Living in the Cul-de-Sac: Season 11 for the First Time

Discussion in 'Knots Landing' started by JROG, Sep 15, 2017.

  1. JROG

    JROG Soap Chat Well-Known Member

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    EPISODE 11: NEVER JUDGE A BOOK BY ITS COVER

    Danny's reaction to raping Amanda is just as disgusting as you’d expect it to be: He denies it, belittles her, calls her weak, and throws her out. They don’t skimp on the graphicness: At some point, Amanda's on the floor, her hand protectively between her thighs following her trauma. It’s not the type of imagery you’d expect on a network show. I really love the unexpected direction they’ve taken with this villain type story. It doesn’t feel like your typical dating-a-psycho scenario. Danny comes off charming, totally normal, everyday, and yet capable of extreme anger and actions. Sadly, the writers are trying to amp things up by having Val say things like, she loves Danny more than she ever loved Ben or even Gary, which is totally unnecessary. Honestly, I don’t truly buy that she loves him (the chemistry isn’t really there) but the story doesn’t require that we feel a strong sense of love between the two. The drama is still good enough on its own.

    I loved Mack and Karen conspiring to get Tom and Paige back together and how the two ended up in bed again. They have nice chemistry. As for Oakman, he’s not exactly Mark St. Claire, but he’ll work as a shadowy figure for now. I feel Mack is being a little stupid not seeing through Tom though.

    I’m starting to like Thing a little more now, and the actress playing Amanda has really impressed me with her work the last couple of episodes.

    I was right – Karen is now a talk show host! Well, if anyone would be, it’d be Karen. In great Knots Landing fashion, they connect this story to Danny's when Karen does a show on rapists. It’s a little obvious, of course, but such a great joining of storylines.

    The ending – Amanda calling in to Karen's show to discuss her rape, while Danny watches uncomfortably with Val by his side, and Gary recognizing Amanda's voice – is great. This season has kindly been giving Gary lots of cliffhangers.

    DDD
     
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  2. JROG

    JROG Soap Chat Well-Known Member

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    EPISODE 11: TWICE VICTIM

    A classic Knots episode. Although it gives Val the shaft once again (more on that later), it’s a wonderful exploration of rape that manages to feel both soapy and gritty at the same time. Exclusively focusing on the Danny/Amanda/Gary/Val story, it leaves majors like Greg, Paige, as well as the supporting cast, out of this one.

    Shackelford and Peyser turn in excellent performances as Gary approaches Amanda about her rape and helps her through the process of reporting it, getting examined, and ultimately being disappointed in the outcome. It’s all very sad and dramatic, but one has to chuckle a little at Gary constantly being surprised (Amanda was raped – Danny was the one who raped her – Amanda slept with Danny just two weeks ago – Val's engaged).

    Amanda is given a couple of very good speeches here: First, she erupts when Gary wants to go beat up Danny, desperate to avoid the endless cycle of payback that’s about to get ignited. Then, she reveals she thought of herself as dirty following the rape and catches herself saying that she 'admitted' to being raped. This is where the episode comes the closest to sounding like an after-school special, but nevertheless, its condemnation of the misogynistic way rape gets handled (what coincidence to be watching this while the Weinstein scandals reign supreme) is noteworthy, even if it does feel at times they’re just checking off boxes.

    Gary turns to both Mack and Karen for help and advice before telling Val that Danny raped Amanda. "She says she was raped by Danny!" Listen, Val's reaction is normal, even expected. Why would she believe her? She does have reasons to lie. And, Danny is Val's biggest love (rolls eyes). But the Val I know would have voiced these concerns before choosing to believe the woman in this situation… or, if she couldn’t, it would take one long, meaningful moment staring into Gary's eyes, and she would have known it’s true. A greatly acted scene from Shackelford and Van Ark but my blood pressure was through the roof. Of course, this is only happening like this so the Danny/Val relationship continues, sacrificing Val's character for the sake of the plot.

    That being said, the whole thing is sorta saved by the final two glorious scenes. Gary lures a smug Danny to the ranch to discuss helping Amanda in what is one of the best Gary scenes, and instead goes after him with a baseball bat until Danny is on the floor, whimpering with fear. In those few minutes, Gary metaphorically raped Danny by completely taking away control of Danny's life and making him feel helpless and scared. "Did you enjoy it, Danny?" he asks kind of sexily. Oh, yes we did.

