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 Star

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    31/Oct/83: EMERALD POINT N.A.S: Episode 6 v. 02/Nov/83: DYNASTY: The Hearing (2) v. 03/Nov/83: KNOTS LANDING: ...And Never Brought to Mind v. 04/Nov/83: DALLAS: Check and Mate v. 04/Nov/83: FALCON CREST: The Wages of Sin v. 05/Nov/83: THE YELLOW ROSE: Sins of the Father

    Minor Trend of the Week #1: Girls committing perjury. At Casey Denault's court martial on EMERALD POINT, his fiancée Hilary pretends not to have had an affair with the murder victim, while Kay Mallory claims that she (Kay) has. Over at the Carrington custody hearing on DYNASTY, Sammy Jo bears false witness against ex-husband Steven, claiming that he was having all kinds of affairs with men while they were married.

    While bad girls Hilary and Sammy Jo acquit themselves convincingly, good girl Kay copes less well. In fact, not since Claudia Blaisdel at Blake’s murder trial has anyone in Soap Land fallen apart so completely on the witness stand. Whereas Claudia’s plight was genuinely moving, watching Kay cave in so easily under cross-examination - not only does she admit to lying under oath, she also blurts out that Hilary was the one having the affair and that she herself is secretly in love with Casey Denault - is laugh out loud funny. (In fact, this week’s EMERALD POINT is its most enjoyable ep so far.)

    Towards the end of this week’s DYNASTY and FALCON CREST, Judge Kendall gets ready to deliver his ruling in Danny Carrington's custody case and Judge Leeds prepares to pass sentence on Julia Cumson. The night before the respective hearings, whilst Danny’s father Steven and Julia’s son Lance anxiously await the verdicts, the women in their lives prove to be more pro-active. Claudia shows up at Steven’s door with a suitcase and an excited smile on her face. “I’m not going to let you lose your son, Steven,” she announces. "I can stop Blake. I’ve got the answer!” Lance, meanwhile, lies awake next to his wife Melissa. “I’d rather be anywhere than in that courtroom tomorrow,” he broods, unaware that Melissa has secretly being visiting his mother in jail, encouraging her to seek the death penalty.

    Soap Land's legal issues don’t end there. Only five weeks after Gary Ewing was acquitted of killing Ciji, his half-brother Ray and mother-in-law Lilimae are both arrested, more or less simultaneously - Ray for the murder of Mickey Trotter on DALLAS, Lilimae for the attempted murder of Chip Roberts on KNOTS LANDING.

    Whilst Ray’s wife Donna has to fight her way through a swarm of reporters outside the DALLAS hospital, Ben Gibson is on hand to shield Val from the press at the KNOTS LANDING police station. In the midst of the chaos surrounding them, Lilimae and Ray both remain calm, apparently indifferent to the consequences of their actions. As far as they are concerned, running down Chip and pulling the plug on Mickey’s life support system were the right things to do, irrespective of the law. “Chip is a killer,” Lilimae insists. “I only did what needed to be done.” “What mattered was Mickey and all the pain he was going through,” declares Ray. “I did what I had to do.” Val and Donna are as shocked by their loved ones’ attitudes as much as by their actions. “Who appointed you judge and jury?” Val asks her mama. "Nobody has the right to play God!” despairs Donna.

    Meanwhile, it’s all JR and Abby can do to keep a straight face. In fact, they don't even try. “That half-breed Ray Krebbs got himself arrested,” JR gloats over drinks with Katherine Wentworth. "With any luck, he’ll be in jail for ten to fifteen years.” “I’ve always known that beneath that 'batty little old lady' exterior there beat the heart of a killer,” laughs Abby when Laura tells her about Lilimae.

    The reactions of Pam and Gary Ewing are also interesting. Gary receives notification of his divorce from Val in the same scene that he hears about Lilimae’s arrest, but still feels compelled to rush to Val's side. Pam, divorced from Bobby an episode and a half ago, has a similar urge to be with the Ewings following Ray’s arrest. Neither of their current partners approves. "Gary, you’ve gotta stop jumping every time these people snap their fingers,” insists Abby. “Why is it every time I feel you’re free of the Ewing family something happens that pulls you right back?” Mark Graison asks Pam impatiently. While Pam resists the urge to visit Southfork, Gary heads straight for the police station where he finds himself surplus to requirements and is left making awkward conversation with Ben.

    Where Lilimae and Ray both seem resigned to their fates, FALCON CREST’s Julia is practically suicidal. “My whole life is turning into one enormous nightmare,” she sobs. "I don’t even want to live.” She seizes upon Melissa’s suggestion of the death penalty as if it were a light at the end of the tunnel. Has any Soap Land character ever been in such a grim place? Indeed, the death penalty element means there’s a much darker vibe to Julia’s story than there is to any of the other current murder cases in Soap Land, of which there are five. (DYNASTY is the only show where no one is presently charged with either murder or attempted murder.)

    Paradoxically, FALCON CREST also provides the most tender courtroom moment of the week. When Angela Channing - ordinarily one of Soap Land’s most devious characters - is asked at Julia’s sentencing hearing why her daughter should be shown leniency, she is surprisingly sincere. “I'm her mother,” she replies simply. "It wasn’t too many years ago that I held her in my arms. She isn’t evil and terrifying - she’s ill."

    The moment where Julia asks to be sentenced to death is chilling. When she is instead condemned to life imprisonment in a maximum security prison "without the possibility of parole" it really does feel like a fate worse than death. Angela’s anguished reaction underlines the awfulness of it all. That we should find ourselves caring at all, either about Julia - whose identity as a killer still doesn't really make sense - or Angela - arguably the coldest, most consistently cruel character in all of Soap Land - is a testimony to the pulpy potency of the genre, FALCON CREST in particular.

    The dysfunctional relationships between Steven and Blake in DYNASTY and Julia and Angela in FALCON CREST aren’t the only parent/child conflicts to spill over into the courtroom. On this week’s YELLOW ROSE, having already been viciously beaten by his father Jeb’s cane earlier in the ep, coke-addicted buffoon Lenny Hollister is arrested for both murder and the importation of illegal drugs. This leads to a public outburst at his indictment. “I’m here because I wanted a way out,” Lenny shouts at his father’s retreating back. "I wanted a way out from all of your tender lovin’ care!"

    Minor Trend of the Week #2: Divorced couples winding up in bed together. On DYNASTY, Fallon and Jeff fly to Montana to investigate Adam’s past. Plane trouble obliges them to spend the night in a hotel. Over dinner, the wine flows, one thing leads to another and they end up in each other’s arms. On KNOTS LANDING, a disturbed Lilimae turns up at Gary’s ranch in the middle of the night looking for Diana. Gary drives her back to the cul-de-sac. He then stays to comfort Val, one thing leads to another and they end up in each other’s arms.

    While Kirby waits patiently at home for Jeff, whiling away the hours playing Beethoven’s "Moonlight Sonata" on the piano, Abby packs a suitcase and walks out on Gary. Her secret hope is that by forcing the issue, he will ask her to marry him before his Ewing Oil inheritance comes through. This episode of KNOTS concludes with a week still to go until the battle for Ewing Oil finishes. On the following night’s DALLAS, however, that same fight is over by the end of the ep. The disparity can be explained away by the narrative time jump that followed Mickey’s relapse on last week’s DALLAS.

    On FALCON CREST, Richard Channing is in a parallel situation to Abby. Just as JR tipped Abby off about Gary’s inheritance, Richard has had a sneak preview of his mother’s will. In a reverse of the situation set up by Jock’s will on DALLAS, Richard's inheritance is contingent on him and half-brother Chase becoming friends. While Abby only has a week to get Gary to marry her, Richard has the same length of time to convince Chase of his sincere desire to call a truce between them.

    As well as helping Abby to land Gary, JR also gives his blessing to Katherine Wentworth in her perusal of Bobby. (“Pretty soon you’ll have him all to yourself,” he assures her.) If he’s not careful, he'll end up with two ruthless sisters-in-law.

    Richard Channing’s efforts to impress his brother (first he writes a sensitive article about Julia, then he offers Maggie a job at the Globe) pay off as Chase grudgingly agrees to bury the hatchet just in time for the reading of the will. At the end of this week’s DALLAS, an equally reluctant Bobby agrees to his father’s posthumous request that he and JR “put your arms around each other and work that company like brothers.” On THE YELLOW ROSE, Colleen makes a similar appeal for sibling conciliation, urging Chance to tell Roy that he is his half-brother. “There’s no way me and Roy are ever gonna wear the same harness,” insists Chance. “OK, so you got the short end of the stick,” Colleen acknowledges. "You did the hard time - you got left on a doorstep while your brother came home in a blue blanket, worked with your hands while your brother went to college. So what? Maybe Roy did it have it better, but he didn’t have it any easier."

    In the same week that JR and Bobby agree to run Ewing Oil together, and Pam and Cliff join forces at Barnes-Wentworth, another long-term business partnership commences, as Karen and Abby discover on this week’s KNOTS that they are co-owners in “a fourplex on the coast near Lotus Point”, left to them by Abby’s uncle. While JR initially uses Bobby’s post-divorce depression to try and trick him out of his rightful share (“When he comes out of that funk of his, he’ll find that I have fifty-one percent of Ewing Oil”), Abby attempts to take advantage of Karen’s preoccupied state to buy her off. However, Bobby ends up trumping JR in the contest while Karen sees through Abby’s ruse. She then gives Abby's emissary, Laura, a blistering telling off that puts the final nail in their friendship.

    There's also some bittersweet reminiscing in this week’s Soap Land. “I was fifteen when I met her,” recalls Gary of Val on KNOTS. "When she smiles or turns her head a certain way, I get a glimpse of exactly the way she used to be.” While Jeff describes Fallon as “the first girl I ever loved” on DYNASTY, he also thinks she’s changed for the better. "I’m really impressed with the way you’ve turned out,” he tells her, "a lot different to the girl-woman I married.” Conversely, for Sue Ellen on DALLAS, the Bobby Ewing of today doesn’t quite measure up to the one she first met. "JR’s kid brother - you were so sweet and dashing and handsome,” she tells him. “You’re still quite handsome, only the sweetness has gone - and the naiveté. I see a sadness in you now.” She goes on to compare him to young Peter Richards. “Life is important to him, Bobby - not business, not deals, but life … If he doesn’t look for the things that are important to you, then maybe he’ll grow up to be as wholesome as he is right now.” The same theme is touched upon elsewhere in this week’s Soap Land. “If this is what Falcon Crest does to people, I say we get out,” Lance tells his grandmother. A more pragmatic note is sounded by Greg Sumner on KNOTS. “Power not only corrupts, it also gets things done!” he insists.

    “It’s hard to fall out of love,” laments Holly Harwood as she and Bobby say their goodbyes on this week’s DALLAS. “You know what hurts? There’s someone out there who’s gonna end up with you - and it won’t be me.” This rueful admission echoes Janet Baines’ to Mack in last week’s KNOTS: “Some stupid part of me thought that it was OK for us not to be right, as long as you weren’t right with someone else.” Janet and Holly manage to walk away from Mack and Bobby with their feelings hurt but their dignity intact. Each is a rare example of a Soap Land woman who can experience unrequited feelings for a man without needing to strike back in some way, e.g. commit perjury or murder, or destroy his marriage or business empire.

    Chip Roberts follows in the wake of Mickey Trotter and Chase Gioberti to become Soap Land Memorial Hospital’s third coma patient of the season. Eerily, he loses consciousness without warning, without even closing his eyes, midway through a conversation with Diana. They’re discussing their idealised future in New York - the fantasy destination of so many Soap Land dreamers - when he begins muttering about “the trees on the mountain … I thought there were trees”. He then abruptly lapses into a trancelike state. The image of a tree as a kind of final resting place recurs on both DALLAS, when Ray suggests to Lil that Mickey be buried on Southfork ("There’s this corner up above the meadow beneath this big old tree. He used to go up there whenever he wanted to be by himself. I just keep thinkin’ how much he might have liked it if we laid him to rest up there”), and on THE YELLOW ROSE where Big John, having taken a bullet in the gut from the bad guys, suddenly dies in Chance’s arms following their horseback escape. Chance’s eyes fill with angry tears, before the final shot of the scene shows the two men from a distance, slumped in the shade of a tree, horse munching quietly on the grass beside them. John’s unexpected demise seems to break the rules of TV grammar in a similar way to Sid’s on KNOTS LANDING: He can’t die now - they’ve already eluded the bad guys! They’ve just been quipping and laughing! It’s not even the end of the episode!

    As gorgeous as KNOTS LANDING and DALLAS often appear this season, they don’t look anywhere near as striking as this week’s YELLOW ROSE. Some of the cinematography is quite unique. Viewing THE YELLOW ROSE, I get the same excited can-this-really-be-as-good-as-I-think-it-is? feeling as I sometimes do when watching New DALLAS, or as I did when I first stumbled upon other hidden (at least to me) gems of the soap genre: PEYTON PLACE, KNOTS LANDING Season 11, the final year of FALCON CREST.

    The end of this YELLOW ROSE instalment, its fifth, has an air of tentative resolution about it, strongly reminiscent of the end of DALLAS’s fifth episode, “Barbecue”. Back then, Bobby and Pam decided to leave Southfork in the wake of a tragedy, Pam’s miscarriage, and it was only an appeal from an unlikely source, Jock, that persuaded them to stay on. An uneasy truce between Pam and the Ewings was forged, which paved the way for the rest of the series. Following Big John’s death on THE YELLOW ROSE, Chance announces that he too is planning to leave. This time, it’s Roy, who has been openly suspicious of Chance since Episode 1, who asks him to stay. Turns out he has already intuited that he and Chance share the same daddy: “Man should take what God gave him, Chance ... You and me have got the same blood in us, the same damn stubborn streak … This is your range too.” "I figured you knew,” Chance replies. "Seems like there oughta be more to this somehow.” Damn straight there oughta be. Roy merely sensing the truth about something so significant robs THE YELLOW ROSE of the kind of Big Revelation Scene on which the primetime soap genre traditionally thrives. However, it is also another instance of THE YELLOW ROSE subverting Soap Land convention and being all the stronger for it.

    And this week’s Top 6 are … man, it’s a close one ...

    1 (4) THE YELLOW ROSE
    2 (5) FALCON CREST
    3 (1) KNOTS LANDING
    4 (2) DALLAS
    5 (3) DYNASTY
    6 (6) EMERALD POINT N.A.S

    Thanks! Which of the shows are you re-watching?
     
  2. James from London

    James from London Soap Chat Star

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    07/Nov/83: EMERALD POINT N.A.S: Episode 7 v. 09/Nov/83: DYNASTY: Tender Comrades v. 10/Nov/83: KNOTS LANDING: Sacred Vows v. 11/Nov/83: DALLAS: Ray's Trial v. 11/Nov/83: FALCON CREST: The Last Laugh v. 12/Nov/83: THE YELLOW ROSE: Breaking Trail

    This week marks Soap Land’s first ever miscarriage of justice when the court-martial on EMERALD POINT finds Casey Denault responsible for the death of Tony from FLAMINGO ROAD. While there have been false accusations and subsequent arrests aplenty, this is the first time anyone has been found guilty of a crime they didn’t commit. That such an error should be committed by the US navy - an institution so revered on EMERALD POINT that the only characters to criticise it are depicted as neurotically unhappy women, unscrupulous businessmen or mercenaries for hire - is all the more unexpected.

    Casey is found guilty of voluntary manslaughter instead of murder which means he doesn’t have to go to jail. He is, however, dismissed from the navy which for him is just as bad. “My whole life is gonna be a prison from now on,” he states. Lilimae Clements, meanwhile, is subject to another kind of symbolic sentence on this week’s KNOTS LANDING when a very reluctant Val commits her to a short stay at the Soap Land Sanitarium. It's a legal manoeuvre to help her avoid a longer jail sentence for running down Chip, but Lilimae is nevertheless devastated. Still, at least her room has cable TV and she receives a warm welcome upon her arrival. “Lake Vale is going to be just like your home, Mrs Clements,” she is courteously informed. That’s more than can be said for Julia's new abode on FALCON CREST. "End of the line, sister. Garden party's over!” she is told when she arrives at the state penitentiary to begin her life sentence for murder. There follows the customary removal of jewellery - previously undergone by Val and Sue Ellen Ewing after their arrests - a ritual to symbolise the stripping away of any remaining vestiges of Soap Land glamour or privilege.

    On a more celebratory note, there are no less than three weddings in Soap Land this week. First Steven and Claudia do the deed on DYNASTY, then Gary and Abby tie the knot on KNOTS, and finally Cole and Linda are fused together on FALCON CREST. The first two couples have known each other for three whole seasons - quite a feat in Soap Land's fasting moving world. While neither union is exactly a cold-hearted business transaction (“I’ve loved you for such a long time,” says Steven, in bed with his new bride. “From the first minute I ever saw you I wanted you,” says Abby, in bed with her new groom) there are ulterior motives at play in both cases. By marrying Claudia, Steven gets to keep custody of his son (the suit over Danny is dismissed when the happy couple show up in court waving their marriage certificate) while Gary’s marriage to Abby ensures that she’ll keep a share of his Ewing Oil inheritance in the event of a break up.

    Unlike last season’s elopements - Karen and Mack’s on KNOTS, Kirby and Jeff’s on DYNASTY - Steven and Claudia’s is played entirely straight. There's no wackily eccentric Justice of the Peace or nervously fumbling bride. Abby and Gary’s ceremony at the ranch is a slightly grander affair, while still modest by Soap Land standards, with only Abby’s kids, Laura and Jim Westmont in attendance. Cole and Linda’s on Lake Tahoe is the prettiest of the three. Again it’s a low-key ceremony, with Chase and Maggie the only guests. In another Soap Land first, Cole and Linda recite their own wedding vows - all “nurturing" this and “spiritual" that. Steven, meanwhile, erring on the side of tradition, quotes Robert Louis Stevenson to Claudia: "Teacher, tender comrade, wife.” On KNOTS, the romance of Gary and Abby’s nuptials is undercut by some clever crosscutting between their ceremony and Val’s tearful farewell to Lilimae at the sanatarium. Back and forth we go until you can’t tell where the emotion of one story ends and the other begins - an appropriately ambiguous response to Abby marrying a man she seems to love half an episode after we saw her smooching Greg Sumner.

    On the night of Steven and Claudia’s elopement, Alexis wakes up in her penthouse, thinking she’s heard an intruder. Frightened and alone, she calls Steven’s apartment, unaware that he is Reno marrying Claudia. There is a parallel scene in KNOTS when Val returns home to an empty house after placing Lilimae in the sanitarium. Upset and alone, she calls Gary’s ranch, unaware - until she speaks to Olivia - that he and Abby are on their honeymoon, having just got married.

    Also on this week’s DYNASTY, Krystle accepts Blake’s offer of a job as Head of Public Relations at Denver Carrington. Following in the high heels of Pam Ewing, Laura Avery, Claudia Blaisdel and Maggie Gioberti, she is now the season’s fifth working girl to land an executive position in one of her show’s biggest businesses. It goes without saying that none of these women had to apply for these positions. Heck, most of them aren’t even qualified for the job in hand. ("It's all instinctive with you," Blake assures Krystle.) In the Soap Land job market, it’s all about who you know (in these cases, an ex-husband, a brother, a former neighbour and a couple of in-laws respectively). As well as a way for Soap Land to pay lip service to sexual equality, this trend is also an opportunity for the women to start power dressing - plus it makes dramatic sense for a soap to have several of its characters working in the same business. Certainly, Laura’s screen time on KNOTS is now entirely dependent upon her proximity to Gary and Abby.

    After learning that Jeff and Fallon are digging into his past to see if he can be linked to Jeff’s poisoning, Adam tricks Alexis into signing a phoney document - much the same way Katherine did Pam on DALLAS four weeks ago. And just as Katherine delivered a cryptic for-our-ears-only clue as to what she was really up to (“You may have just signed away your marriage, sister dear”), so Adam does the same thing: (“Alexis Colby - this’ll put an end to mercuric oxide”). But while this week’s DYNASTY ends before we can get to the bottom of Adam’s plan, we still get equivalent scenes of Katherine reading Bobby Pam’s fake letter and his subsequent doomed meeting with Pam - they just take place on KNOTS LANDING instead.

    In place of Katherine’s fake concern for Bobby and Pam, we get Laura’s genuine concern for Gary and Val. Sincere she may be, but Laura's advice to Gary is the essentially the same as Katherine’s was to Bobby: that he should let go of the woman he loves for her own good. “Don’t you see? You are Val’s obsession,” she tells him. "If you were to start up with her again, it would be the cruellest thing you could ever do - unless you plan on going back with her again." Laura’s words also resonate with what she herself was told by Richard’s therapist at the end of Season 3, counsel she failed to heed.

    The KNOTS' equivalent of Thanksgiving Square, the place where Pam met up with Bobby on DALLAS, is a coffee shop where Val has arranged to meet Gary. Like Pam in that earlier scene, Val arrives optimistic about a reconciliation. The two women are dressed similarly too. Each in sleeveless summer dresses, they both look girlish and vulnerable. While Bobby breaks Pam’s heart in person, Gary lets Val down from a distance, watching her inside the shop from his car parked across the street, then driving away. By sacrificing this opportunity to declare his true feelings to the woman he loves, each Ewing brother is creating a situation that will run and run (lovers destined to be together yet kept apart by words unspoken). Both then seal the deal with a definitive legal action - Bobby divorces Pam and Gary marries Abby.

    In the meantime, there’s a new generation of star cross’d lovers emerging. As well Mr. Caproni’s vocal disapproval of his daughter Linda’s involvement with a Gioberti on FALCON CREST, there’s also the first date between Mandy Winger and Roy Champion on this week’s YELLOW ROSE. “Here we are - a Montague and a Capulet,” jokes Mandy.

    Another long standing grudge is revealed in this week's FALCON CREST when, rather brilliantly, it turns out that prison guard Corinne Powers has a score or two to settle with Julia and her family. "I’ve known you and that royal family of yours for a long time,” she informs her. "You never noticed me in school. I was the fat kid in the hand me downs that you and the other rich kids made fun of ... My daddy Ben used to work at the vineyards up at Falcon Crest - that is, until he had his first heart attack ... After he recovered, your mommy didn’t hire him back so he died broke.” The episode ends with a classic Soap Land threat from Corinne to Julia: “By the time I get through with you, you’re gonna wish you’d gotten the gas chamber!” The shadow of the death penalty also looms in this week’s DALLAS as Ray goes on trial for his cousin Mickey’s murder. “I do not believe a prison sentence is punishment enough. This crime cries out for the maximum penalty that the law allows!” declaims the prosecuting attorney in his opening statement.

    This Soap Land season is only six weeks old, but already we’ve seen Laura Avery, Alexis Colby, Angela Channing, five Carringtons and a couple of girls from EMERALD POINT testify in court. This week, it’s the turn of the Ewings - Bobby and Lucy - to take to the witness stand. “I didn’t wanna hurt Ray,” Lucy insists after admitting under oath that "Mickey wanted to live, he really did". Her courtroom conflict - she is torn between her loyalties to her family and to the man she loved - mirror Diana’s on KNOTS LANDING. As Chip lies in a coma, both the police and her brother Eric pressure her to come forward with what she knows about Ciji’s death, for the sake of her family and friends (“A lot of people are paying a pretty heavy price for your silence”). Meanwhile on DALLAS, defence attorney Paul Morgan puts pressure on Ray to allow Mickey’s fragile mother to testify to what about she knows about Mickey’s death.

    Towards the end of this week's KNOTS, with Chip’s condition now looking as hopeless as Mickey’s did two weeks ago, Diana makes the painful decision to testify against him. But while she is turning herself into the police, Chip - displaying a perfect sense of Soap Land timing - starts to show signs of life. Meanwhile, as Mickey’s mother Lil is called to the stand on DALLAS, Ray springs to his feet in protest. “No you can’t! You can’t do that!” he shouts as the music swells, the camera zooms in on his face and the frame freezes - thereby providing Soap Land with its most dramatic courtroom moment since Alexis made her entrance at Blake’s trial on DYNASTY.

    By contrast, the final scene of this week’s KNOTS has a laugh-out-loud audaciousness about it that reminded me of Bobby Ewing's return from the dead in DALLAS Season 8. In the same way that Pam wakes the morning after her wedding to Mark to see her dead first husband alive and well in the shower, Gary is in the honeymoon suite the night of his wedding to Abby when he sees … well, at first he doesn’t notice anything unusual when the maid arrives with the room service dinner tray. He doesn’t even look at her - she’s just the maid - just as Gary himself (well, not this Gary, the first Gary) was just the bell boy when he surprised Bobby in his Vegas hotel room back in “Reunion” (DALLAS Season 1). Actually, something similar happens to Bobby again in this week’s DALLAS - there’s a waitress he orders a beer from whom he fails to recognise until she turns to him and says, “Hello, Bobby.” “Jenna,” he murmurs in surprise, “Jenna Wade.” In fairness, we had also failed to recognise the waitress as Jenna - that’s because she’s played by a different actress now. Conversely, we do recognise the maid in Gary’s hotel room before he does - that’s because she’s played by the same actress who played the now dead Ciji. But while New Jenna recognises Bobby, Former Ciji doesn’t seem to know Gary, even as he stares at her, open-mouthed. “What’s a nice girl like me doing waiting on tables?” says Jenna, anticipating Bobby’s question upon seeing her in a cowboy bar. “What’s a dead girl like Ciji doing anywhere?” seems to be the question on Gary’s mind, judging by his bewildered expression at the end of this week’s KNOTS.

    Minor trend of the week #1: Nicholas Sgarro, who directs both EMERALD POINT and KNOTS LANDING. The only distinctive visual link I noticed between the two eps was a couple of gratuitous shirts-off scenes of Casey Denault and Gary Ewing respectively. Meanwhile, on THE YELLOW ROSE, Colleen peeks on Chance taking an early morning skinny dip in the lake. “You’d make some centrefold,” she says admiringly, which leads us to ...

    Minor trend of the week #2: Poolside lust. When Peter Richards and his blue speedos execute a perfect dive into the Southfork pool on this week’s DALLAS, Sue Ellen’s appreciative glance lingers for just a little longer than necessary. In a later scene, after observing JR's amusingly unsuccessful attempts to teach John Ross to swim, Sue Ellen stands provocatively by the water’s edge in a red bathing suit, taunting her husband by showing him what he cannot have. Over on FALCON CREST, Lance is the one in the water, watching as Melissa vamps by the pool in just a pair of stilettos and the tightest of swimsuits. Unlike Sue Ellen, this isn’t just for show. After uttering the immortal line, "Early morning swims are like tangos - they don't count unless you do them with someone”, Melissa joins her husband in the pool, and ends the sexual drought that has existed between them since the small matter of his mother murdering her father was revealed.

