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

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

  1. James from London

    James from London Soap Chat Dream Maker

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    13 Jan 88: DYNASTY: Images v. 14 Jan 88: KNOTS LANDING: Ties That Bind v. 15 Jan 88: DALLAS: Marriage on the Rocks v. 15 Jan 88: FALCON CREST: Hornet's Nest

    This week’s DYNASTY includes a graveyard scene that relies solely on a series of soap tropes to advance the plot without any concession to external logic. The result is absurd, surreal and dreamlike. First, we observe Sean Rowan speaking aloud at his father’s graveside — a familiar Soap Land device — reiterating his vow of revenge against the Carringtons: “I won’t stop. I’ll never stop until they have destroyed each other. I promise you, Dad, I’ll make them pay.” No sooner does he exit the scene than Leslie Carrington appears from behind a tree and it’s clear she’s heard every word of his soliloquy. (Where would Soap Land be without such moments of opportune eavesdropping?) Then comes a convention that seems to belong to DYNASTY alone — the exposition-spouting gravedigger. He materialises out of nowhere and proceeds to fill Leslie in on Joseph Anders’ backstory: “He was butler for those rich Carringtons … The man shot himself in the head, clear to oblivion. Mr Carrington must have said to himself, ‘Why? Why did he do it?’ … Well, nice talking to you.” This perfect storm of contrivances provides Leslie with the ammunition she needs to blackmail Sean into giving her a promotion at Colby Co: “And I want it real soon or else!”

    Whilst being threatened by Leslie, Sean finds he has lost his own leverage over Dana now that Adam knows about her secret abortion. There’s further redundant blackmail on KNOTS LANDING where Johnny Rourke offers to keep silent about Paige faking her own death in return for $20,000. Only trouble is, everyone already knows about it. When Adam accuses Sean of blackmailing his wife, Sean distracts him by dangling a bright future at Colby Co in front of his eyes: “I want you to think about new horizons, new opportunities.” (Sean may be a cardboard villain, but he’s a really good one.) Johnny Rourke likewise takes his failure to extort money from Paige in his stride and instead charms her father into offering him a place to stay.

    The theme of blackmail continues on FALCON CREST with the arrival of the show’s latest guest character, Madame Malec. She’s played by Honey Ryder, the original Bond girl from Dr No — and FC can’t resist an in-joke on the subject. “You keep acting like James Bond, you’re gonna wind up going home in a body bag,” Richard warns Eric as they argue over the best way to free Vicky from her luxury prison in Dubrovnik. (In fairness, both DALLAS and EMERALD POINT NAS made similar references when they had Bond girls on the payroll. “You had to play James Bond,” Holly Goodhead (Moonraker) chided Bobby Ewing in 1983. “This is real life, not some James Bond movie,” Tiffany Case (Diamonds are Forever) reminded Harlan Adams in 1984.) “You’re such an easy woman to blackmail,” Richard informs Madame Malec just before threatening to expose her lavish lifestyle to her fellow communist party members unless she aids him in rescuing Vicky. Evidently, Mme Malec doesn’t have the same reservations about being addressed by the M word that Alexis expressed on last week’s DYNASTY: “I resent the appellation ‘madam’,” she informed her opponent during their televised political debate. “My home is not a house, as it were, and I consider that to be a sexist remark.”

    To further her election campaign this week, Alexis consults public relations expert Russ Kelton who proceeds to critique her dress sense. “I’ve seen photos of you in Vogue and Harpers Bazaar,” he tells her. “You’re going to have to change your style somewhat … You’ve got to start to underplay. Go for pastels.” “Pastels?” she repeats, her look of utter dismay an episode highlight. “Stay away from blacks and reds and yellows, and too much white,” he continues. (Inevitably, black, red and white are the very colours Alexis is wearing at this moment.) “Don’t forget, most of the voters out there can’t afford your cleaning bills.” The merest suggestion that a soap diva’s wardrobe might not meet with universal approval feels positively transgressive. There’s an equivalent moment on this week’s KNOTS when Charles Scott’s wife Judith (a less neurotic version of Cash Cassidy’s wife Adrienne on THE COLBYS) shows up, interrupting her husband’s cosy little dinner with Abby to remind him of an imminent dinner party with an ambassador. She and Abby are all smiles until the obligatory powder room showdown. “Charles didn’t forget about the ambassador’s dinner,” Judith explains. “He just couldn’t show up with someone like you.” There’s something about those three words — or more specifically, Abby’s wounded reaction to them — that makes us suddenly see Abby as Judith sees her -- not a glamorous soap villainess, but a garishly made-up middle-aged woman wearing a short dress with a puffball skirt that's about ten years too young for her. (In the same way that Alexis “just happens” to be dressed in the precise colours her publicist is critical of, Abby’s choice of outfit for her unplanned meeting with Judith doesn’t seem to be a coincidence on the part of KNOTS' wardrobe department.) Sure, Abby later gets one over on Judith by showing up at the ambassador’s dinner on Greg’s arm, but it’s the “someone like you” moment that lingers in the memory. It suggests that Abby’s real Achilles heel isn’t so much the guy who dumped her when she was nineteen as the fact that he did so for someone of a higher social standing.

    The deconstruction on DYNASTY continues as Alexis’s publicist runs an equally critical eye over a campaign video she’s had assembled that shows her striking various opening titles-style poses: answering the phone in a variety of outfits, studying papers at her desk and generally looking important. Again, it does not pass muster. “You’re coming on too strong, like a Mack truck,” he insists. “Well, I think that strength is an attribute in a leader,” she argues. “Look at Mrs Thatcher.” In spite of having been Britain’s prime minister since just after John Ross Ewing was born, this is the first mention of Thatcher in Soap Land. (With Abby reading Jeffrey Archer books on KNOTS, there’s clearly something Tory in the air.) “There are strengths and there are strengths,” Kelton replies ambivalently. It would be nice to imagine this line as a dig aimed just as much at Thatcher as at Alexis, but alas, the former was riding high at this point having just become the century’s longest-serving British PM (a position she would retain until the day of April Ewing’s death in Paris in 1990), so it seems unlikely.

    Elsewhere on DYNASTY, Fallon ditches the blonde wig and puts on her business hat, flying off to Natumbe with Dex to find out more about the Vitron oil deal. Like Dubrovnik on this week’s FALCON CREST, Natumbe is depicted as an unstable, murky place full of bribery, corruption and intrigue. There’s talk of the government being “pretty shaky” and a threat of revolution is in the air. This evokes exciting memories not of DYNASTY’s last fictional land, Moldavia, but of the unnamed country in South East Asia that caused the Ewings so much drama when their oil wells were nationalised on DALLAS eight years ago. Business concluded, Fallon gets drunk in a bar and over-excites the locals when she tries her hand at belly-dancing. Dex intervenes, punches are exchanged and he ends up throwing a protesting Fallon over his shoulder before making a hasty exit. Fallon remains cute and funny and sexy throughout the scene — one can only imagine how excruciatingly loud and shrill it would have been with FALCON CREST’s Melissa in the same scenario.

