DYNASTY versus DALLAS versus KNOTS LANDING versus the rest of them

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

  1. James from London

    James from London Soap Chat Mega Star

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    15/Dec/81: FLAMINGO ROAD: The Powers That Be v. 16/Dec/81: DYNASTY: The Miscarriage v. 17/Dec/81: KNOTS LANDING: One of a Kind v. 18/Dec/81: DALLAS: Waterloo at Southfork v. 18/Dec/81: FALCON CREST: The Tangled Vines

    Eudora's out-of-nowhere addiction to "nerve pills" comes to a head in this week's FLAMINGO ROAD when Constance finds her on all fours in her bedroom, going through withdrawal. Constance is so freaked out that she forgets to pretend she is paralysed and leaps out of her wheelchair and to her mother's side. At that precise moment, Field enters the room, having just returned from a senatorial trip to Tallahassee, and sees his crippled wife looking not so crippled after all. It's a scene as joyfully ridiculous as the "We've got a baby to adopt!" climax of last week's DALLAS. With Eudora taking Pam's place at the Soap Land Sanitarium - all the better for Claude to have her declared mentally incompetent so he can sell the barrio to Michael Tyrone without her signature - where does this leave Field and Constance's marriage, currently held together by a combination of guilt, emotional blackmail and mutual self-interest? "We're still man and wife," Constance reminds her husband. "What we are is a corporation and I'm still Chairman of the Board," Field replies.

    Last week, Pam Ewing was a hopeless depressive, unable to come to terms with her inability to have a child, while Krystle Carrington was a radiant mother-to-be. This week, they've swapped lives. With Christopher in her arms, Pam is miraculously cured and happier than she has ever been. After miscarrying her baby and being told she can't have another, Krystle is inconsolable. The hospital scene where Krystle grieves for her loss in front of Nick Toscanni carries a raw, red-eyed anguish more emotionally alive than anything we've seen during Pam's equivalent story-line. (Where Nick unlocks Krystle's pain in front of our eyes, Pam's neuroses remain sealed off from us, just as they are from Bobby.)

    This week brings Soap Land's first on-screen divorce, between JR and Sue Ellen, and its first Christmas, celebrated exclusively on KNOTS LANDING. Divorce is a nasty business, as Teddy Becker, an old boyfriend of Karen's visiting from New York, and Evelyn Michaelson, a patient at the hospital where Mitch Cooper is now interning, can attest. Teddy may have been divorced eight years ago, but he still bears the scars. "She's remarried now," he says of his ex-wife, smiling bravely. "I understand she's very happy." It's a similar story for Evelyn: "He's getting a new life, I'm getting a new face," she tells Mitch, smiling the same brave smile as Teddy. But those break ups sound almost idyllic compared to what JR has in store for Sue Ellen: "I have the witnesses and the depositions to prove that you're a drunk, a tramp and an unfit mother … I'll fight you till you're in the streets with nothin' more to your name but the clothes on your back and a little tin cup in your hand."

    The latest round of Soap Land Song Wars is between Lane Ballou on FLAMINGO ROAD (yet again) and the combined efforts of Lilimae, Brian, Olivia and the Wards on KNOTS. For a change, the songs are each part of the narrative rather than functioning simply as background music. In FLAM RD's main subplot, Lane puts her $3,000 savings where her mouth is to make a demo recording of "Could This Be Magic", her own composition no less, at Golden Groove Studios. However, the studio isn't quite what it seems - it's a cover for a bootleg operation - and when the bad guys receive a tip-off from Titus that the FBI is on their tail, they skedaddle, leaving Lane broke and demo-less, but with her dreams intact. Over on KNOTS, an emotional Karen listens from her bedroom window as the Seaview Circle carollers run through "It Came Upon A Midnight Clear" and "Silent Night". Meanwhile, Gary watches from his own house. "She doesn't look any older than the little ones," he says of Lilimae, before painting an evocative picture of his mother-in-law as "a little country Peter Pan" who never grew up. Pretty as Lane's song is, it's no competition for Julie Harris and her autoharp. Once again, KNOTS is the winner.

    Soap Land is suddenly full of Yankees. "Why'd you leave New York? Did the Big Apple give you a tummy ache?" Fallon asks Nick in DYNASTY. Meanwhile, Teddy Becker becomes the first KNOTS character to properly acknowledge Karen as a native New Yorker. "I tried to picture you in California, but it's such an incongruous image," he tells her. "I just woke up one morning and decided I liked it here," she shrugs. It's not proving that simple an adjustment for FALCON CREST's Cole and Vicky, described by their mother as "born and bred New Yorkers." "How come it's so humid?" Vicky complains. "California's not supposed to be humid … I'm having a hard time getting used to living out here in the middle of nowhere … The whole town is one restaurant, one bar and one disco … I miss New York. I miss my friends and my dancing, going to the theatre. Falcon Crest just doesn't cut it!" (Not all of Soap Land's young folk are as resistant to new experiences. Vicky's KNOTS counterpart, Diana, is dazzled by the great and the good she mixes with whilst attending a governor's dinner on Teddy's arm, and rich boy Steven Carrington falls in love with the down and dirty world of stock car racing introduced to him by Sammy Jo on DYNASTY.)

    Things also get a bit meta this week. "It's a cute story," smirks Abby, referencing the obvious connection between Teddy and Diana on KNOTS. "'Daughter bags Mom's old boyfriend.' It's been done, of course, on soap operas." This line becomes even more ironic in hindsight when one recalls another time this soap opera story would be told - five years later, involving Abby herself, Olivia and Peter Hollister. Meanwhile, Vicky's line on FALCON CREST - "Dad's got this fantasy that living together on the vineyard's gonna turn us into the Waltons" - is a direct reference to the show that FC's creator, Earl Hamner, is most famous for.

    As Abby notes, the Karen/Teddy/Diana triangle is a familiar soap premise - becoming even soapier when Ted tells Karen he thinks Diana could be his daughter. However, KNOTS characteristically takes the less obvious route, and the whole situation is underplayed with the minimum of melodrama - perhaps too underplayed at times. But it's a sweetly touching ep, as Karen realises Teddy's need to believe Diana is his stems from losing his own kids after his marriage break-up.

    Divorce, childlessness, parental absenteeism … these themes permeate the week's episodes. On KNOTS, Sid's absence hovers over the Fairgates' Christmas while Lilimae's festive cheer only serves to remind Val of all the times her mother wasn't with her as a child ("When I hear her talk about those dear sweet Christmases that never were I just wanna throw up"). The scene where Lilimae presents Val with the dreaded patchwork quilt she has made for her and Val embraces her, thereby silently forgiving her for all those Christmases they missed out on in the past, always touches me.

    And then there's the brilliantly excruciating scene where, after Richard has given Laura the Christmas gift of a car, Laura's boss Scooter shows up and unintentionally upstages him by also giving her a car - only a much bigger and better one. Richard reacts as graciously as he can, insisting his wife keep Scooter's gift, but the blow to his pride is palpable.

    There's a similar dynamic on DALLAS between Ray, whose land deal has collapsed, and Donna, whose star is in the ascendant. Unlike the Averys, however, the Krebbses are past putting on a brave front. "Look at you," says Ray, "my wife, the girl that has everything. You got looks, you got brains, you got political savvy. You can sit down and write a book, and boom - just like that, I guarantee you it's gonna be a best seller. And look at the dummy you're married to."

    "Waterloo at Southfork" is the kind of DALLAS episode - action packed and filled with conflict - that makes you forget however many sluggish instalments or contrived plot devices it's taken to get us there. Sparks fly between Larry Hagman and Barbara Bel Geddes ("Then you're gonna have to break me, JR") while the scene where Miss Ellie stands up to the cartel is justifiably regarded as classic. Her line to Cliff, "How long are you going to perpetuate this stupid Barnes/Ewing feud, till we're all dead and gone?" seems more meaningful than ever in light of events on New DALLAS.

    A gibbering Eudora notwithstanding, old ladies are doing it for themselves in this week's Soap Land. As if Lilimae's homemade quilt weren't impressive enough, Miss Ellie strikes a deal with Clayton Farlow to pay off Ewing Oil's debt to the cartel and on FALCON CREST, Angela Channing acquires someone else's loan - she buys up vintner Carl Reed's mortgage in order to dissuade him from buying Chase's harvest, which in turn would have allowed Chase to pay off the taxes on the land he has inherited from his father. She also uses her influence with the bank to have them refuse Chase a loan. Her hope is that he will be forced to sell up (to her) and return from whence he came.

    Interestingly, the Giobertis have yet to figure out that Angela is behind their difficulties. Regarding her as an irksome but relatively harmless aunt, they have no idea of the extent of her ruthlessness. It's a similar situation on DYNASTY where Alexis is now free to roam the Carrington grounds, dropping poison into Claudia's ear about Krystle and Blake's about Sammy Jo, whilst also listening in on business conversations about Rashid Ahmed.

    Angela's grandson Lance, meanwhile, demonstrates to the audience what a fantastic little shit he can be - smugly threatening Carl Reed then petulantly trashing a bar owner's property and pinning the blame on Cole. The dynamic between Cole and Lance at this stage is not dissimilar from that between Christopher and John Ross in New DALLAS - cousins who might easily be friends but instead find themselves on opposite sides of a feud passed down from a previous generation.

    In each of this week's FALCON CREST and KNOTS, an old family photograph helps bring resolution to a storyline. Karen finds a picture of Sid's grandmother in which she bears a remarkable resemblance to Claudia Lonow with a wig on, thereby ending any confusion over who Diana's father might be. Meanwhile, Chase ruminates over an old snapshot: "That's me and my father. This must have been taken shortly before my mother left him and took me to Paris. We hardly had a chance to get to know one another." (The photo is dated 1950, which means Chase left the valley ten years earlier than was established in the opening episode - but hey, who's counting?) Chase shows the picture to his son Cole, who has been growing seriously disillusioned with grape farming ("I'm sick and tired of this vineyard!"). The pic, and Chase's accompanying history lesson, ("Some of the grapes in this vineyard have been ten generations in the making - my great grandfather came to this valley with cuttings from some of the same vines his great grandfather planted in Northern Italy") serve to imbue Cole with a sense of family pride and the possibility that maybe Falcon Crest can cut it after all.

    The end of "Tangled Vines" reminds me of the last scene of "Call Girl", the Season 1 episode of DALLAS, where JR becomes the last to learn that Pam and Bobby have reconciled at Southfork and the rest of the family chuckle at his dismayed reaction. Here, the Giobertis invite the Channings over to celebrate their good news: they've sold their brownstone in New York and now have enough money to remain at Falcon Crest permanently. Cue big smiles from everyone save Angela and Lance, who are caught looking suitably bemused in the freeze frame. Their look of defeat is mirrored by JR's in the closing moments of this week's DALLAS when the judge announces his decision to award custody of John Ross to his mother, with JR granted access on alternate weekends - a festive reminder, perhaps, that sometimes bad guys do finish last.

    And this week's Soap Land Top 5 are …

    1 (2) DALLAS
    2 (4) FALCON CREST
    3 (1) DYNASTY
    4 (3) KNOTS LANDING
    5 (5) FLAMINGO ROAD
     
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  2. James from London

    James from London Soap Chat Mega Star

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    05/Jan/82: FLAMINGO ROAD: Old Friends v. 06/Jan/82: DYNASTY: The Mid-East Meeting v. 07/Jan/82: KNOTS LANDING: Mistaken Motives v. 08/Jan/82: DALLAS: The Search v. 08/Jan/82: FALCON CREST: Kindred Spirits

    So far this Soap Land season, we've had Cliff Barnes and the cartel buying up JR's promissory bank note to hold over his head and then Angela Channing purchasing the mortgage on Carl Reed's property so she could blackmail him into doing her bidding. In this week's FLAMINGO ROAD, Michael Tyrone goes one better. Furious at Claude Weldon's attempt to defraud him over the barrio, he simply buys the bank that holds the paper on the Weldon mill, then forecloses, wiping Claude out of business. This information is conveyed to Claude in the episode's brilliant opening scene where David Selby is almost demonic as Michael and Kevin McCarthy instantly falls apart as Claude - his clammy desperation simultaneously funny and pitiful. After contemplating suicide, Claude settles for being drunk and racist, branding the Cubans lazy and dirty and telling them to go back where they came from.

    Two weeks ago, Eudora was alternately threatening to divorce Claude and have him imprisoned for forgery. This week, having returned from the Soap Land Sanatarium where she has been cured of her addictions as speedily as she acquired them, she begins singing from the same hymn sheet as Ellie Ewing - insisting that the Weldon family always stick together in times of crisis. Constance appeals to Michael Tyrone's mercy in her own unique way - first slapping him, then passionately kissing him, then slapping him again before vowing, "You're gonna damn the day you ever set foot on Flamingo Road!" It finally falls to Field, after demonstrating complete indifference to his father-in-law's situation for most the episode, to save the day. He agrees to support Michael's gambling application in the senate in return for the Weldon mill. However, there's a twist - Field will manage the mill himself, with Claude merely a minority partner.

    In a relatively minor plot development, Michael pays off the gambling debts of Lute Mae's toy boy/employee, Tony. In return, Tony agrees to keep tabs on Lute Mae's house guest Sam Curtis - thereby becoming Soap Land's first spy in the house since Julie Grey. If Cecil Colby gets his way, Claudia Blaisdel - whom he runs into at Denver Carrington where she is now working - will be the next.

    In "Mistaken Motives", Sid Fairgate has been dead for four months while in "The Search", Jock Ewing has been missing for two days - but there are equivalent shots of both men's wives alone in their marital beds in this week's eps. Where Karen cradles a pillow and cries, Ellie gently reaches over and strokes Jock's side of the bed. There's more grieving in FALCON CREST and DYNASTY where "almost three months" have passed since Jason Gioberti's death and an unspecified number of weeks have elapsed since Krystle miscarried her baby. It is noted by concerned relatives that Emma Channing and Krystle have barely left their respective houses since these events.

    There is no shortage of well-meaning advice for those in mourning: On KNOTS, Val suggests to Karen that she attend a grief support group, which is where she becomes involved with widower Bill Medford. On FALCON CREST, Maggie recommends the Soap Land Sanatarium as a suitable place for Emma, (maybe she could have Eudora's old room?) which results in Emma running away from home. Meanwhile on DYNASTY, Blake first suggests, then cajoles, then finally orders a depressed Krystle to start seeing Dr. Nick Toscanni professionally.

    Bill Medford is a lot like Teddy Becker from two KNOTS' episodes ago - a male character whom Karen can apparently lean on, but who turns out to have his own share of unresolved grief and who she must eventually extricate herself from. The big difference is that Bill somehow feels a much more real, believable character than Teddy - there's a darkness about him that's really compelling.

    Logistically, it's a weird week for Gary, who must be kept at arm's length from Bill Medford, aka the original Gary in DALLAS, lest it causes a rip in the soap time continuum and both actors be sucked forever into the Soap Land vortex. In addition, the entirety of this week's KNOTS occurs during the time it takes for the Dallas Ewings to learn of Jock's disappearance and send the barbecue guests home. Gary is eventually told about his father offscreen when Ellie and then Lucy are seen to call him during "The Search". Perhaps understandably, Gary only appears once in this week's KNOTS, during a party scene where Lilimae entertains the neighbours with her latest composition, which she modestly introduces "the prettiest little song ever written."

    This leads us to the latest round of Soap Land Song Wars, which is between Lilimae and Emma from FALCON CREST. Both accompanying themselves on the autoharp, (clearly the instrument of choice for the borderline delusional) they each perform a song with childhood associations. Lilimae's is "about the Pine Country where Val and I have our roots", while Emma sings a French song "about being young and beautiful and in love", taught to her by her Uncle Jason when she was a girl. It's a pretty ditty, and Emma's use of flashbacks, in which we see her as a young girl singing the same song with Uncle Jason back when he looked like Serge Gainsbourg, is certainly innovative. However, the winner is once again Lilimae. Her performance is as spirited as ever, but it's the reaction of her audience - Gary's near hysterical laughter, Abby's ironic swaying, Val's mortification - that clinches it.

    There's also some minor teen girl rebellion brewing in Soap Land this week. Diana Fairgate, having misinterpreted her mother's relationship with Bill, retaliates by taking up with Roy (a high school Chip Roberts-in-training) and winds up in jail when he gets stopped for drunk driving. Meanwhile, a frustrated Vicky Gioberti ("Nobody here has ever even heard of New Wave - they're just now getting into Disco!") bails out on her chores to - gasp - go for a walk, which is how she ends up running into, and striking up a friendship with, the errant Emma.

    "The Search" is DALLAS's fourth annual "What if ..?" episode, in which the Ewings are forced to contemplate an almost unthinkable scenario. In "Triangle" (Season 1), it's "What will happen if JR and Bobby are really dead?" In "Ellie Saves The Day" (Season 2), it's "What's going to happen if JR fails to strike oil in Southeast Asia and the bank forecloses on Ewing Oil?" In "Ewing vs. Ewing" (Season 3), the family reflects on the possibility of Jock and Ellie's divorcing and the subsequent break-up of the Ewing empire. Here, the question is "What's gonna happen if they don't find Jock?" The character insights that follow, while revelatory in Season 1, now simply reaffirm what we already know (e.g. "Everything JR does, he does for his daddy"). This sense of familiarity is articulated by Miss Ellie: "I feel like I've been through this before." Only this time, the story ends differently. The "What if …?" scenario comes true. "It can't end here," protests JR, "not in this stinkin' mud hole." This was the line that echoed in my head while watching the Ewings in New DALLAS struggle to comprehend how JR's life could end in some cheap Mexican hotel room.

    I've always loved the scene where Pam catches Sue Ellen in JR's bedroom ordering a cab to take her and John Ross home ("Pam, I've gotta go now".) Caught between her past and her future - like Karen in this week's KNOTS, her character is "on new ground now" - Sue Ellen's decision to abandon the family in their time of need (like Eudora Weldon, Ellie believes "the family should pull together when there's trouble") is an act both of selfishness and self-preservation. Watching the scene this time around, all I could think of was the scene that takes place in the same room thirty-one years later where Sue Ellen raises a glass to JR's memory. In that context, the idea of self-preservation seems suddenly trivial.

    This week is the first time both DALLAS and DYNASTY travel overseas. While Alexis stays in "my favourite suite in all Italy!" - all flowers and concierges and "lovely boys" helping her with her luggage - the Ewing boys rough it, trekking through formulaic jungles, dossing down in tents and on makeshift cots (Matthew Blaisdel just out of sight). Lance, Chase and Cole also take a "Dove Hunt" style camping trip this week - Cole's inevitable injury allowing for some father/son bonding while Lance goes for help, only to become embroiled in a series of Kim-from-24 style misadventures. (Like Diana in KNOTS, he even endures a brief spell in jail.) Nice as Cole and Chase's heart to heart is, ("All my life, I always thought you could do anything ... I never thought I could measure up to you," Cole admits, thereby revealing himself to be yet another Soap Land son with his father on a pedestal) one can't help but feel the episode misses a trick by not having Cole and Lance be the ones left alone together - a much more combustible, intriguing combination.

    Although it's great fun to watch Alexis prowling the Carrington grounds and lurking in the shadows, it's even more of a blast to see her this week in her decadent, sinful element, flirting and scheming with old flame Rashid Ahmed. As Rashid, John Saxon is as flamboyant as he was pedestrian in last week's FALCON CREST. In fact, it's sort of fun to imagine Rashid as Tony Cumson's alter ego. The back stories of both characters slot together easily enough - having left the Tuscany Valley at the end of the 60s, Tony would have had plenty of time to reinvent himself as "a Mid-eastern Gulbenkian" (Angela Channing even referred to him having a background in oil) who then hooks up with Alexis in Capri, Portofino and Dubrovnik during her years as part of the 1970s jet set. His recent attempt to settle down with Julia and Lance at Falcon Crest having failed, he dons his fake moustache and accent once more before flying to Rome for another tryst with Alexis, aka "the beautiful woman who is always too busy enjoying herself wherever it is to worry about what time it is wherever she is not!"

    And this week's Soap Land Top 5 are …
    1 (-) DYNASTY
    2 (-) KNOTS LANDING
    3 (1) DALLAS
    4 (-) FLAMINGO ROAD
    5 (2) FALCON CREST
     
    Last edited: Sep 24, 2016
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  3. James from London

    James from London Soap Chat Mega Star

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    12/Jan/82: FLAMINGO ROAD: Strange Bedfellows v. 13/Jan/82: DYNASTY: The Psychiatrist v. 14/Jan/82: KNOTS LANDING: The Rose and the Briar v. 15/Jan/82: DALLAS: Denial v. 15/Jan/82: FALCON CREST: The Extortionist


    Elmo Tyson's surprise decision to stand for election as sheriff forms the main story of this week's FLAMINGO ROAD. The rivalry between honest Elmo and tyrannical Titus divides the town and the Weldon household in particular. Titus wastes no time in reminding the townsfolk of the dirt he has on them. There are allusions to scandals involving underage cousins, motel room raids and "lots more - questionable bank loans, income tax evasion, fraud, drinkin' problems. I tell ya, it is amazing what goes on in the average American family."

    Elmo's campaign is ultimately scuppered when Titus (with a little help from Michael Tyrone) uncovers evidence of the role he played in his dying wife's assisted suicide six years earlier. Unwilling to face a scandal, Elmo withdraws from the race. There's a strong resemblance between this plot twist and the revelation of Cliff Barnes' involvement in his fiancee's abortion death in the "Election" episode of DALLAS. However, this story feels a lot less powerful, probably because Elmo isn't as well drawn a character as Cliff.

    While FLAMINGO ROAD sometimes feels the most lightweight of the soaps, it does boast the broadest range of villains - from the cowardly (Claude) to the ruthless (Constance) to the evil (Titus) to the borderline satanic (Michael Tyrone) - and the show is at its greatest when these characters are knitted together to evoke an atmosphere thick with corruption and betrayal, where the good are powerless and only badness has the chance to flourish.

    In the ep's final scene, Michael toasts Titus's victory with a $500 bottle of Chateau Margaux. "A great wine is like a great victory. It's meant to be savoured," he says, clearly in training for his upcoming transformation into Richard Channing.

