Episode Title: Possibilities
Season 03, Episode 12
Episode 043 of 344
Directed by Nicholas Sgarro
Original Airdate: Thursday, February 11th, 1982
The Plot (Courtesy of TV.Com): Richard and Laura introduce Karen to a friend of theirs, Charles Linden, and she has her first date, but they don't get along. Kenny has Ginger make a demo tape for a song, and Andy Moore, another producer, encourages Ginger to pursue a singing career. Kenny's against this, and wants Ginger to stay home with the baby. When he finds out Ginger and Andy are working behind his back, he's not happy, but Ginger decides to go ahead with it.
Hmmm, I know I’m starting to sound like a broken record here, as I’ve said this about a myriad of episodes in the past, but here with are with Possibilities and, once again, I had completely forgotten this episode existed. As we worked our way through it, I had little sense memory flashbacks of small details, but overall this was one of those eps that had completely fallen out of my brain. However, even if it’s maybe not the most exciting episode of the series, I have to say there are still some interesting points to it that I am eager to discuss.
For the time being, the drama of Gary, Val, and Abby is going to be put on the back burner until we get closer to the culmination of the third season. This week, and get ready to clench your buttocks up as you prepare for boredom, we’re going to focus mostly on Kenny and Ginger. But wait a minute, after all the bitching and moaning I’ve done about these toxic bores through the last 42 episodes, maybe the big surprise of Possibilities is that they aren’t as boring as you would expect when they get this episode strictly focused on them. Perhaps there’s a possibility (you see what I did there?) that they could surprise us this week.
We open on a bird’s-eye angle looking down at a card game. Present are Kenny, Ginger, Richard, Laura, and some boring white guy we’ve never seen before. Now, the credits play over this shot and I immediately took note of the writing credits for this week, James Houghton and Mona Houghton. Now, this is obviously not the first time or the last time that a cast member gets to pen a KL ep. Don Murray wrote two eps in season two (Hitchhike: Part One and Hitchhike: Part Two) and of course The Plesh has given us many fine and outstanding eps up to this point. However, this is the first time James Houghton has contributed a script, and I also find the name of his writing partner interesting.
Mona Houghton (pictured below), hmmm. At first I assumed this was his wife or something, but it turns out she’s his sister. IMDb says she is “Known for her work on The Godfather: Part II,” and my ears immediately perked up, but then I looked up her credit and it’s for “Location Assistant,” whatever that means. She’s also credited as a writer for The Young and the Restless and Another World, and she has one more KL credit coming up later this season, Best Intentions, and one in the fourth season called Encounters (incidentally, both of these episodes are also written alongside her brother).
Now, the reason I note the writing credits of this ep is twofold. For one, I find it interesting that James Houghton pens an episode but then also brings his sister along. Did they simply work well together? Who contributed what? Who provided more of the story material? That’s the one thing I find interesting, but the other thing worth noting is that, finally, Kenny and Ginger actually have something to do this week. If we go down the roster, they haven’t really had a story in months. During season two, there was the affair of Kenny and Sylvie (snore; I didn’t say it was interesting, I just said it was there) and then Kenny and Ginger’s reconciliation and the pregnancy storyline, yada yada yada. Well, since Erin Molly was birthed earlier this season, this couple has really fallen by the wayside. The most exciting story they’ve had all season was the one where Erin Molly wouldn’t stop crying, and that was a joke that distracted us from other, interesting storylines and characters. In any case, I have to wonder if James Houghton finally wrote his own episode because he was tired of having nothing to do on the show. It’s a theory I have, and of course there’s no real way to prove it, but I get the sense that he was finally like, “Well, if you guys aren’t gonna give me anything to do, I’ll give myself something to do,” and so he wrote this week’s ep.
Sometimes I wonder if I should feel bad because I insult Kenny and Ginger so much. The internet is a wide, vast forest, and there’s a lot of material out there, but I do sometimes wonder if James Houghton or Kim Lankford could randomly stumble upon this blog and be like, “Boy, this fag really hates our characters.” The thing is, I’m not sure if it’s their fault or not. They almost never really get a chance to shine or to get a significant storyline, and I don’t quite know if it’s because the writers just never gave them the chance or if it’s because their acting just wasn’t up to par so the writers let them fall by the wayside.
