My Thoughts on Season Six of KL, Episode By Episode

Discussion in 'Knots Landing' started by Knots Blogger, Mar 2, 2017.

  1. Knots Blogger

    Knots Blogger Soap Chat Member

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    Hello all!

    Awhile back, I was using this SoapChat board fairly frequently to be part of the discussion as well as posting my own thoughts from my blog, in which I'm going through each and every KL ep. Then the site disappeared for awhile and I seem to have lost my original account as well as all those old posts, but now I am back! Today, my blog got started with season six and the premiere ep, BUYING TIME. My thoughts are posted below; please feel free to respond and give your own thoughts on the eps as I work my way through the sixth season of the show.

    KNOTS LANDING SEASON 6 (1984-1985)
    THE CAST ROSTER


    ALEC BALDWIN, WILLIAM DEVANE, KEVIN DOBSON, JULIE HARRIS, LISA HARTMAN, MICHELE LEE, CONSTANCE MCCASHIN, DONNA MILLS, TED SHACKELFORD, DOUGLAS SHEEHAN, JOAN VAN ARK

    Episode Title: Buying Time

    Season 06, Episode 01

    Episode 101 of 344

    Written by Kevin Alexander

    Directed by Alexander Singer

    Original Airdate: Thursday, October 4th, 1984

    The Plot (Courtesy of TV.Com): Police follow St. Claire's limousine, but lose them. St. Claire has Abby on a yacht. St. Claire calls for Greg and Laura answers. She tells both Greg and Mack that he called. Cathy comes back to Knots Landing and Laura invites her to stay with them again. Val admits to Ben she still loves Gary. Karen has surgery. The bullet entered her ribs and shattered. The doctor says there was one fragment lodged in her spine that he couldn't remove. He tells her that at some point, the fragment will shift and she will become paralyzed, and she will die soon after this.

    Welcome back to a brand new season of KL. We have a lot to discuss as we begin what, based on my extremely fond memories, should prove to be the very finest season of KL ever made. Now make no mistake, I’m not saying that this is it, that you should watch season six and then just stop watching the show, God forbid. I maintain that the show is solid and worth watching all the way until the series finale in 1993, but I just think that of all the fourteen seasons, season six represents the show at the absolute top of its quality and I remember it being just a masterpiece of television. Will it hold up upon rewatch? That’s what we’re here to find out.

    I can’t get over how long the gap between season five’s finale and season six’s premiere was. Let’s recall that the final episode of season five, Negotiations, aired on March 29th, 1984, while this premiere didn’t come to the small screen until October 4th, 1984, over six months later. Holy crap, does this seem like a really long wait to anyone else, or is it just me? Can you imagine the agonizing six month wait spending the entire time wondering what will happen to Karen and Abs and Val and the whole gang, wondering if everything will be alright from that wild cliffhanger-packed finale (which, by the way, was so much better than that “Who Shot Bobby?” cliffhanger they were doing over on Dallas that same season)? Obviously if I had been alive in 1984, this cliffhanger is all I would be thinking of for six solid months.

    We begin Buying Time in the usual way, with the thirty second preview and then the classic opening credits. The design of the opening credits along with the sounds of the theme song are basically the same as they were last season, though with a few little tweaks and changes. I’m bad at describing the way music sounds, but suffice it to say that the season five opening had a little more of a saxxy thing going on, whereas this version seems to ditch the sax in favor of a more grand, sweeping, kinda orchestral arrangement. I could almost imagine this version being played by a band at a football game or something (all the players would play exponentially better if this aural masterpiece was being blasted over the stadium loudspeakers). I think this version is also a couple of seconds longer to account for a few additions into the scrolling squares.



    Which brings me to my next point; how is the cast roster different from last season? Well, we ditch Claudia Lonow from the opening, for one thing, and then we have two additions. The first one is, thanks to the glory of alphabetical order, now the first name in the opening, one Mr. Alec Baldwin. He will be playing Joshua Rush, although we don’t know that just yet. In fact, Joshua won’t be showing up on the cul-de-sac until our next episode, Calculated Risks, so for the purposes of this ep, we just see his name in the opening credits but we don’t actually meet the character quite yet. Also, Lisa Hartman has officially been promoted from a guest star to a main player, and we now have a fabulous shot of her singing her heart out into a microphone that looks especially phallic. Since Lisa has been so heavily involved in the show since very early season four, it’s nice to see her finally get a spot in the opening.

    After the credits, we have a helpful couple of minutes of recap. The recap basically gets us up to speed on proceedings from the last few eps of season five, taking us right back to those final moments in which Karen was shot, Valene almost blown up, and Abs kidnapped by St. Claire. There was so much going down in those final hours of season five that this recap is very helpful, most especially if one had just waited six God damned months to see a new episode of KL. Even in the case of watching these with My Beloved Grammy, I believe there was only the gap of about one week between our disks, yet we both still found this recap a helpful thing.

    Okay, once we’re back up to speed, it’s time to rush to the hospital to find out if Karen is going to make it or not. In my last episode writeup, I talked a bit about whether or not the “Will Karen die?” cliffhanger plays or not, especially considering how easy it is to have that hingsight-is-20-20 thing going on in which we know that Michele Lee is on the series all the way to the end. Watching this episode, I found myself really able to sink into that 1984 mindset and kinda pretend I was watching this on original airdate with no knowledge of how much longer the show will be on the air or who will be in the cast by that point. Looking at it that way, I actually started to see how this could be rather suspenseful to first time viewers, because all of this stuff reminded me so much of Sid Fairgate in the first two eps of season three. Remember how cleverly the show managed to fool us by keeping that character around for the first two eps of the season, killing him in the second? Watching this, I found myself reflecting on that and realizing how similar it feels to Karen here. Sure, she’s still in the opening credits and she gets quickly driven to the hospital for a surgery and all that, but who’s to say she’s not gonna die a few eps down the line just like her husband did? So yeah, if I was watching this in 1984, I don’t think I would feel completely certain that Karen is going to be okay.

    (TO BE CONTINUED)

     
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  2. Knots Blogger

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    (CONTINUED)

    The hospital forms the nucleus for everything involving Karen’s story this week. While she’s passed out in a major surgery operation, Mack is pacing the hospital corridors and stressing over her well being, clearly blaming himself for the fact that she’s even in this predicament. A little later, we get a visit from the Fairgate kids, Diana, Eric, and Michael. What’s new with them? Well, let’s note that Diana is now credited as a “Special Guest Star” at the head of this episode and is about two minutes away from being shipped out of the series permanently, something I’ll discuss a bit more in our next ep. Anyway, aside from her, we have Eric, who is starting to look like a fine mature adult man, and of course my much cherished Michael.

    f*** yeah, Michael. I feel like we have officially reached the point where the flower need not bloom any fuller; Pat Petersen is now in full bloom and has officially grown into the raw, seething, testosterone-fueled example of All American Boy Perfection that God always intended him to be. Also, I want to note that while the character of Michael is, I think, still supposed to be 15 or 16 at this juncture in the series, the real life actor would now be 18 (born August 9th, 1966) and officially of legal age, meaning now I can just spend every episode writing about the myriad of different ways that I want to violate him, and believe me, I will do so. In this ep, when the kids arrive at the hospital to find out if their mother is okay, Michael is wearing a pink shirt (oh God yes) and he’s got the short haircut going and he’s still rocking that sexy gold necklace that he wears which you can always see poking out of his kinda-unbuttoned shirt. Why is that gold necklace so boring sexy? I can’t explain it except to say that every time I get a peek of that necklace, I start to imagine what Michael would look like totally butt naked and wearing absolutely nothing but that gold necklace, and of course when I imagine such things, I usually have to excuse myself from proceedings to go and take a quick whack break.

    But anyway, enough about that, we shall return to the topic of how much I want to violate Michael (or how much I would like for him to violate me) many more times over the course of the series, as he continues to become ever hotter every single year, like a fine wine that only gets better with age. Anyway, here we are at the hospital and clearly everyone’s real upset about Karen’s status, although I feel Mack is doing an admirable job of keeping calm and collected. Karen’s black doctor comes out of surgery to keep the family informed to what’s going on, and both My Beloved Grammy and I were like, “Who is that blacktor?” [NOTE: “Blacktor” is a little term that I think I invented which I use constantly to describe a black actor; obviously my word for a black actress would be “Blacktress”]. Anyway, I knew I recognized this blacktor as soon as I saw him, but I wasn’t sure why, but IMDb was very helpful, and it was the case where the first credit I saw for him was exactly what I recognized him from. He plays the judge in the 1997 Jim Carrey comedy Liar Liar that my dad absolutely loved and would watch constantly. His name is Jason Bernard (pictured below) and sadly he died in 1996 (obviously he was alive to film Liar Liar and presumably it was just released a year after his death). Other credits for this man include While You Were Sleeping (which I haven’t seen) and 72 episodes of Herman’s Head (which I have also never seen). Anyhow, he makes his first appearance here as Dr. Garner, but he’ll be back for three more eps within this sixth season, making his final appearance with Uncharted Territory.

    I have to say I like this doctor, and not just because he’s black, although I continue to feel like a smug liberal for noticing a ton of black faces onscreen this week, and I also appreciate the fact that all those black faces are playing characters who are professionals, paramedics and nurses and doctors and what have you; it sets a good example on TV. I don’t mean to make the 1980s sound like the slave years, but in my brain I think of white people not wanting to see black people on TV until somewhere in the ‘90s (aside from sitcoms like The Jeffersons or The Cosby Show or something like that), and I again reiterate that you never saw black people over on Dallas, so basically I just appreciate the fact that they’re here and that they are represented nicely; they are not just shipped in to play horrific black stereotypes like they would probably be on another 1980s TV show. Anyway, I also like this doctor simply because he feels real. When he comes out of surgery, he’s kinda grouchy with the family, but then he gently says how he’s sorry, he didn’t mean to be short, but he’s just extremely tired from that long and arduous surgery. It’s a nice human moment that really makes him feel like a real person, and that’s just another one of those little things that I appreciate about KL. On most shows, I think the doctor would just be the doctor; he would be here to serve a plot function by providing us with exposition, but on KL, even a relatively minor role like this kinda comes alive and you believe in the truth of the character.


    Dr. Garner advises Mack and the Fairgate kids to go home and get some sleep, which they do. The next day Mack prepares a great big breakfast for everyone and is trying to keep in good spirits. Eric and Michael both come into the kitchen and Mack is all peppy and nice, telling the boys to eat their breakfast, telling Michael he is suddenly filled with a desire to f*** the shit out of him, nice things like that. However, the dark storm cloud arrives in the form of Diana, looking withered and haggard, who enters the kitchen only to yell at Mack that, “You don’t belong here!” Mack says how they need to try to get along but Diana is hearing none of it, prompting My Beloved Grammy to opine, “Oh, Diana’s such a pain in the ass.” This of course made me laugh, but it also made me happy that we are about five minutes away from losing Diana. I’m trying to remember the first time she said it, but I know it was at some juncture very early in the series, like maybe even as early as season two, that My Beloved Grammy declared Diana her least favorite character on the show and said, “If she left the show forever, I wouldn’t even think about her.” Well, we’re just about to that point now, and I knew My Beloved Grammy would be happy to see the back of Diana.


    Remember on Roseanne when they were getting ready to ship Becky 1 out of the series? I felt like for a good chunk of eps before she left, she was really portrayed as extra nasty and hateful and just unpleasant to look at, and I developed a theory that the writers were doing this on purpose so that nobody would be all that sad to see the character leave the series. I’m sorta having the same thought here, because Diana had mellowed a bit in the latter half of season five, once Chip was dead and in the ground, yet here she’s back to acting like a complete brat. Do you think the writers were intentionally upping the brat factor just so the audience wouldn’t want to look at Diana anymore and, therefore, be pleased when she leaves the series? It’s a theory, but only that, and it may not even be an accurate theory considering that Diana has pretty much been a brat ever since the freaking Pilot.

