Sunday, April 24, 2016

KNOTS LANDING Episode 026 of 344: THE LOUDEST WORD


Episode Title: The Loudest Word

Season 02, Episode 13

Episode 026 of 344


Directed by Kim Friedman 

Original Airdate: Thursday, February 19th, 1981

The Plot (Courtesy of TV.Com):.                Kenny goes to see Ginger at school and implores her to get back together with him. She still refuses. Kenny shows up at her Lamaze class and they argue. Ginger feels bad, and finally tells him that both she and the baby need him. Val's doctor finds a malignant growth in her colon and needs to operate. Gary can't handle it - he feels so guilty about how he's treated Val, and totally breaks down. He calls Miss Ellie weeping, so Bobby comes to support him while Val's in the hospital. The doctor is able to remove all of the cancer.




Now this was sure a delightful surprise.  As My Beloved Grammy and I pushed “play” on The Loudest Word, I was pretty certain that we were entering into one of the all-time worst episodes of the entire run of KL.  I’m not even exaggerating; I remembered thinking this episode belonged firmly in the bottom ten of KL and maybe even the bottom five.  I just couldn’t remember a single thing I enjoyed about this particular episode.  Therefore, it was something of a thrill to find myself really thoroughly enjoying this hour of KL and finding a lot more worth talking about than I had originally expected.  It just goes to show the strange way your opinions can change over time. 

Choices obviously focused very heavily on the relationship between Gary and Val, exploring the disintegration of Gary’s affair with Judy Trent as well as Val’s troubled feelings about their entire relationship.  The next episode, A State of Mind, featured Gary only in an extremely brief cameo, barely even speaking, and Val didn’t even appear at all in that episode.  Moving on to Players, both Val and Gary appeared and we got a bit of material for both of them (the best being Val’s long speech to Karen), but they still weren’t center stage.  With The Loudest Word, these two characters are absolutely given the center of attention for the course of the entire show.  I remembered that and I expected that, but I didn’t expect them to be so interesting; that was the surprise.  See, in my memory, this was one of those episodes like Land of the Free that represented all the worst things about early (first three seasons) KL, meaning that we basically introduce a problem strictly for this one episode and then we resolve it before the episode ends, everybody is happy, and we never mention it again. That to me is not nearly as interesting as a form of storytelling when compared to the serialized nature of seasons four and onwards.  So okay, while it’s true that the crisis of this episode is resolved by the ending, that doesn’t mean it’s not interesting to watch, not at all.

I like the way we start out this episode, because it’s in a way we’ve never seen before.  Rather than starting on one of our established nine main characters, we open with strangers, just some doctors at a hospital.  This one doctor comes walking out and I immediately was like, “Hey, I know that guy.”  Turns out I do know this guy, Arthur Rosenberg (pictured below), as he appeared in one of my favorite movies, Cujo!   Here, he is playing Dr. Harper, yet I note with interest that he will return to KL very soon, in season three, episode thirteen, episode entitled Reunion.  Bizarrely, in that episode he is credited as “Dr.Gold.”  Hmm, is this supposed to be the same doctor character and they just forgot his name?  Or is he playing a new character?  Remind me to note this when I reach Reunion in the third season.  Anyway, this doctor comes walking out, he plops a medical file on a table and is like, “This is really important, Bob Loblaw,” and then the camera pans down to show that this is Valene Ewing’s file.  Because of the tone of the music, which is scary, and the way the scene is filmed, which is rather unsettling, we are off to an interesting start with The Loudest Word.  We are able to figure out that something is wrong with Val, but we’ll have to wait to find out what.

We don’t have to wait long, however, as we almost immediately find out that Val has a malignant cancerous tumor and will require surgery.  Val handles this news like a real trooper, being strong and confident for the sake of Gary, who is, um, not strong and not confident.  Remember when I said how I tend to think of Gary as he is at the end of the series?  When I think of him, I tend to go right to seasons eleven/twelve/thirteen/fourteen Gary, a Gary who is older, wiser, more self actualized and more mature, and definitely able to conquer hard dilemmas well.  Therefore, it’s very strange and surprising to return to these early eps and see what a big fat baby Gary really is at this stage.  After all, Val is the one who has to go to the hospital and get the surgery, and she’s able to take it all in stride, but Gary is just a mess for most of this show. 

Not only is he a mess, but he’s a hard character to like right now.  Certainly, while watching Breach of Faith, when Gary and Trudy finally planted that big wet kiss on each other, My Beloved Grammy boldly declared, “I don’t like Gary anymore.”  Now, I’m fairly certain she will change her mind as we get deeper and as Gary grows and evolves, but right now I totally see her point.  Over the course of the last 25 episodes, we have watched Gary go on a crazy epic bender and nearly ruin his entire life.  Once he got past that little obstacle, he got involved with The Other Paul Rudd as his A.A. sponsor but then almost immediately cheated on Val with The Other Paul Rudd’s wife, which is just bad etiquette if you’re supposed to be a sponsor.  So he carried on this affair for a little while and it only just recently ended, and now when he’s faced with a health crisis for Val, he positively flips.  During the course of this episode, My Beloved Grammy also declared, “Gary is just a very weak man,” and she’s not wrong, Gary is a very weak man at this point, but the joy is in watching him grow and evolve over fourteen years.

Okay, so Val checks into the hospital for her surgery, and the Seaview Circle ladies all show up (including Abby, who is still friends with Val at this point) to give her gifts and support.  We have a, um, well, a scene between Karen and Val that is probably supposed to be touching but fails.  It’s after all the ladies leave, and then Karen pokes her head back into the room to say, “I love you,” which is very lovely, but then we get a classic J.V.A. HORROR face, where she opens her mouth all wide and looks terrified.  Obviously she’s supposed to be fighting back tears, but I confess the effect of her acting is rather funny, not moving. 

The real piece-de-resistance of this episode occurs in a fabulously long and exciting (not to mention completely unbroken) bit of action wherein Gary completely trashes his and Val’s bedroom.  Seriously, this is a great scene and I think they even squeeze a clip from it into the classic scrolling squares opening sequence during season three.  See, we start out on Gary’s face as he stands quietly in the middle of the bedroom, but then without any warning he just starts to go to town on everything; he breaks lamps, he sweeps shit off of tables, I think he flings a giant dresser across the room, and then he sorta flings his bed up and out of its frame.  It’s almost like he’s on P.C.P. or something and has found some super strength; I’m curious to learn how Shack got himself into the mode for this scene or if he required any stimulation like lots of espresso (or coke, perhaps; hell, this is 1981) to achieve this effect.  In any case, it’s a glorious little scene, and the fact that they don’t cut around it is very impressive, allowing Gary to just completely trash his room in one big unbroken scene.

