Thursday, March 23, 2017

KNOTS LANDING Episode 107 of 344: LOVE TO TAKE YOU HOME


Episode Title: Love to Take You Home

Season 06, Episode 07

Episode 107 of 344

Written by Peter Dunne

Directed by Larry Elikann

Original Airdate: Thursday, November 22nd, 1984

The Plot (Courtesy of TV.Com): Mack is served with divorce papers. Karen says she wants to explain, but she will need time. Mack finds out that Gary Loader has been killed. Val and Gary feel responsible for the MacKenzies' divorce. Abby and Scott Easton watch them talking from her office. Joshua's father, Jonathan, comes to Knots Landing determined to bring Joshua home with him. Joshua tells Cathy how confused he is and they make love. Afterwards, Joshua feels dirty and disgusted, and is horrified that Cathy doesn't feel ashamed, too. Joshua goes to see Reverend Kathryn, who has a religious show on the station, for advice. Joshua decides to stay and talks with his father. Scott Easton has lunch with Mitch Ackerman. Val goes to see her obstetrician, but she has been called away to a conference, and there is a new doctor - Mitch Ackerman. After Val's appointment, Ackerman calls Easton and tells him that he gave Val the pills, and that it will be two or three days at the most.


                Oh God yes.  In our last ep, which I still thought was very very good, I said how I don’t think Robert Becker is quite up there with “the big guys” when it comes to our KL directors, and so it’s with great pleasure that I note television auteur Larry Elikann is back in the director’s chair this week to give us a little masterpiece of television with Love to Take You Home, and he’s obviously aided immeasurably by the fact that this ep is written by the genius Peter Dunne, my new favorite person in the entire world (even though he never responded to my E-mail asking for an interview, sniff, cry).  Right away this ep is more visually dynamic and stimulating than our last one, as we open up on a preacher guy giving a little sermon to TV cameras for some religious show that Pacific Cable Whatever plays.  I like how this is shot by beginning in a tight closeup of the guy talking and then sorta pulling out to reveal that we are seeing him through the camera monitor.  Then Joshua comes walking by to deliver coffee (I think we’re still in the era where people pretty much just drank regular old coffee, and the main thing was asking whether they wanted cream and sugar or not; the era of the super snooty and entitled Starbucks customers who drink lattes and stuff feels like it’s about, erm, maybe ten years into the future).  When he sees this guy sermonizing, he pauses to look on with interest; obviously this is something that feels nice and comfortable to him, like if I was walking down a hallway and then saw they were filming a nighttime soap or a gay porno, I would probably feel right at home and pause to watch them continue.

                I’m noticing how, even in the super soap era of the series that we are now cozily nestled into, with long ongoing story arcs and all that stuff, individual eps will still manage to have their own flavor, their own themes running through.  The theme of this one is religion and religious oppression, so I appreciate how it begins right here in our very first scene.  This is not to say that this preacher is into oppression, by the way.  I actually think this preacher guy is pretty cool, kinda having a more modern and open minded aura about him than some religious people can have.  I also wanna note with surprise that this character (Reverend Kathrun, who will wind up being in six eps altogether) is played by Sandy Kenyon, who I was surprised to see was the voice of Jon Arbuckle in the first ever Garfield special, the absolutely soul-crushing Here Comes Garfield.


                You know what, let’s take a moment to go on a wild tangent about Here Comes Garfield and it’s dominance in my life and the fact that even thinking about it can make me cry.  This is a thirty minute short that is mostly fun and shenanigans with Garfield and Odie until the main plot kicks in, which is that Odie gets sent to the pound and then Garfield finds out he’s about to get put down.  From there, we have an agonizing scene in which this super sad song called So Long, Old Friend plays while Garfield flashes back to all the fun times he’s had with Odie.  I first saw this emotional rape when I was about eleven years old and was spending the night at a friend’s house.  We went wandering to the grocery store and found this VHS tape (back when those were still common; you kids today probably don't know what those are) of the special and we bought it for a buck or whatever and went home to watch it.  Little eleven year old Brett wasn’t quite as comfortable with his emotions and feelings back then as he is now (probably also cuz I was still wrestling with my sexuality and all that stuff), and when we hit that scene with the song and the montage, I started to cry uncontrollably, but I was embarrassed and didn’t want my friend to see me, so I spent mostof the time hiding my face and letting the tears fall silently down my face.  I was convinced that if my friend saw me cry, he would make fun of me for crying at a thirty minute children’s cartoon, but when the special concluded, I finally turned to face my friend only to see that he was also crying uncontrollably and had tears just streaming down his face.  At that point, I was a little less embarrassed, though I still retired to the bathroom to sit in the bathtub for a few minutes and sob quietly to myself until I felt a bit better.  For years I never watched the special again, simply remembering how much it made me cry and how awful it made me feel, until I rediscovered it in college and decided to face my demons and watch it again and, of course, I cried like a little baby when I watched it again in college, and I probably haven’t watched it since then because it simply makes me feel so awful.  Now, make no mistake, the special ends with Garfield and Odie escaping the pound and living happily ever after, but it’s one of those instances where nothing can take away the pain of what we have seen or the emotions of that beautiful song that plays.



                Anyway, that was an unrelated tangent, but I felt like sharing, and,like I said, it very slightly relates because it appears this guy provided the voice of Jon in that special, although I don’t think he did the voice for the Garfield and Friends TV show that I used to watch which was, generally, much less emotionally rapey to sit through.  As for the character, I like him, although I might be getting ahead of myself and thinking of stuff he does in upcoming eps and not this one.  I’m not a big religious guy and I’m generally afraid of priests (mostly cuz of the whole I-don’t-want-to-get-raped thing), but this guy seems like one of those cool priests who actually believes in love and understanding and all that crap.


                This is a stark contrast to Joshua’s father, who we finally meet this week.  Before I move on to the character and what he does and all that, let’s talk about the actor, Transmorphers, and the fact that I think IMDb is wrong.  Okay, first off, Jonathan J. Rush is played by Albert Salmi (pictured above), a character actor who follows me around and always seems to be popping up in the things I watch.  I was just watching a James at 15 ep and there he was as James’ sleazy uncle.  Now, what’s funny about this guy is that he looks distinctly different to me based on whether he has a goatee or not.  Sometimes he’s got a goatee, and I’m like, “Oh, it’s that guy,” and sometimes he doesn’t and I usually don’t even recognize him without it (like for instance he’s in Caddyshack and I never realized it until I just looked it up).  As for Transmorphing, well, he played the super sleazy and rapey Gil Thurman (probably one of my favorite made-up names ever) over on Dallas during the 1982-1983 season.  This is the guy that J.R. sent to, like have a meeting at Sue Ellen’s little condo and then purposefully showed up real late so that Gil could get, erm, a little bit Trumpy with Sue Ellen.  God, he was a sleazeball on that show, but once you take away the goatee and have him morph into Jonathan, he no longer feels sleazy but, instead, frightening.  The reason I think IMDb is wrong is because they have him credited for three eps of KL; there’s this one, Tomorrow Never Knows, and To Sing His Praise.  Well, I’m not sure about To Sing His Praise because we haven’t gotten to that episode yet, but I’m almost 100% certain he’s not in Tomororow Never Knows, because we did watch that one and I have no memory of seeing him.  Was he cut out but still credited?  Is this a case where my copies are missing scenes?  In any case, I’ve been noticing lots of flaws and problems within IMDb’s cast crediting for eps of KL, so this is probably just another example.


                Fuck me, there’s so much style dripping from this episode.  One of the first scenes we see is Lilimae standing behind the gate of her house (I guess technically Val’s house, but you all get my meaning) and peering out through the bars, looking super sad and scared.  It’s framed in such a way that her face is center stage and the bars are around her, making it look like she’s in prison.  It’s a beautiful shot but also moves the story, telling us that Lilimae is scared about seeing this man from her past again.  When Gil Thurman (sorry, I meant Jonathan J. Rush) arrives at the house, Elikann shoots him from below to make him look tall, imposing, authoritative, and frightening.  The man immediately kills any fun that has the potential to grow in a room, because Joshua and Cathy enter the house in a happy, laughing mood, but as soon as Joshua sees his father, it’s very silent and spooky and Lilimae is just sitting in a chair looking all pale, like she’s going to be sick.  So I loved how Jonathan was shot from below, and then I loved the very next scene even more, in which this incredibly awkward pseudo-family dinner is shot from above, actually making it look like some sort of religious painting.  The sense of tension in the air is palpable, and you know that Jonathan is just not going to approve of anything, starting with this girl his son is running around with.  When he finds out that Cathy is a singer, he asks, “Do you sing religious hymns?” and Cathy kinda smiles and is like, “No, I don’t think Isadora would like that too much.”  Yeah, I’m gonna go ahead and say people who are smoking and drinking in a bar probably don’t want to hear a bunch of crappy religious songs, but hey, that’s just a guess.  After that, Jonathan moves on to Val, asking her about the babies and where the father is.  Right away we establish that we have a night club singer at the table along with a pregnant-out-of-wedlock woman; it’s a table full of sin!