    One thing worth noting, however, is that Diana and Mack do make up this week, in a way that actually struck me as a bit abrupt, but whatever. After she’s nasty to him when he’s trying to make everyone breakfast, the next time we see them is in the hospital, where Mack continues to pace and worry about Karen. Diana comes in and says how she’s willing to give it a try (meaning try to be peaceful and work it out with Mack) and then the two hug each other. Yeah, okay, this struck me as a bit of a fast turnaround, but I was more concerned with other events going on right now, not with Diana. I’m pretty much ready to lose her at this point, so most of her material in these first two eps wasn’t too interesting to me; I was just ready for her to go away.

    Meanwhile, at another end of the hospital, we have a scene that immediately sets the tone for what the central theme of this season is going to be. See, Val has gone wandering off alone and is hanging around the baby nursery, drooling over all the babies and clearly excited to have some babies of her own on the way. Yes, we’ve officially arrived at the “Val’s babies” season, and I like how even though most of this ep is concerned with other stories, we get this quick scene to remind us of Val’s pregnancy and her excitement. Also, we get a helpful scene between her and bearded Ben in which they chat amicably and she even goes so far as to admit, “Everything you said about Gary was true.” Despite her candor, Ben is still not willing to get back together, so he leaves the room with some sort of comment like, “Will it ever be the right time?”

    (TO BE CONTINUED)
     
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  3. Knots Blogger

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    (CONTINUED)

    While all this is going on, Abs is still kidnapped and being driven around in St. Claire’s limo. This portion of the episode somewhat lacks, um, excitement? I mean, I feel bad saying that, because maybe the tone is actually intentional. I never feel like Abs is in any true danger from St. Claire, but perhaps that’s the point. He’s really only using her as a pawn in his game to try and get what he wants out of Mack and Sumner; I don’t think he really has any intention of hurting her or anything like that. As the two cruise around in his limo, however, I feel impelled to note that they must have stopped off at a salon right after kidnapping Abs, because suddenly she has a very different haircut. It doesn’t help that we saw how long and flowing her hair was in that end-of-season-five-recap at the start of the episode, and yet, after what is supposed to be only mere minutes, she suddenly has a very short haircut. This kind of thing is rather par-for-the-course in television, so I’m not attacking KL for it. I’ve seen a ton of shows where the season premiere picks up seconds after the finale and yet everyone is rocking new hair. I actually have some memory that KL will start to get clever with this sort of thing at a later date, throwing in little scenes or explanations to explain new hair dos as a new season kicks off.

    Let’s talk about Abby’s hair for a moment, because it proved contentious for My Beloved Grammy and I. I’ll say right off the bat that Abby’s hair and general entire look in season six are my favorite of the entire series; I don’t think Donna has ever looked more beautiful than she does within the confines of this sixth season, and that short haircut she gets just drives me crazy. I’m pretty sure my fondness for women with short hair comes down to something very Freudian, which is the fact that my mother has always had short hair, but for whatever reason, this is my favorite Abs look. However, My Beloved Grammy doesn’t like the look at all and says how she misses Abby’s long, gorgeous hair and can’t believe she would cut it all off. Pretty much every episode we watched upon our last visit, I’d just be like, “I can’t believe you don’t like this hair; look how beautiful she looks!” and My Beloved Grammy would reiterate that she doesn’t like Abs with short hair. Well, there’s no accounting for taste.

    Moving away from hair for the time being, what are Abs and St. Claire actually up to in the back of this limo? Well, St. Claire is a wily kind of James Bond villain, so he knows how to lose the police tail pretty easy by doing a simple switch into another generic looking dark black car. After several scenes of Gary and Detective Morrison (who is still on the show; I can’t believe it and had no memory of him reaching this far into the series) arguing and bickering about how to best find Abs, they manage to track down the limo to some road or other, so they pile into a car and go out to stop the car. However, when they block the limo off and the police start to raid it, all they find is a driver (a black driver) with absolutely no passengers in the back. Realizing they have been fooled, everyone stays pretty damn upset.

    St. Claire and Abs wind up making it to some sexy yacht of his which is currently anchored on the docks. St. Claire wants to pull the anchor up and start speeding out into international waters, but he is afraid of police interference at this point and can’t justify the risk. The thing that I said about this lacking excitement is kinda exemplified in this scene. I mean, look at the way they let Abs just sorta hang out. They plop her down on the sofa and order her to stay put and that’s pretty much it. She’s not handcuffed or nothing, nobody on the boat starts to get rapey on her, St. Claire doesn’t slap her around or threaten her with a gun; as far as kidnappings go, this has to be one of the more pleasant. I reiterate that St. Claire doesn’t seem to have any particular interest in Abs, but merely sees her as a means to an end. He’s really only kidnapped her to get Mack and Sumner feeling good and nervous, not necessarily because he has any particular interest in her at all.

    At the end of last season, Ciji-doppelganger Cathy declared she needed to start a new life somewhere else and blew town. I wouldn’t have even thought twice about this development except that My Beloved Grammy made some comment about how she was surprised to see Cathy leaving the series so quickly. Only then did I realize the writers kinda wanna fool us into thinking Cathy is going away (or perhaps they were just covering their bases at the end of the fifth season in case Lisa didn’t want to come back for the sixth season). Jumping from seeing her leaving town to seeing her glorious placement in the classic scrolling squares at the head of this episode is actually a bit jarring when you think of it from that perspective, where you see her name and you’re like, “Oh, I guess she’s not leaving town after all.” So what compels Cathy to return? Why, a nice phone call from Laura, actually, continuing the development of that friendship that I had clear forgotten ever existed. Seriously, why did I forget all this stuff? I remembered Laura and Ciji getting lesbianic with each other back in season four, but in my memories I didn’t think Laura and Cathy really interacted with each other too much at all, and now I’m being proven wrong. In fact, Laura’s interest in Cathy and her desire to have Cathy return to town does make me wonder if Laura’s feeling some of those old lesbian feelings being stirred up in her again. What do you think?

    In any case, it’s not hard for Laura to convince Cathy to return. We get a scene of the two talking on the phone and we see that Cathy is calling from the pay phone at a bus station in Redding or whatever, saying how she decided to hit the road. Laura says, “You should come back; you’re in the opening credits now,” and Cathy is like, “Oh, okay.” Next scene we have of them together is a lovely afternoon walk in the cul-de-sac in which they discuss life and all its ups and downs. Cathy says how she has spent her whole life running and now she’s ready to stop. She doesn’t say anything about her recently-shot-to-death husband Ray, and I’m gonna go ahead and take a guess that we’ll never be hearing about him again. In one of the last eps from season five, we saw Cathy calling up Ray’s mother on the phone, but now we’re getting no mention of him or his dead body or a funeral or anything like that. For all intents and purposes, I think we are meant to forget about Ray and I think Cathy is going to do the same thing, and I’m absolutely fine with that, because he was ugly.

    Last story beat worth noting this week involves Karen and the bullet in her spine. As the episode comes to its conclusion, Karen wakes up and gets informed on what went down in the last few hours. Her black doctor from Liar Liar tells her how the bullet entered and then it fragmented and split off and they were able to remove most of the fragments from her. However, we learn along with Karen that there’s still a small fragment of bullet lodged in or near her spine and the doctors aren’t able to get it out. The doctor tells her how, for the time being, she’ll probably feel fine, but after a little while, the bullet will shift and she’ll begin to lose sensation in her hands and arms and legs. And what happens after that? “You will die,” he tells her cheerfully, the final words spoken this week before our “Executive Producers” credit pops up onscreen and we leap into the episode ending credits.

    Okay, so that was Buying Time. If I seem in any way underwhelmed by it, please don’t mistake that for me not liking the episode. I think if the ep suffers from anything, it’s from that “first episode of the season” feeling that lots of shows tend to get in which we spend most of the premiere sorta getting the audience back up to speed on what’s going on and tidying up affairs from the end of last season. That’s sorta the feeling I got from this one; we need to make sure and cover all the story bases from where we were left hanging at the end of season five, and so a lot of this premiere episode is about that and makes it kinda lack excitement. There’s nothing particularly wrong with the ep (aside from a score that I thought was a bit blaring and obnoxious and certainly much more extreme than the KL musical scores usually sound). I have a feeling that, when all is said and done with this sixth season, I’ll probably pick Buying Time as the worst episode of the season, but that doesn’t mean it’s bad, it just means it’s the least good, you know what I’m saying? We’ve got 30 damn episodes this season, our biggest episode count yet, so it’s okay if the premiere ep isn’t the most riveting or thrilling thing ever, since we have 29 more eps to get through and plenty of time to let characters and stories blossom.

    Well, I don’t know about you, but I really wanna find out if Karen is going to be okay with that pesky bullet lodged in her spine, so let’s proceed onward to our next episode, Calculated Risks.
     
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  4. Richard Channing

    Richard Channing Soap Chat Addict

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    Great to have you back @Knots Blogger. I always thoroughly enjoyed reading your posts.
     
  5. Knots Blogger

    Knots Blogger Soap Chat Member

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    Oh, well how nice of you for saying so! Yeah, I should have just restarted my account right away so I could have put up my posts about seasons four and five, but oh well, I was too lazy to do it until just earlier today. To those wishing to see my thoughts on those years, they are all up and posted on the blog.

    I pretty much just copy and paste whatever I write on the blog onto here, so forgive me if there's a few weird parts like where I might say "Pictured Below" or something like that. Also, every now and then I MIGHT drift into slightly inappropriate territory (like talking about violating Michael constantly), but I shall try to remove anything too offensive from the posts before I put them up on here.
     
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  6. Jason73

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    Welcome back!
     
  7. Willie Oleson

    Willie Oleson drilling for soap

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    Interesting point, never thought of it that way. Now I'm trying to remember if there were any great first-episodes, Knots Landing or any of the other soaps.
    Or first-episodes that were even better than the cliff hanger...

    ?
     
  8. Knots Blogger

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    Episode Title: Calculated Risks

    Season 06, Episode 02

    Episode 102 of 344

    Written by Susan Goldberg

    Directed by Ernest Pintoff

    Original Airdate: Thursday, October 18th, 1984

    The Plot (Courtesy of TV.Com): The doctor tells Karen that she'll die within the year unless she has a risky operation with only a 50% survival rate. Mack wants to get back together with her, but Karen lies and says she doesn't love him. Mack moves in with Ben. Diana moves to New York. Joshua Rush shows up at Val's. His mother was Lilimae's sister. She abandoned him and he wants to learn about her from Lilimae. She says her sister was a vicious, wicked tramp and he should be glad that she's dead. Val invites Joshua to stay with them. St. Claire threatens Greg and he comes to the yacht. Abby sees a gun in a drawer and gives it to Greg. Greg shoots Mark St. Claire.

    When we last left off, Karen’s black doctor was informing her that, due to the positioning of a bullet fragment lodged near her spinal cord, within about one year’s time she would be dead. That’s the way we concluded our last episode, Buying Time, yet as we pick up with Calculated Risks, we quickly learn that Karen is not completely out of options; there may still be hope for her in the form of a very risky spinal surgery. The Liar Liar doctor (who I really like, by the way; he just seems like a real good man who is both professional and yet candid with his patients) gives her all the details about this surgery and all the pros and cons. See, if Karen does nothing and doesn’t have the surgery and simply chooses to return home, there’s no doubt that she’ll die within one year’s time, right? If she has this surgery, she has a 50/50 chance, but not just as 50/50 chance of a successful operation, the doctor stresses that she has only a 50/50 chance of getting out of the surgery alive at all. At first Karen is quick to respond and is like, “Okay, let’s do it, let’s have the surgery right now,” but she becomes more reticent as soon as she hears those frightening odds.
    I love it when I feel like the show and I are exactly on the same wavelength, as if the show is somehow reading my mind and then rewarding me for it. I say this because My Beloved Grammy was going on about how Karen should absolutely have the surgery, no doubt about it, because a chance to live is better than certain death. At that point, I said how I agree with her but I also said we should try to understand Karen and remember that Sid died while having a risky surgery that Karen did not support him having. About two seconds later, Karen says to the doctor, “My first husband, Sid, died in surgery, a spinal operation, too,” and I felt like the writers were reading my mind and then validating all my thoughts by putting them right up there on the screen (never mind the fact that this episode aired six years before I was even born; let’s just go ahead and say the writers were still reading my mind, anyway). Again, I love the rich past history of all the KL characters; I love that Karen still thinks about and talks about Sid and I love how Sid’s tragic death, rather than being something the writers did and then quickly shuffled under the rug, continues to hold sway over Karen’s decisions even as late as season six.