Just when you think there couldn’t possibly be more testosterone seething in the air, we get a fabulous sequence of Sid breaking down the door to Gary’s house.  See, he can hear Gary’s freakout upstairs all the way out on the street, and when Gary refuses to answer the door, Sid acts like a total badass and just jump-kicks the door right open, busting it out of its frame.   It’s such a cool, sexy, manly moment and is one of my favorite Sid moments from his short yet sweet time on the series. 

Oh yeah, and before Sid reaches Gary’s bedroom, we have a quick scene of Gary lying on the floor, looking like he’s on another massive bender, and calling home to Southfork.  Now, we don’t actually see who he’s talking to, but we gather that it’s Miss Ellie cuz he keeps saying, “Mama,” like a little baby.  Of course, Miss Ellie doesn’t actually appear in this episode (or any episode of KL, for that matter), presumably because Barbara Bel Geddes didn’t wanna waddle her old ass over to a different set, even for a small appearance, but this scene does nicely set up a lovely crossover for later in the episode.

Sid and Karen both find Gary lying on the floor of his bedroom, looking like a wreck.  He helpfully explains the title of this episode when he tells them that, when the doctor said the word “malignant,” it was “The loudest word I ever heard.”  Based on the gist of his speech, we definitely get the feeling that he’s dealing with some serious guilt.  I imagine he’s thinking of what his life would be like if Val died, and also regretting some of his recent decisions.  If Val died, he would have to live with the fact that he was repeatedly cheating on her in the last few months of her life, and that’s probably a hard thing to deal with.  You see, it’s shit like this that I didn’t remember about this episode.  I thought that this would just be another lame one-off episode that did nothing to further advance the story, but I’m really interested to see all this character stuff going on with Gary, and how his guilt is manifested by Val’s health problems. 

When we cut back to Val in her hospital room, lying in bed, we are then treated to our sixth out of what will be nine crossovers from Dallas to KL.  This time it’s Patrick Duffy, who hasn’t been seen on KL since he dropped Gary and Val off at their new house back in Pilot. I gotta say it was lovely to see him, and again this was something I’d forgotten.  I remembered Duffy’s little appearance here being extremely short and forgettable.  Well, it’s true that it’s pretty short, but I’m gonna redact my “forgettable” comment, because I actually think this might be one of the most organic crossovers out of all nine that KL ever did.  Sure, it would be more organic if Charlene Tilton showed up as Lucy Ewing, but we’ve already discussed (back in Home is For Healing) how that will never happen and how much that continues to irk me.  In any case, the writers do cover their asses because Bobby says how he “didn’t tell Lucy what was going on,” and Val says that’s a good thing.  Sometimes the crossovers feel somewhat tacky (Kristin, once again), but this one feels very natural.  Believing that Dallas and KL exist in the same universe, of course someone from Gary’s family would come out to California if his wife was having a health crisis, and it’s definitely better that it be Bobby rather than J.R.

In addition to forgetting how organic Patrick Duffy’s little cameo here is, I also forgot what a fucking badass Bobby is within the confines of this episode.  I found myself trying to remember exactly what was going on with him over on Dallas this season, because he just goes to town on Gary, really chewing him out for being a coward, for being weak, for not having the Ewing touch.  Was Bobby still attempting to run Ewing Oil single handedly over on Dallas at this point?  I remember that during our last Brief Dallas Interlude (End of the Road: Part Two), we had a lot of scenes of Bobby working in the Ewing Oil offices, but I can’t remember if he was doing it singlehandedly still or whether J.R. was back in the offices, too.  In any case, I could argue that Bobby is stressed from whatever shenanigans are going on over in his world (I think Pam might have also been about to have an affair at this point in the season, too), so that’s why he’s so harsh with Gary.  I mean, come on, at one point he says, “You don’t have any kind of courage at all and your ass looks fat,” which is going beyond harsh and turning into something just plain mean….but I kinda like it.

Or maybe he’s just harsh because Gary needs someone to be harsh.  He’s still acting like a bit of a groveling baby, and when he hears that Val might survive but have to be put on a colostomy, he just sinks lower.  There’s a pretty powerful scene where Bobby grabs Gary and shoves him against the wall and says, “You mean you’d rather your wife die than be put on colostomy?!”  Yup, it’s a real shameful moment for Gary.  Oh yeah, and one last little note, but Bobby mentions, “Something like this happened to Mama awhile back,” maintaining a lovely flow of continuity from show to show as Miss Ellie did, indeed, suffer from cancer during the third season of Dallas (although unfortunately she did not die). 

When Val goes in for her surgery, Gary disappears for awhile, and so Sid naturally starts to check all the nearest bars, and he immediately finds Gary hiding out in the bar closest to the hospital.  This is a good little scene that brought back flashbacks to both parts of the Bottom of the Bottle saga, as Sid finds Gary in this dark, depressing, scary-ass bar holding a drink in his hand.  Of course we all assume that Gary is falling off the wagon, that he’s returning for a lot of the hair of that dog that keeps biting him, so we all breathe a sigh of relief when the bartender comes up to him and says, “Another ginger ale?”  That’s right, friends and neighbors, Gary is just drinking ginger ale, not hard liquor.  He only hauled up in this bar because he needed to get away from the hospital for awhile and this was the closest place.  Whether an alcoholic of Gary’s caliber should be hanging out in a bar at all is up for debate, but if we take the Gary we met back in the two part Dallas episodes Reunion (the David Ackroyd Gary, as I’m sure you’ll remember) as canon, we’ll remember that Gary has already worked as a bartender for some time and that having the liquor laid out in front of him eliminates the threat of it; it makes it a non-scary thing for him. 

I also love Don Murray in this scene as he perfectly plays all the levels of the character.  See, at first he walks in and is very firm, saying, “Gary, you don’t need to do this; you got a good wife and a good job and a good life and Bob Loblaw.”  He is very direct and very authoritative in that special Sid way, but when he finds out Gary is just nursing ginger ale, the relief on his face is palpable and then the tone in his voice changes to something much friendlier; I think he even gives Gary a hug.  It’s some very realistic acting from both gentlemen, if I do say so myself.

