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

    Message Count:
    3,200
    Trophy Points:
    6,636
    Gender:
    Male
    Occupation:
    Actor
    Location:
    Brixton
    Ratings:
    +5,501
    Medals:
    5
    Member Since:
    Time immemorial
    28 Feb 91: KNOTS LANDING: Bad Dog v. 01 Mar 91: DALLAS: Win Some, Lose Some

    There are two broken engagements in this week’s Ewingverse — each the end result of a chain of events set in motion by a seemingly unrelated incident two weeks ago. During her altercation with Jason Lochner’s uncles on the Mackenzies’ front lawn, Paige sustained a black eye. Upon seeing it in last week’s ep, Greg barred her from attending a meeting with Mrs Richfield and replaced her with Linda Fairgate. Linda’s resultant workload left her and Greg working late at the office together. One thing led another and the episode ended with her “boinking the boss.” Consequently, she fails to show up for a Valentine’s Day dinner at Karen and Mack’s house at the start of this week’s ep. When she uses work an excuse, an angry Michael offers her an ultimatum: “Either you start leaving your work at the office, Linda, and at a decent hour, or you start leaving your engagement ring on the dresser.” She calls his bluff and removes the ring. Later, they break off the engagement. “Wearing this ring has probably meant more to me than anything else in my entire life,” she tells him. “I’m sorry for crying — it just hurts so much.” Michael insists she keep the ring (“We’ll call it a friendship ring”) and we then cut to her coolly flogging it for $3,000.

    Meanwhile, JR, having sought the help of LeeAnn De La Vega’s vengeful sister-in-law, Carmen, to locate her weak spot, learned that the company Liz Adams inherited from her brother has been leasing crucial drilling equipment to De La Vega Oil. Using information he acquired from Stephanie Rodgers in Season 12, he then blackmailed a senator into stalling Cliff’s new political appointment. This week, he tells Liz that the only way Cliff will get the appointment is if she sells him (JR) her brother’s company. “When I cancel those leases and yank those rigs, one Mrs De La Vega is gonna be sitting on a pool of oil and she won’t be able to get at it,” he explains. Liz reluctantly agrees and Cliff gets the job he so desperately wanted. Suddenly, it’s all going Cliff’s way — he has a new life and career in Washington and is about to marry the woman he loves. But then, inevitably, he finds out about the deal Liz made with JR and from there, it’s basically a rerun of what happened when he discovered Afton had slept with Gil Thurman to get him a refinery back in Season 5. “I did it for you!” Liz insists. “That’s so much crap!” he barks at her. “The one thing I thought I had earned all by myself and you had to get it for me! And you had to give in to JR to do it and he knows it. AND HE KNOWS IT!” So it is that Liz finally comes to the same conclusion that Afton, Sue Ellen, Julie Grey and Mandy have before her — Cliff and JR are cut from the same piece of cloth. “You are just as small and as mean as he is and you’re sure as hell not the sort of man I want to spend my life with!” she tells him. Unlike Linda Fairgate, she sees no value in holding on to her engagement ring. “Why don’t you put that back in the crackerjack box where you found it?” she suggests to Cliff, dropping it in an ice bucket.

    Although JR wasn’t exactly discreet about his adulterous liaisons while married to Sue Ellen, this week James does something his daddy never even considered. After staying out all night (“I was at the motorcycle shop tuning an engine,” he explains. “By the time I finished, that engine was really purring”), he brings his latest conquest, DeeDee, home to Southfork for breakfast. Michelle responds by pushing DeeDee in the pool. So James pushes Michelle in with her. The two women start throwing watery punches, recalling both Krystle and Alexis in the lily pond and Marilee Stone and Jamie at the Ewing barbecue. Then, prompted by his daddy (“You better do something … they’re gonna drown each other!”), James reluctantly wades in to break them up. “Things are finally starting to get fun around here again!” laughs Christopher (this should probably have been John Ross’s line but he’s been mysteriously absent for the past few episodes) and he’s right — it is fun, in a nostalgic sort of way. That evening, Michelle strikes back by bringing her male secretary Derrick home for dinner. This is fun too, but before Southfork can degenerate any further into the kind of “anything goes” free-for-all that Falcon Crest became after its few seasons, JR puts his foot down: “My daddy built this house and there are certain traditions and values that we live by here. I won’t have you making a mockery of them,” he tells James and Michelle. To underline JR’s point, DALLAS has already gone to the trouble over the past couple of episodes of reinforcing the Southfork ritual of a family dinner at 6pm preceded by cocktails in the living room. “If you’re gonna be married,” JR continues, “you act married … or get the hell out.” And with this speech, almost unnoticed, he slips effortlessly into the role of Ewing patriarch.

    But Michelle hasn’t given up on trying to disrupt the family unit. To that end, she waits for JR to return home the following evening and then steals naked into his shower. Alas, the younger woman/older man scenario works less well here than it did for Linda and Greg at the Sumner Group. “You’re a conniving little bitch,” JR informs her, dragging her out of his bathroom. “I finally get my son back and if you think a night with you is more important than that, then you’re also a stupid little bitch!” Fortunately, Cliff’s bust-up with Liz means that he is back in the revenge game and he stops by Ewing Oil to suggest to Michelle that they join forces against her new father-in-law: “I’m about to cut JR’s head off and hand it to him on a platter. I thought you might like to help.” “Oh, I think I’d enjoy that,” she smiles, “and if we get James along the way, that’s fine too.”

    During his storyline with Liz, we saw JR in Cliff’s condo — a rare sight indeed. In fact, it’s only happened once before. Even more incongruous, bordering on the surreal, is the sight of Val stomping around Paige’s apartment, wearing her asymmetrical wig and bright red lipstick, ranting about the whereabouts of “your freeloading gold-digging slut of a mother!” “I didn’t know she knew Mother that well,” Paige later remarks to Gary when he also stops by her apartment — another unusual occurrence. Indeed, Paige has never really spoken to Val or Gary before this week.

    Meanwhile, Paige’s freeloading gold-digging slut of a mother has actually hooked up with Nick Schillace again for another get-rich-quick scheme. Just as Bobby is presently calling himself Bobby Southworth, they too have adopted aliases, Betty and Dimitri. And just as Bobby and Jory have got themselves caught up in a dangerous mystery involving a pawn ticket and a briefcase full of drugs, Anne and Mick are now embroiled in their own dangerous mystery, which involves a doll containing an unknown Maguffin worth $60,000. While Jory is abducted and held for ransom, Anne is held, briefly, at gunpoint. But then comes the screwball twist — remember the recent episode of KNOTS that ended with Anne and Nick staring at two identical suitcases, one of which contained a million dollars and the other a bomb? Well, this ep ends with them staring at a litter of near-identical puppies, one of which has eaten the precious Maguffin. Repetitive yes, but puppies are cuter than briefcases (generally speaking) so it kind of balances out.

    Meanwhile, the dramatic purpose of Malibu Bobby’s generic drugs/kidnap plot becomes clear when he realises that his window of opportunity to save Jory’s life (“They’re gonna kill her if you don’t show up!”) clashes with his only chance to nab Jory’s mother Hilary. Who will win out: Hero Bobby or Vengeful Bobby? Somewhat inevitably, he elects to rescue the damsel in distress (and apprehend the kidnappers to boot).

    Eventually, Jory realises that Bobby isn’t who he claims to be and that he only befriended her to gain access to her mother. Over on KNOTS, Kate now knows that Steve Brewer likewise misrepresented himself when they first met in order to gain access to her mother (who, it turns out, is also his mother). And just as Bobby can’t bring himself to hurt Jory any further by telling her the truth of what Hilary did (“Your mother and I have some unfinished business” is all he’ll say), Claudia is unwilling to reveal the rest of her story, i.e., the identity of Steve’s father. “Why does everyone presume that this is public information?” she asks indignantly. In lieu of an answer, Kate develops her own theory. “She told me that she didn’t have a choice … It sounded like she was raped,” she tells Steve.

    While Jory reacts to the news of Bobby’s deception with mild hysteria — “I cared for you and you didn’t give a damn about me!” she wails — Kate manages to retain her sense of humour in the face of Steve’s. She even presents him with a card that reads, “Roses are a shade of red, my face has turned another. I thought you’d be my Valentine, but it turns out you’re my brother.” This sweet, sad and funny little verse is in stark contrast to another poem on this week’s KNOTS, “A Prayer for Children”, which Mack delivers over a sentimental montage of sick and/or sad-looking children in hospital. Its basic message — that children suffering abuse and other hardships is A Very Bad Thing and there but for the grace of God go the rest of our kids — is something we can all agree on and don’t need to be bludgeoned over the head with. Whereas Jason’s reading from Spoon River Anthology a few weeks ago felt moving and intimate because it arose naturally out of the drama (as does Kate’s Valentine verse), this seems more like a lecture.

    And this week’s Top 2 are …

    1 (1) KNOTS LANDING
    2 (2) DALLAS
     
    Last edited: Sep 11, 2019
    • Like Like x 1
  2. James from London

    James from London Soap Chat Mega Star

    Message Count:
    3,200
    Trophy Points:
    6,636
    Gender:
    Male
    Occupation:
    Actor
    Location:
    Brixton
    Ratings:
    +5,501
    Medals:
    5
    Member Since:
    Time immemorial
    07 Mar 91: KNOTS LANDING: Gone Microfiching v. 08 Mar 91: DALLAS: Fathers and Sons and Fathers and Sons

    The latest additions to the Mackenzie house and Southfork Ranch are treated in contrasting ways this week. While Karen and Mack do everything they can to make their new foster son Jason feel at home, i.e., making a fuss while trying to make it seem like they’re not making a fuss — James’s wife Michelle finds herself repeatedly left out and made fun of by the men and boys at Southfork. “The famous Ewing men’s club, no women or outsiders allowed,” she remarks upon being excluded from a family cattle drive. “What are you gonna do — slap a sex discrimination suit on me?” JR sneers in reply.

    The tentative way the Mackenzies and Jason behave towards each other is very touching. In a season of KNOTS that’s been uncharacteristically heavy-handed, Thomas Wilson Brown’s delicately truthful performance as Jason has been a saving grace. Moments like the closing scene where he quietly breaks down after the family surprise him with a birthday cake could so easily have been cloying but are instead very moving.

    Although DALLAS doesn’t cast Michelle in as sympathetic a light as KNOTS does Jason (“She doesn’t like kids,” observes Christopher — even Alexis and Angela liked kids!), it doesn’t dismiss her easily as JR does either. We’re privy to moments that the rest of the Ewings don’t see — her sadness as she takes one last look around April’s apartment before putting it up for sale; her admission to Cliff that she doesn’t regard her marriage to James solely as a business transaction (“Maybe it’s crazy but … I really want him to fall in love with me”). In fact, in the topsy turvy world that is DALLAS’s final season, the show’s biggest opportunist is also its major underdog. So it’s cheering when James starts to soften towards his new wife. “You get under my skin sometimes but there’s a lot there to like too,” he concedes. At this, Michelle’s pretty little face lights up — maybe there is a future for her at Southfork after all! But then in the final scene of the episode, a plainly dressed young woman shows up at the ranch claiming that she is James’s wife. And that’s not all. “This is James’ son,” she says, producing a blond toddler out of thin air. “You’re not gonna wake up one day and find out we don’t want you,” Mack assures Jason at the end of KNOTS. “We’re it, pal. You’re stuck with us.” By the end of DALLAS, Michelle’s position is looking a lot more precarious.

    While Christopher likens the squabbling between JR, James and Michelle to “watching the Three Stooges on TV”, Steve Brewer finds Claudia’s story about the circumstances leading to his conception — a college romance with a history professor who was unable to leave his paralysed wife — about as convincing as a romance novel: “Danielle Steel couldn’t have done a better job.” On balance, Steve being a Danielle Steel reader seems even less likely than ten-year-old Christopher being a Three Stooges fan.

    Early on in this week’s KNOTS, Julie Williams broaches the topic of “safe sex against AIDS” with her father Frank. What follows is Soap Land’s most in-depth discussion on the subject thus far. They get as far as comparing latex and lambskin condoms before Julie makes it clear that she isn’t concerned for herself, but for Frank. Watched in hindsight, there’s an irony to this scene that just feels horribly sad.

    Now she’s gotten past her rebellious phase and stopped pointing rifles at people, Julie has become a really charming presence on KNOTS, graceful and self-possessed. She deflects her father’s overprotectiveness, which sometimes threatens to tip over into sitcom buffoonery, with casually understated humour and a lovely lightness of touch. It’s not a quality we’ve seen in any of Soap Land’s previous teen girls.

    While Frank talks about moving on at Pat’s graveside (“Charlotte’s a nice woman … I know she’d be good for Julie”), fellow widower Bobby is also ready to let go of the past. “There comes a time when you have to stop looking for revenge. Caring for the living is important,” he tells Christopher. Frank ends up splitting with Charlotte when he realises he’s more serious about their relationship than she is. This inevitably leads to him encountering a succession of potential girlfriends who are “hilariously” unsuitable — a sequence made totally worth it by the date who stares at him with contemptuous boredom as he delivers another anecdote about how adorably hapless he is.

