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DYNASTY versus DALLAS versus KNOTS LANDING versus the rest of them

Discussion in 'Dynasty' started by James from London, Sep 20, 2016.

  1. Luke Fuller

    Luke Fuller Soap Chat Member EXP: 1 Year

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    Well, it was a very dramatic entering of Alexis on the scene, but after an absence of TWO episodes, not THREE :) It was typical Alexis for season 9 - a dangerous bitch who is able to go after the edge and risk everything. Maybe somebody likes this kind of Alexis but I prefere a different version of this character (mysterious one from season 2 or very rich, married, settled down, but still entertaining from time to time from season 5). Maybe it was a reason why I hated Alexis during this period of the show. She was really destroying lives of people around her. It was not a game anymore, Alexis was a real ticking bomb.
     
    Last edited: Feb 22, 2019
  2. Ked

    Ked Soap Chat Star

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    Well, considering that this was going to be the last year Alexis was going to be a regular, it makes sense that she'd become seriously dangerous, and would need to go. :)
     
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  3. Willie Oleson

    Willie Oleson SoapLand Battles Moderator EXP: 17 Years

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    Will Dynasty's Reunion movie be versus'd? I think it came after Dallas had ended, but Knots Landing was still airing?
     
  4. James from London

    James from London Soap Chat Mega Star EXP: 18 Years

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    Yeah, there's a real reckless quality to Alexis and Adam this season, just as there is with Abby on KNOTS and Richard on FALCON CREST. They're all behaving as badly as they ever have. It's as if, all of sudden, they've got nothing to lose, yet there's no concrete reason for it. I find it really exciting!

    Yes it was, but KNOTS didn't air the particular week the DYNASTY reunion was on, so I think I'm gonna cheat and do the DYNASTY, DALLAS and KNOTS reunions altogether. Only 98 episodes of KNOTS, 49 episodes of DALLAS, and 23 episodes of FALCON CREST to go till then!
     
    Last edited: Feb 22, 2019
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  5. Willie Oleson

    Willie Oleson SoapLand Battles Moderator EXP: 17 Years

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    I don't really like them but there's something very obscure about these movies, and I think that my recurring Dynasty/TheColbys dreams are in fact about the reunion movie.
     
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  6. Ked

    Ked Soap Chat Star

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    Oh really? :D How so?
     
  7. James from London

    James from London Soap Chat Mega Star EXP: 18 Years

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    Damn, I just realised too late there's another connection that I missed!

    Firstly, on DALLAS:

    Then, on KNOTS:

    ... including Joan Crawford and Zachary Scott in Mildred Pierce.

    And finally, then in the penultimate scene of the last episode of DYNASTY, Sable refers to Alexis as Mommie Dearest, the name of a book and film about Joan Crawford.

    That's more Soap Land references than even Pee Wee Herman got.
     
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  8. Matthew Blaisdel

    Matthew Blaisdel Soap Chat Enthusiast EXP: 14 Years

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    But that's 49 KNOTS episodes too many. Will you jump right to the Reunions after the last regular DALLAS episode then?
     
    Last edited: Feb 24, 2019
  9. James from London

    James from London Soap Chat Mega Star EXP: 18 Years

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    Oh no, I couldn't do that. I've got to see KNOTS through to the end. I just won't compare it to anything!
     
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  10. Matthew Blaisdel

    Matthew Blaisdel Soap Chat Enthusiast EXP: 14 Years

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    There are still 40 episodes of TNT Dallas.... just a thought. Wouldn't it be funny, the time jumps with Val and Gary for example? ;)
     
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  11. James from London

    James from London Soap Chat Mega Star EXP: 18 Years

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    There’s also forty episodes, give or take the odd two-parter, of original DALLAS before the start of KNOTS. I did consider watching the first 40 eps both DALLASes side by side, but decided that would be too head-mashing.
     
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  12. Matthew Blaisdel

    Matthew Blaisdel Soap Chat Enthusiast EXP: 14 Years

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    "Here are Lucy and Ray fumbling in the hayloft, only to appear some 35 years later as cousin and uncle at Christophers wedding... incest is a game the whole family can play. eeeeew" :eek: :D
     
    Last edited: Feb 25, 2019
  13. Ked

    Ked Soap Chat Star

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    [​IMG]
     
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  14. James from London

    James from London Soap Chat Mega Star EXP: 18 Years

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    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
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  15. Willie Oleson

    Willie Oleson SoapLand Battles Moderator EXP: 17 Years

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    Great observations, thank you!

    Shock @ the Michelle Lee joke, what were they thinking?

    A comment that's going to rock the Dynasty board on its very foundations.

    Oh...Dallas!
     