    The mysteries surrounding Soap Land’s newcomers deepen. When Meg is taken ill on KNOTS, Pat Williams displays a surprising amount of medical expertise for a banking clerk (“Mom, you’re not supposed to be doing this,” whispers Julie as she assists Mack). Over on DALLAS, Sue Ellen’s curiosity is piqued by Nicholas. “His home is beautifully decorated,” she tells April, “but the strange thing is except for one photograph of him with his brothers, there’s no sense of family, no feeling of where he came from.” Meanwhile on FALCON CREST, we discover what Shannon has been hiding. She has a secret baby! And Lance’s father is the daddy! Which means that, by sheer coincidence, she is now sleeping with her baby’s brother — which, I think it’s safe to say, must be a Soap Land first.

    Trend of the week: characters acting as parents to children who aren’t theirs. Karen is out of town for most of this week’s KNOTS, leaving Mack to cope with Meg’s medical crisis. By the time she returns, he is well and truly smitten. “I was afraid you’d get too attached to her,” she tells him. “I knew it would happen.” While Richard is in Dubrovnik on FALCON CREST, Maggie defies his instructions and allows Angela access to her grandson Michael. “Your son … is soon to be my stepson,” Maggie argues upon Richard's return. Having caught Charlie in the barn with Brad Pitt on DALLAS, Ray asks Jenna if he can be the one to give her The Talk. “She’s my stepdaughter,” he reasons. “If I’m gonna be a father to her, I better start acting like one.”

    Whereas Soap Land’s references to AIDS originally focused on high-risk groups like gay men, prostitutes and Marilee Stone, they’ve gradually shifted towards young people in general. When forced into an awkward conversation about pre-marital sex with Michael’s girlfriend Jodie a couple of months ago, KNOTS LANDING’s Karen vaguely alluded to the dangers facing the younger generation. “You have to be very careful. It’s not a question of morals today, it’s a question of … health.” During his scene with Charlie this week, Ray makes the same point more explicitly. “Are you telling me that you never went to bed with a woman you didn’t care about?” Charlie asks him. “Yeah, OK, I did, but that was a long time before I heard about AIDS,” he replies. FALCON CREST made its own contribution to the discussion a couple of weeks ago when Richard made a throwaway comment about the New Globe running a series of articles about safe sex.

    Judith Scott and Abby’s faux friendly behaviour during their initial meeting on KNOTS mirrors Kimberly Cryder and Sue Ellen’s over the past few weeks on DALLAS. Eventually, the veneer cracks for both sets of women. Under the guise of “girl talk”, Kimberly informs Sue Ellen during a DOA meeting that she has filed for divorce. “I keep marrying these powerful men — I probably will again,” she smiles. This is her disingenuous way of letting Sue Ellen know she has JR in her sights. “Well, Kimberly,” Sue Ellen replies, smiling back, “I’m sure you’ll be able to muddle through for the next couple of months until you find the man of your dreams. You know, you’re not unattractive in an obvious sort of way.” (Interestingly, “obvious” is what Fallon called her husband’s mistress, Leslie, a few weeks ago.) For all her cool, Sue Ellen is clearly rattled and walks out of the meeting, ignoring Miss Ellie as she does so. During their powder room tête-à-tête, Judith casually asks Abby if she and Charles are sleeping together. Abby is blindsided by the question just as Nicholas Pearce is when JR invites him to lunch and cordially informs him that “your acquisition of my wife is my top priority.” While Abby plays dumb (“What?” she asks), Nicholas plays innocent (“I’m not in the habit of acquiring other men’s wives”). Between them, however, Kimberly and JR have succeeded in more or less driving Sue Ellen and Nick into bed. There’s a sitcom variation on this scenario on FALCON CREST, where a Mrs Haberman asks Emma — in her new capacity as agony aunt of the New Globe — to “cure” her husband’s sexual problems by going to bed with him. (This later turns out to be a scam cooked up by the couple in order to blackmail Emma.)

    This week’s Soap Land marriage proposal is deemed significant enough to warrant an end of episode cliffhanger. “Marry me,” Charles urges Abby just before the closing credits of KNOTS. DALLAS, meanwhile, ends with a remarkably sexy scene where Sue Ellen comes to Nicholas’s apartment and immediately starts peeling off his clothes while he’s on the phone, causing him to respond in kind. (So sexy is it that someone I know watched the scene as a child while receiving a haircut from his babysitter and was left with a lifelong haircutting fetish as a result.) As with Jenna’s similarly steamy seduction of Ray earlier in the season, it’s notable that the woman is the initiator.

    Back on FALCON CREST, in an effort to save wife Vicky from being auctioned off to the richest sex monster in the Balkans, Eric Stavros becomes the latest Soap Land character to transform himself into a wall-scaling, explosive-detonating action hero, and a reasonably credible job he makes of it. The whole rescue sequence is like a less boring reenactment of Lance’s attempt to rescue Peter Stavros from his evil son-in-law back in Season 5. I couldn’t swear to it, but I think Vicky is even being held in the same villa Peter was.

    And this week’s Top 4 are …

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

    Daniel Avery Super Moderator Staff Member

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  3. James from London

    James from London Soap Chat Dream Maker

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    20 Jan 88: DYNASTY: The Rifle v. 21 Jan 88: KNOTS LANDING: Another Modest Proposal v. 22 Jan 88: DALLAS: Anniversary Waltz v. 22 Jan 88: FALCON CREST: The Uncertainty Principle

    There are two fraternal punch-ups in Soap Land this week — one between Steven and Adam on DYNASTY, the other between Bobby and JR on DALLAS. The first takes place in the Carrington gym, a familiar setting for a DYNASTY fight, and arises from familiar buttons being pushed. “How much do you wanna to prove yourself to Dad?” sneers Steven as he and Adam argue over the Vitron oil deal. “How much do you need to use this company to assert your manhood?” counters Adam, prompting Steven to land the first punch. Even though we’ve been here before, some handheld camera work gives the brawl a fresh sense of urgency and the brothers even manage to shatter some windows before Blake arrives to break them up. This is a pretty evenly matched fight whereas Bobby is clearly the aggressor during the Ewing brawl. He snaps after realising that JR has masterminded Lisa Alden’s custody suit for Christopher and ends up trying to drown him in the Southfork swimming pool — just as he did three seasons earlier upon learning that JR had sent Pam to the Caribbean to search for Mark Graison. As with the DYNASTY scene, the show tries to ring the changes with shaky camera work and then raises the stakes by using the fight for its end of episode cliffhanger. “Son of a bitch! You don’t deserve to live!” Bobby yells, holding his brother’s head under the water in time for the freeze frame. There’s more pool-related violence on FALCON CREST when Dan Fixx interrupts Melissa and Carly’s catfight, which is taking place in the middle of Maggie and Richard’s wedding, to push them both in a pool as well.

    A week after Alexis’s mention of Margaret Thatcher on DYNASTY, Dave Culver shows up on DALLAS with some even more topical political references: “What with all the headlines the last couple of months — this Iran business, the Contras, the mess in the Gulf — it started me thinking about that dumb thing JR pulled in Saudi Arabia last year … That was really kind of minor compared to what’s being going on lately.” In other words, truth is even stranger than soap, which is a clever way of downplaying JR’s terrorist activities (“I don’t know if anyone really cares about that anymore,” shrugs Dave) and raising the possibility that the Ewings might be able to trade under the name of Ewing Oil once again. Such are the demands of Soap Land storylines that while some old plots can be conveniently dismissed, others resurface when you least expect, such as the dubious circumstances surrounding the adoption of Christopher Ewing and the death of Cecil Colby.

