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

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

  1. James from London

    James from London Soap Chat Enthusiast

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    05 May 88: KNOTS LANDING: The Perfect Alibi v. 06 May 88: DALLAS: Things Ain't Goin' So Good at Southfork, Again v. 06 May 88: FALCON CREST: Last Dance

    Following Manny’s orders to “get rid of them”, his mob spend much of this week’s KNOTS trying various methods of spooking the Santa Tecla gang into abandoning the archaeological dig. These include threatening letters, a snake in Paige’s sleeping bag (before we can learn if it’s as deadly as the black mamba Sean Rowan frightened Leslie Carrington with, Johnny entices her into his sleeping bag and it slithers away) and, most effectively of all, a dead dog in the water supply. Towards the end of the episode, they also blow up a reporter in his car to prevent him filing a story about the dig that could jeopardise the highway. Meanwhile on FALCON CREST, Richard warns Angela that, “Our friendly little group, the Thirteen, they wanna terminate the two of us … They know that … we’ve got enough on them to send them away for a while.”

    There’s a rich seam of cynicism running through this week’s Ewing-verse. When Mack’s police contact tells the Lotus Point crew that the reason Manny cannot be prosecuted is “a matter of national security”, Gary launches into a terrific rant: “Ah, the magic words that are supposed to justify anything! The Russians invade Afghanistan, the French blow up a boat in New Zealand, we invade an island, any island, in the Caribbean — anything anyone ever needs to justify is under the heading of National Security … Every dishonest, incompetent, bureaucrat politician invokes National Security in order to cover up crimes, stupidity and mistakes.” The cop dismisses Gary’s speech as “some left-wing diatribe”, but it is later echoed by Greg Sumner: “Every bozo dictator with a Swiss bank account or a chateau in France trots out the old National Security excuse whenever it suits his purposes … The phrase National Security has kept a lot of righteous guys out of the can.” (Greg does some digging of his own and learns that “Mr Vasquez is in the business of transporting tactical devices to friendly armies … guns, bazookas, missiles, nuclear warheads — who knows? … If the price were right, I suppose he’d just as soon supply both sides with arms.” After Sean Rowan and Richard Channing, that makes Manny Vasquez the third gunrunner of the season. It’s like 85/6 when suddenly every other character was a Greek shipping magnate.)

    The scepticism continues on DALLAS, albeit on a more local level when JR produces a court order overturning Sue Ellen’s court order obliging him to produce John Ross at Southfork. Instead, he instructs a couple of marshals to escort her off the ranch. Sue Ellen later tells Nick that JR and the authorities “concocted the grounds [for his court order] between them … With all the judges JR has got in his pocket, they can manufacture legal bases for anything that he wants.” This resonates with what Val told her neighbours back in “Land of the Free” (KNOTS Season 1) about her experience of turning to the authorities for help against JR: “I can’t tell you what that was like — knowing that anything at all could be done to me, and there wasn’t nothing the police would do about it because there wasn’t any difference between [JR’s] old boys and the police.” When the marshals manhandle Sue Ellen off Southfork, they could just as easily be the same old boys who snatched Lucy back from Val.

    While Sue Ellen has Nick to turn to (he assures her he knows a top-notch PI who can track down John Ross — what self-respecting investment broker doesn’t?), who do the KNOTS gang have? Ordinarily, Mack’s the one with the answers but not this time. “I feel helpless,” he admits. “I can’t do anything. Karen, I’ve never felt like this in my life … There’s no-one to help us and if anyone tried, it wouldn’t make a difference.” The “little man” at the mercy of bureaucratic red tape has been a bugbear of KNOTS throughout its run — from Karen’s clash with school authorities while trying to get Michael’s hyperactivity diagnosed to the stonewalling the Lotus Point gang received when attempting to clean up the toxic waste at Empire Valley — but this is as isolated as they’ve ever been.

    Sometimes, however, it’s the good guys who are corrupt and the politicians who are morally disgusted. One of the latter manages to take the glow off the moment Bobby gets the Ewing Oil name back. “The penalty your company was assessed was light enough. In my opinion, it should have stuck — but then, you’ve got a lot of powerful friends,” he tells him bitterly. Bobby is unrepentant: “I don’t appreciate your sentiments and I’m not here for one of your lectures.”

    Just as KNOTS LANDING’s Jill Bennett started out as a perky do-gooder from the DA’s office, Eric Stavros arrived in FALCON CREST as a well-meaning, mountain-climbing rich kid cast from the same mould as Clay Fallmont. Both have since well and truly crossed over to the dark side. Eric, now firmly under the control of the Thirteen, spends the season finale lurking first around Angela’s and then Richard’s houses trying to shoot them. Jill’s behaviour in this week’s KNOTS (the penultimate ep of the season), is a tad more subtle, but no less sinister.

    In one way, Jill’s actions here parallel those of Abby’s in last season’s finale, “Cement the Relationship”. Tasked with covering up Peter Hollister’s murder, we delighted in Abby’s quick-thinking, resourcefulness and ability to cover her tracks as she went along. We understood what she was trying to do and we willed her to succeed. Here, we’re just as transfixed by Jill’s behaviour, but have absolutely no idea what she’s up to. Whereas Abby was thinking on her feet, Jill’s plan is clearly calculated down to the last second. First, she picks a fight with Gary over some imaginary infidelity and announces her intention to attend a computer conference in San Francisco, before hiring a car and parking it at the airport, planting a gun under the back seat, buying a pack of cigarettes and disposing of its contents, striking up a conversation with a fellow passenger on the plane (“Let me tell you, in real life people are never the sophisticated killers you read about in novels. They’re always making a million mistakes”). She then picks up a guy at the convention, slips him a Mickey while he is replenishing her cigarette supply, and so on. All the while, her hair goes from curly to straight and back again seemingly of its volition before she finally stuffs it into a wig, dons some librarian glasses, returns to California, retrieves her gun and finally let herself into Val’s house while her oblivious target is upstairs drying her hair in preparation for watching a movie with her neighbours.

    Lest one thinks one is imagining the Hitchcock vibe, the film Pat has invited Val over to watch is STRANGERS ON A TRAIN (“It was 99¢ night at the video store”). If Jill were fleeing away from a crime rather towards one, she’d be Marion Crane in PSYCHO, just as the shot of a hand wielding a knife at the end of last week’s DALLAS qualifies Ray’s stalker Connie as Norman Bates. Meanwhile, the toll-booth gunfire scene in this week’s FALCON CREST, where the Thirteen take aim at a car carrying Richard and his family, is clearly borrowed from THE GODFATHER but is nowhere near as exciting. It’s one of three gunfire scenes in this week’s ep and as Angela quips, “It’s getting monotonous.”

    The second takes place at Falcon Crest where a wounded Angela collapses into Richard’s arms, just as Alexis did into Blake’s when she was shot during this season’s DYNASTY. Ray Krebbs is also attacked in his own home — the opening scene of this week’s DALLAS shows him staggering down the stairs after being stabbed by Connie.

    While Angela’s injuries turn out to be even more superficial than Alexis’s, Ray is admitted to Soap Land Memorial where he is visited by Bobby, who doesn’t quite buy his story that he was attacked by a random intruder. “Is there something you’re not telling us?” he asks. Ray smiles at him sadly. “Don’t worry about it, Bob,” he says. With Steve Kanaly heading out of the show, this is the last exchange of the series between the brothers (returns, reunions and reboots notwithstanding) and so, as with Jack Coleman’s final scene with Jeff on DYNASTY, it carries an extra level of poignancy. (Who knows? Maybe for the actors involved it’s just another day at the office, but it doesn’t feel that way.) Their exchange is cordial, even affectionate, but there’s a distance between them now that won’t allow Ray to confide in Bobby the way he once might have done. It’s kinda sad — after all their years of friendship, this is how they’ve ended up.

    Later, however, Ray feels the need to confess and, following her brush with death, so does Angela. “I was not stabbed by a burglar,” Ray tells Jenna. “I knew the woman … I had an affair with her.” Angela’s disclosure, meanwhile, is grudgingly delivered. “There’s a part of me,” she tells Richard, “a very small part, that cares a great deal about you and I’m getting bored of hiding it.” It’s a hard-won concession — we’ve been waiting all year for some evidence of maternal feeling from Angela towards her son and here it is. I’m kind of ambivalent about what she says next, however: “Sometimes I really enjoyed it when you came barging into Falcon Crest, waving your arms all around and shouting at the top of your voice.” While I can appreciate the sentiment, it somewhat undermines the dramatic nature of her conflict with Richard. It’s the same as if Cliff Barnes were to confess that he secretly enjoyed feuding with JR or Blake Carrington admitted that he privately found Alexis’s attempts to destroy him a bit of a laugh. I feel that it’s for us to enjoy the characters’ conflicts and feuds rather than the characters themselves.

    Unexpectedly, the best scenes of this week’s DALLAS are the ones dealing with the fallout from Miss Ellie’s decision to make Clayton co-owner of Southfork (which, in turn, was a consequence of the Laura Ellis storyline. I’ve always regarded Laurel as somewhat inconsequential in the scheme of things, but her relationship with Clayton actually sets in motion a significant chain of events). I love JR’s response — it’s everything we’ve been wanting him to say since Donna Reed and Clayton returned from their honeymoon back in ’84. “This is a disgrace to my daddy’s home!” he tells his mama. “He saved this ranch from the auction block when your daddy went broke … and I’ll be damned if I’m gonna watch some carpetbagger from San Angelo reap the rewards of his hard work!” He then turns on Clayton: “If you keep at Mama the way you have been, that wimp rodeo rider son of yours is gonna be sitting my chair right there.” He even pays back Miss Ellie for her killer line from a year ago (“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”) when he tells her: “You have dishonoured my daddy’s name and everything he stood for!”

    “You call giving a Ewing birthright away fair?” JR asks during his tirade. “Falcon Crest is my birthright,” echoes Melissa Agretti following the discovery of some random never-seen-before-last-week document. Her Uncle Frank tries to dissuade her from taking Angela’s home away from her which prompts a shrill, whiny rant (“You tell him, Lance, tell him about all the years she’s interfered in my life … how she tried to blackmail me, how she tried to drive me crazy, how she tried to drive me out of this valley!”) that doesn’t carry the half the weight of JR’s reaction to Clayton now co-owning Southfork.

    The lamest scene of this week’s DALLAS is the surprise party April throws for Cliff where a crowd of extras applaud his existence. “You deserve it,” April gushes, her voice all trembly with emotion. I guess the point of the scene is that it establishes her as Cliff’s best pal (not that there was much competition for the title). Two scenes later, she extends JR an olive branch and consoles him over his West Star defeat — the first time anyone’s shown him any sympathy since it happened and he appreciates it. This is also the first time a DALLAS character has had the ear of both Cliff and JR at the same time without anyone involved having a hidden agenda.

    There is no shortage of goodbyes for Bobby Ewing this week. Aside from his unofficial goodbye to Ray, he also breaks up, amicably but sadly, with Kay Lloyd. However, it’s his farewell to his other brother which proves the highlight. At fifty-something years of age, JR is finally cutting the apron strings. “I’m leaving this place. Southfork is no longer my home,” he announces at the end of his confrontation with Clayton and Ellie. When Bobby later comes to his room, he finds him packing his things. What makes the scene between the brothers so effective is that Bobby doesn’t try to change JR’s mind about leaving, nor does he roll his eyes cynically. He understands why he needs to go. “I worshipped that man, Bobby,” JR says, looking at a picture of his daddy. “I still miss him.“ Yep, six years after Jock’s death — a lifetime in soap years — JR’s still grieving. “This is not the same Southfork we grew up in. I guess it never will be again,” he concludes — a simple enough line, but one that somehow reaches across time, resonating not only with DALLAS’s past but also its future when John Ross and Christopher are grown and JR himself is no longer around. “Well, I guess this is it,” he tells his bro. “You might not believe this, Bobby, but I’m gonna miss you.” “I do,” Bobby replies. Adding an extra layer to the scene is the knowledge that Bobby has secretly regained the Ewing Oil name and has no intention of sharing it with his brother.

    In the same week that JR leaves the ranch, Angela, Lance and Emma are evicted from Falcon Crest. Angela is granted one last look around, which is played as A Big Moment. Because, however, the events leading to this moment have been depicted with such haste, with scant reason given for exactly how or why Melissa now owns everything (much less how and when Chase came by the necessary proof before his death), it carries far less resonance than JR’s voluntary departure from the Southfork, which, on paper, should be the lesser story. If ever one was looking for evidence that the Soap is in the details, all one need do is compare the slapdash execution of this FALCON CREST story with the tension and intrigue KNOTS ratchets up by following each step of Jill’s painstaking journey from Gary’s ranch to Val’s front door.

    Amidst all these goodbyes, there’s a surprise “Hello?” as Lucy Ewing Cooper arrives back at Southfork after an absence of three years. Somewhat symbolically, there’s no-one around to welcome her, save Christopher who has no idea who she is. “I don’t think Mitch has even noticed I’ve gone,” she later admits to Miss Ellie who immediately starts doling out the very same marital advice she did the first time Lucy left her husband: “Running back to Southfork isn’t gonna solve your problems.” Ironically in an episode with so much upheaval, for a moment it’s almost as if the last seven years haven’t happened. (Also, after an extended period of instability and histrionics, it’s nice to have Miss Ellie reestablish herself as Southfork’s voice of reason this week.)

    Towards the end of FALCON CREST, Richard meets with the Thirteen and makes an unusual proposition: “In exchange for ending all hostilities, I’m offering you my life … I only ask that you give me twelve hours so that I may say my goodbyes.” What follows echoes the departures of both Laura Avery from KNOTS and Mark Graison from DALLAS. First, Richard kisses his sleeping kids goodbye (très Laura) before enjoying what Mark would have described as “one perfect night” with Maggie, who is as much in the dark now as Pam was then. “You gave me the greatest gift a person could receive … You taught me how to love,” he tells her. “I was locked in a world of preconceptions and flannel pyjamas … You woke me up and gave me wings,” she replies. Again like Mark, he waits till she’s asleep before taking his leave and then walks outside to where Eric Stavros is waiting to fire several bullets in his direction. Have the Thirteen really succeeded with Eric where Jean Hackney failed so spectacularly with Ben Gibson and turned him into “the ultimate killing machine”? Or is Richard’s death an elaborate ruse intended to smoke out the Thirteen in the same way that Gary Ewing’s was meant to expose the Wolfbridge Group? As with Gary, there is a funeral where the grieving appears genuine — save that Angela (like Cathy Geary before her) seems to know something the others don’t. Does that mean Richard is alive somewhere, plotting his eventual return the way Greg Sumner did after his fake execution, or is he really dead? On one hand, this is FALCON CREST where they’re not afraid to kill off major characters. On the other, this is FALCON CREST where they’re not afraid to bring back major characters they’ve only just killed off. The episode factors viewer awareness of each of these possibilities into its final moments, essentially making that the cliffhanger. The penultimate scene has Maggie telling Michael and Kevin a bedtime story about their “two daddies” (“both very, very brave and everyone loved them very, very much”) which is the equivalent of the “Daddy Bear” fairytale fellow writer Val Gibson has been telling her kids throughout this season’s KNOTS as a way to explain Ben’s absence. Then we cross-fade to what looks like a church or monastery in some remote place — not unlike the Tibetan monastery where Richard’s former self Michael Tyrone made his return from dead at the end of FLAMINGO ROAD. Finally, we see Angela lighting a candle and asking an unseen someone, “When are you gonna tell Maggie you’re alive?” I’d kind of love it if it turned to be John Remick again.

    And this week’s Top 3 are …

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

    James from London Soap Chat Enthusiast

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    12 May 88: KNOTS LANDING: The Perfect Crime v. 13 May 88: DALLAS: The Fat Lady Singeth

    For its ninth season finale, KNOTS rips up the rule book by opening with the longest unbroken scene in Soap Land history, a two-hander between Jill and Val lasting more than fifteen minutes, before travelling back in time to pick up the Santa Tecla storyline precisely where the penultimate scene of last week’s episode left off. Were this not unconventional enough, four of the show’s six principle players — Karen, Mack, Gary and Abby — don’t show up until the final third of the ep while a fifth — Greg — doesn’t appear at all.

    Prior to Jill and Val’s big scene, the last time Soap Land spent so long under one roof was in “Stormy Weather”, FALCON CREST’s jokey murder mystery episode. While tonally very different, the two share some technical similarities. Both eps employ oblique camera angles (the technical term for which is, apparently, a Dutch tilt, “often used to portray psychological uneasiness or tension in the subject being filmed” — in this case, Jill). While Angela Channing looked almost straight at the viewer to deliver the line, “I love this game!”, Jill does indeed stare directly into the camera lens to bark some of her orders at Val. In fact, Jill is shot from so many different angles that the scene is occasionally in danger of seeming tricksy — as if the programme-makers aren’t totally certain that the conflict between the two women is sufficient to maintain viewers’ attention without the aid of some fancy visuals. For the most part, however, the sense of disorientation the camera work provides is very effective.

    Jill sets her store out early on. She wants Val to commit suicide and if she doesn’t, Jill will shoot her dead anyway, and let her kids find her with her brains splattered over the wall. When Val asks why, Jill replies by dissecting her personality in a way that feels almost taboo: “You must know why. You can’t not know how you get under people’s skin … You have the gift of making people, especially Gary, but not only Gary, say, ‘Poor Val. Poor Val isn’t responsible for the way she feels or the way she acts or the way she is. You can’t blame poor Val — because she’s poor Val. She can’t help being just a little bit crazy.’ … They forget that Poor Val takes advantage of their pity, how Poor Val’s as self-centred as they come, how Poor Val needs them to keep saying, ’Poor Val’ because it’s her excuse to be a child and it absolves her of her absolute selfishness!” Needless to say, this isn’t how characters in Soap Land ordinarily insult each other, even at their most vicious. Jill's speech is the psychological equivalent of the words Val used to describe her own physical appearance in that motel room in Season 6 (“You’re as flat as a board! … You look like a man!”). No-one in Soap Land usually talks like that! The specificity of Jill’s words feels equally organic. I very much doubt that "Poor Val" is how David Jacobs originally envisaged the character for her first appearance on DALLAS, but it’s a harsh but fair description of the high-maintenance soap diva she has evolved into — albeit from the point of view of someone who hasn’t received the memo that this is how all high-maintenance soap divas are obliged to behave, otherwise there would be no story.

    For a more soapily conventional, if no less derogatory, reference to Val, I refer you to JR’s exchange with Lucy during their very enjoyable reunion squabble on this week’s DALLAS. JR: “You’ve got a nasty mouth, just like that tramp mother of yours.” Lucy: “Well, coming from the expert on tramps, I take that as a compliment.”

    The longer Val’s ordeal goes on, the more the personal violations pile up: Jill sweetly promising to give the twins what she knows they like for breakfast after Val is dead (“Apple slices on wholewheat toast with little bits of tofu and raisin made into a face”). Val’s suicide note, which Jill has already composed (“‘Dear Gary,’” she reads aloud, before breaking off angrily. “Isn’t that just like Valene, to address her suicide note to Gary? Can you imagine the insensitivity?”). Jill’s rubber-gloved fingers probing the inside of Val’s mouth to make sure she’s swallowed all the pills she’s forced her to take.

    While Val is suitably stunned and terrified, Teri Austin is quietly excellent as Jill. Having watched her closely as she painstakingly established her alibi in last week’s episode, it feels like we are now complicit in Jill’s crime and, oddly, she turns out to be more relatable in this situation than Val — it’s easier to understand what it’s like to be driven to distraction by someone who plays on their victim status than it is to be terrorised by a madwoman in a funny wig. There’s a darkly comic moment after Val protests that no-one would ever believe she’d kill herself. “Everyone’ll believe it!” Jill assures her, almost laughing. “Just listen to how the words roll trippingly off the tongue — ‘Poor Val committed suicide.’” It’s funny because it’s true.

