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

Discussion in 'Knots Landing' started by James from London, Sep 18, 2016.

  1. James from London

    James from London Soap Chat Enthusiast

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    13 Jan 88: DYNASTY: Images v. 14 Jan 88: KNOTS LANDING: Ties That Bind v. 15 Jan 88: DALLAS: Marriage on the Rocks v. 15 Jan 88: FALCON CREST: Hornet's Nest

    This week’s DYNASTY includes a graveyard scene that relies solely on a series of soap tropes to advance the plot without any concession to external logic. The result is absurd, surreal and dreamlike. First, we observe Sean Rowan speaking aloud at his father’s graveside — a familiar Soap Land device — reiterating his vow of revenge against the Carringtons: “I won’t stop. I’ll never stop until they have destroyed each other. I promise you, Dad, I’ll make them pay.” No sooner does he exit the scene than Leslie Carrington appears from behind a tree and it’s clear she’s heard every word of his soliloquy. (Where would Soap Land be without such moments of opportune eavesdropping?) Then comes a convention that seems to belong to DYNASTY alone — the exposition-spouting gravedigger. He materialises out of nowhere and proceeds to fill Leslie in on Joseph Anders’ backstory: “He was butler for those rich Carringtons … The man shot himself in the head, clear to oblivion. Mr Carrington must have said to himself, ‘Why? Why did he do it?’ … Well, nice talking to you.” This perfect storm of contrivances provides Leslie with the ammunition she needs to blackmail Sean into giving her a promotion at Colby Co: “And I want it real soon or else!”

    Whilst being threatened by Leslie, Sean finds he has lost his own leverage over Dana now that Adam knows about her secret abortion. There’s further redundant blackmail on KNOTS LANDING where Johnny Rourke offers to keep silent about Paige faking her own death in return for $20,000. Only trouble is, everyone already knows about it. When Adam accuses Sean of blackmailing his wife, Sean distracts him by dangling a bright future at Colby Co in front of his eyes: “I want you to think about new horizons, new opportunities.” (Sean may be a cardboard villain, but he’s a really good one.) Johnny Rourke likewise takes his failure to extort money from Paige in his stride and instead charms her father into offering him a place to stay.

    The theme of blackmail continues on FALCON CREST with the arrival of the show’s latest guest character, Madame Malec. She’s played by Honey Ryder, the original Bond girl from Dr No — and FC can’t resist an in-joke on the subject. “You keep acting like James Bond, you’re gonna wind up going home in a body bag,” Richard warns Eric as they argue over the best way to free Vicky from her luxury prison in Dubrovnik. (In fairness, both DALLAS and EMERALD POINT NAS made similar references when they had Bond girls on the payroll. “You had to play James Bond,” Holly Goodhead (Moonraker) chided Bobby Ewing in 1983. “This is real life, not some James Bond movie,” Tiffany Case (Diamonds are Forever) reminded Harlan Adams in 1984.) “You’re such an easy woman to blackmail,” Richard informs Madame Malec just before threatening to expose her lavish lifestyle to her fellow communist party members unless she aids him in rescuing Vicky. Evidently, Mme Malec doesn’t have the same reservations about being addressed by the M word that Alexis expressed on last week’s DYNASTY: “I resent the appellation ‘madam’,” she informed her opponent during their televised political debate. “My home is not a house, as it were, and I consider that to be a sexist remark.”

    To further her election campaign this week, Alexis consults public relations expert Russ Kelton who proceeds to critique her dress sense. “I’ve seen photos of you in Vogue and Harpers Bazaar,” he tells her. “You’re going to have to change your style somewhat … You’ve got to start to underplay. Go for pastels.” “Pastels?” she repeats, her look of utter dismay an episode highlight. “Stay away from blacks and reds and yellows, and too much white,” he continues. (Inevitably, black, red and white are the very colours Alexis is wearing at this moment.) “Don’t forget, most of the voters out there can’t afford your cleaning bills.” The merest suggestion that a soap diva’s wardrobe might not meet with universal approval feels positively transgressive. There’s an equivalent moment on this week’s KNOTS when Charles Scott’s wife Judith (a less neurotic version of Cash Cassidy’s wife Adrienne on THE COLBYS) shows up, interrupting her husband’s cosy little dinner with Abby to remind him of an imminent dinner party with an ambassador. She and Abby are all smiles until the obligatory powder room showdown. “Charles didn’t forget about the ambassador’s dinner,” Judith explains. “He just couldn’t show up with someone like you.” There’s something about those three words — or more specifically, Abby’s wounded reaction to them — that makes us suddenly see Abby as Judith sees her -- not a glamorous soap villainess, but a garishly made-up middle-aged woman wearing a short dress with a puffball skirt that's about ten years too young for her. (In the same way that Alexis “just happens” to be dressed in the precise colours her publicist is critical of, Abby’s choice of outfit for her unplanned meeting with Judith doesn’t seem to be a coincidence on the part of KNOTS' wardrobe department.) Sure, Abby later gets one over on Judith by showing up at the ambassador’s dinner on Greg’s arm, but it’s the “someone like you” moment that lingers in the memory. It suggests that Abby’s real Achilles heel isn’t so much the guy who dumped her when she was nineteen as the fact that he did so for someone of a higher social standing.

    The deconstruction on DYNASTY continues as Alexis’s publicist runs an equally critical eye over a campaign video she’s had assembled that shows her striking various opening titles-style poses: answering the phone in a variety of outfits, studying papers at her desk and generally looking important. Again, it does not pass muster. “You’re coming on too strong, like a Mack truck,” he insists. “Well, I think that strength is an attribute in a leader,” she argues. “Look at Mrs Thatcher.” In spite of having been Britain’s prime minister since just after John Ross Ewing was born, this is the first mention of Thatcher in Soap Land. (With Abby reading Jeffrey Archer books on KNOTS, there’s clearly something Tory in the air.) “There are strengths and there are strengths,” Kelton replies ambivalently. It would be nice to imagine this line as a dig aimed just as much at Thatcher as at Alexis, but alas, the former was riding high at this point having just become the century’s longest-serving British PM (a position she would retain until the day of April Ewing’s death in Paris in 1990), so it seems unlikely.

    Elsewhere on DYNASTY, Fallon ditches the blonde wig and puts on her business hat, flying off to Natumbe with Dex to find out more about the Vitron oil deal. Like Dubrovnik on this week’s FALCON CREST, Natumbe is depicted as an unstable, murky place full of bribery, corruption and intrigue. There’s talk of the government being “pretty shaky” and a threat of revolution is in the air. This evokes exciting memories not of DYNASTY’s last fictional land, Moldavia, but of the unnamed country in South East Asia that caused the Ewings so much drama when their oil wells were nationalised on DALLAS eight years ago. Business concluded, Fallon gets drunk in a bar and over-excites the locals when she tries her hand at belly-dancing. Dex intervenes, punches are exchanged and he ends up throwing a protesting Fallon over his shoulder before making a hasty exit. Fallon remains cute and funny and sexy throughout the scene — one can only imagine how excruciatingly loud and shrill it would have been with FALCON CREST’s Melissa in the same scenario.

    The mysteries surrounding Soap Land’s newcomers deepen. When Meg is taken ill on KNOTS, Pat Williams displays a surprising amount of medical expertise for a banking clerk (“Mom, you’re not supposed to be doing this,” whispers Julie as she assists Mack). Over on DALLAS, Sue Ellen’s curiosity is piqued by Nicholas. “His home is beautifully decorated,” she tells April, “but the strange thing is except for one photograph of him with his brothers, there’s no sense of family, no feeling of where he came from.” Meanwhile on FALCON CREST, we discover what Shannon has been hiding. She has a secret baby! And Lance’s father is the daddy! Which means that, by sheer coincidence, she is now sleeping with her baby’s brother — which, I think it’s safe to say, must be a Soap Land first.

    Trend of the week: characters acting as parents to children who aren’t theirs. Karen is out of town for most of this week’s KNOTS, leaving Mack to cope with Meg’s medical crisis. By the time she returns, he is well and truly smitten. “I was afraid you’d get too attached to her,” she tells him. “I knew it would happen.” While Richard is in Dubrovnik on FALCON CREST, Maggie defies his instructions and allows Angela access to her grandson Michael. “Your son … is soon to be my stepson,” Maggie argues upon Richard's return. Having caught Charlie in the barn with Brad Pitt on DALLAS, Ray asks Jenna if he can be the one to give her The Talk. “She’s my stepdaughter,” he reasons. “If I’m gonna be a father to her, I better start acting like one.”

    Whereas Soap Land’s references to AIDS originally focused on high-risk groups like gay men, prostitutes and Marilee Stone, they’ve gradually shifted towards young people in general. When forced into an awkward conversation about pre-marital sex with Michael’s girlfriend Jodie a couple of months ago, KNOTS LANDING’s Karen vaguely alluded to the dangers facing the younger generation. “You have to be very careful. It’s not a question of morals today, it’s a question of … health.” During his scene with Charlie this week, Ray makes the same point more explicitly. “Are you telling me that you never went to bed with a woman you didn’t care about?” Charlie asks him. “Yeah, OK, I did, but that was a long time before I heard about AIDS,” he replies. FALCON CREST made its own contribution to the discussion a couple of weeks ago when Richard made a throwaway comment about the New Globe running a series of articles about safe sex.

    Judith Scott and Abby’s faux friendly behaviour during their initial meeting on KNOTS mirrors Kimberly Cryder and Sue Ellen’s over the past few weeks on DALLAS. Eventually, the veneer cracks for both sets of women. Under the guise of “girl talk”, Kimberly informs Sue Ellen during a DOA meeting that she has filed for divorce. “I keep marrying these powerful men — I probably will again,” she smiles. This is her disingenuous way of letting Sue Ellen know she has JR in her sights. “Well, Kimberly,” Sue Ellen replies, smiling back, “I’m sure you’ll be able to muddle through for the next couple of months until you find the man of your dreams. You know, you’re not unattractive in an obvious sort of way.” (Interestingly, “obvious” is what Fallon called her husband’s mistress, Leslie, a few weeks ago.) For all her cool, Sue Ellen is clearly rattled and walks out of the meeting, ignoring Miss Ellie as she does so. During their powder room tête-à-tête, Judith casually asks Abby if she and Charles are sleeping together. Abby is blindsided by the question just as Nicholas Pearce is when JR invites him to lunch and cordially informs him that “your acquisition of my wife is my top priority.” While Abby plays dumb (“What?” she asks), Nicholas plays innocent (“I’m not in the habit of acquiring other men’s wives”). Between them, however, Kimberly and JR have succeeded in more or less driving Sue Ellen and Nick into bed. There’s a sitcom variation on this scenario on FALCON CREST, where a Mrs Haberman asks Emma — in her new capacity as agony aunt of the New Globe — to “cure” her husband’s sexual problems by going to bed with him. (This later turns out to be a scam cooked up by the couple in order to blackmail Emma.)

    This week’s Soap Land marriage proposal is deemed significant enough to warrant an end of episode cliffhanger. “Marry me,” Charles urges Abby just before the closing credits of KNOTS. DALLAS, meanwhile, ends with a remarkably sexy scene where Sue Ellen comes to Nicholas’s apartment and immediately starts peeling off his clothes while he’s on the phone, causing him to respond in kind. (So sexy is it that someone I know watched the scene as a child while receiving a haircut from his babysitter and was left with a lifelong haircutting fetish as a result.) As with Jenna’s similarly steamy seduction of Ray earlier in the season, it’s notable that the woman is the initiator.

    Back on FALCON CREST, in an effort to save wife Vicky from being auctioned off to the richest sex monster in the Balkans, Eric Stavros becomes the latest Soap Land character to transform himself into a wall-scaling, explosive-detonating action hero, and a reasonably credible job he makes of it. The whole rescue sequence is like a less boring reenactment of Lance’s attempt to rescue Peter Stavros from his evil son-in-law back in Season 5. I couldn’t swear to it, but I think Vicky is even being held in the same villa Peter was.

    And this week’s Top 4 are …

    1 (1) DALLAS
    2 (2) DYNASTY
    3 (3) KNOTS LANDING
    4 (4) FALCON CREST
     
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  2. Daniel Avery

    Daniel Avery Super Moderator Staff Member

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  3. James from London

    James from London Soap Chat Enthusiast

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    20 Jan 88: DYNASTY: The Rifle v. 21 Jan 88: KNOTS LANDING: Another Modest Proposal v. 22 Jan 88: DALLAS: Anniversary Waltz v. 22 Jan 88: FALCON CREST: The Uncertainty Principle

    There are two fraternal punch-ups in Soap Land this week — one between Steven and Adam on DYNASTY, the other between Bobby and JR on DALLAS. The first takes place in the Carrington gym, a familiar setting for a DYNASTY fight, and arises from familiar buttons being pushed. “How much do you wanna to prove yourself to Dad?” sneers Steven as he and Adam argue over the Vitron oil deal. “How much do you need to use this company to assert your manhood?” counters Adam, prompting Steven to land the first punch. Even though we’ve been here before, some handheld camera work gives the brawl a fresh sense of urgency and the brothers even manage to shatter some windows before Blake arrives to break them up. This is a pretty evenly matched fight whereas Bobby is clearly the aggressor during the Ewing brawl. He snaps after realising that JR has masterminded Lisa Alden’s custody suit for Christopher and ends up trying to drown him in the Southfork swimming pool — just as he did three seasons earlier upon learning that JR had sent Pam to the Caribbean to search for Mark Graison. As with the DYNASTY scene, the show tries to ring the changes with shaky camera work and then raises the stakes by using the fight for its end of episode cliffhanger. “Son of a bitch! You don’t deserve to live!” Bobby yells, holding his brother’s head under the water in time for the freeze frame. There’s more pool-related violence on FALCON CREST when Dan Fixx interrupts Melissa and Carly’s catfight, which is taking place in the middle of Maggie and Richard’s wedding, to push them both in a pool as well.

    A week after Alexis’s mention of Margaret Thatcher on DYNASTY, Dave Culver shows up on DALLAS with some even more topical political references: “What with all the headlines the last couple of months — this Iran business, the Contras, the mess in the Gulf — it started me thinking about that dumb thing JR pulled in Saudi Arabia last year … That was really kind of minor compared to what’s being going on lately.” In other words, truth is even stranger than soap, which is a clever way of downplaying JR’s terrorist activities (“I don’t know if anyone really cares about that anymore,” shrugs Dave) and raising the possibility that the Ewings might be able to trade under the name of Ewing Oil once again. Such are the demands of Soap Land storylines that while some old plots can be conveniently dismissed, others resurface when you least expect, such as the dubious circumstances surrounding the adoption of Christopher Ewing and the death of Cecil Colby.

    As well as Bobby drowning his brother on DALLAS and Maggie shoving a gun in someone’s ribs in a recent episode of FALCON CREST, DYNASTY’s Krystle has also exhibited a darker side of late, interviewing minor cast members who were around for Cecil’s deathbed scenes back in Season 3 in the hopes of uncovering a scandal that will discredit Alexis’s political campaign. Blake objects, insisting that he can win the election without resorting to such dirty tricks, and for about half a scene, things are distinctly frosty between husband and wife.

    Alexis is considering pulling out of the election anyway, not least because of her enforced change of wardrobe. “I’m going have to wear those awful pastels that I hate!” she complains. Abby is likewise dressed more conservatively at the start of this week’s KNOTS than she was when Judith Scott looked down her nose at her in last week’s ep, although she later changes into a bright pink frock — just in time for a scene where Judith tries to embarrass her in front of Charles’ social circle.

    The recent loss of some of the Ewing-verse’s major players, Pam and Donna on DALLAS and Laura and Lilimae on KNOTS, means that less significant characters have ended up with more screen time — sometimes in scenes and situations entirely separate from those involving the main cast. April Stevens’ investigation into Nicholas Pearce’s past is ongoing on DALLAS and in this week’s episode, we’re privy to a scene between David Shulton and Laurel Ellis, the respective artist and subject of the portrait recently purchased by Clayton. Over on KNOTS, there’s a lengthy sequence in which enigmatic newcomer Johnny Rourke (“You still can’t keep your accent straight,” notes Paige this week) observes from his cabin at Lotus Point the furtive comings and goings of an even more mysterious newcomer, who doesn’t even have a name. (He’s played by Ray Wise, midway through his soap evolution from enthusiastic modelling agent Blair Sullivan on DALLAS to the tormented and terrifying Leland Palmer on TWIN PEAKS.) In order to denote the passing of time and to keep the sequence — which essentially consists of Johnny watching the stranger opening his cabin door to various “customers” — visually interesting, KNOTS employs a succession of transition wipes. According to Wikipedia, “a wipe is a type of film transition where one shot replaces another by travelling from one side of the frame to another.” The STAR WARS movies are full of them.