    The last will and testament of Julia’s other victim, Jacqueline Perrault, is read on this week’s FALCON CREST. Jacqueline’s death serves the same dramatic function here that Rebecca Wentworth’s did on DALLAS. Just as the fight for Ewing Oil required a few significant fatalities to give it gravitas, so Julia’s shoot-out at the end of last season wouldn't have had the same impact without the death of an important character. In each case, Rebecca and Jacqueline were the ideal choices. Each a supporting figure with blood ties to two of the main characters, not to mention a legacy to bequeath, they are significant enough for their deaths to have an impact, but not so essential that their absence would create logistical problems for their respective show as a whole. Ultimately, from a dramatic standpoint, Jacqueline and Rebecca are worth more dead than alive.

    As with Jock and Rebecca on DALLAS and Cecil Colby on DYNASTY, the most lasting impact of Jacqueline's death is the huge wealth and power it leaves the members of her immediate family. Chase, Maggie and Cole Gioberti now join the list of Soap Land characters - which includes Alexis, Pam, Cliff, Gary and (by extension) Abby - that have all become incredibly rich in the past year or so. As with the recent outbreak of lady executives, this pattern seems to be part of an ongoing homogenisation in Soap Land, whereby nearly all the characters in all the shows are slowly becoming equally wealthy (give or take a few million bucks) and equally glamorous.

    Of course, it wouldn’t be a Soap Land will reading without someone's nose getting put out of joint. The vast share of Richard’s inheritance ($25,000,000) won’t be made available to him for another year, and even then only with Chase’s approval. To add insult to injury, the will also obliges him to vacate the fancy house he has occupied since last season. Not surprising then, that his post-will rant to Melissa (“My mother gave with one hand and took away with the other! … My mother chose Chase over me!”) sounds a lot like the one Gary made to Abby after the reading of Jock’s will (“All my life my father made me feel worthless. Now that he's dead, I'm still feeling it!”). In addition, Jacqueline makes like Holly Harwood from beyond the grave when she bequeaths Angela a key to a hotel room. There, Angela finds a note on the pillow from Jacqueline stating that this was where "Phillip Erickson and I last made love.” (So is this another affair retroactively created by the writers, like Carlo and Julia's, or as Phillip insists, the fantasy of "an evil deranged woman” - also like Carlo and Julia?)

    Meanwhile, THE YELLOW ROSE continues to wend its own idiosyncratic way. Above and beyond the striking visuals - which this week includes an excitingly filmed cattle stampede (if DALLAS had had the wherewithal to make its action scenes look this good, the Season 11 range war could have been amazing) - it’s the series’ combination of grit and warmth that continues to give it its own distinct flavour.

    And this week’s Top 6 are …

    1 (3) KNOTS LANDING
    2 (1) THE YELLOW ROSE
    3 (2) FALCON CREST
    4 (4) DALLAS
    5 (5) DYNASTY
    6 (6) EMERALD POINT N.A.S.
     
  3. Zach

    Zach Soap Chat Active Member

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    Knots Landing, Dallas and Falcon Crest. I couldn't get through Dynasty beyond season 2 again.
     
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  4. James from London

    James from London Soap Chat Star

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    14/Nov/83: EMERALD POINT N.A.S: Episode 8 v. 16/Nov/83: DYNASTY: Tracy v. 17/Nov/83: KNOTS LANDING: A Change of Heart v. 18/Nov/83: DALLAS: The Oil Baron's Ball v. 18/Nov/83: FALCON CREST: Solitary Confinement v. 19/Nov/83: THE YELLOW ROSE: Moving Targets

    This week’s KNOTS and DALLAS begin similarly, with Diana making a statement to the police about Chip killing Ciji and Lil testifying in court as to the circumstances surrounding Mickey’s death. “For the record,” surly Lieutenant Morrison instructs his typist, "list her as Diana Fairgate Roberts aka Fenice - don’t ask.” Meanwhile, on the witness stand, Lil is asked to state her name and address, also “for the record." "Lilian May Trotter, 16 Briar Lane, Emporia, Kansas,” she replies carefully, "or the Krebbs house in Braddock.” Then she becomes anxious. "I-I don’t know the number,” she stammers. It’s the kind of detail no one else in Soap Land would concern themselves with. So in one corner, there’s Diana's melodramatic teen romance unravelling in a grimy police interview room and in the other, a plain country widow cast as the star witness in a big city murder trial. Despite their differences, both women are a long way from home.

    In the course of their testimonies, Diana and Lil attempt to absorb responsibility for Chip and Ray’s crimes. “He did it because he loved me,” Diana insists, explaining that Chip killed Ciji because she was threatening to expose her pregnancy. "This all happened so we could be together.” “If anyone’s responsible for Michael’s death, it’s me,” Lil asserts, explaining that it was she who talked Ray into ending Mickey’s life. "All Raymond did is to keep me from having to find the strength myself.”

    In the KNOTS scene, there’s an effective use of a two-way mirror through which a ghost-like Mack silently observes Diana giving evidence. As she sobs for Chip, he weeps for her. Lil’s testimony on DALLAS, meanwhile, impacts everyone in the courtroom. Lucy cries, the Krebbses blink back tears and even the judge and district attorney are moved.

    The night following Lil’s testimony, Donna admonishes Ray for keeping the exact circumstances of Mickey’s death secret from her. “Why didn’t you tell me?” she asks. "You didn’t have enough to faith in me to tell me the truth.” Echoes of her indignation are detectable three decades later in “Hurt”, the extraordinary New DALLAS episode in which the truth about JR’s death finally comes to light and Ann rounds on Bobby for keeping her in the dark while Sue Ellen is furious that she didn’t know about JR’s illness before he died. "JR was my husband!” she cries. Seems the wife is always the last to know. That’s certainly the case on this week’s DYNASTY where Kirby realises Jeff and Fallon are keeping something from her (Blake has sworn them to secrecy over Adam’s suspected involvement in Jeff’s poisoning). When she accuses them of having slept together, they both vehemently deny it - even though it’s true. Val is more honest with Ben on KNOTS when she admits to her brief reconciliation with Gary. Ben turns away from her, but Jenna Wade stands her ground with Bobby on DALLAS. “Lots of people who are divorced love each other,” she says, looking him in the eye. "Are you one of them?” Bobby evades the question, but of course, he is - along with Pam, Val, Gary, Jeff and maybe even Fallon.

    In the event, Lil’s evidence helps ensure Ray a suspended sentence, thereby bringing this storyline to a close. Conversely, Diana’s statement to the police only serves to further complicate matters for Chip. When she returns to his hospital bedside, she is shocked to find he has emerged from his coma. He greets her cheerily (“Hi, hon!”), unaware that she has just implicated him in a murder. He is subsequently placed under arrest and handcuffed to his hospital bed. By the end of the episode, however, he has miraculously slipped his chains and escaped.

    While Ray is now a free man and Chip is nowhere to be seen, KNOTS’ Lilimae and FALCON CREST’s Julia still languish in the Soap Land Sanatarium and state penitentiary respectively. Julia’s storyline continues to go where no other Soap Land plot has gone before. This is the first time we’ve gone behind bars with an imprisoned character to see how they interact with other inmates. The closest we’ve gotten previously is a conversation between Lane Ballou and her cellmate in the pilot episode of FLAMINGO ROAD. Like Lane, Julia’s only ally on the inside is a young black girl. Everyone else is trying to beat her or drown her - or worse.

    This week sees the Soap Land debuts of Tracy Kendall and Terry Hartford, the new girls on the DYNASTY and FALCON CREST blocks respectively. Along with the newcomers we met last week, Jenna Mk 3 on DALLAS and Ciji lookalike Cathy Geary on KNOTS, these are Soap Land’s new breed of female characters, all somewhat lower down the social scale than the shows' existing leading ladies, most of whom are getting richer by the week (“We’re millionaires a hundred times over!” exclaims Abby when Gary receives his Ewing Oil inheritance on this week’s KNOTS). All four are working girls - in one way or another. “I’m keeping the ring. I've earned it,” Terry tells the elderly man she walks out on in her first scene.

    As a low-level publicist hungry to climb the ladder of success whilst sexually involved with her immediate (and somewhat older) superior, DYNASTY’s Tracy occupies the same position that Chip Roberts did when he arrived in Soap Land just over a year ago. Like Chip, Tracy is faced with a serious career setback almost immediately. Where Bess Riker fired Chip for getting ideas above his station, Bill Rockwell’s promise to Tracy that she will succeed him as Denver Carrington’s Head of Public Relations is overruled by Blake’s decision to appoint Krystle to the position instead.

    Tracy masks her resentment at this display of nepotism behind a sycophantic veneer. "I know this may sound corny and a bit cliché,” she gushes at Krystle, "but I can't tell you how happy I was when I found out I'd be working for you!” When Maggie Gioberti starts work as a features writer at the Globe on FALCON CREST, her new boss Ralph Delaney is rather more open in his disdain. "It took me thirty years to break out of the sports department and into feature writing,” he tells her. "Now you walk in here with no experience and I’m supposed to drop everything and train you?” If anyone has a problem with Eric Fairgate working at Knots Landing Motors, meanwhile, they’re keeping it to themselves. “The guys on the floor love him!” beams mother Karen. Maybe the guys on the floor are as philosophical as DYNASTY’s Bill Rockwell. “Nepotism is a fact of business life,” he shrugs.

    Terry, FALCON CREST’s newcomer, is Maggie’s younger sister. We first meet her in the New York bedroom of a guy even older and less desirable than the one who was keeping Sammy Jo in her New York apartment last year. (In fact, the actor appeared in last season’s DALLAS as a contemporary of Jock Ewing.) Terry's reaction to the news of brother-in-law Chase's inheritance (“Suddenly life is just ripe with possibilities!") and her description of Maggie as "a real soft touch" as she packs her bags and heads for San Francisco tell us all we need to know. Cast from the same mould as Kristin on DALLAS, Sammy Jo on DYNASTY and Christie Kovacks on FLAMINGO ROAD, Terry is another slutty young gold digger with familial ties to an established female character. Tracy might get a DYNASTY episode named after her, but it’s Terry’s “I think I’m gonna like it here” grin upon arriving in the Tuscany Valley that's deemed worthy of a FALCON CREST freeze frame.

    If KNOTS LANDING’s Cathy or DALLAS’s Jenna, both waitresses, share either Tracy’s ambition or Terry’s opportunistic tendencies, they have yet to be revealed. Both are approached in their place of work this week by a rich Ewing brother who asks them out on a date. Neither is overly keen, but each eventually agrees. Cathy promises to meet Gary for lunch but then stands him up just as he did Val in last week’s KNOTS. Jenna, meanwhile, having stood Bobby up at an Oil Barons’ Ball thirteen years earlier, has the good grace to show up as his date this time around.

    Given that this week’s DALLAS is written and directed by its mastermind, Leonard Katzman, it’s perhaps surprising that it should start to resemble some of its neighbouring soaps. Lil’s flash back to Mickey’s death, with its shaky hand-held camera moves, has a verisimilitude far more in keeping with KNOTS than with traditional DALLAS. It certainly feels more authentic than Julia’s dreamlike flashbacks on FALCON CREST or KNOTS' expressionist representation of Ciji’s murder. At the other end of the scale, the five-way powder room bitch-fest at the Oil Barons’ Ball is extremely DYNASTY - in fact, it recalls a similarly situated encounter between Krystle and Alexis just three episodes ago - only on a bigger, more glamorous scale. Sue Ellen, Katherine and Pam, all dressed to the nines, line up to take pot shots at working girl Jenna - who holds her ground with admirable restraint and good humour - before Katherine and Afton then turn on each other.

    The Oil Barons’ Ball itself, with its oil-rig shaped champagne fountain, tuxedos and designer ball gowns, is certainly a lot grander than last season’s affair, which had a kind of “works outing” feel about it. This version - part charity fundraiser, part awards ceremony - is Soap Land’s biggest display of opulence since Blake and Krystle’s wedding on DYNASTY.

    Another curio in this week’s DALLAS is the scene where Sue Ellen watches a group of young men playing touch football in a park. As she ogles the men, all of whom are clad in only the shortest of shorts, so does the camera, relaying the sight in fetishistic slow motion. It’s certainly like nothing we’ve seen in Soap Land before, least of all on DALLAS, and that Katzman himself should be at the helm of the ep makes it all the more interesting. Add to this Casey Denault's house-arrest on EMERALD POINT, which seemed to necessitate him wearing as little clothing as possible at all times, and Peter Richards' blue speedos, which make another appearance this week, and it would appear that Soap Land is developing a new found interest in the male form.

    In the same week that Cliff Barnes is named Oil Baron of the Year in DALLAS, Jeb Hollister receives the Oil Man of the Year award on THE YELLOW ROSE. Jeb's ceremony is more of a lunchtime rubber chicken affair than the Oil Barons’ Ball, but both have the same miniature oil rigs as table decorations. While receiving his award means the world to Cliff (“You are looking at the next king of Dallas,” he crows), for Jeb, its principal function is to serve as an alibi. If he’s receiving his award in San Antonio then he can’t be responsible for the explosion that’s about to sabotage the Champions’ cross-country cattle drive, can he? Trouble is, like a certain explosion Cliff himself would order thirty years later, he is unaware that his daughter (Mandy Winger) has joined the cattle drive. Unlike Cliff, he doesn’t find out she’s there until the precise moment the explosives are discharged. The subsequent explosions and mayhem that follows (an avalanche of rocks, a stampede of cattle) is by far the most ambitious and heart-in-mouth exciting set piece Soap Land has ever staged. When it comes to these sorts of scenes, THE YELLOW ROSE is in a league of its own.

    DYNASTY’s Claudia and KNOTS LANDING’s Chip share contrasting but equally juicy scenes with their recently acquired mothers-in-law, Alexis Colby and Karen Mackenzie, this week. Both exchanges become battles for control, with Chip and Alexis emerging as clear winners. Interestingly, the DYNASTY scene is the more subtle of the two with Alexis amusingly undermining Claudia's tactful-to-the-point-of-abstract request for her not to further the rift between Steven and Blake. Alexis pretends not to know what she’s talking about. "I like specifics, darling," she tells her crisply. "Be specific.” Meanwhile, Karen visits Chip in the hospital and alternately flatters, cajoles, threatens and pleads with him to persuade Diana to return to her family. Chip’s bland smile gives nothing back. His automated politeness (“It was really nice of you to come and see me, I’ll tell Diana you were here”) finally pushes Karen over the edge. “I hope you rot in hell,” she tells him coldly.

    Of the three couples who tied the knot in last week’s Soap Land, only FALCON CREST’S Linda and Cole get to enjoy a proper honeymoon. (Exchanging pieces of jewellery engraved with their marriage vows, they really are the most lovey-dovey of newlyweds. They’re living the kind of idyllic married life Chip and Diana can only daydream about in-between disasters.) The day after marrying on KNOTS, Abby is back at the office while Gary is on the trail of the girl who looks like Ciji. Following his elopement with Claudia on DYNASTY, Steven at least gets to spend the night in a hotel - with his mother. Alexis lures him to San Francisco on the pretext of a business meeting, then engineers a delay so they are obliged to stay overnight. It’s not quite as incestuous as it sounds. Or maybe it is.

    As Abby savours her new title of Mrs Ewing (“It does have a nice ring to it”), JR refers to Jenna as "the next Mrs Ewing” on DALLAS. “Nothing would make me happier,” he grins. With hindsight, of course, we know that this prediction won’t come true, but Jenna nonetheless meets the man she’ll eventually marry this week when she is introduced to Ray at the Oil Barons’ Ball. So does Laura Avery on KNOTS when she enters Abby’s office and catches the blushing bride about to kiss Greg Sumner.

    And this week’s Top 6 are …

    1 (2) THE YELLOW ROSE
    2 (1) KNOTS LANDING
    3 (4) DALLAS
    4 (3) FALCON CREST
    5 (5) DYNASTY
    6 (6) EMERALD POINT N.A.S.
     
  5. James from London

    James from London Soap Chat Star

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    21/Nov/83: EMERALD POINT N.A.S: Episode 9 v. 23/Nov/83: DYNASTY: Dex v. 24/Nov/83: KNOTS LANDING: Money Talks v. 25/Nov/83: DALLAS: Morning After v. 25/Nov/83: FALCON CREST: Chameleon Charades v. 26/Nov/83: THE YELLOW ROSE: Trail's End

    “It’s not so unusual for a young man to be attracted to an older woman,” says Sue Ellen in this week’s DALLAS, and she’s right. There have been occasional such couplings, or near-couplings, throughout Soap Land’s history: David Crane and Karen Fairgate in “Let Me Count the Ways", Bess Riker and Chip Roberts in last season’s KNOTS, Lute-Mae and Tony in FLAMINGO ROAD, Steven and Claudia on DYNASTY … one might even count - if one remembers Abby’s wisecrack to Mack last season, “Then it’s true, older women really are more attractive” - the Mackenzies themselves. More recently, there has been a delicate May/December romance burgeoning on THE YELLOW ROSE, ever since nineteen-year-old Whit Champion laid his cowboy hat at the trailer door of Grace, the ranch cook, in the first episode of the series. Like Lute-Mae, Grace is a single woman of a certain age with a chequered past - but where Stella Stevens floundered on FLAMINGO ROAD, Susan Anspach gives a really lovely performance as Grace - earthy, soulful and fragile. Alas, Grace abruptly exits THE YELLOW ROSE midway through this week’s episode with little explanation.

    Meanwhile, this week’s DALLAS and DYNASTY each end with a close up of “an older woman" looking somewhat taken aback after being kissed on the mouth by a younger man. While Dex Dexter - all big teeth and hands-on-hips macho swagger - grabs Alexis and plants a decisive smacker on her lips, Peter Richards - all sensitive yearning and exposed midriff - kisses Sue Ellen tentatively, maybe even a little sadly, as he opens her car door for her. The age difference is addressed on DALLAS, but not on DYNASTY. (Given that the show has thus far carefully avoided any direct reference to Alexis’s status as a grandmother, this is unsurprising.) Dex’s comparative youth, however, is a factor in his interaction with Blake earlier in the episode when they disagree over a business matter. “I know my company, young man,” Blake tells him. “My name is Dex!” he snaps in reply. "There may be age between us, not experience or knowledge.” Peter Richards is no happier when he hears himself described by JR as "a schoolboy with a crush on my wife.”

    Age aside, there is an interesting parallel between Alexis’s encounter with Dex on DYNASTY and the relationship developing between Greg and Abby on KNOTS LANDING. Both men show up uninvited at the respective woman’s office. “Don’t bother to announce me - we’re old friends and we both love surprises,” Dex tells Alexis’s secretary (male) before walking right in. Greg marches straight into Abby’s office too. “Hold all of Mrs. Ewing’s calls - no exceptions,” he instructs Abby’s secretary (female) as he ushers her out. “What are you doing here?” Alexis asks Dex, whom she met for the first time earlier the same day, at the Denver Carrington board meeting. “Unfinished business,” he replies, immediately pulling her towards him and kissing her. She responds in kind then coolly inquires, “Is that the start or the finish of your business?” While business and passion are interconnected on DYNASTY, Abby and Greg argue about the connection between business and politics on KNOTS. “If you’re gonna hang around, you’re gonna have to understand politics,” Greg tells Abby. “I understand money,” she counters. “They’re not the same thing,” he insists. “Since when?” she retorts. Then it’s Greg’s turn to grab Abby and kiss her - and so begins their affair. (Suddenly Holly Harwood turning down JR’s little pass aboard her yacht seems to belong to a much less complicated time.)

    Following these outbursts of ardour, Dex and Abby both get down to business, each making similar pitches to Alexis and Greg. Both start by talking about how compatible they are. “I think we’re pretty evenly matched,” Dex tells Alexis. "Now that we know we have something in common, we can do business together.” “You’re a politician on the rise,” Abby tells Greg, "I’m a businesswoman on the rise. You’re heading for national politics, I’m heading for national business.” Each then reveals the scope of their ambition. "You spoke of an empire,” says Dex to Alexis. "I'm forming one … Tar Sands, Canada ... There's believed to be more oil locked under those sands than there is under all of Saudi Arabia … Together we’ll reap a profit beyond your imagination.” "If things go according to plan,” Abby tells Greg, "you’ll be in the White House in eight years, which is exactly where we both want you - you for the thrill of it, me for the profits.” Whereas Alexis declines Dex’s offer, (“You overestimate your appeal”) Greg gives Abby what she’s been after for the whole episode - help with a building variance (now there’s a word we haven’t heard since last season’s DALLAS) from the coastal commission. Business concluded, for the time being, it’s time for the bottom line. "You’re a fantastic woman to kiss,” Dex informs Alexis before making his exit, while Abby assures Greg that, "if I ever have to make a choice between love and money - money’s gonna win every time.” KNOTS ends on a shot of Abby smiling away, while DYNASTY freezes on Alexis looking quizzical and intrigued.

    As Dex spins tales of Canadian fortunes and Abby dreams of power in the White House, New York remains the place that looms largest in the minds of Soap Land’s characters. In last week’s KNOTS, in-between waking from his coma and getting re-arrested for Ciji’s murder, Chip resumed his fantasy of starting a new life there with Diana. In this week’s DALLAS, Donna reminds Ray that New York was where they were headed a year earlier before the news of Amos Krebbs’s death took their lives in a different direction. Now she insists they take the trip they had planned then as a way of recapturing their former optimism. Over on DYNASTY, we learn that newcomer Tracy Kendall has recently come from New York (as has FALCON CREST’s new girl Terry), but doesn’t share Chip and Donna's positive view of the city: “Kind of a hassle, and the competition - talk about a jungle” - whereas people in Denver, she assures Krystle, “are so down to earth, just nice!"

    Tracy’s demeanour towards Krystle mirrors Katherine Wentworth’s towards Pam on DALLAS - she’s as nice as pie to her face, then glowers in her direction whenever her back is turned. Thus far, however, Tracy is more a disgruntled employee than a fiendish mastermind. Katherine, meanwhile, is currently less concerned with Pam than with the fact that Jenna Wade has found her way back into Bobby’s life. This leads Katherine to drop her guard for the very first time. “Bobby, don’t you realise I’m in love with you?” she asks. "I’ve been in love with you from the first time I ever saw you.” Bobby rejects her as kindly as he can. “Your Pam’s sister,” he replies. "I could never think of you in any other way."

    This is just one of several declarations from the heart in this week’s Soap Land. As well as Peter confessing to Sue Ellen that “I have these feelings every time I’m around you” (“It really can’t be,” she tells him gently), Jeff lays it on the line to Fallon on DYNASTY. "No matter how hard we fight it, tell me we don't belong together,” he implores. Her response is no more encouraging than Bobby’s. "I can't belong,” she replies. "I need somebody who doesn't need me.” Even Paul Morgan, the lawyer who defended Ray Krebbs in his DALLAS murder trial, declares his intentions to Donna, albeit in a roundabout way. “One of these days, you’re gonna wake up and leave that guy,” he predicts, "and I’m gonna be there when you do.” Donna, less tactful than Bobby, Fallon or Sue Ellen, briskly informs him of the healthy state of her marriage. In fact, the only Soap Land suitor not to be rejected this week is KNOTS LANDING’s Ben. “This world traveller is falling in love,” he announces to Val, who responds with a kiss.

    Don’t ask me why, but there’s something great about seeing Val do things with Ben that she never did Gary, even if it’s just sitting barefoot on the floor of his beach house to eat dinner, or emerge shyly from his bedroom the next morning wearing just a sheet. This may not count as "taking the world by storm” the way Jeff Munson encouraged her to last season, but it’s nonetheless pleasing to see her emerge from her domestic cocoon in such a way. (Conversely, the last time Pam Ewing sat on a floor it just seemed a bit weird.)

    On the business front, Pam and Krystle both begin their PR duties this week, at Denver Carrington and Barnes Wentworth respectively. For Krystle, this involves attending meetings and drawing up press releases. For Pam, it means dinner with Cliff and Ben Kesey, a man whose service company Cliff wants to buy before JR does, while “wearing the sexiest thing you got”. Cliff deliberately shows up late to the restaurant, leaving Kesey to stare at Pam’s décolletage for an hour. Yes, it’s Cliff's version of “the old Ewing one two” that JR tried to pull off with Sue Ellen and Gil Thurman exactly a year earlier - only this time it works. While DYNASTY’s might be the slightly more realistic depiction of what someone in public relations actually does, Pam's entrée in the oil business is a lot more entertaining. With her playing the exasperated-but-sexy straight woman to Cliff’s incorrigible schemer, (Mindy to his Mork, if you will) they're really fun to watch - as good a double act as Greg and Abby are on this week’s KNOTS.

    Krystle has dinner with her boss this week too, but business is strictly off the menu. Instead, she and Blake reminisce about their very first date which took place in the very same restaurant. ("I fell in love with Blake Carrington that night,” she sighs.) Following the Oil Barons’ Ball on DALLAS, Bobby and Jenna step even further back in time to a high school dance where Bobby got into a fight with another boy over Jenna. It’s slightly disconcerting to think that more time has passed - about ten years more - between Bobby and Tracey MacKay’s pool hustling encounter in DALLAS Season 11 and their recollection of it in New DALLAS Season 3 than between Bobby and Jenna’s teenage misadventures and their account of them in this ep. (We also meet Jenna Wade’s twelve-year-old daughter Charlie this week, as well as Greg Sumner's slightly older offspring Mary Frances on KNOTS.)

    Seeing Cliff first revelling in his success as he is crowned Oil Baron of the Year and then watching him moulder in his Mexican jail cell on New DALLAS makes for quite a contrast. And it feels like there is a direct line between his acceptance speech on the podium, which in effect resurrects the Barnes/Ewing feud, ("My daddy is the one that found the oil the Ewings have been sucking out of the ground for all these years!”) and the one his daughter Pamela makes thirty-one years later when she visits him in jail to hand over the deed to that same oil Digger found and lost all those years before. "It’s over now,” she tells him. "You avenged the wrongs done to your father, and I’ve avenged the wrongs done to me by mine.”

    More father/daughter parallels: Just like Pamela on New DALLAS, Mandy Winger struggles to come to terms with the knowledge that her father was behind the explosion that put her in hospital on THE YELLOW ROSE. And now that she is romantically involved with Roy Champion, she finds herself caught between her father and the family he despises - just like Cole’s new bride Linda on FALCON CREST. While there is scant explanation for Mr. Caproni’s resentment towards the Giobertis, Jeb Hollister has a great speech where he attempts to justify his actions to his daughter: “The Yellow Rose is our birthright. In my time, a man fought for what belonged to him … I’m living the only way I know how. You call it war, I call it life.” Both fathers end up accusing their daughters of betrayal. "You were all I had,” Mr. Caproni tells Linda. "You turned your back on me.” "You were the one I was doing it all for,” Jeb tells Mandy. "You made your choice.”

    Following Cliff's speech at the Ball, a punch up ensues as the Ewing brothers unite against him, with Mark Graison, Peter Richards and a few extras drafted in to make up the numbers. In the same way that the lily pond catfight between Alexis and Krystle at the end of last season’s DYNASTY was a sequel to their studio contretemps of the year before, so this brawl serves as a follow-up to the duel in the pool at JR and Sue Ellen’s wedding. As with the lily-pond, half the fun comes from seeing a good old fashioned scrap take place in such elegant surroundings. Pam is almost, but not quite, as primly disapproving of Mark trading punches with Bobby as Blake was of Krystle and Alexis doing the same thing. (Where she compares Mark and Bobby to children, he compared his two wives to female mud wrestlers.)