    Jill’s cheerful revelation that she was responsible for Ben’s letters and phone calls leads Val to quietly conclude that, “If you wrote those letters, then he is dead.” However, now that she is facing the end of her own life, she barely has time to acknowledge this fact. And so Ben’s faux-resurrection is snuffed out almost as cruelly as Mark Graison’s was after Pam woke up to find Bobby in the shower. Back then it was the audience, rather than Val, who barely had time to process the realisation that he must be dead after all.

    Ben might not be coming back, but someone else could be. “I saw Pam!” announces Jordan Lee on DALLAS. Just as FALCON CREST toyed with viewer expectations at the end of last week’s finale (“When are you gonna tell Maggie you’re alive?”), this revelation is followed by a scene of Bobby taking a shower — a reminder, perhaps, not to take things at face value.

    Compared to KNOTS, DALLAS’s season finale is on reassuringly familiar ground. JR has a run in with almost every member of his family — taunting Clayton (“You just can’t seem to keep your zipper up, can you?”), insulting Lucy (“I suppose your being here means that you and that nitwit husband of yours are having trouble again”), provoking Sue Ellen (“Call off your gigolo, honey”) and gloating at Bobby (“I got it all back, Bob, all the Ewing property … It’s all mine now”) only for the latter to turn the tables on him (“There is a Ewing Oil again, JR, but this time it’s not you, it’s me”). There are several references to the show’s history, as well as call-backs to DALLAS’s two most infamous cliffhangers — following Bobby’s shower scene, JR gets shot all over again.

    For his departing episode, Ray Krebbs is given a touching speech that recalls his previous personas as “the town drunk’s son”, “the skinny little kid” who arrived at Southfork and wondered what it would be like to belong to a real family, and “the half-breed brother” who felt unworthy of either the Ewing name or being married to Donna, and then links them to his present-day problems with Jenna. Meanwhile, Jenna turns for marital advice to Miss Ellie who responds with some of her own backstory — her reaction to Jock’s wartime affair and her later resentment towards Ray when she found out he was Jock’s son. “[Ray] has never been able to realise what a good man he is,” she says feelingly. Jenna concludes that she and Ray need to make a fresh start away from Dallas. “There’s too much here that’s bad for us, Ray," she reasons, "you thinking of yourself as a second-class citizen — you’re never gonna get away from that, Ray, not as long as you can see Southfork from your front porch.” After Ray’s ten years of service to Soap Land (and Jenna’s five), it’s a low-key send-off, but a fitting one — and it’s more than either of Ray’s “good son” equivalents, Cole Gioberti and Steven Carrington, got when they left their shows.

    After Jeff Colby, JR becomes the second unfathomably rich oilman of the season to finally move out of the family home and into his own apartment — in his case, the Ewing condo. Even though it’s de-rigueur for Soap Land to keep as many of its characters living under the same roof as possible, it’s kind of cool to see Jeff and JR in their swinging bachelor pads. They almost seem like grown men. Oddly, the exterior of JR’s place is Alexis’s former apartment building magically transposed to Texas.

    The last scene of DALLAS’s finale ep strongly resembles the penultimate one of DYNASTY’s. In each case, a woman (Alexis/Sue Ellen) watches helplessly from the sidelines as her estranged husband (Sean/JR) and current lover (Dex/Nicholas) fight to the death. Both pairs of men are struggling over a gun when it suddenly goes off. On DYNASTY, we cut to Alexis’s stricken face and then the scene ends. On DALLAS, the gun falls the floor and the two men carry on fighting out towards the balcony of JR’s condo. We then cut to the exterior of the balcony from where, four years earlier, Mark Jennings plunged to his death. Now it’s Nick’s turn. Even after he has fallen, the scene does not end.

    A theme linking both Ewingverse finales: Girls with guns. As well as the one Jill keeps trained on Val until she loses consciousness, Paige has another pointed at both Chava and Johnny in Santa Tecla after realising that neither man is what she thought: Chava’s an undercover agent for the DEA while Johnny is working for the bad guys. Which deceiver can she trust? Johnny’s really good here, all his irritating faux-folksiness forgotten as he urgently tries to convince Paige that he’s on her side (“I’m the only one who can get you out of here!”). Eventually, she sides with Chava, but by the end of the episode, they, along with Michael, have fallen into Manny’s clutches.

    Back on DALLAS, having watched her lover die at the hands of JR, Sue Ellen picks up the gun and, following the example of Eric Stavros, who shot an unarmed Richard Channing at point blank range on last week’s FALCON CREST, starts firing in JR’s direction. As on FC, the scene doesn’t cut back to JR once the trigger has been pulled — but lest there be any doubt that Sue Ellen has hit her target, she then calls the police: “I’d like to report a double murder. This is Sue Ellen Ewing.” Val’s prone body, meanwhile, lies on her bedroom floor, Jill’s disembodied voice gently singing a nursery rhyme on the soundtrack.

    So: Nicholas dead. JR apparently dead. Val pretty much dead. Jill gets away scot-free while Sue Ellen makes a full confession. In each case, the cliffhanging question is not so much “whodunnit?” as “how the hell are they gonna write themselves out of this one?”

    And this week's Top 2 are ...

    1 (2) KNOTS LANDING
    2 (1) DALLAS
     
    Last edited: Jul 22, 2018
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  3. Daniel Avery

    Daniel Avery Super Moderator Staff Member

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    While Sue Ellen is phoning the cops, Val is seen lying next to a phone as if she'd tried to call the cops too, but passed out before she could reach them...and the camera pans across to show Jill had planned everything so well, she had even unplugged the phone.
     
  4. James from London

    James from London Soap Chat Enthusiast

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    And if Sue Ellen was calling the cops at the same time, it probably would have been engaged anyway. Oh well.
     
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  5. Willie Oleson

    Willie Oleson drilling for soap

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    There's a funny pause and for a moment it looks as if he'd swing back to the balcony à la Spider-Man.
    upload_2018-7-22_20-4-46.png
    (or is that an alteration made by the uploader?)
    Gosh, I don't think I noticed that the phone was unplugged, or maybe I did and I assumed that Val had accidentally caused the unplugging herself.
    But if Jill did it then it clearly shows the weak spot because a perfect crime should not have a "just in case".
    Of course, since Val wasn't going to die (how cruel would that be, after being completely de-glamourized by Jill?) they had to show that she had awaken from her deadly sleep, at least long enough to try to reach for the phone.
    The viewer would feel cheated if they had done this in the first episode of the next season.
     
  6. James from London

    James from London Soap Chat Enthusiast

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    I don't remember it being there when the show originally aired on the BBC, but it's certainly cropped up in reruns and on the DVD. It's weird, but I kind of like it. Maybe it was a deliberate tease: maybe at that point we're not meant to know whether it's Nicholas or JR and they're tricking us into thinking this is the cliffhanging freeze frame. But then wait, there's more!
     
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  7. Steven Wayne

    Steven Wayne Soap Chat Member

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    It must have been like this when the episode originally aired for exactly the reason that you mention. I seem to remember Leonard Katzman explaining the short freeze like that, but can’t recall where exactly I read or heard that. It’s not in Barbara Curran‘s book.
     
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  8. James from London

    James from London Soap Chat Enthusiast

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    27 Oct 88: KNOTS LANDING: Suicidal v. 28 Oct 88: DALLAS: Carousel v. 28 Oct 88: FALCON CREST: Changing Times

    New season, new lineups in the opening credits. Ray Krebbs, Jenna Wade, Dan Fixx and Eric Stavros are gone, Jill Bennett, Paige Matheson and April Stevens have been promoted, Lucy Ewing is reinstated and Pilar Ortega appears out of nowhere.

    Last season’s Ewingverse ended with JR shot and Val unconscious following an overdose. Is it too late to save them? Sue Ellen having already alerted the authorities, JR gets a head start on his ex-sister-in-law and is at Soap Land Memorial when this season begins. Val isn’t found by her twins until the following morning and they just assume “Mommy’s asleep on the floor.” Eventually, she is taken to hospital where Soap Land meets Real Life. “Does she have insurance?” a woman with a clipboard asks Pat Williams. “Do you have her insurance information with you? … Do you know the name of the company she has a policy with?”

    There’s a first-class example of When Storylines Collide on KNOTS. Still reeling about Manny Vasquez holding Paige and Michael hostage in Mexico, Karen is at Lotus Point with Gary and Abby when Marsha pulls up in a golf buggy with even more horrible news: “Val tried to commit suicide.” Karen is stunned but quickly realises, “I can’t leave” — because of what’s going on with Manny. In the equivalent DALLAS scene, Bobby and Clayton are out on the range introducing a new plot about the effects of a drought on Southfork when a helicopter descends and out rushes Charlie the ranch-hand. “JR’s been shot!” he announces. “From what they say, he must be near dead!” Gary and Bobby both rush to the hospital. FALCON CREST, meanwhile, has jumped forward a month from the end of last season (that’s in addition to the two-month jump that occurred midway through the finale ep) so the atmosphere’s less urgent, more melancholy than in the Ewingverse. Having lost both her son and her empire, Angela is suffering from a severe case of soap fatigue. “I’m tired of fighting,” she sighs wearily. There’s a frailty about her now — along with Frank Williams’ and Lance Cumson’s shorter haircuts, it’s most visible “between seasons” change — and it becomes her, making her seem more human and vulnerable than she has in a long while.

    Back on DALLAS, JR’s doctor informs him that he is “the luckiest man I’ve ever known, or your wife is the worst shot … You’ve got two clean holes here, nothing vital has been hit.” Things are less straightforward on KNOTS where Gary arrives at the hospital to learn that Val has had her stomach pumped, but has yet to regain consciousness. There is also a possibility of brain damage. He is then informed that “if she recovers and stabilises, she’ll be transferred to county hospital … They’re equipped to handle uninsured patients.” “I’ll pay,” he replies coldly, tossing a credit card on the desk. Money talks for JR too. When he asks for his condition to be announced as “extremely critical” and for his room to be filled with “monitors … and tubes and drip bags and all the stuff that makes you look bad,” his doctor objects: “It’s wrong and it’s cruel.” “Doctor, do you have any idea how much money I contribute to this place?” JR asks. He gets his way.

    When Sue Ellen and Jill hear that JR and Val aren’t as dead as they’d assumed, they are both disappointed, to say the least. “You mean to tell me that bastard is still alive?” Sue Ellen snarls, before remembering that she’s talking to the cop investigating the shooting. Jill, meanwhile, hears the happy news about Val from Gary over the phone. She manages to keep it together during their conversation, but then immediately starts to unravel, throwing the phone across the room and later throwing up in a sink.

    By the time Jill joins Gary at Soap Land Memorial, Val has been transferred to the psychiatric ward (“They weren’t supposed to move Val out of ICU until she became conscious, but they got so backed up in there,” Gary explains — another reminder of the real world going on outside of this soapy drama). While Bobby enters JR’s more private hospital room, looking almost as sad as JR did when Bobby was on his deathbed back in “Swan Song”, Gary leaves Jill alone with Val for a few moments. In both scenes, things then get kinda meta. On KNOTS, Jill has one of those thought-bubbles sequences, where we can hear her thoughts without her actually speaking them aloud. “What are you going to tell them?” she “asks” Val. “What will they believe? … It won’t matter what you say about me. I’m safe. I’m home free. No-one saw me.” Just then, Val’s heavily rouged, possibly psychic roommate pops her head around the curtain. “I heard every word you said!” she declares. Jill looks worried — which is interesting. I had kind of assumed that thought-bubbles were meant to convey whatever random thoughts were going through a person’s head, as opposed to a precise inner monologue that requires them to think articulately and in full sentences, but Jill’s reaction suggests otherwise. Back in JR’s room, he is saying his goodbyes. “Bob, I think this is it … Shake my hand. Tell me we’re partners again. Let me go meet my Daddy with my head held high.” At this point, Bobby can keep up the pretence that this is a conventional life or death scenario no longer and starts to laugh. A soap opera undermining its own drama with humour? When this kind of thing happens on FALCON CREST, I purse my lips in pious disapproval — so why has this scene always amused me? Perhaps it’s because the characters’ relationship and motivations ring true. JR still wants what he’s always wanted: Ewing Oil. He’s just going about trying to get it in a different way (i.e, by pretending he’s dying). And the two brothers play off each other well — they’re still recognisably them: they aren’t performing a watered-down sitcom version of themselves. By the end of the scene, Bobby has grown serious again and tells JR flatly, “I’m not gonna make you my partner.” Then, referring to the medical equipment, he adds: “Why don’t you send all of this stuff back to the people who really need it?” Like the ones in that backed-up ICU ward Gary was talking about, perhaps.

    DALLAS manages to slither out of the "double murder" corner it painted itself into at the end of last season by having Sue Ellen and JR each claim self-defence while accusing the other of (attempted) murder. After Bobby points out to Sue Ellen the impact a trial would have on her son (“Now that would make wonderful headlines for John Ross to read, wouldn’t it? ‘Mother Accuses Father of Killing Her Boyfriend.’ That’s real love, Sue Ellen”), she drops all charges against JR and he then does the same. I’m not sure how much legal scrutiny this would hold up to in the real world, but it keeps the story barreling along and by the end of the ep, they’re back to fighting over John Ross. (“You’ll get him back over my dead body.” “Whatever it takes, Sue Ellen.”) There’s a similar disregard for legal niceties when Peter Stavros, last seen fleeing the US after confessing to the murder of Roland Saunders, returns to FALCON CREST. “I didn’t think you were welcome in this country anymore?” Angela enquires. “The charges were dropped. I’m a free man,” he replies breezily. “Oh well, I suppose money and friends can make anything possible,” she shrugs.

    The authorities are equally ineffectual on KNOTS, but not in a way that’s advantageous to the characters. When Karen suggests contacting the police about Manny Vasquez, Mack scoffs: “In Mexico? He owns them. The Feds? That’s why we’re in this in the beginning!”

    Everyone’s looking for someone this week. Mack heads for Mexico in search of his daughter and stepson (“We even don’t know if they’re alive!”), Cliff Barnes flies north hoping to find his sister (“I just want to let her know that we love her”), Sue Ellen comes to Southfork looking for her son (“I’m gonna get him back one way or the other”), Peter Stavros has returned to the Tuscany Valley to investigate the disappearance of his son (“He’s gone so far underground, no-one can find him”) and Carly Fixx takes off for Oklahoma to find Dan, formerly her brother and now “the guy I’m nuts about.”

    These searches yield mixed results. Mack arrives in a Santa Tecla that’s suddenly as dangerous as Moldavia after the revolution and soon finds himself a prisoner in the Mexican equivalent of Krystle’s royal dungeon, only hotter and sweatier. Peter Stavros has no luck either. Not only does he find no clues to Eric’s whereabouts, but Vicky manages to shatter whatever remaining illusions he has left about him: “Your son was a liar and a gambler and a wife-beater and a thief.” Sue Ellen receives a cool reception from Bobby, who comes down firmly on JR’s side. “He’s my brother and that’s the bottom line. I love him,” he tells her. “You don’t know a damn thing about it!” she snaps. (It’s always fascinating to see these two at odds.) Sue Ellen does find an unexpected ally in Lucy, who eventually reunites her with John Ross as a helpless JR watches, fuming, from his hospital window. Cliff also finds Pam. Well, sort of. She’s Pam but not she’s Pam. She looks similar, but she’s not the same. She claims that she has no interest in returning to her family (“Forget you ever had a sister … We’re never gonna see each other again”), then after Cliff leaves we learn that she “only has a few months to live.” The fact that this has all been corroborated on New DALLAS makes a strange scene even stranger — and sadder. “It’s better this way,” Pam explains to Dr Gordon, who will himself relay the story to Christopher in 2013. “They won’t look for me anymore and if there is pain in the end, in my mind I’ll have Cliff and Christopher, and Bobby will be with me. My love for them is all I really need.” Boy oh boy — it’s Laura’s decision to die alone to the power of ten.

    In spite of his firm refusal to readmit JR into Ewing Oil, Bobby gradually softens throughout the episode and ends up, inevitably, inviting him back into the fold. Now that Sue Ellen is cutting the ties once and for all — she consults a lawyer about “a clean and fast divorce” and insists that she has no interest in a settlement (“I don’t want JR to have a claim on me at all”) — Bobby seems to be replacing her as JR’s codependent partner. His proviso that JR can return to the company so long as he has no dealings in oil is a bit like Sue Ellen’s previous agreement to stay married to JR on the condition that they have separate bedrooms.

    It’s unusual for Soap Land to establish an entire family of new characters all at once, but following the Williamses' arrival on last season’s KNOTS comes the Ortegas on FALCON CREST. Significantly, neither family is white, which means Soap Land is now more racially diverse than it ever has been. Whereas the Witness Protection Programme storyline essentially wiped out any identity Pat and Frank may have had before showing up in Seaview Circle, it turns out the Ortegas have always been in the Tuscany Valley — we’ve just never seen them before. This device of widening the view of an existing community to introduce fresh faces was deployed very effectively by both FLAMINGO ROAD and PEYTON PLACE back in the day. We learn that the Ortega patriarch, Cesar, had worked at Falcon Crest for thirty-five years until he is unceremoniously fired by Melissa this week. His eldest son Tommy works for Dan Fixx’s trucking company and his daughter Pilar, already elevated to opening credit status, went to school with Lance and Melissa. She now returns to the valley after an absence of several years, bringing with her some of Kirby Anders’ below-stairs bitterness (“I used to play with Lance and Melissa [but] I never once got invited to their homes”) and Lane Ballou’s social ambition (“I’m gonna be on everyone’s guest lists now”). “Your own kind was never good enough for you. That was always your problem,” Cesar tells her, adding a hint of racial divide into the mix. It’s also intimated that she has Something To Hide. “Pilar ran away when she was sixteen. Cesar didn’t say why,” recalls Angela.

    Having realised her dream of owning Falcon Crest, Melissa is now living there, alone and miserable, just like Alexis after she fulfilled her ambition of taking over the Carrington mansion. Gratifyingly, everyone onscreen finally seems to be losing patience with her. “I could ring Melissa’s neck,” says Frank Agretti. “You’re gonna have to stand in line,” Angela replies.

    At the end of last season’s DALLAS, Jenna persuaded Ray to move to Europe by arguing that he would never escape the shadow of the Ewings “as long as you can see Southfork from your front porch.” On this week’s FALCON CREST, Peter Stavros uses similar reasoning when he asks Angela to return to Greece with him: “As long as you’re living in this valley, you’re gonna be fighting the same old battles.” To Lance’s astonishment, Angela agrees. “This is my life we’re talking about and I’m going to live it any damn way I please!” she barks — but then she sees the sorry state of the vines at Falcon Crest. It’s not the result of the drought currently afflicting Southfork’s cattle, but mildew brought about by Melissa’s neglect. Angela immediately changes her mind about leaving. “I can’t stand by and see you ruin everything my family has worked for for generations,” she tells her. She then echoes what Kimberly Cryder told JR in her final scene on DALLAS: “Melissa, you’re such a fool. You could have had it all.”

    KNOTS climaxes with a terrific shoot-out in Santa Tecla — the kind of gun battle that’s grown increasingly meaningless on FALCON CREST over the last couple of seasons, but that really matters here. While poor old Chava is killed, Harold Dyer saves Mack by switching sides at the last second and shooting his Uncle Manny dead instead. This barely registers with Mack. “WHERE ARE MY CHILDREN?!!” he yells. “I don’t know” mumbles Harold from offscreen, still shocked at what he has just done. “I don’t know.”

