Sunday, July 31, 2016

KNOTS LANDING Episode 044 of 344: REUNION


Episode Title: Reunion

Season 03, Episode 13

Episode 044 of 344

Written by Diana Gould

Directed by Joseph B. Wallenstein 

Original Airdate: Thursday, February 18th, 1982

The Plot (Courtesy of TV.Com): Karen's college roommate, Victoria Hill, a fashion designer, is in town to work with Karen on a benefit fashion show. All the neighborhood women are the models. Victoria offers Karen a job in New York and she considers it. Diana is enthralled with Victoria and wants them to move to New York. In the end, Karen decides to stay in Knots Landing. Gary tells Abby he's tired of her acting sexy to manipulate him. Laura tells Scooter she's leaving Richard, and they finally sleep together. Scooter wants her to move in with him, but she says no. Then Laura finds out that she's pregnant.

 


                I’ve kinda started to like telling you guys how many episodes were on one of the disks My Beloved Grammy and I watched and which episodes they were every time we have a visit and share some time with our friends on the cul-de-sac.  Well, our most recent visit spanned this episode, Reunion, through Letting Go and, I must say, probably gets my nomination for most schizophrenic disk we’ve ever watched, even more than our last visit which included the utter insanity that was The Three Sisters.  Truly, this disk was just all over the place and sorta served as a summation for all my problems with season three and why I think it may continue to be my least favorite season of the entire series.

                Now, I can hear you all scratching your heads and saying, “What’s the deal?”  Certainly it probably seems like I can’t really say a bad thing about KL because I just love it so much, love the world and the characters and the whole journey start to finish.  But we’re reaching a critical point in the series, the point where it finally turns into a full-fledged, epic nighttime soap.  We are about ten episodes away from this turning into the greatest show ever made, but before we get there, we’re gonna have to suffer through a few more boring, forgettable one-offs like, well, Reunion.

                Reunion (which, random, actually shares its title with our first two Brief Dallas Interludes and, even more strangely, is actually recycled as an episode title later in 1986, as the third episode of season eight is also called Reunion) is another one of those episodes that, frankly, I’m getting a bit sick of at this stage in the game.  It’s the kind of episode where some random person comes out of nowhere, is introduced to the cul-de-sac, stirs up some trouble but nothing too serious, the kind of trouble that can be tidily wrapped up with a bow at the conclusion of the 48 minutes, and then leaves, never to be heard from again.  We’ve seen it quite a few times by this point and, happily, we’re coming to the end of this type of plot device.  Once the show becomes fully serialized, this style of episode will fall by the wayside and I’m getting pretty itchy for that to happen.  In the case of Reunion, it’s not a troubled daughter like Annie back in Pilot or a gang of bikers like in Land of the Free or an awful ex-wife like in Civil Wives or a lying old man like in The Rose and the Briar or…..well, you get my point.  No, in this case it’s one of those “really important friends from a long time ago,” and this time she’s an old college friend of Karen’s named Victoria Hill and she’s played by someone I really like a lot, Lucille Bluth, or Jessica Walter, if you prefer.

                We open the ep on the gang anxiously awaiting the arrival of Victoria.  Karen is throwing her a nice little dinner party to welcome her to the neighborhood and everyone’s talking about this exciting fashion designer woman who lives in New York and, according to Diana, “Knows Yoko Ono,” as if that’s something to be proud of.  Anyway, as they wait, Karen explains her history with this plot-contrivance character, how they went to college together and both had these big hopes and dreams but Karen dropped out to marry Sid while Victoria continued on and became this big deal fashion lady.   Then the phone rings and it’s Victoria cancelling on Karen because she got held up at, um, a dinner party.  Michele Lee delivers this line with a humorous bit of resignation, and we the viewers are able to get the hint that, when we meet this fashion lady, she’s probably gonna be something of a bitch.

                Well, we meet her a few scenes later, and there she is in all her Jessica Walter glory.  Like I said, I like Jessica Walter a lot.  I love her insanity in Play Misty For Me (which, to get all six degrees on you for a moment, also starred Donna Mills, pictured below) and of course I love her character on Arrested Development.  Here, however, she’s not given much to work with, nor does she really bring anything to the part to really elevate it and make it special.  It’s not her fault, you understand, this is just one of those dull guest spots and I’ll bet the lady wasn’t even taking it that seriously when she showed up to do it.

