Thursday, October 27, 2016

KNOTS LANDING Episode 067 of 344: AND TEDDY MAKES THREE


Episode Title: And Teddy Makes Three

Season 04, Episode 14

Episode 067 of 344

Written by Joel Steiger

Directed by Kim Friedman

Original Airdate: Thursday, January 13th, 1983

The Plot (Courtesy of TV.Com): Kenny and Gary almost come to blows. Jeff offers Kenny a job, but he declines. Ginger tells Gary that it was Abby who cut Kenny out, not Jeff, and that Gary better wake up. Chip convinces Ciji to get an abortion, but after spending time with Laura's kids, she changes her mind. Val asks Chip if he stole two chapters from her book, but he denies it. Val helps Mack pick out an engagement ring for Karen. He proposes to Karen, who answers "probably."  Karen's old boyfriend Teddy Becker is back in town, and Mack's really jealous. He and Karen break up, and Teddy wants to get back with her. Val tells Karen she's being foolish. Karen finally tells Mack she really loves him. He proposes again, and this time she says yes.


                Remember back in season three when Teddy Becker first came to visit in One of a Kind?  Now that was an episode that, before rewatching, I didn’t really remember all that much, but after putting it under the microscope for the blog, I wound up kinda loving it, and that was mostly due to the awesome guest spot of Terry Kiser (Bernie), who brought heart and humanity to Teddy and delivered a long and amazing speech that deserved an Emmy nomination.  Well, that was late in 1981 and now here we are in early 1983 and Teddy is back…um…sorta. 

                We open And Teddy Makes Three with something I don’t think we’ve seen yet: Just Val and Mack hanging out alone together.  In this scene, they are looking through the jeweler’s shop in search of that perfect wedding ring for Karen.  Then the creepy gay jeweler guy appears and starts asking them what they’re looking for and I wrote in my notes, “Is this the same creepy gay guy from two episodes of The Brady Bunch?”  Fuck, I am so smart, because when I went and did my research I discovered that I was right on point.  This actor’s name is Robert Nadder and he played two characters on The Brady Bunch (which happened a lot on that show).  First, he was in the 1971 episode The-Not-So-Rose-Colored Glasses as Gregory Gaylord (that’s the one where Jan has to get glasses and she doesn’t want to) and then he came back in 1973 for Amateur Nite (that’s the one where the Brady kids form The Silver Platters and sing Sunshine Day on television, one of my personal favorites). 

 
                As the episode started, and Mack and Val were perusing the wedding rings, My Beloved Grammy opined, “This is all a bit too soon,” and perhaps I agree with her.  My Beloved Grammy and I are similar in that we don’t see marriage as the end-all-be-all of existence the way so many other people do, and I’ve never understood why people feel the need to rush into marriage as soon as possible (or why they feel the need to get married at all; I will very likely never get married in my life), but for the sake of this being a television show, I’m sorta okay with it.  Again, this is early 1983 and the show is going to be on the air until 1993, and Mack is going to be a character on the show that whole time.  If the writers had been able to somehow have a psychic vision and know all this stuff as they were penning the fourth season, perhaps Mack and Karen wouldn’t have gotten married so fast.  But then another part of me asks if it really is all that fast.  Sid Fairgate died right at the start of season three and then we spent a whole year watching Karen go through all the stages of grief as she adjusted to being a new single mother.  Then Mack was introduced to the show right at the start of the fourth season, and we are now in the second half of that season, so really, it’s feasible to me that Mack would be out shopping for wedding rings now. 

