Discussion in 'Knots Landing' started by James from London, Sep 18, 2016.
She might also have been thinking of her brother‘s second wife’s son‘s sister-in-law...
26 Apr 90: FALCON CREST: Crimes of the Past v. 26 Apr 90: KNOTS LANDING: My Love Always v. 27 Apr 90: DALLAS: The Southfork Wedding Jinx
FALCON CREST’s Michael Sharpe and KNOTS LANDING’s Karen Mackenzie are both under pressure this week. Richard Channing now has proof, in the shape of Johnny Sacco, that Michael was responsible for his own son’s car crash and makes him an ultimatum: “Have your lawyers draw up a transfer of deed of ownership [of Falcon Crest] or Mr Sacco tells his story … I wonder how Lauren and Anne will react when they find out, not to mention Danny?” Meanwhile, Karen’s self-proclaimed “truest fan” starts asking her to do certain things during the taping of OPEN MIKE — wish him a happy birthday, wear a certain scarf — so he’ll know she’s thinking of him.
Even though the idea of giving into Richard is an anathema to him, Michael’s desire to start over with his ex-wife Anne and their son Danny (“Keeping the family together is what’s important now”) means he has no choice. Not so Karen: “I would no more wear that scarf than meet that man in a dark alley. If I gave him one clue I’d read those pathetic letters, I’d never get rid of him!” she barks.
The toll this is taking on Karen is noticeable. She has grown insular, preoccupied, even harsh. She even refuses to sign autographs for waiting fans (although she immediately changes her mind). Only when presenting OPEN MIKE does the familiar Karen — warm, smiling, engaged — fully return. (I’m not precisely sure when I first saw this episode — sometime in the mid-nineties — but the tip Karen’s OPEN MIKE guest gives about snipping plastic six-pack rings before throwing them out, in order to prevent little fishies from choking on them, lodged itself in my brain then and I’ve never forgotten it.)
Karen’s decision not to do her anonymous admirer’s bidding has consequences. “You didn’t wish me Happy Birthday. You hurt me, Karen,” he tells her over the phone. Shortly thereafter, one of the studio lights crashes to the floor, narrowly missing her. Is this a freak accident or the actions of a super-fan scorned? We can’t be sure. In fact, what sets this “psycho stalker” storyline apart from previous Soap Land ones — Roger Larsen’s pursuit of Lucy on DALLAS; Jeff Wainwright’s of Maggie on FALCON CREST — is that we’re almost as much in the dark as the Mackenzies are. Like them, we don’t yet know (for sure) where the threat is coming from — or how real a threat it is.
The best scenes on this week’s KNOTS and FALCON CREST take place between a bad guy and his lawyer. Michael Sharpe’s attorney, Ed, has been a supporting character since the start of the season. He’s a vaguely paternal figure who retains his calm, businesslike demeanour in the face of Michael’s many explosive tantrums. Beyond that, we know little about him. He finds Michael, having signed over Falcon Crest, brooding alone in his darkened office and offers his sympathies: “I know how this must sting … admitting defeat. Never easy for a man like you.” Michael shrugs. “Richard Channing isn’t the issue anymore,” he declares. “Life is — a new life with Anne and Danny, weekends in the country, fresh air …” “Sounds great, but it doesn’t sound like you,” Ed replies. “Maybe I’m tired of being me,” suggests Michael. “You know what a burden it is being Michael Sharpe?” “You are so full of it, Michael," Ed scoffs. "I’d fall down laughing if I didn’t think you’d fire me.” “I didn’t know you were capable of laughter, Ed,” Michael replies, with an edge to his voice. “That was never a prerequisite to working with you, Michael,” Ed counters. There follows a tense pause — then both men start laughing. “Come on, Ed, be happy for me! You’ve been married to the same woman for thirty-three years. Why can’t I?” Michael asks. “Because that’s who I am,” Ed replies. “I have one job, one woman, one life. But you’re the future, Michael. It’s a cross you have to bear. This country’s economy depends on you and others like you. Guys like me, we just stand back and marvel — and try to be a part of it.” “I can have it all, Ed,” Michael insists. “Just watch me. Just stand back and marvel.”
Like Ed, Danny Waleska’s lawyer Scott favours the plain-speaking approach when dealing with his client this week. This means refusing to accept the blame when Danny’s driver’s licence is suspended: “No, Danny — you get all the credit for refusing to take the breathalyser test and refusing to take the blood test … Refusing to take those tests means an automatic suspension of your licence.” “Now he tells me,” Danny mutters in reply, pouring himself a whisky. “You wanna blame your drinking on me too?” Scott asks him. “You wanna blame me for not knowing chapter and verse of the law?” Danny shoots back. “I blame you for evading responsibility for your actions,” Scott tells him — which is what we’ve been waiting for someone to tell Danny all season. “Take some advice,” he continues, before urging Danny to stay away from Val. “Don’t make things worse for yourself.” When Danny sneers at him in reply, Scott offers him one last piece of counsel: “Get another lawyer.” “Hey, you know what they call three thousand attorneys at the bottom of the ocean?” Danny yells to his retreating back. “A good start!”
Michael Sharpe may have given into Richard’s demands, but that’s not the end of the story. Johnny Sacco then shows up at his front door, stoned and ridden with guilt. Michael’s not home so he mumbles his confession to Anne: “I’m sorry, lady, I’m so sorry … I didn’t know that he was gonna waste his own kid.” The threat against Karen likewise enters her home at the end of this week’s KNOTS when she finds a publicity photo of herself torn into pieces on her dining room table. When she puts the pieces together, she sees the message ‘I HATE YOU’ scrawled across it.