    A grieving Maggie is obliged to take control of Richard’s empire on FALCON CREST, just as Pam was Bobby’s at the start of the Dream Season. And in the same way that Mark Graison returned from the dead just as Pam was reaching crisis point so Richard reappears just as Maggie finally loses it with Garth and fires him. For a second, it looks as if she will faint into her dead lover’s arms the way Pam did, but instead she slaps him across the face. “You son of a bitch!” she shouts.

    And this week’s Top 3 are …

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

    James from London Soap Chat Enthusiast

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    02 Nov 88: DYNASTY: Broken Krystle v. 03 Nov 88: KNOTS LANDING: Borderline v. 04 Nov 88: DALLAS: No Greater Love v. 04 Nov 88: FALCON CREST: Farewell, My Lovelies

    No less than six Soap Land characters make their final appearances this week. On DYNASTY, Dana Carrington walks out on husband Adam, and it turns out she’s saved her best scenes till last. I’ve always found the actress’s need to emote at every opportunity a bit distracting, but in her final scenes she’s too drained, too defeated to do much more than simply deliver her lines and that’s all that’s really needed. When Adam tries to stop her leaving by taking her to bed, she silently acquiesces, then quietly makes her exit once he’s asleep. Our final glimpse of Dana is particularly striking: Fallon spots her as she descends the Carrington staircase with her cases and calls her name. Instead of replying, Dana simply walks out of the scene and off the show. Meanwhile, Fallon is immediately distracted by the news of Krystle’s disappearance and so doesn’t even acknowledge her departure. It reminds me of how no-one noticed the Wards leaving KNOTS at the end of Season 4 because they were too caught up in the events unfolding around them.

    There’s another abrupt departure on DALLAS where, after ten years’ loyal and crooked service, JR unceremoniously shows Harry McSween the door after he refuses to snatch John Ross from Sue Ellen. “If a cop can’t break the law, what the hell use is he?” JR asks. “Get outta here. I don’t wanna see you round here anymore.” And that’s that. Mitch Cooper also makes one last appearance on DALLAS as he tries, like Peter Stavros did on last week’s FALCON CREST, to persuade his estranged wife to return home with him. Lucy doesn’t give him a definitive response, but now she’s back in the opening credits, it doesn’t look hopeful. Angela, meanwhile, lets Peter down gently. “If I ever leave the valley, it’ll be with you,” she tells him. Peter has more success persuading Vicky to leave Tuscany in order to visit Eric, currently recovering in a Swiss clinic after being mentally “hung out to dry” by the Thirteen. “Come back soon, OK?” Maggie asks her daughter, but their tearful goodbye suggests a more permanent parting. Lastly, Carly Fixx bids an equally emotional farewell to Angela before leaving the valley to be with Dan. Now that they’re no longer brother and sister, they’re free to hook up — kind of making them Clay Fallmont and Leslie Carrington in reverse.

    The most conspicuous absence of the week, however, is Krystle’s. In the same way that the Pam we met on last week’s DALLAS was an unfamiliar looking woman who claimed to have turned her back on her family — almost an Anti-Pam — so the Krystle that is spoken of on this week’s DYNASTY resembles no Krystle we’ve ever encountered on screen. While Krystina tearfully claims that her mother has turned into a witch (“She said she was going someplace where nobody could find her, not even me!”), the figure described by an anguished Jeanette sounds positively ghostlike (“It was the middle of the night … All she had on was a thin little nightgown. I called out to her, but she just kept walking … She turned and I can’t describe the look in her eyes …”). Blake’s search for his wife leads him into a nightmarish version of Skid Row (not unlike the alley Sue Ellen found herself in during Pam’s Dream or the Mission District Joshua ended up on in KNOTS), full of graffitied walls and overflowing trash cans, where the woman he thinks is his wife turns out to be a grotesque parody dressed in a Krystle wig and a leather don’t-be-a-slave-to-fashion mini-skirt. The closest we get to the Krystle we know are some pictures in a photo album Blake looks through. The first couple of images, from their original wedding, are reassuringly familiar, but the next, from their second wedding, has Krystle’s face torn out of it. Presuming this is the Anti-Krystle’s handiwork, does that mean she isn’t a fan of Season 4?

    “These past few years, she hasn’t been herself,” says Jeanette. “I think it’s started and I don’t know what to do,” Blake tells someone over the phone. “She could be capable of almost anything,” warns Krystle’s doctor. We have no idea what any of them are talking about. We don’t even know why Blake was so upset that Krystle had apparently gone out for the day that it became last season’s finale cliffhanger. Yet this very “not-knowing” is what makes the story so bizarrely fascinating. It’s almost as if, while we’ve been watching Krystle on screen all these years, there’s been a whole other Krystle existing just beyond our field of vision. It turns out there’s a lake she likes to visit (“She goes there when she wants to be alone,” claims Sammy Jo) and a diary she’s kept religiously for years — who knew? Arriving at the lake at the end of the episode, Sammy Jo and Jeff spy a body on the shore. Is it Krystle’s? Or is Krystle somehow responsible for it? “She could be capable of almost anything,” remember, so at this point, it seems possible.

    On the way to this never-previously-mentioned lake, Jeff manages to drop in an intriguing bit of info-dumping: “I was here once when I was a kid. It wasn’t a lake then. It was a mine or some kind of excavation that Jason and Blake’s father were involved in.” Not to be outdone, Miss Ellie delivers an equivalent tidbit about a never-previously-mentioned river while showing prospective buyer Carter MacKay round Ray’s ranch on DALLAS. “It’s very soothing. I think the river’s even prettier here than when it reaches Southfork … This used to be part of Southfork long ago,” she continues, referring to the surrounding land. “My first husband gave a section to Ray Krebbs years ago and I gave him another section when he got married this year.” At the start of Season 9, we were given the impression that Ray had moved off his Southfork land and bought an entirely separate ranch as a statement of independence. Now, suddenly, it was part of Southfork all along. DYNASTY and DALLAS are rearranging their narratives in front of our very eyes and it’s quite exhilarating to watch.

    This seems to be part a growing trend in Soap Land — events, even entire lives, going on under our noses that we weren’t privy to at the time: Punk’s affair with his secretary that Mavis Anderson disclosed to Miss Ellie on last season’s DALLAS, Michael Fairgate admitting to Olivia on KNOTS that he contemplated suicide after being dumped by Paige, Cesar Ortega working at FALCON CREST for thirty-five years without anyone noticing. Along the same lines, Ben Gibson’s death is suddenly being treated as fact by everyone on KNOTS.

    “There are people in this world that have no conscience. They don’t think they’re bad people, they’s just practical. They do what they do because it’s good business … I understand the mentality, Karen … I was so selfish and self-centred that it took my daughter trying to kill herself before I realised there was anything wrong with that kind of thinking.” While KNOTS LANDING’s Abby is newly repentant and FALCON CREST’s Angela is newly frail, DYNASTY’s Alexis is newly frivolous. It takes her a couple of scenes to recover from the shock of her husband trying to kill her in her bathroom, but then she’s rolling around on the floor drunk, singing Cole Porter songs and cooing over Dex’s muscles before abruptly passing out. This is part of a new lighter atmosphere running counterpoint to the graver Krystle-Not-Krystle mystery. Yes, the same playfulness that infected DALLAS and KNOTS in the immediate post-dream era has finally filtered through to DYNASTY. When else in the show’s history could one expect to find Dex Dexter squeezed into a small bathtub, one leg hanging over the side, chomping on a cigar and flicking through a copy of Sports Action? Or Fallon, currently competing with Sammy Jo over Jeff, pulling down the zip of her top to emphasise her ample cleavage before coming face to face with her less endowed rival who responds by self-consciously buttoning up her own outfit?

    Whereas Cliff Barnes wants out of the rat race on DALLAS (“I’m getting out of the oil business,” he tells Bobby, offering to sell him Barnes Wentworth. “I just don’t enjoy the stress and the battle of it anymore”), Greg Sumner wants back in on KNOTS. (“I can’t control the things that are near and dear to my heart,” he complains to his new publicist Ted Melcher. “I’m a former United States senator … I wanna find out what my options are.”) Such is the fickle nature of Soap Land that Clayton Farlow and an off-screen Dan Fixx also decide to sell their businesses — the very same business they went to great lengths to start up only a few months ago (while Clayton risked his marriage, Dan risked his life). Like Cliff, Clayton offers Bobby first refusal on his refineries, while Pilar Ortega makes Dan an attractive offer on behalf of “a consortium of local Hispanics, people who thought they’d never have a chance to work for themselves. Now, with the help of the bank, they do.” It’s notable that while the Ortgeas are free to acknowledge their ethnicity on FALCON CREST, the Williamses have yet to do so on KNOTS.

    Bobby and Gary Ewing are both taken aback when one woman in their lives makes an outrageous claim about another. While a spiteful April accuses Pam of abandoning her family (“She doesn’t wanna know about you … nor even about Christopher … She’s gonna marry her surgeon. Isn’t that sweet? I guess he was taken by his own handiwork!”), a desperate Val accuses Jill of attempted murder (“She’s insane, Gary. She was wearing a wig and those rubber gloves and she threatened to kill our children … and then she held a gun to my head and prised my mouth open and poured those pills down my throat”). Bobby responds angrily to April’s outburst (“Get out of my office!”), but her words hit home (“Why don’t things work out the way you think they should, ever? Why can’t two people just fall in love and get married and live happily ever after?” he asks Tammy Miller after showing up drunk on her doorstep.) Gary is a lot gentler with Val, but that doesn’t mean he believes her (“Val honey, what happened to you was awful … but honey, you took an awful lot of pills and you’ve had some kind of nightmare”).

    In fact, nobody believes Val, including the cops. In other words, it’s “My babies are alive!” all over again. This becomes an issue when, in one of those interesting Soap Land collisions where melodramatic events have “real life” consequences, Val receives a visit from child services. In an effort to appear rational enough to look after her own children, Val claims her overdose was an accident. The social worker knows she’s lying, but thinks she’s trying to cover up a suicide rather than murder attempt. In the end, rather than let them fall into Jill’s clutches, she sends the twins to stay with Lilimae. Val’s behaviour is fascinating here. On one hand, she’s terrified for her life; on the other, she’s trying desperately not to act like the professional victim that Jill (accurately) accused her of being.

    There’s further upheaval for Soap Land’s kids this week. FALCON CREST’s Michael freaks out over Richard’s return (“You’re not my daddy! My daddy’s dead!”) while on DALLAS, Sue Ellen now has custody of John Ross and together they move into a big new house. Like Abby’s current beachfront property on KNOTS, it’s impressive, tasteful and somewhat anonymous, lacking the idiosyncratic charm of both the town house Sue Ellen lived in after her first divorce from JR and Abby and Gary’s original beach house back in Season 4. Things ain’t goin’ too good at the new house between Sue Ellen and John Ross, partly because she shot his daddy. JR’s mama may be able to forgive and forget what Sue Ellen has done (“Let that be an end to it,” she decrees), but it’s not so easy for his son. The sweet little scene where he confronts Sue Ellen was reenacted by Linda Gray and Josh Henderson twenty-five years later:



    In addition, John Ross clearly misses his life at Southfork. This storyline is ultimately resolved the same way it was in the Dream Season, with Sue Ellen allowing her son to remain at the ranch with JR. Back then, however, Sue Ellen was depicted as boringly pious. Here, contradictory aspects of her personality are allowed to co-exist (a trick New DALLAS would also cotton onto, with fascinating results) which results in a great scene at the end of the ep where she switches from self-sacrificing (“I’m willing to let him stay here if that’s what makes him happy”) to vengeful in a heartbeat. “If you think that by him being here settles any score between the two of us, you are sadly mistaken,” she tells JR. “The one thing I have to look forward to is evening the score and, believe me, I will!” There follows a terrific freeze frame of her walking away from JR (and her past at Southfork), all smouldering eyes and Medusa-like curls.

    While Blake searches frantically for Krystle on DYNASTY, Mack is still looking for Paige and Michael on KNOTS, only now aided by Harold Dyer. The Mackenzie kids are being held by a couple of Manny’s goons who are waiting for the order to kill them. This kind of hostage stuff is generic TV fodder, but KNOTS manages to put a fresh spin on it. (“What would you like me to do — hit him over the head with a lamp?” Paige asks Michael sarcastically. “Do you know how hard it is to knock somebody out by hitting them over the head? It’s practically impossible. They do it on TV, not in real life.”) Johnny unexpectedly rides to their rescue and decides the best way to make it back to US soil safely is by hitching a ride in the back of a truck carrying illegal immigrants over the border. Back at Lotus Point, Gary and Abby find Karen wailing at her desk and assume the worst. Then they realise she’s not crying, but laughing with relief at the news that Michael and Paige are alive and well. It’s the same switcheroo DALLAS pulled last week when it looked like Bobby was trying to hide his tears at JR’s bedside when really he was trying not to laugh — only KNOTS doesn’t pull it off quite so well. The truck makes it across the border, but its occupants aren’t out of the woods just yet. First, they are greeted by some armed racists who rob them. Then they find themselves locked in the back of truck in the middle of nowhere with no means of escape. Meanwhile, the sun beats down relentlessly — the first time sunlight has been used as an end of episode cliffhanger.

    Among those trapped inside is a young mother played by Isabel, Melissa’s last remaining servant on FALCON CREST. Arguably, Isabel’s better off in that truck. On FC, she’s obliged to watch as Melissa spends the ep ticking off the remaining items on her Random Crazy Person Behaviour checklist: singing nursery rhymes to a stuffed toy in the middle of the night, having a panic attack halfway during a one-night stand, firing a gun at the furniture, planning a birthday party for a child who won’t be able to attend because he lives on the other side of the world and, finally, setting the house on fire while still inside it.

    And this week’s Top 4 are …

    1 (2) DALLAS
    2 (1) KNOTS LANDING
    3 (-) DYNASTY
    4 (3) FALCON CREST
     
    Last edited: Aug 3, 2018
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  10. Willie Oleson

    Willie Oleson drilling for soap

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    Thanks for posting that video, it put a big smile on face.
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  11. Steven Wayne

    Steven Wayne Soap Chat Member

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  12. James from London

    James from London Soap Chat Enthusiast

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    09 Nov 88: DYNASTY: A Touch of Sable v. 10 Nov 88: KNOTS LANDING: Deserted v. 11 Nov 88: DALLAS: The Call of the Wild v. 11 Nov 88: FALCON CREST: Dust to Dust

    Following a rash of Soap Land departures, it is time for some new faces. While Sergeant Zorelli shows up on DYNASTY to investigate the dead body at the lake, the search for Krystle is concluded when her cousin Virginia appears to inform Blake that Krystle, somewhat dazed and confused, has returned to her hometown of Dayton. Over on DALLAS, the Ewing boys are on a hunting trip when JR spots “a little beautiful unspoiled thing” called Cally slinging hash. (We also glimpse an as-yet-unnamed woman on Carter Mackay’s staircase before she is sternly ordered back up to the bedroom.) And on FALCON CREST, Nick Agretti, the long-lost son of Melissa’s long-lost uncle shows up at her funeral, with his own son Ben in tow.

    Whereas Zorelli immediately picks up on Sammy Jo’s last name (“Carrington? Any relation to …?”), Cally looks at JR blankly after he proudly introduces himself. “That supposed to be some famous name or something?” she asks. And while DYNASTY’s Virginia has fond memories of growing up with her cousin Krystle (“She made my sister’s dress for the senior prom — she was up all night to make sure every stitch, everything, was perfect”), FC’s Nick is no memories of growing up with his father Frank at all (“Where the hell were you — some emerald mine, some country thousands of miles away from me?”).

    KNOTS and DALLAS take parallel walks down memory lane this week. Waiting for news of her son Michael, Karen looks through old family photo albums with Val and regrets the Little League games and Tooth Fairy moments she missed out on when he was a kid. Val looks wistful — might she possibly be thinking of the things she never got to experience with her own firstborn? “You can’t make that time up to them,” Karen sighs. “I know,” Val agrees. “I know you know,” Karen replies meaningfully and we realise that, yes, Val really was thinking about Lucy. Back on DALLAS, it’s Lucy herself who interrupts JR and Bobby’s cosy anecdotes about the hunting trips they took with Jock and Ray back in the good old days. “What about Uncle Gary, huh?” she asks. “I didn’t hear anybody mention his name.” “Gary wasn’t interested in things like that,” JR replies. “The first time he had to bait his own hook, he almost fainted!” “I don’t like that much either,” admits John Ross. “Careful, John Ross,” warns Lucy, tongue only partially in cheek, “your daddy’s liable to disinherit you.” Like Lucy, DYNASTY's Fallon manages to inject some spice into the family cocktail hour by evoking the memory of an absentee member. Slapping a glass out of Adam’s hand, she accuses him of taking advantage of Steven’s non-appearance at a Denver Carrington board meeting: “You deliberately tried to humiliate him in front of an entire board of directors … The look on your face was pure glee!”

    The parallels continue. While Adam sneers at the farewell letter Steven left for Blake (“Oh how touching — baby brother’s bi-annual bye-bye,” he scoffs before throwing it on the fire), JR is equally dismissive of his own brother’s literary efforts. “He used to like to write poetry,” he says of Gary. “Now can you imagine a real man who would rather write poetry than go hunting? Not me!” When Lucy argues with him, JR suggests she cross over to KNOTS LANDING (“Darlin’, if you feel so strongly about it, why don’t you move in with your daddy in California and stop inflicting yourself on us?”) in the very same week that Sable Colby crosses over to DYNASTY.

    Sable is actually one of three Soap Land returnees this week, all of whom have been in some way transformed since we last saw them. To quote April Stevens, “A whole new brash, cocky Casey Denault” is back in DALLAS, having struck it big in Oklahoma. (“It may not be Spindletop, but it is a gusher!” he crows.) Senator Peter Ryder returns to FALCON CREST, now sporting a moustache and acting shadier than usual. As for Sable, she’s swapped her magnificent obsession with husband Jason for a more malevolent one focused on cousin Alexis. After spying on her in a Los Angeles restaurant, Sable issues the following order over the phone: “I want you to find out what that witch is doing here … Alexis holds a very special place in my heart.” She then arranges to bump into Alexis and Dex at a nightclub where she offers her sympathies over the loss of Alexis’s husband. “I see you’re grief-stricken,” she observes archly, eyeing Alexis’s low-cut party gown. “I understand you lost your husband too,” Alexis responds. “Traded you in for your sister, didn’t he?” This is the episode’s only reference to Sable’s former life on THE COLBYS. Back on DALLAS, April becomes the first character to offer condolences to Sue Ellen following the season finale death of her big-haired love interest. “I’m so sorry about Nick,” she says. “I know how hard this is for you.” “It is,” Sue Ellen concedes, but neither she nor Alexis have time to sit around weeping. While Alexis is intent on retrieving her oil tankers from the Natumbe government, Sue Ellen is focused on getting back at JR. To that end, she suggests to Cliff that they reignite their old affair, but he has no interest in revenge. “I don’t want it anymore,” he says — nor does he want anything else, it would seem. “I could care less,” he says when April tells him about Casey’s strike. “I just wanna be left alone.” This is the severest case of soap fatigue we have yet seen.

    As Paige and Michael cross the Mexican border only to find themselves locked in the back of a truck and the Ewing brothers embark on a hunting trip with their sons, it’s goodbye Santa Tecla, hello Haleyville. Both towns are quaintly old-fashioned on the surface, but share an undercurrent of violence. Granted, that’s pretty much how all small towns have been depicted in Soap Land, from Landsdowne (where Jock and co went hunting in DALLAS Season 2 and ended up getting shot at) to Shula (where Val found refuge as Verna and Gary got beaten up when he came looking for her) to the close-knit community where Dan Fixx’s in-laws lived on FALCON CREST and Chase Gioberti found himself digging his own grave.

