Politics requires an acceptance of, and a commitment to, the rules of society … I have no interest in serving a society that brands me a misfit,” he declares, turning down Blake’s invitation to manage his campaign. He also offers Fallon a fascinating assessment of her relationship with Jeff: “He’s a great guy, but if there aren’t any lines on the pad he gets very nervous, and you have always coloured outside the lines — until you married him … You have become more like Jeff and now he’s forgotten who you really are.” And there you have it — Fallon’s evolution from the whip-smart heiress of DYNASTY’s first two seasons to the conservative businesswoman of the La Mirage era to the meek damsel-in-distress we saw in THE COLBYS to the confused but defiant alien abductee she is today, summed up in a few short lines.

    If Steven and Fallon have been recast as DYNASTY’s nonconformists who believe in little grey men, then Sammy Jo and Jeff are by default the show's new conservatives. “Ever since we were kids, if it didn’t come in a neat little package he couldn’t deal with it,” says Steven of Jeff. “I’m not sure I understand all the ground rules,” Sammy Jo frets anxiously when her laidback gay ex-husband returns home from a late-night chat with his sister about spaceships. It seems that if Steven did really kill off a version of himself when he stabbed Matthew Blaisdel, it was the stuffy, repressed Steven of the last four seasons. (On the subject of different Stevens, it’s ironic to hear 1987 Steven declare, “I don’t have the time or the inclination for public service” in the same week that 2018 Steven announces his candidacy for city council on New DYNASTY.) Out of nowhere, Steven is now the coolest person on the show. Even his new slicked-back hairstyle is cool — or at least when compared to the silly late-80s bouffants favoured by Soap Land’s latest slabs of beefcake: Sean Rowan, Nicholas Pearce and Casey Denault.

    One of the advantages of new characters is that we are reintroduced to familiar characters through their eyes. “I’ve seen your kind before,” Sean tells Alexis on DYNASTY. “You’ve got self-indulgence written all over you. You enjoy making people dance … You come on very strong, lady, very strong. I know you’re rich and I know you’re powerful, but don’t play games with me. I’m nobody’s puppet.” “We’re a perfect match, you and I,” Nicholas Pearce informs Sue Ellen on DALLAS. “You want to prove to the world that you’re a winner, that you don’t need anyone else. Well, so do I.” For all that Alexis and Sue Ellen are independent businesswomen of the ‘80s, yadda, yadda, yadda, each responds favourably to being told who she is and what she wants by these younger men. Alexis immediately falls into Sean’s arms and when ordered to ignore a ringing phone, she complies. Meanwhile, Nicholas’s straight talking convinces a previously wary Sue Ellen to consummate a business deal that will guarantee Valentine Lingerie “instant coast-to-coast recognition.”

    Elsewhere on DALLAS, the arrival of protege Casey Denault affords JR the opportunity to explain the basics of his business philosophy as he rebuilds his empire from scratch (well, sort of from scratch — everyone who drops by his new offices makes a point of saying how much swankier they are than the ones he had at Ewing Oil, and they’re right). In truth, “JR’s golden rules” consist of little more than a few well-worn cliches: “‘Don’t forgive and don’t forget’ and, ‘Do unto others before they do unto you’ and most especially, ‘Keep your eye on your friends because your enemies will take care of themselves.’” “You’re everything my daddy said,” Casey replies. While Casey’s admiration for JR seems to be genuine, it’s hard to overlook his observation that while his own father, JR’s onetime partner, “died broke … you always rode high on the hog.” Back on DYNASTY, it looks as if Sean Rowan has daddy issues of his own. “The sins of the father,” he murmurs enigmatically at one point — which, as Michael Tyrone, Nick Toscanni and Zach Powers have taught us, is never a good sign.

    Whereas the siege at the end of last season’s DYNASTY is now a thing of the past (Matthew who?), the other soaps haven’t moved on quite so fast. Although FALCON CREST is still getting plenty of mileage out of Chase’s disappearance, it feels as if KNOTS LANDING and DALLAS have each painted themselves into a corner, dramatically speaking, as a result of last season’s cliffhangers. Abby confessing that she killed Peter at the end of last week’s KNOTS means that she now faces the prospect of a fifteen-year prison sentence, while the long road to recovery stretching ahead of Pam on DALLAS following her car accident has already been established. Neither scenario fits very well into the fast-paced world of Soap Land and this week, both are hastily circumvented. In each case, a Ewing brother gets to play detective. A chance remark from Olivia on KNOTS leads Gary to quickly deduce that she and Abby are each protecting the other over Peter’s murder, which means neither of them could have committed it. Over on DALLAS, Bobby uncovers the truth behind Pam’s disappearance via a series of flashbacks involving day players in medical scrubs. The episode does its best to shroud the clunkiness of Pam’s exit in as much mystery as possible and it sort of works.

    When Bobby learns that Pam was accompanied on her flight out of Dallas by a woman wearing a hat, he fears it was Katherine Wentworth. This foreshadows Christopher’s assumption twenty-six years later that the woman he sees with Dr Gordon in Zurich, also wearing a hat, is Pam herself. In each case, the mystery woman turns out to be Pam’s nurse — maybe even the same nurse.

    Following hot on the heels of Ben Gibson and Chase Gioberti, Pam is the latest major Soap Land character to disappear without a trace. A letter delivered to Bobby at the end of this week’s DALLAS explains that, like Ben, she has left of her volition because she believes her family is better off without her. “I have done the best thing for all of us,” she writes. “When I saw myself in the mirror, I couldn’t stand the thought of you or Christopher ever seeing me that way … I couldn’t stand to destroy our love by having you see me the way I am.” (This point will be underlined by Dr Gordon in 2013: “She felt she was hideous. She didn’t want to scare her little boy.”) As Bobby cries, Val Gibson and Maggie Gioberti cope with their respective spouse's absence in contrasting ways. While Val turns Ben into Daddy Bunny, the hero of a bedtime story she reads to her kids (“The idea is that Daddy Bunny, Ben, still loves us very much and he’s just out there somewhere taking care of us”), Maggie has Chase swiftly declared dead at a court hearing similar to the one pertaining to Jock Ewing five years earlier.