    There are no less than five surprise parties in this week’s Soap Land — two for Gary’s birthday on KNOTS, one to celebrate Miss Ellie and Clayton’s anniversary on DALLAS and a stag do and wedding shower ahead of Richard and Maggie’s nuptials on FALCON CREST. Gary’s first party, at Lotus Point, is a low-key affair. The only people in attendance are Jill, Michael Fairgate, Marsha the recurring dogsbody (i.e., the KNOTS’ equivalent of Sherilyn Katzman), a passing Johnny Rourke and an assortment of extras. The drama comes later when Gary ends up arriving too late for his second surprise party at Val’s house, by which time the disappointed twins have gone to bed. This leads to a fierce argument between him and Val.

    The anniversary bash on DALLAS, meanwhile, is a family affair. (Jenna arrives at Southfork with Ray, leading to some uncomfortable glances between her and Bobby.) The party is a surprise for Clayton in more ways than one — he has been too preoccupied with Laurel Ellis to even realise it’s his wedding anniversary. Then comes the small matter of Bobby trying to kill JR.

    The gatherings on FALCON CREST are both of Emma’s devising. The shower at Angela’s house is gushy and girly and not terribly eventful. The stag at The Max is odder and more interesting. The guest list is a curious mix of Richard’s past enemies and people with whom he has no real association: Lance, Eric, Dan Fixx, Tony Cumson and — because no stag party would be complete without the groom-to-be’s estranged mother’s manservant — Chao Li. It feels terribly awkward, but some of that awkwardness arises naturally out of the situation — it appears that the guests are only there out of obligation to Emma — but then, somewhat uncharacteristically, Richard decides he’s in the mood to party. “I think we should have some fun!” he declares. There’s a loose, kind of improvisatory feel to what follows, almost as if this were a guys-only version of “Noises Everywhere” (even if the bonhomie between the actors doesn’t necessarily jibe with their ongoing screen relationships). However, FC’s weakness for lame sitcom humour is never far from the surface — for example, Chao Li’s confession during a truth game that he once served cat food at a party of Angela’s. On the plus side, Eric Stavros emerges as the Jill Bennett-style loose cannon of the group, sending Dan into a rage when he drunkenly observes that, “we all have something that we share … all of us have slept with Melissa!”

    The most painful part of the party is Lance’s hip-thrusting version of Eddie Floyd’s ‘Knock on Wood’ (yet more ’60s soul in Soap Land). Factor in Richard’s dad dancing and you have possibly the most excruciating musical performance in Soap Land history. By comparison, Johnny Rourke’s singing debut on last week’s KNOTS was quite a tranquil experience.

    The post-party fight between Gary and Val on KNOTS is really juicy — and they have a lot to fight about. “You lied to me for years about the kids,” Gary reminds her. (It’s kind of cool that their onscreen history is now as rich as their original backstory.) “You’re lucky that I let you see them at all,” Val snaps. “Lucky? I don’t feel lucky. I feel like some jerk who’s been run over by a truck with you as the driver,” he replies. It’s strangely satisfying to see Gary standing up to Val for once: “I never know what you’re gonna say or do. I don’t think you know what you’re gonna say from one minute to the next … There are other divorced couples who manage to work it out with their kids,” he continues. “Why the hell can’t we? … This is the uncleanest break in the history of marriage!”

    Tell that to Jeff and Fallon on DYNASTY. This week, their son LB overhears them arguing over the best way to tell him about their impending divorce. “I just don’t know how to tell him his world’s coming apart and everything he thought would last forever is over,” says Jeff. “I did something bad,” LB later concludes. “Now my mom and dad don’t wanna be my mom and dad anymore.” Back on DALLAS, Christopher eavesdropping on his father and Ray has a more positive effect. “He’s my boy ... I have to try and protect him any way I can,” says Bobby and Christopher is finally convinced that his daddy loves him after all. The boot is on the other foot elsewhere on DALLAS as Jenna overhears Charlie scheming to spend the night with Brad Pitt. Charlie and Olivia on KNOTS are very much the yin to each other’s yang — whenever one is well-behaved (as Olivia has been of late, dreamily mooning over her mom’s romance with Michael York), the other becomes a teenage nightmare. “I hate you, I hate both of you and I’m not gonna take any more lectures from you!” Charlie yells, prompting Jenna to air slap her as hard as Krystle did Alexis during their big showdown two weeks ago.

    There are several adulterous liaisons presently underway in Soap Land. In each case, the other woman, or man, is proving somewhat demanding. DYNASTY’s Leslie is the epitome of the clingy mistress, inviting herself along on Sean’s business trip to Natumbe and then whining because he has no time to spend with her there. DALLAS’s Nicholas pouts when Sue Ellen refuses to stay the night and accuses her of sleeping with him to make JR jealous: “Some people enjoy being used like a tool. I’m not one of them.” DALLAS’s Kimberly and KNOTS LANDING’s Abby both make it clear that they’re not prepared to play “the other woman” for long. While Abby is angry that Charles has asked her to marry him without bothering to end things with Judith first, Kimberly offers JR an ultimatum: “If you want to get your hands on West Star, listen well. Without my daddy, you don’t have a prayer. Without me, you don’t get Daddy. And without leaving your wife, you don’t get me. So if you care about West Star, I suggest you give Sue Ellen a quick kiss goodbye.” Whereas Charles meekly complies with Abby’s wishes, finally standing up to Judith just because she’s told him to, JR’s reaction to Kimberly is less predictable. He grabs her by her hair and tells her she can’t twist him around her finger the way she does her father and husband. “You’ll never touch me again until you leave Sue Ellen!” she insists. He calls her bluff by kissing her roughly. Despite her protests, she clearly likes it (don’t they all?), but as soon as she responds, he pushes her away, leaving her high and dry. There’s a similarly visceral quality to the row between Val and Gary, especially when she tries to puts her hand over his mouth to physically prevent him from saying he’s the twins’ father.

    DYNASTY ends with a thrillingly twisted variation on the end of KNOTS’ fifth season. Instead of taking a bullet intended for her estranged husband in the lobby of the Belmar Hotel as Karen Mackenzie did, Alexis takes one meant for her ex-husband Blake on live TV during a political debate. Not only that, but the shooter is her new husband Sean! Husband shoots wife (albeit by mistake) — it’s a Soap Land first!

    And this week’s Top 4 are …

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

    James from London Soap Chat Enthusiast

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    27 Jan 88: DYNASTY: The Bracelet v. 28 Jan 88: KNOTS LANDING: If Not Now, When?

    As Soap Land shootings go, Alexis’s is a pretty casual affair. (“The bullet only grazed her skull,” reports her doctor — the same doctor Pam Ewing met in Jamaica when she was looking for Mark Graison, only without the cool Caribbean accent.) She’s out of the hospital by episode's end and doesn’t even require a Sable-style turban to hide her tiny bandage. However, she’s still determined to pull out of the election (“This campaign’s almost cost me my life!”) — until she realises that the shooting has dramatically increased her chances of winning. “You’re a heroine,” Gordon Wales, ace reporter and a recurring thorn in both Alexis’ and Blake’s sides, informs her during his final DYNASTY scene. “The sympathy and concern is pouring in … If you ran for the presidency tonight, you’d give the front runners a run for their money.” This is presumably a reference to the real-life US presidential elections of 1988, which means that Wales’s remark that “digging up dirt on candidates may be hot right now” most likely alludes to the scandal surrounding Gary Hart, the Democratic nominee who had recently dropped out of said election due to allegations of an extramarital affair. These references follow on from Dave Culver’s mention of Iran and the Contras during last week’s DALLAS, and Alexis’ and Abby’s recent shout-outs to Margaret Thatcher and Ayatollah Khomeini. Now that the primetime soap is no longer the hot cultural item it once was, placing the shows’ fictional events in a present real-world context might be an attempt to keep them seeming relevant and contemporary. There’s further blurring between truth and fiction when Alexis receives a get-well message “from The White House”. The last time Reagan impacted Soap Land so directly was when he called Senator Dowling during last season’s DALLAS.

    Elsewhere on DYNASTY, Jeff and Sammy Jo draw closer together. First, he offers to help her out of a financial hole by investing in Delta Rho and then he saves her from an attack by a downtown rapey guy who gets the wrong idea when she offers him a campaign button on Blake’s behalf (“In this neighbourhood, what you show you owe!” he snarls). To the seasoned soap viewer, it looks as if Jeff and Sammy Jo might be the next Ray and Jenna or Richard and Maggie, i.e., two long-running but hitherto separate characters gradually forming a bond that leads to romance. That’s certainly the conclusion Steven jumps to and he’s not happy about it. “You’ve messed up my sister’s life. I am not gonna let you do that to Sammy Jo!” he tells Jeff before offering him a deal: he’ll capitulate on a decision involving the Colby pipeline (which is still proving a useful Macguffin even after THE COLBYS itself has ceased to exist) if Jeff sever his ties with Sammy Jo. I must admit I’m very much liking this leaner, meaner, slightly power-mad Steven who has taken over his father’s company. Jeff, on the other hand, responds by instructing a nameless someone “to buy as much available stock in Denver Carrington as you can get your hands on … It’s for me, but keep my name out of it. Grab all you can get.” There’s a lot of that sort of thing going on in Soap Land lately: for the past few episodes of DALLAS, JR has had April, Sly, Casey Denault and even Cliff acquiring stock, just as anonymously, in West Star. Meanwhile on this week’s KNOTS, when Charles breaks the news to Abby that he and Judith will have to delay their divorce until their company’s acquisition of Eastern Mining Group is complete, she retaliates by teaming up with Greg to secretly purchase shares in EMG, thereby sabotaging the deal.

    Given that KNOTS’ original focus was the relationships of four married couples living in a cul-de-sac, it’s always interesting to observe scenes from other marriages on the show. So far, we’ve seen Earl and Judy Trent’s (brittle), Greg and Jane Sumner’s (estranged), Cathy and Ray Geary’s (abusive) and Harry and Sheila Fisher’s (unstable). This week, we’re shown several scenes from Charles and Judith Scott’s marriage, which might best be described as businesslike (save for the scene where Judith humiliates herself, Adrienne Cassidy-style, by lying in wait for Charles in his bed). As with Charles and Abby’s grand romance, there’s something oddly self-conscious about Charles and Judith’s scenes together, as if there were "inverted commas" surrounding their relationship. By comparison, an equivalent scene from an extraneous marriage on DYNASTY — between Karen Atkinson, the surrogate carrying Adam and Dana’s baby, and her husband Jessie — feels refreshingly earnest.

    Up until now, DYNASTY has presented Karen a single mother. “That’s the thing,” Jessie explains to her. “We’re not divorced. I couldn’t bring myself to sign the final papers.” Likewise on KNOTS, Karen Mackenzie assumes that new neighbour Pat is raising her daughter Julie alone — until she pops over to invite them round for dinner and Pat’s jumpy husband Frank puts his head around the door. “I have never met two more secretive people,” Karen tells Mack later. “It’s almost as if Pat and Frank have done something — robbed a bank, I don’t know, kidnapped their daughter.” Indeed, the Williamses give off a weirdly artificial vibe. Obviously, that’s part of their storyline — for whatever reason, they’re posing as a normal suburban family just as the last occupant of their house, Anne Matheson, played at being an everyday suburban neighbour. But it also ties in with the contradiction at the heart of KNOTS itself — a series that still purports to be about a regular folk like “us” when really it’s about “them”: incredibly rich and glamorous people, some of whom still live in a cul-de-sac because … well, for the same only-on-TV reason that the Ewings of DALLAS all live under the same roof even though they don’t have to. A third layer of artifice stems from the actors playing the Williamses, each of whom is very appealing, but who have yet to fully gel into a convincing family unit. Sweet little Julie, in particular, looks as nervous when saying goodnight to her father as she does when interacting with her strange new neighbours. As a result, it’s hard to see where one strand of artificality ends and another begins.

    While DYNASTY concludes with Alexis making an unpleasant discovery about her new husband (“You bastard!” she says to Sean’s photo after finding Leslie Carrington’s bracelet on the floor of their bedroom), KNOTS ends with the audience making one about Abby’s new fiancee. “Is there anything to tell the investors?” a mystery man asks Charles over the phone. “Everything’s going according to plan … we’re right on schedule,” Charles assures him. “Congratulations, Charles. We all want you to have a long and happy marriage,” replies the caller. Like the phone conversation Sean Rowan had at the end of the ep in which he and Alexis were married (“It’s already done — I married the woman”), the suggestion is that Charles’s relationship with Abby is part of a larger, somewhat sinister, agenda. As vague as this suggestion is, it’s a relief to discover Charles isn’t quite what he appears to be — because what he’s appeared to be thus far isn’t all that interesting. The Charles we’ve been introduced to is a smarmy pushover who acquiesces to Abby’s every whim. It seems odd that someone like that should have gotten under her skin in the first place, much less continued to have the emotional hold over her that he does. Adding to this lopsidedness is the sense of importance KNOTS has placed on their relationship (it’s not every proposal of marriage in Soap Land that gets the end-of-episode cliffhanger treatment). We know that Charles is the love of Abby’s life because the characters say that he is and we know that their romance is A Big Deal because the show presents it as such, but we don’t necessarily feel these things ourselves. Therefore, anything that undermines the elevated nature of that relationship is welcome. DYNASTY, on the other hand, makes no such claims regarding Alexis and Sean’s relationship and so we’re free to just sit back and watch the whole tawdry affair unravel, as it inevitably will.

    KNOTS nevertheless boasts the best scenes of the week — those involving Gary and Val’s ongoing dispute over his access to Betsy and Bobby. At one point, their argument spills out into the cul-de-sac and Mack has to physically restrain Val from attacking Gary. Instead, she screams at him that he’s a son of a bitch — just one week after Bobby Ewing yelled the same insult at JR, while also physically attacking him. (Miss Ellie must be so proud.) Now that all the external obstacles to Gary and Val’s happiness (save Jill) have been removed — Ben, Abby, the secrecy surrounding the twins’ paternity — it’s fascinating that their relationship has never been more openly hostile. In a way, it’s not dissimilar to what happened to Jeff and Fallon following their return to Denver. Without the complications of living under the same roof as Miles and the rest of the Colbys to distract them from each other, their relationship lasted about five minutes. One wonders how well Bobby and Pam’s second marriage might have fared had they not had Jenna’s pregnancy to agonise over.

    And this week’s Top 2 are …

    1 (2) KNOTS LANDING
    2 (1) DYNASTY
     
    Last edited: May 4, 2018
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  5. Daniel Avery

    Daniel Avery Super Moderator Staff Member

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    People toss that insult around so much that I don't think they even realize they're not really insulting the person, so much as insulting the mother of the person. When I hear people say this phrase, my old-fashioned mind immediately goes to the mother. "Do you even know this person's mother? Their mother is actually a very nice person..." It's especially odd to hear SOB tossed at JR by Bobby, since the mother in question is Bobby's mother, as well. I guess it's a phrase that has lost its original meaning, or at least doesn't have the original intent any more. And Val never had a bad thing to say about Miss Ellie before....[/ponders]
     
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  6. Seaviewer

    Seaviewer Soap Chat Addict

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    I missed the show itself but I recall reading a review of a minseries bio of Frank Sinatra where the reviewer remarked on the oddity of Frank's own mother calling him an SOB.
     
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  7. James from London

    James from London Soap Chat Enthusiast

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    03 Feb 88: DYNASTY: The Warning v. 04 Feb 88: KNOTS LANDING: In Too Deep v. 05 Feb 88: DALLAS: Brotherly Love v. 05 Feb 88: FALCON CREST: A Madness Most Discreet

    Instead of confronting JR when she found out about his affair with Kimberly Cryder earlier in this season’s DALLAS, Sue Ellen chose to keep quiet and bide her time. Having discovered Sean’s infidelity with Leslie Carrington at the end of last week’s DYNASTY, Alexis does the same thing. While Sue Ellen went out of her way to befriend her husband’s mistress, to the point where it made both JR and Kimberly uncomfortable, Alexis lavishes praise on Leslie, while still managing to keep her off-balance by indulging in some New DYNASTY-style double entendres: “Leslie darling, you must have been on the job morning, noon and night … It takes a tremendous amount of energy to do what you’re doing, Leslie. I hope Sean appreciates it … It’s so reassuring to know that I can leave everything in your capable hands, Leslie … etc.” And just as Sue Ellen set aside her hurt feelings to become the public face of Valentine Lingerie, Alexis also puts on a show, providing “the entire Colorado press corps” with some witty soundbites about the election. Back on DALLAS, Sue Ellen has given up any pretence at playing the devoted wife. “You are dirt, JR,” she informs her husband upon learning at the start of this week’s episode that he is behind Lisa Alden’s custody suit.