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  16. James from London

    James from London Soap Chat Mega Star EXP: 18 Years

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    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
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  17. Willie Oleson

    Willie Oleson SoapLand Battles Moderator EXP: 17 Years

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    I thought there was something chirpy-chirpy-cheek-cheek about Alexis.
    upload_2019-11-16_3-53-0.png upload_2019-11-16_3-53-13.png
    In the series there was usually more pomposity but now she's really laughing at Krystle. I rewatched the catfight and it's actually better staged than most of the series catfights.

    The first fight was the best - not because it was fun, but because it was part of the drama. I didn't want it, I needed it.
    The lily pond fight took the drama out of the scene (Alexis' cruel words) but here in this reunion there's really nothing at stake. They hate eachother and that's enough.
    The last part looks like...I don't know...something from a children's movie. It could have happened to Cruella De Ville.

    Jeremy Van Dorn, I wonder why they chose this Englishfied name. Well I guess Jeremy is more like a global non-American, rather than a specific European non-American.
    I could imagine that he re-named himself...
    And of course English actors don't want to pronounce "weird" European names, that's making things unnecessarily complicated.
     
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  18. Michael Torrance

    Michael Torrance Soap Chat Enthusiast EXP: 2 Years

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    Actually, more like the Harlem Globetrotters in terms of the plot acrobatics, inconsistencies, and regression to erasing years of history. Also like them in the (unintentional, unlike the Harlem's intentional ) comedy.
     
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  19. James from London

    James from London Soap Chat Mega Star EXP: 18 Years

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    13 Jun 12: DALLAS: Changing of the Guard v. 07 Jan 15: EMPIRE: Pilot v. 27 Sep 15: BLOOD AND OIL: Pilot v. 11 Oct 17: DYNASTY: I Hardly Recognised You

    Three of the four soaps include a shock medical diagnosis in their opening episodes. For the DALLAS and EMPIRE patriarchs, the news is grave. Both are dying — Bobby Ewing of “a gastrointestinal stromal tumour, a fairly rare form of cancer”, Lucious Lyon of “ALS … a rare autoimmune disease.” Meanwhile, the young heroine of BLOOD AND OIL, Cody LeFever, learns she’s pregnant. This is good news — or would be if she and her husband Billy weren’t living in a tent after the half dozen washer-dryers they were transporting to North Dakota to embark on their new lives as laundromat tycoons hadn’t been written off following a vehicular collision with a dirty great oil tanker.

    Will Bobby and Lucious prove as fortunate as Jason Colby, who began his own family saga with an equally terminal diagnosis — one that later turned out to be false? And will the old Soap Land curse which decrees that the first pregnancy of a new series must inevitably end in miscarriage (as it did for Pam Ewing, Krystle Carrington, Karen Fairgate and Emma Channing) apply to Cody? Only time will tell.

    As it did with Jason, the news of their impending demises prompt Bobby and Lucious to start putting their houses in order. Lucious is all about expanding. “I am proud to announce that Empire Entertainment has filed to become a publicly-traded company on the New York Stock Exchange,” he declares. This leads to the question of which of his three sons should take over the empire when he’s gone. “In order for it to survive, I need one of you Negroes to man up and lead it,” he tells them. “I will start grooming someone soon and it can only be one of you.” “… We King Lear now?” his middle son Jamal asks. Meanwhile, Bobby Ewing, having lived through his own King Lear thanks to the terms of his father’s will in 1982, has no desire to visit the same kind of conflict on the next generation. “All those fights, JR, over Ewing Oil and Southfork,” he recalls wearily, “those fights changed me, changed me in a way I don’t like. I worry about Christopher and John Ross … I don’t want them to be like us.” So while Lucious expands, Bobby retracts. “The time has come to sell Southfork,” he announces.

    The Bobby we see here is sad-eyed and battle-scarred (“I am sick to death of this family devouring itself over money!”). There’s none of the self-satisfaction or lame humour that crept into his personality during his relationship with April and then resurfaced during “JR Returns”. The moment where he tenderly kisses his catatonic brother on the forehead and quietly murmurs, “I hope you know — always loved ya” is very moving.

    Over on DYNASTY, Blake Carrington also has a pivotal announcement to make. To this end, he summons his children home to Atlanta. Estranged son Steven speculates that Blake might be in the same boat as Bobby and Lucious. “Maybe he’s dying?” he wonders. Daughter Fallon, meanwhile, is convinced that Blake’s announcement, like Lucious’s, pertains to the future of the family company. “Today my father gives it to me,” she predicts confidently at the start of the episode.

    Just as the opening instalments of the original DALLAS and DYNASTY both centred around a new marriage — the aftermath of Bobby and Pam’s elopement, the preparations for Blake and Krystle’s big day — wedding arrangements also provide a backdrop for the premiere episodes of twenty-first century DALLAS and DYNASTY.

