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

Discussion in 'Dallas - The Original Series' started by James from London, Sep 18, 2016.

  1. James from London

    James from London Soap Chat Mega Star

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    01 Feb 90: KNOTS LANDING: My Bullet v. 02 Feb 90: DALLAS: I Dream of Jeannie v. 02 Feb 90: FALCON CREST: Brotherly Love

    The centrepiece of both KNOTS and FALCON CREST this week is a compellingly awkward gathering at the home of each show’s richest and least predictable character — respectively Greg Sumner, aka “a major imperialist exploitative capitalist pig,” according to his dead daughter’s boyfriend, and Michael Sharpe, aka “one of the most influential financial barons of our century,” according to his son.

    Greg’s gathering is a mini-“Noises Everywhere” with added ghosts. It’s a more impromptu affair than Laura’s wake, but again features a disparate group of characters brought together by a death. Greg’s behaviour as a bereaved father has been no more conventional than it was as a bereaved husband so a concerned Carlos calls Paige and asks her to come over. She’s with Tom, who has only just learnt of her past relationship with Greg and thinks she’s still hung up on him, so she pretends she has a work emergency. (Call this karma for Tom telling her the same lie the night he went to Canada with Mack.) While she is on en route to the ranch, Paula arrives to check in on Greg. Carlos tries to reach Paige to dissuade her from coming but gets her answering machine instead. He leaves a message which Tom hears and realises Paige has lied to him.

    So it is that Greg finds himself surrounded by Paula, with whom he doesn’t really have anything in common, but who by virtue of their affair has become his de-facto next-of-kin; Paige, whose feelings for him run deep but who cannot, for all sorts of reasons, fully express them; and Tom, who ostensibly shows up in his capacity as one of the cops assigned to Mary Frances’s murder, but is really there to catch Paige out in a lie. As if this were not sufficiently uncomfortable, the ghosts of Greg’s father Paul Galveston (fresh from haunting that Scottish castle he blackmailed Bobby Ewing into buying for him a couple of years ago) and Mary Frances herself also put in an appearance.

    But are they ghosts or merely figments of Greg’s imagination — a means of articulating the thoughts he is unwilling or unable to acknowledge by himself? Either way, he’s the only one who can see or hear them. It would be cool to think of Jean O’Brien, the Pam look-slightly-alike on DALLAS, existing in the same way, i.e., only in Bobby’s mind, but as if to dispel this notion, he quickly introduces her to Cliff who sees what he can see. “So it’s not my imagination,” Bobby concludes. “Well, if it is, we’re both hallucinating — she is the spitting image of Pam,” Cliff replies. Intriguingly, he later modifies this assessment to, “She looks just like Pam would have after her surgery” — apparently forgetting that she looks exactly how Pam did after surgery when he met her last season. Adding to the mystery, Bobby later shows Jean a picture of Pam, presumably taken prior to her accident. Her immediate response? “It’s me!”

    The Jean O’Brien story is far more interesting than I remembered. The fact that she clearly isn’t Pam immediately throws the focus back on Bobby. He’s pretty much the last DALLAS character one would expect to fall prey to such an irrational, dreamy fixation. If anything, he’s the anti-dream man, the one who informed Pam (and millions of viewers) that “none of that happened.”

    Then there’s Jean herself. Whereas previous Soap Land doppelgängers Cathy Geary and Samantha Ross had an air of mystery about them, at least initially (DYNASTY’s Rita not so much), Jean is depicted as one of the ordinary “us”, as opposed to the rich and powerful “them”. Whilst talking to a girlfriend, she describes herself as “a middle-class Dallas girl who’s been driving used cars all of her life, not exactly what you’d call a prime catch — especially for somebody like Bobby Ewing.” When Bobby enquires about her background, she tells him she “grew up on the wrong side of the tracks” — a phrase Pam used about herself on at least one occasion. She also has a Texas accent similar to the one Pam had in the series’ early days before years of soapiness washed it away. So while Jean may not be Pam’s identical twin, she is perhaps what Pam would have become had she and Bobby never met.

    According to New DALLAS, Cliff is the only person at this point who knows that Real Pam is dead. For reasons that will become apparent in about twenty-four years time, he has chosen to keep this information to himself. His decision is paralleled in two contrasting storylines in this week’s Ewing-verse. On KNOTS, Meg is thrilled to have won a goldfish at the fair. She and Mack bring it home and put it in a tank, but then the fish stops moving. It’s dead — as dead as Mary Frances and Real Pam — but like Cliff, Mack and Karen elect to keep this news to themselves. Instead, they replace the fish with a doppelgänger and Meg is none the wiser.

    What the Mackenzies do for a three-year-old girl with a goldfish, JR attempts to do for an elderly man with a prostitute. Blackie Callahan is a wildcatting contemporary of Jock and Digger whose expertise JR requires in order to locate oil in the town of Pride. Blackie agrees to come out of retirement on one condition: he wants a night with Beth Anne Templeton, aka “the prettiest thing in Tulsa.” The only snag is, as Blackie’s daughter explains to JR, he hasn’t seen Beth Anne for over fifty years. So, in order to indulge the fantasies of “a crazy old man who wants to spend one night of love with his eighty-year-old ex-girlfriend”, JR enlists the aid of a look-not-very-much-alike hooker who greets her trick with the pre-arranged opening line: “Blackie, at last, we meet again!” Blackie is as satisfied with Fake Beth Anne as Meg is with her fake fish, even though he is not as easily fooled. “Beth Anne? You think I’m crazy? That old broad must be ninety if she’s a day!” he cackles.

    When the Ghost of Mary Frances recounts a childhood memory of a toy bird she cherished then lost, only for Greg to replace it while she was asleep (a story which directly echoes Meg’s goldfish saga), is she describing something that really happened or is Greg, as the Ghost of Paul Galveston insists, “making this up — you don’t know what you remember. You wish this had happened”? Over on DALLAS, Mr None of This Happened is having his balloon similarly popped by Cliff who accuses Bobby of “chasing some fantasy.” “Every time I look at her,” Bobby replies, referring to Jean, “I flash back to the times Pam and I had together.” If Bobby is chasing memories, then Greg is inventing them. “If you haven’t got any authentic Norman Rockwell memories, you can always paint a few of your own,” his father’s ghost tells him.

    There’s one more doppelgänger this week: when Bobby follows Not Pam out of the Oil Baron’s Club at the start of this week’s DALLAS, the restaurant’s never-before-seen lobby turns out to be identical to that of the Sumner Group. One almost expects Mort and Bob to emerge from the elevator.

    Over on FALCON CREST, Michael throws a small dinner party to commemorate Lauren splitting up with Richard and moving in with him. This new living arrangement allows the somewhat intense nature of Michael’s feelings for his sister, which have only been previously hinted at, to come to the fore in a storyline falconcrest.org describes as “crazy and disgusting.” It starts off like a slightly darker version of Monica and Jeff’s relationship during last year’s DYNASTY, with some titillating taboo-prodding: Michael telling Lauren that, as a teenager, “I used to wish that we weren’t brother and sister, that we were both adopted from different families and thrown into the same house, that it was God’s way of putting us together.” Later in the ep, he calls her from his office to tell say, “I’m just sitting here with about $32,000,000 worth of business to take care of and all I can think about is you.” But as the episode unfolds and we start to realise how suffocatingly possessive he is, whether or not he’s physically attracted to his sister becomes almost beside the point; this isn’t a juicily sensational storyline about incest, but a grimly fascinating portrait of a man with an obsessive need to control. At one point during his dinner party, he casually informs Lauren that he has made arrangements to have “your name changed back to Lauren Sharpe … That’s who you are now. You’re Lauren Sharpe. Lauren Daniels doesn’t exist anymore.” “I don’t exist anymore?” she asks, recoiling. “Michael, you live in a tunnel and it is a dark narrow tunnel that goes round in circles … You don’t wanna be a dictator, you wanna be a god, a master of the universe.”

    There are two declarations of love this week. On KNOTS, Tom surprises Paige mid-argument with the admission that “I’ve never felt like this before … I’ve never been in love before.” On FC, Genele does the same thing to Richard over breakfast. “I’ve loved you since the first moment I saw you in the courtroom,” she admits. While Paige is pleased, Richard is circumspect. Nonetheless, Genele seems to regard this as an opportunity to turn her life around. She even goes to confession to redeem herself. (Father Bob and Genele in the same scene? It’s like two worlds colliding.) “I wanna start over,” she weeps. “I believe I have the chance to be happy, but I need first to be absolved of my many sins.” And so she joins the list of Soap Land characters trying in some way to escape their present reality — either by reinventing the past (“If you haven’t got any authentic Norman Rockwell memories, you can always paint a few of your own”) or by retreating into it (“Every time I look at her, Cliff, I flash back to the times Pam and I had together”) or by eradicating it (“Lauren Daniels doesn’t exist anymore”) or, in Genele’s case, by being absolved of it.

    Back at the FC dinner party, Michael’s son Danny brings new girlfriend Sydney over for coffee. He is anxious that she and his dad hit it off, but the encounter goes about as well as Greg’s with his daughter’s boyfriend Robert. “You didn’t deserve Mary Frances,” Robert declares. “She caught your bullet. You should have been sitting in that chair.” “You should be put in jail for what you did to Emma,” Sydney snaps at Michael. Greg and Michael react to these displays of youthful self-righteousness sardonically. “I’m not real happy having met you either, Robert,” replies Greg drily. “I’ll have to be content with the notion that you were simply a lapse in my daughter’s good judgement.” “Uh oh, she’s getting angry — get rid of the knives and forks!” wisecracks Michael, referring to Sydney’s recent bout of husband-stabbing. After Sydney storms out, Michael gets serious, ordering Danny to fire his girlfriend from her job at Falcon Crest: “Drop her from the payroll and if I find out you’re still seeing this ungrateful little twist, then you’re off the payroll too.”

    Mary Frances was sitting in Greg’s office chair when she was shot, just as Bobby Ewing was in JR’s when he took a bullet at the end of DALLAS Season 6. Back then, JR was presumed to be the intended target and so he quickly surrounded himself with bodyguards. The same thing happens with Greg now. (The withering contempt with which he regards his security staff is really fun to watch.) But in each case, this proves to be a red herring. Just as the DALLAS shooter turned out to be after Bobby all along, so Mary Frances's, it transpires, was after her. But why?

    Mary Frances’s death, rather like the discovery of Roger Grimes’ body on DYNASTY, is the beginning of a storyline rather than the climax of one. Greg finds a fake passport and a notebook full of indecipherable data amongst her belongings. In an enigmatic yet touching end to the ep, Mary Frances (or the spectre thereof) appears to her father one last time and listens patiently as he lays out the questions her death has left him with: “What were you doing that got you killed? What was in that notebook? What were you doing in my computer …? What were you researching? I run one of the largest privately held corporations in the world, I can’t even begin to estimate my net worth, and I can walk the streets at night. You? You run around the globe with a dirty duffel bag to your name and somebody wants you dead — you, not me. What were you doing?” Without replying, Mary Frances slowly fades away.

    Guest of honour at Michael’s dinner is an old high school buddy, Joey Walts. Like Guzzler Bennett, Bobby’s pal in “Fallen Idol” (DALLAS Season 1), Joey was a sporting hero in his youth who has never recaptured his former glory (“We all just stood there staring at you, wishing we were you — it was biblical,” Michael recalls). Again like Guzzler, he has since fallen on hard times and is now reaching out for financial backing for a new business venture. So too is James Beaumont on DALLAS. Whereas James is pitching “an upscale, extremely trendy New York-style bistro”, we’re never told directly what Joey’s project is. While James promises a couple of good old boy Texas bankers that “this is the best investment you’ll ever make”, Joey assures Michael that his is “an idea whose time has come … The franchise possibilities are international.” It’s clear that Michael derives some satisfaction from seeing his former hero coming to him hat in hand, while the DALLAS bankers quickly lose interest in James’s proposition once they realise the rest of the Ewings aren’t involved (“The only reason we even agreed to this meeting is we thought we were doing business with JR”). Michael, however, agrees to help Joey out — on his terms. “This deal will work if I make it work … Companies don’t make me, I make companies,” he crows.

    But then Michael slowly becomes fixated on the idea that Joey is sleeping with his sister behind his back. (“Thinking you’d slip her one while you were in town, is that it?”) When he finds they’ve had lunch together without telling him, he loses it completely and tells Joey at the last minute that the deal is off. When Joey tries to salvage their twenty-five year friendship, he yells at him to get out. By the end of the episode, Michael has lost Lauren too. “I have just got to get away from you,” she tells him. “You are a deeply disturbed person and you need help … I am not a thing you can own, I am just a person who happens to be your sister … YOU CANNOT OWN ME!”

    There is further financial disappointment on KNOTS when Harold, who’s gotten himself into hot water over some gambling debts, asks Mack for a $13,000 loan. Not realising how serious the situation is, Mack turns him down.

    “No wonder this city’s falling apart,” huffs James, after the bank declines his proposition. His pessimism is shared throughout Soap Land. “These are sad days for Dallas,” Jean O’Brien’s realtor boss tells Bobby. “We’re putting up more houses than we can sell. It’s like living in a ghost town.” “Wineries are going under all the time these days,” echoes Joey on FALCON CREST.

    When a disillusioned Cally complains to James about JR (“I don’t have to worry about him and other women, I have to worry about him and Ewing Oil!”), she joins a long line of Soap Land wives who have found themselves playing second fiddle to their husbands’ work. “Your damn all-consuming business was your mistress,” Alexis once told Blake. “I was closer to you, closer to the core of your life, when I was your secretary,” Krystle once told Blake. And although Pam once conceded that “Bobby’s never been unfaithful to me”, Sue Ellen was quick to point out it was “because he has a new mistress, Pam — Ewing Oil. It’s the same mistress that JR has.”

    Minor trend of the week: Random presidential references. On FALCON CREST, Lauren jokingly accuses Michael of being “knee-deep in some of the most amoral, shameless business deals since the Teapot Dome scandal.” Having no idea what a teapot dome scandal could be, I googled it. According to Wikipedia, it was “a bribery scandal involving the administration of United States President Warren G. Harding from 1921 to 1923.” Over on DALLAS, Blackie Callahan refers to the incumbent President, George Bush Sr (like Blackie, a former Texas wildcatter) as an old friend: “To quote an old oilfield buddy of mine, ‘Read my lips’ — there is oil under Buck Flat.” Granted, it’s not quite Alexis Colby reminiscing about Portofino with Henry Kissinger, but still.

    And this week’s Top 3 are …

    1 (1) KNOTS LANDING
    2 (2) FALCON CREST
    3 (3) DALLAS
     
    Last edited: May 24, 2019
  2. James from London

    James from London Soap Chat Mega Star

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    08 Feb 90: KNOTS LANDING: The Ripple Effect v. 09 Feb 90: DALLAS: After Midnight

    Val drives out to Gary’s ranch at the start of this week’s KNOTS to tell him of her marriage to Danny, but he already knows. Given that their elopement took place three episodes ago (the third quickie wedding of the season following Emma and Charley’s on FALCON CREST and Carter McKay and Rose’s on DALLAS), this isn’t very surprising. It’s indicative of how eventful KNOTS has been of late that Val’s new marriage only becomes a front-burner storyline this week. Over on DALLAS, Bobby wakes April up in the middle of the night with some equally controversial news. “I’m caught up in something and it’s something that I have to finish,” he begins. Like Gary, April’s not completely clueless either. “Does this have anything to do with that woman, the one that looks like Pam?” she asks. Whereas Gary reacts wearily to Val’s news (“I did not elope to hurt your feelings,” she insists. “Oh great, you’re worried about my feelings but you’re not worried about your own safety,” he replies drily), April is borderline hysterical when Bobby asks her to be patient with him while he works things out. “April, please wait for me!” he pleads. “Who do you think I am — St April the Martyr?!” she asks him incredulously. “I have to deal with this 'getting over Pam' crap?!” Bobby is also in an unusually emotional state in this scene. In fact, I don’t think we’ve ever seen him so highly strung, not even after Pam’s accident. It’s as if meeting Pam’s lookalike has triggered a kind of delayed reaction to her disappearance. The scenes between Val and Gary, and Bobby and April end similarly, with Gary and April each unwilling to let the other two off the hook. “For the first time in my life, I’m really happy. Doesn’t that mean anything?” Val asks her ex. “Great, everything’s fine, ‘Val’s happy’ — so what do you want from me?” shrugs Gary. Meanwhile, April is no more impressed with Bobby’s situation than Gary is with Val’s. “I can’t take this anymore! I’m fed up of dealing with the Kay Lloyds of this world and the Pam lookalikes!” she wails.

