Thursday, April 19, 2018


Episode Title: Brothers and Mothers

Season 08, Episode 09

Episode 169 of 344

Directed by Robert Becker

Original Airdate: Thursday, November 6th, 1986

The Plot (Courtesy of TV.Com): Peter continues to add extra pills to Sylvia's medical dish. Peter tells the pharmacist he needs more pills because Sylvia dropped them down the sink. Then Peter feels guilty and flushes the extra pills. A studio options "Capricorn Crude" and wants Val to write the script. Eric walks in on Paige and Sexy Michael sleeping together. He's furious about what that would do to Mack and Karen. He and Sexy Michael have a physical fight and trash the room, but they won't tell Karen what it's about. Paige can't pay her hotel bill and moves in with the MacKenzies. The hotel calls and says Paige's check bounced and Karen wonders why she pretends to have a lot of money. Ben tells Val he doesn't like Jean and not to be friends with her. Jean tells her lover that Ben's real assignment is to kill Greg.

Welcome to Brothers and Mothers, another title that I just think is inherently good; it has a nice ring to it, just like a few eps back with All Over but the Shouting.  In this case, I like the title because it’s so gloriously simple; this ep will be all about brothers and mothers, so why not just title it Brothers and Mothers?  Also, I wish to provide a little context for my writing, which I sometimes like to do in order to give my beautiful and amazing readers a little peek into my life and the process of creating this blog.  In this case, I want you all to know that I am writing this essay sans notes, and let me tell you why.  I certainly have notes; in fact, at this exact moment in time, I am almost finished with my second little notebook full of KL ep notes jotted down as My Beloved Grammy and I watch and soon I will need to spend the 70 cents to purchase a new notebook.  However, I woke up today bright and early, before the sun was out, to head to work, and then I went to work, I did my work, I did it well, everybody loved me, and then I clocked out from work at precisely 1:30PM.  Before leaving for work, I had put my computer into the trunk of my car so that I could drive right away to the cute little coffee shop by my house and get started writing immediately.  I arrived at the coffee shop, I ordered a large  coffee with a little room for cream and sugar, I plugged in my computer and got it started up and was all ready to write when I realized, damn it all to Hell, that I had forgotten my notes at home.  But I am here, I am sitting comfortably, I have my coffee beside me, I’ve got my computer set up, and I am not packing all my shit up just to drive a mile or two back to my house, get my notes, and then turn around and drive a mile or two back to this coffee shop.  If I miss a cigar for the Sumner Cigar Counter, fear not, for I shall go and check my notes later and I’ll make sure to get us back up to date before I start adding more cigars to the counter. Also, I think this will be an interesting experiment because it will be my very first time writing about an ep without my handy notes present, plus I also don’t have the ep pulled up in front of me the way I’ve been doing lately.  If this essay suffers because of these problems, at least you know why and you know that it’s a temporary problem that won’t plague future eps.  Anyway, with all those pesky details out of the way, let us get started discussing Brothers and Mothers.

Okay, I’m going strictly off of my memory now, so here we go.  This ep concerns two things primarily, one of which is the continuing affair between Paige and Sexy Michael and the other of which is the continuing attempted poisoning of Sylvia via Peter.  Those are the two main stories that take up most of our time this week, but we’ve also got a few smaller details that I think I’d like to cover first, starting with the continuing offensive abomination that is Hackney and this Hackneyed storyline that’s plaguing us this year.  If you thought things were stupid in the premiere of the season when this character was first introduced, that’s nothing compared to where we are now and it’s nothing compared to where we’re heading.  Let me think, what was Hackney up to this week….  Well, we get a scene between Ben and Val that takes place at, um, their house, if I’m remembering correctly, and Val is going on about Hackney and saying something or other about her and then Ben tells Val, “You know, I don’t really like Jean that much and I don’t really like this storyline that much.”  If I remember correctly, Val acts kinda surprised about that and I act kinda annoyed as I have to sit and watch this.  This goes back to the thing I was saying before about how this storyline is requiring characters I love to act stupid.  Val has known Ben for three years and has been married to him for about one year, and I feel she should know him and understand him very well.  The same goes for Lilimae, who has also known Ben for three years and has been living in the same house as him for about one year.  Last ep, we saw the two of them act positively overjoyed by this strange, mysterious woman who showed up out of the blue wearing a stupid hat and declaring herself to be an old friend of Ben’s, and then neither character seemed to notice Ben squirming with discomfort as if he’s been suffering from diarrhea all day and is wondering how much longer he can hold it in before it all starts to just ooze out all icky and green, courtesy of a dangerous shart.  Speaking of dangerous sharts, that’s what this storyline is.  Much like a shart, you think you can kinda sneak it out and it won’t be that bad, that it might be a bit smelly but the smell will quickly clear out of the room, but then you release the shart and you realize, oh shit, and I do mean it quite literally as “Oh, shit.”  Yup, that’s what this storyline is.

