Sunday, September 11, 2016

KNOTS LANDING Episode 054 of 344: A BRAND NEW DAY


KNOTS LANDING SEASON 4 (1982-1983)

THE CAST ROSTER


 

Episode Title: A Brand New Day

Season 04, Episode 01

Episode 054 of 344

Written by John Pleshette

Directed by Nicholas Sgarro

Original Airdate: Thursday, September 30th, 1982

The Plot (Courtesy of TV.Com): Karen hears that the case against Frank and Roy has been dropped due to a technicality. Furious, she barges into the Federal Prosecutor's office, who happens to be Marion "Mack" Patrick MacKenzie. Mack gives Karen info on the case and kisses her. Karen fires Gary and hires Wayne, unaware that he has a scrapbook about Sid's death. Val has been living at a motel, but decides to stay with Rusty and Cricket on their ranch. Gary, now living with Abby, goes there to try to win Val back. Rusty beats him up. Abby's furious that Gary went to see Val. Val returns home and kicks Gary out. Gary goes back to Abby. Abby has been sending JR every other chapter of Val's book.

 

Oh boy, welcome to season four of KL, the season that I’ve been declaring since day one as the year where everything just takes off like a shot and the show officially begins its unbelievable run of top notch quality, everything just firing perfectly on all cylinders.  Before I get into our episode in question, A Brand New Day, which gets season four started, I wanna remind everyone that we are entering what I designate as the second "era" of the show, seasons four through seven, 1982-1986, the period I designate as the show at its most soapy and exciting, the "super soap" years. We are leaving the first three seasons, “the cul-de-sac seasons,” if you will, behind, and the original idea of David Jacobs that the show would be episodic and focusing on four married couples is beginning to change and shift around us even as we get started with season four here.

Now, I also wanna note that some people would disagree with my designation and say that the second era begins with season five.  I’m gonna provide some SPOILERS in this next little passage, so go on and skip ahead if you want to remain pure and free of all spoilers for the coming seasons.  Okay, you’ve been warned.  Anyway, designating season five as the beginning of a new era does make sense, as many things change right when we start season five.  The opening credits get a real musical oomph and become faster and more exciting, plus we have the addition of Douglas Sheehan to the cast as Ben Gibson and then, more importantly, we have the introduction of William Devane as Greg Sumner a few eps into season five.  Also with season five, we say goodbye to Richard (and I cry) as well as to Kenny and Ginger (and I don’t cry), meaning, most significantly, that with the first episode of season five, that original premise from the Pilot episode is officially gone.  How do I mean?  I mean that in Pilot, we were presented with a show that was about four married couples, Ginger and Kenny Ward, Laura and Richard Avery, Karen and Sid Fairgate, and Val and Gary Ewing.  With season five, all those couples are split.  Kenny and Ginger have left town, Richard has disappeared, Sid has died and Karen remarried, and Gary and Val have split up and divorced.  END OF SPOILERS.

And there are certainly holdovers as we make the switch from season three to four, things that would make people question my designation of it as the beginning of a new and better era in KL history.  As we jump into the premiere, we’ll see that the cast remains pretty much the same as last year.  Kevin Dobson has joined the cast and Julie Harris gets bumped from “Special Guest Star” to a spot in the scrolling credits, but those are the only real changes as far as the cast lineup.  We’ve still got Kenny and Ginger and Richard from the first three seasons of the show and we are still going to see neighborhood barbecues and other cul-de-sac related things, so I fully understand why some would be tempted to say season four is the final season of that original era, the “four couples on a cul-de-sac” era.  Why, then, do I insist on it being the start of a new era?  Well, it’s all about the storytelling.  As we begin to dive into season four, you will see that we are finally, officially 100% over with the small little movie type episodes of the first three years, the “This week on KL, random burglars take over the cul-de-sac but are tidily disposed of by the police before the episode ends” eps.  Those are now a thing of the past (with season three’s dreadful Silver Shadows being the last of that type of ep) and we are now in a long, ongoing, serialized series with all the characters having stories that span week to week and episode to episode.  In addition to that, I think season four is going to show us a bit of a shift in tone as we see some characters come into wealth and start to live a more glamorous lifestyle, plus the show itself will become a bit more lavish, a bit more glamorous, a bit more fabulous, and a whole lot more exciting.