    Back at the cul-de-sac, Karen and Mack throw a dinner party to welcome Danny to Seaview Circle. While this serves as a way of integrating “the new stepfather on the block” into the regular cast, for the individual couples in attendance — the Mackenzies, the Williamses and the newlyweds themselves — it’s more of a duty than a pleasure. “I have nothing in common with this guy Danny,” Mack complains. “We can’t ignore the fact that she married the man,” argues Karen. We drop in on the Mackenzie house throughout the evening to see how the party is progressing. These scenes are a great example of what Tommy K wrote on his blog about how mundane domestic tasks work best on KNOTS when they serve as a backdrop to a more dramatically significant issue: “There had to be something simmering sub-textually that the actors could play.” In this case, underlying the social obligation of welcoming a new arrival to the neighbourhood is the unspoken question: “Can this new arrival be trusted in light of the allegations made against him by his ex-wife?” When the party starts, there is a degree of awkwardness, but as the evening wears on and Danny develops in confidence, out come his funny stories and everyone starts warming to him. Initial misgivings are forgotten and they all seem to be having a good time. Then, over post-dinner drinks, Danny makes an off-the-cuff, lighthearted remark about the twins needing “a few good whacks on the old behind.” This acts as a psychological warning for Karen in the same way as holding Danny’s watch to her forehead served as a psychometric one for Aunt Ginny a few weeks ago. She keeps up the social niceties for the rest of the party, but once the last guest has gone, she and Mack turn and look at each other. “He did everything Gary said he did,” she says gravely. Mack has an equivalent epiphany of his own later in the episode about Tom Ryan: “Our man’s a dirty cop!” Both moments are hugely satisfying payoffs we didn’t even realise we’d been waiting for.

    Out of all his employees in the Sumner Group, Greg entrusts the task of finding out what his recently murdered daughter was looking for in his computer to Michael Fairgate. There’s something oddly moving about the show’s most jaded character putting so much faith in its most innocent one. What Michael finds out — something to do with the shipping of dangerous chemicals — links Mary Frances’s death back to Oakman Industries. Greg is mulling over this revelation on a sidewalk (“Oakman Industries is like a B-movie monster,” he says to Paula, “it’s always showing up, always haunting me”) when he suddenly emits a muted “ow!”, as if he’s just stubbed his toe, and then falls to the ground. Only then do we see the blood on his shirt. If anyone in Soap Land can get shot in a casually understated way, it’s Greg Sumner.

    Two supporting characters depart KNOTS this week — Amanda Michaels and Harold Dyer. Whereas Amanda’s performance has always been a bit dull (which, in fairness, works for her mousy character), Harold’s innate wit and ability to turn on a dime from humour to explosive anger has enriched every scene he’s been in. Nonetheless, both farewells feel equally poignant. After finally standing up to Danny (“Drop dead, you slimy son of a bitch”), and then introducing Gary to the concept of condom jewellery, Amanda exits the way she arrived, over the phone. “I wanna get on with my life,” she explains tearfully. “You’re the best phone pal a person ever had. Goodbye, Gary.” Harold, meanwhile, following a botched attempt to blackmail Tom Ryan, learns of a tidy sum of money Olivia has kept hidden from him. He steals it, pays off his debtors and hops the next bus to Miami. Over on DALLAS, April also threatens to leave town after coming down with a bad case of the Bobby Blues (“Since we broke up, I just hate it here”). She is eventually persuaded to stay, at least temporarily, by Michelle, but I’m not sure I would have been all that heartbroken if she had left.

    When April first arrived in Dallas, she was as much fun as Harold, but somewhere along the line, she became as drippy as Amanda, and even though the distinguishing feature of her and Bobby’s relationship has been their shared sense of humour, the jokiness between them has often felt laboured. That said, the pair act their hearts out during the “getting over Pam crap” scene — both actors end up in tears and I think I spotted some actual snot leaking from April’s nose. As couples-in-crisis scenes go, however, it pales in comparison to a blisteringly good one on KNOTS where, after catching him out in yet another lie, Paige ruthlessly interrogates Tom (“Maybe if I look long and hard enough into your eyes, I’ll see them flicker or dilate or something when you lie to me”) before coldly informing him that “it’s over … I am not interested in your stories anymore.” “… I love you!” he yells angrily. “Oh Tom, you said that very well,” she replies coolly. “Your eyes didn’t even flicker. Maybe it is the truth, but how could I ever tell?”

    As one Ewing romance with an unlikely premise ends (Gary and Sally’s Friend), another begins. In spite of Bobby telling April that “there’s nothing between us, it’s not a relationship”, he accepts an invitation to Jeanne O’Brien’s apartment where he finds her wearing a copy of one of Pam’s old dresses. He then allows her to seduce him. Although Jeanne is clearly taking advantage of Bobby’s fixation (“Hey look, if he’s got a thing about his ex-wife then why shouldn’t I use it?”), DALLAS does not portray her as either your average Soap Land gold digger or as a mentally unstable stalker along the lines of Connie, Ray’s one night stand who cut her hair to look like Jenna’s and then stabbed him. Instead, Jeanne is depicted as an ordinary working girl who has been offered a once-in-a-lifetime golden ticket to the right side of the tracks: “He is so fascinated by me. I keep thinking that the clock is gonna stroke twelve and he’s gonna snap out of it.”

    Whereas storylines on KNOTS are getting ever knottier — Danny’s assimilation into the cul-de-sac; Mary Frances’s link to Oakman Industries — DALLAS has become very compartmentalised over the past few eps. Almost every central character now has their own storyline: Bobby and the Pam lookalike, JR and Blackie the wildcatter, Cliff and Lesley Ann Down, etc. Even lovers James and Michelle each have separate business plots. James’s brings him into contact with Duke Carlisle, a good ol’ Texas boy who wants to build a racetrack next to Southfork, and his daughter Melinda. (That’s Melinda Carlisle — any nomenclative resemblance to a former Go-Go is presumably as coincidental as JR’s recent mistress Diana having a husband called Charles.) Melinda is a spoiled, sexually voracious Soap Land princess in the fine tradition of Lucy Ewing, Constance Weldon, Fallon Carrington and Melissa Agretti. There seems to be a little bit of Paige Matheson in there too as she tries to enlist James in a game of strip archery, but he declines. “I want you in my bed, James Beaumont, and what I want I get,” she pouts. “Don’t make me unhappy. Daddy doesn’t like that … One word from me and you can kiss your little deal goodbye.” But just as his father once told Sue Ellen that “I’ll be damned if you can come in here and use me like some kind of stud service”, James insists that he is “not some stud for hire.”

    And this week’s Top 2 are …

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

    James from London Soap Chat Mega Star

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    15 Feb 90: KNOTS LANDING: The Grim Reaper v. 16 Feb 90: DALLAS: The Crucible v. 16 Feb 90: FALCON CREST: Finding Lauren

    Following on from Greg’s shooting at the end of last week’s KNOTS come the traditional hospital waiting room scenes. Normally, these are populated by concerned family members, but in this case, there is no family and precious little concern. “Greg used to be your best friend … He could die!” Karen exclaims after Mack declares that he has no interest in visiting him. So instead of loved ones waiting anxiously for news of his condition, we have the Mackenzies debating whether or not “the world would be diminished by Greg Sumner’s death.” “I think all life is to be cherished,” Karen argues. “Oh yeah? What about Idi Amin or Hitler?” retorts Mack, giving the Führer his first Soap Land shout out since the DYNASTY finale. (“Does the name Adolf Hitler ring a bell?” Alexis asked Sable.)

    While Bobby Ewing continues to date a woman who willingly dresses up as his ex-wife on DALLAS, Lauren Daniels embarks on her own whacky voyage of self-discovery on FALCON CREST. Following Val’s example in KNOTS Season 6, she leaves her wealthy family to become a waitress in a diner — only she forgets to switch personalities first, and instead of a sweet little town like Shula, she decides to slum it in the scuzziest part of Chinatown she can find. As so often happens when Soap Land ladies venture outside of their glamorous comfort zone, almost every man she encounters is a predator of some kind — all her customers at the diner want to either date her or rape her. To start off with, her waitressing skills are as poor as Lucy Ewing’s at the Hot Biscuit, but by the end of her first shift, she’s slinging hash like Verna Ellers on a good day. Returning to the flophouse where she’s staying, she is approached for help by her neighbours, a Chinese couple, the wife of which has gone to labour. They speak only enough English to convey to Lauren that she must not call for help, which suggests they are in the country illegally, and so she ends up delivering the baby herself. FALCON CREST isn’t interested in this couple or their predicament; they exist solely to make Lauren feel good about herself in the same way that the Down’s Syndrome kids who appeared on DALLAS during the Dream Season were only there to make Ray feel better about the baby he and Donna were expecting.

    There is a different kind of Asian stereotyping on DALLAS when Carter McKay encounters Mr Inagaki, the front man for a highly powerful Japanese investment firm — Abby’s fictional Murakame Corporation come to life. Mr Inagaki delivers a speech to Mack very similar to the one Mack himself gave the Ewing brothers last season. “The days of the American oil barons are over,” Inagaki announces. “You are dinosaurs. I represent the real money in this world now … My countrymen are now travelling by the hundreds and thousands, spending millions of dollars abroad … We are building hotels and buying others, and malls and stores, so these millions of dollars that are spent are spent in our stores, our hotels, and that money returns to our homeland.” Yes, those “damn foreigners” that JR and Jordan Lee were so concerned about taking over their town last season have arrived!

    Back on KNOTS, we are introduced to Dianne Kirkwood, the producer of Karen’s talk show. The two women clash after Karen spontaneously introduces her son Eric to the audience halfway through her show. “You know that I’m your biggest fan,” Dianne begins, “but there is a fine line between being spontaneous and being corny, and that was just a bit much.” Dianne might be a little cold, but interestingly, every point she makes to Karen has a kernel of truth to it. When Karen argues that she cannot be “effective on the show unless I do it my own way”, Dianne accuses her of pulling a star trip. “Star trip — just because I’m interested in the content of my own show?” Karen argues. “‘My show’? -- The programme is called OPEN MIKE not THE KAREN MACKENZIE SHOW,” Dianne points out. Like Cliff’s new image-maker Stephanie Rodgers on DALLAS, Dianne is a big-haired, ball-busting throwback to the kind of female executive who ruled the Soap Land roost way back in Ye Olde ‘80s. Indeed, now that Angela’s in a coma, Abby’s in Japan and DYNASTY’s off the air, Dianne and Stephanie are the only two female bosses left. While Dianne clashes with Karen, Stephanie does the same with JR. “Why aren’t you home fixing lunch for your husband instead of taking up parking spaces?” he yells at her during a parking lot skirmish. “You need teaching a lesson, you truly do,” she tells him in a later scene after he calls her “a woman’s libber” — a term that was fashionable in the 70s but sounds decidedly archaic in 1990. There’s a similar feeling of the feminist clock being turned back on FALCON CREST when Lauren, after half an episode of starring in what feels like a pilot for her own insane spinoff series, returns home and tells Richard that she’d quite like to continue working for a living. “I want my independence,” she says. “I don’t know what that means,” he replies. “Separate bedrooms? … Separate lives? … What about the children?” “There are a lot of families that have both working parents and they do OK,” she explains patiently. This conversation is taking place twelve whole years after Pam Ewing introduced the concept of a working wife to Soap Land. It’s almost like the ‘80s never happened.

    No sooner is Lauren home than she finds herself caught up in another bizarre storyline as Richard takes a leaf out of Bobby Ewing’s book and tries to make her over in his dead wife’s image. First, he buys her clothes that resemble Maggie’s and then drops hints about her appearance: “Have you ever had your hair short? … A lighter colour?” “Unless I’m very much mistaken, most of the places we’ve gone are places you took Pam,” Jeanne O’Brien tells Bobby on DALLAS this week. “Did you ever go there with Maggie?” Lauren asks when Richard suggests they stay at a bed-and-breakfast in Santa Barbara. “Probably,” he admits. “I don’t wanna go,” she tells him. So he books them somewhere else to stay — the place, it turns out, where he and Maggie went on their honeymoon. Whereas Jeanne is willing to go along with the charade (“How else was someone like me gonna have a chance with someone like you?” she says to Bobby), Lauren is not (“What are you doing to me? I’m not Maggie … I can’t compete with a dead woman,” she tells Richard). Both situations come to a head in their respective show’s final scene. Bobby realises that, in order to say goodbye to Pam, he needs to say goodbye to Jeanne. In other words, he’s subconsciously created their entire relationship in order to end it — which makes a pleasing sort of emotional sense. After breaking things off, he leaves Jeanne’s apartment and then whispers into the night, “Goodbye, Pam”, which feels like a much sadder and more significant moment now we know for sure that Pam is dead. Richard isn’t quite as ready to let go of Maggie as Bobby is of Pam. “It would be like having her die all over again, I can’t bear that,” he tells Lauren. “I don’t want you to forget her, ever … I just don’t wanna have to be her,” she replies.

    There are two offscreen drownings in this week’s Ewing-verse. On KNOTS, former Oakman Industries executive Robert Willis is found floating face down in the ocean — eerily foreshadowing the death of his real-life lookalike, newspaper magnate Robert Maxwell, the following year.

    Robert Willis, pension fund fraudster, drowned 1990 in KNOTS LANDING:

    [​IMG]

    Robert Maxwell, pension fund fraudster, drowned 1991 in REAL LIFE:

    [​IMG]

    Meanwhile on DALLAS, we learn that Atticus Ward, a never previously mentioned acquaintance of Clayton, “was deep sea fishing in Florida when his boat went down in a storm.” The Farlows attend his will-reading where another old pal, Curly Morrison, mysteriously drops dead mere seconds after learning that he was to be the principal inheritor of Atticus’s estate. However, the real mystery is: what the hell does any of this have to do with us?

    Greg’s storyline takes a turn for the traditional at the end of this week’s KNOTS when his would-be assassin shows up at Soap Land Memorial Hospital to finish the job, thereby following in the footsteps of Katherine Wentworth, Pamela Lynch, Charley St James and whoever it was that tried to suffocate Alexis with that pillow. “There’s a chance you’ll die from your gunshot wound but I want to make sure,” Mary Frances’s boyfriend Robert (for it is he) explains to his victim, as he injects his IV with poison — Camaride, to be precise — the very product that Greg himself, by turning a blind eye, enabled Oakman Industries to manufacture in Africa where it fatally infected hundreds of people including his own daughter. “I want you to suffer the way your victims suffered,” Robert continues. “Robert Willis, he didn’t suffer much when I killed him today … but it was satisfying. I hated killing Mary Frances, but I had to. We needed the publicity for the cause. Besides, she was dying anyway. She had Camaride poisoning — like you do now.”

    “What I don’t understand … is what are we trying to do with Falcon Crest?” Ed, Michael’s lawyer, asks him this week. He’s talking about the winery, not the series itself, of course, but the question still applies. “I haven’t decided yet,” Michael shrugs. “Meanwhile, it’s a good training ground for Danny.” “It’s a slap in the face to have a teenager running the show,” Ed replies. Long term viewers may feel the same way, but for me, the wanton disregard Michael displays for the legacy at the heart of the series is absolutely fascinating. “I never used to think much about wine,” he says during a great scene with Pilar. “I never drank the stuff. Occasionally, I’d look over in a restaurant and see people performing this silly ritual. I never quite got it. I mean, we’re Americans. We don’t care.” In nine years of listening to Angela speak so reverently and proudly about the many generations of Giobertis who toiled in the fields and nurtured the vines and passed down the heritage, it’s never previously occurred to anyone, friend or foe, to question the importance of it all. Now, finally, someone is saying, “So what — who cares?” As if to counteract such heresy, Lance goes the other way and gets a tattoo of what appears to be the show’s logo on one of his biceps. “Now you’re a warrior,” his tattooist assures him. Pilar’s initial reaction when he takes off his shirt is one of alarm and disbelief: “I don’t understand you! … What did I marry?!” She looks at him as if he’s gone completely nuts. What a difference twenty-nine years make — these days, getting a tattoo is about as shockingly unconventional as applying for a mortgage.

    James Beaumont and Danny Sharpe both stand up to their interfering fathers this week. “I’ve had it — to hell with you and the horse you rode in on,” James tells JR after he nixes his deal with Duke Carlisle. “You are an ungrateful little pup so if you wanna piece of me, boy, come and get it!” snarls JR in reply. Michael likewise accuses his son of ingratitude after he refuses to dump Sydney. “What have I done to you that you should treat me like this?” he asks him. “I gave you a place to live, a car, a job, a whole company to cut your teeth on. I ask one small thing in return.” “… I really don’t feel you have the right to ask that,” Danny replies. “You’re right,” agrees Michael. “It’s always a mistake to ask so I’m ordering you — get rid of Little Lady Macbeth.”

    And this week’s Top 3 are …

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

    James from London Soap Chat Mega Star

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    22 Feb 90: KNOTS LANDING: Wrong For Each Other v. 23 Feb 90: DALLAS: Dear Hearts and Gentle People v. 23 Feb 90: FALCON CREST: Walking Money

    Eric Fairgate makes his last appearance on this week’s KNOTS. In his final scene, Karen watches as he packs to return to his job, sadder but wiser, resigned to the fact that his marriage is over. For the most part, he puts on a brave face (“I’m better off without her … chalk this one up as experience, you know?”), but then sort of crumples into his mother’s arms at the end of the scene. “You deserve to be happy,” she whispers to him. This is immediately followed by a scene between Karen and Mack where she delivers her lovely “I wish I’d raised my sons where it snowed” speech: “They would have known what it was like to have to shovel the snow … feel the cold air, slip on the ice. They could have seen how pretty the snow could be and how dangerous … how inconvenient, how wonderful, how out of our hands. Snow would have been good for them.”