Hackney gets the final scene of this ep, once again helping me put my finger on why the ratings continued to sag down this year.  Look, I know that all the nighttime soaps were slowly beginning their journey to unpopularity and eventual cancellation by this point.  For some context, Dallas dropped from #6 to #11 this year, while Dynasty dropped from #7 to #25 (yikes!) and Falcon Crest dropped from…oh wait.  Actually, Falcon Crest finished this year at #23 while its previous season had been #24, however, I want to point out that it was still technically lower rated than its previous season, as this year had 15.1 million viewers while the previous year had 15.6 million. This is similar to how season six of KL finished at #9 in the ratings while season five had finished at #11, but technically season five still had a smidge more viewers.  Anyway, my point is that all the nighttime soaps were kinda on the decline at this point, and I know most of that is simply attributable to the fact that they had all been on for some time now, through the entire first half of the ‘80s.  New things come along, people start to be into those new things, and the older things start to lose interest for viewers and that’s only natural.  However, I still blame the sagging KL ratings on a few things, one of which is that the latter portion of season seven suffered from storyline flaws, the other of which is that season eight unveiled an absolutely appalling and God-awful version of the theme song that no person in the world could possibly enjoy listening to, and the third thing is this Hackney business and how much time it’s taking up.  It’s one thing if she’s just mildly polluting a few minutes of the eps here and there, but in the case of this ep, she gets the final scene.  Imagine you’re a viewer, you’re watching this, and the very final scene you see in the ep is Hackney and her dumb storyline.  Would you be eager to tune in next Thursday?  I’m gonna go ahead and say no.  Contrast that with the greatest season of television ever made, season six of KL, and think of how every single ep would end with some stunningly brilliant bit of drama and excitement that no human could possibly watch and then not tune in the next Thursday. 

Anyway, our final scene of the ep is Hackney lying in her bed with, oh, someone.  I don’t even remember if we see this person’s face and I honestly don’t think it matters.  It’s just some dude she’s currently shagging and I think he’s also, like, a spy or whatever, so she’s spouting exposition at him about how she’s got Ben on the case to, like, spy on Sumner or, you know, whatever.  She says how Ben is not too happy about this assignment but he’s currently doing what she says to do, and then she unveils the final, very stupid, line of the ep, in which she says something like, “Imagine how Ben’s going to feel when he finds out his mission is to kill Sumner.” I think this is crosscut with Ben lying in bed with Val and I think we even get a freeze frame ending here, which is also a grave error.  The show has generally been very good about saving its freeze frame endings for those really special moments (remember Abs saying to creepy ‘80s Rapist Beard Scott Easton how there was nothing she could do about Val’s babies and Easton declaring, “You never know” and walking off to leave Abs with her own freeze frame ending?), but this is not one of those moments.  This scene should have been buried somewhere near the middle of the ep so that we could forget about it by the time the ep was over and the ep could have ended with, say, a freeze frame image of Sexy Michael’s erect penis, 100% guaranteeing that the asses would be back in the seats next Thursday and the ratings would begin a stunning upward trend.  Instead, we freeze frame on this lame, lame, lame, very lame final scene of this lame, lame, lame, very lame storyline.

But there’s a better storyline going on in this ep, a storyline I like a lot even though I’m fairly confident it leads nowhere and is quietly forgotten about and retired to the place in the sky where forgotten storylines go, that place in the sky currently inhabited by Sid’s engine, Michael’s A.D.H.D., and Gary and Abby’s quest to start a methanol business.  In this instance, Val received a very excited message from “Ramilar Studios” (and I laughed out loud when I heard that name and realized how oh-so-clever the writers were being with this little bit of business) saying they would like to option Capricorn Crude for a movie deal or a TV show deal or, you know, something like that.  I can’t remember if they want to make this a movie movie, a gigantic big screen epic directed by James Cameron, or if they are preferring to keep it on the small screen in the vein of something like Roots or the surprisingly brilliant Dallas: The Early Years.  Anyway, it doesn’t really matter; all that matters is that a studio has contacted Val and they’re interested in her book.  This continues a nice ascension in celebrity status for Val that has been going on since we first started the series.  I think I’ve said this before, but one of the many things I love about KL is that the characters grow and change and their lives are different at the end of the series from where they were at the start of the series.  Already, both Gary and Val are so different from their season one selves, with Gary now behaving as quite the noble and upstanding man versus the drunken coward and wimp that he was in season one.  With Val, she started off the series as something of a dumb and simple country girl (from outward appearances, you understand; I have never thought Val was a dumb and simple country girl), but then she started to go to night school and writing classes to seek adult education, and then that blossomed into her writing a book, and then her book got published and became a big success, and then she wrote a second book (can’t remember the status on the success of that one, however) and now her first book is being optioned to be a movie.  This growth and change has been nicely slow and organic over the course of the last seven years and I appreciate it greatly. 

Okay, let’s move on to Peter and Sylvia.  Last ep, the helpful pharmacist delivered helpful exposition to Peter about how he could easily poison Sylvia by giving her too many blood pressure pills.  In the closing moments of the ep, Peter figured what the hell and decided to start poisoning Sylvia and she declared, with unknowing irony, “Now you’re acting like a real son.”  Well, the poisoning continues this week, with Peter accelerating on the same path of putting more pills into her dish and saying, “Oh, you silly old woman, you forgot to take your pills again!”  I do wonder how long this little ruse could go on before Sylvia would start to think, “Gee, I know I’m not forgetting to take my pills and yet every day Peter claims I’ve forgotten to take my pills!”  In this ep, Peter cleverly manages to get a whole fresh bottle of pills by using the tried-and-true lie of, “She accidentally knocked them down the sink!”  I’m currently on my last refill of sleeping pills (I take Trazadone) and I’ve been greatly enjoying sleeping nearly every night and not being an insomniac and I’m terrified of returning to sleepless nights, so I myself have considered calling up the pharmacy and saying, “Oh, gee, I knocked them down the sink!”  However, I think by this point in time, pharmacists have wised up to this little lie.  But that’s because I live in the year 2018 while my beloved KL characters live (at least at this exact point) in the year 1986 and it might be easier to fool the pharmacist with this fib than it would be today. 