    One thing worth noting: The doctor tells her that as soon as Karen gets out of her hospital bed and goes home, her odds immediately decrease. They are 50/50 for survival at this exact moment in time, but if she goes home and ignores her spinal problem for awhile, the odds will only get worse and worse. Basically, if she’s gonna do it, she needs to do it now, so what’s she gonna decide? Well, for the time being Karen decides that she’d rather just go home and act like everything is okay until it’s time to buy the farm. I think I understand her decision, actually, which is that if she goes into this surgery and it fails, well, then she’s dead. Instead of having one more year of her life to be around the people she loves before she goes to Heaven, she would just die right away.

    The one part that’s a little harder to understand and support is her refusal to get back with Mack, to even attempt to work it out with him. I have to say that, upon first viewing, I don’t recall feeling so damn sorry for Mack as I do right now. I remember loving Mack, that he was one of my favorite characters, that I loved what a good human and good husband he was to her, but I don’t remember Mack and Karen getting married and then him immediately being thrust into a whole bunch of shit, which is exactly what has happened. After spending all of last season dealing with bitchy Diana and Karen’s pill popping problem, Mack is still a solid guy that’s hanging around and wants to make it work with Karen, yet she continues to give him the cold shoulder. One of the hardest scenes to watch in this ep occurs when Mack pays Karen a visit at the hospital, proudly displaying a big bouquet of flowers to show his love. However, when he tries to broach the topic of their working things out, Karen says, “I don’t want to hurt you, but I just don’t love you anymore.”

    It actually physically hurts me to watch Karen say that to Mack, but even so, I am able to dive into her brain and understand what’s going on in her world. Basically, Karen sees this situation as having two options and neither of those options appeal to her. One option is to tell Mack that she is dying and then leave it up to him, but she doesn’t want him getting back into her life just because he feels obligated to do so now that she is dying, right? Secondly, she could just get back with him but leave the little spine information to herself, but in that case it would be an act of cruelty in which she allows Mack to be a part of her life only to go and die on him in a year or less, and she doesn’t want to do that, either.

    TO BE CONTINUED
     
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  9. Knots Blogger

    Knots Blogger Soap Chat Member

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    CONTINUED

    Alright, we’ve still got Abs on the boat to contend with, but for now I want to move over to Val and Lilimae’s house and focus on our newest arrival to the cul-de-sac, Joshua Rush. Joshua is played by Alec Baldwin, as you’ll recall, and although we saw his name in the opening credits last episode, we don’t actually meet the character until this ep. I don’t know if I’ve ever mentioned it, but I tend to love how KL introduces its new characters; it’s always done with such an inauspicious aura, to the point that you could hardly guess what excitement and stories will result from whoever this new arrival is. Let’s flash all the way back to the premiere of season two (Hitchhike: Part One), in which Abs first arrived on the cul-de-sac. In that case, we had a cool P.O.V. shot of her car making its way up into the driveway, but we didn’t have any BIG DRAMATIC EPIC SCENES of Abs that immediately demonstrated how wicked she would be; instead, she was introduced quietly and then gradually worked her way into the fabric of the show along with the other characters. The same has been true for pretty much all the new characters who have been introduced into the series, including when Lilimae moved in back in season three, when Ciji was introduced at the start of season four, or when Sumner first showed up a couple of eps into season five.

    The same is true here, because Val is on her way out the door and is telling Lilimae how she’s gonna be gone for awhile, then she opens the front door and Joshua is just standing there, like he was just about to knock on the door in a second. Val invites him in and he introduces himself and says how Val is his cousin because his late mother was Lilimae’s sister. However, right off the bat we get something of a strange feeling from this, mostly based on Lilimae’s quiet, stern looking face. Personally, the feeling I get from this right away is not that Joshua is a threat (this is what My Beloved Grammy thought; she kept saying how strange it is for this guy to just show up and start hanging out in the house; she believed he was here for some sort of weird, creepy revenge), but rather that Lilimae is holding in a secret and she’s worried that this secret will come out shortly.

    Let’s talk about Baldwin for a minute, shall we? For pretty much as long as I’ve known and loved KL, I’ve always assumed that Baldwin’s time as a cast member on the show was the very first thing he ever did, ever, that KL officially introduced the world to Baldwin. Turns out I was slightly mistaken, as he has a few credits on his resume before this, although not many. His very first credit is a stint on the soap The Doctors from 1980 to 1982 and then nine episodes of Cutter to Houston (whatever the hell that is). Then we have a 1984 TV movie called Sweet Revenge and then we’re about up to date, with KL being his next credit. I don’t want to spoil things too much (going on the assumption that somebody reading this may, in fact, be experiencing the joys of KL for the first time and I don’t want to ruin any of its myriad of surprises for them), but I will say that we’re not gonna have a tremendous amount of Baldwin on the series. Basically, he’s in the entire sixth season and then a little smidge of the seventh season and then that’s it. What I find interesting is that I learned, via an interview he did with Howard Stern, that he knew this all along. He said that when he was hired on, the writers and producers made it clear to him that this would be just about a year-long gig. This tells me that the show runners already had a layout for how things would unfold with this character, which is a testament to the writing and the storytelling skills of all the creative talent involved. Anyway, for the time being, let me just make it clear that I’m a Baldwin fan, I think he’s a terrific actor in all regards, and I’m excited to be meeting his character for the first time.

    Okay, so what does Joshua do within the confines of this ep? Well, not too much, but it’s all about pacing; we are setting things up to unfold over the course of the season. In this case, I can see why My Beloved Grammy is suspicious of this character. After all, where did he come from? He shows up at their door and declares himself some sort of relative of theirs, but it’s all very abrupt. Also, handsome as Baldwin is (and he is, by the way; when he entered My Beloved Grammy said, “Oh my God, he’s so cute”), there is a hint of darkness underneath him, something that’s a little bit off-putting, something that can make you slightly uncomfortable. However, I think it remains pretty obvious that Lilimae is the one keeping secrets, here, because when Val returns home, she finds Joshua all alone in the kitchen. He says something about how Lilimae had to run off to some sort of function, and then we see Lilimae creeping quietly in the front door and then going straight upstairs, clearly avoiding having to interact with Val and Joshua at this time. What secrets could she be holding?
    Another thing regarding the Joshua character that I want to note: During a scene between Lilimae and himself, he casually mentions how, if he ever mentioned his mother to his father (his “papa,” as he calls him), his dad would “beat him black and blue.” He delivers this line like it’s no big deal, kinda chucking a little bit when he says it, like, “That’s fathers for you,” but I took a lot of meaning from this small line of dialogue and I think we are going to see that this little insight into his past will prove very important to his character. I’m flashing forward a good year into the future, to some point in early season seven (can’t remember the ep at this point) in which Joshua and Lilimae discuss child abuse and he talks about being beaten by his father in great detail. Here, it’s just that one small line, but it tracks and will remain important as we proceed forward. This scene is not one of Lilimae’s finest moments, however, because as sweet, innocent Joshua is talking about how he never got to know his mother, how she died when he was young, Lilimae just unleashes and goes on about how his mother was nothing but a tramp and it’s better that she died so Joshua never has to know her. Then she storms off, leaving poor Joshua sitting all sad and alone, and of course Val in the other room having heard the entire cruel display.

    Meanwhile, at the same time that we are saying hello to a brand new character, we are also saying goodbye to an old veteran who has been around annoying us since Pilot. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, Diana is finally leaving the series, and I’m just gonna go ahead and say, with no offense intended, that I’m not gonna be missing her. We will wind up seeing her in three more eps of the series, but those three eps are way near the end of the series, not until 1993 when the show is about five minutes away from ending, so for all intents and purposes, this ep is pretty much her final appearance. I will say that I definitely get the sense that the writers are pushing Diana out the door; while I’m fine with her evacuation from the series, it’s all rather abrupt and seems to happen in fast forward. Why not let this unfold a little more slowly by placing it in the latter half of season five? What the hell did Diana even do in that latter half? After Chip died, Diana would either sit out several episodes in a row or she would show up for five seconds and just be kinda there. I think it might have been more organic, following Chip’s death, to then shift the focus to Diana getting ready to move away or whatever, and then just go ahead and ship her off at the end of season five and not bother having her in season six at all, not even for these first two eps. But oh well, that’s not how it unfolded.

    TO BE CONTINUED
     
  10. Knots Blogger

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    CONTINUED

    I really don’t have any idea what was going on behind the scenes, but am I wrong in sensing that Diana is getting kicked out the door? Was her coke problem at a new height or something? In our last ep, she was snarling and being vicious to Mack, then they quickly made up and hugged each other, and now as we jump into Calculated Risks, she is announcing her plans to move to New York and, I think, live with Uncle Joe. We have a scene of her leaving the Fairgate/MacKenzie house, getting ready to climb into a taxi cab. We even get another hug between her and Mack! Next up, we have her at the hospital paying Karen a final visit before she heads to the airport.


    This final visit is about a lot more than the fact that Diana is leaving the series. Really, the scene is about Karen and how she’s now thinking about her life ending. See, instead of just giving some sort of generic “Knock ‘em dead!” pep talk to Diana, she gets very serious and gives a speech that you can tell sounds like last words, like she’s trying to impart some last bit of wisdom onto Diana. She says something about how Diana has always done what she believes is right and that’s the aspect she most admires in her and that she never wants her to lose it. Honestly, I have a hard time believing Karen here, and I think it’s a bit odd how everyone is pretty much fine with Diana after last season’s shenanigans. This is the same mentally ill girl who took up with a known murderer and then defended him even after she had confirmation that he had killed a young girl in cold blood. After he escaped from the hospital, she even went to the trouble of housing him on Westfork against Gary’s knowledge, and her insane behavior is pretty much what lead to Karen’s pill problem. Despite all that, I guess she and Karen are totally cool with each other again, and Karen gives that little speech, and then Diana leaves. However, after Diana exits, that hunk of pure sexy man known as Michael sticks around for a minute to tell Karen how upset he is about their fractured family. He points out how Diana is leaving, how Mack doesn’t live at the house anymore, how Karen is here in the hospital, and how he’s damn upset. I bring this up because I think Michael is not only sexy (super duper duper sexy), but also smart. I think he saw through Karen’s speech to Diana and he realizes that there’s more going on than might immediately meet the eye.

    Before I move on to Abs on the boat, I want to sorta finish up my thoughts on Diana since we pretty much won’t be seeing her again (at least until The Way Things Were in 1993, only nine short years away from where we are currently at). I want to make it clear that any distaste I express for the Diana character is purely for the character. In the early stages of this blog, I believe I declared Claudia Lonow to be not a very good actress and I would usually be critical of her in that regard. I maintain that she’s not too great for seasons one through three, but around season four she really improved, and I think she got even better in season five. By the point we’re at now, I can respect Lonow’s acting and I think she does a fine job, but the problem for me is that the character is just so unpleasant. Yes, she provided great drama through the Chip Roberts shenanigans of seasons four and five, but I just find myself glad she’s leaving because, to be frank, the character is just so unpleasant and nasty to watch. I’m just tired of watching her be a brat and be nasty to everyone around her, which is why I’m fine with her evacuation from the series. Also, being that My Beloved Grammy has declared Diana her least favorite character pretty much since day one (I’m trying to remember the exact first time My Beloved Grammy said she hated this character, and I think it was actually somewhere in mid season two), you can bet that she was pleased to see Diana being sent off to New York.