This episode also has little bursts of cinematic technique that I had completely forgotten about.  The best example comes when Gary is heading into the hospital to see if Val made it through surgery okay.  Rather than just shooting Gary walking or running or whatever, it’s all presented in this frantic P.O.V. tracking shot that goes down the whole hospital corridor, very Halloween II, and very cool to look at.  Hats off to director Kim Friedman (who will contribute a total of eight episodes to the series, ending with And Teddy Makes Three from 1983) for making what could be a very bland scene into something exciting.  When Gary reaches the room, we discover that the surgery was a success and that Val is now officially cancer-free.  Finally, the episode culminates with Gary at Val’s bedside, in a scene that’s lit with, like, rays of sunlight or something.  The final image of this episode looks like it could be framed and put up on the wall, as the light shines through over Gary and Val to give it an almost religious look.  Overall, a rather cool way to go out.

Clearly this episode is all about Gary and Val’s relationship, but I’ll take a moment to note a few things we get from the other characters and their stories.  For instance, my favorite two characters, the Wards, seem to be officially back together, or at least that’s the perception I got from this episode.  I think they sleep together or something (I have forgotten, as I almost always tend to forget most Kenny/Ginger sequences) and then Ginger says something like, “We need you,” referring to herself and the baby.  Based on this, I believe her and Kenny are back together, much to the frenzied interest of absolutely nobody in the viewing audience in 1981.

Richard and Laura also have a nice little moment early in the episode, a moment in which Richard delivers the hilarious line, in reference to Karen’s reaction to Val’s tumor, that “Karen’s probably already got her dead and buried.”  Ouch!  Only The Plesh could deliver this line in such a way that it’s both so funny and so deadpan, and then he immediately is able to be rather quiet and tender a second later when he speaks to Laura.  Just give this man his Emmy, please, I’m begging you, give him his Emmy before it’s too late!

It’s definitely worth noting that a storyline like this would be handled very differently if it was done just a few seasons later, even as early as season four.  If Val having a cancerous tumor was a storyline in, say, season seven, I imagine it would span half that season (meaning at least fifteen episodes) and it would probably branch off into a bunch of other storylines that would affect all the characters on the show.  However, at this early juncture, this is still the kind of storyline that they’ll bring up for one episode and then wrap up, and I still don’t love that.  I love serialized storytelling and I love to see stories go on and on, growing and evolving over time.  However, one must simply accept that this style of episode is much more prevalent in the first three seasons; we’ve still got quite a few episodes in our future that are fairly self-contained and wrap up at the end of the 48 minutes and are never mentioned again.  I will definitely have some problems with many of these eps (we have one coming up very shortly called Man of the Hour), but I’m glad to say I don’t have a problem with The Loudest Word.  This has been the most surprising KL episode to revisit simply because I remembered it being rather worthless and instead found lots to enjoy in it.  Now, make no mistake, this is not a ten out of ten or anything like that, but it was a solid and entertaining episode that had many things going for it, with Patrick Duffy’s appearance, surprisingly, being a highlight.  It's also a credit to the KL writing team and the general tone of the show that Bobby manages to be far more interesting in this ten minute guest appearance than he ever was in over 300 episodes of Dallas.  Bobby was often so boringly heroic on that series, but here the character is presented with more of an edge, a little faster to call people out on their bullshit.

Onward to, oh how interesting, yet another completely self-contained episode, it’s season two, episode fourteen, episode entitled Moments of Truth.

Sunday, April 17, 2016

KNOTS LANDING Episode 025 of 344: PLAYERS


Episode Title: Players

Season 02, Episode 12

Episode 025 of 344


Directed by Jeff Bleckner

Original Airdate: Thursday, February 12th, 1981

The Plot (Courtesy of TV.Com):.                Richard gets a job with Kippler, Janson, and Stern. He apologizes to Laura for how he's been treating her, but secretly is upset that she earns more than he does. Ginger finally tells Kenny that she's pregnant, but that they need to work out their problems before he can move back in. Karen is upset that Linda is in love with Sid, and is scared that they might be having an affair. Sid and Linda take a test drive and the car breaks down on a deserted desert road. Linda tells Sid she loves him. They kiss, but he says he can't have an affair with her. Sid tells Karen he didn't have an affair with Linda, but jokes that if he had he wouldn't tell her, because he hates to 'brag.' Karen is not amused.

 

                Last week it was all about Abby with A State of Mind, but this week it’s all about her big brother Sid Fairgate, as his marital vows are once again severely tested, stretched to their limits, perhaps.  This may have a familiar ring to it, and the reason is because we saw something rather similar back in season one with Civil Wives, when Sid’s ex-wife came to town and started stirring up trouble.  However, just because we’ve seen similar territory covered before does not mean it’s not worth exploring again; after all, it was Roger Ebert who said “A movie [or, in this case, a show] is not about what it’s about; it’s about how it’s about it.” 

                Last week we encountered an episode I didn’t really remember at all, but with this episode, I remembered it but I didn’t remember what the title was or where it fell in the course of the season.  In fact, I thought we were getting this episode a few shows back in Choices, when Linda invited Sid out to some sort of auto event (a car race?).  But no, that wasn’t Choices; it’s this episode, so let’s dive right in and explore.

                We open on Sid and Linda at Knots Landing Motors, working, I think, on Sid’s engine.  Have I mentioned Sid’s engine yet?  I really should have because it’s been a little plot thread weaving throughout most of the season, and we could see J.R. taking an interest in it back in A Family Matter.  In fact, I can’t completely remember, but I think Sid’s sexy environmental engine might even be the impetus for his evacuation from the series at the conclusion of season two/start of season three.  In any case, Sid’s been working real hard on this engine so that he can get, like, a hundred miles to the gallon or something; he wants to help the world and the environment by reducing his carbon footprint (a phrase that probably hadn’t even been thought up when this episode first aired).  This is his passion project but, as we see, it’s hard for Karen to muster up the same enthusiasm for this engine that, say, Linda can.  Because of this, we can see that Sid and Linda are, in fact, forming a bit of a bond, a bond that reaches beyond an employer and his employee.  Certainly they are starting to interact like good friends, but lovers?  I guess we’ll have to watch to find out.