    His plan to enlist Bobby in his fight against West Star having backfired, JR sends Lisa packing. “We’re not gonna take him to court. We never were,” he tells her, handing her “a one-way ticket out of town.” No sooner does one custody storyline draw to an apparent close than another springs up. “Do you know what this could mean? A custody battle,” predicts DYNASTY’s Adam after hearing that Karen Atkinson’s not so ex-husband Jessie has resurfaced. Like Lisa Alden, Jessie Atkinson is secretly in the pay of a villainous character with a season-long masterplan: Sean Rowan. “I want Adam Carrington to think he’s gonna lose his child,” Sean tells Jessie. Their methods may have been suspect, but Lisa and Jessie each insists their aim is true. “I just want enough money so Karen and me can make a fresh start,” Jessie explains to Sean. “I really care about Christopher now. He’s all I’ve got,” Lisa tells JR.

    “I am just protecting my children because they’re all I’ve got,” echoes Val on KNOTS LANDING. To that end, she refuses to legally acknowledge Gary as the twins’ father. He retaliates by slapping her with a lawsuit. Karen finds herself caught between them when Gary subpoenas her to answer under oath as to whether or not Val ever told her he was the daddy. (“You probably knew before I did,” he guesses correctly.) Val, meanwhile, begs her to lie. “You shouldn’t put me in the middle of this,” Karen protests, but neither of them are listening and so she delivers a touching soliloquy to Laura instead. (In lieu of a portrait or a headstone, she uses Laura’s daughter as her stand-in).

    The 1988 presidential election, the Iran–Contra affair and Margaret Thatcher have all been alluded to by various Soap Land characters in recent weeks. This week, it’s the turn of the Troubles in Northern Ireland. And who better to raise such a sensitive, complex issue than KNOTS LANDING’s teen airhead Olivia Cunningham during some lighthearted flirtation with phoney Irishman Johnny Rourke? “What about all the killing … weren’t you a part of —?” she asks him. “You mean was I IRA or UDF? That’s something you never ask an Irishman and if you do, he’ll never tell ya!” he replies teasingly. “This much I will say — everyday life there has a way of reminding you to be careful. You begin to develop a sixth sense. You start to see things that are there that shouldn’t be.” “Kind of like in the comics when they say, ‘What’s wrong with this picture?’” Michael’s now ex-girlfriend Jodie chips in brightly. “Exactly, lass!” Johnny laughs. “Wouldn’t you love to go out with him?” Olivia later asks Jodie dreamily. “I bet he was in the IRA or something.” While this all feels deeply ignorant on many levels, I guess it’s more indicative of America’s romanticised “one man's terrorist is another man's freedom fighter” view of what was happening in Northern Ireland at the time than anything else — and character-wise, there’s no reason why either Olivia or Johnny should really know (much less care) what the hell they’re talking about. Still, it’s perhaps telling that in at least one syndicated version of this ep, all of this dialogue has been excised.

    Johnny appears to be enjoying an innocent day out at the seaside with Olivia and Jodie, but it’s a front. In reality, he is undertaking a shady transaction for his equally shady new boss (only referred to in the end credits as The Dealer) and gets beaten up by some extras in the process. It’s a well-staged brawl, but as Johnny’s the only character involved that we know, and we don’t even know him very well, it feels somewhat anonymous. It certainly lacks the frisson and sense of danger that comes from two striking scenes involving Soap Land’s other untrustworthy Irishman, Sean Rowan. (“The Dublin police locked me up for a while,” is as much as we know about his disreputable past.) In the first scene, he terrifies his mistress by holding an African mamba (“one of God’s deadliest creatures … they strike very quickly and it’s a slow agonising death”) inches away from her face. In the second, at the end of the episode, he stares at his sleeping wife while wrapping his tie round his fists until he has fashioned a makeshift garrotte. “No-one gets away, Alexis. No-one, not even you,” he murmurs. Such sadistic behaviour recalls that of FLAMINGO ROAD’s Michael Tyrone — another demonic character out to avenge his father’s death by pitting almost an entire cast of characters against each other.

    Speaking of Michael Tyrone, aka Richard Channing, FALCON CREST returns to its noir-ishly sinister glory days with a couple of scenes in which Richard is summoned a darkened office and asked to make a pact with the devil, aka a mysterious organisation known as The Thirteen. “Join us,” a shadowy bald man asks him. “We can offer you wealth, influence, power … more than you ever dreamed of.” (Key to the appeal of such scene, I think, is the juxtaposition between the sparseness of the scene itself — which consists of little more than a desk and some dark shadows — and the intoxicatingly extravagant world Richard is being tempted with.) From the sublime to the pitiful: the same ep also includes a dumb sitcom subplot about a honey trap requiring Melissa to adopt a “hilarious” southern accent while sporting a Dolly Parton wig twice the size of the one Fallon wore during her recent foray into blondness on DYNASTY.

    More resonant is the dead body of a blonde girl washing up on the beach in KNOTS LANDING. The sight of Michael struggling through a crowd of extras to see who it belongs to (he fears it could be Jodie) not only echoes Gary Ewing stumbling upon Ciji’s body five seasons earlier, but eerily foreshadows the discovery of Laura Palmer’s corpse on the shoreline of TWIN PEAKS in two years’ time — a connection compounded by the fact that Laura and the unnamed KNOTS girl have the same killer: Ray Wise, aka The Dealer.

    For once, the Ewing-verse’s teenage girls are in sync. On KNOTS, Olivia is beyond thrilled by Abby’s engagement to Charles until she overhears her trading bitchy remarks with Judith and realises Charles is married whereupon her romantic bubble promptly bursts. She then spends the rest of the episode moaning to Jodie: “Why do parents lie? Maybe they don’t feel their children are worth telling the truth to!” On DALLAS, Charlie is busy moaning to gal pal Marnie about her mom grounding her for two months: “Parents! I’m never gonna treat my kids like this!” In the battle of the truculent teens, Charlie gets my vote. She’s less self-righteously strident than Olivia and, more importantly, has a picture of Pee Wee Herman in her locker.

    Two long-running female characters reach the end of their tethers this week. “I am so angry, I could scream!” exclaims Miss Ellie, fists clenched, after finding one of her sons trying to drown the other at the beginning of this week’s DALLAS. “Believe me, I want out,” Maggie tells Angela on FALCON CREST. “I’m sick to death of this endless feud between you and Richard. My God, the man is your son and you treat him like he has some kind of contagious disease!” Whereas Miss Ellie’s tantrum makes her seem weak and oddly babyish (Clayton tells her off for once again living through her sons and she meekly agrees), the ultimatum Maggie delivers to her brand new mother-in-law is full of righteous anger and makes her seem strong and compelling: “You wanna reunite your family? Then go to him and prove to him that you love him. You want my winery, work for it!”

    And this week’s Top 4 are …

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

    This episode of DALLAS is actually bookended by SOB quotes. Bobby’s “You son of a bitch” gets a reprise at the beginning as he hold JR’s head under the water while the episode ends with April calling JR “a son of a …” as she attempts to slap him across the face.
     
    Last edited: May 13, 2018
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  8. James from London

    James from London Soap Chat Enthusiast

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    10 Feb 88: DYNASTY: Adam's Son v. 11 Feb 88: KNOTS LANDING: The Blushing Bride v. 12 Feb 88: DALLAS: The Best Laid Plans v. 12 Feb 88: FALCON CREST: Stormy Weather

    There was a photo of Pee Wee Herman in Charlie Wade’s locker on last week’s DALLAS. Maybe she got it from the same “movie-star mag” Jeff Colby is anxious to show Sammy Jo on this week’s DYNASTY (“Bruce Willis, Tony Danza’s in it, Pee Wee Herman, Tom Cruise!”). This is the flimsiest excuse any man in Soap Land has yet used to gain access to a woman’s hotel room, but it works and pretty soon they’re kissing each other’s faces off. Aside from this blossoming relationship and a reconciliation between Jessie and Karen Atkinson, it’s nonstop conflict on DYNASTY at the moment — the show is a world away from the “everyone likes everyone else” vibe of this time last year. Things are heating up on DALLAS too. Save for Charlie’s conflict with her parents and Clayton’s Laurel Ellis storyline, every scene in this week’s episode is in some way connected with JR’s plan to take over West Star. It’s pleasingly KNOTSian. This week’s FALCON CREST is concentrated in a different way with the entire episode taking place in one location. It’s a little bit “Winds of Vengeance” (instead of being stranded at Southfork during a hurricane, all the major characters are trapped in Angela’s house during a rainstorm), a little bit “The Three Sisters” (instead of a haunted house story, the ep turns into a murder mystery pastiche) and there are some half-hearted attempts at “Noises Everywhere”-style character introspection (the best of which is a brief cessation of hostilities between Angela and Richard during a game of chess) thrown in for good measure. FC deserves points for trying something different, but I don’t think the ep really works. (The show’s fans seem to love it though!)

    One of the best bits of this week’s DYNASTY is an antagonistic board-of-directors meeting at Denver Carrington. Adam and Steven turn on each other, Fallon turns on both of them, Jeff patronises everyone and Adam tells him to go to hell. Satisfyingly, all these conflicts arise out of the characters’ pre-existing relationships. There’s also a falling out between Jeff and Blake, who disapproves of his son-in-law “secretly buying up enough Denver Carrington stock so you could force your way into running the company.” This results in Jeff resigning as Blake’s campaign manager. Two other long-term male friendships also take a battering this week. Mack and Gary argue about the twins on KNOTS (“Those kids are mine and you know it and you’re gonna have to testify to it!”) while Ray loses his temper on DALLAS when Bobby tries to intercede between him and Charlie. (“Maybe you don’t think I’m a very good father. I really don’t care what you think anymore … This is my house and I make the rules around here!”)

    Elsewhere on DALLAS, Bobby thinks that Lisa Alden has left town — but she is still lurking in the shadows. Meanwhile on DYNASTY, Adam is angry when Jessie Atkinson refuses to leave Denver even after he’s paid him to. The two men come to blows, Karen gets caught in the middle and the next thing you know, everyone’s at Soap Land Memorial Hospital waiting anxiously for her to give birth. No sooner is she delivered of a baby boy than she utters the words we’ve been expecting to hear ever since DYNASTY first introduced this storyline: “I can’t give him up.” Surprisingly, when we do hear them, they feel dramatically (or at least soapily) justified. In any case, this surrogacy-gone-wrong scenario doesn’t seem quite as silly as FALCON CREST’s equivalent did a few years ago.

    Over on KNOTS, Gary prepares to take his child-based dispute to court. “I had my first daughter taken away from me but I am not gonna give up on these twins,” he vows. This isn’t the only reference to the past in this week’s Ewing-verse. “It’s not like the old days, is it?” sighs JR over breakfast in the opening scene of this week’s DALLAS. “There was a time there wouldn’t be an empty chair at this table.” “… Your daddy was here then to control you boys,” Miss Ellie remembers. Also, the name of Holly Harwood is evoked in two separate (though ultimately connected) storylines. First, Kimberly Cryder and JR lure Sue Ellen to a hotel room so she can find them in bed together — just as Holly once did. “It’s amazing how similar it is,” Sue Ellen later remarks. Meanwhile, JR is threatening to tell Bobby that he and April slept together unless she continues to buy West Star stock on his behalf. “He’s got this old-fashioned notion about not sleeping with anybody I’ve slept with,” he explains, citing Holly as an example. Bobby confirms as much when April discreetly enquires about his past relationship with Holly: “Anything JR touches, he fouls. The thought of being involved with one of his ladies — well, it would never happen.” Back on KNOTS, there’s a surprisingly affectionate moment between Gary and Abby which silently acknowledges their history as he walks in on her dress fitting, wishes her good luck for the wedding (“I hope you’ll be very happy”) and then lifts up her veil to kiss her tenderly on the lips.

    Among those stranded at Falcon Crest this week is the recently appointed Sheriff Buckman, a somewhat glum, not especially authoritative figure. His immediate predecessor, Sheriff North, arrives at Lotus Point this week as Charles Scott’s shady associate. There is no shortage of shady associates in Soap Land at the moment: Harry Thresher on DYNASTY, the nameless Dealer on KNOTS and the other twelve members of The Thirteen on FALCON CREST.

    Two nautically-themed mysteries emerge on DYNASTY and KNOTS this week, involving Alexis and Abby’s respective love interests. Regarding the Natumbe oil deal, Dex notes that Denver Carrington’s ship is loaded, but only half the hold is filled with oil — so what else is Sean planning to transport? And why is Charles Scott suddenly so keen for Abby to expand the marina at Lotus Point? He even offers to put up the investment capital. Abby reacts enthusiastically and pitches the idea to Karen and Gary. Everything is going swimmingly until the scene in her office where she is being fitted for her wedding gown. (Big mistake — it is an unwritten law in Soap Land that every time we see a bride-to-be in her dress prior to the ceremony, disaster is just around the corner: just think Fallon and those headaches, Jamie Ewing and those oil barrels.) Here, it’s a chance remark from her architect that makes Abby realise that Charles had the plans for the marina expansion drawn up long before he ever arrived at Lotus Point. Back on DALLAS, Miss Ellie makes an alarming discovery of her own when she spies Clayton in the company of a younger woman.

    Echoing Sue Ellen and Alexis’s reactions to their husbands’ recent infidelities, neither Abby nor Ellie confronts her man directly, choosing instead to discreetly sound him out. When Abby suggests they move away from Knots Landing after their wedding, Charles insists on staying put: “I’ve decided to relocate my company here … I don’t wanna live anywhere else.” This confirms Abby’s worst suspicions — that he’s only marrying her because of the marina. Miss Ellie and Clayton have the opposite conversation when he tells her he regrets giving up his business when they got married (“Selling my refineries was the biggest mistake I ever made”) and that he plans to go back to work. While Miss Ellie frowns anxiously, Abby blinks back tears during a Johnny Rourke power ballad.

    As Abby cries over Charles’s deception — we see her sobbing alone in the powder room, then staring tearfully into an open fire — Sue Ellen laughs (and laughs and laughs) after finding JR and Kimberly together. Instead of hitting the bottle as she did when Holly set her up, she feigns disgust and then shows up at Nicholas’s apartment with a fit of the giggles. Turning a hugely dramatic scenario into a joke is a risky business. One need look no further than this week’s FALCON CREST. A series which has had its fair share of murder mysteries, this week’s ep sees the characters eagerly participating in a murder mystery game, scampering about Falcon Crest as if murder were something they had no personal experience of. (“I love this game!” exclaims Angela, all but looking at the camera.) As a result, when somebody is (inevitably) murdered for real, it’s hard to care because everything just feels so trivial. Sue Ellen’s amused reaction, however, works — partly because it serves to complicate, rather than dilute, the ongoing storyline. Also, it’s a way of portraying her newfound independence (“I hate him so much right now that nothing he could do could bother me”) in a way that’s dramatically interesting (as opposed to simply depicting her as boringly sober and well-adjusted the way the Dream Season did).

    Once her tears have dried, Abby tasks some unknown minion with investigating Charles’s finances. “I want to know more about Charles Scott’s business than he does,” she declares. “That could be pretty tough to do,” the minion replies. “The next time you see a labourer up on a roof mopping hot tar for minimum wage, call me, tell me how hard your job is,” she snaps. I’ve always found this response interesting. It seems to be a way for Abby to distance herself from Charles’s blue-blood world of privilege and ally herself with her own blue-collar upbringing. Abby Ewing, class warrior? Unlikely perhaps, but this is the most recognisably “Abby” she’s been in weeks.