                Jonathan is not just here for a friendly visit; he wants to take Joshua back to wherever they come from (they say it ten thousand times, I’m sure, and I’m just too dumb to pay attention or I’m too busy focusing more on the way some microscopic beam of light in the background exemplifies all the genius of television filmmaking).  He tells Joshua how it’s time to come back home and return to the church and continue his life of not having sex and not dancing and not singing and basically not having any kind of fun at all.  As appealing as that sounds, Joshua gets angry and declares he’s staying here with Lilimae and Val and then he runs off, Cathy hot on his heels.  Cathy finds Joshua up in some cliff area overlooking the water, all upset.  The music starts to swell as Joshua gives this big speech about how his whole life has been filled with shame and nothing was ever good enough for his father, and then the two start to make out and then roll around on top of each other and, well, we cut to a commercial, but I think we can all infer what happened, especially since when we return to the scene Joshua is gazing off into the distance and refusing to look at Cathy while she cries and asks why he thinks their making love is shameful (breaking CNN news: I am officially over my problem with the term “making love” and now I actually kinda like saying it, especially if a boy is special to me).  She says how Joshua is making her feel dirty, and he says, “What we just did is a violation of everything,” and Cathy says, “It’s the foundation of everything.”  Well, I’m definitely with her.  We are all sexual beings and sex is the very foundation of all life and existence and without it, we wouldn’t even be here; sorry to offend the delicate ears (or I should say “eyes”) of any potential religious fanatic readers I may have (I’m pretty sure I don’t have any).  While I could understand the temptation to be annoyed with Joshua and be like, “Get the fuck over your issues, dude,” I feel bad for him.  Decades of nicely ingrained shame every single day is a hard thing to shake off.  Obviously Joshua was a virgin until five minutes ago, so he’s probably quite certain he’s on the highway to Hell now and there’s no going back, which could probably ruin anybody’s day.


                Meanwhile, back at the house, Lilimae is much more forward and direct with Jonathan as soon as they have a private moment, which I think is interesting.  She looked like she was going to poop her pants at the dinner table scene and hardly spoke a word, but now that they are sitting alone, she gets rather authoritative and picks up his Bible and says, “I ought to beat you over the head with your good book.”  Then she gives a nice speech about how the foundation of religion is supposed to be love and she says how he doesn’t have any time for love even though, “You read about it and you preach about it; why can’t you feel it?”  What makes this scene extra interesting is that Jonathan just sits quietly and listens to her; this tells me that their relationship is much more complex than it appeared upon first glance.  I think it shows that he still has feelings of love for Lilimae; even though he condemns her as a sinner and says how she abandoned them, I think he still kinda likes being around her and listening to her talk.  He probably likes the fact that she is so direct with him, really. 

                God, KL is so good.  I’ve said this before and I’m gonna say it again, so deal with it, but this Jonathan character could have been nothing; he could have easily just been this one-episode guy that is shipped in to create a conflict and then is shipped out unceremoniously, but even he winds up being fascinating to watch, and seeing how Lilimae interacts with him is fascinating to watch, and you know what, I’m calling it right now: If ever there was a season to give Julie Harris her Emmy, it’s this one.  She says so much with her eyes, even when she’s not speaking and you can just see how her eyes are kinda filling up with tears, so very expressive, and I feel like we’ve reached some new level of maturity and high art by this juncture in the series that is exemplified by just how fucking good her incredible acting is.  The way this portion of the ep ends could also have been a write-off, but it works brilliantly for me.  See, Jonathan agrees to let Joshua stay here, and then we get a fabulous final scene between him and Lilimae outside the front door as he’s about to leave, donning a cool fedora and actually looking rather boss.  He turns to her and says, “I forgot what a spitfire you were,” and it’s this moment of rather naked emotion that I found very enjoyable to watch.  Finally, when he turns to walk away, you can see that Lilimae is getting a little misty and she sorta whispers, “Goodbye, Jonathan,” to which My Beloved Grammy declared that she thinks Lilimae still loves Jonathan, and you know what?  I think I agree.  It’s not a love like, “Let’s get immediately back together so I can be part of your church choir again and you can make us all feel really bad all the time,” but a more complex thing, that there was something that attracted these two to each other in the first place and that it’s still there in some small way over twenty years later.


                Okay, I’ve gone on way too long about just this one particular facet of the ep, so let’s move on to our other beautiful and wonderful and fascinating characters, starting with Gary and Val.  I forgot to mention it last ep, but Val has asked Mack to be her Lamaze coach and he has agreed cuz he’s so awesome and cool and fabulous and a good friend.  Also, and this is an easy thing to forget since it happened so long ago, but he’s one of the only people that knows the truth about Val’s babies.  If you’ll flashback to somewhere in season five (can’t remember the exact one, please forgive me), you’ll recall that Val visited Mack at his office and pretty much immediately told him the truth, and Mack has kept that secret very well all the way up to this point.  So, for the purposes of keeping score, let’s go down the list of who knows the truth.  We’ve got Val, of course, as well as Ben, Mack, and, most recently Abs and, by extension, the wicked and creepy Scott Easton.

                Anyway, when Val arrives at Lamaze, she’s surprised to see Gary there, but it turns out he’s not really there to see her (although he expressed his desire to be her coach last week), but rather to talk to Mack and tell him the truth about what’s going on.  What an amusing little scene, and what utter cuteness it is to watch Gary and Val frantically try to explain to a confused Mack what’s going on, how they were trying to hatch a plan to get him and Karen back together, but it’s now backfired since Karen has officially filed for divorce from him.  Ah, such a sordid state of affairs.  The beautiful thing is that Mack has this knowing and rather amused look on his face, and when they’re done explaining things to him, he’s like, “Oh, so you guys think me and Karen should be together, huh?”  To that, Gary and Val both get these really funny expressions on their face and kinda look at each other, suddenly realizing the elephant in the room, which is of course that anyone on the cul-de-sac or near the cul-de-sac or living in the state of California or inhabiting the planet Earth can see that Gary and Val are soul mates who love each other deeply and are meant to be together.


                This whole thing is playing brilliantly for me, by the way, how Gary and Val are really and truly just spending so much time together because they’re hatching a plan, not because they are gonna get back together.  However, we can understand Abby’s growing paranoia as everywhere she looks, she sees Gary and Val talking and looking rather happy together.  There is a tremendous visual scene in which Abs is pacing her office with Scott Easton standing behind her, the shadows from the venetian blinds splashed across the dark backdrop of the wall to make the scene look creepy and secretive.  She goes over to the window and peers out and is able to see Gary and Val talking over in Gary’s office, and the shadows illuminate her face and accentuate her baby blue eyes.  Stunning, simply stunning, this is how you shoot an episode of television.

                The ever creepy 80s Rapist Beard looms in shadow behind Abs as she looks through the window, spending most of the episode reassuring her that “her bonus” should be arriving shortly.  In case it’s not clear, I’m talking about Scott Easton, who is making his penultimate appearance on the series in this episode.  Now might be a good time to sorta re-explain what’s going on with this guy and how it all relates to Val’s babies.  In truth, there are some aspects of this that I’m still having a bit of trouble completely figuring out, so forgive me any lapses, but basically Abs needs to make sure Lotus Point has a water supply and there was some reason or other that they were at risk to not be allowed any of the water, but she hired Easton to figure it out for her and so that’s what he’s doing.  So his main job is supposed to be figuring out the whole water thing, but “the bonus” that he keeps mentioning presumably has something to do with Val’s babies.  I’m not trying to create the impression that I don’t know where this storyline is leading; of course I know because I’ve seen this before and it’s probably the best storyline in the whole series history, but I am trying to explain it the way it’s occurring onscreen, the way this would play to a first time viewer in 1984, who would probably be as confused as Abs is every time Easton cryptically says, “Your bonus should be arriving any time, Mrs. Ewing.”