    In each case, the happy couple are introduced to the viewer in a roundabout way. In Christopher Ewing’s first scene on DALLAS, his business meeting at a country club is interrupted by a young woman who, speaking in French, asks for his help. He follows her into the ladies’ locker room where they proceed to make out. “I hope that’s your fiancee in there with you, Christopher,” calls out a society matron who has overheard them. While hastily tucking his shirt in, Christopher embarrassedly introduces the woman to his bride-to-be, Rebecca Sutter. “May I suggest that you save something for the honeymoon?” she tells them. In Blake Carrington’s first scene on DYNASTY, he exchanges tense words during a board meeting with an employee who suggests his company is “out of touch”. The employee, Miss Fuentes, is later summoned to his house to discuss the matter further. When Fallon and Steven arrive home, they walk into their father’s office to find him and Miss Fuentes having MELROSE PLACE-style sex on the desk. While hastily tucking his shirt in, Blake embarrassedly introduces his children to his bride-to-be. “This obviously isn’t how I intended you to meet … Fallon, Steven, this is Cristal, my fiancee.” Alas for Fallon, this is his big announcement. As she flounces off, Steven apologies to Cristal on her behalf: “Forgive my sister, she thought she was getting a promotion not a stepmother.”

    Actually, none of these patriarchal pronouncements go down too well with the next generation. John Ross is no happier about the idea of his uncle selling Southfork than Fallon is about her father acquiring a new wife. Likewise on EMPIRE where Lucious’s eldest, and most calculating, son Andre is angry at having to compete with his younger brothers to become his father’s successor when he considers himself “the most qualified to run the company”.

    In EMPIRE’s opening scene, Lucious watches as a singer in a recording booth renders a heartfelt ballad. It sounds fine to me, but Lucious wants more. “I need you to sing like you are going to die tomorrow, like this is the last song you will ever sing,” he insists, urging her to reach deep into her emotions. It takes her a couple more tries, but then she nails it. What sounded good before now becomes spine-tingling. The opening episode of New DALLAS is shot through with a similar feeling of urgency. Bobby, John Ross and Christopher in particular are bristling with emotion. One gets the sense of them fighting back tears of angry frustration in almost every scene.

    Bobby’s decision to sell Southfork clashes headlong with John Ross’s discovery of oil on the property. This opens up a whole can of historical worms. Indeed, New DALLAS is layered with family history. Back story we were given at the start of the original series now sounds like ancient lore. “This ranch has been in my mama’s family a hundred-and-fifty years,” declares Bobby. “Miss Ellie threw Jock’s rig off the ranch,” Christopher reminds John Ross. “Eighty years ago, Christopher!” an exasperated John Ross yells back. In the old days, JR made a habit of quoting Jock (“Like my daddy always said …”); now it’s John Ross who quotes JR: “If there’s one thing my daddy taught me, it’s to hope for the best but prepare for the worst.” And there are the aims and ambitions that John Ross and Christopher have acquired in the twenty-odd years the series has been off the air. “All my life, I’ve been trying to put the Ewing name back on top,” says Christopher of his quest for alternate energy. “I’ve staked everything on this — all I’ve ever wanted,” says John Ross of his determination to drill on the ranch.

    The stakes are indeed high. Everything on New DALLAS matters — and the tone is set by the gravity of Bobby’s prognosis, which he chooses not to reveal to his family. This creates a complicity between him and the viewer: we share his secret. The same applies to Lucious and his condition on EMPIRE. An immediate connection is also forged between Fallon Carrington and her audience. New DYNASTY begins with her delivering an introductory voiceover (the first in Soap Land history) in which she fallonsplains this brash new world to us.

    While DALLAS takes its mood from Bobby, DYNASTY takes its attitude from Fallon — which means it’s witty, glib and defensive. Things matter on DYNASTY too, but you’re gonna have to wade through a barrage of sarcastic one-liners and ironically arched eyebrows to find them. “Cristal seems nice,” Steven tells his father. Blake frowns. “That wasn’t sarcasm — I really like her!” he insists.

    When we first encountered Jason Colby in 1986, he bragged about how he was once thrown out of the White House. The clear implication was that here was a big shot and a maverick. We get a similar idea of Lucious Lyon’s importance in 2015 when his assistant informs him of an invitation from the President to attend a state dinner. He sighs before replying, “OK, tell Barack yes, but this is the last one for the next few months.” A Soap Land patriarch on first name with the sitting president — not even Jason Colby could match that!

    By the time DYNASTY arrives two years later, there’s a new president in town. “Like it or not, we live in an age of dynasties,” begins Fallon’s voiceover, followed by footage of three real-life examples: the Trumps, the Kardashians and the Murdochs. The wording here is very telling — for all of New DYNASTY’s flippancy, it actually opens on a note of apology: “like it or not …” While Lucious is on first name terms with Barack, Fallon can’t even bring herself to say his successor’s surname. “Look at everyone we know,” she says to Steven later in the episode, “the Kochs, the Murdochs, the president Dad voted for — all of those businesses were passed down to the next generation.” Again, Fallon’s choice of words is revealing. “The president Dad voted for” — as if she were handling Trump with a pair of verbal tongs to prevent herself being contaminated. Steven’s reply is also striking. “Worth noting — all of those people are evil.” OK, that’s the show’s most unambiguously sympathetic character casually referring to the incumbent American president as evil. So while the series, via Fallon, has twice identified its own dynasty as a fictional equivalent of Trump’s real one, it also clearly despises him.

