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 Mega Star

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    14 Feb 91: KNOTS LANDING: In the Dog House v. 15 Feb 91: DALLAS: Smooth Operator

    There’s a new kind of knottiness in this week’s KNOTS. Instead of most of the characters being tangled up in the same plot, this season’s compartmentalised storylines, which have varied greatly in style and content, from screwball comedy to social commentary to soap opera pastiche, now start to rub up against and impact one another. For instance, Val’s wacky brain virus (pastiche) has led to her being hospitalised, leaving her house empty for Mack to hide Jason from his father and the authorities (social comment). The near-silent scene where Gary discovers Jason in Val’s bedroom and then leaves without saying anything is a fascinating instance of When Storylines Collide.

    Mack is jailed after he refuses to disclose Jason’s whereabouts. When Paige goes to see him, it’s not just a daughter visiting her father behind bars, it’s a character crossing over from one genre — the soapy, not-a-hair-out-of-place corporate world of the Sumner Group — to another, more self-consciously “real” one, where Mack quotes non-fictional statistics at her: “You know how many cases of child abuse or child neglect were reported to social services last year? One hundred and fourteen thousand. Reported. How many went unreported — twice as many? Ten times as many? That’s just one part of one state. Paige, what’s it like nationwide?” “One person isn’t gonna change the world,” Paige replies from inside her escapist soap bubble. “The world will change when enough people, one at a time, decide to make a change,” he insists.

    Later, after Claudia, just for the hell of it, tells her about Anne’s attempts to steal her trust fund, Paige finds herself straddling genres again as she compares her morally-crusading dad with her screwball comedy mom. “I can’t believe I have a father who would go to jail to protect a kid off the street and a mother who would wanna steal from her own child!” she exclaims angrily.

    While Paige evicts Anne from her apartment (“You have a suitcase and a mutt. Take ‘em with you when you leave”), the Ewing boys are in a more hospitable mood. Gary extends an invitation to Jason, via Karen, to hide out at his ranch and JR adopts a more welcoming attitude to James and Michelle at Southfork. “I wish you’d known your granddaddy,” JR tells his son. “His shoes are gonna be hard to fill. Maybe you can do it … I’m rooting for you, boy. I want you to make me proud.” When she sees James softening towards his father, Michelle is disgusted: “He starts playing daddy and you wag your tail and start begging for another bone!” This conflict is exactly what JR intended. “I’m gonna give him the father he always wanted. He’s gonna be so happy to call me Daddy and we’re gonna team together and push that little tramp Michelle right outta Ewing Oil,” he explains to Sly.

    However, the best parent/child confrontation of the week occurs when Steve Brewer comes face to face with Claudia Whittaker. She quickly sees through his story about interviewing Kate for a magazine and brands him a fraud. He responds with a great speech that places an archetypal Soap Land revelation in a striking real-world context: “You know, a couple of years back, I got a shot in El Salvador of a woman with an automatic weapon in one hand and a baby in the other. I’ve seen women throw themselves on their children in a mortar blast. Most of the time, they didn’t get up. I’ve seen women completely submerged in rivers, holding their babies above their heads to get them to safety. I’ve seen mothers commit suicide from the grief of losing a child. I always wondered what kind of mother you were. I always wondered what it would be like, what I would do when I finally met you. I’m the kid you never expected, never wanted to see. I’m the son you gave away.”

    At the other end of the maternal scale, and much to Bobby Ewing’s surprise, Jory Taylor paints a totally different picture of her mother, Hilary. Turns out she’s actually her stepmother. “Dad died when I was eight,” Jory explains. “I don’t think Hilary was any older than I am now. She could have dumped me anywhere. She didn’t. She loved me and cared for me just as if I were her own daughter.”