                What are Laura and Sumner up to this week, by the way?  We get a little less of them than usual, and I think it might even be as little as one scene, a rather lovely moment of intimacy between them at a hotel in….somewhere.  Clearly I don’t know my geography well and I don’t really pay attention to the dialogue when people say they’re going somewhere, but it’s really not all that important.  It’s enough to just say they are out of town, staying in a hotel.  Laura’s telling some story about her youth and a friend of hers that married a super sexy lifeguard and then the lifeguard died and left her with a bunch of money or something.  I love how this story has absolutely nothing to do with the plot; it makes it feel more like real people hanging out and talking.  Also, the way they are interacting definitely tells me that they are starting to feel love for each other, and we also get the sense that even if Greg was mad at Jane for asking for a divorce last ep, his heart is starting to belong to Laura.  My Beloved Grammy also noticed that and said how at first she thought Sumner just wanted another notch on his bedpost with Laura, but now she thinks he’s really falling for her.  The only thing I don’t love about this scene is that Greg is rubbing Laura’s feet.  Ick.  I know it feels good to get a foot massage and all that, but I’m not into feet and I’m not one of those foot fetish people (not naming any names here, Quentin Tarantino).  I don’t judge since I don’t believe in judging peoples’ fetishes and kinks, but it just ain’t for me and I could have lived without seeing him rub Laura’s foot.



                I feel like I glossed over Karen last ep, so let’s focus on her a bit.  Near the start of the ep, we have a heated argument between her and Eric, who is mad at her for seeking a divorce from Mack and doesn’t understand why she is doing this.  I like the way this scene plays, with them talking out on the driveway while he frantically tries to start a car that won’t work properly.  He gets all pissed and is like, “I hate this car!” and has to get out and open the hood and ask Sexy Michael to try revving the engine.  Then he angrily sorta grabs Sexy Michael out of the car and shoves him aside, which I did not approve of.  Look, I know you’re all angry, Eric, but it’s simply not okay to be rude or violent with one of God’s most beautiful and sublime creatures like your brother, Sexy Michael, a brother who is soooooooo unbelievably sexy that I think, in this instance, it would actually be okay to commit incest, and I think if he was my brother, I would simply have to do it; I would have no other choice.  Sexy Michael even gets the last line of the scene, cuz after Eric speeds off, Karen asks him if he’s equally mad, and he says, “No, but I am mad,” and then he gets real serious and asks, “How can you not love Mack?”  Yes, I understand his question, which is almost a rhetorical one, kinda like asking, “How could you not fuck the shit out of Sexy Michael as soon as you saw him?” 


                There are many benefits to watching the show for a second time with some idea of how future events are going to proceed, and I noticed one instance here in this ep.  See, we are at a lovely looking restaurant with Val, but when the scene actually starts, we don’t begin on Val, but on a table occupied by the wicked Easton and the even more wicked Dr. Ackerman.  Now, we haven’t actually been introduced to Dr. Ackerman yet, so upon first viewing, when watching this, all you see is Easton sitting with some old white guy, but watching it this time, I was like, “There’s Ackerman!”  Like I said, we start on the two, then the camera pans over to Val’s table, and then Easton comes over to be creepy with Val and say, “Would you think me immodest if I said congratulations?”  He leers at her pregnant belly for awhile and then he leaves the restaurant, but not before turning around and giving Ackerman a look while Ackerman evilly sips a glass of white wine.

                I do wanna talk about the actor playing Ackerman real fast, mostly because he’s a Transmorpher.  His name is Laurence Haddon (pictured below) and I got a big surprise when I peeked at his IMDb because I thought he was only in one episode of Dallas from around 1986 or 1987.  Turns out he’s in seventeen, going as far back as 1980 with Nightmare and spanning all the way to 1986 with The Fire Next Time.  Apparently he’s even in the most famous episode of all time, Who Done It?  He played Franklin Horner on the show, and I honestly remember nothing about the character except that he was, like, an oil guy who worked with J.R. or something (there was a lot of oil on that show; it all blurs).  I’m not gonna bother listing his credits because they are myriad; he looks to be one of those people who’s in every TV show ever made.  What surprises me is that he’s only in six eps of KL; in my mind it was way more.  Anyway, he’s here now and I’m excited/nervous to see him.


                Last scene of the ep involves Ackerman, cuz we see Val having a meeting with a doctor, but we can’t see the doctor’s face right away.  There’s an exchange of dialogue that nicely covers the bases from prior eps by establishing that her lady doctor is out of town for the month for some reason.  The still-faceless doctor gives Val some pills and tells her to take them however many times a day.  Then Val leaves and the camera pans up to reveal the face of Ackerman, who evilly picks up a phone and evilly dials the numbers and then evilly says, “Shouldn’t be long now; two, three days at the most,” and that’s how we end the episode.  What a spooky ending, and if I was watching this on original airing, I would be legit frightened at what’s about to happen, much like I could tell My Beloved Grammy was legit frightened.  Like I said before, she was utterly convinced that Easton and Ackerman were just going to flat out kill the babies, and she believed these pills were going to force Val into a miscarriage or kill the babies while they’re inside of her or something like that.  If I was watching this week to week in the ‘80s, I would probably think the same thing, and I would be scared.  Stuff like this gives me a boner, though (obvious not a literal boner, you understand), and I think it might be from watching Rosemary’s Baby a lot as a kid.  I’m a big fan of the idea of evil doctors or people we are meant to trust as authority figures who are actually duplicitous and lying to us and causing us harm.  It’s such a frightening idea, and it always works well to severely creep me out, and it’s working well here.

                In fact, I’ll just conclude and say everything about this ep is working well.  In my notes where I do the little “Overall Review” part before we move on to the next ep, I simply wrote, “Oh God Elikann,” and I think that says it all.  Elikann may be elevating into my top director, actually, because his eps are always so damn good and so stylish and distinctive; I’m starting to want to watch all his television work to see if he was actually some sort of television auteur that nobody except me is talking about.  The lighting and shadows and compositions throughout this ep were just great, but beyond all that arty farty stuff that I care about, the story is inherently gripping.  No fucking wonder this is the season that leapt to #9 in the ratings (the only year in KL history to hit the top ten, which hurts me deeply); if you were watching this in 1984-1985, could you possibly stop watching it?  I would be cancelling all my potential Thursday night plans for the entire year just to make sure I’d be home to watch this, and I can’t believe there could be anything better on television that year (this happens to be the year that Miami Vice started, actually, but I’m gonna let you in on a little secret: That show sucks).  So fuck yeah, this was clearly a work of genius and I suggest we proceed to the next work of genius, which is entitled Tomorrow Never Knows.

Sunday, March 19, 2017

KNOTS LANDING Episode 106 of 344: TRUTH AND CONSEQUENCES


Episode Title: Truth and Consequences

Season 06, Episode 06

Episode 106 of 344

Written by Joyce Keener

Directed by Robert Becker

Original Airdate: Thursday, November 15th, 1984

The Plot (Courtesy of TV.Com): Val asks Mack to be her birthing coach and Gary tells her he wishes she would have asked him. Val and Gary try to get Karen and Mack back together, but Abby's worried that Val will tell Gary about the babies. Abby asks Scott Easton if the babies can be Gary's heirs and complains about them, but says there's nothing she can do about it. Easton replies, "You never know..." Abby hires Joshua to work at the cable station. Gary tries to use reverse psychology on Karen and tells her to divorce Mack, but to his surprise, Karen agrees and goes to see a divorce lawyer. Cathy has a romantic dinner with Joshua. Ben gives Mack a tape about Gary Loader, who was in prison with Tom Jezik. Greg wins his election to become Senator. Afterwards, Jane tells him that she wants a divorce.



 

                KL is so fucking good that every time My Beloved Grammy and I gather to watch another disk, it’s like this ascension into Heaven in which the show is so unbelievably incredibly divine that it almost makes the prior eps look not as good.  Yes, it is indeed true that we got together again and did another disk, this one encompassing this ep right up here and up for discussion now, Truth and Consequences, well through Message in a Bottle, five glorious eps that seemed to get better and better as we went along, and I think I may have to conclude that this was our best disk up to this point.  Let’s dive right in and start talking about it.