    Several Soap Land marriages are on shaky ground this week. In FL'INGO RD, Constance and Field mark their second anniversary (even though their wedding was screened only a year earlier) by each embarking on an affair - Constance with Julio Sanchez (like a hothead Latino moth to a blonde WASP flame), Field with reporter Sandie Swanson (recently seen posing as Rashid Ahmed's pregnant girlfriend on FALCON CREST). Over on DYNASTY, Blake and Krystle both succumb to some extra-marital kissing at almost exactly the same moment, despite being on different continents - he with Alexis in Italy, she with Nick Toscanni in Denver. Laura Avery comes close to joining the marry-go-round on KNOTS when she arrives at Scooter's door after a fight with Richard but finds him in the midst of a reconciliation with his estranged wife. And on DALLAS, a sad and bitter Ray is busy avoiding wife Donna when he runs into old flame Bonnie at the Longview Bar.

    Meanwhile, it's hard to imagine things getting much worse for Jeff and Fallon's marriage on DYNASTY - what with her telling him she doesn't love him ("I never did - it was all part of the deal"), all but admitting to an affair, and arranging to have an abortion without his consent. The latter leads Jeff to consult an attorney pal on behalf of "a friend" about the finer points of parental law. Bobby Ewing does exactly the same thing on this week's DALLAS, but while Jeff is looking for a legal way to stop Fallon going through with the termination, Bobby wants to know how best to forge Christopher's medical records.

    There's also a pregnancy subplot in this week's FALCON CREST which follows the blueprint of KNOTS LANDING's Season 1 episode "Small Surprises" - a middle-aged couple (then Sid and Karen, now Chase and Maggie) are shocked by the possibility of another child on the way. This time around, it's the expectant father rather than the mother-to-be who is the more ambivalent, while Cole's and Vicky's reactions exactly mirror those of their Fairgate counterparts. Vicky is as indignant and angry as Diana was, while Cole adopts the same easygoing attitude that Eric did. Instead of ending in miscarriage, however, this pregnancy turns out to be a false alarm.

    This week is a turning point for Sammy Jo on DYNASTY and Lucy on DALLAS. Up until now, Sammy Jo has been a sweet natured and industrious young thing, but when she realises her father has left her in Krystle's care permanently, something changes. She rejects out of hand her aunt's suggestion that she train to be a secretary. "That's how every girl gets a rich husband and a big house," she mutters sarcastically. "Bull!" Conversely, former spoilt brat Lucy decides that the best way to get over her grandfather's death is to join the working class - and so she contacts photographer Roger Larsen about resuming her modelling career. What could possibly go wrong?

    A couple of the other soaps intrude on this week's DYNASTY in unexpected ways. First Jeff finds Fallon watching the future Ben Gibson from KNOTS LANDING on an episode of GENERAL HOSPITAL, and then Victoria Principal's first husband, and Lucy Ewing's former classmate, is among those cheering Steven and Buddy on during their stock car rematch.

    This is a great episode of DYNASTY: lush, swirling, romantic, smart and witty, and helped enormously by the musical score, which continually drives the action forward and makes the various story-lines feel part of one continuous whole.

    Alexis and Abby both impress with their marital manipulations this week, but in different ways. Krystle is caught in a web Alexis has managed to spin from the other side of the world - an elaborate interlacing of foreign intrigue, international oil deals and misleading photographs on magazine covers. Meanwhile, Abby scarcely needs lift a finger to manoeuvre Val into volunteering Gary as Olivia's substitute father at a school function.

    Soap Land trend of the week: Predatory men and vulnerable women. Tony, Lute Mae's FLAMINGO ROAD toy boy, discovers Constance is her real daughter and blackmails her over it. Jackson Mobeley, Lilimae's new beau on KNOTS LANDING, poses as a country music bigwig in the hopes of getting his hands on part of the Ewing fortune. Tom Flintoff, Sue Ellen's dinner date on DALLAS, follows her home and tries to force himself on her. And Turner Bates, Emma's old sweetheart, shows up on FALCON CREST again and tries to blackmail Angela over Jason's death before kidnapping Emma. The only problem is, Emma's too loopy to notice she's been kidnapped.

    Three of the soaps, KNOTS, DALLAS and FALCON CREST, focus on a female character with a tenuous grip on reality - Lilimae, Emma and Miss Ellie. While Ellie and Emma's refusal to acknowledge the respective deaths of Jock and Jason would appear to be a psychological condition, Lilimae wears her "poetic" interpretation of the world like a badge of honour:

    "Valene, there are two kinds of minds in this world. There are minds that are logical and rational and sticklers for details, and then there are minds that are inspired by a larger vision. Now it's no fault of yours, but you have one kind and Jackson and I have the other. We see beauty and magic in what others find dull. You may get your facts straight, but we see the truth." (Sounds like an Old DALLAS v New DALLAS argument.)

    When Jackson confesses that he is a crook and a con artist who knows nothing about the music business, Lilimae just laughs. When Bobby tries to tackle his mother with the truth about Jock's death, Ellie falls apart, delivering her primal "I am Jock's woman" speech that ends with just a hint of self-awareness: "He's alive, Bobby. As long as I believe he's alive, he's alive." And when the memories of Jason's death - and most especially, her role in said death - start to resurface for Emma, she panics, causing a car crash which ironically results in yet another death (that of Turner Bates).

    This week sees Lilimae and Lane Ballou reprising their own compositions for the latest round of Soap Land Song Wars. Lilimae sings her ode to the Pine Country as an after dinner treat for Jackson, while Lane performs "Could It Be Love" (which I previously misnamed as "Could This Be Magic" - here's a thing all about it: http://hillplace.blogspot.co.uk/2013/01/the-cristina-raines-song.html) at a fundraiser for Elmo. Based on these two songs alone, I'd call it an even draw, but then Lilimae goes the extra mile with an impromptu rendition of "Who's Going To Shoe Your Pretty Little Feet?" on a greyhound bus, and then tops even that with a performance in Las Vegas's Sidewinder Lounge of "In The Merry Month of May" - an hilariously inappropriate death ballad delivered in her best Ethel Skinner meets Loretta Lynn wig, the last verse of which gives the episode its title.

    "The Rose and the Briar" (written by Scott Hamner, son of FALCON CREST's creator Earl) is a gem. The tale of an elderly woman eloping to Vegas with a loveable conman could easily be twee in lesser hands, but it's consistently funny, charming and cockle warming. Plus there are strong subplots to add ballast to the episode - a wife tossing a couple of her husband's suit jackets on the bedroom floor may not sound much in the context of your average '80s super soap, but within the confines of the Avery marriage it's a huge moment ("I'm just so tired of taking it and taking it and taking it!"). And with Lilimae home safe and sound, the episode ends on a surprisingly ominous note, with Val watching Gary, Abby and Olivia driving off to Olivia's school event, "just like a real family". "I'd look out for that man o' mine if I were you," warns Lilimae. "You got a good thing goin' here, Valene. You gotta protect your dream." There's a similar twist in the final moments of this week's FALCON CREST. The story of the week, Emma's kidnapping, has ended and, like Lilimae, Emma is now back in the bosom of her family. All is calm, but then Julia overhears Emma talking to their mother about how Uncle Jason "died twice" - and realises all is not as it appears.

    This week's DALLAS is fascinating. Two weeks have passed since Jock's death and everyone is in a very different place to when we last saw them, especially JR - shambling, unshaven and disconnected from the world around him. The FALCON CREST kidnap story sags a little, but the climactic car chase is cool.

    And so this week's Soap Land Top 5 are …
    1 (2) KNOTS LANDING
    2 (1) DYNASTY
    3 (3) DALLAS
    4 (4) FLAMINGO ROAD
    5 (5) FALCON CREST
     
    Last edited: Sep 24, 2016
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  4. James from London

    James from London Soap Chat Mega Star

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    19/Jan/82: FLAMINGO ROAD: Heatwave v. 20/Jan/82: DYNASTY: Sammy Jo and Steven Marry v. 21/Jan/82: KNOTS LANDING: The Three Sisters v. 22/Jan/82: DALLAS: Head of the Family v. 22/Jan/82: FALCON CREST: Lord of the Manor

    Once again, it's Pathetic Fallacy Week in Soap Land. The heavy rain Krystle drives through at the end of DYNASTY mirrors her presently stormy relationship with Blake and anticipates her tears when she stops to call home, only to hear Alexis's voice at the end of the line. The sudden icy wind Val experiences in the bathroom of the old house she visits in KNOTS LANDING is the first indication of her affinity with the supernatural. The ominous rumble of thunder over Southfork when JR fails yet again to show up for dinner heralds his explosive confrontation with Bobby later that same evening. But as its episode title suggests, nowhere are weather conditions more pronounced this week than in FLAMINGO ROAD. In Soap Land, as in film noir, a heatwave equals lust - perspiring, panting, innuendo-laden lust. So it comes to pass that Constance and Julio consummate their affair at the JR and Kristin Dirty Weekend Hotel in Tallahassee, the saxophone on the soundtrack going utterly berserk whenever they are together.

    Since the beginning of January, Soap Land has been averaging a marriage proposal a week - first Sam popped the question to Lane and was accepted, then Fallon asked Nick who deferred, and last week Lilimae accepted Jackson's proposal, only for it to be subsequently rescinded. This week, Steven and Sammy Jo cut straight to the chase and exchange vows in front of a kindly looking justice of the peace, thereby providing Soap Land with its first wedding of the season.

    I've never been too keen on the way Fallon's last minute change of heart regarding her abortion is depicted on DYNASTY. Blake's race-against-time dash to the Blandon Clinic echoes his similar rush to Claudia's house after her suicide attempt, suggesting that a woman's right to choose is something she needs to be protected from. That said, I'll grudgingly admit that there is something dramatically interesting about a character as headstrong and wilful as Fallon feeling compelled keeping a baby in spite of herself.

    This is the week that Soap Land first delves into the paranormal. First, Alexis consults Adriana the psychic before leaving Rome. During her brief but brilliantly mad appearance, Adriana blames Alexis for Krystle's accident, a flashback of which she conjures in her crystal ball, ("She was hurt because of YOU!") before predicting that Alexis will marry again and that her new husband will then die ("HEEE WILL EX-PI-RE!!").

    Wonderful as that scene is, it almost pales into insignificance next to what we're presented with on KNOTS LANDING. Dream seasons and UFOs notwithstanding, I'm not sure soap opera ever gets as perverse as this. Following an instalment where the Gary/Abby/Val triangle finally seemed to be gaining some traction after being teased for so long, (it is exactly a year since Abby first admitted to JR that she wanted Gary) and where Richard and Laura's marriage looked like it was headed towards some sort of climax, we are suddenly presented with the most stand alone, idiosyncratic episode in all of Soap Land. In fact, "The Three Sisters" doesn't really qualify as soap opera at all. Essentially, the cul-de-sac women are transposed to another genre, and with Abby sublimating her customary deviousness into an avid interest in ghost stories, it feels a bit like the DARK SHADOWS 1795 storyline where all the actors are re-cast as slight variations on their original characters. Even so, the episode makes better use of the women's existing personalities and relationships than KNOTS' last female-centric ep, "Moments of Truth", and throws up some interesting ironies. For example, a week after Lilimae criticised Val for being "logical and rational and a stickler for details" while she herself was "inspired by a larger vision", it is now Val who becomes the visionary. And as we see Joan van Ark first gaily skipping about in her nightdress playing peekaboo with the dead, and then preparing to join them by throwing herself from the roof of the house, we are witness to the birth of the high maintenance, highly strung "Poor Val" version of the character she will be for the rest of the series.

    Following Fallon's decision to keep her baby, Val's psychic link with three ghostly, abandoned children, born of her being deprived of raising her own daughter, ("there's been a big emptiness in her, a need that never was fulfilled") is the week's second example of the power of the maternal instinct. It's also interesting that that this story should come so quickly on the heels of last week's episode which ended with Val watching her husband driving away with another woman and her child, "just like a real family" - a premonition of what is to come.


    In Jock's absence, the title of this week's DALLAS episode, "Head of the Family", is an ambiguous one. The natural successor he may be, but JR shows no interest in assuming the mantle, preferring to bury himself in booze and hookers. A frustrated Bobby makes a bid for the title when he suggests to Miss Ellie that he take over as President of Ewing Oil, at least on an interim basis, but she won't hear of it. Then at the end of the episode, little John Ross throws his hat into the ring by assuming Jock's position at the head of the family dinner table. In contrast, the title of this week's FALCON CREST, "Lord of the Manor", is clearly an ironic reference to Lance, whom Angela entrusts with the family business while she attends a wine competition in Rome.

    With Alexis returning from Rome this week, it's entirely possible that the two women would have passed each other in mid-air. And just like Alexis in last week's DYNASTY, Angela is joined in Italy by her ex-husband - but this time, it's the man who wishes to rekindle the romance while the woman is more focused on business. Despite both FALCON CREST and DYNASTY acknowledging the comparative ease of international travel - Blake speaks of a three-hour flight on Concorde while Douglas Channing casually references "the jet age" - this is the precisely the kind of globetrotting one almost never sees on DALLAS.

    Given her family's history, Angela's Rome is understandably more rustic and quaint than Alexis's sumptuous, decadent version. It's also slightly less interesting. The more dramatic stuff in this week's FALCON CREST happens back in the Tuscany Valley, where Lance attempts to double-cross a crooked wine distributor by selling him low-quality wine in premium labelled bottles. It doesn't take him long to get out of his depth and by the time Chase cottons onto his scheme, Lance is no more interested in being lord of the manor than JR is in being head of the Ewings. "I don't care about her," Lance yells about his grandmother, "I don't care about Falcon Crest, I don't care about anything anymore!" "The man is dead - it doesn't matter anymore," shrugs JR with reference to his father. Interestingly, JR and Lance are then given polar opposite advice by their shows' respective good guys, Bobby and Chase. "I know what he'd want if he were alive," says Bobby of Jock. "He'd want his boys up and doin' - and that includes running Ewing Oil the way he ran it." "When are you gonna stop trying to fill Angela's shoes?" Chase asks Lance wearily. While Bobby's words are enough to put JR back on track, Lance remains in angry despair: "You don't know what it's like living in this house - I've got my grandmother on my back, my mother's out of her mind hiding from her in the laboratory - it's a mad house!"

    This week's DALLAS is strongest when it focuses on Ellie's and Bobby's attempts to rally JR, Ray and the rest of the family. The further from Southfork it strays - e.g. Lucy's first modelling session with Roger (oh, wouldn't it have been amazing if KNOTS' three ghostly sisters had shown up in the background of Lucy's glamour shots?), Sue Ellen's attempts at entertaining her weirdly bourgeois new social circle - the weaker and stupider it becomes.

    Like Claudia in DYNASTY, Sue Ellen is finding it difficult to adjust to life as a single woman. "I'm sure a lot of people find it easy, living alone, being single, but it's hard for me," she sighs. "I found this charming little apartment on 3rd Street. Well, the charm lasted a few hours. It's been a nightmare," complains Claudia. Both are fortunate enough to have a wealthy older man, Clayton Farlow and Cecil Colby respectively, to confide in, and to offer them alternative accommodation - Clayton reminds Sue Ellen she has a standing invitation to return to the Southern Cross while Cecil offers to rent Claudia a swanky Colby Co apartment at a reduced rate. In each case, we catch our first glimpse of the older man's as yet unspoken ulterior motive. While Clayton's are clearly romantic, Cecil's appear somewhat more sinister.

    Meanwhile, Donna's exasperation at her husband's treatment of her in this week's DALLAS ("I have let him do just about everything except ride over me on horseback ... I'm beginning not to care anymore") mirrors Laura's in last week's KNOTS ("I'm just so tired of taking it and taking it and taking it"). Donna being Donna, her idea of wanton retaliation isn't to throw herself at her married boss the way Laura did, but to commit herself to writing another political biography.

    Pam is the only Ewing wife who seems truly happy this week, but even her sense of wellbeing is precarious. To protect it, Bobby concocts a story about Christopher's biological parents as tragic as the tale of how KNOTS' three sisters were left to grow up alone - for if Pam were to learn the truth, she might end up on the roof of another building alongside Val. The central theme emerging from this week's Soap Land is that if a woman's maternal instinct isn't satisfied, if it is "frustrated and suppressed" as Laura describes Val's - as opposed to Fallon's which won't be denied - then the result is madness. (Blake's suggestion that Krystle's jealousy towards him and Alexis is solely a manifestation of the depression caused by her miscarriage seems to endorse this view.)

    And this week's Soap Land Top 5 are …

    1 (1) KNOTS LANDING
    2 (2) DYNASTY
    3 (3) DALLAS
    4 (5) FALCON CREST
    5 (4) FLAMINGO ROAD
     
    Last edited: Sep 24, 2016
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  5. James from London

    James from London Soap Chat Mega Star

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    27/Jan/82: DYNASTY: The Car Explosion v. 28/Jan/82: KNOTS LANDING: Power Play v. 29/Jan/82: DALLAS: The Phoenix v. 29/Jan/82: FALCON CREST: Dark Journey

    The highlights of this week's DYNASTY are the reactions to Sammy Jo and Steven's elopement - Krystle's dismay, Alexis's disgust, Claudia's brave face, Fallon's forlorn sarcasm ("She can make a bed without a wrinkly sheet?"). From the characters' point of view, this is probably Soap Land's most controversial marriage since Bobby and Pam's.

    We don't get to see Blake's reaction to the news. Jeff is about to tell him when they are caught in the blast that gives the episode its title. DYNASTY being DYNASTY, this is a far bigger explosion than the one that killed Turner Bates on FALCON CREST two weeks ago. The spectacle is lost on Blake, however. "My God, I can't see," he exclaims. "I can't see anything at all!"

    As if to compensate for last week's foray into the other-worldly, KNOTS LANDING now embraces the traditional Soap Land themes of power, sex, money and oil as never before. Similarly, JR, the titular phoenix of this week's DALLAS, returns to the game after mourning his father for the past three weeks, finally bedding Marilee Stone to get back into business with the cartel. While Jock's death has yet to be acknowledged on KNOTS, there are several thematic crossovers between the two Ewingverse shows this week.

    Thirty years before his nephew champions methane ice as a viable source of alternate energy, Gary and Abby stumble onto something similar called methanol. On the brink of success, Gary's ambition manifests itself in a way it never has before. "A good job and a nice pay check are no big deal to me, they're nothin'!" he tells Val. "Unless you wanna be a wage slave the rest of your life, you gotta take risks … Is this all there is for us? Is Knots Landing as far as you wanna go?" On DALLAS, JR also has a new focus. "You built Ewing Oil from the ground up," he says to his father's portrait, communing with the dead as Val did in "The Three Sisters". "Whatever it took, you did it for Ewing Oil and I'm gonna do the same. I'm gonna pass it on bigger and stronger to my son. I'm back, Daddy, and nobody's gonna take Ewing Oil away from me or my son or his son. I swear to you, by God I'm gonna make you proud of me."

    Their deal leads Gary and Abby to Mexico, while a worried Val frets at home. The obvious Soap Land parallel here is with Blake and Alexis's recent trip to Rome in DYNASTY. There's even an old flame equivalent of Rashid Ahmed along for the ride - Richard, acting in his capacity as lawyer. (This leads to a wonderfully awkward scene where Richard, speaking from experience, tries to warn Gary against getting involved with Abby.) As juicy as the Rome storyline was, what makes this one even better is the complicated nature of the characters.

    Whereas on DYNASTY, there is no doubt that Krystle is an entirely blameless, innocent victim of Alexis's manipulations, Val brings her own history, her own doubts and neuroses to the table. One can see why Gary might feel stifled by her. "You gotta let him breathe, Valene," Lilimae advises. "Stand by your man, not on top of him."

    Gary and Abby share a passionate kiss in Mexico just as Blake and Alexis did in Italy, albeit against the backdrop of a farmyard distillery rather than in the grounds of a sumptuous villa. Preceding both embraces, the woman praises the man's business capabilities. Alexis recalls "a young wildcatter, a young handsome, hungry husband who shouted out to the world, 'I'll show them!' and you did." Abby, meanwhile, excites Gary by looking to his future. "You can do it! You can make this whole thing happen!" she insists.

    While neither Blake's self-belief nor his strengths as a businessman have ever been in question, the uncertainties surrounding Gary's are pivotal to this story. Whereas Val stands as a cautious reminder of his past failures and weaknesses, Abby symbolises his untapped potential. "She affects you in a way that really frightens me," Val admits. The difference between the two women is angrily articulated by Gary in the ep's final scene - while Val is worried that he will become a Ewing like his big brother, "ruthless and miserable", Abby is hoping he will.

    The subject of Ewing identity is also raised in DALLAS. Having bestowed the highest praise possible on his son, calling him "a real Ewing", JR likens Ray to Gary, saying that he "just doesn't have the strength of character of a real Ewing." "I am a Ewing," insists Gary on KNOTS, "I'm Gary Ewing." One of the things I've found so moving on New DALLAS is that the same struggles of family identity that surrounded the original "lesser Ewings", Gary and Ray, are now felt by the new generation of leading men, John Ross and Christopher. (Also, the miniature oil rig we see in John Ross's apartment in 2012 recalls the one JR shows him as a little boy on his first visit to Ewing Oil at the beginning of this week's episode.)

    That there is next to no musical score in this week's KNOTS adds a strangely neutral quality to the fast moving events of the ep - Gary going into partnership with Abby, Gary mortgaging his house without telling his wife. Without music to "comment" on these events, and Gary and Abby insisting that everything is going great, Val and her anxieties seem even more isolated and out of step.

    There is enough music to form a contender for this week's Soap Land Song Wars, however. It's an unidentified track - let's call it "Mighty Long Road" - a real nice country blues song by Charlie Hart, the recording of which Kenny presides over in his studio. It's up against Afton's opening night number at a swanky new club in DALLAS. A sexy, languid cover of the jazz standard "All of Me" as opposed to one of her own compositions, it's my favourite of all her performances. Two strong contenders then, both of which are met with onscreen bemusement - first Kenny's, when he sees that Lilimae, slippery as her elm tea, has managed to infiltrate Charlie's backing group, and then Sue Ellen's, when she walks into the club on Clayton's arm and sees her ex-husband's former mistress up onstage. Things get even more awkward when Sue Ellen realises that Afton is now involved with Cliff, whom she herself is also dating. All this super-soapy tension gives Afton's number the edge over Charlie's.

    But who could have guessed what a charming little double act Lilimae and Kenny make? There's an interesting parallel between Kenny's attitude towards Lilimae in this episode - he's the only character honest enough to tell her how untalented a musician she is - and James Houghton's admission that he couldn't match the excitement of the rest of the cast when Julie Harris joined the show because he wasn't sure who she was.