    Back in the ‘80s, DYNASTY crossed the moat to show us the romance and mystery of the rich and beautiful. Now, there is no moat. With the grotesque Trump in the White House and on Twitter and the ubiquitous Kardashians on television, being rich has never seemed less romantic or mysterious than it does in the late 2010s. In the absence of romance and mystery, the vibe of New DYNASTY is brittle and ironic.

    “Strong intelligent women are the future of business in our country,” predicted Alexis Colby in ‘DYNASTY: The Reunion’. “As for the idea that the future is female,” continues New Fallon twenty-six years later, “Daddy likes to say that the future’s not here yet, but he’s wrong about that.” As if to prove this point, Elena Ramos (DALLAS) and Carla Briggs (BLOOD AND OIL) are the ones on their respective shows responsible for sniffing out a hitherto unsuspected reserve of oil. (Rather than Digger Barnes’s nose, they rely on “a seismic survey” and “new thermal mapping technology”.) It’s Elena who discovered what lies beneath Section 18 of Southfork. “If I’m right, you’re sitting on a couple of billion barrels of light sweet crude — the most sought-after crude oil in the world,” she informs Bobby. “This will make us richer than we ever imagined!” adds John Ross. “The Bakken reserves are at least ten times previous estimates, bigger than the Saudi Ghawar field,” Carla informs her husband, oil tycoon Hap. (I’ve no idea what a Saudi Ghawar field is, but it sounds impressive. Hap thinks so too.) Back on DYNASTY, it’s Fallon herself who learns that a company named Windbriar is ripe for take-over (“We’re talking over a billion in assets”).

    Environmentalism has been a useful plot device in Soap Land ever since Cliff Barnes began using his position in the Office of Land Management to make life difficult for the Ewings in 1979. In the 2010s, however, ecology is more than a mere Maguffin. It has become an intrinsic part of the drama. On New DALLAS, Christopher’s determination to develop a viable source of alternate energy is central to both his conflict with his wildcatting cousin (“Oil is the past, alternatives are the future,” he tells John Ross earnestly) and his need to prove himself to his daddy. “All my life,” he tells Bobby, “I’ve been trying to put the Ewing name back on top … This may be hard for you to understand, but I always felt like I needed to earn my way into this family.”

    DYNASTY’s Steven is singing from the same environmental hymn sheet as Christopher. At the start of the new series, we learn that he and Blake are estranged, not because of his sexuality this time, but because of his ecological beliefs. Blake “was literally planning to frack a Native burial ground” before Steven led a protest that cost his father “a lot of money, his respect within the community and, he’d say, his son.” Steven then quit the family company, vowing “never to return … unless we balanced our portfolio with fifty percent renewable energies.”

    On EMPIRE, ecology is less of a factor than the rise of digital technology. During a press conference, Lucious explains how the music business provided him with a way out of the ghetto he was born into. “Music saved my life,” he says. However, “the internet has destroyed the musician’s ability to make money because our work is downloaded for free online, and now it’s impossible for the disenfranchised kids growing up in the projects to overcome poverty the way that I did.” Ironically, another impoverished black Soap Land character, a self-described “financial aid kid”, made his fortune developing the very technology Lucious sees as such a threat. DYNASTY’s Jeff Colby “developed a music software that would go on to earn him his first billion.”

    Ecology and the internet are not the stumbling blocks to making a fast buck in C21st Soap Land. Just as Blake came a cropper when trying to extract gas from a Native burial ground, the land with the all-important oil reserves on BLOOD AND OIL belong to an Indian reservation. And while Miss Ellie may not have been a Native American, her wishes are just as sacred to the Ewings — at least to some of them. “I promised Mama there would be no drilling on Southfork,” insists Bobby. “You don’t think we’re long past caring about Miss Ellie’s precious little wishes?” is John Ross’s thrillingly blasphemous response. “Don’t you ever speak my mama’s name in my presence again,” Bobby snarls. “You have dishonoured her.” John Ross isn’t the only entitled rich kid with a mouth on him. On EMPIRE, Cookie Lyon, Lucious’ ex-wife and the mother of his kids, is freed from prison after seventeen years. “I ended up where I ended up for you and your brothers,” she tells her youngest son Hakeem. “You want a medal, bitch?” he asks in reply. She responds by beating him upside the head with a broom. On BLOOD AND OIL, Hap Briggs puts his foot down after his screw-up son Wick disgraces the family name once too often. He tells him the time has come for him to learn the oil business from the bottom up. “You think I'm just gonna toss you the keys to the kingdom and watch you drive it over the cliff? … You’re gonna work on a rig.” “So the bitch got to you, huh?” Wick replies, referring to stepmom Carla.