                Truth and Consequences starts out in a way we haven’t seen since way back at the start of season four, with that “Lorimar Presents” logo and then the cheesy narrator saying, “In Knots Landing,” followed by a little recap of the big events from the start of the season.  I kinda liked starting with this since it was the first ep of our visit and it was nice to get a little reminder of what went down last time along with listening to that cheesy narrator’s voice (does anyone know the actual name of the guy who would do these narrations?).  I do wanna note that I’m not entirely sure if this is the way the ep originally aired in 1984 or if it’s some sort of syndication package re-edit, but I have the feeling it’s true to original broadcast.  I think this is just a way of keeping people up to date or helping possible new viewers who might be tuning in.
 
 

                After that recap, we of course get the glorious scrolling squares and then we begin the episode by actually replaying the last minute of our prior ep, Ipso Facto, starting with Abs wandering into Ben’s office and grabbing that disk and all that stuff.  We get to see her reading Ben’s letter to Val with the big revelation of the true father of the twins.  From there, we move on to new footage, namely Abs talking to Gary, who expresses some confusion about the way Ben has abandoned Val during her pregnancy even though he is the father (the “father,” is how I should probably write that out).  There’s a rather funny little moment where he’s like, “If those were my babies, I could never walk out on her,” and then he just sorta casually strolls off and leaves Abs alone with her eyes all big, clearly horrified at these two events that have just occurred almost simultaneously. 
 
 

                Speaking of Ben, we catch up with him having a picnic with The Desperate Horny Chick from the last ep or two.  Okay, I’m just gonna go ahead and admit something here so maybe my dear readers can understand why I keep referring to her as “The Desperate Horny Chick” and have not yet provided a character name or an actress name, the reason being that I don’t know either.  I was convinced this character’s name was Kelly, and I was fairly certain I heard that name twice in this ep in reference to her.  However, there’s nobody on the IMDb page credited for a character named Kelly, but there is a lady named Lisa Brady who is credited for playing “Cherie” and I feel like this might be the person, and this person has 12 total KL eps that stretch up to The Longest Day in 1985, so it seems most likely, but I’m not entirely sure, and I’m also noticing lately that the IMDb cast pages are often inaccurate or list people who weren’t in eps or leave out people who were. 

                You know what, who cares?  This character sucks, and both myself and My Beloved Grammy agreed on this.  Basically, she’s this forgettable looking chick with black hair who follows Ben around constantly even though he’s clearly just not that into her.  She first popped up about two eps back coming into his office and spreading her legs open in front of him while he looked bored and annoyed and thought about how much he missed Val.  This week, they’ve somehow ended up at this picnic together, which is also located in a very odd spot, namely on the middle of a rocky looking cliff overlooking the ocean with the violent and noisy waves coming in.  Not sure if I could enjoy a picnic in such a scenario, probably afraid that I might slip and fall to my violent death at any moment.  Anyway, as we are going to see with most of the scenes with Ben and The Desperate Horny Chick, she mostly tries to snuggle up to him and get real close and act cute while he is just kinda disinterested, but I suppose it is his own fault for slightly leading her on.  After all, who arranged this picnic?  If he’s not into her, why would he agree to have a picnic with her?  Anyway, I’m clearly very annoyed by this character, but I don’t think this is really a flaw of the writing or even the actress, whoever she may be; I think it’s just her inherent desperation that rubs me the wrong way.

                Meanwhile, the big election is finally just two days away, the election Greg Sumner has been pretty much working towards since we first met him at the start of season five.  Appropriately, Greg decides that 48 hours before the election is the perfect time to disappear off the face of the earth and leave everyone real worried about him, including visiting wife Anne Frank (Jane).  I like how Greg has something of a lost weekend (even if it’s only one night) that we are not all that privy to.  He just kinda vanishes and through most of the ep people are trying to figure out where he is, though he does briefly crash a lovely little dinner get-together between new romantics Joshua and Cathy.  Oh yeah, let me expand on that a little bit.  Laura goes out of town this week to some sort of real estate thing (she drops some line that implies she’s considering getting back into real estate, which pleased me as it showed the writers doing a good job of remembering their characters’ past histories), leaving Cathy in charge of the house and, presumably, the two sons we hardly ever see anymore, including Jason 3 who, thanks to all that morphing throughout the last five years, kinda appears to never be getting any older.  Cathy asks Laura if it’d be okay for her to have Joshua over for dinner and Laura says sure.  We get a little hint of this dinner and can see that certain aspects of it are making Joshua uncomfortable, such as the music.  He makes some quiet comment about “the dance music” and it reminds us that, being raised with lots of good old fashioned religious shame, he’s probably never even danced before in his life.  Before any dancing occurs, though, there’s a knock at the door and what appears to be slightly inebriated Greg shows up, wanting to know where Laura is.  Greg looks like he’s drunk here, but I’d say not too drunk, not Gary-in-season-four-WE’RE-RUINING-LIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIVES-drunk, but nicely on his way to drunk.  When he finds out Laura’s out of town, he says something weird and funny like, “Bye bye,” and then just walks off.
 
 

                What has Greg been up to?  Why’s he behaving this way?  I like the mystery, that all we see is him coming to Laura’s house, not how he spends the rest of the night before and after.  My personal opinion is that all the recent stresses in his life have just got him all mixed up, so he disappears to some bar like all red blooded American men used to do to solve their problems, and then probably after getting somewhat sloshed at a bar, he decided to take a nice drive (since it’s still 1984 and I don’t think anyone really gives a crap about drinking and driving quite yet) and go see Laura.  Perhaps he’s just looking for a good old fashioned shag, but I don’t believe so; I think he probably wants to talk to her about whatever’s on his mind, whatever he feels he can’t really speak about with his mostly-estranged wife.  Speaking of which, Jane is stressing over the missing Greg and pays Mack a visit at The Plant House (remember Mack is still staying there with Ben at this point) to talk it over.  There’s still some lingering romantic tension from last week when they kissed in the car, but nothing more really comes of it, and I’m fine with it that way.  I always say how much I like that the KL writers don’t do things purely for the sake of the drama; they don’t just throw affairs into the mix to spice things up the way they did over on Dallas, but instead keep it making sense for the characters.  In this case, yeah, Jane and Mack kissed, but so what?  It’s not a really big deal and we get to move on from it fairly quickly.

                I’m also fine with it because I desperately want to see Mack and Karen back together and definitely did not remember them staying apart for so long.  Gary and Val have the same feelings and so this week we get to see them sort of team up in a way that’s very cute and endearing in an effort to get Mack and Karen back together again.  Their plan?  By encouraging Karen to proceed with a divorce with Mack, she will of course realize that this isn’t what she really wants, that she loves Mack, and they’ll get back together.  Val mentions how she’s gonna have the hard task of “having to talk bad about Mack,” and I’m with her that that would be hard.  What would one even say?  Aside from the Wolfbridge stuff that was so contentious between him and Karen at the end of last season, he’s just so damn decent and good and noble and I love him so much.  If I was tasked with making him sound bad for Karen, I probably wouldn’t have much to say except, “I think he wears a rug.”  The plan instantly backfires, by the way, because a rushing-towards-death Karen immediately agrees that she should divorce Mack as soon as Gary suggests it to her, prompting Gary to now get the big wide eyes and the “oh, shit” look on his face that Abs was sporting just a little bit earlier in this ep.

                This little game that Gary and Val are playing only adds fuel to the fire that is Abby’s panic, because now suddenly everywhere she looks, there are Gary and Val hanging out together and looking awful chummy.  Early in the ep, Val drives Joshua up to Lotus Point to see about him getting a job as a ranch hand on Westfork.  As soon as Abs hears this, she’s like, “Oh no, ranch handing isn’t for you; you should become a get-the-coffee-boy at Pacific World Whatever.”  This is mostly setting up the story point that Joshua will be working at the news station for awhile, but it’s also important that Gary and Val are hanging out together.  Now that Abs knows Val is harboring Gary’s growing babies in her stomach, you can’t blame her for getting paranoid when she sees how chummy and happy the two look together, but I appreciate the fact that it’s a misunderstanding, that Gary and Val aren’t actually having an affair or talking about getting back together or anything like that; they’re just trying to get their friends back together again.
 