                Anyway, while all this is going on, Teddy is back in town.  I’m of two minds on this (maybe more than two minds).  On the one hand, I’m glad they bring back a character we have seen before (sorta) instead of just introducing some new white guy to be an old friend of Karen’s.  I think it’s kinda cool that we haven’t seen Teddy since episode 37 and now here we are in episode 67 and he’s back, and I also think it’s kinda cool that the writers just expect us to remember him from that previous ep even though it feels like it was awhile ago.  But now let’s get to my big problem with this ep, and that is: Who the hell is this guy?  Where’s Bernie?  Where’s evil Dr. Crews from Friday the 13th: Part VII?  Well, he must have been busy when shooting commenced, because instead he has morphed into this really lecherous, frankly creepy-looking guy with a big David Letterman gap in his tooth.  This creepy guy (who apparently committed suicide in 1994, so, um, rest in peace as I berate your appearance) is named Steven Keats.  What’s extra bizarre is that the whole time we were watching this ep and I was whining to My Beloved Grammy about how much I missed Bernie, I was also convinced I had seen Teddy 2 in a ton of other things.  Turns out I hadn’t; the only movie on his impressive IMDb resume that I recognized was Death Wish, but I can’t remember who he was in that movie. 
 

                In addition to being played by a different actor and looking totally different and being way creepier, I also feel like this Teddy is a different character.  I should maybe go back and look at my thoughts on One of a Kind to make sure I’m not contradicting myself, but I remember kinda loving that Teddy and being surprised by how much Dr. Crews elevated that one-episode guest spot into something pretty memorable.  In that episode, I bought that he and Karen had a backstory together and I bought that they had complex feelings for each other that walked a line between loving friendship and maybe something more sexual.  Also, even as Teddy continued to insist that Diana was his real daughter, I didn’t find him to be a pushy or repellent character, yet this Teddy is.

                I’ll get right to the point: This whole Teddy-coming-back-to-town story is my least favorite part of the episode.  Even though the ep is titled And Teddy Makes Three and this is obviously supposed to be our central focus this week, it is the weakest link (goodbye).  Everything else going on in this ep is solid, lots of super interesting things for all the characters, but the only reason Teddy is here is to offer a very brief roadblock in the relationship of Karen and Mack, leading me to wonder if anyone watching in 1983 could possibly believe this character was a legitimate threat to them.

                Let’s just power through this portion.  Teddy is back, and he’s just sorta there when the ep starts.  It’s not like we have a scene of Karen picking him up from the airport or saying, “Oh, my good friend Teddy is coming back to town,” like the way she announced Victoria Hill coming to visit back in the incredibly boring Reunion.  Nope, instead he’s just there, and pretty much right off the bat he starts to beg and plead with Karen to get back together with him.  If there’s one thing women really like, it’s when a man is super desperate and has to repeatedly beg them to be their lover; it’s a real turn-on.  We cut to a quiet night at the Fairgate house, where Karen and Mack are sitting in the living room.  It’s here that Mack proposes to Karen and she says, “Probably.”  Well, I laughed and so did My Beloved Grammy.  Have I taken a moment in the last 66 essays to point out how well done the humor is on KL?  This is yet another piece of evidence for my “KL is way better than Dallas” argument.  Sure, Dallas would have humor and wit (usually delivered impeccably by J.R.), but it was also generally super stuffy and overly serious, thinking it was way more dramatic and important than it actually was.  On KL, there is just good, solid humor to make you smile and to lighten up proceedings.  In this case, the way Karen says, “Probably,” and Mack’s rather deflated reaction served to put a smile on my face.

                By the way, in my continuing rant against marriage, I must say I kinda see where Karen’s coming from.  What is the big hurry, anyway?  Why can’t Karen and Mack just keep dating?  Why must they get married right away?  However, and this is a nice little point brought up by My Beloved Grammy, something I wouldn’t have even though of and something that makes me appreciate The Block Party a little bit more.  During this scene, My Beloved Grammy observed that Mack is probably in a hurry to get married to Karen because he had a good scare seeing his Pop a few weeks back, not wanting to wind up like him, old and feeble and dying all alone, with no one to love him.  So BOOM, we’ve just found a good reason for why The Block Party exists! 
 

                Karen is throwing some sort of dinner party the next night and Teddy is the guest of honor, but then Mack shows up and he and Karen get into one of their cute fights.  They take it into the kitchen and start arguing about the engagement and Teddy and “probably” and all of that, and the scene culminates with Mack asking for the ring back and Karen giving it to him.  Again, this probably sounds very dramatic in writing, but it’s actually handled with humor.  Both Karen and Mack are funny to watch, and even the way they yell at each other or him asking for the ring back are not played as some SUPER SERIOUS INCIDENT but rather as a sorta cute bickering.