After our thirty second preview we obviously get our classic opening credits sequence.  I’ll take a moment to say I vastly prefer the season four opening to the season three one.  It’s still the classic scrolling squares (get used to those, as we will have them scrolling right along our screen all the way through season eight), but the theme has gotten a bit of an update from last season to keep it fresh, and I like this version a lot.  It sorta starts out more excitingly before diving into the squares and the usual theme, plus there’s this jazzy, saxxy little crescendo I really like near the start of it (right around the point where Julie Harris’ name is scrolling by, in case you wanna go check what I’m talking about and hear the magic for yourself).  So already, in something as base and nerdy as the opening credits music, I find myself preferring season four to season three.

From there, we get one of those quick recaps of last season’s cliffhanger, an abbreviated presentation of the last five minutes of Living Dangerously, beginning with Abs and Gary in bed together and spanning through Karen storming in with Val hot on her trail, then the scene of Val driving her car off while Gary chases after her and screams her name and insists that they can work it out.  It’s a good and quick way to keep the audience updated; let us all remember that the viewers had to wait nearly five months between Living Dangerously and A Brand New Day.

Oh yeah, and I wanna note that title, which is shown over sunrise and footage of Val running on the beach.  Even that very title, for me, designates that we’re entering a new era in KL history, that things are going to be “brand new” from how they were in the first three seasons of the show.  Also, it can be taken as a very literal title, that what’s brand new about this particular day is that, unlike the previous 53 episodes which always had Gary and Val living together and married, this is a new day where they are split up and Gary goes home at night to Abby.

Oh my, and perhaps the most important thing shown in the episode opening credits as Val jogs along that beach is who wrote this episode and that would be the one and only Plesh.  I have trained My Beloved Grammy well, for when she saw his name come up as the writer, she goes, “Oh, John Pleshette wrote this; it should be a good one.”  I note with real tears in my eyes that this is The Plesh’s penultimate script.  In fact, our very next episode, Daniel, is the last of the eight scripts he ever writes for the show, which is an alarming and sad thing to realize, really. 

But anyway, I’ve been going on and on without even getting into any damn dialogue yet, so let’s speed this along.  Our first few minutes are actually quite dialogue free, with lots of footage of people just sorta existing, like Val running or whatever.  But then one of the first things we see is that Gary and Lilimae are still living under the same roof, which I had forgotten.  Talk about your awkward situation for both parties.  It’s awkward for Lilimae to be stuck with the man who cheated on her daughter and broke her heart, but one must admit it has to be awkward for Gary, as well, to have to endure silent breakfasts with Val’s mother who just, sorta, um, lives there.  This made me question what exact legal rights Gary has, by the way.  Who’s house is it?  Who does 16966 Seaview Circle truly belong to?  Well, if we flash back to our fourth Brief Dallas Interlude, Return Engagements, we will remember that Miss Ellie bought the house herself for both Gary and Val.  If we had forgotten this, we got a verbal reminder of it not too far back with Power Play, when Gary reminded Val, “My mother bought this house for us.”  So does the house technically belong to Miss Ellie?  Or does it belong to Gary because his mama bought it?  Or does it really belong to both because Miss Ellie bought it specifically for both of them?  In any case, one thing is for sure, and that’s that Lilimae really has no inherent right to be there; she just sorta lives there.  This is not a criticism, you understand, as I love Lilimae with all my heart, but it’s just an observation that, I think, if Gary felt so inclined, he could just throw her out.