    Meanwhile, as Amanda readies to kill herself by taking care of a variety of chores, she gets a knock at the door: It’s two young girls selling magazine subscriptions in order to save to go to college. Their joy, optimism, and enthusiasm touches Amanda and she orders a bunch of subscriptions, changing her mind about her suicide. She stands there, smiling widely as we fade to credits, an unexpected, touching, poignant ending.

    DDD
     
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  3. JROG

    JROG Soap Chat Well-Known Member

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    EPISODE 12: WHAT A SWELL PARTY THIS IS

    If you told me a few weeks ago there’d be an episode mostly focused on Michael and Linda's story and that I’d like it, I would have never believed you. But what a swell ride this was.


    Michael's birthday is the catalyst for most of the events in the episode. While Karen and Mack are busy planning and then unplanning a party, Michael focuses on helping his newest shouldn’t-have-feelings-for-her girl find an apartment. What a lovely surprise when Eric returns. The scene in which he apologizes to Michael for scamming him out of a baseball card when they were young is touching and heartbreaking, both in its irony and because you can totally see this happening between the two of them back then.

    I can’t believe we’ve watched these two kids grow up all these years. When Eric tells Michael that he thought growing up would be easier, it carries so much weight.


    Tom kisses Paige until she agrees to play hooky with him. They try to find things in common they’d like to do but end up back in bed. Greg spotting them outside and telling Paige he’s glad she’s feeling better is hilarious. Speaking of Greg, he brings Paula to the ranch hoping to have sex with her but Paula, astute as she is, can tell she’s nothing more than a diversion and refuses to give it up unless Greg burns with passion for her. I did very much like her in this scene.

    The Harold/Olivia situation is kind of comically tragic. They argue over money again, then they argue over arguing in general, and then they fight about how they fight. Looking back at how they met, got married, as well as their ages (particularly Olivia's), it’s no surprise that things are imploding so spectacularly. Still, that final scene where Olivia throws her ring into the glass of water and leaves the house resonates a lot. I don’t know what it is, but I could see so much of Abby in Olivia here.

    Following a brief visit from Val (where she says she won’t let another one of Gary's demented lovers ruin her life – and she’s got a point), we get a lot of funny moments during Michael's party. Although Mort bringing a blow-up doll to a party full of his colleagues is too close to sitcom humor, one can’t deny Karen catching Mack trying to deflate it was very amusing. I loved all the little bits of Karen and Mack deciding to mingle with their son’s friends and then realizing they’d rather by upstairs eating chocolate cake in bed.

    Underneath all the shenanigans, the Michael/Eric/Linda situation is finally boiling over and it all comes to a head when Linda runs off in tears. Karen later finds her crying downstairs and thinks she’s about to comfort her but instead gets shocked into a freezeframe when she is told Michael is who Linda wants to be with!
     
  4. JROG

    JROG Soap Chat Well-Known Member

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    EPISODE 13: OH, BROTHER

    The stuff with Greg and Paula was enjoyable: Her demand that he show her that she’s all he can think about provided some interesting humorous actions from Greg. Meanwhile, I don’t know what to make of Aunt Ginny's psychic abilities; it’s not like she wasn’t annoying enough as it is. I’m not objecting to the actual abilities, and the show proves her right by having her divine the rape. But why does it have to look so goofy? Why does she have to put something on her forehead and gasp orgasmically? Might as well shove it up her hoo hoo. I did love how Gary tried to give her a gun and she chewed him a new one, though. Most of the focus of the episode is on the fallout from Michael and Linda's emotional affair. Eric overhears Michael and Linda talking, finds out they want to pork each other, promptly punches Michael, and disappears. It’s actually pretty sad. After Eric leaves, Linda moves out, and then Michael moves out. Karen looks like somebody bitchslapped her.
     
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  5. JROG

    JROG Soap Chat Well-Known Member

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    EPISODE 14: ROAD TRIP

    Named ‘road trip’ but nobody actually takes one. Having a little difficulty coming up with a title there, Knots?


    Paige goes to Tom's really ugly apartment and tells him she’ll try anything once. Alas, she doesn’t get the chance to prove it because Mack calls Tom and asks him to come to Canada with him: He’s found Pomerantz. It turns out much better/interesting than I would have anticipated. I mean, they served grilled swordfish on that flight to Canada. Was the world really that different?