    This is Karen’s (and also KNOTS’) way of acknowledging, indirectly, how unusually meek and mild her sons have always been. As a genre, Soap Land is not especially interested in the ups and downs of conventionally boisterous adolescent boys, and so Eric and Michael have, by default, been muted — made conveniently placid and compliant. Perhaps, if they’d grown up somewhere harsher and grittier than glossy, sunny Soap Land, they might have been better equipped to deal with the slings and arrows of outrageous storylines that now greet them as Soap Land adults. Not only does Karen’s speech — nay, aria — make dramatic use of this genre limitation, but it elevates it into something approaching poetry.

    Fascinatingly, Eric’s ex, Linda, then provides us with the flip side of Karen's perspective. Angered by Michael’s refusal to resume their relationship even after Eric has left town, she also addresses the brothers’ timidity. “You’re afraid of a good idea,” she tells Michael, “you’re afraid to enjoy life, afraid to fall in love. You’re just afraid. You’re as pathetic as your brother.” In a different context, Paula Vertosick makes a similar observation about Greg, Michael’s polar opposite, describing him as “sensitive, afraid of being hurt, so he alienates himself from the people who want to be close to him.”

    While Eric flies the nest on KNOTS, April returns to it on DALLAS, visiting her hometown of Springdale, Ohio to reflect upon her recent bust-up with Bobby. We meet her mother, who was also Ciji’s mother on KNOTS Season 4. Both moms are religious, but while Ciji’s was cold and judgemental, April’s is rosy-cheeked and apple-pie-wholesome, more interested in church socials and “singing some of those good old spirituals” than condemning her daughter from on high.

    Nevertheless, she, like Karen, has her own ideas of what might have improved her child’s life — only they don’t involve snow. “I think you’d have been happier if you’d never moved from Springdale,” she tells April. “You’d be raising kids by now, be married.” She urges her to consider “coming home to a small-town life. It’s still safe here, still decent.” Back in Dallas, Cally is no happier than April — her marriage to JR is going from bad to worse — but returning home is no longer an option for her. “I’m not a country girl anymore,” she laments. “JR’s changed me and now I don’t fit in anywhere.”

    The image we’re given of April’s picture perfect childhood doesn’t quite match up with the character who arrived in DALLAS three seasons ago and was willing to sleep with any man for financial gain, up to and including Jeremy Wendell. There’s a much clearer connection between Genele Ericson’s present way of life and the upbringing she describes on this week’s FALCON CREST. “I don’t need you to tell me what I am,” she tells Danny Sharpe during the best scene of a terrific episode. “Believe me, I’ve had a lot of help getting this way. Men have been coming on to me every day of my life since I was thirteen years old. They say they want me, but they don’t. They don’t see me, they don’t know me, they don’t care about me — just my body, and when they’re finished with it, they move on. You get used often enough, you become a user yourself.”

    While Cally has become increasingly disillusioned about life with JR — this week, he checks into a hotel just to get away from her — an even newer bride receives a rude awakening about her marriage on this week’s KNOTS. After Val puts an end to Danny’s plan to adopt the twins, he first sulks, then apologises, then loses his temper, then turns spiteful and sarcastic, and finally starts smashing furniture — all within the space of one scene. She looks astonished — this is a 180° turn from how Danny has presented himself to her thus far. When he informs her sneeringly, “If you don’t want your husband to adopt your fatherless children, you’re crazy, Val!”, it’s a shame Val’s daughter Lucy isn’t around to point out what she’ll tell her grandmother on DALLAS the following night: “Only poor people are called crazy; rich people are always called eccentric.” FC’s Genele, meanwhile, makes a brilliant observation about the rich: “Being rich might be a consolation prize for not being quite human.” This might just be the line of the week, if not the entire season.

    In the tense opening scene of this week’s KNOTS, a mute Greg eventually manages to convey to Mack that his IV has been tampered with. A subsequent analysis confirms that “it was heavily injected with Camaride … known to cause liver damage, kidney failure, blood disorders.” Meanwhile, autopsy results on DALLAS reveal that Clayton’s pal Curly Morrison did not die of a heart attack at the end of last week’s ep as had previously been assumed. Instead, he too was poisoned. In each case, a man called Robert is arrested for the crime — Mary Frances’s boyfriend, who hands himself into the police, and Robert, aka “Rabbit”, Hutch, who protests his innocence but was next in line after Curly to inherit Atticus Ward’s fortune. Clayton bails Rabbit out of jail, only to later find him hanging from a noose.

    Each of this week’s soaps includes a scene where a male character lays his feelings on the line for the woman he loves. For Tom Ryan, that means making a full confession. “I did everything your father said I did,” he admits to Paige. “I even arranged to meet you so I could find out what your father knew about Oakman Industries … I did these things before I fell in love with you … I’ve changed because of you … I’ll always love you.” For Bobby Ewing, it means following April to Springdale to try and make amends. “I said goodbye to Pam the other night,” he tells her, “and now I wanna make things up to you on whatever terms you want … I love you, April.” “I love you and I want you,” echoes Danny Sharpe, talking to Sydney on FALCON CREST, but in his case, it’s more of an ultimatum: “I’ve done everything I can to prove it to you … Do you want me or not?” Turns out she does.

    Two middle-aged blonde women return to the Ewing-verse this week. On KNOTS, Paige is surprised to find her mother Anne standing in her apartment. “I haven’t been the world’s greatest mother,” Anne concedes, “but I do know the importance of family — I was shocked to hear the news that Greg Sumner lost his daughter.” “It must have ruined a whole afternoon on the slopes,” Paige quips. “Where’d you drop from — Heaven?” asks JR when his favourite hooker Serena walks into his office after an absence of two years. While all Anne has to do is mention Tom by name for Paige to say, “He's too young for you, Mother”, JR blames his problems with Cally on their age difference. (“We don’t have anything in common and I can’t see that we’re ever gonna have anything in common.”) A slice of afternoon delight with Serena helps him put his marriage in perspective (“Why should old JR put up with incessant nagging and punching a time clock?”) and the episode ends with him making the symbolic gesture of scribbling out the ‘Ewing’ part of Cally’s signature on her portrait of him that hangs in his office.

    The “tycoon-defaces-art” theme continues at the start of FALCON CREST with Michael Sharpe unwrapping a $40,000 painting by “a hot young French painter” and then punching a hole in it — in order to access the $1,000,000 bearer bond smuggled within. “I bring these things in every week from overseas,” he explains to his son Danny. It’s some sort of tax dodge I don’t begin to understand.

    This episode of FALCON CREST is a brilliant hour of twisty-turny soapiness. It focuses on Genele who, like Kristin in DALLAS Season 2, is the seemingly ideal mistress who can’t resist pushing her luck a little too far. Having learnt of Michael’s bearer bond scam, she thinks it might be her ticket to freedom. So she seduces Michael’s dweeby assistant Brian — a younger version of Bob from the Sumner Group — into giving her the crucial information she needs to steal one and then bribes a clerk at the depot into looking the other way when she intercepts the next delivery. However, when Michael realises someone’s ripped him off, he puts a tracer on the bond which means Genele can’t sell it without him finding out. Meanwhile, she’s being blackmailed by both Brian and the clerk but doesn’t have the cash to pay for their silence. Desperate, she turns to Richard who agrees to sell the bond on the black market on her behalf. He then double-crosses her by keeping the money and — in his most devilish move of the season — frames Danny to make it look as if he was the one who stole the bond in the first place. Unable to bear the idea that his own son has betrayed him, Michael shifts the blame onto Danny’s girlfriend (“It’s the girl! I know it’s the girl!”) and pays a dodgy looking guy with a dodgy sounding name, Johnny Sacco, to tamper with her car. (“I don’t want her to get hurt. I just wanna send a message.”) Then he arranges to meet Sydney for lunch. Suspicious, Danny decides to take her place — and borrows her car to drive to the restaurant. The episode ends with a waiter delivering Michael the bad news: “We just got a call from the highway patrol. It’s about your son. It seems there’s been an accident.”

    It’s kind of ironic in that in its final year, FALCON CREST feels more like a new series than one that’s been running for almost a decade. Like DALLAS back in its second full season, when it was still writing the Soap Land rules as it went along, FC is no longer afraid to take risks, to explore its characters and see how far it can take them. It’s bold and reckless and not remotely interested in playing safe.

    And this week’s Top 3 are …

    1 (1) KNOTS LANDING
    2 (2) FALCON CREST
    3 (3) DALLAS
     
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  5. Jimmy Todd

    Jimmy Todd Soap Chat Well-Known Member

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    You make some interesting points about Karen and her sons. Was she overbearing to the detriment of her sons? I always liked the character, but many posters here don't view her too favorably. I recall a scene between her and Linda later where Linda calls her out for how she raised her sons. At the time I took it as Linda being bitchy, but maybe she was right. Hmmm.
     
  6. Jimmy Todd

    Jimmy Todd Soap Chat Well-Known Member

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    You make some interesting points about Karen and her sons. Was she overbearing to the detriment of her sons? I always liked the character, but many posters here don't view her too favorably. I recall a scene between her and Linda later where Linda calls her out for how she raised her sons. At the time I took it as Linda being bitchy, but maybe she was right. Hmmm.
     
  7. James from London

    James from London Soap Chat Mega Star

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    08 Mar 90: KNOTS LANDING: Devil on My Shoulder v. 09 Mar 90: DALLAS: Paradise Lost v. 09 Mar 90: FALCON CREST: Vigil

    This week, KNOTS LANDING opens with Val stabbing her latest husband — Danny Waleska — in self-defence (thereby following in the recent footsteps of FC’s Sydney St James). The life of another Danny also hangs in the balance at the start of this week’s FALCON CREST where Danny Sharpe is in critical condition at Soap Land Memorial Hospital following his car crash at the end of the last episode.

    His father Michael attempts to bring his considerable wealth to bear on the situation, just as previous Soap Land tycoons in his position have done. But whereas Blake Carrington would demand “the best insert-field-of-speciality surgeon in the country” be flown in from wherever, Michael favours a more direct approach. “I will pay you anything to save my son’s life,” he tells the medic in charge, “anything. A castle in Europe, a yacht, whatever — you name it.” “Mr Sharpe, I’m a doctor,” comes the patient reply. “I don’t need to be bribed. Now please, let me do my job.”

    Two weeks ago, Anne Matheson returned to KNOTS after hearing about Mary Frances’s death. This week, Anne Bowen arrives in FALCON CREST after learning of her son Danny’s accident. There are several similarities between the two Annes. Just as Anne M knew Mack and Greg in the late ‘60s when the two men were still friends, Anne B knew Michael and Richard in the early ‘70s when they were business partners rather than deadly enemies. Mack is the father of Anne M’s daughter; Michael is the father of Anne B’s son (and also her ex-husband). Although both Annes are from New York, only one is a college professor. There is also an unanswered question about each of them: If Anne M is the rich heiress Karen describes her as to Paula, why do we then see her pawning her jewellery? If Anne B, as she claims, only knew Richard professionally when she was married to Michael, why is enigmatic piano music played on the soundtrack when the two are left briefly alone together?

    While a judiciously applied ballpoint pen saves Danny Waleska’s life on KNOTS, some vigorous earlobe tugging on DALLAS leads Miss Ellie and Clayton to conclude that Arlen Ward is his own twin brother Atticus come back to life and that he is responsible for the murders of Curly Morrison and Rabbit Hutch. There’s more marital sleuthing on FALCON CREST where Lance and Pilar deduce that Michael must have sabotaged Sydney’s car and is therefore responsible for Danny’s crash. When reminded that Arlen/Atticus has an alibi, Ellie suggests that “he could have hired somebody to kill Rabbit.” “Sharpe’s not gonna tamper with the car, he’d hire someone,” echoes Richard when Lance and Pilar tell him their theory. Whereas the Farlows’ murder mystery is disconnected from the rest of the action on DALLAS, Richard views Michael’s involvement in the accident as “a chance to get Falcon Crest back in the family … With the right information, we’ll have the power to make Sharpe do anything we want him to.”

    While Danny S undergoes life or death surgery, Danny W recovers sufficiently from his stabbing to sit across the table from Val at some sort of police hearing to determine which of them is responsible for the stabbing. Val is indignant. As far as she is concerned, she was protecting herself (“This man attacked me!”) and now wants to forget the marriage ever took place. But it’s not that simple. “It’s your word against his,” Mack explains, “and he’s the one who got stabbed.” Unsurprisingly, Danny plays for sympathy: “I don’t know why this happened,” he tells the hearing. “My marriage to Val is the most important thing in my life … I love you, Val.”

    Val and Danny aren’t the only Ewingverse couple to air their marital laundry in front of a professional third party this week. At JR’s suggestion, he and Cally visit a marriage counsellor: “Maybe he can get to the root of our problems.” Cally’s main grievance — JR neglecting her in favour of his business — chimes directly with Anne Bowen’s account of her life with Michael on FC: “I never understood how you could be gone so much and still expect to have a marriage,” she tells him. JR and Cally’s counsellor seems unusually pessimistic about their relationship. “Sooner or later, it was bound to go wrong,” he tells Cally. “I don’t think JR is going to change.”

    It transpires that JR isn’t really interested in making his marriage work. Rather, the visits to the counsellor are part of an elaborate plan to get Cally to leave him. But why doesn’t he just kick her off the ranch? Because that would upset Miss Ellie and John Ross, of course. “My family adores Cally,” he explains to Serena. “Mama loves her like a daughter, my son thinks she’s his best friend … If I kicked her out of the house now, I’d be the one sleeping in the dog house.” This explanation is so weak, even Serena questions it: “Don’t you think you’re overreacting?” It’s as if JR has become so addicted to his own deviousness that he has started inventing reasons to scheme. “When Cally leaves me, as I assure you she will, there won’t be a person on earth who doesn’t feel sorry for old JR!” he crows. But even though this storyline plays like a bargain basement version of his past attempts to drive Sue Ellen off of Southfork, there’s still an undeniable frisson in watching the old master plot against his nearest and (supposedly) dearest. The final scene of the ep where he visits the counsellor's office, supposedly to tear a strip off him for the negative advice he’s been giving Cally, is a hoot. “You’re doing a hell of a job busting up my marriage,” he snaps, before tossing a bundle of cash onto the desk. “Keep up the good work!” he adds with a chuckle. KNOTS likewise ends with a last-minute marital twist — no sooner has Val finished explaining to the twins that “Danny’s not gonna be Mommy’s husband after all” than Danny himself walks through the front door. “I’m home!” he announces with a smile.

    While JR and Val want Cally and Danny gone, Bobby wants April back from her hometown of Springdale. But April’s had enough of living in a soap opera. “If I go back and marry Bobby,” she tells her childhood friend Beth, “I’ll be caught in the middle of all those battles and power struggles. I’m not sure I can do it anymore.” She’s not the only one. In the most abrupt Soap Land departure since Grace McKenzie disappeared halfway through an episode of THE YELLOW ROSE, it transpires that Sydney has run away from FALCON CREST in-between episodes, never to be seen again. It’s a most unexpected turn of events — for a while, she looked set to be the show’s new heroine.

    And this week’s Top 3 are …

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

    James from London Soap Chat Mega Star

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    08 Mar 90: KNOTS LANDING: Devil on My Shoulder v. 09 Mar 90: DALLAS: Paradise Lost v. 09 Mar 90: FALCON CREST: Vigil

    This week, KNOTS LANDING opens with Val stabbing her latest husband — Danny Waleska — in self-defence (thereby following in the recent footsteps of FC’s Sydney St James). The life of another Danny also hangs in the balance at the start of this week’s FALCON CREST where Danny Sharpe is in critical condition at Soap Land Memorial Hospital following his car crash at the end of the last episode.

    His father Michael attempts to bring his considerable wealth to bear on the situation, just as previous Soap Land tycoons in his position have done. But whereas Blake Carrington would demand “the best insert-field-of-speciality surgeon in the country” be flown in from wherever, Michael favours a more direct approach. “I will pay you anything to save my son’s life,” he tells the medic in charge, “anything. A castle in Europe, a yacht, whatever — you name it.” “Mr Sharpe, I’m a doctor,” comes the patient reply. “I don’t need to be bribed. Now please, let me do my job.”

    Two weeks ago, Anne Matheson returned to KNOTS after hearing about Mary Frances’s death. This week, Anne Bowen arrives in FALCON CREST after learning of her son Danny’s accident. There are several similarities between the two Annes. Just as Anne M knew Mack and Greg in the late ‘60s when the two men were still friends, Anne B knew Michael and Richard in the early ‘70s when they were business partners rather than deadly enemies. Mack is the father of Anne M’s daughter; Michael is the father of Anne B’s son (and also her ex-husband). Although both Annes are from New York, only one is a college professor. There is also an unanswered question about each of them: If Anne M is the rich heiress Karen describes her as to Paula, why do we then see her pawning her jewellery? If Anne B, as she claims, only knew Richard professionally when she was married to Michael, why is enigmatic piano music played on the soundtrack when the two are left briefly alone together?