Now, if I’m remembering correctly, Peter does have a little change of heart in this ep and decide to stop poisoning Sylvia.  This was a surprise to me because, once again, if you had asked me to tell you about this storyline based on my memories, I would have told you it spanned nearly half a season with Peter slowly poisoning Sylvia, but it turns out it’s barely even a full ep.  Since I don’t have my notes with me, I can’t remember the exact reason why Peter has a change of heart, but I remember that he does have one.  I like this, by the way, because it keeps Peter interesting and neither good nor evil.  He’s been doing an evil thing, but then we see that he does have a conscience and it kicks in strong and tells him to stop poisoning Sylvia, no matter how annoying she might be or how much she’s inconveniencing his life.


Let’s move on to the best part of the ep, which is the continuing shagging of Paige and Sexy Michael and the shocking discovery of said shagging by Eric.  See, Paige and Sexy Michael appear to be enjoying afternoon delights regularly, and why not?  This is the point in the day when the house is totally empty, as both Eric and Karen are working at Lotus Point and Mack is also out at the office, busting bad guys.  They’ve got the whole house to themselves, so why not strip and have a solid shag or two?  In this instance, they’re enjoying their shag, or at least getting prepared to enjoy their shag, when Eric enters the house for some reason or other.  I believe he leaves work early simply because there’s not that much to do at Lotus Point this day, although I could be misremembering.  Maybe he’s sick and decides to go home early, I dunno.  In any case, he comes home early and he makes the mistake of pretty much barging right into Sexy Michael’s room with barely a knock and he catches Paige and Sexy Michael about to get it on.  A little later, we get the best scene of the ep when Paige leaves the house and Eric has a moment alone with Sexy Michael.  He confronts him on what he just witnessed and says how he shouldn’t be shagging Paige, that’s she’s kinda sorta his sister, in a way, that this could do terrible things to Karen and Mack if they discovered it, and then the two boys begin to have this epic fight in the middle of the living room and I start to slowly stroke myself.  Why oh why is this scene sooooooooooooo sexy?  It’s something about the brothers fighting, it’s something about the raw seething testosterone in the air, it’s something about the fact that Eric is getting the divine pleasure of putting his hands on Sexy Michael.

You know, that oughta do it for Brothers and Mothers.  I’m kinda glancing back over my essay and, wouldn’t you know it, maybe I should write sans notes more often, because for some reason the words just flowed out of my fingertips and I wrote like a fiend and managed to cover all the bases.  With this discovery, I think I will be bold and continue this tradition by moving right along to our next ep and continuing this new habit of not using any notes.  Let us move right along to discuss our final ep of this disk, Over the Edge.

Thursday, April 12, 2018


Episode Title: Pressure Points 

Season 08, Episode 08

Episode 168 of 344

Directed by Nick Havinga

Original Airdate: Thursday, October 30th, 1986

The Plot (Courtesy of TV.Com): Police go to Phil's motel, but he's across the street, and people yell to the police where he is. Phil runs into the street, and is hit by a car. At the hospital, Phil tells Mack that Greg was behind the kidnapping, but Mack knows he's lying. Phil dies. Peter is upset with Sylvia's drinking, because she talks too much. Sylvia says she wants Peter to get money from Abby for her, or she will tell a tabloid the truth, because she doesn't care who pays her as long as she gets money. Lotus Point has a grand re-opening. Paige spots Peter, and is definitely interested in him. Sylvia makes a drunken spectacle of herself. She has a "spell" and asks Peter to pick up a refill of her prescription. The pharmacist tells Peter that if Sylvia takes too many pills, it will cause cardiac arrest, so Peter purposely gives her too many. Both Greg and Abby pressure Peter to join certain committees, but he stands up to each of them and refuses.

                Welcome to Pressure Points, which actually begins be showing us the last two or three minutes of All Over but the Shouting one more time.  After the scrolling squares set to the sounds of the very worst version of the theme song ever recorded, we start right away with that pizza boy arriving at Phil’s motel room and catching a glimpse of his face in the mirror, and then we again see him calling the police to inform them of Phil’s location.  Oh wait, did I say “call the police?”  I must be drunk again, because that’s actually not what happens.  Instead, he calls Mack directly and says, “I’m not gonna call the police; I’m not gonna get involved.”  Actually, this pizza boy seems hellbent on remaining anonymous and I’m not entirely clear on why.  It’s not like he did anything bad; all he did was deliver a pizza to a fat guy in a shitty motel room, so why all the secrecy?  Oh well, who gives a fuck, it doesn’t matter; what matters is that Mack calls the police and they say they’re going to check it out and that he’d better stay put, which Mack translates to mean he had better immediately drive over to the hotel, as well.