 

                The central thread running through this ep is that looming election, which moves ever closer with each passing minute.  Greg returns to his hotel room in the morning to find Jane sipping coffee and stressing over him.  She asks him where he disappeared to and he’s kinda dismissive and is like, “I needed to disappear for awhile so I did; what’s the big deal?”  Later he gets a little more intimate in talking with her when he says something like, “I killed a man and that’s a hard thing to process.”  The whole killing-a-man-thing is very politically risky for Greg, and at one point in the ep some assistant of his says, “You’re lucky the election’s in two days; if it was two weeks, you wouldn’t have a chance.”  I guess he has a point.  With two weeks, people would have time to poke holes in Greg’s boat story or just chew a bit more on the fact that they are electing a man who potentially shot another man in cold blood (I am biting my tongue really hard to not make any jokes about what's going on in our current horrible world with a current horrible man). 

                By the closing minutes of the ep, it’s pretty clear that Greg’s got this, that he’s the winner and he’s going to go to Washington to be on the senate and all that good shit.  He stands up and gives a big political speech in which he says how all three networks have him as the winner (reminding me that we are still two years away from Fox even existing; we are still comfortably in the era of CBS/ABC/NBC and that’s pretty much it).  The band plays For He’s A Jolly Good Fellow, probably because it’s a public domain song, Greg wraps up his speech by saying how he wants everyone in the world of all colors to join together as one unity of humanity or something, and then from there he returns to his hotel room only for Jane to squeeze out a big fat wet fart right into his face.  Actually, maybe that’s not fair.  See, as soon as he gets back to his hotel, he’s all exited and like, “Washington, D.C., can you believe it?” and says something like, “I’ve been waiting twenty years for this.”  Jane looks less than thrilled and pretty much declares right away that she’s ready for a divorce.  She says how she promised herself she would support Greg all the way through this political race until he made it to Washington, and now that he has accomplished that, she “doesn’t want to watch him fall apart.”  Greg handles the news a little immaturely because when she says how she’ll leave tomorrow, he says, “Why wait?” and grabs the phone and tells them to send for Mrs. Sumner’s bags and that she’ll be leaving in ten minutes.

                As I have repeatedly said, the magic of KL is in the way all the characters are so fully realized and complex, even the guest characters who really aren’t that important in the grand scheme of things.  In the grand scheme of things, Jane is an incredibly minor character, and the writers could have easily had this character be a void that just exists to be Sumner’s wife or whatever, but she still feels like a real person and she is still played sensitively and well by Anne Frank.  Also, as I always always always say, I understand both people.  Greg is having probably one of the best days of his life, finally reaching that senate seat he’s been working two decades for, and then Jane just shits on it a few minutes later and kills his good mood, so that’s kinda crummy.  However, Jane is also right that Greg’s behavior as of late has been rather odd, and of course it’s quite obvious the two have been estranged for some time and really don’t have much of a relationship at all.  Jane is smart enough to know that, in the world of politics, the political candidate generally needs to present himself as Mr. Happy Family Man with a smiling wife and children, so she was good and decent enough to at least wait until Greg won the election before divorcing him.  Anyway, this is pretty much the last we’ll be seeing of Jane, although we do get a surprise appearance in 1990 with Out of Control (I’m just taking a guess here based on my memory, but I’m pretty sure that’s the episode where Greg gets drunk and, like, starts to have visions of all the different people from throughout his life talking to him).  For now, Jane is going away and even though I’m not gonna reflect back on all 344 eps of KL and be like, “Oh yes, Jane was such a dynamic character,” I did like her and I liked the way she was portrayed. 
 
 

                Let’s jump to the very last scene of the ep, which is actually very ominous and creepy.  I think I forgot to mention it last time, but on our last disk Abs hired this new attorney dude or something (I’m not entirely clear on his job title) named Scott Easton, a creepy looking white guy with a big ‘80s Rapist Beard.  He and Abs have gotten a bit cozy pretty fast, and earlier in this ep she opens up to him with the truth about Val’s babies, asking what kind of things might happen moneywise if Gary were to discover that the babies were his, if the babies could wind up getting a good chunk of Gary’s fortune or whatever.  At the end of this ep, Abs and Easton are standing around the political rally as everyone’s popping open the champagne, and, regarding the topic of the soon-to-arrive babies, she says something about how, “There’s nothing I can do about it,” only for Easton to make a cryptic comment, “You never know,” and then walk away, leaving Abs looking confused and upset for her freeze frame ending (I’m noticing more freeze-frame endings lately, something that I feel has become rather infrequent post season two).

                Boy, what a creepy ending, and My Beloved Grammy immediately got rather upset and was convinced this Easton fellow was gonna kill the babies or something like that.  If I haven’t mentioned it, My Beloved Grammy has spent Val’s entire pregnancy convinced that the babies are going to die, and that’s not an unfair assumption to make.  I’ve talked before about how the nighttime soaps liked to get the characters pregnant, stir up some drama, and then eliminate the pregnancy from the equation before the birth so they didn’t have to deal with child labor laws and babies running around and all that stuff.  I think we had something ridiculous like seven dead fetuses on Dallas (I remember I counted them during our last viewing of the series, but now I’ve forgotten the exact number I landed on), so I can see why she’s going that way.  I almost wanted to reassure her that things weren’t going to get that dark, because I think she thought maybe Easton was gonna come at Val with a baseball bat or a wire hanger or something, and I wanted to make sure and tell her it wouldn’t get quite that upsetting, but I held my tongue to let the drama unfold naturally.
 
 

                So that was Truth and Consequences.  Clearly it was good, but I am going to say it was the least engaging ep on the disk we watched.  This isn’t really a criticism of the ep so much as a demonstration of how amazing this disk/season is and how the eps seem to ascend upwards in quality as you move along.  I will be slightly critical by saying that I’m not sure Robert Becker, helming his fourth directorial effort for KL, is quite up there with the big guys like Nicholas Sgarro, Bill “Green Beret” Duke, and of course Larry Elikann, but he still has plenty of eps left to improve.  This is a micro criticism by the way, basically just me observing that I don’t see as many cinematic flourishes and arty touches in Becker’s eps as I do in other people’s eps, but it’s hardly some damning condemnation of this ep, which was overall quite excellent.

                In addition to beginning in a different way with that cheesy narrator recap, this ep also ends in a way we haven’t seen in a long time, with a “Next on KL” thirty second preview that shows us a little hint of what’s in store for our next ep.  I could take or leave this because as soon as you jump into the next ep, you immediately see the same preview again, but whatever, the preview is for our next  episode, Love to Take You Home, so I suggest we move right along and discuss that.
 
 

Thursday, March 16, 2017

KNOTS LANDING Episode 105 of 344: IPSO FACTO


Episode Title: Ipso Facto

Season 06, Episode 05

Episode 105 of 344

Written by John Saffron

Directed by Larry Elikann

Original Airdate: Thursday, November 8th, 1984

The Plot (Courtesy of TV.Com): Gary tells Karen that Mack won't be grateful that she spared him her death; he'll be angry and resentful. Abby hires Scott Easton. Greg tells Abby he knows that one of her employee's broke into Caulfield's medical files. Abby threatens to retract her statement if he tells. Lotus Point has their grand opening. Mack and Karen begin to talk at the opening. Joshua tells Cathy that he met Abby and she is really 'nice.’ Greg invites Caulfield to the opening, and tells the press that his medical history doesn't matter. At the station, Abby sees a floppy disc on Ben's desk that is labeled "Val Notes." She puts it in the computer. It's a letter to Val that he loves her, but just can't get over the fact that she is having Gary's baby. Abby is shocked.




                Oh fuck yes, remember how I jizzed in my pants super hard over our last episode, A Little Help?  Most of that jizzing wasn’t even based entirely on that particular ep, but rather a collection of feelings of love towards KL that appear to be reaching some new height of almost hysterical obsession as I work my way through the show along with My Beloved Grammy.  Well, the jizzing shall only continue, growing stronger even, as we dive into this episode, Ipso Facto, and I suggest we start right off with, “What exactly does ‘ipso facto’ mean?”  I’m glad you asked, because I looked it up and now I’m gonna tell you.  The term “ipso facto” basically means, “Because of the fact that has already been established,” or another definition I found says, “As an inevitable result.”  I bring this up because as the episode started, I announced the title of the episode and the airdate to My Beloved Grammy, as I always do, and then I randomly asked her what that term actually means and she didn’t know either.  So, I looked it up, I learned what it means, and now I can only sit sadly and reflect on the fact that I’m allegedly a college educated person and my degree is supposed to be in writing and yet I didn’t even know until mere moments ago what “ipso faco” means.  Oh well, the fact that My Beloved Grammy, who is older and wiser than I, also didn’t know what it means definitely helps me to feel a little bit less stupid, so let’s move right along.