    This is Episode 350 of DALLAS and the Ewing cattle drive gives the instalment a pleasingly back to basics feel. It also includes another of those "Things You Thought You’d Never See on DALLAS" moments to file alongside Jordan Lee’s phone box murder and JR schtupping Sly: “Yeah, that’s your Uncle JR on a horse,” Bobby confirms. “This is the age of miracles.”

    During the drive, there are a couple of quietly momentous conversations where JR and Bobby discuss ageing and the passage of time, subjects they’ll revisit in New DALLAS. Over a campfire, JR’s thoughts turn to the recent death of Blackie Callahan, one of Jock’s wildcatting contemporaries. “Most of those old oil giants are gone now,” remarks Bobby. “Yeah,” JR replies, “Daddy, Seth Stone … Jordan Lee … even old Digger Barnes. You know, they were young vital men when we were kids. They were the ones who made the Texas oilman a legend around the world … The world I know is disappearing real fast.” As well as the wildcatting world JR grew up in, DALLAS itself and Soap Land as a whole are also disappearing. “What am I gonna do with myself?” JR wonders. “Can you imagine me sitting poolside at Southfork, just day after day?” Here, he sounds more like the viewer at home than he ever has before — just another working man nearing retirement age and facing the reality of his own obsolescence.

    “You and I have spent our entire lives trying to win Daddy’s approval by fighting with one another, neither one of us giving up till we were sure we were his favourite,” Bobby tells him. Exactly fifty episodes ago, when they were trapped in that elevator together instead of enjoying the wide-open plains, JR finally acknowledged to his brother that “you were his favourite from the day you were born.” Now it’s time for Bobby to concede the title: “I’m giving up the fight, JR. You are Daddy’s son. As a matter of fact, you’re Jock Ewing right now.”

    And this week’s Top 2 are …

    1 (2) DALLAS
    2 (1) KNOTS
     
    • Like Like x 1
  3. kenneth

    kenneth Soap Chat Member

    Message Count:
    92
    Trophy Points:
    227
    Location:
    drammen, norway
    Ratings:
    +200
    I believe the There Stooges are highly regarded by children Stateside. At least back in the 90,'s.
     
    • Informative Informative x 1
  4. James from London

    James from London Soap Chat Mega Star

    Message Count:
    3,200
    Trophy Points:
    6,636
    Gender:
    Male
    Occupation:
    Actor
    Location:
    Brixton
    Ratings:
    +5,501
    Medals:
    5
    Member Since:
    Time immemorial
    28 Mar 91: KNOTS LANDING: Upwardly Mobile v. 29 Mar 91: DALLAS: When the Wind Blows

    “We can cut back. We can be like other people,” Nick tells Anne on KNOTS after their latest get-rich-quick scheme backfires in much the same way as all their preceding ones have. By “other people” he means ordinary folk who have to do mundane jobs for a living. There are a few such people in this week’s Ewingverse, but mostly they’re not very interesting. The staff and customers Nick and Anne encounter when they become, respectively, a waiter in an Italian restaurant and a shop assistant in a clothing store are pretty much one-dimensional comedic figures, who react with bemusement to the eccentric new arrivals in their midst. Both Nick and Anne are inappropriately opinionated towards their customers (Him: “Spaghetti and meatballs — that’s what you’re ordering in an Italian restaurant?” Her: “That colour makes you look like the walking dead”) and both get sacked on their first day. As comedy sequences go, their attempts to “be like other people” isn’t terrible, but it is predictable and does go on for ages — and, as the characters end up in the exact same positions they were in at the start of the ep, ultimately quite frustrating.

    DALLAS’s “ordinary person” is Debra Lynn, the small-town girl whom James eloped with some three years earlier. We don’t know too much about her background other than she used to work in a bookstore, but the show is less interested in Debra Lynn herself than what she represents — family — in contrast to what James’s other wife, Michelle, represents — Ewing Oil.

    Following in the footsteps of Pam Ewing, Terry Hartford and Krystle Carrington, James has become Soap Land’s latest unintentional bigamist. Like Terry, he stands to lose a fortune — his half-ownership of Ewing Oil is contingent on his marriage to Michelle — but he is blissfully unaware of the situation, as JR manages to keep him and Debra Lynn apart for almost the entire episode. In the meantime, JR urges him to pay Michelle more attention: “I really think it behoves you to be a bit nicer to her — until we can get a better deal.”

    By far the most believable “ordinary person” of the week is KNOTS’ Steve Brewer. The highlight of the episode is his introduction to the Sumner Group. Kate has persuaded Greg to give him a job in spite of Greg’s dislike of nepotism and Steve’s dislike of Greg: “I hate everything I’ve ever heard or read about Greg Sumner and you’re telling me he’s my uncle?!” he asks her in dismay. But Steve is an ordinary person and ordinary people need to work.

    The first scene between uncle and nephew is really good. Steve walks into Greg’s office and introduces himself. “I don’t care if you’re Elvis Presley,” Greg replies, “no-one comes through that door without an appointment … You remind of someone … somebody tall and skinny. If you’re gonna work here, you gotta dress up.” “I am dressed up”, insists Steve, currently wearing a sweater and jeans — that’s how ordinary a guy he is! “You don’t own a tie?” Greg asks. “Oh, I see: wear a tie, mind my manners, laugh at your jokes, do a little generic sucking up.” “Yeah, but don’t make the sucking up too obvious.” “… With all due respect, sir, you are a pompous self-satisfied, potato of a — I mean, you could have anything, you could do anything you want … What do you do that’s original, that’s worth remembering? You buy a company here, you sell a company there. You don’t care if they’re selling plastics or plastique.” With this argument, Steve sounds like a cross between Laura and Mary Frances, but Greg lets the words wash over him. “Jimmy Stewart!” he says. “That’s who you remind me of. You remind me of Jimmy Stewart. But I don’t think my sister ever met Jimmy Stewart.” “I’ll do my best to find a nice tie,” Steve replies drily.

    Tasked with finding Steve a post, Mort assigns him to Paige as her personal assistant, in spite (or because) of him having zero office skills. Of course, Paige and Steve have already met cute when he dented her fancy car with his camper van a few weeks earlier. Like JR and Bobby fifty-one episodes of DALLAS ago, they end up getting stuck in an elevator together. This leads to the most gratuitous instance of on-screen disrobing since Jenny Agutter got naked in Logan’s Run as Steve persuades Paige to remove her blouse: “I can use the edge of one of those buttons to unscrew that panel there. You see, I figure one of the wires came loose when you pounded on the elevator buttons.” While Paige reluctantly undresses, Steve averts his gaze and delivers his theory about beautiful women: “Your whole life, people liked you because you’re beautiful … One day you’ll get old and nobody will notice you. That’s why I feel sorry for you.”

    Meanwhile, the best part of this week’s DALLAS is Carter McKay’s enjoyably soapy confrontation with Cliff. “It was you,” he tells him. “It was you who made me lose West Star. It was you who let me take the rap for a crime you committed. It was you who allowed them to brand me a murderer. And now it’s payback time … You’re going to find out what it feels like to lose everything, just like I did. Either resign [as National Energy Tsar] within twenty-four hours or I tell the world you’re a murderer.” To twist the knife a little further, McKay then tricks Cliff into believing it was Liz who betrayed him: “She gave me a copy of the confession you made to the police.” This, in turn, leads to a great scene between Liz and McKay where it’s her turn to do a little blackmail. “The mighty McKay shot down Cliff and me with the same bullet … Are you really such a miserable son of a bitch that you can’t stand to see anyone happy?” she asks before handing him a file containing “names, dates, places and times. You weren’t just a minor player with Dancer’s people back east.” If he goes public with Cliff’s confession, she explains, she’ll go public with the file. “Why aren’t you using this information now?” McKay asks her. “Because Cliff doesn’t deserve to be National Energy Tsar,” she replies. And with that, Liz is gone for good. It’s another low-key but effective DALLAS departure. Like Donna in Season 9, her parting gesture is to seal someone’s fate from afar: she both saves Cliff from prison and ensures his political career is over. I really liked Liz — she was part conventional love interest; part sexy secret agent in the same mould as FALCON CREST’s cool cartel girls Pamela Lynch and Diana Hunter. Liz’s exit also means that of the four DALLAS females in the current opening titles, Michelle is the only one still on the show.

    KNOTS and DALLAS each end with a woman bursting unexpectedly into a room, followed by a nasty surprise. On KNOTS, the woman is on the receiving end of that surprise; on DALLAS, she’s the one delivering it. Following her elevator ordeal, Paige walks into Greg’s office (“Greg, I have been stuck in …”) to find him lying on the couch while Linda Fairgate stands over him wearing just her slip. Meanwhile, Debra Lynn, having realised JR has been fobbing her off about James’s whereabouts, barges into the Southfork living room in the middle of pre-dinner cocktails. Whereas Paige, Linda and Greg are all stunned into silence, JR can’t shut Debra Lynn up. “All bets are off, Grandpa! I am still legally married to James. I’m still his wife and the mother of his child and she’s out of here!” she yells, pointing at Michelle. In both scenes, a laugh out loud moment precedes the closing credits. There’s something about Paige’s jacket falling open to reveal her bra while Linda is also in a state of undress that feels like a perfectly executed bit of farce, while John Ross and Christopher smiling delightedly over Debra Lynn’s revelation also works really well. (They’ve now replaced Lucy as Southfork’s resident amused onlookers.)

    And this week’s Top 2 are …

    1 (1) DALLAS
    2 (2) KNOTS LANDING
     
    Last edited: Sep 18, 2019
  5. James from London

    James from London Soap Chat Mega Star

    Message Count:
    3,200
    Trophy Points:
    6,636
    Gender:
    Male
    Occupation:
    Actor
    Location:
    Brixton
    Ratings:
    +5,501
    Medals:
    5
    Member Since:
    Time immemorial
    04 Apr 91: KNOTS LANDING: An American Hero v. 05 Apr 91: DALLAS: Those Darned Ewings

    KNOTS opens with Paige not so much flashing back as flashing sideways to how she wished she'd reacted to Greg and Linda at the end of last week’s episode. Of the three alternatives presented, the most satisfying scenario has her pouring a jug of water over them.

    Over on DALLAS, Michelle is also reeling from an end of episode discovery — that James has another wife and a two-year-old son. As ‘90s girls are wont to do, Paige and Michelle both console themselves by eating ice cream straight from the tub. While Paige favours imitation Haagen Daz, Michelle goes for Blue Bell (a genuine Texas brand), which she laces with a dollop of honey.

    Things only get worse for both blondes as they are forced into close proximity with their respective rivals — Paige and Linda are assigned to the same project at the Sumner Group (“Mrs Richfield specifically asked for Linda … There’s nothing else behind this,” Greg assures Paige) and Debra Lynn and son Jimmy are invited by JR to stay at Southfork (“James, you kinda got two wives now, right? … Are you all gonna stay in the same room?” asks John Ross innocently). Whereas Paige deploys some first-rate glaring and pouting in Linda’s direction, Michelle is forced to make nice around Debra Lynn. “I can’t get into a spitting contest with Bambi. If I go toe to toe with her, it’d be like Jaws versus the Little Mermaid — James would take her side in her second,” she complains to Cliff, mixing her Disney metaphors in the process. While Paige has fun placing a sleazy small ad with Linda’s phone number attached — “Looking for love in all the wrong places? How about my place? … Ready, willing and able to take on all comers” (juvenile yes, but the moment where Mort calls the number and he and Linda recognise each other’s voice is really funny) — Michelle politely asks Debra Lynn to let her and James adopt Jimmy. “This family doesn’t just get by, we’re the people that everyone looks up to,” she reasons. Unsurprisingly, Debra Lynn responds about as positively as Jenna Wade and Adrienne Cassidy did when Pam Ewing and Sable Colby made them similar requests.

    Paige and Michelle’s ice cream binges aside, culinary highlights of the week include Debra Lynn serving up something called a West Point omelette for breakfast at Southfork and a broke Anne Matheson sitting down to a dinner of crackers with apple butter and cottage cheese. “You can never be too rich and too thin,” Nick tells her. “Yeah well, rich and thin is one thing,” she retorts. “Poor and thin is another.”