    DALLAS makes another TWIN PEAKS reference this week, even more blatant than the cherry pie closeup a few weeks ago. While hanging out with Jory and her gal pals, Malibu Bobby gets stuck listening to a coked-up TV wannabe who has just pitched “a great thirty-minute drama. It’s all about this dwarf that sings backwards … a woman that talks to logs … a couple of jelly doughnuts.” This suggests that either TWIN PEAKS doesn’t yet exist in the Ewingverse or the guy is so coked off his tits he doesn’t know what he’s gibbering on about.

    Just as KNOTS has now become a mishmash of styles, Malibu Bobby gets sidetracked into a generic action-adventure story involving shady looking men with slicked-back hair and dark glasses, airhead air stewardesses and trashed apartments. None of this feels like it has much to do with anything, but Bobby’s reaction to Jory discovering a strange pawn ticket in her purse is deemed significant enough to warrant the end of episode freeze frame.

    Characters converging on one place resulting in an almighty cliffhanger is something of a speciality on KNOTS — the Belmar Hotel at the end of Season 5 being a prime example. There is a similar convergence at the end of this week’s ep, but of storylines rather than people. Gary is about to leave the ranch to pick up Jason from the cul-de-sac but is waylaid by the sudden appearance of Val who has checked herself the hospital because she believes he’s seeing another woman. After talking to the twins, she becomes convinced that the woman is Anne. Back at the cul-de-sac, Paige is babysitting Meg while Mack and Karen are in court. Jason’s uncles — more shady looking men with slicked-back hair and dark glasses — show up looking for him. There’s some tense cross-cutting between Mack defending himself in court and a heated argument on the Mackenzies’ front lawn between Paige and the uncles. Jason, on the lookout for Gary, watches from Val’s house, and when Paige is knocked to the ground, he runs outside to defend her. The uncles make a grab him, he and Paige fight back, but are soon overpowered. The uncles bundle Jason into their car and speed off. (There’s something quite poignant about Paige and Jason, characters from opposite ends of the KNOTS spectrum, trying to protect one another before they’ve even met.)

    And this week’s Top 2 are …

    1 (2) KNOTS LANDING
    2 (1) DALLAS
     
    Last edited: Sep 7, 2019
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  2. Avery Merry Christmas

    Avery Merry Christmas Super Moderator Staff Member

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    Poor Jason just goes from one beat-down to the next. I wonder if he won the role not because of his acting, but because he could convincingly wear all that black-and-blue make-up.
     
  3. Wintry North Poleson

    Wintry North Poleson SoapLand Battles Moderator

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    We're used to good guys being revealed as bad guys, but the opposite scenario feels a bit more challenging i.e. I'd need a moment to process the information.
    It was a recurring dilemma in THE AMERICANS, and also one of the reasons why I like it so much.
     
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  4. Knots Blogger

    Knots Blogger Soap Chat Active Member

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    I’m really gonna nerd out here. I love Twin Peaks and it’s my favorite series (old one, I hated the new one). Peaks ran a brief 14 months from April 8th, 1990, to June 10th, 1991. When watching Dallas, when Pam woke up to find Bobby in the shower, in my brain I just subrtracted a year and figured since 1985-1986 was a dream, now the 1986-1987 season was actually spanning 1985-1986, that basically the last six seasons are not 1986-1991 but rather 1985-1990. With that in mind, if an episode airing in February of 1991 is actually a year in the past, it would be February of 1990 and so TWIN PEAKS is still two months away. This timeline theory helps me sleep at night but it’s also contradicted at least once when James makes a reference to the Bush administration, but the episode should be 1988 so it’d still be the last days of the Reagan administration. Of course I’m probably putting more thought into this than the creators and writers ever did when they decided to erase season 9.

    BTW I’m also interested in how often DALLAS keeps winning in your face offs cuz I can’t think of anything I’d want to do less than watch the final season of DALLAS (or any season after Bobby’s death), but your enthusiasm for this era makes me wonder if I’m being narrow minded.
     