                All this is playing out concurrently with Greg getting materials ready for Phil to leave the country.  He see him packing a little suitcase with Vista and BankMaster cards and then calling up Phil to inform him of where they should meet.  Greg confirms that he will pick Phil up personally and orders him to go wait in the phonebooth and not come out, which seems like a kinda crappy plan.  After all, this is 1986 and people still use pay phones regularly (although I was just on Whidbey Island in the year 2018 and they still have pay phones everywhere, so there you go), so I imagine a creepy guy hanging out in a phonebooth and not moving at all would call attention to himself, which he does.  See, everything sorta happens at once, with Mack arriving at the same time as the police and using one of those big loudspeakers to tell Phil to come out, only Phil is lurking in the phonebooth across the street.  However, the phonebooth is already the place to be, the social scene of 1986, because there are a bunch of people hanging out outside the phonebooth (well, three), wondering what the deal is with the guy in there.  Then Greg comes rolling up in his car, but when Phil decides to exit the phonebooth and make the voyage to Greg’s vehicle, the really angry guy outside the phonebooth pulls Phil’s sunglasses off and screams, “That’s the guy who kidnapped that woman!”  Then he just keeps shouting it over and over again, so Greg decides to take off before anyone sees him, Phil runs frantically into the street, and he is immediately mowed down by a screaming woman in a very unintentionally funny scene.  Why is this moment so funny?  I think it has something to do with the woman’s scream and then the abrupt cut to an obvious dummy being smacked by the car and thrown aside onto the street. It’s all done rather quick, but it still looks like a dummy and it still makes me laugh.  Again, this is in stark contrast to my response upon watching this for the first time, back in college, because I remember reaching this scene and actually gasping aloud when Phil got hit by the car and thinking how amazing it was.  Now it seems rather silly to me, but I am grateful that our time with Phil is about to come to an end.

                Phil’s final scene on the show takes place as he lies on his deathbed at the hospital.  Horrible music is playing on the soundtrack (typical at this juncture, I know), while the one cop friend of Mack’s holds a gigantic tape recorder over Phil’s face and Mack leans in all close to hear every word Phil has to say.  Phil asks if Karen is okay and says, “I never meant to hurt her, Mack.”  This is a nice thing to say, but it’s a little hard to believe after we saw him lock her in a room and light the building on fire.  I guess he could argue that he was just trying to make a nice warm fire to keep her cozy and it got out of hand, but I doubt that would stand up in court.  Then Phil gets his last words in when he declares, “I know what you want to ask me, and the answer is yes, Sumner put me up to it, Sumner made me kidnap Karen,” and then he dies.  Anyway, if you’re thinking this little twist will lead to some big, epic storyline in which Mack and Greg become sworn enemies because Mack thinks he tried to have his wife kidnapped and killed, well, it doesn’t.  Instead, Mack is almost immediately shown to not believe what Phil has said, which I guess is also fine.  I’m of two minds on this.  On one hand, I like that Mack is smart and doesn’t believe the lies of this silly man that he used to be friends with way back in the ‘60s.  On the other hand, I’m left kinda wondering what the point was, then.  Why have Phil make this big declaration right as he’s dying only to have Mack dismiss it out of hand? 

                Anyway, that’s the last we’ll see of Phil, so perhaps I’ll take this moment to reflect back on this character who’s been with us since the season premiere. Suffice it to say I was rather underwhelmed by this character, and I continue to struggle to figure out why.  While I kinda liked the fact that he was inauspicious and not a moustache twirling villain stereotype, the character also never quite took off for me; he was just sorta there.  I’m sure Louis Giambalvo is a fine actor, but I think something just never quite clicked with this guy.  Honestly, I think what I really wanted was for him to be creepier; I was never scared by this character or frightened of what he might do to Karen, because he just never seemed that threatening.  After Karen managed to escape from his clutches at the end of Slow Burn, I also wouldn’t have minded the character being retired right away, perhaps arrested or perhaps killed somehow in that ep, but instead he hung around for another three eps (well, more like two, since he dies almost right away at the start of this one) and continued to underwhelm me.  Now he’s dead and I’m glad, because I was ready to move on.  I stress one more time that I didn’t hate this character or even dislike him, necessarily; he simply never managed to take off or do much for me.

                Okay, that’s it for Phil; what else is going down this week in Pressure Points?  Well, this is another one of those eps in which there’s some sort of big political function running through the center of the story as a way to keep the cast gathered and linked together.  In this case, it’s, um, some sort of political function, or maybe it’s the reopening of Lotus Point, or something involving Peter and the whole senate race thing.  Anyway, who cares, it’s a function, and I’m gonna say it’s probably the Lotus Point reopening because we are told early in the ep that the resort is coming back from the dead.  I’m looking at my notes and immediately realize I must note Cigar #19 on the Sumner Cigar Counter, this one smoked at the political event, but we’ve also got Cigar #20 in this ep, as well, and this one is smoked later in the ep when he’s in his office late at night with Peter.  Anyway, aside from Sumner’s cigar(s), we’ve also got another brilliant meta line that I’m quite convinced Devane improvised on the spot.  See, Paige comes walking by and Laura informs Greg that this is Mack’s daughter.  Greg says, “I didn’t even know Mack had a daughter,” to which Laura says, “Neither did he,” to which Greg says, “Spare me the details; I already have this weird sensation that all of your friends live soap opera lives.”  Oh God, it’s so brilliant, right up there with Eric’s immortal, “Living on this cul-de-sac is like being in a soap opera” from season seven.