What Michael craves on FALCON CREST — a devoted wife and son — is what JR suddenly has on DALLAS. “From now on, I plan on being the perfect wife for you,” Cally informs him in this week’s opening scene. “No more nagging or complaining, I’m gonna be one hundred per cent on your side.” James also claims to have seen the error of his ways. “You had every right to run Michelle out of town,” he tells his father. “You were just looking out for me.” “Our little family’s really coming around!” JR exclaims in surprise. “Your little family’s coming around all right,” James mutters once his father is safely out of earshot, “it’s coming round to cut out your heart!” The truth is that Cally and James have teamed up to get revenge against JR and are playing the roles of the perfect wife and son only to lull him into a false of sense of security. When Sue Ellen played the same game ten years earlier, the dramatic stakes felt a lot higher, but it’s still super fun to watch them glare malevolently in JR’s direction whenever his back is turned.
Of course, JR doesn’t want a devoted wife. After the rest of the family have left for overseas, JR hands Cally a cheque for $200,000 and tells her to get off Southfork once and for all: “I want you packed and gone. I don’t wanna see your face again.” But she gets the last word: “I’m gonna have JR’s baby, James — only he’s never ever gonna hold it or touch it or see it, as God is my witness!” While Cally is making this promise, FALCON CREST ends with Anne revealing a similar secret she has kept hidden from Michael for over twenty years. Still reeling from the discovery that he caused their son’s accident, she strikes back by telling him, “Danny isn’t your child. He’s Richard Channing’s!”
This is the third such revelation in recent weeks, following the twins’ discovery that Gary is their daddy on KNOTS and Lady Jessica’s casual admission that Atticus Ward was Dusty’s on last week’s DALLAS. Bobby and Betsy appear unperturbed by their paternal bombshell and are happy to run around their new father’s ranch playing with their new camcorder as Gary and Val look on contentedly — until, that is, one of their videos inadvertently reveals Danny lurking in the bushes (a spooky discovery reminiscent of Pat glimpsing Jill Bennett in Gary’s boathouse last season). Meanwhile, after visiting Dusty offscreen, Clayton expresses his surprise “at how calmly he took the whole thing” — the “whole thing” being the news that his father is really his uncle and his psychotic aunt is really his mother, the same mother who has just accidentally murdered his real father. Moreover, Atticus’s death means that Dusty inherits 25% of West Star, but for some reason, he is considered less competent to manage his affairs than his criminally insane mama who is given control of his voting rights. JR is somewhat less calm than Dusty when he learns that Clayton has petitioned to have himself made custodian of these rights with a view to running West Star alongside Carter McKay: “Are you out of your mind?!” JR barks. “He’s the enemy!”
“You want my advice?” Harve Smithfield asks JR, following the latter’s attempts to gain access to the sanatarium where Jessica is being held in order to persuade her to sign over the voting rights to him instead. “Accept the fact that Clayton and McKay are gonna be partners and adjust your strategy accordingly.” Like Danny with his lawyer, JR ain’t listening. “Harve, there’s got to be some legal way of getting me into that booby hatch,” he insists. “Well, you could have your wife commit you!” chuckles Harve. He’s joking, of course — but a metaphorical light bulb just appeared over JR’s head.
Several characters have departed Soap Land recently — Sydney St James, Eric Fairgate, Paula Vertosick, Olivia and Harold, Michelle Stevens, Stephanie Rodgers — but none more notable than the original matriarch herself, Miss Ellie, who exits DALLAS this week on a tour of the Orient from which she will never return. “We won’t be gone that long,” she assures Cally, somewhat inaccurately. Indeed, one searches in vain for some sense of closure in Ellie's final episode. The closest we get is Cally referring to her as “the only mama I’ve ever had” and Ellie herself holding a pair of baby booties (a gift to April at her wedding shower) and asking, “Can you believe that JR was once little enough for these?” “Yeah, but I heard his little booties had spikes!” boom-tishes Lucy, who is also on her way off the show and has chosen to spend her last episode of DALLAS for twenty-two years delivering nonstop wisecracks. These include her usual shtick about the Southfork wedding jinx. However, naming the episode in its honour appears has lifted the curse: April and Bobby’s nuptials are DALLAS’s least eventful since Pam and Mark’s in the dream season. Whereas that wedding was billed as the most expensive in DALLAS (and maybe even Soap Land) history, this one is a strictly low-budget affair. It was unusual enough to see the Ewing Oil secretaries as guests at JR and Cally’s wedding, but here they make up 50% of April’s shower — and that includes Kendall the receptionist. (Kendall! In the actual Southfork living room!) Meanwhile, the cardboard patio has never looked cardboardier and a strategically placed wedding bouquet cannot disguise the fact that the actress playing the bride is heavily pregnant. On the plus side, Rose McKay displays some Sue Ellen-style cynicism (“Weddings always did make me cry, but I’ve got a feelin’ this one’s gonna take the cake,” she drawls) and there’s some enjoyable badinage between JR and Cliff’s new date, Liz Adams.
Liz is an old acquaintance of Bobby’s who has returned to Dallas to sell her late brother’s company. She and Cliff immediately hit it off — she makes fun of his trademark handkerchiefs, he tells her she’s a breath of fresh air. And she kind of is; it’s refreshing to see Cliff hanging out with a woman vaguely his own age. “I don’t want you to go back to New York,” he tells her, “if only because I’ve never met a woman with such a high tolerance level for the real me.” Likewise on FC, Michael doesn’t want Anne to return to New York either: “This feels so right, don’t go home yet.” Conversely on KNOTS, Paige actively encourages Soap Land’s other Anne to go back to Europe. “This is a vacation, isn’t it?” she asks her mother hopefully.