Okay, enough about all this guessing and hypothesizing; what happens in this damn episode? Well, like I said, we open on the card game and everyone is having a lovely time. Karen comes walking in and I have to take a moment to say that, as much as I love Karen, and I do, I always shudder whenever she rocks the pigtails. When does she stop doing this? I think this look disappears when we get to season four, or at least I hope so, because it’s awful. I like everything else about her look right here, as she’s wearing some sort of Hawaii sports jersey and just looks casual and relaxed, but those pigtails, man, those damn pigtails, enough already with the pigtails.
Anyway, Karen sees the boring white guy sitting at the table and asks who he is. His name is Charles Linden and he’s played by William Joyce. Let’s take a gander at his IMDb page, shall we? Well, the guy was born in 1930 and died in 1998 and, in addition to the random movies and TV appearances on his resume, I note something very interesting, and that’s the fact that he’ll be back on KL years later as a different character. Looks like he’ll be playing “Carl” in two episodes from 1988, The Perfect Alibi and A Weekend Getaway. Wow, this is interesting news. What do I call a person like this, by the way? I call people who showed up on Dallas and KL as different characters Transmorphers, but what should I call someone who is on KL as a different character several times? I dunno, but I should think of some sort of term, and if anyone has any suggestions, feel free to leave them in the comments box. Just for the record, this guy isn’t a Transmorpher as he doesn’t ever appear in a Dallas episode, but we will indeed be seeing him years and years down the line turn into a different character; how fascinating!
This guy’s a bore, but that’s not a criticism of the episode. I think he’s supposed to be a bore, and Karen’s storyline this week is that she decides to give dating a shot, return to that world, and she just happens to pick a boring white guy who is also, like, a conservative Republican and has elements of control freak in him. In any case, he seems nice enough at first as Karen decides to join the poker game and sits, well, directly next to him, basically breathing on him. I guess this is supposed to demonstrate that Karen is nervous and doesn’t know how to behave around new men, but Jesus, girl, give the guy some space.
What about Kenny and Ginger this week? Well, I guess Ginger is getting bored sitting around the house and raising her little demon spawn. When one of Kenny’s singers gets sick or dies or something, she volunteers to go to a recording session and lend her voice. Oh yeah, this part was pretty funny, because Lilimae hears about the sick singer and is like, “What kind of song is it?” and Kenny almost says, “Country,” but then he stops himself and is like, “It’s very modern.” Instead of hiring Lilimae (who I think he might still be frustrated with for hijacking that cool black guy last week and becoming his friend), he hires Ginger on as a temp singer or whatever. So he takes her to a recording session where she meets this other guy named Andy Moore.
Okay, Andy Moore. I’m about to give you a real headache, so apologies in advance, but Andy Moore is some sort of Super Transmorpher, and not even that, he’s a Super Duper Transmorpher. Allow me to explain. He is played by Philip Levien (pictured below) and will be returning for a few more KL eps as Andy Moore (Svengali, New Beginnings, and Abby’s Choice, all from 1982), but in addition to that he also appeared on Dallas as not one, but two different characters. He is in four episodes spanning from 1985 to 1986 as Lee McHenry, however, he is also in the 1978 ep Reunion: Part One (playing Jimmy) which, if you’ll recall, was actually the first episode of anything I discussed on this blog. That was our first Brief Dallas Interlude and it introduced us to Gary and Val (or should I say David Ackroyd Gary and The Real Val), so it’s significant to television history for that reason. So, in conclusion, not only does Philip Levien appear on both series as different characters, but he also appears as different characters within Dallas and one of those episodes was our very first Brief Dallas Interlude, so this guy gets some sort of a special medal and a key to the city. I think he really ought to meet the President and shake his hand, as well.