                Teddy takes this opportunity to continue to harass Karen about why she should marry him and move to New York and all that stuff.  Yikes, what a creep.  I must say that if Bernie/Dr. Crews was still portraying the character this week, I can see this playing a lot better.  That guy sorta won my heart back in season three and I’ll bet he could have pulled off this stuff even with a script that is, perhaps, not trying as hard as usual.  What do I mean by that?  Well, this whole story just feels like the writers don’t want Karen and Mack to get married this week, cuz they’re saving it for next week, so they have to introduce this temporary obstacle.  Who in the world could possibly be watching this and really think that Karen is gonna ditch Mack and marry Teddy?  Mack is part of the opening credits, and thanks to the wonders of “Starring (In Alphabetical Order),” he is the first name we see on the roster (at least this year; next year William Devane gets to be first), so we know he’s gonna be around for awhile.  Meanwhile, Teddy is being played by a second actor and he’s not even in the beginning credits at the start of the episode as a guest star; he’s relegated to the ending credits.  And even without all that “Who’s in the credits,” stuff that I like to focus on and probably nobody else cares about, just based on simple writing and storytelling, who could really think Teddy is here to stay?

                Before Mack and Karen decide to tie the knot, we get a quick scene that I put in my notes along with the question, “Why is Diana suddenly being so nice?”  That’s right, after weeks of being a mega-bitch (and of course we know that in a few weeks, she will return to being a mega-bitch and then become even more of a mega-bitch when we hit season five), Diana is suddenly really chummy with Mack, real friendly.  This feels sorta organic, since the two made peace with each other back in Abby’s Choice.  This week, after spending the whole season bitching and moaning about how much she dislikes Mack, Diana pays a visit to his apartment (and, in a nice little callback to The Best Kept Secret, asks if it’s safe for her to come inside) and gives him a speech about how he and Karen are meant for each other and they need to get married.  Like I said, at first I wondered where Diana’s sudden burst of caring and nice behavior was coming from, but with some reflection, it does make sense.  She just had a whole epic two-episode health crisis in which she had to undergo major surgery and get a new kidney.  She’s probably feeling a bit different about her behavior and her life choices right now, but like so many things in life, with a little distance it’s easy to forget things and return to our old behavior.  We often see people declaring that they are going to change their lives after some big crisis occurs, but then after awhile they’re back to their old ways, so that’s what I think is going on with Diana.  At this moment, she’s grateful to have kidneys and not be hooked up to a dialysis machine in a hospital, so she’s being nicer to those around her.  Give her a few weeks and she’ll be a mega-bitch again.

 

                Finally, Karen goes to see Mack at his apartment.  The two talk a bit, yada yada yada, Bob Loblaw, and then Mack grabs the wedding ring out of his pocket or whatever.  He has this nice bit of body language acting that I really want to think was improvised by The Dobsonator.  Basically, he pulls the ring out of that little box thing that it comes in and sorta tosses it behind him as he walks over to Karen to put it on her finger.  I don’t know how to describe it, but it’s this sorta cool, sexy walk, and the casual way he throws the box aside, I dunno, I liked it.  I always loved Mack as a character but didn’t find him particularly sexy, but after My Beloved Grammy’s comments of “He’s very good looking,” and his little way of sauntering over to Karen here, I’m starting to see it.  Anyway, she accepts his proposal, they kiss, and that’s our last scene of the ep.

                Every other story in this ep is better than the Mack/Karen/Teddy 2 one, so let’s move over and focus on someone else.  Everyone’s got good drama this week and I’m a little unsure of who to focus on first, but I’ll go with Gary.  By going with Gary, I am also by proxy discussing Abby and Kenny and Ginger.  If you’ll recall last week, Abs pulled some strings to get Kenny cut out of the deal involving Munson taking over Ciji’s contract.  Well, this week Kenny and Ginger are both pretty damn mad about it, and Ginger has her most interesting scene on the series since way back in season one (The Constant Companion) when she pays a visit to The Beach House and gives a nice big speech to both Gary and Abs about Abby’s wicked behavior. 
 