In any case, we get to see one of these awkward and silent Lilimae/Gary breakfasts as the two cleverly use newspapers to avoid looking into each other’s eyes.  As Gary gets up to leave, Lilimae gives him a little speech about, “Don’t bother asking me where Val is like you do every day, because I don’t know.”  However, we the viewers quickly become privy to where Val is living because one of our next scenes is Lilimae paying her a visit at some cheap, crappy motel.  This was a pretty cute scene for me, as Lilimae goes into a sorta self-pity mode and goes on about, “You can’t imagine how it is for me to be living under the same roof as that man!”  Now might be a good time to mention that My Beloved Grammy is still not sold on Lilimae, saying that while Julie Harris plays the part well, she thinks she’s a nosy old woman and she is not one of her favorite characters.  I’ll pay attention to see if/when this changes.   I just feel like at some point Lilimae’s charm will win over My Beloved Grammy, but I guess we’re not at that point yet, and I suppose I see My Beloved Grammy’s view.  Lilimae can often be a bit self involved, and this scene is a good demonstration of that.  After all, Val’s the one who got cheated on (twice, by the way; in all this excitement of Gary and Abs, it’s easy to forgot what went down in season two with Gary and Judy Trent) and Val’s the one who’s marriage is ending and Val’s the one who is living in a crappy motel, but Lilimae stops by to whine about how awkward living on the cul-de-sac is for her, kinda skipping over the fact that, less than a year ago, she was a shopping cart lady peddling her way from motel to motel and just trying not to starve to death.  Now she’s living under someone’s roof, not having to scam motels or sleep under a tree somewhere, but she’s complaining about the company she has to keep in this warm, cozy house she’s inhabiting.

Oh yeah, and how could I talk about this scene without noting the strangest thing about it?  Val is staying at, I kid you not, a Bates Motel during this period.  I’m not saying it’s a creepy looking motel located out in the middle of nowhere; I am saying that is the actual title of the motel she is staying at.  When Lilimae comes to visit her, we see the name of the motel in big letters over the door, and that is it: Bates Motel.  What to make of this?  Is it a joke?  When The Plesh was writing the script, did he say, “Let’s have Val staying in a Bates Motel; that would sure be funny”?  Or is this a real motel and the producers and directors just rolled with it and used whatever motel they could find for the purposes of shooting?  Is there actually a Bates Motel somewhere in California and that’s how this occurred?  Why name the motel Bates Motel?!  When I saw this, I was just like, “Seriously?” and I am still confounded as to why it’s called this.  The fact that the camera makes it very obvious that this is the name of the motel convinces me that we are supposed to notice it and that, yes, it must be some sort of funny joke.

Now, Lilimae manages to sorta kidnap Val and take her out on an exciting road trip, giving us the surprise reappearance of two characters nobody asked to see again, Rusty and Cricket from that oh-so-memorable season three episode called, um, Cricket.  Not only are they back for an encore, but both characters are still being played by the same actors, Don Stroud and Viveka Davis.  I suppose the Cricket episode wasn’t that long ago, it was still within 1982 (I just looked it up; it was March 4th of 1982), so it’s not all that surprising that the same actors are back.  In any case, they are back for a very small appearance in this ep, and even though I didn’t particularly like Cricket, nor did I particularly care about these two characters, I’m glad to see the return of them if only because it makes better sense than just having them be two random characters, you know?  Like, if the script called for Val to visit some old friends on a ranch, they could have just hired some actors and thrown in some dialogue like, “Gee, Val, I haven’t seen you in a whole lot of years!”  Instead, they went back to some characters who had already been established in a prior episode, and I appreciate that continuity.

Anyway, looks like Rusty and Cricket are doing better than they were last time we saw them, when he tried to run off on her.  Now they seem to be settled at a nice ranch (it had a funny ranch name, but I’ve forgotten what it was), which is where Lilimae drops Val off (random note: The shot of Lilimae sitting behind the wheel of the car and smiling and being like “Have a great time,” serves as one of her little squares in the opening credits this year, and maybe even in the years to come; I’ll keep my eyes open).  Val’s spirits are immediately lifted by seeing her old friends and it’s not too long before we dissolve to them sitting in front of a roaring fire, toasting marshmallows and singing like one great big happy family, at least until Gary shows up to take a big dump all over their happy time.