    Most of the fun in the episode comes from Tom's gargantuan efforts to trick Mack, Mr. Willis, and Joe the stupid hitman all at the same time. It’s really something as he zigzags from lie to lie and manipulation to manipulation. In the end, he gets away with it: Mack gets the pension fund scam books from Pomerantz and remains alive, Joe (after suffering a litany of stupid jokes from Tom, all of them very funny) is arrested while trying to shoot them all, and Mr. Willis is told Pomerantz is dead and he should disappear. Not bad for a day’s work… until he realizes the one person he didn’t fool was Paige.


    Amanda is having dinner with Gary and his corny jokes, when she begins hallucinating seeing Danny. Well, that’s enough to drive anyone crazy. She goes into hiding for the rest of the episode.

    Meanwhile, Karen and Valene share a beautifully tender moment in the MacKenzie kitchen when discussing Meg's clothes and Karen mentions some of these things are clothes Laura bought her. They exchange a look before moving on without saying a word. Valene then pushes Karen to admit she doesn’t like Danny.

    Karen is also trying to mend fences between Michael and Eric when she learns that Olivia and Harold have separated. "What is happening with everyone?" she bitterly asks in a small but very strong moment. I definitely didn’t see the next part of Olivia and Harold's money woes coming: Harold gambles to make some extra cash (loses big) and Olivia somehow manages to get sucked into insider trading. Naturally, the seed money for that comes from Gary, who oh so naively and sweetly tells Olivia that, unlike Abby, she has integrity. Olivia chuckles and shakes her head in the exact same way Abby used to do when someone gave her what she wanted. I hope it was a purposeful thing.

    And just as I was wondering if all Mr. Willis does is sit by a phone all day, he shakes things up: He tells someone that their pension fund scam has been discovered. That someone is of course, naturally, what else… Greg!
     
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  6. JROG

    JROG Soap Chat Well-Known Member

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    EPISODE 15: MY FIRSTBORN

    What a shocker of an episode. Season 11 continues to twist and surprise.

    A marvelous showcase for Greg. After being a relatively nice romantic lead in recent episodes, his more villainous side resurfaces. He’s such a fascinating and complex man. I find it hilarious that after all Mack went through to get the evidence he needed in the Oakman case, the D.A. simply says he’ll look into it. When Mack discovers Greg is behind Oakman (so fast!), the truth about the pension fund goes public and Greg hilariously and quickly fires Mr. Willis and blames him for everything.

    Exactly how much money does Michael make? Not only has he been spending money left and right, he has thousands of dollars just lying around to lend to Harold. At least, by the time Harold loses it all, the show brings us back to reality and Michael needs the money back to afford a new apartment. I’m seeing even more money-related trouble for our fiscally challenged young couple. I do hope the show surprises us, since it’s easy to see where the rest of the story is going.

    Big head-scratching moment, the young man and woman saying goodbye. Is this Knots Landing? Did the wrong film get edited into the show? No, t’s Mary-Frances!!! What?! Show, what do you do to me? I was initially saddened to see the original, great actress was recast, but I have to say, they did some marvelous casting here. Despite the new person, I instantly felt like I was watching Mary-Frances. "I’m Mary-Frances!" says Mary-Frances to Karen. "I bet your father didn’t even recognize you!" replies Karen. We could have done without all that. Mack and Karen tell Mary-Frances the whole story of Greg and Laura getting together (is it possible Mary-Frances didn’t know who Laura was just from when she lived right next door to her?), that she has a sister, that Laura died, that Greg gave Meg away. That’s a lot of soap to catch up with in one dinner.

    As always, the show doesn’t cut any corners when it’s invested in the story its telling. Not only do they rebuild Season 5’s campaign headquarters set for a fake flashback with the new Mary-Frances, Greg's hair looks exactly like it would during that season, and we get Devane’s son to come back as young Greg once more! Such thrillingness. And then… oh boy, that ending. You know something’s about to happen. Surely Mary-Frances will find something terrible on Greg's computer? But, no! The whole computer explodes, Greg runs back into his office, finds a bullet hole in the glass behind his desk and Mary-Frances … what? Unconscious? Shot in the head? Surely not dead! A mouth-agape, gasp-loudly kinda ending.
     