                See, I think Gary is in a real weird spot right now.  Too much has happened too fast in his life and he’s just not coping well.  You have this sudden change in lifestyle of going from the stable, loving marriage to Val, his true soul mate, to being married to Abs and dealing with her duplicitous ways.  Also, you of course have the death of his father and the inheritance he just received.  He’s suddenly gone from working in a car dealership to being a millionaire, which obviously sounds great to me, but it can cause some problems, as we know from real life.  I also think he’s starting to become aware of Abby’s true colors but he’s also so blinded by lust (and, yes, I still will say love) that he can’t quite resist her powers.  She has a hold over him right now that causes him to do things that might be a smidge unethical, like brutally cutting Kenny out of this record deal.  That’s what happens at the head of this episode, by the way.  There’s a tremendously uncomfortable scene in which Kenny walks into the studio where Gary and Munson are hanging out and watching Ciji perform New Romance again.  He’s all like, “Hey, what the hell is going on here?”  Then Munson comes up to him and is like, “Let’s go out in the hallway so I can quietly tell you that you’ve been replaced.”  Kenny is understandably upset by this news, and this is what leads to Ginger’s little visit a few minutes later.  But before the visit from Ginger, we also have, I believe, our first scene of Gary pumping iron really ferociously.  This is going to become a common occurrence for quite some time, and I have to assume it was some sort of Shack obligation to get shirtless and show off his muscles every week (I’m flashing back to that sensual massage he got from Abs in Catharsis).  Shack has clearly been hitting the gym off camera, because he’s blossomed from the tall, lanky fellow he was back in season one into quite the buff, masculine gentleman (and let's not even talk about the bulge in his pants, pictured below). 
 

                Anyway, enough about Shack’s muscles.  I think Ginger’s little visit serves as a small wake up call to Gary (before a big wake up call courtesy of Kenny next ep) about the life he is living.  Basically, Ginger comes to The Beach House to tell Gary what a shit he’s been and how badly he’s treated Kenny and how hurt Kenny is, moping around the house and being unemployed now.  She culminates her big speech with, “One day Abby will do it to you, just like she’s doing it to us,” an interesting insight that shows maybe Ginger isn’t as dumb as she first appears.  Here, instead of just being mad at Gary and blaming him for everything, she is able to see the manipulation taking place on the part of Abs towards Gary.  It’s kinda bizarre to note that the second Kenny and Ginger start to actually be somewhat interesting, we are also just a few eps away from them being shipped off forever and never mentioned again. 
 

                Meanwhile, some pages from Val’s manuscript are missing, and while she doesn’t know why, we the viewers know why because we saw Chip steal those pages last week.  Not too much happens in this regard for the time being (wait for next week), but there was a small detail I like, a detail that shows the KL writers are pretty good at remembering what’s happened on the show before.  See, at first Val asks Lilimae if she took those pages, and Lilimae is like, “I would never do a thing like that!”  Then Val gives her this look like, “You remember the episode Best Intentions where you stole the manuscript of my first book?”  Lilimae looks kinda ashamed and is like, “Yeah, okay, I did that once, but I wouldn’t do it again!”  It would be so easy for the writers to just ignore that little plot point or hope we wouldn’t remember all the details of that previous episode, but instead they mention it, assure us they haven’t forgotten, and I appreciate that.

                Also on the roster this week is our return to some Queer as Folk style storytelling involving Laura and Ciji.  Now, I can understand if you’ve read my essays for the last few weeks and felt that I’ve jumped the gun a bit on the whole “They are definitely lesbians,” angle, but you can’t watch these scenes and not see what I see.  We have not one but two scenes this week that are dripping with sensual lesbian undertones.  In one of them, the entire conversation takes place while Laura breastfeeds Daniel and Ciji leers at her boob.  The conversation goes in the direction of how natural and wonderful it feels to breastfeed, but just watch Ciji’s fucking eyes during the scene; she can’t take them off Laura’s tit.  Clearly she is wishing that she could suck on them.

