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DYNASTY versus DALLAS versus KNOTS LANDING versus the rest of them

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

  1. James from London

    James from London Soap Chat Mega Star

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    17/Nov/82: DYNASTY: The Will v. 18/Nov/82: KNOTS LANDING: Man in the Middle v. 19/Nov/82: DALLAS: The Ewing Touch v. 19/Nov/82: FALCON CREST: The Namesake

    Another week in Soap Land, another last will and testimony. “All that money and power riding on a few lines in Cecil’s will,” taunts Fallon. "Is Alexis in or is Alexis out?” Meanwhile on FALCON CREST, Melissa sneaks a look at Angela’s will. Chao-Li’s inheritance of $25,000 and lifelong employment compares favourably to the $10,000 and year’s salary awarded to Cecil Colby’s housekeeper.

    DYNASTY being DYNASTY, Cecil’s will reading is more formal than Jock’s was in DALLAS a few weeks ago, (it’s more of a business meeting than a family gathering) and also more glamorous (Alexis looks quite stunning in her widow’s weeds). Just as Jock’s will contained a codicil drawn up shortly before his death in South America, Cecil’s includes some last minute instructions added by the deceased the day before his death in hospital. Like the codicil, these instructions - a letter and videotape revealing that Cecil was behind the assassination attempt on Blake last season - trigger a war from beyond the grave. That, in fact, is his main bequest to Alexis: “I haven’t achieved my goal of control of Denver Carrington,” he writes to Blake, "but that I leave in the hands of the woman who shares my dedication, my wife Alexis - confident she will find a way to bring you to your knees.”

    This is not Soap Land's only vow of vengeance this week. Losing out to Bobby over the McLeish oil deal is enough to reignite Cliff’s anger towards the Ewings. He promises to "turn the Ewing empire into a broken down, two pump filling station.” Meanwhile, four weeks after the announcement of the Jock Ewing Memorial Scholarship, Richard Channing proposes the Douglas Channing Memorial Garden as a tribute to his late father. However, this is really a front for a winery he plans to build - which in turn is a way of attacking Angela. "I’ll start a bidding war in this valley for all the available grapes and force Angela to pay more for premium crops than she ever has before,” Richard explains to Miss Hunter. "Within a year, Falcon Crest will be in a complete negative cash flow position."

    Meanwhile, back on DYNASTY: Left alone after the reading of the will with only half of Cecil's fortune and a triplex penthouse apartment for company, Alexis wonders what to do next. “Damn you, Cecil,” she says aloud, addressing her thoughts to her late husband's office chair in the same way Karen Fairgate used Sid's headstone and Miss Ellie a pile of broken crockery, “damn you for dying and leaving me to take care of this myself! Bring Blake to his knees? How??” “You're gonna have to do it with brains,” Afton advises Cliff on DALLAS, “not passion.”

    In last week’s DALLAS, JR implicated the wife of government official Walt Driscoll in a car accident in order to obtain an oil variance. In this week’s FALCON CREST, Richard Channing has county supervisor Nick Hogan’s vintage truck blown up as a way of persuading him to vote his way over a land deal. Like JR, he retains his gentlemanly charm throughout the transaction.

    Three life-changing events on the theme of parentage take place in this week’s Soap Land: Bobby and Pam’s adoption of Christopher is finalised at a court hearing in DALLAS. A rainswept Melissa collapses in Cole’s arms before telling him that he’s the father of her baby on FALCON CREST. (She then observes the Soap Land tradition of giving birth prematurely to a male heir whose life is left hanging in the balance.) And in a near-majestic scene at the end of this week's DYNASTY, Alexis is reunited with her son Adam twenty-five years after he was snatched by Kate Torrance from his baby carriage. For some reason, I’ve always been a sucker for Adam’s detailed description of the day it happened: "It was a fine September morning, she said, and as she got on the bus with me, it began to rain - a sun shower. It was as if the very skies were sharing her sorrow and her newfound joy, she said.” There are more meteorological memories on FALCON CREST. "It was a rainy night like this one, twenty-two years ago, in this very hospital, when you were born,” Julia tells Lance, "and I had such hopes, such dreams.”

    Elsewhere on DYNASTY, Fallon tries to convey to designer Billy Dawson her vision for turning the stuffy La Mirada hotel into "a pleasure palace … a fantasy land.” “A class A bordello,” translates Billy teasingly. Over on KNOTS LANDING, when Richard Avery attempts to explain his upmarket vision for Daniel’s, Abby complains that he is "running that restaurant like the Court of Versailles.” Two weeks after stomping on Gary’s dreams of owning a ranch, she now does the same thing to Richard: “It [the restaurant] might be your dream,” she snaps, "but as long as Gary and I are in control, you better learn to dream a bit more profitably. Otherwise, you might find your dream turning into a nightmare.” Money might not be a problem for Fallon, but getting her father and husband to respect her as a serious businesswoman is.

    Serious is the key word here. Fallon, previously so witty and insouciant, is now oh so anxious to be taken seriously. Similarly, Alexis, whose brazen wit allowed her to glide effortlessly through the Carrington mansion for much of last season, now appears to have exchanged her joie de vivre for a kind of shrill paranoia. (This week, she accuses Krystle of trying to seduce Cecil before she married Blake.) Even Abby, now that she has money, seems to have mislaid the sense of humour and excitement she had when she was still scheming to acquire it. The one businesswoman to retain her sense of fun this week is Holly Harwood, who conducts a meeting with JR whilst stretched out by her pool in a bikini and flirting outrageously.
    “All art is unstable. Its meaning is not necessarily that implied by the author. There is no authoritative voice. There are only multiple readings.” - David Bowie
    James from London, Feb 6, 2014 #63
    James from London
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    (Continued)

    As DYNASTY grows more earnest - this week’s episode contains at least three long discussions about Fallon’s journey to become “a woman who's found a sense of self” - KNOTS LANDING becomes a shinier, glitzier, more glamorous place. Those stay-at-home, down-to-earth Fairgates are suddenly established members of an exclusive beach club (“This place is very popular with the young execs”) and are sufficiently well-connected for the ambitious Chip to attach himself to Diana. (“Oh man, if I stick around you long enough I could build up a whole new career!”) In fact, the family now have a lifestyle Sid’s snobby first wife would have approved of. With shy little Val becoming a public speaker and everyone else preparing for Ciji’s singing debut at Daniel’s, it feels like Victoria Hill’s charity fashion show all over again, only now it’s the show itself that's playing dress up.

    The transformation is augmented by some typically striking direction by Larry Elikann - scenes filmed from odd angles that make the familiar look fresh and strange, and lots of big, bold close ups that give the characters a kind of feverish, almost cartoon-like quality.

    Watching Val cringe as she listens to Chip boast to Lilimae about how impressed Gary and Abby were when he persuaded Richard to let Ciji sing at the restaurant, we suddenly realise how knotted together all the characters have become - not in the geographical way they used to be when they all lived in the same street, or even via a shared family history like the characters on the other soaps, but through several cleverly stitched together plot contrivances. In fact, KNOTS is probably the most contrived and plot-driven of all the soaps at this point, but when the results are this much fun, who cares?

    As the world of KNOTS contracts, becoming tighter and knottier, the world of DALLAS expands. The cartel, Punk and Mavis, Afton and Rebecca, Harve, Clayton, Mickey, Holly … the show’s regular ensemble comprises more than just the Ewings and Cliff these days. For the first time, we start to get a sense of the Dallas oil community as a whole.

    With “Capricorn Crude” and “Sam Culver: The Early Years” now available from all good Soap Land bookshops, FALCON CREST’s Maggie finally finishes her screenplay. Like Val’s novel, it is a fictionalised version of “real” events - in this case, her son’s arrest for a murder he didn’t commit. Unlike Gary, Chase has no problem with his wife plundering their family’s personal lives for inspiration and calls the script “darn good". Meanwhile, Val has already completed the first two chapters of her next book, but won’t reveal the subject matter, and Donna fills her free time by renewing her interest in Texas politics. She persuades Miss Ellie to accompany her to one such meeting - only for them to find the main item on the agenda is JR’s variance. No matter how broad DALLAS’s canvas becomes, all roads inevitably lead back to JR.

    While Diana invites Chip to dinner at the beach club to spite her mother’s new beau, Miss Ellie shocks her sons by inviting her new friend, Walter Lankershim, aka Frank Crutcher, to dinner at Southfork. Whereas Karen’s attempts to get Diana to talk about her issues with Mack are met with teenage prevarication, Bobby Ewing is more honest with his mother. "It felt strange, seeing you with another man," he admits. "Nobody will ever take your daddy's place,” Miss Ellie assures him.

    The DALLAS equivalent of the KNOTS beach club is the nightspot where Afton sings. “It’s getting to be the place in town,” she informs Cliff. “A lot of influential people are dropping in … They’d be good contacts for you, people you should socialise with.” Just don’t let Chip know or he’ll be on the first plane over. However, not everyone in Soap Land is driven by ambition or vengeance or the need to a discover a sense of themselves as a woman. In contrast to Chip “man in the middle” Roberts, his twenty-something DALLAS counterpart Mickey is content to bunk off work and “wax some dumb bar stool,” much to cousin Ray’s disapproval.

    On KNOTS, Ciji somehow manages to be both ambitious and passive. Krystle might accuse Blake of treating Fallon "like one of her old dolls,” but it’s actually Ciji who is the most doll like character in this week’s Soap Land. Kenny and Gary tell her what she should sing and when, Abby picks out her clothes - and Ciji goes along with it all, strangely disengaged. She is spoken of as commodity - “a hot property” and "an important investment”. The only time she truly comes alive is when she’s on stage singing.

    For her big debut at Daniel, in front of an audience of regular characters, she sings Dan Hill’s “Sometimes When We Touch”, an ultra-conventional romantic ballad. Again, it is gutsily delivered and persuasively filmed. Throughout the song, there are close ups of the lovers in the restaurant exchanging meaningful looks (or in Lilimae’s case, a forlorn glance at Chip and Diana gazing into each other’s eyes), and these have the same cumulative effect as the musical montages that have since become commonplace in TV drama (including New DALLAS). Within this context - the inward-looking, interconnected world of KNOTS - the standing ovation Ciji receives at the end of the song feels entirely credible. The appearance of an enraptured music critic from Rolling Stone is pushing it a bit, however.

    In a nifty bit of foreshadowing, Chip tries to convince Diana that his interest in Ciji is strictly professional: “Diana, business is business. Confuse it with pleasure, it’s certain death.” Cut to Ciji looking longingly at him. (His words are echoed by Lucy Ewing in DALLAS: “I cannot mix business with my personal life ever again,” she tells a pushy client who objectifies her in the same way KNOTS does Ciji.)

    Crossover of the week: the grounds of the Carrington mansion have now become those of Michael Tyrone in FLAMINGO ROAD, with Blake and Krystle lunching by the same pool in which Richard Channing and Morgan Fairchild writhed naked just seven months earlier.

    And this week’s Soap Land Top 4 are … again, it’s a close one, especially between KNOTS and DALLAS ...

    1 (2) DALLAS
    2 (-) KNOTS LANDING
    3 (3) DYNASTY
    4 (1) FALCON CREST
     
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  2. Ked

    Ked Soap Chat Enthusiast

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    I would have loved that kind of discussion between Fallon and Alexis about Steven. :D
     
  3. James from London

    James from London Soap Chat Mega Star

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    24/Nov/82: DYNASTY: The Siblings v. 26/Nov/82: DALLAS: Fringe Benefits v. 26/Nov/82: FALCON CREST: Choices

    Without being entirely self-contained, all of this week's episodes are quite narrow in focus. For instance, all but two scenes of this week’s DYNASTY are about the Carringtons’ acceptance (or lack thereof) of Adam as a member of the family. Alexis's eagerness and Blake’s reluctance to believe that he is their son makes each of them appear unusually vulnerable. Meanwhile, Fallon’s freaked out reaction to the news that the man she has just kissed passionately is actually her brother is both credible and very funny. (Indeed, this is another DYNASTY episode where all the characters' behaviour seems believable given the bizarre circumstances in which they find themselves. Adam’s Oscar Wilde quotation towards the end of the ep - “I can’t believe anything unless it’s incredible” - kind of sums this up.)

    Meanwhile, the fight for Ewing Oil informs every scene of this week’s DALLAS. (Lucy and Mickey, the two characters least involved in the contest, are given the week off.) At the centre of the episode is a stand alone story about JR and Cliff each attempting to buy the same refinery from Gil Thurman.

    FALCON CREST is comparatively broader in its focus, but does include a self-contained guest appearance from Tony Cumson, played this time around by Robert Loggia instead of Rashid Ahmed. Loggia delivers a tougher, edgier version of the character. That aside, the plot is essentially a retread of Tony’s last episode, which was in turn a variation on Gary and Val’s first story on DALLAS: estranged husband, wife and child come close to making a new life together only for the same malevolent family members who drove them apart in the first place to do so again.

    That isn’t to say the story is a dud. In fact, the repetition works in its favour because it reinforces the idea of the characters (i.e. Julia and Lance) as trapped, doomed to languish at Falcon Crest no matter how many times they try to escape. At least Lance and Tony get to hug out their differences this time, like a macho version of Lucy and Val at the end of “Secrets” (DALLAS, Season 2). And Tony has a great farewell line to his son: “Falcon Crest is a cancer. It contaminates everybody it touches. Get away if you can before it’s too late."

    The familiar theme of characters attempting or threatening to leave their families recurs again throughout this week’s Soap Land. In addition to Julia’s doomed bid for freedom, ("I’m gonna leave with him this time, Mother, and you can’t stop me!”) Cole Gioberti almost runs away to sea. (And given that he has been charged with murdering the father of the woman whose dying baby he is secretly the daddy of, who can blame him?) On DYNASTY, no sooner does Adam move into his mother’s swish apartment then he tells her he is “thinking of going back home … I have a good life there,” while on DALLAS, Pam suggests to Bobby that they "take Christopher and move away, just leave."

    These latter two scenes, between Adam and Alexis, and Pam and Bobby, are highlights of their respective episodes. "Why did you stop looking for me [as a baby]?” Adam demands, suddenly turning on his mother. "We tried,” she insists, "we tried so hard ... to find you.” "But you gave up,” he replies. “Why - because somebody said, ‘the kid must be dead so forget it'? Tell me, who was it that gave the final edict to forget it - Blake?” Again, Adam’s hostility is believable - and fascinating. So is Alexis’s decision to defend her ex-husband. "Blake was as shattered and heartbroken as I was,” she tells Adam. "Your loss changed everything between us.” There’s a surprising sweetness about Alexis’s sincerity in this scene.

    Conversely, Pam, DALLAS’s sweetest and most passive character over the last couple of years, has grown increasingly ballsy this season. And this week, during a conversation with Bobby, she becomes downright rebellious. First, she dares question the judgement of the family patriarch ("Why didn't Jock think of his own wife when he wrote that will?”) before committing blasphemy cursing the family business: “To hell with Ewing Oil!”

    The week after Gary and Abby move into their "Taj Mahal by the beach”, Alexis takes occupancy of her impressive new penthouse. It’s far more colourful and contemporary looking than her former studio, but still has kind of an artsy vibe about it. Sue Ellen’s townhouse looks suddenly drab in comparison.

    Said townhouse is the setting for one of two disastrous dinner parties in this week’s Soap Land - one between Sue Ellen, JR and Gil Thurman, the other between Blake, Krystle and Adam. While JR deliberately leaves Sue Ellen and Gil alone for the first part of their evening, hoping Sue Ellen will prove sufficiently disarming to Gil for him to then swoop in and clinch the refinery deal, (“It’s called the old Ewing one-two”) Jeff and Fallon fail to appear for Adam’s welcome dinner at all - their initial dealings with him having proven sufficiently off-putting.

    Alas, neither Gil nor Adam proves to be the ideal guest. Both make unwelcome references to past characters. "Last I heard was you and Clayton Farlow's kid were off to San Angelo,” slurs Gil in Sue Ellen’s direction. Meanwhile, Adam uses that Oscar Wilde quote to bring up the subject of Steven’s sexuality, just as Jeff did back in the pilot episode - the difference being, Jeff did so inadvertently while Adam knows exactly what he’s doing. “He was gay, wasn’t he?” says Adam of old Oscar as Blake shifts uneasily in his seat. "We don’t have too many of them in Montana.” Blake claims to have little knowledge of the subject. "You should be able to spot them easily,” Adam persists, "what with my brother, Steven.” Sue Ellen and Blake both respond with curt politeness. "That's really none of your business,” Sue Ellen tells Gil. “I’d rather not talk about that now if you don’t mind,” says Blake through gritted teeth.

    Adam and Gil both end up leave the party early. Miffed by Sue Ellen rejection his advances, Gil walks out before the steaks are even served, (“Thank-you for the booze, good-night”) while Adam at least makes it through the duck before storming out (“Don’t worry about dessert - I’ll get that at home!”).

    All three of this week’s episodes end strongly. On DYNASTY, Alexis opens the door of her New York hotel room to reveal a brand new character. “Welcome, my good friend Krystle’s first husband!” she beams. Back in Dallas, JR receives a less welcome visitor in his office. "I just closed a deal for the Thurman refinery right underneath your nose,” gloats Cliff, blissfully unaware that Afton has done with Gil what Sue Ellen refused to do in order to clinch the deal. "Now you're alone,” he continues coldly. "You've got nobody. You've got nothin' but your ocean of oil to drown in." JR chuckles, but once Cliff has gone, his face rearranges itself into a scowl.

    Meanwhile, in his office at the end of this week’s FALCON CREST, Richard Channing is informed by an angry Tony Cumson that his attempts to manipulate his life have failed: “I don’t know what kind of a game you and Angela are playing, but I don’t like any part of it!” As a parting gesture, Tony upsets Richard’s cherished display of toy soldiers. (As in his former incarnation as Michael Tyrone, Richard has a fondness for vintage toys and artefacts - all the better to offset his cold-hearted villainy.) As Richard tries frantically to reassemble them, Miss Hunter relays the bad news that all charges against Cole for Carlo Agretti’s murder have been dropped. There follows one of those wonderfully abrupt freeze frames that FLAMINGO ROAD and now FALCON CREST seem to specialise in: Richard and the toy soldiers are shot from beneath a glass table as he bangs his fist in anger. “DAMN!” he shouts, his face contorted.

    And this week’s Soap Land Top 3 are …

    1 (3) DYNASTY
    2 (4) FALCON CREST
    3 (1) DALLAS
     
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  4. James from London

    James from London Soap Chat Mega Star

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    01/Dec/82: DYNASTY: Mark v. 02/Dec/82: KNOTS LANDING: The Best Kept Secret v. 03/Dec/82: DALLAS: The Wedding v. 03/Dec/82: FALCON CREST: The Vigil

    The last will and testaments of Cecil Colby, Jock Ewing and Joseph Gioberti have resulted in some uneasy business alliances in Soap Land. Colby Co is now owned jointly by Cecil’s widow Alexis and his nephew Jeff. Falcon Crest is currently run by Joseph’s daughter Angela in partnership with her nephew Chase. Ewing Oil has two of Jock’s sons each running half of the same company in direct competition with one another. The conflicts arising from each of these partnerships can be felt in this week’s episodes.

    Although Alexis and Jeff actually get along quite well on DYNASTY, problems arise when Alexis allows her son Adam to deputise for her while she is in New York. Jeff is not happy to learn that Adam plans to do business with the controversial Ahmed brothers. (Apparently, the Ahmeds are in London, which would explain why Rashid wasn’t able to assume his alias as Tony Cumson in last week’s FALCON CREST.) Jeff nixes the deal, leading to his and Adam’s first clash. Pretty soon, they’re arguing about everything from Adam’s real identity to the sexual appetite of Jeff’s wife.

    To reign Adam in, Jeff announces his intention to resign from his job at Denver Carrington and come over to Colby Co full time. Alexis is delighted, Adam is not. While Alexis toasts to "a wonderful future for the three of us together,” Adam and Jeff glower at each other over the rims of their champagne glasses.

    Over in the Tuscany Valley, Angela opposes Chase’s decision to develop an abandoned vineyard, claiming the venture to be too expensive. Chase smells a rat: "Two months ago, Falcon Crest was perfectly solvent and now its capital reserves are nearly drained.” What Angela hasn’t told him is that she has been stealing from the Falcon Crest development fund to buy up shares in the New Globe so she can take it over. "I’m bringing in an independent auditor,” Chase announces.

    Meanwhile, in DALLAS, Bobby breaks his promise to stay out of his brother’s half of Ewing Oil when the impact of JR’s variance becomes too great to ignore. While Chase’s auditor is poring over Angela’s business records on FALCON CREST, ("Money doesn’t just disappear, it goes somewhere”) Bobby has his accountants and geologists study the long-term implications of JR’s all-out oil drilling. He then confronts his brother during the Southfork cocktail hour: "Every one of those men thinks that you're tryin' to do is gonna ruin the future of Ewing Oil!” "Bobby," Ellie intervenes, "I'd like it better if you discussed this with JR in private." "I have tried, Mama,” he replies, "and I know how you feel about all this too: 'Let's not argue about business in front of the family', but don't you understand that when we're quiet about things like this, it plays right into his hands? It becomes a cover up for JR!”

    While there may not be an overriding family business on KNOTS LANDING for the characters to fight over, the ramifications of Gary’s inheritance provide a source of conflict between the Ewings and the Averys this week. Laura feels betrayed when she discovers Richard has struck a deal giving Abby and Gary a controlling interest in the restaurant. Unlike Jeff Colby, Chase Gioberti or Bobby Ewing, she is not in a position to assume control of the business or call for audits and reports. Instead, she visits Richard’s shrink for one of those circular conversations that leave her (and us) with more questions than answers.

    This week’s DYNASTY concludes with a great mother/son snarling match which reminds me a little of a scene from I, CLAUDIUS. “Jeff Colby is the enemy, Mother,” barks Adam, “our enemy - mine and yours … He’ll kill and strangle every plan we’ve talked about for you and me.” “Let me tell you something, Adam,” Alexis snaps back, "and don’t ever forget it. I wouldn’t be where I am today if it wasn’t for the fact that I know who my enemies are and how to destroy them. I’ll decide if Jeff Colby becomes a real threat - not you, I.” This dynamic is reversed on FALCON CREST, where the young pretender affects nonchalance and the elderly dowager issues warnings. “I’m not worried about Chase,” Lance brags. “I can handle him.” “Well, you haven’t handled him so far,” Angela points out. "“Don’t underestimate Chase!"

    There’s more business conflict on KNOTS as Abby tries to interest record company mogul Jeff Munson in Ciji's career. Kenny sees Munson’s involvement as a threat to his own position as Ciji's producer. Nonetheless, Munson’s attendance at one of Ciji’s gigs is seen as a big deal by all concerned - all but Ciji herself, that is. “I’ve been excited before,” she shrugs. In contrast to the rest of the KNOTS characters, who are either struggling to overcome their pasts or hungry to build their futures, Ciji seems to exist almost entirely in the present. When she takes a break from rehearsal and looks around to see Chip has disappeared, she is sad. When Gary offers to take her for a ride in his car, she is happy again.

    Business isn’t the only source of drama in this week’s Soap Land. Having been goaded by Adam, Jeff argues with Fallon over her alleged attraction to her own brother: “I get the feeling you kind of admire him - in kind of a perverted way.” Under orders from his grandmother “to start acting like a father for a change," Lance visits his wife at Soap Land Memorial Hospital to offer his support … only to find Melissa receiving a comforting embrace from Richard Channing. He immediately jumps to the wrong conclusion (“You never change, do ya?”) and storms off. Meanwhile, on KNOTS, Diana drops by Mack’s apartment in an attempt to bury the hatchet … only to see “the lady who lives across the hall” emerge from his bathroom wearing just a towel. Diana immediately jumps to the right conclusion, makes her excuses and leaves.

    Two potential couples get off to an awkward start this week. Fallon meets Mark Jennings on DYNASTY and is on the verge of hiring him as La Mirage’s new tennis coach when she realises he is Krystle’s first husband. Meanwhile, on DALLAS, Lucy mistakes Mickey for an intruder when she finds him manhandling JR and Sue Ellen’s wedding present display. (They've certainly acquired more goodies than Mark Jennings and Krystle did for their nuptials. According to a flashback in this week’s DYNASTY, their wedding gifts totalled two hundred dollars cash and an assortment of candy dishes.) Even after Mickey introduces himself, identity remains an obstacle for the couple. “A grubby ranch hand isn’t good enough for Miss Moneybags,” he concludes bitterly after Ray advises him to keep his distance.