    As well as Pam, FALCON CREST’s Nicole Sauguet also departs this week after just three episodes. She is yet another Soap Land character tainted by her connection to the Vietnam War. When we learn that she made her fortune by hijacking medical supplies and “letting American soldiers die”, it’s not hard to imagine Phillip Colby or even Pam’s teenage husband somehow mixed up in her scheme. It’s implied that Nicole also fabricated her wartime affair with Chase, but I prefer her version of events so I’ll stick with it.

    AIDS gets its second Soap Land mention this week, this time on DALLAS. In contrast to the serious discussion on the subject that took place between Blake and Steven on DYNASTY, it’s pretty much a throwaway remark that arises as JR catches up with Serena, his favourite call girl, after a gap of three years. “These days, the girls I know are out of business,” she tells him. “We’re all scared to death of the AIDS thing. It’s done what the police couldn’t — put most of us into retirement.” JR’s less interested in discussing a health crisis than in hearing about the drilling equipment that Serena’s strapped-for-cash boyfriend needs to offload.

    KNOTS LANDING’s Paige and FALCON CREST’s Melissa both suffer nightmares this week, prompted by the deaths of Peter and Chase respectively. Paige cries out in her sleep a couple of times, which is enough to bring Mack to her bedside. “It’s just a dream, it’s just a dream," he tells her gently. Melissa, meanwhile, succumbs to full-blown hysteria, first screaming the house down and then yelling maniacally when Dan Fixx tries to comfort her. This is par the course for Melissa. Almost every time she appears on screen, she ends up either screeching or screaming or laughing hysterically, or some combination thereof. Frustratingly, it never occurs to any of the other characters to tell her to shut the f**k up.

    And this week’s Top 4 are …

    1 (4) DYNASTY
    2 (1) DALLAS
    3 (3) KNOTS LANDING
    4 (2) FALCON CREST
     
    Last edited: Feb 10, 2018
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  16. James from London

    James from London Soap Chat Dream Maker

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    22 Oct 87: KNOTS LANDING: There are Smiles v. 23 Oct 87: DALLAS: Tough Love v. 23 Oct 87: FALCON CREST: The Big Bang

    While watching recent Soap Land events unfold onscreen, one can sometimes sense the influence of different sometimes conflicting, pressures from behind the scenes.

    For example, the inflationary demands of the genre mean that, in order to retain (or possibly regain) viewer interest, characters’ actions must grow increasingly more extreme. Hence Sammy Jo has her aunt kidnapped and replaced with a doppelgänger, JR pays a terrorist to blow up Saudi Arabian oilfields, Abby buries a dead body in cement and Melissa switches blood samples in order to steal a baby. Most recently, we learn on this week’s KNOTS that Mack’s daughter Paige is a killer (or, at the very least, has left a man to die).

    Although the guilty party in each instance is known to the authorities, none are required to stand trial, much less go to prison. In most cases, charges aren’t even filed. The reluctance to prosecute is due to another backstage consideration — the need to keep the stars of the show on screen. We may want to see JR and Abby behaving outrageously, but not if it means them spending the next fifteen years in the offscreen slammer. But if there are no legal consequences when a character is caught redhanded, where is the dramatic payoff — how to stop the audience feeling as cheated as they did following the Moldavian massacre that wasn’t or when Bobby stepped out of the shower? Each show addresses this conundrum differently.

    Blake and Krystle’s saintliness means that DYNASTY gets away with them pardoning Sammy Jo, who then repays their kindness by essentially turning into a different character. Over on DALLAS, the dissolution of Ewing Oil felt like a suitably seismic punishment for JR’s misdeeds. Granted, he has learnt absolutely no moral lessons as a result, but would we really want him to? JR’s lack of repentance was DALLAS’s original USP and starting over with a new company has at least provided him with a fresh context in which to scheme his schemes. On the other hand, it’s hard not to notice that he seems suddenly older, greyer and maybe a little more complacent (particularly in his scenes with Casey Denault) this season.

    On last week’s FALCON CREST, Maggie Gioberti agreed not to press charges against Melissa either for kidnapping her baby or for the reckless behaviour that led to her husband’s death. While one can just about buy Maggie's reasoning — she wants to spare her grandson’s feelings — it’s harder to believe that Melissa’s nemesis, Angela, would then agree to put her in charge of The Max, the new Del Oro Spa nightclub, just because Dan Fixx asked her nicely. Nevertheless, there is Melissa at the beginning of this week’s episode, vamping it up on stage at The Max in a ridiculous looking outfit as if nothing had ever happened. At least on KNOTS, Paige gets the sack from Lotus Point after killing Peter Hollister. (“Your severance pay is in the business office,” Abby informs her.) Otherwise, Paige, like Melissa, seems blithely unaffected by her crime. The key difference is that Paige’s attitude is addressed and then challenged by the characters around her. “You’re acting like this is a parking ticket,” observes Mack. “You think none of this matters? You think you’re so far above everyone else that you don’t have to play by the rules? … What the hell’s wrong with you? … Look what you’ve done to these people … I don’t just want you to apologise, I want you to feel sorry.” This is precisely the kind of confrontation (or “tough love”, to borrow the title of this week’s DALLAS) that would have benefited Melissa. Instead, FALCON CREST indulges the character as much as she indulges herself. While getting ready to attend the reading of Chase’s will, for example, she turns looking for a lost shoe into a high-pitched drama. Then when she finds it, she laughs hysterically. Her behaviour is witnessed by Dan Fixx, but instead of taking her to task the way Mack does Paige, he laughs right along with her — and presumably, we’re meant to be as charmed by her behaviour as he is.