Andy Moore clearly has a boner for Ginger, and since I’ve blocked out most of the Kenny/Ginger footage from my first viewing of the series, I can’t remember if this leads anywhere or not, but I get the feeling it will, like maybe he’ll try to have an affair with her or something; I’ll keep my eyes open as we proceed forward. But anyway, Ginger records a song and, quite honestly, it’s not bad. That’s right, I’m complimenting something Ginger-related this week; can you believe it? I think I’m also grateful to see the show moving away from those awful public domain not-really-music stock musical effects they’ve been using and get to some real singing (Ciji is just around the corner….), but I also just kinda dig this song. Country isn’t necessarily my bag, baby, but I can still appreciate some country songs, and I’m gonna say it, I like this one. Who wrote it? I’d really like to know this but, as is the case with so many of my KL questions, I really have no way to find out at the moment. I almost wonder if Kim Lankford wrote this song. Make no mistake, it’s not a masterpiece and I’d rather listen to Ciji/Cathy sing any day of the week, but it’s pretty good, pretty catchy, and her voice is actually good. Now, just when you start thinking I’m getting way too complimentary of Ginger, I do have to interject with a comment My Beloved Grammy made that I found hilarious, but I’ll also add the caveat that it’s not particularly nice. So my apologies go out in advance to Kim Lankford if she has somehow stumbled upon this blog and wants to see what I have to say. Kim, I’m sure you’re a lovely human being, a real nice lady, but as Ginger was singing in this scene, My Beloved Grammy opined, “She’s not such a bad singer as long as you put a bag over her head,” and I almost peed my pants and immediately put that little comment into my notes. Forgive me, Kim, for My Beloved Grammy said it, not me.
Back to Karen for awhile. Even though Charles is a bore, I like this story because it feels real, the forty year old woman who has kids and has lost her husband awkwardly trying to feel her way around the dating world again. And again I reiterate that Charles is supposed to be boring, so the actor is doing his job well (let’s see how I feel about him when he returns in six years as “Carl”). One scene I really enjoyed comes between Diana and Karen and takes place in Karen’s bedroom. See, first Karen says she doesn’t want Diana to wear her blouse tonight because she wants to wear it herself. Then Diana finds Karen sobbing in her bedroom and she’s like, “What’s wrong?” All choked up and full of tears, Karen says, “I have a date.” I like the mix of funny and sad in this scene, because the scene is actually rather amusing, but my heart also goes out to Karen because I know how weird and mixed up she is feeling.
I also gotta say Diana is being unusually supportive in this episode. She is nice to Karen the whole time, nice to Charles aside from some friendly arguing later on (more on that later), and doesn’t throw a hissy fit or act like a bitch about anything. Jeez, Diana, are you in there? Considering how cunty she’s going to act when Karen starts dating the amazing and hilarious and unbelievably charismatic Mack next season, I’m not sure why she’s being so friendly to boring white guy Charles, but there you go; I guess she’s in a friendly mood this week.
On Karen and Charles' first date, we immediately see that he’s the controlling type. Now, make no mistake, he’s not controlling in the abusive sense, he’s not like Tom Drogan from IT or anything like that, but he does that “ordering food for the date” thing that I really hate and you can tell Karen doesn’t like it either. He orders them some sort of fancy dish, and he just sorta says Karen will have the same thing. One thing this episode does a few times that I liked is make use of those “flips.” You know what I’m talking about? It’s like when we cut from scene to scene, the image flips, so we know some time has passed, yet we’re still following the same characters in the same location. There’s a flip when Ginger is singing and there’s another flip here on the date.
Their next date is smaller, to a greasy looking hamburger place where Charles again orders for Karen, this time a burger and fries and a milkshake. As a neurotic fag who eats exactly the same food every day and is obsessed with his weight, I can tell you that a man ordering me a burger and fries and a milkshake would be an instant turn off. What are you, trying to turn me into a whale? I’m kinda surprised Karen doesn’t make mention of the sheer heart-attack inducing caloric intake that he is throwing at her without even asking if she wants any of that food.