But wait, what’s going on with Gary this week?  Let’s just say he’s not doing too good.  If I had to track his mindset, I’d say his suffering from a desire to have his cake and eat it, too.  He wants to have the excitement and the sexiness of an adulterous affair with Abby, but then he wants the comfort and safety and love of his life with Val.  Now that Val has found out about his shenanigans and run out on him, he is starting to crumble to pieces and act like, well, quite a jerk.  He’s clearly not the most popular guy on the cul-de-sac right now, with pretty much all the neighbors feeling sympathy for Val and thinking Gary’s the jerk, so basically he only has Abs to talk to, but does he love her?  I’m not sure yet.  We have a lot of Gary/Abs years to get through, so I’m gonna be watching carefully and really focusing on their relationship to see if it is based on anything resembling love or it if is always purely fueled by lust and sex.

Gary gets fired this week, by the way.  I love the deliberately un-dramatic way this unfolds.  KL is so good at keeping things grounded and real so much of the time, and this is a good example.  To set the scene, Gary is being a jerk at Knots Landing Motors and is acting dismissive towards Karen.  Because of some reason or other (I think Gary took a long lunch or something), he and Karen have a little argument and then Gary is like, “What I do in my personal life is my business; if you wanna fire me, then fire me.”  He starts to walk off when Karen rather gloriously calls his bluff and just gently shouts after him, “Oh, Gary?  You’re fired.”  It’s a lovely little moment because no music plays, it doesn’t get all exciting and over-the-top, it’s just this quiet little scene between two characters being played out very realistically.  I feel like on the other nighttime soaps, this would be A BIG SCENE.  Probably the music would get loud and someone’s eyes would get all wide and, “You’re fired,” would be followed by some scary, cryptic line where the other character is like, “Oh, you’re gonna regret this, mark my words,” or something equally corny, but KL deliberately keeps it understated and good on them for that.

Gary is mad, however, so we immediately follow that glorious understated scene with a glorious over-the-top scene.  The camp factor is cranked up to eleven for this wild sequence, where Gary finds out where Val is staying and decides to crash her party.  The marshmallows are roasting and everyone is having a lovely time until Gary bursts in all violent and insists that Val leave with him.  Things escalate real fast here, by the way, cuz Rusty is like, “I ain’t letting you in this door,” so Gary announces that he’s going to break the door down, which he immediately does.  Then he and Rusty get into this epic fight while some really loud music blares on the soundtrack.  Gary very briefly gets the upper hand on Rusty, at least until Rusty punches him directly in the face about five thousand times, at which point Gary pretty much decides to leave.  Nothing productive is achieved by Gary bursting in here, and I’m not entirely sure what he was hoping to achieve, but in any case, it’s a fun little scene and it made me laugh and smile at its cheesiness. 

The next day, however, we get a fascinating development that returns us to the issue of “Who owns the house?”  See, Gary spots Val moving some stuff out of their house and, naturally, he assumes she has come to remove her last few items from the house.  He comes up to apologize for last night (saying, “I guess I was wrong,” which I found a hilarious understatement), at which point he learns that Val is actually kicking him out.  She says that she is moving back in with Lilimae and that Gary can go find his own place to live, probably with Abs a few feet away at 16969 Seaview Circle (FYI: If any of you readers think I really have all these addresses memorized and stored in my brain, I should admit that I always have to check on Wikipedia to get the exact addresses and the “Who Lives Where” correct).  Anyway, Gary doesn’t put up much of a fight about this, although I do continue to question who has the legal right in this case.  If Gary chose to challenge Val about the true owner of the house, who would win?  I guess it’s not important because the writers really don’t dwell on it; Gary goes off without a fight, realizing he’ll have to find a new place to live.

Really, that’s about it for Gary and Val this week.  I almost feel like I’m glossing over their story, but the thing is that this is a whole overarching story.  For the next nine years, Gary and Val are going to be split up, and there will always be a tension in the air about “Will they get back together or won’t they?”  I feel like I can’t really give it total under-the-microscope attention this ep because it’s just so inherently going to be a part of the fabric of the series for so long.  I will say our episode concludes and we get our “Executive Producers” credit over a very well-filmed image of Gary returning to Abs at night and the two embracing while filmed under this soft blue filter, making them into silhouettes, a striking and sexy image for the episode to go out on.