    And hey, now that I think about it, even that development tracks pretty well throughout the course of the series. I’m starting to really admire the way the writers manage to boot people off of the series without it feeling tacky; generally, it feels very organic. Even if it’s two boring characters like Kenny and Ginger, the writers don’t just start a season with characters being like, “Oh, they moved away;” instead, they give them a little final moment to be on the series before they naturally leave the story. With Diana, we’ve seen her express a desire to live in New York many times, perhaps most notably in that awful season three episode Reunion, in which Jessica Walter came to town and almost got Karen to move the entire family to the Big Apple. Also, Diana was originally heading to New York with Chip at the ending of season four. It feels like now she has finally reached that goal; New York has always been where she wants to be and now she gets to be there. Again, it would be so easy for the writers to just ship her away offscreen and then dismiss her in a passing line of dialogue, just have Karen be like, “Oh, she moved away,” but instead she gets a nice little exit, and I appreciate that.

    Our last big story this week is Abs on the boat. St. Claire still has her held captive on this rather lovely yacht that I would be pretty much fine with being held captive on. Like I mentioned in the last ep, security isn’t exactly tight on this boat, because at one point someone opens up a drawer and Abs glances over and, well wouldn’t you know it, there just happens to be a gun sitting in the drawer. You’d think maybe St. Claire would tie Abs up or perhaps, you know, not have a gun sitting unattended in a random drawer next to Abs, but whatever, St. Claire is a big bad guy and I can buy that there would be random guns lying around in any area in which he conducts business.

    As with last ep, the boat is remaining docked because St. Claire is afraid of police interference if he tries to leave the area. He hatches a plan to get Greg over to the boat, with the idea being that no police road blocks (water blocks?) will stop them if they see this great potential future senator is on the boat. So, in typically wicked St. Claire style, he somehow manages to, like, get some checks that Sumner wrote him and attach them to the menus of the exact restaurant that Sumner is dining at with some random white dudes. Basically, Sumner opens up his menu, sees the check, and then he gets a phone call from St. Claire who asks, “Did you see the specials?” and then orders him to the pier in 45 minutes or less. He says it Sumner is not there soon, Abs dies. Honestly, I don’t think St. Claire will really kill Abs, but the threat works sufficiently to get Sumner driving over to the pier.

    I like it when relatable real-world things end up getting in the way of all this soapy drama, and we have a good example in our next scene, in which Greg decides to run a red light only to be stopped by one of those awful bike cops. However, I will say this bike cop isn’t all that bad, actually. He pulls Greg over but he’s nice to him when he recognizes him and says how his brother is convinced he’s gonna be the president one day or something. Then he does Greg a favor by only citing him for speeding, not for running the red light, and he also only cites him for going forty. They shake hands and Greg is nice and thanks him and then returns to his car. This is one of those random scenes that played out completely differently than I remembered. In my mind, I thought this scene involved an altercation between Greg and the cop; I thought that Greg got nasty or sassy and wound up being held up longer because of his nasty attitude. Nope, instead they shake hands and are friendly and Greg goes on his way. Perhaps I’m thinking of some later episode where Greg gets into an argument with a cop; I guess we’ll see.

    Greg reaches the boat and enters to find Abs, you know, just sorta sitting on the couch, hanging out. St. Claire is also there, of course, and he gives some vaguely threatening speech about how he could totally destroy Greg’s political career. At this point, Abs manages to get the gun by, um, opening that drawer and grabbing the unattended gun. Then she stands up and points it at St. Claire and Greg is like, “Give me the gun, Abs,” and then St. Claire is like, “No, give me the gun, Abs.” Well, Abs chooses to hand the gun over to Greg, who takes a moment to consider and then decides to just go ahead and shoot St. Claire in cold blood. This is all shot rather undramatically, as we have the gunshot and then an immediate cut to St. Claire lying on the ground, dead. One thing I will note (in a loving way) is how everyone who gets shot on this series seems to never bleed. We just watched Karen get shot by Laura Palmer’s mother, and in that case she elegantly fell to the ground with not a single drop of blood on her, and St. Claire is the same way. I’ve never shot someone to death (at least not yet), but I have the feeling that if you’re really standing at close range to someone and you plug a bullet into their belly, there would probably be some blood.
    The death of St. Claire provides the ending for the episode, and I again note the terrific way that the writers manage to bring in new stories while finishing up the old stories all before anything manages to get boring. Back with the Chip saga, I said how I was barely about five minutes away from getting tired of that story, and at that precise moment, they killed off Chip and moved on to new affairs. The same is true here, because while I’ve greatly enjoyed Mark St. Claire’s white-collar crime style and all the scenes of him sitting in dark, smoke-filled rooms and making vague threats to people over the phone, I think if he had hung around much longer, he would have become boring. With typically great KL timing, the writers have Greg plug him with a bullet and the character is killed off before he has the chance to become uninteresting.

    Okay, so that was a pretty loaded episode, wasn’t it? Yes, Calculated Risks had a lot going on, what with the exodus of Diana to New York, the introduction of Joshua to Seaview Circle, Karen’s Sophie’s Choice situation involving whether to have that risky surgery or not, Michael looking sexy, and finally the death of St. Claire. Busy busy busy. So how was the episode? Well, I thought it was great, duh! This was a tremendous step up from last episode and, in my opinion, nicely ditched that “premiere” feeling where we are mostly getting up to date on proceedings. Now I feel like we’re off to the races, with exciting stuff happening and old storylines finishing up as we also introduce our new stories for the season. Join me next time as we watch these stories continue to grow with Hanging Fire.
     
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  11. Willie Oleson

    Willie Oleson drilling for soap

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    Yes, they did that quite a few times. They also had an incredible sense for timing.
    That is so typical "just in case you think you're getting away with it" - and that goes for both Karen and the viewers. I find it very soap-y.
    But then they would still have that precious year together. People can be so unnecessarily noble sometimes, but frustration is an important part of our viewing experience.
     
  12. Knots Blogger

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    Episode Title: Hanging Fire
    Season 06, Episode 03

    Episode 103 of 344

    Written by Alan Goldfein

    Directed by Alexander Singer

    Original Airdate: Thursday, October 25th, 1984

    The Plot (Courtesy of TV.Com): Greg tells the police that he shot St. Claire because he had a gun and was about to shoot Abby. Abby concurs. Greg asks Abby to make a public statement on his behalf. Gary buys the cable station Ben works at. Gary takes Abby back, but says he's taking control of the business, and it will now be run honestly and fairly. He says he had Lotus Point redesigned to fit into the environment and that Karen will be an equal partner. Gary tells Cathy he loves Abby, but hopes they can remain friends. Val figures out that Lilimae is Joshua's mother. Lilimae tells her that she was never married to Joshua's father Jonathan. She stayed with him for a year after Joshua was born and tried to be a good mother. She doesn't know how to tell Joshua that she is his mother.

    [​IMG]



    Our last episode, Calculated Risks, quite literally ended with a bang as Greg Sumner finally decided to put a bullet in Mark St. Claire and finish that character and that storyline. As we pick up with Hanging Fire, we can see that Greg is going to have to tread lightly when it comes to handling this topic. After all, he’s still a big shot political figure who wants to become a senator, and generally people don’t look too kindly on their senators murdering people in cold blood on boats.

    We pick up Hanging Fire about two seconds after Calculated Risks ended, opening on Greg and Abs getting off the boat and Gary and Abs finally reuniting and joyfully hugging each other, which I greatly enjoyed. However, I do find it a little odd that Greg and Abs just sorta, you know, walk off the boat. Was St. Claire not surrounded by a bunch of lackeys and henchmen who lived to serve his every need? Where did all those guys go? I know we didn’t get all that much boat action last week, but whenever we did get over to St. Claire on the boat, there was always at least one or two other people around with him, making sure Abs didn’t get away. How, then, was Greg able to kill St. Claire and just walk casually off the boat? Perhaps it’s the thing where, by cutting off the snake’s head, you effectively kill the entire body, like St. Claire is the head of the snake and all the henchmen are the body; now that their boss is dead, they may very well have no interest in the affairs of Greg or Abs.

    [​IMG]



    A little later into the episode, we have a great camp scene that made both My Beloved Grammy and myself laugh aloud, and that is Abs lying in bed, thrashing around and screaming out as if she’s having the most terrifying nightmare of all time. Look, I know it sucks to be kidnapped in any regard, but she was kidnapped for about five minutes, and during those five minutes, she mostly spent her time sitting on a nice cushy sofa on a real nice boat parked in a yacht. St. Claire didn’t beat her or threaten her or rape her or anything like that; basically she just hung out on the boat for awhile until she found that gun so carefully stashed away in that drawer. The idea that she is now experiencing P.T.S.D. flashbacks to this terrifying afternoon on the boat is just hilarious to me. Even so, this whole kidnapping incident provides the impetus for Gary and Abs to get back together, something I didn’t entirely remember. See, sometimes I can remember the incidents and storylines from the series clear as day, and sometimes things sorta blur together. In this instance, the exact length of time that Gary and Abs stay together is still a blur to me; when we reached So Shall You Reap and he threw her off the ranch, I actually kinda thought that was the real end of it, because I couldn’t remember if or when Gary forgave her and took her back into his life. Well, turns out it’s right here, following her terrifying ordeal on the boat.

    TO BE CONTINUED
     
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    CONTINUED

    [​IMG]
    It’d be easy to dismiss Gary as a fool for allowing Abs back into his life, but we actually get some fabulous stuff this week that makes it pretty clear that Gary’s no fool. See, after Abs has been safely rescued from the boat, she and Gary are taking a walk around Westfork and discussing Lotus Point and the future. Gary announces that he’s going to be running things from now on and there’s going to be a strict focus on environmental friendliness and all that good stuff. He says something about how what happened before is partially his fault because he sat back and let Abs handle everything when he should have been actively involved. Next up, he delivers the real kick in the nuts to Abs, which comes when he announces, “I want you to meet your new partner,” just as our lovely Karen comes walking into the scene, right on cue to create drama between Gary and Abs.

    After Abs sees who she’s going to have to be working with, she storms into the house and Gary follows her and the two have a talk. This is the scene I really wanted to discuss, in which we realize that Gary is definitely seeing clearly by this point. See, Abs says something like, “Shouldn’t you trust me?” and Gary laughs at her, which I found delightful, and then says, “I love you; I don’t trust you.” That’s it, that’s the line, that shows us that Gary is no longer a fool and he sees the woman he’s involved with for who she is and he’s smart enough to know what she’ll do if he gives her the power. I also just love the way he laughs, because it’s not in a malicious way or like he’s trying to hurt her feelings, but rather that he’s just amused by her question, amused by the very idea that he could just blindly trust her. And what of this ‘love’ business, by the way? Does Gary really love Abs? How can he love Abs when his true soul mate is Valene? Well, I’ve gone on in the past about how I think you can love more than one person, just the way that I think Val loves both Gary and Ben. I don’t think Gary loves Abs with the same soul-crushing intensity that his love for Val brings out, but he does love her, just the same. I also want to make special mention of this scene because I actually saw it on YouTube out of context a long time ago and it’s what lead me to pursue finishing KL after watching the first two seasons on DVD and being underwhelmed. I remember watching this scene of Abs and Gary sorta fighting and, even without any understanding of what was going on around them at this juncture, I saw this and I thought, “Yes.” Everything looked so much more exciting than those first two seasons, and Abby’s hair was obviously a big selling point for me when I first saw this clip. So excited was I by this brief little scene that, upon viewing it, I began to make efforts to procure the post season two years of KL.

    [​IMG]


    Even though Karen’s keeping busy by going to work for Gary at Lotus Point, she’s still got plenty of other things going on in her life, like the whole dying thing and the way it’s ruining her relationship with her great husband, Mack. Oh, poor, poor Mack; I just want to climb into the TV set and hug him and tell him everything is going to be okay. In this ep, we have a scene displaying both characters sitting alone in bed (or “in couch,” in the case of Mack, who has been spending his nights at Ben’s Plant House), clearly thinking about each other. Mack picks up the phone and decides to give Karen a call, prompting a scene that reminds me of all the yearning we typically get from Gary and Val. In this instance, I absolutely want both of these characters to work it out with each other, to patch things up and make peace, but just as the writers dangle a little carrot of hope in front of me, they then take it away. See, the two are having a nice conversation on the phone, being pleasant, but after the ice has been broken a bit and Mack says how he thinks they should go out for dinner the next night, Karen gets stern and says, “No, the marriage is over.” Oh God, it hurts.