    This week's FALCON CREST contains Soap Land's most embarrassing moments to date. After a fight with her parents, Vicky decides to leave home so Lance hooks her up with Diana, an aspiring actress who lives in San Francisco. (Not to get bogged down in continuity, but it does seem odd that Vicky would trust Lance so readily just a few weeks after she witnessed him stab her boyfriend with a broken bottle.) Diana immediately starts grooming Vicky to star in a porno film. This is not part of some nefarious scheme of Lance's - the girl just happens to a procurer for the sex trade in the same way that the guy who picked Lucy up in "Hitchhike" just happened to be a gun toting lunatic (or the photographer whom Lucy has recently started modelling for just happens to start stalking her in this week's DALLAS).

    The scene where Vicky attends her first acting class and starts earnestly improvising with the pornographer who is pretending to be her drama coach playing the role of her father is so cringeworthy I had to watch it through my fingers. The sight of Chase posing as an out of town pervert looking for "kinky stuff" was almost as toe curling.

    It's interesting to see how FALCON CREST depicts the real world - full of red lights, inflatable sex dolls and statistics on missing teenagers. The message seems to be that however gothic, twisted or claustrophobic life gets in the Tuscany Valley, the world outside of it is even worse.

    And this week's Soap Land Top 5 are …
    1 (1) KNOTS LANDING
    2 (3) DALLAS
    3 (2) DYNASTY
    4 (5) FALCON CREST
     
    Last edited: Sep 24, 2016
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  6. James from London

    James from London Soap Chat Mega Star

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    02/Feb/82: FLAMINGO ROAD: To Catch a Thief v. 03/Feb/82: DYNASTY: Blake's Blindness v. 05/Feb/82: DALLAS: My Father, My Son v. 05/Feb/82: FALCON CREST: Victims

    "When two people from different backgrounds try to be together, it can only mean trouble!" wails Alicia Sanchez to Skipper Weldon in FLAMINGO ROAD, before running away in tears. Alicia and Skipper aside, there are three couples in this week's Soap Land who fit this description - Steven and Sammy Jo in DYNASTY, Vicky and Mario in FALCON CREST, and Julio and Constance in FLAMINGO ROAD.

    On DYNASTY, Blake's dismayed reaction to the news of Steven's marriage to Sammy Jo is underlined by his own prejudice. "It's done," he sighs wearily. "We'll get used to her and she'll get used to us, and we'll train her to fit into the family." "Like you train your guard dogs or your servants?" snaps back Steven.

    For Vicky and Mario, it's an issue of race and class. Mario comes from a family of vineyard workers, "three generations back." Thanks to his college scholarship, he's the first member of his family with a chance at a better life. "You're really hung up on this ethnic thing," Vicky complains when he tells her he'd rather study than make out. (There's an interesting if unspoken, irony in the Giobertis giving up their fast-paced New York lifestyle to get back to nature in the Tuscany Valley, while the Nunuozes will do anything - including selling out to Angela - to give their son the opportunity to escape the valley.)

    This week's FLAMINGO ROAD (directed by Bill Duke, who also helmed last week's KNOTS) centres around an ingenious plot that plays on both class and race prejudices. A cat burglar breaks into Constance's bedroom and steals her jewellery. Julio Sanchez's fingerprints are found at the scene and Sheriff Titus, eager to get back at Field for hiring a Cubano as his aide, is only too happy to arrest him for the crime. Julio cannot be exonerated without his affair with Constance being exposed. Only Constance's mother Eudora, who learned of the affair in the last episode, knows the truth.

    There are plenty more secrets to be discovered in Soap Land this week. In the same way that Eudora overheard Constance and Julio, Sammy Jo eavesdrops on Steven and Alexis arguing over her claim that Blake is not Fallon's real father. Alexis, in turn, learns that the object of Fallon's affections is Nick Toscanni. And when she stakes out Nick's apartment, Fallon's suspicions are confirmed that the object of Nick's affections is Krystle. This discovery is mirrored by JR's detective in DALLAS keeping watch outside Sue Ellen's townhouse and then reporting back to him that Cliff Barnes has stayed there overnight.

    Neither Fallon nor JR wastes much time in passing on what they have learned. Fallon tells Alexis about Krystle, and JR breaks the news about Cliff to Afton. While Alexis immediately starts scheming against her nemesis, Afton refuses to get involved in JR's plan to bust up Cliff and Sue Ellen. Instead, she throws the news right back in his face. "I think you’re jealous," she tells him. "I think you’re jealous right out of your cotton picking gourd.” (There's no Song Wars for her to compete in, but Afton still wins Line of the Week for that little doozy.) But while Alexis's endgame is to break up a marriage, ("Not only are we going to get Krystle out of Nick's life, we're gonna get her out of Blake's life too," she assures Fallon) JR's is to put one back together ("I have a feelin' your mama's gonna be back on Southfork again real soon," he tells John Ross).

    To that end, there's a great little montage scene where JR scrambles about in the kiddy park with John Ross while Sue Ellen looks on tentatively, having a good time almost in spite of herself. New DALLAS has given me a new perspective on such scenes. I guess that back in the day, JR made such an impression on me as an anti-hero that seeing him behave as anything other than a despicable husband or father felt like a compromise - a dilution of the character rather than an expansion of it. Somehow, the depiction of JR in New DALLAS - his physical frailty, his emotional vulnerability and ultimately his death - have helped humanise the character for me, and now these older scenes resonate in a way they never did before. Similarly, Sue Ellen's vacillation over her relationships now seems to me plausible behaviour for a recent divorcee rather than merely the result of a writer-induced lobotomy to help facilitate the plot.

    JR and Fallon have both leapt to the conclusion that the relationships they're so concerned about - Sue Ellen's with Cliff, Nick's with Krystle - has been consummated, but the reality is that Nick and Cliff are each besotted by a woman who may be dependent on him, but cannot match the intensity of his feelings. Having made a similar assumption about Mitch and Evelyn Michaelson when she sees them in matching tennis whites, DALLAS's Lucy turns to Roger the photographer, who promptly kisses her in a scene so emotionally overheated it never fails to make me laugh.

    Another Soap Land trend: Field and Constance, Fallon and Jeff, and Blake and Krystle are all now occupying separate bedrooms. (For the first two couples, it's by mutual consent. Not so the latter, as this nifty little speech by Blake illustrates: "I can get hundreds of people to bring me a cup of coffee. I can snap my fingers and have a table set for two-hundred people. I can pick up the phone and I can have a government in South America fall. These are not things I need a wife for. I need a wife in my bed. Now is that what you're offering? Don't bother to answer.") If Ray and Donna Krebbs haven't yet entered the "separate rooms" stage, it's only because the DALLAS set designers have just gotten around to furnishing their house with one bedroom, let alone two. As an alternative, Donna goes off to Laredo to research her new book, more or less telling Ray to consider it a mini-separation. While she has yet to learn of his fling with Bonnie, Field has pretty much figured out by the end of this week's FLAMINGO ROAD that Constance is sleeping with Julio, but he doesn't really care. Meanwhile, Jeff continues to feign indifference about Fallon's affair (unaware that it's with Nick Toscanni and that he's dumped her).

    The fact that FLAMINGO ROAD is still in "story of the week" mode means that however much fun it is, there's a limit to how far an episode can go - whereas on DYNASTY, the emotional extremes feel almost boundless. As Blake rages against his blindness and his inability to bring the man responsible to justice, the programme - specifically, the music - rages with him. There's an underlying hysteria that pulsates throughout the episode.

    This week's FALCON CREST is rich in atmosphere. There's something wonderfully sinister about the way Lance casually dotes on his pet falcon in the family living room while brooding over his latest plot. This bird of prey/nefarious activity interface is mirrored in FLAMINGO ROAD by Michael Tyrone, who has his own exotic birds to pamper while he goes about seducing Lute-Mae Sanders for reasons as yet unclear.

    An ancient Soap Land curse decrees that the first woman of a series to conceive a child is doomed to miscarry. As it was with Pam Ewing, Karen Fairgate and Krystle Carrington, so it must now be with FALCON CREST's Emma who finds herself with child as a result of the episode where Turner Bates kidnapped/seduced her and then burst into flames. Lance's reaction ("She can't have this baby! Another grandchild - another heir!") echoes Alexis's to Krystle's pregnancy five weeks ago and JR's to Pam's back in the DALLAS mini-series. Only last week, the subject of unwelcome heirs came up again in DALLAS, during a discussion about Jock's will. "All of the heirs would be provided for," JR was told by his lawyer. "Your brothers could have sons and ... the will would provide for them also." "That could spread a hundred shares of stock pretty thin, couldn't it?" mused JR worriedly.

    Without the word itself being mentioned, Lance suggests that Emma be given an abortion. In contrast to DYNASTY's recent flirtation with the topic, the issue is dealt with by Angela in five little words: "That is never gonna happen." Ultimately, Lance's role in Emma's miscarriage follows more in JR's footsteps than Alexis's. He and Emma argue, there's a struggle and she falls. Yes, it's "Barbecue" all over again, but this time set at the top of a winery staircase rather than a hayloft.

    The subplot of this week's FALCON CREST deals with the immigrant vineyard workers being threatened with deportation lest they give into the demands of a protection racket. It's an interesting dilemma and one for which the episode offers no a pat solution. "As long as there's people without work permits willing to do more for less, they're going to be exploited," Gus Nunuoz tells Chase. "The men who do this are usually undocumented themselves. You can stop them for a while, but they always come back, like parasites feeding on their own kind." Nor does the show make a judgement on the illegals themselves, which from a present day perspective seems kind of remarkable.

    Inevitably, however, it's the white man who comes to the rescue, with Chase giving Mario the courage he needs to speak out against the ringleader (the second of this week's Soap Land Latinos to be named Julio). As its title suggests, the episode largely depicts its non-white characters as helpless victims. The same might be said of the wrongly accused Julio in this week's FLAMINGO ROAD, but there are more interesting shades of grey in his case. Julio is portrayed less as a victim to be rescued than as a pawn to be fought over by Titus, Constance and Field, all of whom are motivated by their own self-interests. And the fact that Julio himself is hardly blameless - he is sleeping with his boss's wife while hypocritically condemning his sister for her relationship with a white man - makes him a juicier character than his saintly counterparts in the Tuscany Valley.

    FALCON CREST's Sheriff Tobias moonlights this week as Blake's ophthalmologist in DYNASTY. "I was detained at a convention in Los Angeles," he explains to Blake when he arrives late for their appointment. (Translation: "I got stuck looking for Vicky Gioberti in a weird porno-themed episode of FALCON CREST.") In neither role is he able to offer much practical help. Having diagnosed Blake's blindness as "a severe psychological trauma brought on by the accident," he is unable to say when or if his sight will return. He has no words of comfort for Chase in FALCON CREST either. "It just doesn't seem fair," says Chase, referring to the ongoing protection racket. "Not much up here is," the sheriff shrugs.

    And this week's Soap Land Top 4 are …
    1 (3) DYNASTY
    2 (2) DALLAS
    3 (4) FALCON CREST
    4 (-) FLAMINGO ROAD
     
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  7. James from London

    James from London Soap Chat Mega Star

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    09/Feb/82: FLAMINGO ROAD: The Explosion v. 10/Feb/82: DYNASTY: The Hearing v. 11/Feb/82: KNOTS LANDING: Possibilities v. 12/Feb/82: DALLAS: Anniversary v. 12/Feb/82: FALCON CREST: For Love or Money

    This week's FLAMINGO ROAD begins with characters reacting to Skipper's anti-gambling editorial in The Clarion. Michael Tyrone, worried that the bad publicity will jeopardise his gaming bill, is far from pleased. There's a certain irony to the future Richard Channing having to battle a newspaper. Meanwhile, on DYNASTY, Blake Carrington has the opposite problem. Having lobbied for a senate investigation into Logan Rhinewood - the man he believes has blinded him - he is hugely frustrated to learn that the subsequent committee hearing will be closed to the press.

    I've never understood the precise nature of this hearing, but it seems to be a grander, more bad-tempered variation on the one that delved into JR's involvement in the Asian revolution at the end of last season's DALLAS. Weirdly, this hearing is chaired by DALLAS's Harve Smithfield. Perhaps he was still smarting from the ticking off he received from Miss Ellie three weeks ago when he accepted an afternoon's work on the Ewings' rival show.

    Back on F'LINGO RD, Richard Channing - I mean, Michael Tyrone - threatens to withdraw his business from Truro County unless Sheriff Titus can find a way to silence The Clarion. Titus's solution is simple - he pays someone to blow up the newspaper office. As with DYNASTY's equivalent explosion three weeks ago, a main character is blinded. Unlike Blake Carrington, however, currently suffering "hysterical blindness caused by a terrible shock", Skipper Weldon's injuries are unequivocally physical - he is diagnosed with "severe eye damage". (Still, compared to Titus's last unintentional victim, Skipper's fiancee, who burnt to death when he set the mill on fire in the pilot episode, Skipper himself got off pretty easy.)

    "You're on your own for the first time. You're not used to it," Clayton tells Sue Ellen in this week's DALLAS, but his words are equally applicable to Karen in KNOTS LANDING. "I'm alone, but not single," is how she weepily (but amusingly) describes herself as she struggles to come to terms with the idea of dating again. Following the triple whammy of "The Rose and the Briar", "The Three Sisters" and "Power Play", this week's KNOTS feels at first like a bit of an anti-climax, but gradually develops into a sweet and interesting, if low-key, episode. Ginger's burning desire to become a singer (encouraged by Digger Barnes's former nephew Jimmy, now an up and coming record producer) comes out of nowhere, but shows a freshly assertive and stubborn side to her character (as well as a surprisingly attacking singing style reminiscent of her real life boyfriend Warren Zevon). Just like Chase on FALCON CREST a few weeks ago, Kenny isn't happy with his wife's newfound ambition, but his attempts to reach an end-of-episode compromise the way Giobertis did prove unsuccessful.

    Over on DALLAS, Bobby has the same dilemma in reverse, in that he's trying to encourage his wife back to work (as part of his ongoing efforts to prevent Pam discovering Christopher's true parentage). "There are places where women can bring their children to work," Liz Craig informs him. The recording studio where Ginger sings her heart out is one, the aerobics studio Bobby purchases for Pam is another. Following Karen at Knots Landing Motors, this makes Pam Soap Land's second "instant businesswoman" of the season.

    A red sports car features prominently in both KNOTS and FALCON CREST this week. In KNOTS, it's the vehicle of choice for Karen's suitor Charles and an indication to the neighbours of what a good catch he is. (Abby refers to him as "the dashing man in the sports car".) It also prompts the most touching line of the episode: "Don't let him drive too fast," pleads Michael quietly, just before Karen and Charles leave on a date. FALCON CREST, meanwhile, opens with Lance driving his red Corvette very fast, a relatively unfazed Angela in the passenger seat. He is driving the same car when he accidentally runs a young cyclist, Lori, off the road and promptly falls in love with her. Lori's bike-riding symbolises the freedom Lance can never have unless he breaks free of Falcon Crest and the lifestyle that goes with it, which is represented by the Corvette.

    This episode also serves as our introduction to vineyardist Carlo Agretti. Angela calmly informs Lance that he is to marry Carlo's daughter Melissa in order to form an alliance between their two families. This kind of arrangement is nothing new in Soap Land: the unions of Lucy and Kit in DALLAS, Fallon and Jeff in DYNASTY and Constance and Field in FLAMINGO ROAD were all regarded as mergers made in Heaven by their respective families. In each of those cases, however, some consideration was given to the bride and groom's happiness. Not so here: Angela is as indifferent to the way Lance feels about Melissa as she is to his newfound love for Lori. (Lance and Lori's hopes of a future together in "For Love or Money" last about as long as Cliff and Sue Ellen's in the DALLAS Season 1 episode of the same name.)

    Disability, an uncommon subject in a place as glamorous as Soap Land, crops up throughout this week's episodes. FLAMINGO ROAD and DYNASTY each now features a blind man, while FALCON CREST's central guest character, Elizabeth Bradbury, has spent the last four decades in a wheelchair, the victim of a hit and run accident when she was eighteen. "I think the rest of us are just crippled in other ways," says Julia darkly. Eventually, we learn that it was Angela "and her deadly blue convertible" that were responsible for crippling Elizabeth. There is no explanation given for the accident and Angela expresses no remorse. Interestingly, it's the lack of detail that makes the revelation so powerful. All we know is that Angela's crime went undetected, that her brother Jason abandoned Elizabeth, his childhood sweetheart, in her hour of need and that he never forgave himself.

    The final scene in three of this week's soaps revolves around an inanimate object: a letter in DYNASTY, a videotape in DALLAS and a tape recording in FALCON CREST. Alexis and Angela each use the object to distort the truth in the hopes of destroying a relationship, while JR deploys his to rekindle one. "Why do so many frustrated wives end up in bed with their shrinks? Ask your wife," says the anonymous letter Alexis has Fallon read to her father. "Who in hell needs Chase Gioberti? … I don't have a son," states Jason Gioberti on the tape Angela plays for Chase. "From Austin, we have Sue Ellen Shepard - twenty years old, five-foot seven-and-a-half inches," announces the host of the 1967 Miss Texas beauty contest on the video JR shows to his ex-wife before moving in for the kiss. Romantic as he is in this scene, JR still finds time for a little relationship-wrecking this week, as he arranges for Donna to find Ray in bed with another woman. Meanwhile, Evelyn Michaelson's lie that she and Mitch are sleeping together sends Lucy scuttling into the arms of Roger Larsen. By contrast, Abby's designs on Gary are put on hold in this week's KNOTS. In fact, they never even appear in the same scene.

    The friction between Chase and Angela moves up a notch at the end of this week's FALCON CREST. "You win at any cost, don't you?" says Chase after Angela has played the tape of his father to him. Angela responds by reciting details about Maggie's childhood. The shocking realisation then dawns on Chase: "My God, you've started a file on my wife!" It's a terrific moment.

    Echoes of earlier works reverberate throughout this week's Soap Land. FALCON CREST contains traces of Edgar Allen Poe (Chase discovers a walled up room containing books full of his father's tormented writings) and WHATEVER HAPPENED TO BABY JANE? (Angela cripples a woman in a car accident, then allows suspicion to fall on her mentally unstable sibling). On DYNASTY, Alexis and Sammy Jo's chance encounter at the furriers could be a scene from George Cukor's 1939 picture THE WOMEN, and while the episode's climax may lack logic, (why do Alexis and Fallon go to the trouble of sending a missive in ransom-note lettering to a blind man? And why does Fallon think that informing Blake of his wife's supposed infidelity will break up her relationship with Nick?) the sheer melodrama of its execution - the long anguished walk Fallon takes up to her father's room, the moment when Blake regains his sight and sees the letter in his hand - evokes those delirious Douglas Sirk pictures of the late 40s, in particular MAGNIFICENT OBSESSION - which just happened to star one Angela Channing as a woman blinded after being hit by a car ...

    And this week's Soap Land Top 5 are …
    1 (3) FALCON CREST
    2 (2) DALLAS
    3 (1) DYNASTY
    4 (4) FLAMINGO ROAD
    5 (-) KNOTS LANDING
     
    Last edited: Sep 24, 2016
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  8. James from London

    James from London Soap Chat Mega Star

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    16/Feb/82: FLAMINGO ROAD: Chance of a Lifetime v. 17/Feb/82: DYNASTY: The Iago Syndrome v. 18/Feb/82: KNOTS LANDING: Reunion v. 19/Feb/82: DALLAS: Adoption v. 19/Feb/82: FALCON CREST: Family Reunion

    Having started off as Soap Land's ultimate outcast, Lane Ballou this week enters its inner circle by becoming Mrs. Sam Curtis of Flamingo Road. "Flamingo Road," she sighs happily. "Funny, three years ago I got itchy feet if I had to spend two nights in the same town. Now I don't ever wanna leave!" It's an indication of how her importance within the show has diminished that her and Sam's wedding generates so little controversy (save for Constance's prediction that the ceremony will "probably have all the dignity of two cats matin' in the alley"). The highlight is a sweet moment where Field congratulates his former love on her big day - the kind of scene that might have taken place in DALLAS had Bobby lived to see Pam marry Mark, complete with Jenna No.1 glaring possessively in the background.

    Lane might be joining the establishment, but others in Soap Land are getting out. On DYNASTY, Nick Toscanni turns his back on the lucrative world of psychiatry, or as he describes it, "babysitting for spoiled rich wives or spoiled athletes - just not my idea of what a doctor's all about", in favour of a more modestly paid hospital job. Over on DALLAS, while Sue Ellen finds herself being drawn back into the bosom of the Ewing family - she even accepts an invitation to dinner at Southfork - Ray is headed in the opposite direction: "I'm cutting my ties with the Ewings," he announces. In the same week that Krystle Carrington rejects Blake's "sad world, filled with manipulation and deception", Ray has also "had a belly full of the high and mighty … I'm gonna stop pretending to be something I'm not." Krystle tells Blake that she's going back to Ohio "where people are just what they are, not wearing a dozen faces." "She doesn't have a fancy background," says Ray of girlfriend Bonnie. "She's got no money. She doesn't have an important last name." "Common people, as Alexis would say," says Krystle, referring to her friends back home. "Plain folk" is Donna's ironic description of Bonnie.

    In the event, Krystle and Ray each have a last minute change of heart (indicated by Krystle deliberately missing her flight and Ray decisively putting the cap back on his bottle of booze). So does Sue Ellen - but in the opposite direction. This week's DALLAS ends with her throwing the gift of a necklace back at JR and branding their relationship "sick, sick, sick!" On KNOTS LANDING, meanwhile, Laura begins the episode by telling Scooter (now her lover) that she too is getting out, i.e. divorcing Richard. By the end of the hour, she has discovered that she's pregnant. How this will impact her decision to end her marriage is not yet clear.

    Having debated Flaubert with Lucy Ewing and cheered on Steven Carrington's opposite number during his stock car race, Victoria Principal's first husband resurfaces in Soap Land yet again, this time sporting a three-piece suit on FLAMINGO ROAD and chuckling politely when Field Carlyle informs him that it is illegal in Oklahoma to drive with a cow in the front seat of your vehicle but not in the back.

    Skipper's reaction to his blindness on FLAMINGO ROAD is like a watered down version of Blake's on DYNASTY. Where Blake ranted and raged at everyone he came into contact with - his doctors, the justice system, his family, his servants - Skipper just gets a bit sulky about using his cane. Where Blake treated his wife like dirt, Skipper almost breaks up with his girlfriend, but then changes his mind. Where Blake campaigned for a senate investigation into the man he believed blinded him, Skipper snaps at chief suspect Elmo Tyson, (framed by Titus) then immediately apologises.