    And “rich and fat” is yet another. “You are overweight,” JR’s physician informs him. “Your blood pressure’s only a few points lower than your cholesterol which is practically off the chart. You are about to explode …” “Year after year, you yell at me for the same thing,” JR complains. We haven’t been privy to any of these previous discussions, but considering we didn’t find out about Krystle’s terminal diagnosis for years either, that doesn’t seem too big of a deal. The doctor’s words only add to the sense that time, i.e., mortality, is finally catching up with JR. A strict regime of exercise, no red meat and only one ounce of alcohol per day is prescribed. Impressively, JR sticks to the no drinking rule, even if James does catch him sneaking a few chocolate chip cookies. Meanwhile, Greg Sumner, who has likewise been placed on a strict health regime since his liver problems began, ditches the apple juice in favour whisky this week following a run-in with his sister. He accuses her of using Kate to get close to him (and his money). In response, Claudia plays her trump card: “[Kate] is not your daughter and I don’t want you seeing her anymore.” “You wanna know what the problem is with families?” a boozed-up Greg later asks Carlos. “They know where the weak spots are.”

    If Greg’s weak spot is his niece (to the point where he offers Claudia a job running the Sumner Foundation to prevent her and Kate moving back to Pittsburgh), JR’s is his new grandson (“Boy, you are just one cute kid,” he tells him. “Why is it that I think I’m gonna have to make a choice between you and the company I’ve been fighting for all my life?”). Whereas the sight of JR trying to feed Jimmy is possibly a step into cutesville too far, there’s something refreshingly spontaneous about Greg and Kate’s scenes together — he becomes less aloof and she seems less all-purpose perky.

    Both Jason Lochner and John Ross Ewing struggle with their homework this week. When John Ross turns to his father for help with his English, JR isn’t very sympathetic. “I’m afraid I’m gonna have to ground you till your grades pick up some,” he says while cradling Jimmy in his arms. “Bet if it was him, he wouldn’t be grounded,” John Ross replies resentfully. “Now John Ross, you’re a little too old to be jealous of a baby,” JR chides. “You’re almost a man now. It’s best you start acting like one.” Mack is more supportive of Jason’s struggles with Advanced Trigonometry but can offer little practical help. However, an intriguing tension develops between them as Jason continues to sing his father’s praises. “He’s a mathematical genius … He could do this whole sum in ten-seconds flat.” “What did he do, race you?” Mack asks cynically. “Sometimes, yeah,” Jason replies. “You’re kidding!” Mack scoffs. He continues to needle Jason about his dad, making him defensive (“Just because my father showed me how to do something doesn’t make it bad”) and the tension only increases when he and Karen find out from Julie that a composition Jason wrote, on the topic of “An American Hero," has won him the chance of a scholarship to study abroad. The more excited they become, the more Jason squirms with discomfort: “I’m not really sure I want it … I really don’t think I deserve it …. It’s not worth it.” Mack keeps on at him (“Jason, that’s ridiculous! … You’re gonna give up a year in Sweden because you don’t want to read an essay in public?!”) as if he can bulldoze him into submission by the sheer force of his own enthusiasm. This brings back memories of the brash, overbearing Mack we first met in Season 4 who kept trying too hard to ingratiate himself with the Fairgate kids. He badgers Jason to show him his essay. At first, Jason refuses but then he angrily hands it to him. Mack starts to read it aloud: “I, Jason Lochner, am the luckiest kid on earth. I don’t just read about American heroes, I live with one. If a hero is defined by his feats of courage and his willingness to sacrifice …” And here, in a brilliantly human moment, Mack smiles bashfully, assuming the essay is about him. But then he reads on: “… then the greatest American hero of all is my father.” Jason snatches back the paper. “The son of a bitch,” he mutters, as much to himself as to Karen and Mack, “he was my hero. I would have done anything for him. I would have done ANYTHING for him. He had no right to treat me like the way he did, he had no right to treat me like dirt and he sure had no right to not love me … ”

    Dick Lochner isn’t the only parent who finally gets knocked off his pedestal this week. Bobby Ewing is surprised to find Jory Taylor waiting on the cardboard patio at Southfork. “I’ve seen my mother,” she explains. “She told me everything … Everything I believed in is a lie! … How could she do something like that? I mean, she actually planned someone’s murder! … What kind of a woman is she, Bobby?!” Whereas Jason’s outburst about his father is messy and real and heartbreaking, Jory’s about her mother is overwrought and shrill and kind of amusing.

    While Jory is shocked to learn that her mother was responsible for April’s death, Steve Brewer is stunned to discover who was responsible for the deaths of his adoptive parents. They were forced out of their lumber mill by a large corporation and lost their pensions, he explains to Kate. “Dad had to go back to logging but he was too old for the work. He wasn’t on the job three weeks when he was killed. Then my mom died six months later.” And the man behind that large corporation? You guessed it — one Gregory Sumner. Next thing you know, Steve’s showing up for work with his hair slicked back, wearing a snazzy suit and ingratiating himself with Linda behind Paige’s back. It’s Peter Hollister redux.

    As Steve gets acclimatised to life at the Sumner Group, he also finds time to encourage meek and mild (and slightly irritating) Bob to assert himself, in the same way that JR, after he grew acclimatised to life at the sanatarium at the start of this season, encouraged Bob’s identical twin, Donio, to assert himself. When Mort starts taking credit for Bob’s office recycling initiative, Steve suggests he “tell Mort you sent Mr Sumner a copy of your proposal by electronic mail.” Electronic what now?

    Both Ewingverse episodes end with a son surprising his father (or father figure). Along with family, friends and bloody Peggy, Mack arrives at Jason’s school for the formal reading of his essay. When Jason gets to the part where he identifies his American hero, he amends it to “my foster father.” Mack is taken aback and clearly touched. (This moment wouldn’t have worked nearly as well had it not been for the previous scene where Mack assumed the essay was about him, before realising it wasn’t; he may be a genuine hero, but he still has an ego the size of a house.) Meanwhile, James turns a lecture from JR about his fatherly responsibilities on its head. “You already let one child get away from here and by God, you’re fixing to do it again!” JR snaps at him. “What are you talking about?” James asks. “You let Cally walk out of here with your child.” “The hell I did … I’m not the father, you are!”

    Back on KNOTS, Jason’s testimonial about Mack is immediately followed by another tribute, as the words “We remember Steve Shaw who was Eric Fairgate on Knots Landing” appear on the screen. This is followed by a montage of various shots of Eric from the past twelve years, not unlike the Gary/Val montage earlier in the season, accompanied by Michele Lee singing ‘Look at That Face’ by Anthony Newley. This is the first time a Soap Land actor’s death has been acknowledged on-screen since Jim Davis’s on DALLAS nine years earlier. Of course, Davis’s character has remained an ongoing presence ever since, with scarcely an episode going by without some reference to Jock or “my daddy”. This week is no exception. JR, eager to pacify Debra Lynn in the opening scene, invites her to join the family for dinner. Bobby suggests she and Jimmy take “a seat right there, at the head of the table.” “I thought you needed a dispensation from God to sit in that seat,” Michelle remarks. “Not if you’re blood,” replies JR. “My daddy’d be real happy to see his great-grandson sitting in that big old chair of his.”

    And this week’s Top 2 are …

    1 (2) KNOTS LANDING
    2 (1) DALLAS
     
    Last edited: Sep 21, 2019
    • Like Like x 1
  6. Jimmy Todd

    Jimmy Todd Soap Chat Well-Known Member

    Message Count:
    613
    Trophy Points:
    377
    Gender:
    Male
    Location:
    United States
    Ratings:
    +931
    Member Since:
    2019
    Thanks for taking the time to do these, James. Dallas in this late season may not be as enjoyable as it once was, but your write ups are great fun to read.
    Someone in these forums, maybe even you, once said KL was becoming something of a comedy of manners at this point. Seems to be true.
     
    • Thanks Thanks x 1
  7. James from London

    James from London Soap Chat Mega Star

    Message Count:
    3,200
    Trophy Points:
    6,636
    Gender:
    Male
    Occupation:
    Actor
    Location:
    Brixton
    Ratings:
    +5,501
    Medals:
    5
    Member Since:
    Time immemorial
    11 Apr 91: KNOTS LANDING: Where There's a Will, There's a Way v. 12 Apr 91: DALLAS: Farewell, My Lovely

    (Directed by Karen Mackenzie and Bobby Ewing respectively.)

    Just over a year ago, in the third to last episode of FALCON CREST, Angela awoke from her never-ending coma to reclaim her matriarchal throne. This week, in the fourth to last episode of DALLAS, it becomes clear that Miss Ellie has no intention of returning from her never-ending cruise to do the same. Instead, it falls to Clayton (in his final screen appearance) to inform her sons that “your mother’s decided not to come back to Southfork.” JR is not impressed. “What I don’t understand is why the woman who is the head of this family doesn’t at least wanna come back and see her children once in a while!” he huffs. “She’s sick of the fighting and tragedy that seems to haunt this family,” Clayton explains. Ellie's weary sentiment is echoed throughout this week’s Ewing-verse. “There is so much backstabbing and brown-nosing going on there, I can’t take it anymore,” says Paige of the Sumner Group. “There’s nothing left in Dallas for me,” declares Carter McKay. “I’m getting out of the business for good,” echoes Clayton. “I don’t want your stupid company … I’m outta here!” John Ross informs JR. “I don’t give a damn about Ewing Oil. To hell with it,” JR tells James. Yes, after thirteen years and 353 episodes, even the mighty JR Ewing has finally succumbed to soap fatigue.

    Like Miss Ellie on DALLAS, mothers are also a hot topic on KNOTS where Steve Brewer offers Greg his assessment of Linda Fairgate: “I think she’d slit her own mother’s throat to get ahead — although I’m sure you find that an admirable quality in a woman.” “Motherhood is overrated,” Greg replies. “Depends on the mother,” suggests Steve. Ironically, it emerges elsewhere in the episode that Linda’s mother is actually her Achilles heel.

    A few weeks ago on DALLAS, Jory Taylor was very excited that her high-maintenance mom was coming to California on an overnight visit. At the last minute, this visit was downgraded to a brief layover between planes. In the event, Jory wasn’t able to make even this short meeting because she’d been kidnapped. Almost the exact same situation plays out on this week’s KNOTS. This time, it’s Linda’s high-maintenance mom who had the last-minute layover, and it looks as if Linda won’t be able to meet her either, because of an important meeting scheduled with Mrs Richfield. Impulsively, Linda leaves a note asking Paige to cover her and rushes off to the airport. Her mom (whose name isn’t mentioned on screen, but whom IMDb credits as Doris) turns out to be a Mother from Hell caricature — she even smokes, which is never a good sign. Linda clearly adores her, but Doris blithely dismisses both her daughter's new position as the Sumner Group’s Head of Research (“Isn’t that kind of a glorified librarian?”) and the scarf she has bought her as a gift (“It’s, um, busy”). What’s most striking, though, is Doris’s attitude towards Eric, coming as it does just a week after KNOTS’ tribute to Steve Shaw. She gets his name wrong (“How is Ricky doing?”), puts him down intellectually (“He always struck me as a little slow”) and even forgets that he and Linda are now divorced. Her behaviour has the desired effect of humanising Linda and placing her in a more sympathetic light. While Doris can’t get away from Linda quick enough, Jory’s mother Hilary resurfaces at the end of this week’s DALLAS. “I’m really rather anxious to see my daughter,” she declares.

    Now that the season’s nearly over and the writers have run out of wacky things for her to do, Val is cured of her brain virus as arbitrarily as she contracted it. But as one medical storyline ends, another begins as Gary breaks Kate’s arm during a random accident. What this means for her career as a tennis player has yet to be determined.

    In the same way that Cathy Geary gradually went from looking like Ciji to essentially becoming her (first the singing career, then the violently abusive relationship), so Kate now seems to be turning into Mary Frances. A few weeks ago, she adopted her late cousin’s hair colour and now she is fuelled by the same righteous anger towards corporate greed. In fact, when Greg awakens from a nap to find Kate glaring down at him, he could be forgiven for thinking that his daughter’s ghost is back to re-haunt him.

    Kate’s ire stems from Steve’s discovery in last week’s ep that it was Greg who gave the order to shut down his parents’ lumber mill, which resulted in their ruination. This is a familiar Soap Land scenario — the grieving relative of a humble worker blames their untimely death on a business decision made by a bigwig too insulated by power and money to care about the end results of their actions. We’ve seen it before on KNOTS with Peter Hollister and Jill Bennett, as well as with Mrs Scotfield on DALLAS, Nick Toscanni on DYNASTY, Zach Powers on THE COLBYS and seemingly half the Tuscany Valley on FALCON CREST. Rarely does the accused bigwig get much chance to explain his point of view. Greg makes a start (“If you understood a little bit more about how business works —”), but Kate cuts him off. “I’m not talking about how business works,” she tells him. “I’m talking about people. I don’t care about profit margins or cost-effectiveness or the bottom line. My bottom line is how does it affect the men and women that are actually doing the work? … You know, my mom always told me that you put dollars before people, but somehow I didn’t wanna believe it. Now I believe it.”

