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
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    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
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    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 TV Fanatic

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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 TV Fanatic

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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 TV Fanatic

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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
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    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
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    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 TV Fanatic

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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 at 5:39 PM
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  9. James from London

    James from London Soap Chat TV Fanatic

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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 at 9:23 AM
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