    Blake's sight is now fully restored, but he continues to fake his disability just as Skipper's sister Constance did her paralysis at the beginning of the season. While Constance's deception was fun, Blake's feels borderline Shakespearean, (hence the episode title) as he manipulates those around him whilst observing their reactions from behind his blind man's glasses.

    A week after Pam Ewing gets into the aerobics business, the Carrington exercise room makes its debut appearance. With VP and Joanie both breaking out the leotards and leg warmers, it's time for Soap Land's first round of Lycra Wars - and Pam beats Alexis without breaking a sweat.

    And just as Bobby and Pam are awarded temporary custody of Christopher, DYNASTY also jumps on the adoption bandwagon. It isn't an adorable little newborn Blake Carrington wishes to claim as his own, however, but his fully grown estranged son-in-law Jeff. Nowhere else in the entire history of fact or fiction have I heard of one adult male trying to adopt another adult male, but no one in DYNASTY seems to find it unusual.

    This week's Soap Land boasts several strong female confrontation scenes - between Krystle and Alexis on DYNASTY ("I think the reason you moved back here is the same reason Willie Sutton robbed banks - because that's where the money is!"), Karen and Victoria Hill on KNOTS LANDING ("Cut the motherhood stuff, will ya, Karen? It's a biological function, not a holy calling!"), Donna and Bonnie on DALLAS ("Now that we know what you are, let's haggle over your fee!"), and Angela and Jacqueline on FALCON CREST ("You'd have killed him with your bare hands before you'd have let him have any part of Falcon Crest - Power, that's all you love."). However, the week's two strongest showdowns are between men, and each feels like it's been a long time coming. On DYNASTY, after some prevarication, Nick Toscanni at long last admits to Blake that reason he came to Denver was to avenge his brother's death ("One word from you could have saved my brother's life! One word!") while on DALLAS, Ray finally relinquishes his status as Jock's son by signing his voting shares in Ewing Oil over to JR ("You never loved him." "Didn't I?" "Not the way I did."). In each case, there's a physical barrier between the men which enhances the tension of the scene: On DYNASTY, it's those dark glasses behind which Blake conceals his watchful eyes; on DALLAS, its the bars of the jail cell where JR has arranged for Ray to spend the night. At one point in their scene, Nick holds the flame from his cigarette lighter up to Blake's face - Blake's eyes do not flicker. By contrast, JR flinches nervously as he hands the voting document through the bars of the cell for Ray to sign, as if Ray were a caged animal that might suddenly yank his arm off.

    For all of Blake's clever manipulations, he remains curiously blind (so to speak) to his ex-wife's scheming. For instance, it doesn't seem to occur to him that Alexis might be responsible for the anonymous letter he has received. When she kisses him on the lips, playfully "taking advantage" of his apparent condition, he simply smiles. Like Sue Ellen blinking back tears as JR declares his love for her on this week's DALLAS, he is willing to believe that his ex-spouse is a changed person. Such are the conventions of Soap Land - after all, JR's and Alexis's schemes to win back their respective exes would stand no chance at all of working were Sue Ellen and Blake not so willing to forgive and/or forget - at least until such a time as the plot dictates otherwise. (For Sue Ellen, that time comes later in the ep when Bobby informs her that Christopher is Kristin's biological child.) What sets KNOTS LANDING's equivalent storyline - Abby's slow seduction of Gary - apart is that Gary isn't conveniently blinded to Abby's machinations in the same way. Instead, he looks her straight in the eye and sees what we see. "What are you doing?" he asks her. "Do you know what you're doing, or does it just come so naturally to you, you don't realise you're doing it? … Are you trying to be persuasive or seductive? You talk about a business venture as if it were a tryst. Your idea of being convincing is to stand very close and wet your lips … I'm getting a little tired of you thinking you can manipulate me by being sexy." He's right, of course, but that's not the whole story. "Do you want me to stop?" Abby asks him at the end of the scene. "I didn't say that," he replies. That these characters are smart enough to call each other so incisively on their behaviour makes the writing smart and incisive too.

    As their episode titles suggest, this week's KNOTS and FALCON CREST have a lot in common. KNOTS' "Reunion" is between Karen and her college roommate Victoria Hill, aka "the greatest designer in New York". ("She knows Yoko Ono!" marvels Diana.) FALCON CREST's "Family Reunion" is between the Giobertis and Chase's mother Jacqueline Perrault, now a multi-millionairess living in France. ("We'll have to have Prince Charles and Lady Di over," wisecracks Maggie, having scrubbed the house in preparation for her visit.) Both women disrupt their hosts' carefully laid plans - Victoria by arriving a day late, Jacqueline hours early - thereby catching them unawares. Each look down on their new surroundings. "How can you stand it?" asks Victoria, regarding life in a cul-de-sac. "Here, wine is a business, and in France it's an art," says Jacqueline sniffily.

    Diana Fairgate and Vicky Gioberti are each mightily impressed by the glamorous older woman in their midst, who encourages them to spread their wings and realise their potential. Victoria declares Diana "much too hip to languish in the suburbs" while Jacqueline tells her granddaughter how "I left my parents' home in France as soon as I found something better." When Victoria and Jacqueline offer to help the Fairgates and Giobertis relocate to New York and France respectively, Diana and Vicky jump at the idea. While Karen goes so far as to put her house and business on the market, Chase will not consider leaving Falcon Crest, in spite of Jacqueline repeatedly warning him how dangerous Angela is. When Karen changes her mind about leaving Knots Landing, Diana rebels and insists that she will accept Victoria's invitation on her own. Likewise Vicky. In both cases, a sense of family prevails before the end credits with both girls agreeing to stay put. Along the way, Karen and Victoria have a chance to air long held grievances, ("You always use my life as a yardstick to measure yours! You've been competing with me since the day I met you!") as do Jacqueline and Chase, ("I resented you for so long …" "I suppose we didn't like each other very much") before reconciling and bidding a fond adieu. Victoria says her good-byes in the Fairgate driveway. "I hate airport scenes," she explains. Watching the final moments of this week's FALCON CREST, you get the feeling Lana Turner loves them.

    Following Teddy Becker seven episodes ago, Victoria Hill is the second New Yorker from Karen's past, now leading a glamorous but lonely (i.e. childless) life, to arrive in Seaview Circle and promptly fall head over heels for Diana. With Karen emerging the wiser, happier party in each of these episodes, it's hard not to feel KNOTS values suburban motherhood over other lifestyle choices. However, "Reunion" is nuanced enough not to become too smug or self-congratulatory - and considering how soon and how fast things are going to start changing in the cul-de-sac, maybe KNOTS is allowed to celebrate itself just this once.

    During Karen and Victoria's big confrontation scene, Michele Lee's and Jessica Walters' performances reminded me of Shirley MacLaine's and Anne Bancroft's in the 1977 movie THE TURNING POINT, i.e. two scenery-chewing Broadway actresses going at each other hammer and tongs. When Angela and Jacqueline meet at Jason's graveside on FALCON CREST, however, the effect is pure Old Hollywood. The comparison Julia makes between the two characters ("Jacqueline's been living in France all these years enjoying the finest things that life has to offer [while Angela's] been here, obsessed with Falcon Crest") captures the contrast between the actresses as well: Lana Turner, every inch the pampered, chauffeur-driven MGM star, and Jane Wyman, the no-nonsense, disciplined Warner Brothers actress.

    While "Family Reunion" feels like an important, dramatic instalment in the FALCON CREST saga, it's also somewhat deceiving. By the time Jacqueline leaves at the end of the episode, we're really no further on in the story. Her appearance may have opened up old wounds in much the same way Alexis's return did on DYNASTY, but unlike Alexis, all she has revealed about the past is that Angela was dominant and Jason was weak - which is nothing we haven't already known since the very first episode. It's a clever sleight of hand on the part of the writers.

    In this week's Soap Land Top 5 ... there's not much to choose between DALLAS and DYNASTY. Now each seven episodes away from the end of the season, both move up a notch in terms of drama this week, with one great scene after another. Again, it's the music that defines the differences between them: DYNASTY's relentless, exciting score driving everything forward, while DALLAS's imbues its soapy story-telling with poignancy and gravitas. DYNASTY is cinematic and sweeping and full of grand entrances; DALLAS is more televisual - homely and intimate and all about the close ups.

    1 (3) DYNASTY
    2 (2) DALLAS
    3 (1) FALCON CREST
    4 (5) KNOTS LANDING
    5 (4) FLAMINGO ROAD
     
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  9. Ked

    Ked Soap Chat Enthusiast

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    I just wanna comment on that, and that your observation of the scenario isn't entirely fair. After all, Blake was trying to keep both women from ending a life (Fallon the life of her child, and Claudia her own). Besides, Fallon decided on her own that she couldn't go through with it, she didn't need a man to convince her otherwise.
     
  10. James from London

    James from London Soap Chat Mega Star

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    23/Feb/82: FLAMINGO ROAD: Double Exposure v. 24/Feb/82: DYNASTY: The Party v. 26/Feb/82: DALLAS: The Maelstrom v. 26/Feb/82: FALCON CREST: The Candidate

    There’s an unusual sense of optimism in the air in this week's Soap Land. DALLAS begins with the Ewings toasting Christopher’s adoption while Fallon, now blissfully in love with Nick Toscanni, spends much of this week’s DYNASTY planning a party in honour of Steven and Sammy Jo’s marriage. Blake and Krystle are back together, Ray Krebbs has turned over a new leaf and FLAMINGO ROAD opens with Sam and Lane enjoying an idyllic honeymoon. (Conversely, this week's FALCON CREST begins with a cold-blooded murder.)

    Clothing wise, the Carrington party is DYNASTY's equivalent of Victoria Hill's fashion show in last week's KNOTS, with the female characters decked out more glamorously and/or ridiculously than we've ever previously seen them. One might say the outfits on KNOTS symbolised the tail end of the 70s - viewed from today's perspective they have a certain retro charm - while the gowns in this week's DYNASTY represent a large step towards what we now regard as the quintessential '80s look: opulent, garish and borderline tasteless. In their shiny, boldly coloured party dresses, the DYNASTY women resemble various Quality Street wrappers, with Claudia, appropriately enough, as the nutty purple one (aka everyone's favourite). The women of DALLAS, meanwhile, continue to dress like office workers. The frock Lucy wears under her fur coat while sprawled on a car bonnet during a photo shoot, for instance, could just as easily belong to Sly or Phyllis.

    With their marriages each now under repair, the time has come for Ray on DALLAS and Krystle on DYNASTY to bid farewell to their respective love interests, Bonnie and Nick. While both goodbye scenes are equally effective, the contrast between them helps to illustrate the difference between the two soaps at this point. Krystle and Nick's farewell, which takes place against the backdrop of the Carrington party with Blake (still pretending to be blind) eavesdropping from a distance, is exciting and glamorous, the dialogue fraught with melodrama. ("You're still the most beautiful woman I've ever known, the most desirable!” "I can't believe that routine you handed me - those lies ... Thank God I never let you touch me!") Meanwhile, the scene where Ray ends his relationship with Bonnie at the Longview Bar is down-home, poignant and bittersweet. ("I feel terrible about using about using you. It was wrong. I know it." "Listen, your wife isn't one of my favourite people ... but if it can work for you, for keeps, then you can't beat it.")

    There again, there are times where DALLAS and DYNASTY seem to occupy the same dramatic territory. A simmering Sue Ellen suddenly smashing the sculpture given to her by JR against a wall, Fallon losing control of her car as Alexis confesses she doesn’t know who her father is - both actions are the result of emotions too large to be contained spilling over into a kind of destruction that is riveting to watch.

    Two formerly adulterous affairs are rekindled this week: between Alexis and her ex-husband's nemesis Cecil in DYNASTY, and between Sue Ellen and her ex-husband's nemesis Cliff in DALLAS. Neither party keeps their relationship a secret - Alexis brings Cecil to the Carrington party as her date while Sue Ellen delights in calling Cliff in front of JR ("I just wanted to tell you how much I enjoyed being with you last night").

    Whereas Alexis appears to take pleasure in her time with Cecil purely for its own sake, ("Isn't it wonderful how afternoon lovemaking still hasn't lost its charm?") Sue Ellen is clearly out for vengeance ("Does Cliff know he's your way of getting back at JR?" Clayton asks her). Nor is she the only lover in Soap Land with an ulterior motive. Just as Field falls for Sandie Swanson in FLAMINGO ROAD, it becomes clear (to the audience at least) that Sandie is allied with Michael Tyrone and that the affair is part of some mysterious master plan of his. Concurrently, Field's wife Constance misleads her lover Julio about the strength of her feelings for him in order to persuade him to spy on Field and Sandie. On DYNASTY, Claudia more or less picks up Jeff at the Carrington party in order to spy on him while Krystle accuses Nick of using Fallon, calling her his "new victim". And back on DALLAS, Lucy publicly kisses Roger's face off just to spite estranged husband Mitch. In this context, Bonnie's sad little question to Ray ("You don't think I know the difference between this and somethin' real?") feels particularly apposite.

    There are two jewellery thefts in Soap Land this week. On DYNASTY, Sammy Jo steals Fallon's diamond and emerald necklace, leading to a showdown where she blurts out A Big Family Secret. Meanwhile, the subplot of this week's FALCON CREST focuses on the repercussions of Emma’s attempt at some Lilimae-style shoplifting from a jewellery store.

    This week's DALLAS and DYNASTY both end with a long held paternity-related secret coming to light. After a drunken Sammy Jo informs her that Blake ain't her real daddy, Fallon takes her mother for a drive and demands to hear the truth. "Blake could be your father," admits a nervous Alexis as the car swerves dramatically all over the road, "or … " "Or, Mother?" "Cecil Colby!" Over on DALLAS, the equivalent revelation takes place against a far more tranquil, domestic backdrop. Bobby, Pam and Ellie are cooing over Baby Christopher in the Southfork living room when a call from a lawyer in New York tips JR off to the possibility that Bobby and Pam's son and Kristin's baby are one and the same. JR instructs the lawyer to dig deeper. As he looks over at Bobby and his little family, Larry Hagman's sweet-but-sinister delivery of the line "I'm mighty interested in that little baby" carries as much drama and excitement as the DYNASTY car crash following Alexis's confession. (Well, maybe almost as much.)

    Following Claudia and Lindsay's at the end of Season 1, Alexis and Fallon's is DYNASTY's second mother/daughter car accident. However, if the sight of a heavily pregnant woman slumped unconscious behind the wheel of a crashed car prompts memories of any previous Soap Land storyline, it is, of course, Sue Ellen's at the end of DALLAS's first season.

    This week’s FALCON CREST is a richly satisfying stand-alone instalment which marries the plots of two early DALLAS episodes, "Election” (Chase runs for County Supervisor against a candidate owned by Angela) and "The Dove Hunt” (one of the little people whose life has been casually destroyed by Angela is driven to violent revenge).

    In a week where DYNASTY starts to lose objectivity about its own characters - Fallon, once a source of cynicism and wisecracks that served to undercut the pomposity of the Carrington world, now talks with wide-eyed sincerity about how proud she is to be Blake's daughter - FALCON CREST portrays a murderer and hostage taker as an ordinary, decent family man driven to desperate measures by Angela Channing. The series might be fascinated by Angela, but it does not yet celebrate her.

    The episode also serves to illustrate the difference between Angela and her Soap Land counterparts. The Jock Ewing we’re introduced to when DALLAS begins may have committed an awful lot of wrongs in the course of building his empire, but since his retirement has mellowed somewhat - while JR's own ambitions are tempered (to an extent) by the rest of his family. On DYNASTY, the global scale of Denver Carrington's business means that the majority of Blake's ruthlessness (at least professionally) is alluded to rather than shown on screen. Unlike Jock, Angela has not mellowed. Unlike JR, her actions are not constrained by more powerful members of her family. And the human cost of her business practices, unlike Blake Carrington’s, can be seen in the very valley in which she lives.

    And this week's Soap Land Top 4 are …

    1 (2) DALLAS
    2 (3) FALCON CREST
    3 (1) DYNASTY
    4 (5) FLAMINGO ROAD
     
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  11. James from London

    James from London Soap Chat Mega Star

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    02/Mar/82: FLAMINGO ROAD: The Dedication v. 03/Mar/82: DYNASTY: The Baby v. 04/Mar/82: KNOTS LANDING: Cricket v. 05/Mar/82: DALLAS: The Prodigal

    Just as the Carrington party is winding down at the beginning of this week’s DYNASTY, the Weldons throw FLAMINGO ROAD’s biggest bash to date, complete with red carpets, roulette tables and valet parking. The glittering gold-coloured dress Constance wears even resembles Krystle’s.

    At the DYNASTY do last week, Jeff discovered the identity of his wife’s lover when he caught Fallon and Nick Toscanni in an embrace. At this week's Weldon party, Julio Sanchez makes a clean breast of his relationship with Constance to her husband. “Your wife and I are in love,” he informs him solemnly. “Julio,” Field shrugs, "my wife and I have an agreement. We are free to have our affairs.” Back on DYNASTY, Jeff acknowledges to Claudia the similarly open nature of his marriage ("I'm sure you've guessed what our situation is like at the house”) before ending up in bed with her. Later, after learning of the birth of his son, Jeff confesses his dalliance to Fallon who is as un-phased as Field was: "That's what you need, Jeff. Another woman, not me.” Likewise, when Julio insists that he wants to marry Constance, Field goes so far as to give him his blessing. “That’s fine with me,” he tells him.

    Meanwhile, Skipper’s blindness having brought out her possessive side, Eudora Weldon has done her best to drive a wedge between her son and his girlfriend Alicia. This week, Alicia resorts to gatecrashing the Weldon party to spend some time with him. Alexis Carrington, meanwhile, makes Eudora’s motherly interference look positively benign when, in one of DYNASTY's all-time funniest scenes, she offers her daughter-in-law Sammy Jo $20,000 to walk out on her marriage. "Look, I love Steven,” Sammy Jo protests. "From now on, every word you utter is going to cost you $1,000,” Alexis replies crisply. "You've just said four words. That's now $16,000.” Alexis’s negotiation tactics in this scene echo Donna Krebbs' in DALLAS three weeks ago when, having offered Ray’s girlfriend Bonnie $15,000 to leave the state, she attempted to haggle her down to $10,000.

    Prior to that scene between Donna and Bonnie, Soap Land’s girl-on-girl fight action had been pretty minimal. Pam slapped Sue Ellen in DALLAS Season 1 (“I’ve always thought you were just a gold digger anyway”), Laura slapped Abby in KNOTS LANDING Season 2 (“You are such a slut”), and that was about it. If Donna and Bonnie’s drink-in-the-face/sock-to-the-jaw encounter upped the ante, then this week's knock-down drag-out cat-fight between Alexis and Krystle, with hair pulling and feathers flying, takes the concept to a whole new level. It’s probably Soap Land’s first bona fide visual set piece as well. Sure, we’ve seen the guys duking it in barroom brawls before, (the Ewing boys in “Dove Hunt” and Gary going ballistic with a pool cue in “Bottom of the Bottle” spring most easily to mind, while Matthew Blaisdel’s riggers engaged in a fair few punch-ups throughout DYNASTY’s first season), but those were all smaller parts of larger stories. Alexis and Krystle’s fight, on the other hand, even though it does arise out of the action, (following Krystle's realisation that Alexis caused her miscarriage) ultimately feels like an event in and of itself. Even after repeated viewings, and with the stuntmen-in-wigs sections becoming ever more apparent on DVD, it still feels fun and exciting and different to anything that Soap Land has presented us with before.

    This week’s DALLAS also boasts its share of juicy confrontations - between Clayton and Afton, Afton and Sue Ellen, Cliff and Katherine, Katherine and JR - but the emphasis is more on talking heads than visual spectacle. Bobby responding to Jeff Farraday’s blackmail attempt by grabbing him by the collar and threatening his life is as close as the episode gets to physical violence.

    There’s an interesting parallel between Cliff’s showdown with Katherine in DALLAS and one between Field and Constance in FLAMINGO ROAD. Katherine is angry that Cliff has demanded complete autonomy to run Wentworth Tool and Die any way he sees fit. "Look, my father built this company, dammit!" she snaps at him. "I'm not gonna see it destroyed because Cliff Barnes happens to be obsessed ... with JR Ewing.” Meanwhile, Field is pissed at Constance for dealing with Michael Tyrone’s sinister syndicate buddies on his behalf. “Look, Field, you’re the one who wants to be governor,” she reminds him. "Now I just had to make a few little promises along the way to make sure you get there.” It’s then time for both Cliff and Field to assert themselves. "I'm the president of Wentworth Tool and Die now and nobody is gonna stop me from running this company exactly the way I please!” Cliff informs his half-sister. "It’s my career, Constance,” Field tells his wife, "and as far as that’s concerned, you are out of the picture … You don’t have anything to say about anything.”

    Cliff and Field incur the wrath of these big-haired women at their peril - for it doesn’t take long for Katherine and Constance to each join forces with an even more powerful and dangerous man, JR Ewing and Michael Tyrone respectively.

    KNOTS LANDING aside, each of this week's soaps end with the sense of a hunter advancing on their prey, armed with either new information or a new ally. JR and Alexis both make a discovery based on legal documentation, or the lack thereof. PI Morgan Hess informs Alexis that Krystle’s divorce papers from her first marriage to Mark Jennings were never filed, thereby invalidating her marriage to Blake, while a copy of Christopher Shepard’s birth certificate all but confirms to JR that he is the real father of Bobby and Pam’s adopted son. “I've got business with Mr. Jennings,” Alexis announces. “That baby’s here in Texas,” JR declares. Meanwhile, on FLAMINGO ROAD, Constance kisses Michael Tyrone passionately and demands “my husband’s head on a platter.”

    As one Soap Land relative, Krystle’s niece Sammy Jo, leaves DYNASTY, another, Karen Fairgate’s brother Joe, arrives in KNOTS LANDING. Joe is the third, and thankfully least needy, visitor from Karen’s New York past to show up this season. And following Sammy Jo and FALCON CREST’s Emma, the titular guest character in “Cricket" becomes Soap Land’s third jewel thief in two weeks, pilfering a few items from Abby’s dressing table.

    Cricket and Olivia go on to play a junior version of Soap Land’s favourite game - “Did they fall or were they pushed?” - which entails Olivia landing at the bottom of a flight of stairs after a tussle with Cricket. Compared to the miscarriages of Emma Channing and Pam Ewing, Constance Carlyle’s broken back and the deaths of Jason Gioberti, Julie Grey, Kristin Shepard and Ted Dinard, Olivia gets off pretty lightly with a fractured arm.