    While a judiciously applied ballpoint pen saves Danny Waleska’s life on KNOTS, some vigorous earlobe tugging on DALLAS leads Miss Ellie and Clayton to conclude that Arlen Ward is his own twin brother Atticus come back to life and that he is responsible for the murders of Curly Morrison and Rabbit Hutch. There’s more marital sleuthing on FALCON CREST where Lance and Pilar deduce that Michael must have sabotaged Sydney’s car and is therefore responsible for Danny’s crash. When reminded that Arlen/Atticus has an alibi, Ellie suggests that “he could have hired somebody to kill Rabbit.” “Sharpe’s not gonna tamper with the car, he’d hire someone,” echoes Richard when Lance and Pilar tell him their theory. Whereas the Farlows’ murder mystery is disconnected from the rest of the action on DALLAS, Richard views Michael’s involvement in the accident as “a chance to get Falcon Crest back in the family … With the right information, we’ll have the power to make Sharpe do anything we want him to.”

    While Danny S undergoes life or death surgery, Danny W recovers sufficiently from his stabbing to sit across the table from Val at some sort of police hearing to determine which of them is responsible for the stabbing. Val is indignant. As far as she is concerned, she was protecting herself (“This man attacked me!”) and now wants to forget the marriage ever took place. But it’s not that simple. “It’s your word against his,” Mack explains, “and he’s the one who got stabbed.” Unsurprisingly, Danny plays for sympathy: “I don’t know why this happened,” he tells the hearing. “My marriage to Val is the most important thing in my life … I love you, Val.”

    Val and Danny aren’t the only Ewingverse couple to air their marital laundry in front of a professional third party this week. At JR’s suggestion, he and Cally visit a marriage counsellor: “Maybe he can get to the root of our problems.” Cally’s main grievance — JR neglecting her in favour of his business — chimes directly with Anne Bowen’s account of her life with Michael on FC: “I never understood how you could be gone so much and still expect to have a marriage,” she tells him. JR and Cally’s counsellor seems unusually pessimistic about their relationship. “Sooner or later, it was bound to go wrong,” he tells Cally. “I don’t think JR is going to change.”

    It transpires that JR isn’t really interested in making his marriage work. Rather, the visits to the counsellor are part of an elaborate plan to get Cally to leave him. But why doesn’t he just kick her off the ranch? Because that would upset Miss Ellie and John Ross, of course. “My family adores Cally,” he explains to Serena. “Mama loves her like a daughter, my son thinks she’s his best friend … If I kicked her out of the house now, I’d be the one sleeping in the dog house.” This explanation is so weak, even Serena questions it: “Don’t you think you’re overreacting?” It’s as if JR has become so addicted to his own deviousness that he has started inventing reasons to scheme. “When Cally leaves me, as I assure you she will, there won’t be a person on earth who doesn’t feel sorry for old JR!” he crows. But even though this storyline plays like a bargain basement version of his past attempts to drive Sue Ellen off of Southfork, there’s still an undeniable frisson in watching the old master plot against his nearest and (supposedly) dearest. The final scene of the ep where he visits the counsellor's office, ostensibly to tear a strip off him for the negative advice he’s been giving Cally, is a hoot. “You’re doing a hell of a job busting up my marriage,” he snaps, before tossing a bundle of cash onto the desk. “Keep up the good work!” he adds with a chuckle. KNOTS likewise ends with a last-minute marital twist — no sooner has Val finished explaining to the twins that “Danny’s not gonna be Mommy’s husband after all” than Danny himself walks through the front door. “I’m home!” he announces with a smile.

    While JR and Val want Cally and Danny gone, Bobby wants April back from her hometown of Springdale. But April’s had enough of living in a soap opera. “If I go back and marry Bobby,” she tells her childhood friend Beth, “I’ll be caught in the middle of all those battles and power struggles. I’m not sure I can do it anymore.” She’s not the only one. In the most abrupt Soap Land departure since Grace McKenzie disappeared halfway through an episode of THE YELLOW ROSE, it transpires that Sydney has run away from FALCON CREST in-between episodes, never to be seen again. It’s a most unexpected turn of events — for a while, she looked set to be the show’s new heroine.

    And this week’s Top 3 are …

    1 (1) KNOTS LANDING
    2 (2) FALCON CREST
    3 (3) DALLAS

    Maybe. I quite like that there's no clear cut answer.
     
    Last edited: Jun 13, 2019
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  9. Jimmy Todd

    Jimmy Todd Soap Chat Well-Known Member

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    That there was no clear answer is one of the things that made KL such a great show. It's like life. There so often isn't one definitive answer, but rather shades of grey and wonderful ambiguity:)
     
  10. James from London

    James from London Soap Chat Mega Star

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    15 Mar 90: KNOTS LANDING: Home Sweet Home v. 16 Mar 90: DALLAS: Will Power v. 16 Mar 90: FALCON CREST: Dark Streets

    It’s hard to imagine how Jock Ewing would have reacted to one of his daughters-in-law discussing her marriage on a TV talk show, but that’s exactly what Cally does on this week’s DALLAS — and we’re not talking about a respectable series like OPEN MIKE (“the thinking person’s talk show” as it was described on KNOTS a few weeks ago), but the far more tawdry LIZZIE BURNS SHOW, with its provocative host and a studio audience primed to boo and cheer at the slightest opportunity. While Karen interviews someone about compost on this week’s OPEN MIKE, Lizzie Burns interrogates four young women who have married “rich and powerful Texans old enough to be their fathers.” Ironically, Lizzie is played by Susan Philby, Sid Fairgate’s ex-wife, who looked down on Karen so imperiously during KNOTS’ first season. As talk show rivals, they have now swapped positions: while Karen occupies the high-minded Oprah role, snooty Susan is now the lowest common denominator equivalent of Sally Jessy Raphael, Jerry Springer, et al.

    To Cally’s dismay, it soon becomes apparent that Lizzie Burns is intent on portraying her and the other women on the show as gold-digging home-wreckers. At least one of the other wives, Nancy Ann, is only too eager to play up to that stereotype, referring to her husband’s first wife as “a dried-up old Texas matron” who “deserved what she got … It’s a fact of life — men don’t go for a diet of prunes if they can have fresh plums!”

    Women passing judgement on other women is a recurrent theme throughout this week’s Soap Land. “I didn’t realise that women like you still existed,” Paula Vertosick tells Anne Matheson on KNOTS, referring to the air of shameless decadence she exudes. It’s the same air Abby and Alexis used to give off in their first seasons before they started power dressing and taking themselves seriously. “I’ll take that as a compliment,” Anne smiles. “You would,” Paula replies.

    Anne makes an observation of her own: “I don’t see what the big deal is about women in the workforce — nobody seems to be having any fun.” This would certainly apply to Michelle Stevens, who argues loudly with everyone she comes into contact with — her boyfriend, her sister, her contractor — over her and April’s warehouse project on this week’s DALLAS. During an introspective moment, she admits to James she’s plagued by the fear that “it will all disappear and I’ll be on the outside again, my face pressed up against the candy store window. Everybody’s inside, they all have what they want, and all I can do is look.” This echoes what April told Casey Denault a couple of seasons ago: “You’re just all the other bitter little people on the outside — you’re just trying to figure out how to get what you don’t have.”

    Soap Land being what it is, it’s not just women who are criticising women in the workforce. JR makes a comment about Stephanie Rodgers which must rank as one of the darkest lines he’s ever delivered: “She’s the kind of woman a man likes to see kneeling at his feet, begging for mercy.”

    Even Miss Ellie is uncharacteristically mean-spirited when she hears that Arlen Ward’s squeeze (and alibi) Honey North is an actress and model. “Actress and model indeed!” she scoffs. “I can just imagine the kind of films she was in!” I’m pretty sure that’s the first time Southfork’s matriarch has made a reference to porn.

    Two of Soap Land’s wives decide to revisit their pasts this week, incurring their husbands’ disapproval in the process. On KNOTS, Pat Williams’ decision to resume the medical career she was forced to abandon when she entered the Witness Protection Programme prompts Frank to pack a suitcase and threaten divorce. Over on FALCON CREST, the race is on to find Johnny Sacco, the junkie Michael Sharpe paid to tamper with Sydney’s car and whom he now wants dead. Overriding Lance’s objections, Pilar volunteers to draw on her experiences as a teenage runaway and go undercover on Skid Row. (Her claim that she has “lived in the streets, in the dirt” requires some creative tweaking to her backstory. Previously, we’d been told she left the Tuscany Valley as a teenager to have a baby but was taken in by relatives.) This affords FC another opportunity to take one of its rich characters for a walk on the wild side. First, there was Lance playing Scorpion Roulette in Juarez, then Lauren slinging hash and delivering babies in Chinatown and now it’s Pilar’s turn to adopt the homeless-but-chic look. (As ever, Soap Land’s depiction of how poor people live is kind of wonky.)

    It doesn’t take long for Pilar to befriend Johnny’s girlfriend, Mooshy Tucker, “part-time waitress, part-time hooker and a full-time survivor.” Pilar doesn’t look down on Mooshy the way Miss Ellie does on Honey and neither does FALCON CREST itself. When Clayton and Ellie, in their capacity as self-appointed super-sleuths, visit Honey at a photo shoot, they find her posing provocatively in lingerie. So far so Mandy Winger, except that Honey looks to be at least forty. That, combined with her claims to artistic legitimacy (“You may think you’re talking to a dumb blonde with big assets, but I’ve got a BA in Theatre Arts, I’ve got talent!” she squeaks), makes her seem kind of delusional, like a low-rent Norma Desmond or Baby Jane Hudson. FALCON CREST’s Mooshy also has artistic aspirations, but FC takes them more seriously — perhaps a little too seriously. Just as FC’s last hooker, Samantha Ross, was also a photographer, Mooshy turns out to be a painter (of homeless people, obviously). Unlike Soap Land’s current artist in residence, Cally, she refuses to even consider selling her work. “No way!” she tells Pilar. “I do a lot of things for money, sell a lot too, but sell my paintings? That’d be like selling my soul and that’s something I ain’t never gonna do!”

    Back on KNOTS, Danny Waleska’s refusal to vacate the cul-de-sac results in Val, Ginny and the twins decamping to Gary’s ranch until further notice. Danny marks the occasion by throwing Val’s clothes and belongings off the balcony of “his” house in the same way JR did Sue Ellen’s off of Southfork’s the last time she left the ranch. “She’s not setting foot in here again — never again!” Danny instructs his lawyer. JR, meanwhile, is having a harder time getting rid of his present wife. “You hypnotise her or tranquillise her or do whatever you have to do, but get that woman out of my house!” he barks at the marriage counsellor he hired to break them up. Conversely on FALCON CREST, Michael Sharpe is determined to have his ex-wife Anne living back under the same roof as him and their son Danny. “She belongs with me,” he insists.

    KNOTS’ Harold Dyer also wants his wife back. He calls Olivia from Miami to deliver a speech that manages to be both anti-romantic and romantic at the same time. “I hate talking about feelings,” he begins. “I think it’s stupid, dumb, and I wanna gag when I hear somebody say that they’re always gonna be there for you. I wanna ask them, where are they gonna be — on the corner of 3rd and Hudson? But I have to say all those things I hate because I miss you …”

    Even though Karen is the one Abby asked to keep an eye on her daughter, it’s Val to whom Olivia turns in her hour of need. “I, me, Valene Ewing Gibson Waleska of the three husbands and the three broken marriages, I still believe in love,” Val tells her. “I still believe that love is the most important thing in your whole life. So I would still, if I were you, base my decision on whether or not I loved the man.” Whereas Val has been married thrice, April’s mother on DALLAS has been married only once, “to a man who died far too soon.” Nevertheless, she feels the same way Val does. “I’m glad I married him,” she tells her daughter. “I’m glad I had those years with him, no matter how few they were because I got to love and be loved back and you don’t ever want to walk away from that.” This sweet little speech becomes all the more resonant when one remembers how brief April’s own marriage to Bobby will be.

    Olivia and April each act on the advice they’ve been given. Olivia joins Harold in Miami, thus becoming the third young character to depart Soap Land in recent weeks, following her own cousin Eric and FALCON CREST’s Sydney. Whereas Sydney left a goodbye note behind for Pilar and Lance, Olivia leaves a five thousand dollar cheque for Gary — the same cheque she tricked him into signing, but then couldn’t bring herself to cash. April, meanwhile, surprises Bobby not just by returning to Dallas unannounced, but by filling his office with fake snow for good measure. Paige is even more shocked when she walks into her apartment to find her boyfriend and her mother together. “You were practically on top of her and she was practically naked!” she yells at Tom who promptly gets down on one knee and proposes.

    Starting with the freak drowning of Maggie in FALCON CREST, it’s been a remarkably grim year in Soap Land. Since then, we’ve seen a husband rape his wife, wives stab and shoot their husbands, three young characters fatally shot down in their prime and elderly people variously tossed out of windows, pushed down stairs, suffocated, poisoned and even hanged. This week’s DALLAS ends with the most luridly gruesome image in its history: Arlen Ward drowned in his own fish tank, mouth agape, eyes partially open. Nice!

    This macabre atmosphere even begins to permeate the studio of OPEN MIKE when Karen’s producer, Dianne, recounts the tale of a female newscaster she once worked with who was strangled to death by a sexually obsessed fan. There’s a ripped-from-the-headlines quality about this story — such tragedies have occurred in real life — yet KNOTS approaches it with an air of campy black comedy. Dianne is cautioning Karen against becoming too familiar with a particular fan — or she simply trying to keep her in line by making her paranoid? “Maybe I’ll get lucky. Maybe he’ll bring a gun and shoot her,” she wisecracks to her assistant. Later, the overzealous fan does indeed sneak backstage where he is wrestled to the floor, but he then turns out to be a harmless dweeb who has knitted Karen a sweater. Meanwhile, we see another man lurking outside the studio. The episode ends with him watching Karen from afar as she reads a note he has apparently placed on her car windscreen. “You are the most beautiful woman I have ever seen,” she reads. “I would love to have a photo of you … in your birthday suit … My love always.” Karen looks around nervously. At least she’s not dead in a fish tank with her mouth open. Yet.

    And this week’s Top 3 are …

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

    James from London Soap Chat Mega Star

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    29 Mar 90: KNOTS LANDING: Only Just Begun v. 30 Mar 90: DALLAS: The Smiling Cobra

    In the opening scene of this week’s DALLAS, JR is working late at Ewing Oil when the elevator door slides open and an unseen someone slowly makes their way towards his office door. The ominous music on the soundtrack and the camera assuming the intruder’s point of view suggest a scenario similar to the one at the end of Season 6 when Katherine Wentworth (as it turned out to be) stole into JR’s office and pumped Bobby full of bullets. But this is a misdirection. After hearing a noise, JR grabs a gun from his desk and comes out to investigate — only to find, instead of a vengeful shoulder-padded sister-in-law, a man named Schmidt who is an hour early for their prearranged meeting. For no particular reason, Schmidt is depicted as a klutzy, nebbish Jewish stereotype. “Go ahead, make my wife’s day!” he exclaims, looking at JR’s gun. “It’ll help explain to her why I’m late for dinner tonight … You don’t know Zelda. She’s a tyrant when it comes to her schedule!” This is the nearest DALLAS has yet got to the broad and profoundly unfunny comedy that blighted FALCON CREST during its sixth and seventh seasons.

    There are also reminders of Katherine Wentworth on this week’s KNOTS where Dianne Kirkwood delivers a truly impressive rant about how Karen stole her chance at onscreen stardom when she became the presenter of OPEN MIKE. “Oh come on, Dianne — you can’t be jealous?!” her assistant Jeff asks in surprise. “No?” she replies bitterly. “Can I feel resentful? Can I feel cheated? Can I pretend that she has a fraction of my experience — or am I supposed to erase twelve years of doing every local midday talk show from Boise to Bakersfield? … I did not, repeat not, do any of that to end up behind the scenes … OPEN MIKE was my shot, mine!” The end of this speech is underscored by some familiarly sinister plinky-plonky “going a bit mad” music. This piece has cropped up before on KNOTS, but is most closely associated with a bewigged Katherine lurking in her car outside Pam’s house during “Swan Song”. Katherine’s subsequent act of mowing someone down with that car will also be recalled at the end of this week’s KNOTS, but we’ll get to that.

    During their exchange, JR offers the unfunny Mr Schmidt a cash bonus for a job well done (we won’t find out what job Schmidt has done until later in the ep). “Take Mrs Schmidt to dinner on me,” he suggests. “She’d never go for that — tonight’s meatloaf,” Schmidt replies dejectedly. “Well, just remember,” JR tells him, “marriage is like a salad — a real man has to learn to keep his tomatoes on top.” Marital advice and references to meatloaf — both of these are recurring motifs throughout this week’s KNOTS.