    “I guess everyone wants to kill their old man sooner or later,” says a minor character on BLOOD AND OIL. Indeed, dysfunctional father/son relationships are everywhere you look in Soap Land. “You’re a mess … you’re a disappointment,” Lucious tells Hakeem on EMPIRE. “The next time I’m proud of you, Wick, it’ll be the first,” Hap tells his son on B&O. When Wick screws up yet again and tries to pin the blame on someone else, his father calls him “a lying son of a bitch” and knocks him down in the mud in front of the other men. Wick then takes a swing at his dad, but misses. “You are out, boy,” Hap tells him, “no cards, no clubs, no cash … You don’t deserve to be my son.” Things are comparatively cordial between Blake and Steven — at least for now. “It’s good to have you back,” Blake tells his son. “Thanks,” Steven replies warily. “Let’s see how long it takes for you to kick me out this time.”

    “I’m out of the house, I’m out of the will, I’m cut off,” complains Wick to Jules, B&O’s sexy local businesswoman with a somewhat incongruous London accent. “He’s kicked me off the ranch … Bobby’s cut me off,” echoes John Ross, turning to his father in his hour of need. As recently as “JR Returns”, JR sincerely complimented Bobby on raising Christopher to be “a fine young man”. On New DALLAS, his first words upon awakening from his dormant state (almost like a vampire) are: “Bobby was always a fool, stubborn as a mule and particularly harebrained about that foundling, Christopher — he’s not even a Ewing.”

    New JR is something of an enigma — he acts the doddery old man, the good ol’ boy, but what’s behind it? Is he out to help John Ross or exploit him? We can’t tell anymore. This is neither the glumly suicidal JR we left at the end of the original series or the fun cartoon one we found in the reunions. He’s become unknowable, inscrutable, for the first time since the 1970s.
     
    Last edited: Nov 27, 2019
  20. James from London

    James from London Soap Chat Mega Star EXP: 18 Years

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    (continued)

    In 1978, JR described homosexuality as “a growing phenomenon” that he couldn’t understand. Three years later, Blake Carrington suggested “faggotry” was a condition one could be treated for. Now, according to Jamal’s boyfriend on EMPIRE, “it’s 2015, nobody cares. There’s football players coming out.” Or maybe it’s not quite as simple as that.

    There’s an extremely potent flashback on EMPIRE to when Jamal was just a little kid and the Lyon family were still poor. Lucious and Cookie are laughing and having fun with friends when Jamal totters into the room in his mom’s high heels and headscarf. Lucious sees red and yells, “Are you out of your damn mind, walking in here like a little bitch?!” He picks up the boy, carries him outside and dumps him in a trashcan. There’s something so primal, so real about all of it — the child’s innocence and then his fear, the father’s fury, the mother’s rage at what her husband has done to her boy. You can believe all three characters still carry the scars of that night years later, 2015 or no 2015.

    “Your sexuality — that’s a choice, son,” Lucious informs Jamal calmly in the present. “A sissy can’t sell records to the black community — I get it,” Jamal shrugs. “You really need to stop calling yourself that,” Lucious tells him. “Well, that’s what I am, Dad,” he insists quietly. New Steven is unapologetically gay too, but his father doesn’t appear to view it as either a condition that needs treatment or a business liability. If anything, it’s an advantage. “I didn’t realise you were whoring me out, Dad,” Steven says angrily after Blake sends him to meet a prospective client who comes onto him. (The word whore comes up a lot: “I ain’t a virgin but I ain’t a whore either,” Christopher Ewing tells a couple of would-be investors when they offer him a lousy percentage on a deal. “Those plots have been drilled harder than a Tulsa whore,” Hap Briggs insists when his wife first tries to convince him there’s oil under that there land.)

    As chance would have it, Jamal’s boyfriend Michael on EMPIRE is also Steven’s pickup Sam on DYNASTY. Whereas Michael is supportive and domestic (the first time we see him, he’s cooking dinner), Sam is a thief who, immediately after having sex with Steven, goes through his pockets and steals his cash. When they later run into each other at Blake and Cristal’s wedding (Sam turns out to be Cristal’s nephew), Sam apologises, but Steven doesn’t know what he’s talking about.