    Nine weeks after Karen and Mack's first dinner date on KNOTS LANDING, it’s time for Miss Ellie and Clayton Farlow to finally break bread together. For both couples, dead husbands are the main topic of conversation this week, with the widows Fairgate and Ewing comparing Mack and Clayton to Sid and Jock respectively. Clayton measures up quite well, Mack less so. “"You know, you and Jock would have gotten on very well,” smiles Ellie. "You have so many of the same qualities, the same kindness, the same strength. You really remind me of him very much.” “I had the best!” shouts Karen after learning of Mack’s fling with his neighbour. "Sid Fairgate never would have done this to me.” “I’m not Sid Fairgate,” Mack points out. “You’re damn right you’re not,” she replies.

    This week’s KNOTS and DALLAS each build up to a significant event at the end of the episode. On KNOTS, it’s Ciji's performance at Daniel’s in front of Jeff Munson. On DALLAS, it's JR and Sue Ellen’s wedding at Southfork. Both gatherings serve to bring all the regular characters together. Well, almost - Laura Avery and Lucy Ewing are both conspicuous by their absence.

    There is much silent staring-across-restaurants in the Ewing-verse this week. At Daniel’s, Val watches Abby watching Ciji and Gary laughing together - the triangle unexpectedly becoming a square. The square then becomes a pentagon as guest of honour Jeff Munson arrives and makes a bee line for Val. Abby laughs in spite of herself. Meanwhile, on DALLAS, there is a great reveal at the end of Clayton and Miss Ellie's restaurant scene where we realise Rebecca and Cliff have been sitting at another table the whole time. Rebecca notices Clayton and Ellie just in time to see him reach across the table to take her hand. The camera moves in close on Rebecca's dismayed reaction: the reluctant witness to the birth of a romance.

    Back on KNOTS, Ciji's song of the week is Dobie Grey’s "If Love Must Go”, a sweet little ballad about the end of a romance. Again, Ciji sings her heart out. Again, the camera circles round her, elevating her performance. Again, the regular characters are out front mirroring the emotions of the song they’re listening to, which then seem to feed back into the song itself. These elements fuse together until it’s impossible to see where one ends and another begins. During the song, the camera cuts a couple of times to Richard leaning against a wall with a drink, scowling in Ciji’s direction. Is he feeling anger towards her for turning his restaurant into a nightspot or has the song unlocked something inside of him to do with his own relationship with Laura? Meanwhile, Diana stares intensely at Ciji throughout her performance - what is she thinking about? Val too seems mesmerised by Ciji. It’s not until the song is nearly over, however, that we realise it’s not Ciji she’s been looking at all, but Gary and Abby. Karen is the one most clearly affected. Having put on a brave face ever since learning of Mack’s betrayal, she quietly starts to weep while Ciji sings, the song having broken through her defences.

    Just three weeks after Cecil and Alexis’s deathbed wedding on DYNASTY, it’s time for JR and Sue Ellen to retie the knot on DALLAS … or is it? It’s interesting to chart how dramatic Soap Land weddings have become over the past couple of years. When Krystle married Blake in the first episode of DYNASTY, her old flame Matthew turned up at the wedding - but only after the ceremony was safely over. During last season’s FALCON CREST, Melissa’s lover Cole showed up at her wedding to Lance in time to witness the exchange of vows - but did so from a discreet vantage point. Now Sue Ellen’s ex-boyfriend Cliff raises the stakes by not only attending the wedding as an invited guest of the groom but then springing to his feet when the minister asks if there are any objections to the wedding.

    This week’s FALCON CREST is penned by Scott Hamner, who wrote "The Rose and the Briar” for last season’s KNOTS. Both episodes feature the respective series’ most eccentric character on a greyhound bus. On KNOTS, it was Lilimae, entertaining the little girl in the seat next to her with her autoharp. On FALCON CREST, it's Emma Channing, who bores the old woman next to her with tales from her unlikely life. Just as "The Rose and the Briar” saw Lilimae seeking fame and fortune in Las Vegas, “The Vigil" depicts Maggie trying and make it as a movie writer in Hollywood. At one point, she seems to channel Lilimae when she uncharacteristically bluffs her way into a movie studio by pretending to have attended the Oscars with a passing payroll clerk.

    There are a few KNOTSian touches back in the Tuscany Valley as well. Maggie’s family each attempt to cook their own breakfast in her absence, with varying degrees of success. Them there's a scene where Cole turns to his father for advice, only for Chase to completely miss the point, which reminds me of a similar exchange between Sid and Eric in early KNOTS. Meanwhile, Angela secretly persuading a producer to take an interest in Maggie’s script in the hopes of driving a wedge between her and Chase mirrors the helping hand Abby gave Val’s writing career last season.

    Outrageous Soap Land outfit of the week: It’s a tie between the space vixen dress Ciji wears on stage and Sue Ellen’s NFL-themed wedding gown. (Shoulder-pads are now so commonplace in Soap Land that Krystle is even wearing them in a flashback to her and Mark’s wedding night sometime in the 1970s.)

    And this week’s Soap Land Top 4 are …

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

    James from London Soap Chat Mega Star

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    08/Dec/82: DYNASTY: Kirby v. 09/Dec/82: KNOTS LANDING: Emergency v. 10/Dec/82: DALLAS: Post Nuptial v. 10/Dec/82: FALCON CREST: Confrontations

    The oil surplus that has served as a backdrop to much of the action on this season’s DALLAS now hits DYNASTY, where it also provides a springboard for a new story-line. It’s a little complicated, but from what I can make out, the surplus - or “oil glut” as Blake and co refer to it - means that the government have lost interest in finding alternative sources of fuel - which was what Denver Carrington’s research into oil shale extraction (the very research Cecil Colby had Claudia spy on Jeff for last season) was all about. "The government," grumbles Blake, "beg us to come up with alternative energy answers, we go into hock to accomplish it, and suddenly an oil glut comes along and we’re yesterday’s option.” The upshot is that Denver Carrington is now financially vulnerable.

    Meanwhile, on DALLAS, the same surfeit of oil is causing many to wonder what JR could possibly be doing with all the crude he's been pumping since he got his variance. Two OLM members - including KNOTS LANDING record producer Jeff Munson, seen chatting with Abby Cunningham at a polo match in the previous night’s episode - share with Bobby their own theory - that JR is selling the oil to an embargo nation. Bobby spends the rest of the ep investigating this possibility. He’s got his work cut out for him as JR’s machinations are also pretty hard to keep track of. More confusing than either DALLAS's or DYNASTY’s business storylines, however, are FALCON CREST's. At the last moment, Richard Channing foils Angela’s attempt to take over the New Globe by issuing a thousand new shares onto the stock market. I have no idea what the last sentence I typed even means.

    So here we have three of the '80s super soaps with complex business plots that they choose not to simplify for the viewer at home. This isn’t necessarily a criticism - given the choice, I’d rather struggle to keep up with the programme I’m watching than be drumming my fingers, waiting for it to come to the point I’ve figured out ten minutes earlier (or worse still, already had spoilt for me online) - but as this is a genre where characters routinely exchange chunks of exposition for our benefit, why are their business stories are so densely complicated? Was the climate of the early '80s such that an average viewer was assumed to have a comprehensive working knowledge of big business, or did the programme makers credit us with being able to juggle such permutations in our heads as we went along, or are all these stories simply MacGuffins - dramatic devices that we at home are simply meant to take on blind faith and follow the consequences of, even if we don’t fully understand how we got there in the first place?

    So far as this week’s Soap Land goes, the complexity of the business stories works most favourably for DALLAS. With JR playing everything so close to his chest, we are in the roughly same position as Bobby and the rest of the characters, i.e. trying to figure out what he is up to. We may not be able to keep up with every connection Bobby is making, (I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve seen this episode, but as soon as the off-screen oil gets to Galveston, I’m lost) but we’re in roughly the same ballpark. The exact source of Blake’s problems on DYNASTY are harder to pin down, but the consequences are so big and bold (poisoned paint, anyone?) that it doesn’t really matter. The New Globe takeover story in FALCON CREST is the most bemusing. Richard’s last-minute manoeuvring might be utterly authentic, but to someone as ignorant about stocks and shares as I am, he might just as well have magicked a thousand shares out of thin air.

    Of course, it’s when the characters' business ideals collide with their personal lives that sparks really begin to fly. On DYNASTY, Blake invites Adam to Denver Carrington in the hopes of burying their differences. Having apparently reached an understanding, Blake is called away from his office, giving Adam the opportunity to sneak a peek at the oil shale contract file marked “confidential” left lying conveniently on Blake’s desk. Quick to take advantage of what he reads, Adam then suggests to Jeff that Colby Co bail out Denver Carrington in exchange for the use of their oil shale extraction process. Given that the extraction process is far more valuable than the loan, Jeff dismisses Adam’s proposal as “rotten". “The name of the game is winning,” Adam insists. “There happens to be room for both empires,” argues Jeff, "I mean, do we have to be barracudas to exist in this world?” "There comes a time in this business where you have to decide if you’re gonna make it or play by the rules.” That last quote comes not from Adam but from Abby in this week’s KNOTS as she justifies to Gary her decision to dump their partner Kenny in favour of Jeff Munson as Ciji’s record producer.

    Not that Kenny isn’t above a little inter-family betrayal himself. At the beginning of the ep, his wife Ginger hands him a demo of a song she has written with a view to recording herself. She is later stunned to hear Ciji performing it at Daniel’s. The sequence where she silently accuses Kenny of betrayal and we see the guilt on his face as Ciji continues to sing is really powerful.

    Ciji’s reaction when Ginger confronts her about the song is really interesting. She does not apologise for singing it without her permission or even thank her for writing it in the first place. "If I like a song and it’s good for me, I’m gonna sing it,” she states matter-of-factly. Instead of empathising with Ginger or indulging her hurt feelings, she acts as a mirror, reflecting Ginger’s own insecurities back at her: “If I’m up there doing something you wanna be doing, that’s your problem, not mine.” And it’s a such a blast to see mousy little Ginger reimagined as the kind of furious, wild-eyed Soap Land character who storms into rooms making ultimatums and swearing revenge: “You don’t care who you use or who you hurt,” she tells Ciji. "I’ll get you for this!"

    There’s some unexpected betrayal on FALCON CREST too, where we see Angela’s loyal attorney/lover Phillip Erickson consorting with a mysterious, unnamed blonde of mature years. The fact that Phillip and Angela's personal relationship has been conducted almost entirely off screen provides a kind of space around the character that allows a scene like this to come as a total surprise. Phillip may have been in the series since the first episode, but here we suddenly realise we know very little about him. So when Richard approaches him later in the episode and asks him to come and work for him, (and presumably betray Angela at the same time) we have no idea which way he will jump.

    Even more surprising is the scene where FALCON CREST's resident good wife, Maggie Gioberti, passionately kisses film producer Daryl Clayton on a Malibu beach. This transgresses Soap Land's unspoken sense of morality in a similar way to good guy Mack Mackenzie sleeping with his neighbour behind Karen’s back, as revealed in last week’s KNOTS. Sure, previous “good wives” have swooned in other men’s arms before now - Krystle Carrington, Pam Ewing and Karen Fairgate have all teetered on the brink of affairs - but in each case, Soap Land has taken care to show that they had been driven to such a position by a strong sense of unhappiness stemming from their husband’s neglect, or in Krystle’s case, a belief that Blake was already cheating on her. Maggie has no such excuse. She is happily married, fulfilled in her work and the only obstacle between her and Chase has been one of geography, as she has spent the last episode and a half working away from her family in Hollywood (and even then Chase has made at least two visits to see her). Following the kiss, Daryl invites her to join him “upstairs” in his beach house. Left alone to shower, Maggie comes to her senses in the much same way Pam did after kissing Alex Ward in San Serrano (DALLAS, Season 3). While Pam decisively locked the door connecting her and Alex’s hotel rooms, Maggie self-righteously accuses Daryl of "seduction", as if it were a spell he had cast or a mickey he had slipped her. Thus exonerated of any personal responsibility for the kiss, her status as a “good wife” is retained, just as Mack’s explanation that he slept with Patrice because he was frightened by the depth of his feelings for Karen effectively absolves him of his infidelity.

    Amidst all this duplicity, DALLAS newlyweds Sue Ellen and JR make a solemn commitment on their honeymoon: "No other women, no games. A total commitment, all the way.” In the best scene of this week’s FALCON CREST, Lance and Melissa also discuss their marital commitments. Having brought her son Joseph home from the hospital, they are watching him sleep when Lance asks for a divorce. “What Angela has joined together, let no man put asunder,” Melissa tells him, adding, "This was never supposed to be a love match. It’s a marriage of state - the joining of two empires.” Like those terrific JR and Sue Ellen nursery scenes in DALLAS Season 2, it’s the juxtaposition between the innocence of the child in his crib and the jaded, cynical adults looking down at him that makes this scene so good. “If that kid knew what was going on around him, he’d sleep with line eye open,” Lance remarks. “He’s the heir that joins Falcon Crest to the Agretti vineyards,” replies Melissa. "Long live the King.”

    Melissa’s hospital vigil for her child might be over, but Karen Fairgate’s is just beginning, following Diana's collapse during a weekend away with Abby and Gary. Blake Carrington’s Moneypenny-ish secretary Marcia, seen briefly the night before admitting Adam into his father’s office with a knowing smile, dons a white coat to become the kidney specialist who diagnoses Diana with renal failure.

    KNOTS LANDING is in a very interesting place at this point. With most of the characters now in business with each other and all the women wearing lots of eyeshadow, it’s on the cusp of bursting into a full-blown supersoap ... when it is brought sharply down to earth by the semi-realism of Diana’s kidney failure. There's nothing glossy or romantic about chronic dialysis, and it’s safe to say KNOTS is the only one of the soaps that would refer to traces of blood in a major character's urine. (Admittedly, Daryl Clayton makes an unexpected reference to bodily functions on this week’s FALCON CREST. “It’s not our creative juices we’re reacting to,” he lasciviously informs Maggie, who is promptly sick in her mouth.)

    Diana’s condition catches the characters, and maybe even KNOTS itself, unawares. Gone is the brave stoicism and quiet dignity with which Val greeted her cancer scare in "The Loudest Word” or Sid his paralysis in Season 3. Post-Sid, the world of KNOTS is off its axis. The scene where Karen frantically tries to stop Diana from pulling the shunt out her arm (“I just wanna die!”) is one of Soap Land’s most emotionally extreme to date. (It reminds me a bit of one of the bedroom scenes in THE EXORCIST.) The same hospital waiting area that was large and well lit when the Fairgates kept vigil for Sid is transformed, under the fevered direction of Larry Elikann, into a place that's claustrophobic and dark, even nightmarish.

    Only once does this week’s DALLAS reach a similar level of hysteria - during Cliff’s fight with Afton where they shout the word “emotionality” at each other about four times and she comes dangerously close to admitting that she slept with Gil Thurman before they abruptly start making love on Cliff’s bed. (A fairly raunchy scene at the time, the sight of Afton in her woolly jumper seems suddenly light years away from John Ross and Emma crawling around in their underwear in New DALLAS Season 3’s wowza of an opening scene.)

    In stark contrast to Diana, now so ill she appears to have turned silver, her counterpart on FALCON CREST, Vicky Gioberti, this week completes a 10k run in 45.05 minutes. (I can’t even get that on the treadmill - oh, the ignominy of being outrun by a fictional girl.) While DALLAS’s perpetual teenager Lucy breaks into floods of tears after a kiss from a client triggers memories of her recent ordeal, DYNASTY presents its own new ingénue - the major domo’s extraordinarily pretty daughter Kirby, returning from three years' schooling in Paris. At present, her concerns are more lightweight than mystery illnesses or rape flashbacks. She’s mainly focused on tortoises and matchmaking.

    The tone of this week’s DALLAS, at least in its first act, is also pretty light. The fight that erupts at JR and Sue Ellen's wedding is the first of Southfork’s bona fide “duels in the pool,” and after umpteen viewings, it still makes me laugh (even if the logic of who punches who and why doesn't hold up to close scrutiny). As well as establishing a DALLAS tradition, the sequence also feels like a response to the infamous catfight at the end of last season’s DYNASTY. Each is a visually comedic set piece that serves as a satisfying climax to an ongoing feud between two characters, (Krystle and Alexis on DYNASTY, JR and Cliff on DALLAS) but without actually furthering the narrative. In other words, one could skip both fights without missing any of the story. However, the differences between the two scenes emphasise the contrasting tones of their respective shows. Alexis and Krystle’s cat fight is campy and glamorous with a kind of knowing, acidic wit to it; the DALLAS punch up is essentially a bar room brawl transposed to a wedding party: masculine, traditional and Western, with just a hint of self-parody. While the Carrington women duke it out, the Ewing ladies are left watching in helpless dismay; they’re there to be fought over, not to do the fighting themselves. The DALLAS sequence fades out on Larry Hagman chuckling in the Southfork pool, implying that JR is somehow in on the joke, whereas the DYNASTY catfight ends with God’s eye view of a dazed and defeated Alexis collapsed in a heap in the corner of her wrecked studio - which seems to suggest that she is the joke.

    And this week’s Soap Land Top 4 are …

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

    James from London Soap Chat Mega Star

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    15/Dec/82: DYNASTY: La Mirage v. 16/Dec/82: KNOTS LANDING: Abby's Choice v. 17/Dec/82: DALLAS: Barbecue Three v. 17/Dec/82: FALCON CREST: United We Stand...

    There may be no Christmas in Soap Land this year, but two of this week's shows are nonetheless in a party mood - DYNASTY is celebrating the grand opening of Fallon’s hotel and the Ewings of DALLAS are throwing their annual barbecue. Both gatherings have a dress theme - DYNASTY’s is the roaring twenties (“Those must have been the most wonderful carefree days,” sighs Alexis, "people innocently pursuing their pleasure-filled lives”) while the barbecue guests all show up in traditional Western garb.

    DYNASTY is so excited to be throwing a party that fancy dress takes precedence over drama in this week’s ep. For the most part, the results are enjoyably dumb - particularly the scene where Alexis and Krystle show up at the same dress shop at the same time to be fitted for what turns out to be identical party frocks. Their encounter echoes the scene in FLAMINGO ROAD’s first season where nemeses Lane and Constance simultaneously arrive at the beauty parlour for the same appointment with the same hairdresser. Back then, laid back Lane graciously surrendered the appointment to Constance. This time around, competitive Krystle suggests she and Alexis flip a coin to determine who will wear the dress to Fallon’s party. As she did last season’s cat fight, Krystle wins.

    The closest DALLAS comes to an equivalent scene is the one where the Ewing women are writing barbecue invitations, (hard to imagine the Carrington/Colby ladies lowering themselves to such a task) and Lucy coolly declines Sue Ellen’s offer of lunch in town. Unlike the dress shop scene in DYNASTY, there are no witty remarks or bitchy putdowns, ("Go on, Krystle, swear - I'd adore to hear you say something colourful and foul”) just earnest bemusement and concern. “Pam, is it me?” Sue Ellen wonders aloud after Lucy has left the room. Pam assures her it isn’t: “The kidnapping really left a lot of scars on Lucy … She’s just not ready to accept help yet.” As adversarial female relationships go, the richest one in this week’s Soap Land takes place between Abby and Karen on KNOTS LANDING.

    “Abby’s Choice” is whether or not to donate one of her kidneys to her niece, and Karen’s daughter, Diana. It’s very much her choice to make - everyone is falling over themselves to be nonjudgemental. “You don’t have to be a hero,” Gary tells her. “It’s a very personal decision,” insists Dr Blake Carrington’s Secretary. Even Diana herself, never more sweetly vulnerable, is reluctant to pressure her aunt into helping her. After all, it’s not as if it’s a question of life and death - Diana can survive indefinitely with one kidney - it’s the quality of life that's in question. Factor in the knowledge that Sid, Abby’s brother and Diana’s father, died on the operating table and you’ve got a more complex than average Soap Land dilemma. So it is that Abby is obliged to look within herself in a way that very few Soap Land characters, and certainly not villainous ones, ever are. “I am not a hero, believe me,” she tells Gary, her voice shaking. "A hero is someone with courage, and it’s gonna take a hell of a lot of courage to say no to this. I don’t know if I’ve got that kind of guts.”

    This is a story-line that slices, both metaphorically and literally, through Abby’s beautiful blonde exterior and scheming persona to the human being underneath, as burdened by conscience and terrified of death as any average looking schlub in the real world. Crucially, however - and herein lies the cleverness of both the episode and Donna Mills’ performance - it does so without compromising any of the qualities that have made Abby such a terrific Soap Land villain in the first place. Nowhere is this more clearly illustrated than in the scene where, having agreed to give Diana her kidney, Abby is visited by Karen in the hospital the night before the operation. When Karen tries to express her gratitude, Abby throws it back in her face: “I’m doing this because I have to, for Diana, for my brother’s child, and for myself so I won’t have to live with the guilt of having refused, but I am not doing it for you ... I don’t want you here. I don’t want us to be civil to each other and I don’t want you to pretend like you like me all of a sudden. If you want to show your gratitude, save a whale in my name, but stay away from me now.” Sure, the “save a whale in my name” quip is cute, but this isn’t simply cattiness for its own sake, the way Alexis and Krystle’s encounter in the dress shop is. It runs deeper than that - there are years of resentment in Abby’s speech, the kind of unarticulated stuff that goes on in real families. There’s also fear, the sort you can only take out on someone who knows you really well. And that’s what Karen and Abby are - reluctant members of the same family - rather than simply rivals for the same man.

    All that said, once Abby and Diana are wheeled into the operating theatre, the episode settles into a conventional, if perfectly acceptable, hospital drama where the eventual (i.e. successful) outcome is in little doubt. Meanwhile, the remaining characters all congregate in the hospital waiting area to exchange the same kind of meaningful glances they’d otherwise be giving each other in Richard’s restaurant.

    “Barbecue Three” is one of those great pay-off episodes of DALLAS where everything clicks expertly into place and one is reminded why this show is the Daddy of the genre. It’s the one where JR’s latest master plan, a string of cut-rate gas stations, is finally unveiled, setting off a chain of dramatic events. Something similar, albeit on a smaller scale, happens on FALCON CREST when Chase learns that the Douglas Channing Memorial Garden is really just a front for the winery Richard is secretly building. Just as JR’s latest move to beat his brother also spells bad news for the oil community at large, ("He's cutting the throat of every oil man in Texas,” Cliff explains to Afton, “He's gonna force us to cut our profits”) so Richard’s vendetta against Angela has serious implications for the rest of the local populace. “Richard’s already making offers for next year’s harvest at twice the going rate,” Chase informs Angela. "If [he] opens that winery and starts a price war for next year’s harvest, he’ll put the rest of us out of business … He’s declared war on every single winery in this valley.”

    While the newly formed Texas Energy Commission initially vote to rescind JR’s oil variance, (only to later rescind that rescission when they hear about his gas stations) Chase announces he is filing an injunction to halt construction on the winery.

    It’s interesting to compare the reactions of Miss Ellie and Jacqueline Perrault (Chase’s mother) to the family/business conflict going on around them. Each is worried for her children. While Ellie confides her concerns to Ray, (“I have such a feeling of helplessness ….I have to try and keep this family from flying apart”) Jacqueline is more pro-active. She meets with Richard and offers to join forces with him against Angela, “but I don’t want Chase to get caught in the crossfire … All I want is the promise that no harm will come to my son.” By the end of their respective episodes, Ellie and Jacqueline are singing from almost identical hymn sheets. “I’ve had enough of this insane competition between you two!” Miss Ellie tells JR and Bobby. “I came to put a stop to this madness,” Jacqueline informs Chase and Richard. "You two are the last people in the world who should be fighting one another!”
    Back at the grand opening of La Mirage, the shrill '20s musical score and air of self-congratulation begin to grate. Everyone oohs and aahs over what a fabulous/wonderful/beautiful job Fallon has done with the place when it actually looks remarkably tacky.

    Three weeks after Afton reluctantly slept with Gil Thurman to secure Cliff’s refinery deal, Alexis gives Congressman Neil McVane a quick knee trembler during the party as an inducement to scupper the government loan Blake so desperately needs to hold onto his company. Blake retaliates by threatening to expose McVane's "private goings on in Washington” unless he continue to play ball. Angela pulls an equivalent move in FALCON CREST, blackmailing Eric Kenderson, Richard’s broker, over his drug problem in order to delay the release of the two million shares Richard needs to hold onto his newspaper. Neither Alexis nor Richard take kindly to having the tables turned on them. “You double-crossing scum!” Alexis seethes at McVane, while Richard promises Kenderson that ”if I find out you’ve backed out of this deal on your own, you’re gonna be the old man sweeping the ticker tape from the stock exchange floor!"

    When Adam meets DYNASTY newcomer Kirby at the La Mirage opening, he immediately becomes possessive of her. “She’s with me,” he insists when Jeff asks her for a dance. When Kirby accepts Jeff's invitation, a love triangle is formed. There’s a similar moment at the Ewing barbecue where Bobby is leading Pam to the dance floor only for Holly Harwood to interrupt and ask to take Pam's place. “It’s strictly business,” she assures Pam. Bobby and Holly's Texas two-step might not be quite as intimate as Joaquin and Pamela Rebecca’s at the most recent Southfork barbecue, but Pam’s reaction to the kiss Holly plants on Bobby’s cheek isn’t a million miles from John Ross’s to his wife hip-grinding with another man.