    The topic of marriage is under discussion from the very top of the ep as Paige reacts to Tom’s proposal. “If I were going to marry someone,” she begins, “I would marry you … Things change. What if we fall out of love?” She offers to live with him instead, but that’s not enough for Tom. “A piece of paper makes all the difference?” she asks him. “Yes, it does,” he insists. “And it’s supposed to, Paige. It’s supposed to make you work for it. It’s supposed to make it harder to break up … You can’t blame me because other people have dumped on you. I’m not gonna do that to you. I wanna be faithful to you because I love you. I wanna be the best father to our children, the kind of father that you never had.”

    In some ways, Paige’s issues — a fear of commitment, of being hurt — are the same as those explored by Bobby and April on DALLAS over the past few weeks. In their case, those issues manifested themselves in the form of physical obstacles — the appearance of Pam’s lookalike, April retreating to her childhood home — that the couple had to confront before they could move on with their lives. On this week’s KNOTS, these issues are woven into the fabric of the episode so that Paige couldn’t avoid them if she wanted to. Everywhere she goes, people are discussing marriage and commitment — while meatloaf (microwaved meatloaf in particular) becomes a symbol of the kind of cosy domesticity she is so wary of (“I don’t wanna spend the rest of my life sitting in front of that TV eating leftovers that have been reheated in the microwave”) but that Tom is only too eager to embrace (“I am a homebody … Deep down, that’s what I am”).

    While having dinner with the Mackenzies, Paige’s ears prick up when she hears her father assuring Karen that the estrangement between Pat and Frank is temporary: “I know they take their marriage vows seriously. I know that their marriage licence is more than a piece of paper. I know how much they’ve invested in their marriage … so I know they’ll work it out.” Later in the ep, Anne offers her daughter the polar opposite view of marriage: “Nothing is permanent. It doesn’t work out, it doesn’t work out … I was never bothered by the institution because, for me, it was a temporary solution to some very pressing problems. It was always more convenient for me to be married than unmarried — except when it was more convenient for me to be single.” This last remark seems to imply that Anne has had more than one husband. It recalls the casual but surprising reference on last week’s FALCON CREST to Michael Sharpe having had four wives. “You loved Mack,” Paige reminds Anne. “You could have married him.” “Yes,” she concedes, “but the prospect of sitting around every night eating meatloaf reheated in the microwave was just too much to comprehend.” “They didn’t have microwaves when you were young,” Paige points out. “Aren’t you wicked?” Anne smiles. This dovetails neatly with Mack’s earlier observation to Karen: “Have you noticed how meatloaf always taste better the next day?”

    Last week, Val, in spite of her string of broken marriages, advised Olivia to follow her heart with regard to Harold. Greg, who has been married as many times as Val, has a different perspective. “I married once out of ignorance, once out of love and once for business reasons,” he tells Paige. “All my marriages left me miserable. I’m a living breathing argument against marriage so don’t come to me for encouragement.”

    Danny Waleska has never crossed paths with Paige, but he too feels the need to venture an opinion on the subject, if only to his friendly neighbourhood bartender: “It sucks — you show me a married couple, I’ll show you a demented couple.”

    As part of his pitch to Paige, Tom gently suggests that she has her priorities wrong: “You’ll go to the office and talk about flow charts and spreadsheets and future projections and you know what? I think it’s more interesting and, in some ways more important, to talk about how much money to leave underneath the pillow from the tooth fairy.” Back on DALLAS, April comes to a similar conclusion after her business project with Michelle goes belly-up and she realises she’s relieved. “I don’t wanna be married to a five-year development deal. I wanna be married to you,” she tells Bobby.

    April and Bobby setting their wedding date generates further marriage talk in DALLAS. Cally wishes them the best, despite the fact that her own marriage is hanging by a thread — a thread JR intends to cut before the episode is over.

    The two-women-wearing-the-same-outfit is a familiar setup in Soap Land. Alexis and Krystle introduced it about seven years ago when they both stepped out of adjacent cubicles wearing the same party frock. And then April and Michelle repeated the scenario at the beginning of this season. In each case, it’s a visual gag that provides the opportunity for a few catty one-liners. KNOTS takes it to another level after Anne spots Paula buying an outfit and then deliberately turns up at the Sumner Group wearing one identical. In soap terms, her timing couldn’t better as Paula has just broken up with Greg only moments before. Throughout their relationship, Paula has matched Greg’s cool exterior pretty much quip for quip, even though we know she’s a lot kinder and more sensitive underneath. But when he makes no effort to dissuade her from accepting a job offer in Toronto, she finally snaps. “Nothing bothers you, nothing gets to you … My God, your own daughter gets murdered and not even that bothers you!” she shouts in the middle of the Sumner Group. Right then, Anne steps out of the elevator wearing the same dress and laughs with faux embarrassment. “Are you enjoying this?” Paula asks Greg. He just turns and walks away. On her way out of the series, Paula also finds time to weigh on Paige’s ‘to marry or not to marry’ dilemma. “Just in case you’re having second thoughts about Greg,” she tells her, “there’s the marrying kind and there’s the single kind, and … in the end, the single kind is monumentally, colossally boring.”

    While the Farlows are involved in a murder mystery on DALLAS, the Mackenzies are pondering how seriously to take the creepy letter Karen received at the end of last week’s KNOTS. In both cases, the wholesomeness of the Ewingverse matriarch is somewhat at odds with the lurid tone of the storyline. Up until now, Miss Ellie and Clayton have been mere observers in their mystery, but there’s a shift after Atticus Ward, having returned from the dead, dies all over again after drinking from a poisoned glass intended for Clayton. Meanwhile, Karen unwittingly signs a photo for Wayne, the author of the creepy letter, which we then see him add to the collection of Karen-related cuttings he has pinned to his bedroom wall. Even though the background music goes a bit loopy at this point, Wayne’s shrine is pretty modest by Soap Land psycho standards — only five pictures, as opposed to the countless photos of Lucy Ewing Roger Larsen used to have covering his walls — but hey, it’s early days.

    Purely out of spite, Danny Waleska tells Bobby Gibson over the phone that his Uncle Gary is really his daddy. This eventually leads to very sweet, very funny and very touching scene up a tree where Gary essentially attempts to explain the past six seasons of KNOTS to his five-year-old son. “If this was a movie, I would have walked out of it because it doesn’t make any sense,” Bobby concludes. As the twins gain an extra father on KNOTS, their cousin John Ross is about to lose a second mother on DALLAS when Cally finally decides to leave JR. “Cally, please don’t go. Don’t you leave me too,” he pleads tearfully.

    In contrast, Julie is all smiles on KNOTS because Pat and Frank are reuniting after their episode-long estrangement. But as soon as Pat says the words “I’ve gotta get some ice cream”, your heart starts to sink. And then when Tom Ryan returns home to his apartment and puts ‘You Are So Beautiful’ by Joe Cocker on the turntable, you know it’s all over — that by the time we reach the end of this song, tragedy will have struck. Before then, however, we see Paige surprise Tom with the gift of some microwavable meatloaf — her way of accepting his proposal. Then we cut back and forth between Danny leaving a bar drunk, buying a bottle of liquor and getting behind the wheel of his car; and Frank and Pat each purchasing tubs of the same flavour ice cream from different stores and then getting into their cars — all three of them separately heading in the direction of Seaview Circle where Julie is setting the dinner table. While Pat and Frank both look happy, Danny is drunk and disorientated as he zig zags unsteadily through the streets. All we can hear is Joe Cocker — there are no diegetic sounds, no noise at all outside of the song — it’s as if the characters are all somehow locked inside of it, or inside Danny’s drunken head. So when Pat steps out of her car in front of her house and Danny drives straight into her, it really is like an out of body experience.

    Watching various characters and storylines slowly converge on a particular place to create one almighty climax is a narrative device unique to KNOTS in Soap Land. They did with the Belmar Hotel at the end of Season 5, the Fisher house a year later and then Empire Valley in Season 7 — but this is the first time they’ve chosen the cul-de-sac itself. DALLAS uses another classic approach for its final act this week: the domino effect, whereby the events of one scene lead to the next and then the next, steadily building in momentum.

    First, James learns that the person behind the sabotaging of Michelle and April’s business project was JR. (That’s the job JR was paying Mr Schmidt for in the opening scene.) During their subsequent father/son showdown, JR explains that he was trying to force a wedge between James and Michelle: “You really think I’m gonna sit idly by and let that gold-digging tramp lead you round by the nose?!” James retaliates by informing his daddy that he and Michelle are getting married: “Imagine breakfast every morning with you sitting across the table from that gold-digging little tramp!” An angry JR then returns to the ranch where he takes his frustrations out on Cally, accusing her of turning James against him. “It was a sorry day when you first set foot in this house … You just cost me my firstborn son.” It’s unclear as to whether he genuinely blames Cally for James's behaviour or is just using it as a way to finally drive her off the ranch. Either way, it works. Like on Paula on KNOTS, Cally just can’t take it anymore and packs her bags to leave. (In place of Anne turning up in the same outfit, Cally’s distress is compounded by JR having Serena call up in her sexiest voice and ask to speak to her husband.) Cally is almost across the Southfork threshold when John Ross comes running after her. “Dad, make her stay! Tell her how much we love her!” he begs his father who is watching from the balcony above. According to the rules JR has imposed on himself for this particular storyline, he is forced to comply. “Cally, I didn’t mean anything I said, darlin’. Please don’t go,” he tells her with fake sincerity. It’s really stupid and really enjoyable — and it’s laugh out loud funny, in a way the laboured comedy with Mr Schmidt at the start of the ep just isn’t.

    And this week’s Top 2 are

    1 (1) KNOTS LANDING
    2 (2) DALLAS
     
    Last edited: Jun 21, 2019
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  12. James from London

    James from London Soap Chat Mega Star

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    05 Apr 90: KNOTS LANDING: The One to Blame v. 06 Apr 90: DALLAS: Jessica Redux

    Following the memorable use of ‘You Are So Beautiful’ at the end of last week’s KNOTS, this week’s ep also opens with an ironically placed musical number — Bobby and Betsy’s lip-synching performance of ‘Ain’t That a Shame’ by Fats Domino cross-cut with Pat being rushed down a hospital corridor on a gurney. It’s an eerie juxtaposition, particularly when Bobby points at Val while miming the line “You’re the one to blame” (a point of view later endorsed by Julie Williams: “You married that man and all of this is your fault!”). It recalls a sequence in the KNOTS Season 2 episode “Hitchhike” where Sid is arrested for rape at the same moment his daughter Diana is singing ‘If My Friends Could See Me Now’ in her school talent show.

    After running down Pat and verbally abusing Cally at the end of last week’s eps, Danny Waleska and JR Ewing are both all remorse and hangdog expressions. “I wanna apologise for what happened,” Danny tells Frank from his prison cell. “It was like a nightmare, you know? I’m sorry.” “I’m truly sorry for what I said,” JR tells his wife. “You know I want this marriage to work.” While Frank near throttles Danny through the bars of his cell (“That wasn’t the nightmare, man — I’m the nightmare!”), Cally is more forgiving — up to a point. “If you ever do something like that again,” she tells JR, “I am gonna leave and … I’m gonna let everyone know I’m leaving and I’m gonna let them know why.”

    Karen Mackenzie and Clayton Farlow officially become targets this week. The Mackenzies raise the alarm after Karen finds an anonymous gift of some racy underwear in her dressing room. The Farlows go on the alert after realising that the poisoned drink that killed Atticus Ward last week was intended for Clayton. In each case, Mack and Miss Ellie take the situation more seriously than the potential victim they’re married to. ”You’re overreacting,” Karen insists when Mack suggests she quit her job. “You’re under-reacting,” he replies. “This whole thing is ridiculous — why would anyone wanna kill me?” protests Clayton after Ellie arranges with the sheriff to have a couple of deputies posted at the entrance to the ranch.

    Dianne’s blithe dismissal of Karen’s situation results in the line of the week: “One little pair of panties does not a death threat make.” Her suggestion that OPEN MIKE “do a show about fans who stalk celebrities” leads to the accusation she is “exploiting Karen’s problem.” A similar accusation might be levelled at KNOTS itself, which is mining juicy drama (and black comedy) from a scenario presumably inspired by real-life events, at least in part. The fact that the accusation of exploitation comes from, of all people, Jeff Cameron adds, in hindsight, an extra layer of irony to the situation.

    The panties turn out to be a red herring — a gift intended for Sue, Karen’s Ellen Degeneres-lookalike floor manager, from her husband. This discovery has the effect of luring the Mackenzies into a false sense of security; they remain blissfully unaware that Karen is still being stalked by superfan Wayne, who this week follows her to a restaurant and swipes her sunglasses to add to his shrine. While the Mackenzies breathe a sigh of relief, the Farlows are shocked to discover that Clayton’s formerly incarcerated sister Jessica is on the loose and possibly responsible for the spate of geriatric murders in recent episodes.

    When Karen initially called the KNOTS police about the panties, they suggested she consider moving away from the cul-de-sac: “This kook is already onto you.” She refused. When Val has a mini-breakdown after realising Danny has changed the locks to her house, Gary proposes they “go back to the ranch and forget about this place.” She agrees. Upon receiving a sinister phone call from Jessica, Clayton follows suit and decides to leave Southfork. “I’m not gonna stay here and put the rest of you in jeopardy,” he tells the family. In spite of his protests, Ellie insists on accompanying him and they move into a hotel.

    Elsewhere in the Ewing-verse, Mack isn’t exactly overjoyed at the prospect of having “a lying, cheating, kneecap-snapping cop” like Tom for a son-in-law. JR feels pretty much the same way about having “a money-hungry little vampire” like Michelle as his daughter-in-law. Whereas Mack tries to accept the situation, even practising the speech he intends to deliver to Paige (“You gotta live your own life, kid, all I can do is love ya”), JR attempts to run Michelle out of town with the time-honoured combination of intimidation and cold hard cash. “You can leave town one of two ways,” he informs her. “One, with a smile on your face and lots of money, or you can be ridden out on a rail carried by a couple of good old boys I know.”

    Unusually, this is the first Michelle has heard of her own engagement — and she couldn’t be more delighted. “Do you think you can buy me off?” she asks JR. “I’m in the catbird seat and there’s nothing you can do about it!” Once he’s gone, she lets out a jubilant cry of “I made it!” Alas, when she broaches the subject with James, he casually informs her that he invented the engagement simply to annoy his father: “He was meddling in my life just like he always does, so I decided to shake him up.” In reality, he has no more interest in marriage than Paige did before all that talk of meatloaf and microwaves turned her head on last week’s KNOTS. “Look at my father and Cally,” he reasons. “Look at my mother. All marriage does is make you lie and cheat.”

    When Greg learns of Paige’s engagement, he makes her a counter-offer, complete with a diamond ring: “I propose that you and I move in together.” She responds by pressing the sharp end of the ring into his palm. “What do you think I am — the flavour of the month?” she asks before turning him down flat. Meanwhile, Michelle concludes that she’s “fine to sleep with, but not to marry.” She finishes with James and, when she receives a conveniently out-of-the-blue, out-of-town job offer (much like the one Paula received on last week’s KNOTS), she takes it. Only after her plane has left the ground do we realise that JR was behind the offer. “Goodbye and good riddance,” he says.

    While Greg starts digging for dirt on Tom, JR already knows everything there is to know about Stephanie Rodgers — she’s a closet jellybean eater!

    KNOTS and DALLAS end with parallel reveals. Who’s that posing as Karen’s new security guard? Why it’s her secret stalker Wayne! Who’s that standing over Clayton and Ellie’s hotel bed dressed as a chambermaid? Why it’s his psychotic sister Jessica! (And she’s wielding a syringe — how very Mary Frances’s boyfriend Robert of her.)

    And this week’s Top 2 are …

    1 (1) KNOTS LANDING
    2 (2) DALLAS
     
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  13. James from London

    James from London Soap Chat Mega Star

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    26 Apr 90: FALCON CREST: Crimes of the Past v. 26 Apr 90: KNOTS LANDING: My Love Always v. 27 Apr 90: DALLAS: The Southfork Wedding Jinx

    FALCON CREST’s Michael Sharpe and KNOTS LANDING’s Karen Mackenzie are both under pressure this week. Richard Channing now has proof, in the shape of Johnny Sacco, that Michael was responsible for his own son’s car crash and makes him an ultimatum: “Have your lawyers draw up a transfer of deed of ownership [of Falcon Crest] or Mr Sacco tells his story … I wonder how Lauren and Anne will react when they find out, not to mention Danny?” Meanwhile, Karen’s self-proclaimed “truest fan” starts asking her to do certain things during the taping of OPEN MIKE — wish him a happy birthday, wear a certain scarf — so he’ll know she’s thinking of him.

    Even though the idea of giving into Richard is an anathema to him, Michael’s desire to start over with his ex-wife Anne and their son Danny (“Keeping the family together is what’s important now”) means he has no choice. Not so Karen: “I would no more wear that scarf than meet that man in a dark alley. If I gave him one clue I’d read those pathetic letters, I’d never get rid of him!” she barks.

    The toll this is taking on Karen is noticeable. She has grown insular, preoccupied, even harsh. She even refuses to sign autographs for waiting fans (although she immediately changes her mind). Only when presenting OPEN MIKE does the familiar Karen — warm, smiling, engaged — fully return. (I’m not precisely sure when I first saw this episode — sometime in the mid-nineties — but the tip Karen’s OPEN MIKE guest gives about snipping plastic six-pack rings before throwing them out, in order to prevent little fishies from choking on them, lodged itself in my brain then and I’ve never forgotten it.)

