Thursday, December 29, 2016

KNOTS LANDING Episode 084 of 344: MONEY TALKS


Episode Title: Money Talks

Season 05, Episode 09

Episode 084 of 344

Written by Peter Dunne

Directed by Nicholas Sgarro

Original Airdate: Thursday, November 24th, 1983

The Plot (Courtesy of TV.Com): Mack visits Tom Jessick, an attorney friend that he sent to jail and says he wants him on the crime commission. Greg is at the MacKenzie's home when his daughter Mary Frances comes by, angry that he forgot to pick her up. Karen invites Mary Frances to stay with them. Police patrol the ranch for Chip. Cathy tells Gary that she thought he might be someone her ex-husband Ray sent to find her. Gary invites Cathy to live and work at the ranch. Abby finds out she'll need a coastal variance to develop Lotus Point and asks Greg for help. They sleep together and he says that a member of the coastal commission will meet with her. Laura tells Abby she knows about H & O, but won't tell Gary for a piece of the action. Val makes a romantic meal for Ben. She gets mad and leaves when he assumes she will sleep with him. Later, she goes back and she and Ben make love.

 


                After the bad sound of our last episode, it was very refreshing to jump into Money Talks and see an immediate improvement in the aural quality.  I could hear the dialogue in this one, folks, and it didn’t have that tin-can sound or that annoying hissing in the background.  It’s easy to forget to be grateful for things we take for granted like good quality picture and sound on our television shows, so in a way it helps to sit through one episode that sounds like shit so that, when you hit the next one and the sound has improved, you realize how lucky you are.

                We open Money Talks on cops combing Westfork (no, not with big giant combs like in Spaceballs) for any sign of Chip.  The cops should have taken a peek at the guest cast roster for the week, because then they might have noticed that Michael Sabatino’s name is missing.  I might be mistaken here, but I’m pretty sure this is the first time he has sat out an episode since he first entered the cul-de-sac back in early season four with Svengali.  In any case, the cops are looking for him but they’re having no luck finding him.



                Meanwhile, we begin a plot that I either didn’t remember or kinda remembered but somehow got confused by along the way.  It’s probably the latter, since as I’ve mentioned before, certain plots sometimes just wind up going right over my head.  In any case, I’ll try to follow along with this one and really pay strict attention, and I’m sure My Beloved Grammy can help me because she’s really smart and follows plot better than I do.  See, we’ve got a sorta Clarice Starling/Hannibal Lecter situation going on between Mack and some prisoner dude this week.  Mack visits the prison to meet up with a convict named, um, something, and he’s played by, um, some guy.  Okay, the reason I sound so stupid right now is because IMDb is WRONG, ladies and gentlemen.  I know this is the ep where Mack meets this dude in the prison, cuz it’s in my notes and it’s in the plot description (and at least the plot description helps me out by naming this character as Tom Jessick), but this character and actor are not listed on the IMDb page for Money Talks at all.  What’s that about?  Anyway, I guess Jessick and Mack were friends and he was, like, this brilliant attorney or something, but now he’s in prison for tax evasion.  Now Mack needs him for help to work on his crime commission doing, um, something.  I can immediately remember this whole plot arc this season involving something called Wolfbridge just going straight over my head, and clearly we can the same thing threatening to happen again now, but I’ll try really hard to focus, I really will!  Okay, so that about does it for Mack and Jessick this week, although we do get a quick scene in Sumner’s campaign headquarters in which he’s yelling at Mack and saying, “I can’t believe you appointed a convict!”  So we know Greg doesn’t like the idea much.  Okay, moving on.
 