    Punches are thrown elsewhere in this week’s Soap Land. Lance gets into a barroom brawl over Terry on FALCON CREST, and pretty soon finds himself outnumbered by bit players in Stetsons. Instead of tending to his injuries like the ladies of DALLAS do their men's after the Ball, Terry waltzes off into the night with Michael Ranson.

    There’s fighting too on THE YELLOW ROSE, but here every blow carries an emotional wallop as well as a physical one: Chance blindsiding his brother to save him from himself; good guy Roy being driven to hit a frail but vicious old man as his daughter watches on. The climax is a fist-fight between Roy and Chance: “You wanna be top dog! You want it all!” “I want nothin' but a piece of you right now!” It’s been a long time coming and the rest of the family gather solemnly to watch, but no one was expecting the two men to come to blows inside a cattle pen or to end up rolling around in the mud amongst the livestock.

    This week’s KNOTS is really exceptional (especially the scenes between Greg and Abby which are just so smart and unpredictable) while DALLAS is first class - but I tell ya, THE YELLOW ROSE has them both beat. Visually, aside from that cattle pen fight, there’s Mandy Winger zipping around the countryside in a helicopter (and not just faking it like they do on DALLAS - she’s really in that thing while it's flying), the surreal sight of a herd of cattle being led across an airstrip, and a whole bunch of other great stuff. Plus there’s Jackson Mobley, Lilimae’s loveable conman from KNOTS Season 3, who shows up as a loveable rancher and lets slip about the woman who came between Jeb Hollister and Wade Champion years before, thus igniting the feud between the two families. Jeb’s sister who mysteriously ran away to have Wade’s illegitimate baby and then abandoned that child too, she sounds like a cross between Ellie Southworth, Margaret Hunter and Rebecca Barnes. I feel like I’m repeating myself but this show combines the sweep of a classic Western, the epic scale of a family saga, lots of deliciously familiar soap tropes and characters that are compelling and organic and deeply touching. I cried twice without fully understanding why.

    And this week’s Top 6 are …

    1 (1) THE YELLOW ROSE
    2 (2) KNOTS LANDING
    3 (3) DALLAS
    4 (4) FALCON CREST
    5 (5) DYNASTY
    6 (6) EMERALD POINT N.A.S.
     
  6. James from London

    James from London Soap Chat Star

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    30/Nov/83: DYNASTY: Peter De Vilbis v. 01/Dec/83 KNOTS LANDING: Homecoming v. 02/Dec/83: DALLAS: The Buck Stops Here v. 02/Dec/83: FALCON CREST: The Double Dealing

    While Soap Land’s quartet of female newcomers can be loosely grouped together as everyday "working girls" (in fact, Angela uses that precise term to describe Terry’s chequered past in this week’s FALCON CREST) this season's male arrivals are a more disparate bunch. Dr Michael Ranson has been established as a morally upstanding authority figure on FALCON CREST, but is possibly too avuncular (i.e., old) to fit the mould of dashing romantic hero. That is a role more suited to Ben Gibson on KNOTS or Dex Dexter on DYNASTY, who are as different from each other as they are from the women they have fallen for, Val and Alexis respectively. Where Ben is solemn and thoughtful, Dex is quick tempered and cocksure. If Ben had invited himself into Val’s home after their first meeting and then kissed her without warning before complimenting her on her fantastic mouth — as Dex does Alexis in this week’s DYNASTY - she would mostly likely have run a mile (barefoot along a beach, obviously).

    Dex is closer in personality type to KNOTS’ other newcomer, Greg Sumner, but Greg is really in a category of his own. Striding through every scene with a phalanx of advisers and minders, he regards the KNOTS regulars with amused irreverence. “What’s with this Ewing character?!” he asks of Gary. “You’re nuts!” he says to Abby. What makes him so much fun, and such a different sort of character, is that he gives no indication of being in somebody else’s soap opera. As far as he’s concerned, this is THE GREG SUMNER SHOW and all the Mackenzies and Ewings merely supporting players.

    This leaves the two Peters - Peter Richards on DALLAS and Peter de Vilbis, the latest addition to DYNASTY’s opening titles. At first glance, the two could not be more different. DALLAS's Peter is the embodiment of the All American Boy: young, wholesome, athletic. DYNASTY’s Peter is archetypal Eurotrash: dead-eyed, decadent and drug-taking. In their opposing ways, each feels like a Soap Land anomaly. Neither is rugged or manly in the traditional sense. Peter Richards’ boyish innocence, the contrast between his lack of sexual awareness and his eagerness to display as much of his hairless young body as he can get away with, renders him, by DALLAS standards, somewhat effete. Peter de Vilbis’s exotic (i.e., unAmerican) dissoluteness, thick foreign accent and silken smoking jacket create a similar effect. Two sides of the same coin, it’s not hard to imagine Helmut Berger raping and murdering Christopher Atkins (not necessarily in that order) in one of those disturbing Nazi-themed flicks he used to make with Luciano Visconti. As it is, both Peters make unlikely love interests for the women they have been cast opposite, Sue Ellen and Fallon respectively. On DALLAS, this incompatibility is addressed and explored; on DYNASTY, it remains unacknowledged. Admittedly, Fallon has yet to be exposed to the seamier side of de Vilbis's character.

    That is revealed to the audience in a scene between Peter and his lawyer (Jeff Munson from KNOTS, who presumably crossed over to the dark side after being dumped by Val). We see De Vilbis racking up lines of coke and learn that he is in debt for six million dollars. His solution to the latter, it transpires, is Fallon herself, aka "a fascinating girl whose father has millions”. In an equivalent scene in this week’s KNOTS, between Greg Sumner and an as yet unnamed associate, we discover that Greg is not who he appears to be either. He is involved with mysterious off screen figures referred to only as “they".

    “They know about Mackenzie - we talked it out on the phone,” he assures his unknown acquaintance enigmatically. “They didn’t know he’d get this close this fast,” the acquaintance replies. “They’re overreacting … What do they want me to do?” Greg asks. “Get rid of him … The feeling is very strong about this, Greg,” the associate instructs him. Greg promises to resolve the “situation”.

    Greg’s circumstances are paralleled on FALCON CREST where Richard Channing has his own share of mysterious off screen figures to contend with. “Your debt to the company did not die with Henri Denault,” his attorney/emissary John Osborne informs him this week. “You’re not free until they say you’re free ... They want absolute control of the race track … These people are ruthless. They’re accustomed to getting what they want.” Richard is less acquiescent than Greg, however. “Nobody pulls my strings,” he snarls. “Power belongs to those who take it!” he adds for good measure, sounding just like Jock Ewing.

    Another connection between Soap Land’s new men: the oldest and youngest of the bunch, Michael Ranson and Peter Richards, are each at the centre of a hopeless crush. Michael finds himself the object of Emma’s wide-eyed adoration in FALCON CREST and when Terry flirts outrageously with him in front of her, Emma is as crushed as Peter is by Sue Ellen’s rejection of him on this week’s DALLAS. (“The way you feel about me is a complication I don’t need in my life,” she tells him sternly.) When confronted by Maggie, Terry denies any interest in Michael (“He’s old enough to be my father,” she protests - providing a gender variation on Sue Ellen and Peter's May/December story-line). However, later Terry seduces Michael in a beautifully shot vineyard scene where Michael's self doubt and vulnerability — could this gorgeous young thing really desire him? — are touchingly conveyed.

    While Sue Ellen has already likened Peter (Richards) to a young Bobby Ewing, Fallon tells Peter (de Vilbis) that he reminds her of her father in this week’s DYNASTY. Over on KNOTS LANDING, there is no doubt as to who Cathy Geary reminds Gary of. This results in one of two attempted make-overs in this week’s Soap Land. The first comes in DYNASTY where Claudia takes offence at Alexis going through her wardrobe “like a tornado” and offering to buy her "a few new chic things” — in other words, to make Claudia over in her own image. "You have to accept that the world and society judges us by the way we act and dress,” Alexis lectures her new daughter-in-law. An unsuspecting Cathy, meanwhile, is more than happy for Gary to treat her to a new dress and hairstyle. (Gary’s half-brother Ray also delves into the world of women’s clothing this week when as he surprises Donna with a fur coat he purchased from “a cute little sales girl” in New York. The snooty saleswoman Gary and Cathy encounter, meanwhile, is cut from the same designer cloth as the one Sue Ellen and Pam dealt with in the first episode of this season’s DALLAS.)

    Pretty soon, Cathy is looking more like Ciji than Ciji did. As Gary encourages her to mime along to one of Ciji’s old songs, he simultaneously flashes back to Ciji singing the same song — and KNOTS reaches a whole new level of strangeness. Factor in the replica of Ciji’s space vixen dress that Cathy is now wearing and it almost feels like we’re in science fiction territory — albeit intriguing, emotionally-fuelled science fiction. What’s most interesting is the tension between the characters and the plot — especially when Laura walks in on Gary and Cathy/Ciji and we see the weirdness of the situation through her eyes (“What a scene, huh? … Like something out of wax museum!”) Clearly the writers came up with the idea of a Ciji lookalike first and then worked backwards to explain it. In the same way, the characters on screen are struggling to make sense of the situation they’re in (“I don’t know what I’m doing,” Gary admits). As a result, the story feels somehow contrived and organic at the same time. It’s a heady mix.

    As KNOTS takes a turn for the fantastic, this week’s DALLAS feels almost … well, one hesitates to use the word “realistic” in relation to DALLAS, but this ep, which focuses almost exclusively on the Ewings in their leisure time (the scenes of JR trying to root out the company mole being the exception), might just be the closest the series has come to depicting the characters as real people. (Miss Ellie’s continued absence, which frees the rest of the Ewings to behave more like adults, helps in this regard, as does the source lighting, which adds a subtle sense of — OK, I’ll say it — realism to the interior scenes.)

    The motivations and ambitions of Soap Land’s new girls come under scrutiny this week, as well how far they are willing to go to achieve their goals. On KNOTS, Laura questions Cathy’s reasons for hanging around Gary. “Nobody’s ever taken care of me before,” she replies simply. "It’s the best thing that’s ever happened to me and he hasn’t even asked for anything in return, but if he did I’d probably go along with it.” Jenna Wade isn't so easily bought, however. “I’ve had offers to marry rich, but I’d never trade my self respect for that,” she tells Bobby on DALLAS. Nor is she impressed by Katherine Wentworth’s attempt to pay her to dump Bobby and move to Houston. Over on FALCON CREST, Richard playfully offers to turn the New Globe over to his assistant Pamela "in return for the intimate favours you guard so closely.” “Is that an offer?” she asks gamely. “So you can be bought! Well, now we’ve established our marketplace, why can’t we haggle the price?” he replies, this time channeling Donna Krebbs. Meanwhile Angela summons Terry to tea and threatens to expose her sordid past: “You’ll do as I say or you’ll find yourself back in the Park Avenue hotel lobby you came from”. When Terry agrees to do her bidding, Angela laughs and calls her an opportunist.

    From an ex-Park Avenue girl to a former Madison Avenue one: “Ambition is not a dirty word in my dictionary,” says Tracy Kendall on DYNASTY before kissing the boss’s son. It doesn’t seem to be for Laura Avery either, who justifies her betrayal of Karen and Gary to Abby on KNOTS thusly: “Gary’s got his millions. You’ll get yours if you haven’t already. Karen’s husband died and she’s happily remarried. Val’s husband left her — she’s got a bestseller, new boyfriend, more money than she’s ever had before. Well, my husband left me too and the little I’ve got is five percent of Lotus Point. I think I’m entitled to that small piece of the pie, don’t you?" (It’s kind of cool to know that said husband was on set during this infamous speech, Richard Avery having directed this week's KNOTS.)

    Two bizarre job appointments in Soap Land this week: On DYNASTY, Alexis hires Mark Jennings, the man who was arrested for her attempted murder only two months ago, as her personal bodyguard. On KNOTS LANDING, Gary hires Cathy, a lookalike of the woman he was in jail for murdering only two months ago, as a ranch hand. As part of their respective new working arrangements, Mark moves into Alexis’s penthouse and Cathy onto Gary’s ranch. At this, Alexis’s suitor Dex raises an eyebrow while Gary’s wife Abby looks stunned. (Even knowing what we do in hindsight, I'd like to think Abby is genuinely taken aback when she sees Cathy and Gary together for the first time — it’s more interesting that way.)

    “Lucky horses,” murmurs Abby upon hearing that that the Ciji lookalike is going to be working the ranch. Horses and/or gambling provide a loose theme that runs through the week’s soaps. Fallon, Blake and Krystle have a day at the races during a visit to Los Angeles, it’s the annual Good Ole Boys Charity Rodeo at Billy Bob’s on DALLAS and on FALCON CREST, Richard reveals his plans to build a racetrack: “An endeavour that will soon tear the Tuscany Valley apart like carrion being savaged by packs of hyaenas.” This scheme sounds remarkably similar to the plan his previous self, Michael Tyrone, had to build a casino on FLAMINGO ROAD, even down to the shadowy gangster types lurking in the background. Then it was a sinister syndicate of investors, now it’s the cartel wanting in on the action.

    Peter de Vilbis’s horse Allegree wins the DYNASTY race while the Krebbses are the victors at the DALLAS rodeo. Pam puts on an impressive show as Donna’s runner up in the ladies’ mechanical bull competition — especially when one remembers that the last time there was a rodeo on DALLAS, she was too timid even to watch Bobby compete. Jenna #3 fares less well, but her performance brings back memories of the last woman to ride a mechanical bull in Soap Land - Jenna #1, aka Constance Carlyle, on FLAMINGO ROAD. Back then, her display won her some unwanted attention from some cowboys which led to Mark Graison’s former self, Sam Curtis, coming to her rescue. Subsequently, Jenna #1 and Mark - I mean, Sam - adjourned to a nearby motel room for the rest of the afternoon. This time around, Jenna #3 and Bobby put on a public display of affection which prompts Pam to take Sam - I mean, Mark - back to her place for the night. (This makes Pam also the runner-up in the Former Ewing Wives Getting On With Their Lives Competition, Val having embarked upon her first post-divorce sexual relationship - with Ben - on last week’s KNOTS.)

    Another Soap Land trend: drugs. Peter de Vilbis is on cocaine, Karen Mackenzie and Julia Cumson are spaced out on pills and the FALCON CREST sheriff is snacking on some unspecified medication which leads to him collapsing on a tennis court, Jeff Colby-style.

    While Mark carries Pam upstairs at the end of this week’s DALLAS and we learn that Diana hiding is Chip on Gary’s ranch at the end of KNOTS, DYNASTY and FALCON CREST both close with a discovery of “Oh my God!” proportions. “Oh my God, you’re carrying Adam’s baby!” realises Jeff on DYNASTY. “My God, why would anyone want to do this?” exclaims Richard on FALCON CREST, kneeling over the slain body of John Osborne.

    And this week’s Top 4 are …

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

    James from London Soap Chat Star

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    05/Dec/83: EMERALD POINT N.A.S.: Episode 10 v. 07/Dec/83: DYNASTY: The Proposal v. 08/Dec/83 KNOTS LANDING: I’ll Tell You No Lies v. 09/Dec/83: DALLAS: To Catch a Sly v. 09/Dec/83: FALCON CREST: The Betrayal v. 10/Dec/83: THE YELLOW ROSE: A Question of Love

    Two of EMERALD POINT’s principle females are played by ex-Bond girls, Tiffany Case from DIAMONDS ARE FOREVER, and Octopussy from, um, OCTOPUSSY. So far, Tiffany’s come on like a flakier version of DYNASTY’s Alexis - more scheming busybody than evil bitch - while Octopussy resembles a romantically unavailable Krystle (her husband is a navy pilot missing in action). The most significant departure from their DYNASTY counterparts is that Tiffany and Octopussy don’t hate each other (at least not yet). Just as last season’s DALLAS gave Holly Harwood (aka Holly Goodhead from MOONRAKER) a line where she compared Bobby to James Bond so EMERALD POINT can’t resist making a self-conscious 007 reference this week. “This is real life, not some James Bond movie,” Tiffany informs Harlan Adams. (Adding to the 60s secret agent vibe, the role of Harlan has now been taken over by Napoleon Solo from THE MAN FROM UNCLE.)

    Elsewhere on EMERALD POINT, Casey Denault and Good Girl Kay become the fourth Soap Land couple of the season to elope. Like Cole and Linda on FALCON CREST, they recite their own vows, full of slightly embarrassing therapy-speak. When the couple later return home to face the music in true Pam-and-Bobby fashion, Kay’s father Tom questions the wisdom of young people marrying in such haste. His concerns are borne out in this week’s DYNASTY as Jeff and Kirby, one of last season’s eloping couples, decide to end their marriage. “We never really belonged to each other,” Kirby tells Jeff sadly. "The first time you kissed me, you closed your eyes and called me Fallon ... The fact that you held me and said you loved me was enough, but it isn’t anymore.”

    Bobby sounds some equally plaintive notes on this week’s DALLAS, whilst talking both to Pam (“I feel like I’m in the back of a train looking out, seeing everything I had in my whole life disappear”) and to Jenna ("Maybe if we hadn't tried to set the world on fire, if we'd taken it a little slower, we might not have split up”). Suddenly, these glamorous, somewhat unreal characters - Kirby and Bobby - are imbued with human flaws and past regrets.

    Minor trend of the week #1: Troublesome secretaries. Alexis and Abby each have one who unintentionally, but repeatedly, undermines them. On this week’s DYNASTY, Alexis reprimands her latest male assistant Perry for entering her office without knocking, only for him to point out that his name is actually Terry. (This is a gag that will run and run.) Over on KNOTS, Abby’s secretary Elizabeth has an unerring knack of blurting confidential information at the most inopportune times. Also on KNOTS, Mack’s assistant Barbara (who is about a generation older than all the other Soap Land secretaries) inadvertently reveals that all his crime commission reports are being forwarded to Greg Sumner’s office without his knowledge. However, all of these misdemeanours pale next to JR’s discovery on this week’s DALLAS that his loyal secretary Sly has been spying on him for Cliff Barnes. When he confronts her, Sly tearfully explains that Cliff threatened to use his influence with the parole board keep her brother in prison indefinitely if she didn’t comply. Mack tries a similar manoeuvre on KNOTS. Having used his influence with the parole board to get crooked lawyer Tom Jesick out of jail, he now threatens to send him back there unless Tom agrees to infiltrate a organised crime syndicate known as the Wolfbridge Group.

    Jeff’s discovery that Adam is not only the father of Kirby’s baby but also her rapist leads to great showdown between the two men on this week’s DYNASTY. Like the fight between half-brothers Roy and Chase in last week’s YELLOW ROSE, this quasi-sibling confrontation has been a long time coming. Where the Champion boys got down in the mud, Adam and Jeff come face to face on the roof of the Carrington Plaza. This being DYNASTY, their fight feels a lot more consciously choreographed than the YELLOW ROSE one, but it’s exciting nonetheless.

    Interestingly, in spite of its reputation as the most male-driven soap, the majority of DALLAS’s mano-a-mano fights have been either played for laughs or interrupted as soon as they've gotten started. The closest DALLAS has come to the kind of physical confrontation we see between Roy and Chase or Jeff and Adam is the Ray/JR fight that led to the Southfork fire, but in terms of spectacle, both the YELLOW ROSE and DYNASTY scenes have the edge.

    Speaking of edge, the strange climax of this week's fight, which has Jeff on top of Adam, his hand between his legs as he levers him by the crotch towards the edge of the roof, is particularly eye-watering. “If Kirby’s child is a girl, I hope she never has to meet scum like her father!” seethes Jeff through gritted teeth. Adam’s reaction to this is just great: “I didn’t know. Oh my God, I didn’t know. I didn’t know. I didn’t know it was my baby.” “I didn’t know,” he repeats pleadingly throughout the episode, thereby usurping Lilimae Clements' “I only did what need to be done” as Soap Land latest mantra.

    There’s more unexpectedly exciting violence on FALCON CREST when Chase slams a wrench into Lance's gut and then treads on his hand. Lance might be the younger, fitter and meaner of the two, but both actors totally sell the scene.

    Minor trend of the week #2: Harboring fugitives. KNOTS LANDING’s Diana is hiding husband Chip on Gary's ranch while FALCON CREST’s Angela has Dr Lantry holed up at the Hideaway Motel against his will. The plan is to get both men out of the country before the police catch up with them. Angela wants Lantry shipped to Brazil before he can turn state’s evidence and testify against her, while Diana and Chip intend to start a new life in some unspecified location. (At least that’s Diana’s plan. Once Chip gets hold of his passport and her savings, he secretly intends to take off on his own. Conversely, Lantry doesn’t want to leave his wife and children behind, but Angela and Phillip insist he has no choice.)

    Both schemes go tragically awry. On FALCON CREST, Lance reveals Lantry’s whereabouts to Chase who then alerts the cops, prompting Lantry to do a runner. On KNOTS, Detective Morrison intercepts Diana as she is about to rendezvous with Chip, while Chip seeks refuge in a nearby barn. Chase tracks Lantry down to his lakeside cabin (the same location where Lute-Mae fought off her rapist in FLAMINGO ROAD) only to watch helplessly as Lantry kills himself with an overdose of morphine. But that’s nothing compared to what happens to Chip ...

    "The first time you kissed me, you closed your eyes and called me Fallon,” remembers Kirby on this week’s DYNASTY. And the last thing Chip Roberts ever does — well, before falling over backwards and impaling himself on a rake — is lay eyes on Cathy Geary and call her Ciji (“Ciji?? Oh my God!”). Yes, having given Soap Land its most unconventionally “real” death with Sid Fairgate, KNOTS now goes to the other extreme with Chip’s freaky demise. He may not have intentionally killed himself in the same way as Walt Driscoll and Joseph Anders, but all three have now paid the ultimate price for the crimes they committed at the end of last season. In a different way, Dr Lantry also follows in the footsteps of Walt and Joseph as another little man pushed too far who ends up taking his own life.

    This week’s FALCON CREST lives up to its episode title by having Lance first betray his grandmother by revealing Dr Lantry’s whereabouts to Chase then blackmail her over her dealings with him. “You wanna know why I betrayed you?” he asks her towards the end of the ep. "Because you betrayed me time after time … If I’ve turned against you, it’s your fault." Angela then barks at Lance to get out her office. There’s a similar exchange at the beginning of this week’s YELLOW ROSE. “You betrayed me,” Jeb Hollister accuses daughter Mandy Winger. “You betrayed yourself,” she replies, "your greed, your immorality, your obsession with the Yellow Rose.” She then orders Jeb to get out of her office.

    DYNASTY and DALLAS’s new PR executives, Krystle and Pam, both throw themselves into their work this week. While Krystle proposes “a full page ad in every newspaper in the country” extolling the virtues of Denver Carrington, Pam immerses herself in drilling reports and thick-looking books about oil exploration in the South West. Whereas Krystle’s efforts are motivated by a genuine enthusiasm for the company, Pam’s are prompted, at least in part, by a need to distract herself from Bobby and Jenna’s burgeoning romance. Blake and Cliff, meanwhile, regard these efforts somewhat condescendingly. Blake nuzzles up to Krystle and admires “that little vein on your neck that throbs when you get excited” while Cliff chuckles at Pam's “heavy duty reading” assignment. Pam’s insistence that “I’m not going to be just window dressing for this company” is echoed by another pretty woman eager to be taken seriously in business. “I won’t be a puppet for you, a wind-up doll, an echo,” Mandy Winger tells her father during that same confrontation scene on THE YELLOW ROSE.

    The latest on Soap Land’s May/December romances: While Alexis and Sue Ellen each admits to being attracted to her respective young admirer, they both continue to keep them at bay. Having been outwitted by Dex in business and obliged to enter into a partnership with him at a lesser percentage, Alexis shows up at his hotel suite, kisses him passionately — and then walks out on him. “Nobody takes me to the cleaners and to bed on the same day,” she purrs. Meanwhile, on DALLAS, Sue Ellen confesses to feeling jealous when Lucy shows an interest in Peter. Peter reacts by kissing Sue Ellen through the window of her car. She responds briefly, but then breaks away. “It’s wrong,” she gasps. “Can’t you see that it’s wrong?” While Dex laughs off Alexis’s rejection, Peter is left standing helpless as Sue Ellen drives away. Over on FALCON CREST, Terry is already cheating on her older lover, standing Michael up at a restaurant to have sex in a sauna with Lance. If anything, Michael is even more hurt than Peter. Abby gets stood up on KNOTS this week too when Greg chooses his daughter Mary Frances over her. One might expect Abby to react as nonchalantly as Dex does, but instead she is genuinely rattled.

    Greg gets back in Abby’s good graces by presenting her with the building variance she needs to proceed with her plans for Lotus Point. On FALCON CREST, Richard needs similar permission in order to proceed with his plans for the racetrack. To that end, he travels to San Diego to give John Sharp from the State Racing Commission the same treatment JR gave Harve Smithfield’s son-in-law at the beginning of last season’s DALLAS, when he wanted to sneak a peek at his daddy’s will. So he takes Sharp to lunch, invites a nubile young associate (Miss Perkins) to join them, then uses a pre-arranged call from his assistant as an excuse to leave them alone together and for Miss Perkins to do her thing. Instead of later walking in on the couple in flagrante as JR did, Richard has their assignation filmed. Having Miss Perkins procured by Richard’s assistant Pamela is also a nice touch. ("She's a world-class professional,” Pamela informs Richard. "When I worked at European headquarters, your mother hired her to blackmail a prime minister.” I don’t think even Serena, DALLAS hooker extraordinaire, could lay claim to that.)

    While Abby and Richard may face obstacles in developing their properties, they are both fully determined to succeed. The struggles Roy Champion faces over his land on THE YELLOW ROSE are more internal. "Two hundred thousand acres,” he says, surveying the land he inherited from his father. “Looked just like this before any man laid eyes on her. Could stay this way as long as we live or it could change. Depends on us. I had never known I was big enough to have that kind of power.” Ah, the age old question: to drill for oil or not to drill for oil? In an inversion of the Soap Land norm, he asks his half-brother to share the responsibility with him (“We’re facing some hard, hard decisions, brother … I want your help. I need it”), but Chase is reluctant to get involved. “You’re a cowboy,” Roy tells him, "a nineteenth century man trying to hold on to things the way they used to be. Part of me wants the same thing, but I just got an overdose of twentieth century problems I got to deal with whether I like it or not.” Chase and Roy are utterly convincing as men of the soil to whom conversations like this don’t come easily, yet when they do speak it’s with a depth and an eloquence one is unlikely to find anywhere else in Soap Land.