                Now, when we first got started watching the episode, and I was taking my notes and wondering what I was gonna say about it in my writeup, I started to wonder if I could not perhaps apply a little queer theory to this ep.  Being a homo myself and having gone to a liberal arts college and learned all about “applying queer theory” to art, I was thinking of exploring the lesbo route when we first see Victoria meet Diana and immediately start drooling all over her (as we’ve seen previously, Diana has this inexplicable power to meet new strangers and just utterly take their breath away, even though she’s living on the same cul-de-sac as Donna Fucking Mills).  When Victoria first sees Diana, the camera goes into a close-up of her face, she’s all quiet, and then she immediately goes up to Diana’s bedroom (subtext?) so Diana can be annoying and talk about her own fashion ideas and yada yada yada.  While she’s prattling on and I’m impatiently waiting for the fourth season to come with the introductions of characters I love like Mack and Ciji, the camera again sorta pans in to Victoria’s face as she sits on Diana’s bed, just sorta admiring her.  Well, it turns out the queer theory is shot because the ep quickly shows its hand and reveals that Victoria is just a sad, lonely woman who had “a career” instead of “a family” (this is back before a woman could have both, you see).  All of this will unfold as the episode progresses, but I was a little bummed to see it turn out to be that, as I was hoping to have some queer theory in there to spice it up and make proceedings a little more interesting.

                Next up is a little nighttime scene between Karen and Victoria.  They sit in the living room, they sip wine, they talk about the loss of Sid.  I’m not entirely sure if it happens here or not, but I think this is the scene where our central conflict is introduced for the week, as Victoria invites Karen to come to New York and work for her.  She tells her to sell Knots Landing Motors, ditch all of her friends, and just move herself and her three kids on over to New York.  Immediately my interest starts to lag even more as I sit through this boring storyline in absolutely no suspense.  Maybe an episode like this would play better if I was watching it week-to-week back in 1982, with no sense of the future and no way of knowing that KL would be on the air for another eleven years.  However, I’m watching it with hindsight and I know damn well that Karen is in all 344 eps of the show and there’s no way she’s leaving the cul-de-sac to move to New York, not even for a little while.  I immediately know how things will unfold, she’ll get all excited about it and start to seriously consider it for the bulk of the ep, and then she’ll realize life is pretty good in California and she’d be better off staying, which is of course what happens.

                Thanks to Diana’s pestering and getting way too excited, Karen kinda jumps the gun and is like, “Well, okay, let’s sell the house and move to New York!”  For the rest of the ep, we get a lot of stuff with the other neighbors being like, “Gee, I can’t believe Karen’s moving!”  This is mostly set against the backdrop of the worst fashion show I have ever seen in my life, as Victoria parades out onstage and says, “Welcome to my imagination” (not too narcissistic) and then all the ladies of Seaview Circle are forced to march out onstage in these truly awful outfits.  I didn’t really bother to note the outfits specifically because, for one, I was pretty bored, and for another, My Beloved Grammy and I mostly just sat in stunned silence while this went on, occasionally just saying, “Oh God no,” when a new outfit was unveiled.  Seriously, if Victoria Hill was a real person, her “imagination” would have led her to the unemployment offices right and quick, as these are some truly garish, hideous examples of the very worst in ladies’ fashions.

                The episode feels like it’s killing time because the fashion show goes on forever, almost as if it’s playing out in real time like The Chinese Restaurant or something.  We get one nice stylistic flourish where a bird’s-eye angle shows the big auditorium crowded with people and then it dissolves to emptiness after the fashion show has ended.  Now it’s just Karen and Victoria all alone.  I forgot to mention that since Karen agreed to move to New York, Victoria has started to bark at her like a bitch a lot, shouting orders out and being all, “Do this, don’t do that, go get ready for this, why are you wasting your time with that?”  In this case, Karen is trying to tidy up a bit and Victoria is like, “Let the hotel take care of that!  I’m sure they’ve got plenty of ethnic people!”  Karen finally stands up for herself a bit and says, “You’ve been ordering me around all day, so stop it.” 

                The rest of the scene is maybe the best part of the episode, yet I still didn’t like it that much.  It’s too bad, as well, because we’ve got two fabulous actresses in a scene together, finally having a bit of a confrontation, and this should be good stuff, but the writing falls flat.  It’s strange, since this episode is written by Diana Gould, who has some great episodes to her credit (although she did also write Kristin, so…..), but this is all just so on-the-nose.  The “show, don’t tell” rule of writing is broken here as the two women start to bicker and just basically explain everything about their troubled relationship to each other.  The kicker of their fight (which, FYI, is witnessed in full by Diana who appears behind them on the stage and quietly listen to the whole altercation) comes when Lucille Bluth says, “Oh, can the motherhood stuff, Karen; it’s a biological function, not a holy calling!” and then Karen replies with, “Well, it’s a function you missed, isn’t it?”  A nice burn, which is probably why they included it in the little thirty-second preview at the start of the show, but then the rest of the scene continues on with the same problems.  The women talk a bit more, they work it out, then Victoria goes backstage and works it out with Diana.