 
 
 

                Branching off from the subject of Greg Sumner and his campaign, this is a notable episode because it’s the first time Abs and he finally get to know each other in the Biblical sense.  We’ve had a bit of flirtation throughout the last few eps, starting with her kissing him and his “My regards to your fiancé,” exit.  Next up, the two were about to go in for a kiss when Laura walked in with that, “I know what’s going on,” look subtly planted on her face.  Finally, this week, it happens.  Like so many men before him, Sumner falls under Abby’s intoxicating sexual spell.  They’re at her office/apartment, they’re all alone, the kissing starts, and then Abs goes up a couple of steps leading to the apartment, turns around, and begins to open her shirt for him.  At this point, My Beloved Grammy actually screamed out at the TV, “Oh my God; what a slut!”  And I said, “Of course, she’s Abby; she’s the village bicycle!”



                Actually, at this point I wanna take a moment to pose a theory: Is Abby, in fact, a nymphomaniac?  Yes, she clearly uses sex as a power thing in order to get what she wants, but I don’t think that’s all there is to it; I think she legitimately needs it constantly, that she can’t live without it, that she’s insatiable.  It’s almost like she has the libido of a man trapped in the absolutely stunning body of a woman.  Ever since she first moved to the cul-de-sac and set her eyes on Gary while having that brief affair with Richard, we could all smell her pussy juices just leaking out and sending their pheromones all throughout California.  Also, I think it’s very clear that she likes her sex to be naughty and dangerous; she enjoys the thrill of potentially being caught.  Why not shag a married man in the middle of the day in a hot tub in his back yard?  Or in this case, why not shag a big shot political candidate in the middle of the day in her sex office?  In both cases, I think Abs just loves the thrill of it all.
 
 

                By the way, while we’re on the subject of Abs and her hot body, have I mentioned the sauna?  That’s right, our previous episode, A Change of Heart, actually unveiled the sauna at Westfork for the first time when we saw Gary relaxing in it, clad in only a towel and flexing his big muscles that he so clearly spent all summer working on.  This week, we get a steamy little incest vibe going on between Diana and Abs as they both relax in the sauna, draped completely in towels (it would be hotter if they were totally naked, but this is still 1983 network TV) and speaking about, oh, whatever.  I believe I previously stated that Westfork also has a steam room, but I’m starting to wonder if I hallucinated that in my memories; it might be equipped with just a sauna (I prefer a good steam room, myself).  Anyway, there’s also a great big red phone on the wall of the sauna, which I thought was amazing.  In all my life, I’ve never seen a phone in a sauna, and just when I was saying aloud, “Why the hell do they need a phone in the sauna?”, sure enough Abs picked it up and used it to give Sumner a call.



                Sumner is pretty busy this week not just with shagging Abby and running his campaign, but also the unexpected arrival of his annoying daughter, Mary-Frances.  At least, I think she’s annoying.  I remember having no patience for this character in my prior watching of the series, but My Beloved Grammy and I saw two eps with her in them upon on our last visit, and she actually wasn’t so bad, so maybe my feelings have changed?  See, Greg is hanging out at, I believe, Karen and Mack’s place when in walks this angry fourteen year old girl (pictured below), all ready to go with a speech she clearly had prepared well in advance.  I guess she came to town to visit and Sumner left her at the bus station or something, basically forgot to pick her up.  So she gives this big angry speech and then Sumner is like, “What can I say?  I forgot.”  Then the two hug and a brief moment of peace is attained.
 
 

                Let’s take a moment to discuss who is playing Mary-Frances.  She is played by actress Danielle Brisebois, who is technically Mary-Frances #1.  This character will make a strange and, um, rather brief return in, I think, season eleven, and in that instance she is played by Children of the Corn V’s Stacy Galina.  We’ll discuss that when we discuss it in some 200 episodes or so, but right now Mary-Frances is being played by Danielle Brisebois, who will play her for just seven episodes throughout season five, culminating in Forsaking All Others.  This chick arrived with some pretty solid acting credits to her resume, though, as she had previous appeared in both All in the Family and Archie Bunker’s Place.  I don’t know if I’ve mentioned it before, but I also got pretty heavy into All in the Family during my college years and would call it one of my favorite shows of the ‘70s and one of the only legitimately artistic and good sitcoms ever made (alongside Roseanne and Seinfeld), but I actually never made it to her era of the show.  She was only a character in the final season and I only watched seasons one through six (the Meathead and Gloria years).  I’m not avoiding the later years or anything; I just sorta never got around to them.  I didn’t even know until looking at her IMDb that she managed to join Archie when he spun off into Archie Bunker’s Place.  That show ran from 1979 to 1983, so it would have just recently ended, meaning she now had some time on her hands for guest spots on KL.
 