                We see a little of Karen’s jealousy right off the bat.  This is perfectly understandable, as she finds Linda and Sid together chatting it up like two old buddies and drooling over Sid’s engine.  However, much as she did in Civil Wives, Karen chooses to hide her jealousy by being really nice and friendly, so she immediately invites Linda over for dinner with the family that night.  I think she’s plotting just a smidge here, by the way.   Make no mistake, it’s not an Abby Fairgate Cunningham Ewing Sumner level of plotting, but she’s plotting, nonetheless, plotting to have Linda over and say, “Look at my beautiful house and my beautiful husband and my beautiful children,” to subtly (or not so subtly) remind Linda that Sid is a married man with three children (or technically four children if we count Annie from Pilot, whom we sure haven’t heard from in a long time).  Since Abs is a sharp cookie, she sees what’s going on and is happy to tease Karen about it.  First she teases her by saying that Linda is in love with Sid, then she starts to tease her for inviting her over to the house, saying how she positively can’t believe Karen would do a thing like that.  After seeing Karen dish it out to Abs in A State of Mind, it’s kinda fun to watch the tables being subtly turned.

                When we get to this Fairgate family dinner, it’s a positively lovely affair, but I do take issue with one aspect of it: The second completely made-up and invented character in the same number of weeks.  Seriously, what is this?  When Linda comes into the house, she is immediately introduced to Paul Fairgate, who we are told is Sid and Abby’s nephew.  I immediately wrote in my notes, “Who the hell is this guy?”  The answer is: Nobody.  He was invented, just like Laura’s little real estate friend from last week, simply to serve a small plot purpose in this one episode.  According to TV.com, this character is never seen nor mentioned again, and I can believe it, because I had no recollection of him at all.  In any case, I’ll still be nice and take a moment to note that Paul Fairgate, amazingly unforgettable character who is so vital to all fourteen seasons of KL, is played by Kale Browne and he is, get ready for this, yet another Transmorpher.  It appears that, prior to this amazing Emmy winning performance on KL, he appeared in two Dallas episodes.  In Jock’s Trial: Part Two, he is credited as “Reporter #2” and in A House Divided he is “KKGB Reporter.”  Hmmm, could very well be the same character, just credited differently, no?  In any case, aside from those two Dallas eps, it looks like the guy is still working but he’s got no credits that I immediately recognize, aside from a lot of guest spots on TV.

                In any case, who cares?  This character sucks.  He is only in this episode and his only function is to make the dinner party more uncomfortable for Linda, as Karen basically shoves Paul Fairgate’s cock into Linda’s mouth and is like, “This is Paul; you’ll love him!”  Honestly, Karen’s not at her most subtle this week, as this little attempt to keep Linda away from her husband is painfully obvious to anyone in the vicinity.  Obviously the plan doesn’t work, as Paul Fairgate is super boring and has none of Sid’s charisma.  Linda hangs out for awhile and makes polite chit chat with him, but then she runs off awkwardly into the night.

                The plot thickens the next day, as Sid has to cancel a lunch date with Karen because he is too busy, just booked solid down at Knots Landing Motors.  The only problem is that, despite being booked solid, he still manages to find enough time to take Linda out to an arcade in the middle of the afternoon for fun and shenanigans.  I can’t completely remember how all this comes about; I think an appointment of Sid’s cancels or something, clearing up his time, but this is bad news, as he should have called his wife and told her he had the time, now.  Instead, Karen pops in unexpectedly for a little coffee break, only to be told that Sid is out with Linda, doing whatever it is he’s doing.

                I wanna talk about a subtle little detail that I loved in this scene.  When Karen goes to Knots Landing Motors to look for Sid, we see that Gary and Abs are enjoying a coffee break together.  Karen goes up to them and gets the necessary information to keep the plot moving forward.  It is from Abs and Gary that she finds out that Sid is not around, that he ran off with Linda.  The reason I point this out is because this episode is pretty strictly about Karen and Sid’s relationship, but that doesn’t mean we can’t see things going on within the confines of the episode that relate to the other characters.  Abs and Gary are not going to consummate their affair until well into the third season (I think well into the second half of that season), but right here and now we are getting hints that their relationship is heating up, all based on the way they are standing together and enjoying their coffee when Karen enters.  To a person who is just watching this one particular ep and not really focusing on the over-arching storyline, you might not even notice how cozy Abs and Gary look, but it’s there and it shows foresight on the parts of the writers.  After all, Karen could have just walked in and talked to only one of those characters and still received the same information, but by presenting it in this way, we are able to deduce more than is spoken onscreen.

                Now, even though this is a Sid/Karen focused episode, that does not mean the other characters don’t get moments to shine.  Probably the most significant other storyline in Players is the miraculous character rehabilitation of Richard Avery.  This I did not recall at all, in fact, but after being dumped by Abby in last week’s show, it looks like Richard is ready to get serious, to straighten up and fly right and be a better husband to Laura.  This is exemplified pretty much right off the bat.  Richard comes home and announces he got a new job (remember he’s been out of work for a span of eight episodes, starting back in Chance of a Lifetime) with some law firm, and then he sits down with Laura and gives an actually rather lovely speech about what a bad husband he’s been.  Now this is classic Richard, and is the main reason why he’s very likely my favorite male character in all fourteen years of the series.  He is a truly complex and fully-fledged character who can be equally vile or kind depending on the situation and his own reactions to it.  Watching with My Beloved Grammy, I should note that she really dislikes the Richard character; she thinks he’s just a plain old 100% jerk.  But it’s moments like these (and one coming up in the start of season three, The Vigil, that I just adore) that show him to be far richer than all that.  His apology to Laura feels very genuine, not at all like a guy who is begging his wife for forgiveness after repeatedly cheating on her.  This speech has more the tone of a person who is truly remorseful and who truly means it when he says he wants to change.  Laura forgives him, keeping nicely in line with her own speech from A State of Mind, and I do think we have a temporary bliss in their relationship.  The question, of course, is how long can this bliss truly last for?  In my head, it’s all a big blur, but I’m almost positive I remember Richard and Laura divorcing in either the third or fourth season of the show, but I guess I’ll just have to keep watching to find out exactly what happens.

                I guess to just write off their current relationship as “temporary bliss” is not entirely accurate, as there are already storm clouds on the horizon.  See, Richard is going to be making about $35,000.00 per year in his new job, which is a start, but he’s not over the moon about it.  Shortly afterwards, Laura closes a really big deal on some sexy expensive house, and her commission for it comes to, you guessed it, $36,000.00, more than Richard will be making in an entire year at his new job.  Should Laura tell him about her fabulous success and risk a neurotic explosion?  I’m not so sure, but she does tell him, even buys him a nice, expensive briefcase.  She gives a little speech about how they will share success together; her success will be his success and vice versa, and Richard smiles and nods, but when she walks out of the room, we get a lingering shot of Richard staring at his briefcase and looking rather troubled about it.  After all, it is 1981 and he is the man and we’ve seen that Richard can have old fashioned scruples; his wife making more money in one day than he’s going to make in an entire year is definitely eating at his self-confidence even as he holds the beautiful briefcase. 