    As well as the same love interest, EMPIRE and DYNASTY’s gay sons share other characteristics. Each is the “good” child and both are shown playing the piano while their high-maintenance siblings rap over the top. While Jamal’s musical collaboration with Hakeem takes place in the present, we see home movie footage of Steven as a geeky teen diligently playing the original DYNASTY theme while Fallon upstages him by reciting Salt-N-Pepa’s ‘Doper than Dope’ in front of the camera. (At least it’s not ‘Henry the VIII, I Am’. And what is it with DYNASTY and home movies all of a sudden — first at the end of the reunion and now here?) While Hakeem and Fallon are openly hostile to the family outsider in their midst — long-lost mother Cookie and step-mother-to-be Cristal — Jamal and Steven offer them the hand of friendship. And as if to prove that it’s no longer the ‘80s (or even the ‘90s), Jamal and Steven are both are shown kissing a man — the same man, come to that. Steven and Sam even get a bed scene.

    “Look at us — outside the gates, looking in,” broods John Ross on DALLAS, while literally outside the gates of Southfork, looking in. “You and I are black sheep, Elena. I’ll always be JR’s son to them, no matter what. And no matter how smart or educated you are, you are always gonna be the cook’s daughter.” On DYNASTY, Steven describes himself the same way: “I guess I’m the black sheep looking to come home to greener pastures.” “Are you the black sheep of your family too?” he asks Sam hopefully towards the end of the ep. “No, she is,” Sam replies, meaning Cristal.

    1980s Soap Land was an overwhelmingly caucasian place and, despite coming out in ’97 and ’98 respectively, ‘Back to the Cul-de-Sac’ and ‘War of the Ewings’ could only muster one significant non-white supporting player between them. Twenty-first-century Soap Land is another story. The very first face we see in any of the new soaps is DALLAS’s Elena Ramos whom, we later learn, grew up on Southfork with John Ross and Christopher — just another of those invisible Hispanics who failed to register on the original series. Meanwhile on DYNASTY, Krystle, now Cristal, is also Hispanic, as is her niece Sammy Jo, now her nephew Samuel Josiah. Michael the chauffeur is now black. And the Colbys, the only family richer than the Carringtons in the original and very white DYNASTY-verse, are now extremely rich and extremely black. As is pretty much the entire cast of EMPIRE.

    It feels like there’s a direct line from Tilly and Sam, the first black faces in Soap Land (DALLAS ’78), to Dominique and Brady, the first black couple (DYNASTY ’85), to the Williamses, the first black family (KNOTS ’87) to Lucious and Cookie helming the first black soap in 2015. And it’s only taken the best part of forty years.

    Nor is it like those strangely colour-blind ‘80s where no-one seemed to notice Blake Carrington’s half-sister was black. Race is openly acknowledged in all sorts of interesting ways. On EMPIRE, Andre is married to Rhonda, the only significant non-black cast member — a fact that does not go unnoticed by his mother Cookie. “Why you marry that white girl?” she asks. “We met at school,” he explains. “She’s brilliant.” “Pretty white girls always are, even when they ain’t,” Cookie replies drily. (Rhonda is at least smart enough to suggest that Andre divide and conquer in order to gain his father’s empire — in other words, pit Jamal and Hakeem against one another in the hopes that they destroy each other, leaving him “the last man standing.”) Meanwhile, Fallon makes a point of referring to Blake as “an old white guy” who “made his fortune doing deals with old white guys at private clubs.” Jeff’s suggestion that Fallon befriended his sister at school “because you thought hanging with the financial aid kids made you seem edgy” helps explain her Salt-N-Pepa home movie routine. But it’s Jeff’s sister Monique who finally acknowledges the thirty-nine-year-old elephant in the Soap Land room when she describes the Carrington wedding as “beautiful — very white — but …”

    At times, preconceptions about race and class overlap. There’s a very interesting exchange at the Carrington wedding where Jeff Colby sees Michael with Fallon and asks him to fetch him a drink. “He’s not a waiter,” Fallon replies. “Oh man, I’m sorry,” says Jeff. There’s an awkward pause as he waits to be introduced. “This is Michael Culhane,” Fallon explains, before reluctantly adding, “he’s the chauffeur.” “Oh, well, perfect … he can give us a ride,” smiles Jeff. And then Michael has to watch as the (black) billionaire walks off with the (white) girl he’s sleeping with. And things get seriously complicated when stereotypes about race, class and sexuality collide. Cookie’s reaction upon meeting Jamal’s boyfriend Michael: “Oh honey, you didn’t tell me you was dating a little Mexican! Look at her, she’s adorable! … You need to get La Cucaracha to clean up around here a bit.”

    EMPIRE is full of references to black cultural figures. As well as the shout out to Obama, there are photos on display of Lucious with Tina Turner and Oprah Winfrey. He makes a gag that conflates Don King with Martin Luther King. Cookie contemptuously refers to Lucious’ current squeeze as “little Halle Berry” (not to be confused with “actual Halle Berry” from KNOTS Season 13) and claims James Brown was her uncle.