 

                Okay, so like I said, I remember having a distaste for this character upon first viewing, but now I’m not entirely sure why.  I think it was mostly because she only showed up for a handful of eps, stirred up some plot drama, and then was shipped away inauspiciously.  However, maybe I was too hard on her the first time.  This time, I’m already seeing how this character helps us to further understand Sumner, who, despite being on the show for ten years and becoming one of the most important characters in the series, is still the new kid on the block during season five.  We really hardly know the guy yet.  What’s he about?  Is he good or evil?  Can he be trusted?  What kind of life does he lead?  The entrance of his daughter here, not to mention the demonstration of their tumultuous but still loving relationship, helps us to further understand Sumner, and I can definitely get behind that.



                My sudden and unexpected fondness for Eric continues to grow this week (much the way a certain other something grows every time brother Michael is onscreen before me) as we see him develop an immediate crush on Mary-Frances (by the way, for the sake of my fingers hurting, I’m gonna just shorten her name to “M.F.” from now on, if that’s alright with you).  As soon as he enters the room and spots her, you can hear the “boing” sound coming right out of the television, and then the next time we see him (after M.F. has been invited to stay at the house and everyone is enjoying some breakfast in the kitchen together), he’s got his hair slicked back and is clearly making an effort to look more handsome.  This is all very cute and prompted me to ask My Beloved Grammy if she recalls whether Eric has lost his virginity yet or not.  She said she thinks he hasn’t, and I believe I agree.  We saw him get a crush on Ginger (for some reason) back in, I think, um…was it Civil Wives?  That was way back in season one, and then in season two we had the undisputed masterpiece of television Man of the Hour, in which he was hoping to screw Ginger’s sister and she wound up almost dying in the ocean, instead.  Since then, he’s kinda taken a backseat to other characters for awhile, and perhaps he got laid offscreen when we were following other characters around, but I’m gonna just go ahead and assume, based on his behavior here, that he is still a virgin.
 
 

                Oh yeah, one last thing: Glorious twinky boy Michael enters the kitchen wearing a fantastic red Hugh Hefner robe and rocking that gold necklace he always seems to be wearing, and all he has to say when he sees M.F. is “Who are you?”  A glorious bit of tension relieving comedy to the scene, although it did make my ask My Beloved Grammy, “Why would any girl even look at Eric when Michael is in the same house?!”  My Beloved Grammy pointed out that Eric is older, so he probably looks more mature and adult-like to M.F., although she was maybe also saying that as a subtle way of telling me, “Please stop talking about how much you want to have sex with this perfect twink boy, Brett.” 
 
 

                As for two of our other characters, we have Val and Ben and a little, “Will they or won’t they?” thing going on this week.  This is all perfectly lovely, though probably my least favorite part of the ep.  Ben is a colossal and mammoth step up from Boring White Guy Block of Wood Jeff Munson from last season, so Val should be proud of that, and he’s also improving as a character in my eyes, but he’s still, you know, a little boring.  I’m happy to see Val happy with this guy, and I’m still invested in their relationship, but when they’re onscreen, my attention isn’t quite as invested as it is when the other characters are onscreen.  In this case, the two are enjoying a nice fancy dinner together, they eat the dinner, Ben inquires about whether the two of them will shag tonight (except he says “make love” like some sort of disgusting pervert), Val doesn’t wanna, she gets mad and leaves, then later she comes back and they do.  Yeah, pretty basic stuff.  I’m not entirely sure why Val doesn’t just let him screw her right away, when he brings it up, but I guess it’s because her heart truly belongs to her soul mate, Gary, and she and Gary just enjoyed a roll in the sack not too far back (…And Never Brought to Mind) so maybe she’s still feeling kinda mixed up about that.  In any case, Ben and Val have sex this week, which is cool.
 