    At first glance, Kirby is the anti-Ciji. Where Ciji is distant and remote, Kirby is positively garrulous about her life. Ciji might have made a big impact on the residents of KNOTS LANDING, but after six episodes, we still know next to nothing about her. Kirby, meanwhile, burbles on and on - about the summer she spent nannying on a yacht, (“While the rich, super rich, mommy and daddy pooped out on the poop deck, I took care of Little Poop”) about how wonderful and beautiful the Carringtons are, about what it was like to grow up in their family mansion. As if this were not enough, we also learn that she has been leading a double life, one that somehow involves dancing barefoot on tables in the casinos of Monte Carlo.

    However, when one looks a little closer, it turns out Kirby and Ciji do have things in common. This week, as Kirby renews an old friendship with Fallon, Ciji forges a new one with Laura. In different ways, each of these relationships is a first. When Fallon greets Kirby with open-armed excitement, it is the first time we see her regard another woman as anything other than an enemy (her short-lived truce with Alexis notwithstanding). When Ciji shows concern for Laura, whom she has overheard arguing with Richard, it is the first time she has exhibited an active interest in anyone’s life but her own. Ciji and Laura’s friendship hits the ground running - within the space of one episode, they’ve wept at a Bette Davis movie together, had a sleepover, giggled conspiratorially at Richard, and celebrated Ciji’s birthday with a party for two.

    It transpires that Kirby and Ciji also share a love of babies, with Kirby fawning over Little Blake to the extent that Fallon hires her as his nurse, and Ciji cooing over Daniel and confiding to Laura that she’d really like a baby of her own. Meanwhile, on DALLAS, Holly admits to Bobby that a faithful husband is "exactly what I’d like to have.” For all that they are modern career women, it seems that Ciji and Holly are both old fashioned girls at heart. Somewhat less traditionally, FALCON CREST’s Lance - who has steadfastly disowned Melissa’s child since he learnt of its conception - starts to bond with the little critter this week, almost in spite of himself.

    When Kirby attempts to leave La Mirage at the end of the party, Adam grabs her arm and won’t let go. Similarly, in an effort to persuade Lucy to dance with him at the barbecue, Mickey Trotter makes a playful grab towards her. When both women recoil from these advances, Adam proves creepily persistent, whereas Mickey exhibits a heretofore unseen sensitive side. “You’re scared, aren’t you?” he realises. “Lucy, I know what it’s like to be scared."

    The parties at La Mirage and Southfork are both disrupted by characters making spectacles of themselves. On DYNASTY, a crowd gathers to watch Fallon charlestoning tipsily on the hotel diving board alongside Mark Jennings, before they tumble fully clothed into the pool and share a kiss. Aside from Jeff pursing his lips in disapproval, the party guests seem happy to indulge their hostess’s folly. The cartel and Cliff angrily confronting JR at the barbecue over his cut-price gas stations is less well received, with Bobby and Ray sticking up for their brother (“If there’s any blood spilled here today, I guarantee you, it won’t just be Ewing blood!”) and Miss Ellie angrily voicing her disapproval: “Go home! Go home, all of you!” In each instance, the characters embody the periods their party outfits are meant to evoke. While Fallon plays the madcap ‘20s heiress - decadent, irresponsible, narcissistic - the Ewings band sternly together on the Southfork patio, looking for all the world like a pioneer family protecting their homestead from outsiders.

    This week’s DYNASTY, DALLAS and FALCON CREST all end with a dramatic revelation, each one more exciting than the last. "Our divorce papers were never filed in Mexico - we were never divorced!” is easily topped by “I’m going to court to break Jock’s will - and then I intend to sell Ewing Oil!”, while “I’m your mother - you are both my sons!” is the real shocker.

    And this week’s Soap Land Top 4 are …

    1 (4) DALLAS
    2 (1) KNOTS LANDING
    3 (3) FALCON CREST
    4 (2) DYNASTY
     
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  7. Ked

    Ked Soap Chat Enthusiast

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    Actually, it was Alexis who suggested the coin flip. Krystle was just smart enough to be the one who tosses - and refused to let Alexis see the result. "You'll just have to take my word for it, haha!" lol
     
  8. James from London

    James from London Soap Chat Mega Star

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    29/Dec/82: DYNASTY: The Locket v. 30/Dec/82: KNOTS LANDING: The Block Party v. 31/Dec/82: DALLAS: Mama Dearest v. 31/Dec/82: FALCON CREST: ...Divided We Fall

    1982 ends as it began in Soap Land. At the start of the year, the Ewing brothers flew to South America to look for their daddy Jock, missing presumed dead after a helicopter crash. Fifty-one weeks later, Blake and Alexis fly to Bali to look for their son Steven, missing presumed dead following an oil rig explosion in the Java Sea.

    Back then, Miss Ellie decreed that “the family should pull together when there’s trouble.” Krystle has the same wish now but lacks the matriarchal authority to enforce it. “I guess I’ll just never understand this family,” she tells Fallon sadly. "At a time when most people need to pull together, you go off by yourselves like wounded bears.”

    “Don’t shut me out, you need me now,” she pleads as Blake leaves for Bali without her. "I don’t need anybody to help me fight my battles, Krystle,” he replies coldly. This exchange is echoed by other couples in this week’s Soap Land. “Mack, don’t shut me out,” says Karen in KNOTS LANDING as Mack wrestles with parental problems. “I’ll work this out myself - alone!” he shouts back. In this week’s DALLAS, in the wake of a family row following Miss Ellie’s shock decision to break Jock’s will, Bobby elects to take a drive. “I’ll go with you,” offers Pam. "I'd just as soon be by myself,” he replies, more gently than either Blake or Mack, but just as firmly, before driving off into the night. Sue Ellen observes this exchange from the shadows and when she later finds JR deep in thought, is mindful not to impose herself upon him the way Pam did Bobby, Karen did Mack or Krystle did Blake. "Would you rather be alone?" she asks him carefully.

    It’s interesting how much angrier and more dysfunctional the Carringtons seem in their time of crisis than the Ewings did a year ago. On their way to South America, the Ewing boys huddled together on a crowded plane, fondly sharing childhood reminiscences and refills of bourbon. Travelling separately on the same flight to Bali, Alexis locates Blake in the first class lounge and first berates then physically attacks him. The contrast continues when both parties reach their destination. While the Ewings, even JR, accepted without question Punk’s assurances that everything was being done to find their precious daddy, Blake immediately pulls rank with Cassidy, Punk’s equivalent: “What are you doing? That’s what I wanna know! It’s been forty-eight hours since the explosion and you don’t have one scrap of information about the survivors?”

    And while the Ewing family as a whole (apart from Sue Ellen) remained optimistic about Jock’s chances of survival, the Carringtons (except Blake) all seem resigned to Steven’s death. Ironically, Fallon’s description of Steven as "probably dead somewhere at the bottom of the ocean where nobody will ever find him” will ultimately prove more applicable to Jock.

    Things are far less harmonious in DALLAS these days, however. In this week’s instalment, “Mama Dearest", everyone’s turning on everyone. As well as the Ewings fighting amongst themselves, Punk nearly comes to blows with Cliff - and the sight of Ellie turning to ice when Harve Smithfield reluctantly tells her he will be unable to represent her in court is one of the most effective moments in an episode full of effective moments. Meanwhile, Rebecca’s chastisement of her son (“I won’t be a party to any violence!”) takes on fresh resonance in light of Cliff’s actions in New DALLAS. Add to this Miss Ellie’s scolding of her eldest son (“I don’t think you give a damn about your daddy’s wishes - all you care about is yourself!”) and this episode could be renamed, in the parlance of modern day DALLAS, “Mama No Like".

    After initially shutting her out, Bobby later unburdens himself to Pam. Over on KNOTS, Mack does the same with Karen. Both men admit that they are the way they are because of how their fathers raised them - the primary difference being that while Bobby always tried to emulate and please Jock - "I wasn't just a road man for Ewing Oil, I was the best road man for any oil company because that's what Daddy expected, and that's what I expect from myself” - Mack’s life has been determined by a doomed attempt not to turn out like his father. “I’m like him, you see?” he explains to Karen. "And that’s the worst part. I hate his lousy guts and yet I’m like him and I know it. That’s probably why I never got married - because I knew I’d be just as crappy a father and husband as he was.” “That's why Daddy turned away from Gary,” Bobby continues. "'The Ewings must succeed' and Gary didn't care about that, but Pam, JR and I do."

    On DYNASTY, Blake repeatedly insists that his search for his son is "just between Steven and me.” On KNOTS, the scenes between Mack and his father, Pete, who is terminally ill, also have a life and death intensity to them. Jeff Corey’s performance as Pete brings a fresh layer of authenticity to the show. There aren’t many Soap Land characters whom I genuinely feel I could have met in the real world, but Pete is one of them. (Granted, this might have something to do with Pete’s Scottish brogue, which the character is meant to be faking, but which the actor pretty much nails.)

    While the significance of the father/son relationship cannot be underestimated, what of those Soap Land sons who grew up without either a father or a mother - what of Adam Carrington and Richard Channing? This week, Richard confronts Jacqueline Perrault, the mother who abandoned him as a baby. It’s interesting to compare this scene with the equivalent one between Cliff and Rebecca in DALLAS Season 3. Where Cliff invited his mother to his apartment for coffee and cake (not to mention liquorice), this is a much more businesslike arrangement: Richard receives Jacqueline in his office where he makes a point of placing a clock timer on his desk in order to limit their conversation to half an hour.

    Both Cliff and Richard are looking for straight answers. "I was barely five years old and you pretended to be dead … why?” asks Cliff. "Why did you put me in an orphanage?” demands Richard. So confronted, both women prevaricate, adopting a similarly martyred tone, as if to suggest that they themselves are the real victims. "It’s so hard to explain,” sighs Rebecca. "Oh Richard,” pleads Jacqueline, "I never wanted to choose between my sons.” Both men then let their mothers have it. While Cliff becomes emotional, ("Do you have any idea what it’s like to be five years old and be told that your mother’s dead only to find out the truth is that she didn’t want you, that she was only thinking about herself?!”) Richard keeps his feelings under control. "I’ve spent my life searching for my mother,” he tells Jacqueline calmly. "As a kid, I always dreamed of greeting her with open arms, but as I got older, my resentment grew to the point where the only excuse I’d accept was death. I wanted my search to lead to my mother’s grave.” Jacqueline gasps in shock, then begs Richard to keep her identity as his mother a secret (much as Rebecca did when she first met Pam).

    Meanwhile, on DYNASTY, Adam is put in the strange position of mourning a brother he has never met. "Growing up alone the way I did, I’d have given a lot for a kid brother,” he tells Fallon with apparent sincerity. Then while flirting with Kirby a few minutes later, he blithely dismisses Steven as “just a name to me”. This duality is mirrored by Richard in FALCON CREST. ”I sort of like the idea of having a brother,” he bashfully admits to his newly acquired sibling Chase. "Even more, I like the idea of having you as a brother.” Later in the episode, Miss Hunter asks him if he honestly has any feelings for Chase. “Yes,” he replies coldly. "Hatred.”

    Jacqueline Perrault is central to another FALCON CREST scenario that hearkens back to early DALLAS this week. Her consequences-be-damned insistence on visiting her great-grandson Joseph at Falcon Crest echoes Digger Barnes’ determination to peak a sneak at his supposed grandson Baby John in “Rodeo”. In order to see the child, Jacqueline, like Digger, must keep her blood tie to him a secret and instead suffer the humiliation of kowtowing to her nemesis, who smugly believes that she is the child’s direct ascendant. Just as Jock did when Digger cradled John Ross, Angela keeps a beady eye on Jacqueline during her visit with Joseph.

    Compared to Jacqueline, Chase and Maggie don’t appear overly concerned about their new grandson - or perhaps it’s just that they are occupied with other story-lines. A possible downside of FALCON CREST's focus being split between multiple plots, each of equal importance, is that it’s hard to keep track of where the characters’ emotional priorities lie. Whereas Digger's pilgrimage to the Southfork nursery was a significant and poignant part of that particular DALLAS episode and had a lasting impact on him, Jacqueline’s equivalent visit is dealt with in a couple of minutes, after which the characters swiftly move on to other stories. This isn’t to say the plot won’t yet resurface and bite us on the ass when we're least expecting it - which is a possible upside of FALCON CREST being such a busy show.

    The week before Christmas, there was the La Mirage opening in DYNASTY and the Southfork barbecue in DALLAS. Now it’s party time in FALCON CREST and KNOTS. Like DALLAS, KNOTS’ celebrations are of the daytime, al fresco variety, with a bit of local fundraising thrown in - a “block party”, or what we English might call a fete - with the added bonus of rising rock star Ciji Dunne belting out power pop cover versions on a makeshift stage.

    FALCON CREST plays host to no less than two gatherings this week. First, there’s the Founder’s Day Parade which, like the block party and the barbecue, is a wholesome community event (“This whole thing smacks of an office picnic,” observes Miss Hunter drily) and also has a period dress theme. (The exact period I’m a little vague on - somewhere between THE AGE OF INNOCENCE and THE GREAT GATSBY it appears - with Nick Hogan and Lance both sporting the same style of white Gatsby-esque hat that Mark Jennings wore at La Mirage two weeks ago). This is followed by a more glamorous party at Angela’s house. For a change, there’s no dress code here - but while there are plenty of low cut gowns with spangly sequins, there are, strangely, no shoulder pads.

    Soap Land parties are almost always an excuse to bring estranged or feuding characters together in the same environment - see Blake, Alexis and Neil McVane at La Mirage, Cliff, the cartel and the Ewings at Southfork, Angela, Richard and Jacqueline at this week’s party at Falcon Crest - and then watch the sparks fly. Not so at the KNOTS LANDING block party, where Abby and Gary drop Olivia off at the entrance to the cul-de-sac and then disappear off-screen for the rest of the episode. (As a result, Gary is referenced more in DALLAS this week than KNOTS, thanks to Miss Ellie’s controversial decision to sell Ewing Oil “and give half the money to a drunk and a cowboy.”) Consequently, the block party is a somewhat tame affair, the highlight of which is Ciji and Lilimae duetting on “Will the Circle Be Unbroken?”

    There’s something dreamlike about the scene at the end of this week’s KNOTS, where Pete Mackenzie comes to Seaview Circle looking to make up with Mack, with whom he has argued. It is dark and the party guests have all left. He finds Lilimae amongst the streamers and other party debris blowing gently around in the cul-de-sac, searching for a random piece of paper. As she roots about, she distractedly imparts unhelpful advice to Pete about how she and Val came to terms with their differences: “We don’t talk about them. All we do is not do them anymore.”

    Pete carries with him his own father’s kilt, which he plans to present to Mack as a symbol of reconciliation. This is mirrored by Mark Jennings' gesture towards Krystle on DYNASTY when he returns her grandmother's locket which he stole from her and pawned during their marriage years before. After thirty years, I’ve finally forgiven Mark for not being Matthew Blaisdel and the gradual reconciliation between he and Krystle has actually been quite sweet to watch.

    KNOTS closes on an emotional embrace between Pete and Mack, their differences nonetheless unresolved. Angela’s party on FALCON CREST concludes more dramatically. Just like the La Mirage opening and the Southfork barbecue, the celebrations are disrupted, this time by an impromptu toast from Richard “to my mother, Jacqueline Perrault.” Cue a “You bitch!” from Angela, and an if-looks-could-kill freeze frame of Lana Turner. Very funny.

    And this week’s Soap Land Top 4 are … wow, this one was close ...

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

    James from London Soap Chat Mega Star

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    05/Jan/83: DYNASTY: The Search v. 06/Jan/83: KNOTS LANDING: Cutting the Ties That Bind v. 07/Jan/83: DALLAS: The Ewing Blues v. 07/Jan/83: FALCON CREST: Pas De Deux

    Unlike the Ewings’ search for Jock on DALLAS, Blake and Alexis’s quest to find Steven on DYNASTY spills over into a second episode. There are factors common to both searches - a meeting with an eyewitness to the accident (the pilot of the plane that crashed into Jock’s helicopter, the rig foreman who saw Steven just before the explosion), the discovery of a personal item which serves as evidence of death in lieu of a body (Jock’s medallion, Steven’s bloodstained jacket), and finally, a sole family member who refuses to accept that death - Miss Ellie in DALLAS, Blake on DYNASTY. "I gave up once on Adam,” Blake argues. “Turned out he was alive. I’m not going to give up on Steven.” It occurs to me that, had the DALLAS writers chosen to go there, Miss Ellie could have used the same argument. After all, she gave up on her brother Garrison when he was missing presumed dead, only for him to show up alive forty years later. With that in mind, it would be almost surprising if Ellie didn’t believe that Jock might still be alive.

    Where the DYNASTY storyline seriously diverges from its DALLAS equivalent is in the enlistment of a psychic, Dehner, whom Blake brings from California to Denver to help “find” his son. This is Soap Land’s first delve into the supernatural since the final days of FLAMINGO ROAD, but it lacks the exotic atmosphere of Michael Tyrone’s dabblings with voodoo magic. Nor is Dehner overtly eccentric or flamboyant in the way Adrianna the fortune teller was in DYNASTY Season 2. Instead, the character and story-line are played straight (which only serves to make it all the nuttier). In fact, the story seems less concerned with Dehner’s powers than with Blake’s state of mind. “You've cracked, Blake,” states Alexis unequivocally. "The redoubtable Blake Carrington has lost his mind … his tormented mind.” Krystle is rather more tactful, expressing to Blake her “concern for the way you’re driving yourself.” Blake is not the only Soap Land patriarch to have his sanity called into question this week. On DALLAS, Miss Ellie wrestles with the fact that the only way to break Jock’s will is to cast doubt on his mental competence prior to his death. “The Jock we all know is not the man who wrote that codicil,” insists Pam. "Jock was not mentally incompetent,” Ellie replies firmly. "He was a very rational man.” Ironically, the most clearly deranged Soap Land character of the week - Jeff Colby, currently suffering from hallucinations and mood swings - is diagnosed by his doctor merely with fatigue brought on by overwork.

    There are some interestingly meta moments in this week’s Soap Land. At times, DYNASTY’s Kirby and KNOTS LANDING’s Val seem able to talk about their lives only by framing them in a fictional context. (That is, a context even more fictional than the one they’re already in.) Kirby, on a visit to Jeff’s office, complains that her father "thinks I'm Sabrina”, the title character from a 1954 film starring Audrey Hepburn. She then goes on to describe an unnamed movie she has just been to see, the plot of which mirrors her and Jeff’s own situation: “There was this girl who loved this man, though she never spoke it. She couldn’t. And the man, needing and deserving love … couldn’t break down the deep, but unnecessary, barriers between them. Actually, it was a pretty dumb movie.” In his mentally altered state, Jeff thinks the plot she is describing is real and that they are the characters in the movie. Even more confusingly, he mistakes Kirby for his estranged wife Fallon. “Why did you never tell me this before?” he asks Kirby/Fallon. “Because I never dared to,” Kirby replies, seizing this opportunity to get close to him. “And you’ve always loved me?” he asks her. “Yes,” she says, "always.” They kiss, but the moment is ruined when Jeff calls Kirby by his wife’s name. Upset, she runs off … and straight into the clutches of Adam. He dries her tears and offers to take her to dinner. Cut to Adam and Kirby eating dinner in Alexis’s penthouse. “You fib so easily,” mock-chides a drunken Kirby, "not happening to mentioning that the restaurant in the sky just happens to be the very apartment where you live ... Isn’t there any music in this tower?” Her choice of the word “tower" conjures up the idea of a fairytale - more fiction.

    On KNOTS, Val is similarly surprised to find herself in a high-rise luxury apartment. “Is this really me on the terrace of a penthouse, thirty storeys high above New York City?” she asks Jeff Munson. "Things like this don’t happen to me. It happens in movies, but not in real life.” Just as the only way Kirby can express her feelings for Jeff is to disguise them as a plot from a film, so Val can only contemplate a successful future for herself by describing it in cinematic terms. “To a new life,” she toasts, "starring Valene Ewing and a cast of thousands.” Like Kirby’s Jeff, Val’s Jeff plays along with the movie concept. “To a new life - Act 1 Scene 1,” he replies before moving in for a kiss, just as Kirby's Jeff does. This one ends more successfully, however - more like an old fashioned movie kiss, in fact. (And just like in those old movies, it’s left to our imaginations as to whether or not Val and Jeff M then spend the night together.)

    Other “fictional" references in this week’s Soap Land: Kirby bitterly describing Jeff to Adam as "Fallon’s Hamlet of a spouse”, Maggie playfully referring to Angela as the Wicked Witch of the West on FALCON CREST and JR describing himself to John Ross on DALLAS as "the Robin Hood of the oil business - take from the poor and give to the rich. You remember that.” (Thirty-one years later, that advice will be countered by Bobby in New DALLAS episode “Playing Chicken”: “That’s what you get when you threaten to take away a man’s livelihood,” he tells his nephew after the ranch hands on Southfork have turned on John Ross over his decision to drill for oil on the ranch. While we’re on the subject of New DALLAS, it’s also a kick to contrast Tyler Banks’ version of John Ross scampering around the reception area of Ewing Oil in this ep with Josh Henderson’s strutting through the doors of Ewing Global in 2014.) Also this week, Cliff compares Sue Ellen to a historical rather than fictional character when he talks about her standing beside JR “like the Duchess of Windsor” during an appearance on Roy Ralston’s “Texas Talk Time” television programme.

    Following Val’s interview with Mike Douglas earlier in the season, this is the second instance of a Ewing guesting on a TV talk show. Interestingly, Ralston’s introduction to JR - “Some call him a saint, some call him a sinner” - chimes with Mike Douglas’s to Val when he told his audience, “If that name Ewing sounds familiar, then it’s who you think it is!” This week at least, DALLAS is in accord with KNOTS LANDING in its portrayal of the Texas Ewings as somewhat notorious - a result of JR courting the media as part of his cut-rate gas scheme perhaps. That the family is of interest to the public is underlined in the last scene of the ep when attorney Brooks Oliver describes Ewing as "a name that sells newspapers.” Sue Ellen telling JR that “it’s nice to be the wife of a celebrity” echoes Lilimae's reminder to Val that “you’re a celebrity” on this week’s KNOTS.

    JR’s television appearance, during which he slights his baby brother, (“He does not have the strength to run Ewing Oil”) prompts Bobby to announce his decision to start playing dirty. "My brother doesn't think I can play hardball,” he tells Pam. “Well sweetheart, I'm gonna have the pleasure of stuffin' that ball down his throat!” To that end, he dispatches one of his minions to dig into the small print of a contract Ewing Oil has with the cartel so that he can strong arm them into drilling for oil on the Wellington land. Instead, he learns that he can force them to buy out his interest for five times the market value. Given his fight with JR, this is profit Bobby badly needs. “Great,” Pam tells him sarcastically, "now you can lose a few more friends.”

    Over on KNOTS, Gary is the Ewing brother losing friends over a business deal when he fully endorses Abby’s decision to sign over Ciji’s contract to Jeff Munson - leaving partner Kenny out in the cold. While Jordan Lee accuses Bobby of armed robbery, Kenny's accusation of Gary is more personal: “At least I don’t make deals with my friends and then stab them in the back.” In a deliciously soapy move, Abby also mirrors Bobby’s actions when she assigns an attorney - one Jim Westmont - to pore over all of the investment deals she and Gary have made to see if there’s a way of protecting her individual interests in the event of them splitting up. It’s so cool that, even after three years in Soap Land, Abby is still surprising us by showing how ruthless she can be.

    Elsewhere on KNOTS, Ciji learns that she is with child. Just as Pam Ewing did in “Barbecue”, she stands in front of a mirror and playfully tries to imagine how she’ll look when heavily pregnant. For both women, it is a stage of pregnancy they are destined never to reach. After Ciji breaks the news to Chip, he orders her to have an abortion: “Get this through your head - no baby!” When she refuses, he becomes aggressive, pulling her hair and grabbing her roughly. “Don’t you know how much is riding on you?” he snarls. “The big time, stardom, everything we ever dreamed about. You and me, all the way to the top … Nothing’s gonna interfere with what I have planned for you.” The picture Chip paints of himself and Ciji as an ambitious couple destined for greatness (“You and me, all the way to the top”) mirrors Adam's description of himself and Kirby on DYNASTY: “Two people who knew what they wanted and how to go after it.”