Meanwhile, everyone’s leaving Southfork — the newlyweds on their honeymoon, the Farlows on their never-ending cruise, John Ross and Christopher to visit Sue Ellen in England and Lucy to run an art gallery in Rome. “Why does this remind me of rats leaving a sinking ship?” she asks, getting in one last corny quip before it's too late.
And this week’s Top 3 are …
1 (2) DALLAS
2 (1) KNOTS LANDING
3 (-) FALCON CREST
Just reading this has given me major chills. It's a very effective sequence indeed.
Since hearing something similar somewhere on TV long ago, I've long been rigourous about snipping any piece of plastic that may strangle ducks or whatever. Now I'm wondering if this is where I heard it. Even though I can't remember the scene specifically
It's sad that Barbara Bel Geddes's final scene was so unmemorable. I imagine it was assumed she'd be back for a few episodes here and there in future seasons. It is kind of in character for Ellie to come and go with the minimum of fuss, but at least there was a milestone for the character the last time she left the show.
Up to a point I quite enjoyed wisecracking Lucy. But you can have too much of a good thing. It's a long time since I've watched the last few seasons, but I seem to remember the puns were Lucy's raison d'être in her return stint.
Danny is such a pathetic loser that he can't even tell the joke correctly. It goes:
"What do you call 1000 lawyers buried up to their neck in $hit?"
"Not enough $hit."
Maybe the correct version was too colorful even for 10pm...?
This had me puzzled for a moment.
I remember this being one of the most common environmental protection tips when I was a boy. I'm sure my teachers learned it from Captain Planet or some other kid-friendly source, but it'd be fun if a handful knew it through KL.
ETA: If memory serves, that plastic used to be much more rigid. I can usually stretch it with my hands now, so unless there's an especially wide duck, it's not a danger.
Want to see more? Google for "animals trapped in plastic"...
That's upsetting. I mean, I can stretch it to the point where the interior rings split, creating a misshapen rectangle. But still ...
A local beer-maker down here sells their six-packs with a biodegradable holder that's actually (sort of) edible. I hope they hold a patent, because this seems like a million-dollar idea.
03 May 90: FALCON CREST: The Return v. 03 May 90: KNOTS LANDING: If I Die Before I Wake v. 04 May 90: DALLAS: Three, Three, Three (1)
A week after one no-nonsense matriarch bows out of Soap Land with the minimum of fuss (Miss Ellie embarking on a one-way trip to the Orient), another returns in a similar fashion. Remarkably, the revelation that Angela Channing has awoken from her coma is tacked onto the end of the “Previously, on FALCON CREST ...” recap section prior to the opening titles. “She wakes up like it was just a nap and demands to be checked out,” the nurse who fell under Charley St James’ spell is telling a colleague. “You should have seen her walking down the hall. She wouldn’t even let us notify her family.” The regular cast members don't find out the news until two-thirds of the way through the episode, and even then have no idea where she is. Richard’s reaction is interesting: “I almost feel resentment towards her … It’s like she’s deliberately coming back to interfere with my life.” And then all of a sudden, there she is, standing in the Falcon Crest living room complete with a new hairdo and glitzy evening gown and offering absolutely no explanation for her miraculous recovery. In short, her return is as abrupt and outrageous as her near demise was. In complete contrast, Pat Williams’ comatose state on KNOTS is played strictly by the medical textbook. “Her pupils are fixed and dilated,” her doctor tells Frank solemnly. “Your wife is clinically dead.”
“I want things back the way they were,” Angela announces on FALCON CREST. “I think Gary and Val are gonna get back together again!” predicts Karen on KNOTS. But with JR and Cally competing to be the first to file for divorce, it doesn’t look there’ll be any such turning back of the clock on DALLAS.
Each of the soaps has an unusual vibe about them this week. With Angela back and Richard having wrested Falcon Crest from Michael Sharpe, the characters on FC are now divided into two camps: the old and the new. In the former camp, Richard squabbles with Lance and Pilar over who should have control of the winery, with Angela appearing to side with her son. Such inter-family disputes are familiar FC territory, yet this one feels energetic and fresh rather than a tired rehash of old storylines. (I particularly like the way Richard equates his taking over Falcon Crest to the fall of the Berlin Wall: “The liberation of Eastern Europe, Lauren, the world is changing!”) In the “new” camp, Anne Bowen has skipped town after dropping her parental bombshell on Michael at the end of last week’s ep (“Danny isn’t your child — he’s Richard Channing’s”), exactly as Anne Matheson did after doing the same thing to Mack in KNOTS Season 8 (“You’re not Paige’s father, Mack, Greg is”). This leaves Lauren, Genele and Danny trying to deal with Michael, who has shut down completely. The scene where he rejects Danny without telling him why is just really sad. “Did I do something wrong? Dad, tell me. Just don’t shut me out,” Danny pleads, trying to hug the man he still believes is his father. Michael pushes him away and tells him to get out without even looking at him.
The highlight of the Soap Land week is the scene where Genele finally manages to rouse Michael from his despondency. She does this with a speech that combines elements of the “Get off your butt, JR, we’ve got work to do” lecture Bobby delivered after Jock’s death and Dylan Thomas’s poem "Do not go gentle into that good night”, but with an added dysfunctional twist that could only belong to this season of FALCON CREST.
