Sunday, July 17, 2016

KNOTS LANDING Episode 040 of 344: THE ROSE AND THE BRIAR


Episode Title: The Rose and the Briar

Season 03, Episode 09

Episode 040 of 344

Written by Scott Hamner

Directed by Ernest Pintoff

Original Airdate: Thursday, January 14th, 1982

The Plot (Courtesy of TV.Com): Lilimae meets Jackson Mobley, who promises to make her a star. He steals $200.00 from Kenny and Ginger, and then asks Lilimae to marry him. They go to Las Vegas. When he finds out she's poor, he admits he was trying to con her. Jackson convinces a lounge manager to let Lilimae sing. Val and Gary rush to Las Vegas to stop the wedding, and are relieved to find out they didn't get married. Richard is tired of being the company pimp and takes his anger out on Laura. Laura runs to Scooter's, only to find out that he is getting back with his wife. Richard continues to yell at Laura, and she starts screaming and slaps him. Abby asks Gary to perform a skit with Olivia on "Father's Night." As Gary, Abby, and the kids get into the car, Abby says, "See, we're a real family!" This upsets Val, and Lilimae tells her she'd better watch out for Abby.

 


                Our episode up for discussion this week, The Rose and the Briar, also marks the start of a new disk for me and My Beloved Grammy.  This particular disk spanned from this episode through Possibilities, four episodes altogether, and I am sitting down to write about them pretty much immediately afterwards, when they are still real nice and fresh in my mind.

                Back in Will the Circle be Unbroken? in season one, we met Lilimae for the first time in a one episode guest spot.  Then season two came and went without her, in fact, without even a mention of her, if I can recall correctly, until we got to season three and Moving In.  In that episode, she, um, moved in with Val and Gary, and then for a few episodes she was just kinda around, being cute, being funny, being Julie Harris charming, but she hasn’t really had an episode all about her since Moving In.  However, she gets to take center stage in The Rose and the Briar, an episode I remember not liking very much but maybe, just maybe, I may have changed my opinion on.

                We open on Karen and Val driving Lilimae to some sort of bingo function or something.  I dunno, My Beloved Grammy was talking about something she did recently and I missed the first batch of dialogue at the head of this episode, but Val says something like, “Mama sure likes working with the old folks at the bingo parlor.”  I also wanna note that viewers better cherish the sight of Karen driving her car, because that’s about all we’re gonna get of Karen in this episode aside from one very brief scene a little later in the episode.  If I have a flaw with this episode, it’s that I need me some more Karen; she’s my favorite character and I love her and I want to see as much of her as possible, but she’s barely in this one, and it leaves a hole in my heart (that’s me doing a little foreshadowing for someone we haven’t met yet, by the way).

                Anyway, Lilimae is playing bingo when a Transmorpher approaches her.  This particular Transmorpher is Bert Remsen.  In this episode he is playing a character named Jackson Mobley, but a few years later he’ll show up during the painfully boring and arduous eleventh season of Dallas (that would be the 1987-1988 season, if you’re trying to keep track) for ten boring episodes as Harrison “Dandy” Dandridge.  You’ll remember him (or probably you won’t) as the old fellow who got involved with Cliff Barnes and was a drunk and claimed he could “smell oil” and reminded Cliff of his daddy and yada yada yada.  In any case, that storyline was boring and this storyline is better.

                See, Jackson Mobley kinda hits on Lilimae right away, and the viewer should be smart enough to see what Lilimae can’t see right off the bat, which is that Jackson is a con artist.  The amusing thing is that Lilimae is, if not a con artist, still a bit of a white liar in her own right, a spinner of tall tales, if you will.  For instance, she introduces herself as “A Ewing,” and claims that she got tired of living a life of wealth and luxury and chose to move in with her daughter only after Valene asked her to help her out with some stuff.  “You see, with me, family comes first,” Lilimae says, which we know has not exactly been her modus operandi for most of her life.  Well, as soon as Jackson hears the words “Ewing,” his eyes get all big and he gets very excited and starts to tell Lilimae about how he is this big manager who works with tons of huge singers and generally famous people.  Oh my, you wouldn’t believe all the people Jackson has managed!  All of the portions of this episode concerning Jackson and Lilimae are actually rather cute.  Despite the fact that he’s a liar and a con artist and she’s a bit of a fibber herself, there’s something endearing about these two elderly people meeting and chatting and having a chemistry with each other, even if it’s a chemistry based on lies and false pretenses. 