    While Mack makes Paige toe the line, it is Greg Sumner who cuts through her defences. “You’re working a little too hard to show us how tough you are,” he says after she mutters a grudging apology for her part in what happened to Peter. “You saw a man die and it didn’t affect you, did it? Like hell, it didn’t. Pretending you don’t care is what little kids do. You’re lucky Mack’s your old man. If I were your father, I’d hang a little snot like you out to dry in the wind.” His words hit Paige where she lives and when she cries in Mack’s arms, this time she’s genuine. Greg critiquing someone else’s detached response to a death is doubly ironic — first when one recalls how casually he himself responded to the deaths of his own father and Mark St Clare, among others, and secondly, when one fast-forwards to the last scene of this episode, and the wrenching close-up of his confused face as he listens to Laura’s out-of-nowhere bombshell.

    Cleverly, KNOTS supplies Jill Bennett as a conduit for any remaining viewer frustrations about Paige and Abby escaping their just desserts. “She buried a man in a cement!” she exclaims. “Am I the only one who finds it outrageous that a man was killed and then dragged through a construction site and left to rot?” The cruel irony, she is then informed, is that the one person able to file damages against Abby for burying Peter is his next-of-kin, “but the guy’s only relative is Greg Sumner and he is disinclined to pursue the matter”. Of course Greg’s disinclined: he isn’t really Peter’s next-of-kin, Jill is, only she is unable to publicly acknowledge that fact. “Who was this guy to you?” Mack asks her impatiently. “You’ve lost all perspective on this case!” And of course, she cannot reply. This aspect of the plot arises so naturally out of what has come before that it almost feels as if Jill's situation were writing itself.

    Another external factor influencing what we see on screen is what might be termed “real life soap fatigue” — that mysterious combination of reduced budgets, sliding ratings and actor restlessness. However much Soap Land may wish to keep its opening titles intact, there has been an unprecedented exodus of key players recently. Ben Gibson, Ben Carrington, Dominique Devereaux, Donna Krebbs, Pam Ewing, Peter Hollister, Chase Gioberti and the Californian Colbys have all departed without so much as a goodbye scene between them. And it’s not over yet: the closing scene of this week’s KNOTS finds Laura Avery talking circuitously about finally being able to eat all the pizza she wants because she won’t be around long enough to put on weight. What is potentially even more disruptive to a soap than the departures of its leading players is the impact (or lack thereof) those departures then have on those characters left behind. Just as JR and Abby cannot be sent to prison for their crimes, Val Gibson and Bobby Ewing cannot drop everything to go looking for their newly vanished spouses who, even though they are still alive and still love their families, will definitely not be returning — because the actors playing them have not had their contracts renewed. Consequently, Val and Bobby must each be seen to mourn their loss, but must then also move on pretty darn quickly.

    By herself on this week’s KNOTS, Val allows herself the indulgence of playing a one-fingered version of ‘Send in the Clowns’ on the piano (a call-back to her and Ben’s romantic dance in Season 6) before being subjected to Lilimae’s well-meaning lecture on smile therapy. By himself at the beginning of this week’s DALLAS, Bobby allows himself the indulgence of one last look at a photo of Pam (the image of which we are contractually denied) before putting it away in a drawer. He then heads to the nearest cowboy bar where he gets into a drunken brawl with a bunch of stuntmen.

    With that out of the way, Val and Bobby must each “move on”. Val goes on a shopping spree, treating herself to a red convertible (the Ewing-verse’s subconscious replacement for the one that went up in flames at the end of last season’s DALLAS perhaps?) and a femullet, the likes of which KNOTS hasn’t seen since the days of Ciji Dunne. She also acquires a kind of sad optimism about her future: “I love Ben and I miss him terribly, but … I can make it on my own. I’m not saying that I want to, but I know that I can.” Bobby, meanwhile, faces some blunt questioning from his son: “Why don’t you find her? I know you could if you really wanted to.” “If we love Mama, we have to let her go,” Bobby replies, conceding that “it’s a tough kind of love to understand, at any age.” His words are echoed by an equally on-message Miss Ellie in a later scene: “We just have to do what Pam asked, put it behind us.”

    Sometimes in Soap Land, “letting go” and “moving on” can mean coming full circle — especially when you share a child with your first love. “Don’t worry,” Val assures Gary when he asks about Ben’s absence, “I’m perfectly able to take care of your kids.” “It’s the first time she’s ever said they were my kids,” he later marvels. Meanwhile, Jenna lets her guard down in front of Bobby for the first time since he dumped her for Pam: “Isn’t it ironic? Now that it seems I’ve gotten my life in order, yours has become so painful … Bobby, for the longest time, I tried to hate you … I never could and I never will.”

    “What a cruel trick fate’s played on him, one little boy losing two mothers,” sighs Sue Ellen with regard to Christopher. Laura is in a similarly reflective mood on KNOTS. “I cannot stand the fact that things happen and you have no control over them,” she tells Greg. “Don’t you ever think about car accidents or kids falling into swimming pools or people taking them away somewhere?” Hmm, car accidents — like the one that disfigured Pam last season or the one that leaves Dina badly hurt on this week’s FALCON CREST. “There are a number of complications associated with spinal injuries,” her doctor warns Lance.