“You’ll never change,” Michael is telling her. “Neither will you,” she replies. “Nobody does. We may talk about it and dream about it. We may even try it, but in the end, we can’t change what we are. We can only accept it.” “And what are you?” Michael asks her. “Me?" she replies. "I’m a creature that lives with the constant pain of destroying what it desires. In other words, I’m your twin. Our only hope is to desire something so strong, so cruel, so twisted that it can’t be destroyed. That’s what brought us together and that’s what will keep us together. Come back to life. Be angry again. Find a war.”
Genele’s assertion that “we can’t change what we are” flies in the face of what we’ve been led to expect from TV drama — the idea of people “growing” from their experiences or, in reality TV parlance, “going on a journey.” Her outlook chimes instead with Shakespeare’s — the sense that characters cannot outrun their fatal flaw and/or the world they were born into. It’s also the common thread that links all of JR’s “fish out of water” escapades during the past couple of years. No matter where he finds himself — on a chain gang or trapped overnight in an elevator or on a mystery mission to Moscow or, as is the case this week, committed to a mental hospital, he is fundamentally unchanged by his surroundings. He remains resolutely convinced of both his own importance and his ability to bribe his way out of trouble. Much like a character from SEINFELD, a show that would help symbolise the ‘90s just as DALLAS had the ‘80s, he never learns from his experiences.
Bridging the gap between FC’s “old” and “new” camps is Richard and Lauren’s big announcement: they’re engaged! The only apparent obstacle to their immediate happiness is Lauren’s curiosity about Richard’s twenty-year-old affair with Anne, which he is reluctant to discuss (“Who cares? The past is over, it’s gone!”). Nevertheless, Lauren is mere inches away from figuring out that he is Danny’s real father. Meanwhile, Paige and Tom’s wedding plans are underway on KNOTS, where the only obstacle to their happiness is the police allegation that Tom has pocketed a serious amount of cash from a drugs bust. He vehemently denies it — but then $100,000 mysteriously shows up in his bank account.
Before learning of Angela’s recovery, Richard had invited Lauren to move into Falcon Crest with him (“our Golden Pond”). Now that she is back, Angela raises no objection to the idea (much to Lance’s annoyance). Conversely on KNOTS, Danny has taken out a restraining order against Val and Gary prohibiting them “from coming within one hundred feet of Daniel Waleska or his residence.” It already felt weird for Val to be living somewhere other the cul-de-sac, but now she’s banned from even visiting. Indeed, KNOTS suddenly feels very … un-knotty, with characters locked into their specific storylines — Val and Gary at the ranch, Frank and Julie at the hospital with Pat, the Mackenzies pre-occupied by Karen’s stalker, and Paige and Tom by the allegations against him — with very little overlap in-between.
The vibe on DALLAS is even odder. For the first time in the series’ history, no-one (with the possible exception of James) is living at Southfork. JR is in the sanatarium, Cally is lying low at April’s and everyone else is overseas. Fortunately, Cally and James — whether he’s ministering to her pregnancy cravings (shaved ice and tomato juice) or they’re both sneaking into Ewing Oil in the dead at night to forge letters from JR to Sly — make an extremely likeable whatever-they-are. The idea of them getting together romantically seems both soapily inevitable and morally unthinkable. Despite their shared desire to strike back at JR, they're both too gosh-darned nice to cross that particular line. In fact, it doesn’t even seem to have occurred to them. It’s kind of sweet that that sort of innocence still exists in Soap Land.
The “old” and “new” come together very satisfyingly in the final scene of this week’s FALCON CREST. Angela’s and Michael’s cars pull up alongside each other and, Michael having mimicked Angela’s “back window of a limousine slides down to reveal …” pose throughout this season’s opening credits, they both now repeat that same pose simultaneously. “Well, if it isn’t the incomparable Angela Channing,” Michael begins. She cuts him off: “Spare me the chit-chat … Your sister intends to marry my son and together they wanna run Falcon Crest … You can’t stand the idea of Lauren spending the rest of her life with Richard, and I want Falcon Crest for myself … I think we have something in common — to see to it that that wedding never takes place.” He smiles in agreement.
While Angela plots to prevent her son’s marriage on FALCON CREST, Anne Matheson is anxious for her daughter to tie the knot on KNOTS. Mack is surprised by her concern, which provokes an unusually angry response from Anne. “Everybody judges me,” she snaps. “You judge me. Don’t deny it. You think I’m a joke. Paige calls me a cartoon character whose sole interest in life is shopping. Well, I have never had a facelift and I don’t intend to. And yes, I have compensated for the mistakes that I have made by having fun. But I don’t want my daughter to have to compensate for anything. I want her to do it right the first time and she will do it right if she marries Tom!” It’s an impressive speech (and one that contains what I think is Soap Land’s first reference to cosmetic surgery) — but then the other shoe drops when we hear Anne on the phone to a lawyer and it becomes apparent that she is being just as devious about her daughter’s nuptials as Angela is about her son’s. “They’ve set the date, May 17th,” she informs the lawyer. “Father didn’t want her to know about the trust fund until she got married … Would it be possible to transfer the money directly into her account?” We’ve already seen Anne stealing Paige’s driving licence to open herself a bank account. Twenty-nine years later, Paige, in the guise of Future Alexis, will go one better by simply stealing her daughter’s face.
Elsewhere, KNOTS demonstrates Karen’s paranoid mental state via the use of thriller-style fantasy sequences. She is shown going about her daily business when she suddenly “sees” her floor manager advancing towards her with a gun or her make-up man doing the same with a knife or, most explicitly, an autograph hunter forcing his way into her car and climbing on top of her. For some reason, whereas the Amanda/Danny rape plot from earlier in the season was given the earnest “social issue” treatment, the not dissimilar threat to Karen is deemed ripe for gimmicky exploitation. This attitude is mirrored within the plot itself by Dianne who leaks the story of Karen’s ordeal to the press, in the hope that the resultant publicity will prompt Karen to quit the show, thereby enabling Dianne to replace her as host of OPEN MIKE.