    While Cookie is back in her children’s lives after seventeen years, the absences of two other Soap Land mothers, Pam and Alexis, are shrouded in mystery. Boldly, it’s Elena, the character we can’t recall from the original DALLAS, who remembers Pam in a little anecdote about how she used to turn a blind eye when Elena would make coffee for Christopher when they were kids. “I miss her,” says Elena sadly. “So do I,” replies Christopher. “Ever since the day she took off,” says Steven to Fallon regarding their absentee mother, “you’ve done whatever you can to fill the hole she left.”

    The underlings in the new series are more outspoken than their ‘80s counterparts. Whereas former Southfork staff Raoul and Teresa never ventured an opinion on anything, Carmen Ramos, Elena’s mother and the Ewings’ cook, makes no secret of her disapproval of Christopher’s choice of bride. “She’ll never make mole like Elena,” she sighs. “You and my daughter made such a beautiful couple.” On EMPIRE, Lucious’s plus-sized assistant Becky is a blast. Jamal is curious to know how she gained entry to a gay bathhouse. “I told them I was pre-op and they didn’t wanna check,” she explains — which isn’t exactly the kind of thing Peggy used to say to Mack. DYNASTY majordomo (Joseph) Anders is as hostile to Cristal as his predecessor Joseph (Anders) was to Krystle — but possibly a tad more threatening. “I know everything,” he tells her darkly towards the end of the episode.

    Soap Land weddings being what they are, there are romantic complications. It emerges that Christopher is still hung up on Elena, his former fiancee, who is now dating his cousin/rival John Ross. Just before his wedding to Rebecca, he and Elena both realise they were duped, Katherine Wentworth-style, into ending their engagement. (“I never sent you any email!”) Meanwhile, Cristal is still hung up on her married ex, Matthew Blaisdel, who works for Blake.

    Convinced Bobby is selling Southfork to finance Christopher’s alternative energy venture, John Ross looks for ways to discredit his cousin. When he fails to persuade Elena to spy on him, he hires someone to break onto the ranch and look for dirt. An intruder in the house prompts the new mistress of Southfork, Bobby’s wife Ann, to get the gun out of the hall closet as Miss Ellie once famously ordered Ray to. “Next time, Mrs Ewing, shoot him,” a cop advises after the intruder escapes. “Oh I will,” she replies. And she will.

    Meanwhile, Fallon instructs Michael keep tabs on Cristal. He gets a photo of an intimate-looking moment between her and Matthew (a farewell kiss) and Fallon sends it to Blake in the hopes of busting up the newlyweds-to-be. Having likewise got the dirt he needs on Christopher, John Ross waits until the morning of the wedding to blackmail the groom. “Your team in China just caused an earthquake!” he crows. “What do you think your dad would say if he knew your little experiment had caused the deaths of thousands of people? … Unless you convince your father to take Southfork off the market, I will expose you for the fraud that you are, Christopher!”

    John Ross and Fallon’s schemes both backfire. Christopher and Cristal elect to come clean with Bobby and Blake, thereby strengthening the respective bonds between them. Christopher’s conviction that he “can make Ewing Alternative Energies the next Exxon” (that’s the same Exxon Fallon claims tried to poach her on a recent trip to Dallas) strengthens Bobby’s determination to sell the ranch to a land conservancy, and he seals the deal with a handshake right under John Ross’s nose. Meanwhile, not only does Blake decide to bring his wedding to Cristal forward, but he offers her the job of COO of Carrington Atlantic. “That was supposed to be mine!” cries Fallon, ripping Cristal’s wedding dress (while she’s actually wearing it). Cristal gets the last word. “Call me, Mom,” she smiles — a variation on James Beaumont’s “Do I call you Mom?” to Cally and Michelle Stevens’ “Is it all right if I call you Daddy?” to JR during Old DALLAS’s last two seasons.

    Early on in this week’s DALLAS, John Ross volunteers Elena as Rebecca’s bridesmaid in front of the entire family. Elena squirms, but can’t get out of it, any more than Bobby could when JR publicly appointed him his best man at the height of their battle for Ewing Oil back in ’82. This is our first example of John Ross behaving like a rascal, just like his daddy, just for the hell of it. Conversely on DYNASTY, when Steven volunteers himself as Blake’s best man at the last minute, as the bride is on her way down the aisle, it’s one of the few genuinely sincere moments of the episode (and all the more touching for it).

    (Spoiler alert: Neither of this week’s brides — Rebecca Sutter Ewing and Cristal Fuentes Carrington — is really who she says is, but we won’t know that for ages so forget I said anything.)

    New DYNASTY’s ambivalence towards the lifestyle it portrays can be seen in its depiction of Blake and Cristal’s wedding. To begin with, the show lingers on the elaborate preparations for the big day, but then these are rejected in favour of a comparatively simple ceremony: a path of rose petals, bouquets of wildflowers, Cristal in trousers and, as per her request, “Bowie on Spotify”. The end result is neither as grand as either of the original Blake and Krystle weddings nor quite as stripped-down-simple as their Season 9 ceremony.