 

                Best story of the week?  Obviously Cathy and Gary.  Apparently Cathy was very charmed by Gary’s stalkerish behavior last week, because she comes rolling up to Westfork early in this ep in her shitty red Volkswagen and says she’ll take him up on his offer to work on the ranch for awhile.  Next time we see them, they are pumping their big muscles in Gary’s utterly amazing at-home gym.  While they’re in the middle of a bit of bench pressing (and Gary is being a good little spotter by encouraging Cathy that she can, indeed, handle two more reps), in walks Abs to tell Gary something.  As soon as she spots Cathy at the bench press, her eyes get wide and she gets this wonderful look on her face as she glares at Gary, like, “What the hell is going on here?”  This is a twofold display of fabulous acting, and let me explain why, with the little caveat that I’m gonna provide a minor spoiler for upcoming events.  A few eps down the line (I’m not entirely sure when, cuz My Beloved Grammy and I haven’t gotten to this ep yet), we learn that Abs actually hired Cathy to distract Gary while she does her evil doings down at the office.  So in the case of this scene, Donna has to portray Abs as basically pretending to look surprised when she sees Cathy and Gary together.  The character of Abs is not actually surprised, because she’s the one who found Cathy and hired her, but she has to do some play acting and make it appear to Gary as if she is surprised and horrified to find him having a Flashdance-style workout with this complete Ciji-lookalike.  Ever the pro, she pulls the whole thing off splendidly.
 
 

                I’m so happy that Lisa Hartman is back on the show.  In my brain, seasons four through seven all just blend together as “the Lisa Hartman years,” so I kinda forget about that chunk of eps in which Ciji is dead and Cathy has not come into the story yet.  That batch of eps really helped to demonstrate what a warm and endearing presence Lisa brings to the proceedings.  Why didn’t her career pan out a little better?  Not only is she a fabulous singer, but the camera just loves her and she’s so beautiful to look at, plus she seems very natural and realistic in her acting, whether as Ciji or as Cathy.  Overall, I just feel warm and fuzzy having her back, and I’m so glad we won’t have to say goodbye to her until we finish up season seven. 
 
 

                So that was Money Talks.  It felt like a bit more of a mellow episode with a little less EXCITEMENT than our last batch of eps, but I still enjoyed it tremendously and found a lot of interesting character stuff worth talking about.  Coming up next, we have the RETURN of John Pleshette, though not as an actor this time, but rather as the man behind the camera as he directs next week’s show, Homecoming.

 

Sunday, December 25, 2016

KNOTS LANDING Episode 083 of 344: A CHANGE OF HEART


Episode Title: A Change of Heart

Season 05, Episode 08

Episode 083 of 344


Directed by Robert Becker

Original Airdate: Thursday, November 17th, 1983

The Plot (Courtesy of TV.Com): Val tells Ben about sleeping with Gary. Ben is upset and leaves. Karen's still upset over Diana and is having back pains. Mack convinces her to go to the doctor, and she gets pain pills. Gary finds out that the Ciji look-alike is Cathy Geary, and he follows her. Abby tells Westmont that she is going to develop Lotus Point, and buys the apartment's management, H & O Management, so she can continue to send Karen checks, and Karen will never know. Laura gets Westmont drunk to see what Abby's up to, and he tells her about H & O. Gary receives his inheritance. Diana gives a deposition that Chip 'accidentally' killed Ciji, but then he wakes up from the coma. The police handcuff him to the bed. The police decide to move Chip to County Hospital, but when they go to his room to get him, he's gone.




