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 Star

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    16 Nov 89: KNOTS LANDING: The Good Guys v. 17 Nov 89: DALLAS: Daddy Dearest v. 17 Nov 89: FALCON CREST: Doctor Dollars

    Tom Ryan, Paige’s new boyfriend on KNOTS, is a policeman — just as Fallon’s was on last season’s DYNASTY. But whereas Fallon’s father strongly disapproved of that relationship, Mack could not be happier about his daughter’s new man: “He’s a nice guy! I approve!” This infuriates Paige. “You approve of him, Mack approves of him, everyone approves of him,” she complains to Karen. “That bothers you?” Karen asks. “Yes!” she replies. But in the same way that Blake was wrong to suspect Zorelli of being a dirty cop, Mack is wrong to assume that Tom is a clean one. In fact, as we slowly come to realise during this week’s episode, he’s as dirty as they come.

    The $17,000 Aunt Ginny discovered at the end of last week’s ep is all Mack needs to prove Mark Baylor innocent of Jeri Maddux’ murder. He and Baylor arrive at the Soap Land courthouse to submit the evidence to a judge when Baylor tells him, “I gotta make a pitstop. Had too much coffee this morning.” While this is a more discreet euphemism than the one Charley St James used for the same function on FALCON CREST last month (“pointing Percy at the porcelain”), it does lead to Soap Land’s very first depiction of urination, albeit occurring below camera level, as Tom Ryan joins Baylor in the men’s room and strikes up a conversation with him. We aren’t privy to their entire chat, but by the time Baylor has rejoined Mack, he has had a dramatic change of heart. “I don’t want you to get me off … I want you to plead me guilty,” he tells him. When Mack refuses, insisting that he has proof Baylor is innocent, Baylor threatens him: “You turn in that money, I’ll have you disbarred. I’ll say it’s manufactured evidence.” This is our first big clue that Detective Ryan may not be the stand-up cop everyone thinks he is.

    Ewing-verse trend of the week: Macks filing lawsuits. On KNOTS, Baylor pleading guilty means that Mack has lost his opportunity to expose Oakman Industries — until Frank suggests he look for “some other Jeris … people in her situation, people who have lost a pension they thought they had, people who hate Oakman Industries because of it.” Enter Mr Artie Zimmer, a former colleague of Jeri’s. “You lost your pension too,” Mack reminds him. “I have a chance to get it back with a class action suit … If I can prove malfeasance or mismanagement or fraud, Oakman Industries may be forced to compensate everyone under the pension fund.” Zimmer is persuaded and Mack files the suit on his behalf. Meanwhile, DALLAS’s Mack, Carter McKay, marches into Ewing Oil and informs JR and Bobby that he is slapping them with a civil lawsuit “for negligence, for operating an unsafe tanker, maliciously ramming a West Star tanker, damages for all the oil I lost, for the total cost of the cleanup and FOR ANY OTHER DAMN THING I CAN THINK OF TO BREAK EWING OIL ONCE AND FOR ALL!”

    Back on KNOTS, Mack’s suit suffers a serious setback after Mr Zimmer is badly injured. “He’s pretty beat up … He fell down the stairs,” says Detective Ryan, who just happens to be at Zimmer’s apartment when Mack arrives. “No lawsuit,” mumbles Mr Zimmer, looking at both Mack and Tom as he is carried away on a stretcher. And that’s our second big clue about Tom. (This isn’t turning out to be a good season to be old in Soap Land — first Angela gets suffocated on FALCON CREST, then Jeri is tossed out of a window and now Artie takes a mysterious tumble down a flight of stairs. Watch out, Mrs Evander and Mrs Richfield.)

    Thus far, the main players in the Oakman storyline have been elderly people and lawyers. While this has been dramatically rewarding, it’s not quite what one expects of a glossy ‘80s supersoap. Now, however, the story takes a more traditional turn with the introduction of one of the soapiest tropes of them all: “You’ve done a terrific job, but we don’t need any more surveillance of Mack Mackenzie so you’re off the case,” one of the shadowy bosses at Oakman tells Tom Ryan. A few scenes later: “You were taken off the Mackenzie case … but you’re still dating his daughter … Your actions jeopardise our position.” “Don’t even think that you can tell me who I can and cannot see … or who I date. You do not own me,” Tom insists. Yes, it’s the welcome return of “the spy who loved me” syndrome, where one character seduces another character for business reasons, usually at the behest of a third party, only to find themselves developing genuine feelings in the process. (In spite of Tom’s defiant words to his Oakman boss, the episode ends with an artful montage of Paige being stood up on a date. Of all the soaps, only KNOTS could make an artful montage out of someone being stood up on a date.)

    The spy in “the spy who loved me” syndrome is traditionally a woman. Prior to Tom, I can recall only one who was male — Zach Powers’ nephew Sean who slept with Bliss on THE COLBYS in order to spy on her father and then fell in love with her. But on this week’s FALCON CREST, there is an all-male, strictly platonic, variation on this scenario as Richard is approached by Sal Tortino, a fellow inmate from his time in the Soap Land Penitentiary. Sal is recently out of prison and so Richard offers him a job, not realising that Sal has been hired by Michael Sharpe to bump him off.

    Sal is kind of irritating — he’s excitable, never shuts up and makes a lot of crappy jokes. He also keeps bungling his attempts to kill Richard, but just when the whole thing starts to feel like one of those tiresome would-be assassin storylines I’d hoped FC had dispensed with after Season 7, there's a twist. Richard summons Sal to his office and hands him “a little bonus to help you get set up.” Sal is blindsided by both the amount of money (“You got four digits in here, man!”) and the genuine faith Richard seems to have in him. Confused, he pulls out a gun and points it at Richard: “You don’t get it, man, do you? I was gonna take you for a ride so I could blow your brains out! … I’d better leave. Just forget I got out of prison, all right?” But just as Bobby wouldn’t let JR simply walk away from Ewing Oil last week, Richard isn’t about to let Sal go so easily either. So Sal makes another suggestion: “Michael Sharpe wants a war. Why don’t you give it to him? I’ll help you.” From that point on, an apparently dull storyline becomes gripping. Wearing a wire, Sal meets with Sharpe in the back of his limo and tries to lure him into saying he ordered the hit on Richard. But Michael’s no fool — he realises what Sal is up to and has him driven to an alley and beaten up. Sal then tries to make a run for it so Michael calmly instructs his chauffeur to first run him down and then drive over him. It’s pretty brutal. By the time the police and Richard arrive on the scene, it’s too late. “Just another dead scumbag,” concludes one of the cops. “He was my friend,” Richard insists, and the episode ends with him cradling the body of a man who was pointing a gun at him only ten screen minutes earlier — proof, if it were needed, that Richard really is a changed man.

    While Sal mostly spoke a lot of rubbish, he did come out with one memorable salutation during this week’s FC: “Peace, love, Phil Donahue.” Donahue, along with Oprah, Geraldo and a few others, is presumably the inspiration for Karen Mackenzie’s latest storyline, which finds her becoming the stand-in host of OPEN MIKE, the TV talk show she guested on a couple of weeks ago. Whereas Sue Ellen’s excursion into movie-making on last season’s DALLAS never felt remotely believable, it’s much easier to accept Karen sitting on a cheap-looking TV set being bombarded with instructions from the floor manager, ending with the ominous reminder that “there’s no post-production budget on this thing.” Despite having no experience of television presenting whatsoever, Karen inevitably proves a total natural in front of the camera (just as Joshua Rush did). In this regard, the storyline is just as much a fantasy as Cally Ewing’s overnight transformation into an accomplished artist. But it feels real and so we’re happy to suspend our disbelief.