    In last week’s Soap Land, rich businessman Peter de Vilbis and upstanding politician Greg Sumner both turned out to be something other, i.e., more sinister than they first appeared. That trend continues this week. First, ditzy Tiffany Case on EMERALD POINT is revealed to be — outrageously — a secret Russian agent. She’s after some military Maguffin or other, which explains her reasons for becoming sexually involved with Napoleon Solo/Harlan Adams. Then on THE YELLOW ROSE, we are introduced to Jeb Hollister’s personal assistant Caryn Carbera, who is cast from the same coldly efficient, crisply flirtatious mold as Richard Channing’s sidekicks, Diana Hunter and Pamela Lynch. She is thrust abruptly into the centre of the action almost immediately when Jeb, sitting next to her in the back of his limousine, is shot by a sniper’s bullet. This is the first of two genuinely gasp-out-loud moments in this week’s YELLOW ROSE. The second takes place later at the hospital when Caryn suddenly slaps an emotional Mandy Winger across the face before informing her she has precisely fifteen minutes to compose herself so they can discuss business. (“You must assume the power! That is your father’s wish and it is your responsibility!”) It is only at the very end of the ep that we discover that Caryn - like Peter de Vilbis, Greg Sumner and Tiffany Case before her - is something other than we have been led to believe. “I despise your brother as much as you do,” she informs Rose, Jeb’s as-yet-unseen sister over the phone. (This was such a deliciously soapy reveal that I actually clapped.)

    And this week’s Top 6 are …

    1 (2) KNOTS LANDING
    2 (-) THE YELLOW ROSE
    3 (1) DALLAS
    4 (3) FALCON CREST
    5 (4) DYNASTY
    6 (-) EMERALD POINT N.A.S.
     
  8. James from London

    James from London Soap Chat Star

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    12/Dec/83: EMERALD POINT N.A.S.: Episode 11 v. 15/Dec/83: KNOTS LANDING: Denials v. 16/Dec/83: DALLAS: Barbecue Four v. 16/Dec/83: FALCON CREST: Coup d'Etat v. 17/Dec/83: THE YELLOW ROSE: Only the Proud

    Turns out I was somewhat premature in pronouncing Dr Lantry dead at the end of last week’s FALCON CREST. He hangs on through most of this week’s instalment, off screen but on life support, before eventually expiring towards the end of the ep. Meanwhile, word comes through early in this week’s YELLOW ROSE that Jeb Hollister's shooting was not fatal.

    There are still two Soap Land funerals in this week - Chip Roberts’ in KNOTS LANDING and Captain Martin Farrell's in EMERALD POINT. “He was a louse but he deserves a decent funeral,” says Chip’s estranged sister Angie Fenice, while there is no question that Captain Farrell — whose body is finally returned from Vietnam eight years after he went missing in action — warrants a hero's send off.

    Before both burials, a woman visits the departed to pay her respects in private. On EMERALD POINT, the grieving widow, Octopussy, renders a tearful speech over her husband's flag-draped coffin. (“Oh Martin, how am I going to live without you?”) On KNOTS, Lilimae delivers an emotional monologue to Chip in his open casket. "That smile of yours hides the hardest heart I’ve ever known,” she tells him. “I pity the angels in Heaven if you ever decide to get something you want from them … I wish I could talk you.”

    In parting, Octopussy takes off her wedding ring and places it on the coffin (a gesture reminiscent of Karen’s at Sid’s graveside) while Lilimae takes a single rose and places it on Chip’s chest. This might be the season where relationships between older women and younger men came into vogue, but I’m not sure Alexis’s desire for Dex or Sue Ellen’s for Peter will ever equal the intensity or depth of feeling Lilimae has towards Chip - an intensity all the stronger for never being fully articulated. (“I knew you needed love and I wanted to be the one to give it to you, me and so many others.”)

    Captain Farrell’s funeral is a solemn, dignified affair with the military out in full force. The same cannot be said for Chip’s. “What a load of bull!” snaps Angie Fenice at the graveside in response to the poetic eulogy delivered by the minister (moonlighting from his day job as Maggie Gioberti’s curmudgeonly boss on FALCON CREST). She continues to mouth off until Diana finally slaps her face. For all their differences, however, both funerals look as though they could have been filmed at the same location — but then as far as I can tell nearly all Soap Land funerals seem to take place under the same tree on the same hillside in the same picturesque cemetery, with what looks like the Colby mausoleum from the end of DYNASTY Season 2 looming in the background.

    Over on DALLAS, Mark Graison invites Pam to spend a couple of days on a private island he’s thinking of buying. Preoccupied with business, she declines. On EMERALD POINT, good girl Kay asks if she can tag along with new husband Casey Denault on a business trip he is making to an equally small and secluded island. He turns her down. “It’s just a crummy little island in the middle of nowhere,” he explains, "nothing but a ground station for the Adams Industries communication satellite." Bad girl Hilary doesn’t wait for permission — she stows away on Casey’s plane, much to his annoyance. Inevitably, they end up stranded on the island overnight during a storm. They shelter in a bar, where, to Casey’s disapproval, Hilary does her own version of the Soap Land bad girl boogie (previously performed by Sammy Jo on DYNASTY and Christie Kovacks on FLAMINGO ROAD), as a bunch of horny workers look on appreciatively.

    Given that everything else about the scene looks like it could be from a colorised version of FROM HERE TO ETERNITY, the choice of music to accompany Hilary’s dance — a soundalike version of Eurythmics’ “Sweet Dreams Are Made of This” — feels incongruously contemporary. There’s more ‘80s music in this week’s KNOTS when Cathy Geary gets up to sing with the band at the Cattle Club. To have Cathy not only look like Ciji but sing like her too is a brazen move. And just as Ciji’s debut song was a Journey cover — “Open Arms” — so is Cathy’s - “Separate Ways (Worlds Apart)”. Moreover, Gary happens upon her performance the same way he did Ciji’s, and is just as impressed now as he was then. The show makes at least some attempt to ring the changes by presenting Cathy’s number in a far less magical way than Ciji's. The song itself is rockier, more generically ‘80s, as are the band she’s singing with (cue close ups of fingerless leather gloves playing the keyboards) and the whole performance is filmed in a much more perfunctory fashion than any of Ciji’s ever were. There are no pretensions to artistic greatness here.

    Still, it represents a victory of sorts for Gary, who, as part of his attempt to turn Cathy into Ciji, has been urging her to try singing for the last couple of episodes. And just as Gary persuaded Cathy to give up her waitressing job a few weeks ago so Bobby tries to do the same thing to Jenna on this week’s DALLAS after seeing her hassled by some customers (among them — irony of ironies — one Harris Ryland, back when he still had hair and Mother would let him out to play in cowboy bars). Again, Jenna is depicted as less malleable and more worldly wise than her KNOTS counterpart. “I don’t know who I am anymore!” wails Cathy this week, while Jenna stands firm when a Ewing man attempts to take over her life. “Finally I’m making my own way,” she tells Bobby. "I don’t owe anyone anything and I don’t wanna start now.” Over on FALCON CREST, Angela gives Terry no choice about her new job — to use her position as the Giobertis’ house guest to spy on Maggie and Chase. A problem arises, however, when Maggie throws Terry out of the house after discovering that she has wheedled $25,000 out of their father.

    Where KNOTS now has the Cattle Club, DALLAS has jettisoned its equivalent, the Cattleman’s Club, in favour of the altogether smarter Oil Baron's Club. In a heartening example of the American Dream in action, one of Lute Mae’s nameless hookers from FLAMINGO ROAD has been transformed into Dora Mae, the sleekly sophisticated manageress at the Oil Baron’s. The subject of the American Dream comes up in this week’s KNOTS as well. "Tony always wanted the American Dream,” says Angie Fenice, referring to Chip by his real name. "I guess pretending to be someone else was the only way he thought he could get it." It’s very interesting to me that whenever the American Dream is referred to in Soap Land it’s presented in the most cynical terms, as an empty illusion or corrupted ideal. Again it begs the question — is the Soap Land genre celebrating or critiquing the abundance and excesses of '80s wealth it depicts?

    That said, a more idealistic perspective is given voice by a new arrival in DALLAS this week, Edgar Randolph. When asked by Ray why he gave up a lucrative law career to take on a lower paid job with the government, he solemnly explains “it was something that Sam Culver said to me years ago. He said, 'Son, you have to give something back to the country that gave you so much.'” With hindsight, however, we know that Edgar’s sense of honour is a crucial part of what leads to his downfall as another doomed Soap Land patsy, following in the footsteps of FALCON CREST’s Dr Lantry, DALLAS’s Walt Driscoll and DYNASTY’s Joseph Anders and Neil McVane. Everyone, Soap Land seems to be saying, even a man as principled and patriotic as Edgar, can be corrupted.

    But while the American dream might be an intangible enough concept to undermine without Soap Land needing to nail its political colours to the mast, the American military is something else. It is, after all, a reality; it exists in the real world. For EMERALD POINT to critique the military the way the rest of Soap Land routinely debunks any notion of fair play in corporate business, politics or the media would be tantamount to televisual treason. Yet there the military stands, a monolith draped in a stars and stripes flag, right at the centre of EMERALD POINT. Whatever dramatic machinations the show can provide — at least of the twisted, devious, corrupt kind we’re accustomed to seeing in Soap Land — must necessarily happen around its edges. This can make for some interestingly contorted storylines, Tiffany Case’s unlikely transformation into a Russian spy being a case in point.

    In this week’s FALCON CREST, the same psychiatrist who declared Julia sane enough to stand trial now diagnoses her as psychotic — suggesting it is prison itself that has driven her mad. Meanwhile on THE YELLOW ROSE, Whit Champion follows in the footsteps of Cole Gioberti and Gary Ewing to become the latest wrongly accused blond when he is arrested for Jeb Hollister’s shooting by the most crooked sheriff this side of FLAMINGO ROAD. But Whit is the first Soap Land inmate to find himself a target for unwanted male attention behind bars. The sequence where his fellow prisoners holler appreciative comments at him from their cells is like a scene from SILENCE OF THE LAMBS crossed with Todd Browning’s FREAKS.

    Last week’s DYNASTY ended with a romance novel of a scene in which Blake proposed marriage to Krystle on a hearthside rug in front of an open fire, umpteen candles twinkling in the background. Needless to say, she accepted. “I have asked this beautiful lady at my side for her hand in marriage and she has graciously accepted,” announces Clayton Farlow at the end of this week’s DALLAS as he and Ellie gather the family together on the cardboard patio. This week’s KNOTS, meanwhile, finishes with Karen staring blankly at her own reflection in the bathroom mirror having just been confronted by Mack, Val and Eric about her drug use.

    Set against the novelty of the Seaview Circle matriarch coming unglued, there’s a vague sense of the other soaps turning the clock back: Blake and Krystle are reunited, there’s a white-haired man at the head of the Ewing dinner table once again, and FALCON CREST resurrects the plot of its very first episode when Chase invokes the terms of his grandfather’s will in order to cut Angela out of Falcon Crest once and for all. “When I’m through with him, Chase Gioberti’s gonna wish he’d died and gone to Hell!” vows Angela just as the frame freezes. Finally, the gloves are off.

    And this week’s Top 5 are …

    1 (1) KNOTS LANDING
    2 (2) THE YELLOW ROSE
    3 (4) FALCON CREST
    4 (3) DALLAS
    5 (6) EMERALD POINT N.A.S.
     
    • Winner Winner x 1
  9. James from London

    James from London Soap Chat Star

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    19/Dec/83: EMERALD POINT N.A.S.: The Rescue/Hide and Seek v. 21/Dec/83: DYNASTY: Carousel v. 22/Dec/83: KNOTS LANDING: Witness v. 23/Dec/83: DALLAS: Past Imperfect v. 23/Dec/83: FALCON CREST: No Trespassing

    For the second Christmas in a row, none of the soaps acknowledge the festive season but find an excuse to throw a party anyway. A year ago there was the La Mirage opening, the Ewing barbecue, the Seaview Circle block party and the Tuscany Valley Founders Day Parade. This year we had the annual barbecue on last week’s DALLAS, and this week there's the Carousel Ball on DYNASTY, a soiree on FALCON CREST to mark Chase acquiring sole ownership of the winery, and a slightly less glamorous press reception at Sumner campaign headquarters on KNOTS LANDING.

    The grandest of these events is easily the Carousel Ball which incorporates DYNASTY's fictional characters into a real-life social event ("the party of parties, Denver's night of nights”). The closest Soap Land has previously gotten to combining the unreal with the actual was Val’s appearance on THE MIKE DOUGLAS SHOW during last season’s KNOTS. Then the intention was to show how successful Val was becoming within the fictional world of KNOTS. The unspoken message on this week’s DYNASTY, however, seems to be “look how popular the Carringtons, and therefore DYNASTY itself, have become in the real world.” To that end, we see Blake, Krystle and Alexis cheered by a real life crowd as they arrive at the party as if they were, well, Hollywood TV stars arriving at a charity ball. Where Val and Lilimae were thrilled to encounter Zsa Zsa Gabor and an ex-Munchkin in Mike Douglas's green room, Blake and Alexis are shown to be on an equal footing with President Gerald Ford and Dr Henry Kissinger. Kissinger’s rabbit in the headlights response to Alexis’s ad-lib, "I haven’t seen you since Portofino - it was fun", is still laugh out loud funny. As he wanders uncertainly out of shot, he actually seems smaller and less believable than the fictional Carringtons and Colbys. Strange to think this is the same man whom Greg Sumner quotes on the following night’s KNOTS. “What was it Henry Kissinger said?” he asks Abby. "‘Power is the greatest aphrodisiac.'"

    There’s also a parallel between the Carousel Ball on DYNASTY and the American military on EMERALD POINT. Both are venerable real life institutions - the Ball, we discover through carefully placed dialogue, raises money for the Children’s Diabetes Foundation - whose reputations must not be tarnished in the on screen pursuit of soapy sensationalism. While the recent Oil Baron’s Ball and Good Ol' Boys rodeo on DALLAS were also established as fundraising events, we neither knew nor cared what charities they were supposedly affiliated with and so the characters were free to behave as disreputably as they wished. It’s safe to say there’ll be no Barnes/Ewing style punch-ups — or Krystle/Alexis cat fights, for that matter — at the Carousel Ball.

    In fact, almost everyone is on their best behaviour. There are even familial reconciliations during the party, between Blake and Steven, and Alexis and Adam. Viewed in a Christmassy context, these take on a sentimental sweetness. To leaven the sugary taste, the Ball also marks the return to DYNASTY of former senator Neil McVane, as consumed by hatred towards Alexis ("that witch!”) as ever. Nice to know the sick kiddies ain’t too proud to accept donations from a disgraced (and borderline deranged) politician.

    There’s also a powder room scene equivalent to the one at the Oil Baron’s Ball, where Fallon and Krystle encounter Alexis at the make-up mirror just as Pam, Katherine and Afton did Jenna and Sue Ellen. The DYNASTY ladies are as glittery as their DALLAS counterparts were but far less bitchy. Krystle telling Alexis she’s not invited to her and Blake’s nuptials is as cutting as it gets. There are icier glares between the ladies at Soap Land's other parties this week. On FALCON CREST, Maggie encounters estranged sister Terry, who was pointedly not invited to the Gioberti shindig but arrives on Michael’s arm anyway. "Don’t let me keep you from circulating,” says Maggie. “You do that so well". The main purpose of the press reception on KNOTS, meanwhile, is to bring Abby face to face with Jane Sumner, Greg’s wife. While their exchange is oh-so-civilised, Jane seems to immediately sense the true nature of Abby and Greg's relationship. (Given the original “scenes from a marriage” premise of KNOTS, it’s always interesting when the show gives us a glimpse into the lives of a married couple who exist outside the environs of the cul-de-sac. So far we’ve seen Earl and Judy Trent in action and now the Sumners. While Greg and Jane behave with far more dignity and restraint than the volatile Trents, they don’t seem to be much happier.)

    There are no parties on EMERALD POINT, but in the second of this week’s double bill of episodes a delightfully bonkers story develops involving a sex tape, a blackmailer, the murder of said blackmailer and a pair of lovers blackmailing each other over said murder — with an evil Russian agent, a dose of espionage and an attempted rape thrown in for good measure. It's the “Bobby finds Jeff Farraday dead in his apartment” story-line on steroids.

    Minor Soap Land trend of the week: Grown children disapproving of their parents’ new partners. Chief among them is JR on DALLAS who finds the prospect of Clayton marrying his mama and replacing his daddy on Southfork utterly unacceptable. On EMERALD POINT, Tiffany Case moves into the family home of lover Harlan Adams (partially as a result of that insane blackmail/murder plot) to the vocal disapproval of Harlan's daughter Hilary. “Well, you certainly deserve the blue ribbon for getting what you want,” she scowls at Tiffany. Hilary is a spoiled, willful princess reminiscent of a young Fallon Carrington minus the wit, but with a brittle poise similar to that of early Sue Ellen. Over on DYNASTY, it’s contempt at first sight when Alexis introduces son Steven to new boyfriend Dex Dexter. And while no one in the Carrington household actually disapproves of Blake remarrying Krystle, the family's reaction to their reengagement is somewhat muted — understandably so given the complicated dynamic that now exists between Jeff, Kirby and Adam, all of whom continue to live under the Carrington roof, even though Kirby is divorcing Jeff whilst carrying the baby conceived when Adam raped her.

    On KNOTS the shoe is on the other foot as Lilimae continues to convey her distaste for Val’s beau Ben. Val goes some way to soothing her mama’s feelings when she dedicates her new novel, “Nashville Junction”, to her. Lilimae is delighted — even more so when she reads the book and finds it is based on her own life. Meanwhile, on FALCON CREST, Maggie Gioberti starts researching a series of articles about her mother-in-law Jacqueline Perrault. And on DALLAS, JR begins digging into his stepfather-to-be's past and uncovers a long-lost sister. While Lilimae is deeply touched by Val’s interest in her story (“Nobody’s ever written a book about me, no one’s ever done anything like that for me”), Clayton is incensed by JR’s in his. (“What the hell do you mean, poking around in my life?!”)

    On this week's DYNASTY, Krystle admits to her doctor that she hasn’t given up on her dream of having a child, in spite of the medical odds stacked against her. She might take heart from KNOTS LANDING's Val, who finds out this week she is finally pregnant after failing to conceive during her second marriage to Gary.

    Val’s delighted reaction parallels Kirby’s in last season’s DYNASTY. Both mothers-to-be initially assume that the prospective father is the man they’re currently involved with — boyfriend Ben and husband Jeff respectively. Then comes the bombshell, casually delivered by the unwitting doctor — in Val’s case in the same scene, but in Kirby's several episodes later — that the pregnancy is much further along than they initially thought. This means Kirby’s rapist and Val’s ex-husband are the real fathers of their respective children. On DYNASTY, Kirby looked to her father Joseph for support in her hour of need but settled for Krystle when he proved unavailable. On KNOTS, Val’s first instinct is to turn to Karen, but her escalating pill problem means that it’s down to Mack to fulfill the duties of best girlfriend. This he turns out to be touchingly, if incongruously, good at.

    The final scene of this week’s DYNASTY echoes the end of last week’s EMERALD POINT. Both involve a small private plane erratically piloted by a male character and carrying one female passenger. On EMERALD POINT ex-lovers Casey Denault and bad girl Hilary struggled to stay airborne during a storm; on DYNASTY Peter de Vilbis shows off his loop-the-loop skills to Fallon as Jeff watches in dismay from the ground below. The final shot of the ep is Jeff walking away from his ex-wife and her boyfriend, having accused Peter of endangering “the mother of my child" with his reckless behaviour. KNOTS ends similarly with Gary walking away from his ex-wife after a chance meeting in a parking lot, during which Val neglects to mention she is now carrying his child.

    And this week’s Top 5 are …

    1 (4) DALLAS
    2 (1) KNOTS LANDING
    3 (3) FALCON CREST
    4 (5) EMERALD POINT N.A.S.
    5 (-) DYNASTY
     
  10. James from London

    James from London Soap Chat Star

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    28/Dec/83: DYNASTY: The Wedding v. 29/Dec/83: KNOTS LANDING: Secrets Cry Aloud

    The climactic scenes of this week's KNOTS and DYNASTY each have the majority of the cast assembling to witness a key event involving two central characters. On DYNASTY, it’s Blake and Krystle’s wedding. On KNOTS, it's a Neighbours for Survival meeting where Karen is due to make a speech introducing Greg as the guest speaker. (Exactly who or what Neighbours for Survival is kept vague, but the name itself chimes with KNOTS' recurring theme of vigilantism.) While the DYNASTY affair goes off without a hitch, the KNOTS event is a disaster.

    Blake and Krystle’s is first big wedding on DYNASTY since, well, the first big wedding on DYNASTY, which was also Blake and Krystle’s, back in the first episode. And of the six Soap Land marriages we’ve had this season, this is one of only two that hasn’t been a quickie ceremony in front of a Justice of the Peace. Given Soap Land's reputation for opulence and glamour, this is surprising, until one remembers that the entire genre was sparked off by an elopement, Bobby and Pam’s on DALLAS.

    While DYNASTY’s wedding recalls the lavishness of its pilot episode (while not quite matching it), the Neighbours for Survival meeting, with its folding chairs and homemade banners, is something of a throwback to KNOTS' early days of community events. Back then, Seaview Circle’s representatives at such meetings were solidly conventional suburbanites. Now their number includes a crime commissioner, a best-selling novelist and the head of a news channel.

    Mack, Val, Ben and the rest of the crowd watch in dismay as Karen falls apart midway through her speech and has to be led from the hall. The only real surprise is that they’re all so surprised. With Karen’s pill problem already such an open secret on the cul-de-sac, it seems a little odd that they would expect her to handle such a big speech in the first place, but I guess denial covers a multitude of sins, including the occasional plot hole. In fact, if I’ve one criticism of this period of KNOTS it’s that Karen’s drug dependency and her role as Mary Frances’s surrogate mother have been jammed together somewhat illogically. But with everything else working so well (this is the ep where Mack publicly announces his intention to expose the Wolfbridge Group and Abby encounters Mark St Clare for the first time), it’s a very minor complaint.

    Following the example set by Lilimae, who has been openly critical of Val's new love interest throughout this season of KNOTS, Alexis voices her disapproval of Fallon's latest beau in this week’s DYNASTY. Mind you, it’s hard to imagine Lilimae describing Ben as “decadent, burnt out … and evidently not too shabby in bed” the way Alexis does Peter de Vilbis. And anyway, Lilimae makes a concerted effort to bury the hatchet with Ben this week after learning of Val’s pregnancy. “I’m gonna be the best grandma any baby ever had,” she promises her tearfully. Meanwhile, Alexis plays with Fallon’s son in her penthouse, but any direct reference to her being his grandmother is studiously avoided.

    Both KNOTS LANDING’s Ben and DYNASTY’s Adam make impassioned speeches about the prospect of impending fatherhood this week. Adam, the true father of Kirby’s unborn baby, insists upon his right to be recognised as such. “I know what it’s like to grow up without a father … and I can’t deny our child that chance,” he tells Kirby. Meanwhile Ben, who mistakenly believes himself to be the father of Val’s child, delivers a touching speech in her living room. "I don’t know why I never thought I could be a father,” he says. "I guess I figured I would be no damn good at it. Today, I realised I was wrong. Today, I realised that I’m gonna be the best damn father that ever lived. I mean I already love this baby and it’s not even born yet!” Neither Kirby nor Val wastes any time in disabusing these men of their assumptions. “It isn’t going to happen,” Kirby tells Adam flatly after he insists they get married. “It’s not your child, it’s Gary’s,” Val tells Ben as gently as she can. Ben walks out without saying a word — and with Kirby and Jeff still planning to divorce, it looks as if she and Val are facing similar futures as Soap Land’s first unmarried mothers.

    With only DYNASTY and KNOTS to focus on this week, an unexpected parallel also emerges between Mark Jennings and Laura Avery. Each works for a powerful woman, whom they openly dislike and whose pomposity they prick whenever the whim takes them. "Sometimes I think you really do believe that bull you toss out,” Mark tells Alexis, after eavesdropping on her conversation with Fallon. “Doesn’t it bother you that all these people are losing their homes?” Laura asks Abby, referring to the Lotus Point residents whom Abby is displacing to further her own interests. Alexis and Abby respond to such insubordination with half-hearted ultimatums. "One way or another you're gonna pack your bags so you decide whether it's one suitcase or everything you own,” Alexis tells Mark when he questions the wisdom of them gatecrashing Blake and Krystle’s honeymoon. “This is the way the game is played. If you don’t have the stomach for it you can always get out,” Abby tells Laura. Both relationships are great fun — each pair bickers like an old married couple reluctantly shackled together — but Mark and Laura’s outspokenness also hint at disasters yet to come. “That enemy list of yours grows longer every day, Alexis,” Mark observes. “If Gary’s off with Cathy I guess he won’t be paying any attention to Lotus Point,” surmises Laura. "I guess that’s how the big kids play, don’t they?”

    Both Alexis and Dex, and Greg and Abby, indulge in a bout of sofa sex this week — the former in Alexis’s office (how very JR of her), the latter in the penthouse above Abby’s office. While Dex and Alexis’s couch-based copulation is followed by an argument ("I think you still have a thing for Blake Carrington!”), Greg and Abby’s is preceded by one (“You’re an expensive woman, you could be costing me too much”). Thinking Greg is about to dump her, Abby becomes upset. Generally speaking, Abby is surprisingly emotional about her affair with Greg. When he stood her up to be with Mary Frances a couple of episodes ago, for instance, she clearly took it to heart. Of course, how much of Abby’s feelings are about Greg himself and how much about what he get for her is open to debate. Nevertheless, it’s very interesting that Donna Mills should choose to play Abby’s emotions so close to the surface at this point.

    And this week’s Top 2 are …

    1 (2) KNOTS LANDING
    2 (5) DYNASTY
     
  11. James from London

    James from London Soap Chat Star

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    04/Jan/84: DYNASTY: The Ring v. 05/Jan/84: KNOTS LANDING: Forsaking All Others v. 06/Jan/84: DALLAS: Peter’s Principles v. 06/Jan/84: FALCON CREST: Sport of Kings v. 07/Jan/84: THE YELLOW ROSE: Divide and Conquer

    Construction-related corruption is all the rage in this week’s Soap Land. On DYNASTY, Fallon does business with an architect friend of Peter de Vilbis whom Adam tries to warn her is up to no good. She won’t listen but the deal does seem to be in some way connected to Peter’s debt and drug problems. Over on FALCON CREST, Richard announces his intention to have the official groundbreaking ceremony of the Tuscany Valley racetrack on Falcon Crest property, which will destroy ten acres of vines in the process. "He has perverted the intent of eminent domain principles to get his way, to take what he wanted!” fumes Chase. “That land has been in our family for three generations. It’s nothing less than rape!” protests Angela.

    Chase calls a meeting of the county supervisors in an attempt to get permission for Richard’s racetrack overturned. "The people of this valley have more at stake than money,” he insists. "Most have lived here for generations because this is their home. You don't just come strolling into the Tuscany Valley, whip out your cheque book and buy a heritage. You work for it. It becomes part of you.” This stirring speech resonates with what Mr and Mrs Marcus, an elderly couple refusing to sell their Lotus Point property to Abby’s company, told Laura in last week’s KNOTS LANDING. “It’s not the money we want. We have lived here for forty years. We know what happens when developers move in … Dammit, this is our home!” This week, the Wolfbridge Group eliminate the problem by simply burning down the Marcuses’ home.