    Karen’s decision not to do her anonymous admirer’s bidding has consequences. “You didn’t wish me Happy Birthday. You hurt me, Karen,” he tells her over the phone. Shortly thereafter, one of the studio lights crashes to the floor, narrowly missing her. Is this a freak accident or the actions of a super-fan scorned? We can’t be sure. In fact, what sets this “psycho stalker” storyline apart from previous Soap Land ones — Roger Larsen’s pursuit of Lucy on DALLAS; Jeff Wainwright’s of Maggie on FALCON CREST — is that we’re almost as much in the dark as the Mackenzies are. Like them, we don’t yet know (for sure) where the threat is coming from — or how real a threat it is.

    The best scenes on this week’s KNOTS and FALCON CREST take place between a bad guy and his lawyer. Michael Sharpe’s attorney, Ed, has been a supporting character since the start of the season. He’s a vaguely paternal figure who retains his calm, businesslike demeanour in the face of Michael’s many explosive tantrums. Beyond that, we know little about him. He finds Michael, having signed over Falcon Crest, brooding alone in his darkened office and offers his sympathies: “I know how this must sting … admitting defeat. Never easy for a man like you.” Michael shrugs. “Richard Channing isn’t the issue anymore,” he declares. “Life is — a new life with Anne and Danny, weekends in the country, fresh air …” “Sounds great, but it doesn’t sound like you,” Ed replies. “Maybe I’m tired of being me,” suggests Michael. “You know what a burden it is being Michael Sharpe?” “You are so full of it, Michael," Ed scoffs. "I’d fall down laughing if I didn’t think you’d fire me.” “I didn’t know you were capable of laughter, Ed,” Michael replies, with an edge to his voice. “That was never a prerequisite to working with you, Michael,” Ed counters. There follows a tense pause — then both men start laughing. “Come on, Ed, be happy for me! You’ve been married to the same woman for thirty-three years. Why can’t I?” Michael asks. “Because that’s who I am,” Ed replies. “I have one job, one woman, one life. But you’re the future, Michael. It’s a cross you have to bear. This country’s economy depends on you and others like you. Guys like me, we just stand back and marvel — and try to be a part of it.” “I can have it all, Ed,” Michael insists. “Just watch me. Just stand back and marvel.”

    Like Ed, Danny Waleska’s lawyer Scott favours the plain-speaking approach when dealing with his client this week. This means refusing to accept the blame when Danny’s driver’s licence is suspended: “No, Danny — you get all the credit for refusing to take the breathalyser test and refusing to take the blood test … Refusing to take those tests means an automatic suspension of your licence.” “Now he tells me,” Danny mutters in reply, pouring himself a whisky. “You wanna blame your drinking on me too?” Scott asks him. “You wanna blame me for not knowing chapter and verse of the law?” Danny shoots back. “I blame you for evading responsibility for your actions,” Scott tells him — which is what we’ve been waiting for someone to tell Danny all season. “Take some advice,” he continues, before urging Danny to stay away from Val. “Don’t make things worse for yourself.” When Danny sneers at him in reply, Scott offers him one last piece of counsel: “Get another lawyer.” “Hey, you know what they call three thousand attorneys at the bottom of the ocean?” Danny yells to his retreating back. “A good start!”

    Michael Sharpe may have given into Richard’s demands, but that’s not the end of the story. Johnny Sacco then shows up at his front door, stoned and ridden with guilt. Michael’s not home so he mumbles his confession to Anne: “I’m sorry, lady, I’m so sorry … I didn’t know that he was gonna waste his own kid.” The threat against Karen likewise enters her home at the end of this week’s KNOTS when she finds a publicity photo of herself torn into pieces on her dining room table. When she puts the pieces together, she sees the message ‘I HATE YOU’ scrawled across it.

    What Michael craves on FALCON CREST — a devoted wife and son — is what JR suddenly has on DALLAS. “From now on, I plan on being the perfect wife for you,” Cally informs him in this week’s opening scene. “No more nagging or complaining, I’m gonna be one hundred per cent on your side.” James also claims to have seen the error of his ways. “You had every right to run Michelle out of town,” he tells his father. “You were just looking out for me.” “Our little family’s really coming around!” JR exclaims in surprise. “Your little family’s coming around all right,” James mutters once his father is safely out of earshot, “it’s coming round to cut out your heart!” The truth is that Cally and James have teamed up to get revenge against JR and are playing the roles of the perfect wife and son only to lull him into a false of sense of security. When Sue Ellen played the same game ten years earlier, the dramatic stakes felt a lot higher, but it’s still super fun to watch them glare malevolently in JR’s direction whenever his back is turned.

    Of course, JR doesn’t want a devoted wife. After the rest of the family have left for overseas, JR hands Cally a cheque for $200,000 and tells her to get off Southfork once and for all: “I want you packed and gone. I don’t wanna see your face again.” But she gets the last word: “I’m gonna have JR’s baby, James — only he’s never ever gonna hold it or touch it or see it, as God is my witness!” While Cally is making this promise, FALCON CREST ends with Anne revealing a similar secret she has kept hidden from Michael for over twenty years. Still reeling from the discovery that he caused their son’s accident, she strikes back by telling him, “Danny isn’t your child. He’s Richard Channing’s!”

    This is the third such revelation in recent weeks, following the twins’ discovery that Gary is their daddy on KNOTS and Lady Jessica’s casual admission that Atticus Ward was Dusty’s on last week’s DALLAS. Bobby and Betsy appear unperturbed by their paternal bombshell and are happy to run around their new father’s ranch playing with their new camcorder as Gary and Val look on contentedly — until, that is, one of their videos inadvertently reveals Danny lurking in the bushes (a spooky discovery reminiscent of Pat glimpsing Jill Bennett in Gary’s boathouse last season). Meanwhile, after visiting Dusty offscreen, Clayton expresses his surprise “at how calmly he took the whole thing” — the “whole thing” being the news that his father is really his uncle and his psychotic aunt is really his mother, the same mother who has just accidentally murdered his real father. Moreover, Atticus’s death means that Dusty inherits 25% of West Star, but for some reason, he is considered less competent to manage his affairs than his criminally insane mama who is given control of his voting rights. JR is somewhat less calm than Dusty when he learns that Clayton has petitioned to have himself made custodian of these rights with a view to running West Star alongside Carter McKay: “Are you out of your mind?!” JR barks. “He’s the enemy!”

    “You want my advice?” Harve Smithfield asks JR, following the latter’s attempts to gain access to the sanatarium where Jessica is being held in order to persuade her to sign over the voting rights to him instead. “Accept the fact that Clayton and McKay are gonna be partners and adjust your strategy accordingly.” Like Danny with his lawyer, JR ain’t listening. “Harve, there’s got to be some legal way of getting me into that booby hatch,” he insists. “Well, you could have your wife commit you!” chuckles Harve. He’s joking, of course — but a metaphorical light bulb just appeared over JR’s head.

    Several characters have departed Soap Land recently — Sydney St James, Eric Fairgate, Paula Vertosick, Olivia and Harold, Michelle Stevens, Stephanie Rodgers — but none more notable than the original matriarch herself, Miss Ellie, who exits DALLAS this week on a tour of the Orient from which she will never return. “We won’t be gone that long,” she assures Cally, somewhat inaccurately. Indeed, one searches in vain for some sense of closure in Ellie's final episode. The closest we get is Cally referring to her as “the only mama I’ve ever had” and Ellie herself holding a pair of baby booties (a gift to April at her wedding shower) and asking, “Can you believe that JR was once little enough for these?” “Yeah, but I heard his little booties had spikes!” boom-tishes Lucy, who is also on her way off the show and has chosen to spend her last episode of DALLAS for twenty-two years delivering nonstop wisecracks. These include her usual shtick about the Southfork wedding jinx. However, naming the episode in its honour appears has lifted the curse: April and Bobby’s nuptials are DALLAS’s least eventful since Pam and Mark’s in the dream season. Whereas that wedding was billed as the most expensive in DALLAS (and maybe even Soap Land) history, this one is a strictly low-budget affair. It was unusual enough to see the Ewing Oil secretaries as guests at JR and Cally’s wedding, but here they make up 50% of April’s shower — and that includes Kendall the receptionist. (Kendall! In the actual Southfork living room!) Meanwhile, the cardboard patio has never looked cardboardier and a strategically placed wedding bouquet cannot disguise the fact that the actress playing the bride is heavily pregnant. On the plus side, Rose McKay displays some Sue Ellen-style cynicism (“Weddings always did make me cry, but I’ve got a feelin’ this one’s gonna take the cake,” she drawls) and there’s some enjoyable badinage between JR and Cliff’s new date, Liz Adams.

    Liz is an old acquaintance of Bobby’s who has returned to Dallas to sell her late brother’s company. She and Cliff immediately hit it off — she makes fun of his trademark handkerchiefs, he tells her she’s a breath of fresh air. And she kind of is; it’s refreshing to see Cliff hanging out with a woman vaguely his own age. “I don’t want you to go back to New York,” he tells her, “if only because I’ve never met a woman with such a high tolerance level for the real me.” Likewise on FC, Michael doesn’t want Anne to return to New York either: “This feels so right, don’t go home yet.” Conversely on KNOTS, Paige actively encourages Soap Land’s other Anne to go back to Europe. “This is a vacation, isn’t it?” she asks her mother hopefully.

    Meanwhile, everyone’s leaving Southfork — the newlyweds on their honeymoon, the Farlows on their never-ending cruise, John Ross and Christopher to visit Sue Ellen in England and Lucy to run an art gallery in Rome. “Why does this remind me of rats leaving a sinking ship?” she asks, getting in one last corny quip before it's too late.

    And this week’s Top 3 are …

    1 (2) DALLAS
    2 (1) KNOTS LANDING
    3 (-) FALCON CREST
     
    Last edited: Jul 3, 2019
  14. markymark

    markymark Soap Chat Active Member

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    Hi James, have you reviewed the ep before this (Family Plot)?
    PS: Thanks for these reviews, always entertaining
     
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  15. Franko

    Franko Soap Chat Member

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    "Family Plot" aired on a week when KL and FC didn't air episodes. These reviews only cover weeks where more than one soap aired. If I'm not mistaken, James has been watching every episode, though.
     
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  16. James from London

    James from London Soap Chat Mega Star

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    That’s right, Franko - I couldn’t compare that episode cos there was nothing else that week to compare it to! I thought it was really good though.
     
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  17. James from London

    James from London Soap Chat Mega Star

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    03 May 90: FALCON CREST: The Return v. 03 May 90: KNOTS LANDING: If I Die Before I Wake v. 04 May 90: DALLAS: Three, Three, Three (1)

    A week after one no-nonsense matriarch bows out of Soap Land with the minimum of fuss (Miss Ellie embarking on a one-way trip to the Orient), another returns in a similar fashion. Remarkably, the revelation that Angela Channing has awoken from her coma is tacked onto the end of the “Previously, on FALCON CREST ...” recap section prior to the opening titles. “She wakes up like it was just a nap and demands to be checked out,” the nurse who fell under Charley St James’ spell is telling a colleague. “You should have seen her walking down the hall. She wouldn’t even let us notify her family.” The regular cast members don't find out the news until two-thirds of the way through the episode, and even then have no idea where she is. Richard’s reaction is interesting: “I almost feel resentment towards her … It’s like she’s deliberately coming back to interfere with my life.” And then all of a sudden, there she is, standing in the Falcon Crest living room complete with a new hairdo and glitzy evening gown and offering absolutely no explanation for her miraculous recovery. In short, her return is as abrupt and outrageous as her near demise was. In complete contrast, Pat Williams’ comatose state on KNOTS is played strictly by the medical textbook. “Her pupils are fixed and dilated,” her doctor tells Frank solemnly. “Your wife is clinically dead.”

    “I want things back the way they were,” Angela announces on FALCON CREST. “I think Gary and Val are gonna get back together again!” predicts Karen on KNOTS. But with JR and Cally competing to be the first to file for divorce, it doesn’t look there’ll be any such turning back of the clock on DALLAS.

    Each of the soaps has an unusual vibe about them this week. With Angela back and Richard having wrested Falcon Crest from Michael Sharpe, the characters on FC are now divided into two camps: the old and the new. In the former camp, Richard squabbles with Lance and Pilar over who should have control of the winery, with Angela appearing to side with her son. Such inter-family disputes are familiar FC territory, yet this one feels energetic and fresh rather than a tired rehash of old storylines. (I particularly like the way Richard equates his taking over Falcon Crest to the fall of the Berlin Wall: “The liberation of Eastern Europe, Lauren, the world is changing!”) In the “new” camp, Anne Bowen has skipped town after dropping her parental bombshell on Michael at the end of last week’s ep (“Danny isn’t your child — he’s Richard Channing’s”), exactly as Anne Matheson did after doing the same thing to Mack in KNOTS Season 8 (“You’re not Paige’s father, Mack, Greg is”). This leaves Lauren, Genele and Danny trying to deal with Michael, who has shut down completely. The scene where he rejects Danny without telling him why is just really sad. “Did I do something wrong? Dad, tell me. Just don’t shut me out,” Danny pleads, trying to hug the man he still believes is his father. Michael pushes him away and tells him to get out without even looking at him.

    The highlight of the Soap Land week is the scene where Genele finally manages to rouse Michael from his despondency. She does this with a speech that combines elements of the “Get off your butt, JR, we’ve got work to do” lecture Bobby delivered after Jock’s death and Dylan Thomas’s poem "Do not go gentle into that good night”, but with an added dysfunctional twist that could only belong to this season of FALCON CREST.

    “You’ll never change,” Michael is telling her. “Neither will you,” she replies. “Nobody does. We may talk about it and dream about it. We may even try it, but in the end, we can’t change what we are. We can only accept it.” “And what are you?” Michael asks her. “Me?" she replies. "I’m a creature that lives with the constant pain of destroying what it desires. In other words, I’m your twin. Our only hope is to desire something so strong, so cruel, so twisted that it can’t be destroyed. That’s what brought us together and that’s what will keep us together. Come back to life. Be angry again. Find a war.”

    Genele’s assertion that “we can’t change what we are” flies in the face of what we’ve been led to expect from TV drama — the idea of people “growing” from their experiences or, in reality TV parlance, “going on a journey.” Her outlook chimes instead with Shakespeare’s — the sense that characters cannot outrun their fatal flaw and/or the world they were born into. It’s also the common thread that links all of JR’s “fish out of water” escapades during the past couple of years. No matter where he finds himself — on a chain gang or trapped overnight in an elevator or on a mystery mission to Moscow or, as is the case this week, committed to a mental hospital, he is fundamentally unchanged by his surroundings. He remains resolutely convinced of both his own importance and his ability to bribe his way out of trouble. Much like a character from SEINFELD, a show that would help symbolise the ‘90s just as DALLAS had the ‘80s, he never learns from his experiences.

    Bridging the gap between FC’s “old” and “new” camps is Richard and Lauren’s big announcement: they’re engaged! The only apparent obstacle to their immediate happiness is Lauren’s curiosity about Richard’s twenty-year-old affair with Anne, which he is reluctant to discuss (“Who cares? The past is over, it’s gone!”). Nevertheless, Lauren is mere inches away from figuring out that he is Danny’s real father. Meanwhile, Paige and Tom’s wedding plans are underway on KNOTS, where the only obstacle to their happiness is the police allegation that Tom has pocketed a serious amount of cash from a drugs bust. He vehemently denies it — but then $100,000 mysteriously shows up in his bank account.

    Before learning of Angela’s recovery, Richard had invited Lauren to move into Falcon Crest with him (“our Golden Pond”). Now that she is back, Angela raises no objection to the idea (much to Lance’s annoyance). Conversely on KNOTS, Danny has taken out a restraining order against Val and Gary prohibiting them “from coming within one hundred feet of Daniel Waleska or his residence.” It already felt weird for Val to be living somewhere other the cul-de-sac, but now she’s banned from even visiting. Indeed, KNOTS suddenly feels very … un-knotty, with characters locked into their specific storylines — Val and Gary at the ranch, Frank and Julie at the hospital with Pat, the Mackenzies pre-occupied by Karen’s stalker, and Paige and Tom by the allegations against him — with very little overlap in-between.

    The vibe on DALLAS is even odder. For the first time in the series’ history, no-one (with the possible exception of James) is living at Southfork. JR is in the sanatarium, Cally is lying low at April’s and everyone else is overseas. Fortunately, Cally and James — whether he’s ministering to her pregnancy cravings (shaved ice and tomato juice) or they’re both sneaking into Ewing Oil in the dead at night to forge letters from JR to Sly — make an extremely likeable whatever-they-are. The idea of them getting together romantically seems both soapily inevitable and morally unthinkable. Despite their shared desire to strike back at JR, they're both too gosh-darned nice to cross that particular line. In fact, it doesn’t even seem to have occurred to them. It’s kind of sweet that that sort of innocence still exists in Soap Land.