    As well as Bobby drowning his brother on DALLAS and Maggie shoving a gun in someone’s ribs in a recent episode of FALCON CREST, DYNASTY’s Krystle has also exhibited a darker side of late, interviewing minor cast members who were around for Cecil’s deathbed scenes back in Season 3 in the hopes of uncovering a scandal that will discredit Alexis’s political campaign. Blake objects, insisting that he can win the election without resorting to such dirty tricks, and for about half a scene, things are distinctly frosty between husband and wife.

    Alexis is considering pulling out of the election anyway, not least because of her enforced change of wardrobe. “I’m going have to wear those awful pastels that I hate!” she complains. Abby is likewise dressed more conservatively at the start of this week’s KNOTS than she was when Judith Scott looked down her nose at her in last week’s ep, although she later changes into a bright pink frock — just in time for a scene where Judith tries to embarrass her in front of Charles’ social circle.

    The recent loss of some of the Ewing-verse’s major players, Pam and Donna on DALLAS and Laura and Lilimae on KNOTS, means that less significant characters have ended up with more screen time — sometimes in scenes and situations entirely separate from those involving the main cast. April Stevens’ investigation into Nicholas Pearce’s past is ongoing on DALLAS and in this week’s episode, we’re privy to a scene between David Shulton and Laurel Ellis, the respective artist and subject of the portrait recently purchased by Clayton. Over on KNOTS, there’s a lengthy sequence in which enigmatic newcomer Johnny Rourke (“You still can’t keep your accent straight,” notes Paige this week) observes from his cabin at Lotus Point the furtive comings and goings of an even more mysterious newcomer, who doesn’t even have a name. (He’s played by Ray Wise, midway through his soap evolution from enthusiastic modelling agent Blair Sullivan on DALLAS to the tormented and terrifying Leland Palmer on TWIN PEAKS.) In order to denote the passing of time and to keep the sequence — which essentially consists of Johnny watching the stranger opening his cabin door to various “customers” — visually interesting, KNOTS employs a succession of transition wipes. According to Wikipedia, “a wipe is a type of film transition where one shot replaces another by travelling from one side of the frame to another.” The STAR WARS movies are full of them.

    There are no less than five surprise parties in this week’s Soap Land — two for Gary’s birthday on KNOTS, one to celebrate Miss Ellie and Clayton’s anniversary on DALLAS and a stag do and wedding shower ahead of Richard and Maggie’s nuptials on FALCON CREST. Gary’s first party, at Lotus Point, is a low-key affair. The only people in attendance are Jill, Michael Fairgate, Marsha the recurring dogsbody (i.e., the KNOTS’ equivalent of Sherilyn Katzman), a passing Johnny Rourke and an assortment of extras. The drama comes later when Gary ends up arriving too late for his second surprise party at Val’s house, by which time the disappointed twins have gone to bed. This leads to a fierce argument between him and Val.

    The anniversary bash on DALLAS, meanwhile, is a family affair. (Jenna arrives at Southfork with Ray, leading to some uncomfortable glances between her and Bobby.) The party is a surprise for Clayton in more ways than one — he has been too preoccupied with Laurel Ellis to even realise it’s his wedding anniversary. Then comes the small matter of Bobby trying to kill JR.

    The gatherings on FALCON CREST are both of Emma’s devising. The shower at Angela’s house is gushy and girly and not terribly eventful. The stag at The Max is odder and more interesting. The guest list is a curious mix of Richard’s past enemies and people with whom he has no real association: Lance, Eric, Dan Fixx, Tony Cumson and — because no stag party would be complete without the groom-to-be’s estranged mother’s manservant — Chao Li. It feels terribly awkward, but some of that awkwardness arises naturally out of the situation — it appears that the guests are only there out of obligation to Emma — but then, somewhat uncharacteristically, Richard decides he’s in the mood to party. “I think we should have some fun!” he declares. There’s a loose, kind of improvisatory feel to what follows, almost as if this were a guys-only version of “Noises Everywhere” (even if the bonhomie between the actors doesn’t necessarily jibe with their ongoing screen relationships). However, FC’s weakness for lame sitcom humour is never far from the surface — for example, Chao Li’s confession during a truth game that he once served cat food at a party of Angela’s. On the plus side, Eric Stavros emerges as the Jill Bennett-style loose cannon of the group, sending Dan into a rage when he drunkenly observes that, “we all have something that we share … all of us have slept with Melissa!”

    The most painful part of the party is Lance’s hip-thrusting version of Eddie Floyd’s ‘Knock on Wood’ (yet more ’60s soul in Soap Land). Factor in Richard’s dad dancing and you have possibly the most excruciating musical performance in Soap Land history. By comparison, Johnny Rourke’s singing debut on last week’s KNOTS was quite a tranquil experience.

    The post-party fight between Gary and Val on KNOTS is really juicy — and they have a lot to fight about. “You lied to me for years about the kids,” Gary reminds her. (It’s kind of cool that their onscreen history is now as rich as their original backstory.) “You’re lucky that I let you see them at all,” Val snaps. “Lucky? I don’t feel lucky. I feel like some jerk who’s been run over by a truck with you as the driver,” he replies. It’s strangely satisfying to see Gary standing up to Val for once: “I never know what you’re gonna say or do. I don’t think you know what you’re gonna say from one minute to the next … There are other divorced couples who manage to work it out with their kids,” he continues. “Why the hell can’t we? … This is the uncleanest break in the history of marriage!”

    Tell that to Jeff and Fallon on DYNASTY. This week, their son LB overhears them arguing over the best way to tell him about their impending divorce. “I just don’t know how to tell him his world’s coming apart and everything he thought would last forever is over,” says Jeff. “I did something bad,” LB later concludes. “Now my mom and dad don’t wanna be my mom and dad anymore.” Back on DALLAS, Christopher eavesdropping on his father and Ray has a more positive effect. “He’s my boy ... I have to try and protect him any way I can,” says Bobby and Christopher is finally convinced that his daddy loves him after all. The boot is on the other foot elsewhere on DALLAS as Jenna overhears Charlie scheming to spend the night with Brad Pitt. Charlie and Olivia on KNOTS are very much the yin to each other’s yang — whenever one is well-behaved (as Olivia has been of late, dreamily mooning over her mom’s romance with Michael York), the other becomes a teenage nightmare. “I hate you, I hate both of you and I’m not gonna take any more lectures from you!” Charlie yells, prompting Jenna to air slap her as hard as Krystle did Alexis during their big showdown two weeks ago.