    Back on KNOTS, Paige’s newfound contrition has its limits. “I’m so sorry,” she tells Abby, “that you ever got off the hook … If you hadn’t made Peter break up with me, none of this would have happened … You were afraid of losing him to a younger woman. You couldn’t stand the competition.” The only character cattier than Paige this week is DALLAS’s Wilson Cryder when he drops by JRE Industries specifically to throw shade on JR’s new office. “West Star’s thinking of buying the building,” he tells him. “We have some low-level executives we need to find space for … We would prefer a more prestigious property.” Both Abby and JR wait until the end of their respective scenes before returning fire. “Sooner or later, I’m gonna make you pay … just don’t sleep too soundly,” warns Abby. “Cryder, you just joined the crowd … the crowd of people who have lived to regret underestimating JR Ewing,” declaims JR.

    While Steven’s assessment of Fallon and Jeff’s relationship on last week’s DYNASTY was great, Jill’s analysis of Gary, as he attempts to do right by both his ex-wives and their offspring on this week’s KNOTS, is even better. “I think you’re exactly where you wanna be,” she tells him, “you’re right in the middle of a crisis with everybody depending on you … You like having dependents. You cultivate them. You don’t know how to commit to people so you compensate for it by making everyone dependent on you … and you’re there for them, you stick it out, self-righteously living up to your responsibilities … If they’re dependent on you, Gary, it’s because you made them that way. You just can’t walk away.”

    Jill’s speech combines the weak, commitment-phobic Gary we first met in 1978 (“He’s over his head with a shopping cart in front of him!”) with the part-time knight in shining armour he is today, making sense of how he has changed in the intervening time. Is this a natural evolution or are the writers skilfully working backwards to disguise that the fact that Gary has been transformed by the dictates of his storylines? To ask that question in a broader sense, do the characters in Soap Land drive the plot or do the demands of the plot forge the characters? For example, Bobby Ewing passively accepts Pam’s decision to disappear, not because it is “in character” for him to do so, but because that’s what the storyline requires of him. On the other hand, if one accepts what F. Scott Fitzgerald once said, that “action is character”, i.e., we are defined not by what we think or say but by what we do, then Bobby’s action (or lack thereof) simply becomes part of who he is now. Likewise, Fallon’s alien abduction is part of who she is now — only the writers were smart enough to have Steven link it with the non-conformist character she was when DYNASTY began.

    Over on FALCON CREST, Maggie has been given a dossier on Richard’s past. “It scared me,” she admits. This prompts Richard to deliver a speech about himself, not entirely dissimilar to the one Jill makes about Gary, where he attempts to reconcile who he used to be with who he is now. “I don’t know if you have any idea why I came out here to Tuscany,” he says to Maggie. “I was trying to save my life. I was involved with evil, the worst kind of evil. They wouldn’t let me go. They wanted to take my soul. And it took every damn trick I know to escape my old life and settle here … I am what I am, and either you accept me or you don’t.” Whether or not Maggie can accept Richard, and whether or not Jill can accept Gary, are the big questions here. Jill walks out on Gary during this week’s KNOTS but later returns to him. Maggie is just as ambivalent. “I love you,” she tells Richard, “but sometimes you frighten me. Sometimes I feel that we don’t have a chance, and then when I’m with you, I’m just so swept away by you.”

    “Meet cutes” have become a minor Soap Land trend of late. According to Wikipedia, “a meet-cute is a scene in which a future romantic couple meets for the first time … This type of scene is a staple of romantic comedies. Frequently, the meet-cute leads to a humorous clash of personality or of beliefs, embarrassing situations, or comical misunderstandings that further drive the plot.” Leslie Carrington’s first encounter with Clay Fallmont on last season’s DYNASTY — they get into an argument over whose car has the right of way, not realising that he is, in fact, her new boss — would qualify, as would her first meeting with Jeff Colby a couple of weeks ago — they get into a disagreement outside Dex’s hospital room over who should be allowed to visit with him first, not realising that they are, in fact, related. Both scenes have the feel of a rom-com without being actually funny — unlike the meet-cute that occurs between Lilimae and Al the messenger on this week’s KNOTS where she eyes him suspiciously as he hovers outside the Mackenzie house. It’s also a rare instance in Soap Land where the workings of someone’s bladder advance the plot. “I was wondering, could I use your bathroom?” he eventually asks her. “I should say not!” she replies, affronted, before hurrying back inside her house.

    Both Al and his DALLAS equivalent, Dandy Dandridge, (played, of course, by Lilimae’s previous romantic interest, Jackson Mobeley) inadvertently catch their respective benefactor at the wrong time this week. “Boy, you look terrible,” observes Dandy. “Shut up and stay out of my way!” snaps Cliff, preoccupied with Pam’s disappearance. “You’re tense lately,” remarks Al. “Al, not today!” snaps Mack, preoccupied with Paige’s culpability in Peter’s death. Once again, both men’s living arrangements are also a matter for discussion. Annoyed by Dandy’s insensitivity towards Cliff, April tosses him a few bucks “to find someplace to flop tonight.” Meanwhile, Al explains that he is not homeless and instead lives out of the back of his impressively pimped-out ride. “Great car!” says Mack, admiringly.

    While Abby tries to blackmail Greg into handing over what she refers to as “my share of Peter’s estate”, the Giobertis go the more straightforward route of holding a reading of Chase’s will. While son Cole gets five million — half of what the Ewing boys got when their daddy died, but still not too shabby — daughter Vicky receives the Gary treatment: “Like your brother, I leave you the sum of $5,000.000 — with one distinction: it shall remain in trust … for a period of five years.” It’s Vicky’s husband Eric who takes this news hardest, resulting in a scene of marital violence more brutal than anything we witnessed between Joshua and Cathy on KNOTS. Eric only stops punching Vicky when she screams at him that she’s pregnant. There’s a rawness to this scene that’s light years away from the self-congratulatory, back-slapping sit-com of Dan and Lance going undercover at Angela’s behest to expose Sweethearts — the dating agency Emma has invested in and which, like Valentine Lingerie, has a heart-shape as its company logo — as a front for a prostitution ring.