    Just as Chip becomes violent when Ciji asserts control over her own body, so Adam rips Kirby's dress and wrestles her to the floor of the penthouse when she refuses to have sex with him. The most striking moment of Adam's attack is when Kirby stops struggling or protesting and simply lies still as the screen fades to black. This is - I hesitate to use the word sophisticated in such a context - but a comparatively complex depiction of rape in Soap Land. Kirby's passivity reads as reluctant acquiescence as if she believes she is responsible for the situation in which she now finds herself and must take the consequences. This is spelled out in the follow-up scene where she informs Adam coldly: “Your respect for me means less than nothing. My respect for myself, that’s what suffered … I’m not blaming you, I’m blaming myself. I’ve had champagne before, I wasn’t dragged here forcibly.” Here, Kirby could be speaking for Laura Avery in “The Lie” or maybe even Lucy after her rape in DALLAS. Certainly, Pam’s line about Lucy’s attack - “I think she believes she did something to allow it to happen” - resonates here.

    When Kirby returns to the Carrington mansion in the early hours of the morning, she keeps quiet about the rape - indeed, the word itself is never used. The closest she comes to speaking out is to drily allude to the events of the evening as “a comedy of errors” - another example of a character reframing their experiences in a fictional context. Back on KNOTS, despite intimate conversations with Laura and Gary, Ciji reveals nothing about Chip’s violent behaviour either. Like Kirby, she seems almost accepting of what has happened to her, as if this is all she can expect or all she deserves. And while neither DYNASTY nor KNOTS endorse this view themselves, they do nothing to really challenge it either. There is no counterargument, no voice to say, “Such behaviour is unacceptable, not to mention illegal.” Maybe the women’s silence, their isolation, is reflective of the real world, and maybe the drama on screen is the stronger for it. Maybe.

    There is also more commonplace violence in this week’s Soap Land. Ray Krebbs and Chase Gioberti each take a swing at their respective half-brother, JR Ewing and Richard Channing, for insulting a woman in their presence. While JR has been mocking Donna’s attempts to rescind his oil variance (“I believe the word is inept”), Richard has publicly branded his and Chase’s mother an adulteress. Miss Ellie and Angela Channing both look on in dismay as the punches are thrown in their houses.

    While DALLAS’s Donna might have foregone her writing career in favour of committee meetings, the work of Soap Land’s remaining scribes - Val Ewing and Maggie Gioberti - attracts unwelcome attention. While standing on Jeff's New York balcony, Val is blissfully unaware that Chip is stealing pages from her unfinished manuscript in order to impress his new boss. On FALCON CREST, having learnt that Angela was behind Daryl Clayton's interest in her movie script, Maggie tries to extricate herself from their contract, but finds Daryl unwilling to give up so easily.

    By now, Maggie has admitted her near-affair with Daryl to husband Chase and he has proved remarkably understanding about it. On DYNASTY, Blake is finding it harder to overlook the continued presence of Krystle’s ex in Denver, and the locket Mark has returned to her has become a symbol of the barrier between them. However, the most overt threat to one of Soap Land's “golden couples” arrives in this week’s DALLAS. Three months after Michael Tyrone showed up in FALCON CREST calling himself Richard Channing, Tyrone’s former adversary Sam Curtis reinvents himself as Mark Graison. Still a wealthy businessman, he again comes to the aid of an older woman - then Lute-Mae, now Miss Ellie - before openly declaring his interest in her younger friend - then Lane Ballou, now Pam. Like Lane, Pam is already involved with another man, but Mark is no more dissuaded by her declaration of fidelity to Bobby (“I’m a married woman and I’m not very modern when it comes to playing around”) than Sam was by Lane’s professions of love for Field.

    Other Soap Land marriages are also faltering. On KNOTS, Richard Avery’s memories of his and Laura’s early relationship ("Remember that first year? Morning, noon and night - we were insatiable”) only serve to point up the distance that exists between them now. There is a similar scene in FALCON CREST between Nick Hogan, the older man Vicky Gioberti has fallen for, and his wife Sheila. Again, fond recollections of the past ("Remember that weekend we spent at Mount Shasta, right after we were married?”) contrast with a chilly present.

    FALCON CREST’s plot-lines often seem like a compressed variation of what has already occurred on DALLAS. The same arc that took the length of DALLAS’s fourth season to play out between Cliff Barnes and his mother Rebecca, for example, takes place within the space of two episodes for Richard Channing and Jacqueline Perrault (although I’m not sure Cliff and Rebecca ever had a moment quite as dramatically heightened as the one where Richard screams “I WAS BORN DAMNED!” at Jacqueline’s retreating back). Conversely, FALCON CREST also contains moments one can’t imagine taking place anywhere else in Soap Land - for example, the scene in this week’s ep between Chao Li and Lance as they practice their martial art skills. “You are rash, Lance,” chides Chao Li, adopting the same tone of solemn mysticism as Blake’s psychic in DYNASTY. "The secret of t'ai chi chu’an is not for the impetuous … True strength comes only from inner peace."

    All four shows end on a relatively low key note this week. DYNASTY and DALLAS each close on an already established plot point being reiterated. On DYNASTY, we see Adam purchasing more of the same poisonous paint compound thingy that he bought at the end of the episode that aired four weeks ago. (In the absence of a confidante for him to explain his dastardly plan to, this serves to remind the viewer who is responsible for Jeff’s increasingly unhinged behaviour.) DALLAS, meanwhile, ends with Miss Ellie restating her intention, first made two episodes ago, to break Jock's will. (The key difference is that she now does so in the knowledge that she will have to besmirch his memory in the process.)

    KNOTS closes on an enigmatic note as Val, still on that New York terrace, finally signs the divorce papers that have been burning a hole in her attache case all episode, and then hears Jeff Munson’s voice calling her from off screen. “Are you ready?” he asks. He is referring to their impending shopping trip, but the question carries a wider implication - is Val now ready to leave her past behind her and start a new life? Before she can reply, the producers' credit appears on screen and the episode ends. In terms of plain old soapy intrigue, however, FALCON CREST wins the battle of the cliffhangers once again. Having discovered that Jacqueline sold Richard to Henri Denault when he was a baby - a revelation that has sent Jacqueline scuttling back to Europe - Angela ponders her motive. “I wonder what she got in return?” she muses. “You intend to use this information against her sons?” Phillip asks. “You’re damned right!” she smirks.

    And this week’s Soap Land Top 4 are …

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

    James from London Soap Chat Mega Star

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    12/Jan/83: DYNASTY: Samantha v. 13/Jan/83: KNOTS LANDING: And Teddy Makes Three v. 14/Jan/83: DALLAS: The Reckoning v. 14/Jan/83: FALCON CREST: Above Suspicion

    This week’s DYNASTY, DALLAS and FALCON CREST each focus on a character intent on a course of action they believe is in the best interests of their family, but which other members of that family fear may jeopardise it. On DYNASTY, it’s Blake’s use of a psychic to find Steven. On DALLAS, it’s Miss Ellie’s decision to challenge Jock’s will in court. On FALCON CREST, it’s Chase insistence on investigating Carlo Agretti’s murder. "If you don’t believe in the effort I’m making to find my son,” Blake tells Krystle, "that’s fine, that’s all right, that’s your business … but I do believe in it. I intend to keep on doing it despite your feelings and everybody else’s feelings in this house.” "I’m doing this for Cole,” Chase explains to Maggie. "I’ll keep digging, I’ll keep probing and I’ll keep stepping on toes until I get to the truth!” "I don’t know how else to save this family,” Miss Ellie tells her sons. "You’re both so caught up in this battle that neither one of you understand what’s happening!"

    While Miss Ellie’s reasons for her actions have already been clearly established, there is more room for interpretation regarding Chase and Blake’s motives. Chase insists that he is trying to clear his son’s name, but Julia - for the first time saying anything negative about her cousin or his family - suggests that his investigation is part of "an obsession to wage war against my mother.” The same word crops up on DYNASTY when Alexis talks about what motivates Blake’s "obsession that Steven is still alive ... He is a guilty man who is responsible for that death and that is why he cannot accept it.”

    In a surprising and touchingly acted moment, Blake lets down his guard and admits to Fallon that Alexis is right. "You can’t understand me now, can you?” he says softly to his daughter. "None of you can understand me. That’s because none of you were responsible for driving Steven away. I’m responsible.” John Forsythe is great throughout this episode, showing us a whole different side to Blake. We’ve never seen him quite this weary, humbled or desperate before. He even sounds different - hoarse, husky, spent. Listening to him speak, you can really believe he’s been keeping a round-the-clock vigil in Steven’s room with Dehner the psychic.

    I’m not sure how many times I’ve seen this episode of DYNASTY before - maybe three or four - but for the first time, I found myself touched by the scene, absurdly operatic though it is, where Blake scrambles up the side of Matthew Blaisdel’s old drill site (“the place where Steven was happiest”) and attempts to make contact with his son. There have been Soap Land monologues to the dead before, Karen’s to Sid in KNOTS being the most moving and memorable, but none so pitiful and desperate than this one: “Can you hear me, Steven? … I’m going to find you, I’ll never stop searching for the rest of my life until I find you … Steven, do you hear me? Let me know if you hear me, please!"

    Having keyed into John Forsythe’s performance, other parts of the ep also begin to fall into place for me. A scene that I’ve always hated, where Fallon and Krystle heal their differences with an emotional embrace, now makes sense for the first time - with the captain no longer at the helm of his ship, where else can his crew turn in a time of crisis but to each other? And so what Blake has been trying to achieve since Episode 1, (i.e., “put this family together”) finally occurs - but at a time when he is too preoccupied to even notice.

    Reconciliation is in the air this week. Taking a leaf out of Fallon’s book, Diana Fairgate also buries the hatchet with a prospective step-parent when she encourages Mack not to give up on Karen after her somewhat vague response to his marriage proposal. Whereas Krystle is initially wary of her step-daughter’s attempt at conciliation, ("Don't be nice to me, Fallon, you'll just turn on me again”) Mack is happily surprised by Diana’s gesture. “Is this the new you?” he asks. “I like it!” Meanwhile on DALLAS, after declaring war on the Ewings at the end of last season, Rebecca Wentworth abruptly decides to make up with Miss Ellie. "Wouldn't it be nice if you and I could show them that the Barneses and the Ewings can be friends?” she sighs wistfully.

    The DALLAS equivalent of the Krystle/Fallon relationship is Pam and Sue Ellen's. In both instances, the bride from the wrong side of the tracks is viewed with jealousy and disdain by her snootier rival until the two women eventually find a common bond in their show’s third season. The Ewing wives share a couple of scenes this week which illustrate that although they are now friends, there remain some interesting differences between them. First, Sue Ellen takes Pam out to lunch at JR’s behest, in an attempt to dissuade her from backing Miss Ellie’s court fight. “Shouldn’t a wife stand by her husband?” she ventures. “Of course she should,” Pam replies, “but that doesn’t mean she can’t disagree if she thinks he’s wrong.” Later, when Sue Ellen is speculating as to why Mark Graison should be showing such an overt interest in Pam, Pam loses her temper. “You’re making me angry,” she snaps. “Pam, I’m your friend,” protests Sue Ellen. “Then act like it,” Pam retorts.

    If Mark G popping up at Pam’s place of work on the lame pretext of enquiring about Miss Ellie’s court case feels a tad inappropriate, it's nothing to Mark J gatecrashing Steven's memorial service on DYNASTY to complain that Krystle hasn’t called him lately. Pam and Krystle both feel the need to clarify their positions. “I really appreciate what you did for me and Miss Ellie, but that’s as far as it goes,” Pam tells Mark G, "I am a married woman.” “Mark, we are friends and I appreciate your co-operation with the divorce,” Krystle tells Mark J, "but I have another life now.” Completing the triumvirate of pushy would-be suitors in this week’s Soap Land, Karen’s old flame on KNOTS, Teddy Becker, makes an unwanted advance the day after Mack’s proposal - leading to a very awkward (and funny) dinner between the three of them and Karen’s kids.

    Teddy is one of two returning characters this week. The other is DYNASTY’s Sammy Jo. Loosely speaking, one could say that both Teddy and Sammy Jo work in the media, but that’s where the similarities end. Teddy is in town to cover a conference on bilateral nuclear disarmament, while Sammy Jo is recognised at a gas station for her photo spread “in one of those girly girly jobs - you were laying on the beach after being shipwrecked, all your clothes lost at sea.” Teddy and Sammy Jo each attempt a change of image upon their return to Soap Land. Teddy has been recast with a sleeker, younger looking actor, but remains just as needy (if not more so). Meanwhile, Sammy Jo now insists on being called Samantha - only everyone keeps forgetting, which is quite funny.

    Each of this week’s shows contains a quote that reaches back to the beginning of its respective series in order to make a point about a character or relationship in the present. “I’ve been fighting you all the way, all this time, for his love - I’m so sorry,” Fallon tells Krystle in their conciliation scene. “How long have I known you - three, maybe four years? Nothing in that time has prepared me for this,” says Ginger to Gary on KNOTS LANDING, referring to his betrayal of Kenny. “Ever since you’ve moved into this family, you’ve been trouble. Now stay out of it, this is not your fight!” JR barks at Pam on DALLAS as he accuses her of manipulating Miss Ellie to her own ends. “When we first moved out here from New York,” Vicky recalls in FALCON CREST, "it was supposed to be for the good of our family, to bring us closer together, but in all the time we’ve been out here, I don’t think that my father and I have had a single meaningful conversation, not one.”

    How much of Vicky’s speech is sincere and how much is part of a ploy to seduce Nick Hogan (“You’re really the only one who understands me,” she coos) is hard to say, but no sooner does Nick begin to comfort her than they’re making out on the front seat of his Packard truck. Another affair begins in similar circumstances on DYNASTY when an unusually contrite Alexis visits Mark Jennings to apologise for luring him to Denver under false pretences, but then breaks down over the loss of her son. “I’m not an evil person in spite of what you might think,” she weeps. "If I were, I wouldn’t be in so much pain.” Just as Nick did Vicky, Mark takes Alexis in his arms (“When a woman cries and begins to tremble, that’s what a man does,” he explains helpfully). Inevitably, one thing then leads to another. (“In moments of grief, we need to be held, held close,” Mark continues.)

    On this week’s KNOTS, the fall out from Mack’s proposal to Karen results in some charmingly funny, Hepburn-and-Tracy-style bickering between them for much of the ep. Elsewhere, the excitement surrounding Ciji’s first recording session is marred by Kenny’s anger at being excluded from it, while the optimism of her song of the week, “New Romance (It’s A Mystery)”, contrasts with the bitter conflict she seems to unintentionally trigger wherever she goes (between Gary and Kenny, Richard and Laura, herself and Chip). Lance Rubin’s score for the ep is the one he will also use on “Swan Song”, the DALLAS Season 7 finale. The same eerie piano notes that anticipate Katherine’s murderous attack on Bobby evoke a similarly ominous feeling on KNOTS.

    "One day Abby will do it to you, just like she’s doing it to us,” prophesies Ginger during her scene with Gary. There are other doom laden predictions in this week’s Soap Land. “That battle is really gonna hurt somebody, really hurt somebody,” foretells Pam in DALLAS, referring to the fight for Ewing Oil. “If you persist in pursuing this murder investigation, I just feel it’s gonna do us more harm than good,” Maggie warns Chase in FALCON CREST - a prediction that appears to come true in the final scene of the episode where a mysteriously gloved someone knocks Cole unconscious and then shuts him in the family garage with his car engine still running.

    By this point, Chase has already around to Maggie’s way of thinking. “No more dime store Dick Tracy,” he promises her. Similarly on DYNASTY, the news that Sammy Jo has given birth to Steven’s son allows Blake to finally accept his death. “He lives on in this beautiful child,” Blake declares, looking down at his new grandson. Meanwhile on DALLAS, Miss Ellie’s determination to break Jock’s will come what may is unwavering - right up to the point where she has to testify on the witness stand as to Jock’s mental competence. Even then she persists, albeit falteringly and through tears: “If that’s the legal term you need to break the will, then yes, Jock was not mentally competent.” In the event, the judge rules against her, but unlike Blake and Chase, Ellie does not then return to the bosom of her family. Instead, she exits the courtroom without acknowledging any of them.

    Line of the week: On FALCON CREST, Richard is on the brink of an affair with Melissa when a jealous Miss Hunter accuses him of prostituting himself for the Agretti land. “Diana, my dear, for these stakes, I will gladly turn an occasional trick,” he replies. That has a kind of New DALLAS ring to it.

    And this week’s Soap Land Top 4 are … boy, it's a really tough call - each show stands out in a different way - but ...

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

    James from London Soap Chat Mega Star

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    19/Jan/83: DYNASTY: Danny v. 21/Jan/83: KNOTS LANDING: To Have and To Hold v. 21/Jan/83: FALCON CREST: Broken Promises

    There's a great scene in this week’s KNOTS LANDING where Gary pays a visit to Kenny Ward in an attempt to patch up their friendship. Kenny and wife Ginger are among Soap Land's least explored characters. We’ve been given more psychological insight into Kirby Anders in half a dozen episodes of DYNASTY than we have the Wards in over three and a half years of KNOTS. Kenny and Gary's relationship itself has only been introduced to the story as a way of keeping Gary connected to the cul-de-sac after his break up with Val. As a result, Kenny’s primary function in the scene is to act as Gary’s conscience, recounting his past sins. “You got Sid Fairgate involved in selling stolen auto parts and now he’s dead,” he reminds him. "Val stands by you, you run out on her. Now you’re just doing the same thing to me … It’s time somebody told you the truth about yourself … Congratulations, Gary. You’ve finally learned to be a true Ewing.”

    Looked at another way, as a result of being left alone by the writers, the Wards are now the most stable couple in the cul-de-sac. Kenny is the only character in the same profession as he was at the beginning of the series (even he is somewhat unemployed at this point) and of the original couples, theirs is the one marriage that has both survived and is blossoming. Quite a turnaround, given that Kenny was the least sympathetically depicted cul-de-sac resident when KNOTS began.

    There’s an equally good scene over on FALCON CREST between Richard Channing and his adoptive father Henri Denault. The actors portraying these two cold and ruthless businessmen play against the aggression of their dialogue, which is full of ultimatums and accusations, imbuing it instead with emotion and vulnerability, even affection. The results are fascinating - it feels like the characters are trying to reach out to each other, but the words they’ve been scripted to say won’t allow them to.

    Denault wants Richard to return to the company fold in New York. “This isn’t a request,” he clarifies. "It comes from someone above me.” “Suppose I refuse?” asks Richard. “You’d simply become another competitor,” Denault tells him, "an adversary to be vanquished … Come home with me now before you do something foolish.” “My dear father,” replies Richard, "I work for myself and neither you nor your mysterious superior will tell me when to turn tail and run from the enemy.”

    Richard might be determined to stay in his soap opera, but DYNASTY's Sammy Jo can’t wait to leave hers. “I really hoped I’d never see this place again or anybody in it,” she tells Krystle. Sure, she wants the Carrington money, but not the lifestyle that accompanies it. Instead, she wants to become a model in New York - the same city Richard is refusing to return to. Unlike Sammy Jo, fellow DYNASTY character Kirby’s ambition is to be accepted by the Carringtons as an equal, “not to be the downstairs girl that you try and take to bed, but the upstairs girl you marry.” This desire for social acceptance echoes Lane Ballou’s vow that she would eventually "make it" onto Flamingo Road.

    Kirby’s line, "The upstairs world, I tasted it in Paris,” is echoed by Kenny on KNOTS LANDING: “I wanted it so bad I could taste it. Gary, you dangled a dream in front of my face and then you snatched it away.” Whereas Kenny craves success but only on his own terms, Kirby is prepared to prostitute herself to get what she wants: "I have something some men want,” she says, referring in part to her rape by Adam, "and next time, I’m going to make sure that I get what I want in return - respectability."

    Kirby speaks about her body as if it were a bargaining tool, and Sammy Jo and FALCON CREST’s Melissa view their newborn children in the same way. Sammy Jo even offers to sell her son, Danny, to Blake to finance her independence in New York. “What’s important is me,” she tells the Carringtons. "I have one life and one body and I wanna use it for me.” Melissa, conversely, uses her son, Joseph, to further entrench herself at Falcon Crest. “That baby guarantees me a place here,” she tells Lance. "It’s all gonna be mine one day.”

    Baby buying is not a new concept in Soap Land. Only two weeks ago on FALCON CREST, Angela discovered that Jacqueline Perrault had sold Richard to Henri Denault when he was a baby. Over on DALLAS, Jeff Faraday sold his child to Bobby and Sue Ellen tried to buy Rita Briggs’. However, when Sammy Jo makes her proposition, Blake draws a line in the sand, decrying the selling of a child as "morally repulsive”. He instead offers her $100,000 to keep the baby. When she declines, Blake and Krystle agree to look after the child until such time as she is ready to assume responsibility for him. The fact that they will be sending her monthly cheques in the interim means, in effect, that they will be renting Danny instead - a slightly less morally repulsive arrangement, it would seem.

    That pages from Val’s manuscript should end up on the front page of Global Gossip under the headline "BOOZE AND WOMEN MADE MY LIFE HELL — EWING EX TELLS ALL” makes Brooks Oliver’s line to Miss Ellie in DALLAS two weeks ago - "Ewing is a name that sells newspapers” - seem somewhat prophetic. In contrast to this gross violation of Val’s privacy, Richard Channing assures brother Chase he will keep Cole's apparent suicide note/murder confession out of the New Globe in this week’s FALCON CREST - quite a concession, given the aggressive smear campaign he launched against Cole earlier in the season.

    Elsewhere on this week’s KNOTS, Laura and Ginger argue over their differing perceptions of Ciji. To Laura, Ciji is "a nice girl ... a good friend”, while Ginger describes her as "the most conniving woman I've ever met.” Here again, Ciji is a blank canvas, becoming whatever these characters require of her: Laura needs a best friend, someone who will side with her unquestioningly against Richard (in a way Karen never would), whereas Ginger wants someone to blame for all her dissatisfactions. In each case, that’s who Ciji becomes.

    Karen and Mack elope to Vegas for the third Soap Land wedding of the season - but this time the groom neither dies immediately after the ceremony nor gets pushed into a swimming pool. Instead, the nuptials are played for laughs as the happy couple are married by an eccentric old couple in a ticky-tacky, rinky-dink ceremony. The “any objections to this wedding?” section - which led to a dramatic freeze frame at JR and Sue Ellen’s wedding in DALLAS - provides the funniest moment, with the spaced out officiator waiting so long for someone to object (in spite of there being only two witnesses in attendance) that Mack has to prompt him to continue with the service. The comedy is possibly a little overdone, but it’s charming enough and contrasts effectively with the scenes of a despondent Gary teetering on the verge of an alcoholic relapse. Like Sue Ellen’s drunken moments in New DALLAS, there's a deep sadness, a profound loneliness, about these scenes. We don’t see Gary actually take that first drink. Standing on the terrace of his beach house, glass in hand, gazing out to sea, (I’m reminded of Val looking at the view from Jeff Munson’s New York balcony two weeks ago) he turns his back to the camera before lifting the glass to his mouth. We then cut to a long shot of the beach house in which he becomes just a tiny figure in the distance. The camera then pans discreetly away from the house towards the ocean, which in KNOTS always seems to somehow evoke a sense of inevitability: it was always going to turn out this way.

    The week after embarking on their clandestine affairs, DYNASTY’s Alexis and FALCON CREST's Vicky both surprise their respective lovers with an afternoon visit. Alexis and Mark narrowly avoid discovery when Fallon comes calling while they are between the sheets. Vicky and Nick aren’t so lucky. When Nick’s wife Sheila walks in them, they are merely planning a picnic, but that’s enough for her to realise what’s been going on between them.

    “Broken Promises” is FALCON CREST at its dark, mysterious best. This is a bit of a ridiculous comparison, but I'm kind of reminded of the 1946 movie THE BIG SLEEP. It’s nowhere near as smart or witty as that, but it has a similarly pulpy appeal, with its multiple mysteries, double and triple crosses, hardboiled characters and a labyrinth of supporting players that are hard to keep track of but all of whom have a part to play in the plot. There are no less than three as-yet-unseen figures lurking in the shadows at this point - Henri Denault’s anonymous all-powerful boss who has ordered Richard back to New York, Cole’s unknown attacker who is presumably also Carlo Agretti’s killer, and the elusive Mr Fong, an apparent witness to Carlo’s murder. And if Melissa Cumson is FALCON CREST's film noir femme fatale, then Diana Hunter is its ice cool Hitchcock blonde. This week, she proves to be more than Richard Channing’s enigmatic assistant when she offers to spy on him for his father. (Denault makes a point of letting her how dispensable she is: “If you lose Richard’s trust, you’ll be absolutely of no value … Things of no value are usually discarded, Miss Hunter.”) Chase even hires a private eye, disgraced DALLAS senator "Wild Bill” Orloff, last seen running a diner on FLAMINGO ROAD, to help navigate a way through the murkiness of the story-line.