Oh yeah, there’s also a real cute scene between Michael and Karen a little later in the episode where he is feeling blue and he admits that he doesn’t want her to go out with anyone else. “Things are fine just the way they are,” he says, and I gotta give some kudos to Pat Petersen, who not only grows up to be a smoking hot babe that I want to do vile, possibly illegal things to a few years down the line, but he was also a pretty realistic and endearing kid actor. It’s something about his voice, I think; it’s rather husky and he always sounds very genuine when he speaks. I gotta say bad kid acting can really ruin a scene, and I can’t think of really any bad kid actors on KL, can you? Jason (in all his incarnations) is kinda non-existent, but he’s never bad. I feel the same way about Brian, as well; he’s just kinda there, but Olivia is great and she obviously only gets better and better as we move along. Whoever cast the kids for KL should get some sort of special medal or a blowjob for their work.
In any case, the dates with Charles come to a pretty fast end after Karen has him over for a family dinner near the ending of the episode. Another great scene, very perceptive, and filmed well, with Michele’s face doing all the acting that needs to be done. See, Diana is arguing with Charles about how the Equal Rights Amendment is a good thing, and Charles is like, “Oh, I’m an old white straight Republican man and I hate all people who are different!” The camera just slowly goes in on Karen’s face and you can tell that she realizes this is not going to work. How can she be with a man who doesn’t defend the Equal Rights Amendment? It only gets worse when she sees him out after dinner and he’s like, “Boy, your kids sure don’t understand being seen and not heard.” Great scene here, by the way, cuz I like how Karen doesn’t get mad or anything. She’s just like, “You don’t really believe that, do you?” When he asks her to stick to private restaurants for their dates, she just says, “No, it’s not going to work,” and bravo Karen for your honesty. What I appreciate, however, is that she’s very gentle, very kind, she doesn’t say, “Oh, you’re an old white straight Republican,” but instead just sorta lets him down easy.
And another thing I appreciate is that, despite the fun I’ve poked at this character, he is never portrayed as a bad person. Even the dialogue at the dinner table is not done in such a way as to say, “Look at this awful man!” Instead, it’s just a matter of a simple dialogue, and even though he’s a smidge controlling of Karen on the dates, he’s never portrayed as evil or a bad person. It’s just a situation where these two people are not compatible. I feel other shows would make him very extreme, a very nasty character who is easy to hate. But KL is better written than other shows, so they play it more realistically and more subtly.
Also, and I think this is very important to note, we are seeing Karen going through the natural stages of the grieving process over the course of this season. This will finally culminate in what I remember as a season highlight, Letting Go, and that’s still a few episodes down the line, but we’ve seen her lose Sid and go through pretty much all the classic stages, most notably anger when she lashed out at Gary in Aftermath. Now I think she’s starting to work her way up to acceptance, and she’ll get there pretty soon, and going out on a few dates with Charles is the first part of that, but she’s not quite ready yet. I acknowledge that it’s really only been a few months since Sid died, so probably in real life Karen wouldn’t be trying dating yet, but let us remember that this is a TV show and things have to be expedited a bit, lest we end up watching every boring bit of minutia of these characters’ lives. The way it’s presented throughout this season, for me, feels very real.
Back to Kenny and Ginger. Ginger impresses lots of people at the record place with her singing, but for Kenny, this was just a temp thing. Now that she’s finished, he’d like her to go back home and raise that adorable Erin Molly that I really don’t hate with an unnecessarily seething passionate rage (this is sarcasm; I really despise Erin Molly and her stupid name). See, Kenny is an old fashioned kinda guy, and he’s like, “Ginger, you have a vagina and you were make for making babies! Stop trying to do silly things like think and just get back into the kitchen!” Ginger argues that Kenny has the nice house, the great kid, but he also needs his work; it adds that extra ingredient to his life that’s so essential, and she wants that, too. In all seriousness, I’m obviously exaggerating Kenny’s misogynist attitude and I do understand where he’s coming from. He doesn’t think that they had a baby just so they can shuffle the baby off to nannies and babysitters while the parents go off to work, and I think that’s a good point, but I also see Ginger’s point. As fun as it is to stay home all day wiping a baby’s ass, a lady’s gotta get out and explore the world a bit or she’ll go stir crazy.