    DALLAS includes no less than three, albeit slightly roundabout, references to the AIDS crisis this week. Two are quips about safe sex that extend the relevance of the issue beyond the "high-risk groups" previously acknowledged by Soap Land — gay men and prostitutes — to also cover sexually voracious older women. “Don’t forget to stop by the drugstore,” JR smirks after pimping Casey out to Marilee Stone. “Don’t worry about a thing — I’m totally prepared,” Marilee herself assures Casey just as she’s about to have her wicked way with him.

    At the end of last week’s FALCON CREST, Angela gloatingly informed Maggie that she had bought Chase’s thirty-million dollar loan from Nicole Sauguet. On this week’s DALLAS, having heard from former call girl Serena about the financial hole her boyfriend Walter Hicks had gotten himself into, JR purchases Hicks’ $5,000,000 bank loan, but unlike Angela, keeps quiet about it. While Angela informs anyone who will listen that “if Maggie doesn’t come up with $3,000,000, their house and the land will belong to me,” JR discreetly forecloses on Hicks and pockets his entire inventory worth $15,000,000 more than what he paid for the loan.

    Richard Channing and John Remick spend most of this week’s FALCON CREST competing to be the one who rides to Maggie’s rescue with the money she needs to stop Angela. In order to get Remick out of the picture, Richard goes so far as to supply arms to the African government John’s soldiers are fighting against. “Let slip the dogs of war,” he murmurs, quoting Mark Antony in ‘Julius Caesar’. (Lest we forget, Greg Sumner once played Brutus in a college production of ‘Julius Caesar’ — imagine Richard Channing playing opposite him as Marc Antony. Oh, what a Shakespearean/Soap Land mashup that would be!) Richard is later pleased to learn that “Remick’s band of merry men are losing ground faster than a racehorse.” (The “band of merry men” bit is, oddly enough, one of two Robin Hood references in Soap Land this week. The other is on DALLAS — John Ross and Christopher are on a school trip to a museum where an employee in period costume, presumably representing Bonnie Parker, delivers the following monologue: “Pictured as some kind of Robin Hood, they had me stealing from the rich to give to the poor. Well, yes, I stole from the rich, but I don’t remember giving a thing to the poor!”) Richard’s plan having succeeded, he manages to foil Angela’s attempt to evict Maggie from her home in the nick of time. However, the Gioberti house (or more accurately, a cute little model version of it) is then blown sky high with all three of them inside.

    Back on DALLAS, Walter Hicks losing his business also spells the end for his relationship with Serena. This leads to the third AIDS reference of the week. “I have no choice. I’ll have to play Russian roulette back in my old profession,” Serena says gloomily. Is JR really willing to risk her life, in the same Richard is prepared to gamble with the lives of the unknown soldiers fighting in the unknown war somewhere in Africa, just to further his own ends? For a moment, it looks as if he is, but then he comes up with an offer — he’ll set Serena up for life if she’ll use her old contacts to find the dirt he needs to bring down Wilson Cryder. That’ll teach Cryder to diss the office decor.

    And this week’s Top 3 are …

    1 (3) KNOTS LANDING
    2 (2) DALLAS
    3 (4) FALCON CREST
     
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  17. James from London

    James from London Soap Chat Dream Maker

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    28 Oct 87: DYNASTY: The Surrogate (1) v. 29 Oct 87: KNOTS LANDING: The Gift of Life v. 30 Oct 87: DALLAS: Last Tango in Dallas v. 30 Oct 87: FALCON CREST: Dead End

    Not only does Laura’s imminent departure dominate every scene of this week’s KNOTS, it pretty much overshadows the rest of the week’s soaps as well. Her situation does, however, resonate curiously with storylines on the other shows. The last time we saw Adam Carrington, for instance, he had just made a grave discovery about his wife’s medical condition. At the end of last week’s KNOTS, Laura dropped her own bombshell on Greg. The opening scenes of this week’s DYNASTY and KL find both couples having very similar discussions.

    “Adam, do you know what it’s like for a woman to hear those words: ‘You cannot have a child’?” Dana asks her husband. “And now you are asking me to face more doctors.” “You’ve only talked to one doctor, you’ve only had one opinion,” Adam argues. Greg is equally sceptical when Laura tells him about her brain tumour: “It’s cancerous, it’s inoperable, it’s terminal.” “Just because one lousy quack says it’s terminal?” he counters. “What we have to do is find a decent doctor.” While Dana asks Adam to “face the fact that I cannot have a child”, Laura asks Greg if he’ll accept a terminal prognosis from another doctor. The men’s responses are pretty much identical. “I won’t accept it, dammit. I can’t,” says Adam. “No, I will not accept it,” replies Greg.

    Prior to this week’s KNOTS, Laura had already taken the decision to send her two sons to live with their father without consulting Greg. On this week’s DYNASTY, Jeff learns that Fallon has arranged for their two children to move from California to Denver without discussing it with him. “You’ve already made all the decisions,” he tells her angrily. “You’ve probably already made the funeral arrangements,” Greg tells Laura on this week’s KNOTS, and her silent response suggests that she has.

    Wives making life-changing decisions without telling their husbands — as well as Laura and Fallon, this also applies to Pam Ewing. The audience has been kept similarly in the dark. In the same way that we only learned of Pam’s decision to leave her family after it had already happened, we only hear of Laura’s plan to go away to die after she has told Greg. “I just don’t want you to watch me. It’s that simple,” she says. Pam gave a similar explanation to Bobby in her goodbye letter two weeks ago: “I couldn’t stand the thought of you or Christopher ever seeing me that way.” “I want to be alone. It’s my choice,” Laura continues. Greg’s response is what Bobby might have said had Pam given him the right of reply: “It is not just your choice … What the hell am I — nothing, a zero?” This question echoes Bobby’s lighthearted retort to Pam way back in the very first episode of DALLAS: “What am I now — a bowl of chilli?”