Now in case you’re thinking, “What?  He’s already talking about the ending shot of the episode?”, don’t worry about that, as I will now shift my focus to the other characters and the other stuff going on this week.  Certainly the most notable aspect of A Brand New Day is that it marks the first appearance of one of our most important all time KL characters, M. “Mack” Patrick MacKenzie, played gloriously and to utter perfection by the one and only Kevin Dobson (The Dobsonator).  Yes, if there’s one thing to remember about A Brand New Day when put into the context of the overall KL experience, it’s that it marks the introduction of Mack, who will be with us from now until the very final episode in 1993, adding up to a total of (according to IMDb, so take this with a smidge of salt) 291 episodes.  In fact, in the pantheon of KL actors and character, Kevin Dobson is one of the most important, as he has the fourth most appearances of anyone on the show.  The only folks who beat him are Michele Lee (who, as I’ve stated before, is the only cast member to appear in all 344 eps), Ted Shackelford (with 342 episodes) and Joan Van Ark (with 327 episodes).  After those three, The Dobsonator ranks fourth with his 291 appearances.

With all that said, how does he make his way into the series?  How is he introduced and how do his first scenes on the series play?  Pretty damn well, in my opinion.  It’s interesting to note how hindsight changes your perspective on things, by the way, because when we see Mack for the first time this week, my immediate feeling is one of comfort and the knowledge that we are meeting one of our most important characters ever on the series, but if you try to erase all that knowledge of future events and pretend you are watching this as a first time viewer in 1982, you realize that, at this point, we are being introduced to our new character.  I think that’s the way it plays for My Beloved Grammy, that as we powered through this disk of five episodes, Mack is “the new guy,” joining characters we already have three seasons of prior experience with.

But anyway, enough about that: How is he introduced?  Well, Karen is sitting with Uncle Joe in the kitchen, reading a newspaper, when she suddenly jumps up and goes, “Oh my God,” and then runs out of the house.  Gee, what could she have seen in the paper to provoke such a reaction out of her?  In case the viewer is confused and thinks that Karen is very offended by the image of Garfield the cat drinking coffee (yeah, I looked up the exact Garfield strip that appeared on this day in history, and yes, you can also see it by simply clicking HERE), we quickly find out that the newspaper announced the releases of Roy and Frank, our mobster friends from back in season two.  Apparently their case was dropped due to lack of evidence, so now they are free to walk the streets and return to their lives of crime and stolen auto parts and murdering main cast members from nighttime soap operas.

Karen is damn mad about this, so she busts right in on Mack in his office, giving the viewers their first glimpse of The Dobsonator in all his glory.  What I found interesting about this scene is that it’s not played as the two characters meeting for the first time; in fact, I got the strong sense that Karen and Mack have met before and discussed the mobsters and Sid Fairgate’s death at some length, presumably off-screen somewhere in season three.  The reason I say this is because there is no formal exchange or introduction between the two; instead, Karen bursts in and Mack immediately knows who she is and Karen immediately knows who he is.  I like this, by the way, because of course we do not see every aspect of the characters’ lives throughout the series.  To me, it’s very plausible that Karen was talking to Mack throughout the third season and we just weren’t privy to it.  Well, now we are.

Ah, and what of Mack?  What of his first glorious scene of what will be so many glorious scenes throughout the course of the next eleven years?  Well, for one thing I had forgotten how young and fresh faced he looks here, because I think my mind immediately goes to much later season KL whenever I think of these characters, so in my brain, when I think of Mack, I think of the Mack from circa 1990 to 1993, just about, so it’s funny to return to 1982 and be like, “Oh yeah, he still looks so young.”  I did some research and IMDb says Mr. Dobson was born March 18th, 1943, so he’s just about on the cusp of hitting 40 years of age right here. 