    While Chase tries to derail the racetrack, Mack Mackenzie attempts to bring down the Wolfbridge Group. In retaliation, both men are subject to almost identical accusations. “Supervisor Gioberti is caught in a conflict of interest,” states Richard Channing publicly. "His is the voice of Falcon Crest and he is concerned for his personal welfare to the exclusion of the rights of the people of this valley and his voting rights should be suspended.” “Commissioner Mackenzie may be a party to a grave conflict of interest,” declares Greg Sumner during a televised press conference. "MacKenzie has used his influence as a public official for his own personal gain … I have … been forced to ask Mack Mackenzie for his resignation.” Richard and Greg both prevail - Chase loses his voting rights and Mack loses his job.

    It seems like we’re headed for some sort of climax on this week’s KNOTS LANDING. The hemmed-in, handheld camera work during the scenes at Sumner campaign headquarters makes it feel like we’re on a boat that’s about to capsize. Elsewhere, the sight of a hospitalised Karen watching Mack’s downfall on television suggests a doomy end-of-season gravitas. Surprisingly, we’re only three-fifths of the way through the season. The pace of this week’s DALLAS is almost leisurely in comparison. This is a show very confident in its storytelling — there’s something effortless about it. The scene where Afton returns home to find Cliff in an apparently compromising position with Marilee Stone is a variation on a by now familiar Soap Land scenario. However, Cliff and Marilee's matter-of-fact response to Afton’s anger (“Does she storm out like that often?” “She’s done it before”) and the small detail of Afton's headscarf ("there was a flood at the club") give the scene a lightness and wit without compromising its credibility, or its dramatic repercussions.

    One of those is a great confrontation between Pam and Cliff where she bursts into his office. "What the hell are you doing to Afton?” she demands to know. They end up having the same argument they've been having for the past six years (Cliff: "I've been kicked and kicked hard." Pam: "You mean by the Ewings? You're still singing that old song??”), but it somehow feels fresh, significant and resonant. Similarly, on FALCON CREST, Angela's umpteenth speech about the importance of the land is unexpectedly powerful and even touching. "Richard's gonna tear these vines out of the ground before the day is finished," she tells Chase. "My grandfather planted most of these vines and every generation has tended them and kept them alive. Something terribly important is going to die today."

    In fact, this entire episode of FALCON CREST is one that, without warning and for no specific reason (except perhaps the bold direction of Larry Elikkan), feels potent and exhilarating. Plot points that have been lying dormant or unexplored for weeks now rise to the surface. Suddenly everything seems to matter. “My marriage is a farce!” yells Melissa when confronted with evidence of her and Lance’s affairs at the deposition hearing over Joseph’s custody. It’s a very self-destructive, exciting moment — all the more so for being so unexpected. There’s also an excruciating scene where Emma visits Dr Ranson at his office and declares her feelings for him, only for him to gently turn her down. It’s an incident that scarcely impacts the rest of the ep, but is one of the most emotionally involving of the Soap Land week — topped only by a blisteringly good break-up scene between Chance and Colleen on THE YELLOW ROSE. (“When it comes down to feelin’, you break and run out to your big lonesome,” says Colleen sadly. God I love the dialogue on this show.)

    Following harsh words with Alexis and Sue Ellen, Dex Dexter and Peter Richards disappear for much of this week’s DYNASTY and DALLAS. When Dex finally shows up, having spent a fortnight in Australia, ("I needed that two weeks to think about my life: where it's been, where it's going and with whom. It always came down to one woman — you”) Alexis feigns indifference. "Sorry, you're dealing with a disinterested party,” she sniffs. By contrast, Sue Ellen wears her concern for Peter on her sleeve. “I was frantic — nobody knew where you were, if you were all right,” she tells him when she eventually tracks him down to the dingy apartment he had rented for them both. Dex gains Alexis’s attention with a necklace of precious jewels. “It's breathtaking!” she gasps — but is still hesitant about becoming emotionally involved with him. "It's not a collar, Alexis, it's a tribute,” he assures her. She puts the necklace on and they both stare admiringly at her reflection. Meanwhile, Sue Ellen caresses Peter’s youthful face as if it were just as precious. “You are so young and so sweet,” she whispers. “This is just a moment for us. It can’t last.” “That’s not the way I feel … not ever!” Peter insists. Both Alexis and Sue Ellen then submit to their younger men — ultimately because they want to, I guess.

    As this week’s DYNASTY ends so this week’s KNOTS LANDING begins — with a medical emergency. We leave Kirby staring at a close-up of her suddenly swollen hands and join KNOTS for an extreme close up of Karen’s eyes as she is admitted to a chemical dependency unit. Karen isn’t the first Soap Land character to develop a problem with pills — Lucy Ewing and Eudora Weldon both got there before her — but inasmuch as she has essentially been committed by her husband against her will, a closer comparison might be made with Sue Ellen at the end of DALLAS’s first season. “There’s nothing wrong with me, I’m fine,” Sue Ellen protested back then. “I don’t belong here. I’m not like those people,” Karen insists now. Miss Ellie’s line, “Sue Ellen’s the last person I thought this kind of thing would happen to” is echoed by her son Gary: “Pills - Karen’s the last person you’d expect.” But whereas there was a sense of inevitability about Sue Ellen’s alcoholism, some essential weakness or flaw in her personality or upbringing that meant she was always destined to end up in the Soap Land Sanitarium, there’s more of a "this could happen to anyone” vibe about Karen’s situation, hence her — and Mack’s — bewilderment that it should be happening to them.

    Like Julia in the FALCON CREST penitentiary, Lane Ballou in her FLAMINGO ROAD jail cell and Gary Ewing when he was hospitalised for alcoholism at the end of KNOTS’ first season, it’s interesting that Karen’s closest ally in the unit, her roommate, should be a person of colour. Like Julia, Lane and Gary, this is the first time Karen has had any meaningful on-screen interaction with a black person — a sign of how far she's fallen perhaps? “I’m not like those people,” she insists, with a sidelong glance at her new roomie. Said roomie later delivers a simple but effective speech on the subject. “There’s a lot of difference between you and me,” she tells Karen. "The drugs I use are illegal. I gotta go to the street to cop. You get yours from a doctor, for now. I can get arrested for mine and you deduct yours from your taxes. You're the lead in a TV series. My character doesn’t even have a name."

    As Karen gradually adjusts to life in the chemical dependency unit, FALCON CREST’s Julia is transferred to the Institute for the Criminally Insane. There she receives a visit from half-brother Richard who elects to tell her in the most callous way possible that the baby Melissa is carrying, whom Julia believes to be her grandchild through Lance, is really his own: "Aren't you going to congratulate me?” He then smirks as Julia goes berserk with rage. Such thrillingly wanton cruelty is FALCON CREST’s speciality.

    On DALLAS, Pam’s concern that Cliff is about to reignite the Barnes/Ewing feud provides her with a reason to meet with Bobby so they can discuss the best way to prevent it. Similarly, on KNOTS, Val takes Karen’s collapse as an opportunity to visit Gary’s ranch, ostensibly to break the news to Diana in person. Instead, it’s Gary she ends up spending time with. Despite all the unresolved emotions floating around, both sets of Ewing divorcees broach the topic of their exes’ new partners as maturely as they can. “We do have to get one thing out of the way first — how’s Mark?” says Bobby as he and Pam sit down to dinner together. He then gestures for her to do likewise. Pam laughs. “How's Jenna?” she asks. Over on KNOTS, Gary inquires about Ben and expresses concern when Val admits they’re no longer seeing each other. Val then bravely requests that he “say hi to Abby for me,” before driving away at the end of the scene.

    When Gary tells Laura that he will oppose the development of Lotus Point by an unknown company ("I’m not gonna give up without a fight”) it looks as if we’re in for a variation on the DALLAS Season 3 plot where Miss Ellie vowed to stop the Takapa project without realising Jock was behind it. This time, Gary takes his mama’s role, Abby substitutes for Jock and Laura is a more morally compromised version of the caught-in-the-middle Krebbses. However, by the end of this week's episode Gary is sufficiently suspicious of his wife’s involvement to order a company audit. Abby and Laura are left looking as shifty as Angela and Philip did when Chase ordered the same thing at Falcon Crest last year, or JR when Jock insisted the Ewing Oil accounts be inspected back in DALLAS Season 2.

    Another trend of the week: unknown enemies lurking without. On DYNASTY, Steven’s son Danny is approached by a nameless man in the park whom his nanny is later convinced has followed them home. On FALCON CREST, Maggie has no idea she too is being followed by an anonymous man as she continues her research on Jacqueline Perrault. On KNOTS LANDING, Mark St Clare discusses Mack’s fate with Greg over the phone as a group of unidentified men, their faces shrouded in darkness, look on in silence. On DALLAS, another unknown man observes Donna lunching with Edgar Randolph at the Oil Barons Club before sidling up to JR at the bar. “He’s the one. No doubt about it,” he tells him.

    Random coincidence of the week: DYNASTY’s Steven Carrington and DALLAS’s Steven “Dusty" Farlow both celebrate a birthday. The latter’s big day take place off screen but is referred to by his father, thereby providing JR with an opportunity to pry a little further into the Farlow family’s past, specifically Clayton’s mysterious sister Jessica. This week he learns that she is the widow of an English lord. Interesting stuff — but nothing compared to the dirt FALCON CREST's Maggie digs up on the Giobertis’ own Europe-based relative, the late Jacqueline Perrault. "Her second husband was a Nazi sympathiser who made his fortune by looting the French art museums during the Occupation,” she tells Chase. "He was murdered and she inherited everything."

    The YELLOW ROSE equivalent of Jessica Montford and Jacqueline Perrault makes her on-screen debut this week. The bitterly estranged sister of Jeb Hollister and the secret mother of Chance McKenzie, Rose Hollister is as controversial a character as they come - a kind of Jacqueline Perrault and Rebecca Wentworth rolled into one. Rose harbours a secret similar to the one Jacqueline did when she arrived in FALCON CREST: “If Jeb ever learns that I had a child by Wade Champion and that child is in line to inherit everything Jeb stole from me and more, it’s that boy who’ll be destroyed." And in the same way that Lana Turner’s reputation for glamour and scandal overlapped with Jacqueline’s on FALCON CREST, the casting of legendary Hollywood star Jane Russell as Rose complements both her character’s status and no-nonsense attitude. (What other female in Soap Land could deliver the line, “Flattery don’t cut cow flop”?) While Soap Land has been full of veteran movie actors from the beginning - Barbara Bel Geddes, Jane Wyman, Howard Keel, Julie Harris - none of them brought with them the star wattage or iconic “baggage" of Jane Russell or Lana Turner. Rose’s introductory scene takes place in a saloon bar where she first observes and then flirts with Chance without letting him know she’s his mother. This certainly puts Adam and Fallon's inadvertently incestuous kiss in last season’s DYNASTY into perspective.

    THE YELLOW ROSE ends with a really terrific family meeting where the Champions vote on whether or not to allow Jeb Hollister to drill for oil on the ranch — a decision that would secure their future but also go against the promise Roy to made to his late father. “Choosing between a land covered in oil wells and no land at all because we can’t afford to hold onto it isn’t a choice at all,” says Chance. "I’m sorry, Roy. This isn’t the 1940s, it’s the 1980s.” It’s as tense and dramatic as equivalent scenes on the original DALLAS, but there’s an additional component too — an emotional complexity of the kind often found in New DALLAS, which also makes it genuinely moving.

    And this week’s Top 5 are …

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

    James from London Soap Chat Star

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    09/Jan/84: EMERALD POINT N.A.S.: The Assignment v. 11/Jan/84: DYNASTY: Lancelot v. 12/Jan/84: KNOTS LANDING: Reconcilable Differences v. 13/Jan/84: DALLAS: Offshore Crude v. 13/Jan/84: FALCON CREST: Queen’s Gambit v. 14/Jan/84: THE YELLOW ROSE: Hell Hath No Fury

    On this week’s DYNASTY and KNOTS LANDING, Blake Carrington and Lilimae Clements are equally bemused by the respective break-ups of Kirby & Jeff and Val & Ben. "There is a child involved,” Blake reminds Jeff, "an unborn child to whom you and Kirby have a tremendous responsibility.” "It’s not just you and Valene now,” Lilimae chides Ben. "You have your child to think about.”

    Much to Ben’s frustration, Val continues to keep the reason for their break-up, the fact that she is really pregnant by Gary, a secret from both Lilimae and Gary himself. “You have a separate set of lies for each of us,” he tells her angrily. Conversely, on DYNASTY, Adam finally admits to Blake that he raped and impregnated Kirby. "In another time, they'd have dragged you out to the centre of the square and horse-whipped you, branded you an animal!” Blake shouts, appalled. There is a juicy paradox at work here. Earlier in the same episode, Jeanette the maid happens upon Adam looking at Little Blake and Danny. "The Carrington heirs,” she sighs. "How your father loves them. He'd give their parents the world for what they've given him." "Yes, the world,” he murmurs in agreement. So by incurring his father’s wrath, even offering to move back to Montana with Kirby and the baby, Adam is actually securing his place in the Carrington dynasty. "You're my son and dammit, you're gonna stay right here in this house and you're gonna learn what it is to behave like a man, like a Carrington!” bellows Blake.

    Blake’s disgust is notable for another reason. His description of what Adam did to Kirby — “it's an act of violence, it's an act of abuse and violence” — is the first time a Soap Land character has defined and condemned rape so unequivocally. (I may be overlooking the FLAMINGO ROAD episode “Victim”, which I disliked so much I’ve erased most of it from my memory.) It’s ironic that it should fall to Blake to take such a stand. Like JR on DALLAS, he is a former rapist himself but has never been characterised as such. The “r” word crops up on this week’s FALCON CREST too, when Maggie brands Richard’s racetrack development as "the rape of the Tuscany Valley”. There’s also "an act of abuse and violence” between a male and female in this week's EMERALD POINT where the Russian Rashid Ahmed abruptly punches Tiffany Case in the face sending her sprawling onto some handily situated trash cans. This, however, was a moment so unexpected and absurd it made me laugh out loud.

    As part of her complicated espionage plan, Tiffany does a Claudia Blaisdel and seduces the guy with access to the information she needs, then rummages through his pockets while he’s otherwise occupied. Her Jeff Colby equivalent is Lucy Ewing’s former English professor/lover, Greg Forrester, who is still the same good looking bespectacled nerd with a wife and kids that he was in DALLAS Seasons 2 and 3. Tiffany isn’t the only Soap Land redhead mixing business and pleasure this week as Laura Avery winds up in bed with Greg Sumner in KNOTS. Their getting together is depicted with such tantalising economy one can only speculate at what has motivated such a union: an attempt by Greg to keep Laura on side, an opportunity for Laura to exact some long-awaited revenge on Abby, or just good old fashioned physical desire. Most likely it's a combination of all three.

    Random Soap Land trend of the week: minor characters in mortal jeopardy. FALCON CREST's recurring law enforcer Sheriff Robbins collapses with an aneurysm and refuses to let anyone but Michael Ranson operate on him. Michael, however, hasn’t performed surgery since losing a patient on the operating table years earlier. So far so Nick Toscanni, but whereas Nick rose to the challenge when faced with a similar crisis on DYNASTY, Michael freezes in the operating theatre and has to be replaced by another surgeon. Meanwhile, almost exactly two years after Jock Ewing’s fatal helicopter crash in DALLAS, a plane malfunctions on EMERALD POINT and a character we’ve never seen or heard of before, but whom we learn was a surrogate son to Harlan Adams, is killed. We learn of a similar bond on this week's YELLOW ROSE between Chance and the elderly Toat Gilmore who looked out for each other when they shared a prison cell for five years. Toat is still behind bars but now dying of a heart condition so Chance devises a convoluted scheme to get him out of jail and reunite him with his long-lost grandson.

    Having introduced Jane Russell as the controversial Rose Hollister in last week’s YELLOW ROSE, this week’s ep doesn’t even refer to her. Instead, we have a wacky prison break plot involving rodeo clowns and identity-swaps. Soap Land hasn’t been this schizo since the story of Gary and Abby’s affair kept getting interrupted by tales of haunted houses, silent movie stars and Lilimae’s cross country trek with Jackson Mobeley in KNOTS Season 3. (Speaking of Jackson Mobeley, he makes his second Soap Land appearance of the season in the guise of a horse trainer on this week's DYNASTY.) But however implausible the YELLOW ROSE story, we buy into it because we believe in the characters.

    Just as KNOTS LANDING’s Abby began this season by describing herself to Jim Westmont as “the next Mrs. Gary Ewing” before she had even been proposed to so Terry confidently informs Angela she is to be “the next Mrs. Michael Ranson” on this week's FALCON CREST. Like Westmont, Angela is skeptical, but blonde ambition will out. By the end of this week’s ep, Michael has confided to Terry that the patient he lost on the operating table ten years earlier was his own wife.

    Other characters have their secrets too. Gary learns in this week's KNOTS that Cathy spent four years in prison. On THE YELLOW ROSE, Caryn Careiba, Jeb Hollister’s tightly wound personal assistant, lets her hair and her guard down to reveal to Roy Champion that she is the girl whose virginity he took when they were teenagers and she’s been obsessed with him ever since (it’s Jenna Wade's back story mixed with Katherine Wentworth's psychological profile). Even Michael Ranson’s DALLAS counterpart, the incorruptible Edgar Randolph, turns out to be susceptible to blackmail when JR unearths something unimaginably heinous from his past.

    This week's DYNASTY and KNOTS each ends with a married couple in an emotional embrace, one partner supporting the other who has collapsed in tears. In both cases, there's a bit of a role reversal going on. Claudia Carrington and Mack Mackenzie may each have been the stronger, more dependable spouse in their relationship so far this season — Claudia helping Steven retain custody of his son and then reconcile with his father, Mack supporting Karen through her estrangement from Diana and problem with pills — but now they are the ones in need. While Claudia is in shock after receiving a bouquet of violets apparently from her dead husband Matthew, Karen eavesdrops on a phone conversation between Mack and his father. “I’m OK, I’m gonna get through this … Karen’s like the rock of Gibraltar … She’s the one that’s getting me through this,” Mack is saying bravely. It’s only after the call that he starts to break down. The way Mack struggles in vain to contain his emotions — at one point biting on his bathrobe to stop himself from crying — is compellingly authentic.

    This is also the episode that establishes Mack and Ben as close friends. First, they team up to clear Mack’s good name (which was besmirched in last week’s ep by his former best bud Greg Sumner) by investigating the Wolfbridge Group, then gradually begin to confide in each other about their emotional lives — the way ordinary men rarely do but Soap Land characters are compelled to. KNOTS navigates this transition via three separate scenes between the two men. In the first, Mack asks Ben how he is feeling with regard to his break up with Val. In the second, Ben does the same to Mack apropos of his problems with Karen. Each man avoids answering the other’s question, which kind of tells us what we need to know. Then in the third scene, having broken the macho ice, they are free to openly discuss their relationships and feelings. “Maybe men and women don’t belong together,” Mack concludes. "They sure as hell don’t seem to understand a damn thing about each other." (Friendships between men aren’t really a factor on the other soaps where nearly all male relationships are drawn along familial lines. The exception would be Blake Carrington’s friendships with Andrew Laird and Joseph Anders, but it’s notable that both of those men are/were in his employ.)

    Broadly speaking, masculine emotions — deeply felt but rarely articulated — are what drives THE YELLOW ROSE and gives it its unique flavour. The most powerful scene in this week’s episode is between Roy Champion and his son Whit. When Whit calls his mother — who is suing Roy on Whit’s behalf — a pregnant slut, Roy’s intuitive response is to punch him. Whit retaliates in kind. Seconds later they’re hugging each other fiercely and exchanging “I love you”s. On any other soap, this would be as icky as it sounds but here it feels primal and real.

    And this week’s Top 6 are …

    1 (3) DALLAS
    2 (4) KNOTS LANDING
    3 (1) THE YELLOW ROSE
    4 (2) FALCON CREST
    5 (5) DYNASTY
    6 (-) EMERALD POINT N.A.S.
     
  13. James from London

    James from London Soap Chat Star

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    16/Jan/84: EMERALD POINT N.A.S.: Secrets v. 18/Jan/84: DYNASTY: Seizure v. 19/Jan/84: KNOTS LANDING: Second Chances v. 20/Jan/84: DALLAS: Some Do...Some Don't v. 20/Jan/84: FALCON CREST: Bitter Harvest v. 21/Jan/84: THE YELLOW ROSE: Deadline

    Currently, the most interesting part of EMERALD POINT is the corruption of Casey Denault, who began the series as a heroic navy pilot and this week blackmails Harlan Adams into making him a vice president of his company. Meanwhile DYNASTY’s principle bad boy Adam has turned over a new leaf in the opposite direction, apologising to Jeff for past behaviour and vowing to do right by Kirby. However, his fresh start appears to be predicated on his future with Kirby and their baby, both of whose lives are hanging in the balance by the end of this week's episode. Over on KNOTS, Ben Gibson’s disappointment at not being the father of Val’s child has caused him to rethink his plans to settle down and he decides to accept an assignment in Central America instead. Adam and Ben’s male broodiness is echoed by, of all people, JR Ewing. “I just ache for more children,” he admits to Sue Ellen in this week’s DALLAS. “That’s never gonna happen,” she assures him curtly. JR, Ben, Adam … it’s an interesting shift, given that it’s usually the feelings of its baby-deprived female characters that Soap Land chooses to focus on.

    Terry Hartford’s declaration in last week’s FALCON CREST that she is to be “the next Mrs Michael Ranson” is matched by similarly bold claims from Tiffany Case and Peter de Vilbis in this week’s EMERALD POINT and DYNASTY. “Why don’t you just accept the fact that I’m going to be Mrs Harlan Adams and get on with it?” suggests Tiffany to Harlan’s daughter Hilary, even though she and Harlan are no more engaged than Terry and Michael. Meanwhile DYNASTY’s Peter takes Fallon by surprise by announcing at a press conference that she “will soon be Mrs Peter de Vilbis”. Blake is no happier to learn of his daughter’s engagement via the medium of television than Karen MacKenzie was when she found out about her daughter’s marriage in similar circumstances earlier in the season ("It's not Miss Fairgate, it's Mrs Tony Fenice!” yelled Diana at a TV camera after Chip’s arrest). While Blake calls Fallon “a very impulsive young lady”, Karen admits that she and Diana are equally headstrong during a believably tentative mother/daughter reconciliation scene in this week’s KNOTS.

    Both Bobby Ewing and Alexis Colby find themselves all dressed up with nowhere to go this week. A tuxedo-clad Bobby arrives at Jenna’s place to take her to hear the Dallas Symphony (“tonight was gonna be culture night”) only to find her knee deep in preparations for her imminent boutique opening. Meanwhile Alexis waits in a pink ballgown for Dex to escort her to an opening night at the ballet. When he eventually shows up, he’s wearing a soiled leather jacket and jeans, having come directly from an oil field. Both couples compromise - Bobby by taking Charlie out for hamburgers while still in his tux, Dex by sliding out of his dirty clothes in the middle of Alexis’s living room and encouraging her to do likewise. Dex’s lack of inhibition contrasts with fellow toy boy Peter Richards' meek assurance to Sue Ellen in this week’s DALLAS that “making love with you isn’t half as important as just being with you”.

    Alexis, Sue Ellen and FALCON CREST’s Michael Ranson are all enticed out of their comfort zones by their much younger lovers this week. Dex takes Alexis to Powder Valley in order to meet hayseed land owner Oscar Stone, portrayed by the same actor who played hayseed land owner Wally Kessell in the DALLAS Season 1 episode “Sue Ellen’s Sister”. Back then Jock Ewing referred to Wally as "an old buzzard"; now Dex calls Oscar "an old coot". Just as the Ewings were trying to persuade Wally to part with his oil rich land, so Dex and Alexis are trying to get Oscar to do the same. To keep him sweet, Alexis takes to the dance floor of Oscar’s local saloon for a heel-clicking hoedown. Over on DALLAS, Peter Richards takes Sue Ellen ice skating in an attempt to prove that they can pass for a normal couple. Alexis and Sue Ellen fare surprisingly well on dance floor and ice respectively. (Refreshments prove more of a challenge, however. Alexis’s saloon bar martini is served on the rocks with an onion while Sue Ellen looks decidedly queasy after eating what Peter describes as "the best taco you ever tasted”). Whereas Alexis and Dex’s evening is deemed a success when Oscar agrees to their deal, Sue Ellen and Peter’s takes a turn for the embarrassing when they run into some of Peter’s friends who mistake Sue Ellen for his mother. A similar faux pas is made when Terry drags an ill-at-ease Michael to a cowboy bar on FALCON CREST. “You mean this guy isn’t your father?” sneers a young guy, hitting on Terry. Terry does nothing to discourage him. “I wanted to see how you’d handle him,” she purrs to Michael later. Peter, on the other hand, is at pains to prove to Sue Ellen that his friends’ comments don’t matter. “They’re stupid, they just don’t understand how we feel!” he protests. “Our relationship is wrong,” Sue Ellen insists, her eyes misting over. While Dex and Alexis’s relationship feels smug and self-congratulatory, there’s something sweetly fragile about Peter and Sue Ellen’s. (Much like Kenny and Ginger’s arc on KNOTS and Mark's and Kirby's in DYNASTY, Peter’s story on DALLAS is working for me this watch-around in a way it never has before.)

    Of course, the centrepiece of Alexis’s trip to the Powder Valley saloon isn't her country hoedown but a surprise rendition of “See What the Boys in the Back Room Will Have”. This is the third example of a Soap Land character breaking unexpectedly into song this season. The first, and most impressive, was KNOTS LANDING’s Gary serenading Cathy with a spirited version of "Cigarettes, Whiskey and Wild, Wild Women”. He even accompanied himself on guitar. (Interesting that Gary’s song choice, like Alexis’s, should be a cowboy-tinged number written roughly forty years earlier.) This was followed by Blake Carrington’s somewhat awkward half-spoken attempt at Cole Porter’s “Embraceable You” delivered to the brim of Krystle’s hat during their wedding reception.

    Alexis’s isn’t the only song in this week’s soaps either. In the long-awaited return of Soap Land Song Wars, her Marlene Dietrich homage is pitted against Cathy Geary’s version of Bonnie Raitt’s “Love Has No Pride”. Whereas Alexis’s performance is so carefully choreographed as to be a bit tame, the brief snatch we get of Cathy’s country ballad (it’s interesting that KNOTS seems to be moving her away from Ciji’s soft rock numbers) is quite lovely. Ergo, Cathy’s the winner.

    However, while fellow working girl Jenna Wade seems to be consolidating her position within the Ewing-verse - this week’s DALLAS sees both the opening of her boutique and the (re)consummation of her relationship with Bobby - Cathy’s is looking somewhat shaky. During the same ep that Gary finds out she has served time for murder, Abby coolly informs her that her services as an extra-marital “distraction” are no longer required. (Somewhat perversely, Cathy ditches her wholesome denim cowgirl look for her clandestine meeting with Abby in favour of dressing like a gangster’s moll from the fifties.)