Karen subsequently arrives home to find a TV crew harassing Meg on the front lawn. She then launches into an updated version of Miss Ellie’s “get me the shotgun out of the hall closet” speech from twelve years earlier. “You hear a rumour that a plane is down, my two boys missing and with no respect for human feeling or private grief, you come circling around here like a vulture,” Ellie told the reporter she found on her doorstep back then. “There isn’t any tragedy, any accident, any personal grief, no matter how terrible, that can’t be made worse any the presence of reporters,” Karen tells the reporter outside her own house now. Both reporters respond the same way: “I’m just doing my job,” in ’78; “We’re only doing our job,” in ’90. “Then find another job or a better way of doing this one!” barked Ellie. “Doing your job does not mean terrorising a four-year-old. What I saw today is child abuse and I won’t stand for it!” snaps Karen. Had she a shotgun in her hall closet, Karen would undoubtedly call for it at this point, but as she has already made clear earlier in the episode, keeping a firearm in her home is an anathema to her. While there’s not a syllable of Karen’s speech I disagree with, within the context of this episode, there is nonetheless a whiff of hypocrisy about it — KNOTS has clearly been having a ball with all this sensationalistic “woman in peril” stuff, but still feels the need to wag its finger at the press for doing the exact same thing.
In her imagination, Karen has already faced guns and knives and would-be rapists during this episode. How can reality possibly top that? There can only be one way — “Snakes in a cul-de-sac!” The slithery critters appear in a box of flowers Karen opens. She then wails her head off and disaster is soon averted.
Unsurprisingly, Dianne’s plan works and Karen quits the show. She is not the only character to forego their celebrity status this week. “Whoever you thought you were on the outside, Mr Ewing, doesn’t matter in here,” Dr Wexler, chief psychiatrist at the sanatarium where JR is currently residing, informs him. Yes, it’s Haleyville all over again — they didn’t know or care who he was there either. At the risk of damning with faint praise, JR’s obligatory psychiatric sessions are the highlight of the sanatarium scenes in this week’s DALLAS. Inevitably, the subject of his father arises. “My daddy was like a god to me,” he declares. “And made you feel inferior by comparison?” ventures Dr Wexler. “No, not inferior,” JR replies. “I just wanted to make him proud of me.” Over on FC, Michael Sharpe mentions his father for the first time. Whereas JR owes his success to a lifetime spent trying to emulate his daddy, Michael owes his to a life spent doing the opposite: “What’s a father? I had one, a scared little man, a three-dollar-an-hour bookkeeper. He taught fear by example. His life scared the hell out of me.”
JR’s fellow inmates include Bob from the Sumner Group, Harris Ryland from Future DALLAS and a man who laughs maniacally while playing chess with himself, even switching seats between moves to argue with his “opponent.” In other words, this is multiple personality disorder played for yuks. While bemusing, it’s too feeble and creaky a gag to niggle one in the way the double standards on this week’s KNOTS do, or to grate like Melissa’s high-pitched “isn’t mental illness hilarious?” histrionics used to on FALCON CREST. In any case, JR is too focused on his primary objective — securing Jessica Montford’s signature on an all-important document — to pay his new dorm mates much attention. But in order to gain access to Jessica in the women’s wing, he must first tangle with the amorous Anita.
So it is that JR and Karen end up in similar predicaments at the end of their respective shows. Spooked by the snakes, Karen summons Wayne the Security Guard to her house for protection — unaware that he is the person most likely to be her stalker. While she naps in her bedroom, Wayne the weirdo lurks downstairs. JR, meanwhile, ends up in the clutches of Anita, who is sort of a cross between Marilee Stone and Hannibal Lecter, “a woman with insatiable sexual appetites — by the time the authorities caught up with her, she had disposed of four husbands … They were unable to satisfy her needs.”
And this week’s Top 3 are …
1 (3) FALCON CREST
2 (1) DALLAS
3 (2) KNOTS LANDING
You and everyone else, sugar.
10 May 90: FALCON CREST: Danny's Song v. 10 May 90: KNOTS LANDING: The Fan Club v. 11 May 90: DALLAS: Three, Three, Three (2)
It’s kind of fitting that the second-to-last episode of FALCON CREST should open with a newly invigorated Michael Sharpe looking towards the future (“Forget about Germany. Reunification, diversification — who cares? I tell you where the money is, in all those Eastern bloc countries whose names you can’t pronounce — Latvia, Albania, Lithuania, Transylvania”) while also hearkening back to the past (“These people are hungry for everything and talk about cheap labour!”) — a reminder that Falcon Crest itself was built on the backs of poor immigrant workers.
The penultimate episode of DYNASTY a year ago contained a major paternity revelation. So does FALCON CREST’s this week. Whereas Alexis’s announcement that Jason Colby was not Miles and Monica’s father resulted in a glorious punch up, the consequences of Lauren telling Richard and Danny that they are father and son are far more emotionally driven.
In the same way that Richard Channing was first introduced as the ultimate unloved bastard son, now he rejects his own illegitimate child. “You don’t belong to me,” he tells Danny. “I have never been responsible for you in any way — legally, financially, ethically. You are Danny Sharpe. You are Michael Sharpe’s son.” Tell that to Michael Sharpe. “Danny, we can drop this thing because there was nothing there to begin with,” Michael says, referring to the fact that he abandoned Danny as a baby. “That’s not true,” Danny replies. “You were in my head. I used to ache for you.”