                When we last left off, there was a shit-ton of stuff going on with all of our beloved characters, and our very last image from prior episode Sacred Vows was Gary staring wide-eyed and gape-mouthed at the room service lady who was a complete doppelganger for Ciji.  Now, as we pick up with A Change of Heart, we are going to expand a bit upon who this lady is and what she’s doing in the show.

                But first, I wanna address a quick issue I had watching this episode, with the reminder that it’s not the fault of the show or this episode at all, but just a technical issue.  I am forever grateful to the beautiful soul I found on YouTube who sold me copies of seasons 3-14 of KL through the mail.  There is a special place in Heaven for this lady, who always sent me my disks promptly and efficiently and was always available when I was ready for more.  If it hadn’t been for her, I would still be stuck on the freeze-frame image of Sid’s panicked face as his car plunged off a cliff, wondering if he was going to live or die.  If it wasn’t for this wonderful soul, I would never have this deep love affair with KL; I would have seen none of the brilliance and genius to come after poor Sid went off that cliff.  I also wanna note that, in the case of almost every episode she sent me, the quality is excellent.  It’s clearly recorded off of SoapNet reruns from video, but it’s still very watchable.  However, every now and then, very rarely (I would say maybe five episodes out of all the eps I got from her), I’ll hit one with really bad sound, and A Change of Heart was one of those.  The sound for this entire episode was very tinny and hollow and hard to understand.  Watching with My Beloved Grammy, I had to turn the sound on the TV almost all the way up so we could hear it, and I kinda had to strain my ears to focus (apparently my 81 year old Beloved Grammy has way sharper ears than me, though, cuz she was able to make out the dialogue just fine and even helped me to understand some lines that I didn’t catch).  So anyway, if at any point I seem either dismissive or sorta less detailed with this ep than I usually am, it’s simply cuz the quality was poor and it was sorta hard to hear what was going on, though fortunately the quality bounces back with our very next one and, as I said, this is an extremely rare problem that we’re not gonna encounter very much.



                So anyway, we open A Change of Heart with Diana giving her testimony to Detective Cheesy.  This is where Chip is finally and officially incriminated for what he has done in the eyes of the law, because Diana confirms that Chip did, in fact, kill Ciji, and that he did it in the name of love, for her.  We the viewers know that this is not true, that this is a lie Chip made up to save face with Diana, but whatever, I don’t think the cops are particularly interested in why Chip did it, just in the fact that he did it.  During this scene, Mack watches in an intense closeup through that tinted glass window thing that they have at cop stations.  One interesting touch I noticed is that we get to see a single tear roll down Mack’s cheek as he listens to Diana talk, which to me speaks volumes about the quality of his character.  Even though Diana is an annoying brat who has really been a pain in Mack’s asshole since he was first introduced on the series, his heart does still go out to her as he recognizes that she is in love, very confused, and of course deeply mentally ill. 

                We all knew what was coming last week when we saw Chip’s hand twitch, and the writers don’t let us down this week, because Chip does indeed come out of his coma about two seconds after Diana is finishing up with her testimony.  So she’s finally gone and named him as the killer of Ciji, and that’s the precise moment that he decides to wake up and return to the world of the living.  This is confirmed in a blackly funny scene in which Diana returns to his hospital room to find him sitting up in bed, grinning like a total creep, and happily exclaiming, “Hi, hon!”  Diana gets a big dramatic closeup and we all know that she’s immediately deeply regretting what she has just done.  A few seconds later, when she’s trying to find the gentle way to explain to Chip what happened, police bust in and handcuff him to the bed (with just one lousy handcuff instead of two, however; they’ll come to regret this decision in the final scene of the ep).