                The second scene is where they’re just hanging out on the couch, sipping wine (when exactly did pregnant women stop drinking?), trying to decide what to do with their night.  What are Laura’s suggestions?  Well, one is fairly innocuous, I believe a suggestion that they order a pizza.  The second suggestion is that they sit in the hot tub, certainly more risqué than the previous suggestion, and I have to wonder if Laura was thinking of some nude hot tub bathing with young Ciji, because that’s certainly what I was thinking.  Finally, and most importantly, Laura suggests they go see a dirty movie.  I think I almost spit my wine out when this suggestion came up; I couldn’t believe the writers were being so explicit.  I also took a moment to reflect that it’s 1983 and video is slowly killing the popularity of dirty movies playing in the cinema (Taxi Driver style), but it hasn’t quite happened yet.  Not a lot of people had VCRs in 1983, since they were still super expensive, and I think if people wanted to see a dirty movie, they generally had to go stop off at the dirty movie theater.  What are Laura’s intentions with this suggestion?  I know it was trendy in the late ‘70s and early ‘80s for people to act like it was totally chill to go see a dirty movie; it meant they were modern and progressive (check out the awesome documentary Inside Deep Throat for more info on this amazing time in American history), but I definitely think Laura wants to take Ciji out to see a bunch of naked women getting the shit fucked out of them; that’s what I think.  What do my much loved readers think? 

 
                In addition to exploring her sexuality with Laura, Ciji is also busy this week with Chip and the pregnancy and all those shenanigans.  At the start of the episode, Chip has successfully pestered/threatened Ciji enough so that she agrees to go get an abortion.  However, after spending some time with her new lesbian love interest, Ciji changes her mind and decides she wants to keep the baby.  In this instance, Chip doesn’t grab her hair and make vague threats to her; instead he just sorta angrily barges out of the room, fuming, perhaps plotting something?  We’ll have to wait and see.

                I think that about does it for And Teddy Makes Three.  How do I rank it?  Even though I bitched and moaned a bit about the Teddy storyline in the episode, it wasn’t toxic or anything like that; it was just sorta limp.  I never believe there’s any real threat from Teddy’s presence; he’s a roadblock, a roadblock that Mack and Karen quickly drive around and then continue driving.  I don’t really feel effected by his presence one way or the other, but that portion is my least favorite segment of the episode.  The good news is that everything else is solid.  Last ep I said things are heating up, that we’re inching closer and closer to the season finale and so all the storylines are starting to get real juicy and exciting, and that continues this ep.  If you go through the cast roster, everyone’s up to something this week, whether it’s a small storyline like Val wondering where her manuscript went, or a bigger one like all the Kenny/Ginger/Gary/Abs drama.  Overall, while the Teddy stuff left me cold, I still liked the episode.

                Since this episode ended with Karen accepting Mack’s proposal and the two of them kissing, I think we all know where this is heading, and we’ll get to see it for ourselves next ep with To Have and to Hold.

3 comments:

  1. Lol ... I don't think either Laura or Ciji had any lesbian tendencies. In the first scene you mention, it seems only natural that an expectant mother would look wistfully at a new mother breastfeeding her baby. They were close, the way women can be friends can be close without their friendship being sexual.

    ReplyDelete
  2. I think they had girl crushes on each other but didn't actually consummate the relationship. What is interesting is that Richard thought they did. Pretty risque for the time.

    And LOVE the Brady Bunch reference...although my favorite song was "Keep On". :)

    ReplyDelete
  3. William Devane should have always been first. I didn't much care for when Tonya Crowe trumped him, or Alec Baldwin for that matter. It's like letting the little kid sit at the big person table for a few minutes at Thanksgiving. Interesting for a moment, but ultimately not something you want happening for too long.

    ReplyDelete