    Bobby finally voices his feelings during a visit to Wentworth Industries. “I am living a charade,” he tells Parker Ellison. “I’m trying my best to cheer up my son. I’m putting up a front to my mama, my brothers, the people I work with, explaining very logically to them how Pam has made the right decision when I can’t even explain it to myself … I want to see her.” Ellison responds by handing over documents from Pam that give Bobby control of her Wentworth shares. It’s one more example of a Soap Land wife pulling the rug out from under her husband, and Bobby acts like it’s the final straw. “I guess I’ve got my answer,” he says coldly. “She never really intends to come back.”

    Back on KNOTS, Greg continues to consult with doctors while Laura makes preparations for Meg’s baptism. It’s science versus religion. “Sounds like a lot of mumbo-jumbo,” Laura says, looking over Greg's shoulder as he ploughs his way through a medical encyclopaedia. “What am I supposed to do — go and watch some guy in a funny costume hustle his mumbo-jumbo?” asks Greg, opting out of the christening. “You’ve seen your last doctor, I’ve seen my last church.” Likewise on DYNASTY, Dana and Adam disagree on how best to address their dilemma. When she proposes adoption, he insists that “I want a child who’s my own flesh and blood!” The episode ends with her watching a talk show about surrogacy and then whispering to her sleeping husband, “You can have a baby, Adam. You can.” Ah, surrogate parenting in Soap Land — what could possibly go wrong?

    “Tests — that’s all that people talk about these days is tests!” That’s not Dana or Laura complaining, it’s DALLAS’s Dandy Dandridge as he tries to persuade Cliff to take a punt on his East Texas oilfield, even though, like Laura’s brain and Dana’s uterus, it has already been scrutinised by experts and found wanting. “It was a damn stupid test!” Dandy insists. “They couldn’t find oil in a gas station … but you, you’re Digger’s son, you should know better — you can’t find oil with tests, you find it with a drill.” Unlike Laura and Dana, Cliff is willing to indulge his friend’s fantasy. Not only does he finance further tests, but when they also come back negative, he hides the truth from him. “There’s no oil there [but] I’m gonna drill it anyway,” he tells April. “I’m just gonna humour him a little bit, give him his last hurrah.” Like Greg with his medical books and Laura with Meg’s baptism, Cliff is looking for meaning in something greater than himself: “Maybe if Digger is walking around up there looking down on me, he’ll know who I’m really doing it for.”

    While Cliff makes an altruistic gesture towards an old wildcatter, Laura makes one towards a young painter. About to purchase an expensive picture by a well-known artist for $37,000, her eye is caught by another painting by an unknown, worth only $400. Impulsively, she decides to buy this painting instead but insists on paying the original amount. Greg goes along with her decision without batting an eyelid. “Who do I make the cheque out to?” he asks the salesperson. It’s a small moment, but the first indication that he might be willing to see things from Laura’s point of view.

    There are two parties this week, Laura’s leaving do at Lotus Point and the annual Oil Baron’s Ball on DALLAS. In each case, the festivities are blighted by ill-health. Although Laura keeps her condition a secret from everyone but Karen, Clayton’s becomes public when he collapses onstage with an apparent heart attack while presenting Punk Anderson with the Oilman of the Year Award.

    Instead of attending the Lotus Point party, Greg makes yet another discouraging visit to yet another doctor’s office. Upon leaving, he sees his car being towed away. For once, he is obliged to walk amongst the people, and it seems to be this change of environment that forces him to face the reality of Laura’s condition. Meanwhile, instead of going to the Ball, Bobby arranges to meet Lisa, the perky blonde from out of town who “accidentally” bumped into him at the skating rink at the end of last week’s DALLAS in the same way that Sean Rowan “accidentally” chanced upon Alexis in DYNASTY’s season opener. Thanks to her furtive interest in Christopher, we know that Lisa, like Sean, has a secret agenda. We just don’t know what it is yet.

    The first two marriage proposals of the Soap Land season occur this week. With the ink hardly dry on their respective divorce papers, DALLAS’s Ray and FALCON CREST’s Lance pop the question to Jenna and Dina, but in very different circumstances. While Ray offers Jenna a ring (“I went into Dallas and I bought this for you”) amidst the glitter and glamour of the Oil Baron’s Ball, Lance presents Dina with a ring (“Dad and I spent hours picking this out”) while she is in a hospital bed, her head clamped and unable to move following last week’s car crash. Neither man gets the answer he was hoping for. “The decision to be married is a big one,” Jenna tells Ray hesitantly. “Our situations are still so confused.” Dina is more direct. “I can’t marry you. I can’t marry anyone,” she tells Lance. The rest of the words she uses to push him away echo what Pam might have said to Bobby a couple of weeks ago had she been able to speak: “I can’t love you, not the way I want to. I may never walk again. We may never be able to make love. I may never be able to have a baby.”

    KNOTS lays on the symbolism on a little thick as the episode progresses — the band playing 'When I Get to Heaven, Will There Still Be Rock and Roll?' at Laura’s party, the skate-boarder whizzing past Greg in a 'Life is Hard ... and Then You Die' T-shirt, the unintentionally ironic leaving presents (travel clocks, desk calendars and things with lifetime guarantees) — but they can’t dilute the impact of the story.