Mack immediately brings some much needed new energy to the series.  Everything about this character helps to reinvigorate what’s going on with the other characters, if that makes sense.  The very way he speaks, in a sorta tough guy voice while still clearly being a kind, good person, makes me feel comfortable and at-home.  The character also brings some humor that really helps the series out, in my opinion.  He is naturally funny and is often at his funniest just through his natural charisma, not necessarily when the writers are trying to make the character seem funny.  It’s just something in the way he speaks and the way he shoots out his lines of dialogue.  I wish I could be more specific with my compliments here, but that’s about all I got, except to say that he and Karen have, you should pardon the cliché, instant chemistry together.

The Dobsonator also brings out the best qualities of Michele Lee and the two play off each other perfectly.  I was delighted to listen to a podcast interviewing Michele in which she said that all the scenes she had with The Dobsonator were her favorite, that she loved working with him, that he brought out the heart and humor of her character better than anyone else.  Right away, you can tell these are two actors who enjoy each other and are meant to act alongside each other.  The way that Karen bursts in and is angry, yet Mack does not get angry with her, for instance.  He yells a bit but he has this amazing ability to yell and be loud without seeming scary or pissed off; it’s just sorta how he speaks. 

So what actually transpires in the scene?  Karen asks how the mobsters can be free to walk the streets like this, and Mack explains how there was simply no case, that there was no way to prove that the mobsters were culpable in Sid’s death, that a lot of the evidence in the case ended up being thrown out, and so on and so forth.  In an interesting little button on the scene, Karen storms out and says, “You really are a creep” to Mack.  Considering where their relationship is quickly going to go, it’s interesting that some of the first words spoken from Karen to Mack are these words of anger.

However, it doesn’t take long for Mack to charm Karen.  In fact, in this instance I am even going to be slightly critical of some of the writing and plotting, so get ready for it (always remembering that anything critical I say towards KL, I am saying with love).  Anyway, my criticism is that I do think the switch from Karen being angry at Mack to charmed by him is a bit too super duper fast.  See, in their first scene together, he says, “How about dinner?” and gets the “You’re a real creep” response.  However, next time we see them, they are in fact out to dinner and Mack is immediately being awesome and charming and funny and he keeps making Karen laugh.  I’m with Karen on the laughter, because he’s just so naturally charismatic, and I would be wooed by him, too, if he took me out to dinner.  I’m just saying it’s a pretty quick switch.  I’m sure if the writers had some sort of psychic vision or if God appeared from the sky and said, “Mack will be on the show for eleven years and he’s gonna be in 291 episodes,” they might have slowed these developments down a bit, maybe made it take longer for Karen to start liking Mack.  In any case, the writers didn’t know the show would stay on for another eleven years and they didn’t know Mack would be there for all eleven of those years, so I’m sure they were more concerned with quickly establishing Mack as Karen’s romantic interest even if it plays a smidge too quickly.  Again, this is a microscopic nitpick.  I am just so happy that Mack is here and he’s officially a part of the cast and I feel like another key part of the entire KL series has arrived and everything is sliding tidily into place.

The introduction of Mack to the series also brings forth the long-awaited revisit of the death of Sid and the people responsible for it.  Thank God, by the way, and as I mentioned previously, throughout the course of the third season, My Beloved Grammy would often be like, “They never found out about that guy screwing with Sid’s car.”  Well, now we do, although the writers do cheat more than a smidge in that regard.  See, flashing all the way back to the culminating episodes of season two, you’ll remember that there was a mysterious fellow repeatedly shown lurking around Knots Landing Motors and fiddling with Sid’s car.  This fellow, so far as I remember, never had any spoken dialogue, but we saw a lot of him just lurking in the shadows or hanging out under a car, looking mysterious and evil.  However, this guy was just some dude with a moustache; I don’t even remember the actor’s name.  In A Brand New Day, this character is brought back…..sorta.  We are told it was this guy, Wayne Harkness, who fucked with Sid’s car, and we’re going to be seeing a lot of him for the next five episodes.  This Wayne Harkness fellow is played by actor Harry Northup, certainly not the same gentlemen who was lurking around at the end of season two, but whatever, I’ll forgive the writers their little cheat.