    In the same way that Karen breaks the fourth wall by looking straight at the camera to welcome viewers, both real and fictional, to OPEN MIKE (“The subject is credit cards — it seems we can’t live with ‘em, we can’t live without ‘em”), Cliff Barnes does the same thing when he announces to the press his appointment to a committee that will “investigate the Ewing/West Star disaster … Those guilty will answer for their crimes and … we will be able to take safeguards so that these kind of disasters don’t happen again, even if that means shutting down the companies responsible for what’s happening in the Gulf today.” In spite of the gravity of what he is saying, Cliff is unable to suppress a delighted smirk as he looks directly down the camera lens, directly at us.

    Prior to his unexpected fall down the stairs, Arnie Zimmer touchingly admits to Mack that he and Jeri had been lovers before she was killed. “Stupid young people think they’ve cornered the market on passion,” he says. Actually, young couples are surprisingly thin on the ground in Soap Land these days. Instead, younger women are paired with older men almost as a matter of course: Paige and Greg, Cally and JR, April and Bobby, Michelle and Cliff, Sydney and Ian, Genele and Frank — even Olivia and Harold qualify. That leaves Pilar and Lance on FALCON CREST and Tom and Paige on KNOTS as the only “hot young couples” in Soap Land — until they are joined by a third: DALLAS’s James and Michelle. As with Tom’s initial interest in Paige, instant sexual attraction is accompanied by an ulterior, business-related motive, but in this case, both parties are aware of it. Michelle has already turned down JR’s request to spy on Cliff when James shows up at her door, hoping to change her mind. “I wanted to see if there was maybe some way I could convince you to help my father,” he explains. “I hear the Lord helps those who help themselves,” she replies invitingly. They kiss. “My father could really use you,” he continues, slipping off her jacket. “Cliff’s becoming a very important man,” she counters, unbuttoning his shirt. “You’re smart enough to know which side to back,” he replies, removing her blouse. (It’s a toss-up as to which “hot young couple” provides the sexiest moment of the week — Paige and Tom as she builds a house of cards on his bare chest, or James and Michelle as he unhooks her skimpy black bra. Lance, conversely, has a decidedly unsexy moment when he finds himself watching a videotape of Pilar going at it with Ned Vogel.)

    Although Cliff and Michelle have been dating since the beginning of the season and even started living together as of last week, it’s been made clear that they do not share the same bed — yet no specific reason has been given. “He’s dumber than I thought!” concludes James when he finds out. It’s perhaps significant that each of Cliff’s relationships since Pam’s disappearance — with Lisa Alden, Tammy Miller and now Michelle — have been non-sexual.

    While relationships between older men and younger women remain commonplace, Soap Land’s infatuation with older woman/younger man pairings seems to have died out in the post-DYNASTY era. So it’s perhaps fitting that this week’s DALLAS should see the final appearance of Marilee Stone, often depicted as the most predatory of man-eaters and whose interest in younger men was established long before the likes of Alexis and Sue Ellen started acquiring “toy boy” love interests. Insatiable to the end, Marilee’s last scene sees her flirting with the next generation of Ewing man, aka James. She also delivers one final zinger to JR: “Your son? Funny — at first, I thought he might be your wife’s older brother.”

    Just as Abby continues to cast a shadow over Olivia and Harold’s marriage (“Did you ever discuss budgeting when you were rich, when you were using Mama’s credit cards … or is it just since you’ve become poor that money’s become so important, huh?”), there is also much talk of Ewings past on DALLAS. Now that James is living at Southfork, he receives a crash course in family history. While Lucy fills him on his father’s first wife (“He cheated on her so much, he made her an alcoholic”), JR tells him about Bobby’s: “Talk about a trouble maker.” “What happened to her?” James asks. “She’s long gone,” JR replies. “Good riddance to bad rubbish as far as I’m concerned.” This offhand dismissal of such a significant character feels cruelly effective, even more so in hindsight when one realises this is the series’ first reference to Pam since her death which, according to New DALLAS, fell between last season and this one. There’s also a sweet little scene where John Ross admits to his daddy that he feels excluded now that James is on the scene. “It’s gonna change everything, isn’t it?” he asks sadly. JR is sympathetic, recalling how he felt when he first learnt that Ray was a Ewing. But the mood of the scene changes when JR makes the outrageous claim that he was “the first one in the whole family to treat Ray like a real brother.”

    The most significant reference to a past DALLAS character comes in the final scene of the episode. Just as last week’s FALCON CREST ended with an other-worldly message for Emma when her mother briefly awoke from her coma to warn her against Charley, DALLAS ends with JR receiving a letter from his long-dead daddy, originally written during World War II when Jock thought he was dying. Before hearing from their respective parents, both Emma and JR are at a particularly low ebb. “You trusted me and I failed you miserably,” wept Emma at Angela’s bedside. “I hurt the company and I hurt Bobby … Right now, I think my daddy would be ashamed to call me his son,” JR tells Miss Ellie. Both Jock and Angela’s words serve the same narrative purpose: to inspire their discouraged child into rededicating themselves to their primary Soap Land objective: fighting the good (or not so good) fight, all in the name of family. While Angela makes Emma promise to stop Charley, Jock’s letter reminds JR that “the future of the family and Ewing Oil is in your hands.”

    Among the rallying words in Jock’s letter are two phrases I’ve always associated with movies that weren’t made until long after the second world war was over. The first, “Keep your friends close but your enemies even closer,” is an oft-repeated maxim in Soap Land. In fact, Pilar said it to Lance on FALCON CREST only last week. I’ve always connected it to The Godfather Part II (1974), where Michael Corleone quotes it as a piece of advice handed down from his own father, just as Jock does to JR in his letter. The second phrase, “Never let the bastards get you down”, is a variation on “Don’t let the bastards grind you down”, a line delivered by Albert Finney in the gritty British working class drama Saturday Night, Sunday Morning (1961), which is about as far away from DALLAS as you can get. However, a quick google suggests (although no-one seems certain) that both phrases were first coined somewhat earlier, by Machiavelli and in the trenches of WWII respectively — so it seems that, sadly, we can’t yet add time travel to Jock’s list of achievements. Conversely, when Tom Ryan accuses Paige of being a “cop kisser” on KNOTS, I so wanted it to be a play on ‘Cop Killer’, the massively controversial Death Count song penned by Ice-T, but apparently, that wasn’t even written until 1990.

    This week’s Ewing-verse contains a couple of interesting ‘what if?’ scenarios. “Did you ever wear a dress like that going to your father’s house on a date?” Mack asks Karen indignantly after Paige shows up with Tom for a family dinner wearing a particularly revealing outfit. “My father would have grounded me for a year!” Karen laughs. “I wonder if he’d have been like that if he’d married my mother?” wonders James after Lucy tells him how notoriously unfaithful JR was to Sue Ellen. “He’d have been like that if he married the Queen of England,” she replies.