    Later, Greg broaches the topic again, this time with Steve himself at the Sumner Group. Steve, along with Paige, Linda and Mort, has just concurred with his assessment that a poorly functioning subsidiary company should be sold off. “I was surprised at your reaction to the deal I proposed,” Greg remarks. “If it goes through, it’ll put a lot of people out of work.” “If it goes through, we should do what we can to help those people,” counters Steve. “Well, if all the profits go to bail out the employees, what’s the sense in doing the deal?” Greg asks. “Sound business decisions often hurt a lot of people, but at the same time, they also help a lot of people. If you can’t live with that, you’re in the wrong line of work.” Steve’s reply — “I can live with that. I’m related to you, aren’t I?” — is tantalisingly ambiguous. Is he being ironic or might he be about to succumb to the Dark Side? (The Darth Vader/Luke Skywalker-ish vibe of this moment reminds me of a future office scene, the one at the end of New DALLAS’s first season where JR and John Ross finally join forces.) Add this to Anne Matheson’s two-pronged revelation at the end of the episode — that Steve is Paul Galveston’s son (“Why on earth would Claudia have an affair with him, her own mother’s lover?”) and he is worth millions (“Here it is, Nick, right here in Paul’s will: he left the bulk of his estate to ‘all my offspring’!”) — and the stage looks set for an almighty dynastic power struggle that could run and run.

    Steve isn’t the only one in line for an unexpected windfall. As Ellie’s emissary, Clayton has one more bombshell up his sleeve: “She’s giving the title of the ranch to you, Bobby … You are the new owner of Southfork.”

    Somewhat randomly, Jaws has become a recurring Soap Land theme in recent weeks, starting with the shock discovery in the KL equivalent of this thread that Steve Brewer was in Jaws: The Revenge, followed by Michelle casting herself as Jaws opposite Debra Lynn’s Little Mermaid during last week’s DALLAS. And now this week, KNOTS does a little “Jaws approaching” homage where the camera glides eerily across the surface of a boardroom table (standing in for the Atlantic Ocean) towards Paige and Linda, as a pastiche of the movie's iconically ominous score plays under their adversarial but icily controlled dialogue. It’s playful and fun, but also one of those instances in KNOTS Season 12 where style threatens to drown out content. (No pun intended by the use of the word “drown” in a Jaws context, by the way.)

    The balance is later redressed in a sparky showdown in Paige’s office between her and Linda, which closely resembles a sparky showdown between her and Tom at the beginning of last season, which also took place in Paige's office. Both Tom and Linda start by taking a dig at Paige’s privileged upbringing. “You, with your silk stockings and fancy job and prep school background — you have no idea about the real world,” Tom told her then. “I wasn’t born with a silver spoon in my mouth,” Linda tells her now. Each goes on to describe their own tough childhood. “My mother was a drunk who locked me out of the apartment … I got smacked in the head if I spilt my milk so don’t go talking to me about the real world,” said Tom. “I’ve been earning my own money since I was twelve years old and most of that time has been spent kowtowing to people like you,” says Linda, “rich snobs who look down on anyone who has to work for a living, who treat anyone in service as subhuman. You don’t know what it’s like to be humiliated and have to take it because if you lose that job, you’ll lose the rent that month and then you might end up on the street. You’ve had it handed to you on a silver platter. I’ve had to work for everything I’ve ever gotten.” In each case, Paige is coldly unrepentant. “You know nothing about me, nothing,” she informed Tom. “How dare you tell me who you think I am?” she snaps at Linda. “And don’t think that some sob story about how hard your life was is any excuse for the way that you’ve acted.”

    Paige’s enmity towards Linda on KNOTS continues to parallel Michelle’s towards Debra Lynn on DALLAS. “I don’t wanna share the Richfield account with Linda Fairgate,” she tells Greg wearily. “It’s not worth the aggravation for me to stay here.” “If I have to see that sweet thing’s face across the dinner table one more time, I’m gonna puke!” snarls Michelle at JR. “You have two days to get Debra Lynn out of Texas. If she’s not gone by then … James is outta Ewing Oil!” Both of these blonde ultimatums backfire. Greg does indeed remove Linda from the Richfield account, but he takes Paige off it as well. “Since it’s too difficult for women to handle this account,” he tells her witheringly, “I decided to handle Mrs Richfield myself.” And when James chooses Debra Lynn and his son over Michelle and Ewing Oil (why, Lord, why??), JR gives him his full approval.

    And this week’s Top 2 are …

    1 (1) KNOTS LANDING
    2 (2) DALLAS
     
    Last edited: Sep 27, 2019
  8. James from London

    James from London Soap Chat Mega Star

    Message Count:
    3,200
    Trophy Points:
    6,636
    Gender:
    Male
    Occupation:
    Actor
    Location:
    Brixton
    Ratings:
    +5,501
    Medals:
    5
    Member Since:
    Time immemorial
    25 Apr 91: KNOTS LANDING: The Last One Out v. 26 Apr 91: DALLAS: The Decline and Fall of the Ewing Empire

    ... aka the 300th episode of KNOTS versus the penultimate episode of DALLAS.

    When DALLAS hit its tricentennial, it marked the occasion by trapping JR and Bobby in the Ewing Oil elevator overnight. For this episode, KNOTS does something similar — it confines most of its characters to the top floor of the Sumner Group for an evening.

    The given reason, a security precaution following “a very localised fire on the third floor”, serves the same dramatic purpose as the hurricane in “Wedding Bell Blues” (DALLAS Season 11) and the thunderstorm in “Stormy Weather” (FALCON CREST Season 7) — it’s an external event that forces all the regulars into close proximity.

    A comparison can also be made with KNOTS’ 200th episode, “Noises Everywhere”, which likewise brought everyone together — but whereas that instalment found ways of exploring familiar characters anew, this one mostly goes over old ground. The ep also seems intent on demonstrating how smartly self-aware it is: Mort makes another gag about rushing home to watch LA Law, Anne and Claudia have two more superfluous “thought bubble” scenes, and Gary becomes the latest person to make the disingenuous observation that “this is like living in a soap opera” — which was funny the first time someone in Soap Land said it, either Eric Fairgate or Maggie Gioberti, back in the mid-eighties — but has become progressively less so ever since.

    The highlight of the episode is a clash between Karen and Linda in which Karen gets on her moral high horse as only she can. “You are a hateful person,” she tells her occasional daughter-in-law. “You think people will just put up with you and not notice your duplicity, your hypocrisy … You’re just plain manipulative.” Much as Abby used to, Linda observes Karen’s indignation with detached amusement before moving in for the kill. “Exactly how wicked can I be if both of your sons fell in love with me?” she asks. “What does that say about them? Either they like strong-willed women like me, like you, or they’d do anything, including marry someone as awful as you think I am, to get out from under your thumb.”

    Linda’s words hit a nerve and Karen spends the rest of the episode doubting herself as a mother. After a season spent watching from the sidelines while Mack got all the juicy stuff, this affords her the opportunity to reassert herself as the KNOTS Everywoman. After all, what parent watching wouldn’t be able to identify with her current predicament? “Michael is not tied to your apron strings,” Mack assures her. “But sometimes I act as if he is!” she realises. “I love him and I want what’s best for him, but I’ve got to trust him … I can’t make choices for him.”

    A week after James Beaumont turned his back on the oil business to start a new life in Nowheresville with Debra Lynn and their son, Michael Fairgate decides that he too has had enough of climbing the corporate ladder and quits the Sumner Group. “I’m gonna take some time off, read … I do know that I’m not gonna work here and I’m not gonna see Linda again,” he tells his mother who is as relieved by his decision as JR was dismayed by James’s.

    After being dumped by James last week, Michelle got drunk and woke up to find herself married to Cliff Barnes. There’s another wedding this week on KNOTS, just as unexpected, but at the same time inevitable (indeed, the show has been teasing us with the possibility of it for the past seven years). While everyone else is stuck in the Sumner building, Val and Gary are wed on the spur of the moment. Gary gets a little teary, which is sweet, but otherwise, it feels oddly anti-climactic.

    Arguably, Steve Brewer and Paige are KNOTS’ two most intriguing characters at present, but in this ep, they are placed in a conventional romcom “opposites attract” scenario whereby each spends the episode bitching about the other (Steve to Kate, Paige to Mack) before inevitably facing up to their mutual attraction. Admittedly, the scene where they finally kiss is a bit sexy.

    Whereas the vibe of this week’s KNOTS is reflective, DALLAS is all action. From the moment Michelle is carted off to jail in the opening scene (after murdering The Kidnapper Formerly Known as Sheila Foley on the cardboard patio), the race is on between JR and Cliff as to which of them will get their hands on her share of Ewing Oil. From behind bars, Michelle (clad in grey prison smock and hardly any makeup, she’s never looked lovelier), manages to outwit both men by selling each of them fifty per cent of the company for what she paid for the entire thing — and she also manages to wangle her freedom into the bargain. Not bad for a money-hungry little nobody. Sure, she ends up miserable and alone, but also very, very rich — which in Soap Land terms, counts as a major victory.

    The scene where Cliff and JR simultaneously realise they’re equal partners in Ewing Oil is very funny (and not a thought bubble in sight). That would be a satisfying enough conclusion to their story, but then JR is approached to become Chairman of Board of West Star. He agrees but is obliged to sell his half of Ewing Oil to avoid a conflict of interest. As he makes the deal with Cliff, he rationalises the decision thusly: “This is not Ewing Oil anymore. Ewing Oil is wherever I am and that is not in a partnership with you.” However, he realises too late that he’s been set up — something to do voting rights, which I don’t quite understand — by Carter McKay … and Dusty Farlow!

    While we get a nice little cameo from Dusty (“So long, JR. Give my regards to Sue Ellen. Oh that’s right, I forgot — she dumped you”), the memory of Lilimae is also evoked when Val delivers a pretty decent impression of Julie Harris as she and Gary take a trip down memory lane.

    Meanwhile, Sly has a surprise of her own for JR: “I’m getting married … He’s an engineer in the oil business.” Whether he was busy engineering during her and JR’s recent one night stand isn’t clear. More pertinently, she’s off to the North Sea with him. JR assumes Phyllis will take over her duties, but Phyllis has other ideas: “JR, I’ve been waiting to tell you this for a long time — Hell would have to freeze over before I’d ever work for you.” As exit lines go, that’s not bad.

    While almost everyone on KNOTS is trapped inside the Sumner building, almost everyone on DALLAS is running out on JR: Miss Ellie, James, Jimmy, Sly, Phyllis, even John Ross, who calls his daddy from England to tell him, “I’m not coming back to Dallas ... You don’t have any rights over me so why don’t you play with James and that stupid baby?”

    The Ewingverse’s teetotal tycoons each fall off the wagon this week. Greg uses the situation at the Sumner Group as an excuse to break open “my earthquake supply kit, in which I had this beautiful bottle of Beaujolais … Here’s to being trapped in a building with a beautiful woman,” he says, clinking glasses with Linda. Meanwhile, Sly finds JR drowning his sorrows in his office. “How many bottles do you have hidden in here?” she asks him angrily. “947,” he snaps before ordering her to get out and stay out. While Greg gets tipsy enough to consider “addressing the troops” while wearing Linda’s dress, JR ends up drunkenly contemplating oblivion as he cradles his father’s gun. The same gun that Digger Barnes used to shoot Hutch McKinney with in 1952? I’d like to think so.

    And this week’s Top 2 are …

    1 (2) DALLAS
    2 (1) KNOTS LANDING
     
    Last edited: Oct 1, 2019
    • Like Like x 2
  9. markymark

    markymark Soap Chat Active Member

    Message Count:
    36
    Trophy Points:
    628
    Ratings:
    +41
    Member Since:
    2009
    Is the next one the last James?
     
  10. James from London

    James from London Soap Chat Mega Star

    Message Count:
    3,200
    Trophy Points:
    6,636
    Gender:
    Male
    Occupation:
    Actor
    Location:
    Brixton
    Ratings:
    +5,501
    Medals:
    5
    Member Since:
    Time immemorial
    Until the reunions!
     
    • Like Like x 1
    • Agree Agree x 1
  11. James from London

    James from London Soap Chat Mega Star

    Message Count:
    3,200
    Trophy Points:
    6,636
    Gender:
    Male
    Occupation:
    Actor
    Location:
    Brixton
    Ratings:
    +5,501
    Medals:
    5
    Member Since:
    Time immemorial
    It's only taken me thirty-three years, but I've just realised that Cliff and Jamie are paraphrasing a line of Woody Allen's from Annie Hall: "It was ironic to me because I was trying to do to her what Eisenhower has been doing to the country for the last eight years." And this is just ten or so episodes after Bobby directly quoted Woody's "Sex is the most fun you can have without laughing" gag, also from Annie Hall.
     