                This is the fifth episode of season six and I’m actually noticing some similarities to the fifth episode of season five from one year prior.  In that instance, Greg threw a big political gathering (at what I later learned was simply a redressed Southfork set and, upon looking at some pictures online, I can confirm that it was, indeed, Southfork) and that gathering provided a fine opportunity to get the entire cast gathered in one place to interact.  Here, in Ipso Facto, it’s the grand opening of Lotus Point that provides a setting for all our characters, although there’s definitely still some political stuff going on, as well, which we shall discuss when we discuss it.

                First off, here’s one development I neglected to mention last week, and that is the triumphant return of Jane Sumner.  Yes, Anne Frank is back on the scene in A Little Help after making her last appearance back in Forsaking All Others and she continues to be prominent in Ipso Facto, as well.  Let’s soak up all the Jane we can, by the way, because she’s only gonna be in one more episode this season (Truth and Consequences) before essentially leaving the show (she gets one last surprise appearance in 1990 with Out of Control).  Much like so many other KL characters that I remember being bored or underwhelmed by but am suddenly really digging (Eric and Ben, to name just a few), Jane is ascending in my view and I’m starting to greatly appreciate this character as well as the actress.  Is it just the inherent greatness of KL?  Is it just the fact that when you have the KL writers working their magic, even the most minor of characters becomes super interesting and compelling?  I feel like that might be it, along with simply casting good, solid actors who can bring these characters to life effectively.  Before I get too excited, let me just make it clear that I’m not like, “OMIGOD JANE SUMNER IS THE GREATEST CHARACTER IN TELEVISION.”  No, nothing like that, she’s a relatively minor character who only appears in six episodes out of 344, but I’m just saying that, for how minor she is and what a toss-off this character could be, the writers still manage to make her interesting. 

                I bring up Jane because she figures somewhat significantly into the story this week.  She’s back in town as of last week to see what the heck is really going on in Greg’s life, another detail I appreciate.  I feel like it wouldn’t be a complete KL episode writeup if I didn’t take a moment to shit on Dallas (a show I still like a lot, just to be clear), so let’s go ahead and get that out of the way now.  Over on Dallas, wildly dramatic things would occur and often characters who should be on the scene for such proceedings would be conspicuously absent.  An example that springs immediately to mind is when Southfork nearly burned down at the conclusion of season six and yet, for the first ten eps or so of season seven, Miss Ellie was completely absent and we would just be told by other characters that she was, like, on a vacation or some other nonsense.  Oh yeah, really?  You’d think that your house nearly burning to the ground might be a good reason to cancel your vacation plans, but I guess not.  Over here in the comparatively more realistic world of KL, when Greg ends up shooting James Bond villains to death on sexy boats, the writers do not just merely dismiss the character of his wife with some throwaway line like, “She’s travelling through Europe.”  Nope, instead they bring her back into the proceedings and have her say, “Gee Greg, I hear you shot some James Bond villain to death on a sexy boat.”

                Greg and Jane had a good scene in the last ep that I neglected to mention, but basically the gist of the scene was that he manages to keep cool and act like everything’s okay, although I get the sense that Jane somewhat sees through his lies.  This week, Jane probably spends more time hanging around Mack than Greg, and we even get the possible stirrings of an adulterous romance between the two.  See, at some point near the middle of the ep they wind up in a car somehow, and it’s raining and it’s all very stylish, courtesy of that ever-dependable Larry Elikann, who continues to bring such fabulous style to the small screen every time he steps behind the camera of a KL ep.  Anyway, Greg and Jane are talking about their past history, and I’m gonna go on for another seventeen pages about how much I love this, so get ready.

                I love the fact that I actually believe in this past story, that it never feels invented.  When Greg was first introduced to the show back at the start of season five, we were told he was an old friend of Mack’s and that they went to college or law school together or something.  This could have felt totally invented, but it’s always felt genuine to me, and now as Mack and Jane discuss being young and staying up late to study for stuff, I can actually picture it in my mind; it’s not like when Jenna and Bobby would discuss their youth and their love affair over on Dallas and I would just get bored and throw up.  Instead, this actually feels like real people.  Even when they kiss, it doesn’t feel too soapy or melodramatic; it’s just something that happens.  The kiss is placed into the thirty second preview before the still-absolutely-brilliant opening credits, making it look like something saucy and risqué, but when it actually occurs it’s not such a big deal, and I kinda prefer it that way.  Will Jane and Mack have an affair?  Well, considering Jane’s going away in the next episode, I’m gonna go ahead and say probably not, but maybe we the viewers aren’t even meant to be in suspense about this; maybe we are just supposed to watch two people have a little romantic moment and then that’s the end of it.

                It’s rather typical of me to pick one of the smallest aspects of any given episode and then write about it for several years.  All things considered, the kiss between Mack and Jane is a rather microscopic portion of this episode compared to everything else that’s going down this week, so let’s explore someone else, starting with my much cherished (and still favorite character, thank you very much) Karen.  We open the ep on her and Gary having a chat about her recent medical diagnosis and her decisions in the past few weeks.  I actually somewhat understand Karen’s point of view, because I’m just not much of a fighter when it comes to such things and I’ve always thought that if I ever got some dread disease and was gonna die in six months or a year, I would just cheerfully wait it out and tell everyone that I’m dying and I wouldn’t get too upset about it; I’d probably go do all the naughty things I like to do but must moderate in daily life when you think you’re gonna live for a certain number of years.  If I was gonna die in a year of less, I would go to Vegas and gamble and smoke and drink and try to just lose all my money that way and I would also like to hit Hawaii, Dr. Greene style, and swim in the ocean and be with all the beautiful shirtless Hawaiian boys until it was finally time for me to die and take that great spiritual journey down below. 

                But wait, I’m not supposed to be writing about my own neurotic obsessions with death; I’m supposed to be writing about Karen’s views on her impending death.  Basically, Karen says how she wants to go on living her life the way she’s always lived it, and that includes going to work and keeping busy and being around all the people she loves, her friends, such as Gary, and her kids, such as sexy hunky twink boy Michael.  She also explains her reasons for leaving Mack out of all this, how she doesn’t want him to just take her back out of a feeling of obligation.  It’s a lovely speech and I happen to pretty much agree with her, but Gary is also a smart man and he says how, when Mack finds out the truth, he’s not going to be grateful that Karen kept him in the dark, but rather angry and resentful because she shut him out.

                This is what the show is all about, really, two characters who I love and who are absolutely fascinatingly complex and simply mesmerizing to watch onscreen sitting together and having an unbelievably interesting and thought-provoking discussion.  Sweet Jesus, I feel like I can’t say it enough, but I just fucking love these two characters.  I’ll try to calm down a bit in upcoming write-ups, but for now I’m just gonna lay it all out there and say that yes, in the sad and twisted little brain of Brett, these people actually feel real to me and when I watch them onscreen, I honest to God often forget I’m watching a TV show and just get lost in my belief that these are actually real humans and I’m getting some glimpse into their lives somehow.  This inability to separate actors from the characters they play continues to this very day, by the way, because in my mind, Gary and Val and Karen and Mack and Greg and all my friends are still out there in the universe, doing their thing (which is why I was so horrified by Gary and Val’s respective appearances on shitty new TNT Dallas and why I refuse to acknowledge anything that happened to that series as canon to either original Dallas but most especially KL).

                I’m going off on a tangent again, so let’s get back in focus.  The amazingly skilled and still vastly underrated writing of KL continues to impress me, particularly with how they are managing to write Karen at this juncture.  Think about how easy it would be for Karen to come across as unlikeable right now.  We’ve watched Mack be a good husband to her for well over a year now (I think we’re coming up to two years pretty soon), dealing with all the drama and crap.  Now, as Karen finds out she will be dying shortly, she chooses to shut Mack out and tell him nothing about it, which in all seriousness is a rather shitty thing to do.  However, the way it’s done on the series, I don’t judge her, but rather I understand her.  She’s complex and three dimensional just like all of us real people, and I like that even though she’s kinda the central character of the show and I’m sure the writers always want us to like her, they’re not afraid to take her to dark places like last season’s pill addiction or this recent development.  Also, Michele is just so damn good (when she’s not being too extreme and hyperventilating too much and screaming, “WHAT IS AN A.P.B?!”, and in my opinion that really softened up in the latter half of season five and seems to have kinda vanished by this point).