    The use of original recordings of recognisable pop songs was something of a novelty during ‘80s Soap Land. FALCON CREST and KNOTS LANDING each went through a ‘60s Motown phase, DALLAS dabbled no more than twice during its entire run and DYNASTY, not at all. By the 2010s, the “pop montage” has become a TV cliche. To accompany its big wedding, DALLAS goes slo-mo conventional and gives us an Adele album track, ‘Turning Tables’. Given that TV dramas that didn’t feature an Adele song were likely in the minority during 2012 this could easily seem a generic choice, but it complements the lingering close-ups of longing and confusion between Christopher and Elena very effectively. It also sets us up for characters turning the tables on each other during the closing moments of the ep. (I’m talking about that fantastic reveal where we learn that Marta Del Sol, who is supposedly in business with Bobby but is really in business with JR, is really really in business with John Ross.)

    The semi-informal nature of DYNASTY’s wedding, meanwhile, allows Cristal the opportunity to press shuffle on her David Bowie playlist. Happily for her, it lands on ‘Modern Love’ — Bowie at his most ‘80s (all the better to evoke the era of the original series) and weddingy (“Get me to the church on time!”) — rather than, say, ‘V2-Schneider’ from his more austere Berlin period. Unsurprisingly, specially written R&B and hip-hop tracks run throughout EMPIRE and it all sounds great.

    Towards the end of both BLOOD AND OIL and DYNASTY, there is a freak accident that might be the result of an ancient superstition. Early on in B&O, Wick Briggs angered the local Native American townsfolk by shooting dead a white moose that had wandered onto his father’s property. “Whoever kills a spirit animal is cursed!” one of them says. Fast forward to the last scene of the ep where Wick is attempting to rip off his father by siphoning oil from one of his tankers. Hap and Billy catch him in the act but don’t recognise him because he’s wearing a mask. Wick then pulls a gun on his father. Billy makes a grab for him and the three men end up in scrapping in a puddle of oil. The lights fuse, there’s an explosion and a single cinder (digitally rendered) casually floats down toward the puddle of oil. Hap’s eyes widen in horror when the cinder lands beside him. Suddenly, everything is engulfed in flames.

    Meanwhile on DYNASTY, Matthew is inspecting the Windbriar land on Blake’s behalf when a truck explodes, injuring Matthew and sending a wind turbine thingy out of control. One of the propellor whatnots breaks off and (digital rendered) heads straight for Matthew. While he is lying injured, Cristal has her wedding guests perform a ritual known as “the kissing bells” for the newly married couple. “The ringing is supposed to scare away the Devil,” Cristal explains to her groom, “and then once the Devil is gone-" “We live happily ever after,” Blake concludes. By the time the ringing is over, Matthew is dead.

    There’s more death towards the end of EMPIRE, but it’s far more premeditated. Lucious’s driver Bunky, whom he’s known since they were kids, turns nasty when Lucious refuses to pay any more of his gambling debts. He visits Lucious at his home, pulls out a gun and threatens to expose his shady past. “Them four dealers you killed back in the day? … I’ll light a match and I will burn this bitch down to the ground,” he tells him. The subsequent scene where Lucious meets Bunky down by the docks and shoots him in the face marks the first time a Soap Land patriarch has unequivocally committed murder — although Claudia Blaisdel has an inkling Blake might have had something to do with what has happened to Matthew. “YOU KILLED MY HUSBAND!” she screams at him in front of his wedding guests.

    “Blood may be thicker than water, but oil is thicker than both,” quips JR in the penultimate scene of this week’s DALLAS, thereby paving the way for BLOOD AND OIL — which kind of feels like the underdog soap, partly because it’s about underdogs. There’s something vaguely KNOTSian about the premise: an “ordinary” young couple (Billy and Cody LeFever, high school sweethearts no less) embarking on a new life in a strange town, hoping to strike it rich. There’s an echo of THE YELLOW ROSE as well in its harsh, gritty landscape (a chilly North Dakota) and the episode’s interest in depicting the lives of the riggers and day workers as well as the bigwigs that employ them. How long that’ll last is hard to say — it took three or four seasons for anyone to strike it rich in KNOTS; Billy and Cody are millionaires by the end of the first ep.

    “The fun is just beginning,” John Ross promises Marta at the end of DALLAS. “There’ll be plenty of time for this after the wedding,” Cristal assures Fallon following their brief tussle before the nuptials. Oh goody!

    And the Top 4 are …

    1 (1) DALLAS
    2 (-) EMPIRE
    3 (-) BLOOD AND OIL
    4 (2) DYNASTY
     
    Last edited: Nov 28, 2019
    • Winner Winner x 1

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