    After Olivia, Kristin, Annie Fairgate and those three ghostly sisters, Cricket is Val’s seventh Lucy substitute in less than three seasons (or eighth, if you count Lucy herself). On DALLAS, meanwhile, Pam once again becomes Lucy’s Val replacement when she stands up to creepy Roger on her behalf. It’s the most assertive scene Victoria Principal has had in over a year. Pam’s FLAMINGO ROAD counterpart, Lane Curtis née Ballou, also steps out of the shadows this week when she finally fulfils the vow she made at the beginning of the series and moves onto Flamingo Road itself.

    If the main plot of “Cricket” feels a little overfamiliar, it’s still worth it for the Van Ark/Shackelford/Harris dynamic. And the penultimate scene of the ep, where Val confronts Cricket’s step-father Rusty, and he is exposed as the season’s second heartbroken widower following Bill Medford, is more beautifully acted and touching than I ever realised before.

    And this week’s Soap Land Top 4 are …

    1 (1) DALLAS
    2 (3) DYNASTY
    3 (-) KNOTS LANDING
    4 (4) FLAMINGO ROAD
     
    Last edited: Sep 25, 2016
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  12. James from London

    James from London Soap Chat Mega Star

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    10/Mar/82: DYNASTY: Mother and Son v. 11/Mar/82: KNOTS LANDING: Best Intentions v. 12/Mar/82: DALLAS: Vengeance v. 12/Mar/82: FALCON CREST: House of Cards

    This week’s KNOTS LANDING and DYNASTY are notable in that they give more focus than usual to their respective third and fourth female lead characters, Laura Avery and Claudia Blaisdel. Laura’s journey from unhappy housewife to Seaview Circle’s first career woman has oft been acknowledged, albeit bitterly, by spouse Richard, and this week Jeff Colby pays tribute to Claudia, a former mental patient abandoned by her husband and child who is now single and working at Denver Carrington, by calling her "a woman who had the courage to make a new life for herself.” Both women now find themselves burdened by secrets that could jeopardise their hard-won independence and self-esteem: Laura is pregnant by one man and sleeping with another, while Claudia is being blackmailed by her new lover’s uncle into spying on him.

    Real life ex-spouses Michele Lee and James Farentino dispense similar you’re-gonna-regret-it baby-related advice this week, to Laura in KNOTS and Fallon in DYNASTY. “If you have the abortion without discussing it with Richard,” counsels Karen, "you’re going to regret it. Even if he never finds out about it, you’re gonna feel guilty and bitter.” Not to be outdone, DYNASTY’s Dr Nick delivers an even grimmer prognosis. “You've given birth to a son who's fighting for his life,” he tells Fallon. "If you refuse to see him before the surgery, if you LOSE him ... I guarantee you, emotionally, you'll never make it through the rest of your own life!"

    Jeff Colby and Richard Avery are repeatedly wrong-footed by the women in their lives in this week’s Soap Land. Reconciled to the fact that Fallon wants nothing to do with their newborn baby and that he is to raise the child alone, Jeff is shocked when she changes her mind after the baby survives his dangerous operation. “I still want the divorce,” Fallon tells him, “but I’m not gonna give the baby up and I can’t give you custody." "How unstable can you be about all of this?!” he shouts. Over on KNOTS, Richard is overjoyed when Laura tells him she’s pregnant, believing the baby to be the solution to all their marital problems. Only after she has allowed him to talk her into a reconciliation and even a vacation in France does Laura finally come clean, announcing that she plans to leave him and get an abortion.

    Both situations lead to violence - if not quite on the scale of what Alexis describes as “that little contretemps in my studio" in last week’s DYNASTY. ("In my world, we call it a fight,” counters Krystle, "a good, dirty, no holds barred catfight.”) Jeff vents his frustrations with Fallon by punching Nick, while Richard slaps Laura across the face. "You said abortion and I saw Jason,” he explains afterwards.

    The moment where Laura tells Richard she has decided to keep the baby is depicted very differently to Fallon's change of heart regarding her abortion earlier in the season. There’s no last-possible-minute melodrama, no gushing displays of emotion, there’s not even any musical score. Instead, there’s a kind of grown up, matter-of-fact honesty about the Averys' exchange. The scene is small and understated, the unspoken feelings messy and complex. In short, it feels like a scene from a genuine marriage.

    As this week’s KNOTS and DYNASTY progress, it is Richard's and Claudia's situations that start to merge. Both characters are wracked with guilt - Richard for mistreating his pregnant wife, Claudia after she is caught photographing secret files in Jeff's office. Over lunch with Karen, Richard vows to change his ways, but there’s already a manic quality to his behaviour. Meanwhile, Jeff returns from confronting his uncle to find a fragile Claudia preparing to resign from her job. Worse is to follow when he tells her that Matthew and Lindsay, just like Jock Ewing ten weeks ago, are missing presumed dead following an accident in the jungles of South America.

    The final scenes of both shows see Richard and Claudia returning to their empty homes, shrouded in darkness. Richard calls out to Laura, before realising that she has already taken their son and moved out. Claudia, meanwhile, helplessly bemoans the loss of her spouse and child (“Matthew, my Lindsay - gone”). The episodes end with Richard and Claudia sitting alone in the dark - him staring at Laura’s goodbye note, her at the gun Matthew once bought for her. “I’ll kill him,” she mutters, referring to Cecil Colby.

    Like DYNASTY, DALLAS also ends with a character speaking aloud in an empty room. Having received written confirmation that he is Christopher’s father, JR realises that he is in a position to blackmail Bobby into handing over his Ewing Oil voting shares. “And soon, my son,” he says, addressing a photograph of Josh Ross, "with your ten shares, I’ll have total control of Ewing Oil.” Where Claudia is traumatised, JR is triumphant - but both declarations sound equally ominous.

    A theme recurring throughout all of this week’s soaps is that of meddling mothers. It is Lilimae’s snooping in KNOTS that affords Abby the opportunity to get her hands on Val’s novel-to-be. (“It’s all about the Ewings of Dallas,” Lilimae tells her, "right down to the nastiest thing JR ever did.”) Meanwhile, Angela Channing, who has spent an entire season of FALCON CREST keeping disturbed daughter Emma prisoner for fear the truth of Jason’s death will surface, now schemes to marry grandson Lance off to Melissa Agretti. Conversely, on DYNASTY, Alexis tries to conceal her involvement in breaking up her son's marriage. Now it looks as though a season’s worth of maternal scheming is about to catch up with both Angela and Alexis. "It’s all slipping away, isn’t it?” observes Angela’s former husband Douglas. "This carefully constructed plan to keep the truth from coming out.” “I wanna talk about Alexis and one of her Alexis lies,” Steven snarls at his mother on DYNASTY. "What are you holding back to protect yourself?” For both mothers, attack proves the readiest means of defence. “I can’t trust any of you,” snaps Angela when she discovers her daughter Julia has taken Emma to see a psychotherapist behind her back. "I am sick to death of being hammered at by both of my children when all I've done since I've been back is to try and help you and Fallon!” Alexis yells at Steven.

    Despite their bravado, Alexis and Angela must each make a serious concession this week. Alexis is obliged to admit to Blake that Cecil Colby could be Fallon’s father ("It's not enough that you betray me, but that you betray me with him?!”) while Angela confides to Julia that Emma “murdered” Jason. Julia’s heartbroken reaction is as surprising as it is effective.

    Maternal interference is par the course for Lilimae, Alexis and Angela, but it is far more unusual for the matriarchs of DALLAS to involve themselves in their sons’ personal lives. Miss Ellie and Rebecca's uncharacteristic behaviour, therefore, helps impress upon the audience how grave the implications of the JR/Sue Ellen/Cliff triangle have become. “This is quite unlike you to question me about my personal life,” a twitchy Sue Ellen points out to her ex-mother-in-law. "Normally I wouldn’t,” Miss Ellie agrees, "but there's a lot more at stake than just your personal interests. Two whole families are involved.” Ellie's sentiments are echoed later in the episode by Rebecca. "I'm sorry to pry into your private business,” she tells son Cliff, "but I have to know - are you using [Sue Ellen] to get back at JR?”

    As Angela's and Alexis's schemes threaten to crash down around them, Abby’s and JR’s are just taking off. Their respective pawns, Val Ewing and Cliff Barnes, can scarcely believe their good fortune: Val’s glorified homework assignment is apparently good enough to warrant the attentions of a prestigious New York publisher, while an opportunity to get rich, prove himself to Sue Ellen and get back at JR seems to just fall into Cliff’s lap. Given the scale of some of JR’s previous masterplans (i.e. the ones involving South East Asia), suckering Cliff into a phoney oil deal feels a tad lightweight - due in part to the use of a cartoony Marilee Stone as his front woman - but the show manages to sell the drama of it, even if it isn’t, to quote Lilimae, "the nastiest thing JR ever did." Meanwhile, Val’s concerns about not telling Gary that the book she has written is "a thinly disguised expose of dirty dealings in the Ewing family” are mirrored by her sister-in-law Donna's in DALLAS, who worries about informing Miss Ellie of the dirty dealings involving Jock that she has uncovered whilst researching her new book.

    Several relationships come to an end this week (at least for now - does anything ever really end in Soap Land?). Jeff’s discovery of Claudia in his office effectively destroys their budding love affair, JR shaming Clayton over his feelings for Sue Ellen ("You're a fraud - call yourself a gentleman, her friend, her protector, and all the time you wanted her for yourself”) kills that relationship before it can even get going, Laura finishes her affair with Scooter prior to walking out on her marriage and Mitch Cooper follows her example on DALLAS by asking Lucy for a divorce. Cliff Barnes bucks the trend by asking Sue Ellen to marry him.

    As one classic soap triangle (JR/Sue Ellen/Cliff) escalates, another (Abby/Gary/Val) gathers pace and a third (Alexis/Blake/Krystle) falters badly. Meanwhile, a fourth commences on FALCON CREST with the arrival of Melissa Agretti (as played by an actress instead of a mute extra). It is clearly established in her first scene that while Melissa might be all but betrothed to dark prince Lance, it is his fair-haired cousin Cole in whom she is really interested.

    Young, beautiful, wilful and capricious, Melissa fits easily into the same “spoiled princess” bracket as Lucy, Fallon and Constance (although we’ve never seen Claude Weldon or Blake Carrington manhandle his daughter as roughly as Carlo Agretti does Melissa when he sees her with Cole in this week’s ep. From the edit, it’s unclear whether or not he actually strikes her.) However, the Soap Land character Melissa most resembles at this point is DALLAS’s Marilee Stone. Like Marilee, she purrs all her dialogue and makes everything sound like a come on. “Marilee, you are insatiable!” says JR in this week’s DALLAS. “She looks like a man-eater to me,” says Vicky Gioberti of Melissa. Indeed, as well as playing Cole and Lance off against each other, she also toys with the affections of a third man.

    Just as the love triangle in DALLAS brings out Cliff's more reckless side - in his eagerness to prove himself worthy of Sue Ellen, he not only embezzles money from his mother’s company but sinks all of his own savings into the bogus deal as well - so Cole’s involvement with Melissa reveals a darker aspect to his character. In the scene where he keeps jealous watch outside her house when she returns home from a date, he’s like a less extreme version of Roger Larsen on DALLAS, who this week lies in wait for Lucy before jumping into her car and ordering her to “drive - I’ll tell you where.”

    Meanwhile, Lance Cumson’s bid for independence - he moves out of Falcon Crest and takes a job at the New Globe - is as short-lived as Eric Fairgate’s was in last week’s KNOTS when he defied his mother’s wishes for him to pursue a college education. In both cases, a conversation with an older male relative - Eric’s Uncle Joe and Lance’s grandfather Douglas - leads them to reconsider their actions.

    Douglas Channing also provides an interesting snippet of back story during a scene with his ex-wife Angela: "Prohibition almost ruined Falcon Crest and without my money, it would have been impossible …” At that point, Angela cuts him off, but it’s pretty clear that she married him to save her family’s land. Substitute the words “Prohibition" and "Falcon Crest" with “Depression" and “Southfork", and you’ve got the origins of Jock and Ellie’s marriage in DALLAS. Douglas even suffers a Jock-style heart attack at the end of the episode.

    And this week’s Soap Land Top 4 are …

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

    James from London Soap Chat Mega Star

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    23/Mar/82: FLAMINGO ROAD: No Dice v. 24/Mar/82: DYNASTY: The Gun v. 25/Mar/82: KNOTS LANDING: Silver Shadows v. 26/Mar/82: DALLAS: The Investigation

    A woman seducing a man at the behest of a third (invariably male) party, only to then find herself falling in love with him, has by now become a familiar soap trope. Let’s call it The Spy Who Loved Me Syndrome. Recent examples include Afton with Cliff Barnes on DALLAS and Claudia with Jeff Colby on DYNASTY (not to mention Julie Gonzalo with practically everyone on New DALLAS). Now it’s the turn of Sandie Swanson on FLAMINGO ROAD, whose affair with Field was orchestrated by her brother Michael Tyrone. Having now fallen for Field, she asks Michael why he will not abandon his campaign of vengeance against the residents of Truro. "I can’t forget the sight of our father swinging from the end of a hangman’s rope, that’s why!” he shouts in reply - belatedly revealing himself as the FLAMINGO ROAD equivalent of DYNASTY’s Nick Toscanni who has been plagued by similar images all season. "He hanged himself ... I saw him!” Nick said to his sister, referring to their half-brother, several episodes ago.

    After Sandie tearfully confesses to Field, he retaliates by dumping her and vowing to nix Michael's precious gambling bill in the senate. However, before he can carry out his promise, he discovers Sandie unconscious from an apparent overdose. While he is busy walking her round her bedroom in an attempt to revive her, (thereby following in the footsteps of Nick Toscanni and Richard Avery and their comatose dames, Claudia Blaisdel and Marni the hooker, respectively) he misses the all important senate hearing. And when Sandie makes an instantaneous “recovery" in the ambulance, we realise that her “suicide attempt” was a ruse to get Field out of way while the gambling bill was passed. This twist is immediately followed by another when the ambulance orderly stabs Sandie with a hypodermic needle. “Instructions from your brother,” he explains as she loses consciousness. Yes, it’s that most exciting of things - a triple cross!

    The scene on the courthouse steps where Field realises he has been hoodwinked, not only by Michael but by his own wife Constance, and then watches as they drive off laughing together in triumph, is a magnificently spiteful pay off to all the marital feuding he and Constance have done since the series began. In comparison, Jeff and Fallon’s bickering on DYNASTY over what to name their baby (“I don’t care - call him anything you want!”) feels a bit petulant. However, nothing on FLAMINGO ROAD, or anywhere else in this week’s Soap Land, is as hauntingly poignant as Claudia Blaisdel’s growing desperation as her sanity starts to fail her once more - certainly not Sue Ellen’s “disgusting self-pity about her finances” (to borrow an old phrase of Pam's) after Cliff asks her for a loan to bail himself out of trap set for him by JR - which, while very entertaining to watch, is not remotely sympathetic.

    It’s interesting to compare Claudia’s struggle to comprehend the loss of her husband and daughter, missing presumed dead in the jungles of South America, with Miss Ellie’s refusal to even acknowledge her near identical predicament in DALLAS. "I was waiting for some kind of feeling,” Claudia tells Jeff, "some moment deep inside me, that would tell me that my daughter is dead, It didn't come. Because she's alive, I know that. I feel it ... They never found the jeep. They didn't find any wreckage. They didn't find Matthew, not Lindsay. It's not impossible. You know that in Vietnam, men who were lost for years, they thought they were dead, they showed up alive.” Miss Ellie, meanwhile, avoids any mention of Jock’s crash and continues to speak of him smilingly in the present tense.

    A week after Cliff Barnes proposed marriage to his arch enemy’s ex-wife on DALLAS, Cecil Colby does the same thing on DYNASTY. That his offer catches Alexis unawares is understandable, given that she has only just made the following declaration to her former husband: “Blake, I want to tell you something, and you can believe this or not, I loved you then and I’ve never stopped loving you, in spite of what you did to me.” Meanwhile, Sue Ellen is stopped in her tracks by a similarly impassioned plea from her ex. "I love you,” JR tells her. "You know that. We're the same kind. We have our shortcomings, our faults, but we look at the world the same way. There are no two people that are meant for each other more than you and I ... It's time for you to come home to Southfork, to your husband.”

    Things are a little more straightforward for Skipper and Alicia over on FLAMINGO ROAD: he proposes, she accepts, and they get married - all in the same episode. Following Steven and Sammy Jo’s, theirs is the second Soap Land elopement of the season. Initially, Skipper’s mother Eudora is as aghast to learn of her son’s marriage as Alexis was - not only is Alicia a girl from the wrong side of the tracks (like Sammy Jo), but she is also of a different ethnicity, plus there’s the small matter of Skipper being blind.

    Soap Land does a nice line in loyal retainers this week. KNOTS LANDING gives us silent movie director Andrew Douglas’s long-suffering, silently resentful manservant Henry (previously Cliff Barnes’s defence attorney in Soap Land’s first ever murder trial). Andrew's mocking reference to Henry's gallstone operation in 1967 as "the highlight of his life” chimes with DYNASTY major domo Joseph's ironic description of changing Steven Carrington’s diapers as “a delightful chore”. Ordinarily a complete weirdo, Joseph’s decision in this week’s episode to give Steven Sammy Jo’s address in Hollywood on the grounds that Steven is "a grown man who's entitled to make his own mistakes and to deal with them” shows an unexpectedly human side to his character. Henry and Joseph’s DALLAS counterpart is Mr. Forrest, long-term employee at Wentworth Tool & Die who resigns in protest at Cliff’s actions as head of the company. “My loyalty was not only to him,” he explains to Rebecca, referring to her late husband Herbert, “it was to that first little company he started. In a sense, it’s been my home now for almost forty years. Through thick and thin, good times and bad, I’ve been with Wentworth Tool & Die.” All of this is to underline how grievous Cliff’s abuse of his position (and his mother’s trust) has been.

    This week’s KNOTS LANDING instalment, “Silver Shadows”, is notable for being the final “story of the week” of any of the '80s soaps (THE YELLOW ROSE notwithstanding). A somewhat fanciful episode, it gives us Soap Land’s first doppelgänger as Abby turns out to be a dead ringer for silent movie actress Teri Clarington. The painting of Teri that illustrates their resemblance is the last, and least, picture to be submitted for consideration in this season’s Soap Land Portrait Wars. The other contenders are, in ascending order of merit, the painting of Lute-Mae in FLAMINGO ROAD gifted to her by Michael Tyrone as part of his campaign to woo her; the portrait of Angela Channing rendered by would-be suitor Arthur Masefield which then hung in her study for several episodes; Alexis Carrington’s unfinished picture of ex-hubby Blake, eventually trashed by Krystle during their cat fight; the iconic oil painting of Jock Ewing which made its screen debut after his death; and in first place, the fetching portrait of Steven Carrington as a young boy, painted from memory by his mother during their long estrangement and presented to him upon their reunion.

    Between Steven and Sammy Jo’s meeting on Sunset Strip in DYNASTY and Andrew Douglas’s reminiscences of Jack Barrymore, Charlie Chaplin et al on KNOTS, Soap Land provides us with two contrasting, yet archetypal views of Hollywood this week. The DYNASTY version, all neon lights, sleazy strips and broken dreams, is more evocative than KNOTS’ attempt at conjuring a bygone era within a modern day context. “Silver Shadows” is how “The Three Sisters” might have turned out had that episode kept cutting between the haunted house scenes and a mundane subplot at Knots Landing Motors. Still, Donna Mills’ performance is lovely - devious and wistful by turns.

    Back in DYNASTY’s version of Hollywood, Steven's discovery of his oiled-up, half-naked wife in the arms of snapper Ace Hudson leads to the first of two altercations set in a photographer’s studio this week. The other takes place in DALLAS with Bobby Ewing, in true generic TV action show fashion, throwing Roger Larson against a wall and instantly rendering him unconscious. A single kick then proves enough to break down a locked door and reveal a bound and gagged Lucy. The scene between Steven, Sammy Jo and Ace is far more convincing - and interesting. Steven’s realisation that his mother paid his wife $20,000 to leave him mirrors Rebecca Wentworth’s in DALLAS that her son has embezzled $4,000,000 from her company.

    Funnily enough, FLAMINGO ROAD’s Field isn’t the only Soap Land character whose misguided attempt to prevent a suicide backfires this week. Worried about Claudia, Krystle pays a visit to her apartment at the end of this week’s DYNASTY and spots a gun on the counter. Assuming Claudia intends to use it on herself (when in fact she is planning to kill Cecil Colby), Krystle picks it up. Claudia then makes a grab for it and the two women struggle … Inevitably, a shot rings out - but who got hit?

    I was reminded of this cliff-hanger last year while watching a similar one between Tommy Sutter and Julie Gonzalo on New DALLAS - only instead of ending on a shot of two blood-splattered monkeys, (which itself foreshadowed the deaths of the Ewing twins the following season) DYNASTY freezes on Dr Nick’s grave pronouncement as he bursts through the door: "Oh dear God!” Re-watching this scene again, however, the DALLAS scenario it most strongly echoes - a woman in an apartment wielding a gun with which she plans to shoot a powerful businessman, only to have the weapon intercepted by a second woman - is the flashback scene from DALLAS Season 3 of Sue Ellen in Kristin’s condo prior to the shooting of JR.

    And this week’s Soap Land Top 4 are …

    1 (-) DYNASTY
    2 (3) FLAMINGO ROAD
    3 (1) DALLAS
    4 (-) KNOTS LANDING
     
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  14. James from London

    James from London Soap Chat Mega Star

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    07/Apr/82: DYNASTY: The Fragment v. 08/Apr/82: KNOTS LANDING: Expose v. 09/Apr/82: DALLAS: Goodbye, Cliff Barnes v. 09/Apr/82: FALCON CREST: Penultimate Questions

    Most of this week’s DYNASTY is taken up with Krystle's latest predicament where, like Bobby in last week’s DALLAS, she finds herself implicated in an apartment shooting. Just as we saw Bobby discover Jeff Farraday’s already dead body, we also saw the circumstances leading up to Claudia's accidental shooting. However, in spite of their innocence, both Bobby and Krystle harbour secrets they worry a police investigation will expose. For Bobby, it’s that Farraday sold him a baby; for Krystle, it’s her previous affair with Claudia’s husband.

