Was Michelle Lee Right?

Discussion in 'Knots Landing' started by Jimmy Todd, Oct 12, 2019.

  1. Jimmy Todd

    Jimmy Todd Soap Chat Well-Known Member

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    I read that during the last season veteran stars of Knots were asked to not appear in episodes due to budget cuts. Michelle Lee apparently refused and was willing to accept a decreased salary so she could appear in every episode of the series. Her rationale was that Karen was so intrinsic to the show the audience would not accept an episode without her.
    Was Ms. Lee right? Was Laten that important or was this a bit of ego on the actor's part?
     
  2. Willie Oleson

    Willie Oleson SoapLand Battles Moderator

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    How did you manage not to mis-typ this as Lstrm?:lol:
     
  3. Mel O'Drama

    Mel O'Drama Super Moderator Staff Member

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    I've generally viewed what she did as being team spirited. But then I suppose the opposite argument could be made, since other members of the "team" put their ego aside to let the series run without them for an episode or two. Ted Shackelford skipped a couple of episodes that final year and he's no less intrinsic to me than Karen.

    It's an ensemble, and no one character is that essential to the series that it will crumble if they don't appear in an episode occasionally. British and Australian soaps successfully do this all the time. They have huge main casts and rotate them so you almost never get the whole cast appearing in one episode.

    But there is sense in what she says. In a prime time soap like this, when a character doesn't appear there's a sense of absence. Even if it's not conscious. So I do appreciate Michele's commitment to the series - whatever her motives.
     
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  4. James from London

    James from London Soap Chat Mega Star

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    I could be wrong, but I don't think she put it exactly like that.

    I guess that's how I saw it too. A mixture of both, I suppose, which is fair enough.

    Oddly, I think that sense of absence worked often worked in the shows' favour. When Alexis didn't appear in every episode of the last season of Dynasty, it somehow increased her stature. Suddenly, the character had a life beyond the confines of the show and whenever she returned, she had a much bigger impact than when she was in it every week. Same with JR in the first season of New Dallas. And Angela being in a coma for most of the last year of Falcon Crest added an exciting unpredictability to that show. It's been ages since I saw the final season of Knots, but I remember liking how each episode focused on a smaller group of characters, and how that focus switched from week to week. It freed up the storytelling, made it less formulaic. But I guess it was nice to have Karen there as a constant.

    Yep.
     
    Last edited: Oct 12, 2019
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  5. Jimmy Todd

    Jimmy Todd Soap Chat Well-Known Member

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  6. Mel O'Drama

    Mel O'Drama Super Moderator Staff Member

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    Great examples and I'm in full agreement. It's about how the absence is used.


    For me, too, it's been a long time. On last viewing it I recall missing Val greatly. But that was a different set of circumstances.

    The way you describe the pros of the smaller group and changing focus sounds very appealing. I don't think I've viewed it that way on the two occasions I've watched the final season in full, but I have a feeling I'll enjoy it much more third time round after reading these comments.
     
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  7. Jimmy Todd

    Jimmy Todd Soap Chat Well-Known Member

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  8. Daniel Avery

    Daniel Avery Super Moderator Staff Member

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    I got the sense that Lee thought it would be a source of pride that she appeared in every single episode, that since she'd already managed to keep up her streak through the thirteen seasons, it would be a shame for the streak to end when she was this close to completing it. One of my aunts completed her entire school career (back then, grades one through eleven) without missing a single day. It barely mattered to anyone else, but she often worked it into conversation as if it meant a lot to her. I'm guessing such an "honor" mattered to Lee more so than Ted Shackelford (the only other one who could approach "every episode" status by then). Lee obviously did not need the money, so agreeing to work at Union Scale (basically, the "minimum wage" for TV actors) was not too much of a loss financially. She likely got paid more "typical" dollars for the two episodes she directed in Season 14, too.

    The ironic thing is that Karen's presence wasn't really needed in every single episode of season 14. I'm sure her salary agreement encouraged the writers to use Karen more, or to plug her into a scene where another actor might have originally been planned. When Karen left town with Meg "to visit Diana in New York," it was likely originally written as ML's "time out" period. Gary left to look for Val, Mack went to jail for a bit, and Claudia and Kate ran off to a spa in similar "time outs". But when ML offered to take Union Scale, it allowed them to "follow" Karen and Meg to New York and to actually see Diana on-screen. The show's storylines would not have been affected at all if ML's scenes with Claudia Lonow never happened. All they did was talk about Karen's tiff with Mack, and Diana ultimately told Karen what she already knew--that she needed to go back to KL and forgive Mack for his recent stupidity in the Mary Robeson fiasco.
     