We’ve also got Gary and Val at this function, leading us to an absolutely sizzling scene between the two in which he pays a compliment to her fantastic hat.  The scene begins beautifully when he comes up to say hi to her and she positively beams with delight and a smile lights up her entire face and she says, “Gary!”  Ugh, can you feel the love tonight?  Then Gary says, “Nice day, nice party, nice hat,” and Val thinks he’s teasing her about the hat but he assures her that he really likes it.  Then they talk a bit about the election and Val says how Gary always hated going to cocktail parties and mingling with strangers, so perhaps it’s better this way.  It’s another one of those Gary and Val scenes that might seem small when I describe it, but is just dripping with so much feeling and love.  I’m trying to put myself into the mindset of a person watching this week to week in the ‘80s and I’m sure these scenes would be even more stunning back then, because you would just watch them and think, “Will this couple ever accept their love of each other and get back together?”

                Also occurring at the political function: Olivia’s wanting to get stoned.  Now, I’m not entirely sure what drugs she’s hoping to enjoy today, whether it be the grass or the nose candy or perhaps both.  See, she is introduced to Paige for the first time via Sexy Michael, who then runs off to get Paige a cold drink.  Then Olivia says how boring this party is, she and Paige discuss Peter for a minute and how he’s slime (“cute slime, state senator elect slime,” as Paige says) and then Olivia says, “I’ve got some stuff here that would make this party really interesting; want some?”  Paige dismisses this with a simple, “I don’t do drugs; I think they’re stupid.”  I kinda love the way she just blows off Olivia’s offer with such a simple declaration, and I also note a second later when Abs offers Paige a drink, Paige tells her that she doesn’t drink, either.  Hmmm, I wonder if this tracks?  I feel like we’re going to see Paige drinking on the show somewhere in the next seven years, but perhaps at this point in time, she is not a drinker. 

                The most noteworthy thing to occur at this function is that Sylvia indulges a bit too much in the alcohol and starts to act a little goofy.  For those who have forgotten, Sylvia is Peter’s “mother” who is played by Ruth Roman.  Again, I like watching this actress and I like this character, even though I’m not entirely sure why.  There’s just something about her that I find watchable and real and she brings that certain old Hollywood style to proceedings.  Anyway, she gets a bit sloshed here and starts to act rather silly, dancing around with other men and so forth.  She also starts to slur out a speech about, “I can remember when Peter was just six years old and Bob Loblaw,” at which point Peter gently takes her champagne glass out of her hand and sits her down.  Sylvia complains of feeling faint and asks Peter to get her one of her pills, which are for her blood pressure.  There’s only one pill left, so she asks Peter to go to the pharmacy and pick up her refill, which he agrees to do.  From here, we cut to the pharmacy where Peter meets the nice pharmacist behind the counter who provides lots of helpful exposition, saying how blood pressure medicine can make her feel dizzy, how if she takes too few, she might as well not take any at all, but if she takes too many, blocking agents can build up and cause cardiac arrest.  He’s giving Peter this information as a bit of a warning, but we all see the lightbulb go on over Peter’s head as he hears this “cardiac arrest” business.  This leads us nicely to our final scene of the ep, in which Peter and Sylvia are hanging out at her little apartment and she’s again feeling faint.  Oh yeah, earlier in the ep we saw her little pill dish and she told Peter how she puts the pills into the dish at the start of the day and takes them throughout the day.  Well, when Peter goes into the kitchen, he has a little moment of wrestling with his morals and then he decides to put an extra pill in the dish and then declares to her, “You did not take your blood pressure medicine this morning; there’s still an extra pill in the dish.”  He says how from now on, he’ll call her in the morning and come by every night to make sure she’s taken her pills, but we all know he’s tricking her and he’s going to start slowly poisoning her with too many pills.  Sylvia gets the final line of the ep, which is, “Now you’re acting like a real son,” a nice little bit of irony to close out our ep for the week.

                Hmmm, did I forget anything?  I’m looking through my notes and it looks like I covered just about everything that needed covering.  The best thing about this ep is that it killed Phil off and allowed us to move on to new business.  Phil was testing my patience at five eps but stretching him into eight was way too many.  Anyway, I liked the reopening of Lotus Point and how it gathered the cast together, I liked Gary and Val’s sizzling chemistry, and I adored Devane’s “soap opera” line.  Even so, I’d say I’m still feeling a little underwhelmed about this season as a whole.  There’s just something a tad off about proceedings as we are making our way through the season, although I feel it will improve and I already know there are some truly magnificent storylines on the horizon.  With that said, let us now move on to Brothers and Mothers.