    • Informative Informative x 1
  12. James from London

    James from London Soap Chat Mega Star

    Message Count:
    3,200
    Trophy Points:
    6,636
    Gender:
    Male
    Occupation:
    Actor
    Location:
    Brixton
    Ratings:
    +5,501
    Medals:
    5
    Member Since:
    Time immemorial
    02 May 91: KNOTS LANDING: A Horse is a Horse v. 03 May 91: DALLAS: Conundrum

    While last week's DALLAS did a satisfying job of wrapping up most of the series’ loose ends (more so, for my money, than FALCON CREST did a year ago), this week’s finale ep feels a bit like a school reunion where half the invitations have got lost in the post and the resultant celebrations have had to be cobbled together to accommodate the half dozen disparate guests who managed to show up.

    In a way, JR’s encounter with a magical imp who offers to shows him what life would have been like had he never been born is the equivalent of Angela’s little speech at the end of last year’s FC. Each is a tacked-on ending with a somewhat otherworldly quality — Angela’s disembodied head floating serenely above the land she loved; a morose JR journeying to an alternate universe. But whereas Angela’s soliloquy lasted but a minute or two, JR’s “vision” drags on forever. It’s not just that the feature-length finale of DALLAS is boring, it’s boring and pointless. From the outset, we know that nothing we’re about to see is real and so it can have no impact — it’s not leading anywhere, not even to Pam waking up and finding Bobby in the shower.

    Granted, there’s no harm in being reminded what a knockout Kristin was ten years after her death, but the fact that JR cannot interact with any of the returning characters (he’s invisible and they don’t exist) is a huge stumbling block: there’s no opportunity for dramatic tension or conflict or any of those good things that made DALLAS, and the genre that grew out of it, so edge-of-the-seat exciting in the first place. Instead, JR — Soap Land’s primary mover and shaker; a protagonist and antagonist rolled onto one — is relegated to the sidelines where his main job is to jump to the wrong conclusion. He assumes Kristin to be a hooker, and then a cop pretending to be a hooker, until it turns out she’s really a con artist pretending to be a cop pretending to be a hooker! He assumes Sue Ellen to be a newsreader until it turns out she’s an actress playing a newsreader on daytime TV! He assumes Ray to be rich until it turns out he’s poor! He assumes Cliff to be involved with the mafia until it turns out he’s Acting President of the United States! And so on.

    In lieu of any genuine drama, the episode falls back on broad comedic stereotypes such as the screechy-voiced airhead stripper married to Bobby or the slimy, pony-tailed agent who has bungled Sue Ellen’s acting career. You wanna know what DALLAS would be like if JR never existed? A really bad episode of FALCON CREST: The Sitcom Years, that's what.

    At least Cally’s storyline, which ends with her shooting her abusive husband dead, has the decency to take itself seriously — but there again, the sight of her being knocked around while her weeping children look on feels as gratuitously grim as the sob story about Ray Krebbs shuffling about with a limp and a moustache does needlessly sentimental. It’s always nice to see Steve Kanaly, but I cannot bring myself to care about how much this nonexistent version of his character is adored by his nonexistent family.

    Ray, Cliff, Cally, Kristin, Sue Ellen, Bobby, Gary, Val, Carter McKay and Nicholas Pearce — they’re all wheeled on and off like Special Guest Stars on an episode of THE LOVE BOAT or HOTEL, the kind of shows where no situation is so complicated it can’t be resolved in a TV hour. The kind of shows, in other words, which DALLAS, KNOTS, DYNASTY and the rest once felt like a welcome antidote to.

    Meanwhile on this week’s KNOTS, now that Kate’s tennis career is over, she decides to work with horses out at Gary’s ranch. This leads to an argument with her mother that recalls Blake and Krystle during DYNASTY’s Rock Hudson period. “This dream you have of making a living working with horses, it’s unrealistic!” Claudia insists. “It’s my dream,” Kate argues. Claudia also finds time to plant a few doubts in new bride Val’s mind about the nature of Gary and Kate’s relationship. “All the attention and affection that he has shown her has just been wonderful!” she faux-gushes. “I was worried that Gary had a crush on Katie … Of course, Gary is not that kind of man.” Over on Alternate DALLAS, however, Gary is most definitely “that kind of man”. Somehow, JR’s non-existence has resulted in him becoming a slick Beverly Hills divorce lawyer who beds every sexy woman that crosses his path. These include an opposing attorney who bears a striking resemblance to Diana Farrington, JR’s extra-marital fling from last season. Indeed, one of the more diverting aspects of the DALLAS finale is spotting which actors and sets have recycled from previous episodes: Cliff is now married to the psychologist whom Ray and Donna encountered in Season 6 who had previously been molested by Edgar Randolph, Bobby is now living in Val’s house from KNOTS, and Sue Ellen’s dressing room has the same distinctively carved doors that once belonged to JR’s office at JRE Industries and then to Cally’s art studio. (You know how good an episode it is when you find yourself focusing on the door carvings.)

    Another face from Soap Land’s past, THE COLBYS’ Neil Kitteridge (Monica’s married man from Season 1) resurfaces on KNOTS as Brian Johnston, a rampantly flirtatious architect who kisses Paige (who just kissed Steve Brewer in last week’s tricentennial ep) and then sleeps with Linda Fairgate who has just moved in with Greg.

    The sight of Kristin in a slinky dress notwithstanding, perhaps the highlight of the DALLAS finale is the scene where Alternate Gary meets Alternate Val for the first time and it is clearly love at first sight. “Don’t tell me he’s gonna marry her again?” JR mutters which, given Real Gary and Real Val’s re-re-marriage on last week’s KNOTS, is at least timely. Another point of interest comes when Alternate Val says to Alternate Gary, “You were recommended to me by a friend … Esther Mackenzie.” Might the implication here be that as Alternate Val never made it to Alternate Seaview Circle and so never became BFFs with Alternate Karen, she instead palled up with Alternate Mack’s alternate sister Esther?

    Original Mack, meanwhile, sucks on a lollipop this week for no particular reason. Perhaps it’s an in-joke reference to his days on KOJAK, just as Mark Harris and Barbara Eden on this season’s DALLAS were nods to Bobby’s time as THE MAN FROM ATLANTIS and JR’s stint on I DREAM OF JEANNIE respectively.

    As well as what remains of the cast of DALLAS, Nick Schillace also exits Soap Land this week. The Oceans 11-style sequence where he steals a pricelessly authentic artefact from the Sumner Group art collection is more visually impressive than anything DALLAS can muster for its final episode — and that includes the sight of Adam the imp walking on water across the Southfork pool (which actually looks more like one of Buck Henry’s hokey holograms from FALCON CREST Season 7).

    The one situation on DALLAS that should feel urgent — whether or not JR is about to shoot himself in the head — is stretched out for so long that when the gun finally does go off at the end of the ep, it mostly feels like an afterthought. The penultimate scene of this week’s KNOTS has a far more soap-tastic conclusion. Refusing to allow Anne Matheson to blackmail her, Claudia summons Greg and Steve to her office where she informs them that Steve’s father was, in fact, Paul Galveston. Steve then turns to his Uncle Greg. “That makes you …” he begins. “Your half-brother,” Greg replies with a smile. “What a family!” he concludes.

    And this week’s Top 2 are …

    1 (2) KNOTS LANDING
    2 (1) DALLAS

     
    Last edited: Oct 6, 2019
    • Like Like x 2
    • Winner Winner x 2
  13. Steven Wayne

    Steven Wayne Soap Chat Member

    Message Count:
    38
    Trophy Points:
    1,628
    Occupation:
    Teacher
    Location:
    Cologne, Germany
    Ratings:
    +81
    Medals:
    3
    Member Since:
    2004
    Thank you so much for these insightful and entertaining week-by-week comparisons of our beloved soaps, James. It’s really a shame that they must come to an end.
     
    • Thanks Thanks x 1
    • Agree Agree x 1
  14. GillesDenver

    GillesDenver Soap Chat Fan

    Message Count:
    381
    Trophy Points:
    277
    Location:
    Moldavia
    Ratings:
    +588
    Thank you very much James, your weekly reviews will be missed !
     
    • Thanks Thanks x 1
  15. James from London

    James from London Soap Chat Mega Star

    Message Count:
    3,200
    Trophy Points:
    6,636
    Gender:
    Male
    Occupation:
    Actor
    Location:
    Brixton
    Ratings:
    +5,501
    Medals:
    5
    Member Since:
    Time immemorial
    You're very welcome. Thanks for reading them!
     
  16. southfork88

    southfork88 Soap Chat Addict

    Message Count:
    1,062
    Trophy Points:
    892
    Location:
    Italy
    Ratings:
    +1,426
    Member Since:
    2008
    Grazie mille James !
     
    • Like Like x 1
  17. Knots Blogger

    Knots Blogger Soap Chat Active Member

    Message Count:
    123
    Trophy Points:
    174
    Gender:
    Male
    Location:
    Seattle
    Ratings:
    +128
    Member Since:
    2016
    I love these so much. Also James’ fondness for the later seasons of Dallas tempt me to take another look at them, the closest I’ve gotten was I rewatched the dream recently and actually kinda enjoyed it even though I’d still say it’s bad and I’ll always be a Knots man.
     
    • Thanks Thanks x 1
  18. James from London

    James from London Soap Chat Mega Star

    Message Count:
    3,200
    Trophy Points:
    6,636
    Gender:
    Male
    Occupation:
    Actor
    Location:
    Brixton
    Ratings:
    +5,501
    Medals:
    5
    Member Since:
    Time immemorial
    20 Oct 91: DYNASTY: The Reunion (1) v. 15 Nov 96: DALLAS: J.R. Returns v. 7 May 97: KNOTS LANDING: Back to the Cul-de-Sac (1)

    Whereas the DALLAS and KNOTS characters largely seem like they’ve been frozen in time since their series ended, waiting for these reunions to come along and reactivate them, it feels as if the lives of the Carringtons and Colbys have carried on even while DYNASTY was off the air. The last time we saw Blake, for instance, he was lying on the Carrington staircase with a gunshot wound. Now he’s in Colorado State Prison, having served three years on a murder conviction. In the intervening time, he’s also lost his fortune: Denver Carrington has been taken over and his beloved mansion has been put up for sale.

    He is conveniently exonerated of his crime in the opening scene of "The Reunion" and emerges from prison with a clearly stated agenda: “I’m not gonna rest until I get Denver Carrington back.” Likewise, DALLAS opens with JR flying in from Paris, where he has spent the last five years in a self-imposed exile, with a plan of his own. “I’ve got a town to pay back,” he announces. This translates as preventing Cliff Barnes from selling Ewing Oil to West Star.

    Several Soap Land’s couples have not fared well during the time their shows were off the air. Fallon and Zorelli “broke it off”, Sue Ellen and Don Lockwood “split up a few months ago,” Kenny and Ginger Ward “are divorced” and Nick Schillace dumped Anne Matheson in Europe. “He found somebody else who was rich, available and needier,” Anne explains to Greg. “Needier than you?” Greg asks in surprise. (Like JR, Anne has just returned from Paris after a long absence. Instead of having a plan or agenda, however, she seems content to sit on Greg’s couch and flick through magazines. It’s so nice to have her back.)

    It’s fun to hear major cliffhangers resolved in a few lines of throwaway dialogue. While Alexis “managed to turn in midair” during her fall from the Carlton balcony, Dex “didn’t fare all that well.” (Does that mean he’s …?). And JR apparently shot a hole in his mirror rather than his own head. “The next morning, you’re gone,” Bobby recalls. “I haven’t spoken to you, JR, ten times in the last five years.”

    In other news, Jeff and Fallon are divorcing again (I’m not sure if this is the same divorce they were going through when DYNASTY was still on the air, or if they’ve re-remarried and split up again during the past two years — but I don’t think it really matters); Buck Fallmont has died; Carter McKay has somehow resumed control of West Star; Val Ewing has written a best-selling book about her experience as a hostage (called, um, Hostage) and hubby Gary has started one business, sold it to Greg Sumner for a cool $3.5 million and then started another one with Karen.

    Meanwhile, Blake isn’t the only one who’s fallen on hard times. Mack Mackenzie is also going broke, at least according to his secretary Peggy, Sammy Jo has lost her fortune and is back modelling in New York like Rock Hudson never happened and, having her assets frozen by the IRS for non-payment of taxes, Abby finds herself once again playing office girl to Gary and Karen. It’s a lot of fun seeing both blondes back slumming it in the same jobs they had during Season 3 of their respective series.

    JR’s plan to sabotage Cliff’s deal with West Star is enjoyably convoluted. It involves (yet another) secret codicil to Jock’s will, JR defrauding John Ross out of his inheritance and faking his own death in a fiery car crash not too dissimilar from the fiery car crash in which Val supposedly died during KNOTS’ final season. A prominently placed Stetson hat in the driver’s seat stands in for Larry Hagman just as a flash of blonde hair did for Joan Van Ark on the passenger side. In lieu of an identifiable corpse, the discovery of JR’s gold watch amongst the wreckage serves the same function as Val’s wedding ring four years earlier, convincing both the authorities and family members that he’s dead. The key difference between the two crashes, of course, is that we know from the outset that JR’s has been staged. This doesn’t prevent the reactions of Bobby, John Ross and Sue Ellen to the news of his death from being quite touching. In retrospect, they serve as a dummy run for the real thing seventeen years later. Helping to sell the moment, the sombre music from the aftermath of Bobby’s death is reprised. (There’s a similar musical déjà vu at the end of this first instalment of KNOTS as Mack’s midnight flit from the cul-de-sac is scored by the same music that accompanied Laura’s final video message to Greg. The shot of an empty Seaview Circle after he drives away also recalls the end of the episode where Richard Avery similarly departed the cul-de-sac.)