    A key difference between the two cases is how Bobby and Krystle are regarded by the police. Despite the impressive amount of circumstantial evidence against him - his fingerprints and an envelope with his name on it found at the crime scene, an eyewitness who heard him threaten the victim’s life - DALLAS detectives assure Bobby that he is "the least likely suspect in this killing” - presumably, because he’s a Ewing. On DYNASTY, however, if Blake Carrington is to be believed, the authorities suspect Krystle solely because she’s a Carrington: “The DA’s office, so they’re behind this, huh? … They’ve been trying to get back at me since my trial. Now they’re trying to do it through my wife … They’re still boiling because I got off on probation.”

    This contrast echoes what happened a year earlier when JR and Blake both faced possible criminal proceedings regarding their respective involvement in the Southeast Asian counterrevolution and Ted Dinard’s death. While the good old boys in Austin initially voted to shelve any further enquiry into Ewing Oil, ("The Ewing name still carries a lot of weight in some circles”) the politicians Blake had previously antagonised were eager to try him for first-degree murder on what would ordinarily have been a manslaughter charge. (“They've been sitting around just waiting for a chance like this - to watch Blake Carrington go under.”)

    The envelope in Jeff Farraday’s apartment contains a receipt for a Los Angeles hospital bill in Kristin’s name. Bobby decides to investigate further. “Is something wrong? Is it Gary?” Pam asks when he tells her that he is going to California. Bobby assures her that his trip has nothing to do with Gary. However, there is something wrong with Gary in this week’s KNOTS, and it does pertain to the DALLAS Ewings: he’s just found out his wife’s written a book about them, for which she’s been offered a publishing deal. This leads to the first reference to Jock’s death in KNOTS LANDING when Karen speculates that “Gary might be dead set against airing his family’s dirty laundry in public, especially since his father just passed away.”

    It’s interesting to compare Gary’s reaction to Val’s story with Miss Ellie's response to Donna’s recent revelations about Jock, which she also intended to publish. "How can you believe such lies about Jock?” Ellie asked her daughter-in-law. "How could you do such a thing?” Gary asks his wife. Where Ellie accused Donna of trying “to destroy the reputation of the finest man whoever lived”, Gary tells Val that in fictionalising his family, "you made them into villains and fools.” "You go ahead and write your book,” Miss Ellie told Donna, "and the day it's published, I'll sue you through every court in the land if I have to. I will not allow you to do this to my husband!” Gary is calmer, but no less adamant: “You cannot publish this book and that's all there is to it.”

    Two lonely husbands frequent prostitutes in this week’s Soap Land. Steven Carrington, still in Los Angeles following his failed attempt to reconcile with Sammy Jo, spends time with a woman credited only as Nameless Hooker. On KNOTS LANDING, Richard Avery, who hasn’t yet given up hope of patching things up with his wife, visits Marni, the call girl he befriended a few weeks ago. In different ways, both shows draw a link between the woman's profession and the fantasy of Hollywood stardom. "I make believe that this one's a movie star, that one's a TV star,” says Nameless Hooker of her johns. "Sometimes when I'm walking down Hollywood Boulevard and there's all those names on the sidewalk, I say to myself, 'You don't know it, Burt, or Clint, or Paul, but we're gonna party tonight.’” (The idea that your average sex worker does anything of the kind is, of course, a fantasy in itself.) Marni, meanwhile, turns out to be an aspiring actress. We see a TV producer tempt her with the possibility of a “small but interesting” role as someone’s sister in a "Movie of the Week” if she’ll get Richard on tape admitting to supplying prostitutes to clients on behalf of his firm.

    “This is Hollywood and everything's supposed to be make-believe,” Nameless Hooker tells Steven. “Don’t people work in Los Angeles?” echoes Pam in DALLAS when she and Bobby show up in LA to investigate Kristin's hospital bill and find themselves surrounded by a bevy of bikini’d lovelies. “Only at night so they don’t spoil their tans,” he replies.

    Something I never noticed before: bearing in mind Kristin was raised to believe that marrying the right man was all-important, it’s kind of poignant to hear her friend Sharon describe her and Jeff Farraday’s nuptials as “not much of a wedding.”

    Kristin’s secret miscarriage and second pregnancy is the first of several last minute have-your-cake-and-eat-it plot twists peppered throughout DALLAS’s run. Others include: Jock’s posthumous request for his sons to run his company together after they have spent a year fighting each other for it, Jock’s secret sale and repurchase of Ewing Oil back in the 1930s, the extra passenger Jock’s helicopter picked up in South America before it crashed, and JR’s secret cancer in New DALLAS. The difference between the latter and the rest is that where the last minute revelation has traditionally been a way of pressing the reset button and returning the saga to some kind of status quo - Bobby and Pam remain Christopher’s parents, Bobby and JR each remains president of the company, the Ewings retain ownership of Ewing Oil, Jock remains dead - the aftermath of JR’s Masterpiece is set to take the show into excitingly uncharted territory.

    The discovery that JR is not Christopher’s father leads to an end-of-season vow from Bobby: “When we get back to Dallas, I'm gonna vote to throw him out of Ewing Oil.” By contrast, Lance’s assertion on FALCON CREST that he is not responsible for his new bride’s pregnancy falls on deaf ears. “I’m not the father,” he insists during a family dinner. “Well, you’ll do,” replies his grandmother coolly. Meanwhile, Melissa feigns tears to amusing effect.

    Both Val on KNOTS and Maggie on FALCON CREST are feeling neglected by their husbands this week. Gary is wrapped up in his methanol business with Abby, while Chase has become increasingly preoccupied with learning the truth about his father’s death. "You’re always having these constant meetings with [Abby], every night and every weekend,” complains Val. “You have come home from this office before midnight two nights this week,” Maggie points out to Chase. In each case, the woman is worried that the fresh start her family made when they moved to California is at risk. “Chase, you came here because you said you wanted us to pull together,” Maggie reminds her husband. "We’ve struggled too hard to get where we are now and it’s important to both of us to protect it,” insists Val. Whereas Maggie then joins forces with Chase to look into Jason’s death, (the couple that investigates together stays together - see also: Bobby and Pam) Val and Gary remain at odds, thanks in part to Abby’s meddling, and this week’s KNOTS ends with Val defying her man and signing the publishing contract for her book.

    Melissa spends much of her first week as a married woman on FALCON CREST prowling round her in-laws’ house, lurking on staircases and listening at doorways, just as Alexis has been doing in the Carrington mansion for most of this season’s DYNASTY. Melissa then passes on what she has overheard to Chase who eventually has enough information to call for an inquest into his father’s death.

    While Alexis is surprised and delighted to see Krystle on the late night news linked to Claudia's shooting, Richard Avery is shocked and devastated to hear his pillow talk with Marni broadcast as part of a TV exposé into prostitution and big business. (Coincidentally, recordings of JR's private conversations with Leslie Stewart were played out in court almost exactly a year earlier.) Conversely, on FALCON CREST, Angela’s sole consolation regarding the inquest into her brother’s death is that it will be closed to the media.

    There are parallel scenes in this week’s KNOTS and DALLAS where Richard, shortly after losing his job, shows up uninvited at Laura’s house and Cliff Barnes, fired from his job last week by his mother, does the same at Sue Ellen’s. Both men are desperate. “I'm in trouble, and all I need to know is, are you with me or are you with them?” Richard asks Laura before breaking down in tears. “I’ve lost everything, but I know I can start over if you just believe in me and love me,” pleads an equally shaky Cliff, as he too starts to cry. Both women have moved on with their lives and want to put as much distance between themselves and these sad little men as possible. But while Sue Ellen sends Cliff away, telling him that she has agreed to remarry JR, Laura feels she has no choice but to take Richard in her arms and comfort him (as Val and Ginger look on uncomfortably).

    While I can’t totally buy into JR and Sue Ellen’s latest reconciliation, the proposal scene is very nice. At the point where JR pops the question, I couldn’t help but mentally flash forward to Sue Ellen at his funeral: “The answer’s yes, JR”. Meanwhile, in Denver, Cecil Colby (aka Logan Rhinewood) prods Alexis about his marriage proposal: "It would be a delightful union. Just think of the possibilities."

    In its own way, the opening of Jason Gioberti's inquest on FALCON CREST feels as momentous as the Ted Dinard murder trial on DYNASTY a year ago - this is what the series has been building towards all season. We’re even given some prior character insight into Martin Deering, the D.A. fighting Chase’s corner, just as we were Jake Dunham on DYNASTY. While Deering’s not quite the charismatic powerhouse Dunham was, (he’s played by the same slimy advertising guy who’ll try it on with Lucy Ewing early next season) he’s tough, determined and apparently incorruptible. As if Angela being called first to testify wasn't exciting enough, Emma - whom Angela has trying to keep under lock and key all season - then appears in the courtroom unexpectedly. This sends Angela rushing to her daughter’s side in defiance of the court. Then, without warning, her ex-husband Douglas collapses to the floor with a second heart attack.

    This season’s DALLAS finale doesn’t have quite the same TV-show-on-the-edge-of-a-cliff quality as the previous two. In fact, I was reminded of Gary’s critique of Val’s depiction of the Ewings while watching it: “You made them into villains and fools.” (Sudden thought: what if DALLAS’s original thirteen year run was an adaptation of Val’s novel?) It’s as if the DALLAS writers are still hastily shuffling the characters into the positions they need to be in for the final denouement. Not that that shuffling doesn’t generate an interesting frisson of its own. In fact, this episode of DALLAS might be subtitled “The Attack of the Supporting Players”, as a handful of recurring characters rise up to wrest control of the narrative. While an uncharacteristically bold Clayton prepares to propose to Sue Ellen, Marilee Stone arbitrarily switches sides in the Barnes/Ewing feud and admits to Cliff that she was JR’s front woman for the Wellington land deal. This confession is overheard by Afton Cooper who passes it along to Rebecca Wentworth after Cliff’s suicide attempt. Rebecca then declares war on the Ewings, which finally pits the family against each other.

    "I swear I’ll break the Ewing family,” Rebecca tells Miss Ellie in the ep’s best scene, "and I have the money to do it!” This is not the only vengeful vow from a wealthy woman of a certain age in this week’s Soap Land. “I’ll never forgive you for this - never!” Angela promises Chase after Douglas is pronounced dead in the thrilling closing seconds of FALCON CREST. Finally - the gloves are off.

    And this week’s Soap Land Top 4 are … there is isn’t much to choose between the top two, but FC’s exciting climax just gives it the edge …

    1 (2) FALCON CREST
    2 (1) KNOTS LANDING
    3 (4) DALLAS
    4 (-) DYNASTY
     
    Last edited: Sep 25, 2016
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  15. James from London

    James from London Soap Chat Mega Star

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    13/Apr/82: FLAMINGO ROAD: The Bad and the Beautiful v. 14/Apr/82: DYNASTY: The Shakedown v. 15/Apr/82: KNOTS LANDING: Night v. 16/Apr/82: FALCON CREST: Ultimate Answers

    Like FALCON CREST’s Lance, Michael Tyrone in FLAMINGO ROAD reserves his tenderest side for the exotic bird in his care: “Such carnal creatures, so soft, so receptive,” he murmurs, stroking him. “He could just as easily fly away,” suggests Michael’s fiancée Lute Mae. “He’s too much a part of me now, he wouldn’t know how,” says Michael. “Neither would I,” replies Lute Mae dreamily.

    Tyrone returns to this theme later in the episode: "People I’m associated with soon learn they have no control over their destinies, Constance. Only I have that power. You will obey me. You have no other choice.” Constance might not be the pushover Lute Mae is, but she finds this speech of Michael's incredibly sexy and immediately straddles him.

    This week, FLAMINGO ROAD turns into a vehicle for that brooding, demonic thing David Selby does so brilliantly. It’s almost as if the writers of the show have become as enslaved to his power as Lute Mae and Constance have. The casual viewer might think they’re watching some cheap 70s horror flick - a Hammer Horror or some European knock off of THE EXORCIST or THE OMEN, or maybe one of those DARK SHADOWS movie adaptations in which Selby himself appeared.

    Julia Porter, Michael’s gravelly voiced voodoo mammy arrives from the Caribbean - full of signs and portents, ominous warnings and black magic talismans. She adds a unique flavour to Soap Land. Her stay might be brief, but there will never be another character quite like her.

    There’s a different kind of otherworldly madness on this week’s DYNASTY where an unhinged Claudia Blaisdel returns to the Carrington mansion and becomes the equivalent of Emma Channing on FALCON CREST, i.e. the mad woman in the attic. At one point, she appears in Krystle’s bedroom, head still swathed in bandages, to inform her that her miscarriage was a punishment from God. "He took your baby because you took mine ... You deserved to lose your baby!” Meanwhile on FALCON CREST, Emma herself hosts an invisible wine tasting for Lance and Melissa. This turns out to be a ruse on Emma’s part to lull her family into a false sense of security so she can escape into town and speak the truth at her uncle’s inquest. Back on FLAMINGO ROAD, Michael’s sister Sandie also escapes her family’s clutches and heads back to Truro to reveal all about her brother.

    Whether or not Michael and Julia genuinely possess supernatural powers is open to interpretation. Having learnt of Sandie’s escape, we see Michael lighting candles and ceremonially burning his sister's photograph. Soon afterwards, we see Sandie lose control of her car and plunge over a cliff, like Sid Fairgate and Jason Gioberti (sort of) before her. Is this merely a freak accident or are there dark forces at work?

    What’s less ambiguous is Michael’s subsequent command to one of Julia’s devotees (future prison warden Leo Glynn in OZ, to be precise) to pull the plug on Sandie's life support system. By ordering his own sister’s murder, Michael is committing the ultimate Soap Land transgression - just as Cliff Barnes will on New DALLAS thirty-one years later. (Ironically, both men kill members of their family in the process of avenging their family.)

    Michael Tyrone is not the only principal Soap Land character the audience now knows to be capable of murder. Last week’s DYNASTY showed Cecil Colby and Logan Rhinewood to be one and the same, thereby revealing Cecil to be behind the assassination attempt that blinded Blake earlier in the season. This week, we also learn that Cecil suffers from heart problems, much like the recently deceased Douglas Channing in FALCON CREST.

    The scene in FLAMINGO ROAD where Michael exacts his revenge on Lute-Mae is an all-time Soap Land highlight - insanely melodramatic and thrillingly sadistic. Having been stood up on an important date, an indignant Lute-Mae shows up at Michael’s house dressed to the nines. The storm raging outside could not be stormier. The thunder is so loud, it threatens to drown out the dialogue. Michael comes down the staircase dressed in only a bathrobe. Like Lance in last week’s FALCON CREST, he has lured his fiancée to where he is having sex with another woman. He does not reveal that straight away, however. Instead, he calmly informs Lute-Mae that he has never had any feelings for her: “You’re just like all the other people in this town - you’re a leech, a parasite, a tramp.” Lute-Mae gasps and slaps him. As she tries to hit him again, he grabs her by the neck and holds her off. “You’ve been paid for your services, far more than they’re worth, lady,” he adds, reminding her of the prostitute she once was. Only then does Lute-Mae looks up to see Constance, her own daughter, standing at the top of the stairs, naked but for a bed sheet wrapped around her. “Michael, haven’t you gotten rid of her yet?” Constance asks, looking at Lute-Mae with utter contempt. Michael orders her to wait for him in the bedroom. He then bellows at Lute-Mae to get out and she runs off into the night, her humiliation complete. (That Stella Stevens is such a clueless actor and David Selby such a masterful one only serves to emphasise his character’s effortless dominance of the scene.)

    In the opening of this week’s KNOTS LANDING, there is a comparable altercation, albeit on a smaller scale and with a different outcome. After a dinner date that has cost him $140, Richard is a little angry that Abby won’t put out. She tells him that he should have spent his money on a hooker; it would have been cheaper. “How much do you charge?” he asks her. Abby doesn’t appreciate being likened to a prostitute any more than Lute Mae does and likewise slaps Richard across the face. He then grabs her the way Michael did and for a second, it looks like he might hit her back, but Abby has the power in the scene and when she orders him to leave, he does so.

    The scene Michael and Lute Mae’s confrontation most resembles, however, is the final one in this week’s DYNASTY, between Blake and Alexis. Blake has just learned that his ex-wife is responsible for the miscarriage suffered by Krystle earlier in the season. Just as Lute-Mae has finally seen Michael for what he really is, Blake’s eyes are now opened to Alexis’s true nature. ("I forgot about you,” he tells her bitterly, "I forgot how vicious and ruthless you can be when you want something.”) It’s the moment the audience has been waiting for all season. The pivotal difference between the two scenes is that where Michael Tyrone rips off his own mask, Alexis is stripped involuntarily of hers. "You shot that gun on purpose,” Blake tells her. "You fired it and then you watched. You watched that horse throw Krystle and drag her clear across that field, killing the child inside of her." "Oh Blake,” Alexis pleads with all her might, "how could you possibly think I'm capable of such a thing? I'm the mother of your two children!” But all her protestations are for nought and, like Lute-Mae, she is left crying in a heap.

    Three significant names are mentioned for the first time in Soap Land this week, each shrouded in mystery. “How do you think I could kill a baby after what happened to our baby - Adam?” asks Alexis in the midst of her argument with Blake. "We swore never to talk about that,” he snaps in reply. “Who’s Richard Channing?” wonders Angela on FALCON CREST, after learning that a man with that name is to be the chief beneficiary of her ex-husband’s estate. Towards the end of this week's episode (also the season finale), Melissa relays a phone message from a New York associate of Lance’s: “He said there are only two things that scare him - violent death and Richard Channing.” As tantalising Soap Land introductions go, that’s up there with Fallon’s gasp of “My God, that’s my mother!” a year earlier. "I can’t wait to meet him,” Melissa adds, speaking for all of us.

    As we'll discover next season, Richard Channing is Michael Tyrone’s future self. Meanwhile, the name of Tyrone’s past self is also spoken this week. "Michael Edwards,” are Sandie Swanson’s last words before her death. It doesn’t take Sheriff Titus and Claude Weldon long to conclude that Michael Edwards, aka Michael Tyrone, is the son of someone called Tom Edwards. Whoever that may be, this is clearly not good news.

    While the all powerful Michael Tyrone dominates this week’s FLAMINGO ROAD, the apparently impotent Richard Avery is the focus of this week’s KNOTS. Scenes from his estranged marriage quickly escalate into a full-blown siege situation, complete with a SWAT team in the cul-de-sac, as he holds his pregnant wife and son hostage at gunpoint. Following "Winds of Vengeance” (DALLAS) and "Moments of Truth” (KNOTS), “Night” is Soap Land’s third siege-based episode thus far. Tauter and more concentrated in its focus than its predecessors, it lacks their structural clunkiness. It’s also the first such story to arise solely out of the characters’ existing relationships - not just the central one between Richard and Laura, but also the ones between Richard and his neighbours, especially Karen and Gary.

    There’s also a strange sense of finality about the episode. When Karen compares the breakdown of the Averys’ marriage to the loss of her own husband, (“It’s like a death”) it feels somehow as if we’re witnessing the end of an era. Unlike those earlier stand-alone sieges, things will never be quite the same after this.

    The climax of the ep comes where Richard steps outside of his house and finds himself surrounded by armed men training their weapons on him. He slowly raises the gun in his own hand to his head and squeezes the trigger. Nothing. He sits down on the ground and pulls it again and again, but the chamber is empty. End of scene.

    "Do you think he'll come back here?” wonders Joe Cooper in the episode’s coda as we see Laura packing Richard's belongings and closing up the house. "I don’t know,” she replies. It really seems like Richard may have gone for good. Either way, it’s surely the end of the line for him and Laura. The ep’s closing moments have the Wards returning from a weekend away. As they walk towards their house, Kenny excitedly telling Karen about his plans for Ginger’s singing career, (plans he’ll eventually transfer to Ciji) the camera lingers on the Averys' phoney Tudor house … which suddenly looks as lonely and abandoned as the Miflan place did in “The Three Sisters”.

    It takes most of this week’s FALCON CREST to get the story back to where it was a week ago before Douglas collapsed and Emma was preparing to tell all in court. After she finally makes it to the witness stand and testifies to how Jason really died back in Episode 1, the full extent of Angela’s deception is laid bare - obstruction of justice, perjury and the small matter of planting her brother’s corpse in a truck and setting it on fire. However, nobody seems inclined to press charges against her for any of this. Moreover, owing to the convoluted nature of Angela’s father’s will, Chase is now legally entitled to inherit Falcon Crest in its entirety. Remarkably, he turns this down in favour of a fifty-fifty partnership with Angela. Her response is apt: “You can’t be serious.” Unlikely as this turn of events may seem, it’s also the premise upon which the rest of the series is based so I guess you either accept it or you don’t.

    While Richard Avery’s defeat on KNOTS is unequivocal, the final shot of each of the other soaps is reserved for a female character who has also lost ... but is now fighting back. The most desperate of these is Lute-Mae Sanders. As with Claudia in DYNASTY three episodes ago, this week's F’LINGO RD ends with Lute Mae retrieving a gun from a secure hiding place and contemplating it vengefully. (It’s interesting how often the handgun motif has recurred in Soap Land during recent weeks - each time as the refuge of the wretched, the unhinged and/or the suicidal: Cliff on DALLAS, Claudia on DYNASTY, Richard on KNOTS and now Lute-Mae.) Meanwhile on DYNASTY, an uncharacteristically dishevelled Alexis briefly buries her head in her hands after being condemned by Blake, only to then raise it up again. “Oh no Blake,” she vows breathily to an empty room, "it’s not gonna end this way, I may have lost you now, but I’m not gonna lose everything. Oh no, oh no.” Over on FALCON CREST, Angela’s smirk outside the courtroom following her discussion with Chase says it all: “He thinks he’s won!” These final words of Alexis and Angela are genuine turning points. From now on, "Alexis versus Blake" and "Angela versus Chase" will be the central conflict fuelling their respective shows. Interesting that in each case, the woman is the bad guy.

    And this week’s Soap Land Top 4 are …

    1 (-) FLAMINGO ROAD
    2 (2) KNOTS LANDING
    3 (4) DYNASTY
    4 (1) FALCON CREST
     
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  16. James from London

    James from London Soap Chat Mega Star

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    27/Apr/82: FLAMINGO ROAD: The Harder They Fall v. 28/Apr/82: DYNASTY: The Two Princes v. 29/Apr/82: KNOTS LANDING: China Dolls

    In this week's FLAMINGO ROAD, Sheriff Titus Semple becomes the latest recipient of Michael Tyrone’s potent combination of Old Testament retribution and voodoo magic. He subsequently journeys further into Soap Land’s heart of darkness than anyone ever has before.