    And this week’s Soap Land Top 3 are …

    1 (4) FALCON CREST
    2 (2) KNOTS LANDING
    3 (3) DYNASTY
     
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  12. James from London

    James from London Soap Chat Mega Star

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    26/Jan/83: DYNASTY: Madness v. 27/Jan/83: KNOTS LANDING: A New Family v. 28/Jan/83: DALLAS: A Ewing is a Ewing v. 28/Jan/83: FALCON CREST: Deliberate Disclosure

    “When you do things I don’t know about or hide things from me, I get crazy,” Gary tells Abby. Indeed he does - almost as crazy as Jeff Colby when he’s high on toxic fumes. This week, DYNASTY’s Jeff and KNOTS LANDING’s Gary are both in meltdown - the former as the result of being maliciously poisoned by Adam, the latter because he’s back on the booze.

    Jeff is suffering from a bad case of paranoia. He believes his teething son is dreadfully ill, that his father-in-law holds him accountable for his late uncle’s crimes and that his wife is sleeping around. Gary is having similar fears about Abby conniving behind his back - the difference is Gary's concerns are based in reality. For instance, Abby really has exploited their friendship with the Averys to gain a controlling interest in their restaurant. (Gary learns this when he pays a drunken visit to Richard in his restaurant kitchen. Interesting that Gary's first port of call while on a binge should be to see his old drinking buddy from “Bottom of the Bottle".)

    A few drinks later, Gary disrupts Ciji’s recording session where several regular characters, including Abby, are in attendance. His inability to get through to Abby is neatly underlined by the glass of the recording booth separating them as he yells at her: “We’ve got to stop this! We’re hurting people! We’re ruining LIVES!!!” (It also anticipates a different kind of glass that will seal him off from Val at the end of the season.) Pam has similar difficulty in reaching Bobby with her warning at the end of this week’s DALLAS - “Everybody’s going to get hurt, especially you. Can’t you see that, Bobby?” In Bobby and Pam's case, there is no physical barrier between them - they are sitting opposite each other in a restaurant - but what keeps them apart is Bobby’s preoccupation with what’s going on at the bar, where the prostitute he has hired to set up George Hicks, JR’s inside man on the Texas Energy Commission, has just made her first move.

    When Gary trips over some recording equipment, most of the other characters in attendance - Laura, Diana, Ciji, Jeff Munson - rush to his aid. Abby is the exception. She doesn’t move from the raised seating area where she has been watching Ciji sing. Instead, she looks down at Gary as if from a throne - regal, imperious, steely. It’s a very powerful image. It’s repeated later in the ep when a dishevelled Gary returns to the beach house from his binge and half-collapses on the staircase. Abby stands above him at the top of the stairs, dressed for bed but still immaculately made up. As she scowls contemptuously at him, she could be Cersei Lannister in an '80s Lorimar version of GAME OF THRONES - but instead of ordering his beheading, she tosses a blanket at him and issues the following edict: “Don’t you come near me. I mean it."

    “The money was supposed to give us pleasure,” Gary tells her despairingly the next morning. “Instead, it’s a wedge between us." Viewed in this context, JR encouraging Lucy "to toast the fact that your daddy’s gonna keep his inheritance” at the beginning of this week’s DALLAS feels ironic in more ways than one.

    Jeff Colby and Gary Ewing are also caught up in imaginary affairs this week. Jeff thinks Fallon is having an affair with Mark Jennings, while Chip Roberts has everyone believing that Gary is cheating on Abby with Ciji. (Tracking the journey of this little rumour round the cul-de-sac and beyond is one of the pleasures of this tightly woven episode of KNOTS.)

    Adding to the confusion, Ciji is also involved, with Laura, in what one might term “a phantom affair”. Theirs is a unique relationship in Soap Land. It sprang to life six episodes ago as an immediately intense, if somewhat contrived, friendship. Straightaway, it became part of a triangle, with poor old Richard left increasingly on the outside looking in. As the Avery marriage has deteriorated, it’s been clear that Laura prefers the company of her new best friend to that of her husband. Along the way, there have been jokey, throwaway references - to Ciji "licking the bowl", to Ciji and Laura sharing hot tubs and watching dirty movies - that seem innocuous individually, but which collectively could be interpreted as hinting at something else. To that, one might add Laura’s shorter, slightly masculine haircut, which makes its debut this week.

    “I just don’t understand why so many people are mad at me,” weeps Ciji to a sympathetic Laura after the recording studio debacle. "It just feels like every time I turn around, someone’s coming down on me for something. Kenny and Ginger and Richard, now Abby.” She has a point - things are getting so out of control in KNOTS, it’s as if nearly every character is inhaling the same mind-altering fumes as Jeff Colby. “You’re the only person I can turn to,” she continues. At this point, Laura's and Ciji's eyes meet and you get the feeling that if they were going to kiss, it would be now. There is a close exchange of another kind instead, as Ciji confides her pregnancy and Laura then comforts her. However, if one were to interpret Ciji taking Laura into her confidence as a substitution for a more sapphic expression of intimacy (this being CBS in 1983 and not TNT in 2014), then Laura's behaviour from this point onwards takes on new significance. When we next see her talking to Richard, she behaves evasively, even guiltily. When he touches her, she recoils.

    The climax of Jeff’s breakdown on DYNASTY (at least in this episode) comes when he discovers Fallon in Mark Jennings’ hotel room and tries to strangle her, calling her “rotten as a person and worse as a wife and a mother” as he does so. In the equivalent scene in KNOTS, it is a jealous Richard who loses control when Laura rejects him in bed yet again. “You are my wife!” he insists. "You can stay up all night with Ciji, comforting her … I could use a little comforting too!” His outburst isn’t as violent as Jeff’s - he only grabs Laura by the arm to stop her from walking away - and he does not require a punch like the one Jeff receives from Mark Jennings in order to stop. Just the sight of his bewildered son Jason at the bedroom door is enough to bring him to his senses. (Significantly, Jason appears just as Richard is about to ask Laura precisely what is going on between her and Ciji.)

    There is no such outburst from JR when he decides to “get Miss Harwood” in this week’s DALLAS. He remains very much in control, his actions clearly premeditated, as he lures Holly into his office after hours, locking the door behind them, and then coerces her into sex. There is no threat of violence, but the dialogue between them is very much the language of rape: “I don’t want this.” “You have no choice.” “You won’t enjoy it.” “You better make damn sure I do."

    "I have something some men want,” concluded Kirby after her rape by Adam on DYNASTY two weeks ago, "and next time, I’m going to make sure that I get what I want in return.” Holly does precisely that following her encounter with JR - and what she wants is to regain control of her own body. Later in the episode, she entices JR to her bedroom with the promise of more sex. When he touches her, she pulls a gun on him. The words she then uses to describe him are almost an exact match for those spoken by Kirby last week to compare Adam with her ex-lover, Jean Paul. "You’re both so sure of yourselves, so arrogant,” Kirby told Adam. “You arrogant pig,” Holly tells JR, "you’re so full of yourself, so damn sure of everything … You ever touch me again, you're a dead man. Now get out!” Aside from Lute-Mae pressing charges against Peter Horton’s character in FLAMINGO ROAD, this is the first instance of a Soap Land rape victim (or "unwilling sex partner", if that’s too specific a term) taking a stand against her attacker.

    I was reminded of this confrontation after watching the remarkable scene in the mid-season finale of New DALLAS Season 3 where Pamela Rebecca finds John Ross with Emma. In each case, the viewer’s expectations, and those of the male character involved, are toyed with and then overturned. When JR finds Holly reclining provocatively on a bed in her negligee, champagne chilling in an ice bucket, he anticipates a seduction - instead, he gets a gun in his face. In the New DALLAS scene, when Pamela Rebecca reaches into her coat, John Ross think she’s going to produce a gun - instead, she takes him, and us, somewhere very different. In each instance, the woman plays the man at his own game, using his appetites and instincts to blindside him. (That these women are operating by men’s rules to begin with means, inevitably, that both DALLAS series get to have their cake and eat it too - sure, the gals get to turn the tables, but they do so while posing provocatively on a bed in not very many clothes.) After JR leaves Holly’s bedroom, it is his face the camera lingers on rather than hers. It is his mask of bravado we see slip, revealing him shaken and vulnerable - humanised if you will. We are not privy to an equivalent moment with Holly because, ultimately, Holly’s feelings - aside from the need to avenge herself on JR - are not germane to the story. By contrast, in the New DALLAS scene, Pamela Rebecca’s feelings are the story.

    “You have to let me out of the marriage,” Fallon tells her father following Jeff's attack on her. “It’s over!” Meanwhile, on FALCON CREST, Lance defies his grandmother by filing for divorce against Melissa. While Blake offers Fallon a sympathetic shoulder. Angela responds by throwing Lance out of the house with a promise to disinherit him.

    Just as his former FLAMINGO ROAD self, Michael Tyrone, had an affair with devious married heiress Constance as part of a much bigger scheme, so Richard Channing has finally slept with Constance’s FALCON CREST equivalent Melissa as part of an attempt to get his hands on the Agretti vineyards (and subsequently the entire California wine industry). But whereas Michael was the one who deceived and betrayed Constance, here it’s Melissa who double crosses Richard when she reneges on her promise to sell him her father’s land. Richard’s revenge proves swift and effective.

    Although “Ewing" continues to be a name that sells newspapers - while the story of Val’s leaked manuscript is still front page news, JR makes it onto the cover of Tempo Magazine - the headline of the week belongs to the New Globe which screams ACCUSED MURDERER FATHERS FALCON CREST HEIR - a story alleging that Cole Gioberti is the real father of Melissa’s baby.

    All of this press coverage in Soap Land has major repercussions. The tabloid scandal surrounding Val’s manuscript has already contributed to Gary falling off the wagon in KNOTS, and when Val hears that he is drinking again, it sends her into a kind of equivalent emotional relapse. Meanwhile, Abby considers suing Val for libel and defamation of character but is persuaded that the resulting publicity would only make matters worse. On FALCON CREST, Melissa is given the same advice when she threatens to take legal action against the Globe for their story. Unlike Abby, however, she is undeterred and slaps Richard with a $20,000,000 lawsuit. This, in turn, serves to further strain Richard’s relationship with his father, Henri Denault. Meanwhile, on DALLAS, JR’s huge media profile gives Cliff the idea to lure him out of the oil business and into politics.

    Angela Channing’s reaction to a newspaper headline questioning her great-grandson’s legitimacy is intriguing. In fact, it’s the exact opposite of Jock Ewing’s when the equivalent story about his grandson made the front page in “Paternity Suit” (DALLAS Season 2). Whereas Jock demanded legal action be taken to defend the Ewing family honour, Angela simply dismisses the story. “That article means nothing,” she insists, even though Lance has supplied the Globe with paternity test results proving the child is not his.

    This week’s Soap Land also contains its fair share of romantic gestures, albeit of an unsolicited nature. Mark J surprises Alexis with the gift of an expensive brooch. She is touched but makes it clear that she has nothing to offer him in return but "love in the afternoon”, as she is otherwise occupied with destroying her ex-husband. "Hate is as strong a passion as love,” she explains. Mark G, meanwhile, shows up at Pam’s workplace again, this time, laden with champagne, roses and commiserations over Miss Ellie’s courtroom defeat. Like Alexis, Pam is impressed by the gesture. “Mark, what you did was really sweet and thoughtful and lovely,” she tells him, "but I don't want you to do it again.” We can tell she’s softening towards him, though. The most extravagant, and least welcome, romantic gesture of the week comes in FALCON CREST. At first, Maggie is thrilled to learn that her script is to be turned into a Hollywood movie, even more so when she is offered the role of associate producer. (Her fee? $100,000 - the same amount Blake offered Sammy Jo to keep her baby in last week’s DYNASTY.) The snag comes when she learns that the offer comes courtesy of sleazy Daryl Clayton and that he will be directing the film. Reluctantly, she accepts the job anyway. Chase is not happy.

    There’s a fab (and at nearly seven minutes, unusually long) scene at the end of this week’s DYNASTY. When Alexis, concerned that Jeff has been overworked, decides to take over his office at Colby Co, Adam is obliged to tell her how he has been poisoning Jeff via the toxic panelling in that office. At first, she is appalled, but then Adam drops the other shoe: Alexis is now in a position take over Denver-Carrington, “if Jeff is disorientated enough to sign over control of all those shares [his own and his son’s], leaving Blake Carrington out in the cold - on his knees, begging.” Alexis is clearly tempted by this idea but refuses to go along with Adam’s plan to keep messing with Jeff’s mind. So Adam resorts to blackmail. If she doesn’t cooperate, he tells his mother, “I’ll have to tell everyone concerned that I was simply following your instructions, how the whole thing was your idea in the first place. Think of it, Mother. How would it feel to run the Colby empire from a prison cell?" “What kind of a monster are you?” she whispers in horror.

    Over on KNOTS, Lilimae also learns an unwholesome truth about a young man living under her roof: it was Chip who stole Val’s manuscript. When she tells him to pack his bags and move out, Chip - like Adam - uses blackmail, but this time of the emotional variety. “Val and you are my family now,” he tells Lilimae tearfully. "You’re the only family I've ever known.” She relents enough to let him stay, but with a warning: “You do anything to hurt Val again, just one little thing, and the jig is up."

    Like DYNASTY, FALCON CREST ends with a young buck blackmailing an older female relative: “You don’t dare cut me out of your will because I know enough to ruin Falcon Crest!” shouts Lance at his grandmother. “Get out!” barks Angela in reply.

    Adam’s proposal to Alexis that they take advantage of Jeff’s condition in order to gain control of an empire is mirrored by the proposition Abby’s attorney, James Westmont, comes up in this week’s KNOTS: “You asked me to find you a way to protect yourself,” he reminds her. "I thought up some contingency plans for Gary Ewing Enterprises, a corporation with you and Mr. Ewing as full and equal partners.” Like Alexis and Adam with Jeff’s shares, all they need is Gary’s signature for Abby to have full access to his fortune - but no sooner does Abby gets Gary to Westmont's office for a meeting than he walks out in search of another drink.

    Amidst all the melodrama in this week’s Soap Land, there is still room for two smaller stories of a more domestic nature, each involving a nineteen-year-old and one of their parents. "You were a kid for a lot of years. Now you’re an adult. I have to learn how to think of you as an adult and treat you as one. It won’t be easy, but I promise I’ll try,” Karen tells Eric on KNOTS in a touching scene where he admits how excluded he felt by her elopement with Mack. “You’re a young adult who doesn’t seem to have any direction in life,” frets Chase on FALCON CREST after learning of Vicky’s affair with an older married man. Instead of the kind of heated confrontation one might have expected, Chase struggles manfully to understand where his daughter is coming from. It's a tender father/daughter scene of the kind one might more readily expect to see on KNOTS, or maybe even THE WALTONS.

    And this week’s Soap Land Top 4 are …

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

    James from London Soap Chat Mega Star

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    02/Feb/83: DYNASTY: Two Flights to Haiti v. 03/Feb/83: KNOTS LANDING: The Morning After v. 04/Feb/83 DALLAS: Crash of '83 v. 04/Feb/83: FALCON CREST: Love, Honor and Obey

    As the mental states of Jeff Colby and Gary Ewing continue to deteriorate on this week’s DYNASTY and KNOTS, the reactions of those closest to them are interesting to observe.

    Following Jeff’s attack on her, Fallon wants out of their marriage - and fast. In spite of Blake following her from scene to scene, pleading with her to reconsider, she is adamant: “I’ve already made up my mind … I have to have that divorce … He’s insane!” Conversely on KNOTS, now that Gary’s drinking again, Val struggles to keep her distance from him. “I intend to stay angry,” she explains to Karen. "I am holding onto that, because if I don’t, I’m gonna start to care again and then I’m gonna be right back where I started.” Her attitude is contrasted with Abby’s. “I’m not like Val,” she tells Gary coldly. “I’m not gonna count your drinks or hide your bottles or run around town checking up on you. If you wanna kill yourself, fine. Just don’t expect me to watch."

    Things aren’t quite that simple, however. Abby’s apparent indifference belies both her instinct for self-preservation ("Gary is no condition to make intelligent business decisions for himself right now and I have to do everything I can to protect my investment”) and the fact that she does genuinely care for him. Similarly on DYNASTY, Alexis is torn between worry over Jeff’s condition (“He could die!”), fear that she will be blamed for it ("They’ll diagnose what’s wrong with him and they’ll trace it back to that miserable paint!”) and like Abby, her own self-interests. Ultimately, both women are willing to take advantage of a sick man in order to acquire his signature on a document that will realise their own ambitions.

    As for the sick men themselves, there are moments of calm and introspection amidst the madness. We see Jeff gloomily cuddling his son in the Carrington nursery (“Sometimes I wonder if I’ll even be alive when you’re old enough to throw a softball"), while a more optimistic Gary takes a run on the beach and talks about getting his life back on track (“Oh Abby, I can beat it, I know I can!"). Both interludes prove fleeting, however. The sound of Mark Jennings’ voice on the phone is sufficient to send Jeff off the deep end again, and he collapses on the La Mirage tennis courts. Meanwhile, all it takes for Gary is a few hours holed up at the beach house without any booze to send him out on yet another binge. While Jeff is hospitalised, Gary winds up at the police station on a drunk and disorderly charge.

    Both situations lead to some wonderfully juicy scenes as assorted Carringtons and Colbys, and Cunninghams and Ewings, convene at Denver Memorial Hospital and the Knots Landing Police Station respectively. Having been alerted to Jeff’s collapse, Alexis turns up at the hospital to find Krystle already there, awaiting Jeff's test results. Val, meanwhile, receives a tip-off from a nosy reporter and makes an impulsive dash to the police station. She arrives in time to see Abby bailing out Gary. Just as Gary was separated from Abby by the glass of the recording booth in last week’s ep, so he and Val are removed from each other by two sets of windows at the station, with Abby in-between. They see each other but cannot connect. (In fact, Val and Gary have spoken to each other freely only twice since Val kicked him out of the house in the season opener: once in the underground parking lot and once outside the hospital during Abby's operation. Every other time they have come into contact, there has been some kind of physical obstacle between them.)

    Back at Denver Memorial, Adam arrives to find Alexis in a blind panic (“Tests?? What do they need to make tests for??”). He hastily bundles her into an elevator before her behaviour can make Krystle even more suspicious than she already is. Whereas Krystle and Alexis’s conversation in this scene has been full of lies and evasion, the interaction between Val and Abby at the police station is all about home truths. The two women haven't spoken frankly since Abby’s affair with Gary began, but this time around there's no dignified silences, no archly clever “I’m not saying we’re having an affair and I’m not saying we’re not” double talk. “With every fibre of my body, when I look at Gary and see what he’s become, I blame you,” Val tells Abby earnestly. "Whatever failings he had, at least he was strong, he was healthy and he knew who he was.” “And he left you,” Abby replies simply. “I loved him and I cared for him and I never did one thing to hurt him,” Val continues. “But still he left you,” maintains Abby.

    “Which one gets to be the man?” Richard asks Ciji elsewhere in this week’s KNOTS, thereby making Soap Land's first ever overt lesbian reference. (There won’t be any others until a casual remark from Vanessa Hunt regarding her bisexuality in KNOTS nine years later, followed by a certain New DALLAS scene twenty-three years after that.) By verbalising the possibility of such a relationship, Richard somehow breaks whatever romantic or sexual spell may have existed between Ciji and Laura. In fact, we later see the two women giggling at the very idea of them sleeping together. Alas for Richard, the idea has now taken up residence inside his own head instead.

    Throughout this week’s Soap Land, we see characters bringing up each others’ past sins. "I've seen the hours you spend weeping over costing Krystle Carrington her child,” mocks Adam when Alexis self-righteously scolds him over his lack of remorse regarding Jeff’s condition. On DALLAS, Bobby confronts George Hicks over both his cocaine habit and his sneaky little arrangement with JR, only for Pam to then present him with a list of his own recent misdemeanours: "The Bobby I love would rather be dead than blackmail Hicks or anybody else, double cross the cartel or force his own mother into court.” And on KNOTS, Ciji wipes the smile off Chip’s face when she unmasks his true identity - Tony Fenice, a man wanted by the police for beating up "some rich old lady” he was previously involved with. "That guy doesn’t exist anymore,” Chip insists.

    There’s an interesting parallel on KNOTS and DYNASTY between the former Tony Fenice and Michael Torrance, each of whom talks about the difficulties of adjusting to a new identity. “You know how hard it is to start over, really start over?” Chip asks Ciji. “New name, new city, new history. I thought I finally outran this.” “Up until a few months ago, the word mother was just that to me - a word,” Adam tells Alexis, "and then it became a reality - you - a beautiful reality. Along with that joy came a great deal of bitterness ... I was deprived for so long. You can say that you and Blake did everything, turned over every rock to find me after I was kidnapped … but somehow and somewhere along the line, you didn’t look hard enough, did you?” At this, Alexis closes her eyes in weary despair. "I have told you a hundred times, Adam, that I never wanted to give up the search. I begged your father, I pleaded with him …” At such times, Alexis becomes Joan Crawford in MILDRED PIERCE, a maternal martyr figure, doomed to be forever punished by her first born for events over which she had no control. In other scenes, she and Adam seem like forerunners of Judith and Harris Ryland in New DALLAS - a bizarre mother/son double act competing over who is the more twisted. "You and I are two of a kind - it's just that I'm more honest about it,” Adam concludes. Either way, each of the scenes between him and Alexis in this week’s episode is a blast.

    As Bobby Ewing puts the screws to JR’s inside man on the Texas Energy Commission, FALCON CREST’s Richard bribes his inside man on the County Board of Supervisors into supporting him on something confusing to do with right-of-ways and easements. It’s notable that these two committees are made up of the same types of characters: the self-righteously heroic one (Donna Krebbs/Chase Gioberti), the corrupted one (George Hicks/Nick Hogan), the neutral one (in each case, the committee chairman) and the token Hispanic who has no real voice (Mr Figuerroa/Supervisor Herrera).

    While Chase has spent the last few episodes of FALCON CREST searching for the elusive Mr. Fong, the gardener who may hold the key to Carlo Agretti’s murder, DYNASTY has been showing us occasional scenes set in a Hong Kong hospital where a Dr. Ling has performed life-saving surgery on a man whose face remains mysteriously swathed in bandages. When Mr. Fong appears, briefly, in this week’s FALCON CREST, we realise that these two men, the gardener and the doctor, are one and the same.

    On last week’s DALLAS, Clayton ran into Miss Ellie in Galveston (where she had gone to recover from her courtroom defeat) and proved to be just the supportive friend she needed. On this week’s DYNASTY, Mark Jennings follows Fallon to Haiti (where she has gone to divorce Jeff) in the hopes of providing a similar function. He is offended when she misconstrues his motives. “Don’t colour me as a dude on the make and take, Fallon … I’m not a tennis bum!” he huffs. Clayton, meanwhile, is also obliged to clarify his intentions this week when he invites Miss Ellie to accompany him on a farewell visit to the Southern Cross Ranch but manages to do so with more dignity than Mark.

    As one Soap Land marriage-as-business-merger draws to a close, (Fallon and Jeff’s) another gets an unexpected reprieve as Lance and Melissa step back from the brink of divorce and finally consummate their marriage. As with recent encounters between Holly and JR, and Kirby and Adam, there is an element of coercion involved. During a heated argument at Richard’s housewarming party, Lance forcibly drags Melissa into a secluded area and kisses her against her will. She then slaps him, he slaps her back, she slaps him again and he kisses her again. “I hate you!” she yells before being kissed yet again. This time, she responds in kind, and the camera pans discreetly away. Clearly, this is a case of he-kissed-her-till-she-liked-it, (see also: JR and Julie in “Spy In the House”, JR and Sue Ellen in “Black Market Baby”, James Bond and kitty Galore in GOLDFINGER) as opposed to a-rape-by-any-other-name. It’s also quite a funny scene, in a ludicrously overheated sort of a way.

    The final scene of this week’s FALCON CREST is yet another that strongly resembles a moment from early DALLAS. In “Second Thoughts” (DALLAS Season 2) there’s an after-dinner drinks scene at Southfork where Sue Ellen is unusually affectionate towards JR - so much so that they hastily excuse themselves and retire upstairs to bed. Lucy makes some crack about them suffering from sleeping sickness, and far from being offended by the sexual implication, Jock and Ellie laugh - the fact that their eldest son and his wife are apparently about to have intercourse being a cause for celebration. In FALCON CREST, Angela’s late evening chat with Lance (who has moved back into the house) is interrupted by Melissa wearing a dressing gown. She bids Angela good-night. “You’re going to sleep so early?” Angela asks in surprise. “No - just to bed,” Melissa replies, before heading for the stairs with Lance’s arm around her waist. Angela looks on, an approving smirk on her lips.