                Remember how weird it felt last week to have J.V.A. sitting out an entire episode?  Well, she’s back in this one and, even though she doesn’t really get a major storyline, it’s still good to see her.  I’m sure I would have rather seen her interact with pretty much any other character besides Ginger, but beggars can’t be choosers.  Now, these two hardly take up a lot of the episode’s time, as all we get is a quick little scene  of Val and Ginger in a doctor’s office.  I think this is put in here to set up next week’s show, The Loudest Word, in which Val spends the majority of the ep in a hospital.  In any case, I think she’s having an appointment right now that will lead us nicely into our next show, but I could be misreading this.  The only thing we really learn from this scene is that Ginger is, of course, still pregnant and that she hasn’t told Kenny yet.  Okay, that’s helpful information, but I still don’t really care.  I appreciate that the writers are giving Kenny and Ginger something to do, but they are absolutely still dead last on my list of KL characters, not just for this particular era of the series but for all fourteen years.  No matter what the writers give them, it seems that the inherent blandness of James Houghton and Kim Lankford simply prevents any storyline from being interesting.

                Oh yeah, and then we reach a rather splendid dovetailing of two separate storylines.  I love when the writers can do this (and I note with interest that this is the only episode written by Susan Misty Steward, although she did write for plenty of episodes of the animated Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles series!).  See, Karen is a little concerned that Sid may have an affair, so it’s at this moment that Val chooses to announce that Gary had an affair with Judy Trent.  Okay, so that affair is dead and gone since Choices (two episodes ago, to be fair, so not that long), but it’s nice that it can be mentioned here not just as a “Oh, this happened to me” thing, but as a way to connect Val and Karen, to link their two storylines together; it both reminds us of past events while also being pertinent to the current situation.  Another thing, this scene is both dramatic and funny.  I keep saying how seasons eight through twelve are the most humorous years, and they are, sure, but I forgot how much humor and wit is in these early episodes, as well.  See, Val gives a tremendous speech about Gary’s infidelity and how it made her feel and Bob Loblaw.  Things are getting nice and dramatic, heating up good, and then Karen puts a great button on the scene by getting this really flat and emotionless expression on her face and declaring, “Let’s go get a pizza.”  Genius, simply genius.

                Through a series of events, Sid winds up at Knots Landing Motors late at night and finds Linda there, as well, burning the midnight oils.  The two talk a bit and then decide to try out the new miracle engine and take the car out for a night drive.  Things are going along well, they are testing that engine out real good and nice, exceeding the speed limit by a wide margin, when suddenly the car breaks down unexpectedly!  So of course Sid and Linda are now stranded out in the middle of nowhere at night in the cold.  Before we go to our last commercial break, we finally have Linda confessing her love to Sid.  Oh boy, is this scene uncomfortable.  Maybe it’s just something about that word “love” that frightens me, I dunno, but I kinda expected Linda to say, “I’m attracted to you,” or “I want to sleep with you,” or something like that, but what’s with this “love” nonsense?  Ick! 

                Now, let’s take a pause here to explore whether or not we actually believe Sid will have an affair. I will go ahead and say I do not.  At no point do I believe Sid will go through with sleeping with Linda; it’s just not in his character.  He is a man of decency, of morals, of scruples.  He always tries to do the moral thing and he simply would never hurt Karen that way.  That’s my belief, and it’s also my belief that Sid is so wonderfully naïve in many ways that he was probably completely oblivious to Linda’s feelings for him.  In fact, I’d even venture to say that Sid almost sees Linda as “One of the guys.”  The two of them can hang out together and talk about engines and cars, stuff Karen has no interest in.  I don’t think Sid has been doing anything duplicitous all this time with Linda; I think he really is just very naïve and honestly thought she was just his friend who happened to be a lady.  When she confesses her, um, "love" to him, I think he’s surprised; I honestly think that for him, this is coming completely out of nowhere.

                So, even though I say I never believe Sid will cheat on Karen, that doesn’t mean I am not invested in watching it.  I don’t think this situation is supposed to be suspenseful the way that a potential adulterous romance might be handled on one of the other nighttime soaps; I think this is more of a character study.  This is just setting up a situation for Sid and then exploring the way he deals with it.  This is probably why I inherently love KL more than all of its contemporaries; the writers wrote in a way that made sense for the characters; they didn’t sacrifice character integrity for the sake of a little good, soapy drama. 

                Linda gives a long speech about how she’ll be leaving in one week, going back to college or something.  She and Sid can have sex tonight and then she’ll disappear and never see him again and this will just be their secret to take to the grave.  At this point, a truck emerges in the distance, a truck that represents CHOICES!  I love how this is cut, by the way, because that truck is getting closer, and Sid is gonna flag it down, but Linda wants him to let it pass, and then the truck comes all the way up to the camera, and its headlights fill the screen completely, and then we cut directly from the lights to Karen sitting up in bed.  We don’t get to see what happened, but we cut in a way that is very dynamic and very stimulating. 

                This leads to our final scene of the ep, which is Sid coming home to an irate Karen.  He slips into the bathroom for a shower, which of course bothers Karen, who asks why he needs to take a shower right now.  Sid is calm and explains that he’s been out in the desert, he’s sweaty, he’s tired, he needs a shower.  Karen asks him if he slept with Linda and he tells her no.  I love classic calm Sid, able to deal with these questions with skill.  He’s so wonderfully relaxed as he explains to Karen exactly what happened and that no adultery took place.  At the same time, there’s an ominous tone to this episode ending, because Karen asks if he would tell her had he in fact gone through with it, and Sid smiles and says “No.”  Then we actually go out on the image of Karen’s troubled face, which is rather strange and unsettling, honestly.