                Oh yeah, and as for Gary, well he’s also awesome in this scene, and I just love listening to him speak directly to his friend.  Laura also has this ability to get really direct with the other characters but never come off as nosy or overly aggressive, and Gary’s demonstrating that now.  I also wanna reiterate again (even though I’m sure I’ve brought this up five thousand times by this point and am just too lazy to go back and check) how much Gary has grown since the early days of the series.  Imagine if Gary was taking it upon himself to talk to Karen about this in, say, season four, when he was just on his way to that big decanter full of bourbon.  He was such a damn mess at that point that it’s amazing to think of how much he’s grown after coming out of that big bender.  Now, he’s the kind of person that Karen will listen to and actually respect what he says, because he’s proven himself to be rather adult and mature and pretty wise in that “good judgment comes from experience which comes from bad judgment” kind of way.  So yes, go Gary, I love you so.

                So clearly Gary gives Karen some stuff to think about, but she doesn’t really take any direct action to change her behavior this week; we’ll have to be patient and see what happens a little later down the line.  For now let’s shift our focus over to her at-the-moment-estranged husband, Mr. Marion “Mack” Patrick MacKenzie.  Well, this week we are inexplicably kinda sorta introduced to a new Gary character, Gary Loader.  Follow me along here, since this may all sound like the insane ramblings of someone who was drinking while watching the show (even though I wasn’t this time; I swear) as I basically try to describe something that I don’t think I remember enough to explain well.  Okay, here we go.

                Basically a black guy walks into Mack’s office (we’ve seen black people on KL since as early as episode two, Community Spirit, but I feel like we’ve had a real explosion of blackness in this sixth season, with multiple different black people showing up every week, which pleases me) and asks Mack for all the information he has on Gary Loader.  Then Mack gives some speech about how Gary Loader is, um, like, a bad guy or something, and he did something bad and, well, yeah, that’s all I got.  Why am I having so much trouble remembering the contents of the dialogue of this scene?  Honestly, probably because I was so distracted by the introduction of another Gary into the mix; in fact, if you take a look at my notes, I wrote nothing about what actually transpires here, I simply wrote, “Gary Loader; another Gary?”  I just found it rather odd that the writers would choose to introduce another Gary character into the mix, but I suppose if he is always referred to by his full name of Gary Loader, it will avoid confusion for us viewers.  Also, I guess it’s actually kinda cool to do that because, you know, in real life people have the same names all the time (I remember how I was a unique little Brett all throughout my entire schooling experience and I never remember encountering another Brett in all twelve years of my public education), so that just shows realism, which I’m consistently praising the show for.  But anyway, Gary Loader, ladies and gentlemen, and I promise to try and do a better job of focusing on him the next time he comes up, since I’m pretty sure the writers aren’t introducing this name for no reason; it’s gonna continue playing out throughout the course of the season.



                Say, let’s talk about Ben for a minute, cuz we pick up this week right where we left off.  He’s cleaning out his office and he’s hitting the road, kissing goodbye to Pacific Cable Whatever because of Abby’s wicked move last week involving that other big political guy, Bob Caulfield.  However, Abs knows that for the purposes of good drama, it’s important for Ben to remain working at the station with her, so she tracks him down in the parking lot outside and is like, “Look, we’ve got 48 minutes a week, we’ve got a shit ton of characters in the opening credits, and it would really be a lot easier for the stories to keep flowing if you and I worked in the same place and we didn’t have to keep constantly cutting from me at work to you at some other type of work, so will you stay?”  After that impassioned plea, Ben agrees to stay, which is very fortunate for The Desperate Horny Chick that also works at the news station and is currently drooling all over Ben (I’ll talk about The Desperate Horny Chick later, maybe even in a later episode).

                Val goes to see the doctor this week and we learn that the babies are very close to being ready to come, just a few short weeks away.  We also get some ominous news that doesn’t do much for me since I have a vivid recollection of how everything involving Val’s babies unfolds this season, but it certainly worked for My Beloved Grammy, who is utterly convinced that Val’s babies are going to die before they’re born.  Again, don’t forget that we watched all fourteen seasons of Dallas prior to this and, in addition to enhancing the experience of watching KL by emphasizing how much fucking better KL is, that show also loved to get the women pregnant and then kill off the pregnancies after a few weeks of drama.  But that’s cuz that show was often very lazy in its writing and would never even attempt an undertaking as complex and unforgettable as VAL’S BABIES.  Rest assured, my dead readers, the babies are not going to die while they are in Val's belly, but I do see why you might think that’s on the horizon after the doctor tells Val, “The babies are fine, just a little smaller than usual.”  What does this mean?  I’m utterly convinced that line is thrown in to scare us into thoughts of a miscarriage or even two stillborn babies, for why else would it be here?  The doctor even emphasizes that Val’s in perfect health and has been doing all the right things for this pregnancy, so I’m gonna pay attention to see if this “smaller than usual” business plays out in a later episode or not.

                I want to take a quick moment to say good on Val for actually being a responsible pregnant woman.  I appreciate the fact that Val is such a good little pregnant woman, doing all the right things and eating all the right foods and not drinking any alcohol.  I’m also having a flashback to 1981 when Ginger (remember her?  No?  Exactly) was pregnant and still had wine at her baby shower (in what is still one of the all time worst KL eps ever made, Moments of Truth) and I’m also remembering 1982 when Laura was pregnant and Richard had no problem with the idea of her sipping lots of new and exotic wines with him (this was back in the brilliant Best Intentions).  I’m very curious to know when exactly it was officially decided once and for all that pregnant women shouldn’t drink at all, because we saw those two instances of it, and now we’re up to 1984 (almost 1985) so I don’t know if it would still be not-that-big-a-deal for Val to have a glass of wine with dinner even though she’s pregnant.  My basic point is that I’m glad she’s not, so let’s move on.


                Remember in the last ep when I couldn’t quite figure out Abby’s motivations in exposing Bob Caulfield’s ‘60s institutionalization?  My confusion continues this week, because she seems rather pleased when she’s talking with Greg about it, so I’m guessing that she did this as some sort of favor to him.  The problem is that Greg does not see it as a favor and is rather disgusted with this treatment of his opponent, which I think is pretty cool.  We’ve got ten years and a whole ton of eps with Greg to explore the wild complexities of his character, but he’s already fascinating by this juncture, and one of those things that keeps him so fascinating is those shades of grey.  Is he good or bad?  Well, I’d say he’s kinda neither, because he’s been shown to have some questionable moral choices such as working with the Wolfbridge group and then telling lies about his involvement with them, but then he also has real ethical moments like right here.  When he finds out about the Caulfield news, he says how it has nothing to do with the race and isn’t even applicable, that it’s a non-issue, and he also knows that Abs found a duplicitous way to obtain the info (she had one of her lackeys steal it), which he is not pleased with.  I like the fact that Greg wants to win the race but he wants to do it the right way, not by digging up some old story from twenty years ago to try and sabotage the reputation of his opponent.


                Things start to get more threatening between Greg and Abs after he’s less than elated by what she has done.  We are having some fabulously schizo moments with these two lately, and I’m saying that with love.  Let’s think, just three episodes ago he was shooting St. Claire to death to save Abs (um, sorta).  Then two eps ago they formed a bit of an uneasy alliance together when she agreed to give a nice little press conference to show Greg as a hero.  One episode ago, that press conference went off without a hitch and you’d think everything would be square, but then she went and pulled this Caulfield business, which is pissing Greg off in this ep.  During the gathering at Lotus Point (which is kinda the nucleus of this whole ep, giving our characters lots of space to move around and interact with eachother), she says how she could always go to the press and tell them the truth about what happened on the boat.  Greg tries to be dismissive and is like, “You already gave your press conference,” but then Abs starts to spin a new version of the story out of thin air, presenting what she could tell the press, saying, “Oh, I was so scared because Greg was threatening me with a gun and he shot St. Claire right in front of me and he was gonna shoot me, too!”  Greg seems vaguely unnerved by this threat, but I’m not entirely sure I buy it.  I mean, I buy that Abs would maybe go through with this and try to soil Greg’s reputation, but I’m not sure I buy that the public would accept it.  I feel like if Abs decided to give another press conference and was like, “Never mind, guys, I changed my mind and Gregory Sumner is actually an evil asshole who threatened me with a gun,” people would maybe have a hard time believing her.  Even so, we’ve seen the incredible way Abs can handle lies when she has to, the way she can make them sound so true, so maybe she actually could make this one work, who knows?