    Bill Duke directs this week’s DALLAS but finds little opportunity to exhibit the kind of visual flair he did when helming last week’s episode of KNOTS. There's nothing to match the dynamism of the scene where Gary drunkenly disrupts Ciji’s recording session, for instance. In fact, the ep’s first striking visual image doesn’t arrive until nearly the end of the episode when Bobby returns to a darkened Southfork after blackmailing George Hicks, and fixes himself a drink while looking ruefully up at his father’s portrait. Nonetheless, the final third of this week’s DALLAS is pretty much irresistible as various plot strands - Afton’s one-night stand with Gil Thurman, Rebecca and Cliff's determination to stop JR buying a refinery, Bobby blackmailing Hicks, his problems with Pam - start to intersect, building inexorably towards … something.

    Back on KNOTS, Mack’s presence as an outside observer (“I only know what I see") adds an extra dimension to the ongoing crisis surrounding Gary’s alcoholism. The scene at the end of the episode where he finds a distraught Val on the beach and makes a clumsy attempt to comfort her is one of those unexpectedly moving moments where KNOTS seems to transcend the Soap Land genre.

    This scene and the one between Bobby and Pam in their bedroom where they argue over his blackmail of Hicks fulfil a similar function, with Val and Pam each looking back to the beginning of their marriages and wondering how they got to where they are now. Surprisingly, there is no equivalent moment of soul searching for Maggie on FALCON CREST, who this week walks out on Chase in protest at him resuming his investigation into the Agretti murder. One gets the feeling she is leaving solely as a reaction to his current storyline rather because of any inherent problems in their relationship.

    Of the parallel KNOTS and DALLAS scenes, the one between Val and Mack offers more complexity and genuine emotion. There’s a sense of the characters developing organically almost in front of our eyes as if the writers are discovering new depths to them at the same time we are. It’s hard to imagine, for instance, the programme makers anticipating this speech of Val’s when she and Gary first arrived in the cul-de-sac, much less when she debuted in that diner on DALLAS:

    “He’s a weakness,” she says, explaining her feelings about Gary to Mack. "He is to me what alcohol is to him. I don’t know why we all find it so appalling in him and not so in me. You know, we’re the same, Gary and me. I wrote this big bestseller, I changed my whole life, I think I’ve finally grown up, but I’m still the same. Might as well put my hair back braids for all the changing I’ve done.”

    The episode ends with an exhausted Val being led along the beach by Karen, Mack’s jacket around her shoulders, all three of them with their arms around each other. The weather is blustery, and the shot feels like a wintery, melancholic counterpoint to the freeze frame at the end of “Home is for Healing” (Season 1) where Gary, Lucy and Val are running happily, hand in hand, through the sunlit ocean. With Gary and Lucy essentially out of her life, Karen and Mack are Val’s makeshift family now.

    If the characters on KNOTS feel like they’re continually evolving, then there’s something entrenched and inflexible, but no less satisfying, about Bobby and Pam in their bedroom scene on DALLAS: Pam is angry that Bobby is not exactly the same as when she married him, while Bobby is still rigidly obsessed with winning the company. Whatever the end of this week’s DALLAS lacks in emotional complexity, however, it makes up for in melodrama as Bobby and Pam are called away from their argument by a surprise visitor, Afton, who brings news of an air collision involving the Wentworth jet. Pam assumes Cliff was onboard, but an extra twist comes in the final seconds of the episode - Rebecca took his place at the last minute. Mothers paying the price for their sons’ actions: first Alexis is in the frame for Adam’s crime, and now it's Rebecca’s turn to sacrifice herself for Cliff.

    Also on this week’s FALCON CREST: as well as leaving her husband, Maggie begins work as Associate Producer on the film based on her screenplay. Soap Land’s previous foray into the movie world, the KNOTS episode “Silver Shadows”, concerned itself with a bygone era of Hollywood and used SUNSET BOULEVARD - the classic '50s flick about a faded silent film star living in the past - as its point of reference. The name of Maggie’s leading actress, Gloria Marlowe, also evokes an earlier era: half Gloria Swanson, half Philip Marlowe. When we meet Gloria, her demeanour - aloof, jaded, believing herself to be younger than she is - echoes that of Norma Desmond, the role Swanson played in SUNSET BLVD. The plot of Maggie’s film might be set in the present day, but glamorous, fifty-something Marlowe isn’t the kind of actress who was headlining movies in the real life early '80s. Rather than a contemporary movie star, she more resembles the kind of old-fashioned film actress who at this point was getting work in prime time soap operas like … FALCON CREST (which, given that Maggie’s script is based on events that she has experienced as a character in FALCON CREST, makes a confusing kind of sense.)

    And this week’s Soap Land Top 4 are …

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

    James from London Soap Chat Mega Star

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    16/Feb/83: DYNASTY: The Mirror v 17/Feb/83: KNOTS LANDING: The Loss of Innocence v. 18/Feb/83 DALLAS: Legacy v. 18/Feb/83: FALCON CREST: The Odyssey

    Declarations of war abound in this week’s Soap Land. On DYNASTY, Blake issues the following decree with regard to Alexis: “If she does anything to hurt Jeff, anything, there’s gonna be war between her and me, all-out-war, no holds barred." “Bobby wants all-out-war and believe me, he’s gonna get it,” JR tells his mama at the end of this week’s DALLAS. “Angela Channing declared war on me before I ever set foot in this town,” recalls Richard Channing on FALCON CREST. "I want her head - and Chase’s alongside it!"

    For the first time in Soap Land’s history, two “whodunnit?“ story-lines are running concurrently as the mystery surrounding Carlo Agretti’s death on FALCON CREST is joined by the question of “Who Killed Ciji?” on KNOTS LANDING. While the Carlo story has spanned almost an entire year, KNOTS introduces the Ciji plot just five weeks before the end of the season. As a result, it’s neither fish nor fowl: it lacks both the urgency of a season finale and the bombast of a season opener. Instead, there’s a strange stillness to this week's episode as we wait for the characters to discover what we at home already know, i.e. that Ciji is dead. The instalment weaves the same hypnotic spell as the two episodes of EASTENDERS that recently followed Lucy Beale’s murder, when you almost had to remind yourself to blink.

    Central to this feeling of stillness is an entire absence of a musical score. Watching this ep alongside the latest instalment of DYNASTY, with its majestically ridiculous background music continually driving the momentum forward, one becomes aware of what a pivotal role music plays in Soap Land, especially at the end of a scene where it often serves to absorb - or drown out - any ambiguity, lack of logic or absence in detail. As well as adding atmosphere, the music functions as a kind of shorthand, indicating how we and/or the characters are meant to be feeling before instantly transporting us from one scenario to another. In its absence, as in this week’s KNOTS, everything feels starker, more exposed. No music means there's one less layer of artifice between us and the characters on screen, giving the action an almost documentary feel. (I’m thinking particularly of the scene where a dishevelled, traumatised Gary staggers up the steps of the beach house after seeing Ciji’s body washed up on the shore.) This is as close to Soap Land vérité as the genre allows.

    In place of a melodramatic score sweeping us along, the kind of details that might ordinarily be forgotten instead rise to the surface: technicalities about police procedure, the perception of Ciji’s death as an accidental drowning gradually shifting to murder, the impact of autopsy results that reveal she was pregnant when she died. All these dramatic beats are acknowledged, unpacked and explored, rather than brushed over.

    In this regard, one of my favourite scenes in all of Soap Land (and beyond) is where Mack is called to the morgue to identify a body that fits Ciji’s description. There, he finds an attractive woman waiting, whom he recognises and addresses as Janet. He asks her what the body looks like. “Dead," she jokes. He laughs - at this point, it’s just another body, just another Jane Doe. Then the sheet obscuring the dead woman's face is removed and Mack receives the same jolt we did at the end of last week’s episode. Seeing his expression, Janet asks the dead woman's name. “Ciji,” he murmurs in reply, “Ciji Dunne. She sang." Janet makes a note of this. “I heard you got married,” she says. “What are you doing here?” Mack asks, staring at the body. Janet, still looking down at her notebook, assumes he’s talking to her. “I was in the neighbourhood,” she replies, a tad girlishly. “What?” he asks, suddenly looking at Janet as if registering her presence for the first time. She repeats her reply, but he turns to the coroner instead. “You said the girl drowned. She’s a homicide cop,” he says, indicating Janet. “What are you doing here?” he asks again, but this time he is talking to Janet. “I’m just taking a look,” she tells him coyly, but he sees past this. He asks the coroner to fast track the autopsy “for Janet - she thinks the girl was murdered."

    There are lots of small, subtle shifts in this scene, some or all of which might have been smothered or obscured by a musical score.

    The scene concludes with Mack asking the coroner to keep him informed of the autopsy results, not as a professional duty, but as a favour. “It’s personal,” he explains, and with those words, he relinquishes his self-appointed role as KNOTS LANDING's objective outsider. That title is immediately adopted by Janet, aka Detective, Baines. The final shot of the scene is of her watching Mack quizzically as he walks away, and it is through her eyes that we then view the regular characters' reactions to Ciji’s death as she goes from house to house questioning them.

    “People like us don’t get involved in murders,” Karen insists later in the episode. “People like us do and are,” counters Mack. This is KNOTS’ USP in a nutshell - ordinary (or at least identifiable) people finding themselves in extraordinary circumstances. (It’s also a mite disingenuous - in its bid to depict Karen as “people like us”, the show conveniently overlooks the Jessica Fletcher style master plan she singlehandedly devised and executed to put the men responsible for her own husband’s murder behind bars earlier in the season.)

    Towards the end of the ep, KNOTS moves into more conventional territory as various characters are interrogated at the police station. It’s fun to see Kenny, Ginger, Richard and Gary put through their detective show paces by Baines and her enjoyably cynical partner, Lieutenant Morrison. An alcohol induced blackout means that Gary is unable to remember whether or not he killed Ciji, and he is subsequently arrested for the crime. This, of course, is exactly what happened to both Sue Ellen after the shooting of JR in DALLAS and (minus the alcohol) Lute Mae following the apparent killing of Michael Tyrone in FLAMINGO ROAD. More recently, the very same soap trope has recurred as part of the Lucy Beale murder storyline on EASTENDERS.

    The scene in the police station where Richard Avery complains about having to wait alongside “all this scum" (“They’re probably thinking the same thing about you,” suggests Laura) echoes both JR’s discomfort at sitting amongst the hoi polloi in the doctor’s waiting room in "Paternity Suit” (DALLAS Season 2) and Blake’s disdain for the people he was obliged to queue up alongside when visiting his parole officer in "Alexis’ Secret” (DYNASTY Season 2).

    There’s a lot of controversial suitcase packing in this week’s Soap Land. On KNOTS, Karen is alarmed to find Diana preparing to move to New York with her boyfriend, while on FALCON CREST, Chase is unhappy when Vicky moves out of the Gioberti house to shack up with her lover. Both daughters are calm but firm in the face of parental disapproval. “Chip and I are in love … and I wanna be with him,” Diana informs her mother. “I’m making a choice, a choice to be with Nick,” Vicky tells her father. “The way to make sure she goes is to forbid her to go,” Mack advises Karen. Maggie adopts a similarly pragmatic approach. “I’m not gonna try to stop you,” she tells Vicky. "Not that I could anyway … I think the time has come for you to make your own decisions.”

    This week’s DALLAS, meanwhile, opens with Pam loading her car full of luggage before driving away from Southfork. Reaction to her departure is mixed. “Bobby’s out there, moping in her dust,” reports JR with a smile on his face. “How can you be so happy at a time like this?” scolds Sue Ellen. Miss Ellie blames Pam’s departure on Bobby himself: “You just don’t understand what’s happening to you!”

    While Miss Ellie describes Bobby as "obsessed with beating JR”, Chase is, according to estranged wife Maggie, “possessed” by the Carlo Agretti murder investigation. Pam and Maggie both feel they have no choice but to stay away until their husbands come to their senses, and each has moved into a hotel. Pam's suite at the Fairview might be more spacious than Maggie’s modest room at the Tuscany Valley Inn, but has far less character. Both couples meet to discuss their problems this week - Pam and Bobby at a restaurant, Chase and Maggie in the latter’s hotel room. In each case, the discussion swiftly becomes an argument and the husband storms off in a huff before any differences can be resolved.

    Back on KNOTS, during an argument with Mack over Diana, Karen accidentally calls him Sid, thereby becoming the third Soap Land character of the season to commit the cardinal error of referring to a current (or prospective) love interest by a previous partner’s name. First Cliff Barnes mis-identified Afton as Sue Ellen when he emerged from his coma, and then Jeff Colby upset Kirby when he declared his love for her thinking she was Fallon. This led to Kirby accepting Adam’s dinner invitation and subsequently to her rape. The same pattern recurs this week when Kirby bares her soul to Jeff again, this time in hospital, only for him to fall asleep on her. Feeling rejected once more, she impulsively decides to quit her job as the Carrington nanny and accept Adam’s offer to work as a translator for Colby Co. Given the rarified world of Carringtons and Colbys she is caught up in, there’s something about Kirby’s self destructive behaviour that rings intriguingly and psychologically true.

    Most of the rest of this week’s DYNASTY is dumb, clunky fun - from Mark Jennings’ solemn speech about the hardships of looking good in tennis shorts to Dr Ling's mysterious patient seeing his new face for the first time. His verdict is grudgingly favourable: “Thank-you for giving me a face I can live with,” he says.

    In a season that has already seen major inheritances for the Ewing brothers, Holly Harwood, Melissa Cumson, Richard Channing and Jeff and Alexis Colby, it is now time for Cliff Barnes, Pam Ewing and Katherine Wentworth to each receive a share of their mother’s empire. While Cliff is bequeathed full ownership of Barnes Wentworth Oil, Pam and Katherine inherit their mother’s shares of Wentworth Industries (or what has since been renamed on New DALLAS as Ewing Global). However, no Soap Land will would be complete unless it spawned an uneasy business alliance between family members (such as those existing between JR and Bobby at Ewing Oil, Angela and Chase at Falcon Crest, and Alexis and Jeff at Colby Co). Rebecca’s decision to divvy up the voting shares in Wentworth Tool and Die between Cliff and his two half-sisters exactly parallels what Douglas Channing did with the New Globe on FALCON CREST, where Richard Channing and his half sisters, Julia and Emma, are the three major shareholders.

    The New Globe is where Soap Land’s first ever use of a computer as a plot point takes place this week when Emma cracks Richard’s access code and discovers several secret payments made to Carlo Agretti shortly before his death. Chase’s theory that Carlo was blackmailing Richard gains credibility when Angela learns that Richard’s adoptive father, Henri Denault, was a Nazi collaborator during World War II - and that Carlo knew about it!

    So it is that this week’s KNOTS LANDING ends with Gary Ewing being arrested as part of one "whodunnit?" story-line, and FALCON CREST with Richard Channing emerging as a primary suspect in the other.

    And this week’s Soap Land Top 4 are …

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

    James from London Soap Chat Mega Star

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    23/Feb/83: DYNASTY: Battle Lines v 24/Feb/83: KNOTS LANDING: The Fatal Blow v. 25/Feb/83: DALLAS: Brothers and Sisters v. 25/Feb/83: FALCON CREST: Ultimatums

    A week after Emma Channing's demands for a corner office and a male secretary at the New Globe are met on FALCON CREST, DYNASTY’s Alexis finally gets her own office - and an assistant called David - at Colby Co. In the female boss/male underling stakes, both women have already pipped to the post by Holly Harwood on DALLAS, but while Holly might boast the most unconventional workplace arrangements in Soap Land, (so far this season, we’ve seen her conduct business meetings aboard her yacht, beside her pool and in her bedroom) Alexis’s new headquarters are arguably the most extravagant. Previously hubby Cecil’s office then nephew Jeff’s, it’s been so extensively made over, (the desk now balances on what appear to be elephant tusks) that it might as well be a new set. It’s also filmed very impressively - the shots from outside the window looking in are particularly striking in this week’s ep.

    Once again, the power of the media makes itself felt in this week’s Soap Land. For JR in DALLAS, it is a welcome presence as he receives 143 pieces of fan mail prompted by his appearances on Roy Ralston's TV talk show. "If you ever decide to run for political office, those people would vote for you,” Ralston tells him. For sister-in-law Val on KNOTS LANDING, the press has now become the enemy. A small army of reporters and photographers have set up camp outside her front door, hungry for her reaction to Gary’s arrest for Ciji’s murder. “I feel like I’m in my own prison,” she frets, essentially under house arrest for almost the entire episode. Over on FALCON CREST, Angela uses the press as a weapon as she threatens to expose Henri Denault’s Nazi past. “You get Richard out of my way,” she orders him, "because if you don’t, I’ll have you on the front page of every newspaper in the Western world.”

    Travel is very much in the air this week, with characters to-ing and fro-ing all over the US and beyond. On DYNASTY, a freshly divorced Fallon returns from Haiti accompanied by Mark J while on DALLAS, Mark G flies Pam to El Paso on his private jet and Miss Ellie accompanies Clayton to San Angelo to bid farewell to the Southern Cross. Angela begins this week’s FALCON CREST in Paris before detouring to New York on her way home in order to blackmail Henri Denault. At the end of this week’s DYNASTY, Blake receives a call from Dan Cassidy in Hong Kong, declaring that he may have just seen Steven alive in a local hospital.

    There are just as many trips aborted as taken in this week’s eps. Blake prevents Alexis from whisking Jeff away from his hospital bed to a private clinic in Switzerland (in the hope that she can keep the cause of his collapse a secret). On KNOTS, Laura declining Richard’s suggestion of a Mexican vacation snuffs out his last hope that their marriage might be saved. Two doors down, Val tearfully refuses Jeff Munson’s offer of a return trip to New York, thereby ending their relationship. NY is similarly a no-no for both Chip Roberts, who postpones his fresh start in the Big Apple, (“I can’t desert my friends now, they need me”) and Richard Channing on FALCON CREST, whose defiance of Henri Denault’s summons to New York leads to a deadly confrontation on the Gorman Bridge.

    The parallels between Bobby and Pam’s estrangement on DALLAS and Chase and Maggie’s on FALCON CREST continue. Whereas Pam has lunch with Mark Graison to discuss a deal on her brother’s behalf, Maggie dines with Daryl Clayton to review the latest amendments to her screenplay. Both meetings are strictly business, but neither man can resist undermining his dining companion’s marital status. "It seems to me that your commitment to Chase is not as strong as you led me to believe,” suggests Daryl. “You're already a single lady, you just haven't made it legal yet,” maintains Mark. Pam’s sister Katherine and Chase’s cousin Emma each volunteer their services as an intermediary for the unhappy couple, but neither get very far. The difference between the two women, of course, is that Katherine is secretly trying to sabotage Bobby and Pam’s marriage. To this end, she arranges for Bobby to see Pam and Mark lunching together. Similarly, on FALCON CREST, Chase discovers Maggie and Daryl having drinks in the bar of the Tuscany Inn. Neither husband is exactly pleased by what he sees. Bobby’s subsequent visit to Pam’s hotel suite lasts three minutes before he loses his temper and storms out, which is a full sixty seconds longer than Maggie manages when she drops by the Gioberti house to see Chase.

    For all the similarities that now exist between the soaps - and let’s not forget the two whodunits running concurrently on KNOTS and FALCON CREST, where Mack Mackenzie and Chase Gioberti continue to second guess the investigations being run by Sheriff Robbins and Detective Baines respectively - each of this week’s episodes includes at least one scene that somehow encapsulates the flavour of that particular soap - i.e., a scene you could only imagine seeing on that specific show and not any of the others.

    On DYNASTY, it comes just after Blake has discovered Alexis in Jeff’s hospital room, about to spirit him away to the Swiss Alps. With wondrous DYNASTY logic, Alexis is already dressed entirely in white, from fluffy hat to kinky boot, as if she were planning to ski herself all the way from Denver to Gstaad. Having forbidden the trip, Blake drags a furious Alexis into the hospital corridor where she lashes out at him physically and he raises an arm to ward her off. Teeth bared in anger, she delivers the thrillingly nonsensical line, "God, how I hate to see you choke on your own bloody arrogance!”

    KNOTS’ defining moment comes at the end of the episode. Having learned that Ciji was actually killed by a blow to head in her apartment and that her body was only later dumped in the ocean, Val has concluded that she must be responsible for the fatal blow and that Gary then moved the body to protect her. She decides to give herself up to the police. Emerging from her house for the first time in the ep, a handheld camera then tracks her journey as she struggles through the media scrum to get to her car, Lilimae following behind, helplessly pleading with her to change her mind. Here, I’m reminded of two religious icons at the same time: Val is Joan of Arc, beyond all earthly reason and answering only to a higher calling, while Lilimae is Jesus’s mother weeping at the crucifixion. A trashy whodunnit evoking such emotive imagery? This can only be KNOTS LANDING.

    The end of this week’s DALLAS is classic JR. Having summoned dogsbody Walt Driscoll to his darkened office, he reveals his latest plan - to sell one million barrels of oil to Cuba. Highly illegal but hugely profitable, this is JR’s most outrageous scheme since … well, his last most outrageous scheme.

    The scene unique to FALCON CREST is the confrontation between Richard Channing and Henri Denault which results in Denault's demise. The circumstance of the death itself - a struggle between two men over a gun, resulting in one of them inadvertently falling from a great height - is hardly unique. From Julie Grey to Jason Gioberti to Joshua Rush to Marta Del Sol, a succession of Soap Land characters have met their destinies in quite a similar way. However, the events leading up to the death - the twisted, Frankenstein-like relationship between adoptive father and son ("You were nothing but a blank slate when I adopted you ... I created you!”), the sinister European backdrop - feel particular to FALCON CREST - not that there isn’t also a significant debt owed to MARATHON MAN in the climactic showdown between an unrepentant Nazi collaborator (“The opportunities were too great for me to allow archaic notions of morality and patriotism to stand in my way”) and a younger man, with E.G. Marshall and David Selby proving ideal Soap Land substitutes for Laurence Olivier and Dustin Hoffman.

    Following Ciji’s murder and Rebecca’s crash, Denault’s plummet is the third Soap Land death in as many weeks. Each is commemorated by a touching scene this week. The best of these is the chance encounter between Ciji’s mother and the Averys in KNOTS. When Mrs. Dunne (we never learn her first name) starts recounting a story from Ciji's childhood, it sounds like the beginning of an epitaph ("When she was six years old, I enrolled her in Carolyn Dewbarry’s Tap & Ballet School above the Odeon Theatre on the seventh floor. It was Carolyn Dewbarry who changed Ciji’s life …”) before turning into something much darker (“She dissipated her life away! ... She was a tramp!”). With exquisite irony, it’s left to Richard Avery, of all people, to pay tribute to Ciji. (“She worked hard, long hours because she wanted to be the best, the best for the people she sang for … She touched us all in a very special way.”) I’ve always thought this was a really good scene that, while doing nothing to advance the plot, provided fresh and unexpected insights into Richard's and Ciji’s characters. This time around, however, I realise it does advance the plot, at least in regard to the Avery marriage. By defending Ciji so gallantly, Richard partially redeems himself in Laura’s eyes. This, in turn, gives him fresh hope they can start again - a hope that is swiftly dashed. “I just want to be alone,” she tells him.

    This sentiment is echoed in the final scene of this week’s FALCON CREST when Diana Hunter tries to assure Richard Channing of her loyalty in the aftermath of his father’s death. “Leave me alone,” he snaps, bitter and grieving. This leaves Diana, like KNOTS’ Richard, another soon-to-depart character, on the outside looking in.

    DALLAS’s equivalent grief-related scene is between Pam and Cliff, in which Pam attempts to assuage her brother’s guilt over their mother's death: “She didn’t blame you. All she ever did was love you ... She asked me to take care of you and I’m trying if you’ll just let me.” In contrast to the scenes of estrangement between the Averys on KNOTS, and Richard Channing and Miss Hunter on FC, this exchange serves to reestablish the bond between Pam and Cliff.

    While Jeff Colby’s sanity has apparently been restored on DYNASTY - having been discharged from Soap Land Memorial Hospital, he returns to the Carrington mansion to begin a romance with Kirby - Gary Ewing’s mental and physical health take a turn for the worse as he undergoes alcohol withdrawal in jail. This leads to Soap Land’s grimmest scene to date as a repulsed Abby witnesses him fitting and retching during detox. (Throughout this prolonged sequence, Ted Shackelford manages to look even older than he will when Gary returns to DALLAS in 2014.) By comparison, Phyllis's discovery of Bobby asleep on his office couch after tying one on at the Cattleman’s Club seems pretty mild.