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  7. JROG

    JROG Soap Chat Well-Known Member

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    EPISODE 16: OUT OF CONTROL

    When the episodes begins – chaos! It’s all so shocking; hard to believe Mary-Frances is dead. I could rage about the Lechowicks wasting Mary-Frances within an episode of her return, but it’s all so surprising and captivating. Most of the episode, of course, deals with this unexpected event. Brilliantly, Jane Sumner also returns to the show (this time, played by the same actress) and, despite her relatively brief previous stay, her scenes with Greg bubble with the weight of the past. The scene in which Greg calls Jane but can’t say the words is particularly touching – some of Devane's best work.

    And, then, another twist: Mary-Frances was operating under an assumed name. Initially, I thought this death was connected to Oakman and that mess, but what if the writers are developing a separate mystery? Or maybe they’re making us think it’s a separate thing!

    Tom learns that Greg and Paige were an item. It’s perhaps a little unconvincing that he either hadn’t heard that or found out earlier, but it’s funny he becomes a little jealous and territorial.

    Meanwhile, unconnected to absolutely everything, Val and Danny continue their seemingly unstoppable gallop towards marriage. You’d think at some point Val would have something to say about Greg or Mary-Frances’ murder, but she’s not only a blind caricature, but a self-involved one too by now. I never thought I’d be annoyed by Val. Thankfully, Gary won’t give up and there is one amusing scene where both Val and Gary visit Pat and Frank regarding Danny (finally, the Williamses involved in something) but by the time Val and Danny are unexpectedly getting married, a sense of cold and dread is taking over me. I’m beginning to really resent this storyline. They’ve got to fix this.

    And, while they’re at it, I do wish they’d settle on how they want to spell Mary-Frances. They’ve had three different versions so far!

    DDD
     
  8. JROG

    JROG Soap Chat Well-Known Member

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    EPISODE 17: MY BULLET

    Val makes her one appearance to tell Karen that she and Danny eloped. The look on Lee’s face is great but then the writers turn our stomachs with the sight of Val and Danny in bed about to make love. What did we ever do to deserve this? Poor Val, indeed!

    Michael wants his money back from Harold for blah blah blah. Ugh, it all pretty much develops exactly like you’d think: Harold is paid a threatening visit, he’s desperate to get the money. He ends up asking Mack to loan him $13,000. Both Mack and Karen (who are dealing with goldfish drama) are stunned at this… and then proceed to lose about 60 IQ points each. I mean… neither one, not the wise busybody, not the former investigator, suspect something serious is going on if Harold is asking for that much money? It doesn’t even occur to them. A little coldly, they say no without even summoning him to ask more questions. It’s all because the writers need to get Harold blackmailing Tom with the secret of him being a dirty cop, of course, but I still didn’t expect them to give the MacKenzies the shaft for once!

    The opening scene is hilarious: Greg, back to his old self, has had enough of security meetings and bodyguards. He calls his security team 'police academy rejects' and Tom and Ricardo are 'clowns trying to do comedy'. (Well, in all fairness, Ricardo's jokes were wildly inappropriate for the situation and setting). It all goes downhill from there. Carlos calls Paige to ask her to visit Greg. She lies to Tom about where she’s going but he finds out when Carlos calls back to ask Paige not to come following Paula's unexpected arrival. Well, she’s his girlfriend, so…. The ensuing Paula/Greg/Paige/Tom interactions from this little misunderstanding are a lot of lighthearted fun, leading to Tom's confession that he’s in love with Paige. Her reaction – instantly melting and deciding they need to get condoms – shows it actually does mean something to her despite all her bravado.

    Things don’t end so nicely for Greg. He receives a visit from the shady Robert, who oh-so-subtly tries to take Mary-Frances’ notebook. Surprise: They end up hating each other. It is in this fun scene that the problem with having a talent like Devane on your show reveals itself: A lot of actors, especially the younger ones, can’t stand up to him, so to speak. Even if they have the talent, they lack the gravitas. But we’ll take the talented actor anyway.

    Things then really take a turn when Greg, drinking heavily, sees a vision of Mary-Frances (yay, more Stacy Galina!). How very Six Feet Under of him. But the true shocker comes when Paul Galveston shows up as well! Wow, I surely never thought we’d see him again. He does seem to be written entirely too overtly, speaking in a way I don’t quite remember him ever doing, but he’s dead, so whatever. These visits, of course, lead to the obvious question: Why isn’t Laura there? They may or may not have asked McCashin to return but, to their credit, they address her absence by having Greg say she wouldn’t fit in with them because she actually loved him. Well, OK, that kinda works. Greg indulges in his self-pity and literally tries to outrun his ghosts by leaving the ranch and paying the MacKenzies a late-night visit, but they kick him out. Greg returns home, where he ends things with Paula and continues to be tormented by the ghosts of his dead relatives (now that they make a point of it, wow. He really does have 3 major relatives of his dead). All in all, this is a little too on-the-nose for Knots Landing but seeing the actors and Devane's work help sell it.