    In one sequence, Titus treks his way through thick fog and swampland to a darkened shack lit only by fiery torches and candles. There, he finds Michael’s voodoo priestess Julia (inexplicably dressed not in her customary Caribbean finery, but as an old washerwoman - which suggests the possibility that this scene might not actually be happening at all). After assuring Titus that the religious practices he dismisses as mumbo jumbo are sacred to both her and Michael, she issues the following warning: “Tyrone is a God. He toys with you, Sheriff. At his whim, you are a dead man - unless you kill him first.” I have a feeling we’re not at Southfork anymore.

    Titus, scared silly by waking visions of a dead man hanging from a noose, soon becomes the laughing stock of the town he used to run with a rod of iron. The dead man, we realise, is Tom Edwards, Tyrone’s father who was tried and hanged for murder twenty-five years earlier. “This town killed my father,” Michael explains to Eudora. "Titus framed my father and Lute-Mae bore false witness … then Judge Carlyle passed sentence and your husband, dear lady, profited from his execution.”

    Over on DYNASTY, the vengeful side of Michael Tyrone’s equivalent, Nick Toscanni, has lain dormant for several episodes. This week, however, the name Rashid Ahmed triggers something inside him and he also resumes having visions of hanged men dangling from nooses.

    As well as Titus, Michael Tyrone targets Constance Carlyle this week. The scene in which he brutally reveals to her the identity of her biological mother might not be quite as powerful as his humiliation of Lute-Mae a couple of episodes ago, but it’s still pretty strong stuff. "Look at yourself,” he orders, grabbing her by the head and forcing her to face own her reflection in the mirror, “the bastard child of Lute-Mae Sanders!”

    Krystle makes a similar, if milder, suggestion to Constance’s counterpart in DYNASTY when she refuses to take the blame for the break up of Fallon’s relationship with Nick. “If you’ve lost him and you want to know the source,” she tells Fallon, "just look into any mirror in this house.”

    “Seeing" the truth also crops up as a metaphor in this week’s KNOTS LANDING. "How long you gonna shut your eyes to what’s goin’ on?” Lilimae asks Val near the beginning of the episode, with reference to Gary’s involvement with Abby. “You never see his strength,” Abby later tells Val during their long-awaited showdown, "you only see his weaknesses. I can see him for what he is and for what he can be.” “I see him the same way I’ve seen him since I was fifteen years old,” insists Val, which just about says it all. However, it’s windows rather than mirrors that are the recurring motif in KNOTS. Karen observes Gary and Val flirting through her office window at Knots Landing Motors and later Joe spots them canoodling inside Gary’s office from the showroom forecourt. The cul-de-sac is then used to full "goldfish bowl" effect as a possessive Gary takes up residence by his living room window to keeps tabs on Abby’s comings and goings, only for Val to then do the same to keep track of Gary's.

    Back on FLAMINGO ROAD, Michael continues to taunt Constance, aka "the daughter of the town tramp.” "No more expensive jewellery,” he sneers, stripping her of her necklace. “No more beautiful clothes,” he adds, tearing at her blouse to expose her underwear. Somehow, this action feels more of a genuine violation than either Lute-Mae’s rape or Lucy Ewing’s ordeal at the hands of Roger Larsen did earlier in the season.

    Ironically, in the process of terrorising his victims, Tyrone also humanises them. As Constance, Morgan Fairchild has played the pampered, brittle bitch to perfection for two seasons, but has had scant opportunity to do much else. Now, stripped of her identity and her fancy clothing, makeup running down her face, we get to glimpse what is behind the facade. This is also true of Tyrone’s other victims. Claude Weldon, whose cowardly scheming has always been very amusing, manages to be funny and poignant in the scene where he tearfully admits to his wife that he has been pretending to be Constance’s adoptive father all her life when he is actually her biological one. And Lane Curtis, now pregnant, is so genuinely terrified after an encounter where Tyrone’s business associates threaten to kill her husband that she can barely speak to deliver her dialogue.

    But it’s Constance who fascinates most. All her life, she has looked down on Lute-Mae from her position of privilege. Now she has become her. “It’s all gone now, Constance,” Michael calls after her as she flees his house in disarray. "You’re just like your mother. You’re just another tramp!” This line is also echoed in DYNASTY, in Steven’s final scene where he responds to his sister’s dismissal of Sammy Jo as "common trash” by asking, “And what are you, Fallon? Uncommon trash? A million dollar tramp?"

    "You are a Weldon,” Constance’s parents persist in telling her after Michael has dropped his bombshell, while Alexis is anxious to talk to Steven “about what it means to be a Carrington.” “My God, you’d think we were dealing with royalty,” Susan, DYNASTY's mysterious new baby nurse, observes drily.

    As FLAMINGO ROAD ponders what will become of Constance now that her lifelong sense of privilege and entitlement has been taken from her, Steven Carrington asks the same question in reverse: What is left of a human being after they have been, as he describes Krystle and Jeff, “contaminated by the oil baron, his money, his power, his possessions”? What price a Ming vase next to the life of Ted Dinard, he challenges his father. Al Corley’s penultimate line as Steven strikes at the heart of this dichotomy: "You know what really hurts me the most?” he asks his family before heading out the door to start a new life, destination unknown. "I hate what you all stand for - I hate your values, your morals, your blindness - but I love you. I love you all very much."

    Just as Pam Ewing’s first meeting with her sister Katherine took place at the Soap Land Sanatarium earlier this season, so Lute-Mae and Constance’s first exchange as mother and daughter occurs there too. To say it doesn’t go well is an understatement. “You sold me to the highest bidder,” Constance hisses. "I despise you. I wish you were dead!” Sadly, she doesn’t stick around the sanitarium long enough to meet Richard Avery’s pal Nicholas, who could have told her that we’re all just china dolls, ex-hookers and heiresses alike. Certainly, Claudia Blaisdel doesn’t make a distinction between her poor dead daughter and "the little Carrington prince”, aka Blake’s new grandson, whom she picks up and calls Lindsay in the final moments of this week’s DYNASTY. "Life ends and then begins again,” she decides.

    “He’ll pay,” says Constance with reference to Michael. "He’ll never do to me what he did to Lute-Mae.” “He’s vile, he’s arrogant and I’d like nothing more than to see him destroyed,” says Alexis in DYNASTY, alluding to her ex-husband. A vow of vengeance is a standard response from any Soap Land character scorned. However, unlike Lute-Mae and Claudia, both of whose recent attempts to take revenge on the powerful men who wronged them have backfired, (literally, in Claudia’s case) Constance and Alexis are devious enough not to place themselves directly in the line of fire. Instead, they each decide to enlist the aid of a man who’s crazy about them. But in order to do so, they must first persuade their man that they are equally crazy about him.

    The men in question take a bit of convincing. Julio Sanchez shows up for a secret assignation with Constance but is more than a little sulky. “You treat me like dirt - I could kill you for that,” he pouts, referring to the weeks Constance has spent telling him to scram. Meanwhile, Cecil Colby’s response to Alexis’s acceptance of his marriage proposal is curiously muted: “What was it George Bernard Shaw wrote? ‘There are two tragedies in life. One is to not get your heart’s desire, the other is to get it.’” (This rivals KNOTS’ Nicholas’s “I was with Hendrix at Monterey” for Soap Land’s Cultural Reference of the Week.) “You’ve kept me at arm’s length, figuratively speaking, for eons,” Cecil adds.

    Constance and Alexis each respond by re-writing history. “I only said those things to protect you,” says Constance, kneeling in front of Julio's crotch. "He made me say those things … Tyrone, he said he’d kill you if I ever saw you again.” “I loathe Blake. I’ve always loathed him,” Alexis tells Cecil, insisting that any affection she has shown her ex since returning to Denver has been a pretence.

    "I’m so afraid for you, Julio,” Constance continues, "I love you … I’m so frightened.” “Don’t be afraid,” Julio replies, "I’ll protect you. I’ll kill [Tyrone] if he ever tries to touch you again.” From the glint in Constance's eye, as he covers her in kisses, we see that she has achieved her objective. “Tell me some more about how much you hate Blake,” coos Alexis, "I find that very exciting.” "There’s no love lost between us and I do something about it every day,” Cecil boasts. This is exactly what Alexis wants to hear and this time, it is she who covers him in kisses.

    The freeze frame that ends this episode of F’LINGO RD is just great. Michael Tyrone is sitting at his fireside, two scary looking guard dogs at his feet. Titus is standing in the doorway. Michael repeats the same ultimatum Julia made earlier in the episode: “If you’re going to stop me, you’ll have to kill me.” We then cut to a side shot of Michael’s chair as one of the dogs suddenly raises its head, growling ominously. No soon does it open its jaw to bare its teeth, partially obscuring Michael’s face in the process, than the frame freezes. The camera then closes in on this frozen image. It’s the kind of weird, nightmarish imagery you’d see in TWIN PEAKS a decade or so later. I suspect the person responsible for this shot, as well as other distinct moments of the ep (the eerie swamp scene, the tearing of Constance’s clothes, her quasi-fellatio on Julio, Cristina Raines’ raw emotion as Lane) is director Larry Elikann. He worked on most of the '80s soaps, and the episodes he helmed always seem particularly visually striking.

    This is the penultimate episode of the season for each of the week's soaps, and FLAMINGO ROAD and DYNASTY share a similar momentum. The way almost every scene ends leaves us teetering on the edge of some sort of precipice … like the world is about to come crashing down. There’s not quite the same feeling with KNOTS - its canvas is smaller; its story focused on three or four neighbouring households, not a dynastic family or the sins of an entire town. But then … suddenly that feeling is there on KNOTS. When Gary jealously marches across the cul-de-sac to Abby’s house in full view of Val, or when Val makes the same journey the next morning, Seaview Circle is suddenly transformed into a battleground and these small trips become declarations of war.

    And this week’s Soap Land Top 3 are …

    1 (2) FLAMINGO ROAD
    2 (1) KNOTS LANDING
    3 (-) DYNASTY
     
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  17. James from London

    James from London Soap Chat Mega Star

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    04/May/82: FLAMINGO ROAD: Murder, They Said v. 04/May/82: DYNASTY: The Cliff v. 06/May/82: KNOTS LANDING: Living Dangerously

    Season finale time. Following the strange voodoo vibe of recent episodes, FLAMINGO ROAD has seemingly returned to more familiar Soap Land territory, as various characters line up to threaten Michael Tyrone’s life: Lute-Mae (“Somebody has to stop Michael!”), Sam (“So help me, Michael, if you or any of your goons get near Lane again, I’ll kill you!”), Titus (“If we don’t stop Tyrone, we are all dead!”) and Claude (“I swear, he’s gonna regret it!”). The episode even opens with Constance, like Sue Ellen in “A House Divided”, slipping a pistol into her purse before leaving the family home to take care of business. (Smart cookie that she is, however, she then passes the gun onto Julio, begging him to do what must be done to protect their relationship from Michael.)

    So far so DALLAS, but then the inevitable attempt on Tyrone’s life (distinctly Kennedy-esque - a shot from a top storey window aimed at his open-topped car) comes just a third of the way through the ep. When Titus, in his capacity as sheriff, arrives at the scene, an uninjured Michael takes the opportunity to publicly accuse him of attempted murder.

    Only then does the real plot become clear: Thirty-one years before JR Ewing would engineer his own death in order to implicate his worst enemy, Michael Tyrone has devised the same master-plan. This is the first instance of Soap Land explicitly referencing its own history (i.e. the “Who Shot JR?” mystery) before cleverly subverting it.

    DYNASTY, meanwhile, sets up a more traditional (but just as fun) whodunnit scenario also reminiscent of early DALLAS, as “Whatever Happened to Baby John?” becomes “Who’s Taken Little Blake?” Even the list of suspects is familiar: the business associate with a grudge (previously Jeb Ames & Willie Joe Garr, now Farouk Ahmed), the enemy with a personal vendetta (then Cliff Barnes, now Nick Toscanni) and the disturbed, bereaved mother (Claudia Blaisdel substituting for Priscilla Duncan) - with a couple of oddballs thrown in for good measure (a nurse, a gravedigger).

    “Titus Semple’s day of judgement is finally here,” declares Michael, getting his supernatural groove back on FL’INGO RD. "Upon his execution, my father’s spirit will be reborn.” This theme of reincarnation recurs in DYNASTY when a concerned Joseph reports Claudia’s “almost Biblical” ramblings to Nick, her doctor: “Life is eternal. It ends and then begins all over again.” Nick himself, once again as consumed by his brother’s hanging as Michael Tyrone is by his father’s, is not a believer, however. “Nobody can bring my brother back to life,” he tells Farouk Ahmed, "but I can bring his body home.” However, once Farouk has persuaded him that Blake is responsible for his brother’s death after all, Nick also gets in on the resurrection vibe. “For this, I would have come all the way back from Hell,” he assures Blake when they meet for their final confrontation on Skycrest Mountain.

    This week, Lute-Mae becomes the first inmate to escape the Soap Land Sanatarium since Sue Ellen three years earlier. (What’s more, she manages to do so without hitting anyone over the head.) DYNASTY’s Claudia, meanwhile, agrees to a stay at the sanitarium but is secretly intent on fleeing the country before it can happen. Over on KNOTS LANDING, Richard has checked himself out of the sanitarium, which makes everyone around him uneasy. "He has to drag everyone into this drama, making it impossible for anyone to lead a normal life,” Laura complains. There’s an interesting ambiguity to Richard’s behaviour: is he as well-adjusted as he claims to be, which would mean everyone else is overreacting or is Laura right to be concerned about the abandoned suicide note she finds in the trash? “Sometimes he seems totally out of touch with reality and sometimes I think he's planned all of this, everything,” she says. Could it be that Richard, like Michael Tyrone, has a master plan? If so, it’s working, as Laura and Jason move back to the cul-de-sac in the final scene of this week’s KNOTS. Back on DYNASTY, Alexis makes no secret that she also has a plan: “Mark Jennings, Krystle and all the Colby wealth and power,” she purrs to Cecil, "I’ve finally got everything that I wanted, everything I’ve been planning for. And it’s finally going to be ours, darling. The whole world’s going to be ours!”

    Meanwhile, Michael Tyrone is putting the final phase of his plan into action. Titus is lured to his house where he discovers Michael lying dead, a gun beside him. Then Field arrives to see Titus kneeling over the body. As the two men argue over Titus’s involvement, a fire mysteriously breaks out, consuming all evidence of the crime. The cause of the fire is never explicitly stated, but I think the answer can be gleaned from KNOTS LANDING - specifically Chapter 8 of Val’s novel, now renamed “Capricorn Crude” by her pushy publisher. “Where Melissa gets burned in the fire, he [the publisher] wants to me to rework it so that the fire is deliberately set by CR,” frets Val to Joe Cooper, who thinks it’s a good idea. “If CR has one of his own men set the fire, then you’ve got a thread going right through the book,” he reasons. "He’s a man who will do anything at any time. It is a classic bomb ready to explode.” As well as being a (crappy) pseudonym for JR Ewing, CR backwards is the initials of Richard Channing, Michael Tyrone’s future self. And Michael is certainly "a man who will do anything at any time” - including faking his death and becoming a monk.

    Val is also worried that the character of Mary Sue in her book is "too cheap and too obvious.” “Obvious is the route we want to go,” her publisher insists before seeming to contradict himself: "The further we move Mary Sue from Sue Ellen Ewing, the less trouble we’re going to have from the Ewings’ lawyers.” Ironically, the ambiguity Val's publishers display towards her novel’s depiction of the Texas Ewings seems to mirror KNOTS’ own ambivalent relationship with its parent show.

    There are some unusually cinematic sequences in Soap Land this week. Swerving to avoid Michael Tyrone’s car after it has been shot at, a truck crashes into a storefront, then spills its load of oranges all over the street. It's the kind of extravagant detail you’d expect to see in some action based movie or other. Then there’s the knockdown, drag out fight between Blake and Nick atop Skycrest Mountain in DYNASTY, which feels like something out a George Stevens’ Western from the '50s. Blake’s tumble down a cliffside is particularly striking, and the sight of Nick staring down from above before leaving Blake to die is a shot worthy of a Johnny Cash album cover. And let’s not forget Alexis and Cecil’s remarkable sex marathon montage set to a disco beat which climaxes in Cecil’s heart attack and Alexis frantically slapping him across the face.

    Alexis’s last words of the season, delivered to her fiancé, (“You can’t die on me Cecil - we’re getting married tomorrow! I need you to get Blake!”) echo Sue Ellen’s to hers (“If Cliff dies, I don’t think I’ll ever be able to marry you”). The implication in both situations seems to be that sometimes there are more important things at stake than simply life and death - like power and/or revenge.

    Alexis is not the only Soap Land character whose master plan is jeopardised at the last moment. As accusations fly on FLAMINGO ROAD - first Titus is arrested for Tyrone's murder, then Julio threatens to confess to the killing and name Constance as an accessory unless she agrees to marry him - we discover Michael alive and well and wearing a monk’s habit in a remote mountainous monastery. (Possibly the same mountain on which Blake Carrington lies either unconscious or dead.) Whilst at prayer, a bible is passed to him containing a note from his voodoo servant: “I have failed you, Master. Titus has been freed while another suffers in his place.” That would be Lute-Mae, who has come forward to say that she was present at Michael’s shooting, but like Sue Ellen before her, has no recollection as to whether or not she pulled the trigger. (Lute Mae's blackout seems to be attributable to idiocy rather than alcohol, however.) “Let not my enemies triumph over me, for mine shall be the final judgement,” Brother Michael intones ominously from beneath his monk’s cowl.

    And that’s that for FLAMINGO ROAD. There is some consolation in knowing that the spirits of Michael Tyrone, Constance Carlyle, Titus Semple, Sam Curtis and Claude Weldon will all be reborn under new names in different soaps. To paraphrase Claudia Blaisdel, soap contracts end and then begin again.

    Like this season’s DALLAS, DYNASTY hedges its bets with a multiple cliffhanger for its finale. KNOTS LANDING, meanwhile, goes the same “game changer” route as FALCON CREST. Val walking out on Gary is Chase going into partnership with Angela - a sign that the innocent days of stand-alone episodes with happy endings are gone forever.

    And this week’s Soap Land Top 3 are ...

    1 (1) FLAMINGO ROAD
    2 (3) DYNASTY
    3 (2) KNOTS LANDING
     
    Last edited: Sep 25, 2016
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  18. James from London

    James from London Soap Chat Mega Star

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    27/Oct/82: DYNASTY: The Plea v. 28/Oct/82: KNOTS LANDING: Catharsis v. 29/Oct/82: DALLAS: Jock's Will v. 29/Oct/82: KNOTS LANDING: New Beginnings

    DYNASTY’s season opener is really fun. It starts off on an appropriately frantic note with Krystle and Fallon distraught over the disappearances of Blake and Little Blake respectively. Then it takes a turn for the funny when Alexis arrives at Soap Land Memorial Hospital and starts trying to arrange a bedside wedding to her ailing fiancee. This leads to clashes with indignant doctors, rude nurses and a bizarre speech delivered through a flap in an oxygen tent to Cecil, now made up to look exactly like Grandpa from THE MUNSTERS.

    When we return to Skycrest Mountain, the melodrama has been ratcheted up a notch, with Blake beset by a storm so ridiculously fierce, it genuinely made me laugh (funny weather - a Soap Land first.) If the fight between he and Nick Toscanni at the end of last season was an homage to SHANE, then his reunion with Krystle, where he staggers towards her out of the darkness, feels like a reenactment of Ashley Wilkes' return from the Civil War in GONE WITH THE WIND. It’s a sequence that manages to look both epic and cheap at the same time. I kind of love it. How intentionally funny it’s meant to be, it’s impossible to say - which kind of adds to the fascination. And when Blake is taken to the hospital where his and Alexis’s storylines collide - well, that’s when the fun really begins.

    In the midst of this absurdity comes the beautiful, haunting scene between Jeff and Claudia in the Carrington nursery where she compares the disappearance of his son to the death of her daughter, and then taunts him over it: “God’s punishing all of you.” (Interesting that some of DALLAS’s most atmospheric scenes have also taken place in a darkened nursery.)

    Little Blake’s kidnapping is the one plot line in this week’s DYNASTY that's played more or less completely straight, but even it provides a couple of unexpected moments of comedy: Claudia’s hilariously out to lunch description of Farouk Ahmed, and the unidentified old woman sobbing loudly on her death bed as she watches the Carringtons’ televised appeal for their baby’s safe return.

    The central plot of “Catharsis”, the first KNOTS episode of the week, has a whiff of generic TV movie about it. It deals with Karen’s attempt to foil the bad guys who killed Sid, and it’s kind of a relief when it’s over (even though things perks up whenever Joe Cooper or Mack get involved.)

    Over on DALLAS, Miss Ellie is also laying the past to rest by agreeing have Jock declared legally dead. After a date for the court hearing is set, she calls Ray in Kansas to tell him that the reading of Jock’s will is planned for the following day. Back on KNOTS, Gary receives a telegram from Bobby containing the same information. Ray and Gary’s respective women respond characteristically to the news. Abby whoops with delight (when no one is around to see her) while Donna frowns ominously.

    Gary and Ray both invite a third party to accompany them back to Dallas. Neither Gary’s estranged wife nor Ray’s cousin is overly keen on the idea, however. “What in the world would I wanna go to Dallas for??” Val asks incredulously. Mickey eventually agrees but is far from happy to find himself bunking with three other cowboys at Southfork. "I didn't have to leave Kansas to go to prison. We got Leavenworth right there,” he grumbles. I've assumed the bunkhouse in question to be what is now Elena's Petit Trianon in New DALLAS. If one takes the view, as I do, that Elena’s brother Drew is the 21st Century Mickey, then it’s kind of fitting he should end up living there too.

    Ray tells Donna that he has brought Mickey to Southfork to help put him on the straight and narrow. “Jock did the same thing for me,” he explains. Meanwhile, Lilimae surmises that Gary inviting Val to the will reading is really about his unresolved daddy issues. "Oh sugar, it probably just hit home to him that his daddy died, and he probably needed to talk to somebody who loved him,” she says. “Then let him go to her,” Val replies, referring to Abby.

    Gary and Bobby go on to speculate gloomily about the contents of their father's will. "That will is gonna determine who finally owns Ewing Oil,” Bobby tells Pam on DALLAS, "and I have a terrible feeling it's gonna be JR. If Daddy gave him the company, then you and I are gonna get out of here ... I'm not gonna sit around and watch him take over again." "My father never trusted me,” Gary tells Abby on KNOTS. "I wouldn’t put it past the old man to tie Val and me together, make her custodian of my money ... I just want you to be prepared. It’s just possible that I may come out of Dallas with nothing."