Richard’s coldness towards Danny causes Lauren to have second thoughts about their upcoming wedding. “I don’t feel good about this marriage,” she tells him. “Our marriage has nothing to do with Danny,” he argues. “Yes, it does,” she insists. “You are always talking about family. Well, Danny is the only family I have.” Tom Ryan is in a similar position on KNOTS. “This wedding is beginning to sound a little silly to me … It’s not every day you have a groom walking down the aisle in handcuffs,” he tells Paige. “So what are we supposed to do — call off the wedding because you’re under investigation?” she asks. “Maybe that’s a good idea,” he replies.
“Forget about the Sharpes, all of them … it’ll be for the best,” advises Angela, mother of the groom, on FALCON CREST. Of course, she doesn’t want the wedding to take place anyway — unlike Anne Matheson, mother of the bride on KNOTS. “Darling, everyone gets the jitters before a wedding,” she assures Paige, before adding for good measure: “I’m not taking the dress back.”
Several Soap Land characters have been in comas over the years, but Angela is the first one to come back and tell us what it was like — a million laughs apparently. “It was like a dream,” she tells Chao Li. “Everybody was there. There was Maggie and Chase and Stavros and all the fighting and the bickering was gone. There was just laughter. Everything was filled with laughter.” Let’s hope Krystle Carrington is having as much of a giggle during her Swiss slumber. Once again, KNOTS provides us with a somewhat less romantic perspective on the subject. “Her body won’t continue to function indefinitely, even on life support,” Pat’s doctor tells Frank. “Her heart will fail within two weeks.” “Miracles happen,” Frank argues. “I wish I could tell you that were true. There has never been a single case of a brain-dead patient reviving,” replies the doc. Frank is convinced — but before he agrees to have Pat’s respirator turned off, he must find a way to break the news to Julie. In the event, Danny Waleska saves him the trouble, shouting at him in front of his daughter, “If you pull the plug, you’re the one who’s gonna be killing her, man, not me!” Terrified that Pat’s death could result in him facing a homicide charge, Danny starts packing his bags to leave town — until the sound of a rifle being cocked stops him in his tracks.
In each of this week’s shows, the youngest character (toddlers excepted) takes matters into their own hands with dramatic results. While twenty-two-year-old James Beaumont pulls off an outrageous stunt that earns him DALLAS’s season finale freeze-frame, KNOTS concludes with schoolgirl Julie Williams aiming Danny Waleska’s own shotgun at him: “They’re taking my mother off life support tomorrow, but you are gonna quit breathing before my mother does!” Meanwhile, the centrepiece of this week’s FALCON CREST is nineteen-year-old Danny Sharpe threatening to jump off the roof of a building.
Danny’s ultimatum — “I want Michael Sharpe and Richard Channing in front of me … or else I fly” — obliges Richard and Michael to set their differences aside and work together to save “their” son. If the resolution is somewhat inevitable, the three characters involved are each so well-developed and idiosyncratic that the journey towards that resolution is still a dramatically and emotionally satisfying one.
This week’s KNOTS and DALLAS both pick up where they left off, with Karen and JR at the mercy of Wayne the weirdo and Anita the nymphomaniac mental patient respectively. While Karen naps in her bedroom, Wayne overhears an answering machine message from Mack and realises that his guilty secret has been discovered: “He’s got, I don’t know, a shrine to you in his bedroom.” Panicked, Wayne steals into Karen’s room and sits on the edge of her bed. Karen is startled when she wakes up to find him looking down at her. He grabs her by the shoulders to prevent her from escaping. Anita puts JR in a similar position when she pins him down on her bed and climbs on top of him. But whereas Anita proceeds to then ravish her prey, Wayne tries desperately to convince Karen that all he wants to do is protect her.
Like Michael and Richard on FALCON CREST, Dianne Kirkwood manages to overcome her feelings of animosity towards her nemesis, Karen, long enough to try and save her from Wayne.
When JR first entered Anita’s room, he made a discreet search of her dressing table, looking for any sharp or potentially dangerous objects. On KNOTS, Dianne enters the Mackenzie house and searches through their kitchen drawers for something similar with which to arm herself. The large knife she settles on, combined with Wayne’s landlady’s assertion that “I can’t imagine Wayne hurting a fly”, serve to put one in mind of Norman Bates in PSYCHO. Dianne then heads upstairs to investigate.
Passageways play a significant role in each Ewingverse scenario. Wayne and Dianne are both shown creeping down the Mackenzies’ upstairs hallway towards the main bedroom. This is a familiar setting but shot in an unusual, sinister way to feel creepy and disorientating. The corridor that separates the male and female wings of the sanatarium, meanwhile, is shot more prosaically, but JR is shown sneaking down it several times in his efforts to complete his mission.
Dianne succeeds in “rescuing” Karen. The only snag is, Wayne turns out not to be the stalker. (I always thought his shrine wasn’t big enough.) While Dianne overpowers Wayne with Soap Land’s first knee in the nuts since Sue Ellen showed JR what for during Season 7 of DALLAS, JR himself eventually manages to subdue Anita by chloroforming her. He then creeps into Jessica’s room and sits on her bed before waking her up, just as Wayne did to Karen. JR then smooth talks Jessica to signing her West Star voting rights over to him.