    The Ewing boys are in town to ostensibly hunt wildlife, but it soon becomes clear that Cally, aka “the belle of the ball around these parts”, is JR’s real quarry. “I’ll bet you all your life you’ve had men around you hemming and hawing, afraid to tell you what they really think,” he says to her. “I knew what they were thinking by the time I was fourteen. It don’t matter where they come from or how old they were, they all acted the same,” she replies, exhibiting the same self-awareness that Mandy Winger did when she and JR first met. (“I’ve always known I was beautiful. That’s the reason men come onto me.”) Whereas Mandy had already channelled her appeal into a career prior to meeting JR, Cally has yet to realise her potential.

    “I’m gonna open a whole new world for you, a world you have never seen,” JR promises her. It’s a world Deanna, the Mexican mom presently trapped in the back of that truck on KNOTS, along with her daughter, Paige, Michael, Johnny and three others, has probably never seen either, except on TV. “All of my daughter’s teachers say that she is very smart,” she says. “She could be a doctor or a scientist [or] a ballerina. Also, she’s a very good writer. In the United States, she can choose what she wants to be, no? … We plan to live near a bus line until we get a car … and we hope to have a yard with a strong fence … and maybe we hope to have a microwave and a Maytag.”

    Where Paige dismisses Deanna’s “bloody dreams”, JR encourages Cally’s. “I can get you anything you want, anything you’ve dreamed of. You have dreams, don’t you?” “Sure I have them,” she admits, “but when I wake up I’m right back here in Haleyville. Reckon I always will be.” These words are echoed later in the same ep by JR wannabe Casey as he dumps Sly: “Honey, you’re just a secretary and that’s all you’re ever gonna be. I got my eye on a lot bigger game.” Back in Haleyville, JR refuses to accept Cally’s gloomy prognosis for herself. “I don’t think the good Lord intended that for you,” he insists. Back on KNOTS, Deanna also invokes a Higher Power. “God will not permit us to die,” she tells the others as they languish inside the truck for a day and a night.

    “I’ve been special all my life. There isn’t anything I wanted I didn’t get,” JR brags matter-of-factly. It doesn’t seem to occur to him that the reason he can have whatever he wants is that he was born rich. (Remind you of anyone?) But then, isn’t that what the American Dream is all about — believing that if you want it badly enough, it’s yours for the taking? “Most people are afraid to go after what they really want,” JR continues. Going after what they want is what put Deanna and her daughter on that truck and prompted Casey to dump Sly for Lucy Ewing. “Damn, do I love this place,” he says to himself as he eyes up Southfork.

    After Mack finally frees everyone from the truck, the Mexican passengers are immediately rounded up for deportation back to where they have just come from. “If it is God’s will, we will return,” declares Deanna. However, it is the will of the scriptwriters that Deanna and her daughter be given a hopeful ending. Mack reaches through the fence separating them and hands her the bundle of cash he swiped from Manny’s body at the beginning of last week’s ep. We can’t see how much is there, but Michael’s line “Here, take it — you want her to be a doctor, don’t you?” suggests it’s a life-changing amount of money. While there’s something neatly ironic about a disadvantaged family becoming the ultimate benefactors of Manny Vasquez's heinous deeds, it also lets everyone else — the remaining characters, the show's writers and us viewers alike — off the hook. We need no longer concern ourselves with the social and racial inequalities we have just witnessed because, hey, in the end, nice things happen to nice people — and so we are free to refocus our attention on the pretty folks on the cul-de-sac with their glossy lives and exciting problems. Heck, they even live near a bus line! Such liberal handwringing doesn’t concern Bobby Ewing who happily talks to the desk clerk at the Haleyville hotel like he’s subnormal. I get the nasty feeling we’re meant to share Bobby’s sense of superiority and amusement towards the local yokels. When Paige turned on Deanna in the truck (“She is the one who needs a lecture about bringing a kid into a situation like this — what kind of a mother would do that?!”), Michael was at least there to oppose her: “Paige, I swear to God, if you don’t shut up, I’m gonna slap your face!” If only there was somebody in that hotel lobby to challenge Bobby in the same way.

    Blake Carrington is less overtly patronising than Bobby when he sits in Virginia’s modest front room and watches her darning a shirt. “Till I met Krystle, it never crossed my mind that somebody could find pleasure in sewing — she enjoys it, even now,” he smiles, romanticising the kind of domestic drudgery Soap Land’s rich need never concern themselves with. But while Mack’s generous gift and Blake’s rose-coloured anecdote wrap up the lives of those less advantaged with a tidy little bow, the promises JR has made in his pursuit of Cally (“You belong where I come from, not working in some little backwater bar. You need your own place with fine clothes and jewellery, servants to wait on you,”) have awoken a dormant restlessness in her: “You’ve got my head so swimming, I don’t hardly know what’s real.” There is no going back for Cally after this — she can no longer be content sewing like Krystle or dreaming of a Maytag like Deanna.

    Elsewhere in Haleyville, the scenes where JR teaches his son to hunt are a little hard to stomach. When faced with the reality of shooting a defenceless animal, John Ross is initially reluctant. After JR scolds him for “acting like your Uncle Gary”, he overcomes his reservations, pulls the trigger and hits his target. Lo, a new Ewing hunter is born. While the boy is all smiles from then on, his prior hesitation apparently forgotten, his fleeting ambivalence seems to lay the foundation for the adult John Ross’s inner struggle over how much like his father he really wants to be.

    The Mackenzie kids return to a seemingly endless (but not unenjoyable) get-together back at the cul-de-sac where virtually every member of the cast, save Gary and Jill, shows up at Karen and Mack’s and they all get on like a house on fire (no disrespect to Falcon Crest intended). Abby embraces everyone from Val to Paige to Harold without so much as a sardonic eye-roll. (There’s further un-ironic bonding on FC where Richard consoles Angela as they stand in the ruins of her burnt-out family home.) For a while, it looks as if KL Season 10 might be turning into one of those “everyone likes everyone else” seasons (see also: DYNASTY Season 7, DALLAS Season 8). However, running counter to all that harmony, there's a mounting tension as word of Val’s overdose spreads around the party. Finally, she erupts, sending a tray of hors-d’oeuvres flying in the process.

    Not counting the deer slaughtered by John Ross, there are three dead in this week’s Soap Land. Two are nameless — the young man whose body is found by the lake on DYNASTY and the elderly man who expires during the truck ordeal on KNOTS. The third is more familiar: FALCON CREST’s Melissa Agretti Cumson Gioberti Cumson Agretti. While nowhere near as devastating, her death recalls Sid Fairgate’s on KNOTS in that both tragedies ignore some unspoken rules of TV grammar, occurring at the start of a new season while both characters are still in the opening credits. Each has survived the climactic incident (her fire, his crash), only to later die as a result of their injuries in hospital. Even more unusually, Melissa expires midway through an episode.

    When it does come, I have to admit that Melissa’s death, or more specifically, Lance’s reaction to it, is quite touching. The fact that we see her dead body means there’s no chance of a Richard-style return from the grave anytime soon (or is there?) In the aftermath, the ep achieves a few moments of real gravitas — the scene where Maggie calls Cole in Australia to break the news is particularly affecting. This sense of genuine emotion carries through to the storyline involving Frank Agretti and his son Nick. Estranged parent/child plots are as old as the Soap Land hills, but this one feels freshly poignant, due in part to the presence of Nick’s son Ben — a likably awkward and believable teenager, as opposed to the more traditional Tiger Beat pinup.

    The last time a Soap Land madwoman set herself and the building she was in on fire for no discernible reason — DYNASTY’s Claudia — Blake found himself under arrest for arson and causing wrongful death. In the final scene of this week’s FALCON CREST, its Lance’s turn. DYNASTY likewise ends with a regular character suspected of murder. Even though Krystle has been found, she remains stubbornly off screen for the entirety of this week’s ep. Instead, we are continually assured that she, like Death in that poem, is in the next room. While she is sleeping, Virginia casually mentions to Blake that Krystle told her “something about running away from a lake … and that she had killed a man … but it’s ridiculous. I mean, Krystle committing murder?” Virginia’s incredulity is matched by Gary’s on KNOTS when Jill tells him that she’s “worried about what Val might do … As scared as she says she is of me, I’m equally scared of her.” “Val would never hurt anyone,” he insists.

    At the end of last season’s Ewingverse, Val and JR were each left for dead. The closing scene of this week’s KNOTS finds a terrified but vigilant Val sitting up all night in her living room, a knife clutched in her hand. In contrast, the end of this week’s DALLAS finds a complacent JR, having fallen asleep after seducing the town virgin, waking to find himself staring down the barrel of yet another gun. "You're a dead man," Cally’s brother Japhet informs him. As Sue Ellen remarked to April earlier in the episode, “I guess he’s destined to die in bed.”

    And this week’s Top 4 are …

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

    James from London Soap Chat Enthusiast

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    30 Nov 88: DYNASTY: She's Back v. 01 Dec 88: KNOTS LANDING: Sex and Violence v. 02 Dec 88: DALLAS: Road Work v. 02 Dec 88: FALCON CREST: Tuscany Venus

    In the opening episode of this season’s DYNASTY, Blake spotted a woman with Krystle-style hair standing with her back to him. Believing her to be his missing wife, he approached her. She turned around — and was revealed to be someone else entirely.

    The back-of-the-head tease is one we’ve become familiar with in Soap Land over the years. FALCON CREST deployed it twice towards the end of last season. “I thought you were dead,” said Maggie to a man with his back to the camera. “When are you gonna tell Maggie you’re alive?” Angela asked another, likewise positioned. In both cases, the show was playing with audience expectations of a genre in which the dead do not necessarily stay dead by implying that Chase Gioberti might have risen from his watery grave. In both cases, this turned out to be a red herring.

    (Ironically, this soap trope actually worked against FC two weeks ago when it wanted to show John Remick’s execution on screen, but due to the actor’s unavailability, could only show him from behind. Our hardened Soap Land instincts told us this must be a back-of-the-head tease, and so even after we were told the dead man was Remick, we were still waiting for a twist — only this time there wasn’t one.)

    This week’s DYNASTY opens with Blake waking up in Virginia’s house and looking for Krystle in the room where she apparently spent the previous episode resting. She’s not there. He calls her name. No answer. He walks into the backyard to see … a woman with familiar-looking shoulder-length blonde hair, her face turned away from the camera. Again, our soapy instincts kick in and we steel ourselves for another impostor or maybe even a recast. Even Blake himself looks wary. But no, she turns around and this time it is really her, it is really Krystle, back on screen for the first time in eight months and looking as radiantly serene as ever — seemingly unaware that circumstances surrounding her (including her own history) have significantly altered in the intervening time. Now, as we observe her saying and doing the same old lovey-dovey things she always has, it’s as if we’re doing so from a distance, through a piece of gauze. The effect is oddly poignant and slightly surreal.

    This feeling of surreality continues in a more nightmarish way on DALLAS where JR has suddenly landed in a TV spinoff of COOL HAND LUKE (the 1967 prison movie for which the Ewings’ new neighbour, Carter McKay, won an Oscar), full of downtrodden prisoners, chain gangs and sadistic prison wardens. “This is your only world and I am your only God!” bellows the man in charge known only, as was his equivalent in COOL HAND LUKE, as the Captain. And the penal camp JR now finds himself in really does feel like a fully-realised, self-contained world — the setting, location and the casting all solid and believable. Perhaps the least believable element is JR himself. Like Krystle, he remains fundamentally unchanged in spite of his change in circumstances, intent on bragging and bribing his way back to freedom. Eventually, however, the physical reality of their respective situations catch up with both Krystle and JR.

    Krystle’s return to the mansion is marked by a family dinner, a typically ornate Soap Land occasion where a typical Soap Land argument is underway (Sammy Jo and Fallon are accusing Adam of burning Steven’s letters). Almost unnoticed at first, Krystle begins to lose control. “Please stop,” she whispers, trembling and clutching at the tablecloth, pulling it towards her. (Disrupting the place settings in a show that some would say is all about place settings? How blasphemous!) “Stop it, stop it, stop it!” she finally cries, as if she were somehow malfunctioning, rejecting the trappings of the Soap Land world in the same way Jaime Sommers rejected her bionics on THE SIX MILLION DOLLAR MAN. JR, meanwhile, is brought to his knees, literally, when he is locked overnight in a tortuously confined space known as “the box” (another plot element familiar from COOL HAND LUKE).

    If the penal camp is a direct lift from COOL HAND LUKE, then Emma’s story on FALCON CREST owes something of a debt to Daphne du Maurier’s REBECCA. The forbidding housekeeper speaks of RD Lang’s dead wife in the same reverential terms that Mrs Danvers spoke of the first Mrs de Winter. (“No-one has played this piano since Mrs Lang died.”) And like Mrs de Winter, Mrs Lang died in a mysterious boating accident caused by her husband. FC even goes so far as to name the housekeeper Mrs Anderson, a likely nod to Judith Anderson, the actress who played Danvers in Hitchcock’s movie adaptation of REBECCA.

    The bodybag tease, a lesser-known variation on the back-of-the-head tease, is deployed in the opening moments of this week’s FALCON CREST when someone’s corpse is wheeled out of Richard’s house following on from last week’s “Who did Maggie shoot?” cliffhanger. It comes as no surprise to learn that she hit her target, Senator Ryder, rather than her husband — although that’s not much comfort to Maggie herself in the immediate aftermath. “How do I ever live with myself?” she sobs. “I’ve done the most horrible thing one human being can do to another!” This is more remorse than JR, Sue Ellen, Dex Dexter and Jill Bennett combined have shown for the people they killed (or almost killed) at the end of last season.

    While Maggie is freaking out over killing someone, Krystle is starting to freak out that she may have killed someone. No sooner has her dinner table outburst subsided (“What happened? I don’t know what happened to me!”) than Sergeant Zorelli arrives to question her about the body at the lake. The scene where the Carringtons meet Zorelli by the mansion staircase is filmed in a strikingly interesting way, with the characters shot from below. Even though Zorelli is courtesy itself, the low-angles makes him an imposing, ominous presence. These shots and the hand-held camera that follows a panicky Krystle up to her bedroom evoke feelings of urgency and claustrophobia, which is very different from the stately camerawork we’re used to seeing on DYNASTY. Conversely, a sense of wide-open space help to sell the big set-pieces on this week’s DALLAS. As well as the scenes in the penal camp, the sequence where Clayton, on horseback, finds that Carter McKay has dammed up the river that runs between their two ranches and is then shot at from a helicopter (“Mr Farlow, you are on Mr McKay’s private property! Please leave at once!”) is very impressively staged.

    Lance Cumson is also discovered to be trespassing this week, but when Nick Agretti, now the executor of Melissa’s estate, finds him sitting by the Falcon Crest river, he reacts more magnanimously than Carter McKay’s foreman did. “You don’t need an excuse [to be here],” he tells him. “When Melissa and I were teenagers, this used to be our favourite spot,” Lance recalls. Pilar later reminds him that they too used to swim there — in such a way as to suggest swimming wasn’t all they got up to. Along with the Carrington lake on DYNASTY and the Southfork/McKay river on DALLAS, this becomes the third stretch of water to be imbued with historical significance this season.

    As well as Krystle, a re-energised Angela Channing also returns this week — with a new target in her sights. “Everyone has a skeleton in their closet,” she tells an underling. “You find Nick Agretti’s and make sure that skeleton rattles.” Two notable female characters are absent, however. While Alexis is in Africa, wheeling and dealing, Miss Ellie is upstairs. (“Grandma still isn’t feeling well,” Christopher explains.) Whereas there is so much going on in DYNASTY that you don’t really notice Alexis isn’t there, Southfork is looking so underpopulated these days (“I remember when this place used to be packed before dinner — where is everybody?” asks Bobby) that it needs all the familiar faces it can get. Poor Sue Ellen has to resort to taking her real-life daughter out to lunch in order to have someone to confide in.

    Three weeks ago, JR Ewing seduced a woman young enough to be his daughter. Last week, Paige Matheson seduced a man old enough to be her father. “It’s just a cultural hang-up,” she shrugs. “What difference does twenty years or so make?” Her seduction technique involved skinny-dipping in Greg’s pool, a move which echoed the flashback scene from a couple of years ago when Paige’s mother (also played by Paige) fooled Young Mack into thinking she was swimming naked, but then lifted herself out of the water to reveal the skimpiest of bathing suits. However, when Paige stepped out of the water in front of an appreciative Greg, there was little doubt that she was completely naked — as is Pilar Ortega when Nick Agretti finds her taking a late night swim on this week’s FALCON CREST. Later in the same ep, she and Lance decide to go skinny-dipping for old time’s sake and there are some rather daring close-ups of jeans being unzipped and underwear sliding down legs followed by what looks like the briefest glimpse of bare Soap Land buttock before they jump into the water. Over on DALLAS, Casey Denault suggests to Lucy that they likewise take an impromptu dip in the pool. While he strips to his underwear, Lucy chastely dives in in jeans and a T-shirt. Whereas Lance and Pilar make post-swim love on the riverside, Lucy explains to Casey that she’s “not ready for that just yet.” He smiles understandingly, then calls her a bitch as soon as she’s out of earshot.

    Also on last week’s KNOTS, Mack challenged Paige to a game of one-on-one basketball. She claimed to be a novice but turned out to be suspiciously adept. Something similar happens on this week’s DALLAS when Bobby and Cliff encounter a sexy pool hustler called Tracy. When her opponent turns nasty and refuses to pay up, she declines Bobby’s offer of help. “I can handle Mr Macho myself,” she assures him before whacking Mr Macho in the nuts with a pool cue — a Soap Land first. Another notable moment follows when Tracy asks Bobby if he and Cliff are “an item.” Bobby laughs in reply, without any of the moral indignation that greeted previous suggestions that DALLAS characters (Cliff in Season 1, Peter Richards in Season 6) might be gay.

    Speaking of basketball, Nick Agretti’s son Ben and Pilar Ortega’s kid brother Gabriel bond while shooting hoops, forging a narratively useful connection between their two families. There’s something surprisingly appealing about FALCON CREST’s new batch of wholesome, down-to-earth characters. After that long succession of glitzy but ultimately hollow guest stars, they're a welcome change.

    The Williamses’ Witness Protection Programme plot reaches a climax of sorts on this week’s KNOTS. When Nicholas Pearce’s cover was blown during his equivalent storyline on DALLAS, April’s nosiness was to blame. This time, Julie’s literacy is the cause, as her success in a local spelling bee leads to unwanted exposure for the family. The parts of the episode where they are terrorised in their own home and Pat is blackmailed at the bank where she works are really gripping, but after Mack rides to their rescue, the story becomes hopelessly far-fetched. While I’ll happily go along with underground satellite surveillance systems at Empire Valley or Ben Gibson being ordered to assassinate someone, I draw the line at Mack posing as a movie director and talking knowledgeably about cold reads and Stella Adler. As for the annoying Peggy mugging furiously as his assistant — as unfunny comedy goes, her performance ranks alongside FALCON CREST as its lamest.

    Dead bodies play an unusually prominent role in two of this week’s soaps. In the final scene of DYNASTY, Krystle views the corpse found at the lake to see if it triggers any memories for her. “I’ve never seen him before,” she declares. However, from the expression on his face, it’s clear that Blake has. The second body shows up on KNOTS, somehow planted by Mack and Frank in the apartment of Vincent Donnelly, the hospital orderly-cum-actor-cum-extortionist who’s been menacing Pat and Frank all episode long. Frank uses the same gun Mack tricked Donelly into firing at an audition to shoot the corpse and — oh, it’s just ridiculous really.