    There are several adulterous liaisons presently underway in Soap Land. In each case, the other woman, or man, is proving somewhat demanding. DYNASTY’s Leslie is the epitome of the clingy mistress, inviting herself along on Sean’s business trip to Natumbe and then whining because he has no time to spend with her there. DALLAS’s Nicholas pouts when Sue Ellen refuses to stay the night and accuses her of sleeping with him to make JR jealous: “Some people enjoy being used like a tool. I’m not one of them.” DALLAS’s Kimberly and KNOTS LANDING’s Abby both make it clear that they’re not prepared to play “the other woman” for long. While Abby is angry that Charles has asked her to marry him without bothering to end things with Judith first, Kimberly offers JR an ultimatum: “If you want to get your hands on West Star, listen well. Without my daddy, you don’t have a prayer. Without me, you don’t get Daddy. And without leaving your wife, you don’t get me. So if you care about West Star, I suggest you give Sue Ellen a quick kiss goodbye.” Whereas Charles meekly complies with Abby’s wishes, finally standing up to Judith just because she’s told him to, JR’s reaction to Kimberly is less predictable. He grabs her by her hair and tells her she can’t twist him around her finger the way she does her father and husband. “You’ll never touch me again until you leave Sue Ellen!” she insists. He calls her bluff by kissing her roughly. Despite her protests, she clearly likes it (don’t they all?), but as soon as she responds, he pushes her away, leaving her high and dry. There’s a similarly visceral quality to the row between Val and Gary, especially when she tries to puts her hand over his mouth to physically prevent him from saying he’s the twins’ father.

    DYNASTY ends with a thrillingly twisted variation on the end of KNOTS’ fifth season. Instead of taking a bullet intended for her estranged husband in the lobby of the Belmar Hotel as Karen Mackenzie did, Alexis takes one meant for her ex-husband Blake on live TV during a political debate. Not only that, but the shooter is her new husband Sean! Husband shoots wife (albeit by mistake) — it’s a Soap Land first!

    And this week’s Top 4 are …

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

    James from London Soap Chat Dream Maker

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    27 Jan 88: DYNASTY: The Bracelet v. 28 Jan 88: KNOTS LANDING: If Not Now, When?

    As Soap Land shootings go, Alexis’s is a pretty casual affair. (“The bullet only grazed her skull,” reports her doctor — the same doctor Pam Ewing met in Jamaica when she was looking for Mark Graison, only without the cool Caribbean accent.) She’s out of the hospital by episode's end and doesn’t even require a Sable-style turban to hide her tiny bandage. However, she’s still determined to pull out of the election (“This campaign’s almost cost me my life!”) — until she realises that the shooting has dramatically increased her chances of winning. “You’re a heroine,” Gordon Wales, ace reporter and a recurring thorn in both Alexis’ and Blake’s sides, informs her during his final DYNASTY scene. “The sympathy and concern is pouring in … If you ran for the presidency tonight, you’d give the front runners a run for their money.” This is presumably a reference to the real-life US presidential elections of 1988, which means that Wales’s remark that “digging up dirt on candidates may be hot right now” most likely alludes to the scandal surrounding Gary Hart, the Democratic nominee who had recently dropped out of said election due to allegations of an extramarital affair. These references follow on from Dave Culver’s mention of Iran and the Contras during last week’s DALLAS, and Alexis’ and Abby’s recent shout-outs to Margaret Thatcher and Ayatollah Khomeini. Now that the primetime soap is no longer the hot cultural item it once was, placing the shows’ fictional events in a present real-world context might be an attempt to keep them seeming relevant and contemporary. There’s further blurring between truth and fiction when Alexis receives a get-well message “from The White House”. The last time Reagan impacted Soap Land so directly was when he called Senator Dowling during last season’s DALLAS.

    Elsewhere on DYNASTY, Jeff and Sammy Jo draw closer together. First, he offers to help her out of a financial hole by investing in Delta Rho and then he saves her from an attack by a downtown rapey guy who gets the wrong idea when she offers him a campaign button on Blake’s behalf (“In this neighbourhood, what you show you owe!” he snarls). To the seasoned soap viewer, it looks as if Jeff and Sammy Jo might be the next Ray and Jenna or Richard and Maggie, i.e., two long-running but hitherto separate characters gradually forming a bond that leads to romance. That’s certainly the conclusion Steven jumps to and he’s not happy about it. “You’ve messed up my sister’s life. I am not gonna let you do that to Sammy Jo!” he tells Jeff before offering him a deal: he’ll capitulate on a decision involving the Colby pipeline (which is still proving a useful Macguffin even after THE COLBYS itself has ceased to exist) if Jeff sever his ties with Sammy Jo. I must admit I’m very much liking this leaner, meaner, slightly power-mad Steven who has taken over his father’s company. Jeff, on the other hand, responds by instructing a nameless someone “to buy as much available stock in Denver Carrington as you can get your hands on … It’s for me, but keep my name out of it. Grab all you can get.” There’s a lot of that sort of thing going on in Soap Land lately: for the past few episodes of DALLAS, JR has had April, Sly, Casey Denault and even Cliff acquiring stock, just as anonymously, in West Star. Meanwhile on this week’s KNOTS, when Charles breaks the news to Abby that he and Judith will have to delay their divorce until their company’s acquisition of Eastern Mining Group is complete, she retaliates by teaming up with Greg to secretly purchase shares in EMG, thereby sabotaging the deal.

    Given that KNOTS’ original focus was the relationships of four married couples living in a cul-de-sac, it’s always interesting to observe scenes from other marriages on the show. So far, we’ve seen Earl and Judy Trent’s (brittle), Greg and Jane Sumner’s (estranged), Cathy and Ray Geary’s (abusive) and Harry and Sheila Fisher’s (unstable). This week, we’re shown several scenes from Charles and Judith Scott’s marriage, which might best be described as businesslike (save for the scene where Judith humiliates herself, Adrienne Cassidy-style, by lying in wait for Charles in his bed). As with Charles and Abby’s grand romance, there’s something oddly self-conscious about Charles and Judith’s scenes together, as if there were "inverted commas" surrounding their relationship. By comparison, an equivalent scene from an extraneous marriage on DYNASTY — between Karen Atkinson, the surrogate carrying Adam and Dana’s baby, and her husband Jessie — feels refreshingly earnest.

    Up until now, DYNASTY has presented Karen a single mother. “That’s the thing,” Jessie explains to her. “We’re not divorced. I couldn’t bring myself to sign the final papers.” Likewise on KNOTS, Karen Mackenzie assumes that new neighbour Pat is raising her daughter Julie alone — until she pops over to invite them round for dinner and Pat’s jumpy husband Frank puts his head around the door. “I have never met two more secretive people,” Karen tells Mack later. “It’s almost as if Pat and Frank have done something — robbed a bank, I don’t know, kidnapped their daughter.” Indeed, the Williamses give off a weirdly artificial vibe. Obviously, that’s part of their storyline — for whatever reason, they’re posing as a normal suburban family just as the last occupant of their house, Anne Matheson, played at being an everyday suburban neighbour. But it also ties in with the contradiction at the heart of KNOTS itself — a series that still purports to be about a regular folk like “us” when really it’s about “them”: incredibly rich and glamorous people, some of whom still live in a cul-de-sac because … well, for the same only-on-TV reason that the Ewings of DALLAS all live under the same roof even though they don’t have to. A third layer of artifice stems from the actors playing the Williamses, each of whom is very appealing, but who have yet to fully gel into a convincing family unit. Sweet little Julie, in particular, looks as nervous when saying goodnight to her father as she does when interacting with her strange new neighbours. As a result, it’s hard to see where one strand of artificality ends and another begins.