    And this week’s Top 3 are …

    1 (3) DALLAS
    2 (1) KNOTS LANDING
    3 (2) FALCON CREST
     
    Last edited: Apr 8, 2019
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  2. Mel O'Drama

    Mel O'Drama Super Moderator Staff Member

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    How curious that all three this week have alliterative titles.
     
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  3. James from London

    James from London Soap Chat Star

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    30 Nov 89: KNOTS LANDING: Perfect Couples v. 01 Dec 89: DALLAS: Hell's Fury v. 01 Dec 89: FALCON CREST: Luck Wave


    Everywhere you look in Soap Land this week, marriages are in crisis. Mostly, these involve couples to whom we’ve only recently been introduced — KNOTS LANDING’s Danny and Amanda, FALCON CREST’s Ian and Sydney, and Walker and Lauren. These relationships have been in trouble long before the characters arrived in Soap Land and now we are playing catch up, getting to know them just as their lives are falling apart.


    Danny and Amanda have been separated so long one might have assumed their marriage was beyond the crisis stage, but when Amanda finally files for divorce at the beginning of this week’s ep, it seems to bring all their problems to a head. Danny calls Val to tell her the good news (“I am beyond happy! I’m thrilled! Let’s celebrate!”), but then breaks down in tears as soon as he’s off the phone. Then, after hearing that Amanda is planning to go away with Gary, he snaps. “I don’t want her to get a thing,” he tells his divorce lawyer. “I want the furniture, I want the books, I want the pictures, I want the record albums.” “You don’t even own a stereo,” the lawyer points out. “I don’t care!” he shouts. (The material stakes are somewhat higher than a few LPs for Charley St James who is after the $14,000,000 Emma will receive if he can persuade her to sell Falcon Crest to Michael Sharpe.) Amanda agrees to Danny’s demands (“That’s how much I want to get out of this marriage”), adding that all she wants are her grandmother’s dishes — which he promptly smashes. There is a similarly petulant outburst on FALCON CREST when Sydney returns from an afternoon walk that was not sanctioned by her husband. “You were with someone, weren’t you?” Ian insists, refusing to believe she was alone. (She wasn’t — she was with Chris Agretti.) “You’re hurting me!” she protests as he grabs her wrist. Then he chases her upstairs to their room where he breaks a doll she appears to hold as dear as Amanda does her grandmother’s dishes. Then he too breaks down. “Tell me my angel forgives me,” he pleads. When Sydney doesn’t reply, he repeats himself, only now there’s an angry edge to his voice. “Your angel forgives you,” she replies through gritted teeth.


    While Ian doesn’t know who to be jealous of (“Who was he? Who was he?” he keeps asking), self-employed Danny and unemployed contractor Walker Daniels both have a target for their resentment: the rich supersoap businessmen who have recently entered their wives’ lives. “You can’t stand the fact that I’m making it on my own!” argues Amanda. “Your own? You got a millionaire cowboy picking up the tab!” Danny sneers. “Gary does not give me money,” she insists. “When you go out to dinner, who pays? Who you go to the movies, who pays? When you go on a trip, who pays?” he asks her. “You’re a bastard,” she replies. Walker, meanwhile, hits the roof when he discovers Richard Channing has been helping his family out financially. “What did you do to get him to pay these bills — did you sleep with him?” he asks Lauren angrily. “Well, you won’t sleep with me — maybe I should!” she yells. “Try being someone I might wanna sleep with instead of chasing after millionaires every day!” he yells back. Danny and Walker also accuse their wives of living in a dream world. While Danny dismisses Amanda’s singing career as “a going nowhere fantasy”, Walker criticises Lauren for walking around “in this lah-di-dah, Alice in Wonderland existence.”


    Whereas Danny is pettiness personified in front of his estranged wife, he is far more generous towards his new girlfriend and her family. This week, he finally gains Bobby and Betsy’s affections by buying them a pair of bunny rabbits. Over on DALLAS, James uses the same tactic to win over the twins’ cousin when he presents John Ross with a Kawasaki four-wheel bike (product placement included). After making us feel so sorry for him in last week’s episode when he was worried James had replaced him in JR’s affections, John Ross delights in rubbing his new friendship with his big bro in Christopher’s face: “I’m really glad I don’t have to hang out with you, you little drip!” This leads a satisfying mini-fight between the two kids in the Southfork living room which JR and Bobby, ironically enough, are obliged to break up. Back on KNOTS, what Danny gives with one hand — the rabbits — he takes away with the other — Amanda’s dog Chester — whom he insists belongs to him.


    The final scenes of KNOTS and FALCON CREST both deal with marital violence, but in very different ways. Having been persuaded to sell the winery to Michael Sharpe, Emma has a last minute change of heart, so Michael gives Charley and Ian an ultimatum. “Loan sharking is a tough business,” he tells them. “I admire the way you’ve kept one step ahead of the law in country after country … Within twenty-four hours, I want Mary Poppins’ autograph on this piece of paper or you two are gonna spend the next twenty years as prom queens in the nearest penitentiary.” Ian comes up with a plan: he’ll forge Emma’s signature on the sales agreement while Charley kills Emma and makes it look like a suicide. Accordingly, the episode ends with Charley entering the marital bedroom with the intention of blowing his wife’s brains out, only to be stopped in his tracks by the news that she is pregnant.


    However, this is mild, even laughable stuff compared to the closing minutes of KNOTS where Amanda’s argument with Danny over the dog escalates into the most graphic and violent depiction of rape we’ve yet seen in Soap Land. When this season of KNOTS was originally broadcast by the BBC, the sequence was heavily cut, and this is only the second time I’ve seen the unabridged version. The sheer length of the onscreen assault still feels shocking, but not in the same way that, say, Charley’s suffocation of Angela on FC was shocking — there is no vicarious thrill in watching what Danny does to Amanda, nor is there meant to be. I’m not really inclined to rewind the scene in order to itemise each gruesome detail, but the moment that made the strongest impact this time around is when Danny is pulling Amanda across the floor and her skirt rises above her waist, exposing her underwear. This would be a horribly degrading moment under any circumstances but viewed in a Soap Land context, there is an added dimension to it. Amanda’s underwear is plain and ordinary, and utterly unlike the sexy lingerie female characters are invariably seen to be wearing whenever they are in a state of undress (the scene on this week’s FC where Michael Sharpe starts peeling off Genele Ericson’s dress only seconds after meeting her for the first time being a case in point). It underlines the fact that Amanda is as unprepared as she is unwilling for her body to be put on display. Unlike almost every other young (and not so young) woman in Soap Land, she does not dress to titillate at a moment’s notice.