    Last edited: Oct 12, 2019
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  9. Willie Oleson

    Willie Oleson SoapLand Battles Moderator

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    And it felt like a treat!

    When you look at the Dallas and Falcon Crest discussions, and the disappointment regarding the absence of so many familiar characters, I could agree with ML that she had to be in as many episodes as possible, especially since they had to do it without Joan Van Ark.
    Knots' last season was still watchable, but it did feel a bit like a home stretch (imo) and I can't think of any very interesting characters who could repeatedly and successfully "stand in" for Karen. I didn't mind the No-lexis episodes on Dynasty because a) the story was a cracker and b) we still had Sable Colby to entertain us.
     
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  10. micmic

    micmic Soap Chat Active Member

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    Actually you have it backwards. She had a clause in her contract to be used / paid for all episodes and she just said I’ll do these episodes for the minimum payment allowed (union scale), to help make season 14 happen within budget. She really did like / care for the show.

    And yeah if you held a record to appear in all 340 episodes before might as well do 2 more to maintain it.

    Seasons 14 in general was pretty bad except for the last 2 episodes. I don’t think anything there helped. I was never a huge fan of Diana to say the least but nice to see a character back.
     
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  11. Jimmy Todd

    Jimmy Todd Soap Chat Well-Known Member

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    Do you think the show would have felt
    differently if Karen was not there, more so than when Gary was absent?
     
  12. Knots Blogger

    Knots Blogger Soap Chat Active Member

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    Surprised to see people saying season 14 isn’t good; having just finished show I thought Season 14 Under the guiding hand of Ann Marcus was a real highlight, especially after the first 15 episodes of season 13, I think everything from when Ann Marcus takes over through the final episode is really good quality, easily the best season of the post Abby years.
     
  13. James from London

    James from London Soap Chat Mega Star

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    I've just finished Episode 14 of Season 13 and totally digging it so far (Benny Appleman notwithstanding).
     
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  14. Jimmy Todd

    Jimmy Todd Soap Chat Well-Known Member

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    While the final season wasn't up to par with seasons 4-6, imho, I agree with you about the job Ann Marcus did. This was a 14 year old show and she saved it from becoming unwatchable, as Dallas and FC became for me. That's not an easy task, and I enjoyed the season. She deserves
    a lot of credit.
     
  15. micmic

    micmic Soap Chat Active Member

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    Not at all. I remember there was an episode named My Kingdom For A Horse or something like that which I believe had Karen and Greg and it was the worst ever. They barely even used Michele.
    I think another actor said they would have done that for scale but no one asked them
     
  16. Daniel Avery

    Daniel Avery Super Moderator Staff Member

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    Yes, it seemed "My Kingdom For a Horse" (ep. 341) was the most 'budget-minded' episode (to be kind), since it only featured Devane, Phillips, and (briefly) Lee. Noone, Galina, Shackelford, Sheridan, and Dobson are all excluded. It was the most obvious instance of an episode being run by the recurring players (in this case, Caccialanza, Waterman, and Gian).
     
  17. Knots Blogger

    Knots Blogger Soap Chat Active Member

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    I can’t think of any other show in a season 14, if it even makes it to a season 14, that is of the same quality as Knots. No, it’s not seasons 4-6 quality but I think those are some of the best seasons of television ever made. I’m trying to think of other shows I’ve watched that made it to season 14 and none of them were much good by that point; I hopped off Simpsons long before season 14, the 14th season of ER was drivel, at the moment that’s about all I can think of.
     
  18. Karin Schill

    Karin Schill Super Moderator Staff Member

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    Yes I think she was right. Karen was needed in the Knots Landing episodes and I enjoyed her visit with Diana. :)

    IMHO Dynasty without Alexis in some of the season 9 episodes was not working. :(
    Yes we had Sable and if you had watched The Colbys she was a delight to watch. But if you had only watched Dynasty she was no replacement for Alexis.
     
  19. Snarky's Ghost

    Snarky's Ghost Soap Chat Oracle

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    Totally disagree. The writing for DYNASTY had not only improved drastically for Season 9, but as JfL stated earlier, Alexis' stature was somehow increased by the fact that she wasn't there in every episode.
     
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  20. Seaviewer

    Seaviewer Soap Chat Dream Maker

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    For years I mis-remembered Karen as being missing in an episode when she was kidnapped at the end of season 7.
     

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