    The “old” and “new” come together very satisfyingly in the final scene of this week’s FALCON CREST. Angela’s and Michael’s cars pull up alongside each other and, Michael having mimicked Angela’s “back window of a limousine slides down to reveal …” pose throughout this season’s opening credits, they both now repeat that same pose simultaneously. “Well, if it isn’t the incomparable Angela Channing,” Michael begins. She cuts him off: “Spare me the chit-chat … Your sister intends to marry my son and together they wanna run Falcon Crest … You can’t stand the idea of Lauren spending the rest of her life with Richard, and I want Falcon Crest for myself … I think we have something in common — to see to it that that wedding never takes place.” He smiles in agreement.

    While Angela plots to prevent her son’s marriage on FALCON CREST, Anne Matheson is anxious for her daughter to tie the knot on KNOTS. Mack is surprised by her concern, which provokes an unusually angry response from Anne. “Everybody judges me,” she snaps. “You judge me. Don’t deny it. You think I’m a joke. Paige calls me a cartoon character whose sole interest in life is shopping. Well, I have never had a facelift and I don’t intend to. And yes, I have compensated for the mistakes that I have made by having fun. But I don’t want my daughter to have to compensate for anything. I want her to do it right the first time and she will do it right if she marries Tom!” It’s an impressive speech (and one that contains what I think is Soap Land’s first reference to cosmetic surgery) — but then the other shoe drops when we hear Anne on the phone to a lawyer and it becomes apparent that she is being just as devious about her daughter’s nuptials as Angela is about her son’s. “They’ve set the date, May 17th,” she informs the lawyer. “Father didn’t want her to know about the trust fund until she got married … Would it be possible to transfer the money directly into her account?” We’ve already seen Anne stealing Paige’s driving licence to open herself a bank account. Twenty-nine years later, Paige, in the guise of Future Alexis, will go one better by simply stealing her daughter’s face.

    Elsewhere, KNOTS demonstrates Karen’s paranoid mental state via the use of thriller-style fantasy sequences. She is shown going about her daily business when she suddenly “sees” her floor manager advancing towards her with a gun or her make-up man doing the same with a knife or, most explicitly, an autograph hunter forcing his way into her car and climbing on top of her. For some reason, whereas the Amanda/Danny rape plot from earlier in the season was given the earnest “social issue” treatment, the not dissimilar threat to Karen is deemed ripe for gimmicky exploitation. This attitude is mirrored within the plot itself by Dianne who leaks the story of Karen’s ordeal to the press, in the hope that the resultant publicity will prompt Karen to quit the show, thereby enabling Dianne to replace her as host of OPEN MIKE.

    Karen subsequently arrives home to find a TV crew harassing Meg on the front lawn. She then launches into an updated version of Miss Ellie’s “get me the shotgun out of the hall closet” speech from twelve years earlier. “You hear a rumour that a plane is down, my two boys missing and with no respect for human feeling or private grief, you come circling around here like a vulture,” Ellie told the reporter she found on her doorstep back then. “There isn’t any tragedy, any accident, any personal grief, no matter how terrible, that can’t be made worse any the presence of reporters,” Karen tells the reporter outside her own house now. Both reporters respond the same way: “I’m just doing my job,” in ’78; “We’re only doing our job,” in ’90. “Then find another job or a better way of doing this one!” barked Ellie. “Doing your job does not mean terrorising a four-year-old. What I saw today is child abuse and I won’t stand for it!” snaps Karen. Had she a shotgun in her hall closet, Karen would undoubtedly call for it at this point, but as she has already made clear earlier in the episode, keeping a firearm in her home is an anathema to her. While there’s not a syllable of Karen’s speech I disagree with, within the context of this episode, there is nonetheless a whiff of hypocrisy about it — KNOTS has clearly been having a ball with all this sensationalistic “woman in peril” stuff, but still feels the need to wag its finger at the press for doing the exact same thing.

    In her imagination, Karen has already faced guns and knives and would-be rapists during this episode. How can reality possibly top that? There can only be one way — “Snakes in a cul-de-sac!” The slithery critters appear in a box of flowers Karen opens. She then wails her head off and disaster is soon averted.

    Unsurprisingly, Dianne’s plan works and Karen quits the show. She is not the only character to forego their celebrity status this week. “Whoever you thought you were on the outside, Mr Ewing, doesn’t matter in here,” Dr Wexler, chief psychiatrist at the sanatarium where JR is currently residing, informs him. Yes, it’s Haleyville all over again — they didn’t know or care who he was there either. At the risk of damning with faint praise, JR’s obligatory psychiatric sessions are the highlight of the sanatarium scenes in this week’s DALLAS. Inevitably, the subject of his father arises. “My daddy was like a god to me,” he declares. “And made you feel inferior by comparison?” ventures Dr Wexler. “No, not inferior,” JR replies. “I just wanted to make him proud of me.” Over on FC, Michael Sharpe mentions his father for the first time. Whereas JR owes his success to a lifetime spent trying to emulate his daddy, Michael owes his to a life spent doing the opposite: “What’s a father? I had one, a scared little man, a three-dollar-an-hour bookkeeper. He taught fear by example. His life scared the hell out of me.”

    JR’s fellow inmates include Bob from the Sumner Group, Harris Ryland from Future DALLAS and a man who laughs maniacally while playing chess with himself, even switching seats between moves to argue with his “opponent.” In other words, this is multiple personality disorder played for yuks. While bemusing, it’s too feeble and creaky a gag to niggle one in the way the double standards on this week’s KNOTS do, or to grate like Melissa’s high-pitched “isn’t mental illness hilarious?” histrionics used to on FALCON CREST. In any case, JR is too focused on his primary objective — securing Jessica Montford’s signature on an all-important document — to pay his new dorm mates much attention. But in order to gain access to Jessica in the women’s wing, he must first tangle with the amorous Anita.

    So it is that JR and Karen end up in similar predicaments at the end of their respective shows. Spooked by the snakes, Karen summons Wayne the Security Guard to her house for protection — unaware that he is the person most likely to be her stalker. While she naps in her bedroom, Wayne the weirdo lurks downstairs. JR, meanwhile, ends up in the clutches of Anita, who is sort of a cross between Marilee Stone and Hannibal Lecter, “a woman with insatiable sexual appetites — by the time the authorities caught up with her, she had disposed of four husbands … They were unable to satisfy her needs.”

    And this week’s Top 3 are …

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

    James from London Soap Chat Mega Star

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    10 May 90: FALCON CREST: Danny's Song v. 10 May 90: KNOTS LANDING: The Fan Club v. 11 May 90: DALLAS: Three, Three, Three (2)

    It’s kind of fitting that the second-to-last episode of FALCON CREST should open with a newly invigorated Michael Sharpe looking towards the future (“Forget about Germany. Reunification, diversification — who cares? I tell you where the money is, in all those Eastern bloc countries whose names you can’t pronounce — Latvia, Albania, Lithuania, Transylvania”) while also hearkening back to the past (“These people are hungry for everything and talk about cheap labour!”) — a reminder that Falcon Crest itself was built on the backs of poor immigrant workers.

    The penultimate episode of DYNASTY a year ago contained a major paternity revelation. So does FALCON CREST’s this week. Whereas Alexis’s announcement that Jason Colby was not Miles and Monica’s father resulted in a glorious punch up, the consequences of Lauren telling Richard and Danny that they are father and son are far more emotionally driven.

    In the same way that Richard Channing was first introduced as the ultimate unloved bastard son, now he rejects his own illegitimate child. “You don’t belong to me,” he tells Danny. “I have never been responsible for you in any way — legally, financially, ethically. You are Danny Sharpe. You are Michael Sharpe’s son.” Tell that to Michael Sharpe. “Danny, we can drop this thing because there was nothing there to begin with,” Michael says, referring to the fact that he abandoned Danny as a baby. “That’s not true,” Danny replies. “You were in my head. I used to ache for you.”

    Richard’s coldness towards Danny causes Lauren to have second thoughts about their upcoming wedding. “I don’t feel good about this marriage,” she tells him. “Our marriage has nothing to do with Danny,” he argues. “Yes, it does,” she insists. “You are always talking about family. Well, Danny is the only family I have.” Tom Ryan is in a similar position on KNOTS. “This wedding is beginning to sound a little silly to me … It’s not every day you have a groom walking down the aisle in handcuffs,” he tells Paige. “So what are we supposed to do — call off the wedding because you’re under investigation?” she asks. “Maybe that’s a good idea,” he replies.

    “Forget about the Sharpes, all of them … it’ll be for the best,” advises Angela, mother of the groom, on FALCON CREST. Of course, she doesn’t want the wedding to take place anyway — unlike Anne Matheson, mother of the bride on KNOTS. “Darling, everyone gets the jitters before a wedding,” she assures Paige, before adding for good measure: “I’m not taking the dress back.”

    Several Soap Land characters have been in comas over the years, but Angela is the first one to come back and tell us what it was like — a million laughs apparently. “It was like a dream,” she tells Chao Li. “Everybody was there. There was Maggie and Chase and Stavros and all the fighting and the bickering was gone. There was just laughter. Everything was filled with laughter.” Let’s hope Krystle Carrington is having as much of a giggle during her Swiss slumber. Once again, KNOTS provides us with a somewhat less romantic perspective on the subject. “Her body won’t continue to function indefinitely, even on life support,” Pat’s doctor tells Frank. “Her heart will fail within two weeks.” “Miracles happen,” Frank argues. “I wish I could tell you that were true. There has never been a single case of a brain-dead patient reviving,” replies the doc. Frank is convinced — but before he agrees to have Pat’s respirator turned off, he must find a way to break the news to Julie. In the event, Danny Waleska saves him the trouble, shouting at him in front of his daughter, “If you pull the plug, you’re the one who’s gonna be killing her, man, not me!” Terrified that Pat’s death could result in him facing a homicide charge, Danny starts packing his bags to leave town — until the sound of a rifle being cocked stops him in his tracks.

    In each of this week’s shows, the youngest character (toddlers excepted) takes matters into their own hands with dramatic results. While twenty-two-year-old James Beaumont pulls off an outrageous stunt that earns him DALLAS’s season finale freeze-frame, KNOTS concludes with schoolgirl Julie Williams aiming Danny Waleska’s own shotgun at him: “They’re taking my mother off life support tomorrow, but you are gonna quit breathing before my mother does!” Meanwhile, the centrepiece of this week’s FALCON CREST is nineteen-year-old Danny Sharpe threatening to jump off the roof of a building.

    Danny’s ultimatum — “I want Michael Sharpe and Richard Channing in front of me … or else I fly” — obliges Richard and Michael to set their differences aside and work together to save “their” son. If the resolution is somewhat inevitable, the three characters involved are each so well-developed and idiosyncratic that the journey towards that resolution is still a dramatically and emotionally satisfying one.

    This week’s KNOTS and DALLAS both pick up where they left off, with Karen and JR at the mercy of Wayne the weirdo and Anita the nymphomaniac mental patient respectively. While Karen naps in her bedroom, Wayne overhears an answering machine message from Mack and realises that his guilty secret has been discovered: “He’s got, I don’t know, a shrine to you in his bedroom.” Panicked, Wayne steals into Karen’s room and sits on the edge of her bed. Karen is startled when she wakes up to find him looking down at her. He grabs her by the shoulders to prevent her from escaping. Anita puts JR in a similar position when she pins him down on her bed and climbs on top of him. But whereas Anita proceeds to then ravish her prey, Wayne tries desperately to convince Karen that all he wants to do is protect her.

    Like Michael and Richard on FALCON CREST, Dianne Kirkwood manages to overcome her feelings of animosity towards her nemesis, Karen, long enough to try and save her from Wayne.

    When JR first entered Anita’s room, he made a discreet search of her dressing table, looking for any sharp or potentially dangerous objects. On KNOTS, Dianne enters the Mackenzie house and searches through their kitchen drawers for something similar with which to arm herself. The large knife she settles on, combined with Wayne’s landlady’s assertion that “I can’t imagine Wayne hurting a fly”, serve to put one in mind of Norman Bates in PSYCHO. Dianne then heads upstairs to investigate.

    Passageways play a significant role in each Ewingverse scenario. Wayne and Dianne are both shown creeping down the Mackenzies’ upstairs hallway towards the main bedroom. This is a familiar setting but shot in an unusual, sinister way to feel creepy and disorientating. The corridor that separates the male and female wings of the sanatarium, meanwhile, is shot more prosaically, but JR is shown sneaking down it several times in his efforts to complete his mission.

    Dianne succeeds in “rescuing” Karen. The only snag is, Wayne turns out not to be the stalker. (I always thought his shrine wasn’t big enough.) While Dianne overpowers Wayne with Soap Land’s first knee in the nuts since Sue Ellen showed JR what for during Season 7 of DALLAS, JR himself eventually manages to subdue Anita by chloroforming her. He then creeps into Jessica’s room and sits on her bed before waking her up, just as Wayne did to Karen. JR then smooth talks Jessica to signing her West Star voting rights over to him.

    While JR manages gets in and out of the women’s wing without anybody noticing, Sumner Group Bob goes one better by escaping from the mental hospital on DALLAS altogether, making a brief appearance on KNOTS, and then returning to DALLAS in time to overshare in the day room. (“I have a streak of sadomasochism," he informs JR. "That’s what the doctor says. He says that I enjoy pain.”)

    Bob is back on KNOTS long enough to join Paige and Mort in regretfully declining Greg’s request for “a volunteer from the Sumner Group to work as a liaison with the West Coast Conservationists.” This leads to the task being assigned to a “defenceless underling”, aka Linda Fairgate, who then comes face to face with Karen for the first time since splitting up from Eric. I really like how Karen, in the mistaken belief that her stalker problem has now been resolved, immediately throws herself back into the middle of the Linda/Michael storyline — now that’s soap opera! “My sons never fought until you came along,” she tells Linda. “Stay away from my family.” But Karen’s interference only makes Linda more determined to land Michael, and she starts reeling him in with tales of how his brother used to beat her up. “I’ve held this in for so long,” she tells Michael passive-aggressively. “I didn’t want your sympathy. I wanted you to like me for who I am, not for what I’ve been through.”

    There’s further female manipulation on DALLAS where Cally puts on a tight, low-cut dress and poses as a ditzy divorcee-to-be in order to charm Mr Berman, the lawyer whom JR has entrusted with the task of getting him out of the sanatarium. These scenes are very light and frothy, especially for a season finale, but at least they’re not as over-the-top awful as when Melissa put a Dolly Parton wig and a thick Southern accent during a similar scenario on FALCON CREST a couple of seasons ago. In fact, Cally’s little wiggly walk is actually quite funny.

    Cally lures Mr Berman back to April’s apartment where James proves to be a chip off the old block by leaping out of the shadows to photograph them in a misleadingly compromising position — the very scam JR pulled on Pam and politician Ben Maxwell back in ’79. James then blackmails Berman into handing over JR’s release papers.

    Like last season’s KNOTS finale, the last episode of this season's DALLAS features only a handful of regular cast members (for the first time since he returned in the shower, there’s no sign of Bobby) and only two storylines. In place of Greg, Paige and Ted Melcher fighting over a key, we have JR in the sanatarium with Cally and James plotting against him. In lieu of the Mack/Paula/smelly skunk subplot, a murky connection emerges between Liz Adams, Cliff’s new girlfriend, and Carter McKay, which is certainly more intriguing than watching a bunch of comedy mental patients playing cards.

    DALLAS only really catches fire in its final scene, when JR is surprised but relieved when James shows up at the sanatarium with his release papers. Then comes the double-cross: James will use the papers to get him released only if JR signs Cally’s divorce settlement first. (“Why, you little turncoat. You’re no son of mine,” JR tells him.) Then comes the triple-cross: After JR signs the property settlement, James rips up the release papers. “You get me the hell outta here, you little bastard!” JR shouts. “No way, Daddy, It’s payback time and you’re in here for good,” James informs him. JR’s response — a mixture of disbelief, rage and fear — is great. James watches as he is dragged away by in the men in white coats, just as JR watched the same thing happen to Sue Ellen eleven years earlier. Cool.

    And this week’s Top 3 are …

    1 (3) KNOTS LANDING
    2 (1) FALCON CREST
    3 (2) DALLAS
     
    Last edited: Jul 13, 2019
  19. James from London

    James from London Soap Chat Mega Star

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    01 Nov 90: KNOTS LANDING: You Can Call Me Nick v. 02 Nov 90: DALLAS: April in Paris

    Having ended a week earlier than KNOTS last season, DALLAS now returns a full six weeks after its sister show. This means, in the time that it has taken JR to be dragged out of the visitors room at the sanatarium and put into solitary confinement, Paige has been jilted by Tom, agreed to go on a cruise with Greg after finding out he’s dying, changed her mind after learning that he was the one who framed Tom, and moved in with Tom while under the assumption that Greg and her mother are sleeping together. Meanwhile, Karen has been attacked by Jeff Cameron, Gary by Danny Waleska, and Danny, Pat Williams and Wayne the Security Guard have all died. Not forgetting the arrivals of Greg’s scheming sister Claudia and her tennis-playing daughter Kate (who also happens to be Mary Frances’s doppelgänger).