    The contradiction between the ordinary and the glamorous, the mundane and the escapist, between “us” and “them”, is a quintessential KNOTS paradox. There is another, far more trivial example elsewhere in this week’s ep. After splitting up with Tom Ryan in the opening scene, Paige returns to the Sumner Group where she continually asks Polly the receptionist if he has called. At the end of the working day, the two women share a friendly conversation. The following day, in the mistaken belief that they have now forged a sisterly bond, Polly drops by Paige’s office and offers her a chocolate bar: “When I’m depressed, chocolate’s the only thing that works.” “Who said I was depressed?” Paige asks. “Well, he didn’t call today either,” she replies. “Did I ask you if he called today?” Paige retorts haughtily, reverting to her default setting of ‘ice princess’ and thus making it clear that, whatever Polly may have assumed, they are not of equal status. After Polly makes her apologies and leaves, she unwraps the chocolate bar anyway and takes a bite — and so we see that, underneath her icy exterior, Paige is an ordinary girl after all! We assume that’s the punchline of the scene, but it’s not. When she tosses the wrapper into the trash can, we see it is already full of identical wrappers — at least a half dozen. That’s the punchline: she’s even more of an ordinary girl than we could have guessed! Except, of course, she can’t be: that amount of chocolate and the size of her waist simply do not compute. There’s yet a further element of unreality to the scene. Unlike DALLAS, which proudly displays the Kawasaki logo on John Ross’s new bike, KNOTS appears keen to disguise the brand of chocolate favoured by ordinary girls in their hour of need (it looks like Snickers to me), which would explain why Paige discards the wrapper before consuming its contents. While there’s something fundamentally sexy about Paige nibbling on a naked chocolate bar as she holds it between her fingers, it’s also an impractically messy thing to do, especially in an office environment.


    Polly’s attempt to bond with Paige may have fallen flat, but she’s making good progress in other areas. Whereas it took Ewing Oil's receptionist Kendall seven years to achieve a close up and a one night stand with James Beaumont, Polly has only been at the Sumner Group for three weeks and she’s already dated Harvey the messenger guy, Paul from business affairs and now Jack from accounting, and she gets more screen time in this week’s episode than her big boss Greg. Meanwhile, the latest configuration of the Ewing Oil offices means that the desks of the secretaries, Sly, Phyllis and Jackie, now all face each other, which allows them to function as kind of a silent Greek chorus, exchanging knowing looks when an upset Cally shows up looking for JR, or when Bobby is taken aback by a surprise visit from Kay Lloyd.


    While Tom and Paige have split, Soap Land’s other hot young couple, DALLAS’s James and Michelle, are having a great time together, both on the dance floor and in bed. “Isn’t life perfect?” Michelle sighs. “Almost,” James replies, before admitting that he’s worried about his mother. “She still loves [JR], Michelle. She should be with him … It’s not that I have anything against Cally … I just wish she’d go away somewhere, forever.” This last remark has a similar effect to the comment Abby once casually made about Val’s babies to Scott Eastman on KNOTS. While Michelle doesn’t go as far as kidnapping James’s stepmother and selling her to a childless couple, she does delight in confirming Cally’s worst fears after Cally spots her and JR together at a hotel. “Are you sleeping with my husband?” Cally asks her tearfully. “Yes, I am,” lies Michelle with a big smile on her face.


    Just as Cally immediately jumps to the wrong conclusion about her spouse, so does Lance Cumson. Since watching Ned Vogel and Pilar’s sex tape last week, he has been licking his wounds in a sleazy bar in Juarez. Finally, he calls his wife — only to hear Richard Channing’s voice on the other end of the line. While DALLAS ends with Cally showing up at Alex Barton’s door looking for revenge (“I’m gonna hurt him, Alex, just like he hurt me”), Lance takes even more drastic action: he volunteers himself for a game of “Scorpion in the Slipper”, which is like Russian roulette, only instead of shooting yourself in the head, you run the risk of being bitten by a fatally poisonous arachnid. When Lance beats the odds and survives unscathed, it has a similarly reinvigorating effect on him as Jock’s letter did on JR at the end of last week’s DALLAS. “You caught a luck wave, man,” his hippy barfly pal tells him. “I'm gonna ride that wave home,” Lance replies.


    While Mark Baylor is given three years for a murder he didn’t commit on KNOTS, DALLAS introduces us to Jack Bouleris, the captain who was allegedly drunk in charge of the Ewing tanker at the time of the collision in the Gulf. “I haven’t had a drink in four years,” he tells Bobby. Instead, like Baylor, he has become the fall guy for a big corporation: “I was railroaded out of my job. I was called a drunk, I was made a laughing stock in front of my family because you fired me.” But whereas Baylor is anxious that no harm should come to Mack (“I don’t want to fall out of a seven storey window. I don’t want Mack to either,” he tells Karen, urging her to persuade him “to give up his holy crusade against Oakman Industries” ), Bouleris is less magnanimous when Bobby asks him to help him get to the bottom of how the collision really happened. “You’ve got the noose around your neck and you want me to cut the rope?” he scoffs. “I hope I take you down with me!”


    And this week’s Top 3 are …


    1 (1) DALLAS

    2 (2) KNOTS LANDING

    3 (3) FALCON CREST
     
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  4. Mel O'Drama

    Mel O'Drama Super Moderator Staff Member

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    Yes. The SoapNet recordings of Knots I watched a few years ago had several moments which entered "deleted scenes" territory based on my memories of the BBC versions, and this is one of the ones that I found very shocking. I'm quite certain it would have been edited by the Beeb even if it had aired in Dallas or Dynasty's 8pm slots.

    Personally I found the BBC edit very effective, with the moment they chose to fade to black, and I'm not convinced the sequence needed to be as graphic and violent as it went on to be. But on the other hand (as your observations about Amanda's underwear are testament to) even this scene successfully manages to develop the characters.
     
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  5. Karin Schill

    Karin Schill Super Moderator Staff Member

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    Yikes I remember that scene of Lance and the Scorpion from the first time I watched this episode at age 12. I found it utterly terrifying.
     
  6. James from London

    James from London Soap Chat Star

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    07 Dec 89: KNOTS LANDING: Never Judge a Book By Its Cover v. 08 Dec 89: DALLAS: Cally on a Hot Tin Roof v. 08 Dec 89: FALCON CREST: Merry Christmas, Charley

    While there’s nothing as graphic as what occurred at the end of last week’s KNOTS, a strong atmosphere of violence continues to permeate this week’s Soap Land. KNOTS picks up where it left off, with a traumatised Amanda huddled on the floor of Danny’s apartment. “You raped me,” she tells him. Unsurprisingly, he doesn’t see it the same way. When she threatens to call the police, he mock-calls them himself: “My ex-wife came over and we made love … and she initiated it,” he sneers before telling her to get out. Later in the episode, Paige is violently mugged in broad daylight (“I told him he could have my purse and he hit me anyway”). The mugging is Oakman Industries’ way of letting Tom Ryan know they are unhappy that he has ignored their orders to stop seeing Paige.

    On paper, the pairing of Tom and Paige is a plot-driven contrivance that serves both as an obstacle to Paige getting back together with Greg and as a way of tying her into the Oakman storyline. On screen, however, the attraction between them feels both genuine and complicated. Prior to reconciling, they have a really good shouting match in her office. “You have no idea about real relationships. In fact, you have no idea about the real world,” she informs him. “Like you do?” he scoffs. “You, with your silk stockings and fancy job and prep school background — you have no idea about the real world. I grew up in it. My mother was a drunk who locked me out of the apartment so she could make it with her boyfriends … I got smacked in the head if I spilt my milk, so don’t go talking to me about the real world.” Paige’s counter-argument is surprisingly strong. “You know nothing about me, nothing,” she insists. “I went to prep schools so my mother could dump me there. You spent Christmas on the streets? I spent Christmas forgotten about in some out-of-the-way hellhole of a school and every year was a different school because my dear mother couldn’t afford to pay the bills. So I was dragged from one end of Europe to the other escaping bill collectors. I never had any friends. I never even knew Mack was my father.”