    Elsewhere on this week's KNOTS, Abby further embroils herself with the Wolfbridge Group in order to move up the completion date on the Lotus Point construction. It’s an excitingly reckless move that results in Mack being badly beaten in a parking lot. Conversely, Richard Channing’s continued refusal to involve FALCON CREST’s Wolfbridge equivalent, the cartel, in his race track project leads to him being chased by a car and nearly killed in an underground parking garage. While both scenes are effective — Mack’s pummelling is cross cut with Karen waiting for him to show up for their counselling session — FALCON CREST’s has the edge in terms of thrills. This kind of sinister action scene, especially when directed by good old Larry Elikann, is what FALCON CREST does particularly well.

    There’s an strong ALL THE PRESIDENT’S MEN-style feeling of satisfaction in watching KNOTS LANDING’s Ben and Mack knocking on doors and staking out offices as they gradually piece together what the audience already knows. “Laura!” gasps Mack at the end of the ep as another piece of the Wolfbridge/Apolune jigsaw falls thrillingly into place.

    Meanwhile THE YELLOW ROSE continues to confound expectations, wilfully refusing to defer to any recognisable Soap Land norms. This week’s episode picks up where the last one left off, following the story of a dying prisoner on the lam, and the vibe is very much early stand alone DALLAS (specifically the gentler aspects of episodes like “Fallen Idol” and “Home Again”) combined with KNOTS LANDING Season 3 at its most touchingly eccentric (i.e., “The Rose and the Briar”). For much of the ep it feels as if we aren’t even in soap opera territory anymore — but then a subplot kicks in halfway through that couldn’t be soapier if it tried: an interfamily court fight combined with a Julie Grey-style document leak. This culminates in the most viscerally dramatic scene of any of this week’s shows where a pregnant woman (DALLAS’s Mrs Scotfield) contemplates suicide in the ladies room. As if that weren’t unexpected enough, the Champions then amicably agree, almost as an afterthought, to do the Soap Land unthinkable — drill for oil on their own land.

    And this week’s Top 6 are …

    1 (2) KNOTS LANDING
    2 (1) DALLAS
    3 (4) FALCON CREST
    4 (3) THE YELLOW ROSE
    5 (5) DYNASTY
    6 (6) EMERALD POINT N.A.S.
     
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  14. James from London

    James from London Soap Chat Star

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    30/Jan/84: EMERALD POINT N.A.S.: Disguises v. 01/Feb/84: DYNASTY: A Little Girl v. 02/Feb/84: KNOTS LANDING: Lest the Truth be Known v. 03/Feb/84: DALLAS: Twelve Mile Limit v. 03/Feb/84: FALCON CREST: Power Play

    There’s a strong sense of urgency in this week’s Soap Land as several characters try to extricate themselves from situations that are spiraling dangerously out of control. “I don’t even care about the money anymore, I just want out!” pleads Laura Avery on KNOTS LANDING. “It’s too late for that, Laura. You’re in this as deep as anyone is,” snaps Abby. “I can’t do this anymore. Let me out, please!” begs another cornered redhead, Tiffany Case on EMERALD POINT. “It is too late,” replies the Russian Rashid Ahmed sternly. While Tiffany attempts to flee the country, KNOTS' Cathy Geary — another character whose past sins are catching up with her — tries to leave Gary's ranch, but both are driven back from whence they came by ruthless men who insist they finish the jobs they started. Meanwhile, on DALLAS, Edgar Randolph tries to leave the planet via a combination of pills and booze but is discovered by Ray and Donna Krebbs before it’s too late.

    Even death holds no escape. "At least if I had died, they wouldn't know about my past,” says Edgar, referring to his family in the final scene of this week’s DALLAS. "Sure they would,” JR replies. "I'd break your story to the newspapers before you were even cold in the ground.” JR ends the episode with a threat: “Don’t you ever mention my name to Donna Krebbs again or you’ll really regret that you didn’t die today.” On KNOTS, Laura makes the mistake of mentioning Mark St Clare’s name to Mack Mackenzie. St Clare then applies the same polite not-in-so-many-words method of intimidation to Laura that the sinister Mr. Spheeris did to Pamela Lynch on last week’s FALCON CREST. "You have such a lovely face, delicate somehow,” Spheeris told Pamela, his threat unspoken but obvious. “How old are your sons now?” St Clare asks Laura. "They depend on you, don’t they? … I’m sure you’ll find a way to sever all connections with Mack Mackenzie.”

    Both Laura and FALCON CREST’s Maggie are plagued by anonymous calls throughout this week's episodes. “He made threats against my children!” panics Laura. “He said something terrible would happen if I didn’t let Jacqueline Perrault rest in peace!” frets Maggie. Things are looking equally bleak for Richard Channing by the end of this week’s FALCON CREST: “This isn’t just a newspaper article — it’s my death warrant,” he murmurs after discovering Emma has published Maggie’s exposé of Jacqueline on the front page of the New Globe without his, or Maggie’s, knowledge.

    Back on DALLAS, Ray and Donna barge into JR’s office to accuse him of driving Edgar Randolph to attempt suicide, having correctly surmised that JR was blackmailing him. JR, however, manages to talk his way out of trouble and Donna ends up grudgingly apologising to him. Meanwhile on KNOTS, Mack bursts into Greg’s hotel suite, interrupting his smooch with Laura, and accuses him of being in cahoots with Apolune. Technically, he isn’t, but Mack refuses to believe his protestations of innocence. “I AM NOT, I REPEAT NOT INVOLVED IN THIS!” Greg screams, blowing the cool he has sustained since arriving in KNOTS all those weeks ago. The three-way showdown between JR, Donna and Ray is a blast but the one between Mack, Greg and Laura is electric. Soap Land’s been tense before but never quite as much as it is here. Larry Elikann is the perfect director for this kind of paranoid, explosive scene: all looming angles, tight close ups and shouting faces.

    At the end of this week’s KNOTS, a desperate Laura throws herself on Mack’s mercy: "I wanna tell you everything I know." There’s a confession at the end of this week’s DYNASTY too, as Adam finally admits to Blake that it was he, not Alexis, who poisoned Jeff. Whereas Alexis is exonerated by Adam, Abby is implicated by Laura (“Apolune is Abby’s company”). Just as Laura is looking for protection for her children so Adam is seeking absolution in the hopes of somehow saving his prematurely born baby. However, his efforts are in vain. “It was a little girl,” the doctor tells him sombrely.

    As if all this danger and darkness weren’t enough, another slightly loopier streak of paranoia also runs through this week's Soap Land. On EMERALD POINT, it’s slowly become apparent that newcomer David, the sleepy-eyed writer who lives by the beach like a slightly artsier Ben Gibson, is not the laid-back guy he first appeared to be. Having persuaded the widow Octopussy to let him use her life story as the basis for his new novel, he appears to be developing an obsession with her. Like previous Soap Land psychos, DALLAS’s Roger Larsen and Peter Horton in FLAMINGO ROAD, he has numerous photos of the object of his fascination pinned to his wall — but he also seems to have a past connection with her. Could he possibly be her missing-presumed-dead husband come back to life with a new face and a screw loose? A similar question hovers over the anonymous gifts Claudia keeps receiving on DYNASTY — has Matthew Blaisdel returned from the dead to torment his wife with violets and cryptic messages? Another long lost husband also shows up in KNOTS LANDING, Cathy Geary’s ex, Ray.

    Ray may not have returned from the dead, but one could argue that his appearance is still a resurrection of sorts. For if one buys into the theory that Cathy is a karmic reincarnation of Ciji, then who is Ray — a dangerously possessive and manipulative Svengali ("Skin and bones, but I saw what you could be,” he tells Cathy, recalling their first meeting) — but the spirit of Chip Roberts transposed to another body? For her part, Cathy regards Ray with the same doe-eyed passivity that Ciji did Chip. Her newly extended back story reveals that she too has been a singer since childhood — but while the young Ciji attended Carolyn Dewbarry’s Tap & Ballet School, Ray had thirteen-year-old Cathy playing clubs in Charlottesville whilst lying about her age and sleeping with him in the backseat of his car.

    In the same week that the neurotically needy Celia begs Navy boyfriend Simon not to embark on a reconnaissance mission in EMERALD POINT, KNOTS LANDING’s Val and Lilimae try to dissuade Ben from his reporting assignment in Central America. “There are wars going on!” reasons Lilimae. Unusually in Soap Land, where faraway trouble spots are customarily referred to no more specifically than "South East Asia" or "the Middle East", KNOTS dares to be a little more precise about Ben’s destination — El Salvador. Even more surprisingly, he invites Val to come along. This leads to a speech one would unlikely to hear anywhere else in Soap Land’s hermetically sealed world. “There is something about going to an undeveloped country, coping without all the gadgets that you think you need, there’s something about seeing the way people live in other parts of the world that helps you to look at your own world differently,” he tells Val. His persuasive pitch is countered by a touching monologue of Lilimae’s. “After all the adventures, strangers met and experiences had are over, there’s nothing really to hold on to,” she says to Ben. "At some point you have to be able to look someone in the eye and know that they know you … This is the best part of my life.” After listening to free spirit Lilimae extol the virtues of stability on KNOTS, it’s a little ironic to hear quintessential homebody Ellie Ewing embrace the inevitably of change during a cosy late night chat with Bobby on DALLAS. “Isn’t it odd how things work out? People change, partners come and go,” she muses philosophically.

    Also undermining Ben’s inclusive world view is Soap Land’s depiction of foreigners as uniformly sinister and untrustworthy, DYNASTY's Alexis and FALCON CREST’s Pamela notwithstanding. (While neither woman is exactly saintly — Alexis is on particularly bitchy form this week — Soap Land appears to regards Brits as honorary Americans at this point.) The remainder are portrayed as either cold-blooded killers (Russian Rashid Ahmed on EMERALD POINT, the Germanic-sounding Spheeris on FALCON CREST) or Eurotrash gigolos — while we have yet to meet Jenna’s ex-husband Naldo Marchetta, the description Katherine Wentworth’s PI gives in this week’s DALLAS of his escapades with an Italian countess in Argentina mirrors the tawdry tale Alexis tells of Peter de Vilbis and the Moroccan princess he drove to a suicide attempt when he jilted her "and flew off to Monte Carlo with some obscure little French actress with no talent — at least not for acting” in this week’s DYNASTY.

    Peter also finds time this week to goad Jeff into striking him in public. He does this by making a sexually crude comment about the woman Jeff loves. “I'm her instructor,” he boasts with reference to Fallon, "a very good instructor, in the air and in bed … She never told you about that?” Over on FALCON CREST, Lance does much the same thing to Cole. "If you ever wanna know what it's like to be with a real man, Linda,” he says to Cole’s wife, "you've got my number.” Just as Jeff knocks Peter off his La Mirage barstool so Cole pushes Lance into a clothing rack in the store they’re in. While Peter taunts Jeff merely for his own amusement, Lance has another motive for provoking Cole — to discredit him at little Joseph’s custody trial.

    This is the third custody hearing in Soap Land’s history. Earlier this season Blake fought Steven for custody of Danny in DYNASTY while two years ago JR and Sue Ellen battled over John Ross on DALLAS. (Incidentally, the same actor who played the judge at John Ross’s preliminary custody hearing is now Cole’s lawyer at Joseph’s. He was also the minister who married Alexis and Cecil on DYNASTY.) Both of those storylines took centre stage in their respective episodes; each was deemed more significant than any other concurrent plot. This, however, is not the FALCON CREST way. The story of Cole suing Melissa and Lance for custody of his son, which has been building for almost two years and which strikes at the heart of the show’s central conflict between the Giobertis and the Channings, is given no more weight or prominence than anything else in this week's episode. And while it’s still dramatic and juicy, it does not feel anywhere as momentous as it might have. Perhaps the trade-off is that we get remarkable scenes like the one in which Lance, in order to embellish the blow he received from Cole, orders Chao Li to give him (Lance) a proper beating. “Lance, tradition forbids this,” protests the mild-mannered Chao Li, but he is insistent: “My grandmother wants results, I’ll give her results.” Melissa looks on in horror as Chao Li reluctantly follows orders and beats Lance up. It's the kind of deliciously dark and twisted moment one would only get in FALCON CREST.

    After Chao Li gets through with him, it’s a toss up who makes the bigger dramatic impact: Lance when he limps into court with a bruised and puffed up face, or Mack Mackenzie in the opening scene of this week’s KNOTS when he whips off his dark glasses to reveal the gruesomely swollen eyelid that causes Laura to flinch and turn away in shock.

    And this week’s Top 5 are …

    1 (1) KNOTS LANDING
    2 (3) FALCON CREST
    3 (2) DALLAS
    4 (5) DYNASTY
    5 (6) EMERALD POINT N.A.S.
     
  15. James from London

    James from London Soap Chat Star

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    06/Feb/84: EMERALD POINT N.A.S.: Lost and Found v. 09/Feb/84: KNOTS LANDING: So Shall You Reap v. 10/Feb/84: DALLAS: Where is Poppa? v. 10/Feb/84: FALCON CREST: Changing Times v. 11/Feb/84: THE YELLOW ROSE: Land of the Free

    Two weeks after Peter de Vilbis’s engagement to Fallon on DYNASTY, Ben Gibson proposes to Val on KNOTS LANDING, but does so over a bacon and avocado sandwich in Val’s kitchen rather than as part of a televised press conference at La Mirage. Meanwhile on DALLAS, Mark Graison is still waiting for another former Mrs Ewing to reply to his recent marriage proposal.

    When confronted by Tom Mallory over her involvement with the KGB on EMERALD PO
    06/Feb/84: EMERALD POINT N.A.S.: Lost and Found v. 09/Feb/84: KNOTS LANDING: So Shall You Reap v. 10/Feb/84: DALLAS: Where is Poppa? v. 10/Feb/84: FALCON CREST: Changing Times v. 11/Feb/84: THE YELLOW ROSE: Land of the Free

    Two weeks after Peter de Vilbis’s engagement to Fallon on DYNASTY, Ben Gibson proposes to Val on KNOTS LANDING, but does so over a bacon and avocado sandwich in Val’s kitchen rather than as part of a televised press conference at La Mirage. Meanwhile on DALLAS, Mark Graison is still waiting for another former Mrs Ewing to reply to his recent marriage proposal.

    When confronted by Tom Mallory over her involvement with the KGB on EMERALD POINT, Tiffany Case crumbles and insists she was forced into cooperating with them. When confronted by Mack MacKenzie over her involvement with the Wolfbridge Group on KNOTS LANDING, Abby remains defiant and admits nothing. When confronted by Bobby over his alleged blackmail on DALLAS, JR makes light of the whole idea.

    While JR wriggles off the hook with little effort, Tiffany and Abby fare less well. Tiffany is informed that the only way she can escape prosecution is to work as a double agent to bring down the Russians, and this week’s EP ep ends with her life in jeopardy. Meanwhile Gary hits the roof when he learns that Abby’s been secretly diverting funds from his company, and this week’s KNOTS ends with her driving away from his ranch having been given her marching orders. To make matters worse, her children have elected to stay behind with Gary.

    Another mother faces a similar loss on this week’s FALCON CREST when Angela makes her daughter-in-law an offer: if Melissa will sign over custody of Joseph so that Angela can trade him with the Giobertis for half of Falcon Crest, Angela will make Melissa her sole heir. It’s a shocking proposal that comes without warning yet we scarcely see Melissa deliberate at all before agreeing to it. (In contrast, Val mulls over Ben’s marriage proposal at length during a sequence that establishes the KNOTS’ convention of cross-cutting between two parallel conversations — on this occasion between Val confiding in Karen and Ben talking to Mack.) In its own way Melissa and Angela’s Faustian pact still feels momentous, especially in the way it references Julia, still languishing in the State Institute for the Criminally Insane. "Would you have sacrificed one of your children for Falcon Crest?” Melissa asks Angela. “I'm afraid I already have,” she replies. Fleetingly, it feels as if Melissa has no moral choice but to surrender her son.

    There’s a FALCON CREST party this week. Unlike the recent big balls on DALLAS and DYNASTY, it’s a somewhat impromptu affair - Terry persuades Michael to let her throw a small dinner party which soon escalates into a full scale bash. The event itself, however, turns out to be an 80s soap classic. Specifically, it’s an early 80s Lorimar soap classic. It’s lean and it’s mean with nary a shoulder pad in sight. Everywhere you look secrets are being revealed, lies being told and illicit kisses stolen. When Richard turns on Melissa and brutally informs her he cannot possibly be the father of her unborn baby because he’s had a vasectomy, it evokes the crackle and hiss of JR and Sue Ellen snapping at each other in the darkness of Baby John's nursery or Constance glowering vengefully at Field and Lane after discovering them together in the shadows of early FLAMINGO ROAD.

    As one long term friendship is mended on this week’s KNOTS - Karen and Laura’s - another falls into disrepair at the FALCON CREST party. Michael and Chase argue bitterly following Terry’s (false) allegation that Chase made a pass at her when they were living under the same roof. Michael then goes on to fulfil the same "inappropriately drunk" role at this party as Cliff Barnes did at JR and Sue Ellen’s wedding and Sammy Jo did at the big Carrington do in DYNASTY Season 2.

    That very DYNASTY episode ended the same way as this week’s FALCON CREST does — with two glamorously dressed women, one heavily pregnant, driving away from a party whilst fighting angrily about a man. (Then it was Fallon and Alexis rowing about Cecil Colby, here it’s Melissa and Linda fighting over Cole.) The force of the argument causes the driver to lose control of the car and swerve into some dramatically positioned road works. Screams. Freeze frame. End of episode.

    There's also a parallel between this scene in FALCON CREST and what happens to Sue Ellen on DALLAS. Just as Melissa is involved in a car accident after leaving a party so Sue Ellen is hit by a car while shopping for a dress for one (Punk and Mavis’s anniversary celebration). Also like Melissa, Sue Ellen is pregnant — although we don't find that out that until the doctor at Soap Land Memorial announces that she’s miscarried. Cut to JR and Peter both looking stunned. Freeze frame. End of episode.

    There’s really only one scene in this week’s YELLOW ROSE that resembles anything we see on the other soaps. On DALLAS, Bobby surprises Jenna's thirteen year old daughter Charlie by buying her a horse while his half-brother Ray looks on benignly. On THE YELLOW ROSE, Roy Champion surprises his twelve year old half-sister LC with an elementary school graduation gift of a locket while their half brother Chance looks on benignly. But whereas Charlie’s outing merely serves as an opportunity for Ray to tell Bobby of his suspicions regarding JR and Edgar Randolph, the theft of LC’s locket by a young Hispanic boy sparks off an entire story-line about child poverty, abuse and exploitation. Running alongside this story is an equally dramatic subplot which culminates in an illegal immigrant giving birth during a deadly shoot out with some crooked cops. All is well by the end of the hour, however, for this is an entirely stand alone episode. From a Soap Land perspective, where we’re used to seeing shows develop away from self-contained instalments towards more episodic storytelling instead of the other way around, it’s tempting to view this as a retrograde step (where the hell is Jane Russell anyhow?) but viewed on its own terms, this is still an absorbing, dramatic and touching ep with some lovely acting. In contrast to the other soaps, its lead characters espouse a belief in the American Dream that is neither cynical nor jingoistic. I guess the difference is that it sides unequivocally with the underdog — immigrants, underprivileged kids — against their exploiters.

    And this week’s Top 5 are …

    1 (2) FALCON CREST
    2 (1) KNOTS LANDING
    3 (3) DALLAS
    4 (-) THE YELLOW ROSE
    5 (5) EMERALD POINT N.A.S.
    INT, Tiffany Case crumbles and insists she was forced into cooperating with them. When confronted by Mack MacKenzie over her involvement with the Wolfbridge Group on KNOTS LANDING, Abby remains defiant and admits nothing. When confronted by Bobby over his alleged blackmail on DALLAS, JR makes light of the whole idea.

    While JR wriggles off the hook with little effort, Tiffany and Abby fare less well. Tiffany is informed that the only way she can escape prosecution is to work as a double agent to bring down the Russians, and this week’s EP ep ends with her life in jeopardy. Meanwhile Gary hits the roof when he learns that Abby’s been secretly diverting funds from his company, and this week’s KNOTS ends with her driving away from his ranch having been given her marching orders. To make matters worse, her children have elected to stay behind with Gary.

    Another mother faces a similar loss on this week’s FALCON CREST when Angela makes her daughter-in-law an offer: if Melissa will sign over custody of Joseph so that Angela can trade him with the Giobertis for half of Falcon Crest, Angela will make Melissa her sole heir. It’s a shocking proposal that comes without warning yet we scarcely see Melissa deliberate at all before agreeing to it. (In contrast, Val mulls over Ben’s marriage proposal at length during a sequence that establishes the KNOTS’ convention of cross-cutting between two parallel conversations — on this occasion between Val confiding in Karen and Ben talking to Mack.) In its own way Melissa and Angela’s Faustian pact still feels momentous, especially in the way it references Julia, still languishing in the State Institute for the Criminally Insane. "Would you have sacrificed one of your children for Falcon Crest?” Melissa asks Angela. “I'm afraid I already have,” she replies. Fleetingly, it feels as if Melissa has no moral choice but to surrender her son.

    There’s a FALCON CREST party this week. Unlike the recent big balls on DALLAS and DYNASTY, it’s a somewhat impromptu affair - Terry persuades Michael to let her throw a small dinner party which soon escalates into a full-scale bash. The event itself, however, turns out to be an 80s soap classic. Specifically, it’s an early 80s Lorimar soap classic. It’s lean and it’s mean with nary a shoulder pad in sight. Everywhere you look secrets are being revealed, lies being told and illicit kisses stolen. When Richard turns on Melissa and brutally informs her he cannot possibly be the father of her unborn baby because he’s had a vasectomy, it evokes the crackle and hiss of JR and Sue Ellen snapping at each other in the darkness of Baby John's nursery or Constance glowering vengefully at Field and Lane after discovering them together in the shadows of early FLAMINGO ROAD.

    As one long-term friendship is mended on this week’s KNOTS - Karen and Laura’s - another falls into disrepair at the FALCON CREST party. Michael and Chase argue bitterly following Terry’s (false) allegation that Chase made a pass at her when they were living under the same roof. Michael then goes on to fulfil the same "inappropriately drunk" role at this party as Cliff Barnes did at JR and Sue Ellen’s wedding and Sammy Jo did at the big Carrington do in DYNASTY Season 2.

    That very DYNASTY episode ended the same way as this week’s FALCON CREST does — with two glamorously dressed women, one heavily pregnant, driving away from a party whilst fighting angrily about a man. (Then it was Fallon and Alexis rowing about Cecil Colby, here it’s Melissa and Linda fighting over Cole.) The force of the argument causes the driver to lose control of the car and swerve into some dramatically positioned road works. Screams. Freeze frame. End of episode.

    There's also a parallel between this scene in FALCON CREST and what happens to Sue Ellen on DALLAS. Just as Melissa is involved in a car accident after leaving a party so Sue Ellen is hit by a car while shopping for a dress for one (Punk and Mavis’s anniversary celebration). Also like Melissa, Sue Ellen is pregnant — although we don't find that out that until the doctor at Soap Land Memorial announces that she’s miscarried. Cut to JR and Peter both looking stunned. Freeze frame. End of episode.

    There’s really only one scene in this week’s YELLOW ROSE that resembles anything we see on the other soaps. On DALLAS, Bobby surprises Jenna's thirteen year old daughter Charlie by buying her a horse while his half-brother Ray looks on benignly. On THE YELLOW ROSE, Roy Champion surprises his twelve year old half-sister LC with an elementary school graduation gift of a locket while their half brother Chance looks on benignly. But whereas Charlie’s outing merely serves as an opportunity for Ray to tell Bobby of his suspicions regarding JR and Edgar Randolph, the theft of LC’s locket by a young Hispanic boy sparks off an entire storyline about child poverty, abuse and exploitation. Running alongside this story is an equally dramatic subplot which culminates in an illegal immigrant giving birth during a deadly shootout with some crooked cops. All is well by the end of the hour, however, for this is an entirely stand alone episode. From a Soap Land perspective, where we’re used to seeing shows develop away from self-contained instalments towards more episodic storytelling instead of the other way around, it’s tempting to view this as a retrograde step (where the hell is Jane Russell anyhow?) but viewed on its own terms, this is still an absorbing, dramatic and touching ep with some lovely acting. In contrast to the other soaps, its lead characters espouse a belief in the American Dream that is neither cynical nor jingoistic. I guess the difference is that it sides unequivocally with the underdog — immigrants, underprivileged kids — against their exploiters.

    And this week’s Top 5 are …

    1 (2) FALCON CREST
    2 (1) KNOTS LANDING
    3 (3) DALLAS
    4 (-) THE YELLOW ROSE
    5 (5) EMERALD POINT N.A.S.
     
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  16. James from London

    James from London Soap Chat Star

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    13/Feb/84: EMERALD POINT N.A.S.: The Climax v. 16/Feb/84: KNOTS LANDING: High Ideals v. 17/Feb/84: DALLAS: When the Bough Breaks v. 17/Feb/84: FALCON CREST: The Aftermath v. 18/Feb/84: THE YELLOW ROSE: Sport of Kings

    There are two clear themes in this week’s Soap Land: miscarriages and missing daughters. On FALCON CREST, Melissa follows DYNASTY’s Kirby and DALLAS’s Sue Ellen to become the third character in as many weeks to lose a child while the families of Leslie Mallory on EMERALD POINT, Olivia Cunningham on KNOTS LANDING and LC Champion on THE YELLOW ROSE each do anxious waiting-by-the-telephone acting after all three girls mysteriously disappear.

    “She doesn’t belong here, Bobby. She’s seeing a side of life that's gonna be very tough for her to have to give up.” That's Jenna Wade on DALLAS, worrying about the repercussions for her thirteen-year-old daughter Charlie should her relationship with Bobby break down. It's also the precise situation faced by Abby’s twelve-year-old daughter Olivia on this week’s KNOTS. “It’s her fault!” Olivia sobs, referring to her mother’s break up with Bobby’s brother Gary. "She ruined the best time of my life!"

    Olivia is so unhappy that she runs away from home. This is prefaced by a prolonged sequence where we see her walking through the ranch one morning, greeting several of the hands by name, before apparently leaving for school. Instead of getting on the bus, however, she takes off on her own. It’s reminiscent of the early scenes in “Lessons” (DALLAS Season 1) that establish the regular charade Lucy would go through to make everyone believe that she too was on her way to school.