Thursday, April 5, 2018


Episode Title: All Over but the Shouting

Season 08, Episode 07

Episode 167 of 344

Directed by Robert Becker

Original Airdate: Thursday, October 23rd, 1986

The Plot (Courtesy of TV.Com): Mack thinks Greg has something to do with Karen's kidnapping. Greg puts Phil up in a motel until he can make arrangements to send him to Hong Kong. They agree to meet the next morning. Phil orders a pizza. The delivery boy recognizes Phil from TV and calls Mack. Sexy Michael is uncomfortable with his attraction to Paige, but they begin to kiss. Jean introduces herself to Val as an old college friend of Ben's, and Val invites her to dinner. Ben tells Jean to leave him alone or he'll expose her on TV. While grocery shopping, Ben loses Bobby and later finds him with Jean. Scared, he goes along with her and supports Peter on TV. Abby is furious, but tells Peter it was her idea. Peter wins the election.

                Welcome back.  When we last left off, Phil Harbert was talking to Greg in his big skyscraper office that makes me think of the Ewing Oil offices, things were getting heated between them, and then suddenly the elevators in the hallway opened up and, wouldn’t you know it, Karen and Mack came stepping out, intent on speaking with Greg right away.  As we pick up now with All Over but the Shouting (a title I really like a lot), Greg is explaining to the two of them why he called the police and why he named Phil as the kidnapper.  Of course, this is news to Phil, who’s hiding behind the door and listening to everything.  He knew that someone had named him because of that whole pesky police sketch that he’s been dodging, but he didn’t know it was his friend Greg.  Phil is understandably pissed, and after Karen and Mack evacuate the premises, he confronts Greg about it, to which Greg says, “You didn’t give me much choice.”  I enjoy the way Greg speaks, and as I’ve said time and time again, I always find myself wondering where Devane improvised his lines.  In this scene, he says to Phil, “You kidnapped the poor woman, you almost caused her death; that is not very nice.”  I had to laugh at the “not very nice” part and wonder if Devane made that part up, and of course the best part is the way he just casually tosses it out like that.  Let’s reflect a bit and remember that Phil locked Karen into that cozy little apartment and then lit the entire house on fire, a rather slow and horrible way to kill someone.  It’s one thing to march in there and put a bullet in her brain; it’s quite another to leave her alone with the smoke and flames billowing in, cremating her alive.  Yes, “not very nice,” indeed. 

                Even though Greg wants Phil out of his life as soon as possible, for the time being he is somewhat stuck with him, since Phil holds the threat over Greg about how Greg knew he kidnapped Karen, even caught him being possessed by the spirit of Jack Torrance while Karen was trapped in that barn, and yet all he did was tell him to take a hike.  Of course, Greg is smart and has made sure to cross his T’s and dot his lower case j's by changing his tires, yet he still helps Phil out by checking him into an exceptionally shitty little motel where he is to remain isolated until he can get him to Hong Kong.  Phil voices some opposition to this plan, asking why he has to go to Hong Kong, to which I retort, “Why would anyone not want to go to Hong Kong?”  If I had nearly murdered a person and my punishment was to go live in Hong Kong, going to bathhouses with all those supple young Asian boys for the rest of my life, I would certainly not be complaining.  Still, I can sympathize with Phil being bored in the shitty motel, as he has nothing more exciting to do than play solitaire and watch cartoons on a horrible 1986 TV (he’s just lucky it’s a color TV). 

                Later in the ep, Phil orders a pizza, and it’s only upon reflection that I realize how silly this scene is, specifically the way it is shot and scored (but we’ve already covered that the score is almost universally terrible throughout this season).  See, Phil is hanging out all alone in the motel, and then he slowly glares at the corded telephone and we get a closeup of the phone and we’re thinking he’s gonna do something real wicked, like perhaps call Karen and threaten her some more, but instead he picks it up and orders a pizza.  Look, I know it can cause anxiety to order a pizza, trying to figure out the specials and the best deals and just how many toppings you can get on there for the lowest price, but why is the scene shot like a horror movie?  We really think he’s gonna do something awful, but all he’s doing his clogging his arteries more than they’re already clogged.  Anyway, when the pizza boy arrives, Phil only opens the door as far as the chain goes and says how he just took a shower and he’s all naked, so the boy had better just hand him the pizza.  Now, if Phil was played by a more attractive actor (my beloved Christopher Atkins, perhaps), I could see this type of scene easily drifting into the soft-core gay porn territory in which Phil declares he’s naked and the pizza boy says, “Oh, that’s no problem," and then the door opening and the two boys exploring each other in the biblical sense.  However, since Phil is obese and unattractive, I’m glad that’s not what happens; instead, when Phil cracks the door open a bit further to get his pizza (I wonder what kind he got; my favorite is Canadian bacon and pineapple), the pizza boy spots his face in the mirror on the wall, leading us to our final scene of the ep, in which the heroic pizza boy calls the police and declares that he knows where this kidnapper guy is staying.  Uh oh, looks like Phil’s in a bit of trouble!