    Another new face appears at the start of this week’s KNOTS. Last week, Anne received a ransom demand regarding some incriminating photos of her with an ex-lover, a high profile Italian known as Marco. Marco now sends his emissary (“You can call me Nick”) to investigate the situation — including the possibility that Anne herself is behind the blackmail scheme. Nick proceeds to set up camp in Anne’s (formerly Paige’s) apartment and keep tabs on her every move. This infuriates Anne, just as she infuriated Paige when she was the uninvited lodger.

    Nick is far funnier and more charming than Soap Land’s typical European guest characters. Less sleazy than Naldo Marchetta or Peter de Vilbis, not as sinister than all those shadowy FALCON CREST assassins, he’s more of an Italian Cary Grant. Speaking of whom, the Actor Formerly Known as Archibald Leach has now officially replaced Joan Crawford and Pee Wee Herman as Soap Land’s most referenced cultural figure. In the FALCON CREST finale, Richard rented three Cary Grant movies in an attempt to win round Lauren; during the recent episode of KNOTS where he attempted to drive Gary off a cliff, Danny described a murder scene from North by Northwest that involved Grant and Eva Marie Saint; and when honeymooners Bobby and April touchdown in France on this week’s DALLAS, they immediately make clunky reference to the Paris-based thriller Charade, also starring Grant. “I’ve seen this in so many movies, I can’t believe I’m really here!” trills April. “You wait till we get into Paris,” Bobby replies. “You’re gonna think that Audrey Hepburn and Cary Grant are gonna come around every corner!” “I think he was the greatest looking man that ever lived,” April says dreamily. “With the possible exception of your husband, of course!” joshes Bobby. “I was just gonna say that!” she assures him.

    Whilst waiting for his role in DALLAS’s sanatarium storyline to resume, Sumner Group Bob has been keeping busy as part of the corporate Greek chorus on KNOTS. Alongside Mort, Michael and Linda, he has been speculating about the state of Greg’s health, his love life and, this week, Paige’s latest contract negotiation. We even learn what she makes — a hundred fifty grand! “Are you kidding?!” gasps Michael. Back on DALLAS, Bob’s sanatarium gang take a similarly inappropriate interest in a legal document — the West Star voting rights JR went to extraordinary lengths to get Jessica to sign. To mark JR’s release from solitary, they cut the document up and turn it into a “welcome back” banner. It’s painful to watch.

    (Anne Matheson has also caught the cutting-up-bits-of-paper bug. Inspired by the original blackmail letter she received, she has begun sending herself further demands using the traditional method of letters cut and pasted from magazines. Nick’s presence in her apartment leads to a rare Soap Land toilet scene where we see Anne frantically attempting to flush away the incriminating magazine pages, even going so far as to utilise a plunger to make sure they disappear down the pan.)

    Whether he’s at the Sumner Group or in the DALLAS sanatarium, Bob remains one of life’s butt kissers. “You closed the timber deal, that’s wonderful, I can’t imagine who else could have closed it that quickly!” he tells Paige fawningly. “I never saw anybody that could play as good as you!” he tells JR adoringly over a game of cards. “That was enough sucking up for a lifetime,” concludes Mort.

    Paige is a really fascinating character at this point, a wonderful mass of contradictions. While she has undoubtedly used her relationship with Greg to further her career, she has also proven herself remarkably adept at business (in spite of a total absence of relevant qualifications or experience). Even as she continues to show up for work in the most outrageously sexy outfits, she complains about not being taken seriously by her co-workers (“Maybe I should come to work in a jockstrap and a tank top,” heckles Mort as she strides past in yet another revealing dress). Her stance seems to be that sleeping with whomever she wants and wearing whatever she chooses should not negate her business abilities (even if those abilities could only exist in TV Land). She’s a relatable woman in a man’s world and a complete fantasy both at the same time — it’s an intoxicating combination. All of her scenes this week — whether with Tom, her mother or the Sumner Group chorus — are rich and interesting, but the best of the bunch is this confrontation with Greg: “I don’t understand you,” she tells him matter-of-factly. “I don’t understand why you said you loved me and then you married Abby. I don’t understand why you destroyed my wedding. I don’t understand why you flirt with my mother right in front of me. I mean, how can you do that? How can you say you love me and then treat me like dirt?” Greg pauses before replying. “Would you like to marry me?” he enquires. “You’re perverted,” she concludes. “You don’t know what you want,” he tells her as she leaves his office. And she probably doesn’t, but again that doesn’t nullify her intelligence or reduce her to the status of a mere ditsy blonde.

    While JR languishes in a mental hospital, both of his brothers start out the week in a state of great happiness. Gary and Val are set to re-re-marry, with nothing — not a deranged ex-lover or a violent ex-husband — standing in their way. Having already married his beloved April at the end of last season, Bobby is a couple of steps ahead of Gary. Indeed, the newlyweds are now enjoying an idyllic honeymoon in actual real-life Paris. (Southfork might be made of cardboard these days, but the Paris we see on screen is genuinely French.)

    As Gary and Val bid farewell to one friend, Val’s Aunty Ginny who’s off on a pilgrimage to Medjugorje, Bobby and April make a new one, a lonely widow named Sheila Foley, who’s visiting Paris as a way to honour her late husband. While Ginny makes a parting a gift of his-and-hers crystals to the engaged couple (“They’ll give you positive energy and they’ll keep away the evil spirits … We all need to look toward the light”), Sheila offers the newlyweds some advice: “Don’t ever put off your plans till tomorrow. Remember how you feel right now. Don’t ever let anything get in the way of that.”

    Whereas Bobby and April’s happiness mostly manifests itself in them laughing at each other’s weak jokes (see the Cary Grant exchange above), Gary is in a more reflective mood. “I always pictured myself having a working ranch, raising a family, making toys for my children,” he tells Val. “Even when I was a little bitty kid, I imagined myself sitting at the fireplace, a couple of dogs by my side and children playing around me, and my wife … Thirty years later, here I am.”

    Experience tells us that no Soap Land character has a right to be this happy. Are Gary and Val, and Bobby and April, flying too close to the sun, as Fallon and Jeff did before these mysterious headaches took hold at the end of DYNASTY Season 4? Or Bobby and Pam before Katherine started driving towards them at the end of DALLAS Season 7? Or Bobby and Pam again before that tanker appeared out of nowhere two years later? There is something faintly ominous (while also very appealing) about the “Val & Gary’s Greatest Hits” montage, set to the Platters rendition of ‘Only You’, that plays out towards the end of this week’s KNOTS and then again over the end credits. An equivalent sense of disquiet can be felt while watching the Parisian scenes on DALLAS with the benefit of hindsight. Previous innocent-seeming moments — Sheila, rather than April, being at Bobby’s side when he checks into their hotel, her throwaway compliment about “what a wonderful husband you’re going to make”, the chance encounters with Jordan Lee — take on a more sinister significance in retrospect.

    Joining Ginny on her way out of KNOTS is, alas, OPEN MIKE producer Dianne Kirkwood. “I have just been offered the top spot on the New York affiliate and I can’t wait to get my bags packed,” she informs Karen before calling her a saboteur and an ego-maniac for good measure. In some ways, DALLAS’s Sheila is a timely replacement for Dianne — both are glamorous middle-aged women whose belief in big hair and power-dressing are a nice reminder of Soap Land’s ‘80s heyday, and both are played, with relish, by daytime soap veterans.

    For Gary and Bobby, the bubble bursts at the end of their respective episodes. “Something happened to Mom,” Bobby Jr tells a worried Gary after Val fails to return from a picnic on the ranch. “She’s fine — I’m just taking her place for a few days and as long as you do exactly as you’re told, she’ll stay fine — but one wrong move and she’s dead,” Sheila tells a bewildered Bobby after April fails to return from a shopping excursion. Ooh, la la!

    And this week’s Top 2 are …

    1 (1) KNOTS LANDING
    2 (-) DALLAS
     
    Last edited: Jul 26, 2019
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  20. James from London

    James from London Soap Chat Mega Star

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    08 Nov 90: KNOTS LANDING: Do Not Attempt to Remove v. 09 Nov 90: DALLAS: Charade

    When one thinks of soaps, one tends to think of lots of interwoven characters entangled in each other’s lives. That’s not the case in this week’s Ewingverse. On DALLAS, JR and Bobby are thousands of miles apart, undergoing entirely separate ordeals, neither having any inkling of the other’s situation. Both are trapped and helpless: JR by the-powers-that-be in a Texas mental hospital; Bobby by a bizarre little woman in Paris who is threatening to kill his wife unless he does her bidding. In each situation, the Ewing name counts for nothing. JR’s experienced that before of course — during his stint in Haleyville a couple of seasons ago — but it’s a first for Bobby. For the purposes of his current plot, nobody in France has ever heard of the Ewing family.

    KNOTS is similarly segregated. Not only are the characters involved in separate plots, but these plots take place in different genres. While Anne and Nick are immersed in their own screwball comedy/crime caper storyline, the unravelling of Paige and Tom’s relationship is explored in as emotionally truthful a way as Soap Land gets. Yet KNOTS finds interesting ways for these two contrasting storylines to intersect and impact on each other. During a low-key domestic scene with some really good, subtle acting, Paige and Tom quietly discuss her refusal to quit her job at the Sumner Group, even though he hates the idea of her working for her ex. At the same time, Anne is in her apartment, hatching her farfetched blackmail scam. While Nick is in the shower, she quickly calls Paige, who is in the middle of her discussion with Tom, asks her to call her straight back and then immediately hangs up. “Who was that?” Tom asks. “My mother,” Paige replies. “Are you sure it wasn’t Greg Sumner?” “What — are you calling me a liar?” “Why’d you hang up like that?” Anne then phones again and this time Tom picks up. She repeats her request for one of them to call her back right away, but instead of doing so, he and Paige continue to bicker, the argument now beginning to escalate. “It’s tragic how jealous you are!” Paige scoffs. “Why don’t you just admit to me you’re still interested in the old man?” Tom persists. Anne phones yet again. Paige doesn’t even wait for her to speak before telling her she’s busy and hanging up. The argument continues and Paige finally storms out: “Call me when you grow up!” No sooner has she left than Anne calls one more time. A quietly fuming Tom tells her Paige isn’t there and then hangs up. Anne looks panicked, but then her phone finally does ring — it’s Paige calling from a payphone to say she’s on her way over. Anne immediately cuts her off but continues to talk down the phone, making Nick — who has just emerged from his shower — believe that the blackmailer is on the line.

    Paige and Tom don’t officially break up until the following day in Paige’s office. Their final argument is laugh out loud funny and really sad at the same time. “Don’t wax psychological with me, you haven’t got it in you,” she tells him. “What a bitch,” he sighs wearily. On his way out of the building, Tom shares a silent elevator ride with Greg. We see him simmering and simmering until, just as the elevator reaches his floor, he finally boils over and punches Greg hard in the stomach. Then he walks off, leaving Greg doubled up in pain (as if he wasn’t in enough already). It’s a striking moment of character-based violence.

    Anne’s screwball scheme having impacted Paige’s love life, the same then happens in reverse. Paige arrives at her old apartment, now occupied by Anne and Nick, needing a place to crash. In order to maintain the cover story that they are lovers, Anne and Nick are obliged to share not merely the same bedroom, but the same bed. “What if she comes in in the middle of the night and finds me sleeping on the floor?” Nick reasons. “The less your daughter knows the safer she’ll be.”

    Bobby Ewing and Sheila Foley keep up a similar facade in Paris. Bobby’s task is to pretend to everyone he comes into contact with that Sheila is April, i.e., his new bride with whom he is madly in love. Within the privacy of their hotel suite, however, he elects to sleep on the sofa, even though Sheila has another suggestion: “It would look more convincing to the maid if we both used the bed … You know the French. They take their romance very seriously.” About as seriously as the Italians, if KNOTS’ Nick’s equivalent rationalisation is anything to go by.

    It is there (with the Arc De Triomphe looming handsomely in the background) that Sheila makes her move on Bobby. “It’s a long time since I’ve been with a man. I think we could both use some comfort … It would make us both forget for a few hours,” she suggests. “Why not?” he shrugs, unbuttoning his shirt. She goes on to make a favourable comparison between Bobby and her late husband. “You’re nothing like my wife,” Bobby replies. “She’s beautiful, loving, kind and generous, and if it’ll bring her back to me one minute sooner, I’ll push past my disgust and give you whatever you want.” “You bastard!” Sheila exclaims, slapping him across the face. And in Soap Land terms, her outrage is justified — this is a world where displaying sexual repulsion towards a glamorous woman feels more transgressive than kidnapping a bride on her honeymoon. At least JR has the common decency to lay down (again) with crazy Anita this week, however boss-eyed bonkers she might be.

    The most striking aspect of Bobby’s new storyline is how immeasurably more interesting he is now than he was as a corny joke-cracking honeymooner just a week ago. Suddenly, he’s dark, brooding and full of repressed anger. He really relishes twisting the knife into Sheila. I don’t think we’ve ever seen him quite this vindictive before and it really suits him. For her part, Sheila claims that she is simply carrying out orders (“We have a very important agenda”) and that she, like April, is expendable. Yet she is clearly enjoying playing the evil bitch to the hilt. As a result, there’s a real soapy zing between her and Bobby. Combine this with the Parisian backdrop (of all of DALLAS’s overseas excursions, this is the most dramatically effective) and it’s as if Bobby has woken up to find himself in one of those international, jet-setting ‘80s mini-series.

    Having convinced Nick that the blackmailer has made contact, Anne makes a big show of wanting to involve the police. “I’m scared … They have people to take care of this kind of thing,” she argues. “No police,” Nick insists. Back in Paris, Bobby also wants to alert the authorities — “unless you think you can stop me,” he tells Sheila. To his surprise, she raises no objection. Alas, the shoulder-shrugging Gallic cops find Bobby’s wife-swapping story too outlandish to take seriously, suggesting that he has been the victim of either a practical joke or “too much vin extraordinaire on your honeymoon night.” To Bobby’s frustration, there is no-one to back up his claim that April has been kidnapped, as everyone in the hotel thinks Sheila is April. The clincher comes when Sheila produces a fake passport identifying her as such. (Adding to the enjoyably soapy nuttiness of it all, Sheila-as-April’s passport photo is ridiculously glamorous.) But Bobby is not ready to admit defeat. Instead, he turns to Jordan Lee who introduces him to a Captain de Rougement, the head of the local anti-terrorist unit, who takes his story more seriously and promises to help. But then at the end of the episode, this Captain de Rougement turns out to be a fake. “What is going on?” Bobby murmurs.

    Meanwhile, Anne tells Nick that the blackmailer has demanded his payoff take place in a department store called Stanley’s. Nick comes up with a plan to outwit the blackmailer — a plan that Anne then succeeds in circumventing. This scheme-within-a-scheme scenario — involving duplicate attache cases, changing rooms, multiple price tags and emergency exits — is far too complicated to describe, but somehow makes perfect sense while you’re watching it. Curiously, there’s a very similar fitting room switcheroo in Quentin Tarantino’s 1995 movie Jackie Brown, starring Pam Grier — who’s already cropped up on this season’s KNOTS as one the cops investigating Danny Waleska’s death — in the title role.



    Recurring theme of the week #1: Playing cards. While holed up in her apartment with Nick at the beginning of KNOTS, we see Anne playing patience — a possible metaphor for the plot she is secretly hatching. On DALLAS, bully boy Morrissey adopts the role of fortune teller to read JR’s destiny in the cards. “All I see in your future is bad, bad luck,” he snarls. Meanwhile James, in an effort to prove himself superior to his father, takes JR’s place in a poker game and ends up losing everything. Just as Paige turned up at Anne’s door looking for somewhere to lay her head, he likewise shows up at Cally’s, only to be turned away. As an indication of how low he has sunk, James then copies Lance Cumson in last season’s FALCON CREST and gets a tattoo. (As with Lorenzo Lamas, I’m pretty sure it’s a case of “actor’s own”.)

    Recurring theme of the week #2: Scams and charades taking place in public (or relatively public) places. There’s Anne and Nick’s escapade in the shopping mall, Bobby and Sheila pretending to be loved-up honeymooners at various Parisian cocktail parties, and a late-night confrontation in the sanatarium dayroom where JR goads Morrissey into admitting that he faked his insanity to avoid prosecution on a murder charge, unaware that he is being recorded by a surveillance camera.

    At the end of last week’s KNOTS, it sounded as if Val was in almost as much peril as April. This week, we learn that she has merely suffered a bump on the head, with no apparent after-effects … until Gary finds her frantically rearranging his bookshelves in the middle of the night. Then later, she becomes convinced she can smell smoke and refuses to believe the twins when they tell her they haven’t been playing with matches. “I can’t trust them anymore,” she says sadly. “I can’t trust my own children.” Crucially, we observe these changes of behaviour through the eyes of her increasingly perplexed fiancee. In his own way, Gary is as helpless this week as his DALLAS brothers are.

    And this week’s Top 2 are …

    1 (1) KNOTS LANDING
    2 (2) DALLAS
     
    Last edited: Aug 3, 2019
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