    While Laura prepares to leave her old life behind, Maggie Gioberti finds that hers was destroyed in the explosion at the end of last week’s FALCON CREST. The two women have parallel scenes in which each holds her baby and tells them gently about their family history and all things they’ll never get to share with them. “You’re named after your grandmother, you know — Marguerite Catherine,” Laura tells Meg. “You’re a fourth generation redhead … I’m not gonna see who you take after … I’m not gonna be able to pass on all those things my mother said to me.” “I’ve lost all the things I wanted to give you — no pictures, no letters,” Maggie tells Kevin. “You know, your father wrote some very beautiful letters … I’m just gonna have to write everything down so I don’t forget and then when you come to me and you want to know about your dad, I’m gonna have everything right there at my fingertips.” As the women speak, they are each unaware of Greg and Richard hovering in the doorway, listening.

    There are two striking, unusually long love scenes in this week’s Ewing-verse — one depicts Laura and Greg’s last night together, the other Jenna and Ray’s first. The Greg/Laura scene is the kind of tasteful love-making montage we’ve seen a hundred times before, but the context makes it poignant. “In everyone’s life there should be one perfect night,” Mark Graison told Pam the night before he went off to die and this is in the same vein. Neither Greg nor Laura speak during the sequence and Jenna is also silent during the scene where she approaches and then slowly seduces Ray in the stables of his ranch. It’s a sultry, steamy scene by DALLAS standards — and the barn setting evokes memories of Ray and Lucy getting it on at the start of the series. (There’s an also a hint of ambiguity, thanks to the moment beforehand where we see Jenna looking at a picture of Ray and Bobby together — it’s not a hundred percent certain which Ewing brother she’s got on her mind.)

    “It’s always rough when you lose someone you love,” sing-songs perky Lisa on DALLAS. “Rough” doesn’t seem adequate to cover the final moments of this week’s KNOTS. After all the arguing, the partying, the christening and the love-making, it comes down to the moment where Laura picks up her suitcase, takes one last silent look at her husband holding their baby daughter, gets in her car and then drives away forever.

    “I just don’t want you to watch me …” “I couldn’t stand the thought of you or Christopher ever seeing me …” As well as being each woman’s own choice, Laura’s and Pam’s departures are motivated by the glossy aesthetic of Soap Land itself. There is simply no place on screen for the sight of a woman disfigured by burns or ravaged by disease. (DALLAS could make an exception for Miss Ellie following her mastectomy, partly because of her age and partly because the injured area would never be shown on screen anyway.) KNOTS' great achievement in this episode is making Laura’s departure feel like a believable character choice as much as a plot contrivance. Indeed, it’s consistent with the “I don’t know why, but I just don’t want to be touched” aspect of her personality that has run through the series. Likewise, there are examples from Pam’s past that are compatible with her decision to leave her family. "If I went away, you'd find someone else, someone who could give you a family,” she told Bobby following her breakdown in Season 4. “I’d probably run away if I could,” she admitted when struggling with Jenna’s pregnancy last year. Now she has gone away, but without the actress who played her around to help sell us on the idea, it’s that bit harder for the audience to believe in her choice. For me, what we learned of Pam’s fate in New DALLAS adds an extra dimension to her story. Albeit unintentionally, she has also gone away to die.

    And this week’s Top 4 are …

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

    James from London Soap Chat Dream Maker

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    04 Nov 87: DYNASTY: The Surrogate (2) v. 05 Nov 87: KNOTS LANDING: Say Uncle v. 06 Nov 87: DALLAS: Mummy's Revenge v. 06 Nov 87: FALCON CREST: New Faces

    On the whole, it’s a lighter, gentler Soap Land this week, with playful kids and budding romance emerging as the two most common themes.

    Bobby and Betsy celebrate their third birthday on KNOTS where the most notable gifts they receive are from the show’s writers — scripted dialogue and a matching pair of goofy personalities. Their refusal to sit still for Goomah’s camera during their party immediately marks them out as less compliant than either of their DALLAS cousins or their DYNASTY counterparts.

    Speaking of whom, LB and Danny interrupt Blake’s working day by bursting into his office and squabbling over who gets to sit in his chair. “Someday, they’re going to be running Denver Carrington,” predicts Grandpa fondly. “This chair is going to be theirs.” Jeff and Steven look on proudly while childless Adam is left out in the cold. Not to be outdone, Bobby and Betsy also race into Gary’s office, disrupting a meeting he’s having with Karen and Abby, and rush to sit on his knee. Here, the odd one out is Jill who arrives to take Gary to lunch only to find him surrounded by another of his ex-wives and her kids. This week also sees Soap Land’s inaugural children’s art competition. Krystina Carrington represents DYNASTY with a piece entitled “Governor Daddy” — i.e., Blake as a stick figure with brown hair. “She certainly captured him,” nods Dana politely before bursting into tears over her own inability to conceive a child. Meanwhile on KNOTS, Gary critiques Bobby’s contribution thusly: “That’s a great drawing … Jackson Pollock lives.” We don’t get to see Bobby’s effort on screen, but it gets my vote for the Pollock reference alone.

    In lieu of bursting into an office or drawing a picture, Christopher Ewing stars in his very own montage on DALLAS, which shows him partaking of the various amusements at Penny Whistle Park (whatever that is). Over on FALCON CREST, Joseph Gioberti makes his first appearance for about half a season when his mother Melissa tracks him down to the Australian outback.

    Following the recent exodus of lead characters, Soap Land is suddenly awash with single parents. “Beats mopping hot tar,” Greg Sumner replies when asked how he’s coping with Meg. “It’s a little difficult, but it’s nice,” admits Bobby Ewing in response to a similar question about Christopher. “Must have been rough, raising two kids on your own,” suggests Adam Carrington to Karen Atkinson, his and Dana’s prospective surrogate, on DYNASTY. Back on KNOTS, Val gets defensive when Gary asks to spend time with the twins. “I can raise my children on my own,” she insists.