    Aspects of this conversation are mirrored elsewhere this week. Tom’s assertion that Paige has been cushioned from the harsh realities of life is echoed by Walker Daniels on FALCON CREST. “To you, there’s no relationship between work and money, and eating,” he tells his wife Lauren. “It’s always been there for you — Daddy, Mikey, me … and let’s not forget Richard Channing. We get handouts from him too now, don’t we?” Paige’s sense of rootlessness is matched by both James Beaumont on DALLAS, another Soap Land kid who grew up without knowing who his father was, (“I was kicked out of three different schools in three different countries … I just always felt like I didn’t belong anywhere”) and FC’s Sydney (“God, I wish I had a life like yours,” she tells Chris Agretti, “friends and high school and going out. Do you know what it’s like to be sneaking out of hotels at four o’clock in the morning, bribing people for passports?”). Sydney also wins the prize for the week’s grimmest tale of childhood woe: “When I was fifteen, I moved to England with my father … He was running from gambling debts … He owed money to this man in London who threatened to kill him. The only reason Ian didn’t kill my father is because my father had something Ian wanted as much as money.” “He paid off a gambling debt — with you?” asks Chris, horrified.

    The closest DALLAS gets to physical violence this week is JR deliberately driving over Cally’s vegetable garden after boasting to her about a recent affair: “I figured it was open season to have a little fun so I had myself a fling down in Austin — a damn fine one too, I’m here to tell you.” His cruelty stems from the mistaken belief that she has slept with Alex Barton. “I loved you, Cally,” he tells her. “We made a garden of gold here, honey, and you turned it into just plain dirt.” “I loved you and you killed it,” echoes Lance on FALCON CREST, referring to Pilar’s all too real infidelity with Ned Vogel. “I married a damn whore,” he adds for good measure. Upset, Pilar tries to hit him but he grabs her arm. “I should break it off so you can’t touch another man again,” he snarls. Walker makes a similar threat during his fight with Lauren. “It’s everyone’s fault but yours, isn’t it? Who are you gonna beat on now — me?” she shouts. “Maybe I should,” he replies.

    There is some marital harmony on FALCON CREST, if only fleetingly. Emma is delighted by the effect of her pregnancy on Charley, who suddenly cannot do enough for her and even populates their bedroom with fluffy toys. Alas, her happiness is short-lived when new sister-in-law Sydney drops the bombshell that Emma’s late husband Daniel did not commit suicide after all: “Ian killed him and when I asked why, he said, ‘A favour to Charley'.” Desperate to be free of Ian, Sydney asks Chris to go to Las Vegas and find the gun Ian used to kill Daniel. “Otherwise, he’ll come after us wherever we go. We’ve gotta put him away,” she explains. Chris and Sydney’s love story has been told in big broad strokes — they’ve only shared three scenes prior to deciding to run away together — but it works. In contrast, the story of Michael Fairgate’s unspoken attraction towards his sister-in-law Linda on KNOTS has been gradually built up over several episodes. This week, he confesses all. “I have a crush on you and I’m miserable,” he tells her. Her response is unexpected. “Eric and I are getting divorced,” she informs Karen and Mack. As spurned husbands go, Eric is a far less dangerous proposition than Ian St James, and so the stakes are somewhat higher for Sydney and Chris than they are for Linda and Michael.

    Unaware that Charley has overheard them talking, Chris agrees to Sydney’s plan. He is on his way to Vegas to look for Ian’s gun when he realises he is being followed — and that’s the last we ever see of him. Charley later tells Ian about the scheme and that he “took care of it.” Realising that Sydney has betrayed them and that they cannot sell Falcon Crest to Michael Sharpe while Emma is alive, the St James brothers decide to kill their wives, unborn baby and all — but as it’s Christmas Eve, they agree to wait until after dinner. Then Charley takes Emma upstairs, leaving Ian and Sydney alone. “I shall never forgive you and I shall never forget you,” Ian tells his wife, giving her one last kiss before starting to strangle her. Upstairs, Emma hears Sydney struggle and tells Charley they have to rescue her from Ian: “He is evil!” “He and I are the same person,” Charley replies chillingly.

    Frank Agretti proves an unlikely knight in shining armour, crashing through a window and dragging Ian off of Sydney. The two men brawl, overturning a Christmas tree in the process. Ian is in the process of choking Frank when Sydney stabs him to death. Back upstairs, Charley cannot find his gun and vents his frustration by striking Emma across the face. Calmly, she unzips a stuffed rabbit and pulls out the weapon he is looking for. (This is the second bunny/violence juxtaposition in as many weeks. On last week’s KNOTS, Danny surprised Bobby and Betsy with a pair of rabbits and then raped his wife.) “Is this what you’re looking for?” asks Emma, pointing the gun at her husband. “Merry Christmas, Charley,” she adds, pulling the trigger. A Christmas episode with no less than three violent deaths (including Chris Agretti’s offscreen demise)? EASTENDERS would surely approve.

    Not only is it the end of the road for the St James brothers, but also for Soap Land’s remaining Englishman, Alex Barton. “You’ll never see that limey face again,” JR promises Cally before running Alex out of the country in much the same way as he once ran Alan Beam out of Texas. While Alan was set up on a bogus rape charge by Harry McSween, here Detective Rattigan manufactures evidence of Alex’s “depraved sexual habits” — a bogus sex tape “of you and two underage innocents, both of whom are willing to testify that your sexual tastes are, to say the least, a little bizarre.”

    So it’s out with the English, in with … the Japanese? There are a couple of enjoyably random references to the Far East this week. “The Japanese are gonna write a management textbook on you, Mr McKay,” a West Star sycophant tells his boss on DALLAS. “They can entitle it Sayonara, Ewing Oil!” McKay replies, chuckling malevolently. Meanwhile, it’s Christmas dinner at Falcon Crest where the show’s new breed of barbarian — the St James boys, Michael Sharpe and Genele — are seated around the same table for the first (and only) time. Michael is delivering his version of McKay’s “there are no more borders, there are no more countries” speech from last season’s DALLAS. “It’s not mom and pop anymore,” he tells Emma. “It’s computers, it’s micro-marketing, it’s targeting your customers on an international level. You’re sitting on the Pacific Rim. When the trade dam bursts, and it will, Falcon Crest had better be ready.” Emma is clearly out of her depth, but gamely replies, “You know, I was thinking that exact thing — there’s lots of people in China and Japan.” An awkward silence follows. “Really? Where did you hear that?” Michael replies dryly.

    In spite of his Oakman bosses ordering him to stay away from Paige, Tom manages to convince them that they need him to remain close to her: “Her father is back on the case. He is digging into Oakman Industries in a major way and the only way I am gonna be able to find out what’s happening is through her.” The reality is that Mack’s investigation is “at an absolute dead end” and so Tom himself supplies him with the information he needs to reignite it. Meanwhile, the Ewing-verse’s other double agent, Michelle Stevens, also uses her position to her advantage. Having pretended to Cally that she was sleeping with JR, she now finds herself on his bad side. “You interfered in my personal life,” JR tells her, “that’s one line I don’t let anybody cross.” “Don’t threaten me, JR. I’m still your spy in the house of Barnes,” she reminds him. Like Tom, she then proves her worth by furnishing him with a titbit about his enemy. JR’s grateful for the information, but makes it clear that he hasn’t forgiven Michelle. “It’ll be a chilly morning in hell before I let a money-hungry little bitch like you into my bed,” he tells her coldly. The last woman he took such an intense dislike to without sleeping with her first was Pam.