                Now this scene is not totally worthless, as I found myself sorta pretending that all 344 eps of KL were planned out in advance and the writers had a great, grand master plan for all fourteen years.  See, Diana talks about how she might move to New York one day, and it was only after she delivered that line that I realized she does, in fact, do that.  Once the writers realize this character is a boring, bratty bitch and finally decide to ship her off at the start of season six, I’m pretty sure she moves off to New York, where she’s hardly ever mentioned again except for a small series of eps in season fourteen where Karen comes to visit her.  So, there you go, at least we plant a seed here that pays off in about two years or so.

                The episode concludes with Victoria leaving and a bit of interaction that made me laugh if only for the irony.  See, Karen says, “Come back anytime,” and then Victoria is like, “Never!”  Then there’s a pause and she goes, “I’m just kidding,” but of course she never does come back, nor am I sure if she’s ever mentioned again (I’ll keep my ears open), so I found that line funny.  Victoria simply joins the ranks of a myriad of other characters throughout the first three years of KL who show up for one week and then leave and are never heard from again.  Oh yeah, and then the very final shot of the ep is Karen removing that FOR SALE sign from in front of her house, realizing that her place is right here on this cul-de-sac with her friends.

                Okay, so that’s the A plot of this week, and in my memories, that was the only plot of this episode, but as keeps happening throughout this season, I find myself surprised to see that even in the midst of these forgettable one-off episodes, there are still little drops of serialized plot working through the show.  In the case of this episode, we have two, one really significant and one less so.  I’ll start off with the less-so.

                Basically, early in the ep when Karen says how she’s considering selling Knots Landing Motors, we see Abby’s eyes bug out in excitement and we can hear her getting a nice little conspiracy boner and then we cut to her and Gary talking about how, with Karen gone, they could buy the shop and use it to, like, work out their little methanol plan that they started hatching back in Power Play.  I liked this scene quite a lot, actually, and it continued an interplay that was also demonstrated back in that ep, because Abs is getting all excited and stuff, but then Gary totally puts her in her place and is like, “Does this all come naturally to you?”  He gives this speech about how she’s so good at immediately becoming duplicitous and what-not and then says how it’s the same with her flirtations and yada yada yada.  The kicker of the scene is that Abs, referring to that flirtation, asks, “Gary, do you want me to stop?” and then he goes, “I didn’t say that.”

                I found this scene interesting, especially after that big, “I am a Ewing, I’m Gary Ewing,” speech from Power Play.  Okay, why does Gary act like this?  We all know he wants to screw Abby, and those of us who have seen the series before know that we won’t have to wait much longer to finally see that happen.  So, on the one hand he is definitely attracted to her, she’s definitely got him nicely wrapped around her finger, and we know he enjoys their workplace flirtations and the idea of maybe more.  Yet every now and then he keeps scolding her and calling her out on being a liar and a schemer.  Why?  My theory is that Gary’s two heads are at war (the penis and the brain, for those too dense to figure out my little reference there).  On the one hand, his logical brain (his head head) is probably telling him to watch out, cuz Abby’s dangerous, and he’s got a good thing going with Val and they’re building a life together and he’s already cheated on her once and she managed to forgive him, so he’d better not do it again, and so on and so forth.  Meanwhile, we have his less logical brain (his penis head) saying, “Dude, Abby’s hot!  You should sleep with her!”  Gary is a man, and I hate to break it to you readers, but we men like sex and will pretty much go for it whenever the opportunity presents itself, even when logic dictates that it’s not the smart thing to do.  So basically, every time Gary says, “Abby, you’re a lying hoe,” that’s his head head working on him, but then when Abby asks if the flirtation should cease and he tells her no, that’s his penis head working, you see?  This scene is about all we get between Abs and Gary this ep, but clearly I found it much more interesting than our main storyline this week.