                Okay, so I keep mentioning this and whenever I mention it I warn about spoilers, but it bears repeating: THERE WILL BE SPOILERS RIGHT HERE!  Anyway, we only have eight more episodes with Saint Sid.  He will be making his final appearance on the series in episode two of season three.  Knowing that he’s not long for the series, it’s making me really want to soak up as much of him as I can; I find myself focusing heavily on every scene he’s in, because I know our time is short.  At the same time, I find myself wondering about a different world where he didn’t leave the show or perhaps doesn’t leave until much later in the run.  Was this ending actually trying to plant some seeds that had no time to grow since Don Murray left the show?  Like I said, this is an ominous ending; there’s something almost creepy in the tone of the ending, like perhaps the writers were planning to give an affair to Sid, but not just yet.  I wonder if they were planning something for further into the future and if that something got derailed when Don Murray decided to quit.  Perhaps I’ll never know…END OF SPOILERS HERE

                As we get deeper into the series, I am going to start taking issue with so many storylines being focused on Karen’s husband maybe having an affair.  See, and here come some more future storyline spoilers, but Karen does eventually get remarried to the lovely Mack MacKenzie, played beautifully by Kevin Dobson, and the two stay married for the majority of the series (about ten years, I do believe).  Now, it seems like the writers can’t get enough of testing Mack’s faithfulness to Karen; I remember thinking that it seemed like every season they’d bust out some new hoe to tempt Mack into bed.  By the third or fourth time that storyline came up with him, I was starting to lose my patience.  The reason I mention that is because it’s being done here not even for the first time, but the second.  We’ve already had Civil Wives, and now this episode, and then I think we really do get four “Will Mack cheat on Karen?” storylines in the upcoming middle-to-later seasons of the series.  While it starts to feel old for me during that juncture of the series, it is still fresh here, at least for me.  I only mention this because it seems the writers must have really liked this moral quandary, as they kept returning to it time and time again.

                So what of Players?  Good episode?  Bad episode?  Middle of the road?  I’m gonna go ahead and declare this a good one, though not a great one.  This is no Let Me Count the Ways or Chance of a Lifetime or Breach of Faith or Choices, but it’s definitely a solid hour of entertainment and, of course, easily usurps those bottom dwellers like Land of the Free or Kristin.  I enjoy watching a simple story of a man’s marriage being tempted and seeing how he reacts to it, and as usual the acting is stellar from pretty much all involved.  In addition, I appreciated that this episode kept other storylines moving, or at least reminded us of their existence, even while focusing rather heavily on Sid. 

                Next week we get not only a heavily Val-centric episode but also our sixth crossover from parent series Dallas, with A Very Special Appearance by Patrick Duffy as Bobby Ewing.  Stay tuned for my write-up on The Loudest Word, coming at you soon.

Sunday, April 10, 2016

KNOTS LANDING Episode 024 of 344: A STATE OF MIND


Episode Title: A State of Mind

Season 02, Episode 11

Episode 024 of 344

Written by Rob Gilmer

Directed by Alexander Singer

Original Airdate: Thursday, February 5th, 1981

The Plot (Courtesy of TV.Com):.                Jeff Cunningham is mad that Abby is having an affair with a married man (Richard) in front of the kids. Sid hears Karen talking with Jeff, and tells her not to discuss Abby with him. Karen says that Sid is blind to Abby, but he defends her and they argue. Jeff files for custody of the kids. He and Abby talk, and he admits he wants her back. Abby sleeps with him so he'll drop the case, and then tells him that it was a one-time thing. Jeff is angry and says she's not playing 'fair' with him. One of Laura's clients kisses her, but she says she can't cheat on Richard. Abby tells Richard that it's over between them.

 

                Much like many episodes from the earliest seasons of the series, I started A State of Mind with no recollection of what occurred in this episode.  As we powered through it, I came to remember which episode this was and what goes down in it, and I found myself really appreciating lots of different aspects about it, specifically how smoothly it concludes certain stories while at the same time deftly setting up new storylines for the future, storylines that won’t be paying off for several episodes, really.  Let’s dive right in.

                Abby Fairgate Cunningham Ewing Sumner (or, at this point, just Abby Fairgate Cunningham) has now appeared in ten episodes of the series, but she’s still the new kid on the block, being the most recent addition to the cast at the start of season two.  Abby will obviously be on the series until the end of season ten in 1989 and be a tremendously important player in the show’s legacy, often cited as the most popular and iconic character of the entire series' run, but at this point I don’t think she has been completely established; she’s been around, she’s been up to shenanigans, but I do believe A State of Mind is our first episode to really take a good long hard look at Abs.

                We begin the episode with Abs and Richard enjoying a typical morning/afternoon together. Oh no, wait, we obviously literally begin the episode with the classic theme song and the cul-de-sac opening title sequence.  I’m trying to soak in as much of this opening as I can (we never skip the opening, no matter what, and I don’t even start playing it and then go to pee or something; I sit and watch the whole thing), since we’re not going to be seeing it again after season two ends.  Season three starts and we get the unveiling of the classic scrolling squares (best version of the opening, obviously), so I’ll kinda miss this first set of opening credits. 

                But that’s not the point I wanted to make.  I wanted to note that the season two DVDs (as of this writing, this is the last season to be officially released on DVD by WB) do not include the little thirty second previews for the upcoming episodes.  Is this good or bad?  I dunno.  On one hand, I’m a nerdy completist purist who wants the show preserved as it originally aired; but on the other hand, I kinda like just jumping into the episode not knowing what lies ahead in the upcoming 48 minutes; it adds a feeling of mystery and surprise to proceedings.  With season three, we’ll be back to the thirty second previews, and then at some point I believe they switch to the “Previously on…” style, but anyway, as we go through season two, when you push play on an episode, it goes straight to those opening credits.

                So Richard and Abs are doing what they’ve been doing for the last five or six episodes: Drinking in the middle of the day while lounging around the pool and having a torrid affair.  Actually, I should make it clear that Richard is the one drinking; his descent into an alcoholism that nobody seems to notice is continuing as we begin this episode, for he is enjoying his five hundredth screwdriver of the morning. 

                Then we cut to Olivia and Brian being driven home by Jeff Cunningham.  Now, this is the first appearance of Jeff Cunningham, Abby’s angry ex-husband, and he is played by Transmorpher Barry Jenner.  This is probably one of our most significant Transmorphers as he appeared in multiple episodes of both series, not just one or two like many of our Transmorphers.  He plays Jeff Cunningham on KL in four episodes, all in 1981, and then he is in 25 episodes of Dallas as Dr. Jerry Kenderson, spanning from 1984 to 1986.  I remember he had a significant role in the famous dream season (1985-1986) of that series, in which he served as Sue Ellen’s romantic interest for a little while.

                Anyway, Abs and Richard have been making pretty much zero effort to hide their affair from anyone, so of course when Jeff shows up, the two are lounging around in their suits, looking like two people who just committed adultery.  Jeff gets mad and start to raid the kitchen cabinets, convinced he will find dangerous chemicals under the sink.  When he does find many chemicals, he uses this as a reason why Abby is an unfit mother.  The two have a little argument and then he storms over to the Fairgate house.