    Can I just take a pause to say that these characters are soooooooo interesting? I feel like I might say that a lot, but damn, is it not true? Even back in the early years, when the eps were a little more inconsistent and you would be randomly assaulted with eps like Land of the Free or Man of the Hour or Silver Shadows, the characters were still super interesting. Now that the show has officially morphed into the greatest artistic achievement in television all around them, the characters have only gotten better. Also, and I feel like this might have something to do with passing the 100 episode mark, but now I’m really starting to feel as if I know these characters, as if they’re real people, as if they’re old friends. This entire storyline with Karen potentially dying and her relationship with Mack disintegrating could be a boring snore; it could be like Mike and Susan on Desperate Housewives (remember them? No? Exactly), where the writers are just trying to keep the couple apart and we the viewers are supposed to want them together. However, this just all plays as so real, like both characters are real people who I love and understand. Karen doesn’t want Mack to take her back only for her to die within a year, while meanwhile Mack can’t completely understand why his wife continues to shut him out all the time and it’s starting to eat away at him. Yeah, it hurts to watch because I love the characters so much, but it’s great drama and great writing and really great acting.

    [​IMG]


    Meanwhile, Cathy and Laura continue to seem like they might become lesbians with each other, even though I’m fairly positive no such thing ever happens. Again, I’m sorry if I keep bringing it up, but it’s because I just have no memory of this. I remember lesbian undertones for Laura and Ciji, but not Laura and Cathy, and yet as we start Hanging Fire, the two are getting especially cozy and now Cathy has moved into Laura’s house, something else that completely slipped my memory. I bring this up a lot because, realistically, I find it hard to believe that Laura could have lesbian feelings for Ciji and then not have those exact same feelings for Ciji’s exact freaking twin double, Cathy. So maybe Cathy isn’t having any lesbian thoughts, but I just feel like those thoughts are still creeping around in the back of Laura’s brain, especially since, at this juncture, having chosen to split from Greg for the time being, she is now a single woman, ready to mingle.

    However, it doesn’t look like there is going to be any muff diving this week on KL, mostly because all the evidence suggests to me that Cathy is a fairly staunch heterosexual woman. In this ep, she has some good scenes with both Gary, sorta ending a relationship, and then Joshua, sorta beginning a new relationship. First she pays Gary a visit up at Westfork and is a bit dismayed to see that Abs has returned to living on the ranch. Gary explains that he loves Abs and that they’re going to try and make it work by living together again. Cathy gets rather naked here (emotionally naked, not literally naked) and asks Gary, “What was I to you?” Gary answers with, “What I hope you still are, a good friend.” I can respect his answer; I actually think that, even when he and Cathy were actively sleeping together (which was very brief in the grand scheme of things), she was his friend first. I think Gary looked at her as someone to ride horses and explore the land with; the fact that the two also had sex a few times is almost secondary to the friendship part.

    Later on, Cathy meets up with Joshua, who is relaxing on the porch and looking out at a peaceful night on the cul-de-sac. Ah, how wonderfully exciting and cute it is to see these two interact for the first time. I don’t mean to immediately get into spoiler territory, but based on the way things unfold over the next year, it’s easy to forget how sweet and adorable Joshua and Cathy are upon first interacting with each other. See, he’s making some sort of cool duck sound with his hands, and then Cathy comes to sit with him and asks him how he made that sound, and then the scene proceeds forward with the two talking a bit about their lives, beginning a fascinating relationship that we shall continue exploring well into the next season.

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    Joshua himself is not having the best of days either, by the way. Can I just say that I actually feel rather sorry for him right now? Even though Baldwin usually drips with a certain slimy charm in all his roles, at this point Joshua is just so pure and innocent and gentle; watching Lilimae tell him last ep that his mom was a tramp who is better off dead really made me feel sorry for the poor guy, a feeling which continues this week. After all, Joshua only has three living relatives in the whole world, his papa (who likes to beat him black and blue, as you’ll recall, so he’s hardly winning any father of the year awards), Val, and Lilimae. He has come out to California to try and forge some new connection with these people, and while Val is being nice and sweet with him, Lilimae is having none of it, and I imagine it would hurt to take all that effort to go out and meet someone only to have them shut you out. So let’s just get right to the point, shall we? Joshua is obviously Lilimae’s son, and I feel like most viewers could probably call that plot development well before it occurs, pretty much from the moment he shows up at Val’s doorstep. For these first two eps featuring Joshua, My Beloved Grammy has seemed convinced that he’s in California for some sort of revenge against Val and/or Lilimae, that he has duplicitous motives. This could be due to the fact that the last random stranger to show up and start living with Val and Lilimae was, well, Chip, so I understand My Beloved Grammy’s suspicions, but I also think they softened throughout this ep as we get to learn more about him and his true relation to Lilimae. I appreciate the fact that the writers don’t draw out the surprise of Lilimae being Joshua’s mother for ten or twenty episodes the way they would do it over on Dallas. Instead, we get confirmation right here in this ep via a nice bit of superstitious back story. See, Val is all busy getting things prepped and ready for the arrival of the babies, and she and Joshua wind up discussing the topic of cribs. Joshua tells Val that his mother had a superstition about cribs being bad luck for babies, so little baby Joshua slept in a sink full of pillows. As soon as we hear this insight, it’s pretty clear that it’s going to come back a little later in the ep to reveal a shocking secret.

    It may be a smidge of convenient writing, but I’ll forgive it since I love KL and since we are currently watching a show at the peak of its creative powers and I’m not gonna complain about some slightly convenient writing, but anyway, it just so happens that on the exact same day that Joshua brings up his sleeping-in-a-sink-full-of-pillows memory, Val and Lilimae also get to talking about cribs and Lilimae says, “It is my firm belief that cribs bring bad luck.” Well, as soon as Val hears this little insight, she is able to put two and two together and figure out what’s really going on around here. I do have to ask, however, if Lilimae also raised Val sleeping in a sink full of pillows. This seems like the kind of superstition you don’t just lose one day, so don’t you think she probably did the same thing with Val? And if that’s the case, wouldn’t Val have probably heard this story a time or two beforehand?

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    CONTINUED

    In any case, Lilimae doesn’t tell Joshua the truth until our next ep, but this ep does provide some helpful backstory so that we understand exactly how Lilimae could wind up having another kid. It helps that Lilimae’s entire backstory is so draped in excitement and wild adventures. Since she was always travelling around from place to place, it’s believable that there would be gaps in her past history or different events that she doesn’t discuss with others. In the case of Joshua, we learn that she was seeing some preacher guy named Jonathan way back when and she got pregnant out of wedlock by this preacher (how scandalous!). The two never officially got married, but they carried on as if they were man and wife and she helped him run his congregation and then she had baby Joshua. We learn that after a year of trying to be a good mother, Lilimae simply couldn’t handle it and so she took off and went on to whatever adventures lie in her future (in addition to Gary and Val: The Lost Years 1962-1978, I’m also starting to really think that a Lilimae prequel series could make a stunning TV show, and obviously the title of it would be Nashville Junction).
    I’ve probably said something like this before, but it’s a real testament to the inherent sweetness Julie Harris brings to her character that Lilimae doesn’t just come off as reprehensible most of the time. When you write out on paper all the stuff Lilimae has done, she sounds like kind of a shitty person. After all, we all remember the early days when we first met Lilimae in a guest spot in Will the Circle Be Unbroken? In that ep, we learned about how young mother Valene came running to Lilimae for help with baby Lucy in her arms, J.R.’s good old boys hot on her tail. When she found her mother and begged her to protect the baby, Lilimae refused, citing the fact that some (probably imaginary) big record producer was in the house visiting with her and couldn’t know that she’s a grandma. Thanks to Lilimae’s selfishness, baby Lucy was taken away from Val and was raised as part of the cast of a less good show. So yeah, that was some pretty shitty behavior, but now we learn that she also abandoned her pseudo-husband and her new son after a year of trying to make it work. However, there’s some indefinable special quality that Julie Harris brings to proceedings which makes it hard or impossible to judge her because we see her now as an older and wiser woman who has lived a long life and made some decisions that she regrets. It’s hard for me to imagine anyone else playing this character and making her work so well and remain likable despite all we know about her past history (I’m obviously speaking for myself right now; at this exact point My Beloved Grammy is still not a Lilimae fan and I’m starting to doubt she ever will be).

    [​IMG]

    Oh yeah, and even if the actors aren’t always necessarily playing their real life ages when they play their characters, I still like to know how old the actors are so I can use it to gauge the characters. Alec Baldwin was born on April 3rd, 1958, which would put him at 26 years old right here (that’s how old I am, and I’m not on a hit show yet…) whereas Julie Harris was born December 2nd, 1925, putting her at almost 59 years old here, 33 years older than Baldwin. Of course, the characters could be slightly different ages than the actors. I get the feeling that Joshua is supposed to be a little younger than 26 (maybe 21 or 22?) and I also get the feeling that Lilmae is meant to be a little younger than 59, like maybe 53 of 54. In any case, even though I don’t think the exact ages are stated and we don’t know precisely how old Lilimae was when Joshua was born, we can imagine that she was a young mother and that she was probably unprepared for all the responsibilities.

    Oh yeah, and one other thing to note: It’s hard to feel too judgmental of Lilimae because, even before we meet the character, we’re definitely getting the sense that this Jonathan guy was something of a scary asshole. During the entire first disk of season six, I was convinced we were going to meet this character on this disk, but apparently I’ll have to wait until the next one, because we don’t see him yet. However, we get enough cryptic little mentions of his name, and we get Joshua’s “black and blue” story, and a little later we hear a story from Lilimae about how Jonathan humiliated the choir she was working with and made them feel worthless, so we definitely get the sense that this isn’t exactly a great dude. While I’m on the subject, I might as well insult religion a little bit before I move on. Suffice it to say that, while I do believe in a God above us, I am not a religious person and will probably never ever go to church (us gays have a weird relationship with religion, don’t you know), I have always found churches tremendously creepy and as a child would never ever go inside of one, and I tend to think of most religion as this scary and oppressive thing that sucks all the joy out of life. Certainly, we are already getting that sense from this off-screen Jonathan character, and we get the feeling that he instilled a lot of fear and shame into Joshua, something we are going to see further explored as we move along through the season.

    [​IMG]


    This episode ends on a more mellow note than our last three or four eps. Instead of ending on Karen getting shot or on a pronouncement from the doctor that she’ll be dead within one year or on Mark St. Claire finally taking a bullet in the chest, we instead end on a conversation between Greg and Abs, who meet up at some parking lot somewhere to talk about the state of affairs. See, Greg is walking a tight rope now because he shot a man to death; he needs the public to believe he was only doing it in the interest of protecting Abs from this evil man, so he needs Abs to go along with the story and say that Greg is a hero. At first, Abs doesn’t want to do it, but Greg manages to convince her that they’d be better off working together and helping each other out and we end on a freeze frame (rare; I feel like it’s been awhile since we’ve had the freeze frame ending) or Abby’s smirking face and that concludes Hanging Fire.

    Wow, I really found a lot to say about this episode, a lot more than I would have originally expected. While I don’t think this was my favorite episode of that entire disk we watched (which spans Buying Time through Ipso Facto), I think it was the best of the first three eps of the season and really shows a ton of fascinating character stuff. I love how the show can introduce a new character like Joshua and, after just two eps with him, I feel like he’s an established part of the cast and an important part of the series and equally as interesting as anyone else in the cast. I also admire the skill of the writers who are able to always keep things moving, to finish up the old stories before they can become boring and to move in the new stories in a way that’s organic, making us feel like things are always developing and changing right in front of us.

    Continuing on from our episode ending, we shall see Abs giving Greg that little help he needs in our next episode, appropriate titled A Little Help.
     