    And this week’s Top 4 are …

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

    James from London Soap Chat Enthusiast

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    07 Dec 88: DYNASTY: Body Trouble v. 08 Dec 88: KNOTS LANDING: A Weekend Getaway v. 09 Dec 88: DALLAS: War and Love and the Whole Damned Thing v. 09 Dec 88: FALCON CREST: Liars Anonymous

    “Dinner is served!” announces Krystle Carrington on DYNASTY. “There’s just one thing to do — blow that dam to kingdom come!” declares Ellie Farlow on DALLAS. Yes, this is the week in which two seemingly mild-mannered matriarchs each provide us with a classic Soap Land moment which proves there’s life in the old genre yet.

    That said, budget cuts mean that Soap Land is no longer the glamour palace it once was. Aside from KNOTS, which has always paid lip service to the way “normal” people live, each of the soaps seems to have adopted a more “down to earth” approach as a result. This change is most notable on DALLAS, which is now more about sweat stains than shoulder pads. Last week, JR was part of a road gang and this week, Cally’s brothers have him strapped to a horse like some kind of human plough. The series’ new villain, Carter McKay, is a portly, ruddy-faced man of advanced years and this week's ep ends with his men, a bunch of burly mercenary types, taking on some sluggish-looking ranch hands in a barroom brawl that ends in death. It’s a long way from Angelica Nero producing a lethal hatpin from her Travilla turban. DYNASTY and FALCON CREST, meanwhile, are both spending more time with their shows’ “ordinary” folk than is customary. While we’re getting to know the cops investigating the body-at-the-lake mystery, some of the less exclusive areas of the Tuscany Valley — the school attended by Ben Agretti, the bank where Pilar Ortega works and the local town centre — have become familiar settings on FC. These changes result in some interesting “them and us” dialogue. Zorelli’s partner expresses surprise when their boss involves himself in their case: “The captain coming down to the morgue — can you believe that? … You don’t get brass like that hanging out with peons like us.” “You do when the Carringtons are involved in the case — I’m surprised Handler didn’t show up with floats and a marching band,” Zorelli replies. Over on FALCON CREST, Pilar responds angrily when Angela opposes the Hispanic consortium: “I will never understand why the people who own this valley are so reluctant to share it … All this talk about those who have and those who don’t — it makes me crazy!” JR’s current ordeal, meanwhile, has brought him face to face with how the other half lives. “I can’t believe this is happening to me,” he grumbles to Cally. “I am a multi-millionaire. People get out of the way when I walk down the street. I write the rules in Dallas.” “Well, it may not be such a bad thing to find out you’re not all that different from the rest of us,” she suggests. “Honey, if I didn’t think I was different, I’d just as soon your brothers killed me tonight,” he replies.

    Almost exactly a month after Sergeant Harry McSween made his final appearance on DALLAS when JR unceremoniously kicked him out of his office, his checked-jacketed counterpart, PI Morgan Hess, makes his final appearance on DYNASTY when Adam Carrington unceremoniously kicks him out of his office. “Private eye?" he scoffs. "That jerk couldn’t find a mountain in the Rockies.” It's as fitting an epitaph as any.

    We finally find out what’s wrong with Krystle — and so does she. She’s suffering from "an artery to brain malfunction" (which is more information than we got on whatever killed Laura on KNOTS) caused by “that riding accident” back in Season 2. “Wait a minute — are you telling me that you’ve known about this for years?” she asks Blake, her surprise mirroring the audience’s. Something else we didn’t know about: Sable Colby’s pre-existing affection for Blake and Krystle. “I’ve always admired the devotion that you and Krystle share — you can’t imagine what it means to me to see that kind of love,” she tells Blake, even though her only previous encounter with “Krystle” was a somewhat arch encounter with Rita the lookalike. It doesn’t really matter — one scene between John Forsythe and Stephanie Beacham is all we need to sell us on the idea that their characters share a connection. FALCON CREST’s Richard and Pilar also share a past, it would seem. “I went to a lot of trouble, young lady, to bring you back to this valley and set you up with a job at that bank,” he reminds her/reveals to us this week.

    “Blondie, you are going through some bizarre personality change — it’s like you’ve been invaded by the Body Snatchers.” That’s Greg Sumner talking to Virtuous, Virtuous Abby on KNOTS — but the description could just as easily apply to Krystle. It feels as if, somewhere along the line and without us even noticing, she too has been invaded, or even replaced, by the Soap Land equivalent of a Stepford Wife — and now that replacement is starting to malfunction. “Dinner is served,” she repeats on a loop, smiling graciously while sending plates flying into the air, colliding with Ming vases and narrowly missing party guests as they go. It’s a brief but remarkable sequence: on one hand, it acts as a sly comment on the sheer vacuousness of Soap Land itself; on the other, it’s genuinely poignant.

    Back on KNOTS, Greg’s assessment of Abby’s “personality change” isn’t quite fair. Unlike a lot of “bad” characters who turn over a new leaf, she hasn’t lost her wit or intelligence in the process. (She even laughs at the Body Snatchers gag.) While this may not her most memorable period, she is nonetheless more recognisably “Abby” than she was during most of last season’s Charles Scott storyline. The only real cost is to her screen-time: now she’s no longer scheming, there’s less opportunity for her to take centre stage.

    Two crime-related stories are neatly (perhaps too neatly) wrapped up this week. On KNOTS, the Witness Protection Programme storyline comes to an official close when a fake newspaper story convinces the bad guys that Pat and Julie have been killed in a car crash. (This is not to be confused with the fake gravestones that convinced the equivalent bad guys on last season’s DALLAS that Nick Pearce’s parents had also died in a car crash.) Meanwhile on FALCON CREST, another headline (“Phone Bill Sets Facts Straight: Agretti Death Probable Suicide”) exonerates Lance of killing Melissa.

    Two other Soap Land investigations are currently underway — one led by Zorelli pertaining to the dead body on DYNASTY, the other conducted on KNOTS by Val, who visits the San Francisco hotel Jill stayed at on the night of the overdose in the hopes of discrediting her alibi. Whereas the enjoyment of the KL plot comes from watching the characters try to piece together what we already know, the thrill of the DYNASTY story is that it’s a complete mystery to us — we don’t even know who the body belongs to or what his death has to do with the Carringtons. Meanwhile, Blake’s covert trips to the cellar have suddenly transformed the mansion into a place filled with secrets and lies. (This is another example of Soap Land budget cuts being used creatively — who needs dresses made of gold and million dollar flower arrangements when you’ve got dark shadows and moral ambiguity with which to fire the viewers’ imaginations?)

    Both storylines include some nicely idiosyncratic moments along the way, which aren’t essential to the plot but nonetheless add an interesting texture to the proceedings. When Fallon accompanies Zorelli to the morgue, she quizzes him about the drawers where the dead bodies are kept. “Are all these compartments ever full?” she enquires. “Always, unfortunately,” he replies. “What do you do with the others?” she asks. “It’s kind of ‘first come first served’,” he explains. “The rest wait in a storage freezer.” They’re talking about corpses, but there’s a sexy subtext to the exchange that makes it kind of kinky. Meanwhile, this week’s KNOTS opens with Gary sitting in a psychiatrist’s office, talking directly to the camera about his feelings for Val: “Do I love her? Yeah, I do. But it’s not what you think … She really believes Jill tried to kill her.” He and Karen accompany her to San Fransisco, offering moral support whilst simultaneously hoping she’ll accept the reality of her suicide attempt. Instead, Val finds a hole in Jill’s alibi — no-one at the hotel saw her after 8pm, leaving her enough time to fly back to Knots and commit the crime. Gary still doesn’t buy it, however, which prompts Val to pose an intriguing question: “Would it be easier on you, Gary, if I had tried to kill myself rather than Jill be found guilty of this — would that be less difficult for you?”

    The Ewingverse’s May/December romances attract unwanted interference from family members this week. Paige’s father doesn’t yet know who she is involved with (“I didn’t tell Mack,” she assures Greg. “You two have some boyhood rivalry going on that I don’t understand and I don’t wanna understand”), but he still doesn’t approve of the hours she’s been keeping: “I don’t run a hotel here. You’re either gonna live here or you’re not.” Cally’s brothers are even more controlling on DALLAS. “They won’t let me go to work no more,” she explains when JR asks her to go into town and call for help. She does, however, put herself in the firing line when Japhet and Boaz threaten to kill him. “I’d rather die with him here than spend the rest of my life knowing what you done!” she tells them. This leads to her and JR tying the knot in what is literally a shotgun wedding, only screen moments after Sue Ellen has divorced him back in Dallas. The sight of JR in a shabby, ill-fitting suit, reluctantly saying his vows as his demented new family look on proudly is laugh-out-loud funny. As he and Cally are bonded in holy matrimony, a wrinkle appears in Greg and Paige’s relationship. “If Miss Matheson is part of your private life, you’re asking for trouble,” Greg’s publicist Ted Melcher warns him. “I’m not passing judgement, but the public will … Besides, what’s she gonna talk about at embassy parties — the new George Michael single?” Exchange George Michael for John Waite and Ted's just described Taryn Blake, Paige’s former self on PAPER DOLLS.

    Elsewhere on KNOTS, Ted flirtatiously compliments Paige on her appearance. “Why do you assume that I wanna be judged on my looks?” she asks him, a sentiment echoed by Tracey Lawton over on DALLAS. “I’d be just as happy if they’d look me in the eye rather than down my dress,” she complains to Bobby while schmoozing for work at an oilman’s shindig.

    Tracey isn’t the only supporting character presently looking for employment. Reformed gangster Harold Dyer and Tommy Ortega, sacked from his trucking gig after sneaking a beer, are also in the job market. Whereas Mack offers Harold both moral and practical support, Bobby proves a distraction to Tracey, luring her away from a job interview with the offer of a rematch at pool. Tommy’s pal Paco, meanwhile, turns out to be the devil on his shoulder: “You’re wasting your time, man. I keep telling you: you don’t need a job to make money.”

    Meanwhile, Blake appoints Jeff to the Denver Carrington board (“I don’t believe you’re giving Jeff equal power with me — how can you do this to me?!” seethes Adam), Bobby welcomes Cliff as his new partner in Ewing Oil (“There’s gonna be one hell of a bloodbath when JR gets back,” predicts Casey Denault) and Maggie Channing buys a local newspaper, the Tuscany Herald, outbidding her own husband in the process.

    DYNASTY and KNOTS each end with a surprise announcement relating to their respective investigations: “The autopsy’s come up with some pretty bizarre findings. The man’s been dead for twenty to thirty years,” Zorelli informs Blake and Fallon. “I met someone at the convention … I had an affair,” Jill tells Gary.

    And this week’s Top 4 are …

    1 (1) DYNASTY
    2 (3) KNOTS LANDING
    3 (2) FALCON CREST
    4 (4) DALLAS
     
    Last edited: Aug 27, 2018
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  15. James from London

    James from London Soap Chat Enthusiast

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    14 Dec 88: DYNASTY: Alexis in Blunderland v. 15 Dec 88: KNOTS LANDING: The Briar Patch v. 16 Dec 88: DALLAS: Showdown at the Ewing Corral v. 16 Dec 88: FALCON CREST: Life with Father

    Alexis is back on DYNASTY after her two-week visit to Natumbe, JR is back in Dallas after his three-week ordeal in Haleyville (somehow it seems longer) and, best of all, Abby is back to her good old, bad old ways on KNOTS.

    From a character standpoint, Alexis’s two-episode absence has worked in her favour. Whereas her existence has traditionally revolved around thwarting Blake’s happiness, she now has interests beyond what we can see on screen and this makes her seem a stronger, more rounded figure. It’s ironic that Blake and Krystle’s marriage should now be facing its biggest threat and Alexis isn’t involved. When Adam tells his mother about Krystle’s recent strange behaviour, she’s interested but detached. “Krystle throwing plates? … I’ve known her for years — she’s never even been able to throw a tantrum!” she quips before moving swiftly on to more pressing matters.

    The damage caused by Sean Rowan and Manny Vasquez at the end of last season has left both Alexis and the Lotus Point gang on KNOTS in a financially vulnerable position. This week, each is approached by an interested party who offers to take the Carlton Hotel and Lotus Point off their respective hands. Looking to consolidate her holdings, Alexis agrees and asks Dex to deal with the sale. He proceeds to negotiate somewhat flirtatiously with an attractive representative of the as-yet-unnamed corporation. Meanwhile, Gary and Abby persuade Karen that the only way to avoid bankruptcy is to sell out to Murakame Holdings, ostensibly “a Japanese investment firm located in Hawaii”, but really a front for Abby herself. (FALCON CREST’s equivalent resort, the Del Oro Spa, appears safe for the time being. In fact, Angela hosts the show’s very first Christmas celebrations there.)

    “How soon after I own the property outright can I start drilling?” Abby asks Rick Hawkins, her new business associate-cum-confidante. “And how soon after that could I be pumping oil to a refinery?” While Abby is secretly getting into the oil business, Sable Colby is hatching a plan to anonymously acquire seven shipping tankers currently owned by Alexis. “I never thought of you as the type to be involved with shipping,” remarks her new business associate-cum-confidante Hamilton Stone. “They’re Colby ships,” she replies briskly. “It’s only fitting they should end up with someone who has a right to that family name.”

    The precise moment when Abby learned there was oil under Lotus Point and decided that contrition wasn’t as much fun as defrauding her business partners or planting drugs in her daughter’s boyfriend’s locker isn’t clear. As with Blake learning about Krystle’s AVM, it’s a turning point we weren’t privy to. For all we know, Abby’s “new leaf” was a smokescreen to lull everyone (including the viewer) into a false sense of security and this is what she had planned all along.

    And if the discovery of oil is to Abby what Krystle’s AVM is to Blake — i.e., something they have known about for an unspecified period of time without informing the viewer — then Sue Ellen is to Jeremy Wendell (“All these years that I’ve disliked JR … there’s one thing I’ve always envied him — and that’s you”) what Blake and Krystle are to Sable (“I’ve always admired the devotion that you and Krystle share”) — i.e., a source of long-standing affection that, again, we have been unaware of.

    Back in Haleyville, JR absconds from his new family’s farm by starting a fire, knocking his brother-in-law unconscious and stealing the keys to his truck, before driving off into the night. When he runs out of petrol in the middle of nowhere, one is reminded of the night Karen Mackenzie was pursued by Phil Harbert through the pitch-dark countryside, having also fled from a fire. When JR flags down a truck and asks for a ride, you half expect the driver to turn out to be a webbed-fingered psychopath and so when JR finally makes it to safety and calls Sly to send a helicopter for him, one feels a genuine sense of relief. There’s a great camera shot the following morning in which the foreground is dominated by a back view of Sly’s legs as she waits for JR’s chopper, seen from a distance but viewed through her legs, to land. I don’t know how to that sound any less pornographic so here’s a picture:

    [​IMG]

    The resemblance to the poster for the 1981 James Bond movie, For Your Eyes Only, may not be entirely coincidental as the shot underlines the fact JR has finally escaped his hayseed hell and returned to the comparatively Bondian world of helicopters and sexily efficient secretaries.

    [​IMG]

    “JR, what happened to you? … Those clothes, the way you look!” exclaims Sly. “You ever have a nightmare?” JR asks her by way of reply. “You take the worst one you ever had and triple it and that’s halfway to where I’ve been.” JR’s bad dreams might be over on DALLAS, but Fallon’s are just beginning on DYNASTY as she finds herself “haunted” by the body in the morgue. “Here we go again,” sighs Jeff. This time around, however, Fallon’s supernatural tendencies serve the drama a lot more effectively than they did on THE COLBYS. Whereas her extra-terrestrial encounter effectively ended that series’ run, figuratively as well as literally — there was simply nowhere the show could go after she disappeared in that flying saucer — her ghostly dreams serve to pull her (and us) further into the mystery at the heart of this season.

    In the same way that New DALLAS will later have fun combining different aspects of Sue Ellen’s character (e.g., making her a drunk and a savvy businesswoman simultaneously), this season’s DYNASTY isn’t afraid to mix and match different eras of Fallon. The scene where she hides in the back of Jeff’s car then startles him by stroking his ear with her bare foot is pure Fallon Season 1 (mischievous, provocative) while her dream of the dead body on the slab coming back to life recalls her Randall Adams period (ethereal, troubled by memories that are just out of reach).

    Whereas Emma Samms blossoms in this new era of DYNASTY, Heather Locklear is on less solid ground. Her previous character transition, when Sammy Jo turned from a gold-digging minx to into a more solemn, lovelorn personality almost overnight was surprisingly convincing. With Jeff still hung up on his ex, she is still playing the role of neglected lover as she did opposite Clay Fallmont and Steven — only the world she and Jeff now inhabit is faster-moving, the dialogue more flippant, and the actress appears a tad unsure of where to pitch her performance. Take the scene where Jeff calls her “Fallon” in bed by mistake — should she mine this moment for pathos, as DALLAS’s Afton did when Cliff came out of his coma saying Sue Ellen’s name, or for screwball comedy?

    Fallon and Sammy Jo’s rivalry over Jeff culminates in an old-fashioned DYNASTY catfight — but just as Sue Ellen subverted our expectations by bursting into laughter instead of tears upon finding JR in bed with Kimberly Cryder during last season’s DALLAS so this soap trope is likewise turned on its head when both women also collapse with a fit of the giggles as they realise neither of them really want the man they’re fighting over. On one hand, this is not Soap Land’s most convincingly staged fight — the characters are required to keep up a full conversation even while they’re scrapping and rolling around in a pool of mud. On the other, there’s something genuinely liberating and joyful about how much fun they end up having.

    Upon his return to civilisation, JR’s first port of call is Ewing Oil to see his new office. “Oh,” he says, visibly disappointed by the size of it. “It won’t take much to decorate this, that’s for sure.” As if this wasn’t bad enough, he then discovers Cliff Barnes installed just across the hall. (“My office is a little bit larger than yours, but I’m sure you’ll understand,” Cliff smirks.) In keeping with the general theme of Soap Land downsizing, Maggie Channing sets up shop at the Tuscany Herald by also moving into an office far more modest than what we’re used to seeing. “What do you think?” she asks husband Richard. “It looks like a newspaper office,” he replies diplomatically, and indeed it does — a traditional, small-town newspaper office that more closely resembles a set from THE WALTONS than the executive suite Richard himself has at the New Globe.

    Economic reality continues to nip at Soap Land’s heels as Krystle’s bag is snatched on DYNASTY. She sets off in pursuit of her assailant who turns out to be a little kid living in a shack with his family. “Why are those people going inside the box — do they live there?” Krystina asks her mommy who tells her that yes, they do. It’s a different kind of “the box” to the one where JR was sequestered during his stay at the penal colony, but not much bigger. Krystle’s instinct is to throw a hundred bucks at the problem. “We don’t need charity,” snaps the child’s mother. This being ‘80s prime-time TV, this depiction of “reality” actually feels more surreal than real. In fact, with public interest in Soap Land’s glamorous fantasy world steadily weakening, this glimpse of extreme poverty feel like a crack in the genre — a nightmarish netherworld that cannot be held at bay much longer.