    Back on DYNASTY, Alexis continues to toy with Leslie and Sean over their affair. She makes Leslie squirm by enquiring about the bracelet she gave her — the same one she then found under her own bed. For a while, it looks as if Alexis is playing the same game of cat and mouse that Blake did when he found out about the emerald necklace Krystle pawned back in Season 1 — but then she blows her cover by accusing Sean directly: “I think you’ve been having an affair with her in our bed and in Africa and God knows where else!” Sean comes up with a lame excuse which, interestingly, Alexis chooses to believe (how very vintage Sue Ellen of her). But in the penultimate scene of the ep, Dex tells her about Sean’s real parentage and then gets down on one knee to deliver the soapiest line week: “Alexis, he married you to destroy you!” Over on KNOTS, it looks like Abby has something similar in mind for Charles. Far from ending their marriage plans when she (like Alexis) discovered Charles (like Sean) had been deceiving her from the beginning, she is proceeding with them. “I don’t want Charles to get away,” she smiles ambiguously. Sue Ellen ends this week’s DALLAS on a high note too. When JR finds her in their bedroom packing, he assumes she’s about to leave Southfork and file for divorce. “That’s the last thing I’m gonna do,” she tells him cheerily. Instead, she explains, she’s moving back into her old room across the hall: “See you at breakfast!”

    And this week’s Top 4 are …

    1 (3) DALLAS
    2 (2) DYNASTY
    3 (4) KNOTS LANDING
    4 (1) FALCON CREST
     
    Last edited: May 20, 2018
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  9. James from London

    James from London Soap Chat Enthusiast

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    18 Feb 88: KNOTS LANDING: Lawfully Wedded v. 19 Feb 88: DALLAS: Farlow's Follies v. 19 Feb 88: FALCON CREST: Legacies

    Two weeks ago, FALCON CREST’s Maggie and Richard ditched their plans for a big wedding and tied the knot in a quickie ceremony instead. Abby and Charles do the same on this week’s KNOTS. The morning after, Abby summons her attorney to annul the union — thereby making it Soap Land’s shortest marriage since Alexis and Cecil Colby’s five years earlier.

    Despite this brevity, Abby has somehow found time to deposit a cheque for $2,000,000 — a wedding gift from her groom intended to finance the marina expansion at Lotus Point. Her financial gain is in contrast to Maggie’s financial loss. Upon marrying Richard Channing, she activated a codicil in Chase’s will that transferred her inheritance to Angela. And at the start of this week’s FC, which is full of the kind of atmospheric darkness and urgency lacking from last week’s ep, she hands over control of Chase’s winery to her new mother-in-law.

    When Abby accuses Charles of marrying her under false pretences, he admits that “I came here for Lotus Point, but I didn’t expect to fall in love with you again … Let’s forget Lotus Point.” Over on DALLAS, JR delivers almost the exact same pitch to Kimberly Cryder: “What started off between you and I as a game, as part of a business deal, has grown into much more and I’m not gonna give you up, with or without West Star.” Neither woman is entirely convinced, but while Abby calls Charles’s bluff directly (“OK, let’s sell Lotus Point.” Silence. “That’s what I thought. Bye, Charles”), Kimberly is slightly more circumspect (“If you’re not man enough to make the move that I was willing to make, maybe you’re not worth waiting for”).

    Elsewhere on KNOTS, Frank Williams is turning into an amalgam of Ben Gibson and Richard Avery at their most unstable. He loses his sales job but is too depressed to care, is overly protective of his family, and sees danger behind every suburban corner. The clatter of a trash can, the silhouette of a meter reader, an intrusive question from a nosy neighbour — each innocuous incident causes him to break into a cold sweat and/or reach for the nearest baseball bat. During the course of the episode, the reasons for his strange behaviour are gradually revealed. “How did your testimony go?” he asks Pat after she returns from a mysterious overnight trip. “Were they in the courtroom when you testified?” Later, during an argument, he blames his crummy job prospects on her “little agreement.” Finally, during an even bigger argument, a woman called Christine in whom Frank and Pat appear to confide comes right out and says it: “The Witness Security Programme has never lost a witness who followed procedure!”

    Meanwhile on DALLAS, an unobserved Miss Ellie catches Clayton in a seemingly intimate situation with Laurel for the second week in a row. When Sue Ellen found JR in bed with Kimberly last week, she surprised him by not falling apart and hitting the bottle. Here, Miss Ellie surprises everyone by falling apart and downing the best part of a bottle of whisky.

    These two storylines — Frank and Pat’s, Ellie and Clayton’s — have next to nothing in common, except that this week’s episodes provide the female half of each partnership with a flashy scene in which to strut her stuff. In both cases, it’s not a moment too soon. Since Pat’s arrived on KNOTS, one’s had the sense of her trying too hard, in front of both the neighbours and the viewers. To Mack and Karen, she’s been trying desperately to come across like a normal person leading a normal life. To the audience, she’s been working hard to sell the idea that she and hubby are still hot to trot after however many years of married life. Miss Ellie, meanwhile, has spent much of this season either bursting into tears or meekly acquiescing to Clayton. Such behaviour is even less reminiscent of the stoic, earthy matriarch of the first five or six years of DALLAS than Donna Reed’s more regal on take the role. Now they've been given the chance to bust loose, Pat shows what she’s made of while Ellie reveals an aspect of her personality that we’ve never really seen before.

    Pat’s outburst is prompted by the reaction of her handler (Christine) to the news that “the guy next door is some kind of special investigator for the governor.” Christine insists the Williamses need to be relocated once again, but Pat has had enough. In a speech that’s fiery, passionate and, let’s face it, black, she embraces what Gary and Abby once negatively described as “life in a goldfish bowl”: “You want us to move because we have nosy neighbours?!” she asks. “They seem nosy to us because they’re interested in us and they’re just lousy at hiding it. They don’t lie well. Honey, I like people who don’t lie well … We have an obligation to give Julie the very best life that we can, a normal life … I want her to able to play hopscotch on the sidewalk because it’s her sidewalk … I don’t want to leave.”

    Whereas Pat wants to join the world that KNOTS has to offer, Miss Ellie “just wants the world to go away.” Her equivalent outburst is angry, heartbroken and, let’s face it, drunk: “You wanna talk about the mysteries of life, Sue Ellen?” she asks her hapless daughter-in-law. “Let’s talk about disappointment … People who let you down, who break your heart, who make you wish you were someone you weren’t … Those are the good subjects, Sue Ellen. You wanna share your expertise on one of those subjects?” While it’s ironic that Sue Ellen should be the one to find Ellie in such a state, it’s even more ironic that she turns out to be no more equipped to deal with an embittered drunk than anyone else. It’s great to see Ellie sink her teeth into this material, even if her three-dimensional reaction to a two-dimensional storyline (man fixates on painting, man buys painting, man and girl in painting become platonic friends) feels a little out of whack.

    As one relatively minor movie star (Michael York) exits Soap Land, another arrives to take his place. Rod Taylor turns up in FALCON CREST as Melissa’s not very Italian-looking uncle, Frank Agretti. His backstory, as recounted by Angela — “Carlo robbed you of your half of the Agretti vineyards and threw you out of the valley” — is a familiar one, recalling similar sibling feuds between Jock and Jason Ewing and Blake and Ben Carrington. Likewise, the reasons for his visit — a terminal illness and a wish to reconcile with family — echo those of Miss Ellie’s brother, Mack Mackenzie’s father and Chance McKenzie’s mother.

    There are other fresh faces too: Harold Dyer (though he has yet to be identified as such on screen) speaks his first lines on KNOTS, senatorial aide Kay Lloyd debuts on DALLAS and Rosemont, the wonderfully creepy head of The Thirteen, emerges out of the darkness on FALCON CREST to utter Soap Land's line of the week: “Channing is my kind of soul — good at the centre with just a little taint of evil around the edges.” Counted alongside Pat, Frank and Julie on KNOTS, Rosemont is currently Soap Land’s fourth significant black character — something of a record.

    Charles Scott may have left KNOTS LANDING with his tail between his legs but, intriguingly, his storyline remains. “We’re in business,” Harold informs The Dealer, who in turn gives Johnny Rourke the thumbs up. DALLAS and FALCON CREST’s current business plots each take a similarly unexpected turn in this week’s closing scenes. While JR declares war on Dr Styles (“If it’s war you want, JR, you’ve got it,” the good doctor replies), Richard joins forces with The Thirteen and proposes a toast “to the destruction of Angela Channing.”

    And this week’s Top 3 are …

    1 (3) KNOTS LANDING
    2 (1) DALLAS
    3 (4) FALCON CREST
     
    Last edited: May 26, 2018
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  10. James from London

    James from London Soap Chat Enthusiast

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    25 Feb 88: KNOTS LANDING: Bouncing Babies v. 26 Feb 88: DALLAS: Malice in Dallas

    It’s all about the kids this week — the futures of Val’s twins, Meg Sumner and Christopher Ewing are all in the balance. Two of these cases end up in court. On KNOTS, there is a “law in motion hearing” where Val’s attorney intends to ask the judge to dismiss Gary’s suit regarding the twins. The lawyer assures Val that she has nothing to worry about because the case will never go to trial. That’s what they told Bobby about Lisa Alden’s bid to get Christopher, but this week’s DALLAS finds him facing a full-blown custody hearing.

    While Gary blames his ex-wife for their situation (“I wouldn’t be in this mess today if Val had told the truth in the first place”), Bobby blames his brother, even more than Lisa, for his (“She’s doing what you paid her to do in the first place … You better hope that hearing never takes place, JR, because if it does, what I did to you before is going to be nothing!”). Whereas Karen surprises Gary by taking his side against Val (“I think you should be able to see your kids”), Miss Ellie has had enough of both her sons. “I want this stopped, do you hear me?” she snaps upon finding Bobby about to rough JR up yet again, “or both of you can get the hell out of this house and off this ranch!”

    When the judge in the KNOTS case doesn’t immediately dismiss Gary’s lawsuit, Val panics. She lashes out at Gary and Jill (“Did she put you up to this? Is this all her idea? … Is she so desperate to keep you that she decided to help you go after my children?”), everyone starts talking over everyone else and Val’s attorney has to physically restrain her from going after Gary — all of which is more dramatic than anything that happens during Christopher’s hearing on DALLAS.

    The star of that hearing is Sue Ellen. We’ve never seen her on the witness stand before, but it turns out to be her natural habitat. Alas, this isn’t a juicy murder trial so we don’t get to see her lips trembling under cross-examination, but we do get some cool flashbacks (still a novelty on DALLAS), first to the momentous scene where Kristin reveals herself to be pregnant with JR’s baby (“It was a cloud over our marriage for a long time,” Sue Ellen informs the court with almost laughable understatement), then to a scene two years later where Bobby tells Sue Ellen that JR is the daddy of the baby he and Pam have “accidentally” adopted. Bobby himself also flashes back to Jeff Faraday selling him Christopher. Ultimately, we don’t learn anything new from any of this — just as Krystle’s recent investigation into the circumstances surrounding Cecil Colby’s death on DYNASTY yielded nothing but a few nice cameos from some minor Season 3 characters. However, it makes for a surprisingly satisfying trip down memory lane.

    (Speaking of Jeff Faraday, David Shulton, Laurel Ellis’s slobby painter friend, makes an enjoyably sneaky modern-day equivalent. He’s been blackmailing Clayton over his nonexistent affair with Laurel for a couple of weeks now, but Clayton’s only just realised.)

    Val later has a change of heart about Gary, prompted by a seemingly unrelated conversation with Mack about how much he’s missing Meg now that her father has taken her home. She presents Gary with a notarised document confirming that he is the twins’ daddy and an apology: “I guess with Ben gone, I was afraid that I might lose them too and I just didn’t wanna see your side of it and for that, Gary, I’m sorry.” Lisa Alden’s equivalent change of heart on DALLAS comes as result of Christopher telling the judge that, “I don’t wanna go with Lisa. I wanna stay in my house with my daddy.” She immediately offers to drop the case. While Val’s backtracking feels true to her character, erratic and overemotional as that character is, we don’t really know what makes Lisa tick so she just comes across as a bit of an idiot. (It hadn’t occurred to her before Christopher’s speech that a six-year-old kid might not relish being ripped away from the only family he’s ever known?) DALLAS ends with a freeze frame of Bobby and Christopher in an emotional embrace. Gary and Val share one of those too — but there’s an extra beat beforehand where he rips up the legal document and hands it back to her. “I know you’ll do what’s best for them,” he says.

    Meanwhile, the Mackenzies are left quietly heartbroken by the loss of Meg. Mack’s grief manifests itself not in a DALLAS-style duel in the pool, but by him chopping up a banana for Meg’s breakfast then remembering she’s not there anymore. “I’ll eat them,” he tells Karen, adding the slices to his own breakfast bowl and then turning the situation into a joke. Then she leaves, his smile fades and he empties the whole lot into the sink. By way of contrast, there’s an impressive restaurant scene on DALLAS where David Shulton continually stuffs his face with food and beer (at Laurel’s expense) while still managing to deliver all his dialogue. He makes DYNASTY’s Sammy Jo (both of them) look positively restrained in comparison.

    Just as speaking to Mack prompts Val to make up with Gary, observing Val and Gary’s reconciliation inspires Karen to talk candidly to Greg about Meg. “You’re in trouble and I don’t know if you can take care of her,” she tells him. “I think we can give her a happy home.” “You’re very presumptuous, lady,” he replies quietly. “I think you better get the hell out of here.” Like Lisa Alden and Val, he later has a change of heart, conveyed during a speech delivered directly into the camera lens in the penultimate scene of the episode: “In many ways, I’m a lot smarter than my old man was. He was a lousy father, but he did one smart thing. He got other humans to raise me.” Only as the camera slowly pans out do we realise he’s talking to Karen and Mack in their living room. “Meg is gonna be a lot safer with you all,” he continues. “She’ll be your child. She’ll grow up thinking that you are her parents. I won’t participate in any way.” This speech carries a similar charge to the scenes where DYNASTY’s Sammy Jo and FALCON CREST’s Melissa gave away their babies and DALLAS’s Pam first took Christopher out of Bobby’s arms and claimed him as her own. In each case, there’s a sense that things will never be the same again. The difference is that this situation plays out in such an understated manner. No-one’s crying or hysterical, there are no tearful goodbyes. Everything is calm and matter-of-fact, which paradoxically makes it seem all the more momentous. The final scene is particularly striking — Greg watching impassively as the dollhouse he built for Meg earlier in the episode burns. It feels metaphorical as if he were watching his last chance to be a decent man go up in flames. Looked at another way, by giving his daughter to those better equipped to raise her, he’s selflessly putting her needs before his own.

    Elsewhere on KNOTS, Abby reprimands Olivia for “staying out late, sulking” and generally making Abby and Charles’s split all about her. “If you’re such a good mother then why do I feel so screwed up?” Olivia yelps. “Because you’re a bleedin’ teenager,” I find myself replying to the screen. Jenna then backs me up on DALLAS. “Teenage girls can be difficult,” she says after learning that Charlie has been cutting classes and hiding bad grades by forging her (Jenna’s) name on her report card. Ray, meanwhile, is intent on making Charlie’s problems all about him. “This has all happened since our marriage — I guess I haven’t done a very good job with her,” he concludes.

    A month ago, Gordon Wales, arguably DYNASTY’s finest recurring character, made his last appearance on the show. This week, one of DALLAS’s best supporting figures, Mavis Anderson, also bows out for good. Neither departure is acknowledged on screen yet in each case, the character’s final scene acts as a fitting swan song. Mavis’s scene is particularly lovely and brings her character full circle. Prompted by Miss Ellie confiding her suspicions about Clayton’s infidelity, she reveals that Punk also once had an affair with a younger woman and that she knew about it but never said anything. “It was shortly after Jock’s death,” she explains. “In fact, I’m pretty sure that’s what caused it.” This timeline puts the affair at around the same time Mavis first appeared onscreen as Ellie’s confidante encouraging her to resume public life following the loss of her husband. To think that Mavis would have been silently dealing with her own turmoil at the same time! We never knew, of course, because her function has always been to act as a sounding board for Miss Ellie’s problems. It’s only now, at the end, where we finally get a glimpse into her inner life.

    Meanwhile, the ongoing plot about April digging into Nicholas Pearce’s murky past ramps up a gear when the private eye she hired to help turns up dead. This leads to one of those occasional noir-ish scenes I’m a sucker for where two characters pull up alongside each other in a rainy, dimly lit side street for a clandestine meeting (previous examples include Melissa and Pamela Lynch in FALCON CREST and Ben Carrington and Caress on DYNASTY). Here, it’s April meeting with Nick to tell him what she’s been doing and how much danger he’s now in. “I have never hit a woman in my life before, but I am tempted to start with you,” he tells her angrily.