    While DYNASTY concludes with Alexis making an unpleasant discovery about her new husband (“You bastard!” she says to Sean’s photo after finding Leslie Carrington’s bracelet on the floor of their bedroom), KNOTS ends with the audience making one about Abby’s new fiancee. “Is there anything to tell the investors?” a mystery man asks Charles over the phone. “Everything’s going according to plan … we’re right on schedule,” Charles assures him. “Congratulations, Charles. We all want you to have a long and happy marriage,” replies the caller. Like the phone conversation Sean Rowan had at the end of the ep in which he and Alexis were married (“It’s already done — I married the woman”), the suggestion is that Charles’s relationship with Abby is part of a larger, somewhat sinister, agenda. As vague as this suggestion is, it’s a relief to discover Charles isn’t quite what he appears to be — because what he’s appeared to be thus far isn’t all that interesting. The Charles we’ve been introduced to is a smarmy pushover who acquiesces to Abby’s every whim. It seems odd that someone like that should have gotten under her skin in the first place, much less continued to have the emotional hold over her that he does. Adding to this lopsidedness is the sense of importance KNOTS has placed on their relationship (it’s not every proposal of marriage in Soap Land that gets the end-of-episode cliffhanger treatment). We know that Charles is the love of Abby’s life because the characters say that he is and we know that their romance is A Big Deal because the show presents it as such, but we don’t necessarily feel these things ourselves. Therefore, anything that undermines the elevated nature of that relationship is welcome. DYNASTY, on the other hand, makes no such claims regarding Alexis and Sean’s relationship and so we’re free to just sit back and watch the whole tawdry affair unravel, as it inevitably will.

    KNOTS nevertheless boasts the best scenes of the week — those involving Gary and Val’s ongoing dispute over his access to Betsy and Bobby. At one point, their argument spills out into the cul-de-sac and Mack has to physically restrain Val from attacking Gary. Instead, she screams at him that he’s a son of a bitch — just one week after Bobby Ewing yelled the same insult at JR, while also physically attacking him. (Miss Ellie must be so proud.) Now that all the external obstacles to Gary and Val’s happiness (save Jill) have been removed — Ben, Abby, the secrecy surrounding the twins’ paternity — it’s fascinating that their relationship has never been more openly hostile. In a way, it’s not dissimilar to what happened to Jeff and Fallon following their return to Denver. Without the complications of living under the same roof as Miles and the rest of the Colbys to distract them from each other, their relationship lasted about five minutes. One wonders how well Bobby and Pam’s second marriage might have fared had they not had Jenna’s pregnancy to agonise over.

    And this week’s Top 2 are …

    1 (2) KNOTS LANDING
    2 (1) DYNASTY
     
    Last edited: May 4, 2018
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  5. Daniel Avery

    Daniel Avery Super Moderator Staff Member

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    People toss that insult around so much that I don't think they even realize they're not really insulting the person, so much as insulting the mother of the person. When I hear people say this phrase, my old-fashioned mind immediately goes to the mother. "Do you even know this person's mother? Their mother is actually a very nice person..." It's especially odd to hear SOB tossed at JR by Bobby, since the mother in question is Bobby's mother, as well. I guess it's a phrase that has lost its original meaning, or at least doesn't have the original intent any more. And Val never had a bad thing to say about Miss Ellie before....[/ponders]
     
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  6. Seaviewer

    Seaviewer Soap Chat Addict

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    I missed the show itself but I recall reading a review of a minseries bio of Frank Sinatra where the reviewer remarked on the oddity of Frank's own mother calling him an SOB.
     
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  7. James from London

    James from London Soap Chat Dream Maker

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    03 Feb 88: DYNASTY: The Warning v. 04 Feb 88: KNOTS LANDING: In Too Deep v. 05 Feb 88: DALLAS: Brotherly Love v. 05 Feb 88: FALCON CREST: A Madness Most Discreet

    Instead of confronting JR when she found out about his affair with Kimberly Cryder earlier in this season’s DALLAS, Sue Ellen chose to keep quiet and bide her time. Having discovered Sean’s infidelity with Leslie Carrington at the end of last week’s DYNASTY, Alexis does the same thing. While Sue Ellen went out of her way to befriend her husband’s mistress, to the point where it made both JR and Kimberly uncomfortable, Alexis lavishes praise on Leslie, while still managing to keep her off-balance by indulging in some New DYNASTY-style double entendres: “Leslie darling, you must have been on the job morning, noon and night … It takes a tremendous amount of energy to do what you’re doing, Leslie. I hope Sean appreciates it … It’s so reassuring to know that I can leave everything in your capable hands, Leslie … etc.” And just as Sue Ellen set aside her hurt feelings to become the public face of Valentine Lingerie, Alexis also puts on a show, providing “the entire Colorado press corps” with some witty soundbites about the election. Back on DALLAS, Sue Ellen has given up any pretence at playing the devoted wife. “You are dirt, JR,” she informs her husband upon learning at the start of this week’s episode that he is behind Lisa Alden’s custody suit.

    His plan to enlist Bobby in his fight against West Star having backfired, JR sends Lisa packing. “We’re not gonna take him to court. We never were,” he tells her, handing her “a one-way ticket out of town.” No sooner does one custody storyline draw to an apparent close than another springs up. “Do you know what this could mean? A custody battle,” predicts DYNASTY’s Adam after hearing that Karen Atkinson’s not so ex-husband Jessie has resurfaced. Like Lisa Alden, Jessie Atkinson is secretly in the pay of a villainous character with a season-long masterplan: Sean Rowan. “I want Adam Carrington to think he’s gonna lose his child,” Sean tells Jessie. Their methods may have been suspect, but Lisa and Jessie each insists their aim is true. “I just want enough money so Karen and me can make a fresh start,” Jessie explains to Sean. “I really care about Christopher now. He’s all I’ve got,” Lisa tells JR.

    “I am just protecting my children because they’re all I’ve got,” echoes Val on KNOTS LANDING. To that end, she refuses to legally acknowledge Gary as the twins’ father. He retaliates by slapping her with a lawsuit. Karen finds herself caught between them when Gary subpoenas her to answer under oath as to whether or not Val ever told her he was the daddy. (“You probably knew before I did,” he guesses correctly.) Val, meanwhile, begs her to lie. “You shouldn’t put me in the middle of this,” Karen protests, but neither of them are listening and so she delivers a touching soliloquy to Laura instead. (In lieu of a portrait or a headstone, she uses Laura’s daughter as her stand-in).

    The 1988 presidential election, the Iran–Contra affair and Margaret Thatcher have all been alluded to by various Soap Land characters in recent weeks. This week, it’s the turn of the Troubles in Northern Ireland. And who better to raise such a sensitive, complex issue than KNOTS LANDING’s teen airhead Olivia Cunningham during some lighthearted flirtation with phoney Irishman Johnny Rourke? “What about all the killing … weren’t you a part of —?” she asks him. “You mean was I IRA or UDF? That’s something you never ask an Irishman and if you do, he’ll never tell ya!” he replies teasingly. “This much I will say — everyday life there has a way of reminding you to be careful. You begin to develop a sixth sense. You start to see things that are there that shouldn’t be.” “Kind of like in the comics when they say, ‘What’s wrong with this picture?’” Michael’s now ex-girlfriend Jodie chips in brightly. “Exactly, lass!” Johnny laughs. “Wouldn’t you love to go out with him?” Olivia later asks Jodie dreamily. “I bet he was in the IRA or something.” While this all feels deeply ignorant on many levels, I guess it’s more indicative of America’s romanticised “one man's terrorist is another man's freedom fighter” view of what was happening in Northern Ireland at the time than anything else — and character-wise, there’s no reason why either Olivia or Johnny should really know (much less care) what the hell they’re talking about. Still, it’s perhaps telling that in at least one syndicated version of this ep, all of this dialogue has been excised.