    Alongside Abby’s new pal Rick Hawkins, another seemingly minor flunky is introduced this week — Colby Co controller Fritz Heath. Like Cesar Ortega on FALCON CREST, Heath is one of those long-standing employees we’ve never heard of before. “How long did you say this guy’s been with Colby Co?” Dex asks Alexis. “About twenty years,” she replies. Heath’s DALLAS equivalent would be Pete, the only ranch hand left at Southfork after Carter McKay’s henchman has driven the rest away with a combination of threats and hard cash. “I’ve been on this ranch twenty years,” Pete explains to Clayton. “Southfork’s about as close to home as I’ve had.” Cesar Ortega echoes this “loyal retainer” sentiment back on FC. “The Channings have always been good to the Ortegas,” he declares. “Pop, the Channings are only good to those who stay in their place and that’s it,” argues his daughter Pilar. The political edge the Ortgeas have brought to FALCON CREST is really interesting. As well as social inequality, feminism and racism are also matter-of-factly referred to this week. “She never heard of equal rights?” Gabriel asks of his late mother. “She heard of it. She just never thought it applied to her,” Cesar replies. Gabriel’s older brother Tommy, meanwhile, describes the Del Oro Spa as “a lily-white club” and “Anglo turf”. Here again, there’s a strange sense of “reality” seeping through Soap Land’s once impenetrable walls. Was it only last season that FC was full of gravity-defying ninjas and SCOOBY-DOO holograms?

    The subject of racial discrimination is also raised when Tommy is out looking for work: “That ad only came out today, man. He didn’t fill that job — he’s just waiting for some Anglo boy to walk through the door.” But then Maggie offers him $7.50 an hour in return for “hauling boxes, answering phones, making deliveries, doing what we all do, which is a little bit of everything.” Harold Dyer is also offered a job on KNOTS. By the end of this week’s episode, however, he’s been arrested after cocaine is found in his possession. Similarly on FC, Tommy is pursued by the cops when his buddy Paco is caught dealing drugs in the Del Oro Spa men’s room.

    While DYNASTY’s Adam makes out with new secretary Clare on the floor of his office, Bobby Ewing and Tracey Lawton slowly peel off each other’s clothes on DALLAS, accompanied by a slinky version of George Benson’s ‘Love Dance’ on the soundtrack. Latter-day DALLAS has produced some surprisingly sensual love scenes (see also: Jenna’s and Sue Ellen’s respective seductions of Ray and Nicholas Pearce last season). Elsewhere in the ep, it emerges that Tracey is the woman Carter McKay’s been looking for during the past few episodes. Might he be the possessive older husband she told Bobby she ran out on? She and McKay share a really good, emotionally gutsy scene in this week’s ep (“I told you I wished you were dead. Did you think that was some kind of a joke? … I have been running from you for years!” “… I’ve been living in Hell. I sold my soul to the Devil to find you and no matter how you feel, I’m not letting you go again!”), but their precise connection remains as mysterious as — well, Blake’s connection to the dead man at the lake. Watched in hindsight, however, there’s a pleasing symmetry in the fact that Mack and Tracey come face to face in the very week that J. Eddie Peck “awakens” (albeit inside Fallon’s dream) on DYNASTY.

    There are parallel “When Storylines Collide” moments towards the end of this week’s DYNASTY and DALLAS. Fallon, determined to get to the bottom of what Blake knows about the body, marches into the Carrington library to have it out with him once and for all. “Daddy, we’ve gotta —,“ she starts only to be cut short by the sight of him consoling a red-eyed Krystle. “Fallon, please call the family together. We have something to tell them,” he informs her gravely. JR, meanwhile, bursts angrily into the Southfork living room to confront Bobby. “Are you out of your mind — what is Cliff Barnes doing at Ewing Oil?” he barks. “The last thing on my mind is Ewing Oil,” Bobby snaps back. “We’re in a range war with the man who bought Ray’s place!”

    And this week’s Top 4 are …

    1 (2) KNOTS LANDING
    2 (1) DYNASTY
    3 (4) DALLAS
    4 (3) FALCON CREST
     
  16. shaqattaq32

    shaqattaq32 Soap Chat Newbie

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    The legendary final season of Dynasty... I've always loved this thread but I am loving reading these latest write-ups in particular. Dynasty season 9 was great as was Knots Landing season 10.... unfortunately, there would be no renaissance. IMO, the 1988-1989 TV season was the last gasp of the 80s primetime soap.
     
    Last edited: Sep 8, 2018
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  17. James from London

    James from London Soap Chat Enthusiast

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    04 Jan 88: DYNASTY: The Last Hurrah v. 05 Jan 89: KNOTS LANDING: A Many Splendored Thing v. 06 Jan 88: DALLAS: Deception v. 06 Jan 88: FALCON CREST: Solomon’s Choice

    It’s a toss-up as to who’s had the weirdest Soap Land dream of late — Val Gibson just before Christmas, when she dreamt that she was being straddled by her ex-husband as his bewigged girlfriend poured an entire bottle of pills down her throat or Fallon Carrington, who dreams this week of lying on a mortuary slab while her mother’s long-dead boyfriend makes sweet, sweet love her.

    To whom does the dead body on DYNASTY belong? What is the real reason behind the range war on DALLAS? The answers to both questions lie at the heart of their respective series’ back stories. As we now know, the dead man is Roger Grimes, the architect whose affair with Alexis is the reason Blake “banished me from my house and from my children” some two decades earlier, as Alexis reminds relative newcomer Dex this week. Carter McKay, meanwhile, has offered to call off his war with the Ewings if they agree to sell him Section 40 of Southfork — which, as JR informs relative newcomer Clayton, “sits on the biggest oil pool in Texas. Daddy discovered it after he saved the ranch for Mama and her daddy.” Behind each revelation lies further complications. Even as Alexis accuses Blake of killing Roger (“He shot him in the back of the head and then he threw his body into the lake”), Sable suggests that Alexis herself could be responsible (“Roger was proposing to leave you — there were so many rows between the two of you, weren’t there?”). The big reveal at the end of this week’s DALLAS is that McKay is taking orders from someone else. Enter Jeremy Wendell. “I want that oil under Section 40 on Southfork,” he tells McKay, “and whatever you have to do to the Ewings to get it, that’s what you do.” Just as Abby is secretly after the oil under Lotus Point, Jeremy is secretly after the oil under Southfork. Come to think of it, Soap Land is presently full of covert masterminds: Jeremy is behind McKay, Abby is behind Apolune, Sable is behind the company who bought out the Carlton Hotel and Richard Channing is behind the Hispanic consortium on FALCON CREST.

    When Pilar Ortega realises Richard has been manipulating her all along, she calls him a bastard. “Is that any way to talk to the man who has made you a power in the Tuscany Valley, young lady?” he asks her. “You know as well as I do, you can’t give power,” she replies. “Whoever wants it has to take it.” Perhaps acknowledging the debt these words owe to Jock Ewing’s famous “real power is something you take” speech, Richard says that he’s “gonna write that down and frame it.”

    There are discoveries this week about both Pilar and her “new girl” counterpart on DALLAS, Tracey Lawton. It turns out that Carter McKay is not Tracey’s husband but her father. His lying, cheating ways led to her mother’s death and that’s why she now has problems committing to a relationship. Pilar’s big secret is that when she was sixteen, she gave birth to a daughter who has since been raised by her (Pilar’s) aunt. Based on these past experiences, both women are faced with a present day dilemma: Should Tracey keep running from her father the way she always has, or stay in Dallas and build a future with Bobby? (What neither she nor Bobby yet realise is that her daddy is also the man behind the range war.) And should Pilar allow her aunt to legally adopt her daughter or should she finally claim her as her own? (What nobody on screen yet knows — although it’s pretty obvious to the seasoned Soap Land viewer — is who Pilar’s baby daddy is.)

    Just as we’re getting to know Tracey and Pilar, a question mark arises over the past of a third Soap Land new girl — cousin Virginia on DYNASTY. It all starts when a socially concerned Krystle takes Virginia and Sammy Jo on a tour of Skid Row. “These people are just like us,” she declares, referring to the elderly man wheeling his belongings in a shopping cart, the old woman rummaging through a trash can and a family living in a doorway. Once again, a collision between glossy Soap Land characters and “the real world” yields surreal results as, out of nowhere, the sugary sweet Virginia turns first hostile (“These people need a firing squad!”) and then violent, spitting in the face of a drug-pushing, knife-wielding pimp before beating him up for good measure. “No-one talks like you did unless they’ve been on the streets,” deduces Sammy Jo.

    Like Krystle, this week’s KNOTS and FALCON CREST also make a show of solidarity with real world folk. Val explains to Karen that she’s getting her kids back — but more because of a bureaucratic glitch than anything else: “I’m gonna get them back because the system screwed up. Kind of makes you wonder what happens to the kids who really need protection but don’t get it.” Maggie Channing, meanwhile, learns a thing or two from Tommy Ortega’s knowledge of the man on the street: “Every Friday on payday, all the Hispanics pick up the latest edition of the Tuscany Exchange. Then on Saturdays, they go out and buy all the used cars and refrigerators that they’ve seen in the ads. Now, if they’re paying seventy-five cents for that paper and yours comes out at twenty-five cents, which one do you think they’re gonna buy?”

    After her walk on the wild side, Krystle returns to the mansion to find Dr Walt Driscoll waiting for her. “Your only chance of survival is surgery,” he informs her. “There is a possibility that you won’t survive the operation.” We’ve been here before, of course, with Maggie’s brain tumour on FALCON CREST and Karen’s bullet fragment on KNOTS — both supposedly terminal situations that ended in a miraculous recovery. Somehow it feels different this time around, however. The fact that Blake kept Krystle’s condition a secret from her (and us) for years, her two-episode absence at the start of the season, her offhand, almost embarrassed admission to Sammy Jo and Virginia that “I’m probably going to die”: none of this fits any recognisable Soap Land blueprint, except maybe the precedent set by Laura’s death on KNOTS just over a year ago — and the vague feeling, as we move into the final year of Soap Land’s defining decade, that maybe anything is possible.

    Another consequence of Soap Land’s “end of an era” vibe is how much sexier the shows have become. After all, one way to distract viewers from reduced wardrobe budgets is to show the characters taking their clothes off. Bobby and Tracey’s sensual love scene on DALLAS three weeks ago was swiftly upstaged by Paige and Greg’s game of strip croquet on KNOTS (a sequence so memorable that it has transcended both series and centuries to become part of New Blake and Alexis’s back story on New DYNASTY) and this week, Old DYNASTY treats us to a full dialogue-free minute of clothes-ripping, camera-shaking, shoving-each-other-up-against-walls passion between Dex Dexter and Sable’s assistant Joanna Sills. Such scenes makes Lucy Ewing’s striptease in Mitch Cooper’s apartment back in 1980 seem positively demure. In the same way, Greg Sumner recalls the Mercury dime collection that he sold when he was twelve “for a couple of girly magazines. I shudder to think what those dimes would be worth today” only for Mack to reply, “And the magazines wouldn’t even be considered soft porn.” (Heck, back in 1980 even the words “soft porn” would have seemed taboo.)

    It’s always interesting when close Soap Land friends or family members fall out — that’s when you know things are getting serious. (KNOTS has provided the most memorable examples in the past: Laura shunning Val following the Jean Hackney affair in Season 8, Val turning on Karen during “Noises Everywhere” in Season 9, Karen giving Gary the cold shoulder for most of Seasons 4 and 5, etc.) At the start of this week’s DYNASTY, Blake is angrier with Fallon than he has been since — well, possibly ever. “I want the picture you showed to your mother … GIVE IT TO ME!” he demands before tossing the snapshot of him and Roger into the fireplace. “I told you to stay out of this … and now you’ve opened up a wound that may never heal!” Over on DALLAS, Sue Ellen and Miss Ellie clash over JR’s decision to send John Ross to stay with Cliff (yes, Cliff) while the range war is in full swing. “JR just didn’t want to add your conflict with him to the fight we’re having over this ranch and frankly, I agreed with him,” Ellie explains. “My conflict with JR — is that what it’s all about now? Miss Ellie, that man has been cheating, lying and double-crossing everyone for years now … but you’re willing to just sit there and side with him no matter what!” argues Sue Ellen. It’s kind of cool to see Miss Texas 1967 suddenly playing the role of outspoken family outsider.

    Miss Ellie also sides with JR’s decision to bring hired mercenaries onto Southfork, even though Bobby disagrees. “Maybe you’d like to tell me how you plan on protecting your son — or do you want that idiot Cliff Barnes to adopt him permanently?” JR snaps at his brother. An even wackier adoption is mooted in the closing scene of this week’s DYNASTY. In their final meeting of the series, Krystle visits Alexis to ask her to desist in her accusations of murder against Blake. “I may not be around much longer and if I’m not and Blake goes to prison, what will happen to Krystina?” she asks. “If worst came to worst, I’d take care of her myself,” Alexis suggests. Faced with the idea of her nemesis raising her child, Krystle snaps and smashes a (no doubt priceless) vase. “Are you crazy?!” yells Alexis. “No,” she replies calmly, “but everybody thinks I am … I could kill you, Alexis, and no jury in the world would ever convict me.” Anne Matheson employs a similar logic over on KNOTS. “Whatever I do, baby doll, people will say it’s because I’m grieving,” she tells Paige as she helps herself to a rose from the floral arrangement atop her father’s coffin.

    It’s unusual for departed Soap Land characters to pop up for a one-off reappearance the way Anne does this week. While her presence doesn’t advance the plot, it does serve to flesh out Paige’s world in the same way that Ray Krebbs’ temporary return to DALLAS helps bolster the Ewings’ side of the range war. It also prompts some nicely acidic lines. “Are you wracked with grief or is it the gin?” Paige asks her when they meet by the casket. “Of course he does — and I’m the Queen of England!” Anne scoffs when Paige insists that Greg loves her.
    But it’s true. Two weeks ago, Greg pulled the romantic rug from under us, not once but twice: first when he declared his love for Paige, and then almost immediately afterwards when he asked Abby to marry him. With the blissfully ignorant Paige out of town, he spends most of this week’s KNOTS trying to persuade Abby to accept his proposal. “Do I have to court you — corsages, hand-in-hand walks in the park? … Don’t you think we’re a little old for that rigamarole?” he asks her. “Experienced. I prefer the word experienced,” she clarifies. Also this week, Blake Carrington and Harold Dyer re-propose to Krystle and Olivia respectively, the reclusive RD Young asks Emma to marry him on FALCON CREST and Casey Denault hints to Lucy about an important partnership he has in mind for her, “just as soon as your divorce is final.”

    As part of his pitch, Greg disparages some of Abby’s previous suitors. Now that Michael York is safely out of earshot, he finally can say what we’ve all been thinking: “Charles Scott? Come on, he makes Pee Wee Herman look like Cary Grant.” This is the soaps’ third reference to Pee Wee (last season, Charlie Wade had his picture in her locker while Jeff Colby spoke of a movie magazine which featured him) which I guess makes him Soap Land’s most significant contemporary cultural figure.

    “I don’t like pizza," smiles Fallon on DYNASTY, letting Zorelli down gently after he asks her out on a date. “You like pizza?” a surprised Sue Ellen asks Cliff on DALLAS when he invites himself round for dinner with John Ross and Christopher. “It’s right up there with Chinese food,” he confirms. Meanwhile on KNOTS, the idyllic staycation the Mackenzies have planned starts to go wrong when the pizza they’ve ordered turns up with the wrong topping (“Anchovies — I hate anchovies!” complains Mack). By the end of the ep, Mack has put in for an indefinite leave of absence from his job and Karen has sent him away to the mountains. “You just need some time alone,” she tells him, before admitting: “You’re driving me crazy.” This might well qualify as Soap Land’s first lighthearted marital separation.

    While Michael Fairgate suggests Karen and Mack might be “victims of too much togetherness”, there is simply no such thing for Krystle and Blake. “Nothing can separate us … you are my heart,” says Krystle simply.

    And this week’s Top 4 are …

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

    James from London Soap Chat Enthusiast

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    11 Jan 89: DYNASTY: The Wedding v. 12 Jan 89: KNOTS LANDING: Cabin Fever v. 13 Jan 89: DALLAS: Counter Attack v. 13 Jan 89: FALCON CREST: Suspicion


    It’s Krystle Carrington’s last week in Soap Land and, like Laura Avery and Pam Ewing before her, her departure takes the form of a self-imposed exile, “to keep me from becoming a burden to the people I love.” As Pam did Bobby, she presents Blake with divorce papers: “If I come out of this operation and I can’t hear or speak or recognise you … my divorce from you will become automatic and you’ll place me in an institution where I’ll have no contact with the family.” Unless he sign the necessary documentation, she tells him she won’t have the operation needed to save her life. The ensuing argument between them is the equivalent of Laura and Greg’s “I just don’t want you to watch me” scene on KNOTS when she tells him she has chosen to die alone.


    Ultimately, like both Bobby and Greg, Blake has no choice but to comply with his wife’s wishes. “This is the hardest thing that I’ve ever been asked to do,” he tells her. “All my life in business, I’ve managed to keep out of corners. I’ve always given myself lots of options. I’ve never allowed myself to be pinned down, but now you’re forcing my hand … I have no choice. I’ll sign the divorce papers.”


    Blake is not the only powerful Soap Land magnate obliged to face his own helplessness and/or frailties this week. On KNOTS, Paige finally confronts Greg over his decision to marry Abby. “Why are you doing this?” she asks him. “What are you afraid of — are you afraid I’m gonna leave you? Are you afraid I’m gonna die or that you’re gonna die? What are you so scared of?” It’s fascinating: even though Paige is the one in tears, helplessly pleading with Greg to change his mind, it’s actually Greg — calm, quietly spoken, implacable Greg (“I don’t wanna fight about this. I made a decision. I’m gonna go ahead”) — who ultimately emerges as the more broken and damaged of the two.


    Over on DALLAS, it’s a surprise to find JR seeking help from a psychiatrist after being plagued by “Previously … on Haleyville” style dreams. Paige’s question to Greg, “What are you afraid of?” is echoed by the psychiatrist. “Are you afraid to tell me what you really feel?” he asks. After some prodding, JR starts to open up about how it felt to be held prisoner. “Of course it bothered me — I’m JR Ewing. I’ve got money and power. I could buy that whole state and nobody cared … For the first time, I felt I was mortal. I’d lost my invincibility. I wasn’t any better than anybody else.” Any hopes of him developing further insight into his own psyche are soon dashed, however. Just as Greg shut down Paige’s line of questioning with a measured response of “I don’t think it’s wise to continue this discussion”, JR decides that the solution to his problem is to double down on his previous ruthless behaviour: “I am gonna become so big, there won’t be a hick town in this country that won’t know my name. No sir — no more Mr Nice Guy!”


    Elsewhere in the same ep, Jeremy Wendell’s short-lived alliance with Sue Ellen comes to a bitter end. As with Greg and Paige, you assume the odds will be stacked in the man’s favour, but Jeremy’s familiar threats (“Just remember one thing … you’re either my friend or my enemy”) pale next to Sue Ellen’s more personal observations. “You’ve never had children, have you, Jeremy? … In a way, I feel very sorry for you,” she says coolly and we can see she’s got under his skin.


    The depiction of Sue Ellen we’ve been presented with so far this season is an intriguing one. The last time she and JR split, much was made of the fact that she was living as a single woman for the first time and the show followed her progress as a vulnerable divorcee closely. At least then she had her son with her. This time around, John Ross is living at Southfork and she is really is alone, yet the show views her from a comparative distance. We’re more likely to see her in her office than her home and her grief over Nicholas Pearce’s death has been pretty much unexplored. The glimpses we do get of her life are intriguing: she is clearly unhappy (“He loves me, but he doesn’t want me,” she reflects bitterly while looking at a picture of her son), but is more angry and defiant than tearful and dithery — witness the tellings off she gave Miss Ellie last week and Jeremy in this ep.