While JR manages gets in and out of the women’s wing without anybody noticing, Sumner Group Bob goes one better by escaping from the mental hospital on DALLAS altogether, making a brief appearance on KNOTS, and then returning to DALLAS in time to overshare in the day room. (“I have a streak of sadomasochism," he informs JR. "That’s what the doctor says. He says that I enjoy pain.”)
Bob is back on KNOTS long enough to join Paige and Mort in regretfully declining Greg’s request for “a volunteer from the Sumner Group to work as a liaison with the West Coast Conservationists.” This leads to the task being assigned to a “defenceless underling”, aka Linda Fairgate, who then comes face to face with Karen for the first time since splitting up from Eric. I really like how Karen, in the mistaken belief that her stalker problem has now been resolved, immediately throws herself back into the middle of the Linda/Michael storyline — now that’s soap opera! “My sons never fought until you came along,” she tells Linda. “Stay away from my family.” But Karen’s interference only makes Linda more determined to land Michael, and she starts reeling him in with tales of how his brother used to beat her up. “I’ve held this in for so long,” she tells Michael passive-aggressively. “I didn’t want your sympathy. I wanted you to like me for who I am, not for what I’ve been through.”
There’s further female manipulation on DALLAS where Cally puts on a tight, low-cut dress and poses as a ditzy divorcee-to-be in order to charm Mr Berman, the lawyer whom JR has entrusted with the task of getting him out of the sanatarium. These scenes are very light and frothy, especially for a season finale, but at least they’re not as over-the-top awful as when Melissa put a Dolly Parton wig and a thick Southern accent during a similar scenario on FALCON CREST a couple of seasons ago. In fact, Cally’s little wiggly walk is actually quite funny.
Cally lures Mr Berman back to April’s apartment where James proves to be a chip off the old block by leaping out of the shadows to photograph them in a misleadingly compromising position — the very scam JR pulled on Pam and politician Ben Maxwell back in ’79. James then blackmails Berman into handing over JR’s release papers.
Like last season’s KNOTS finale, the last episode of this season's DALLAS features only a handful of regular cast members (for the first time since he returned in the shower, there’s no sign of Bobby) and only two storylines. In place of Greg, Paige and Ted Melcher fighting over a key, we have JR in the sanatarium with Cally and James plotting against him. In lieu of the Mack/Paula/smelly skunk subplot, a murky connection emerges between Liz Adams, Cliff’s new girlfriend, and Carter McKay, which is certainly more intriguing than watching a bunch of comedy mental patients playing cards.
DALLAS only really catches fire in its final scene, when JR is surprised but relieved when James shows up at the sanatarium with his release papers. Then comes the double-cross: James will use the papers to get him released only if JR signs Cally’s divorce settlement first. (“Why, you little turncoat. You’re no son of mine,” JR tells him.) Then comes the triple-cross: After JR signs the property settlement, James rips up the release papers. “You get me the hell outta here, you little bastard!” JR shouts. “No way, Daddy, It’s payback time and you’re in here for good,” James informs him. JR’s response — a mixture of disbelief, rage and fear — is great. James watches as he is dragged away by in the men in white coats, just as JR watched the same thing happen to Sue Ellen eleven years earlier. Cool.
And this week’s Top 3 are …
1 (3) KNOTS LANDING
2 (1) FALCON CREST
3 (2) DALLAS
On The Simpsons, Lisa tells a down and out but “reformed” Mr. Burns that you have to cut them to avoid trapping fish. Mr. Burns, who also thinks he’s reformed but who ultimately just can’t help it, proceeds to stitch them together to intentionally catch every animal in the ocean and transform them into a high-protein food for farm animals, named in honor of the horrified Lisa. Mr. Burns regains his fortune and offers a portion to Lisa, who just can’t accept on moral grounds, thus sending Homer back to the hospital with another heart attack.
17 May 90: FALCON CREST: Home Again v. 17 May 90: KNOTS LANDING: Let's Get Married
This time last year, DYNASTY ended — except it didn’t so much end as stop abruptly. The closest Soap Land has come to a proper series conclusion thus far is THE YELLOW ROSE, but given that show had already adopted a self-contained episode format by the time of its demise, I’m not sure it counts. So the final episode of FALCON CREST has a unique job: not just putting a finishing point on a nine-year saga, but giving each of its characters a happy ending in the process.
Of course, none of the ‘80s super-soaps was constructed with an endpoint in mind. Instead, they have been fuelled by endless hate, endless passion, eternal feuding and unfulfilled ambitions. Wrapping things up neatly seems to suggest a blunting of those passions, a loss of momentum and urgency. Indeed, during the FC finale episode, there are only a couple of flashes of intense emotion: Pilar’s anger over Angela’s treatment of Lance (“Why do you let her use you? Can’t you see she’s dangling Falcon Crest in front of you like it’s a mirage?”) and Danny’s shock when Michael finally confesses to causing his accident (“You arrogant selfish bastard!”). Mostly, the ep is about characters growing up, learning about themselves and coming to terms with their lives and relationships.
This is in stark contrast to the opening scene of this week’s KNOTS where the sound of gunfire in the cul-de-sac alerts Frank Williams to the fact that his grief-stricken daughter Julie is aiming a rifle at their neighbour, Danny Waleska. Frank persuades her to hand him the weapon — and for a second it looks like he then might be about to use it on Danny himself.
After last week’s wobbles, both Soap Land weddings — Richard and Lauren’s on FALCON CREST, Paige and Tom’s ON KNOTS — are back on. In each case, the man giving the bride away despises the groom-to-be. Whereas Mack comes right out and tells Paige, “I think you’re marrying the wrong guy”, Michael Sharpe works behind the scenes with Angela to put Richard under as much financial pressure as possible, in the hopes that Lauren will see how preoccupied with business he can be and call the whole thing off.