    Johnny appears to be enjoying an innocent day out at the seaside with Olivia and Jodie, but it’s a front. In reality, he is undertaking a shady transaction for his equally shady new boss (only referred to in the end credits as The Dealer) and gets beaten up by some extras in the process. It’s a well-staged brawl, but as Johnny’s the only character involved that we know, and we don’t even know him very well, it feels somewhat anonymous. It certainly lacks the frisson and sense of danger that comes from two striking scenes involving Soap Land’s other untrustworthy Irishman, Sean Rowan. (“The Dublin police locked me up for a while,” is as much as we know about his disreputable past.) In the first scene, he terrifies his mistress by holding an African mamba (“one of God’s deadliest creatures … they strike very quickly and it’s a slow agonising death”) inches away from her face. In the second, at the end of the episode, he stares at his sleeping wife while wrapping his tie round his fists until he has fashioned a makeshift garrotte. “No-one gets away, Alexis. No-one, not even you,” he murmurs. Such sadistic behaviour recalls that of FLAMINGO ROAD’s Michael Tyrone — another demonic character out to avenge his father’s death by pitting almost an entire cast of characters against each other.

    Speaking of Michael Tyrone, aka Richard Channing, FALCON CREST returns to its noir-ishly sinister glory days with a couple of scenes in which Richard is summoned a darkened office and asked to make a pact with the devil, aka a mysterious organisation known as The Thirteen. “Join us,” a shadowy bald man asks him. “We can offer you wealth, influence, power … more than you ever dreamed of.” (Key to the appeal of such scene, I think, is the juxtaposition between the sparseness of the scene itself — which consists of little more than a desk and some dark shadows — and the intoxicatingly extravagant world Richard is being tempted with.) From the sublime to the pitiful: the same ep also includes a dumb sitcom subplot about a honey trap requiring Melissa to adopt a “hilarious” southern accent while sporting a Dolly Parton wig twice the size of the one Fallon wore during her recent foray into blondness on DYNASTY.

    More resonant is the dead body of a blonde girl washing up on the beach in KNOTS LANDING. The sight of Michael struggling through a crowd of extras to see who it belongs to (he fears it could be Jodie) not only echoes Gary Ewing stumbling upon Ciji’s body five seasons earlier, but eerily foreshadows the discovery of Laura Palmer’s corpse on the shoreline of TWIN PEAKS in two years’ time — a connection compounded by the fact that Laura and the unnamed KNOTS girl have the same killer: Ray Wise, aka The Dealer.

    For once, the Ewing-verse’s teenage girls are in sync. On KNOTS, Olivia is beyond thrilled by Abby’s engagement to Charles until she overhears her trading bitchy remarks with Judith and realises Charles is married whereupon her romantic bubble promptly bursts. She then spends the rest of the episode moaning to Jodie: “Why do parents lie? Maybe they don’t feel their children are worth telling the truth to!” On DALLAS, Charlie is busy moaning to gal pal Marnie about her mom grounding her for two months: “Parents! I’m never gonna treat my kids like this!” In the battle of the truculent teens, Charlie gets my vote. She’s less self-righteously strident than Olivia and, more importantly, has a picture of Pee Wee Herman in her locker.

    Two long-running female characters reach the end of their tethers this week. “I am so angry, I could scream!” exclaims Miss Ellie, fists clenched, after finding one of her sons trying to drown the other at the beginning of this week’s DALLAS. “Believe me, I want out,” Maggie tells Angela on FALCON CREST. “I’m sick to death of this endless feud between you and Richard. My God, the man is your son and you treat him like he has some kind of contagious disease!” Whereas Miss Ellie’s tantrum makes her seem weak and oddly babyish (Clayton tells her off for once again living through her sons and she meekly agrees), the ultimatum Maggie delivers to her brand new mother-in-law is full of righteous anger and makes her seem strong and compelling: “You wanna reunite your family? Then go to him and prove to him that you love him. You want my winery, work for it!”

    And this week’s Top 4 are …

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

    This episode of DALLAS is actually bookended by SOB quotes. Bobby’s “You son of a bitch” gets a reprise at the beginning as he hold JR’s head under the water while the episode ends with April calling JR “a son of a …” as she attempts to slap him across the face.
     
    Last edited: May 13, 2018
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  8. James from London

    James from London Soap Chat Dream Maker

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    10 Feb 88: DYNASTY: Adam's Son v. 11 Feb 88: KNOTS LANDING: The Blushing Bride v. 12 Feb 88: DALLAS: The Best Laid Plans v. 12 Feb 88: FALCON CREST: Stormy Weather

    There was a photo of Pee Wee Herman in Charlie Wade’s locker on last week’s DALLAS. Maybe she got it from the same “movie-star mag” Jeff Colby is anxious to show Sammy Jo on this week’s DYNASTY (“Bruce Willis, Tony Danza’s in it, Pee Wee Herman, Tom Cruise!”). This is the flimsiest excuse any man in Soap Land has yet used to gain access to a woman’s hotel room, but it works and pretty soon they’re kissing each other’s faces off. Aside from this blossoming relationship and a reconciliation between Jessie and Karen Atkinson, it’s nonstop conflict on DYNASTY at the moment — the show is a world away from the “everyone likes everyone else” vibe of this time last year. Things are heating up on DALLAS too. Save for Charlie’s conflict with her parents and Clayton’s Laurel Ellis storyline, every scene in this week’s episode is in some way connected with JR’s plan to take over West Star. It’s pleasingly KNOTSian. This week’s FALCON CREST is concentrated in a different way with the entire episode taking place in one location. It’s a little bit “Winds of Vengeance” (instead of being stranded at Southfork during a hurricane, all the major characters are trapped in Angela’s house during a rainstorm), a little bit “The Three Sisters” (instead of a haunted house story, the ep turns into a murder mystery pastiche) and there are some half-hearted attempts at “Noises Everywhere”-style character introspection (the best of which is a brief cessation of hostilities between Angela and Richard during a game of chess) thrown in for good measure. FC deserves points for trying something different, but I don’t think the ep really works. (The show’s fans seem to love it though!)

    One of the best bits of this week’s DYNASTY is an antagonistic board-of-directors meeting at Denver Carrington. Adam and Steven turn on each other, Fallon turns on both of them, Jeff patronises everyone and Adam tells him to go to hell. Satisfyingly, all these conflicts arise out of the characters’ pre-existing relationships. There’s also a falling out between Jeff and Blake, who disapproves of his son-in-law “secretly buying up enough Denver Carrington stock so you could force your way into running the company.” This results in Jeff resigning as Blake’s campaign manager. Two other long-term male friendships also take a battering this week. Mack and Gary argue about the twins on KNOTS (“Those kids are mine and you know it and you’re gonna have to testify to it!”) while Ray loses his temper on DALLAS when Bobby tries to intercede between him and Charlie. (“Maybe you don’t think I’m a very good father. I really don’t care what you think anymore … This is my house and I make the rules around here!”)