    DYNASTY embracing its surrogacy storyline leads to the kind of terminology we’re not used to hearing in Soap Land — test tube babies, artificial insemination and sperm all get a shout-out in this week’s episode. Not to be outdone, Clayton’s heart condition gives DALLAS the opportunity to bandy medical jargon like “heart catheter” and “angioplasty” around. There’s no such sophisticated talk on FALCON CREST, but we are afforded a glimpse of Dan Fixx shearing a sheep which at least constitutes some kind of Soap Land first.

    Clayton’s collapse onstage at the Oil Baron’s Ball at the end of last week’s DALLAS recalled Dominique Devereaux’s while performing at La Mirage on DYNASTY a few years ago. Both were the result of heart problems and rank equally as Soap Land’s most vanilla medical crises to date — a dash to the hospital where family members in formal evening wear are told to go home and rest, followed by a straightforward operation and no major repercussions for the show as a whole. On DALLAS, the best line comes from JR on the phone to Harry McSween. “I sure hope Mr Farlow makes it out all right,” ventures Harry. “Yeah well, if he does, he does. If he doesn’t, he dies. Never should have married my mama in the first place,” JR replies briskly. A moment later, we see him consoling Miss Ellie with the words, “I respect Clayton very much and I’m happy you married him.” I kind of like that we don’t know for sure which statement reflects JR’s true feelings.

    Needless to say, all of the kiddy coverage in this week’s soaps exists to generate conflict amongst the surrounding adults. Gary, frustrated at being denied access to the twins by Val, turns to Lilimae for help, admitting in the process that he is their father — yes, four years after this storyline began, Lilimae is literally the last to know. This, in turn, leads to friction between her and Val: “You’re my daughter. You’re supposed to come to me for help!” While Gary simply wants to visit his children, FALCON CREST's Melissa wants to take her son back to the States. Cole, remarried and settled, is understandably reluctant to agree. In contrast, this week’s DALLAS ends with an offscreen Pam surprising Bobby once more by granting him full custody of their son (while also filing for divorce). And in FC’s final scene, Richard’s little boy Michael toddles into the arms of the show’s latest unspeakably wealthy, unspeakably ruthless guest character, Carlton Travis, who only releases him when Maggie agrees to his ultimatum: “Your life or Richard Channing’s. It’s an interesting choice, isn’t it?”

    So much for babies. Now, where’s the romance? On DYNASTY, Sammy Jo is none too impressed by Steven’s prize football player Josh, dismissing him as “a loud-mouthed, self-centred, dull-witted jock.” Only when she learns that he’s scared of horses (ironic, given Josh’s previous Soap Land incarnation as THE YELLOW ROSE’s born-in-the-saddle Whit Champion) does she soften and they kiss. Likewise on KNOTS, Lilimae has a change of heart about Al the messenger guy after he charms the twins with a magic trick at their party, and agrees to go on a date with him. Elsewhere on KL, six weeks after Sean Rowan rescued Alexis from a river and two weeks after Bobby ran into Lisa Alden at the skating rink, Michael Fairgate has his own water-based meet-cute when he saves a sweet little blonde from drowning in the ocean. Whether she too will turn out to have a secret agenda (“Everything’s going beautifully. There is only one problem — you never told me what a nice guy Bobby is,” Lisa sighs to an unknown caller on DALLAS) remains to be seen.

    The paths of the Ewing-verse’s senior citizens, Al and Dandy, diverge this week as their individual storylines start to kick in — each in their own eccentric way, of course. While Dandy begins drilling for oil at Cliff’s expense but insists on using a dousing rod (i.e., two twigs taped together) to “feel” where to drill, Al treats Lilimae to a candlelit date, round the back of his car.

    Still on the subject of romance, Lilimae might be at the opposite end of the generation gap from DALLAS’s Charlie Wade, but each has a similar theory about their nearest and dearest this week. Lilimae suggests that the real reason Val won’t let Gary see the twins is more to do protecting her than them: “It sounds to me like you’re afraid Gary might walk out on you again … Are you sure you don’t love him?” Charlie, meanwhile, doesn’t buy that Jenna needs time to consider Ray’s marriage proposal: “Come on, Mom. You’re still in love with Bobby. That’s why you said no.”

    Meanwhile, back on FALCON CREST: Carlton Travis is revealed to be responsible for the explosion that wrecked the Gioberti house a couple of episodes ago. Not only that, but he’s also a face from Angela’s past. “A woman never forgets her first love,” she tells him. “You walked out on me … the night we announced our engagement.” This is the first we’ve heard of such an event — unlike the story of Charles, the boy who broke Abby’s teenage heart ("I thought we were going to get married"), which KNOTS was clever enough to allude to at the end of last season. He turns up this week as well — sort of. In the final scene of the ep, Karen knocks on the tinted window of a limousine in order to welcome a new client to Lotus Point. The window lowers and we see her surprised expression from the unseen passenger’s point of view. “Abby, you’re not going to believe this,” she says, turning to her sister-in-law. Abby looks down at the window and … “Charles?”

    And this week’s Top 4 are …

    1 (1) KNOTS LANDING
    2 (2) DALLAS
    3 (3) FALCON CREST
    4 (4) DYNASTY
     
    • Winner Winner x 2
  19. Willie Oleson

    Willie Oleson drilling for soap

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    Typical soap manipulation. Someone is feeling just fine until someone else tells him/her that he/she is not fine.
    And from that moment on that person is no longer "fine" otherwise it would contradict the story (or the hint at a new development).
    Do you remember that strange comparison, I think it was Jenna, but not in this episode.
    Something like "as big as a...." or "as cold as a..." and then a very unusual word, the kind of word that only exists in a dictionary. What was it?
     
  20. James from London

    James from London Soap Chat Dream Maker

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    Was it "Emotions aren't like faucets"?
     

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