Sunday, November 13, 2016

KNOTS LANDING Episode 072 of 344: LOSS OF INNOCENCE


Episode Title: Loss of Innocence

Season 04, Episode 19

Episode 072 of 344


Directed by Alexander Singer

Original Airdate: Thursday, February 17th, 1983

The Plot (Courtesy of TV.Com): Ciji's body is found, and Gary is passed out on the beach about 200 feet away. Gary goes home, where Abby keeps questioning him about whether he did it, and Gary can't remember. When it comes out that Ciji was pregnant, Gary doesn't think the baby was his, but can't be sure. Chip tells Diana he's going to New York alone, and will send for her when he's settled. Laura's really upset and takes it out on Richard. An old girlfriend of Mack's, Janet Baines, is handling Ciji's case. Mack requests an autopsy, and they think Ciji was murdered. Janet questions all of the neighbors. Abby hires Mitchell Casey, a criminal lawyer. Mitch doesn't want Gary to go to the police, but Gary does, and tells them that he initially lied to them, and that he woke up on the beach near Ciji. Gary is charged with Ciji's murder.

 


When we last left off, Ginger’s contorting face was frightening everyone in the audience at Daniel at the exact same time that Ciji’s dead body was washing up on the beach.  Who could have killed Ciji and why would they do it?  These are the questions we start to explore with Loss of InnocenceI’m gonna give my opinion away early and say, while this is definitely a good episode of KL, it’s also a bit of step down from the excitement and stylish genius of Celebration.  I think this might have something to do with that “morning after” effect, that this is the first episode to follow a really super duper exciting and well made ep.  However, another weird thing I wanted to note: There’s no music.  I’m not exactly sure why that is, if it was originally broadcast this way, or if somehow the music  was taken out when the show was shown in the syndication market (remember that my copies are coming off of bootlegs from SoapNet).  But yes, aside from the theme song we hear in the opening and closing sequences, this episode is completely free of a score, and it creates a sorta weird, limp feeling in the proceedings this week.  I took a glance at the IMDb page and notice that Jerrold Immel is credited with the music, leading me to conclude that, upon original airdate, this did have a score.  However, for whatever reason, my particular copy of the ep has got nothing. 

We open Loss of Innocence on a badly hungover (or probably even still-a-little-bit-drunk, considering how much booze he has floating around in his system) Gary, waking up at the beach in pain and confusion.  Drunken Gary must really enjoy the beach, since he also spend some time hanging out there, under a bridge, stealing liquor from winos, back in Bottom of the Bottle: Part One.  In this instance, some random people on the beach have stumbled upon Ciji’s body, and by the time Gary gets to her, there’s quite a crowd forming, including some cops.  As soon as Gary sees her, he immediately runs back to The Beach House and, in a fabulous showing of what a true alcoholic looks like, he grabs a decanter full of bourbon and starts chugging it directly from the bottle, all while Abby looks on in disgust.  Gary says something terrible has happened and Abs retorts, “What; did you run out of booze?”  This made me think of a classic exchange from a few seasons later, between Abs and Olivia.  In that instance, when Abs declares that something terrible has happened, Olivia asks, “What; did you run out of eye makeup?”  Anyway, Gary tells her that Ciji is dead and Abs is all shocked and then we move on to another scene.

 
Actually, that’s pretty much the whole episode, just people getting the news of Ciji’s death and reacting to it.  I really like that, by the way, because I think sometimes characters discovering that something has happened can be even more interesting than the thing actually happening, you know, but as I sit trying to talk about Loss of Innocence, the ep just seems like sorta a blur of characters receiving the news about Ciji over and over again, making it hard for me to collect my thoughts and write something interesting or intelligent.

Even though I predict most viewers are probably already blaming Chip for this murder (or am I wrong to make that assumption?), this episode spends most of its time making Gary look like the number one culprit, and I’d say it succeeds pretty well.  After all, he did wake up on the beach like a foot away from Ciji’s body, and as we move down the roster of characters, we have a lot of people making it sound like Gary is the one responsible.  Lilimae, in particular, is out of control this week with her Gary hate.  Again, I’m curious to see when she finally softens on Gary, because I know she does, but for all of season four she has really been quite the shit-talker when it comes to matters involving her daughter’s soon-to-be-ex-husband. 