                Now, in my memory, this episode was all about Lilimae and Jackson, the way episodes from season one would sorta just pick a character to focus on and then focus strictly on them for the course of the 48 minutes.  However, that is absolutely not accurate in this case.  In fact, I was surprised by how much is going on in everyone else’s storylines.  For instance, Abby’s continuing mission to woo Gary away from Valene grows this week, and it’s a thing of beauty to watch her work.  Early on, Olivia gets off the school bus all grumpy because her school is having some sort of “Father’s Night” thing and she’s bummed because she can’t take her daddy along.

                Now, let me just parlay for a minute here and say that I must immediately eat my words.  Remember back in The Surprise when I said how I don’t think Jeff Cunningham is ever mentioned again?  Well, here we are, and he’s being mentioned.  In addition, the fact that Abby pretty much gave him a restraining order and then shuffled him out of her children’s lives is having something of an effect on Olivia, and I’m pleased to see the writers acknowledging that, even though I still don’t believe it goes much farther than this episode.  I’ll keep my ears open to see if he gets a mention again, but I think this is gonna do it.

                Anyway, Abby has a plan, and that is to make Gary come as Olivia’s surrogate father and do the gay little magic show that she wants to put on with him.  Of course Gary is like, “Oh sure, I’ll do it,” and I think his heart is mostly in the right place, although maybe it’s 60% heart and 40% penis that’s fueling his decision.  Hmmmm, on second thought maybe it’s more like 40% heart and 60% penis.  Or, you know what, screw it, maybe it’s actually 100% penis that’s fueling his decision.  In any case, he agrees to go and Abby smiles and we all know what she’s got brewing beneath that pretty blonde head of hers. 

                Not to get too Inception here, but there are actually many levels to Abby’s duplicitous genius that should be acknowledged.  The way I’m describing it, you might think that Abby is just like, “Gary, you should come be Olivia’s daddy for the school show!”  But that’s actually not so.  What really happens is that Val sees Abs looking blue, hears the situation, and then suggests herself that Gary go.  “Oh, you’re sure Gary wouldn’t mind?” Abs asks with a little flicker of those baby blues.  “No, of course not, darling!” Val responds.  The beauty of the plan is that Val has pretty much put the wheels in motion, you see, and you just know that Abs likes it that way.

                Meanwhile, over at the happy Avery household, the drama is cranking up in all departments.  Richard is starting to act like a jerk towards Laura again, and at first this might seem jarring after weeks and weeks of him being so nice and understanding with her (I remind you of how mature and sweet he was in One of a Kind when Scooter bought Laura that car), but it’s not hard for me to see what’s frustrating him.  The first time we see him this episode, he’s got his trademark glass of red wine in hand and he’s talking on the phone to someone from work.  You can tell whoever he’s talking to is trying to get Richard to arrange another whore party for some reason or other, and Richard finally says, “I am not the company pimp!”  Then he hangs up the phone and sorta quietly repeats those words to himself, “I am not the company pimp,” but he says it with no confidence, sorta dejected and pathetic.  Richard doesn’t want to be the company pimp, but he can see that’s what he’s turning into, so he gets angry with himself and the state of his life, and he expresses that anger by treating Laura badly and criticizing her for every little thing, which in turn makes her angry at him.  It’s a vicious circle, and very realistic to many unhappy couples.  With all their dysfunction, I think I will say that, at this point in the series, Richard and Laura are the most realistic couple on the cul-de-sac, and they remain my most fascinating couple to watch, as well.

                It doesn’t help that when Laura is at work, Scooter is essentially shoving his cock in her mouth.  He’s like, “I don’t know why you stay with that jerk Richard!  His penis is probably small and his ass is kinda fat, too!  You should be with me cuz I’m all old and shit!” Okay, he doesn’t actually say that, but he makes a comment like, “So you’ve decided to stick with it, huh?”  Then he basically gives her an open invite to show up at his house anytime when she gets sick of Richard.