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    Episode Title: A Little Help
    Season 06, Episode 04

    Episode 104 of 344

    Written by Diana Kopald Marcus

    Directed by Robert Becker

    Original Airdate: Thursday, November 1st, 1984

    The Plot (Courtesy of TV.Com): Abby gives a press conference on behalf of Greg. Afterwards Greg tells her he will never work with her again. Mad, Abby asks a reporter at the cable station to dig up the medical history of Greg's opponent, Bob Caufield. He finds out that Caufield had been in a psychiatric hospital. Abby overrides Ben and runs the story, and Ben is livid. Greg tells Abby that he will wring the neck of whoever leaked it. Abby smiles and tells him that HE leaked it. Cathy invites Joshua to hear her sing. Val convinces Lilimae to tell Joshua that she is his mother. Lilimae does, and Joshua, upset and angry, walks out. Val talks to him about how Lilimae abandoned her, too, but if he's willing to give her a chance, he'll find out she's a beautiful woman. Joshua decides to stay.


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    When we last left off, the writers had wisely realized that if they drew out the Mark St. Claire storyline too much longer, it would threaten to become uninteresting, so they had Greg shoot him to death on his boat two eps ago. Last ep, we saw Greg explain to Abs why he needs her support and he needs her to give a public press conference in which she makes it clear that Greg was saving her life. After some pleading, Abs agreed and that takes us nicely into the very first scene of A Little Help, which actually starts out in a tremendously exciting and cinematic way, with lots of rapid cuts to cameras going off or being loaded with film, to lights being prepared, stuff like that. You could easily just start the show out with the press conference already in progress, or with some boring stock establishing shot of people getting ready to hear Abs speak, but instead we start the ep in a way that feels like it’s from a movie and that immediately gets the audience excited to keep watching.

    Now might be a good time to mention the director of this particular KL ep, Robert Becker. Considering what a brilliant start to the episode he presents us with, I felt bad that I’ve neglected to mention this director more, especially since I get so excited and have heart palpitations every time Larry Elikann or Bill “Cooke” Duke show up behind the camera, but then I took a peek at his IMDb and realized that he’s only directed two eps prior to this one (A Change of Heart and High Ideals, both from season five), but he’s also going to direct twelve more eps after this one, going as late as 1992 and the episode Fair Warning, so I’ll try to keep my eyes open for his name whenever it pops up and see what kind of cool, unique directorial flair he brings to his eps.

    Okay, so this press conference goes off fairly smoothly, with Abs telling everybody how her life was in jeopardy and Greg Sumner is the hero who came to her rescue and saved the day singlehandedly by wrestling the gun out of St. Claire’s hand and then killing him in self defense. The majority of the press seem to eat this story up with a spoon, but Ben is lurking in the shadows and not swallowing it quite so easily. He brings up the fact that St. Claire doesn’t need to carry a gun; that he has people hired all around him to function as his guns (where all of these hired guns were when Greg and Abs just, um, walked off the boat at the start of our previous ep remains a bit of a mystery). Oh yeah, and while we’re on the subject of Ben, I regret to inform you all that his cool little beard has now gone bye bye. I was impressed by the continuity when we leapt from season five finale to season six premiere and saw that Ben’s stubble remained exactly the same (unlike Abby’s magically restyled hair), and I was even more impressed when the stubble held on for a few more eps, but it’s officially gone now and both My Beloved Grammy and myself miss it. I didn’t really think about it until she brought it up upon our last visit and said how much she preferred bearded Ben, but I’ve decided so do I, and I’m not generally a beard guy. Ben’s beard made him look tougher or cooler or something, I dunno, and it’s gonna take me awhile (meaning basically just this one episode) to get over the loss of his beard, especially since I’m almost certain it never returns to the series, despite many letter writing campaigns from fans demanding the return of Ben’s beard.

    [​IMG]


    Oh yeah, and what of Ben at this point in the series? I feel like I’ve been slacking the last few eps on keeping abreast of what’s going on in Ben’s life, but he is a busy boy this week and so he deserves discussion, especially with his recent promotion in my eyes from a character I never really thought twice about to a character I’m starting to greatly appreciate. I neglected to mention a fairly important plot development last week, but that’s okay cuz I’m mentioning it now, and that is the fact that Gary has bought Ben’s little news station. Now, Ben himself isn’t aware of this at first and even Abs doesn’t know that the news station Gary buys is specifically the one that Ben works for, so this week when Ben and Abs happen to run into each other at the station and she’s all like, “Oh yeah, I own this company now,” both characters a bit surprised to see each other.

    Abs and Ben are linked close this week, sharing a pretty good storyline involving Sumner’s political opponent, Bob Caulfield. See, Abs does something this week which I’m not entirely clear on the motivation behind. She hears some whisperings that Caulfield has something mysterious and shady in his medical history, so she hires some lackey to do a bit of digging and find out the truth. After about five minutes, the lackey returns with the fact that Caulfield spent a period of several months in an institution back in the ‘60s after suffering some sort of mental breakdown. Oooh, how scandalous! What links her and Ben is that she wants to run this story right away, this very moment, without a single minute’s wait, while Ben wants to do the right thing and present this information to Caulfield, inform him that they have obtained this information, ask him if it’s true, and then give him a warning in advance before they do so.

    God, what a guy. It’s stuff like this that’s igniting a newfound appreciation for the Ben character. It sounds super boring when you say it, but I love it when characters in TV shows are super duper morally just and ethical (and I of course love the exact opposite, which is why I love characters like J.R. or Abs), but I especially love that when the characters manage to be morally just and ethical and yet not boring; that’s the real trick. There have been plenty of boring, shitty shows about people being good people, and usually they are impossible to sit through (or they’re absolutely 100% awful and some of the worst excuses for art ever made, and yet they manage to become fascinating and hold a sway over my life, such as the gloriously demented 7th Heaven), but it’s a real talent when you can keep your good, moral characters managing to be interesting. In this case, I respect Ben for being a true reporter and for striving to report the news in a fair and ethical way.

    [​IMG]


    In any case, Ben goes out to see Caulfield and presents him with the documents and asks if the information in them is true. Caulfield says it’s definitely true, but that it was such a blip on his radar nearly twenty years ago that he had somewhat forgotten all about it. Ben promises Caulfield time to break the news himself before his station does it, but then two seconds later a guy comes over to Caulfield and tells him that the story already ran. We all know what that means, and so does Ben, which leads us to our next scene in which he is damn mad. He arrives fuming at the station and starts packing up his shit. He says how he’s going to announce to Abs that he’s leaving, but then he just sorta storms off and says something about how she’ll figure it out herself.

    On the Abs front, I do have to ask why exactly she is doing this. I honestly don’t know if she’s trying to do Greg a favor (the title of the episode is A Little Help, after all), or if she’s doing it for duplicitous reasons. On the one hand, after giving that big press statement and exonerating Greg, she doesn’t really owe him another favor, does she? Or is she doing this as a second favor to then say, “Okay, you saved my life, then I gave that press conference, so we were even, but now I’ve done you one extra favor, so you owe me one more”? I feel like it might be that, and I’m also sure it’s not nearly so complicated as I’m making it sound and that my confusion is just a result of my own stupid brain (there was no drinking upon this visit; I can assure you).

    Enough about Abs and Ben and Pacific World News or whatever it’s called (I’m pretty sure I’m correct); what’s going on with Karen and Laura? Happily, after a long year of the two being not-exactly-friends, the friendship is reignited, and can I just say what sheer joy flooded my soul as I watched this? It’s also so gloriously simple in the greatest KL way. There’s no big fanfare or epic speeches; instead Laura just pays Karen a visit and gives a real sincere apology for the way things went down in the last year and the two forgive each other and hug and say it’s nice to see each other again and there you go. I know some people might prefer this to be drawn out a little longer, maybe for the two to stay a little uncomfortable with each other for awhile, but I think it’s just perfect. In real life, friendships can die unexpectedly but they can also come back just as unexpectedly and suddenly, so this had a nice ring of truth to it.

    TO BE CONTINUED
     
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    CONTINUED

    I also wanna stress that I appreciate Laura not being vilified. I love how the writers managed to have her do some pretty duplicitous things throughout the course of the fifth season, yet now as we start the sixth season, we don’t feel that she’s an evil or immoral or irredeemable character. She got greedy, wanted “her piece of the pie,” screwed up, made a mistake, she admits it, now Karen is ready to forgive her and they can all move on. I feel like on another show, the writers would present this as a “Laura is turning EVIL!” storyline, but it’s much more realistic on KL and done in a way that keeps us feeling relatable towards Laura. That’s some skilled writing and planning. However, I do also wonder if Karen’s forgiveness of Laura stems from the recent news she received from her doctor. Indeed, that recent news comes up in a big way later on in this ep.

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    See, that heartfelt reunion with Laura is not all Karen does this week, because she also makes a very abrupt and surprising announcement to Gary, that being the little fact that she’s dying. Wow, now this I did not remember at all and I’m eager to see where this leads us. In my memory, Karen’s little season six bout with near death remained pretty much private and known only to her for a good chunk of the season, but nope, I’ve again misremembered. This scene is also mondo touching and hits you when you’re least expecting it. See, Gary and Karen are walking around Lotus Point (we finally get a little tour of this development as we see Gary, ever the environmentalist, proudly showing Karen the stream he didn’t have to divert which he has running right through the main lobby), having a little argument about something or other. Actually, if I’m remembering this correctly, it’s an argument about some project Gary wants done, and how Gary thinks it can be done in two years but Karen is pushing for it to done in less than one year, for reasons that we know but might not make sense to another person. Her and Gary have this little argument, and it’s not violent or a great big epic fight or anything like that, but they fight a bit and then, as Gary is walking away, Karen calls him back and then just flatly states, “I’m dying.” See what I mean about a gut punch? And then the scene turns extra dramatic and touching because she starts crying and Gary hugs her and she cries on his shoulder.

    Oh wow, let’s just go back to 1984-1985 and give Shack and Michele some Emmys, shall we? In fact, let’s add this season six Emmy to the one next to Michele’s season three Emmy that only exists within the alternate reality that fills my head. This scene is just great and, sorry to repeat myself, but it again is done in that perfectly realistic KL way. No big music flares or anything, nor does Gary GASP with a big shocked reaction. Instead, Karen just puts it all right out there on the table and Gary looks surprised and concerned and they hug and it’s just glorious. Reflecting on a scene this good, it also makes me reflect on the fact that we’ve now officially crossed the 100 episode mark and are at the point where the characters are really and truly starting to feel like real people and my own real friends (I realize how sad and pathetic I sound saying that, much like all those people with no real life friends who would say, “I feel like all the characters on Friends are my friends!"). Especially with characters like Karen and Gary, who have been around since the very first episode and will be around until the very last episode, we have now spent five years and 103 episodes watching them know each other and be close to each other and love each other. I definitely feel like we’re entering a new era for the show in which all that rich past history established in previous seasons really starts to pay off as we feel nice and comfortable with our whole cast of characters.

    Why don’t I remember this development at all? Obviously the easy answer is that there are 344 episodes and I’ve only watched the series once and it’s hard to remember all the details (and, of course, there’s the vodka I consumed so regularly during my college days). I’m pleased with this development, however, and glad that Karen decided to tell somebody about her medical crisis, especially since she’s still shutting out Mack and, based on my memories, will probably keep shutting him out for another ten episodes or so. Why she chooses to tell Gary the truth and nobody else is up for debate, but I honestly think it might be a heat-of-the-moment thing, and I think it’s very important that the two are having a little argument when she tells him. I feel like Gary’s walking away from her and Karen realizes that she will be dead in a year and she thinks to herself how she doesn’t want to have fights and arguments with someone she loves, like Gary, and then I think in the heat of that emotion she just goes and blurts it out.

    If we’re going to give Shack and Michele some incredibly belated Emmys, then I think it’s time we also give one to Julie Harris (although I would argue she probably deserves an Emmy for every season that she’s been a main player on the show) and maybe even Alec Baldwin, too, because A Little Help continues to gloriously explore this relationship and provides some really fabulous scenes between the two, one a comfortably established character and one a brand new arrival to the block. Last week we established, via that bizarre crib superstition, that Lilimae is indeed Joshua’s real mother. This week, thanks to some gentle prodding from Val, Lilimae decides to do the right thing and tell Joshua the truth. Needless to say, he doesn’t take it too well, and disappears out of the house for the rest of the episode to wander the beach and go visit with Cathy. It’s not hard to blame him, and I again stress how sympathetic I’m feeling for Joshua and how innocently and sweetly Baldwin plays him. This poor young guy’s lived such a small, sheltered life, only really knowing his papa (loveable old papa who used to beat him black and blue, you’ll all remember) and the congregation and whoever went to their church (not to throw clichés around, but I’m willing to bet that all the devout Baptists of Jonathan’s congregation were not exactly open-minded, tolerant, fun-loving party animals who were super joyful to be around), never even leaving his little town until this recent trip to California. Now he finds out that his mother, a woman he has thought to be dead since he was a little baby, is actually alive and is actually Lilimae, the woman he thought was his aunt. My head would be all turned around, too, and I’d probably go walk on the beach just like he does.