                The other storyline this week that I didn’t remember and that keeps this ep from being a total one-off is that we reveal Laura has slept with Scooter and that she’s pregnant.  Now Jesus, I have to ask, what’s the deal here?  One of the first scenes of the ep, right as we’re just getting started, is Laura and Scooter finishing up a roll in the sack together.  Say what?  This affair story has been building for over a year, and the writers kept dropping hints that consummation could occur any second, but every time it would get closer, something would block it.  Most recently, we had Laura finally growing fed up with Richard, driving over to Scooter’s house, and then finding his bitchy ex-wife, the ice queen, at the house.  Now here we are and Laura and Scooter are just….screwing.  Then he rolls off of her and she’s like, “Boy, I’m so glad we finally started sleeping together!”  But when did this happen?  It plays almost like we accidentally skipped an ep, cuz now, after all that buildup, they’re just in the sack.  Make no mistake, I don’t need cum shots or something, but I kinda thought when Laura finally decided to sleep with Scooter, it would be a big scene, that we’d see it occurring, but instead it all happened off screen.

                As they lie in bed, Laura starts talking about how she’s going to leave Richard, she’s gonna start a new life, everything’s gonna be good, but the next time we see her she is in a doctor’s office being told that she is pregnant.  Now, I must pause the storyline in question for  a minute to talk about her doctor.  The scene began, Laura says, “I’m pregnant,” then we cut to her doctor, and in my brain I said, “Wasn’t that guy in Cujo?”  Then, after a second, in my brain I said, “Hasn’t he already been in an episode?”  I jotted this down in my notes, but now, having done some research, the answers are yes and yes.  The actor’s name is Arthur Rosenberg (pictured below; he's the one with the moustache) and he played the business partner of Dee Wallace’s husband in Cujo (which is a movie I love, in case I haven’t mentioned that) and yes, we’ve already seen him back in The Loudest Word.  Now, in that case, he was Val’s doctor, and I would like to believe he’s just playing the same character and he also happens to be Laura’s doctor, but my little theory is destroyed by IMDb, which tells me that back in The Loudest Word he was “Dr. Harper,” and now here he’s “Dr. Gold.”  Well, perhaps he could still be the same doctor and someone just screwed up the name somewhere; it’s possible, right?  However, I gotta go with what’s official, and what’s official is that he’s playing two different characters, and because of that, I think I need to invent a new term.

                You’ll recall that a Transmorpher is someone who appeared on both Dallas and KL as different characters.  But what should I call someone who showed up on KL multiple times and played a different character within those appearances?  After some careful thinking, I’ve decided to call a person like this a Tangled Knot; what do you think?  So, ladies and gentlemen, I’m gonna introduce our first Tangled Knot, or at least the first one that I’ve bothered to notice up to this point, and that’s Mr. Arthur Rosenberg.  So from now on, I will try to keep track of both Transmorphers and Tangled Knots, and you can feel free to help me along with that by leaving some comments or by sending me an E-mail in case I miss some.

                Okay, back to Laura.  So yeah, she’s pregnant.  This is big news and Laura’s pregnancy is gonna create some great, soapy drama in the coming episodes, culminating, I believe, near the start of season four.  What’s extra bizarre is how un-dramatically it’s introduced here, in the middle of this isolated, almost-could-be-completely-skipped episode.  In fact, I almost wanna tell the new viewers that they can feel to just skip right over this episode, but unfortunately if they do that, they’ll be missing this important plot revelation.  Also, and I suppose this is a minor spoiler for next week, but my theory that episodes throughout season three aired out of order is only gaining momentum here, because Laura’s pregnancy will not be mentioned at all in next week’s show, and then it’s going to be the huge focal point of the episode the week after that, creating a very bizarre storytelling structure (part of the reason why I mentioned the schizo nature of this particular disk that we watched).

                Okay, let’s wrap this up.  I want to take a moment to say that I’m aware that I glossed over a lot of points for this ep, including the way that the Fairgate boys react to the news that they may be moving to New York.  I apologize for that, but honestly, I just kinda wanted to move on and get past this episode, because it sucked.  That’s right, I’m saying it, and you know I never say that about KL.  You readers should know by this point that I love KL about as much as anything in the world, that I am my best self whenever I am watching KL, that whenever KL is playing before me, a look of sheer joy consumes my face and I am just lost in the rapture and the magic, that I could probably sit and watch all 344 episodes of KL without getting up except maybe to pee, that I would die for KL.  You know all this to be true, so I’m sure you know how hard it is for me to say that an episode just flat out sucks, but I’m sorry, this one does, and this is coming from the guy who actually kinda sorta enjoyed Land of the Free.  In fact, I think that back in that ep from season one, I said it’ll never get worse than that ep, but I’m sorry, for me, Reunion is worse. 