    JR’s “death” brings Sue Ellen and John Ross back from England for his funeral. The rest of the family are conspicuous by their absence. Miss Ellie and Clayton are busy “living their lives”, Ray and Lucy are likewise a no show and, according to Bobby, Gary’s not there because “Aunt Val is in the hospital and he can’t leave her right now.”

    While the DALLAS and DYNASTY reunions are ultimately focused on bringing their respective characters back together, KNOTS already achieved this during its series finale, “Just Like Old Times”. So instead, the mini-series starts by breaking the characters apart again. Before the opening titles have even rolled, Paige has driven out of KNOTS LANDING forever after Greg refuses to give her a child. Presumably, she’s headed straight for New DYNASTY where she’ll end up having three of the blighters. (KNOTS’ last image of Paige — a headshot defaced by Greg with a sharpie — foreshadows the damage New Adam will do to her actual face twenty-two years later.) Abby then announces her intention to leave the cul-de-sac for Malibu, which seems rather a shame, but happily, her fortunes soon take a downturn and she’s obliged to move in with the Mackenzies instead.

    KNOTS does manage a mini-reunion — a reunion within a reunion if you will — at Mack and Karen’s anniversary party where the Fairgate and Cunningham kids, as well as Ginger herself, make brief cameo appearances. Don’t ask me why, but there’s something oddly heartwarming about seeing Diana and Michael shooting hoops with Meg and the twins in the middle of the cul-de-sac. (In the final scene of “JR Returns”, John Ross and Christopher are doing the same thing in the Southfork driveway.)

    Just as Val returned from the dead after escaping her captors in “Just Like Old Times” so Krystle does the same thing in “The Reunion”. In place of the touching scene where Val took a cab to the cul-de-sac, stood outside her old house and then hastily took off again, there’s the fantastic scene where Krystle takes a cab to the Carrington mansion, only to find an auction of its contents taking place. She moves through the crowd unrecognised and largely unnoticed (again, echoes of the invisible JR in “Conundrum”), eavesdropping on strangers gossiping about what has become of her loved ones in the three years she’s been away (information that’s as vital to us viewers as it is to her). With exquisite, inevitable irony, the only person she recognises is Alexis, seen making off with some priceless eighteenth-century something or other that used to belong to Blake.

    Blake and Krystle’s eventual reunion, with them running across a Malibu beach towards each other as waves crash and an orchestra plays full pelt on the soundtrack, is in stark contrast to Val and Gary’s furtive reunion in a dingy diner at the end of Season 14. Different again is JR’s triumphant resurrection, arriving at his own memorial service on the back of a truck full of pigs. The contrast between these reunion scenes expresses a quintessential difference between each of the three series.

    When Val came back to the cul-de-sac in “Just Like Old Times”, she brought dire warnings of “an international mafia” intent on infiltrating the American business world. Blake is now equally concerned about a similar-sounding organisation, “a mysterious international business consortium [that] is plotting to buy up America.” Whereas Treadwell was trying to take over the Sumner Group, this new consortium has already acquired Denver Carrington. Treadwell’s equivalent in this scenario is Jeremy Van Dorn, a fabulously louche Euro-baddie, who is kind of a cross between Peter de Vilbis and a Bond villain. His strong-arm tactics also resemble Treadwell’s. In an exciting sequence early on in the mini-series, he has Blake and Jeff’s car run off the road, just as a Treadwell truck did the same thing to Kate Whittaker back on KNOTS. And just as all paths led back to Treadwell during KNOTS final season, so they all lead back the consortium now. Krystle’s been brainwashed by them, Adam’s sold his soul to them, Alexis is being courted by them, the fashion company Sammy Jo models for is owned by them, and even Kirby works for them — albeit unwittingly.

    Ah yes, Kirby. She's back — as is another supporting female character from Soap Land’s heyday, DALLAS’s Afton. Interestingly, each of their mothers gets a shout out. While Kirby recalls how Alexis got rid of her originally (“She claimed to know things about my mother, ugly little secrets”), Afton’s daughter Pamela recalls living “with my Grandma Arliss” when she was younger. Another long-forgotten character is vaguely alluded to on KNOTS after Ginger Ward makes the frankly absurd claim that ex-husband Kenny was a mediocre lover. “No wonder he liked the young ones,” Karen replies sagely. “What young ones?” asks Ginger in that wide-eyed way of hers. Annie Fairgate, for starters.

    There’s no mention of Sable Colby, Michelle Stevens or Vanessa Hunt — the three bad girls who were still standing when their respective shows were cancelled. However, Sable’s daughter Monica shows up in DALLAS, calling herself Anita Smithfield. She’s still a lawyer, but nowhere near as buttoned-up as she used to be. Like Sammy Jo in the DYNASTY reunion, she’s happy to strip down to her extremely skimpy underwear at every available opportunity. These two girls each get to deliver a notable double entendre I’m not sure any of the original series would have gotten away with. When Sammy Jo’s fashion boss Arlen Marshall fails to show up for a business meeting because he’s rolling around in bed with Sammy Jo, Alexis calls his hotel room demanding to speak to him. “I’m sorry,” Sammy Jo replies with a smirk, “he’s not in yet.” This line was considered so racy it was muted when the mini-series was first broadcast in the UK. Meanwhile, shortly after JR’s “death”, Anita returns to her apartment, takes off her clothes (naturally) and clambers onto her bed where JR is waiting for her. “For a dead man, I feel definite signs of life,” she coos. (Also, if you’ve ever wanted to hear Monica Colby’s impression of Afton Cooper, here’s your chance. Spoiler: It’s not very good.)

    DALLAS’s equivalent of Treadwell and Jeremy Van Dorn is JR himself, who manipulates the rest of the characters into doing his bidding throughout the movie. While Van Dorn has Jeff kidnapped, JR has the lovely Afton framed on a drugs charge and then committed to a sanatarium. Whereas Afton is merely drugged, Jeff is alternately beaten and fed delicious truffles by the bonkers Van Dorn.

    Rather than another consortium-type conspiracy, “Back to the Cul-de-sac” entwines most of its characters in a more modest, but still enjoyably knotty, storyline. Mack is representing the former employees of the factory Gary sold to Greg in a lawsuit for wrongful dismissal. A key part of their case is a written agreement Greg made with Gary when he bought the company. Karen and her new assistant, Abby, are despatched to find Gary’s copy of this agreement — only Abby has already made a deal with Greg to sabotage the workers’ case in exchange for the million dollars she needs to pay off the IRS. So she leans on Robert Simons, one of the plaintiffs in the case on whom she has some dirt, to burn down the warehouse where Gary’s records are stored. What could possibly go wrong?

    The interior of the Carrington mansion is not the one we remember from the series. It’s an actual house instead of a set. In fact, the whole of the DYNASTY reunion appears to have been filmed in real buildings rather than on a soundstage, giving it an expansive mini-series atmosphere that suits the characters well. Cliff’s office at Ewing Oil is real too. In fact, it’s a dead ringer for JR’s office in the original mini-series (the one with the glass walls and a view of the Dallas skyline). It looks great.

    I couldn’t decide if the Southfork living room is the same or not. The layout is pretty much as it was in the series, but something about the way it’s shot makes it feel more authentic, more substantial than the set we’re used to. In any case, it’s great to see the real Southfork exterior (as opposed to the fake cardboard patio) again. Save for stock footage, it’s the first time it’s been shown on screen for eight years. Even more thrilling is the shot of Krystle standing outside the actual Carrington mansion, not seen since the first couple of seasons of DYNASTY (again, apart from stock footage). Over on KNOTS, the interior sets of the Ewing and Mackenzie houses have being recreated while everything else looks to have been filmed on location. The one set I miss is the Sumner Group offices. It doesn’t seem right for Greg to be sitting in a drab, generic-looking boardroom instead of his old lair.

    Jock’s portrait isn’t quite the same as it used to be either, but it’s good to see it presiding over the Southfork living room again anyway. Oh and Adam Carrington, Bart Fallmont, Christopher Ewing and Meg Mackenzie all have new heads, but none of these is too jarring. In fact, New Bart feels a bit like a reincarnation of Luke Fuller, which is quite nice. And it’s just so, so good to have Al Corley back as Steven.

    “The Reunion” actually feels like DYNASTY’s Greatest Hits set against an international James Bond-style backdrop: Steven has his Season 1 face, his Season 2 chip on his shoulder and his Season 6 love interest. Sammy Jo has reverted to the personality, profession and bank balance she had in Season 3, while she and Steven get to rehash their Season 4 custody issues over Danny. Adam is reunited with his Season 4 fiancee, and Fallon, Jeff and Miles are reliving their love triangle from Season 1 of THE COLBYS. Meanwhile, Brainwashed Krystle is a variation on two previous Krystle-Not-Krystle scenarios — the Krystle Duplicate of Season 6 and the Plate-Spinning Krystle of Season 9. The big difference is that instead of being based in Denver, these characters and their storylines have been, to borrow an old phrase of Fallon’s, scattered, like big old pin rubies looking for their lost setting. Steven starts off in Washington, Fallon in Miami, Krystle in Geneva and Sammy Jo in New York. Blake is first seen in prison, before travelling to New York, then Miami and finally settling in Virginia. Only Alexis, Adam and Jeff appear to still be resident in Denver. Throughout this first half of the mini-series, the characters zigzag between these various locations, occasionally running into each other along the way. As with the cross-country Australian soap SONS AND DAUGHTERS, much of the enjoyment comes from trying to keep track of who’s in which city at any given time. Finally, the DYNASTY gang really feel like the jet-setting globe-trotters they were always meant to be.

    Meanwhile, it’s business as usual on DALLAS: Cliff is still looking for his daughter, Bobby is still torn between ranching and the oil business, JR is once again secretly buying shares in West Star in order to get his hands on Ewing Oil, while also trying to win back Sue Ellen for the umpteenth time. For her own part, Sue Ellen is still fighting her feelings for her ex. “You bastard!” she hisses before inevitably kissing his face off.

    Likewise on KNOTS, Mack is in the same “crappy mood” he was in for most of Season 14, continuing to rant about what a blight on humanity Greg Sumner is while arguing with Karen over what they should tell Meg about her parentage. Meanwhile, Greg continues to gaze at Meg with silent longing and Val’s latest writing project inevitably leads her into disaster once more.

    Our glimpse into the feuding fashion world on DYNASTY feels a lot more fresh and fun than the cliched goings-on at the Hollywood film studio where Val shows up to begin her new career as a screenwriter. Much to her surprise, she discovers that everyone in the movie industry is a cynically smarmy phoney who’s more interested in making money than art. This is the exact same “insight” we’ve been given every other time a Soap Land character has ventured into the film industry, be it Maggie Gioberti or Sue Ellen or even Val herself, who went through all this before when she adapted Capricorn Crude for TV — even though she keeps telling anyone who'll listen that she has no previous screenwriting experience whatsoever. This storyline is also responsible for one of the most witless moments in KNOTS history. “Was that Stefanie Powers that just drove through?” Val asks the guard on the studio gate. “Michele Lee,” he replies, prompting her to emit a gurgle of excitement. Sigh. I mean, she might as well wave at the camera and shout, “Look at me, everyone! I’m in a TV show! It's not real!”

    Given all that, the scenes between Val and her co-writer, Clay McKinney, a boozed-up burnt-out thrice-Oscar nominated mess, are a lot more enjoyable than they’ve any right to be. In her eagerness to prove once again that she’s something more than Poor Val, she overlooks his boorish behaviour and unsolicited advances — until he starts taking credit for work that she’s done. Then when he makes another pass at her, she fights him off and he ends up floating face down in the swimming pool. It's a bit like Sunset Boulevard given a #MeToo remix.

    Being a hundred-minute movie rather than a three-hour mini-series means “JR Returns” can’t keep as many narrative balls in the air as “Back to the Cul-de-Sac” or the DYNASTY reunion. All the stuff with JR is great fun. However, the secondary story, in which Bobby encounters a nice but dull woman, goes on a date with the nice but dull woman, and eventually goes to bed with the nice but dull woman, is nice but ... dull.