I do wanna take a minute to say that Harry Northup has a surprisingly diverse resume.  As I watched him in this episode and the ones to come, I didn’t have any real “I know that guy” moments, but when I looked up his IMDb, I realized the guy gets around.  He must be an old buddy of Martin Scorsese’s because he appears in a bunch of Scorsese’s earliest movies.  He’s in Who’s That Knocking at My Door, Boxcar Bertha, Mean Streets, Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore, Taxi Driver, and New York, New York.  In addition, it says he was in The Silence of the Lambs playing Mr. Bimmel (and yes, now that I realize that, I immediately can visualize his scene and recognize that face; he was the father of "that great big fat person") as well as Philadelphia playing a juror.  So overall, an impressive resume for Mr. Northup.

There’s a bit of retconning going on here, by the way, but I’ll forgive it.  See, as soon as we first meet this Wayne character, Karen is like, “Oh Wayne, you’re one of my best workers, and I just fired Gary, so I need someone to fill his shoes; would you like a promotion?”  Wayne accepts and we get to see him taking over Gary’s office and Karen being all nice to him even though he is, honestly, a little creepy.  I’m not sure I completely buy this, because Karen is a sharp lady and Wayne just seems weird and creepy; I think she would be a little sharper and she is only being like, “Oh Wayne, what a great worker you are!” because the plot demands it.  For me, this seems a little out of character, but if you disagree, please tell me so.

There’s a cinematic flourish that helps the plot accelerate along near the end of this episode.  Karen and Uncle Joe are talking in the kitchen, and he’s like, “Let it go, Karen, it’s enough already with you obsessing over Sid’s death.”  As we hear their dialogue, we cut to Wayne alone in his apartment and, like all creepy killer people in movies or TV shows, he of course has kept a scrapbook of his crimes.  This is a storytelling device I’ve always loved, by the way, the idea that if you commit a crime, you must inherently keep a scrapbook of that crime just so that, in the event that you are caught, you can be more easily arrested and tried for your crime (I immediately think of both the book and the film of Misery).  Nothing says “I’m guilty” like keeping a fucking scrapbook lying around your home, am I right?  In any case, the scene also clues us in that something is wrong with Wayne, that he is evil and duplicitous.  This will be expanded on further in the upcoming episodes, so hold your horses.

Oh yeah, and The Plesh also makes sure to set up a few things relating to some Dallas crossovers as well as our tenth Brief Dallas Interlude, which shall be coming up shortly.  See, early in the ep, Gary gets a telegram from Texas telling him that Miss Ellie will be ready for the reading of Jock’s will very shortly.  There’s some dialogue between he and Abs about how he will be a much richer man soon, if everything goes okay.  Abs believes that Gary will be inheriting a lot of money, but Gary is not so sure, and personally I agree with Gary.  If we pay attention to the previous nine Brief Dallas Interludes we have seen, we know that Jock and Gary didn’t exactly see eye to eye, that while Gary was Miss Ellie’s favorite child, Jock thought of him as weak and not entirely trustworthy.  Therefore, Gary believes there’s a good chance that he’ll get nothing in the will, or that whatever he receives will in some way belong to Val, as well.

Val’s book is also still in the editing and P.R. stages at this point, having not yet been released, which leads to a wicked little decision Abs makes at the end of the episode.  She’s lounging around in her bedroom, looking bored, when she pulls out what is, I believe, Val’s rough draft of her book, Capricorn Crude, and she shoves a chunk of pages into a big manila envelope and then addresses it to J.R. Ewing over in Texas (Braddock, to be exact, reminding me that despite the Dallas title, quite a bit of that parent series actually takes place over in Braddock).  Watching this, by the way, I’m not entirely sure if this means that Abs has already been mailing J.R. chunks of Val’s book, or if this is her very first time doing so and she is doing it simply to be vindictive because Gary still seems fairly obsessed with Val.  What do you think, my lovely readers?