                This little scene really encapsulates the sense of community in the early years of this series, a sense that I feel may disappear as we get into the middle-to-later seasons of the series, because when Jeff knocks on the Fairgate door, they immediately invite him in for a drink and have a nice talk with him.  You get a sense of history, even though we’ve never seen Jeff before this episode; we feel that Karen and Sid really do have a prior history with him and really do like him, perhaps even more than they like Abby.  This scene is also significant because Karen somewhat lets it slip that Abby is having an affair with Richard.  She doesn’t entirely mean to do it; it just kinda slips out, but it provides an impetus for Jeff that propels the rest of this episode.

                From here, we cut to a B storyline for the episode, this one involving Laura at the real estate office.  She is talking with Scooter and the two seem to be having just a great day; things are just going their way at the office, today.  Then, we introduce a character that I confess to having a bit of a problem with, David Souther, played by Sam Weisman.  It’s interesting to note that Sam Weisman (pictured below) is, in real life, Constance McCashin’s real life husband, and the two have been married since 1978 and are, in fact, still married, so good for them.  Unfortunately, that’s really just a small bit of trivia that is of only minor interest to this episode and this character.  I have a real problem with how this guy just sorta comes out of nowhere.  Who is this person?  We haven’t seen him in one episode before this and we won’t see him in one episode after this; he exists entirely within the confines of this episode and is never seen nor heard from again.  At the same time, we are told that Laura has been working on some big real estate deal with him this whole time, that they’ve had some significant relationship or something, I dunno.  This is the first time we’ve seen him and yet we’re told that he’s been around for awhile.  I’ll accept that Laura probably does a lot at work that we don’t see, but I still don’t care for the way we meet this character and are told about his existence.

                What’s much more interesting for me is whenever Laura is onscreen with Richard, and I particularly like a scene with them early in the episode where Richard is trying to make himself a sandwich and not succeeding.  Laura volunteers to make the sandwich for him, at which point Richard gets very defensive and says, “I can make my own sandwiches,” and also goes on a long speech about how Laura is speaking to him in a condescending tone lately and that he is perfectly capable of making his own sandwiches.  It’s a good little scene which is, as always, played swimmingly by the two actors and perfectly encapsulates the friction in their relationship at this point.  Watching right now, pretending I’m a new viewer, I cannot predict whether their relationship is about to completely crumble and dissolve or whether it may soon get back on track.  Honestly, I’d be putting my bets on a swift divorce right now just from how Richard has been carrying on with Abs and treating Laura with such disrespect.

                I feel like most of the couples on the cul-de-sac are still perfectly fine with Abby.  She seems nice and everyone seems to like her; she hasn’t had time to really reveal her true colors yet.  However, Karen is the one person perceptive enough to notice what’s really going on and she’s the only person bold enough to vocalize it, which she does to Sid.  She says how Sid gives Abs too much of a break because she’s his sister, that he’s ignoring the affair going on right in front of them, and in front of the kids, as well, and then she provides a great hint for the future when she says, “And something is going on between her and Gary, I don’t know what, but something.”  We’re gonna have to wait, I think, a solid year to see any payoff in the sexual tension between Abs and Gary, but the writers are warming up to it, setting up those dominoes to fall.

                The main gist of the episode is that Abs gets served by Jeff for custody of the kids and has to figure out what to do about it.  Donna Mills gets some fabulous acting when she is served the notice; first she plays it with surprise and then some anger and then, when she runs over to Karen and Sid’s house to seek Sid’s advice, she does some great crying.  This is very realistic crying, too; she doesn’t bawl and freak out, but she’s got tears in her eyes and sounds real choked up when she speaks.  I love that Abs, despite being the cul-de-sac villainous and the village bicycle, is always presented as a human being with many different levels and layers; she is not pure evil, she is a full and three dimensional character who experiences all the normal human emotions (wait a few years until we get to season eight and Olivia’s drug problems for some truly stellar Abby material). 

                This episode was directed by Alexander Singer, a name that pops up a lot when talking about KL, as he directed fourteen episodes (not to mention three episodes of Dallas), and I’d like to call him out for some fine cinematic work here.  We have a closeup of Abs, you see, and then we very nicely dissolve into a closeup of Laura at her office, staring at some flowers.  The dissolve is done in that sexy way where the screen goes out of focus for a moment and then it refocuses and we’re now looking at Laura.  Again, it would be very easy to just do a cut from one scene to the next, but instead we get a nice little camera trick here to keep things looking visually interesting.

                From here, we continue on with the small story of Laura and David.  When she realizes she’s never taken him up to this house they just sold (I think she sold it to him, or something) to see the view at night, they both decide they must go out right away.  So, they go to this house in the middle of the night, they enjoy the great night view, and then David plants one on Laura.  Again, I would really be able to invest more in this little storyline if I knew who this guy was and where he came from.  Instead, we’ve had no buildup and no expectations for anything, so who cares when he kisses her?  Sitting here and thinking about it now, I find myself wondering why this story doesn’t play out with Scooter; after all, we already saw him give Laura a kiss back in, I think, Chance of a Lifetime, and we know a small romance is blooming between the two.  Is this the writers simply biding their time until they get an affair started between Laura and Scooter? 

                In any case, Laura does the right thing and turns down David, explaining that even though she is very flattered, she wants to try and make things work with Richard, that she can’t walk out on the marriage.  Even if I didn’t care about David, I care about Laura’s reaction to him, and I care about her feelings towards Richard.  McCashin plays this scene very well, giving a nice little speech without making it boring, and reinforcing our affection for Laura’s character, who would be easily justified in leaving Richard at this point, but is instead choosing to make it work with him.

                When she comes home, she finds Richard passed out with a bottle of wine spilled all over himself.  This scene walks a very thin line between pathetic and cute, yet it manages to work for me.  Laura is very patient with Richard and wakes him up and then helps him get up the stairs and to his bedroom. This is all one shot and we get great acting from them.  If I ever get a chance to interview The Plesh (God willing), I will ask him if he Method-acted whenever Richard was drunk, cuz I truly believe he did.  He plays drunk very realistically and I have a hard time believing it’s all acting.  What’s interesting about this scene is that it’s also kinda funny, as Laura says, “Did you drink all that wine yourself?” and it sorta sounds like she’s talking to a child, not in a derogatory way, but in a rather cute and endearing way.  Watching this, even though I’m worried that Richard is turning into a Gary-level alcoholic, I still have hope for the future of Richard and Laura.