    And this week’s Soap Land Top 4 are …

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

    James from London Soap Chat Mega Star

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    02/Mar/83: DYNASTY: Reunions in Singapore v 03/Mar/83: KNOTS LANDING: The Burden of Proof v. 04/Mar/83: DALLAS: Caribbean Connection v. 04/Mar/83: FALCON CREST: Maelstrom

    There's an Asian element to both DYNASTY and FALCON CREST this week. While Blake Carrington travels to Singapore to find out if Steven really is alive, the key to unravelling Carlo Agretti's death appears to lie in San Francisco's Chinatown. Characters central to both stories are played by the same actor, James Hong. As Dr. Chen on DYNASTY, he is the one is asking the questions as he determines to uncover the true identity of the patient upon whom he has performed extensive plastic surgery. He is so persistent that the reluctant patient tries to abscond from the hospital. As humble gardener Charles Fong on FALCON CREST, meanwhile, he is the character with the secret who is running away. After his fingerprints are discovered on the door of a hidden tunnel on the Agretti estate, Chase concludes that he must have opened it for Carlo’s killer. The police then put out an APB on Fong, who promptly goes into hiding.

    Before the name of Dr. Chen’s patient has been even revealed, Alexis has begun positioning her sons as Soap Land's next Cain and Abel, extolling Steven's many virtues to a clearly jealous Adam. “His decency, his sensitivity, his capacity for love ..." “His perversion, you mean?” Adam counters. Soap Land's other sibling rivalries are bubbling along nicely too. “Be sure to tell Jacqueline that you’re trying to prove her other son guilty of murder - she’s gonna get a big kick out of that!” Maggie tells Chase with reference to his campaign against half-brother Richard on FALCON CREST. Meanwhile, the conflict between FC's warring cousins reaches a climax of sorts with a terrifically staged fight between Cole and Lance in the winery. In spite of Lance's sneaky martial arts moves, Cole eventually gets the better of him, prompting some very convincing punch drunk acting from Lorenzo Lamas. Meanwhile, on DALLAS, Bobby spends the episode first piecing together, then trying to prevent his brother's plan to sell oil to the Cubans. The two only really interact at the very end of the ep when they pass each other in the Ewing Oil reception and exchange a few fake pleasantries. As Bobby steps into the elevator, a smug JR has no idea that he is on his way to ... well, actually we don't have much idea of where Bobby's going either, but we know it involves Ray, Walt Driscoll and a phoney briefcase. As a smiling JR turns away from him, the elevator door begins to close on Bobby, staring grimly at his brother, and the frame freezes on one of DALLAS's coolest end-of-episode shots ever. So cool, in fact, it was echoed at the end of a second season ep of New DALLAS, only that time it's a slow motion Bobby walking away from Cliff with a sly smile on his face.

    The predominant prime time TV genre in the US, prior to the ‘80s Soap Land boom, was (I assume) the cop/detective show, and it often seems as if the characters in soaps have inherited some of their time slot antecedents' crime-busting instincts. How else to explain Karen “Ordinary" Fairgate's ability to single-handedly put her husband's killers behind bars as she did earlier this season, or airline pilot-turned-vintner Chase Gioberti's innate sleuthing skills or the way Texas cowboys Bobby and Ray can this week transform themselves into Starsky and Hutch - effortlessly infiltrating Walt Driscoll's motel room, prying open his locked briefcase and accessing the false bottom therein, before devising whatever intricate plan it is they’re about to put into action?

    Back on DYNASTY, the identity of the man in the hospital is confirmed for the viewer when Blake, en route to Hong Kong, flashes back to Steven's final scene at the end of last season, only this time re-staged with Steven's face hidden from the camera. His voice, however, now matches that of the mystery patient. Ergo, the patient is Steven. As played by Al Corley, Steven's original farewell ranks as the most poignant Soap Land exit thus far - excluding those that ended in death (Sid Fairgate), took place off screen (Matthew Blaisdel) or both (Jock Ewing). However, this week's KNOTS LANDING sees an even sadder departure as Richard Avery pulls up stakes and drives out of the cul-de-sac for the last time. Like Steven a year ago, he's headed for Destination Unknown (i.e., disappearing into thin air).

    In Steven’s farewell scene, we saw him tell his assembled family exactly how he felt about them. What’s so achingly poignant about Richard's exit on KNOTS is that he denies himself such an opportunity. With only the viewer at home in on his plan to leave, his good-byes must be veiled. "How do you like being married again?" he asks best friend Karen at the end of their final conversation. "The best is yet to come," he assures son Jason in their last scene together. Jason remains oblivious to the significance of the hug his father then gives him. That's what's so wrenching - watching Richard speaking to people for what he knows and we know, but they don't know, is the last time.

    Driving quietly out of the cul-de-sac at the end of the ep, Richard stops briefly and allows himself a final look back at what he is leaving behind. A small but haunting moment, it reminds me of similarly understated farewells in long-running British dramas - Sarah Jane Smith's in DOCTOR WHO, Heather Haversham's in BROOKSIDE.

    As Richard Avery departs, Steven Carrington returns. This, of course, is not the first time a Soap Land character has been brought back from the dead. In its first few years, DALLAS resurrected a couple of figures who were believed to have died during the show's prehistory - Miss Ellie's brother, Pam and Cliff's mother. However, Dusty Farlow was the first person to be both introduced and killed off on screen before staging a miraculous, if reluctant, return. For Dusty and now Steven, resurrection comes at a steep physical price - paralysis and impotence for Dusty, a new face for Steven. And just as Dusty rejected Sue Ellen's attempts to revive their relationship, so Steven turns his back on Blake's invitation to return to the bosom of his family. Unlike Sue Ellen, however, Blake has a trump card that stops Steven in his tracks. "Can you walk out on your own infant son?” he asks him.

    Elsewhere on this week’s DYNASTY, Adam lures Kirby to a motel under a false pretext and when she rejects his advances, tries to rape her again. This time, however, Jeff rides to the rescue and saves the damsel in distress. Adam's bitterness, frustration and delusions of grandeur are all convincingly depicted. Meanwhile, on DALLAS, JR forces himself on Holly again - only not sexually this time. In a great scene in Holly's bedroom, he coerces her into participating in the Cuban deal. With no gun to aim at him, all she can do is narrow her eyes in hatred. "You are the most despicable human being," she tells him. "Maybe so," he replies calmly, "but I'm also in a hurry. Now, this deal could win me Ewing Oil. If I lose it because you won't sign, I'll see you lose far more."

    There are two Soap Land proposals this week: an episode after his divorce from Fallon, Jeff pops the question to Kirby. Marrying in even more haste, FALCON CREST's Nick and Vicky set a wedding date before Nick's divorce has even been finalised. What could possibly go wrong?

    This week's KNOTS is in kind of a strange place, with much of the episode taken up with the consequences of Val confessing to a murder she cannot possibly have committed. At certain points, the lack of credibility surrounding her story is incorporated into the script: the detectives' bemused reactions, Abby’s ill-advised fit of the giggles when she hears the news. At others, the episode seems to flirt with self-parody. The scene where Gary and Val start screaming at each other in Ciji's apartment and have to be restrained by two different sets of cops as the screen fades knowingly to black is just as outrageous - and laugh out loud funny - as Blake and Krystle’s storm-lashed mountainside reunion in the opening episode of this season's DYNASTY.

    Having been arrested, there is a prolonged sequence where we see Val undergo booking procedure at the police station - her mug shot and fingerprints are taken, her jewellery is removed, etc. These are the exact same indignities we saw Sue Ellen subjected to after she was charged with shooting JR almost three years ago. The enjoyment derived from both sequences is the same: it's the incongruity of seeing Mrs. Ewing herself - first glamorous but bewildered Sue Ellen, now sensitive but bewildered Val - receiving the same treatment as any common criminal in the real world. "This country has strange notions of justice, Chao Li Chi,” observes a minor character in this week’s FALCON CREST, but here we’re shown that not even a Ewing wife is above the law.

    Val’s confession aside, we’re no closer to finding out who really did kill Ciji. During a conversation with Karen, Mack comes up with a list of suspects consisting of nearly every character on the show. There’s also an enjoyably contrived set-piece where Lilimae loudly and publicly accuses Abby of the murder. Over on FALCON CREST, all fingers are pointing at Richard Channing for the killing of Carlo Agretti. To further complicate matters, Richard then finds himself suspected of a second murder, that of his father, Henri Denault, who fell off a bridge in last week's episode.

    Also on FALCON CREST, Maggie ditches her career as a screenwriter in order to return to the bosom of her family. Curiously, her decision is depicted as a kind of emancipation - trading the phoniness of a glamorous career for the realness of being a wife and mother. From her KNOTS LANDING jail cell, it's a safe bet that fellow writer Val would give anything to make the same exchange. "The thing that I just can't let go of," she whispers, still harbouring the illusion that it was she who killed Ciji and that Gary then moved the body to protect her, "when I first thought that I might have killed her, that she really could have died by my hands, I never ever thought, 'You killed somebody. You actually took somebody's life.' I thought, 'He tried to protect me! He must still love me!'" Meanwhile, on DALLAS, Sue Ellen nobly agrees to go public about her infidelities and alcoholism if it means helping her husband's political career. For all the female boss/male secretary gimmickry we've seen in recent weeks, it still seems that what most Soap Land women really want is a man to stand by. The exception is Abby on KNOTS, who decides that for the time being, she's better off with Gary behind bars - especially now that he's signed over his power of attorney in Gary Ewing Enterprises to her. To this end, we see her on the phone to an off-screen Miss Ellie, discouraging her from visiting Gary (and presumably bailing him out of jail). Her clever excuse is that Ellie's presence in California would only attract unwelcome media attention for what is essentially "a misunderstanding". Miss Ellie doesn’t seem to need too much convincing. Besides, she currently has her hands full helping Clayton look for a new house.

    Like Gary, FALCON CREST’s Julia also signs over her shares this week, transferring her New Globe proxy to Lance so that she can leave town and make a fresh start with long lost husband Tony. However, when Tony's pregnant girlfriend opens the door to her in San Diego, she realises that there is no new life - it was just a trick on Lance's part to get her out of the way. A son destroying his mother - and so casually too? This is truly a Soap Land first. The fact that it comes almost out of nowhere - Lance and Julia have shared some tender scenes during the past couple of years - does not detract from the impact of his treachery. Quite the opposite, in fact. Just one question: before burning all her bridges at Falcon Crest to begin a new life with a notoriously unreliable ex, why wouldn't Julia think to speak to him first, if only on the phone? The answer: when the results of Lance’s plan are so deliciously cruel, who cares?

    Chip Roberts and Mickey Trotter, male twenty-somethings who arrived in the Ewingverse at the beginning of this season, each find themselves on the receiving end of a stern talking to from an older woman this week. "When I see you, I see what a foolish woman I've become, blinded by flattery and lies," Lilimae tells Chip on KNOTS. "You are a cocky, snotty little kid," Donna scolds Mickey on DALLAS. While Lilimae reflects on the past, ("This all started with you,” she reminds Chip) Donna is more concerned about the future. "Ray happens to think the world of you,” she informs Mickey. "He has a great big emotional investment in you, and, y'know, I just keep thinkin' that, one of these days, you are gonna let him down with a great big thud!" Mickey, who starts off this scene making wisecracks about the size of the Krebbs house, ends up almost in tears as he insists he has changed and won't let Ray down. "Maybe I am the one that's wrong. I hope so," Donna concedes grudgingly. There are no such second chances for Chip, however. "I want you out of this house,” Lilimae tells him.

    Another season-long relationship comes to an end this week as Richard Channing excommunicates Diana Hunter for spying on him for his late father. There's something brilliantly exciting about the controlled Miss Hunter suddenly becoming a loose cannon, even as Shannon Tweed's acting abilities are stretched to the limit. I love the moment where she watches from the shadows as Richard is abducted by two thugs in an underground car park.

    This is the penultimate episode of the season for both FALCON CREST and KNOTS. In FC in particular, there’s an intangible sense of a noose tightening, especially with regard to Richard. Grieving for his father, a suspect in two murders, betrayed by his lover and under pressure from his unknown boss to return to New York, watching a character this powerful come unglued is riveting stuff. With David Selby (arguably Soap Land's most compelling actor at this point) taking such a central role, the ep’s sinister atmosphere is not dissimilar to that of FLAMINGO ROAD’s final instalments a year earlier, but with the supernatural element replaced by one of violence. Even the episode's one bonafide happy moment, Chase and Maggie's reconciliation in the winery is interrupted by someone's attempt to crush them to death by dropping a bunch of wine barrels on top of them.

    Richard Channing’s KNOTS equivalent is Abby. Angered by her rival’s murder confession ("This is so Val, I could just scream!”), rattled by Lilimae’s accusations ("Shut up! Just shut up!”) and still trying to keep things together for her kids, there’s just one moment (alone in a bathroom) where she allows herself to lose control, hurl a perfume bottle at the wall and give into tears.

    And this week’s Soap Land Top 4 are ... it's a close run thing …

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

    James from London Soap Chat Mega Star

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    09/Mar/83: DYNASTY: Fathers and Sons v 10/Mar/83: KNOTS LANDING: Willing Victims v. 11/Mar/83: DALLAS: The Sting v. 11/Mar/83: FALCON CREST: Climax

    This week's KNOTS LANDING and FALCON CREST make for contrasting season finales, as indicated by their episode titles. While “Climax” pretty much does what it says on the tin, (even if there is an awful lot of pre-wedding happy family foreplay to get through before we reach the really juicy stuff) “Willing Victims” is a more unusual title for a more unusual finale. Indeed, this instalment of KNOTS is really in a league of its own. Most of the ep feels more psychological than plot driven, as it focuses on Gary's state of mind in the two days leading up to his preliminary court hearing. “Gary’s his own worst enemy,” says Mack, neatly articulating the situation. "He’s gotta open up and help defend himself.” But who will be able to get through to him in time - Abby or Val?

    This week’s DYNASTY, meanwhile, which concentrates chiefly on Steven’s homecoming, is pretty much irresistible. A big, swirly episode full of big, swirly emotions and driven along by a big, swirly score, it’s as touching as it is daft. There are some unusually sweet moments - Krystle breaking the news of Steven’s resurrection to a grateful Alexis marks the first time the two women have been anything but hostile to one another, while Krystle's scene with Jeanette the maid, in which she allows her mixed feelings about Steven’s return to surface - now that he is alive, she can no longer adopt his child - is unexpectedly moving. (Linda Evans is really great here.)

    This is one of several times this season where Krystle’s situation echoes that of Soap Land’s original bride from the wrong side of the tracks, Pam Ewing. Her accidental bigamy coming back to haunt her is a spin on Pam’s predicament in the early DALLAS stand alone ep “Double Wedding”, while the story of her and Blake’s efforts to adopt the son of a deceased family member starts off mirroring Bobby and Pam’s adoption of Christopher, before morphing this week into the Season 2 episode where Pam tearfully surrenders her attachment to Baby John when Sue Ellen decides to assume her maternal responsibilities.

    There two Soap Land weddings this week, bringing the season’s total up to five. On DYNASTY, Jeff and Kirby elope to Reno where they are married by the same judge who previously declared Jock Ewing dead and ordered Val and Gary to take in Lilimae. Like Mack and Karen’s Vegas wedding on KNOTS, the ceremony is a tad eccentric, but where the Mackenzies’ nuptials were knowingly comedic (and maybe even a little smug), the Colbys’ are more naturally sweet and fumbly. Nick Hogan and Vicky Gioberti’s wedding at Falcon Crest is comparatively formal, more in the vein of JR and Sue Ellen’s remarriage at Southfork. As that celebration did, this one ends in violence, but instead of a poolside punch up, there is a fatal shooting. Yes, just as the first Soap Land wedding of the season - Alexis and Cecil’s on DYNASTY - ended in death, so does the last one. (But who’s in the coffin? Tune in next season to find out!)

    New York continues to be a controversial Soap Land hotspot. Steven’s announcement that he is “going to New York!”, followed by Blake’s unhappy reaction shot, ends this week’s DYNASTY. Meanwhile, on KNOTS, our final glimpse of Karen MacKenzie for the season is her hysterical response to the news that Diana has left for New York with Chip, aka violent felon Tony Fenice. (In the KNOTS finale's one blatant plot contrivance, no sooner do Chip and Diana drive away from the cul-de-sac than private eye Ronald Mackey - a possible cousin to John Mackey, the PI who helped Pam track down Rebecca in DALLAS two years ago - shows up brandishing a wanted poster of Chip under his real name.)

    Over on FALCON CREST, Richard Channing has already been held captive in New York for a week when this episode begins. (The disappearances of Richards Channing and Avery in this week’s Soap Land are viewed by various parties as an indication of their guilt of the respective murders for which they have been suspected.) Eventually, Richard C is ushered into an office to meet the real head of the complex organisation he has been working for his whole adult life. As “the chair spins round to reveal …" moments go, this one beats Logan Rhinewood turning out to be Cecil Colby in DYNASTY hands down. It’s also Soap Land’s biggest “My God, that’s my mother!” moment since Fallon and Steven looked on as Alexis took the stand at Blake’s trial. In fact, the discovery that Chase and Richard’s ditzy mother Jacqueline is the secret CEO of a ruthless international cartel is one of most joyously absurd moments in all of Soap Land. “Haven’t you heard? Women are coming into their own,” she coos, wielding a cigarette holder as if that explains everything. For some reason, more than Angela Channing or Alexis Colby or Rebecca Wentworth, Jacqueline Perrault feels like the true progenitor of New DALLAS’s Judith Ryland - even if Judith would most likely snort Jacqueline for breakfast.

    The murder investigations in KNOTS and FALCON CREST each run aground this week. Laura Avery might be convinced that her husband Richard killed Ciji before taking off, but she can’t get anyone else to take her claim seriously. “With Gary’s arrest and him not willing to defend himself, it takes the energy right out of the investigation,” Mack explains to Karen. Meanwhile, on FALCON CREST, Sheriff Robbins tells Chase that the search for Charles Fong, the key witness in the Agretti murder case, is over following the death of Fong’s uncle, who was the only solid link they had to him. (Following Gus Nuneoz, Carlo Agretti and Henri Denault, Fong Senior becomes FALCON CREST’s fourth dead patriarch of the season.)

    In this week’s Ewingverse, Miss Ellie and Lilimae each find themselves caught between one of their children and an estranged spouse. On DALLAS, Miss Ellie has an awkward encounter when she bumps into daughter-in-law Pam lunching with Mark Graison. After she fails to report the meeting to Bobby and he finds out about it anyway, he asks her why she kept quiet. "It's not my business," she squirms. "I don't want to get in the middle of it.” Lilimae does not exercise the same restraint regarding her daughter’s marriage on KNOTS, however. "Gary Ewing kills people!” she yells at Val, who is still obsessed with helping her ex. "He’s killing you now, Valene!”

    “JR’s and Gary’s marriages have always been so troubled,” reflects Miss Ellie during her scene with Bobby. Notably, this observation comes a week after her off-screen phone conversation with Abby on KNOTS and is as close as DALLAS will ever get to acknowledging Gary and Val’s split. Lilimae apologises to Val for her outburst, meanwhile, in an exquisitely written scene between the two women. “I’m sorry for the pain love has caused you,” she tells her movingly.

    While Gary and Val are emotionally broken on KNOTS, their daughter Lucy is slowly coming back to life on DALLAS. So sweetly tentative has Mickey’s courtship of her been (“I never asked a girl if I could kiss her before …") that she really is like a virgin, touched for the very first time. Meanwhile, Mickey’s KNOTS LANDING counterpart, Chip Roberts, makes love - strictly in the old fashioned sense - to Lucy’s grandmother one last time before leaving for New York. “I don’t know why but whenever I see a butterfly, I think of you,” he tells her. "I leave with you in my heart, Lilimae, and if I failed you, forgive me, and trust that my failures are not yours. Good-bye, butterfly.” For all that Chip is a deceitful, violent sociopath, you still can't help hoping that a part of him means what he is saying. His parting gift to Lilimae is a butterfly brooch. Over on DYNASTY, Mark Jennings notices Alexis wearing the pin with a bee on it that he gave her during their brief affair some weeks ago. They share a très sophisticated post-break up drink at La Mirage this week - all smiles and no-hard-feelings on the surface, while resentment and jealousy seethe underneath.

    On last week’s DYNASTY, Kirby found herself in a motel room, fending off the man who had raped her earlier in the season. On this week’s DALLAS, Lucy Ewing is also in a motel room, recounting her ordeal at the hands of Roger Larsen to Mickey. With that out of the way, they are free to take their relationship to the next level. “It’s not a suite at the Fairview or anything,” says Mickey apologetically, with regard to their surroundings. It’s not a suite at La Mirage either, which is where Fallon and Mark have also decided to seal the deal. Just as the scene between Lucy and Mickey is very tender, DYNASTY seems equally keen to emphasise that, in contrast to Mark’s fling with Alexis, his coupling with Fallon is about more than just animal lust. Alas, the intimacy of the moment is somewhat undermined by the '80s saxophone wailing on the soundtrack.

    The big story in DALLAS this week is the successful derailing of JR’s Cuban deal by Bobby and Ray, which results in Walt Driscoll landing in jail on a gun smuggling charge. Even though Walt's $2,500 bail is a fraction of the $5,000,000 required to secure Gary’s bond on KNOTS LANDING, JR has no intention of paying it (“I wouldn’t give you the dust off my car!”). Willing victim Gary might be indifferent to his own fate, (“Pleading not guilty means acting not guilty,” Abby tells him. “I will never be 'not guilty',” he shrugs) Walt is not. “I swear I'll get back at you!" he yells after JR washes his hands of him.

    JR and Walt's situation is reversed on KNOTS. Determined to save Gary, Val spends much of the episode trying to find a way to gain access to him in jail. When she finally succeeds, Gary couldn’t be less happy to see her. “Get out of here! Get out of my life! Leave me alone!” he shouts, but she is insistent. "No one here needs a martyr,” she tells him. "Someone out there is getting away with murder while you play this pathetic game. If you had any respect for Ciji, you’d be doing everything in your power to put the real killer in here.” On FALCON CREST, Chase makes a similar eleventh-hour appeal to Charles Fong, whom he eventually tracks down at his uncle’s funeral (or the Chinese equivalent thereof). “He was an old man, a man of honour and pride,” weeps Charles for his uncle. "I have shamed him.” “You have a chance to correct that,” Chases points out.

    This week’s DALLAS is helmed by Larry Elikann. A veteran of each of the other Lorimar soaps, he is probably Soap Land's most visually distinctive director. DALLAS’s traditional house style, however, provides him with little opportunity for him to do his customary looming, cartoony, low-camera-angle thing. The scenes where he does get an opportunity to spread his wings, the two jail sequences and a great face-to-face confrontation between the Ewing boys in JR’s bedroom, are the episode’s highlights. (There’s also a scene where he has Pam and Katherine sitting on the floor of Pam’s hotel suite for no discernible reason, like a couple of high heeled hippies. It’s a little weird.)

    David Jacobs himself, meanwhile, directs this week’s KNOTS and does some interesting visual stuff, particularly during a couple of pivotal mother and daughter encounters. In a scene where Karen comes to Diana’s room to tell her that Chip was sleeping with Ciji before her death, one can pinpoint the exact moment where Diana begins to block out reality and where Karen starts coming unglued. Crudely put, it’s the start of both mother and daughter going individually nuts. For most of the scene, the camera hovers in the doorway, as if reluctant to intrude any closer.

    Meanwhile, at the beach house, Gary’s lawyer Mitch Casey confidently assures Abby that Gary will be freed after his preliminary hearing. Abby looks pleased, then waits until Mitch has left before calling her own attorney, Jim Westmont, and asking him first to fire Mitch and then to represent Gary himself in court (even though he is not a criminal lawyer). It’s a breathtaking moment - does Abby actually want Gary to be found guilty of murder? In addition, Olivia has been listening from another room the whole time. How much she has understood is unclear, but this is her first glimpse (at least on screen) of her mother's more calculating side - Abby is not just the carefree mom who takes her kids to Chick-O-Rama for dinner, or into her bed at night when they’ve had bad dreams. During this sequence, Jacobs has both mother and daughter framed separately, again through doorways, and viewed from a distance, as if to emphasise their isolation from one another.

    Another visually striking scene is Laura’s meltdown in the restaurant kitchen. Coming eleven months after Miss Ellie’s plate-smashing breakdown in the Southfork kitchen when the realisation of her husband’s death finally hit her, the acknowledgement of her husband’s desertion prompts a similar outburst from Laura. Whilst effective, the DALLAS scene has always seemed to me a neatly choreographed visual set piece. The KNOTS equivalent feels more spontaneous and real. There is no musical score accompanying Laura as she sets about the kitchen equipment with a frying pan, and the camera work is such that it really feels as if we are intruding on someone's raw, private distress. (Again, it’s something to do with the respectful distance the camera keeps from the actor.)

    From the sublime to … the denouement of FALCON CREST’s season long murder mystery. The scene where Charles Fong identifies Carlo’s killer in a room full of wedding guests is both stilted and thrilling, in much the same way that the “Who shot JR?” revelation on DALLAS was. Whereas his role of Dr. Chen on DYNASTY required him to unveil an entirely new face for Steven Carrington, James Hong’s part as Fong has him reveal an entirely new personality for Julia Cumson when he exposes her as the murderer. Julia’s subsequent speech, in which she hurriedly explains not only why she killed a man with whom she had no previous on-screen connection, but also why she then tried to bump off three of her closest friends, has a whiff of SCOOBY DOO about it. But while it might be ludicrous, it is also immensely exciting to discover that, all this time, the killer has been hiding not just in plain sight, but in the show’s opening titles.