    What April doesn’t know, and we’re about to find out, just as we did regarding the Williamses in last week’s KNOTS, is that Nicholas’s family are in some sort of Witness Protection Programme. Whereas Pat had just returned from testifying against some unknown criminals, Nick’s father “testified against The Family” twenty-three years ago. “I broke the code of omertà … You are never forgiven for that.” Nick visits his parents at their equivalent of Seaview Circle, a suburban neighbourhood in Indiana, to warn them that the bad guys are on their trail and they need to run. Nick’s papa reacts the same way Pat did: he refuses to move. “One change of identity was enough,” he declares. (Meanwhile, whatever the casting of Australian actor Rod Taylor as Carlo Agretti’s brother on FALCON CREST lacks in Italian-ness is more than made up for by the actress playing Nicholas’s mother, who mama-mia’s the heck of out of her small role as if her linguine depended on it.)

    And this week’s Top 2 are … a surprise. Given that this episode of KNOTS is a pivotal one for both Greg and the Mackenzies and that Gary and Val’s custody storyline is so much more character driven than Bobby and Lisa’s, I fully expected it to come out on top. However, DALLAS’s sheer soapy momentum pushes it into the lead. Plus there are some surprisingly juicy scenes involving the supporting characters — Kimberly Cryder teaming up with Casey Denault against JR? It's Kristin and Alan Beam all over again!

    1 (2) DALLAS
    2 (1) KNOTS LANDING
     
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  11. Willie Oleson

    Willie Oleson drilling for soap

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    Yes, it feels special to watch those old scenes in the story's present time. But is it only because we like those scenes or because they remind us of the good ol' days?
    I think that soap characters don't really have a history, what happened to them all those years ago is our (the viewers) history.
    Put those scenes in the present time and suddenly there's a connection, and it almost seems like a surprise (eventhough it shouldn't) that they remember those old episodes too.
     
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  12. James from London

    James from London Soap Chat Enthusiast

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    02 Mar 88: DYNASTY: The Scandal v. 03 Mar 88: KNOTS LANDING: A Fair Race v. 04 Mar 88: DALLAS: Crime Story v. 04 Mar 88: FALCON CREST: Wheels Within Wheels

    Having been tipped off to Sean’s real identity by Alexis, Blake flies to Natumbe with Dex to find out what he’s really up to. Lance likewise plays detective on FALCON CREST, travelling to Las Vegas to find out what reporter Curtis Esterbrook was investigating before he was killed. Both parties make parallel discoveries: while Blake and Dex learn that Sean is using Blake’s tankers to smuggle illegal arms out of Africa, Lance discovers Richard was responsible for bringing illegal arms into Africa in order to aid the country John Remick’s army was fighting against. When Lance suggests to Maggie that her husband had Curtis murdered to keep this discovery quiet, she refuses to believe it. “This is insane!” she protests. Conversely, when Morgan Hess informs Alexis of her husband’s colourful past (cop-killing, car bombing, terrorist kidnapping) and concludes that “this is a dangerous guy, Mrs Colby”, she does not disagree.

    There’s further travelling elsewhere in this week's Soap Land. Bobby Ewing goes to Washington as part of his efforts to get the Ewing Oil name back — and, scandalously, kisses Kay while technically still dating April! He also delivers an enjoyably nostalgic speech about his early days at Ewing Oil: “I guess in polite circles you could call me a bag man … My job was to pass out the three Bs — booze, broads and booty.” Back on FC, Eric and Vicky journey to Geneva to clean out Richard’s Swiss safety deposit box. Their “heist” is pitifully staged, but the overall plot — Richard easily outwits them and casually orders they be kept in a foreign jail indefinitely — is so good, it doesn’t really matter.

    The crime wave continues back at home. Charles Scott’s former associates, Manny Vasquez and his nephew Harold, step out of the shadows on KNOTS. Harold is an unassuming, happy-go-lucky guy — who thinks nothing of breaking a restauranteur’s arm over a late payment. Meanwhile, this week’s DALLAS ends with April returning home after getting dumped by Bobby only to be apprehended by two FALCON CREST-looking thugs right outside her apartment.

    This season’s run of DYNASTY, shorter than the rest of the soaps by about eight episodes, is now in the home stretch and things are moving very fast for the Carringtons and Colbys — everyone’s on red alert having learned how dangerous and vengeful Sean is. In contrast, KNOTS is taking its time in its depiction of Paige’s pursuit of Greg Sumner. As it did when Abby set her sights on Gary, KL is playing the long game here. In spite of Paige’s blatant attempts to get his attention, such as kissing Johnny Rourke passionately in front of him, Greg’s response remains inscrutable. Is he playing hard to get? Is he even aware of her interest? Or does his grief over Laura simply preclude an involvement with another woman so soon after her death? And so, while everyone on DYNASTY is frantically speculating about Sean’s motives and intentions, KNOTS finds time for a cross-cutting montage in which Paige quizzes Karen and Mack, and Johnny questions Michael, and they all try to figure out what makes Greg tick. Meanwhile, the elusive object of their fascination is shown in long-shot riding one of his horses around the track. It may be nearly five years since Greg arrived on the show but he still proves impossible to pin down.

    Paige is using Johnny for sex and to make Greg jealous and doesn’t pretend otherwise. “You’re not in the running,” she tells him flatly. I’m not sure there’s been a “friends with benefits” relationship quite like this one in Soap Land before. To my surprise, I find myself warming to Johnny. So long as he forgets to either sing or pretend to be Irish, he’s quite a good supporting character. Over on DALLAS, Laurel Ellis has acquired her own version of Johnny, i.e., an ex-boyfriend who has followed her from Europe. A snobby Brit by the name of Brett Lomax, he is borderline xenophobic in his contempt for Texas and its inhabitants. “What is there for you here, living in this foreign place surrounded by people who … hardly speak our language?” he asks, before insisting that she return to England with him. (Knowing that Brett will eventually transmogrify into FALCON CREST Anti-Christ Charley St James adds an extra level of fascination to his character.) While far less possessive than Brett, Johnny is starting to get serious about Paige and gives her an expensive necklace as an indication of his feelings. She is not unappreciative, but all it takes is a call from Greg to turn her head once more. Meanwhile on DYNASTY, Alexis presents Sean with a watch engraved with the inscription, 'To Sean, undying love — Alexis.’ This is part of the vaguely Hitchcockian scenario she now finds herself in where she must play the adoring wife so as not to arouse his suspicions that the family are onto him. The gift comes back to haunt her in the closing moments of the episode when Blake calls her from Africa with the news that “there’s been an explosion on one of my tankers … Sean is dead … They took a watch off a body and the inscription read, ‘To Sean, undying love — Alexis’.” But then look! There’s a man swimming away from the ship — it’s Sean!!

    Elsewhere on DYNASTY, there’s a surprise confession from jailbird Charlie Braddock, who admits that it was he who kidnapped Adam all those years ago in a doomed attempt to win the heart of Kate Torrance. This means that Adam really was Adam all along (kind of the opposite of New Adam on New DYNASTY who was never Adam at all) and puts Blake and Alexis in the unusual position of having accidentally adopted their own biological son. As convoluted as all this is, George Murdock elevates the scene with a great performance as the haunted Braddock — it’s the acting highlight of the Soap Land week.

    No sooner have two Soap Land custody disputes been resolved (Bobby and Betsy’s on KNOTS, Christopher’s on DALLAS) than two more spring up to take their place. “‘Karen Atkinson versus Adam Carrington’ … They’re suing to nullify the surrogate contract. They’re suing for my child!” Adam tells Dana on DYNASTY. “I’m suing for visitation rights as Michael’s paternal grandmother,” Angela informs Richard on FALCON CREST.

    While this week’s DALLAS finds Soap Land’s original female alcoholic, Sue Ellen, on fine sardonic form (“How’s the centre of my universe tonight?” she smiles at a clearly fuming JR. “I’m going to stay married to JR till the end of time — just so you can’t get him and he can’t get West Star,” she cheerfully informs Kimberly Cryder), KNOTS LANDING’s Jill and FALCON CREST’s Maggie both follow Miss Ellie’s recent example by starting to drink alone. Gary spending more and more time with the twins (and by extension Val) affords Jill the opportunity of downing a bottle of wine in his absence. Meanwhile, the complications of living with Richard — his ongoing feud with Angela, Lance’s allegations against him, the oppressive and continuous presence of his security staff — take a cumulative toll on Maggie who starts hitting the brandy in earnest.

    Nearly a year after Bobby announced his decision to leave Ewing Oil (“I’ve had it right up to my ears with JR and the whole way he does things — I’m getting out”), brother Gary tells Karen and Abby that “I’m getting out of Lotus Point … I’ve spent my last day worrying about what colour to paint the bridal suite and where to get the best deals on sheets.” Interestingly, Gary’s decision (“No hard feelings — I just don’t care”) comes across less as soap fatigue (as Bobby’s did) and more as soap restlessness. I guess it’s because Gary isn’t defined by his job the way the rest of the Ewing boys, including Ray, are. Rather he is defined more by his own searching, questing nature. Fortunately, KNOTS is flexible enough to incorporate this restlessness into the series. Were he a character on a more rigidly structured soap, he might wind up searching and questing his way off screen for good.

    In the same week that Charlie Wade is told by Jenna that “Randy is out of your life!” and is then caught sneaking out of the house to see him, Abby lies in wait for Olivia to return from her first impromptu date with Harold Dyer and then insists there will be no second date until she gets to meet him. Olivia reluctantly complies and Harold is all smiles and good manners when he and Abby meet, just as Randy was while sitting through a parental lecture from Ray — although there was kind of a subversive edge to Randy, as if underneath all the smiling and nodding you could tell he was really thinking, “Yeah, whatever you say, old man — in a couple of years, I’m gonna be Brad Pitt!” Harold’s subversion comes in the shape of his Uncle Manny whom he brings along to meet Abby (“I was impressed by your desire to meet my nephew,” he explains. “Most parents don’t care who their children associate with”). She is charmed and Manny uses it as a chance to pick up where Charles Scott left off. “Karen, I’d like you to meet Manny Vasquez,” says Abby in the final scene of the ep. “I think we can do business together.”

    And this week’s Top 4 are …

    1 (1) DALLAS
    2 (2) KNOTS LANDING
    3 (-) DYNASTY
    4 (-) FALCON CREST
     
    Last edited: Jun 5, 2018
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  13. James from London

    James from London Soap Chat Enthusiast

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    09 Mar 88: DYNASTY: The Trial v. 10 Mar 88: KNOTS LANDING: Full Disclosure v. 11 Mar 88: DALLAS: To Have and to Hold v. 11 Mar 88: FALCON CREST: Channing Vs. Channing

    “What gives you the right to take a child from its mother? I carried him for nine months!” cries Karen Atkinson on DYNASTY. “I feel like a victim!” wails Pat Williams on KNOTS LANDING. “What about me?! … I’m getting older and I have an ego!” weeps Ellie Farlow on DALLAS. Suffice to say, there’s a lot of emotional grandstanding in this week’s Soap Land.

    Adam and Dana on DYNASTY, Richard, Maggie and Angela on FALCON CREST and Pat on KNOTS all testify on the witness stand this week. The first two cases deal with child access (Karen Atkinson is suing to have her surrogacy agreement with Adam overturned and Angela is demanding access to her grandson) while the trial on KNOTS is the reason Pat and the rest of her family are in the Witness Protection Programme. Meanwhile, DALLAS’s equivalent Witness Protection Programme story, involving Nicholas Pearce, reaches its own climax.

    Whereas the court proceeding on FC is relatively low-key — the set up is similar to John Ross’s second custody hearing during the DALLAS Dream Season where each witness testified privately in front of the judge — DYNASTY throws everything but the kitchen sink at its hearing: an impassioned argument from Karen’s attorney (“I’m speaking about the morality of a very rich family trying to buy my client’s child!”), Dana’s past exposed under cross-examination, a smoking gun (“documented evidence that shows that [Jessie Atkinson] was paid $2,500 to instigate a custody suit”) revealed midway through the trial and Karen interrupting the judge’s summation to thrust her newborn baby into his line of vision: “I wanted you to see him … You’re going to decide who keeps my child and you’ve never even seen him!” Finally, Dana derails the whole shebang by standing up and declaring, “I’m sorry, but I can’t go through with this, Adam … The baby belongs with Karen!”

    Unlike DYNASTY, the really dramatic stuff pertaining to the KL and FC trials takes place outside the courtroom. After the judge on FALCON CREST grants Angela visitation rights to her grandson Michael, Richard arranges to have the boy temporarily snatched during their first outing together in order to make her appear negligent. Meanwhile on KNOTS, Pat is leaving the courthouse after giving evidence when she is stabbed by a nameless associate of the men she is testifying against. Meanwhile, the anonymous associates of the men Joseph Lombardi testified against twenty-three years ago pull a knife on April at the start of this week’s DALLAS. The threat of disfigurement (“Money won’t buy you a new face after I’m finished with it”) is enough to persuade her to spill the beans on the whereabouts of Joseph Junior, aka Nicholas Pearce.

    The opening scene of this week’s KNOTS also contains a strong threat of violence. The ep starts off peacefully enough — a portrait of neighbourhood bliss, in fact: Mack cuddles Meg on the lawn while Pat and Val watch their kids play hopscotch together on the sidewalk. There’s even a definitive moment of community acceptance as Val asks Julie to babysit the twins. Then a workman arrives at the Williams’ house and accidentally breaks a window. Suddenly, all hell breaks loose. Frank emerges from his house wearing a vest and pointing a gun at the workman. The camera work becomes unsteady as Mack and Frank get in each other’s faces, bellowing at one another, spit flying (“You don’t run around the neighbourhood with a gun in your hand, not with kids around! Brandishing a firearm is breaking the law!” “So is trespassing which is what you’re doing — you’re on my property!”). While Frank takes off in his car, Mack goes home to report him to the police. “That clown’s running round out there with a loaded .38 revolver and there’s kids playing in the street … I just can’t believe that that’s happening in this neighbourhood … I just can’t believe it,” he mutters. I’m not saying it’s intentional, or even conscious, but it feels like there’s a subliminal subtext in Mack’s reaction to the loose cannon living next door to him. To put it crudely, if not grotesquely: a black family moves into a respectable cul-de-sac like this one and next thing you know, it’s turned into Boyz N The Hood.

    Of course, we know that Frank’s rage has nothing to do with racial or cultural stereotypes. The source of his pain is identical to Solid Old Ben’s at the end of last season. “While trying to protect my family, I have become the enemy … My family needs protecting against me,” he tells Pat. Also, when Pat is on the witness stand, we learn that she is, or was, a doctor. What could be more respectable, more … white? This being an ‘80s soap, the Williamses’ skin colour is never mentioned, just as Dominique’s wasn’t on DYNASTY, not even in passing. Well, there is one reference later in the ep when the Mackenzies come round with a peace offering of bagels. “Soul food,” replies Pat, which at least acknowledges the elephant in the room.

    By this point, Karen and Mack have figured out Frank and Pat’s big secret. “They’ve done everything they can to hide their past,” Mack realises. “We’ve done everything we could to uncover it,” adds Karen. In other words, they are to the Williamses what April has been to Nick on DALLAS. Just as Frank grabbed for his gun when he heard the sound of breaking glass so Nick goes for his pistol when his apartment doorbell rings. His visitor turns out to be Sue Ellen, confused as to why her new boyfriend has been given his own storyline.

    When the bad guys do track him down, Nick tries to convince them that his father (the one they’re after for testifying in the first place) died in prison years ago. When that doesn’t work, he brings them to his parents’ house — the place we met them in last week’s ep. This time, however, the man who answers the door tells Nick that “Mr and Mrs Pearce were killed” in an automobile accident six months earlier. We know this must be a lie, but confusingly, Nick’s fake breakdown, performed for the benefit of the thugs, is even more moving than Pat Williams’ real “I was a doctor!” one on the witness stand. It’s undeniably clunky and not a little hammy, but nonetheless effective. I guess it’s down to Nick’s innate likability which manages to transcend both his stupidly big hair and tendency to say cheesy things like, “Nothing confuses a beautiful woman more than a man who won’t mix business with pleasure.” There’s also some compelling faux emotion on display on FALCON CREST when an enraged Richard interrupts Angela’s birthday party to berate her for allowing his son to wander off while in her custody — an incident he himself engineered.