                Karen makes a very questionable decision this week, but I gave it some thought and think I understand where she’s coming from.  As I think I mentioned before, Karen is still my favorite character and probably always will be, but she is probably going through my least favorite phase of her character at this point; she’s so manic and out-of-control lately that Mack deserves major kudos for his patience in dealing with her.  See, the weird thing she does this week is choosing to go speak with Chip at the hospital.  Why?  Eh, I’m not exactly sure why, and again this might have been the fault of the bad sound and the fact that I had a hard time following the dialogue.  I think her main goal is to try and get him to release his hold on Diana, maybe get a divorce or an annulment or something.  At first, I was just like, “What is Karen thinking?”  Obviously Chip is a demented sociopath and he’s not going to be swayed by her coming to speak with him, no matter what she says.  Also, didn’t she understand after Diana’s, “I’m never coming to you for anything ever again” speech back in …And Never Brought to Mind that Diana wants nothing to do with her?  The reason I softened on Karen after a minute is because I think it’s the fact that Diana went and testified against Chip that is making her think she can mend fences with her daughter.  If Karen just randomly, out of the blue, decided to go and speak with Chip, it wouldn’t make any sense to me, but I think she’s seeing signs that Diana is snapping out of her insanity and might be ready to start acting like a normal person again (which, in the case of Diana, would mean acting like a spoiled, whiny brat).  However, whatever she hoped to achieve visiting Chip clearly falls flat, because he’s having none of it.

                On the Chip/Diana subject, I’m still having a hard time believing that the two are truly married and I find it interesting that nobody else on the show is questioning it.  We never saw the nuptials and, in the world of television and especially television soaps, don’t you have to sorta assume that, if you don’t see it, it didn’t happen?  How many times does someone die mysteriously offscreen only to be brought back from the dead, for instance?  So in this case, we only have Diana’s word to go on, her story that she and Chip stopped in Vegas to get married.  Has she produced any paper documents to prove this?  Why am I the only one questioning it?

                Anyway, Diana/Chip also get to serve as the big cliffhangers in the final scene of this ep, in which Diana comes bursting into the hospital room along with several police officers only to discover that, GASP, Chip is gone!  That’s right, there’s nobody in the bed and just that one little handcuff dangling from the bedpost.  The camera goes into closeup on Diana’s face and she actually grins a bit, which makes me question exactly what we’re supposed to take away from this final image.  Did Diana help him escape?  Her grin looks almost wicked, as if she’s saying to herself, “Oh great, it worked!”  Or is she just grinning because she still has a twisted feeling of love for Chip and she’s simply happy to see that he has escaped?  How the hell did he escape, anyway?  Maybe I sound critical, but I actually like the fact that we don’t know.  I think a person as clever as Chip could easily find a way to escape if chained to one very weak hospital bed by one little handcuff.  Maybe he somehow got hold of a paperclip from a nurse or something and pulled a Sarah Conner to bust out?  In any case, I like the mystery.


                That’s what Diana and Chip are up to this week, but everybody else is busy, as well.  We get an early scene that’s a complete highlight of the series but also of all of television history in which Mack and Michael are playing basketball and Michael is wearing the shortest pair of short shorts and a half cut off ‘80s t-shirt that exposes his entire lower belly area.  My Beloved Grammy got pretty uncomfortable when I started violently masturbating to this scene, but I simply couldn’t control myself when I saw skinny twink boy Michael dressed up in this attire, which is perhaps the greatest wardrobe decision in all the history of costuming.  My God his body is so slim and perfect, and that belly button…..fuck me.  This wardrobe also announces to me that the producers and directors are starting to realize what a specimen they have on their hands as well as what audience they are catering to.  I’m willing to bet that the majority of KL viewers in the ‘80s were not super macho heterosexual truck drivers but probably perverted fags like myself who are only too happy to leer at a 17-year old boy in a cut-off shirt.  The creative powers behind the scenes must have known they had an active gay audience watching, and they are starting to give us the greatest of gifts by dressing their twinkiest twink of all twinks in these types of costumes.