    And this week’s Soap Land Top 4 are … again, it’s really close, they were all great ...

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

    James from London Soap Chat Mega Star

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    16/Mar/83: DYNASTY: The Downstairs Bride v. 18/Mar/83: DALLAS: Hell Hath No Fury

    With KNOTS LANDING and FALCON CREST both taking an early bath, Soap Land’s biggest rivals, DYNASTY and DALLAS, are left to slug it out for the rest of the season. DYNASTY gets in the first punch by having Sammy Jo pick up a copy of the National Enquirer (the genuine article this time, not a fictionalised equivalent) that has the cast of DALLAS on its cover - the audacious implication being that the Ewings exist as TV characters within the DYNASTY universe, thus making them more fictional than the Carrington. Sue Ellen swiftly strikes back when she declares on Roy Ralston’s talk show (which, from a DYNASTY perspective, is now a TV series within a TV series within a TV series) that, “My husband started a trend … then the others followed.” Admittedly, she’s talking about cut-price gas stations not prime time soap operas, but you catch my drift.

    Given that context, it’s ironic that the main plot of this week’s DYNASTY should so closely resemble that of DALLAS’s very first episode: rich boy, having eloped with poor girl, brings her back to the family home to face the music. Yes, it’s Pam and Bobby all over again, but this time played by Kirby and Jeff. Now as then, the reception they receive is cool. Fallon combines Lucy’s wisecracks with Sue Ellen’s frostiness, Joseph Anders is no happier about his daughter’s marriage than Digger Barnes was about Pam's, and where JR enquired of Pam, “What sort of settlement do you require to annul this little farce?” Adam accuses Kirby of opportunism. “You married Jeff Colby for his money and his name,” he tells her. Instead of trying to buy her off, however, he makes yet another grab for her.

    While Pam moving in with her husband’s dysfunctional family was sufficiently dramatic for 1978, such is the rate of inflation in Soap Land that a more complicated scenario is required in 1983. Now Kirby is expected to live under the same roof as her husband’s ex-in-laws, including his former wife (and first love) Fallon. And let’s not forget her father continuing to serve the family from below stairs. It’s as if Pam had found herself living at Southfork with the Ewings, Jenna Wade and Digger.

    Some of the complications of this situation are addressed in a scene between Kirby and Joseph. DYNASTY being DYNASTY, Joseph has a lot more to say on the subject of his daughter’s elopement than Digger did in his equivalent scene. “From this moment on, what am I supposed to call you? Mrs Colby? Madam? Your Royal Highness? Don’t answer that. As the major-domo of the house, I’ll come up with the proper form eventually.” Look beyond the customarily stilted demeanour here and one can see a man who is touchingly out of his depth. That leaves Kirby, for once, behaving as level-headedly as early Pam. (This time around, I’m finding the dynamic between Kirby and Joseph - particularly these father/daughter kitchen scenes - a lot richer and more interesting than I ever have previously.)

    We’re also reminded of Bobby and Pam’s early relationship in this week’s DALLAS. “You know, Pam, I remember the first time I saw you,” Bobby recalls during a brief respite from their marital conflicts. “After everything Digger had told me about the Ewings, I thought they were a family of monsters,” says Pam. (Kirby accuses Joseph of something similar in their kitchen scene: “What is it you’re thinking, that the people that have known me in this house practically since I was born are not going to let me forget that I’m a majordomo’s daughter?”) Meanwhile, DYNASTY’s Steven also takes his estranged wife on a trip down memory lane - alas, they’re the memories he made with his dead boyfriend. “This place, your favourite restaurant,” Sammy Jo realises, looking around the eatery Steven has brought her to, “isn’t this where you used to eat with him … your boyfriend, Ted Dinard?”

    (The atmosphere of this New York restaurant is brighter and more upbeat than in the after hours style jazz bar JR takes Holly to for a drink in this week's DALLAS, but both venues feature a black man tinkling away on the ivories for the white folks’ pleasure.)

    In spite of ending up in bed together, Bobby is no more successful at persuading Pam to return to Southfork than Steven is at getting Sammy Jo to come back to Denver. “ I love you, but sex hasn’t changed anything,” Pam tells him. “You make me feel like I should give you a bill for services rendered!” Bobby barks in reply. Sammy Jo’s sexual put down to Steven cuts even deeper: “You want to do your thing with other guys? Go do it. But if you really give a damn about your son, let him grow up with a straight family. Don't stick him with you for a father."

    The brief glimpse we get into Sammy Jo’s life in New York is intriguing. She is the kept woman of a middle-aged married man who is clearly stringing her along with the promise of becoming a spokesmodel for a cosmetics company. Meanwhile, on DALLAS, Lucy Ewing perches on a stool and happily tosses her hair about as part of a shampoo advertising campaign. In contrast to Sammy Jo’s sleazy struggles, Lucy’s modelling career seems remarkably straightforward (the occasional insane photographer notwithstanding). There are no stylists or makeup artists fussing over her and at the end of the shoot, she doesn’t even bother to change her clothes before leaving on a date with Mickey.

    Elsewhere on this week’s DYNASTY, Adam’s attempts to befriend Steven, the brother he never knew he had, strongly parallel Richard Channing’s efforts to get close to Chase, the brother he never knew he had, on FALCON CREST earlier this season. Both sets of siblings start out with good intentions and for a fleeting moment it looks as if they’ll connect, but then the “bad” (i.e., needy, jealous and childlike) brother (Adam/Richard) oversteps the mark in some way, causing the “good” (i.e., prickly, self-righteous and unforgiving) brother (Steven/Chase) to react badly. (In this case, Adam gives Steven some unasked for advice abut his marriage, which Steven interprets as a slur on his sexuality.)

    So, without the distractions of KL and FC, (hey, combine those initials and you’ve almost got a chicken shop) how do these periods of DYNASTY and DALLAS compare? Well, if DYNASTY is like a succession of exploding fireworks - one colourful pyrotechnic display burning brightly and briefly, immediately followed by another then another - then DALLAS is all about the slow burn.

    Everything both great and frustrating about the latter is encapsulated in the character of Sue Ellen. For much of this season, she has been happily ensconced in her second marriage to JR, asleep to almost everything else around her - sometimes to the point of absurdity. In this week’s ep, thanks to Holly Harwood, she starts to awaken and it’s captivating. Even when Holly first approaches her in the beauty parlour, all compliments and smiles, (just as Angela Channing did her prey/rival, Amanda Croft, a few weeks ago on FALCON CREST) Sue Ellen is gracious and polite, but also wary. She may have been in living a fantasy world for months, but she can still sense that something is off. We begin to see that beneath the shiny, happy Sue Ellen of recent times, the smouldering, brooding one of old still lingers. It’s there at the end of the episode when she sneaks a look at the liquor cabinet while pacing the Southfork living room and assuring her husband that everything is just fine. And when the frame freezes on her reaction to the sight of Holly’s lipstick on JR’s shirt collar, it becomes clear that Sue Ellen is the season’s ticking time bomb we’d almost forgotten was there.

    And this week’s Top 2 are …

    1 (4) DALLAS
    2 (2) DYNASTY
     
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  19. James from London

    James from London Soap Chat Mega Star

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    23/Mar/83: DYNASTY: The Vote v. 25/Mar/83: DALLAS: Cuba Libre

    This week's Soap Land is all about business. While Blake battles Alexis to prevent her merging Denver Carrington with Colby Co, JR and Bobby continue to battle each other for - what else? - control of Ewing Oil. This episode of DYNASTY is full of colour, pace, awesomely insane dialogue (“Get off your bronco, Mercedes cowboy!”) and Joan Collins at her most playful. Even when exiting a scene up a flight of stairs, she does so while stylishly twirling a glove. I’m reminded of Larry Hagman’s sense of play back when he was still exploring the boundaries of his character on DALLAS - specifically the 79/80 season, which was his second year as JR, just as this is Collins’ second as Alexis.

    This week’s DALLAS, meanwhile, has a more muted visual palate. JR might be zigzagging between Dallas, Puerto Rico and Havana, but the plot dictates that he spend most of his time in these cities in plain beige offices talking to plain middle-aged men dressed in plain tan suits. The dialogue is less flamboyant than on DYNASTY too - these are business dealings where nobody says directly what’s on their minds and so one has to pay that little bit more attention to the games of cat and mouse going back and forth. Back at Ewing Oil, Bobby at least has Katherine Wentworth to perch attractively on his desk while he meets with yet more plain men in suits, but the talk is of frozen Alaskan oilfields and prototype cold weather drill bits. Again, the details of these discussions are of more significance than the equivalent ones on DYNASTY. I couldn’t tell you what Macguffins Jeff and Adam, or Blake and Alexis, were arguing about as they barged into each other’s offices this week, and I don't think it really mattered.

    Alexis borrows Jacqueline Perrault’s swivel chair to helm her first board meeting as majority shareholder at Denver Carrington this week. One can imagine Jock “women belong in the bedroom, not the boardroom” Ewing spinning in his swampy grave at the sight of her presiding over a quorum of frightened men, all of whom (with the exception of her future father-in-law Sam Dexter) are depicted as doddery and/or morbidly obese. DALLAS similarly caricatures the “concerned citizens” who accompany JR on his “fact finding excursion” to Cuba (really a smokescreen for his attempt to salvage his lost oil deal). Puffed up Texas businessmen, they visibly preen themselves when the "little lady" delegated to escort them through airport customs refers to "visitors of such importance as yourselves". Not so a clearly preoccupied JR, who physically towers above them in the same way that Alexis has the Denver Carrington Board of Directors quaking in their boots. She may not be the first Soap Land female to head up a board meeting, (that distinction belongs to Krystle when she deputised for Blake during his murder trial two years ago) but she nonetheless strikes an impressive figure. With her regal glamour and crisp ultimatums, she’s like a cross between Joseph Stalin and Joan Crawford in the MOMMIE DEAREST Pepsi scene.

    Although she inherited half of Colby Co at the beginning of the season, this is the ep that really launches Alexis as a fully fledged businesswoman, and the way she embraces the role is akin to both a child playing dress up and an actress having a ball. There is a remarkable moment where she sits behind her desk and launches into a speech, ostensibly spoken to Adam, but delivered almost directly down the camera lens: “A woman begins her young adult life being soft, loving and giving. Then what it all comes down to finally is use or be used.” If men were just nicer to women in the first place, she seems to be saying, then women wouldn’t feel the need to start running their own conglomerates out of revenge. In fact, Alexis is a woman scorned thrice over in this ep - by old flame Senator McVane (who has managed to pull strings in Washington on Blake’s behalf to delay the merger), by more recent lover Mark Jennings (who dumped her and is now sleeping with her daughter) and of course by Blake himself.

    Just as the fallout from Jeff and Kirby’s elopement last week paralleled that from Bobby and Pam’s at the beginning of DALLAS, the similarities continue as Adam and Jeff butt heads in a similar way to JR and Bobby back then. Where JR impugned Pam’s reputation to his brother in “Digger’s Daughter" (“Ray Krebbs has been telling me about that girl for years”) so Adam boasts to Jeff of his own sexual history with Kirby, referring to her knowledgeably as “one sexy doll.” That ep of DALLAS climaxed with Bobby making a grab for JR, snarling, "If you ever do it again …” before being restrained by Pam. With no Kirby present to hold him back, Jeff pins Adam up against a wall and finishes Bobby’s threat: “If you ever imply anything about my wife ever again, I’ll kill you." Bobby gets his macho on in this week’s DALLAS too when he grabs Cliff by his lapels and pulls him off his bar stool in the Cattleman’s Club. "You know, Barnes,” he tells him, "you are a nasty little man and no wonder my brother stepped all over you every chance he got. Now you just keep your nose out of my affairs or I'm gonna do the same thing.” This is one threat Bobby will eventually make good on - and how - in New DALLAS.

    Alexis and Miss Ellie make similar quasi-incestuous discoveries this week. Alexis's suspicions are confirmed when she spies Mark kissing her daughter Fallon at La Mirage, while Miss Ellie walks in on Clayton kissing her daughter-in-law Sue Ellen at Southfork. The latter kiss might be more chaste than the former but is still enough to stop Ellie in her tracks.

    In a subsequent attempt to split up Fallon and Mark, Alexis embroiders a small truth until it becomes a scandalous fiction, just as Holly Harwood did in last week’s DALLAS in order to drive a wedge between JR and Sue Ellen. Where Holly spun JR's pursuit of her into a full blown affair, Alexis uses Mark’s past as a self-confessed tennis bum to turn him into “a male tramp.” On a visit to Fallon’s office, she makes him sound a bit like KNOTS LANDING’s Chip Roberts minus the violence: “After he left Krystle, he embarked on a career of living off wealthy women, accepting gifts in return for nocturnal favours ... not only in New York but all over Europe.” The way Alexis emphasises this last part makes it sound as if selling one’s favours abroad is far more sordid than doing it exclusively on American soil. Perhaps international gigolos are what Mark Graison also has in mind when he cautions Pam against venturing out after dark during their vacation in Cannes: “Pam, this isn’t Dallas, you can’t just go for a walk on your own … It’s not that safe.”

    While Fallon is apparently indifferent to her mother’s allegations about Mark, (“So what?” she shrugs) Sue Ellen visits Holly at her house this week to inform her “that your rotten little attempt to destroy my marriage has failed.” For their meetings with these younger women, Alexis and Sue Ellen both favour matching monochromatic jackets with 1940s style shoulder pads. (Sue Ellen, however, decides against sporting Alexis’s natty little sailor hat.)

    It’s hard to think of two Soap Land characters less alike that DYNASTY’s stiff, priggish majordomo Joseph and Ray’s warm, unaffected Aunt Lil on DALLAS. However, during a visit to Southfork, Lil expresses reservations about her son Mickey’s relationship with Lucy Ewing similar to those of Joseph regarding his daughter Kirby’s marriage to Jeff Colby last week. Previously in Soap Land, it’s been the wealthy Ewings and Carringtons who have indicated misgivings about Lucy’s romance with impoverished medical student Mitch or Steven’s elopement with indigent roller skater Sammy Jo. Now it’s the poor folks who have qualms. "She's rich, she's really rich, and rich is different from us," frets Lil. It’s as if both she and Joseph feel that mixing rich and poor is somehow tampering with the natural order of things. “Different is different,” she states categorically.

    There are interestingly similar references to food and class on this week’s shows. "Not till I finish everything on my plate,” Lil declares firmly during a restaurant scene after Ray proffers dessert. Intentionally so or not, this is a somewhat pointed remark when contrasted with the rich Ewings' habit of abandoning their breakfasts after one mouthful. Meanwhile, on DYNASTY, Fallon attempts to cheer Krystle up by suggesting they rustle up “something goofy” for dinner, like baked beans and hot dogs with sauerkraut. Krystle takes mock offence at this, pointing out that she was raised on such goofy dinners. “Maybe that’s why you’re so ugly,” Fallon concludes with a straight face, before giggling at her stepmother’s reaction. It's a genuinely nice moment.

    Random coincidence of the week: On DYNASTY, we see Alexis’s Rolls-Royce pulling up outside La Mirage in the pouring rain, while on DALLAS, Pam watches through a restaurant window as would-be sunbathers run for cover during a Cannes downpour. Neither is a case of pathetic fallacy (e.g. stormy weather being used to represent stormy emotions) - it must simply have been a rainy week when both shows were location shooting in LA or thereabouts. Nonetheless, the DYNASTY sequence is visually quite striking.

    After one whole day of running an empire, Alexis returns to her penthouse at the end of this week’s ep and slips into an I DREAM OF JEANNIE costume for an attempted seduction of Blake, whom she has invited over, supposedly to discuss the merger. Meanwhile, on DALLAS, Katherine Wentworth also uses business to lure Bobby back to her place, where she too is a vision in lilac. But where Blake immediately sees through Alexis’s ruse and walks out, Katherine offers Bobby something he actually wants - help with his Canadian deal. While Katherine is clearly playing a long game, one can’t help feeling that on some level Alexis wants Blake to reject her so she can keep feeding her resentment and perpetuate her “woman scorned” routine.

    Each of this week’s soaps ends on an expression of impotent rage from its primary antagonist, followed by an unconventional freeze frame. Alexis’s yell of “I hate you, Blake - God, how I hate you!” to an empty room leads to a frozen image of a martini glass flying through the air as she hurls it in the direction that Blake has just exited. Over on DALLAS, as the door of a jail cell in Havana is slammed shut and the screen turns to black, we hear an angry voice protesting, “MY NAME IS JR EWING!” in the darkness. Unlike his concurrently incarcerated brother on KNOTS LANDING, JR is no willing victim. Still, at least now he knows how Walt Driscoll felt when he abandoned him behind bars two weeks ago.

    And this week’s Top 2 are …

    1 (2) DYNASTY
    2 (1) DALLAS
     
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  20. James from London

    James from London Soap Chat Mega Star

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    13/Apr/83: DYNASTY: The Threat v. 15/Apr/83: DALLAS: Things Ain't Goin' Too Good at Southfork

    Where DALLAS has former Head of the OLM, Walt Driscoll, DYNASTY has Senator Neil McVane. Both began this season as well respected government officials enjoying the fruits of their success - for Driscoll a sexy young wife, for McVane his own private jet. However, after getting caught between JR and Bobby, and Blake and Alexis, respectively, their lives and careers are in now shreds. This week, both men make Soap Land headlines. "Walt Driscoll Disappears - Former OLM Chief Jumps Bail on Day of Trial,” reports the Dallas Press while, thanks to Alexis, a scandal about McVane's private life hits the front page of the Denver Chronicle. “The Congressman and His Washington ‘Lolita’: Full Story of their Trysts” is soon followed by another headline in the Denver Reporter: “Party Disavows McVane As Candidate For Re-Election.” While McVane spends much of this week’s DYNASTY hiding in the Colby Co men’s room before leaping out at Alexis and trying to strangle her at the end of the ep, Driscoll lies in wait outside Southfork until the final moments of this week’s DALLAS when he rams JR’s car and then drives off (although we won’t actually know Walt was the driver for another couple of episodes).

    Just as Blake, of all people, arrives in the nick of time to save his ex-wife from McVane’s clutches so Sue Ellen - who has just called her husband a bastard for cheating on her with Holly Harwood - ends up inadvertently saving JR by taking his place behind the wheel of his car. Lucky escapes Alexis and JR may have had, but as this Soap Land season nears its end there’s an impending sense of chickens coming home to roost. “If you go on ruining other people’s lives, I wouldn’t give a dime for your chances of holding on to your own,” Blake warns Alexis shortly after saving her life. “You’ve destroyed her again — don’t you ever learn??” shouts Miss Ellie at her eldest son, with reference to Sue Ellen, moments before Walt smashes into his car with murderous intent.

    In the DYNASTY and DALLAS episodes immediately preceding this week's, Alexis and Holly Harwood set parallel traps for Mark Jennings and JR. On DYNASTY, having failed to drive a wedge between Mark and Fallon, Alexis arranged for Fallon to find her in Mark’s bed, thus making it appear that they have been having sex behind her back. On DALLAS, having failed to convince Sue Ellen that she and JR were involved, Holly arranged for Sue Ellen to see her and JR in bed together, where they were actually having sex for real. Neither scheme’s logic holds up to too much scrutiny - Holly's was entirely dependent on Sue Ellen neglecting to mention to her husband that she (Holly) had been harassing her for the previous few episodes, whilst Alexis would have had to have consulted Adrianna the psychic to know that Mark would be in the shower at the precise moment Fallon entered his room without knocking to find a “surprised” Alexis in his bed.

    This is the second occasion in Soap Land where a mother and daughter have become sexually involved with the same man. While the villain of the FLAMINGO ROAD ménage à trois was clearly Michael Tyrone - from two-timing Lute-Mae with Constance to deliberately arranging for her to find them together, it was all part of a malevolent plot on his part — this time around, things aren't quite as black and white. Since arriving on DYNASTY, Mark has been depicted as a decent guy — a tennis bum who’s not just a tennis bum — who only began his relationship with Fallon after his fling with her mother was over. His one sin was that of omission, in that he neglected to tell Fallon about the affair with Alexis.

    This week, he tries to blame the whole thing on Alexis, but Fallon isn’t buying it. “She set it up and you were just the innocent victim, right?” she scoffs, her mocking tone chiming with the one Sue Ellen will use in the next episode of DALLAS: “Oh sure, she raped him,” she'll sneer when Bobby tries to tell her that JR was, like Mark, tricked by a vengeful businesswoman.

    While Fallon deals with Mark’s apparent betrayal by feigning indifference and shuffling papers in a businesslike fashion, Sue Ellen reacts to JR’s irrefutable adultery by becoming the second Ewing of the year to fall off the wagon. (There’s actually a kind of boozy synchronicity between Sue Ellen on DALLAS and Gary on KNOTS. The first time they both started drinking again was in 1980, within the space of two weeks of each other; here, it’s within the space of a few months; and when Gary visits New DALLAS in 2014 following another relapse off screen, it anticipates Sue Ellen’s relapse a few episodes later.) This week, Sue Ellen winds up sleeping off her drunk in Clayton’s bed in much the same way Gary spent the night in Ciji’s after one of his binges. Now as then, there are suspicions about the true nature of the (platonic) relationship when Miss Ellie finds them together in Clayton's hotel suite.

    Krystle and Alexis duke it out it in the lily pond this week. This sequence feels like a successor to both their own Season 2 cat fight and DALLAS’s equivalent duel in the pool (at JR and Sue Ellen’s wedding) earlier this season. On one level, this is as enjoyably silly as those two set pieces were, but there’s an extra dramatic weight to it too. Where the two previous fights both served as chapter endings, a comedic way of drawing a line under what had gone before, this brawl actually serves to move the story forward. In other words, it has consequences.

    These manifest themselves in two ways. In what appears to be an amusing, incidental exchange, but which will turn out to have major ramifications, Alexis tells Joseph that unless he has the pond drained so she can retrieve a pearl and diamond earring she lost during the fight, she will tell Kirby “the truth about that woman," i.e. her mother. More immediately, Blake’s refusal to side with his wife against Alexis when he happens upon their brawl (and angrily compares them both to "a couple of female mud wrestlers”) proves to be the final straw for Krystle. “You’ve done an unforgivable thing, Blake,” she tells him. "You’ve not only humiliated me, but you’ve done it in front of her, the woman who cost us our child.” And so, like Pam Ewing and Maggie Gioberti before her, she walks out of her marriage and into a hotel.

    Ordinarily, Blake and Krystle - with their endless fireside declarations of undying love - boast the most idyllically romantic relationship in all of Soap Land. In spite of this, or maybe even because of it, the scenes of estrangement between them — such as those in the last two episodes — have an icy believability about them. There’s also something very effective about Krystle’s sense of isolation when it’s set against the grandeur of the Carrington mansion.

    The day after she walks out, Blake tracks her down to La Mirage. His appeal to her to return home carries more emotional weight, and is less formulaic, than any of the two-minute accusation/recrimination/storm-out routines indulged in by fellow super-couples, DALLAS's Bobby and Pam, and FALCON CREST's Chase and Maggie, following their recent separations. (“Try to understand this,” Blake begins, "no matter how much love two people have between them, a man is made up of many things …”) By comparison, Pam's behaviour towards Bobby when she returns from France in this week’s DALLAS — all strident jealousy and watery indecision — feels downright adolescent. By the end of the episode, however, Pam has won us round all over again when she finds herself in a no-win situation. As one-third owner of Wentworth Tool and Die, she has the casting vote on whether or not Bobby gets his all-important drill bit. "If I don't let Bobby have that drill, our marriage is all over,” she realises. "He'd never forgive me." "Then let him have it," advises Afton. "And help him win the fight?” she replies. "He's changed so much already I hardly know him — winning would just finish the job!" A plot device in human form Pam may be, but she’s a gorgeously irresistible one.

    With the relationships of Bobby and Pam, JR and Sue Ellen, Blake and Krystle, Fallon and Mark, and even Cliff and Afton, all on the rocks, DALLAS’s Mickey and Lucy and DYNASTY’s Jeff and Kirby are, briefly, the happiest couples in Soap Land - but even for these young lovers, disaster is just around the corner. While Kirby wonders how she could be suffering from morning sickness so early in her pregnancy, Mickey tries to stop a drunken Sue Ellen from driving JR’s car by climbing into the passenger seat next to her — the same car that then takes off, collides with a hit and run driver and turns over three times before landing upside down in front of the Southfork fence.

    And this week’s Top 2 are … it’s pretty darn close, but Linda Gray’s drunk acting swings it ...

    1 (2) DALLAS
    2 (1) DYNASTY
     
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