    Elsewhere on DALLAS, Ray Krebbs banishes his recently acquired step-daughter to Switzerland just as Richard did his on last week’s FC. The difference is that Charlie is being sent to boarding school while Vicky is currently languishing in prison — although one suspects the distinction may be lost on Charlie. (“You wanna control how I think, how I look, how I feel!” she yells at Ray. “Don’t I get to say anything about my own life?!”) To his dismay, Jenna decides to accompany her daughter abroad and stay “for as long as Charlie needs me.” Maggie Channing, on the other hand, has no idea her daughter is even in Switzerland, much less a jail cell. According to the postcard she receives this week, Vicky and Eric are “doing Paris, London, Rome.” Out of her earshot, Richard compliments his henchman Garth on the convincing handwriting on the card. “The man I use is the best,” Garth replies. In the last scene of this week’s KNOTS, Val also receives some significant mail from overseas — significant enough to cause her to drop her groceries in shock. “Finally out of danger. I miss you, I love you. Hug the kids for me. See you soon, Ben,” it reads. DYNASTY likewise ends with an apparent communication from a seemingly lost husband. Having been informed that the man killed in the tanker explosion was not Sean Rowan but Harry Thresher (shame, I liked Harry), Alexis insists that Sean must still be dead — until she receives an anonymous call at the end of the ep. “Sean? Sean, is that you?” she asks. Cut to a tantalising shot of a bright red London telephone box with the receiver left dangling. While Val and Alexis each appear to have regained a husband, DALLAS ends with Miss Ellie dispensing with one. “I want you out,” she informs Clayton after finally confronting him about his relationship with Laurel. His explanation is almost a carbon copy of the reasons Jock gave for consorting with Julie Grey ten years earlier: “She made me feel like a man again. Everyone else was making me feel like a damned invalid, most of all you.” Whereas Ellie met Jock’s indiscretion with authority and stoicism, times have changed. Now she’s older, more vulnerable, more frightened. “What about me? What about me?” she keeps asking.

    Back on DYNASTY, Leslie Carrington surprises Jeff by showing up at his new apartment with all her belongings. Now that he and Fallon are divorced, she explains, she expects to move in with him — even though they only slept together once several months ago. Leslie plays the scene like she’s in a screwball comedy, but it’s more like an inept version of Fatal Attraction as Jeff politely shows her the door. Meanwhile on DALLAS, Kay Lloyd surprises Bobby by showing up at his office with what looks like all her belongings. “Sometimes I get a little crazy and impulsive,” she smiles. However, she assures him, “I’m only here for the day.” They subsequently share their first kiss while dancing the Texas Two-Step to ‘Lookin’ for Love’ by Charlene Tilton’s ex-husband (Johnny Lee, not Mitch Cooper).

    Over on FALCON CREST, Lance’s determination to get to the bottom of Richard’s role in Curtis Esterbrook’s death and John Remick’s disappearance leads him to the Justice Department where he encounters his own Kay Lloyd equivalent named Catherine (played by a future Dr Who girl!). Like Kay, she’s industrious, eager to help and hides her glamorous looks behind a pair of bookish glasses. While Kay calls herself impulsive, Catherine insists “she’s a bit of a rebel.” But that’s where the similarity ends. The final scene of the ep finds her talking to Rosemont, the head of the Thirteen. “If [Lance] gets too close to the truth, you will have to kill him,” he tells her. Whereas all the would-be murderers during the first half of this season’s FC began to blur into one, this revelation feels quite exciting — probably because it’s part of a more focused narrative.

    Maggie’s overnight transformation into a fully fledged alcoholic is fascinating. On last week’s FC, she had her first proper drunk scene in which she polished off a decanter of brandy and then fell over. This week, she’s sworn off the booze, suffers withdrawal symptoms and gets defensive when Richard gently suggests seeking help for her “problem.” By the end of the ep, she’s secretly nipping from the bottle of cooking wine stashed in her bedside cabinet. It’s as if Sue Ellen’s first year on DALLAS had been compressed into two episodes. As a realistic portrayal of addiction, therefore, it’s somewhat lacking. As a way of externalising the loss of Maggie’s psychological bearings since her marriage to Richard, it works perfectly.

    Speaking of out-of-nowhere ailments, Krystle suddenly feels faint on this week’s DYNASTY and has to sit down. It could be nothing, of course, but this is Soap Land — and come to think of it, wasn’t dizziness the first symptom of Laura’s brain tumour on KNOTS …?

    And this week’s Top 4 are …

    1 (2) KNOTS LANDING
    2 (4) FALCON CREST
    3 (3) DYNASTY
    4 (1) DALLAS
     
    Last edited: Jun 11, 2018
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  14. Daniel Avery

    Daniel Avery Super Moderator Staff Member

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    Don't you love tone-deaf writers who plant Maggie in the middle of a commercial winery business....and have her choosing to bogart a bottle of cooking sherry she probably picked up at the local Safeway? You'd think she could have rolled out the barrel (literally) and made it a bedside table with a spout!
     
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  15. James from London

    James from London Soap Chat Enthusiast

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    24 Mar 88: KNOTS LANDING: Her Letter v. 25 Mar 88: FALCON CREST: Dirty Tricks

    KNOTS picks up directly from where it left off two weeks ago with Val, having received Ben’s letter, bolting out of her house to share the news with Karen. She finds her at Williamses, which gives us the opportunity of seeing Val through the eyes of her new neighbours, just as we have been watching them through Karen and Mack’s for the past few months. “I get the impression that she isn’t very realistic,” decides Pat.

    Like Val, FALCON CREST’s Lance receives a missive from someone believed to be dead: “Keep after Channing. I’ll be in touch, Remick.” It’s less affectionate than Ben’s “I miss you, I love you, hug the kids for me” but it gets its point across.

    Having failed in her mission “to keep Mr Cumson out of the country for three months or to make sure he didn’t come back at all”, Rosemont declares Thirteen operative Catherine “beyond salvage.” All her experience as a highly trained assassin then deserts her and she becomes a standard girl in peril. Like April on DALLAS a couple of weeks ago, she returns home to find the bad guys waiting outside her apartment. She runs away and turns to Lance, the very person she tried to kill last week, for help. He arranges for her fake to her own death, which seems to be the standard response in such situations.

    Elsewhere on FC, Richard and Maggie are leaving for a fancy dinner when he realises she is drunk again. You can feel his heart sink just by looking at his face. “We’ve got a problem, Maggie,” he begins before broaching the subject of a clinic in Colorado. “I want you to get well.” KNOT LANDING’s Jill is proving more successful at hiding her solitary drinking from Gary — or maybe he’s just too preoccupied with his ex-wives and their various offspring to notice. There’s a great moment when, in response to Val calling the ranch for the nth time, Jill responds by tipping a glass of wine over the phone. Even Sue Ellen didn’t think of that one.

    The gesture is whacky, but also understandable. It’s interesting how sympathetically Jill has been portrayed throughout this season. Val might be the more established, more loveable character, but Jill is technically the wronged woman in their triangle with Gary and has largely conducted herself with patience and good grace. Nor has the KNOTS shied away from showing how self-involved and difficult Val can be, most recently in her custody dispute with Gary over the twins. Likewise, Maggie has always been FALCON CREST’s moral centre but since developing a drinking problem, she’s become increasingly high maintenance. So much so that we find our sympathies shifting towards Richard — the same Richard that currently has Maggie’s daughter locked up in jail without her knowledge. The line between good and bad in Soap Land is getting blurry. And so, when we learn in the penultimate scene of this week’s KNOTS that Jill is responsible for the letter Val believes she has received from Ben, how should we react? We’re shocked, of course — Poor Val! Poor Ben! — but we’re also kind of thrilled — Clever Jill!

    This week’s KNOTS is also The One Where Karen Wears A Leather Mini-Skirt To A Business Meeting. Fashion faux pas are rarely, if ever, acknowledged in Soap Land. After all, this is the ‘80s: who can say for sure where Travilla ends and faux pas begin? The closest we’ve come recently is Alexis’s publicist’s suggestion that she tone down her style for the electorate and Judith Scott’s implication about Abby’s tacky appearance. Here, the balance is redressed when Abby first watches with incredulous amusement as Karen arrives for their meeting with Manny Vasquez wearing said skirt and later delivers the cautionary quip: “Don’t be a slave to fashion.” But it’s really Karen, squirming in her chair as she struggles to retain her modesty, who sells the scene. Physical comedy is rare in Soap Land and even rarer when it works. (For an example of how excruciating it can be when it doesn’t work, I refer you to Melissa and Richard’s “sexy” dance to ‘Do You Love Me?’ by the Contours on this week’s FALCON CREST. Presumably intended to titillate and amuse, it instead makes one’s toes curl with embarrassment.)

    Each of this week’s shows contains a satisfying example of When Storylines Collide. On FALCON CREST, having finally agreed to enter a clinic, Maggie has her bags packed to leave when Lance turns up at her front door. He shows her the note from John Remick and warns her about Richard: “He’s a dangerous man.” What will she do? To be honest, I was hoping she’d go on an almighty bender, but instead, she meets with Emma and articulates the crux of her dilemma: “I love him and yet so many people mistrust him, hate him. What if they’re right and I’m wrong?”

    A week after Jeff Colby popped the question to Sammy Jo on DYNASTY comes another controversial marriage proposal, this time from gangster Harold to seventeen-year-old Olivia on KNOTS. While Sammy Jo has yet to give Jeff an answer, Olivia’s response is immediate: “I will, I will!” And so is Abby’s: “Over my dead body you’ll marry him!” Paige, meanwhile, finally makes a move on Greg (“How would you explain why you go to such trouble for all these other women when I’m right here?”) only for him to look at her like she’s nuts (“Are you joking? … You’re very young … You’re Mack’s daughter”). Piqued, she accepts Johnny's invitation to accompany him on a business trip to Mexico. These two storylines converge in the final scene of the ep. Johnny and Paige are at the airport waiting for his associate, who turns out to be Harold. He too has brought a guest along — Olivia. “We’re eloping,” she explains. Mexico proves a popular destination this week — it’s also where FALCON CREST’s Catherine is headed to start her new life.

    And this week’s Top 2 are …

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

    James from London Soap Chat Enthusiast

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    30 Mar 88: DYNASTY: Colorado Roulette v. 31 Mar 88: KNOTS LANDING: Mother Knows Best v. 01 Apr 88: DALLAS: Never Say Never v. 01 Apr 88: FALCON CREST: Flying Blind

    The same lakeside cabin where Lute-Mae Sanders fought off her rapist on FLAMINGO ROAD and Chase watched Dr Lantry take a fatal overdose on FALCON CREST this week becomes a hideout on DYNASTY for Sean Rowan, who has snatched Adam’s baby, aka “Blake and Alexis’s precious little grandson.” Leslie is his accomplice-cum-hostage who gets on his good side by serving up a breakfast of scrambled eggs on toast. “I never knew you were such a good cook,” he remarks — which is probably the nicest thing he’s ever said to her. This is one of several noteworthy breakfasts in this week’s Soap Land. On KNOTS, Mack whips up a romantic feast of blueberry pancakes for Karen which she runs out on because of a prearranged breakfast meeting with Manny Vasquez. That breakfast takes an unexpected turn when Manny kisses her. The following morning, Karen cooks breakfast for Mack in return and he jokingly accuses her of having a guilty conscience. He doesn’t know how right he is. “I enjoyed it,” she confesses to Pat, referring to Manny’s kiss. On FALCON CREST, the mere sight of Garth’s home-cooked breakfast has Maggie, undergoing alcohol withdrawal, running for the bathroom. On DALLAS, it isn’t breakfast but dinner that is the significant meal as Connie, aka “the lady with the flat tyre”, shows up at Ray’s door with groceries and offers to cook for him. Feeling lonely and abandoned in Jenna’s absence, he accepts.

    When Sean overhears Leslie revealing their whereabouts over the phone, he becomes demented with anger. As the character teeters on the verge of madness so the man playing him, James Healy, reaches the edge of his acting abilities. Consequently, there’s an out-of-control quality to his performance that is quite compelling. Healy reminds me of George Lazenby, the weakest actor to play James Bond who nonetheless starred in the best Bond film, On Her Majesty’s Secret Service. Just as Lazenby’s limitations worked for that film (or at least didn’t impede it), Healy has proven a perfect fit for this B-movie revenge storyline. Ergo, Sean Rowan is the George Lazenby of Alexis’s husbands. (Broadly speaking, that means Blake is Sean Connery, Cecil is Roger Moore, Dex is Pierce Brosnan and New Blake is Daniel Craig.)

    Sean then beats up Leslie in Soap Land’s most overt display of male-on-female violence yet. It’s brutal without being very realistic and I’d be lying if I said I didn’t enjoy it.

    The Farlows on DALLAS have been married almost as long as the Mackenzies on KNOTS and there’s a sense that both couples have been taking each other for granted of late. Last week, when Karen told Mack that Manny had been flirting with her at Lotus Point, she was disappointed by his lack of reaction and miffed by the suggestion that Manny’s attentiveness might simply have been a business tactic. Whereas Karen and Mack’s relationship insecurities result in small moments of character observation (Mack comparing Manny’s dress sense with his own) and humour ("What'd you do?" asks Pat when Karen tells her about Manny's kiss. "I shot him," she replies), Clayton and Ellie’s marital disharmony manifests itself plot-wise. Clayton’s discontent was first signified by his preoccupation with a painting. This led to the introduction of a whole new subset of characters, resulting in blackmail, accusations of an affair, a marital separation and now Clayton being arrested on a murder charge.

    “The Ewing family has always banded together against trouble from the outside,” Ellie says when Clayton thanks her for standing by him following his arrest. That attitude is reflected on DYNASTY where Adam and Steven finally bond after banding together to rescue Adam’s baby. “I never thought I needed you,” Adam tells his brother. “You’ve always struggled to belong and in my own way, so have I,” Steven replies.

    Towards the end of this week's DYNASTY, Steven leaves an envelope addressed to Blake in the library. We’re not privy to its contents, but from the “Goodbye, Dad” he utters to an empty room, we can make a pretty good guess. KNOTS kicks off with the discovery of another letter. “My housekeeper found a note from Olivia saying she and Harold had run off to get married,” Abby informs Manny Vasquez before ordering him to stop the wedding. There’s more letter action elsewhere in the ep as Jill drops by the airport and persuades a man on his way to Honduras to mail a letter addressed to Val once he arrives. Over on FALCON CREST, in the Swiss prison where she and Eric are being held without trial as if they were starring in a unisex version of Midnight Express, Vicky goes to even more circuitous lengths to send a letter to Maggie — of which more later.

    Three of this week’s soaps include a scene where one female character visits another to discuss a man with whom they are mutually involved. “You called?” asks Fallon sarcastically after being summoned to Delta Rho by Sammy Jo. “I know I should have called first, but it was hard enough for me to come over here at all,” Jill says after surprising Val in the cul-de-sac. “If you’re looking for Clayton, he’s at the office,” says Miss Ellie after Laurel Ellis shows up at Southfork. Sammy Jo, Jill and Laurel each then offer an olive branch. “You don’t like me and I don’t like you, I wouldn’t be so dumb to suggest we’d ever become friends, but we can’t be enemies,” says Sammy Jo to Fallon. “I’m not saying that I think we could ever be friends, but I would really like to try to stop being enemies,” echoes Jill, extending her hand to Val. “It’s you I want to talk to,” Laurel explains to Miss Ellie, “to tell you the truth about Clayton and myself … Nothing ever happened between us … I’m truly sorry I’ve been responsible for any of this.” While Fallon is unconvinced by Sammy Jo’s words (“You wanted to be a Carrington so you married Steven — now you wanna be a Colby so it’s Jeff’s turn,” she replies), Val is taken in by Jill’s and agrees to a truce (“Maybe when Ben gets back, we can all go for pizza,” Jill suggests wickedly). Meanwhile, Ellie’s discussion with Laurel about Clayton mirrors one she had with Julie Grey about Jock a decade earlier. “There aren’t many women who intimidate me — you’re one of them,” Julie told her back then. These days, Ellie cuts a less imposing figure. “At my age, it’s hard to put your dreams back together once they’ve been shattered,” she tells Laurel.

    Laurel’s visit to Southfork serves another narrative purpose — it brings her into the orbit of JR, who immediately propositions her and later has Harry McSween bring her to his office where he can behave like even more of a pig. “I don’t know about Clayton, but if you’d have been with me, you would have been properly and frequently bedded, my dear,” he leers. JR’s on excitingly obnoxious form this week.

    Following her scene with Sammy Jo, Fallon winds up in bed with Jeff. They are enjoying a full-blown montage sex scene (the first we’ve seen since Greg and Laura’s last night together) when the doorbell goes — it’s Sammy Jo accepting Jeff’s proposal! Meanwhile, Johnny Rourke and Paige are rolling around in bed in the Mexican village of Santa Tecla when the phone rings — it’s Manny Vasquez ordering Johnny to prevent Harold and Olivia’s marriage! Later in the same episode, Paige is the one who does the interrupting when she finds Johnny in bed with Debbie, a sexy archaeologist whose interest in pre-Colombian artefacts Paige shares. Refreshingly, Paige takes Johnny’s dalliance in her stride and by the end of the ep, they’re canoodling once more.