But instead of leaving him, Lauren forces Richard to look within. “You have another enemy,” she tells him. “Who?” he asks. “Richard Channing,” she replies. “Somehow you always end up in the middle of a battle and I am asking you, ‘Is it always someone else’s fault?’ … It’ll never change unless you do.” Richard sees the light (again) and sells Falcon Crest back to Angela, with the provision that his sons will inherit fifty per cent of it when she dies.
A frustrated Pilar proposes to Lance that they move away, “start over again … we don’t need Falcon Crest and we’re not gonna get it … It’s time to cut the cord.” He’s initially reluctant but then comes round to the idea: “I had a dream about this place, but the dream is over. It’s time to wake up.” Over on KNOTS, Danny suggests the same thing to Val: “Let’s leave.” “Leave Knots Landing?” she asks. “Why not? We’ll go where nobody knows us, where’s there’s no responsibility, no expectations,” he replies. To our surprise, she readily agrees — but it turns out to be a trap set by her and Gary to ensure Danny is caught by the police driving without a licence. Just as Cally and James teamed up last week to ensure JR ended the season under lock and key, so Val and Gary have done the same thing to Danny — although the KNOTS character who ends up restrained by the men in white coats is actually Dianne, who succumbs to an LSD-induced freakout after she is accused of being Karen’s stalker.
Richard and Lauren’s wedding takes place towards the end of FALCON CREST with all the central cast members in attendance. It’s presented in a stylised, dreamlike way: soft-focus, slow-motion, Father Bob’s voice echoey and disembodied and a synthesised version of the Wedding March. It feels strange, as if we are watching the scene from a distance or as if it has already happened. It also has the effect of, if not eliminating, then at least blurring any remaining antagonism between Richard and Michael.
The KNOTS wedding is altogether soapier. When Michael arrives with Linda on his arm, Karen becomes the third Soap Land parent to disown her child in the past two weeks. “You don’t belong to me,” Richard told his son Danny on last week’s FALCON CREST. “You’re no son of mine,” JR told his son James in the DALLAS finale. “Tell her you don’t want to see her anymore … or you will not set foot in my house and I will not treat you as part of my family,” threatens Karen. “Mom, I’m gonna marry her,” Michael replies solemnly. Later on, Val and Gary dissolve into giddy laughter in the church after he suggests they re-tie the knot. With an organ version of the KNOTS theme playing discreetly in the background, this feels like a more natural, unforced “end of series” moment than what we get on this week’s FC.
All this talk of weddings on KNOTS is somewhat ironic, given that Tom and Paige’s marriage doesn’t actually take place. Shortly before the ceremony is due to start, Greg approaches Tom in a vestibule where they have their version of James and JR’s showdown at the end of last week’s DALLAS finale — only this time it’s the older guy calling the shots. “You set me up,” Tom realises. “If you disappear before this corny little ceremony,” Greg tells him, “I’ll get the charges dropped against you. If you decide to stick around for the festivities, well, it’s up to you — you can be a single free man or you can be a married convict.” Unlike JR’s noisy reaction to being double-crossed by his son, Tom mutters just four little words to Greg, “You still love her”, before silently disappearing.
￼Mother of the jilted bride, Anne Matheson, immediately zooms off in one of the wedding cars: “Central Bank please, I’m in a hurry!” Meanwhile, the mother of the FALCON CREST groom, Angela, also steps away from the wedding festivities, to look out over her vineyards one last time.
THE YELLOW ROSE concluded its final episode with a prayer and FALCON CREST does something similar, with Angela voicing a eulogy to her grandfather's legacy over a montage of familiar Falcon Crest locations. The way her face is super-imposed in the top right hand corner of the screen, a smiling, benign presence watching over her kingdom, gives it a somewhat ethereal quality — almost as if she were not here among us, but still somehow existing in that comatose idyll she described last week (and where she appears to have picked up the habit of referring to her former husbands solely by their surnames: Erickson, Stavros).
There are a few moments in the KNOTS finale that dovetail with the theme of Angela’s eulogy. “I think of all the people who have passed through these vineyards,” she recalls. “There’s Chase, Maggie, Cole and Vicky — and that feisty Melissa Agretti.” “When you’re young, your whole life is new things, first times — your first date, your first prom, the first time you fall in love,” Karen reflects, “and then one day, you look up and your life is full of last times.” “We can’t go back,” Val tells Gary as they discuss their relationship. “So let’s go forward,” he suggests. “The past has its place, but I’ll keep looking to the future,” echoes Angela. As Pat is disconnected from the life support machine on KNOTS, Frank quietly sings an old spiritual song: “Soon I will be done with the troubles of the world … I’m going home to live with my Lord.” For Angela, that home, that Higher Power, seems to be the land itself. “Always the land. People come and go, but the land endures,” she concludes.
KNOTS finishes off the season with another montage, as Jeff Cameron, Karen and Dianne’s trusty middle man at OPEN MIKE, helpfully flashes back over his crimes and misdemeanours of the past several weeks, thereby revealing himself as the psycho who’s been terrorising Karen. Nor is it the first time: turns out he’s bumped off even more female news anchors than Jessica Montford has guffawing good old boys.
And this week’s Top 2 are …
1 (1) KNOTS LANDING
2 (2) FALCON CREST
When I was watching this in first-run, I thought exactly the same thing. It certainly would have been a shocking twist. Since the Williamses were in the witness relocation program, what would become of Julie when Patricia is dead and Frank ends up going to jail for murdering Danny?
Let us never speak of this again.
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