                Every scene with Richard and Laura in this episode is gold and absolutely my favorite thing about the episode.  There’s a fabulous sequence of the whole family at dinner (including poor Jason, who I know I neglect to ever mention but, well, that’s because he doesn’t really ever do anything and he morphs actors like seven thousand times).  Richard is bitching about how bad the meat is, how the steak has been burnt, and then he says, “I thought we weren’t eating so much red meat anymore?  I’m gonna have a heart attack from too much cholesterol and my tombstone will say, ‘His wife didn’t have time to go to the market.’”  Laura retorts with the fact that she doesn’t have to cook for him at all, and I agree.  If she was still a stay-at-home wife like she was back in season one, I could see Richard doing the argument of, “I go out and I work and I slave and yada yada yada,” but now Laura also goes out and works and slaves and holds down her own job, so there’s really no reason why she must also be responsible for the cooking.

                One thing I appreciate about this scene is the gentle way Laura waits until Jason leaves the table before confronting Richard.  She tells him he can go watch some television if he likes, that there are popsicles in the fridge if he wants dessert, and once he’s safely out of earshot she asks Richard what’s up his ass.  “Nothing,” Richard replies, tossing his napkin down on the table, “I just don’t like eating burnt steak.”  Laura keeps her cool for this whole scene, but the next time we see them, she finally loses it in a tremendous fit that had completely slipped my memory and that I loved experiencing again.

                The impetus for this amazing scene, however, occurs when Laura finally decides to take Scooter up on his offer and go to his house.  Is she planning to sleep with him?  I think so.  This affair has been brewing for over a year now, and I really thought this might be the episode where they finally shag.  But no, she knocks on his door, he answers it, she starts going on about how she’s not really sure what she’s doing here, and then boom, his cunty old wife shows up at the door and is like, “Oh, so the woman you’re not having an affair with just stops by in the middle of the night?”  Laura has to walk off in shame and embarrassment, and that, I think, fuels her anger for the next scene between her and Richard.

                Fuck, this scene is a beauty, and it’s the best part of this whole episode.  See, Richard is wearing his awesome and super sexy short shorts that he puts on before his little before-bed-workout.  Then he starts bitching about the clothes in his closet and how Laura didn’t pick up a certain jacket from the laundry like she said she was going to do.  Laura goes over to the closet and starts shuffling through his jackets, and Richard’s like, “It’s not there,” but that’s not what she’s doing.  She slowly starts taking all his suits and jackets off their hangers and wadding them up and throwing them on the ground.  Then she walks over to the dresser and starts doing the same with the clothes in there.  When Richard tries to get her to stop, she freaks and starts yelling, screaming, “I’m so sick of taking it and taking it and taking it!”  Then she slaps Richard really hard, which actually made me gasp out loud, and then she goes running out of the bedroom, leaving me all sweaty and out of breath and going, “Oh fuck, what a great scene.”

                That’s about it for Laura and Richard this week, but it’s all part of a larger plot that’s going on throughout this season, that being, essentially, the disintegration of their marriage.  And speaking of disintegrating marriages, let’s check in on the triangle of Gary, Val, and Abs once more, shall we?  There’s a quick scene at Knots Landing Motors between Abs and Gary where they are standing in, like, some backroom full of files and drawers, and Abs is like, “Oh my, Gary, those pants are nice and tight, I can see your cock and even your pee-slit through them!”  But then Karen walks in for her four second appearance this week and has a funny line where she’s like, “Is this a private party or can I join in?”  Then Abs walks off and Karen tells Gary, “Watch out, her hand is faster than her eyes.”  Then Karen walks off and leaves Gary alone, and I must confess I don’t fully understand this line.  Her hand is faster than her eye?  Is this some sort of handjob joke?  Honestly, I’m not sure, so if anyone is sure, write in to me with an E-Mail at brettmroberts2@gmail.com and tell me what the line means, or feel free to leave a comment in the comments section down below.

                My goodness, even Kenny and Ginger seem to have something to do this week; isn’t that amazing?  See, they need someone to keep an eye on that little bundle of joy, Erin Molly, so they can go out on the town and be boring.  So they ask Lilimae and Jackson to keep an eye on that sweet little angel with that not stupid name, Erin Molly.  God, I hate Kenny and Ginger, but anyway, as soon as they leave, Lilimae is like, “Oooooooh, let’s raid their fridge and see if they’ve got anything good!”  As soon as she leaves the room to look for some munchies, Jackson springs into action (he's an Action Jackson; you see what I did there?) and opens up the little tin containing Kenny and Ginger’s emergency fund, where he finds two hundred dollars and quickly stashes it comfortably in his own pocket.  Oh no!