Why?  Well, Land of the Free at least had camp and kept me entertained for all 48 minutes, plus it had that great goofy musical score.  This episode just bored me, more or less, from start to finish.  If you excised the small scene with Abs and Gary and the pregnancy stuff with Laura, this episode would, in fact, be 100% skippable and I would actually recommend it.  We are so close to the show taking off like a shot and becoming all it was meant to be, so I suppose waste-of-time episodes like this are just trying my patience right now, that I’m getting fidgety as I wait a few more eps to get to the truly brilliant, genius KL that I know and love and would defend to the death.  We are almost there, guys, I promise you that!  If someone out there has been following along and thinking, “Eh, this show is okay but I don’t know why Brett loves it so goddamn much,” well, you’re about to find out, cuz it’s coming, but we’re just not quite there yet. 

Maybe my hostility for this ep seems a little unjustified, but I just felt it did nothing interesting and the main storyline was so dull and forgettable.  Plus it was just boring, and I felt squirmy throughout most of the 48 minutes.  When it was over, My Beloved Grammy goes, “Hmmmm, well that was interesting,” which I know is her code word for “not interesting at all,” and then I said, “I thought it sucked!” and she was like, “Yeah, I kinda agree, it was pretty bad,” so we were both on the same page in that regard.  However, and after all this venom you might find this surprising, it was not the worst episode on the disk we watched, and that one’s coming up (I won’t show my hand and tell you which one it is just yet, but you’ll find out soon enough). 

Okay, so in conclusion, Reunion sucked and I didn’t like it, but I still love KL and I would still die for KL and with a little patience, we shall shortly arrive at the KL that is truly 100% brilliant all the time.  I can’t guarantee we’ll be experiencing that next week, however, as we dive into another stupid one-off episode that I had a vague memory of not liking that much, Cricket.  I shall talk to you all then, but take care for now!

4 comments:

  1. Well, I should have caught up reading b/f I put my idea for the Knots Landing only transmorpher :)

    Although these stand-alone episodes are kinda boring, I still like them because they establish the character of our main core group on the show. But I am also glad that they stopped after Season 3 b/c I don't think the show would have been as popular if it didn't change.

    And kudos to the reference to "The Chinese Restaurant" which is in another of my top 5 shows of all time!

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  2. oh my god, the fucking fashion show.

    Okay, now I'm gonna read your re-cap. I'll add more after.

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  3. Okay, I finished. Now, I have to tell you, I have been reading this blog for nearly three hours. So I'm gonna keep it tight because I really need to get to work.

    - Jessica Walter had a steady career in the 70s playing endless versions of "socialite bitch." And I never liked it. I would see her name and I'd think, "Ugh, this woman again." Then came Arrested Development, and my whole attitude about her turned around. I love love love her now, but I will say... when I first heard she was a cast member on AD, I avoided it just because I disliked her that much.

    -LM can't find her hair. I die.

    -Diana as Anastasia the Russian Princess, prancing and twirling with an angry face and pursed lips that lead one to think she's getting ready to spit venom all over the crowd and melt their faces off.

    -Victoria makes this big deal about how the room is set up poorly because they could fit a lot more people in. Then they show the crowd later... it's 18 battered women, Gary and Richard? I guess we are supposed to imagine the thousands more battered women outside, disappointed after standing in line overnight, now having to fold up their tents and beach chairs and go home because of Karen's carelessness. Like their lives aren't already massive disappointments, seeing that they're battered and such.

    -"Welcome to my imagination!" I nearly fell off the sofa.

    -You can pretty much hear the commercials the CBS promo department came up with for this episode. "And on Knots Landing... a glamorous night of fashion! Will you please watch it now?"

    -Something about Ginger... is it the make-up? She actually looks good, even with that dumb turban on her head.

    -The way everyone in the crowd is dressed, I feel like this fashion show took place 11am on a Thursday.

    -I love how the first time Victoria meets the women of the cul-de-sac being forced on her as models, they're all dressed like they're just off from their gig at the car wash.

    - I also loved how everyone LEPT UP and dashed to the dining room when Karen said Victoria wasn't coming and they could all finally eat.

    -The writers were thoughtful enough to think of including Olivia in the fashion show. I could almost hear a collective "ahhhh" from the veiwers, all 35 of them.

    -I just re-read this, and I amuse myself.

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