    While Michelle continues to conceal her affair with James from sugar daddy Cliff (there’s a close shave when James shows up at Cliff’s place to see Michelle, only for Cliff himself to answer the door), FC’s Genele simply can’t be bothered to hide her dalliance with Michael from her sugar daddy. Even as Frank grows increasingly concerned about the disappearance of his nephew Chris, Genele casually licks Michael’s ear in front of him.

    It’s not just young men like Chris Agretti and Michael Fairgate who are declaring their feelings this week. “I could love you,” Richard Channing says suddenly while looking at Lauren. She is so startled, she pretends she’s misheard him. “Oh, everybody loves Christmas,” she replies hurriedly. However, the boldest romantic claim of this week is made by Val during KNOTS’ pre-title scene. She is talking to Karen about Danny when she says, “I have never loved anyone this much. Not Ben, not even Gary” — a statement as controversial as JR’s recent description of Vanessa Beaumont as “the love of my life.”

    Just as JR is inextricably linked with Sue Ellen in viewers’ minds, so Val is with Gary. And so Bobby is with Pam. Therefore, following Val’s unabashed declaration about Danny, it’s interesting to hear Bobby choosing his words more carefully when describing his feelings for April. “April is a wonderful person,” he tells Kay Lloyd. “I trust her. She’s loyal and she’s always been there for me … As old-fashioned as it may sound to you, there’s something real nice in knowing I’m April’s number one priority — before ambition, money, anything.” “And is she your number one priority?” asks Kay. He changes the subject.

    Right at the other end of the Soap Land scale from April is Genele, who this week lays out the terms of her relationship with Michael. Whereas April fears Bobby might not want to marry her as much as she does him (“I don’t want you back here until you really, really want me, until you want me like I want you,” she tells him tearfully), Genele has zero interest in the subject. “Wife? God, that’s a horrible word!” she shudders. Whereas April is all about loyalty, Genele is more concerned with royalties. “What I won’t be is your girlfriend — a girlfriend is even worse than a wife because there’s no backend,” she explains to Michael. It’s as if Genele has studied all the Soap Land gold diggers that have gone before and learned from their mistakes. “I know what I’m good at and I’m more than happy to oblige, but the return has to be worth it,” she says. “You are so refreshing,” Michael tells her. “As of today, you are on the payroll — ten gees a month. Apartment, car, clothes come out of that. You can keep them when we’re done.” “… Oh come on, Michael,” she replies, “a man of your calibre deserves more than a ten-thousand-dollar-a-month mistress! … Twenty-five-grand-a-month and we’ve got a deal.” “This is not about sex,” he clarifies. “It’s about convenience … and combat. I am constantly at war. You have to understand that.” “I do and I can help you,” she assures him, “but for me, it is about money.

    Now that Cally’s Svengali is out of the picture, where does that leave her painting career? JR seems to think the two are indivisible: “You think you’re pretty clever, don’t you, Barton? Telling my wife she’s got talent then luring her up to this little love nest.” Karen Mackenzie’s new career, meanwhile, receives a boost when she is offered the job of OPEN MIKE’s full-time host. Meeting her predecessor on his way out, she is struck by his cynicism. “If you have so little regard for the content of talk shows, why on earth did you choose this profession?” she asks. “Do you have any idea how much Oprah Winfrey is worth?” he replies. This reference to Oprah feels unusually blatant — almost like an on-screen acknowledgement that she now occupies the same space in American pop culture that the ‘80s soaps once did.

    As chance would have it, the subject of Karen’s first show is rape — nothing like throwing the new girl in at the deep end. Her guest is a psychiatric expert whose description of yer average rapist (“These men look perfectly normal, behave like anybody else on the street … they’re consummate conmen and manipulators, that’s why they can be so charming”) plays over a shot of Danny strolling up to Val’s front door. Needless to say, the profile fits him like a glove.

    This somewhat didactic approach to the subject is in contrast to previous depictions of rape in Soap Land where the word itself is never mentioned (such as Blake’s attack on Krystle), or where the characters involved, and sometimes even the shows themselves, don’t quite seem to realise that a rape has taken place (Laura in “The Lie”, JR’s encounters with Holly Harwood and Laurel Ellis), or where the act is treated as an almost abstract event, only revealed to the audience some time after it has occurred (Lucy Ewing and Maggie Gioberti during their kidnapping ordeals). Although the closest Danny gets to acknowledging his guilt is squirming uncomfortably while watching Karen’s show with Val (“what a depressing subject,” he murmurs), neither Amanda, who is also watching in her apartment, nor KNOTS itself is in any way hesitant in identifying what occurred between her and Danny at the end of last week’s episode as rape.

    At the very end of the episode, in a pleasingly knotty way that brings the “social issue” tone of this storyline back into the world of soap, Gary is also drawn in. He too is watching OPEN MIKE, and his ears prick up when he recognises a caller’s voice during the phone-in section of the show. It’s the same voice that called his number looking for Sally at the end of last season and that he listened to helplessly as she was being attacked at the beginning of this one. Here, he listens just as helplessly as she describes being raped by someone she knows. (“I thought he was gonna kill me.”) Ted Shackelford is really, really good at these “Holy shit, it’s …” moments of realisation — which is probably why they keep giving them to him.

    And this week’s Top 3 are …

    1 (3) FALCON CREST
    2 (2) KNOTS LANDING
    3 (1) DALLAS
     
    Last edited: Apr 20, 2019 at 7:16 PM
    • Winner Winner x 1
  7. James from London

    James from London Soap Chat Star

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    14 Dec 89: KNOTS LANDING: Twice Victim v. 15 Dec 89: DALLAS: Sex, Lies and Videotape v. 15 Dec 89: FALCON CREST: Danny

    This week’s KNOTS is unusual in that it focuses on a single storyline — Danny’s rape of Amanda, which Gary persuades her to report to the police — and four characters: Amanda, Danny, Gary and Val. Mack, Karen and Aunt Ginny show up briefly, but strictly in a supporting capacity. The episode is interested in highlighting various preconceptions and attitudes that exist around the subject of rape, including those of the victim herself. “I didn’t think of him as dirty, I thought of myself as dirty,” she tells Gary. “I ‘admitted’ I was raped … Are there any other crimes we ‘admit’ happened to us? … It’s as though I’m guilty of something.” Gary, meanwhile, addresses a minute-and-a-half long monologue to Mack where he first admits to having doubts about Amanda’s claims and then castigates himself for those doubts: “I wish I didn’t feel this way, but I can’t help it … I know better than to blame the victim, I’m ‘enlightened’ … so why do I have all these questions, why do I have even the slightest doubt?”

    When the police inform Amanda of the decision not to press charges against Danny due to lack of evidence, their reasons serve as an illustration to the viewer of what not to do following a rape: “There is no physical evidence because you took a shower … you delayed reporting the crime for more than seventy-two hours, you admit you freely went to his apartment, etc.”