                That about does it for Phil this week, a character I’m getting rather tired of discussing.  Fortunately, and I suppose this is a spoiler, but our next ep will mark his last appearance and then I won’t have to talk about him or think about him anymore.  Anyway, let’s move over to a character I like more, Hackney.  Oh no, wait, scratch that, I absolutely misspoke, as I dislike Hackney even more than I dislike Phil.  See, Phil is just sorta there; I don’t even think I necessarily dislike him, but Hackney is already getting a special place in Hell, as far as I’m concerned.  Fuck, how could I watch this whole season and not see what a fucking joke this character is?  I remember powering through season eight just like I powered through the previous seasons and having absolutely no problems with any of this, but now I’m seeing vividly why all my fellow KL fans recoil in horror at the very mention of Hackney’s name.  Our last ep was so blissful without her, but sadly she is back with a vengeance this week, starting off right near the beginning of the ep.  Sweet God, the episode credits are still playing when Hackney shows up; the powers that be couldn’t even give us a couple of minutes of peace before unleashing her.  Okay, so Ben comes home one night and he’s happy to see Val, but he’s feeling kinda tired and grumpy.  Val says how she’s got something special prepared because they have a special guest, and Ben says, “I’m not really in the mood,” and Val grins all wide and says, “You will be!”  Then, who should emerge but Hackney, dressed in white and purple and wearing a ridiculous purple party hat.  She’s smiling and looking stupid and goes, “Hi, Ben, it’s me!”  Ben looks profoundly upset and you have to wonder how much of this is coming from the character of Ben and how much of it is coming from the actor Douglas Sheehan staring at the scene being filmed and thinking, “I signed on to another year for this?”  Yup, I’m hoping the producers cut Doug a mondo check to do this one extra season, because right about now I’m wishing he had run off with Cathy and the two could be living happily ever after somewhere, singing duets of fabulous ‘80s cover songs together.

                Anyway, Hackney makes a stupid face and goes, “Oh God, I’ll just die if you don’t remember me,” and there’s this long pause as Ben glares at her before finally declaring, “Jean Hackney,” and then she screams like a stupid little bitch and acts all giddy and runs over and hugs him.  From here, we learn that she has presented herself to Val and Lilimae as an old college friend of Ben’s who just moved out to California and saw him on the television and simply had to look him up right away.  There’s a lot of atrocious dialogue in this scene in which Val says something about how, “Jean has been telling us how Flash was quite the ladies man,” and then Hackney says, “I only told them you broke Sarah’s and Carol’s hearts,” and then Val says, “I’ll let Sarah go by, but I will have some questions about Carol later.”  Then poor Julie Harris, who is probably just yearning to have a storyline or something to do right now has to take a big gulp and deliver the line, “Mr. B.M.O.C.; Big Man on Campus,” and then everyone in the room laughs with delight as we finish up this most horrible, horrible, horrible scene.

                I can’t believe Hackney is already this bad and this painful to watch this early in the season.  If I remember correctly, she’s going to stick around for pretty much the entire damn year (good God, I just looked it up and she’s in 21 eps out of 30 and will make her final appearance in the fucking 25th ep of the season; my sphincter is rapidly tightening up).  If you thought that this awful, awful, awful dinner scene was the only time we’d have to deal with her this week, think again, because a little later in the ep, we cut to some scary grocery shopping with Ben and Lilimae.  The scene starts with some bad exposition to establish why Ben is here, with Lilimae saying, “I sure do appreciate you coming along with me,” one of those lines that reminds me of that brilliant Simpsons joke with Homer saying, “After all, we did agree to attend this self help seminar,” and Lisa saying, “What an odd thing to say.”  In this case, both Ben and Lilimae know that Ben agreed to come shopping with them, so why is the line only coming up right now, as we cut to the start of the scene?  Maybe I’m being an annoying, pretentious prick (which is my nature) by pointing out these micro-details and then bitching about them, but it’s lines like this that really make me miss Peter Dunne bad.  Remember how brilliantly written the show was at every single fucking moment when Peter was in charge?  Remember how organically we could flow from scene to scene and character to character without ever feeling any awkwardness?  How I yearn for some of that now.
                Anyway, everything’s going fine until Bobby mysteriously disappears.  The music gets all scary as both Ben and Lilimae start running frantically around the store, looking for him.  The bad music blares for a little while, we get lots of shots of the camera flinging around from aisle to aisle, and then Ben comes upon Hackney in the produce aisle, Bobby hanging out in her arms just as cozy as could be.  Ben yanks Bobby away and Hackney (dressed in another absurd outfit) is all like, “Oh Ben, I didn’t know you shopped here; what a coincidence!”  When Lilimae sees her, she’s all relieved and says, “He wandered off just like that; thank you very much!”  Another thing to detest about this storyline is how it requires our beloved characters to act so unbelievably stupid.  Am I really supposed to believe that both Val and Lilimae could spend an entire evening with Hackney and not realizing how uncomfortable and horrified Ben is during the whole thing?  Am I really supposed to believe that Lilimae would see Hackney at the grocery store and just think it’s a remarkable coincidence that she’s holding Bobby?  Lilimae is sharp and has her intuitions and her psychic twinkles and I ain’t buying this; I think she would see right through Hackney from the moment she waddled her bad-acting self into their home.