    Strangely poignant is the Meg story: One of Greg's daughters is dead, the other one is about to learn about death when the goldfish she suckered Mack into getting her passes away. "The fish is dead," Mack deadpans to Karen in perhaps one of Dobson’s finest comedic moments. Touchingly, neither one can bring themselves to tell Meg the truth and they pretend the ‘fish doctor’ saved the goldfish. Meg believes them. "Thank God for the fish doctor," they proclaim, which would have made an excellent title for this episode. "There’s been too much death," Karen further explains to Mack in one of those moments where the audience’s thoughts perfectly meld with the characters’.

    After a night of heavy drinking, Greg realizes that Mary-Frances’ notebook is gone. As he stares at Mary-Frances once more, he asks what was going on with her, and she disappears, leaving him and us to wonder. This could be really good!
     
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  9. JROG

    JROG Soap Chat Well-Known Member

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    EPISODE 18: THE RIPPLE EFFECT

    An interesting episode that somehow feels similar in tone to the big, dramatic middle seasons of the show. The pace also picks up considerably. I wonder if it will last. We shockingly begin with Val going to Gary's ranch to tell him she married Danny (I still don’t get it). Amusingly, Gary questions why she felt the need to come tell him. Things get very bizarre after this (yes, even for the usual standard in this Gary/Val/Amanda/Danny story). Amanda runs into Danny while he’s picking up the twins and she’s picking up her last check, and she’s fascinatingly rude and dismissive. "Drop dead you slimy son of a bitch" is the nicest thing she says to him. Somewhere in there, Amanda kinda coughs/garbles, which must mean she’s crazy.

    Later, in what has to be one of the most ridiculous scenes in Knots Landing history, Amanda shows Gary her brooch made with a condom (….) and that was her way of telling him she wants to have sex. OK. They have sex. Then Amanda decides she’s leaving town and she’s gone! OK? Surely, this can’t be the end but Gary really takes it calmly. Just bizarre stuff.

    Thankfully, Karen actually does something productive for once and arranges a dinner party: Thanks to the fact that she invited Danny and Val and Pat and Frank, we get a three-part montage instead of the usual two. The dinner scenes are really good (and well lit, everyone looks fabulous). You gotta laugh at Danny turning on the bullshit charm to 200 and constantly making jokes everyone seems to hate but act like they don’t. It’s a scene that uses Behren’s lack of charisma to its benefit: Danny is putting on a huge performance that is hardly believable and everyone in the scene sees it (save for Val, dear God they’ve murdered her). The moment Karen makes her realization during coffee time after Danny slips with a comment about beating children is refreshingly melodramatic (the music made me jump) and it gave me goosebumps. I really liked her turning to Mack after everyone’s gone and telling him that Gary is right about Danny.


    Mack also makes a realization: For no reason other than the plot dictates it, he makes a comment about phone calls between lovers and both he and Paige realize Tom never called Paige from the airport like he said. Paige breaks up with Tom again and Mack, Frank, and Peggy realize that he is a dirty cop. Dobson does great in the scene where he confronts Arnie Zimmer and the man admits it was Tom all along.

    Meanwhile, Tom dodges Harold's blackmail effort with some blackmail of his own. I don’t buy at all that he found out about the Mexico stuff but the whole thing leads to a swift exit from Harold after he finds out about Olivia's money from stocks, steals it to pay off his debt, dumps Olivia, leaves town, and never pays Michael back. Wow. I guess that’s it? Funny how not one, but two characters in this episode quickly leave town.


    Greg being sarcastic, rude, and mean to the police is really fun! The show puts Michael to good use here when Greg asks him to find out what Mary Frances went into his computer for. Contrasting his behavior towards everyone else, Greg stops Michael before he exits his office and thanks him. It’s a very nice little moment. Turns out, Mary Frances is part of a subversive group, Oakman is involved, and Greg can’t figure out exactly what it was she was tracking. As Greg and Paula exit a restaurant at the end of the episode, Greg is shot! It’s all getting slightly ridiculous, but OK.
     
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