    Elsewhere on DALLAS, Bobby thinks that Lisa Alden has left town — but she is still lurking in the shadows. Meanwhile on DYNASTY, Adam is angry when Jessie Atkinson refuses to leave Denver even after he’s paid him to. The two men come to blows, Karen gets caught in the middle and the next thing you know, everyone’s at Soap Land Memorial Hospital waiting anxiously for her to give birth. No sooner is she delivered of a baby boy than she utters the words we’ve been expecting to hear ever since DYNASTY first introduced this storyline: “I can’t give him up.” Surprisingly, when we do hear them, they feel dramatically (or at least soapily) justified. In any case, this surrogacy-gone-wrong scenario doesn’t seem quite as silly as FALCON CREST’s equivalent did a few years ago.

    Over on KNOTS, Gary prepares to take his child-based dispute to court. “I had my first daughter taken away from me but I am not gonna give up on these twins,” he vows. This isn’t the only reference to the past in this week’s Ewing-verse. “It’s not like the old days, is it?” sighs JR over breakfast in the opening scene of this week’s DALLAS. “There was a time there wouldn’t be an empty chair at this table.” “… Your daddy was here then to control you boys,” Miss Ellie remembers. Also, the name of Holly Harwood is evoked in two separate (though ultimately connected) storylines. First, Kimberly Cryder and JR lure Sue Ellen to a hotel room so she can find them in bed together — just as Holly once did. “It’s amazing how similar it is,” Sue Ellen later remarks. Meanwhile, JR is threatening to tell Bobby that he and April slept together unless she continues to buy West Star stock on his behalf. “He’s got this old-fashioned notion about not sleeping with anybody I’ve slept with,” he explains, citing Holly as an example. Bobby confirms as much when April discreetly enquires about his past relationship with Holly: “Anything JR touches, he fouls. The thought of being involved with one of his ladies — well, it would never happen.” Back on KNOTS, there’s a surprisingly affectionate moment between Gary and Abby which silently acknowledges their history as he walks in on her dress fitting, wishes her good luck for the wedding (“I hope you’ll be very happy”) and then lifts up her veil to kiss her tenderly on the lips.

    Among those stranded at Falcon Crest this week is the recently appointed Sheriff Buckman, a somewhat glum, not especially authoritative figure. His immediate predecessor, Sheriff North, arrives at Lotus Point this week as Charles Scott’s shady associate. There is no shortage of shady associates in Soap Land at the moment: Harry Thresher on DYNASTY, the nameless Dealer on KNOTS and the other twelve members of The Thirteen on FALCON CREST.

    Two nautically-themed mysteries emerge on DYNASTY and KNOTS this week, involving Alexis and Abby’s respective love interests. Regarding the Natumbe oil deal, Dex notes that Denver Carrington’s ship is loaded, but only half the hold is filled with oil — so what else is Sean planning to transport? And why is Charles Scott suddenly so keen for Abby to expand the marina at Lotus Point? He even offers to put up the investment capital. Abby reacts enthusiastically and pitches the idea to Karen and Gary. Everything is going swimmingly until the scene in her office where she is being fitted for her wedding gown. (Big mistake — it is an unwritten law in Soap Land that every time we see a bride-to-be in her dress prior to the ceremony, disaster is just around the corner: just think Fallon and those headaches, Jamie Ewing and those oil barrels.) Here, it’s a chance remark from her architect that makes Abby realise that Charles had the plans for the marina expansion drawn up long before he ever arrived at Lotus Point. Back on DALLAS, Miss Ellie makes an alarming discovery of her own when she spies Clayton in the company of a younger woman.

    Echoing Sue Ellen and Alexis’s reactions to their husbands’ recent infidelities, neither Abby nor Ellie confronts her man directly, choosing instead to discreetly sound him out. When Abby suggests they move away from Knots Landing after their wedding, Charles insists on staying put: “I’ve decided to relocate my company here … I don’t wanna live anywhere else.” This confirms Abby’s worst suspicions — that he’s only marrying her because of the marina. Miss Ellie and Clayton have the opposite conversation when he tells her he regrets giving up his business when they got married (“Selling my refineries was the biggest mistake I ever made”) and that he plans to go back to work. While Miss Ellie frowns anxiously, Abby blinks back tears during a Johnny Rourke power ballad.

    As Abby cries over Charles’s deception — we see her sobbing alone in the powder room, then staring tearfully into an open fire — Sue Ellen laughs (and laughs and laughs) after finding JR and Kimberly together. Instead of hitting the bottle as she did when Holly set her up, she feigns disgust and then shows up at Nicholas’s apartment with a fit of the giggles. Turning a hugely dramatic scenario into a joke is a risky business. One need look no further than this week’s FALCON CREST. A series which has had its fair share of murder mysteries, this week’s ep sees the characters eagerly participating in a murder mystery game, scampering about Falcon Crest as if murder were something they had no personal experience of. (“I love this game!” exclaims Angela, all but looking at the camera.) As a result, when somebody is (inevitably) murdered for real, it’s hard to care because everything just feels so trivial. Sue Ellen’s amused reaction, however, works — partly because it serves to complicate, rather than dilute, the ongoing storyline. Also, it’s a way of portraying her newfound independence (“I hate him so much right now that nothing he could do could bother me”) in a way that’s dramatically interesting (as opposed to simply depicting her as boringly sober and well-adjusted the way the Dream Season did).

    Once her tears have dried, Abby tasks some unknown minion with investigating Charles’s finances. “I want to know more about Charles Scott’s business than he does,” she declares. “That could be pretty tough to do,” the minion replies. “The next time you see a labourer up on a roof mopping hot tar for minimum wage, call me, tell me how hard your job is,” she snaps. I’ve always found this response interesting. It seems to be a way for Abby to distance herself from Charles’s blue-blood world of privilege and ally herself with her own blue-collar upbringing. Abby Ewing, class warrior? Unlikely perhaps, but this is the most recognisably “Abby” she’s been in weeks.

    Back on DYNASTY, Alexis continues to toy with Leslie and Sean over their affair. She makes Leslie squirm by enquiring about the bracelet she gave her — the same one she then found under her own bed. For a while, it looks as if Alexis is playing the same game of cat and mouse that Blake did when he found out about the emerald necklace Krystle pawned back in Season 1 — but then she blows her cover by accusing Sean directly: “I think you’ve been having an affair with her in our bed and in Africa and God knows where else!” Sean comes up with a lame excuse which, interestingly, Alexis chooses to believe (how very vintage Sue Ellen of her). But in the penultimate scene of the ep, Dex tells her about Sean’s real parentage and then gets down on one knee to deliver the soapiest line week: “Alexis, he married you to destroy you!” Over on KNOTS, it looks like Abby has something similar in mind for Charles. Far from ending their marriage plans when she (like Alexis) discovered Charles (like Sean) had been deceiving her from the beginning, she is proceeding with them. “I don’t want Charles to get away,” she smiles ambiguously. Sue Ellen ends this week’s DALLAS on a high note too. When JR finds her in their bedroom packing, he assumes she’s about to leave Southfork and file for divorce. “That’s the last thing I’m gonna do,” she tells him cheerily. Instead, she explains, she’s moving back into her old room across the hall: “See you at breakfast!”