                What does Hackney even want at this point, anyway?  Well, in another bad scene in which Ben pays her a visit at her stupid little dress shop, she says how she’s receiving orders from her superiors and that they want to know what Greg Sumner is really up to and, for some reason, they want Ben to endorse Peter Hollister.  Ben snorts and takes a moment to think of how many more eps are in his contract before he can take the money and run and then says how he’s a newsman and it’s unprofessional for him to endorse a political candidate.  Then he overacts by grabbing Hackney and shoving her in front of the mirror and saying how he’ll do a special news report on a certain CIA spy named Hackney or some such nonsense.  However, all this happens before the scary grocery store scene, you see.  After Hackney kinda sorta kidnaps Bobby in the grocery store, Ben gets scared and decides to do what she says, so he goes on his cable show and says how he officially endorses Peter Hollister for the state senate.  I remind you that this is a pretty big deal because Peter’s opponent is, of course, Gary, and Gary’s wife is, for the time being, Abs, and Abs owns the news station that Ben works at, so she’s understandably pissed.

                Anyway, Gary sadly loses the election this ep, but he remains rather chipper about it, saying how he did the best he could, he learned some stuff, he feels good, and he might run again.  Later, he and J.B. take a walk over to Peter in the hotel lobby and Gary acts like the bigger man by congratulating Peter on his win and telling him to give him a call if he ever needs any help.  Peter chooses to act like the smaller man by pulling J.B. aside and saying, “J.B., if you ever want a job on my staff, give me a call.”  At this moment, a man comes walking by with a big bowl of mashed potatoes and Gary simply can’t resist taking a big scoop of potatoes off on a spoon and flinging it at Peter, a scene that I found mildly amusing but I think could have been better.  Even though a pie in the face is such an old cliché, I think I would have greatly enjoyed seeing Gary shove a full pie in Peter’s face.  Somehow, one little smack of potato on his suit doesn’t have quite the same effect. 

                I gotta say I really wish this storyline hadn’t wrapped up so quickly.  For these first seven eps of the season, Gary’s race for the senate has been my favorite storyline going on.  I just found it all wonderfully entertaining and exciting, plus it gave us some brilliantly funny moments like Gary cracking up while trying to film that campaign commercial.  I honestly think all this senate business could have easily spanned the whole season, so why end it here in episode seven?  It feels rather anticlimactic and returns us to a problem I had with latter season seven, in which it felt like stories were created mostly to fill up a couple of eps before being quietly retired (cough, Sonny, cough).  I was just enjoying all this senate stuff so much that I would have loved to see it go further, plus it also just feels kinda fast in a real world sense.  Didn’t Gary announce wanting to run for senate, like, five minutes ago?  And now the race is over and he’s lost?  Do these things really tend to happen so quickly?  Anyway, moving on.

                I feel like I’ve been kinda whining about most of the stories this week, but if there’s one thing you won’t hear me complaining about it, it’s the wildly sexy and erotic budding romance between Sexy Michael and Paige.  This has been kinda going on since Paige first showed up in the last few moments of season seven, and I feel I’ve been kinda ignoring it as I wrote about other stories.  However, I shan’t ignore it in this ep, because things really kick into high gear with the two of them this week.  See, when we first catch up with the two hot blondes, they are out clothes shopping and Sexy Michael is in one of those changing booths. Anyway, Paige comes walking over with some new outfit for him to try on and then she gets big and bold by just climbing right into that changing booth with him.  The sexiest, steamiest, most semen-gushingly good line of the episode comes after Sexy Michael protests that he won’t even be able to afford these outfits and Paige assures him that she is buying.  Then she says, “It’s your choice; you can try them on and get the size right or you can let me guess your size and probably get it wrong.”  If it sounds steamy written out, that’s before I even tell you that she glances right down at his lower regions before she says, “You can let me guess your size,” and she even throws a little pause in there to make it sexier.  We all know what she’s talking about; she’s talking about his cock.  She’s talking about Sexy Michael’s sweet, perfect, pink, probably circumcised cock and I love it.  Mmmmm, what a yummy line and what a yummy scene.

                The yumminess continues a little later when the two arrive at Paige’s hotel room and Sexy Michael declares how he’d better get going.  Paige asks why he must always get going whenever they are alone together.  Sexy Michael says how it’s sorta weird because his mother and her father are married, but Paige helpfully reminds him that they are not biologically related.  Then Sexy Michael goes on about how much he enjoys spending time with her, how he feels he can talk to her about anything, to which she retorts, “Sounds like you’re describing a very nice friendship,” and then Sexy Michael gets all nervous and fidgety and says, “It’s not, because those good and friendly feelings always turn into something else,” and Paige finishes the thought with, “They turn sexy.”  Ugh, this is all so hot and I love it so much.  Then music that I actually don’t hate kicks into the soundtrack (it’s this sorta acoustic guitar) and the two start to passionately kiss like Jack and Rose flying on the bow of the Titanic and we end this most fabulous scene of this most fabulous couple.  Mmmmm, yum yum yum yum yum yum yum.

                That about does it for All Over but the Shouting.  It clearly had its flaws, but it also had its good points, with the highlights being Paige and Sexy Michael as well the Gary senate storyline.  The flaws are pretty much flaws that are going to be haunting us throughout the season, I’m afraid, so we’ll just have to get used to them for the time being, such as Hackney, who is just absurd.  Even so, I still enjoyed watching this ep.  I know I say this a lot after spending an inordinate amount of time bitching about an ep, but it’s still KL and I love KL and I would still rather watch this than almost any other show in the world.  So anyway, let’s move right along to the conclusion of Phil Harbert’s time with the show (thank Christ) with Pressure Points.