    Over the course of the episode, we see Olivia walking across town before finally arriving at her destination, the cul-de-sac where she used to live. As she journeys back to the heart of the show, she encounters various scenarios that seem to represent aspects of KNOTS’ past. There’s a biker gang right out of "Land of the Free” who sound their horns as they drive past her and a homeless vagrant reminiscent of Lilimae during her shopping cart period. There’s also a car that pulls up to the sidewalk where she is walking. We’re too far away to hear any dialogue but the driver appears to beckon Olivia over. She complies but then hastily moves away, suggesting some kind of unsavoury proposition has taken place. While this echoes — albeit vaguely - Annie Fairgate’s false arrest for prostitution back in the KNOTS pilot, it chimes directly with the plot of this week’s YELLOW ROSE. After twelve year old LC Champion is abducted from a racetrack during a family visit to Los Angeles, her family fear that she has fallen prey to sex traffickers. While mother Colleen and brother Roy contact the police and then wait by the phone, her other brother Chance pounds LA’s mean streets looking for answers. These could easily be the same streets walked by Olivia in KNOTS. Chance too meets his share of down at heel characters along the way including a black hooker who calls him honky and a pimp trying to persuade a teenage boy to turn tricks for him.

    Like “Dark Journey," the early episode of FALCON CREST where the teenage Vicky Gioberti runs into danger after leaving the confines of Tuscany Valley for the wilds of San Francisco, both THE YELLOW ROSE and KNOTS depict "the outside world" as a place fraught with sexual predators and victims. Like Chase Gioberti in that episode, Chance poses as an out-of-towner with a predilection for underage girls in his bid to locate the missing minor but makes a far less embarrassing job of it. However, by the time LC’s mama has gone undercover as a prostitute most of this ep’s credibility has gone out the window in favour of clunky, issue-based story of the week contrivances. Nevertheless, the regular characters remain three dimensional, their emotions raw and believable.

    The Champions’ fears are realised when it is discovered that LC is indeed being held in some sort of sex palace specialising in underage girls. (Seems Olivia Cunningham had a narrow escape.) It's a far cry from the warm and welcoming brothels of DYNASTY and FLAMINGO ROAD’s first seasons. Heck, even Judith Ryland’s New DALLAS whorehouse wasn’t this sordid. The location turns out to be Michael Tyrone’s former house on FLAMINGO ROAD, aka the current exterior of the Carrington mansion on DYNASTY.

    While its authentic action scenes have been one of THE YELLOW ROSE’s unique selling points when it comes to LC’s rescue we’re very much in generic TV territory. A locked door opens with one kick, a wooden chair shatters easily over a henchman’s head. (With only four regular characters and no ranch scenes this week, I think it’s safe to assume this episode was largely constructed as a budget-saving exercise.) During the ep’s climax, Roy Champion shoots one of LC’s captors on the very staircase where F’LINGO RD’s Michael Tyrone once memorably engineered his fiancee's discovery of his affair with her own daughter.

    This is the second week in a row where Roy pulls a trigger in self-defence. Last week he shot and killed a gun-running border patrol cop. EMERALD POINT’s kidnapped daughter, Ensign Leslie Mallory, does the same thing this week to escape her Russian captor. Where a stoic Roy was quietly counseled by his brother Chance, a wailing Leslie seeks solace from her two equally distressed sisters, the three of them congregating for a loudly emotional group hug.

    Back on KNOTS, it’s dark by the time Olivia arrives at Val’s house. The emotional pile up at the end of the episode, with Gary and Abby each arriving separately at Val’s (who herself has been confined to bed due to her pregnancy) is just great. If I remember correctly, this is the first time Abby has stepped foot in Seaview Circle since she and Gary left at the beginning of last season and the ep gives her a moment to look ruefully around the cul-de-sac as if to say, I never thought I’d be back here again.

    Try as she might, Abby remains strictly on the back foot throughout this week’s KNOTS. As well as ordering her off his ranch, Gary also freezes his company's assets which puts her at a serious disadvantage with the Wolfbridge Group. Adding insult to injury, Greg has dumped her for Laura and her own children have elected to stay with Gary instead of her. This is by no means the first time Soap Land's villains have received their comeuppance — JR most memorably after his family learned that he had mortgaged Southfork, Alexis when her various schemes caught up with her towards the end of DYNASTY’s second season — but with Abby it feels somehow different, more complicated. Whereas JR’s and Alexis’s Achilles heels were signposted from the outset (his desperate need for Jock’s approval, her unrequited love for Blake) Abby’s is better hidden, even from herself.

    When the possibility of Gary finding out about her deceptions has been discussed before, either with Jim Westmont or Laura, Abby has adopted a nonchalant attitude: so what if he divorces her, she'd shrug, there’s always community property. Now that he has found her out and shunned her, one gets a sense that Abby is as surprised as the audience by how much it hurts her: caring so much was never part of her business strategy. This leads to an unexpected outburst in the middle of Val's living room. "Cathy’s at the ranch. You forgave Laura. Did they treat you any better than I did? Why me? Why am I the only one you won’t forgive?" she shouts at Gary. Then in front of Val, Lilimae and Ben, Olivia matter-of-factly informs Abby that Gary plans to divorce her. Angry as she is with her mother, this humiliation isn’t intentional, which somehow makes it worse. However, the episode’s big twist is that its final shot doesn’t land on Abby, or even Gary or Olivia or Val, but on Ben. Throughout the scene, he has been a neutral, silent bystander — right up until the moment where he clocks the emotionally charged look between Val and her ex as Gary walks out the door. It’s a wonderfully surprising yet inevitable, knotty moment. (This week’s DALLAS also ends with an unusual choice for its freeze frame — a tearful Peter Richards.)

    There is a feeling of randomness in Soap Land of late. From Kirby’s recent illness that caused her to lose her baby in DYNASTY to Sue Ellen’s car accident that resulted in her miscarriage on DALLAS to the mysterious headaches that send Maggie tumbling down a flight of stairs at the end of this week’s FALCON CREST - these are misfortunes that could befall anyone, not just the rich Colbys, Ewings and Giobertis. Is it not perhaps over-egging the dramatic pudding to inflict these characters with such arbitrary misfortunes in addition to the problems they already face as a result of the dysfunctional families they were born or married into? Given that some of these stories seem more laboured than others, the answer would be yes and no. That LC should be abducted on THE YELLOW ROSE not because her family is wealthy but merely because she was in the wrong place at the wrong time feels as wackily contrived as armed robbers gate-crashing Ginger’s baby shower on KNOTS or Lucy Ewing just happening to hitch a ride with a gun-toting nut-job on DALLAS. Conversely, the arbitrary nature of Sue Ellen’s accident — there was no Walt Driscoll-style avenger at the wheel of the other car this time — combined with the lack of hysteria that follows it gives the Ewings an unexpected credibility. They deal with this minor tragedy in much the same way as a real-life family might. Free of high drama and intrigue, the gap between “them” and “us” suddenly doesn’t seem as wide. In fact, estranged as they are, JR and Sue Ellen have never seemed so authentically married as they do this season.

    FALCON CREST, meanwhile, deals with its equivalent car accident/miscarriage storyline in a far more conventionally soapy manner. This is in no way a criticism. In fact this week’s episode is utterly soap-tastic. It acknowledges all the conventions of the genre and then pushes them as far as they can go. Just as Linda and Melissa's car crash cliffhanger at the end of last week’s instalment paralleled Alexis and Fallon’s on DYNASTY two years ago so the similarities continue into this week's episode, only with a neat reversal. This time, it’s pregnant Melissa whom we see flagging down a car for help in the opening scene instead of Alexis while Linda lies unconscious behind the wheel in the same way Fallon did. On their way home from the party at Michael and Terry’s house, Chase, Maggie and Cole happen upon the accident. Cole’s distress at seeing his wife stretchered into an ambulance ensures that Linda remains the dramatic focus of the story. Thus when we later learn of Melissa’s miscarriage, it comes as a surprise in much the same way as the news of Sue Ellen’s did.

    By this point, the Giobertis and Channings have gathered at Soap Land Memorial Hospital in their glitzy party clothes in the same way that the Carringtons did after Alexis and Fallon’s crash. In each case, the one person conspicuous by his absence is the father-to-be. On DYNASTY Jeff was in bed with Claudia while Fallon was giving birth to his son; on FALCON CREST Lance is in bed with Terry while Melissa is losing his. While no one on DYNASTY suspected Jeff of infidelity, almost everyone has an idea of what Lance has been up to and with whom. This leads to a terrifically dark scene where Lance returns to Falcon Crest in the early hours to find his grandmother waiting up for him. "The doctor said it would have been a boy” is how Angela breaks the news of the miscarriage to him. This echoes how Adam learned of Kirby’s miscarriage on DYNASTY two weeks ago. “It was a little girl,” the doctor told him. But whereas Blake proved a consoling presence for Adam in his time of need, Angela is icy cold towards Lance. "The only decent thing you have ever done is conceive a child and now it’s gone,” she snaps at him.

    I’m not sure Sue Ellen has ever previously seemed more like a three dimensional, real world adult woman as she does in the final scene of this week’s DALLAS when she reduces Peter to tears with the brutal truth that “if the accident hadn’t have happened, I wouldn’t have had that child anyway. I would have aborted it. The pregnancy was a mistake, our relationship is a mistake.” The Sue Ellen we see here isn’t the dithering drama queen she was in Season 4 when she “didn’t have the strength to get dressed” simply because Cliff asked her for a loan. In other words, she isn’t using her miscarriage to play the victim. Her harsh words to Peter are echoed by Melissa on FALCON CREST when she says Lance regarding her miscarriage, “It was your baby. It was a part of you and that's why I'm glad it died.” Yet while FALCON CREST’s is the more melodramatic of the two story-lines, in some ways it’s also the rawest emotionally. And whereas Sue Ellen looks pretty much immaculate throughout her ordeal, even when she’s unconscious in a hospital bed, both Melissa and Linda look like they’ve been dragged through a hedge backwards.

    Other comparisons between the two stories: On DALLAS Jenna initially blames herself for Sue Ellen’s accident. “If I hadn’t have had her come to the shop to buy a dress none of this would have happened,” she frets. However, Bobby refuses to let her take responsibility. “There’s no way this is your fault,” he tells her firmly. On FALCON CREST, however, Melissa takes a somewhat different attitude towards Linda. "I lost my baby and I have you to thank for it,” she snarls at her. Meanwhile, Pam and Emma both recall their own miscarriages. “It was terrible, Bobby and I both wanted a baby so badly,” Pam tells Sue Ellen. “It leaves you feeling so empty, so helpless,” Emma tells Lance.

    Another recent Soap Land trend: season-long associates finally becoming lovers. A few weeks ago it was JR and Katherine Wentworth on DALLAS. This week, it's Richard and Pamela Lynch on FALCON CREST and Gary and Cathy Geary on KNOTS. In a way, the JR/Katherine and Richard/Pamela relationships are opposites. JR and Katherine’s fling started out as consensual until JR threatened to play a tape of them together to Bobby unless Katherine continue to do his bidding. On FALCON CREST, in an unexpectedly rich and complicated scene, a drunken Richard first tries to force himself on Pamela before apologising, only for her to then tell him, “I want to be with you”. Greg and Laura’s affair on KNOTS LANDING doesn’t quite fit into this category — they haven’t known each other that long — but there's a slightly cynical, we’ve-both-been-around-the-block quality to their relationship that’s similar to Richard and Pamela’s. This week Laura listens non-judgmentally as Greg admits how he sacrificed his idealism in order to advance his political career. Meanwhile, it’s interesting, if unsurprising, that in spite of Cathy being only a couple of years older than Gary’s own daughter Lucy, nothing is made of the age difference between them. Lucy herself, meanwhile, continues to moon over Peter on DALLAS, while he in turn is preoccupied with his older lover Sue Ellen.

    All this and Soap Land’s wackiest dream sequence to date, as Julia “wakes up” in the FALCON CREST asylum to find herself surrounded by multiple Angelas. “You’re never gonna escape me, Julia,” the Angelas tells her, “not in this life."

    And this week’s Top 5 are …

    1 (1) FALCON CREST
    2 (2) KNOTS LANDING
    3 (3) DALLAS
    4 (4) THE YELLOW ROSE
    5 (5) EMERALD POINT N.A.S.
     
  17. James from London

    James from London Soap Chat Star

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    22/Feb/84: DYNASTY: The Accident v. 23/Feb/84: KNOTS LANDING: No Trumpets, No Drums v. 24/Feb/84: DALLAS: True Confessions v. 24/Feb/84: FALCON CREST: Tests Of Faith v. 25/Feb/84: THE YELLOW ROSE: Running Free

    Each of Soap Land’s working girls - DYNASTY’s Tracy Kendall, FALCON CREST’s Terry Hartford, KNOTS LANDING’s Cathy Geary and DALLAS’s Jenna Wade - is visited by a figure from her past this week. First to arrive is “ageing but still attractive boy reporter” Jeremy Thatcher, an old flame of Tracy’s from New York, whom she persuades to write a magazine article discrediting Krystle as “the spoiled wife of a tycoon playing at being a career lady”.

    Then the newfound happiness of both Cathy and Gary on KNOTS and Jenna and Bobby on DALLAS is cut short by the intrusion of an ex-husband. Whereas Naldo Marchetta introduces himself to Bobby in the elegant surroundings of the Oil Baron’s Club and apologises profusely for interrupting his and Jenna’s lunch, Gary’s first meeting with Ray Geary is less civilised — he walks in on him trying to rape Cathy. While Naldo remains charming and courteous throughout his ep ("You have always had such marvellous taste,” he tells Jenna on a visit to her apartment), Ray Geary refers to his former wife as “nothing but a two-bit whore trying to take some guy for all he's worth.”

    Gary and Ray come to blows at the ranch, the fight ending with Gary holding Ray face down in the mud. It’s an exciting set piece but is eclipsed by a violent confrontation on this week’s FALCON CREST. Lance is lying in wait for Richard in an underground parking lot. "Everything up at Falcon Crest," he tells him, "my grandmother's loss of power, Melissa's loss of my baby, my mother's loss of her mind, it's all because of you. You have destroyed our entire way of life." Richard's chauffeur-cum-bodyguard comes to the rescue, but Lance overpowers him. Richard pulls out a gun. Lance kicks it away and they have a cool fight. Richard’s security team appear and slam Lance's fingers in a car door. Richard then punches him in the stomach. "You want revenge, do you?” he snarls. "You don't even know the meaning of the word. You, you disgust me, your whole family disgust me, and I won't rest until you and your family are through! Do you hear me, boy? Finished! Can that get through that vacant head of yours? ... Dump him on his grandmother's front porch." Again the viciousness of the scene feels specific to FALCON CREST - Richard and Lance are equally important characters who co-exist in the same opening title sequence yet it feels as if neither would hesitate to kill the other if necessary. That kind of cold-bloodedness doesn’t really exist on any of the other soaps.

    Naldo Marchetta may be too suave to resort to violence but he does wield a weapon in this week’s DALLAS - Charlie’s birth certificate, which reveals that Jenna lied about Bobby being her father. Likewise on FALCON CREST, Terry’s former prostitute pal Kate Mars (recently seen making snarky comments about Peter and Sue Ellen’s relationship in that taco shop on DALLAS) also arrives from New York equipped with a smoking gun - Terry's little black book. "All the guys' specialities are listed after their phone numbers,” she explains as she hands the book over to Terry’s boyfriend Michael.

    For Bobby and Michael, the truth about Charlie’s paternity and Terry’s former profession is less of an issue than the fact that they’ve been lied to. “What bothers me, Jenna, is that you just kept leading me on," says Bobby. “You’re either a pathological liar or I’m a pathological fool," Michael tells Terry. "Everything else is a lie ... All I ever wanted was a chance at the truth.” “I know how much the truth means to you, how important it’s been to you all your life,” Jenna tells Bobby - a line that, as Dallas Decoder points out in his recent critique of this DALLAS ep, takes on added significance following the cover-up of JR’s death on New DALLAS. http://dallasdecoder.com/2014/12/03/critique-dallas-episode-152-true-confessions/

    When Cathy offers Ray $5,000 to leave town on KNOTS, he is unimpressed. When Angela Channing offers Kate Mars the same amount to wreck Michael and Terry’s romance she takes it. Naldo accepts an undisclosed amount from Katherine Wentworth for doing the same thing to Bobby and Jenna’s relationship, despite a brief crisis of conscience (“I didn’t say I was noble, I just know what I am.”) Over on DYNASTY, Peter de Vilbis absconds with $1,000,000 belonging to Blake Carrington. Will Sue Ellen’s Peter disappear just as easily? Not if Lucy’s got anything to do with it. This week, she offers him a modelling job (“I know you could use the money”). He isn’t interested — until Lucy mentions the shoot is going to be at Southfork.

    As one piece of sleazy Eurotrash departs Soap Land (Peter de Vilbis) another arrives (Naldo Marchetta). The two men have a lot in common. Each comes from an aristocratic background (Naldo has been referred to as a count, Peter told Fallon his mother was a countess) yet both now travel the globe living off rich divorcees and heiresses. We learn this week that neither man is exactly the paternal type. Jenna explains to Bobby that even though Naldo is Charlie’s father, he "couldn’t care less about children” which is why she put Bobby’s name on the birth certificate in the first place. Meanwhile, Alexis tells Fallon that Peter ordered his former fiancee, Princess Marie Elena, to abort his child because “he didn’t want children … She refused so he dumped her.” Naldo and Peter even share the same fashion sense, both favouring the blazer-and-cravat-with-swept-back-hair look.

    As Naldo’s revelation drives a wedge between Bobby and Jenna, Bobby’s brother Gary remains separated from his wife Abby. Both Ewing men, however, continue to make time for their respective partner’s daughter. Whereas Charlie Wade, a babyish thirteen year old, remains oblivious to the drama going on around her (“You’re everything I’d ever want in a daddy,” she tells Bobby dreamily, “all you have to do is marry Mommy”) a wise-beyond-her-twelve-years Olivia is all too aware of the estrangement between her mother and Gary. (“How many fathers am I going to have?” she asks Abby. “I hate you!” she yells at Gary after catching him with Cathy.) Meanwhile, on FALCON CREST, little Joseph is too young to understand that he is caught in a power struggle between Melissa and Angela. “He’ll never come to you,” Melissa insists. “All little boys are drawn to power,” replies Angela chillingly. “Lance was and Joseph will be too.” This gets my vote for Line of the Week, ahead of JR’s well known “once you give up integrity, the rest is a piece of cake” quip, which is a little too knowing for my taste.

    Melissa is the only recently bereaved mother-to-be to feature prominently in this week’s Soap Land. Kirby and Sue Ellen make brief appearances early on in their respective episodes before spending the rest of the hour recuperating off screen. Meanwhile, as if to compensate for all the recent baby loss, Val discovers she is expecting twins on KNOTS.

    Given the extremely delicate — if not taboo — subject matter, it’s somewhat ironic that Edgar Randolph’s child molestation secret should come to light on DALLAS just one week after THE YELLOW ROSE’s episode about child prostitution. While the YELLOW ROSE story took place on LA’s mean streets, DALLAS’s unfolds amidst the dappled sunlight and pretty houses of small town Maryland. Whereas all the previous sexual predators we've seen targeting young girls in Soap Land (LC’s abductors and Olivia’s kerb crawler in last week’s YELLOW ROSE and KNOTS, Vicky’s would be pornographer in FALCON CREST Season 1) were situated “out there” on the big city streets, on DALLAS they’re living in fancy houses in respectable neighbourhoods. And in place of the tough-talking hookers and slimy pimps encountered by the Champions last week, the Krebbses meet an eccentric gardener and a cheerily domestic retiree, Sarah Mulgravy, who is transformed by rage at the mention of Edgar’s name: “Oh Lord! Why didn’t I have a gun in my hand when I went into that room?!” Sarah feels to me like a forerunner of Carmen Ramos on New DALLAS - both are housekeepers who come to bitterly regret their blind devotion to the rich families they served and the subsequent damage done to their children. Certainly, Sarah is Soap Land's most memorable one-scene character since Ciji’s mother on KNOTS.

    Through their investigation, Ray and Donna come to learn that Edgar’s recent unstable behaviour (i.e., his suicide attempt) stems from his molestation of a little girl when he was a troubled teenager. Likewise on DYNASTY, Blake finally discovers that Adam’s recent unstable behaviour (i.e., his poisoning of Jeff) stems from the drugs he experimented with as a troubled teenager. "Edgar was a very confused adolescent. He had no real experience of anything,” explains victim-turned-psychologist Barbara Mulgravy. "He was a very lonely boy. He had no real family, no real friends,” explains Adam’s mother Alexis.

    For both DYNASTY’s Dex and KNOTS LANDING’s Ben, the shadow of their respective lady love’s ex-husband looms large this week. On DYNASTY a new understanding is forged between Blake and Alexis following Adam’s confession, while the look he witnessed between Gary and Val at the end of last week’s KNOTS continues to weigh on Ben’s mind. At Mack’s urging, he tries to raise the subject with Val before leaving on his assignment to El Salvador, but cannot bring himself to say the words. In contrast, when Alexis turns down his marriage proposal, Dex has no hesitation in accusing her of being hung up on “your ex-husband whom you can't seem to get out of your head or your life or your heart!” Mark Graison might feel the same way about Pam and Bobby if he knew that they were having pre-dinner drinks together at Southfork. However, he has left the country in order to give Pam time to think about his marriage proposal. (In Mark's absence, it’s left to JR to voice his disapproval, somewhat amusingly, when he sees Pam at the ranch: "Say, weren't you here a couple of months ago? You're not gonna make a habit out of this, are you?”) Meanwhile on FALCON CREST, Phillip Erickson angrily resigns as Angela’s attorney when she does an Alexis and declines his offer of marriage.

    While Ben bids a tender farewell to his fiancee Val before departing for Central America, Peter de Vilbis leaves for an unknown destination without a word to his. "Peter found you beautiful and amusing,” his lawyer informs Fallon, “and now he’s had to leave … He doesn't want to see you again.” “The minute [Ben] walked out the door, I started to crumble,” Val admits to Karen. The moment Fallon leaves the lawyer's hotel room, she starts hearing the voices of those Carringtons and Colbys who previously warned her against Peter. (However, disembodied voices are nothing to the trippy effect FALCON CREST uses to indicate Julia’s unhinged state of mind this week. Looking at herself in the mirror, she puts out her hand to touch her reflection and it bends.)

    Following on from Sue Ellen and Melissa’s recent car accidents on DALLAS and FALCON CREST, this week’s DYNASTY and KNOTS also end with vehicular collisions, both of which technically take place off screen. Firstly, just after being jilted by Peter, Fallon gets into an argument with Jeff in the driveway of La Mirage. A drunk driver (I like to imagine it’s the same guy that knocked down Sue Ellen two weeks ago and that he's since hit all the bars in Soap Land to get over the shock) ploughs into one or both of them. (The camera is on Blake’s dismayed reaction during the moment of impact.) Meanwhile, KNOTS ends with Val taking a phone call about Ben, not dissimilar to those received by Miss Ellie and Claudia Blaisdel regarding their husbands two seasons earlier. “Their jeep was hit,” she tells Karen and Lilimae after hanging up. "The jeep’s been found but none of the men.” Have the jungles of Soap Land claimed yet another victim? Nor are Ben, Jeff and Fallon the only characters left in mortal jeopardy at the end of this week’s episodes - FALCON CREST concludes with Maggie learning that she has a brain tumour. “It’s inoperable,” Dr Michael tells her gravely.

    Horses have been an element of several Soap Land story-lines this season. As well as the day to day ranch life which serves as a backdrop to much of the action on DALLAS, KNOTS and THE YELLOW ROSE, there’s the ongoing saga of Richard’s racetrack on FALCON CREST, the purchase and apparent kidnapping of racehorse Allegree on DYNASTY and a recent visit to the races on EMERALD POINT which seemed to trigger Casey Denault’s latent gambling addiction. However, the beautiful white stallion we see running across an oil drilling site in the opening scene of this week’s YELLOW ROSE and who then becomes the primary focus of the ep is the first Soap Land horse that’s an actual character. “It’s funny how everyone feels a little different when they see a horse running free,” observes Roy Champion and indeed the wild animal comes to represent different things for each of the show’s regular (human) characters. (And it’s not hard to draw a parallel between the stallion’s need for freedom and Julia’s implausible but exciting escape from a maximum security institution on this week’s FALCON CREST.) It’s a sweet and poetic ep that has very little do with conventional soap opera until the climax of the episode when several characters independently arrive at the same location, all with different intentions, resulting in a tragic shooting. In that respect, it strongly anticipates the KNOTS LANDING season finale in five weeks time.

    THE YELLOW ROSE does contain one other classic soap moment this week: the Champions striking oil on their own ranch, thereby saving themselves from financial ruin at the eleventh hour. We’ve seen variations on this scenario before — Matthew and Walter’s well coming in towards the end of DYNASTY’s first season, the Ewings hitting it big in South East Asia during DALLAS’s second — while John Ross and Elena’s discovery of oil on Southfork will later be deemed significant enough to reignite the entire Ewing saga on New DALLAS. On this show, however, the iconic moment occurs when all but one member of the family are too preoccupied by the story of the week to even notice. Such absolute refusal to abide by Soap Land norms is quintessential YELLOW ROSE.

    And this week’s Top 5 are …

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

    James from London Soap Chat Star

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    27/Feb/84: EMERALD POINT N.A.S.: The Best Laid Plans v 29/Feb/84: DYNASTY: The Vigil v. 01/Mar/84: KNOTS LANDING: Silent Missions v. 02/Mar/84: DALLAS: And the Winner Is... v. 02/Mar/84: EMERALD POINT N.A.S.: Friends and Lovers

    Nearly all roads lead to a former spouse in this week’s Soap Land. Fallon is in a coma on DYNASTY — for it was she who was hit by the car at the end of last week’s episode — and it falls to ex-husband Jeff to keep a round-the-clock vigil at her hospital bedside. At one point, he has a flashback montage of happier times between them. There’s a similar moment on KNOTS LANDING when Val, waiting anxiously for news of missing fiancee Ben, looks fondly at a photograph of the two of them embracing happily. However, it is her ex-husband Gary to whom she gravitates in her time of need. “Maybe he can give her something the rest of us can’t,” suggests Karen to a disapproving Lilimae. Over on DALLAS, Pam finds herself confiding in her ex, Bobby, as to whether or not she should marry Mark. “I don’t know what to do,” she says. Have recently split with Abby and Jenna, Gary and Bobby are now both free to spend more time with their ex-wives, but while Gary encourages Val to lean on him, telling her to call him “even when you have nothing to say”, Bobby feels less comfortable in the role of Pam’s confidante. “I don’t think I’m the person you should be asking advice from,” he tells her. In the event, it’s sister Katherine to whom Pam turns once she has made her decision — but still her ex-spouse figures in her thinking. “Bobby’s still a part of my life,” she admits. "I couldn’t marry any man while I feel this way.” By turning down a marriage proposal, Pam is following in the footsteps of Alexis Colby and Angela Channing, both of whom have done the same thing in recent weeks.

    Two Soap Land women do agree to marriage this week: On EMERALD POINT, a head-over-heels Octopussy accepts Admiral Mallory’s proposal without hesitation (as Psycho David lurks creepily in the shadows) while a disillusioned Kirby finally agrees to marry Adam on DYNASTY even though she doesn’t love him — much to the fury of Alexis who is even more disapproving of this engagement than she was of Fallon’s to Peter de Vilbis.