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  5. Avery Merry Christmas

    Avery Merry Christmas Super Moderator Staff Member

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    I've noticed that when producers learn their show is in its final season (that is, whether they've decided to pull the plug or the network tells them they're not being renewed ahead of time), they take a lot of risks and do a lot of the things they have likely wanted to do for a long time. Perhaps they feel it's not going to matter if they screw the pooch because they won't have to answer for it, story-wise. Also, the final season might be their time to write interesting developments/plotlines that the actors had begged for, but could not do because the network balked.

    Having never watched Dallas, I read with great interest the plot point where JR had slept with one of his longtime secretaries. I'd always assumed a cad like JR slept with all his secretaries on the regular, but JFL wrote about this tryst with a certain level of surprise, as if some unspoken wall had been torn down. I have no way of knowing for sure, but I guess this is the sort of action the producers had held off on writing back when the show was still operating as an open-ended soap opera. The entire final season of Falcon Crest played out like this, a sort of "Let's just go absolutely balls-to-the-wall for the final season," and though the memories of it still make me want to gag, there were many people who enjoyed it for that "no rulebook" attitude. Shows that know they're on their way out might lapse into self-indulgence and create bad memories if they let this devil-may-care attitude take over (I'm recalling that dreadful final season of Roseanne) but most shows don't get a lot of advanced notice of their cancellation.

    I think season fourteen of Knots Landing did not fall into that same trap for two reasons: their reduced licensing fee led to a shorter season, and the producers adopted an attitude that they needed to go out on a high note as a 'thank you' to viewers who had kept the show viable for so long. There simply wasn't time for much self-indulgence or fluff in a nineteen-episode season when they wanted to tell twenty-two episodes' worth of story. The necessity of excluding certain actors from several episodes each led to some problematic storytelling, but they managed to end on a lot of happy endings (no cliffhangers) and even managed to bring back several fan favorites. I'd go so far as to say season fourteen, despite being a "final season" would score in the upper-third if I were ranking the seasons by enjoyment. Not many shows can look upon their final seasons with pride.
     
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  6. James from London

    James from London Soap Chat Mega Star

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    Of course! The dream year! Why didn't I think of that!

    Oh, I think there's lots of really interesting stuff this side of the Dream Season. (But then, I also loved the new series of TWIN PEAKS!)

    JR did indeed sleep with all his secretaries during the first few seasons, but it inevitably resulted in them leaving the show, one way or another. I guess they figured they'd told that story enough times so then they gave him Sly, who remained a loyal non-sexual sidekick and sounding board for ten years until they finally did the deed.

    Looking at it another way, smaller budgets and diminished casts means they're obliged to think outside the box, to come up with other ways of storytelling. Necessity becomes the mother of invention. In each case, the results were fascinating.
     
    Last edited: Sep 8, 2019
  7. Steven Wayne

    Steven Wayne Soap Chat Member

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    I don’t think the DALLAS production team calculated the year covered by Pam‘s dream the way you did. I remember rather clearly that a cheque that Sue Ellen gave to Mr Valentine was dated 1986, rather close to the date that the episode aired. I’m sorry if this opens old wounds... o_O
     
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  8. Treeviewer

    Treeviewer Soap Chat Dream Maker

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    The same quibble, albeit a shorter time span, would apply to the way following seasons pick up immediately from the cliffhanger despite a several months' break in real time.
     
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  9. Knots Blogger

    Knots Blogger Soap Chat Active Member

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    When you finish this please get started on 90210 VS Melrose Place VS Models Inc
     
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  10. James from London

    James from London Soap Chat Mega Star

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    28 Feb 91: KNOTS LANDING: Bad Dog v. 01 Mar 91: DALLAS: Win Some, Lose Some

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    And this week’s Top 2 are …

    1 (1) KNOTS LANDING
    2 (2) DALLAS

    NOOOO!!!!
     