    And this week’s Top 4 are …

    1 (3) DALLAS
    2 (2) DYNASTY
    3 (4) KNOTS LANDING
    4 (1) FALCON CREST
     
    Last edited: May 20, 2018
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  9. James from London

    James from London Soap Chat Dream Maker

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    18 Feb 88: KNOTS LANDING: Lawfully Wedded v. 19 Feb 88: DALLAS: Farlow's Follies v. 19 Feb 88: FALCON CREST: Legacies

    Two weeks ago, FALCON CREST’s Maggie and Richard ditched their plans for a big wedding and tied the knot in a quickie ceremony instead. Abby and Charles do the same on this week’s KNOTS. The morning after, Abby summons her attorney to annul the union — thereby making it Soap Land’s shortest marriage since Alexis and Cecil Colby’s five years earlier.

    Despite this brevity, Abby has somehow found time to deposit a cheque for $2,000,000 — a wedding gift from her groom intended to finance the marina expansion at Lotus Point. Her financial gain is in contrast to Maggie’s financial loss. Upon marrying Richard Channing, she activated a codicil in Chase’s will that transferred her inheritance to Angela. And at the start of this week’s FC, which is full of the kind of atmospheric darkness and urgency lacking from last week’s ep, she hands over control of Chase’s winery to her new mother-in-law.

    When Abby accuses Charles of marrying her under false pretences, he admits that “I came here for Lotus Point, but I didn’t expect to fall in love with you again … Let’s forget Lotus Point.” Over on DALLAS, JR delivers almost the exact same pitch to Kimberly Cryder: “What started off between you and I as a game, as part of a business deal, has grown into much more and I’m not gonna give you up, with or without West Star.” Neither woman is entirely convinced, but while Abby calls Charles’s bluff directly (“OK, let’s sell Lotus Point.” Silence. “That’s what I thought. Bye, Charles”), Kimberly is slightly more circumspect (“If you’re not man enough to make the move that I was willing to make, maybe you’re not worth waiting for”).

    Elsewhere on KNOTS, Frank Williams is turning into an amalgam of Ben Gibson and Richard Avery at their most unstable. He loses his sales job but is too depressed to care, is overly protective of his family, and sees danger behind every suburban corner. The clatter of a trash can, the silhouette of a meter reader, an intrusive question from a nosy neighbour — each innocuous incident causes him to break into a cold sweat and/or reach for the nearest baseball bat. During the course of the episode, the reasons for his strange behaviour are gradually revealed. “How did your testimony go?” he asks Pat after she returns from a mysterious overnight trip. “Were they in the courtroom when you testified?” Later, during an argument, he blames his crummy job prospects on her “little agreement.” Finally, during an even bigger argument, a woman called Christine in whom Frank and Pat appear to confide comes right out and says it: “The Witness Security Programme has never lost a witness who followed procedure!”

    Meanwhile on DALLAS, an unobserved Miss Ellie catches Clayton in a seemingly intimate situation with Laurel for the second week in a row. When Sue Ellen found JR in bed with Kimberly last week, she surprised him by not falling apart and hitting the bottle. Here, Miss Ellie surprises everyone by falling apart and downing the best part of a bottle of whisky.

    These two storylines — Frank and Pat’s, Ellie and Clayton’s — have next to nothing in common, except that this week’s episodes provide the female half of each partnership with a flashy scene in which to strut her stuff. In both cases, it’s not a moment too soon. Since Pat’s arrived on KNOTS, one’s had the sense of her trying too hard, in front of both the neighbours and the viewers. To Mack and Karen, she’s been trying desperately to come across like a normal person leading a normal life. To the audience, she’s been working hard to sell the idea that she and hubby are still hot to trot after however many years of married life. Miss Ellie, meanwhile, has spent much of this season either bursting into tears or meekly acquiescing to Clayton. Such behaviour is even less reminiscent of the stoic, earthy matriarch of the first five or six years of DALLAS than Donna Reed’s more regal on take the role. Now they've been given the chance to bust loose, Pat shows what she’s made of while Ellie reveals an aspect of her personality that we’ve never really seen before.

    Pat’s outburst is prompted by the reaction of her handler (Christine) to the news that “the guy next door is some kind of special investigator for the governor.” Christine insists the Williamses need to be relocated once again, but Pat has had enough. In a speech that’s fiery, passionate and, let’s face it, black, she embraces what Gary and Abby once negatively described as “life in a goldfish bowl”: “You want us to move because we have nosy neighbours?!” she asks. “They seem nosy to us because they’re interested in us and they’re just lousy at hiding it. They don’t lie well. Honey, I like people who don’t lie well … We have an obligation to give Julie the very best life that we can, a normal life … I want her to able to play hopscotch on the sidewalk because it’s her sidewalk … I don’t want to leave.”

    Whereas Pat wants to join the world that KNOTS has to offer, Miss Ellie “just wants the world to go away.” Her equivalent outburst is angry, heartbroken and, let’s face it, drunk: “You wanna talk about the mysteries of life, Sue Ellen?” she asks her hapless daughter-in-law. “Let’s talk about disappointment … People who let you down, who break your heart, who make you wish you were someone you weren’t … Those are the good subjects, Sue Ellen. You wanna share your expertise on one of those subjects?” While it’s ironic that Sue Ellen should be the one to find Ellie in such a state, it’s even more ironic that she turns out to be no more equipped to deal with an embittered drunk than anyone else. It’s great to see Ellie sink her teeth into this material, even if her three-dimensional reaction to a two-dimensional storyline (man fixates on painting, man buys painting, man and girl in painting become platonic friends) feels a little out of whack.

    As one relatively minor movie star (Michael York) exits Soap Land, another arrives to take his place. Rod Taylor turns up in FALCON CREST as Melissa’s not very Italian-looking uncle, Frank Agretti. His backstory, as recounted by Angela — “Carlo robbed you of your half of the Agretti vineyards and threw you out of the valley” — is a familiar one, recalling similar sibling feuds between Jock and Jason Ewing and Blake and Ben Carrington. Likewise, the reasons for his visit — a terminal illness and a wish to reconcile with family — echo those of Miss Ellie’s brother, Mack Mackenzie’s father and Chance McKenzie’s mother.

    There are other fresh faces too: Harold Dyer (though he has yet to be identified as such on screen) speaks his first lines on KNOTS, senatorial aide Kay Lloyd debuts on DALLAS and Rosemont, the wonderfully creepy head of The Thirteen, emerges out of the darkness on FALCON CREST to utter Soap Land's line of the week: “Channing is my kind of soul — good at the centre with just a little taint of evil around the edges.” Counted alongside Pat, Frank and Julie on KNOTS, Rosemont is currently Soap Land’s fourth significant black character — something of a record.

    Charles Scott may have left KNOTS LANDING with his tail between his legs but, intriguingly, his storyline remains. “We’re in business,” Harold informs The Dealer, who in turn gives Johnny Rourke the thumbs up. DALLAS and FALCON CREST’s current business plots each take a similarly unexpected turn in this week’s closing scenes. While JR declares war on Dr Styles (“If it’s war you want, JR, you’ve got it,” the good doctor replies), Richard joins forces with The Thirteen and proposes a toast “to the destruction of Angela Channing.”

    And this week’s Top 3 are …

    1 (3) KNOTS LANDING
    2 (1) DALLAS
    3 (4) FALCON CREST
     
    Last edited: May 26, 2018 at 1:49 AM
    • Winner Winner x 2

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