Jesus, this writeup is getting huge.  For some reason, maybe having to do with my own distracted mental state while sitting down to power through that first disk of season four alongside My Beloved Grammy (having car issues due to a recent car accident, Bob Loblaw, I'm sure it will be taken care of shortly but, at the moment, it's kinda distracting me from being able to enjoy things) I  really didn’t think I would have all that much to say about A Brand New Day, but look at this, I’ve already written way too much.  I think what’s so interesting about this episode is that it’s planting seeds to unfold throughout the course of the entire season.  When the ep was over, My Beloved Grammy and I talked about it a bit before starting the next one, and we agreed that this episode isn’t EXCITING the way the last five eps of season three were, but that’s because it’s doing a lot of setup and character building.  This episode is starting up a lot of storylines to unfold over the next 21 episodes, and it’s doing it all very well.  At the same time, if we are comparing this to our previous Plesh penned script, which was the unforgettable Night, I do think this one pales in comparison; it’s not quite the masterpiece of a script that Night was, but perhaps it’s unfair to even compare.  Night gave him the opportunity to completely and 100% focus on his own character for an entire 48 minute show, whereas his mission this week is to get everything rolling for an entire season of storylines.

Even so, A Brand New Day is still a great episode and it’s getting us started good and strong for the fourth season.  Aside from my minor nitpicks like the morphing of some previously unnamed dude with a moustache into this Wayne Harkness character or the perhaps-too-sudden romance between Karen and Mack, this is a solid episode and, if I was a 1982 viewer, I would be back next week, that’s for damn sure.

And what is next week, by the way?  I’m glad you asked, because next week gives us our first Dallas crossover since back in season two, with special guest star Larry Hagman dropping into town for a visit in Daniel.

8 comments:

  1. Geek comment coming on the title sequence for the 4th season...If you notice, every actor has a large solo frame plus three smaller ones either alone or interacting with the other actors...every actor, that is, except James Houghton and Kim Lankford. The Wards have to share the 3 smaller frames between them instead of having 3 each. If you notice, Kevin Dobson and Julie Harris have their 3 small frames to the right of their large frame. But then everyone after Kim Lankford is the just the opposite...their 3 small frames are to the left of the larger one. I know...total nerd comment, but I think it shows precisely the thoughts of the writers and producers concerning those two characters.

    This is my favorite opening sequence because of the introduction of Julie Harris and Kevin Dobson. My favorite look of Julie throughout the entire series is the one of her with the red hair looking all vibrant and 80's California! She looks super young here.

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    1. Oh dear - I've never noticed that before. The writing was on the wall, wasn't it. Get those actor reels together, Jim and Kim.

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  2. One point: The episode implied that Karen accepted Mack's dinner invite because she was phishing for Roy and Frank's trial transcripts (which ultimately she did get, much to Joe's chagrin as he knows Karen will go after the mobsters herself and he is afraid for her). However, once on the date, Mack's natural charm does impress her -- their relationship develops quickly not because of an unexplained plot contrivance but instead because of a logical one. Karen wants something from Mack (she gets it, but she gets more than she ever could have expected).

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  3. I don't think we'll be hitting a clunker of an episode for a number of years now. The only thing I can think of would be some of the episodes from S8, with its poorly constructed plot lines. Oh, and maybe some bed set design on a certain underground computer lair in I believe S7.

    I loved your scrapbook run most of all.

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    1. "bad" set design. Sorry. I generally read this blog in the morning before I've had coffee or put on my specs.

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  4. Good writeups, but enough with the My Beloved Grammy crap. You sound like an affected old faggot.

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  5. Good writeups, but enough with the My Beloved Grammy crap. You sound like an affected old faggot.

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    1. I don't know Brett personally, but I myself am an affected old faggot. I'm only a few years away from wearing ascots proudly. I thought that would generally be the type to be attracted to a blog about Knots Landing broken down episode by episode. Well, anyway, this affected old faggot really likes this site.

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