    Abby and JR, of course, already have some advance notice of what the will contains. When Sue Ellen overhears JR promising John Ross that Ewing Oil will one day be his alone to run, she also gets an inkling. What’s interesting is that when she asks JR about the will, (“I have a notion that you know something”) she doesn’t let on what she has overheard - yet it seems that is what prompts her (at least in part) to finally agree to remarry him, even going so far as to set a wedding date. Likewise, Abby, armed with similar foreknowledge, makes this pledge to Gary on KNOTS: "Look, you go to Dallas, you hear the will. And if you come back a millionaire - fine, terrific - but if you come back without a penny, that’s fine too - because from now on, rich or poor, we’re together.”

    Watching these episodes of DALLAS and KNOTS in sequence is really interesting. Gary’s look of silent anger at the will reading at Southfork, for instance, feels more resonant in the context of both shows.

    Harve Smithfield’s announcement at the end of this week’s DALLAS - that JR and Bobby are to be pitted against each other to determine who should finally control Ewing Oil - is both dramatically thrilling and pivotal to the future of the series. So is Alexis’s revelation at the end of DYNASTY that her and Blake’s firstborn son was kidnapped as a baby and never seen again. Admittedly, both plot twists are also kinda farfetched, but crucially, the contest between JR and Bobby feels somehow inevitable.

    The second KNOTS episode of the week, “New Beginnings”, picks up directly where “Jock’s Will" leaves off, with Gary saying his goodbyes to Bobby at Southfork whilst struggling to comes to terms with the fact that his $10,000,000 inheritance will be “limited for the first four years to use of the interest and loan.” The ep is a fascinating hybrid of the two Ewing-verse shows. A KNOTS episode set mostly in Dallas, it feels like DALLAS with extra brains or KNOTS with extra slippery soapiness.

    Gary and Abby are staying in the same Dallas hotel that Val is as part of her book tour, but both parties remain ignorant of the other’s presence for the bulk of the ep. In one scene, a dressed-for-bed Val takes receipt of her room service tray, closing her door just as an immaculate looking Abby saunters down the hallway on Gary’s arm, on their way out to dinner. The physical contrast between the two women here echoes a scene in this week's DYNASTY when Krystle and Alexis run into each other in the hospital corridor. Krystle is dirty and bedraggled following her one-woman mountain rescue mission, while Alexis retains her fur-coated glamour in spite of Cecil’s heart attack.

    When Abby and Val do see each other, in the last scene of "New Beginnings”, they are on an equal footing, stylistically and otherwise. "Paging Mrs. Ewing," calls the hotel tannoy, “paging Mrs. Gary Ewing." Abby and Val arrive from different directions and meet, finally, in the middle. "Val!" exclaims Abby in surprise. Save for a brief encounter at the dry cleaners a few weeks earlier, this is the first time the two women have spoken since Val caught Gary and Abby in bed together. "Well, you look terrific,” Abby continues. "Success seems to agree with you, I guess.” Unlike Krystle’s sarcastic tribute to Alexis in that earlier hospital scene, where she called her “my husband's innocent ex-wife and the splendidly irreproachable mother of his two children,” Abby’s compliment is genuine. "Thank you, Abby," Val replies graciously. "I might say the same about you. Success seems to agree with both of us." There follows a moment of something like mutual respect, and then Gary appears, throwing the situation off balance once again. Abby takes his arm, and Val takes her leave. On her way out, she stops briefly to look at the poster advertising her own book tour appearance and then continues walking, head held high, lonely but somehow victorious. The episode ends, not with the big dramatic freeze frames of this week’s DALLAS and DYNASTY, but almost tentatively with Gary watching Val as she goes, and Abby watching Gary, as if realising this is the new status quo: Gary may now have achieved a kind of peace with his father's memory, but he is still haunted by his past with Valene.

    And this week’s Soap Land Top 4 are …

    1 (1) KNOTS LANDING (New Beginnings)
    2 (-) DYNASTY
    3 (3) DALLAS
    4 (1) KNOTS LANDING (Catharsis)
     
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  19. James from London

    James from London Soap Chat Mega Star

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    03/Nov/82: DYNASTY: The Roof v. 04/Nov/82: KNOTS LANDING: Investments v. 05/Nov/82: DALLAS: Aftermath v. 05/Nov/82: FALCON CREST: The Exposé

    After the hysteria of the season opener, this week’s DYNASTY feels slightly more conventional. Broadly speaking, it depicts characters behaving plausibly in implausible situations. I’m particularly taken by the scene where Fallon tells Jeff that if she'd known at the time that she had an elder brother who was kidnapped as a baby, she would have gone through with aborting her own child - who has now been snatched away himself.

    The night before this episode aired, BROOKSIDE began in the UK. A twice-weekly soap opera, it explored the modern British class system by depicting four households from differing economic backgrounds living in close proximity in a newly developed cul-de-sac: an upper middle-class family obliged to downscale after the father is made redundant, a working-class clan from a rundown council estate now moving up the social ladder, and two young couples: one, upwardly mobile professionals, the other representing the black market economy. Socially realistic and overtly political, BROOKSIDE was as different from its glossy American counterparts as a soap could be - and yet the same theme of "the haves and the have-nots" reverberates throughout this week’s Soap Land.

    "My father worked very hard for all of this,” continues Fallon on DYNASTY, looking around her missing child’s expensively furnished nursery. "He had genius and he had guts and he got it all for us, and until now it never occurred to me that people might hate him for that, might hate us, might even hate our baby enough to take him from us. Is this way it really is for people like us, Jeff?”

    We also hear from characters on the other half of the class divide - those whom Jeff and Fallon, in their (understandable) paranoia, now suspect of taking their baby. “You rich are all alike, ain’t ya?” snarls Alfred, the weirdo at the cemetery. "You put the cops on me - me, a guy who can barely eke by. People like me can’t even make a remark about the rich without them getting their hackles up … Maybe I ain’t a Colby or a Carrington, but I got my feelings too.” “Your money, it’s always your lousy money, isn’t it?” snaps Little Blake’s nurse Susan. "Well, it’s not going to buy a confession from me. There isn’t enough money or decent wine in the world for that!”

    There are also contrasting references to rich kid Jeff’s education ("A very intelligent man I put through Princeton,” brags his Uncle Cecil from his sickbed) and Montana farm boy Michael Torrance’s law degree which his grandmother struggled to pay for. With Kate Torrance now dead and Michael apparently believing himself to be the abducted Adam Carrington, he heads to Denver to redress the balance.

    On KNOTS LANDING, Gary’s inheritance means that he - and subsequently Abby - are now operating in a different financial sphere to the rest of the characters. This creates tensions of its own. After Gary offers to bankroll Kenny in his own record company so they can launch Ciji themselves, (“Damn,” he laughs, “this is the first time since the reading of the will that I actually feel rich!”) Ginger worries that Kenny is gambling their future on a rich man’s whim. Conversely, Abby turns Gary’s friendly loan to Richard into a formal agreement. “We can foreclose if you don’t make your payments promptly,” she informs him. “This gives you control of my entire restaurant!” Richard protests, but he has no choice but to comply.

    Nowhere in this week’s Soap Land is the class divide more noticeable than on FALCON CREST, where unethical labour practices in the vineyards are exposed by Richard’s newspaper. Chase is aghast to learn that Falcon Crest hires a third of its workers on a part-time basis in return for minimum wage and no benefits. He finds a large group of them (all Hispanic) living in a shack without running water, heat or sanitation - conditions that make the barrio on FLAMINGO ROAD look almost cosy. (A thought: if Mario Nunuoz had really wanted to help “his people”, he could have started in his own backyard instead of leaving the show. As it is, all the Hispanics left on screen are bit players and extras.)

    When confronted, Lance and Angela insist that the situation is perfectly legal. The episode sidesteps the issue of illegal immigrants raised in last season’s “Victims”, but the very fact that this practice is sanctioned, even acceptable, ("It’s the way it’s always been,” says Lance) is just as disturbing, and FALCON CREST’s willingness to question it feels somewhat bold. “The least these people deserve are the basics of a decent life,” insists Chase. “I don’t force them to live like this,” Angela shrugs. “Don’t you?” he asks, "How do you think this happens?” This is as close as this week’s Soap Land gets to making a political statement.

    The storyline concludes with Angela hi-jacking Chase's press conference and claiming his pledge to pay all of Falcon Crest’s workers a decent wage as her own idea, thereby turning a defeat into a PR victory in much the same way JR did back in “Community Spirit”, his first episode of KNOTS.

    Chase's recent inheritance of half of Falcon Crest means the Giobertis must now surely qualify as millionaires, yet the series continues to depict them as an ordinary, everyday relatable folk. We are told that the family has put up their house as collateral for Cole’s bail, and see them worrying about whether or not he has the right attorney, just as the Fairgates did after Sid was arrested for attempted rape. (The Giobertis aren’t the only Soap Land characters to have their wealth played down to fit current storylines. I’m not certain, but wasn’t Kenny Ward once the boss of Oracle Records? He certainly had the authority to hire Kristin as a receptionist and reject Lilimae as a potential superstar. Now he is depicted as an employee powerless to sign Ciji to his label - hence his eagerness to accept Gary’s offer of a partnership.)

    Talking about his son’s kidnapping twenty-five years earlier, Blake tells Krystle, "Denver Carrington is its way a tribute to my first child.” This reminds me of Jock describing Ewing Oil in his will as "precious to me beyond anything in my life save my dear wife Ellie and my sons.” On KNOTS, Richard Avery names his restaurant in honour of his newborn son Daniel, and this week DALLAS cartel member Wade Luce sadly bows out with the line, "I invested a lot of my life into that company”, before signing it over to Rebecca Wentworth. But while Soap Land’s men might refer to their businesses in such tender, almost romantic terms, its women are decidedly less sentimental. “Labour is a commodity and we pay as low a price as we can,” says Angela Channing after being shown the appalling conditions in which her workers are living. “These are human beings,” Chase protests. “But I’m a businesswoman and this is a business decision,” she replies flatly. Meanwhile, Abby’s response to Gary’s dream of living and working on his own ranch (“it's in me,” he explains, "it's a part of me“) is our first indication of the extent of her ambition. "Just because you dreamed about something as a kid doesn’t mean you have to do it,” she tells him. "You’ve got the money - now use it. Use it to make more money, to build bigger dreams. Money is power, Gary. Power to make things happen … We can build an empire much bigger than this ranch.”

    Blake also speaks of empire building in his scene with Krystle. "When I finally had to face the reality that we had lost Adam,” he says, "I poured all my energy into positive things. I built an empire on that energy.” It seems that when a man in Soap Land is deprived of a child, he builds an empire. When the same thing happens to a woman, she ends up on the roof of a building. This week, Claudia Blaisdel follows in the footsteps of Pam and Val Ewing by climbing to the top of a tall hotel, apparently carrying Little Blake in her arms. The moment where she drops the bundle over the edge and we see in slow motion a doll flying through the air before smashing onto the roof of the ambulance below remains as absurdly, shockingly surreal as ever. It's David Lynch meets “Fembots in Las Vegas”, laced with a paedophobic quality all its own. Once again, Jeff and Fallon’s reactions are quite believable in the extraordinary circumstances. Thinking they’ve found their baby, then seeing it fall to its death, then finding out it’s really a doll, then realising that means their baby is still missing … you can feel their heads about to explode.

    While Gary dreams of owning a ranch on KNOTS LANDING, on DALLAS, he is the dream. "My father appeared like a dream,” complains Lucy, referring to his near-mute appearance in last week’s episode. "Now he's gone. He appeared then disappeared. The Case of the Vanishing Father."

    At the end of this week’s KNOTS, following an unsuccessful camping trip where they bicker amusingly like characters in a Neil Simon movie, Karen and Mack take their relationship to the next level. Meanwhile on FALCON CREST, Cole and Sally Bullock simultaneously kneel down in her kitchen to clear away a broken plate and end up kissing - the very circumstances that led to the first kiss between Steven Carrington and his older woman, Claudia, during DYNASTY’s first season. “Then it’s true,” as Abby mockingly observed upon meeting “Karen’s Mack” last week, "older women really are more attractive.” A variation on the same theme: Chip Roberts, (“young and pretty”) who last week got dumped by Bess Riker, ("old and haggard”) now finds himself the object of Lilimae’s touchingly unrequited affection.

    And this week’s Soap Land Top 4 are …

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

    James from London Soap Chat Mega Star

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    10/Nov/82: DYNASTY: The Wedding v. 12/Nov/82: DALLAS: Hit and Run v. 12/Nov/82: FALCON CREST: Home Away From Home

    DYNASTY solves the “Who Kidnapped Little Blake?” mystery in the first two minutes of this week’s episode, when Jeff finally thinks to mention the weirdo in the cemetery who has the same surname as one of Blake’s enemies - in much the same way that Pam suddenly remembered the photographer she had warned off Lucy a full two days after Lucy mysteriously disappeared in last season’s DALLAS.

    No sooner is the baby recovered safe and sound than we bid farewell to Claudia, who takes her leave of the Carrington mansion (“Goodbye, sweet house”) before being led away to the Soap Land Sanatarium in a scene that is ridiculous and endearing at the same time. The long walk down the staircase, the fur stole, the weeping servants we’ve never seen before - the allusion to SUNSET BOULEVARD is blatant, but what’s less clear is whether the show is cruelly having fun at the expense of its most fragile character or somehow elevating her by giving her such a grand exit.

    The one moment in this week’s Soap Land that feels genuinely cinematic - or at least “Old Hollywood” - is on FALCON CREST. We see stock footage of a plane landing on a runway at night, then a chauffeured limousine pulling away from the airport, and finally Jacqueline Perrault’s partially revealed face as she checks her makeup in a compact mirror and orders her driver to take her to the Tuscany Valley.

    Both Cole in FALCON CREST and Fallon in DYNASTY announce their decisions to fly the nest this week. "I wanna move out and take the baby,” Fallon informs Blake. "I should have gotten out a long time ago, to prove myself, to prove that I’m a worthwhile human being.” “I’m moving to the Demery place,” Cole tells Maggie. "I feel like I’m living in a fishbowl here.” (Abby likewise compared Seaview Circle to a goldfish bowl in the first KNOTS episode of the season.) Given that keeping their family under one roof for the rest of their lives is an imperative for any self-respecting parent in Soap Land, Blake and Maggie each reacts with predictable dismay. “You don’t have to move out,” Blake insists. “This is crazy, Cole, this is just crazy,” protests Maggie. "What do you think this is going to do to your father, to the whole family?” Maggie’s plea might be more impassioned, but Blake ultimately proves the more persuasive parent as Fallon relents when he offers to set her up in a business of her choosing. Cole, meanwhile, moves in with DALLAS’s Sally Bullock, aka Katherine Demery, his older woman. His parents are far from pleased when they find out the nature of the relationship - the first time age difference has been presented as an issue in a Soap Land affair.

    I didn’t derive the same vicarious pleasure from watching Fallon looking around the La Mirada hotel as I did from seeing Richard Avery scope out the venue that subsequently became his restaurant on KNOTS LANDING a few weeks ago. However, watching her inadvertently flirt with her own brother Adam is fun. This is Soap Land’s first intentionally unintentional incest storyline (as opposed to Lucy and Ray's romp in the hay, which was unintentionally unintentional).

    Fallon isn’t the only spoilt princess in Soap Land to locate her work ethic this week. Over on DALLAS, Lucy resumes her modelling career following her kidnap/rape/abortion/daytime TV sabbatical. Meanwhile, on FALCON CREST, Melissa finds herself in an almost identical position to that of Soap Land’s quintessential spoilt princess, FLAMINGO ROAD's Constance, when she discovers her husband of convenience in the arms of a woman he genuinely loves. Even though Lori Stevens is nowhere near as established a character as Lane Ballou was in F’LINGO RD, Lance is depicted as being as serious about her as Field was about Lane. Also like Lane, Lori is a chick from the wrong side of the tracks (albeit with an incredible apartment overlooking San Francisco Bay) who cares little for the trappings of money and power. While Melissa may not be in love with Lance the way Constance was with Field, she has her own complication - her pregnancy. By the end of this week’s episode, she has been confined to bed for the remainder of it.

    DYNASTY’s Alexis Carrington and DALLAS’s Rebecca Wentworth both move out of their somewhat modest homes this week (Alexis’s wonderfully atmospheric studio, Rebecca’s nondescript condominium) in favour of somewhere grander. “I’m going to be living in his palazzo,” boasts Alexis to Krystle before setting off from the Carrington kitchen to marry Cecil. Meanwhile, Rebecca shows Pam round the grounds of her impressive new mansion in Dallas. Both women seem to want recapture times gone by. “I wanted something like what I had in Houston,” Rebecca explains while Alexis brags of how brilliant Denver’s social scene will be once she and Cecil start entertaining, "as it used to be when I entertained in this very house [in] the good old days.” Rebecca also talks about playing hostess, but rather more wistfully: “Cliff might wanna entertain. Who knows? He might even wanna live here.”

    A change of address isn’t the only thing Alexis and Rebecca have in common (although only one of them jarringly refers to a bit player as “an obese nurse” and "a fat phantom in white”). Both still carry scars from the unhappy marriages that led to them being separated from their children while they were growing up. "Fallon is his darling daughter and Steven is his embarrassment. Everyone is his, his, his!” rants Alexis of Blake. "Pam, I was seventeen," Rebecca pleads. "I could barely read or write. I wasn’t ready to be a wife or a mother. And Digger, Digger was destroying me. I didn’t want to leave you, but I had to save myself and somehow I found the strength to do it.” Alexis was also seventeen when she married Blake. Both women now see revenge against a powerful family as a way of assuaging their wounds.

    "The past is over and nothing can change it,” Alexis continues, "but let me tell you something, Krystle, the future is going to be very different because in a very short time, this faultless family is going to be hearing from me - including you, and you especially are going to cringe at what you hear, Krystle Jennings Carrington, the oh, so sterling, once and maybe future secretary!” There’s nothing much Krystle can do but roll her eyes at this bewildering verbal onslaught.

    The discussion between Rebecca and Pam is more balanced. "I know how angry you are at JR, and God knows you have every reason to be,” Pam tells her mother, "but I'm asking you now, please stop this vendetta before it gets out of control ... Buying Cliff an oil company is one thing, but buying Wade Luce's company and getting him into the cartel, that could hurt all of Ewing Oil. It'll turn the cartel against the whole family. That affects Bobby, Christopher and me!” “… You have the Ewings' strength behind you,” argues Rebecca. "Whose strength does Cliff have?" "He should have his own,” Pam replies. "Yes he should," Rebecca agrees, "but he doesn't, not yet, and maybe that's because when he was growing up, when I should have been there to give it to him, I was off trying to develop some of my own.” There follows one of Pam’s all time greatest lines: "Mother, you've always had strength. You proved that when you left your children to go out and start a new life. It's a cold, calculating kind of strength. Is that what you want for Cliff?"

    Adam Carrington gains access to Blake’s office under false pretences this week in order to meet his father for the first time. However, their meeting is about as successful as Richard Channing’s was with Angela in FALCON CREST a few weeks ago. Both end the same way - in total rejection. “I know right now I’m your son,” Adam tells Blake, "but now that I’ve met you, I’m happy to remain just the guy I was before I ever heard your name - Carrington. What a rotten family it must be!” “Get the hell out of here!” shouts Blake. This week, Richard also meets Cole Gioberti for the first time. This also goes badly, with Cole bursting into his office and accusing him of press harassment before threatening him with violence. Elsewhere, Chase’s mother Jacqueline takes one look at Richard and high tails it back to Zurich. By comparison, Mickey Trotter’s introduction to the Ewings goes pretty smoothly, with only a dismissive put-down from JR to contend with.

    The final scene of this week’s DYNASTY - Alexis and Cecil’s bedside wedding - poses the same conundrum as Claudia’s departure earlier in the ep. Are the programme makers joking or are they deadly serious? Is this scene a pastiche of melodrama, or melodrama taken to the next level? As it is, the scene - with Cecil in pyjamas and Alexis decked out in a girlish white wedding dress - feels like an episode of SOAP scored by Max Steiner.

    Following the end of “Silver Shadows”, the KNOTS instalment in which ageing movie director Andrew Douglas becomes besotted by Abby, this is the second Soap Land scenario where a wealthy man on his deathbed spends his final moments with a woman he knows is after his money. Andrew Douglas might have been confused enough to bequeath his fortune to a woman who was already dead, but such behaviour is almost rational next to Cecil’s gloriously bonkers wedding speech to his bride: “My wedding gift, a gift without peer, is such that, when I do go, I can leap into my grave laughing, knowing that I’ve left you with power and money, and with you and Blake at each other’s throats. What’s the matter, sweetheart? Is this honeymoon talk upsetting you?” He then goes on to feverishly quiz Alexis about the night of her wedding to Blake. Bizarrely, his final line of dialogue echoes Miss Ellie’s back in the DALLAS mini-series when she spoke about how lucky she was to have married a man with dirty fingernails: "Tell me, were his nails clean that night, Alexis, or were they stained with the oil of his Carrington Rig Number One?"

    We’re only seven weeks into the season and the Soap Land death count is already unusually high when Cecil clutches his heart and then joins Gus Nunuoz, Carlo Agretti, Amos Krebbs and Kate Torrance in the great eternal cliff-hanger in the sky.

    Next to this week’s DYNASTY - all verbose cod-Shakespearean dialogue and bright daytime soap lighting - DALLAS feels comparatively earthy. Even JR’s most recent schemes - setting Harve’s son-in-law up with a hooker and now framing Walt Driscoll’s wife in a hit and run car accident - seem less outlandish than those of the past few years. There’s a pleasingly back-to-basics feel about his machinations, much like those perpetrated by him and John Ross in New DALLAS’s first season.

    As a freshly bereaved Alexis bows her bridal-veiled head in sorrow in time for the DYNASTY freeze frame, her predecessor in widowhood, Miss Ellie, reaches the stage Karen Fairgate was at nine months ago when she felt able to accept a lunch invitation from another man. In Ellie's case, it's twinkly old Walter Lankershim from DYNASTY.

    Minor parallel of the week: Krystle and Pam both playfully refer to their husbands as “cute". (In each case, this is the calm before the marital storm.)

    And this week’s Soap Land Top 3 are …

    1 (1) FALCON CREST
    2 (4) DALLAS
    3 (2) DYNASTY
     
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