This ep introduces a lady cop character who’s gonna be around for nine episodes.  Her name is Janet Baines and she is played by Joanna Pettet (pictured below), who I don’t recognize from anything even though IMDb says she was in the 1967 Casino Royale which, even though it’s a bad movie, I still kinda like because it’s so bizarre.  Anyway, this character pops up right away and we quickly learn that she had a previous relationship with Mack, that they dated or worked on cases together or something, I dunno.  I’ll just say right off the bat that I don’t like this character, but I have no idea why.  The character doesn’t seem to do anything wrong and Joanna Pettet plays her just fine, but I even remember watching these eps originally back in college and just not liking her, not knowing why she gets a special guest credit in the credits or why she suddenly takes up so much time in the show.  Anyone have any ideas? 

 
Anyway, as soon as this Detective Baines is introduced, she goes to work interviewing everyone in the cast, going door-to-door to talk to everyone.  This is where Lilimae goes a bit too far in overtly blaming Gary for the death of Ciji, right in front of Baines while she’s speaking with Val.  Even though I love Lilimae and I love the way Julie Harris plays her, I confess she’s a little annoying in these eps (which is maybe the point) because of being so quick to blame Gary.  It doesn’t make a tremendous amount of sense to me, because even though we’ve seen that Gary gets angry and violent when he starts drinking, I just don’t buy the idea that he would murder somebody, and certainly not someone he liked as much as he liked Ciji.

However, Gary himself starts to believe over the course of the 48 minutes that he was, indeed, responsible.  I chewed on this for a minute and I guess I see why.  It all comes down to him being so close to her body when he woke up from his bender.  Add the fact that he was so black-out drunk he can’t remember anything and it starts to make a little bit more sense.  Gary’s life is completely unraveling at this point, and I think his confidence in himself as a human being is totally shaken.  He’s such a mess that he doesn’t even know what he’s capable of doing.  However, I also should note that I don’t think Gary ever believes he intentionally went off and murdered Ciji; he seems to think he got drunk and did something stupid like make her go swimming with him in the ocean, something like that.  This I find more possible than the idea of cold, calculated murder on the part of Gary.  I could buy that, in his drunken state, he would just make a bad choice that could result in Ciji’s death.

 
Near the ending of this episode, we have a pretty cool bit of cinematic editing in which several characters are questioned by the police down at the station.  We just sorta keep cutting from one character to the next, boom boom boom, and this helps us to understand why the cops could see so many of the characters as suspects.  For instance, Richard doesn’t exactly come off smelling like a rose, since the cops have gotten wind of his jealousy and resentment towards Laura and Ciji’s friendship.  In fact, the male cop (who I guess was the principal on Saved by the Bell, but I actually have good taste and have never watched that series) even brings up the potential lesbian affair between the two women, as well, which surprised me.  For me, this line is as bold as Richard’s double whammy of “Which one gets to be the man?” and “Which side of the bed does Ciji like?”  In this case, the principal from Saved by the Bell asks, “Didn’t you accuse your wife of having a lesbian affair with Ciji?”  I was surprised to hear them say the word ‘lesbian’ so casually, but again, I might be turning 1983 into the dark ages in a way that’s a bit exaggerated.

 
Even though I don’t think any viewer for one second really believes Ginger could have killed Ciji, we do see how she could have motive as she’s questioned by the cops.  This does a tremendous job of linking us all the way back to season three’s Possibilities and making it feel like one storyline building into another, if that makes any sense.  See, Possibilities was all about Ginger wanting to be a singer and Kenny not taking her seriously, but then it seemed like that story was sorta dropped for awhile.  We returned to it a bit with Emergency when Ginger wrote You’re the One and Kenny gave it to Ciji to sing, followed by Ginger’s big bug eyed threats to Ciji in the dressing room.  Now, when the cops ask Ginger how she felt standing onstage at Daniel and getting to sing her song in front of everybody, it helps to make what was a somewhat scattered and disparate little story feel like it is unified and has real purpose.  The idea that Ginger could, in a fit of jealousy, kill Ciji because of her getting all the attention as the best singer in town, suddenly has some weight to it.

When Gary is first questioned by Baines at The Beach House, he tells a bit of a fib.  Actually, he’s sorta stumbling over his words when Abs flies in with a quick lie to cover Gary’s ass, saying that he got drunk and she put him to bed.  However, as we near the end of the ep, Gary’s conscious gets the better of him and he goes down to the police station to tell the truth.  There’s an uncomfortable bit of business where the cop’s questions start to fly at Gary faster and, finally, when Baines asks if he killed Ciji, Gary just blurts out, “Yes,” then a hasty, “No,” and finally an, “I don’t know.”  We then cut to the cops taking Gary away, Abs asks Baines where he’s going, and Baines telling her that he’s under arrest for murder. 