    Just as Peter disappears from DYNASTY (in his last scene, we see him being dragged away by airport security, Walt Driscoll-style, after two large bags of coke are found in his attache case), so all the untrustworthy foreigners have now been written out of EMERALD POINT, and this week’s double helping of episodes feels all the livelier for their absence. In particular, Robert Vaughn finally gets the chance to spread his wings as the show’s senior villain Harlan Adams.

    Harlan has his eye on some land on which to build a Lotus Point-style development complex, but the Navy are also after it for their new runway. Harlan tries (but fails) to bribe an attorney into telling him how much his rivals are bidding for it. On DALLAS, JR is more successful in coercing Edgar Randolph into revealing the sealed bids in the offshore lease auction.

    The auction is one of two long-running business stories to reach a climax of sorts this week, the other being the Wolfbridge Group plot on KNOTS. While the two Ewing-verse storylines are quite different in tone, both manage to encompass a wide range of characters and Greg Sumner and JR each describe someone - Abby Ewing and Cliff Barnes respectively — as being "in over her/his head". However, perhaps the strongest parallels lie in the confrontation scenes between Gary and Greg on KNOTS and Bobby and JR on DALLAS. Up until now, Gary has been a political supporter of Greg’s, but when Greg drives out to the ranch and suggests it would be in everybody’s best interests for Gary to unfreeze his assets so that work on Lotus Point can continue, Gary grows suspicious and then hostile. Ironically, Greg is not motivated entirely by self-interest for once but is so compromised by his involvement with Wolfbridge that he cannot adequately explain to Gary how much danger he’s in. Meanwhile on DALLAS, JR and Bobby have been able to rub along together relatively well as equal partners at Ewing Oil this season. However, when Bobby discovers that JR has bid on one of the offshore tracts without his knowledge, he accuses him of trying to take over the company again. As with the KNOTS scene, there is irony in Bobby’s allegation — for while JR is guilty of subterfuge, he is actually innocent of what his brother is accusing him: it is Cliff, not Bobby, whom he is scheming against this time.

    While both storylines are great, I’d say DALLAS’s is, surprisingly, the more sophisticated of the two. Without a doubt, the Wolfbridge plot is exciting. With Greg, Abby, Laura and a dangerously impatient Mark St Clare each trying to persuade Gary to resume construction on Lotus Point at the same time that Mack - as part of his own vendetta against Wolfbridge - is advising him to do the exact opposite, everything is building towards one climactic moment at the end of the episode. The offshore oil story on DALLAS, meanwhile, has a much broader canvas, ranging from the comedy of JR goading and manipulating Cliff into sinking his entire fortune into the precarious offshore oil deal to the poignant conclusion of Edgar Randolph’s arc (which includes one of my all-time favourite — and for DALLAS, atypical — scenes, where Donna and Ray debate whether or not Edgar is worthy of their forgiveness). In-between these two extremes lies Ken Kercheval’s performance as Cliff which cleverly manages to incorporate both the comedic and the tensely dramatic aspects of his situation. The two coalesce beautifully in the moment where he has to call his secretary into his office to fix him a drink because his hands are too shaking too much for him to do so himself.

    In the final moments of this week’s KNOTS, a gunshot rings out on Gary’s ranch. With no shortage of characters in the vicinity, it looks like we’re in for another “Oh my God!” cliffhanger where we are left wondering who has been hit (just as last week’s DYNASTY ended on a freeze frame of Blake before we knew whether it was Fallon or Jeff that had been struck by the car). Instead, we hear Mack telling Karen unequivocally over the phone, "Gary’s been murdered.” Almost as disorientating, the line plays out over a close-up of an oblivious Val on her way to the ranch (another example of the significance of ex-spouses in this week’s Soap Land). Quite simply, this sequence is without precedence. There is nothing in the Soap Land Handbook to tell us how to process it or what we can expect to happen next.

    In contrast, there’s something comfortingly familiar about the end of this week’s DYNASTY. “Peter?” Fallon murmurs to Jeff when she regains consciousness, thereby acknowledging the Soap Land tradition of saying the most inappropriate name when emerging from a comatose state. She also then follows in the footsteps (no pun intended) of Chase Gioberti and Mickey Trotter, both of whom awoke from comas earlier this season to find themselves paralysed. “I can’t move my legs!” she exclaims.

    And this week’s Top 4 are …

    1 (5) DALLAS
    2 (1) KNOTS LANDING
    3 (-) EMERALD POINT N.A.S.
    4 (3) DYNASTY
     
  19. James from London

    James from London Soap Chat Star

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    05/Mar/84: EMERALD POINT N.A.S.: Pandora’s Box v 07/Mar/84: DYNASTY: Steps v. 08/Mar/84: KNOTS LANDING: Finishing Touches v. 09/Mar/84: DALLAS: Fools Rush In v. 09/Mar/84: FALCON CREST: Little Boy Blue v. 10/Mar/84: THE YELLOW ROSE: Sacred Ground

    With characteristic perversity, this week’s YELLOW ROSE blows half a season’s worth of cliffhangers in its opening scene: Rose Hollister (Jane Russell) arrives unannounced at the house of her despised brother Jeb whom she hasn’t seen for forty years, informs him that she is Chance McKenzie’s real mother, that Chance is in line to inherit half the Hollister fortune and that she has incontrovertible proof that Jeb murdered their father. Jeb then spends the rest of the episode trying to kill her.

    There’s another decades old murder revelation on DYNASTY as Alexis informs Kirby that the mother she always believed died when she was two years old in fact ran off with her lover "and when he didn’t satisfy her anymore, she killed him.”

    A third violent crime involving a long-dead parent is unearthed on EMERALD POINT where Celia, in Soap Land’s first hypnotherapy session since Dr Elby put Sue Ellen under the influence so that she could relive the events leading up to the shooting of JR, travels back to her tenth birthday and a mysteriously traumatic event involving her mother and a strange man in a gazebo. Her mother's screams and torn clothing are familiar Soap Land signifiers of rape but Celia comes out of her trance before the man’s identity can be revealed (though it isn’t hard to guess). Her wildly overwrought response to her childhood memories made me laugh out loud. In contrast, Val’s equally hysterical reaction to the news of Gary’s death in the opening scene of this week’s KNOTS LANDING never fails to chill me, in spite of several viewings and the advanced knowledge that things aren’t quite as terminal as they seem. This is in part due to Joan van Ark’s performance of course, but also how the scene is shot (we observe Val's break down from a distance) and the way her raw emotions are set against the strangely matter-of-fact behaviour of everyone else around her. (Mack even cracks a little joke to Karen when he speaks to her on the phone.) Directed by David Jacobs, this is one of those exceptional episodes of KNOTS where close attention has been paid to every detail.

    As the body bag containing Gary’s corpse indicates, ranches can be dangerous places. Similarly on EMERALD POINT, bad girl Hilary pulls an Alexis and arranges a horse-related miscarriage for good girl Kay in her father's stables. In both instances, there is a twist: the body in the bag is not Gary’s and Kay was never pregnant in the first place. However, there is nothing fake about the two dead bodies on THE YELLOW ROSE this week, casualties of yet another shoot out on that ranch.

    Random trend of the week: Mothers trying to prevent their children from falling in water. A paralysed Fallon is convalescing poolside on the grounds of the DYNASTY mansion (last seen masquerading as a Paedophile paradise on THE YELLOW ROSE) when Little Blake wanders dangerously close to the water’s edge. Her mother’s instinct kicks in as she instinctively rushes to save him, regaining the use of her legs in the process. Meanwhile on KNOTS LANDING, Abby finds Olivia in a rowboat on the lake of Gary’s ranch. Distraught over her stepfather’s death, Olivia stands up in the boat, loses her balance and falls into the water. Abby jumps in fully clothed to help her. There are echoes of Pam and Ray in the lake in the DALLAS pilot, only this time Olivia and Abby end up crying instead of laughing.

    On this week's DALLAS, Charlie Wade follows the example set by Olivia after Gary and Abby’s split a few weeks ago. Where Olivia skipped school to walk from Gary’s ranch to the cul-de-sac, Charlie independently catches a bus from her school to the Ewing building to ask Bobby whether she is to blame for his break up with Jenna.

    Who-should-attend-which-function is a topic discussed on four of this week’s soaps. On EMERALD POINT, Octopussy follows Soap Land convention by insisting that Admiral Mallory’s treasonous sister-in-law Tiffany Case be invited to their wedding for the sake of family unity. For the same reason, DYNASTY's Blake invites arch enemy Alexis to a formal dinner at the mansion to celebrate Fallon’s recovery. Surprisingly, Alexis declines the offer. ("The last time I saw Fallon at the hospital, she made it clear that she didn't want to see me.”) Greg Sumner also decides against attending Gary’s funeral on KNOTS. (“I’m not very good at funerals. I never know what to say.”) Equally conspicuous by their absence at the burial are any of the DALLAS Ewings. Mark St Clare, however, is an unexpected attendee, arriving at a crucial moment — just as Abby is about to spill all to Mack about her involvement with the Wolfbridge Group. The sight of St Clare is enough to intimidate her into remaining silent.

    There are no such formal occasions on DALLAS this week (although Clayton twitches nervously when Miss Ellie cheerfully informs him that she’s invited his sister Jessica to stay at Southfork prior to their wedding: “What better way to find out all your deep dark secrets?") but Peter Richards does accept an offer from JR to work with John Ross at Southfork. “My my my, there goes the neighbourhood!” jokes Lucy in her only Soap Land appearance of the week in which her father is buried on KNOTS. JR does at least pay tribute to his “late” brother, albeit ironically, when he refers him on DALLAS as “my brother Gary, who I’m particularly fond of”.

    DYNASTY’s Alexis and KNOTS LANDING's Abby both display uncharacteristic vulnerability this week. While the rest of the Carringtons and Colbys gather for Fallon’s party, Dex finds Alexis alone in her apartment having had "a lot too much" to drink. He urges her to call Fallon and make amends. She picks up the phone but then cannot bring herself to go through with it. (“I can’t, I can’t!” she cries.) It’s a long time since Alexis has seemed so identifiably human. Indeed, when she talks about her relationship with Fallon ("We've never been really close. Maybe it's because we're alike in so many ways. We've tried. She's tried and so have I, but it's never lasted”) she sounds a lot like KNOTS LANDING Everywoman Karen Mackenzie describing her problems with Diana.

    Abby, meanwhile, struggles to keep her emotions in check following the news of Gary’s murder. When Val pays her a visit and attempts to reach out to her, it looks as if a cessation of hostilities is about to take place, as occasionally happens in Soap Land between two female rivals (the brief moment of understanding between Pam and Sue Ellen after their husbands’ plane went down in DALLAS Season 1; Alexis’s fleeting gratitude towards Krystle when she brought her the news that Steven was still alive in DYNASTY Season 3). But Abby refuses to let Val in. "I won't let you share my pain,” she tells her coldly (echoing her niece Diana's equally defiant “I cherish the pain” line from earlier in the season). “I’m his widow, not you,” she adds. This is not mere Soap Land bitchery, it runs deeper than that somehow.

    Ironically, when Abby does let her guard down to express her feelings about Gary, it is to Mark St Clare of all people — a man as far removed from Val on the emotional scale as it’s possible to get. "He counted in my life,” says Abby of Gary. "I don't care that he counted,” St Clare replies. "I don't care that he's dead. I have no sympathy for you.” At least when Alexis cries for her daughter on DYNASTY, she has Dex to comfort her. But while there’s no rapprochement between Abby and Val, there is one between Abby and Karen at Gary’s funeral, when Karen reminds Abby that “we’re family” and Abby tells her how helpful Diana has been with all the arrangements. “She loves her Aunt Abby,” Karen replies. “She loves her mother too,” adds Abby with surprising generosity.

    In an effort to console Val at the funeral, Laura tells her the real reason Gary stood her up on their date at the beginning of the season was to spare her any more pain. “He married Abby not because he loved Abby, but because he loved you,” she explains. With equally good intentions, Sue Ellen informs Bobby on this week’s DALLAS that Pam “has decided not to marry Mark Graison … because of the way she still feels about you.” However, if Laura and Sue Ellen were in possession of the facts shown to us at the end of this week’s KNOTS and DALLAS — that Gary Ewing is alive and Mark Graison is dying — it is unlikely they would have shared these confidences with Val and Bobby.

    The reveal of Gary alive and well in the final moments of this week’s ep echoes the reveal of Ciji drowned and dead thirteen months earlier. Instead of those quick, jarring cuts to Ciji’s washed up body on the shore during Ginger’s song, there are sudden, fleeting close ups of Gary’s face during the funeral ceremony. Is this Abby flashing back to her dead husband? Or Val? It gradually becomes clear that no, this is happening now: As his funeral is taking place on the ranch, Gary is simultaneously alive somewhere else. Not only that, but after spending the past hour focusing on the contrasting reactions of Abby and Val to his passing, the episode now ends with him happily kissing that other formerly dead character, Ciji/Cathy/Lisa Hartman!

    Two enjoyably unsympathetic characters return to the Ewing-verse this week: grouchy cop Morrison is back on KNOTS after a few months while slimy banker Vaughn Leland returns to DALLAS after a few seasons. Each made a sufficient enough impact the first time around for Diana Fairgate and Afton Cooper to recoil at the mere sight of them. However, both comebacks contain a last minute twist. After playing the heavy towards Cathy Geary for the entire ep, Morrison and she turn out to be part of the same conspiracy and when he hauls her off for questioning at the funeral, he is in effect playing cupid for her and Gary. Meanwhile on DALLAS, Vaughn Leland appears to be the answer to Cliff’s prayers, offering him the loan that he so desperately needs … but then we learn it’s all a part of JR's elaborate scheme to bring Cliff to his knees. “I always thought I’d be back on this ranch someday,” sighs Morrison, “Not in my wildest imagination did I ever dream you and I would be working together again,” Vaughn smirks to JR.

    Like Gary on KNOTS, Kirby’s mother on DYNASTY turns out not to be as dead as was originally thought. According to Alexis, she’s in a similar sounding institution for the criminally insane to the one Julia Cumson recently escaped from on FALCON CREST. This week, a bewigged Julia navigates the same familiar cross-country landscape of gas stations, diners and roadblocks that Chip and Diana did when they were on the lam at the beginning of this season’s KNOTS. While on her travels, Julia manages to find a guy both trusting enough to swallow her down-on-her-luck sob story and kind enough to offer her refuge on his conveniently secluded ranch. However implausible this story-line may be, there’s something very satisfying about it. Julia might be an unhinged murderess but we’re definitely rooting for her to prevail.

    Meanwhile, no one's quite sure how dead KNOTS LANDING’s Ben and DYNASTY’s Matthew Blaisdel are supposed to be. Both are lost in the jungles of Soap Land. "I'd go there myself if I thought it would help,” insists an unnamed government official on KNOTS to whom Karen has been unnecessarily harsh — and we believe him. (In this episode, even the bit players — like this guy and the never-before-seen cowboys who commiserate with Cathy at the funeral — are given a significant emotional beat.) At the end of this week’s DYNASTY, meanwhile, Claudia decides that she will go to Peru, after receiving yet another package from a beyond-the-grave Matthew.

    Eventually, viewers at home are granted a glimpse of Ben in this week’s KNOTS, alive and delirious in some sort of makeshift hospital in Central America. Ben’s DALLAS equivalent Mark Graison also makes a brief overseas appearance, calling Cliff from the Middle East and complaining of a bug.

    Where last week’s FALCON CREST ended with the news of Maggie Gioberti’s inoperable brain tumour so this week’s DALLAS finishes with the revelation of Mark’s irreversible blood disease, “a form of leukaemia”. In each case, there’s an only-in-Soap-Land breach of medical ethics. While Mark’s doctor (aka Abby Ewing’s first husband) breaks the bad news to Pam as gently as he can, (“Mark’s gonna need all the love you can give him in the next few months …”) FALCON CREST’s Dr Michael tells Terry about Maggie’s condition in the coldest way possible. "Your sister's dying,” he says without even looking at her. "She's got a tumour in her brain the size of a golf ball.” There’s also a terminally ill character in this week’s YELLOW ROSE. Shortly after introducing herself to Chase, the son she never knew, Rose Hollister also tells him she is dying of cancer. This plot point becomes somewhat moot when brother Jeb succeeds in having her shot dead before the end of the episode.

    Following a fantastic, almost biblical showdown between Jeb and Chase, Jeb is arrested for murder by the very sheriff he has had in his pocket since the series began. This really feels like the end of THE YELLOW ROSE. God knows where it'll go from here.

    Elsewhere, Angela Channing forces Melissa to trade her infant son to the Giobertis for half of Falcon Crest. I’m not sure how much logical sense this all makes, but it certainly feels like a momentous chapter in FALCON CREST history — more in keeping with "mythological” Soap Land baby losses like JR's snatching of Lucy away from Val or Jacqueline Perrault's sale of Richard to Henri Denault or Rose Hollister's loss of her son Chance than the comparatively lightweight occasions when Sammy Jo and Rita Briggs tried to sell their offspring on screen. That Angela can comprehend the awful price Melissa is paying yet does nothing to stop it simply because it is not in her own interest is what really sells the scene and gives it its power.

    And this week’s Top 6 are …

    1 (2) KNOTS LANDING
    2 (-) THE YELLOW ROSE
    3 (-) FALCON CREST
    4 (1) DALLAS
    5 (4) DYNASTY
    6 (3) EMERALD POINT N.A.S.
     
  20. James from London

    James from London Soap Chat Star

    Message Count:
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    21/Mar/84: DYNASTY: The Voice (2) v. 22/Mar/84: KNOTS LANDING: Yesterday, It Rained v. 23/Mar/84: DALLAS: Strange Alliance v. 23/Mar/84: FALCON CREST: The Final Countdown v. 24/Mar/84: THE YELLOW ROSE: Chains of Fear

    There’s an awful lot of business talk in this week’s Soap Land, much of it hard to keep track of. From what I could glean, Blake Carrington is “half way to the hundred million he needs” to finance his deal with Rashid Ahmed on DYNASTY, Richard Channing requires another $30,000,000 to complete his race track on FALCON CREST, and after telling anyone on DALLAS who’ll listen how much operations in the Gulf are costing him, Cliff Barnes feels it’s time to ask friendly neighbourhood banker Vaughn Leland for some more money.

    However, in each case, there is a saboteur working behind the scenes. Richard doesn’t realise his bank loan has been blocked by the cartel, Cliff has no idea his loan is in the hands of JR (“I’m gonna take over his precious Gold Canyon 340 and then it’ll all be over, it’ll all be mine”) and as Blake congratulates himself on pulling off “the deal of the century” in Denver, he is blissfully unaware that Alexis is meeting with Rashid in Hong Kong to talk about a scheme involving "you and me and Blake Carrington — and $5,000,000”.

    Things are sort of reversed on KNOTS LANDING where the bad guys are only too keen for Abby to get back into business now that Gary’s dead. There again, as Mack points out to Abby, “They need you now. They need Lotus Point completed. What makes you think, sweetheart, that you’re going to be around to share in it?"

    The dark secrets of three of Soap Land’s four working girls — Terry’s prostitute past on FALCON CREST, Jenna’s birth certificate lie on DALLAS and Cathy’s prison term for murder plus her private arrangement with Abby on KNOTS — have already been exposed this season. This week, it’s Tracy Kendall’s turn on DYNASTY. Her crime is comparatively minor — while still in Hong Kong, Blake catches her out in a lie regarding her past relationship with political fixer-upper Eric Grayson — but it’s enough to ensure her abrupt exile from Soap Land's inner sanctum. (In contrast, FALCON CREST's Terry has now been almost fully assimilated into respectability. "She’s come a long way in a few months,” says Michael proudly of her transformation from bad girl to devoted girlfriend and sister.) Watching Blake supply Tracy — Soap Land's smuggest, most obsequious gold digger to date — with enough rope to hang herself before briskly severing all ties with her is immensely satisfying. (It’s also reminiscent of the way he toyed with Krystle after learning of her emerald necklace deception in Season 1.) "I'm going back to Denver tomorrow morning alone," he tells her coldly. "I don't care what flight you're on, what plane or where you're going. I'm buying off your contract now, paid in full.”

    Karen plays a similar game with Mack on this week’s KNOTS. Throughout the episode, she grows increasingly suspicious that he is lying about Gary’s death — and therefore about the promise he made her to drop his investigation into the Wolfbridge Group — but says nothing until the final scene where she confronts him and then ends their marriage as abruptly as Blake sacked Tracy. “It’s over,” she tells him, the finality of her words matching Michael Ranson's “It’s inoperable” about Maggie's brain tumour at the end of FALCON CREST two weeks ago.

    This isn’t the first time the wife of a Soap Land super-couple has separated from her husband owing to his obsession. This time last season, Pam left Bobby over his desire to win Ewing Oil and Maggie walked out on Chase due to his fixation with Carlo Agretti’s murder. This time around, however, it’s Mack who has to move out.

    Just like Pam in DALLAS Season 2, Kirby’s recent discovery on DYNASTY that her mother didn’t die when she was a small child has raised her hopes that she might still be alive. Kirby’s fiancé Adam, however, is no more interested in her quest to learn the truth than Bobby was in Pam's. Where Pam’s first port of call was the Hall of Records office in Corpus Christi, Kirby’s is the newspaper office in Bismarck, North Dakota (these being the respective small towns where Rebecca Barnes and Alicia Anders were last seen alive). It’s there that Pam’s and Kirby’s stories diverge. While Pam was delighted not to find Rebecca's death certificate, Kirby is dismayed to locate Alicia’s headstone in the local graveyard.

    But who is the mysterious woman whom we see tending another grave when Kirby first enters the cemetery and who then approaches Kirby to explain to her Alicia’s innermost thoughts and feelings? ("She'd made a lovely rag doll. She called it Kirby. I remember she used to sit for hours with it cradled in her arms. Oh she loved you so much and she wanted to go back and find you …”) No clue to the woman's identity is forthcoming nor does Kirby ask for one. Instead, she accepts the woman’s story and her presence in the graveyard without question. Perhaps the most logical (or rather, the least illogical) explanation is that the woman is Alicia herself, for some reason denying her own identity in the same way Rebecca did when Pam initially approached her. Or maybe there is no explanation. Perhaps this strange apparition is simply the latest and most abstract of all the metaphysical leaps Soap Land has taken throughout this season: Celia time-travelling back to her tenth birthday on EMERALD POINT, FALCON CREST altering its own past to reinvent Julia as the mentally disturbed killer she never was, and the raising from the dead of two characters on KNOTS LANDING, one within the drama (Gary) and one without (Ciji/Cathy).

    The scene ends on an ominous note when Kirby, after flashing back to Alexis telling her about her mother’s crime, decides to return to Denver. “I know what I have to do there,” she says darkly. There are similarly portentous moments elsewhere this week. “She’ll destroy all of us if we don’t stop her,” says Julia after learning that Angela sold Joseph to the Giobertis on FALCON CREST. “Wouldn’t it be awful if something happened and it didn't come off?” wonders JR to Jessica at the end of this week’s DALLAS, hinting that some unforeseen fate might yet befall Clayton and Miss Ellie's wedding.

    There’s something unusually suave and debonair about JR of late. He has taken to sporting Peter De Vilbis’s old cravats and making knowingly grandiose statements like, “Southfork has just turned into a house of domestic bliss.” How much of this is for Lady Jessica’s benefit is hard to say, but it’s perhaps telling that in one of his few scenes away from Southfork this week we see him kicking back in his office with a takeaway pizza and boasting to Vaughn Leland about giving ulcers, not getting them.

    Random trend of the week #1: English women failing to live up to their national stereotype. “I never did take to their tea drinking and little watercress sandwiches,” admits Jessica to Miss Ellie of her time as Lady Henry Montford in Blighty. “A good dignified British subject does not snuggle!” insists Pamela Lynch on FALCON CREST after lover Richard Channing accuses her of doing just that in her sleep.

    Random trend of the week #2: Mothers-to-be returning to work with their doctors’ blessing. Krystle goes back to Denver Carrington while Val Ewing embarks on a short book tour. It’s all very “women of the '80s can have it all”, with Blake and Lilimae both depicted as endearingly old-fashioned for worrying about them.

    It’s a toss-up which homecoming scene is the more touching: the one where Mark was reunited with Pam in last week’s DALLAS while unaware that he was dying, or the one in this week’s KNOTS LANDING in which Ben returns home and surprises Val who didn’t realise he was still alive.

    With former Ewing wives Val and Pam now engaged to new beaus, there are commendably brave attempts by the men involved to deal with the situation maturely. “I had plenty of time to think about you and Gary and your life together, and to get good and mad with myself for thinking I ever had to compete with any of that,” Ben tells Val on KNOTS. "This isn't easy to say. I wish the best for you. I hope you'll be very happy together,” Bobby tells Pam and Mark on DALLAS.

    This week’s YELLOW ROSE returns to the theme of the exploitation of illegal immigrants, this time focusing on families who are virtually kept prisoner and used as slave labour on a work farm. While undoubtedly well-intentioned, it doesn’t quite escape the white-characters-coming-to-the-aid-of-nameless-ethnic-day-players-we’ll-never-see-again pitfall we’ve seen on similar stand alone eps both of FALCON CREST and THE YELLOW ROSE itself. In addition, some of the plotting is seriously convoluted. With half the cast going undercover and then being held captive on the work farm, it sometimes feels like a deadly earnest version of the "JR in the Haleyville Penitentiary” story-line of DALLAS Season 11.

    These shortcomings, however, are more than compensated for by an eye-wateringly passionate performance by Edward Albert as Quisto, the mixed-race half-brother of the Champion family. Quisto has been a really good, really warm supporting presence throughout the series so far and here he finally gets a chance to take centre stage. “I’m a racist,” he confesses, in an utterly riveting scene with brother Roy. "I’ve known about the way illegals are exploited all my life and I’ve never done a damn thing about it. I’ve given it a lot of lip service like a lot of other people but never put anything on the line. I never had to. I’ve been safe here where Papa brought me on the Yellow Rose. I’ve been a white Latino, a fully assimilated breed.” It goes without saying that no other character in Soap Land has ever come remotely close to delivering a speech like that.

    Later on in the ep, Roy Champion takes a knife to Soap Land’s glamorous heart during a scene with an old flame turned fashion designer, the magnificently named Lila Devereaux. (Like Roy’s previous love interest, Mandy Winger, Lila will later show up on Cliff Barnes’s arm on DALLAS, this time as Liz Adams.) Roy attempts to open Lila’s eyes to the sweatshop conditions in which her soap-tastic outfits are being made: “Those dresses you’re wearing are very pretty but the place that’s turning them out is pretty damned ugly.” Suddenly all those designer gowns hanging in Jenna’s boutique and Krystle’s closet and on Abby’s and Terry’s backs don’t look quite as fabulous as they did.

    And this week’s Top 5 are …

    1 (-) KNOTS LANDING
    2 (5) DYNASTY
    3 (3) DALLAS
    4 (2) FALCON CREST
    5 (1) THE YELLOW ROSE
     

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