                When Lilimae returns to the room, Jackson’s like, “I just stole some money and I think we should go to Vegas!  Then I’ll win a lot of money and we should go to Nashville!  Then we should get married!”  Lilimae’s thighs melt at the mention of marriage and she’s like, “Sure, let’s go!”  I kid you not, the next scene after we return from commercial is Lilimae and Jackson piling onto a bus bound for Las Vegas, happy as two peas in a pod.  Gee, it didn’t take much for Jackson to woo her, did it?  I also find it hilarious and strange that this all occurs without Lilimae bothering to mention it to Val; she just ups and leaves, what, five seconds later?  Anyway, the bus ride is a delight, as Lilimae makes a little girl friend and keeps her entertained while Jackson loses all their cash playing a craps game in the back; strange, since he claims to be a great gambler who can always come out on top. 

                The jig is up pretty fast when the two arrive in Vegas (and when I say, “Arrive in Vegas,” I mean arrive in a very small set that’s dressed with a couple of slot machines and blackjack tables; we don’t even get a stock shot of Vegas recycled from some other old series or anything) as Jackson immediately has to tell Lilimae that they’re all out of cash cuz he lost it all on the bus.  “But wait, I thought you were a great gambler?”  “Well, usually I am, but I just need to borrow fifty bucks,” says Jackson.  At this point he says something like, “Come on, you told me you were a Ewing!” and Lilimae responds with, “I told you my daughter married a Ewing.”  Then the two pretty much lay it all out for each other, with Lilimae confessing that she’s not rich and Jackson confessing that he’s never worked as an entertainment manager in his life.  I wanna say that I really liked this scene because it played out unexpectedly; I assumed the two would get mad at eachother, but instead they just laugh it off together, having a good chuckle about how they were both lying to each other, and I appreciated that.

                Meanwhile, back at Seaview Circle, Ginger is wearing a horrible exercise outfit, preparing to do some sort of aerobics/bug eyes routine in the living room, when Kenny walks in and is like, “I need some money to do boring things; honey, is there any in the emergency stash?  Omigod, there ISN’T!”  Then the two briefly discuss who could have taken the money, and when Kenny suggests Lilimae and Ginger scoffs, we get a nice callback to Moving In when he says, “Well, she did take that blouse, remember?”  I’m glad he reminded me, cuz I had already forgotten that little detail, quite honestly.  Why did she take that blouse, anyway?  Surely it couldn’t have been to see it in the natural light?  Oh well, let’s focus strictly on the here and now for the time being and leave the blouse and the natural light in the past.  When the two bring the missing two hundred dollars to the attention of Gary and Val, Val becomes rather worried, convinced that her mom is in some sort of trouble, but just a second later she gets a phonecall from Lilimae informing her of the impending nuptials, so she and Gary decide to bust on down to Vegas and put a stop to this before it’s too late.

                There’s a very funny scene in Vegas when Jackson tells Lilimae he is going to get her a gig singing in the lounge of a hotel.  I’m sitting here, dammit, and for the life of me I can’t remember what hotel they say they’re going to.  I should have written it in my notes cuz I even asked My Beloved Grammy if that was a real hotel or a fake one and she said she thought it was fake.  I love Vegas and I especially love old Vegas from around this time, still a small little oasis in the desert, so I wanted to look up the hotel and see if it was real, but whatever, in any case Jackson pulls a beautiful scam on the hotel manager, played by Stanley Brock (pictured below).  I only mention this actor’s name because I feel I’ve really been slacking in naming the random guest actors and giving some insight into their resumes.  I actually looked this guy up on IMDb to see if he was a Transmorpher, and I am kinda shocked that he’s not, as he looks like one of those guys who appears in one or two episodes of every series ever made, but I didn’t see any listing for Dallas, so there you go.