    As with previous “social issue” storylines in Soap Land, the writing in this ep is somewhat heavy-handed. Amanda and Gary sometimes feel like mouthpieces for the writer to get certain ideas across to the viewer. But as these ideas are both interesting and worthwhile, the story doesn’t feel as patronising or sensationalised as, say, Ray and Donna’s Down’s Syndrome story or Olivia’s drug addiction plot. Besides, Gary’s character is certainly strong enough to withstand a little plot-driven self-analysis.

    KNOTS’ previous rape-themed episode, “The Lie”, aired some ten years before this one. Whereas that episode used the subject of rape in order to explore and develop its characters, “Twice Victim” uses its characters in order to inform and educate the audience on the subject of rape. Both approaches are valid, but the former is more dramatically rewarding and explains why the reaction of the character least involved in Amanda’s situation is also the most interesting. “That woman is irresponsible and vengeful!” Val declares when she learns of Amanda’s allegations against Danny. “She needs counselling or therapy or some kind of professional help. I know I might feel sorry for her because of that, but I don’t!” It’s not stated directly, but one senses Val’s tough stance towards Amanda partly stems from her previous experiences with manipulative, duplicitous women — most obviously Jill Bennett, but also Jean Hackney and maybe even Abby. The irony is that mousy little Amanda is actually far less reminiscent of Jill or Jean or Abby than she is of Val herself, specifically the “Poor Val” side of her persona that Val has been trying so hard to distance herself from. (“Each year I vow to be a stronger person,” as she told Danny a few weeks ago). This could be another factor in her refusal to engage or empathise with Amanda.

    Gary’s monologue to Mack contains an “if only” sub-speech which makes a neat counterpart to the one Sue Ellen delivered to Nicholas Pearce’s father ten months ago. “If only I hadn’t insisted on him helping me look for John Ross, if only we hadn’t gone to JR’s condo that night, if only I had stopped the fight between JR and Nicholas before it got so violent. ‘If only, if only’ — they’re such empty words,” Sue Ellen said then. “If only she hadn’t gone to his apartment, if only she’d divorced him earlier. ‘If only’ — if only I’d exercised perfect judgment all my life!” says Gary now.

    At the beginning of the episode, Gary, once again representing the out-of-his-depth Everyman, calls the rape expert from Karen’s talk show to ask for advice. Twice, the doctor asks if he is one that was raped. “No, what the - what are you talking about?” he replies incredulously. The doctor’s question is ambiguous: it’s unclear if she genuinely thinks Gary could be the victim and is too embarrassed to say so, or if she is making the point that he needs to think about the person who was attacked and not about himself. Either way, this is Soap Land’s third reference to male rape in as many weeks. “Within twenty-four hours, I want Mary Poppins’ autograph on this piece of paper or you two are going to spend the next twenty years as prom queens in the nearest penitentiary,” Michael Sharpe told the St James brothers on FALCON CREST two weeks ago. “Either you get out of this country for good within forty-eight hours or you’re going to the local jail where some of the larger inmates just might take a liking to your kind of artistic fella if you get my meaning,” JR told Alex Barton on DALLAS last week. These kind of prison rape gags are now commonplace in TV and films (I even remember one in a mobile phone ad a few years ago), but it was fairly fresh territory for Soap Land back in ’89. In the penultimate scene of this week’s KNOTS, Gary takes it upon himself to exact a rape-once-removed style punishment on Danny by luring him to his ranch under false pretences, trapping him in a barn and then terrorising him with a baseball bat until he’s a quivering, pleading mess on the ground. “Did you enjoy it, Danny?” he asks afterwards, just in case the symbolism wasn’t already clear.

    Last week’s DALLAS ended with JR finding Cally unconscious in their bedroom, having taken an overdose of sleeping pills. This week’s KNOTS concludes with Amanda about to do the same thing in her apartment, only to be interrupted by a knock on the door from two highly enthusiastic teenage girls, Sylvia and Lisa, who are selling magazine subscriptions to help with their college tuitions. “I wanna study music … I wanna be a singer,” says one. This strikes a chord (no pun intended) with Amanda who impetuously agrees to purchase multiple subscriptions. The girls squeal with delight and she smiles at their excitement: in that instant, life is worth living again. It’s a genuinely sweet, touching moment and the first time in the episode that Amanda feels like more like an actual person than a textbook case study.

    In fact, and remarkably for Soap Land, especially during such a dark and violent season, all three shows conclude on a positive note this week. “I think we should get married,” Bobby tells April at the end of DALLAS before the frame freezes on her laughing and hugging him. FALCON CREST’s happy ending is perhaps the most unexpected and rewarding of the three, but we’ll get to that.

    FC and DALLAS each open with an establishing shot of an ambulance outside the family home — a response to the dramatic events at the end of last week’s episodes: Cally’s overdose, Sydney’s fatal stabbing of Ian and Emma’s shooting of Charley (who isn’t as dead as I previously assumed; instead, he has disappeared, never to be seen again). After having her stomach pumped, Cally’s not in bad shape, all things considered. “I didn’t mean to try to kill myself,” she tells JR. “I never took any pills before … I guess I took too many …” “Pills never solve anybody’s problems,” states JR categorically, having seemingly caught the Public Service Announcement bug from KNOTS. “Let’s just try to forget all that’s happened. Let’s just be us again,” she suggests and he agrees. Lance and Pilar attempt the same thing on FALCON CREST but are not successful. “I just can’t forget,” says Lance.

    Whereas Lance cannot get over seeing a videotape of his wife having sex with a man for business reasons, Carter McKay fetches his girlfriend Rose back to Dallas for the express purpose of making a videotape of her having sex with Cliff Barnes so that he can blackmail him with it, also for business reasons. While Lance called Pilar “a damn whore” last week, Rose makes it clear to Mack that “I may have been free and easy, honey, but I was never no whore.” Nevertheless, she goes along with his plan. “I don’t care about that tape,” shrugs Cliff when Mack shows it to him. “So I got lucky with some bimbo. It’s not like I’m married …” “That may be,” Mack concedes, “but how do you think it would look if it got out that you were sleeping with the wife of the Head of West Star? … The young lady who co-starred with you in that film has, for three days now, been Mrs Carter McKay.” As untimely marriage reveals go, this isn’t quite as sensational as Emma announcing her union with Charley mere seconds after being awarded conservatorship of Falcon Crest, but it’s still fun.

    It’s Bring Your Son and Heir to Work Day on both DALLAS and FALCON CREST. No sooner has JR reconciled with Cally than he must take another overnight trip to Austin, the scene of his recent indiscretion, to “try to do something about Barnes.” To pacify his wife, he offers to “take James down there with me. I won’t get any trouble with him hanging around and it’ll give him a chance to see the wheeling and dealing side of the business.” Meanwhile on FC, there’s a brand new father/son storyline with the arrival of Danny Sharpe, Michael’s college-age kid. Like DALLAS’s James, KL’s Paige, and FC’s Sydney, Danny has recently spent some time in Europe, and has his own unique take on the place: “Too many old buildings and the women don’t shave their pits.”