    The penultimate scene of this season’s DYNASTY includes a moment that couldn’t be soapier if it tried — Alexis is taking a bubble bath when the champagne glass she holds is shot at point blank range by her back-from-the-dead husband. “That’s for my father!” he snarls. A struggle over the gun then ensues between her third and fourth husbands as Alexis, now clad demurely in a peach bathrobe, watches in alarm. Suddenly the gun goes off! But before we can see who took the bullet, Claudia or Krystle — I mean, Dex or Sean — it’s all over. Bye-bye, everyone; see ya next season. But wait! There’s one more scene to go! Back at the mansion, Blake finds his and Krystle’s bedroom in a state of disarray. (In reality, it’s no more untidy than the average teenager’s. However, this is Soap Land.) Jeanette tells him that Krystle left the house a little while ago and he swears her to secrecy. But it’s the season’s final line — “My God, Krystle, I thought we had more time!” — that pulls the narrative rug out from under us, in the same way that Bobby Ewing’s “Good morning” and the disembodied voice asking, “You want out, Mrs Mackenzie?” did at the end of the 1985/6 season.

    The ailing Dr Styles is also running out of time on DALLAS. In this episode’s penultimate scene, his daughter Kimberly brings Cliff Barnes to meet him in the hope that he will join forces with them to defeat JR. But Cliff no longer seems to care about winning. “You know what I hope?” he asks the doctor. “I hope this war between you and JR just explodes and blows the both of you all to hell and back.” He flounces off and Styles reaches for his oxygen supply. “I think we’ve lost,” he tells Kimberly. She then goes to JR and essentially begs him to spare her father’s life. “I’ll convince my daddy to back you. You can have West Star,” she promises. (Anyone else getting a vaguely Shakespearean vibe from all this?) “What about you?” JR asks. “You don’t have to marry me,” she replies. “I’ll be yours whenever you want.” “What makes you think I want you at all?” he sneers. “And as far as calling it off, I’m afraid that’s impossible … Your daddy wanted a war and he got one. There’ll be no truce. I want an unconditional surrender. I’m gonna break him and take West Star away from him.” As one Soap Land war rages on, another is declared. At the end of last week’s FALCON CREST, Richard learned, to his alarm, that the Thirteen are “plotting the economic destruction of the United States … There are going to be riots in the streets, people are going to be killing each over a slice of bread. You’ll be destroying everything this country stands for and for what?” “For us,” Rosemont replied simply. (Anyone else getting a not so vaguely Trumpian vibe from all this?) This week, Richard decides to stop them. “I will do whatever is necessary,” he vows. “Very well — so shall we,” counters Rosemont.

    While Vicky Stavros is in Geneva bribing a prison orderly into mailing a letter to her mother, Paige Matheson is in Santa Tecla “making a donation to the preservation of Mexican national treasures”, i.e., bribing the local police into delaying the construction of a highway through the site of the archaeological dig. The political system in Washington proves no less corrupt as Kay Lloyd introduces Bobby to Senator O’Dell, with a view to getting the Ewing Oil name back. In his previous Soap Land incarnations, O’Dell was Titus Semple on FLAMINGO ROAD and Paul Galveston on KNOTS LANDING and appears to share their amoral streak. And like Galveston, he’s not particularly keen on discussing business matters with women, referring Kay as “a mighty pretty little thing” (at least he didn’t call her Cookie) and instructing her to leave him and Bobby to talk man-to-man. “I was mighty fond of your daddy,” he tells him. “Some of my fondest memories are of deals that he and I put together — JR too, for that matter.” (Paul Galveston wheelin’ and dealin’ with JR and Jock — now there’s an image to conjure with.) “Yes, sir, the two of them really knew the bottom line when it came to making a deal,” he continues. Whereas Galveston encouraged Gary to believe himself the equal of his Ewing brothers, O’Dell challenges Bobby to show his true Ewing mettle by forking out for “a little retirement place” — a castle in the Scottish Highlands worth $2,000,000. (This rare Soap Land reference to Scotland partially compensates for Karen describing Mack to Manny as “a smiling Irishman who makes terrific blueberry pancakes.” When he first arrived in KNOTS, Mack identified himself as Scots-Italian.)

    After a full FALCON CREST hour of sleep-walking, sweats, nightmares and mood swings, Maggie Channing appears to licked her four-episode booze problem and she and Richard are happy once again. Back on KNOTS, Gary and Jill have their first argument about her drinking. “Do you think I have a problem?” she asks challengingly. “You tell me,” he replies. “You’re the one that’s been sitting around here all day drinking — alone.” This culminates in Jill holding out a glass of wine to Gary, inviting him to drink with her. (“That’s an incredibly sick stupid way of trying to get my attention.”) Jill’s gesture is mirrored by Maggie in the final scene of this week’s FC when Richard returns home to find her nursing a bottle of brandy, as yet unopened. What has happened? She’s received Vicky’s letter, that’s what. (“Eric and I are in jail in Geneva,” it reads. “I don’t know anyone but Richard who could be doing this to us.”) Bitterly, she opens the bottle, pours a drink and raises it towards Richard, just as Jill did her glass to Gary: “What we need here, Richard, is a toast — to my daughter in Switzerland.” Then she spills it on the floor.

    And this week’s Top 4 are …

    1 (-) DYNASTY
    2 (1) KNOTS LANDING
    3 (2) FALCON CREST
    4 (-) DALLAS
     
    Last edited: Jun 23, 2018
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  17. Daniel Avery

    Daniel Avery Super Moderator Staff Member

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    There are two ways of looking at these heart-to-heart talks between Karen and Pat. At the time, I thought it was just the writers efforts to integrate Pat (and Frank) into the show, having the sorts of around-the-kitchen-table chats we saw so often with Karen/Pat and Mack/Frank. In retrospect, I look at their growing friendship as the writers' efforts to move past Karen and Val's BFF status, to make Pat into Karen's new confidante while Val gets left out. At another time, that scene would have been Karen, Pat, AND Val, but of course Val being left out of the fun (and only involved in her own melodrama) seems to be more frequent. Eventually it looks like Pat is Karen's more "rational" friend and Val something of the 'wacky neighbor' they both talk about rather than talk with. Whether this was purposeful because of the upcoming story or it was just the choice of the writers who seemed not to like writing "normal" stuff for Val (while continuing to do it for the others, even giving Karen and Mack new characters to do such scenes with), I'm not sure.

    But I have to say the deadpan way ML delivered that last line was one of the funniest lines of the entire series, in my opinion.
     
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  18. James from London

    James from London Soap Chat Enthusiast

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    07 Apr 88: KNOTS LANDING: With a Heavy Heart v. 08 Apr 88: DALLAS: Last of the Good Guys v. 08 Apr 88: FALCON CREST: Key to Angela

    Bobby Ewing having reminded the audience of the three Bs — booze, broads and booty — a couple of weeks ago, Sue Ellen now introduces her own “formula for living with JR” known as “the three Ds … Drink, divorce and doing unto him what he’s done to me.” “I take it drink and divorce didn’t work for you?” ventures Kimberly Cryder.

    Drink hasn’t worked for Maggie Channing when it comes to living with Richard either and so this week she tries a separation. “If I stay … I am going to end up either hating Richard or drinking again,” she explains. “She needs to be in a caring environment,” best pal Emma decides. “She needs love and support and friends.” And so she naturally invites Maggie to move into Falcon Crest.

    While Emma has suddenly acquired a rose-coloured view of life at Falcon Crest, Clayton Farlow has developed a cynical opinion on life at Southfork. “I really appreciate the ‘spirit of the Ewings’,” he tells Miss Ellie, “how the whole clan just gathers around when one member’s in trouble, but obviously, that is nothing but a show for the people of Dallas because, inside this house, I’ve felt like a pariah, an untouchable.” It’s always interesting to see the Ewings’ double standards exposed, especially Ellie’s, even if it does turn Clayton into the injured party. “It was lovely of you of you to dine publicly with me at the Oil Barons' … like I was a discredited presidential candidate,” he continues. This is an even more direct reference to the Gary Hart scandal than Gordon Wales’ “digging up dirt on candidates may be hot right now” line to Alexis on DYNASTY a few months ago. “I am not going to live a sham,” Clayton concludes self-righteously. “I have to know if we are genuinely together or not.” Ellie capitulates meekly. “I want you here … for me,” she tells him in a small voice, and so it is they are reconciled.

    Elsewhere on DALLAS, drink still seems to be working for Ray Krebbs and Connie whose unexpected fling appears to be fuelled as much by alcohol as by desire. However, KNOTS LANDING’s Olivia, whose fiancee Harold has been banished to Miami, refuses to assuage her heartache with cocaine. “Drugs wouldn’t do any good,” she declares. Meanwhile, Cliff Barnes’ pill-popping continues. This has yet to have any major dramatic consequences, only an amusing effect on his speech patterns — during a business meeting with Casey Denault, his voice sounds like a warped cassette tape, first getting slower and slower and then suddenly speeding up.

    Like Maggie, Jill Bennett is back on the mineral water, but her relationship seems to have improved as a result. Meanwhile, a curious thing has happened to her hair. During her scenes with Gary, and any others in which she appears bubbly and cheerful, it is curly and untamed. During the scenes where her behaviour is calculated and secretive, such as when she is splicing together recordings of Ben’s voice to make a fake phone message for Val, it is dead straight. It’s almost as if she were Krystle and Rita combined in one person.

    Like Miss Ellie, Bobby is also accused of double standards this week — by loyal secretary Phyllis, of all people. To counter Senator O’Dell’s demand for a Scottish castle, he asks her to look into his past dealings with Jock and JR so he can find something to use against him. “I don’t see the difference, as far as morality goes, between blackmail and bribery,” says Phyllis. Bobby concedes her point and gives into O’Dell — well, sort of. Instead of buying him the castle, he presents him with a ninety-nine-year lease for it, only to be activated “the day Ewing Oil is mine again.” For some reason, Bobby seems to think this means he’s scored some kind of moral victory over O’Dell, but I’m not sure what it is. Still, O’Dell plays along and tells him what he wants to hear: “Nice touch, Bobby Ewing … I think you’re almost as smart as your daddy.”

    Over on FALCON CREST, Lance also has a meeting with a senator in Washington. (For all we know, he and Bobby are in the same government building at the same time.) While Bobby wants help getting the Ewing Oil name back, Lance has a different kind of favour to ask. “I am not gonna let Richard Channing get away, but I need your help. Together we can nail him,” he tells Senator Ryder. Whereas Bobby tried and failed to find dirt on O’Dell, Lance already knows Ryder’s secret: “You’re John Remick’s brother.” When Ryder, like O’Dell, appears reluctant to get involved, Lance appeals not his greed but to his conscience: “You’ve got a choice, Senator. You can help me, help your brother and maybe help your country, or you can sit there behind your desk.” Later in the episode, Ryder confirms that “Richard Channing made an illegal arms shipment to an African dictator my brother’s been fighting against.” He assures Lance that the FBI has been informed and an arrest is imminent. But then right at the end of the ep, Richard himself contacts the FBI. “I’d like to spill my guts if it’s not too late,” he says. Likewise, at the end of this week’s DALLAS, JR also appears to have turned over a new leaf — but we, the audience, know better. True, he does prove Clayton innocent of David Shulton’s murder (it was the future Charley St James whodunnit), but only as a means of getting Laurel Ellis into bed.

    The interest JR takes in what is really a B-List storyline gives this ep the feel of a stand-alone instalment from DALLAS’s early days. Indeed, one could imagine the whole Clayton/Laurel/Shulton/Lomax/JR plot being edited rather neatly into one hour-long episode.

    Ostensibly to shield her from the media scrutiny surrounding Clayton’s arrest, JR instals Laurel in the Ewing condo — more of a penthouse these days than when Kristin and then Mitch and Lucy lived in it. Laurel is grateful, even more so when JR tells her he can prove Clayton’s innocence. But then he drops the other cowboy boot. “If Harry doesn’t get a call from me,” he explains, pressing himself up against her, “he’s gonna put Lomax on a nonstop plane to London … Clayton’s fate is in your hands.” “So now the payoff,” she realises. “sex in return for freeing Clayton … You bastard!”

    JR’s rape of Holly Harwood five years earlier had a similar dynamic: the woman makes her position clear (Holly: “Take your hands off me, JR — I don’t want this”; Laurel: “Don’t touch me — I can’t stand you”), JR persists, not by using physical violence but a different form of coercion to force her into submission. The main difference between the two events is that this is not part of a bigger narrative for JR. Having dominance over Laurel isn’t tied to his season-long quest to take over West Star in the way that teaching Holly a lesson was a part of his ongoing efforts to win control of Ewing Oil. He rapes Laurel simply because he wants to. The show doesn’t refer to it as rape, of course. Instead, the episode ends on an ironic note with Clayton and Miss Ellie thanking him for saving the day. “My only motive was to help the family,” he insists (evoking the same ‘Spirit of the Ewings’ ideal that Clayton was so cynical about earlier). As far as everyone onscreen is concerned, it’s a happy ending. However, there remains a complicity between JR and the viewer — we alone understand the double meaning of his final line: “Oh Mama, you have no idea what getting Clayton off the hook meant to me.” And it’s this very complicity that first drew us to this man, this show, this genre nearly a decade earlier and kept us coming back week after week, season after season. A lot has happened since then, of course — characters have grown older and softer, the spectacle of Rich People Behaving Badly has lost most of its shock value and the genre as a whole has become increasingly familiar, even cosy at times. But as the frame freezes on an unrepentant JR chuckling, it’s almost, almost as if the episode is reminding us of those early days and saying, “This is what you fell for back then. This is the monster you created.”

    And this week’s Top 3 are …

    1 (4) DALLAS
    2 (2) KNOTS LANDING
    3 (3) FALCON CREST
     
    Last edited: Jun 28, 2018
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  19. James from London

    James from London Soap Chat Enthusiast

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    14 Apr 88: KNOTS LANDING: Just Desserts v. 15 Apr 88: DALLAS: Top Gun v. 15 Apr 88: FALCON CREST: King's Gambit

    Following her father’s fatal collapse at the end of last week’s DALLAS, Kimberly Cryder wastes no time in assigning blame. “You killed him, you bastard! You killed him!” she yells at JR in this week’s opening scene. Somewhat creatively, JR then shifts the responsibility to Sue Ellen. “If you’d have given me a divorce when I asked for it, that old man would be alive today,” he tells her.

    Underneath her anger, the person Kimberly really blames is herself. “I feel so awful, responsible,” she admits later in the ep. “If hadn’t tried to force [JR] to marry me, then maybe …” Self-recrimination is a bit of a trend in this week's Soap Land. “This whole thing between Shulton and Lomax was entirely my fault,” Clayton tells Laurel Ellis, somewhat bizarrely, in her final scene. Meanwhile on KNOTS, characters are lining up to take the blame for Olivia’s suicide attempt. “I should have spent more time with her … All the symptoms were there and I didn’t do anything,” frets Michael. “I should have seen it coming, I should have known,” insists Karen. “She did this because of me,” concludes Abby. All this angst is nicely undercut by Manny Vasquez who dismisses Olivia as “some screwed-up little teenybopper with a hormone problem … As far as I’m concerned, anyone stupid enough to try to commit suicide should succeed.” Perhaps to discourage any screwed-up little teenyboppers watching from trying the same thing at home, when Olivia is found following her overdose there is dried vomit around her mouth and nose. There was no evidence of anything so unglamorous when Amanda Carrington or Anne Matheson or even Cliff Barnes OD’d.

    Abby and Kimberly are each burdened by guilt. While the former keeps a vigil at her daughter’s bedside, Sue Ellen finds the latter praying in a Catholic church. (This is the Ewingverse’s second venture into Catholic territory this season following Meg’s baptism on KNOTS.) Both women attempt to atone by pulling out of a business venture. Abby, who has been cooking up a shady takeover scheme with Greg, changes her mind at the last minute. “It’s just not right,” she declares. “Right? What the hell has right got to do with anything?” asks Greg, baffled. Meanwhile, Kimberly chooses to withdraw from the battle for West Star just as it is about to reach its climax — until, that is, Sue Ellen persuades her otherwise. “JR’s drive to get West Star is what killed your daddy and that’s why we have to stop him,” she insists. “If we let JR win, it’ll be as if your father died for nothing.”