    Last edited: Sep 11, 2019
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  11. Wintry North Poleson

    Wintry North Poleson SoapLand Battles Moderator

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    Did you know that most Sidney Sheldon novels start with a teaser like that? I'm always intrigued by this kind of backwards storytelling, starting with a (unknown) climax caused by seemingly unrelated or seemingly innocent events.
    Dirty Sasha.
    All this conniving and backstabbing reminds me of I Claudius, except that the "head on a platter" would have been less figurative.
    Agree.
    Phew!

    But I hope it continues with other soaps, TNT Dallas, Empire, maybe even NuDynasty? Are there any concrete plans?
     
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  12. James from London

    James from London Soap Chat Mega Star

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    I can't wait to watch New DALLAS again. The others would be fun too!
     
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  13. Wintry North Poleson

    Wintry North Poleson SoapLand Battles Moderator

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    It would be interesting to see Dallas and Blood & Oil battling in a weekly top 3 (or 4)

    I can't think of any other similar prime time soaps of the 2010s.
     
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  14. Franko

    Franko Soap Chat Member

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    I'm gonna have to be the party pooper and point out that unfortunately, almost none of the soaps in the 2010s have runs which coincided with each other. Nu-Dallas was off the air when Empire and Blood and Oil aired.

    For that matter, Dynasty: The Reunion aired on a week that Knots didn't air a new episode. The versus-verse appears to be down to just six or so more posts.

    Personally, I'm a little bummed that we won't be getting James' thoughts on Season 14. I date back to the era when he did season by season rundowns and if memory serves, he made it all the way to the start of Ann Marcus' era (mid-Season 13).

    I should also note that I totally understand why he wouldn't want to do 90210 vs. Melrose, etc. If they haven't already, things get pretty knotty through the '90s and beyond. I wanted to do my own look at "teen soaps," which would mean I'd have to cut Melrose and start at 1994 (90210, Party of Five, My So-Called Life). Then there's the question of do I count something like The Vampire Diaries and, again, it's nearly 30 years of programming.
     
    Last edited: Sep 12, 2019
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  15. Avery Merry Christmas

    Avery Merry Christmas Super Moderator Staff Member

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    Diabetic shock? Projectile vomiting?
     
  16. Wintry North Poleson

    Wintry North Poleson SoapLand Battles Moderator

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  17. Knots Blogger

    Knots Blogger Soap Chat Active Member

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    Sad to see such negative reactions to my incredible 90210 VS MELROSE VS MODELS INC plan. I would like to note however that I’m really only a Melrose fan, I’ve watched every season twice, I’ve only seen the first season of 90210 and it was pretty bad, I wanted to watch more but Hulu is missing tons of eps and the music is missing, too, so I gave up.
     
  18. James from London

    James from London Soap Chat Mega Star

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    07 Mar 91: KNOTS LANDING: Gone Microfiching v. 08 Mar 91: DALLAS: Fathers and Sons and Fathers and Sons

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    And this week’s Top 2 are …

    1 (2) DALLAS
    2 (1) KNOTS

    Sorry, KB!
    Yes, if I was gonna do 90210 and MELROSE I'd also have to do the other soaps like SAVANNAH and CENTRAL PARK WEST and also the teen soaps that Franko mentioned as well as DAWSON'S CREEK, and maybe even BUFFY and ANGEL and it would be never-ending. I think the problem is that in the 90s, the difference between soap and drama starts to break down, and you end up moving further and further away from the type of series that prompted this thread in the first place.

    Good memory -- that must be about ten years ago!

    (I'm gonna cheat.)
     
    Last edited: Sep 14, 2019
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  19. Franko

    Franko Soap Chat Member

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    A battle of the reunion movies would be mighty nice. Just throwing it out there.
     
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  20. James from London

    James from London Soap Chat Mega Star

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    28 Mar 91: KNOTS LANDING: Upwardly Mobile v. 29 Mar 91: DALLAS: When the Wind Blows

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    And this week’s Top 2 are …

    1 (1) DALLAS
    2 (2) KNOTS LANDING
     
    Last edited: Sep 18, 2019
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