                What else happens at the big Lotus Point gathering?  Well, like I said, it mostly provides a good opportunity for lots of interacting and yearning.  The yearning is really amped up here, by the way, because we have Mack yearning to be with Karen, we have Val yearning to be with Ben (who comes to the Lotus Point opening with The Desperate Horny Chick that I’m ignoring for the time being, mostly because I can’t remember her name) while also, as always, simultaneously yearning to be with Gary, we have Cathy yearning to be with Joshua, and you get my drift.  Maybe one of the most striking parts of this segment is when Abs first meets Joshua and introduces herself.  She’s actually rather friendly with him and he even goes up to Cathy later and says, “I met Abby; she seems nice,” which, if this was a sitcom, would be the point where you pipe in the laugh track because it’s really so undeniably funny.

                Let me interrupt for a minute to talk about fashion.  I’m really not much of a gay guy because I generally ignore the fashions and what all the characters are wearing in my write-ups, even though I’ll notice them and comment on them when watching the show.  I think it’s worth noting that this is the season that Travilla comes into the fold to design the clothing and fashions, and I also think it’s worth noting that this goes complete concurrently with him being brought to work on Dallas.  Looks like from 1984 to 1986 he was working on both Dallas and KL at the same time.  Now, his fashions ruined Dallas during that two year period and were utterly ridiculous to look at (let’s not even talk about whatever nonsense Barbara Carrera would show up wearing during that dreadful dream season), but I don’t recall him ruining KL in the same way, adding some validity to my theory that everyone is just inherently better when they’re working on KL.  The fashions here don’t distract me the way they distracted me on Dallas; we may see more glamorous fashions at this juncture in the series, but it never really feels out of place to me, and especially since in this instance we’re at a fancy Lotus Point opening that’s also functioning as a political function, it makes sense.  I only bring this up because Abs is rocking a fabulously unique look for the Lotus Point opening.  Again, my gay status really should be revoked since I fail so hard when it comes to trying to describe the looks of clothing, but basically she’s wearing this fantastic silvery-white kinda dress and she’s got this big diamond necklace on with this big-ass diamond in the very center of it, drawing your attention to it.  I don’t know what most fans like to see Abs in, but I personally really dug this and, paired with her incredible new season six short haircut, I think she may look at her best this week, but of course that’s just my opinion.

                Alright, so the Lotus Point opening happens, Greg is good enough to invite Bob Caulfield to show up and he makes sure they get photographed together and all that, which is very decent of him, and then we are about ready to conclude the ep with a fabulous cliffhanger.  I always know a cliffhanger is excellent if I can still remember it vividly, and this was one of them.  I wouldn’t have been able to tell you what episode this came from, but I have always remembered how this episode ends.  Earlier in the episode, when The Desperate Horny Chick I keep ignoring was drooling over Ben in his office and trying to molest him while he looked bored and annoyed with her, she made some mention of how, “I see you up in your office, late at night, typing out love letters to Val.”  Nice seed planting on the part of writers, helping us to know that Ben is typing Val letters on his sexy fancy 1984 computer.


                Oh yeah, fuck, how did I forget to bring that up.  Our last episode featured Ben at his computer, and I jotted in my notes, “First sighting of a computer on KL?”  Well, is it?  I can’t go back through the last 100 episodes or so and try to spot a computer, but I certainly feel like such fancy schmancy gadgetry would have had no place back in the simpler days of Knots Landing Motors, and I don’t recall seeing one in Abby’s sexy palace office during season five (is that palace office gone, now, by the way?  I feel like we didn’t see it at all in these first five eps of the season and I’d be greatly distressed if we never got to see it again), so I’m actually fairly certain that Ben’s computer here is our very first KL computer.  God, how I love watching the times evolve and change around our characters.  After all, in 1979, when the series first started and the world irrevocably shifted on its axis due to this grand and cosmic event, who the hell would own a computer?  Maybe some really super duper rich guy, and the computer would probably take up a whole building and not really be able to do anything except maybe function as a calculator.  Then let’s leap to 1993, when KL goes off the air and the suicide rate spikes by millions, and reflect that, by that point, most businesses, even small ones, would probably have computers as standard practice.  So it’s fascinating to slowly watch that change take over, and I of course made sure to check with My Beloved Grammy and I asked her if she was working on any computers in 1984 (for some quick context, 1984-1985 is when My Beloved Grammy finally divorced her loser asshole first husband and came to start her new life as a sexy and sophisticated independent 1980’s career woman).  She gave it some thought and then said she didn’t remember working on computers very much until around 1988, but she says she had an office job in 1984 in which the office had one computer and it was like a big deal who got to work on it and play with it. 

                Anyway, the computer is a very important function of the plot in Ipso Facto, because in addition to bringing us one step closer to the modern age that we currently live in, it also helps to give Abs some useful information.  Now, I actually don’t think Abs is being deliberately sneaky in this instance; I don’t think she’s trying to snoop into Ben’s private affairs, but rather she walks into his office for some reason or other and I think the secretary is like, “Oh, use one of Ben’s floppy disks for your news segment or whatever,” so Abs grabs one and puts it in the computer and then suddenly a little love letter written from Ben to Val starts to appear before her.  Actually, it appears in a rather odd way, as if someone is typing the words right before our very eyes.  Is this how these things actually worked?  I confess that by the time I made it into this world (1990), I think floppy disks were going out of style, and I only vaguely remember ever using them back in elementary school to, I think, play some sort of computer game (was it Oregon Trail?).


 Anyway, if anyone was alive and cognizant back in 1984 (do you like how I’m making it sound more like 1884 and like everyone who was alive back then is almost surely dead by this point?), please go ahead and write in or leave a comment about this whole typing thing.  I’m fairly certain that if you put in a floppy disk and it was storing something someone had written, it would probably just immediately present you with the big block of text, but the way it’s done here is certainly much more effective for the drama, because we are watching the words being typed before our very eyes, and it’s mostly generic stuff about Ben’s love for Val but how they can’t be together (I should probably mention that we are also hearing his voice piped in over the sound as the words type themselves out), and then at the very end, he says, “The thing I don’t think I can ever get over is the fact that Gary is the father of your babies.”  Boom, so now the cat is out of the bag, at least in terms of the fact that Abs knows the truth.  I even love the way this is shot, because the camera is focusing in on the words on the screen and the reflection of Abs in the screen is out of focus, but then after that whole babies reveal, the camera switches focus so now Abby’s face and eyes are shown clearly in the computer screen, all very stylish, don’t you think?

So that does it for Ipso Facto.  Obviously it was brilliant, but of course I say that so often at this juncture that I’m beginning to sound like a broken record.  I almost wish we could get a mediocre or subpar episode just so I could stop saying, “Omigod this was so amazing!” over and over again, except I don’t really wish for that because I love the way it feels to just watch this endless string of incredible television eps all in a row; what sheer bliss it is.  Before I wrap it up for this ep, let me try to get a few intelligent thoughts in there about what I liked.  Well, I was delighted to see Elikann doing the directing and I thought he brought his usual flair (Abs reflected in the computer screen, Mack and Jane sitting in the car during a rainstorm, etc. etc.) but I also thought the cast was functioning tightly as a unit, what with the Lotus Point celebration brining them all together.  Meanwhile, we are really continuing to grow some new stories while nicely finishing up with the old stuff.  The writers are always so smart with this, because they could have easily just turned this into The Wolfbridge Show and had it turn into this thing where Mark St. Claire is this evil villain who’s constantly showing up to do evil things, but instead they blow him away and then move on to new stuff, yet it never feels like rushing, never feels like they’re trying to make us forget about anything; it just all feels so very organic.

I love KL just about as much as anything in the my life or in the entire world and so I simply can’t wait to get together with My Beloved Grammy for another disk of five incredible eps in a row.  In fact, as soon as I’m done writing this, I’m gonna call her to arrange our next date.  Okay, so anyway, Ipso Facto was brilliant and so far all of season six has been brilliant and the beauty part is that we still have 25 more eps to watch and it’s only gonna get better and better, so let us move onward to Truth and Consequences.