    Just as Abby appears to have drawn a moral line in the sand on KNOTS so Richard Channing does the same thing on FALCON CREST. Having contacted the FBI at the end of last week’s ep, he now warns them about “the economic holocaust” the Thirteen are planning to unleash upon America. There’s only one problem: all evidence of his association with Rosemont — in fact, all proof of the Thirteen’s existence — has been mysteriously erased, leaving the FBI with no-one to prosecute but Richard himself.

    Back on KNOTS, Jill Bennett is also wiping evidence. Having copied a key, she lets herself into Val’s house and proceeds to erase the recording of Ben’s fake phone message. How tense when Val and the kids arrive home unexpectedly and she has to make a dash for it! There’s more home invasion on DALLAS when clingy Connie steals into Ray’s house in the middle of the night, climbs the stairs to his bedroom and playfully puts a pillow over his face. He is not amused. An unusually ugly scene follows where Connie refuses to get the message and Ray has to spell it out for her: “I don’t want you, now or ever!” Even then, she gets the last word — the following morning, he finds a big red heart with both their initials painted on his front door. Like Ray, FALCON CREST's Maggie is asleep when she too is disturbed by an intruder. This time, it’s husband Richard and there is a happier outcome: he comes clean about the mess he’s in and promises to not keep any more secrets from her, and she agrees to return home with him.

    With David Shulton dead, Brett Lomax behind bars and Laurel on her way back to England, it’s farewell to the artsy youngsters on DALLAS and hello to a whole new set on KNOTS as Paige joins the archaeology dig in Santa Tecla. The two guys, Chava and Joel, immediately have the hots for her (“That woman’s gonna marry me and bear my children!” "I saw her first!") while the two girls, Rebecca and Debbie, roll their eyes as soon as her back is turned. (“I wonder how long she’s gonna last?” “Till she breaks her first nail.”)

    Among other things, this plot serves to show that, contrary to appearances, there’s more to Paige than just being a spoiled princess. Her interest in the dig seems genuine, she’s not afraid to get her hands dirty and, in order to keep the excavation from being closed down by the authorities (who are in the pay of Manny Vasquez), is resourceful enough to steal a piece of sculpture from the gallery where she works, smuggle it into Mexico and plant it on the site to make it look like “a genuine pre-Colombian artefact finally found in Santa Tecla.” None of which prevents her and Johnny from being caught red-handed by Chava in a really well-staged scene at the end of the ep. The handheld camera work, the fire set by Johnny to cause a distraction, the general sense of chaos and urgency all serve to turn a potential non-event (why, exactly, should we care about any of this?) into something quite exciting.

    While most foreign settings in Soap Land are depicted by little more than an establishing shot and a couple of hotel ceiling fans, we’re given what looks like an entire village to represent Santa Tecla. With its array of secondary characters (the young students, a corrupt police official, a kindly professor), it feels like a soap-within-a-soap — a Mexican version of the Hot Biscuit in DALLAS or Shula, Tennessee in KNOTS, if you will.

    “It’s probably gonna sound like it’s out of a movie,” Nicholas Pearce tells Sue Ellen before filling her in on his family’s Witness Protection Programme storyline. “It sounded like science fiction,” scoffs one of the FBI agents Richard is trying to convince of the Thirteen’s existence. Of course, Soap Land adapting scenarios from cinema and other literary sources is nothing new: William Shakespeare, Tennessee Williams and Alfred Hitchcock have all proved recurring influences over the years. The current Ray/Connie storyline on DALLAS, as well as being a gender reversal of the familiar stalker scenario (Jeff Wainwright and Maggie Gioberti, Roger Larsen and Lucy Ewing) echoes both FATAL ATTRACTION (a hit movie only the previous year) and PLAY MISTY FOR ME. Even more blatant is the resemblance between a current plot on FALCON CREST — Dan Fixx, strapped for cash, agrees to drive a truck of highly explosive nitroglycerin across the country — and that of the 1953 movie THE WAGES OF FEAR — Yves Montand, strapped for cash, agrees to drive a truck of highly explosive nitroglycerin through the mountains. FC being FC, there’s an obligatory murder/revenge twist tacked on for good measure. On the plus side, this means a groovy explosion, and as with Paige in Santa Tecla, an opportunity for Dan’s kid sister Carly to show her moxie as she rides to his rescue, but otherwise it’s just more anonymous would-be killer filler.

    Two devious faces from the past resurface unexpectedly this week. Jeremy Wendell makes a victorious return to West Star at the end of DALLAS — turns out he’s joined forces with Kimberly and Sue Ellen to stop JR getting his hands on the company. Meanwhile, Ursula Andress’s Madame Malec pops up in the back of a limousine with Eric Stavros on FALCON CREST — turns out she’s connected to the Thirteen and they have assigned her and the enjoyably unpredictable Eric to silence Richard once and for all!

    And this week’s Top 3 are …

    1 (2) KNOTS LANDING
    2 (1) DALLAS
    3 (3) FALCON CREST
     
    Last edited: Jul 6, 2018
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  20. James from London

    James from London Soap Chat Enthusiast

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    28 Apr 88: KNOTS LANDING: Discovery v. 29 Apr 88: DALLAS: Pillow Talk v. 29 Apr 88: FALCON CREST: As Tears Go By

    If the archaeological students in Santa Tecla are KNOTS’ equivalent of Laurel Ellis and her artsy pals on DALLAS then Chava would appear to be the David Shulton of the group, i.e., the blackmailer — at least, that’s Paige’s assumption after he keeps silent about her planting the statue at the dig site. “How much do you want?” she asks. “You’re gonna make me pay sooner or later and I’d rather it be sooner.” Interestingly, Chava interprets this as a racial slur: “Oh, I see. You’re in Mexico so you take one look at me and you assume that I want a bribe.”

    While Miss Ellie and Clayton’s Laurel-induced crisis is officially resolved when Ellie unexpectedly hands over half of Southfork to her husband (“I’ve found a good man to help me run the ranch, a man that my daddy would have been proud of”), Mack and Karen’s more lighthearted squabbles over Manny Vasquez take a surprisingly dramatic turn after Karen chastises Mack for being unnecessarily rude to him over dinner. “Manny Vasquez is dirty eight ways from Sunday!” Mack suddenly yells. “He’s running drugs through Lotus Point!”

    Karen’s realisation that she, Abby and Gary are in business with a serious crime organisation puts them in a similar position to the one Richard Channing has been for the past few weeks on FALCON CREST. Now, they must fight back. For Richard, the line the Thirteen crossed was when they revealed their plan to unleash economic devastation across the United States. (However much of a despot Richard may be in his own backyard, he evidently feels a sense of obligation to America in general. “If I don’t stop the Thirteen, who will?” he asks.) Abby’s motivation for stopping Manny’s operation is more personal: “Olivia was hooked on drugs. Well, somebody made a profit on those drugs. Those are the ones I wanna get — the people who are responsible for what happened to her … I want the one at the top.”

    The Lotus Point crew turn to the authorities who advise them to sit tight and do nothing. (“Don’t let these people know you’re suspicious … We’ll do everything we can. You tip our hand, they’ll bolt.”) Meanwhile, Richard, Maggie and Angela have yet to convince the authorities that the Thirteen even exist. To this end, they hatch an elaborate scheme which involves Angela infiltrating the Thirteen as their newest member.

    Gary Ewing, unhappy at the prospect of “sitting on our thumbs”, recalls a similar storyline from seven years earlier: “When I got involved in the stolen auto parts ring, they told me to wait. I waited. Sid died.” Meanwhile on DALLAS, Ellie takes Clayton to visit the grave of her brother Garrison (after whom Gary was named, of course) and recounts almost the entire plot of “Home Again”, a stand-alone episode from Season 1, as a prelude to gifting him half the ranch. (One of the fascinating things about this season has been watching DALLAS digging into its onscreen history to illuminate the present: Bobby comparing Pam’s burns to his mama’s mastectomy, Sue Ellen basing her three Ds on Jock’s three Bs, the flashbacks to Jeff Faraday and Kristin during the Lisa Alden story, recalling Jock’s relationships with Digger and Julie Grey through Cliff’s with Dandy Dandridge and Clayton’s with Laurel Ellis.) FALCON CREST, meanwhile, delves even further back into the past via an old map and a key that Melissa believes will unlock an ancient secret regarding the Agretti/Gioberti feud. This treasure hunt leads to some disused tunnels which provide her with plenty of opportunities to squeal, screech, scream and, inevitably, fall down a hole — very, very loudly. No Paige Matheson she when it comes to roughing it.

    While Miss Ellie is telling the story about her brother, I’m struck by Clayton’s complete lack of reaction to the part where Garrison comes back from the dead — but maybe after you’ve experienced your own son’s resurrection, anyone else’s isn’t that big of a deal. There’s another such return over on FALCON CREST. “I thought you were dead,” says Maggie to the back of a man’s head. Who could she be speaking to (or rather, who are we being teased into thinking she’s speaking to)? It's John Remick, now minus a leg, thus making him Soap Land’s very first amputee. It looks as if he may be the only person who can prove the Thirteen's existence — but will he testify to what he knows in front of a Senate committee in order to get Richard off the hook? A year ago, it was Donna Krebbs’ decision as to whether or not Andrew Dowling interceded with a Senate enquiry to keep the Ewing brothers out of jail. Now it’s Maggie turn. “I wanna hear it from you,” Remick insists. “Tell me that getting your husband off the hook is really gonna help you.”

    Maggie’s daughter Vicky is also called to testify at the hearing and finds herself caught between her mother (“I am asking you not to hurt Richard, … You owe me. I am calling in that debt”) and her husband (“Now it’s time to get Channing”). In the end, she sides with her mom, denying that Richard had her falsely imprisoned in Geneva, and she and Maggie are reconciled. Likewise on DALLAS, Jenna calls Ray from Europe to tell him she and Charlie are “a mother-daughter team again.” Conversely on KNOTS, relations between Olivia and Abby at an all-time low. “Everything she does makes me feel bad … I hate her,” seethes Olivia.

    The Senate hearing on FALCON CREST is impressive. The atmosphere is both more imposing and less formal than the courtroom set-ups we’re used to seeing in Soap Land, there are microphones and TV cameras everywhere, and the wearily cynical reactions from the Senate committee as various characters recount some of the season’s more bizarre events under oath are great. I wouldn’t be surprised if these scenes were based on the Senate committee hearings in THE GODFATHER, PART II; they’ve got the same kind of vibe. There’s something missing from the storytelling itself, however. It seems sort of fuzzy and vague. I’m not sure if my own ignorance is to blame — I’m still not entirely certain what a Senate committee hearing is — or if the plotting itself is unnecessarily convoluted.

    The fight for West Star may be over on this week’s DALLAS, but two figures are left slugging it out on the battlefield — JR and Sue Ellen. Watch these two go at each other with no holds barred is Soap Land at its most primal. All the familiar yet thrilling beats are here: Sue Ellen packing her bags and making a triumphant exit from Southfork, later returning for her son only to find JR has outwitted her (“Where is my son?” “Safe from you — now get the hell out of here!”), JR throwing her belongings over the balcony as the sheriff waits to escort her off the ranch, Sue Ellen bursting into his office with a writ (“You’re being ordered to produce John Ross within three days”), him retaliating with a below-the-belt wisecrack about her sex life (“How’s your young stud, Sue Ellen? Is youth everything it’s cracked up to be?”) — all accompanied by close-ups of glowering, hate-filled faces and a deliriously insistent, escalating score that adds to the intoxicating sense that the show is about to drive itself off the edge of a cliff.

    As we move ever closer to that edge, two of year’s most enjoyable, if slightly ludicrous, supporting characters make contrasting departures this week. After John Remick testifies in Richard’s favour at the hearing, Maggie follows him into the hallway outside to thank him. “You remind me so much of Chase,” she says before being momentarily distracted by some reporters. When she turns back around, Remick has seemingly disappeared into thin air. Over on DALLAS, JR is on the warpath after losing West Star — evicting Sue Ellen, firing Casey Denault and telling Bobby, “I’m the only real Ewing my daddy ever had.” He is rendered speechless, however, by the sight of Kimberly Cryder standing naked in his office telling him he could have had it all if he hadn’t been so greedy. FALCON CREST has a vaguely equivalent scene where Richard’s henchman Garth is about to fit Angela with a recording device prior to her meeting with the Thirteen. “Where does this go — under my jacket?” she asks. “Well, actually,” he replies hesitantly, “it would be better — you know, it would be much safer for you if — um — under your blouse.” Angela takes this in her stride and starts to undress. “Oh, don’t look so terrified,” she tells him casually. “I’m not gonna bite you.” This is a rare example of a comedic scene in FALCON CREST that is actually funny: the humour is allowed to arise naturally from the characters’ behaviour without anyone feeling obliged to "sell" the joke.

    When JR dumps him, Casey pleads for another chance to prove himself. “Don’t beg, boy,” chides JR. “I wasn’t begging!” he insists. But he was. When I first watched this season, I wanted Casey to be as cunning and ruthless an operator as Alan Beam had been, but I now see that the whole point of his character is that he isn’t like that, as much as he wants to be. He’s too desperate, too needy and too naive to make it in Soap Land. After leaving JR’s office, he tries to interest April in investing in the land he inherited from his father, but she dismisses him as “just another hustler”. “Who do you think you are, talking to me like that?” he snaps. “I heard when you came to Dallas, you had about a nickel to your name … If I had a pretty face like yours and a nice fine-looking body, I might not be in the position I’m in right now.” (From someone who spent almost the entirety of EMERALD POINT NAS walking around without a shirt on, that’s kind of ironic.) April’s response is fantastically cold: “You know something, Mr Denault? You’re just all the other bitter little people on the outside — you’re just trying to figure out how to get what you don’t have. Well, you’re not gonna get it from me.”

    Two of this week’s soaps contain a scene where one character plays a cassette tape for the benefit of another, fully confident that it will back up their previous claim. On KNOTS, Val asks Gary to listen to the answerphone message Ben left her. On FALCON CREST, Richard has Garth play the recording of Angela’s meeting with the Thirteen for Senators Ryder and Horton. In each case, the tape turns out to be blank. “This doesn’t make sense,” Val exclaims. “His voice was right here on this tape … Maybe one of the kids erased it … I didn’t make it up, I didn’t imagine it.” “I don’t understand,” mutters Garth. “The transmission was perfect … How could this be? Perhaps at the airport, the guard with the metal detector, if he had a demagnetiser …” “Either somebody erased it or it was never there in the first place,” Gary later speculates to Jill who, as we’ve already seen, stole Ben’s tape and then burnt it. “Obviously, somebody told the Thirteen about our plan. The question is who?” muses Richard.

    A revelation towards the end of their respective episodes pulls the rug out from under Karen, Abby and Gary on KNOTS, and Richard, Angela and Maggie on FALCON CREST and makes it clear that the situation they are caught up is even bigger than they thought, perhaps even exceeding the jurisdiction of Soap Land itself. “We’ve been asked to halt the investigation of Manny Vasquez,” the Lotus Point gang’s police contact tells them. “He’s an essential part of several covert operations outside our borders … Manny Vasquez is working for us.” Meanwhile, Senator Ryder admits to the FALCON CREST gang that he’s known about the Thirteen’s existence all along. “I’m just the fall guy in this little charade,” Richard realises. “The more it looked like the Thirteen didn’t exist, the safer they would feel …” “We were waiting for them to make their move and fall into our brilliant trap,” Ryder explains. Now that they’ve gone back underground, he wants to postpone the hearings. This puts the FC gang in the same “sit tight and do nothing” position as their KL counterparts. For once, Gary Ewing and Angela Channing are on the same page. “Look, if the government’s not gonna do something about it, I think we should,” says Gary. “Senator Ryder, if you don’t pursue this immediately, we will,” says Angela.

    KNOTS and DALLAS each end on a note of violence: “We’ve been subtle long enough. Just get rid of them. Make it look as if the Mexicans did it,” orders Manny Vasquez, referring to the archeological group which now includes not just Paige, but Karen’s son Michael. Meanwhile, Ray Krebbs wakes in the middle of the night to find Connie hovering over him, a carving knife poised in midair. Funnily enough, FALCON CREST starts almost exactly where DALLAS left off, with Richard waking up in his Washington hotel room next to the dead body of Madame Malec — the Thirteen’s equivalent of leaving a mint on the pillow, presumably.

    And this week’s Top 3 are …

    1 (2) DALLAS
    2 (1) KNOTS LANDING
    3 (3) FALCON CREST
     
    Last edited: Jul 12, 2018
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