    More importantly, the movie puts JR truly back on top for the first time in years — maybe since before the Dream Season — and its main enjoyment is derived from watching him revelling in the sheer pleasure of being JR Ewing. By the final scene, he’s got Bobby back in the oil business, John Ross back at Southfork and Sue Ellen back in his bed. They think they’ve put one over on him, but this is what he’s wanted all along — ever since Michelle took over Ewing Oil midway through Season 13, in fact. “I need our family, the family we used to have,” he told Bobby back then. And this is as close he can get to it.

    For all the looking back, there some notable contemporary references in all three shows. Jeremy Van Dorn mumbles something about “so-called global warming” on DYNASTY, making him possibly Soap Land’s first-ever climate change denier. Meanwhile, Arlen Marshall uses his wife’s apparent eating disorder against her during a marital spat: “You’re looking anorexic, skin and bone. You have no ass. Every year there’s less and less of you.” When Christopher Ewing calls him in England to break the bad news about JR, John Ross brags that he’s “on the internet with some chick in New York.” Christopher later lectures his cousin on the perils of promiscuity. “Haven’t you ever heard about AIDS?” he asks. “Haven’t you ever heard about safe sex?” John Ross counters. “Yeah, the fewer partners you have the safer it is,” replies Christopher primly. Over on KNOTS, Gary frets about Betsy’s desire to get her belly button pierced.

    Following DALLAS’s cherry pie close-ups and references to the Log Lady during its final season and Pierce Lawton’s Killer Bob impression during the KNOTS Season 13 cliffhanger, DYNASTY now pays its own belated homage to TWIN PEAKS by using a ceiling fan (another visual motif deployed unsettlingly by David Lynch) as the psychological trigger that transforms Nice Normal Krystle into Lean Mean Killing Machine Krystle.

    Trend of the Ewingverse Reunions: Illegitimate daughters (almost) finding out who their real daddies are. When Cliff Barnes and Gary Ewing finally come face to face with Pamela Rebecca and Molly Whittaker respectively, they each hesitate before tactfully introducing themselves as “an old friend of your mother’s.” Meanwhile, Meg overhears Mack yelling at Karen that he doesn’t want her to know that Greg Sumner is her biological father. Oops.

    And the Top 3 are …

    1 (-) DYNASTY
    2 (1) KNOTS LANDING
    3 (2) DALLAS
     
    Last edited: Nov 7, 2019
    • Like Like x 1
  19. Karin Schill

    Karin Schill Super Moderator Staff Member

    Message Count:
    4,764
    Trophy Points:
    4,642
    Gender:
    Female
    Occupation:
    Journalist
    Location:
    Sweden
    Ratings:
    +9,301
    Medals:
    3
    Member Since:
    September 2004
    Thank you for sharing your thoughts about the shows with us as you've rewatched them James! :hat:

    Funny but I would rank the Dallas reunion as the best one. I love JR Returns. The only fault with it was that Julia wasn't Pam. If she had been it would have been perfect IMHO.
    I loved that JR was alive and back together with Sue Ellen. I loved that they brought back Afton too and that Cliff found her and his daughter. I love that JR came out on top in his business schemes too.

    Dynasty's reunion was great in the sense that it tied up a lot of lose end and gave it a proper ending. :)
    But I hate the Adam recast and I also don't like how they degressed Sammy Jo to the money hungry bitch she was in the beginning. They wiped away all her character development. Also the Miles-Jeff-Fallon triangle was too tired for me. It was resolved ages ago.

    Knots reunion was a great too. But I didn't like how Molly was Gary's daughter. I strongly disliked Gary-Kate romance when I watched the show so it probably explains it.
     
  20. James from London

    James from London Soap Chat Mega Star

    Message Count:
    3,200
    Trophy Points:
    6,636
    Gender:
    Male
    Occupation:
    Actor
    Location:
    Brixton
    Ratings:
    +5,501
    Medals:
    5
    Member Since:
    Time immemorial
    22 Oct 91: DYNASTY: The Reunion (2) v. 9 May 97: KNOTS LANDING: Back to the Cul-de-Sac (2) v. 24 Apr 98: DALLAS: War of the Ewings

    If I remember correctly, the general rule of thumb for the two-part ‘80s mini-series was that while Part 1 was all about presenting the various characters and plot threads in the most enticing way possible, Part 2 was often a mad dash scramble to get all those plots resolved in time for the closing credits. Such is the case with the second instalments of both “The Reunion” and “Back to the Cul-de-Sac”, where the need to tie everything up in a nice neat package (the very opposite of what these soaps were originally designed to do) often comes at the expense of character and logic.

    Krystle Not Krystle pointing a gun at her pyjama-clad husband is all kinds of fun, but this storyline is swiftly curtailed by Blake deprogramming her by the sheer power of his never-ending love (or something like that). Meanwhile, Kirby’s attitude towards Adam also undergoes a volte-face. Upon discovering that he “willingly betrayed” his father to the consortium, she is disgusted. “What a history you have!” she reminds him. “You assault me and God knows who else, you ruin Blake, you try and kill Jeff …” But just one scene later, all is forgotten and she’s inviting him to spend the night. And no sooner does Alexis arrange for Sammy Jo to be dumped, both personally and professionally, by Arlen Marshall, than Slutty Gold-Digging Sammy Jo is replaced once again by Sensible Mature Sammy Jo. Ultimately, however, it’s all good dumb mini-series fun.

    The lapses in logic are harder to get around on KNOTS. Following the discovery of Clay McKinney’s body, Val’s behaviour is all over the place. She lies to the police about her whereabouts at the time of his death and when one of her earrings is found at the scene, she denies it is hers. She subsequently promises Gary that she will destroy the corresponding earring, but then … just doesn’t. Meanwhile, Mack is also behaving strangely. Meg is in crisis after discovering Greg is her real father, yet he continues to live in a motel. “Why did you lie?” Gary asks Val. “I don’t know,” she replies. “What’s the matter with you?” Karen asks Mack. “I don’t know,” he admits. Each of these storylines is caught between a rock and a hard place. If they were part of an ongoing season of KNOTS, there would be sufficient time to explore and explain Val’s and Mack’s irrational behaviour in an interesting and credible way. As it is, each only has about ninety screen minutes to come to their senses and so both continue to behave erratically until such time as they are given a good talking to by their respective spouse, whereupon everything’s pretty much fine and dandy again.

    There’s still some fun soapy stuff going on on DYNASTY and KNOTS, however — thanks mostly to Alexis Colby and Abby Fairgate, whose knack for getting in too deep with the wrong kind of man and endangering both themselves and those around them has happily not diminished with time. The two men in question, Jeremy Van Dorn (Alexis) and Robert Simons (Abby), could not be more different: Van Dorn is the CEO of an international criminal consortium who has trouble recalling precisely how many women he is currently married to (“Two at the moment, I believe it is — one’s in India, the other one in Brazil”) whereas Robert is an unemployed factory worker whose days are spent watching black-and-white movies in his one-room apartment.

    Jeremy Van Dorn is excellent value and elevates every scene he’s in. He and Alexis work off one another beautifully and the scene where they seduce each other aboard her private plane while nibbling on lychees and giggling about the Gulf War just sizzles.

    Likewise, Abby and Robert are where the most of the juicy stuff is on KNOTS. She pressurises him into stealing a file Greg needs to win his lawsuit against Mack, this swiftly escalates into a case of arson and murder, Abby turns to Greg for help and Greg washes his hands of her. In other words, it’s just like old times — with some updated technological references thrown in for good measure. “Are you calling me on a cell phone?!” Greg yells at Abby in anger.

    DALLAS’s equivalent loose cannon, Peter Ellington, is the one weak spot of “War of the Ewings”. Ellington is Carter McKay’s right hand man who, for unknown reasons, is psychotically devoted to his boss (much as McKay’s own son Tommy was, shortly before his death). He’s twitchy and bookish and not very convincing, a bit like a poor man’s Norman Bates — or in Soap Land terms, a poor man’s Joel Abrigore. Happily, he’s not on screen very much and does at least provide an excuse for a couple of really good stunts — a huge car bomb, intended for JR, exploding on the freeway and an assassination attempt, also aimed at JR, in a hotel lobby. The gorgeous Anita Smithfield is at JR’s side while the bullets fly, just as she was at Cash “mediocre lover” Cassidy’s when he was gunned down on THE COLBYS.

    “When you’re Jason Colby’s son, you pick up some exotic skills, develop some interesting contacts,” brags Miles in that endearingly smug way of his. The same could be said of almost every Soap Land son and heir who has the ability, when push comes to shove, to transform himself into a small screen action hero. Accordingly, there are some impressive action scenes in both of these DYNASTY and DALLAS reunions.

    In Geneva, Miles, Adam and Kirby form themselves into an ad-hoc version of THE A-TEAM in order to extricate Jeff from the consortium’s clutches. The rescue sequence that follows is so much fun. Highlights include: a wine barrel containing Miles being thrown down a flight of stairs, shattering as it goes, Adam blowing the door off Jeff’s jail cell, and Mrs Litton, aka a sexy version of Rosa Klebb (and the only significant black character in any of these reunions), first dragging Kirby along the floor by her hair and then attempting to crush her skull in a makeshift vice. It is everything those slightly underwhelming Dex Dexter/Lance Cumson rescue missions always wanted, but never had the budget, to be.

    (The grounds of the consortium’s headquarters match those of Rashid Ahmed’s villa in Istanbul (or maybe it's the palace in Moldavia — one or the other), but there’s an even more exciting real estate discovery in "War of the Ewings": the exterior of Anita Smithfield’s house is the same as Holly Harwood’s, while the interior will later become Sue Ellen’s pad in New DALLAS!)

    The action continues on “War of the Ewings” with Ray Krebbs returning for an enjoyable barroom brawl that recalls the one in “The Dove Hunt” nearly twenty years earlier. Now as then, JR proves himself a physical coward by hiding behind an upturned table while Sue Ellen makes an acceptable substitute for Jock, kneeing a stuntman in the groin and then socking him in the jaw. Later on, there’s a shoot out on Southfork between Bobby and Ray and a bunch of cattle rustlers. Here, there are echoes of the range war from Season 11, but as with the DYNASTY rescue mission, this is far more visually impressive than anything the original series offered. A barroom brawl, a gunfight on the ranch — two classic DALLAS scenarios given a slick ‘90s spin. But there’s a twist — JR has engineered both skirmishes as part of his big plan to push Bobby out of Ewing Oil and back to ranching. These DALLAS movies work as well as they do because they adhere to same format as those classic 1979/80 episodes that were driven by JR’s Scheme of the Week. Just like he was then, the old rascal is still calling the shots.

    There are further echoes of the past on DYNASTY. The first time (nearly) all the major characters are reassembled in one place is at a court hearing where Alexis makes a late entrance in a monochrome suit and big hat (“Bad news just walked in,” observes Krystle) before proceeding to testify against Blake. And of course, no DYNASTY-verse court proceeding would be complete without someone breaking down and confessing all. In lieu of Claudia Blaisdel or Francesca Colby revealing an adulterous affair, we have Adam Carrington admitting he was a spy for the consortium. (Intriguingly, he was recruited in May 1988, during the hiatus between Seasons 8 and 9.)

    Just as DYNASTY uses Adam’s “family outsider” status to explain his betrayal (“My life wasn’t always easy — getting cut off from the family for so long. You didn’t wanna believe I was your son so I let them buy me,” he tells Blake) so DALLAS does the same to explain Ray’s reluctance to ask for help with his current financial problems. “When are you gonna accept the fact you’re a Ewing?” Bobby asks him. “Not according to JR,” he replies. “You’ve gotta get past JR,” Bobby insists. “Have you gotten past JR?” he counters. Bobby doesn’t answer. I really like the way that none of these characters have fully outrun their pasts, even after all this time.

    Having seen the Carringtons battle each other in court, it’s time for another DYNASTY staple: the Krystle/Alexis catfight. Even though the actors play it completely straight, there’s something almost joyous about it, as there was with Adam/Jeff/Alexis/Sable punch up at the end of Season 9. The warehouse of Alexis’s newly acquired fashion house makes for an ideal setting. There are bright colours everywhere you look, while sequins, feather boas and mannequin body parts are implemented as offensive weapons — it’s half 1960s AVENGERS, half 1970s glam rock. The fact that it’s set in downtown New York — you can hear the traffic outside at the start of the scene — rather than the airless world of the TV series only adds to the pop art vibe. Much like the punch-ups in “War of the Ewings”, the scene is a throwback to something quintessentially ‘80s without feeling stuck in the ‘80s at all. And, as ever, the whole thing is very funny. “You, you, you crazy cow!” splutters Alexis as Krystle sends her flying on a clothing rail. (Someone who worked with Joan Collins on THE ROYALS a few years ago told me that she watched this scene on YouTube with Collins and Liz Hurley and they all had a real laugh.)