    Wedding arrangements feature in no less than three of this week’s soaps. When Blake and Krystle renew their vows on DYNASTY, the pomp and formality associated with previous Carrington weddings is stripped away, leaving the bride to make her journey down the aisle by candlelight while ‘Somewhere’ from West Side Story plays quietly in the background. There isn’t even anyone to officiate the ceremony. “We don’t need a minister to marry us because what I want is for our vows to be blessed not only by God, but all the love I feel in this room,” Krystle explains. In contrast to such minimalism, KNOTS LANDING’s Abby wants her and Greg’s wedding “to be more than a wedding … It should be a media event.” Angela Channing feels similarly when it comes to organising Emma and RD Young’s big day. “That is going to be at Falcon Crest,” she decrees, “with just the family and a few of our close friends — and some of the friends from the valley …” This is all too much for the reclusive groom-to-be.


    Two of our prospective brides observe the “old, new, borrowed, blue” tradition, albeit for their own, other than traditional, reasons. On DYNASTY, Krystle indulges her daughter by letting her play at being the bride which, in turn, allows her to present her with something old — a locket containing a picture of Krystina herself as baby. “I was gonna give it to you when you’re older,” Krystle tells her. “Do you still have that bracelet of Mother’s that Sid gave you?” Abby asks Karen during a really fun phone conversation on KNOTS. “I was wondering if I could borrow it.” “Sure,” replies Karen. “You’re supposed to ask me why,” Abby persists. “I wanna borrow it because I need something borrowed.” Karen is uncharacteristically slow on the uptake, forcing Abby to spell it out to her: “Something borrowed, something blue, something old, something new?” “You’re getting married?” Karen realises. “Yes, and the bracelet can be something old and something borrowed,” she explains. When Abby tells her who she’s marrying, Karen sniggers — before realising it isn’t a joke.


    When it comes to their respective guest lists, Abby is easily persuaded by PR guy Ted to jettison close friends in favour of business contacts (“We have limited space at the church as it is and a lot of players who have to be there”), whereas there is only room for those most precious to Blake and Krystle at their ceremony. “Thank-you for including me,” says Jeanette the maid tearfully. Back on KNOTS, Greg’s manservant Carlos is included whether he likes it or not when it comes to keeping his master’s engagement a secret from Paige. Finally, he can hold his tongue no longer. “I think you should tell her,” he says to Greg. “I intend to tell her,” Greg shoots back. “I’ve always intended to tell her. Who are you — Jiminy Cricket? I’ve got a conscience of my own, thank you.” Over on FALCON CREST, RD Young’s housekeeper, the forbidding Mrs Anderson, also voices an unwanted opinion on her boss’s impending nuptials. “I foresee a disaster,” she declares. “When do you foresee anything else?” he replies.


    In the same way that the handwritten book of stories Krystle gives to Krystina echoes the dresses Laura Avery bought for Meg to wear as she gets older (“There’s something special for each of the birthdays you’re gonna have until you’re a very big girl … stories about me and how I felt at the age you’re going to be”), her and Blake’s wedding is DYNASTY’s equivalent of Laura’s wake in “Noises Everywhere”, i.e., a chance to put series conventions to one side and reveal a more spontaneous side to the characters. After walking down the aisle, Krystle breaks with protocol by tickling the best man. “I can’t tell you how long I’ve waited to do that,” she says to Adam. “Sometimes you’re such a stuffed shirt!” Later, Blake catches her counting aloud as they make their way down the Carrington staircase. “I always wondered how many steps there were. I just never got around to counting them,” she explains.


    The request she makes to her wedding guests — “What I really want tonight is that you share in the vows that Blake and I are going to take, that you promise to care for each other and be bound to each other for the rest of your lives” — is a Krystalised version of Bobby Ewing’s deathbed request nearly four years earlier: “Be a family.” Her final scene, where she and Blake are waved out of a fake driveway as they depart for a second honeymoon in Paris, recalls another DALLAS departure: Jock Ewing’s at the end of DALLAS Season 3. Our very last glimpse of Krystle feels unique to her situation, however. We watch her smiling and waving from the back of the limousine, blissfully unaware of what Jeff is telling Fallon and Sammy Jo: “There’s not going to be a honeymoon … The doctor just called. He wants them to fly directly to the clinic in Switzerland. The operation is scheduled for the day after tomorrow.” “Oh dear God, protect her!” exclaims Fallon as the episode ends on Krystle’s radiantly happy face, forever frozen in time.


    DYNASTY has cousin Virginia, DALLAS has Tracey Lawton, FALCON CREST has Pilar Ortega, and now KNOTS gets its own new girl — Paula the forest ranger, whom Mack encounters during his stay on Wild Horse Mountain. Whereas those other girls arrived in Soap Land with varying amounts of emotional baggage (Pilar’s angst over her secret daughter, Tracey’s problems with her father, Virginia’s admission to Krystle this week that she “slept under porches [and] ate out of trashcans” as a teenager), Paula insists that there’s no great mystery in her past. “You were the one who came up here to run away, not me,” she reminds Mack. Her job as a ranger means she can avoid another Soap Land convention — dressing up. “When I wake up in the morning, I don’t have to worry about what I’m gonna wear. Not only that, but I look great in greys and greens,” she grins. In this regard, she resembles the glamour-resistant Virginia whom Sable turns into her pet project this week, determined to make her over in time for Blake and Krystle’s big night (“Come along, Virginia — now I’m going to torture you with some eye shadow”). Paula also has something in common with DALLAS’s Tracey — an aversion to serious relationships. “I think families are great,” she says, “just not for me … I like my solitary life.” This does not, however, prevent her from giving Mack her room number — just as Joanna Sills did Dex on last week’s DYNASTY. To our surprise, it looks as if Mack will succumb to temptation the way Dex did — we see him enter a darkened bedroom and unbutton his shirt while smiling at someone off screen — but then the camera moves down to reveal Karen as the object of his desire. And so DYNASTY ends up not being the only show to celebrate its most enduring couple this week.


    While Krystina enters into the party spirit at her parents’ wedding — she manages to cajole one of her nephews into dancing with her (LB, I think, but he and Danny are pretty much interchangeable since their most recent recasts) — Abby’s children are decidedly nonplussed by their mom’s latest engagement. “You don’t love him,” Olivia insists. “This is really weird,” Brian decides. Another Soap Land kid, Christopher Ewing, proves a useful plot device when he is shot at during the range war (as an innocent caught up in a much bigger feud, this is a portent of his eventual fate on New DALLAS), thereby spurring Bobby to take matters into his own hands. “I’m gonna take care of this myself … McKay is mine!” he declares. Bobby’s played the hero before, of course — rescuing niece Lucy from various kidnappers, for example — but this storyline requires a whole new level of derring do: jumping out of helicopters, setting explosives, overpowering an entire squad of mercenaries almost singlehandedly. In other words, we’re in Dex-breaking-Caress-out-of-jail or Lance-scaling-walls-to-take-on-the-Cartel territory. Daft as such scenarios invariably are, DALLAS’s visuals give this one the edge, the exterior nighttime shots of Southfork and the McKay ranch covering a multitude of plot holes. Then there’s the quasi-Shakespearean moment where Bobby comes face to face with McKay — and realises he’s the father of his new girlfriend.


    “Can you imagine? My daughter is in love with the son of the family I’m at war with,” sighs McKay. Of course Bobby can imagine it. “That happened to me once before, with my first wife,” he replies. Just as this situation takes us right back to the beginning of DALLAS, so this week’s DYNASTY reminds us of its own beginning, with several references to the first time Krystle married Blake. “How angry I was at Daddy … for marrying you,” Fallon recalls. “I hated you! I thought you were just some opportunist trying to steal him away from me … I don’t think that anymore. I haven’t for years. In fact, you’ve brought us all so much closer as a family than we ever could have been without you.” (If one were looking for a moment of closure from this season of DYNASTY, that speech might just be it.) Virginia goes so far as to superimpose herself retroactively into the pilot episode. “I came to your wedding,” she tells Krystle. “I hitched all the way from Dayton, then I walked ten miles and stood in front of those huge gates. I looked inside and I said to myself, ‘I’m not going inside there. That place is a palace.’” She was lucky not to get mown down by Walter Lankershim.


    Towards the end of this week’s DALLAS and FALCON CREST, there are parallel walk-and-talk scenes where relatively new characters, Carter McKay and RD Young, explain to Bobby Ewing and Emma Channing the circumstances that led to their respective wives’ untimely deaths. Each has been previously implicated in said death, but now insists that the woman’s demise was a direct result of her own infidelity. “You know where she was going on the night she was killed?” McKay asks Bobby. “She was going to meet her lover … All the things she accused me of doing was what she was doing … She turned the kids against me pretty good.” “She took a lover,” echoes RD. “She drowned … She and her lover were on the boat alone. Nobody’s sure how it happened. Neither of their bodies was found.”


    While RD’s hard luck story appears chiefly to be a Maguffin to ensure that the perpetually unlucky-in-love Emma loses yet another chance at happiness (“Emma, I can’t marry you — I don’t think that I could stand to go through that again”), it’s hard to know what to make of McKay’s. In the space of an episode, he turns from villain to hero, when he saves Bobby’s life by shooting one of his own men, and then back into villain when he walks into Jeremy Wendell’s office and tells him to shut his face (“All of these years that you’ve been taking the bows and I’ve been the brains behind you”) before claiming to have “told Bobby Ewing one of the world’s greatest sob stories and he fell for it … I’m gonna get Section 40 for us if I have to kill everyone of the damn Ewings to do it!” Despite having watched this episode periodically over the past few decades, I’m still not entirely sure where the lies end and the truth begins.


    In the same week that Krystle celebrates her love for Blake, her FC counterpart Maggie celebrates the launch of her own newspaper. Whereas Krystle seems more of a rounded character than ever, Maggie is suddenly vapid — declaring everything to be either “fabulous” or “terrific” or both, and delivering lines like “Richard, you always make me feel beautiful, even when my hairdresser’s out to get me” without a trace of irony. Still, when one reflects on the nonstop traumas she’s endured over the past few years — from amnesia to abduction to alcoholism, with rape, widowhood and manslaughter thrown in for good measure — it’s hard to begrudge her a bit of brainless Fembot time. Besides, it looks as if she might be about to inherit Krystle’s mantle as Soap Land’s social conscience. Instead of championing the homeless, she listens sympathetically to Tommy Ortega’s gang battle problems.


    Along with Alexis Colby, Pam Ewing, most of the KNOTS gals and Sue Ellen on a good day, Krystle and Maggie have both helped promote and perpetuate the idea of the ‘80s woman who “has it all”. So it seems fitting, now that the decade is drawing to a close and particularly in the week that we say goodbye to Krystle, that this myth should be debunked by one of Soap Land’s newcomers. “You’re incredible — the hometown girl who feels just as comfortable in a boardroom as in a kitchen,” marvels Nick Agretti on FALCON CREST. “Superwoman — that’s how we’re all supposed to be these days, aren’t we?” Pilar Ortega replies. “But not everyone pulls it off,” he tells her. “I have news for you: nobody pulls it off,” she declares unequivocally. Pilar may not "have it all", but she certainly has a finger or two in more than her fair share of storylines at present: a burgeoning relationship with Nick, a love triangle with Lance and Cookie Nash, a complicity with Richard, a secret daughter, an intriguing flirtation with her predatory slob of a boss. None of these stories has quite caught fire yet, but it’ll be interesting to see what happens when they do.


    And this week’s Top 4 are …


    1 (1) KNOTS LANDING

    2 (2) DYNASTY

    3 (3) DALLAS

    4 (4) FALCON CREST
     
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  19. James from London

    James from London Soap Chat Enthusiast

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    19 Jan 89: KNOTS LANDING: Merger Made in Heaven v. 20 Jan 89: DALLAS: The Sting v. 20 Jan 89: FALCON CREST: There Goes the Bride

    In spite of the traumatic circumstances surrounding it, Krystle and Blake’s wedding went off without a hitch on last week’s DYNASTY. Not only was their nemesis, Alexis, absent from the ceremony, she didn’t even appear in the episode. The same cannot be said of the primary obstacle to Greg and Abby’s big day on this week’s KNOTS. The ep opens in the Mackenzie kitchen with Mack, Karen and Michael all making light of Abby’s impending nuptials (“I wonder if she’s gonna keep her own name?” “Well, she has a choice — Fairgate, Cunningham, Ewing, Sumner.” “Sounds like a law firm!”), but the scene’s focus is firmly on Paige. Her expression is detached and she barely speaks. If one didn’t know better, one might mistake her demeanour for indifference. However, we do know better. This one of those interesting situations where only the viewer at home knows what a character on screen is really going through and so a complicity is forged between her and us. In fact, the aspect of this story that really wins us over to Paige’s side is the way she pridefully conceals her heartache from her family. She doesn’t look for sympathy or succumb to emotional indulgence the way another character might. No-one’s about to pop a bottle of pills down her throat and call her “Poor Paige”.

    She does, however, engage in some classic Soap Land manipulation to keep Greg off balance. First, she shows up with Ted Melcher to the club where he and Abby are in attendance and makes sure he sees Ted nuzzling her neck on the dance floor. The next morning, she arrives for work wearing the previous night’s dress. This is hardly subtle stuff, and Greg’s smart enough to see what she’s doing, but that doesn’t mean he isn’t as rattled by it as any regular soap sap would be. “Don’t start these stunts with me,” he snarls at her. “You come in here dressed like Carmen Miranda. What’s that supposed to signal me — that you’ve been spending the night with Mr Congeniality? … You call that dancing you were doing last night? Looked to me like you were grinding coffee!” (Over on FALCON CREST, Angela makes a similar observation about Lance and Cookie Nash: “The other night at dinner … you were pressed so close together, you could have eaten off the same plate.” The big difference here is that Angela is speaking approvingly.) Paige persists in her campaign by sending the engaged couple a croquet set as an anonymous wedding gift. “Is this what passes for wit in your generation?” responds Greg, all but hurling the mallets back at her. “What did you think was gonna happen when I opened this eight-grade gift — you think a light was gonna pop on in my head and I was gonna decide all of a sudden that I shouldn’t marry Blonde #2, I should marry Blonde #1?” This is the kind of common sense question soap characters in Greg’s position don’t normally think to ask.

    Despite his protests to the contrary, Paige’s behaviour starts to affect Greg’s thinking. “This republic’s in a sorry state when a guy as confused as I am gets to run for elective office,” he broods to manservant Carlos, who is fast becoming a confidante equivalent to Richard Channing’s Man Friday Garth on FALCON CREST. When Carlos asks if he still plans to go through with the wedding, Greg doesn’t reply. His ambivalence is mirrored by FC’s groom-to-be, RD Young. After calling off his wedding to Emma at the end of last week’s episode, he changes his mind this week, only to get cold feet yet again on the day of the ceremony.

    No-one’s getting married on DALLAS this week. Quite the opposite, in fact. “Lucy and I are engaged to be married,” insists Casey Denault. “We’re what?! … You’re nothing but a conman. You always were, you always will be!” Lucy snaps back. This brush-off seems almost gentle compared to Sue Ellen’s response to Jeremy Wendell’s proposal: “I would hope that one day in the future you would consider becoming my wife.” “Let me make my position perfectly clear, Jeremy,” she begins, before launching into Soap Land’s most brutal romantic rejection since Michael Tyrone destroyed Lute Mae Sanders on FLAMINGO ROAD. “I don’t like you. You make my skin crawl when you touch me. I would rather sleep with JR than sleep with you and I’d rather sleep with a carnival geek than sleep with JR. Does that give you any idea as to where you rank in my affections? … As bad as my life is right now, it can only improve with you out of it.” Such is the harshness of this speech that it has the effect of making Wendell, one of the genre’s coldest and creepiest characters, appear fleetingly sympathetic.

    At the beginning of this season’s KNOTS, Harold Dyer shot dead his Uncle Manny in order to save the life of Mack Mackenzie. On last week’s DALLAS, Carter McKay did the same thing to foreman Fred Hughes to save Bobby Ewing. Both men’s actions clearly indicated a desire to renounce his criminal past and start over. But then things went sideways — Harold was arrested on a drugs charge and McKay went back on his word almost immediately when he publicly informed the Ewings of his plan to continue harassing them until they sold him Section 40 of Southfork. Both situations are finally resolved this week, but it takes some credulity-stretching behaviour by our regular characters (not dissimilar to Bobby’s Jack Bauer-style heroics last week) to get us there.

    First off, KNOTS LANDING’s Olivia Cunningham is transformed from teen airhead into Soap Land’s least likely amateur sleuth, quizzing both a Lotus Point security guard and her cousin Michael before deducing that her mother must have framed Harold (something about Abby seeing his arrest record before the cops did). The pay off for this contrivance comes in a cracking scene that marks a sea change in both Olivia’s relationship with her mother and her own evolution as a character. A self-satisfied Abby is soaking in the bubbliest bubble bath you’ve ever seen when Olivia confronts her with her discovery. Instead of the sulky petulance and strident yelling we’re used to, Olivia remains calm and reasonable, even as she blackmails her mom: “We’re gonna go ahead and get engaged … We expect your blessing and if we don’t get it, I’m gonna tell the whole world that you planted the cocaine in Harold’s locker … That would bump your wedding off the front page, wouldn’t it?” Conversely, the ordinarily cool and collected Abby is now so furious that she can barely bring herself to even look at Olivia. “You see? I am your daughter,” Olivia concludes. “I just don’t want the things that you want.”

    Meanwhile, DALLAS goes a bit SCOOBY DOO as we learn that McKay and the Ewings have secretly joined forces to outwit Jeremy Wendell. In his final ever scene, DALLAS’s shrewdest villain is ultimately outwitted by those meddling pensioners, Miss Ellie and Clayton, who goad him into bragging about how far he was willing to go to destroy them (“I told Hughes to kill anyone who stood in my way”). Next thing we know, Jeremy is being dragged away by the police, Angelica Nero-style. “We’ve got enough on tape to arrest you on a dozen charges!” they crow.

    As Wendell is arrested on DALLAS, the drug charges are dropped against Harold on KNOTS. He attends Abby and Greg’s wedding as Olivia’s guest, unaware that the bride was the one who framed him in the first place. McKay, meanwhile, is invited to dinner at Southfork. (The newfound bonhomie between him and the family means that, confusingly, there are now two characters in the Ewingverse who answer to the nickname of Mack.) While Abby is icily polite to Harold at the wedding, Mack receives a more openly hostile greeting from Bobby’s dinner date, his own daughter Tracey. “Leave me alone!” she yells at him.

    Meanwhile, at Emma’s wedding on FALCON CREST, Nick Agretti and Cookie Nash are no happier to see Pilar on Lance’s arm than Abby is to see Olivia on Harold’s. Whereas Nick, who has quietly fallen for Pilar, does his best to mask his disappointment, Cookie, who has been sleeping with Lance on the sly, makes a point of blanking her — before pretending to struggle to pronounce her last name (another example of the casual racism running through the Tuscany Valley this season).

    Mack Mackenzie and Bobby Ewing each tries to repay the man who saved his life by putting in a good word on his behalf. Whereas Mack’s appeal to Abby (“Let’s give Harold a little credit for wanting to change his life … He’s a good guy”) ultimately has little effect, Bobby has more success in persuading Tracey to give her father a second chance. (“He’s an honourable man, Tracey. He helped us put away Jeremy Wendell and that counts a lot in my book.”)

    Like Abby and Olivia, Emma and Angela share a mother/daughter scene prior to the former’s wedding, but theirs is closer in spirit to the affectionate heart-to-heart between Krystle and Fallon on last week’s DYNASTY. Where Fallon acknowledged how much her step-mother has done for the family, Angela admits to her daughter that “I haven’t always done what was right in my time, but I did what I thought was best.” “I think I realise that — finally,” Emma replies. As Abby did with Karen and Krystle did with Krystina, they then observe the “something old” tradition as Angela presents Emma with the string of pearls her own mother gave to her when she married Douglas. “They’re very lucky,” she tells her. So when the necklace subsequently breaks and the pearls fall to the floor, it can only be a bad omen. Sure enough, the groom-to-be then appears in the doorway of Emma’s bedroom with a grim expression on his face. “You’re not supposed to see me before the wedding,” she says nervously.