    [​IMG]


    Amazing how even a scene as simple as Joshua taking a walk on the beach still manages to captivate my attention and leave me drooling and staring at the TV screen like the Nazis opening the ark of the covenant at the end of Raiders. Even though nothing actually happens in this scene, I’m just enthralled, and I love how so much is said without actually saying anything at all. We just watch Joshua, looking sad and forlorn as well as decidedly out of place, walking along with his arms crossed, his head down, not looking at anyone around him. I also like how the beach is so crowded in this instance, with lots of people in bathing suits hanging out and having a good time, only helping to make this fully clothed, shy looking man stand out even more. I also think I’m gonna finally have to renege on something I said way back when My Beloved Grammy and I were still making out way through season one. Back then, I said something about how the beach seemed to figure much more prominently in the first two or three seasons of the show and then it became less of a character. Well, I think that’s actually not true, because the beach has remained this perpetual extra cast member pretty much since day one and all the way up to this point. Who could forget Ciji’s poor dead body washing ashore, for instance? Or Gary finding her dead body the next morning? Or hey, how about The Beach House? Obviously you can’t have The Beach House without, you know, the beach. Now here we are in season six and the beach is still being featured heavily, so I officially take back what I said way back when.

    When we hit our next scene with Joshua, it also involves Cathy and, I’m not gonna lie, a little bit of precum probably came out into my pants. Why? Well, duh, it’s because Cathy is singing. Yes, thank God and Allah and Mohammad and whoever the hell everyone else worships, because the singing is officially back and I love it and I couldn’t be more excited about it. See, in either our last episode or maybe the episode right before that, Cathy told Laura that she had gotten a new job singing at Isadora’s, a bar that we have not seen on the series prior to this point. When I heard her announcement, I perked up and was like, “Oh yes, it can’t be much longer until we hear her singing again.” You all know how much I love listening to Lisa sing, you all know that I proudly own a vinyl copy of her Letterock album (with the B side warped, but what are you gonna do?), you all know how much I loved Ciji’s constant singing back in season four, and you all know that one of my only beefs with season five was lack of Lisa singing. Here, however, Joshua timidly enters Isadora’s while Cathy and her band are in the middle of a fantastic cover of I Can Dream About You (which, like all of her covers, winds up far surpassing the quality of the original version). Joshua watches and yearns and probably has some confused feelings about why the quality of this music is so much better than whatever shitty church music he’s used to hearing, and then after the song is over, Cathy comes down to visit with him.

    Can I just say what great chemistry these two have? Can I just say how adorable they are? Can I just say how much I love watching them interact onscreen? What utter cuteness Joshua and Cathy are! Joshua’s discomfort with being in a bar also adds some major cuteness points, as Cathy is looking all cool and casual and ‘80s and he’s sorta looking around the bar and is like, “I’ve never been in a place like this before.” I imagine Joshua’s never even tasted a beer before, let alone tasted a beer in an establishment in which you can also listen to fabulous ladies sing fabulous cover songs. You can also sense that Cathy is charmed by Joshua’s innocence, much as I am. Now, I’ve had relationships with somewhat, um, repressed people, and you can take my word for it that it pretty much never works out, but it’s definitely fun in the early stages when you realize that this person that you’re interested in has never tasted a beer or had sex or danced or sang or, you know, all the stuff that normal human people like to do. At a certain point you usually realize that the repressed person has no intention of becoming unrepressed and eventually their stupid little hang-ups about stuff like sex and nudity just become grating, but it’s sure fun for a little while.

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    TO BE CONTINUED
     
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    CONTINUED

    Joshua and Cathy sit at the bar (neither drink, however, though I’ll pay attention in the future to see if Joshua ever indulges) and he discusses his future plans. This is a very strange thing for me to be blanking on, but I honestly can’t remember if he fills her in on all the details of Lilimae being his real mother. I think he does, but I’m not completely certain, so sue me. Anyway, he tells Cathy how he’s thinking of heading off to the most exciting place in the entire world, Salt Lake City, to party hard and get down with some really wild people. Cathy just sorta listens and doesn’t really try to encourage his decision in either way, but Joshua does boldly declare that he’s never going back to Val and Lilimae’s again. My God, this character is just way too interesting to leave for boring ass Utah so quickly, so we should consider ourselves very grateful that Lilimae manages to track him down to the bus station and plead for him to stay. Again, I can’t remember the exact contents of the scene except that both characters are super interesting and both actors are super amazing and it takes a minute for Lilimae to sway him but finally she says, “Your name was just added to the scrolling squares, so you can’t leave yet!” With that in mind, Joshua decides to stay, and thank God, by the way, because I’m already in love with this character and I know that I’m in love with every storyline this character gets involved with, as well, and I certainly wouldn’t want to see him quietly shipped away on a bus so quickly.

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    This actually unfolds into a larger point I was going to make, yet another in my endless supply of “Why KL is so much better than Dallas” arguments, and that is the amazingly organic way that they are able to introduce new characters to the proceedings, most specifically new family members. See, for all intents and purposes this whole thing should really feel a lot stranger than it does. In most shows, introducing some long-lost and never-mentioned-before son to proceedings in episode 102 would not generally play out that well; it would probably seem like the writers stretching credibility for the sake of a new face in the cast. Think of every single boring time that Dallas would bring in some new and incredibly uninteresting long-lost Ewing character to proceedings (oh look, it’s Jamie Ewing, the boring as f*** daughter of Jason Ewing, and we haven’t mentioned Jamie or Jason once in any of the previous seven seasons!). Why, then, does it work so tremendously well on KL? I think it all comes down to the characters, the acting, and the writing. It’s the fact that none of this feels inorganic; it all works very well for what we know of Lilimae and her fairly wild young life. I feel like if this was Dallas, Joshua would just sorta show up and Lilimae would be like, “Oh yeah, that’s my son; have I never mentioned him before?” Instead, the fact that she has kept this a secret for so many years is playing into the story in a very real way, and the characters are just so damn interesting to watch together.

    I love KL and I loved this episode. I feel like I need to just end this right away because if I don’t, I’ll just keep writing about the sheer joy that is watching KL and that was watching this episode. We’re only four episodes deep, we haven’t even started to get to the real meat of season six (that being the television storytelling masterpiece that is Val’s babies), and yet I’m already over the moon about this year. Despite being at the start and what will probably wind up being the weakest portion of the season, I already think it’s clear that this is the best season. It’s the fact that we’re so comfortably established in this world, we’ve got such a terrific cast of characters by this juncture (when all is said and done, I have a feeling that I’ll declare the season six cast roster as the best of the entire series run), the writing is so damn good, the stories are so gripping, and it’s just the f*cking greatest feeling every time you dive into this world and explore a new episode. I just f*cking love this show and I f*cking love this episode and I love everything KL is and everything KL represents to my entire world and I just felt like dropping all my academic and snooty criticism for a little while just to shout out, “I F*CKING LOVE THIS SHOW.”

    Alright, so that was A Little Help. Our next episode provided the final episode of a disk for My Beloved Grammy and I, leaving us with many exciting cliffhangers and developments, so let’s just move right along to that particular ep, which is called Ipso Facto.
     
    Last edited: Mar 12, 2017
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  18. Daniel Avery

    Daniel Avery Super Moderator Staff Member

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    I assume Abby engineered the Caulfield leak in order for it to be (falsely) traced back to the Sumner campaign to make Greg look bad in the eyes of the public (slinging mud at an opponent). Abby was a bit miffed at Greg, so using her "toy" (the researchers at PWC) to cause trouble was just the way to get back at him.
     
  19. Knots Blogger

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    Episode Title: Ipso Facto

    Season 06, Episode 05

    Episode 105 of 344

    Written by John Saffron

    Directed by Larry Elikann

    Original Airdate: Thursday, November 8th, 1984

    The Plot (Courtesy of TV.Com): Gary tells Karen that Mack won't be grateful that she spared him her death; he'll be angry and resentful. Abby hires Scott Easton. Greg tells Abby he knows that one of her employee's broke into Caulfield's medical files. Abby threatens to retract her statement if he tells. Lotus Point has their grand opening. Mack and Karen begin to talk at the opening. Joshua tells Cathy that he met Abby and she is really 'nice.’ Greg invites Caulfield to the opening, and tells the press that his medical history doesn't matter. At the station, Abby sees a floppy disc on Ben's desk that is labeled "Val Notes." She puts it in the computer. It's a letter to Val that he loves her, but just can't get over the fact that she is having Gary's baby. Abby is shocked.


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    Oh f*ck yes, remember how I jizzed in my pants super hard over our last episode, A Little Help? Most of that jizzing wasn’t even based entirely on that particular ep, but rather a collection of feelings of love towards KL that appear to be reaching some new height of almost hysterical obsession as I work my way through the show along with My Beloved Grammy. Well, the jizzing shall only continue, growing stronger even, as we dive into this episode, Ipso Facto, and I suggest we start right off with, “What exactly does ‘ipso facto’ mean?” I’m glad you asked, because I looked it up and now I’m gonna tell you. The term “ipso facto” basically means, “Because of the fact that has already been established,” or another definition I found says, “As an inevitable result.” I bring this up because as the episode started, I announced the title of the episode and the airdate to My Beloved Grammy, as I always do, and then I randomly asked her what that term actually means and she didn’t know either. So, I looked it up, I learned what it means, and now I can only sit sadly and reflect on the fact that I’m allegedly a college educated person and my degree is supposed to be in writing and yet I didn’t even know until mere moments ago what “ipso faco” means. Oh well, the fact that My Beloved Grammy, who is older and wiser than I, also didn’t know what it means definitely helps me to feel a little bit less stupid, so let’s move right along.

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    This is the fifth episode of season six and I’m actually noticing some similarities to the fifth episode of season five from one year prior. In that instance, Greg threw a big political gathering (at what I later learned was simply a redressed Southfork set and, upon looking at some pictures online, I can confirm that it was, indeed, Southfork) and that gathering provided a fine opportunity to get the entire cast gathered in one place to interact. Here, in Ipso Facto, it’s the grand opening of Lotus Point that provides a setting for all our characters, although there’s definitely still some political stuff going on, as well, which we shall discuss when we discuss it.

    First off, here’s one development I neglected to mention last week, and that is the triumphant return of Jane Sumner. Yes, Anne Frank is back on the scene in A Little Help after making her last appearance back in Forsaking All Others and she continues to be prominent in Ipso Facto, as well. Let’s soak up all the Jane we can, by the way, because she’s only gonna be in one more episode this season (Truth and Consequences) before essentially leaving the show (she gets one last surprise appearance in 1990 with Out of Control). Much like so many other KL characters that I remember being bored or underwhelmed by but am suddenly really digging (Eric and Ben, to name just a few), Jane is ascending in my view and I’m starting to greatly appreciate this character as well as the actress. Is it just the inherent greatness of KL? Is it just the fact that when you have the KL writers working their magic, even the most minor of characters becomes super interesting and compelling? I feel like that might be it, along with simply casting good, solid actors who can bring these characters to life effectively. Before I get too excited, let me just make it clear that I’m not like, “OMIGOD JANE SUMNER IS THE GREATEST CHARACTER IN TELEVISION.” No, nothing like that, she’s a relatively minor character who only appears in six episodes out of 344, but I’m just saying that, for how minor she is and what a toss-off this character could be, the writers still manage to make her interesting.