                The affair of Richard and Abby officially ends with this episode, by the way, and unless I’m forgetting something very significant, I don’t believe the two ever sleep together again.  In this case, the scene plays out just perfectly in Abby’s kitchen.  Again, little things like this always make KL just a smidge better than the other shows; the way they play this scene out in the kitchen while Abby prepares food just rings with truth; it’s a scene we’ve all seen in real life, unlike some of the goofier, more money-centric shenanigans going on over on Dallas.  Here, the torrid and soap-opera affair of Richard and Abby ends in the realistic and pure American setting of the kitchen, and I like that. 

                I also like The Plesh’s acting in this scene quite a lot.  At heart, Richard is truly just a pathetic man, and in this scene, he really lets it all hang out as far as emotions go when he finally says to Abby, “I need you.”  Abby responds in a way that is actually quite gentle, yet still cold at the same time.  She explains that she likes Richard, but she doesn’t need him, and she can’t see him anymore.  Great acting from both, with The Plesh really selling his hurt and Donna really selling her character’s decisions and motivations. 

                From here, the game is on between Abs and Jeff.  She has Jeff over for what appears to be a lovely dinner followed by wine in front of a warm, roaring fire.  Everything is going well until Jeff gets a tad, erm, rapey.  Rape sure is following me around these days, as the same day I watched this episode, my buddy and I also watched Death Wish II, which starts with a fairly brutal rape.  In any case, Jeff doesn’t go completely Death Wish II on Abby, but he does sorta pin her down and starts confronting her on how many other men she slept with while they were married, and then he’s like, “How about one more time, you and me, what do you say?”  It’s a fairly uncomfortable moment that only gets more uncomfortable when he starts to cry like a little whiny bitch into Abby’s arms.  However, just before we fade to commercial, we have Abby hugging him and soothing him, all while giving a look that tells us that she is definitely up to something.

                Now, whether or not Jeff and Abby actually have sex is potentially up for debate; I really have no answer on this one.  See, Olivia comes in late at night because she had a nightmare or something, and the two characters are shown sleeping in the same bed, both hardly clothed at all. This to me equals sex, but then later Abs makes some little reference like, “You’re the one who fell asleep,” which makes me think Jeff fell asleep before he got any action.  In any case, it doesn’t really matter; Abby’s ingenious manipulations of Jeff are rooted in making him feel briefly like the big man and an important part of the family.  He’s happy as a clam in the morning, chowing down on breakfast and probably assuming that he and Abs are back together. 

                His good mood is obviously ruined when Abs announces that she does not wish to get back together with him and that the last night was just a fluke.  I think at this point Jeff has agreed to drop the custody battle, and if he hasn’t already, I’m sure Abs could mention how he tried to rape her and get him into some hot water.  In any case, he storms out of the house, all upset, and he gets stopped by Karen and gives an angry speech.  Good acting here from Mr. Jenner, I must say, plus some strong hints for future storylines.  If you want to be spoiler-free, please skip ahead, but Jeff does wind up kidnapping the children somewhere near the end of season two or the start of season three, and there’s a small arc of episodes in which Abby's children are missing and she doesn’t know where they are.  This is a few episodes down the line, but it’s being set up here, I think, as Jeff hints that he may just have to take the kids from Abby by sheer force, essentially.  He doesn’t come right out and say, “Well, I’m gonna kidnap them,” but it’s heavily implied.  When Karen goes over to Abs and says, “You may have won this battle, but now you’ve got a war on your hands,” we end the episode there and it’s really a rather ominous note to end on.  To me, it’s made even more interesting because we don’t pay off on what is set up here for quite a few more episodes (maybe as many as seven or eight), and I like that.  We’ve got something set up, but we’re gonna shift our focus to other things for a few eps, and then we’ll get back to this storyline in due time. 

                Even though we are still very early in the series, still within that first era of seasons one through three that I wrote about awhile ago, and only 24 episodes deep into a series that will span 344 episodes, the effect is already taking place where I’m starting to lose track of episodes.  I knew this would happen at some point, but not so early.  What I mean by that is that when you start watching a series, you watch episode one and you form an opinion on episode one and then you move on to episode two and see how that contrasts with the first episode and so on.  But at some point, you’re up to the double digits or the triple digits of episodes and it’s hard to say, “Oh, this was about as good as this episode but not quite up there with this one,” you know?  I just bring this up so I can say that A State of Mind is a perfectly fine episode, and I enjoyed it thoroughly, with the one caveat that I wish the Laura/David storyline could have been handled better.

                Oh yeah, and this episode is also missing a few cast members.  Gary barely appears, only showing up in one scene to drop off Olivia and Brian (random: I like that a relationship is already shown developing between Abby’s children and Gary, as he will be a significant part of their lives for the rest of the series), a scene in which I think he gets, oh, maybe one line.  Kenny and Ginger aren’t here at all, but who cares?  Frankly, when they sit out episodes, I usually don’t even notice, aside from the fact that I’m significantly less bored and annoyed.  Most interesting is that J.V.A. sits out this episode.  That’s right, Valene doesn’t show up once in A State of Mind.  I honestly think this might be the only episode J.V.A. does not appear in throughout the entire course of seasons one through thirteen.  She is not a cast member in the fourteenth season, but from 1979 to 1992, I think she appears in every single episode except for this one.  I’ll keep my eyes open as we go through to see if I’m right or not. 

                So on the one hand, I had some problems with Laura’s little story in this episode and I thought the episode was a little light on other characters, but I also appreciate that it’s essentially a character study of Abby.  I always say KL is at its best when it’s just presenting us with these fascinating characters and letting us see how they operate and work, and this is a great display of Abby’s character.  Throughout her nine years on the show, we’re gonna see Donna really walk a fine line with Abby of keeping her duplicitous and wicked but also relatable, realistic, and strangely likable, no matter what she’s doing, and this is one of the first displays of that multifaceted nature.  All in all, A State of Mind is a solid hour of KL, but it falls firmly in the middle if I’m trying to rank season two so far.  I’d say this is obviously far better than Kristin or Step One or even Scapegoats, but it’s not up there with the very best of season two that would be Chance of a Lifetime and Breach of Faith and Choices (A Family Matter has also been a highlight of this season for me).

                Next up is a test of loyalty for the nicest guy on Seaview Circle, Saint Sid Fairgate, as he is tempted with an affair with lovely young Linda in Players.