 
That’s actually the final scene from the ep, but I still have a few more talking points.  I’ll start with a key bit of dialogue between Karen and Mack taking place in their bedroom, early in the ep.  It’s after Mack has gone down to the morgue and identified Ciji for the coroner (who is played by Ernie Sabella, pictured below, also known as the voice of Pumbaa from The Lion King), and now word is really starting to travel about the poor girl’s death.  In the scene, Karen says, “People like us don’t get involved in murders,” and Mack replies, “People like us do, and are.”  I thought this line was almost meta, a summation of the heightened drama occurring right before our very eyes.  Karen is basically saying that this is the sort of thing that would happen on the other nighttime soaps, but not on this one, and Mack is telling her how the show is changing, becoming more dramatic and exciting right around them, and she needs to recognize that.  It’s a clever trick the writers pull, because it manages to take this story that could seem like either a bit much or just tonally out-of-synch with the pseudo-normalcy of the early seasons, and then still keep it realistic and still keep our characters feeling like real people.  No matter how crazy storylines may get in the next ten years, there’s always this grounded quality to the proceedings because of the way the characters are written and the actors bring them to life.

 

That’s about all I have to say about Loss of Innocence.  This might be the shortest KL writeup I’ve ever written, so I should make sure and explain that this was still a good, solid little episode of KL.  This writeup is not shorter because I didn’t like the episode, but just because I don’t have as much to say about it.  After the excitement of Celebration, this one felt a little more regular, a little drier, and I will go ahead and say that, of the seven glorious episodes in a row My Beloved Grammy and I watched on our last visit (A New Family through Willing Victims), this one probably ranks last on the list just because it felt a bit limp and lifeless in spots.  However, I think a lot of that comes down to the ep having no score, for whatever reason, and I’m really doubting it originally aired on CBS in 1983 in this way, with just total silence whenever the characters are not speaking.  One day, when we get all 344 episodes released in a special edition BluRay with tons of special features and each ep is given a frame-by-frame digital restoration and 3D conversion by James Cameron, I will see if this ep actually does have music and SoapNet just removed it, but for now I have no way of knowing.

Oh yeah, and one last other thing I wrote in my notes: We (very briefly) see Knots Landing Motors for the first time since Catharsis, in a scene where Mack comes to visit Karen in her office.  I’m gonna keep my eyes open to how many more times we see this place in future eps, because once they wrapped up that Sid/mobster storyline early in the season, it seems like they almost never return to this setting, apparently because people found it drab and dull.

In conclusion, Loss of Innocence is a perfectly good episode of KL but a drop-off from the high of Celebration.  Next week the investigation into Ciji’s death continues with The Fatal Blow.

 

4 comments:

  1. I prefer to see the lack of music as a stylistic choice. Ciji is dead, and the music died with her. I also actually found it kind of refreshing? The ridiculous orchestral soundtracks were just so overdone on all of the 80s soaps. Characters couldn't even go for a shit without being accompanied by some dramatic string crescendo. Knots Landing was overall, of course, the least guilty of this, but it still absolutely did it.

    I think that's why I have such a fondness for this particular episode's score (or lack thereof!); it intentionally unnerves, as it subtly clarifies to the watcher that, after Ciji's death, nothing will ever be the same. And it wasn't.

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  2. I agree that the choice of no music is absolutely perfect. I remember the first time I watched it and the preview came on with the image of a dead Ciji lying in the morgue and then the moment where Karen says "People like us don't get involved in murders"....there was something so chilling about it. The ending too when they arrest Gary. It is something that I didn't think anyone else would notice but me.

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  3. Interesting trivia on Joanna Pettet. She had lunch at Sharon Tate's house with Sharon and another friend on the same day and place where the Manson family murdered Sharon and 4 others. But it is very true that Janet Baines comes out of nowhere, and if I remember correctly, disappears very quickly early in season 5.

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  4. Funny, I love Joanna Pettet and am sorry when she goes. First off, she's not the typical hire of actor for the police detective... stylish, smart woman instead of a crusty pot-bellied old-timer. It's in keeping with the well-developed female characters the show does well. Second, KL over the years has a nice habit of bringing in strong actors to piece together murders, as I've been recently watching Herbert Edelman in S12. And with Mack still being relatively new to the show, developing his character is still needed, and he and Pettet spar well together.

    I believe this is the episode where Ginger is being questioned and talks about how she's a singer and then insists in her typical desperate fashion, "I'm really good!" and I always expect her to say after that, "Wanna hear me? I'll get up on this table right now and sing for you!" and Baines is all, "no no, that's okay."

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