    Also like James, Danny is eager to learn how his father’s business works. Michael is wary at first, thinking Danny might harbour some resentment towards him for not being around much when he was growing up. “What d’you come here for, to throw darts at me?” he asks him. “No, Dad — to throw darts with you,” Danny assures him. So Michael allows him to tag along to his next business meeting, which just happens to be at Falcon Crest. As far as Michael is concerned, he now owns the winery, but Emma claims she was tricked into signing it over by Charley and Ian. “Watch me,” Michael instructs his son. “This broad’s gonna put on the innocent face and we’re gonna clean her out.” JR, meanwhile, is intent on showing his son that “there’s a lot more to the oil business than just sucking it out of the ground.”

    However, matters are soon complicated, for both James and Danny, as business gets mixed up with pleasure. In Austin, James is dismayed to realise that he is there as a smokescreen for JR’s fling with Diana Farrington, a member of the committee set up by Cliff to investigate the tanker disaster. “If it takes a little roll in the hay to keep Barnes off my back …,” JR shrugs. “What about Cally?” asks James. “This doesn’t have anything to do with Cally,” JR insists, “it’s strictly business.” “Then it’s pretty lousy business,” decides James.

    Meanwhile, no sooner does Danny clap eyes on Sydney at Falcon Crest than he finds himself in a full-blown, double-sided “spy who loved me” storyline. Realising he is attracted to her, Sydney decides to take advantage of his interest by persuading him to talk to his father about not pursuing his claim for Falcon Crest. “Emma’s the only person in my whole life who’s ever been kind to me and if I can do anything to help her, even a little bit, it’s worth it,” she explains. ”It’s a dangerous game, Sydney,” cautions Pilar, speaking from experience. Pilar may be right, but it’s a game everyone in Soap Land seems to be playing right now. Danny and Sydney, Michael and Genele, JR and Diana, James and Michelle, Cliff and Rose, Paige and Tom — they’re all mixing business and pleasure, either knowingly or otherwise.

    JR makes that very point to his disapproving son. “Come on, James,” he says, “don’t be so self-righteous. What about you and little old Michelle? … It didn’t take me long to figure out why she changed her mind and decided to help me. You convinced her and I know you how you persuaded her.” “… It’s what we both wanted,” James argues. “And you didn’t use what you both wanted to persuade her to see things our way?” persists JR.

    Likewise, Michael soon becomes aware of Danny’s interest in Sydney. In spite of his fatherly advice (“Drill her brains out, but don’t lose yours”), it becomes increasingly difficult to ascertain where Danny’s true loyalties lie. While visiting Sydney at Falcon Crest, he has a snoop around the study and manages to find the incriminating document Michael needs to win his lawsuit against Emma. He steals it but then doesn’t show it to anyone. Instead, he starts asking his father about the morality of the situation: “Suppose we’re wrong about this Falcon Crest thing? … What if the St James woman is telling the truth?” Michael isn’t impressed: “The truth is whatever we can make the judge believe,” he snaps. “I thought you were cut out for this. I hope I’m not wrong.” JR similarly begins to tire of James’s criticisms. “I certainly don’t need your holier than thou attitude,” he tells him. But whereas Michael loses his temper when he discovers Danny has been confiding in Lauren (“Don’t you ever talk about what goes on inside this room to anybody outside of this room! I don’t care if it’s your aunt, your mother or your slut of the month!”), JR is unperturbed when James threatens to spill the beans to Cally about his little fling. “You won’t,” he says confidently. “You’ve got my blood running through your veins, boy. You may not like what I’m doing but you won’t do anything about it.” Michael is less certain. "I find myself wondering just who’s side you’re on,” he tells Danny.

    Finally, in the FALCON CREST courtroom, just as the judge is about to rule in Emma’s favour, Danny produces the document he swiped and saves the day for his father. He is rewarded by a kiss on the cheek from Michael and a slap across the face from Sydney: “You used me!” “And you used me,” he replies. “I just did a better job of it.”

    This week’s DALLAS and FALCON CREST are the shows’ final episodes of the 1980s, the decade that defined them (and that they helped define). There is a perceptible end of an era feel on FC as Emma surrenders to Michael and allows him to keep Falcon Crest. Even more surprisingly, she decides to leave the show. “I have lost a mother and two husbands,” she tells Richard. “I am not gonna lose this little baby growing inside me. We are gonna go somewhere where it’s peaceful and safe and don’t you dare try to stop me.” She then drives out of the series for good, leaving Lance, along with the scarcely seen Chao Li, as the last remaining members of the original cast. As we move into the ‘90s, the future of FALCON CREST looks fascinatingly uncertain. After dominating so much of this radically altered season, Emma and Charley are suddenly and permanently gone. Meanwhile, Sydney, who scarcely spoke during her first few episodes, has emerged as the closest thing the show now has to a romantic heroine — but who’s to say she won’t be killed off next week?

    While there isn’t a comparable turning point on DALLAS, James’s reaction when JR tells him how alike they are foreshadows the father/son dynamic between JR and John Ross in New DALLAS. “You know what your problem is, James?” JR asks. “You’re just too much like me. You may not realise it but you’ll see.” “No way … That’ll never be me,” James replies emphatically. Conversely, when Michael Sharpe’s lawyer tells him that Danny “sounds just like you,” both father and son take it as a compliment.

    While James ends this week’s DALLAS somewhat disillusioned by JR (“You’re a great father but a lousy husband”), Michael refers to Danny as “my new lieutenant” when he drops by his office late at night during FC’s final scene. Michael tries to explain the kick he gets from business to his son: “There’s a drug your body produces when you’re working productively. It starts out as a buzz, then this buzz becomes a rush and then you’re standing on top of it, riding that rush.” Danny asks him what he was like when he was younger. “I’ll tell you what was exciting,” Michael continues. “Being twenty years old and having Wall Street titans twice my age pulling out all the stops just to get next to me, hanging on my every word, throwing money at me.” Suddenly Danny realises something: “That’s how old you were when I was born. Now how does that compare?” And all of a sudden, we’re in one of those familiar Soap Land scenarios where an adult child is confronting the estranged parent they feel abandoned or neglected them when they were growing up. We’ve been here countless times before, of course — from Lucy dealing with Gary and Val at the beginning of DALLAS all the way through to Nick and Frank Agretti airing their grievances on last season’s FC. What’s striking about this particular scene is that neither character has planned to have this conversation — Danny has spent the entire episode trying to match his father’s bravado, insisting he has no hang ups or grudges about the past. Suddenly, that’s all gone. “How do you think I felt — growing up knowing you were too busy to give a damn?!” he yells. “I gave a damn,” Michael replies. “I did. I just didn’t think that you’d want to see me again. Danny, I wanna make things right between us … Let’s you and me go for a ride around the city all night, huh? You can tell me all about the things I missed, those years I wasn’t there.” Danny hesitates, then agrees — this is all he really wants, but he’d never admit it. They’re on their way out when Michael’s phone starts to ring — it’s the overseas business call he’s been waiting for — and your heart sinks on Danny’s behalf because you just know Michael’s going to turn round, pick up the phone and choose business over his son once again. But, surprisingly, he doesn’t. “Forget it — they’ll call back, they always do,” he says. As with Amanda and the subscription sellers, it’s a simple moment, but a touching one — all the more so for being so unexpected. The episode ends with father and son walking out of the office, the phone continuing to rung even after the frame has frozen.

    And this week’s Top 3 are …

    1 (1) FALCON CREST
    2 (2) KNOTS LANDING
    3 (3) DALLAS
     
    • Winner Winner x 1

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