                Anyway, this scene is funny in all sorts of ways, cuz the hotel manager guy has this funny line where he’s like, “This is Vegas and people want excitement, not ‘Lilimae and her autoharp,’" and I actually laughed out loud at this line.  But then Jackson shows why he’s a great scam artist when he’s like, “Me and Lilimae have been married for 32 years and she’s dying and her one dream is to sing in a Vegas lounge.”  Well, this little lie works, because we then quick cut to Lilimae singing in the lounge, all dressed up with her autoharp and her wig that she likes to wear when she performs. 

                This scene is also good because it’s at this moment that Gary and Val enter the lounge to find her, and there’s this drunken asshole (played by Biff Manard, and no, he doesn’t appear to be anybody) who’s yelling and making a fuss about how he didn’t get his check.  “They charge you three dollars for a drink and they don’t even bring you your check!” he slurs, and Val says, “Shhhhh, that’s my mama up there!”  What a sweet little scene, I have to say, because even if Val gets annoyed with her mother constantly chasing her dream of being some great musical legend, right here we see that she is proud of her mama for performing and she wants to give her the respect and dignity she deserves while she sings for the crowd, however small and sad that crowd might be. 

                Well, after Lilimae finishes her set, she and Jackson bid adieu to each other in yet another scene that I found rather gentle and cute.  I just love how neither of them are mad at the other one, and when Jackson says how he’d better get out of her life as he’s a no good liar, she responds with, “Well, you did get me a gig!”  What a sweet way to look at things.  In any case, Lilimae, Gary, and Val all return to the cul-de-sac for the final scene of the episode, which is a doozy.

                See, Gary’s all dressed up in his stupid magician’s outfit with a top hat and a cape and all that, ready to head to the school with Olivia.  He gets in the car, Olivia gets in the car, and Val’s gonna get in the car, but then Abs hops in right next to Gary and is like, “Well, see you later, bitches!”  Oh yeah, she also has this great line that I almost peed my pants laughing when I heard when she says, “Don’t we look like a real family?”  Then they drive away, leaving Val in the dust, and Lilimae offers her daughter these words of wisdom, “You’d better watch out for your man, sugar.”  Ooooh, how ominous, and if I was a 1982 viewer you can bet my ass would be back on that couch next Thursday to see how this all plays out.

                I have to say I thoroughly enjoyed this episode, much more than I expected to.  I almost viewed it as a comedy episode because it has a light and breezy tone and a lot of humor and funny lines running through it from start to finish.  In a way, the tone of this episode is a precursor to that third “era” of KL that I talk about, that more humor-infused Latham/Lechowick years that span from 1986 to 1991.  I enjoyed Bert Remsen’s guest spot as Jackson Mobley and I liked seeing Lilimae get out of the cul-de-sac and get a story all her own for the week.  Finally, I was impressed with the fact that everyone else in the cast gets lots of material to work with and we see a lot of the ongoing storylines, such as Laura and Scooter or Abs and Gary, continuing to grow.

                At the same time, I wanna make sure it’s clear that I’m not cumming in my pants over this episode.  I enjoyed it very much but it’s not this undisputed masterpiece of television and I probably wouldn’t show it to a new KL viewer as a way to get them hooked, like, “You can’t believe how genius KL is; I’m gonna show you The Rose and the Briar so you can see what a divine work of art this is!”  No, I’m not hyping it up in that regard, but for the course of its 48 minutes I had a thoroughly lovely time and I found a lot of aspects to appreciate in it.

                Will I possibly be able to say the same thing about our next episode?  If you are a KL fan, your sphincter should be tightening right about now because we are about to embark on perhaps the strangest and most random episode of the entire series.  We are gonna take a break from Seaview Circle and all the male residents of the cul-de-sac as we venture into what is, essentially, a 48 minute horror movie with The Three Sisters.

3 comments:

  1. I always loved it when Lillimae would say, "from the Texas Ewin's" She was so proud of that Ewing name.

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  2. I'm in deep mourning right now, as we have just finished the entire 14 seasons of KL here in the UK. I am pathetically still wishing for them to make more, which I know will never happen. But very much enjoying reminiscing through earlier seasons with you here, Brett!

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  3. I enjoy this episode but I have never enjoyed Bert Remsen. I usually turn off anything I'm watching if he shows up. He's in a movie called "California Spilt" and he's a cross-dresseR. Imagine that face of his surrounded by a bad blond wig and caked-on make-up. It's very unnerving. And his expressions always make me think he's in the middle of letting one fly.

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