    We aren’t privy to the conversation that follows, but we do get to witness an equivalent scene on KNOTS where Paige steals into Greg’s room just as he is preparing to walk down the aisle and tearfully begs him not to. Once again, her pleas fall on stony ground. “What I want is for you to get out of my face and marry some nice white bread guy who will ask you to be a better person than you already are,” he tells her. But it’s what he says next that really hits home: “Look, if we spent any time together, the way you feel right now is the way you would always feel. I don’t think that you want that.”

    KNOTS ends ambiguously, with Greg and Abby meeting at the altar while Paige hovers in the background between them. It recalls the freeze frame from DALLAS where Cliff suddenly stood up in the middle of JR and Sue Ellen’s wedding. Back on FALCON CREST, Emma and Daniel both fail to appear for their wedding. Instead, they leave behind a note explaining that they have eloped. Just as Krystle’s wedding doubled as her departure from DYNASTY so Emma’s does from FALCON CREST. “We’re going to go away for a while,” she writes. “I feel it’s better to start off our future together away from so many reminders of the past.”

    Back on DALLAS, Ray Krebbs is also reminded of the past as he too prepares to leave. “Ray, it’s just not the same here anymore,” Bobby laments. “You going off to Europe, Gary out in California, Daddy’s gone, Sue Ellen, Pam — it’s altogether different.” Add Krystle and Emma to that list and he could be talking about Soap Land as a whole. “Maybe I’m leaving here at the right time — it’ll always be the same in my memory,” Ray replies, perhaps speaking for Soap Land's departing viewers.

    It’s not over quite yet, however. We’ll see Krystle and Ray again in their respective series’ reunions and Emma will be back next year. More immediately, this week’s DALLAS and FALCON CREST both conclude with a long-lost relative arriving unannounced at the front door — JR’s shotgun bride Cally and Ben Agretti’s presumed-dead mother Anna. Whereas Anna, in her chic hat and fur stole, is the embodiment of ’80s soap glamour, Cally is so simply dressed it’s as if the 1960s, let alone the 1980s, completely passed her by. While Anna exudes European inscrutability, Cally is all wide-eyed country girl innocence. As the naive hayseed blonde who shows up claiming to be Mrs JR Ewing, it feels like the joke should be on her (and if this scenario were playing out on FALCON CREST a year ago, you could be sure it would be), but instead, it’s JR’s discomfort that we find ourselves enjoying. There’s something fundamentally joyous about watching Larry Hagman stutter and squirm as Miss Ellie asks him, “JR, did you marry this girl? … Then you own up to it and do the right thing!” “Mama, look at her. You think she’s gonna fit in in Dallas?” he protests. When Cally exasperatedly demands to know “what’s so all-fired wonderful about Dallas?!” she (unintentionally) hits the same irreverent funny bone that Krystle did when she tickled Adam at her wedding last week.

    For all that the town of Haleyville and its inhabitants were stuck in a 1950s time-warp, Cally’s arrival at Southfork seems to herald a new era for the Ewings. Her last line before the freeze frame, “I think I’m gonna like it here”, serves as a declaration of intent in the same way JR’s did at the end of “Digger’s Daughter” (“I underestimated the new Mrs Ewing — I surely won’t do that again”). Bobby was more correct than he realised when he said, “it’s just not the same anymore … it’s altogether different.”

    And this week’s Top 3 are …

    1 (1) KNOTS LANDING

    2 (3) DALLAS

    3 (4) FALCON CREST
     
    Last edited: Oct 21, 2018
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  20. James from London

    James from London Soap Chat Enthusiast

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    25 Jan 89: DYNASTY: Ginger Snaps v. 26 Jan 89: KNOTS LANDING: Mrs. Peacock in the Library with the Lead Pipe v. 27 Jan 89: DALLAS: The Two Mrs. Ewings

    Will Krystle survive her operation? Will Greg and Abby’s wedding actually take place? These were the burning questions we were left with at the end of the last episodes of DYNASTY and KNOTS LANDING. This week, however, neither show is in much of a hurry to answer them. We’re four scenes into DYNASTY before we learn that Krystle’s surgery took place two narrative weeks earlier and that she’s been in a coma ever since. “Blake, it’s over,” says Dr Walt Driscoll flatly. “Her heart’s still beating, but she’s dead … You’ve got to accept it. She’s gone.” He urges Blake to return home from Switzerland and get on with his life. “So I’m supposed to just leave, not even take time to mourn?” Blake asks. It’s an interesting question — and the point at which DYNASTY’s audacious decision to set Krystle’s prognosis at some unspecified point in the past really pays off. With the honourable exception of the year Karen Fairgate took to mourn Sid on KNOTS LANDING, Soap Land’s never been very comfortable when it comes to portraying the grieving process (Jeff Colby reprimanding his wife Kirby for not being over her father’s suicide on the day of his funeral being a prime example). “Blake, you’ve been mourning her for three years now, ever since I first told you about her condition,” Dr Walt points out. Combine this argument with the terms of Krystle’s living will (“She knew it might come to this and she wanted freedom for both of you”) and it’s clear that DYNASTY has learned from the not-so-final finality of Bobby Ewing’s death and the clunky exit of Pam Ewing two years later and even found a way around the awkward questions surrounding Laura Avery’s decision to die alone, and come up with the departure of a major Soap Land character that gets to have its cake and eat it too — a “death” that feels satisfyingly conclusive while still leaving the door open for a possible return.

    As a consequence, the scene where Blake gathers the Carringtons to tell them that “Krystle is gone [and] I am determined to carry out her wish, that our lives must go on” feels far less jarring than the equivalent moment in last season’s DALLAS where Bobby told the Ewings to consider Pam “a closed subject.” The loss of the family matriarch might be the single most tragic thing to have happened to the Carringtons since the series began, but in the spirit of moving on, Blake goes directly from this scene into a furtive meeting with Dex about an entirely different, more dramatically pressing matter.

    Indeed, now that Krystle is dead on DYNASTY, Greg and Abby are married on KNOTS and the range war is over on DALLAS, it’s time for other storylines that have been simmering quietly in the background — involving the repercussions of JR’s adventures in Haleyville, Jill’s attack on Val and the discovery of the body at the lake — to take centre stage once again.

    DYNASTY’s ongoing mystery, which has already shifted from “Who is the dead man at the lake?” to “Who killed Roger Grimes?”, now expands to include “What else is Blake trying to hide?” His cryptic conversation with Dex provides more questions than answers. “If what happened at the bottom of the lake ever came to light … it would put shame onto the families,” says Dex. “We have to protect that secret,” Blake concurs.

    There’s a great twist on KNOTS, meanwhile, when David Lamb, the guy Jill picked up on the night of Val’s overdose, resurfaces to accuse her of giving him syphilis. (“Do you know how many times I’ve been unfaithful in fifteen years? Once … and I have the stinking luck to do it with a slut that’s got VD!”) Perhaps surprisingly, KNOTS was a little more circumspect than DALLAS and DYNASTY when the soaps started making reference to AIDS and safe sex about a year ago, but it now gives us a lecture that’s practically ‘STDs 101’ — but with a strong sense of irony running through it. Lest we forget, Jill didn’t sleep with David even though he thinks she did. However, for the sake of her alibi, she is obliged to put herself and an extremely pissed off Gary through the indignity of getting tested. In the process, Gary inadvertently learns of Jill’s prescription for secobarbital “and she got the prescription filled the same week she went to San Francisco,” he tells Mack. Watching them finally start to put the pieces of the puzzle together is immensely satisfying.

    Abby and Greg appear only a couple of times on this week’s KNOTS. The first is on their wedding night, which is when we realise that the ceremony must have gone without a hitch. It also becomes apparent that, unlike Richard Channing and Terry Ranson who got married for similar reasons on FALCON CREST a few years ago, they fully intend to consummate their union. “It’s not like we haven’t made love before,” Abby reminds Greg. “Yeah, but that was a long time ago. It doesn’t count,” he tells her. “You mean this is gonna be like the first time — exploration, discovery?” she says provocatively as she starts to unbutton his pyjamas.

    If there’s a certain innuendo in Abby’s delivery of the word “discovery”, it’s pretty mild in comparison to the following exchange on DYNASTY. “As you know, I’m expanding rapidly,” says Dex, explaining his reason for offering Joanna Sills a job with his company. “Yes, I noticed that the other night,” she purrs in reply. For ‘80s Soap Land this is pretty racy stuff and very much in keeping with the ramped up sexiness that’s been on display of late. Likewise on DALLAS, the (brilliant) line JR delivers following a spat with Bobby — “Mama shoulda had her tubes tied together right after I was born” — seems to belong specifically to this era. (It also paves the way for the kind of explicitly gynaecological dialogue we now hear on New DYNASTY almost as a matter of course. New Alexis’s recent putdown — “You low-level vaginal climber" — springs most immediately to mind.)

    Unlike Abby and Greg’s honeymoon, JR and Cally’s new marriage is very much about separate bedrooms. “You’re not gonna sweet-talk me into bed again,” says Cally. “Either you tell everybody I’m your wife or you can just stay away from me.” Whereas Jock encouraged JR to “see to your wife” on Pam’s first night at Southfork ten years ago, Miss Ellie is on hand to make sure JR doesn’t see too much of Cally on hers.

    Greg has another reason to be excited on his wedding night. “Tomorrow morning, I’m finally gonna see what you look like without your eye makeup,” he tells Abby. It’s not like we haven’t seen Abby without her eye makeup before, but maybe that was so long ago it doesn’t count either. Ultimately, she manages to keep one step ahead of both Greg and the cameraman when she steps out of the shower the following morning mascara intacta.

    Makeup — or more specifically, makeovers — play a specific role on this week’s DYNASTY and DALLAS as well. Just as Sable insisted on glamorising a reluctant Virginia prior to Krystle and Blake’s wedding, so Lucy volunteers to do the same for Cally in preparation for her first family dinner at Southfork. (She starts by taking her clothes shopping: “I’m gonna teach you the only two words you need to know … ‘Charge it.’”) When Sable presented Virginia to the wedding guests as “the sleeping beauty who has awakened”, everyone was thrilled. When Lucy presents Cally, looking more like a baby fawn disguised as a hooker, everyone is stunned.

    Cally’s fish-out-of-water situation is funny — it’s not every day you see a Ewing wife reminiscing fondly about pig-feeding or searching for the nearest laundry tub — but it’s not Cally herself we are laughing at. Well, OK, maybe it is — especially when she tries to sit down in that too tight, too low-cut black dress Lucy has wickedly picked out for her (a moment reminiscent of Karen’s “slave to fashion” faux pas on last season’s KNOTS) — but we’re rooting for her nonetheless. She may be a cornpone archetype on paper, but she’s also as vulnerable and real a character as anyone else in Soap Land right now. And while the tone of her storyline is as lighthearted as DALLAS has ever been, the behaviour of nearly all the remaining Ewings is reassuringly in character. By tarting Cally up, Lucy is revelling in the family’s embarrassment just as she did when Bobby first brought Pam back to the ranch and she encouraged Ray to kiss the bride. As for JR, his reaction to seeing his new wife so gaudily attired is the same as when Sue Ellen tried to impress him with sexy lingerie back in the mini-series. “What the hell is that?” he asks in dismay before running for the hills: “Mama, I’ll be having dinner in town tonight.” Most resonant of all is Miss Ellie bestowing on Cally the same lecture she gave Pam in Season 1: “The Ewing men are very tough and the Ewing women have to be even tougher. I had to take a horsewhip to the boy’s father before he’d do right by me and you may have to do the same thing.” I really love how the horsewhip tale recurs all the way through the Ewing saga: from “Old Acquaintance” in ’78 to “The Early Years” in ’86 to this episode in ’89 to, albeit less directly, Cally’s reappearance as a middle-aged woman at JR’s memorial service in 2013.

    Interestingly, the one Ewing who doesn’t react to Cally’s arrival as one might expect is Bobby. In place of moral indignation at JR having taken advantage of an innocent young girl there’s a kind of amused detachment, as if he were a viewer watching at home. This results in some fun exchanges between the brothers. “She’s nothing but a little hillbilly,” JR insists. “She’s hillbilly with a marriage license,” counters Bobby. “Well, I’m gonna take care of that soon enough,” JR replies. “Yeah, I guess you’re right — divorcing her would be a lot kinder than staying married to her,” quips Bobby. This last line is essentially a jokier version of the point Greg made to Paige just before his wedding to Abby last week: “If we spent any time together, the way you feel right now is the way you would always feel.”

    Back on DYNASTY, cousin Virginia undergoes a second makeover in as many episodes, but this time it’s all her own handiwork. After exhibiting an unexplained hostility towards Dex, she shows up at his apartment. “You really don’t remember, do you?” she asks him. While he is distracted by a phone call, she swiftly applies some Abby-style eye makeup, redoes her hair and slips off her raincoat to reveal a dominatrix-style variation on Cally’s tight black dress. “Do you remember now? … I used to call myself Ginger,” she pouts. Dex’s slack-jawed response suggests that he certainly does remember.

    As if one redheaded relative who answers to the name of Virginia was not enough, another arrives in Soap Land this week — Val’s Aunt Ginny Bea on KNOTS. Like her DYNASTY namesake she has secrets, but hers involve homemade cookies and beat poets rather than prostitution and eating out of trashcans. The cookies are those she’s been feeding to Bobby and Betsy on the sly, while her claim that she has never previously visited California turns out to be a fib. “I visited California in the fifties,” she admits to Karen. “I used to listen to Ginsberg read poetry at City Lights.” The real reason for her current visit is to check on Val. “Honey, I didn’t want her to think I was spying on her,” she explains.

    While Ginny has Val’s twins literally eating out of her hand, their cousin John Ross is less receptive to the new relative in his midst. At first, he mistakes Cally for a friend of Lucy’s, but soon learns to follow his father’s lead and regard his new stepmom with contempt: “Don’t expect me to call you Mother … I already have a mother who looks and acts like a mother, not like one of the girls in my class.”

    John Ross putting Cally down feels like a turning point as significant as Olivia calmly standing up to her mother on last week’s KNOTS. Whereas Olivia finally seems to be emerging from her brat phase, John Ross is now entering his. Perhaps it’s no coincidence that these character developments are happening just a few months before Abby and Sue Ellen’s respective departures from Soap Land. Both Olivia and John Ross have been very much defined by their relationships to their moms and without them around, they’ll need to be established as more independent personalities.

    During a talk with Christopher, John Ross admits to a certain ambivalence regarding Sue Ellen: “She shot my dad. But she’s my mom. I don’t know what to think about her.” Needless to say, these mixed feelings will carry over into their relationship on New DALLAS. Over on DYNASTY, Adam makes a similarly interesting admission about Krystle. “We didn’t get that close, but now that she’s gone I miss her,” he tells Virginia.

    Elsewhere on DYNASTY, Zorelli endears himself to Fallon when he shows up at her son’s skating lesson and takes a tumble on the ice. This is a near-identical scenario to Bobby and Lisa Alden’s meet-cute on last season’s DALLAS. One might chalk this up to coincidence if David Paulsen, himself a former ice skater, was not the producer of both episodes. This time around, however, Paulsen resists the urge to make a cameo appearance as a skater unsteady on the ice, leaving the prat falls to Zorelli instead.

    Zorelli and Fallon wind up back at his place for a taking-off-each-other’s-clothes scene that’s a more sweetly uncertain variation on Sue Ellen and Nicholas’s breathy strip from last season’s DALLAS. Zorelli’s apartment isn’t as fancy as Nick’s. Its exposed-brickwork-and-dartboard decor more strongly resembles Mack’s new office space on KNOTS — a suitably “authentic” environment for two macho yet caring Italian-American justice-seekers who don’t always play by the rules. Mack’s realtor makes sure to play the authenticity card in her sales pitch: “This is the original hardwood floor. It’s a real neighbourhoody neighbourhood — no strip shopping centres, no big national chains.” Mack’s first order of business as an attorney-for-hire is a pro-bono case on behalf of a group of homeless people, which he wins with ease. (Krystle would surely have applauded.) The bad news is that despite changing his job, he still hasn’t been able to ditch his perpetually gurning, aren’t-I-just-adorable secretary, Peggy, who has replaced FC’s Melissa as the one Soap Land character who makes me swear irrationally at the screen.

    Other Zorelli/Mack parallels: While Fallon nicknames Zorelli Zorro, Mack recalls “a deli that was on the block when I was growing up on New York called Lazorro’s and I played Zorro because I was always ripping off apples and carrots and stuff.” And just as Mack made a song and dance about finding anchovies on his pizza a few weeks ago, Zorelli also proves somewhat particular on the subject: “A pizza should be hot and dripping with onion and cheese and anchovies, if a person likes that kind of thing.”

    Alexis, a no-show for the second DYNASTY episode in a row, is proving to be a more impressive business woman off screen than on. “She has managed to put out most of the fires we started at her overseas offices,” complains Sable. Sue Ellen, meanwhile, appears impressively assertive onscreen, coolly announcing her intention to own and run a Hollywood movie studio. However, she does lose serious business points for rolling her eyes at a guy who tries to pitch the concept of an ATM machine to her (“We’re gonna go world-wide with these Automatic Teller Machines! They’ll take any credit card, any bank card and they’ll automatically compute the rate of exchange in foreign countries!”) “From now on, I don’t wanna see any more people like that coming in for financing,” she informs her secretary dismissively.

    As an heiress with no discernible talent for business, DALLAS’s Lucy serves pretty much the same purpose as Emma on FALCON CREST — to deliver wisecracks at family functions and get her heart broken on a regular basis. As this role is not compatible with a lasting relationship, it makes sense that Emma should be written out of FC immediately following her wedding to RD Young at the end of last week’s episode. Likewise, Lucy’s return to DALLAS must necessarily spell the end of her marriage to Mitch and thus she receives her final divorce papers in this week’s ep.

    Lucy’s too upset to attend the annual Oil Barons Ball which is a shame because it’s the last Ball of the series and the most fun one since 1983 when Cliff was voted Oil Man of the Year and the Barneses and Ewings beat each other up. This year’s party plays like an extended version of the powder room scene from that Ball when Pam, Jenna, Katherine, Afton and Sue Ellen all came face to face. Here, sparks fly when various combinations of female characters who are or have been involved with Bobby (Tracey, Tammy, April), JR (Cally, Sue Ellen, April again) and even Cliff (Tammy, Marilee Stone) interact. Unlike DYNASTY and FALCON CREST, DALLAS has never been all that interested in bitchiness for its own sake, so each of these confrontations feels specific and dramatically juicy. The best of the lot is the first meeting of Cally and Sue Ellen which, in turn, leads to a showdown between Sue Ellen and her ex-husband: “JR, you got that little girl into bed by telling her that I was a drunk, a cheat and I neglected my child!” She then lands a punch on him even more impressive than the whack Sable gives Jeff Colby at the end of this week’s DYNASTY when he accuses her of trying to get her claws into Blake: “Ever since my father had the good sense to get rid of you, you’ve been on the prowl for a new coat of arms.”

    While DYNASTY ends on a shot of Sable seething and KNOTS with Jill looking scared after realising Gary may be onto her, DALLAS concludes with a great freeze frame of the Ball in disarray, with various characters looking or heading in different directions following the news that Carter McKay is the new Head of West Star. “It won’t be long before we’re wishing Jeremy Wendell was back!” predicts JR.

    And this week’s Top 3 are …

    1 (3) DALLAS
    2 (1) KNOTS LANDING
    3 (-) DYNASTY
     
    Last edited: Nov 1, 2018
    • Winner Winner x 2

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