    While Krystle and Alexis deliver precisely what their audience want and then some, Val and Karen deliver what they think their audience want but get it badly wrong. With each of them facing her own individual crisis — Mack has left Karen, Val has lied to the police — the time has come for Soap Land’s closest gal pals to sit down at the Mackenzie kitchen table for one of their traditional heart to hearts. Karen pours tea and they each take a sip. “I’m going to prison,” murmurs Val, staring into space. “I don’t know where I’m going,” murmurs Karen, staring into space. Without looking at one another, they each put down their tea, stir it with a spoon and then tap the spoon on the side of the cup, all in perfect unison — because that’s how connected they are. Then they each start laughing hysterically for no reason — because that’s how crazy-close they are. None of this feels remotely real or instinctive. The actors aren’t doing this because it’s truthful, they’re doing it because they (or their director) think it’s cute, or because they think we’ll find it cute, so adorably “Karen ’n’ Val”. But it isn’t cute, it’s contrived, in the same way that Val’s Stefanie Powers/Michele Lee gag was. But worse, much worse is to follow. The idea of Val and Karen doing an “impromptu” song and dance routine in Karen’s living room is misguided enough, but to then choose an irritating little novelty song like ‘I’m Henry VIII, I Am’ and to perform it in crappy English accents is … well, it’s excruciating. As in please-make-it-stop-I-never-want-to-see-this-again excruciating. The most galling thing is that they’re doing this for us, “the fans”, because they think this is what we want to see! This is our reward! As ill-conceived Soap Land musical numbers go, it’s worse than Karen’s Christmas song in KNOTS Season 13, worse than Blake awkwardly serenading the brim of Krystle’s hat at their second wedding reception, worse than Lance singing Motown at Richard Channing’s stag party, worse than Melissa Agretti’s entire singing career. Because this is KNOTS LANDING and it’s these two actors and everyone involved should just know better.

    In happier news, DYNASTY provides the double entendre of the week (“Arlen Marshall has to be kept in line — the balls are in your court,” Jeremy tells Alexis. “Don’t worry, darling, I know how to handle them,” she purrs in reply), while Greg Sumner delivers the most sweary line in all of twentieth-century Soap Land: “I was willing to settle until Mackenzie pissed me off.”

    Even though it’s been a long time since I watched any of these reunions, there are a couple of jarring moments I remembered to brace myself for: the unveiling of Laura Avery’s new voice and Ray Krebbs’s new hair colour. While watching Meg watch the tape of her biological mother reciting ‘Goodnight Moon’, I mentally replayed the real Laura’s voice in my head and got close to imagining how moving the scene would have been with the genuine article. (I also choose to believe Bill Devane would have insisted on the original version being played in as Greg’s emotional reaction shot was filmed.)

    Meanwhile, the sight of Ray Krebbs’ reddish brown hair, when he finally takes his hat off, takes a little getting used to. His “silver-haired cowboy” look is as intrinsic to his persona as Blake Carrington’s hair colour is to his. (Jeremy Van Dorn includes a reference to the latter during a terrifically mad rant about Blake: “This provocateur, this silver-haired popinjay has tried to embarrass me, to make me look foolish in front of my own board of directors and I am going to eat his liver!”) Ultimately, though, “War of the Ewings” gives Ray some juicy scenes to sink his teeth into in (certainly more than he got in “Conundrum” or will get in New DALLAS) and that’s more important than what colour his hair is.

    Ray’s financial problems in Europe mean the bank is about to foreclose on his ranch in Texas. What JR and Carter Mackay know, but Ray doesn’t, is that there is oil under that there land. Juicy stuff — save for the fact that the last time we saw Ray, he didn’t own a ranch in Texas. So for this plot to work, DALLAS must conflate the piece of Southfork Jock gave Ray back in ’78 with the ranch he himself bought in ’86 and then sold to McKay in ’88 (and which McKay then sold to Michelle Stevens at the end of the series) and revert ownership of it back to Ray while combining it with the section of Southfork we already know has oil underneath it. I kind of like this “Greatest Hits” grab bag approach to the series’ history, cherry-picking the elements of the past that are most creatively useful to the present.

    What remains consistent is the characters’ attitudes towards each other. There’s a great scene where Ray declines JR’s offer to buy his ranch. The meat of their discussion isn’t anything we haven’t heard before (Ray: “It still just kills you that Jock was my father too, doesn’t it?” JR: “My daddy was too kind. He’d never turn his back on a little bastard like you”), but the idea that these two men, now on the verge of retirement, are still arguing bitterly about events that took place decades earlier rings true. It’s convincing and satisfying in a way that Karen and Val’s big scene isn’t.

    The great charm of the DALLAS movies is that they’ve given JR his mojo back. There’s no more moping or self-pity, no more wondering why the world’s past him by. But as twentieth-century Soap Land draws to a definitive close, other leading characters have replaced him in confronting their own obsolescence. “In my opinion, the American businessman should be placed on an endangered species list,” Blake declares in court. “You and your kind are already a dying breed,” agrees Jeremy Van Dorn in a later scene. “I used to find joy in the work I do, belief, passion,” complains Mack Mackenzie on KNOTS. “Now, nobody’s interested — lawyers are all thieves, political conviction is old-fashioned.” Whereas Blake remains defiant (“A dying breed — why? Because we put our country before profit? Because we don’t make deals with both sides?”), Mack sounds defeated: “Other guys have swayed with the times, other guys have changed, but I didn’t. I became Deletia.” Deletia, apparently, is “everything that’s been deleted when you hit the delete key. It all goes out into Deletia … It’s what I am!” (The word “Deletia” itself has seemingly been jettisoned into Deletia. I’ve never once heard or seen it used anywhere outside of Mack’s speech.)

    “There is no morality, Mr Carrington, there are no sides,” Jeremy tells Blake, conjuring up the same faceless, soulless world Carter McKay described three years earlier: “There are no more borders, there are no more countries … there’s just one world, there’s just one country, there’s just one language. That language is power.” “Information and power are the currency of the third millennium,” concurs Greg on KNOTS. “You’re wrong, Mr Van Dorn,” Blake insists. “In the end, that’s all there is — morality, love, family.” Greg himself seems to come round to this idea. After bonding with Meg (and then re-re-watching his farewell video message from Laura), he hands over the reigns of his new surveillance operation in Thailand to Abby in favour of going fishing.

    “In the end, that’s all there is — morality, love, family.” And the greatest of these, in Soap Land, is family. As with Val’s and Mack’s existential crises, the solution to Ray Krebbs’ financial problems turns out to be the F word: “Because of pride you’d lose your ranch? You still don’t get it, do you?” Bobby asks him. “What?” Ray replies. “Family, Ray.”

    The climax of all three reunions involves a gathering of several principle characters which is then interrupted by a dangerously unstable man. The grandest of these gatherings is a big old family party at the Carrington mansion on DYNASTY. As on several such occasions in the past, Alexis is hurt at being excluded and Jeremy Van Dorn takes advantage of this to suggest they gatecrash the event together. Once there, he binds and gags her in a shed and tries to asphyxiate her (again, very ‘60s AVENGERS) before pulling a gun on Blake.

    Towards the end of KNOTS, Mack is furious to learn that Meg has spent the night at Greg’s ranch and drives out there to take her back. Karen also shows up to play peacemaker. Much shouting ensues and Anne Matheson pokes her head round the door to see what all the fuss is about. Storylines then collide as Meg comes face to face with Robert Simons, who has snuck onto the ranch unnoticed to demand the money he believe Greg owes him. Meg screams in fright and Robert grabs her.

    Towards the end of DALLAS, the three Ewing brothers and Carter McKay convene at JR’s West Star office where JR and McKay attempt to outbid one another for Ray’s ranch. On her way to join them, Sue Ellen is taken hostage by Peter Ellington. “I have a gun to Sue Ellen’s head,” he tells JR over the phone. “If McKay loses that ranch, your wife is gonna die.”

    Once again, Family Solves All. In all three instances, feuding relatives put their differences aside to battle the greater foe. Steven, Jeff and Adam work together to rescue Blake from Jeremy; Greg pulls Meg away from Robert and then Mack pulls Robert away from Greg; JR, Bobby and Ray band together to rescue Sue Ellen from Peter.

    I really like that Jeremy Van Dorn escapes in the end, and in a very TV AVENGERS/BATMAN sort of way — arrested on the Carrington estate by two cops who turn out to be bad guys, Mrs Litton and Mr Woo, in disguise. Meanwhile, Robert Simons and Peter Ellington are both dragged away by uniformed extras, yelling threats and insults as they go.

    The assembled Carringtons take a trip down memory lane via their old home movies, which proves a very cumbersome way of shoehorning in some clips from the original series. KNOTS plays the same nostalgia card in a slicker way by incorporating series highlights into the opening credits. “War of the Ewings” starts off with a blatant nod to the past that should be the lamest in-joke of all time: JR has a dream about Bobby in the shower with Sue Ellen — but whereas, say, Val’s pointless “Stefanie Powers/Michele Lee” gag yanked us out of the fictional reality, JR’s dream instigates the drama, giving him inspiration for his latest scheme, which then propels the rest of the movie.

    The Carrington reunion eventually devolves into a happy clappy slushy mushy love-in with everyone, including Alexis, saying how much they respect and need each other. “We’re all in each other’s lives whether we like it or not and somehow or other I think we do like it,” she declares somewhat clunkily. It’s as airbrushed and rose-coloured a conclusion as Angela’s final speech on FALCON CREST.

    Three Soap Land super couples get the happily ever-after treatment. “Have I ever told you exactly what you mean to me?” Blake asks Krystle in the very, very final scene of twentieth century DYNASTY. “A few times, but I wouldn’t mind hearing it again,” she coos in reply. Maybe she wouldn’t, but this is their second smoochy romantic scene inside half an hour and my reserves of undiluted joy are pretty much depleted. Whereas this kind of overblown romance has always been part of DYNASTY’s DNA, it sits less well on KNOTS where Karen is at her most stridently evangelical as she lectures Mack about how indivisible they are: “We are one thing … If we keep shutting each other out, we just end up tearing ourself apart, our one self, Karennmack.” “Macknkaren,” he counters, making a kind of meta-gag about who gets top billing. Gary and Val’s final reconciliation scene feels less self-regarding in comparison. I like the implication that Val still hasn’t quite come to terms with returning from the dead, which is one of those things that Soap Land characters tend to take in their stride. (“Maybe I should never have come back … I just don’t feel safe anymore … Nothing lasts.”) However, I’m not sure when or why Gary saying, “Piece o’ cake” to his wife acquired such a romantic significance. He said it in the series finale and repeats it here, and both times she swoons like a teenager.

    DALLAS’s remaining super couple, JR and Sue Ellen, are treated far less reverentially in “War of the Ewings”. In fact, they aren’t even a couple anymore, despite their semi-reconciliation in “JR Returns”. Their relationship is now strictly platonic — playful, but with a spiky, sardonic edge that stops it becoming cutesy. There’s no real romance between them; they know each other too well for all that by now. JR does declare his undying love at one point, as he has so many times in the past, but does so knowing it’ll drive Sue Ellen further away from him and, he hopes, towards Bobby. (This is all part of his Scheme of the Movie, which is to get Ewing Oil back for himself. For reasons I don’t fully understand but it doesn’t really matter, this entails playing cupid to Sue Ellen and Bobby.)

    There’s something both healthy and unhealthy about this new unattached, business-minded Sue Ellen who’s still living with her ex-husband and his brother after all these years. “Here we sit, three single multi-millionaires under the same roof. Well, I guess every family has their little quirks,” as JR puts it.

    “I married the wrong brother,” says Sue Ellen to Bobby at one point. (She does this approximately once every ten years: “If I'd only met you first, Bobby, I would have married you instead of JR,” she told him shortly before John Ross’s birth in 1979. “I told you before I married the wrong brother,” she reminded him in 1988, around the time Lisa Alden made her bid for custody of Christopher.) This eventually leads to a near kiss that’s been some twenty years in the making. You get the sense Sue Ellen would be happy to take things further, but Bobby’s head is immediately turned by the arrival of delectable oil woman Jennifer Jantzen, who’s every bit as mysterious and exciting as his “JR Returns” love interest, Julia Cunningham, was wholesome and vanilla. (She’s also at least ten years younger.) Just as Jeremy Van Dorn is Alexis’s most enjoyable love interest since Cecil Colby, Jennifer is Bobby’s sexiest since Tracy Lawton.

    As with DYNASTY, KNOTS ends with everyone knee-deep in happiness and Abby, like Alexis, right in the centre of things. Crucially, however, KL offsets the sentimentality with humour. The final moment has Abby sniggering at the news that Karen’s going to be a grandma just before learning that she is too. DALLAS also ends with its principle baddy getting taken down a peg or two as JR is punched in the face first by Bobby (“That’s for having people try and steal Southfork cattle!”) and then by Sue Ellen (just for the hell of it). He still manages to come up smiling.

    And the Top 3 are …

    1 (3) DALLAS
    2 (1) DYNASTY
    3 (2) KNOTS LANDING
     
    Last edited: Nov 15, 2019

Share This Page