    I bring up Jane because she figures somewhat significantly into the story this week. She’s back in town as of last week to see what the heck is really going on in Greg’s life, another detail I appreciate. I feel like it wouldn’t be a complete KL episode writeup if I didn’t take a moment to sh*t on Dallas (a show I still like a lot, just to be clear), so let’s go ahead and get that out of the way now. Over on Dallas, wildly dramatic things would occur and often characters who should be on the scene for such proceedings would be conspicuously absent. An example that springs immediately to mind is when Southfork nearly burned down at the conclusion of season six and yet, for the first ten eps or so of season seven, Miss Ellie was completely absent and we would just be told by other characters that she was, like, on a vacation or some other nonsense. Oh yeah, really? You’d think that your house nearly burning to the ground might be a good reason to cancel your vacation plans, but I guess not. Over here in the comparatively more realistic world of KL, when Greg ends up shooting James Bond villains to death on sexy boats, the writers do not just merely dismiss the character of his wife with some throwaway line like, “She’s travelling through Europe.” Nope, instead they bring her back into the proceedings and have her say, “Gee Greg, I hear you shot some James Bond villain to death on a sexy boat.”

    Greg and Jane had a good scene in the last ep that I neglected to mention, but basically the gist of the scene was that he manages to keep cool and act like everything’s okay, although I get the sense that Jane somewhat sees through his lies. This week, Jane probably spends more time hanging around Mack than Greg, and we even get the possible stirrings of an adulterous romance between the two. See, at some point near the middle of the ep they wind up in a car somehow, and it’s raining and it’s all very stylish, courtesy of that ever-dependable Larry Elikann, who continues to bring such fabulous style to the small screen every time he steps behind the camera of a KL ep. Anyway, Greg and Jane are talking about their past history, and I’m gonna go on for another seventeen pages about how much I love this, so get ready.

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    I love the fact that I actually believe in this past story, that it never feels invented. When Greg was first introduced to the show back at the start of season five, we were told he was an old friend of Mack’s and that they went to college or law school together or something. This could have felt totally invented, but it’s always felt genuine to me, and now as Mack and Jane discuss being young and staying up late to study for stuff, I can actually picture it in my mind; it’s not like when Jenna and Bobby would discuss their youth and their love affair over on Dallas and I would just get bored and throw up. Instead, this actually feels like real people. Even when they kiss, it doesn’t feel too soapy or melodramatic; it’s just something that happens. The kiss is placed into the thirty second preview before the still-absolutely-brilliant opening credits, making it look like something saucy and risqué, but when it actually occurs it’s not such a big deal, and I kinda prefer it that way. Will Jane and Mack have an affair? Well, considering Jane’s going away in the next episode, I’m gonna go ahead and say probably not, but maybe we the viewers aren’t even meant to be in suspense about this; maybe we are just supposed to watch two people have a little romantic moment and then that’s the end of it.

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    It’s rather typical of me to pick one of the smallest aspects of any given episode and then write about it for several years. All things considered, the kiss between Mack and Jane is a rather microscopic portion of this episode compared to everything else that’s going down this week, so let’s explore someone else, starting with my much cherished (and still favorite character, thank you very much) Karen. We open the ep on her and Gary having a chat about her recent medical diagnosis and her decisions in the past few weeks. I actually somewhat understand Karen’s point of view, because I’m just not much of a fighter when it comes to such things and I’ve always thought that if I ever got some dread disease and was gonna die in six months or a year, I would just cheerfully wait it out and tell everyone that I’m dying and I wouldn’t get too upset about it; I’d probably go do all the naughty things I like to do but must moderate in daily life when you think you’re gonna live for a certain number of years. If I was gonna die in a year of less, I would go to Vegas and gamble and smoke and drink and try to just lose all my money that way and I would also like to hit Hawaii, Dr. Greene style, and swim in the ocean and be with all the beautiful shirtless Hawaiian boys until it was finally time for me to die and take that great spiritual journey down below.

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    TO BE CONTINUED
     
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    CONTINUED

    But wait, I’m not supposed to be writing about my own neurotic obsessions with death; I’m supposed to be writing about Karen’s views on her impending death. Basically, Karen says how she wants to go on living her life the way she’s always lived it, and that includes going to work and keeping busy and being around all the people she loves, her friends, such as Gary, and her kids, such as sexy hunky twink boy Michael. She also explains her reasons for leaving Mack out of all this, how she doesn’t want him to just take her back out of a feeling of obligation. It’s a lovely speech and I happen to pretty much agree with her, but Gary is also a smart man and he says how, when Mack finds out the truth, he’s not going to be grateful that Karen kept him in the dark, but rather angry and resentful because she shut him out.

    This is what the show is all about, really, two characters who I love and who are absolutely fascinatingly complex and simply mesmerizing to watch onscreen sitting together and having an unbelievably interesting and thought-provoking discussion. Sweet Jesus, I feel like I can’t say it enough, but I just f*cking love these two characters. I’ll try to calm down a bit in upcoming write-ups, but for now I’m just gonna lay it all out there and say that yes, in the sad and twisted little brain of Brett, these people actually feel real to me and when I watch them onscreen, I honest to God often forget I’m watching a TV show and just get lost in my belief that these are actually real humans and I’m getting some glimpse into their lives somehow. This inability to separate actors from the characters they play continues to this very day, by the way, because in my mind, Gary and Val and Karen and Mack and Greg and all my friends are still out there in the universe, doing their thing (which is why I was so horrified by Gary and Val’s respective appearances on shitty new TNT Dallas and why I refuse to acknowledge anything that happened on that series as canon to either original Dallas but most especially KL).

    I’m going off on a tangent again, so let’s get back in focus. The amazingly skilled and still vastly underrated writing of KL continues to impress me, particularly with how they are managing to write Karen at this juncture. Think about how easy it would be for Karen to come across as unlikeable right now. We’ve watched Mack be a good husband to her for well over a year now (I think we’re coming up to two years pretty soon), dealing with all the drama and crap. Now, as Karen finds out she will be dying shortly, she chooses to shut Mack out and tell him nothing about it, which in all seriousness is a rather s*itty thing to do. However, the way it’s done on the series, I don’t judge her, but rather I understand her. She’s complex and three dimensional just like all of us real people, and I like that even though she’s kinda the central character of the show and I’m sure the writers always want us to like her, they’re not afraid to take her to dark places like last season’s pill addiction or this recent development. Also, Michele is just so damn good (when she’s not being too extreme and hyperventilating too much and screaming, “WHAT IS AN A.P.B?!”, and in my opinion that really softened up in the latter half of season five and seems to have kinda vanished by this point).

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    Oh yeah, and as for Gary, well he’s also awesome in this scene, and I just love listening to him speak directly to his friend. Laura also has this ability to get really direct with the other characters but never come off as nosy or overly aggressive, and Gary’s demonstrating that now. I also wanna reiterate again (even though I’m sure I’ve brought this up five thousand times by this point and am just too lazy to go back and check) how much Gary has grown since the early days of the series. Imagine if Gary was taking it upon himself to talk to Karen about this in, say, season four, when he was just on his way to that big decanter full of bourbon. He was such a damn mess at that point that it’s amazing to think of how much he’s grown after coming out of that big bender. Now, he’s the kind of person that Karen will listen to and actually respect what he says, because he’s proven himself to be rather adult and mature and pretty wise in that “good judgment comes from experience which comes from bad judgment” kind of way. So yes, go Gary, I love you so.

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    So clearly Gary gives Karen some stuff to think about, but she doesn’t really take any direct action to change her behavior this week; we’ll have to be patient and see what happens a little later down the line. For now let’s shift our focus over to her at-the-moment-estranged husband, Mr. Marion “Mack” Patrick MacKenzie. Well, this week we are inexplicably kinda sorta introduced to a new Gary character, Gary Loader. Follow me along here, since this may all sound like the insane ramblings of someone who was drinking while watching the show (even though I wasn’t this time; I swear) as I basically try to describe something that I don’t think I remember enough to explain well. Okay, here we go.

    Basically a black guy walks into Mack’s office (we’ve seen black people on KL since as early as episode two, Community Spirit, but I feel like we’ve had a real explosion of blackness in this sixth season, with multiple different black people showing up every week, which pleases me) and asks Mack for all the information he has on Gary Loader. Then Mack gives some speech about how Gary Loader is, um, like, a bad guy or something, and he did something bad and, well, yeah, that’s all I got. Why am I having so much trouble remembering the contents of the dialogue of this scene? Honestly, probably because I was so distracted by the introduction of another Gary into the mix; in fact, if you take a look at my notes, I wrote nothing about what actually transpires here, I simply wrote, “Gary Loader; another Gary?” I just found it rather odd that the writers would choose to introduce another Gary character into the mix, but I suppose if he is always referred to by his full name of Gary Loader, it will avoid confusion for us viewers. Also, I guess it’s actually kinda cool to do that because, you know, in real life people have the same names all the time (I remember how I was a unique little Brett all throughout my entire schooling experience and I never remember encountering another Brett in all twelve years of my public education), so that just shows realism, which I’m consistently praising the show for. But anyway, Gary Loader, ladies and gentlemen, and I promise to try and do a better job of focusing on him the next time he comes up, since I’m pretty sure the writers aren’t introducing this name for no reason; it’s gonna continue playing out throughout the course of the season.

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    Say, let’s talk about Ben for a minute, cuz we pick up this week right where we left off. He’s cleaning out his office and he’s hitting the road, kissing goodbye to Pacific Cable Whatever because of Abby’s wicked move last week involving that other big political guy, Bob Caulfield. However, Abs knows that for the purposes of good drama, it’s important for Ben to remain working at the station with her, so she tracks him down in the parking lot outside and is like, “Look, we’ve got 48 minutes a week, we’ve got a s*it ton of characters in the opening credits, and it would really be a lot easier for the stories to keep flowing if you and I worked in the same place and we didn’t have to keep constantly cutting from me at work to you at some other type of work, so will you stay?” After that impassioned plea, Ben agrees to stay, which is very fortunate for The Desperate Horny Chick that also works at the news station and is currently drooling all over Ben (I’ll talk about The Desperate Horny Chick later, maybe even in a later episode).

    Val goes to see the doctor this week and we learn that the babies are very close to being ready to come, just a few short weeks away. We also get some ominous news that doesn’t do much for me since I have a vivid recollection of how everything involving Val’s babies unfolds this season, but it certainly worked for My Beloved Grammy, who is utterly convinced that Val’s babies are going to die before they’re born. Again, don’t forget that we watched all fourteen seasons of Dallas prior to this and, in addition to enhancing the experience of watching KL by emphasizing how much f*cking better KL is, that show also loved to get the women pregnant and then kill off the pregnancies after a few weeks of drama. But that’s cuz that show was often very lazy in its writing and would never even attempt an undertaking as complex and unforgettable as VAL’S BABIES. Rest assured, my dead readers, the babies are not going to die while they are in Val's belly, but I do see why you might think that’s on the horizon after the doctor tells Val, “The babies are fine, just a little smaller than usual.” What does this mean? I’m utterly convinced that line is thrown in to scare us into thoughts of a miscarriage or even two stillborn babies, for why else would it be here? The doctor even emphasizes that Val’s in perfect health and has been doing all the right things for this pregnancy, so I’m gonna pay attention to see if this “smaller than usual” business plays out in a later episode or not.

    I want to take a quick moment to say good on Val for actually being a responsible pregnant woman. I appreciate the fact that Val is such a good little pregnant woman, doing all the right things and eating all the right foods and not drinking any alcohol. I’m also having a flashback to 1981 when Ginger (remember her? No? Exactly) was pregnant and still had wine at her baby shower (in what is still one of the all time worst KL eps ever made, Moments of Truth) and I’m also remembering 1982 when Laura was pregnant and Richard had no problem with the idea of her sipping lots of new and exotic wines with him (this was back in the brilliant Best Intentions). I’m very curious to know when exactly it was officially decided once and for all that pregnant women shouldn’t drink at all, because we saw those two instances of it, and now we’re up to 1984 (almost 1985) so I don’t know if it would still be not-that-big-a-deal for Val to have a glass of wine with dinner even though she’s pregnant. My basic point is that I’m glad she’s not, so let’s move on.

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    TO BE CONTINUED
     
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