Okay, we’re up to 1982, so obviously we’re still really early in the run, but this ep got me thinking as I drove home from My Beloved Grammy’s house, the love of KL pouring through my veins as I operated the motor vehicle, loudly screaming the sounds of the theme song. I started thinking about the change in attitudes towards women and feminism from 1979 to 1993 and how, really, we will see that reflected on KL. Let’s flash back to season one for a minute, and I’ll remind you that during that year, all the women stayed at home and tended house (or went out to bars to get raped, in the case of Laura) while the men went off to work in order to bring home the bacon (EDIT: Only as I went through this paragraph to get it ready for posting did I realize I forgot all about Ginger being a kindergarten teacher, which only helps to demonstrate how quickly any Kenny/Ginger footage just falls right out of my brain). By the time we reach the series finale in 1993 (in a few decades, if the internet even still exists by the time we get there and if I am still alive to continue maintaining this blog), all of the women on the show, if I recall correctly, are gainfully employed as successful career women in their own right, often with extraordinary power. Throughout that fourteen year span, the world changes and that change is reflected on the series. We have already seen that change begin to take place even at this very early juncture in the series. After all, in season two Laura got her own job in real estate, and of course Valene is taking her college courses and becoming a writer and this will wind up paying off for her very well, Karen is now in charge of running Knots Landing Motors, Abby is a working single mother (maybe not the ideal role model, but I’m just pointing out the example) and now we see Ginger trying to expand beyond the confines of her boring house and motherhood, as well.
Anyway, when Kenny puts his foot down on Ginger and says, “No, you’re a mother, not a singer,” she decides to take matters into her own hands, so she calls up the Super Duper Transmorpher, Andy Moore, and arranges a meeting with him. I think she gets Lilimae or someone to take care of Erin Molly for awhile as she goes down to this guy’s office. In any case, this episode ends on a cryptic note, as eps have been doing a lot recently (and I like it!). In this instance, when Kenny sees Ginger in the recording booth at his work, getting ready to sing another, new song, he desperately pleads one last time with her to go home and stop all this singing foolishness. Well, Ginger says no and she gets her ass back into the booth and starts belting out this song, which I also kinda liked, by the way, and we just sorta end the episode with her singing and Kenny looking frustrated. Not a bad way to go out, don’t you think?
Now, for the life of me, I can’t recall if this storyline actually goes anywhere. Similar to the J.R. crossover last season with Designs and the whole energy efficient engine and what have you, I think this might be another storyline that just sorta gets forgotten about, though I could be mistaken. The ending of this episode certainly sets a tone like, “Get ready, Ginger’s gonna become a big singer and Kenny ain’t gonna like it,” but I just feel like it doesn’t actually unfold that way. Remember, though, that there are a lot of episodes and I’ve only watched the series once, so I could have forgotten the details.
Okay, what of Possibilities? Well, I’ll say that My Beloved Grammy said it was her favorite episode of that particular disk (a disk that also included The Rose and the Briar, The Three Sisters, and Power Play) and at first I thought I disagreed with her. Immediately after finishing the disk, I thought Power Play would be my top episode of those four, but now I think I actually did like this episode best, and that’s a bit surprising considering the high content of Kenny and Ginger, my two absolute least favorite cast members in the entire fourteen year run of KL. But I gotta say that either James Houghton or Mona Houghton or both really did put in the effort to give these two characters something to do this week and I felt like they were almost interesting in this episode, and that’s a pretty high compliment to pay. Also, the Karen storyline was pretty good, too, and gave Michele Lee a chance to demonstrate her excellent acting skills. So, while not a masterpiece and not one of KL’s most unforgettable episodes, this was a pretty pleasant surprise and I would have to say I thoroughly enjoyed Possibilities.