                But wait, what was I talking about?  Oh yeah, the other characters and what they are up to this week.  Mack finally convinces Karen that she needs to go to the doctor and talk about her problems.  She’s been acting very strangely the last couple of weeks, not just in being manic and over-the-top and not as good of an actress as she usually is, but also that she keeps getting headaches and backaches and her vision is even starting to blur occasionally.  She’s also being a rather crappy wife and not really giving Mack the time of day in any regard.  My Beloved Grammy told me that she also counts Karen as her favorite character, but that she feels Karen isn’t treating Mack right, and I agree with her.  It takes some persistence on the part of Mack in which Karen is like, “No, I don’t need to go to the doctor, I’m fine,” but finally she says she will.

                Karen’s doctor (pictured below and who, based on my research, is actually a Transmorpher and played two different characters over on Dallas; he played Mitchell in the 1980 episode Second Thoughts, the Reverend who married Lucy and Mitch in End of the Road: Part Two in 1981, and then the Reverend who married Pam and Mark Graison during the dream season in Blast From the Past) gives her an examination and then decides she’ll be happier with some pills.  Again, due to the poor sound quality of this particular ep, I either didn’t catch what kinds of pills he gives her or perhaps he simply didn’t say it.  In any case, even without having seen the series once before, I think a person would watch this scene and know that it can’t possibly go anywhere good.  It would be boring storytelling if Karen was simply given a prescription for pills, took the pills, felt better, and then eventually stopped taking the pills.  Indeed, My Beloved Grammy, ever sharp and ever vigilant, immediately declared during this scene, “Now Karen’s gonna get hooked on pills, oh boy.”


                Meanwhile, Val and Ben decide to pay Lilimae a nice visit at the sanitarium.  I notice I haven’t mentioned Ben in awhile and that’s because, well, he’s boring.  Even so, he gets a good scene here that I had forgotten about after he and Val return to the cul-de-sac.  See, Val’s all upset and mixed up (but upset and mixed up while wearing a rather fabulous pair of big ‘80s shades) about what she had to do to her mother, so then Ben tells her that, when he was a kid, his dad had a mental breakdown and set the house on fire.  Therefore, his own dad had to go to a sanitarium for awhile, but now he’s all better and really sharp and it’s all good.  I noted this scene because I liked how Ben manages to relate to Val and make her feel better, but I also question if we ever get a mention of either of his parents again.  Do we?  I’m pretty sure we don’t, and since he confirms right here and now that his dad, at least, is still alive and well, that seems a tad odd to me (but then I remembered that we never see tons of the characters' parents and it seemed a little less strange to me). 



                The big relationship drama is that Ben finds out about Gary and Val this week, or at least that’s what the plot description from TV.com says.  In truth, I don’t remember a scene of Ben finding out the two slept together, but perhaps I can blame that on the poor sound again?  See, they’re having a nice fancy dinner, but Val’s mind is clearly elsewhere.  When Ben gets irritated with her lack of conversational skills tonight, he gets up to leave and she walks after him and explains that she’s upset cuz Gary and Abs just got married.  Ben then delivers a line that will be haunting him over the next four years when he says, “So what?  That’s all in the past.”  Oh jeez, Ben, how little you know about the star crossed lovers that are Gary and Val.  A note on Ben before I move on.  I make fun of him for being boring, but when I said to My Beloved Grammy that he’s boring, she said, “No, I like him, Val needs boring right now.”  That’s a good point, I think.  With all the relationship drama and turmoil that Val has had with Gary over the last four seasons (hell, forget last four seasons; since she was fifteen fucking years old and first met him at that diner she was working at), it must be very appealing to find a man who is just a nice, sweet guy, who cooks her nice meals and treats her right.  And actually, even though we are only a few episodes deep with Ben, he’s improving in my eyes from first viewing.  Douglas Sheehan actually has a way of delivering his lines that I kinda like, making them feel grounded and like they’re coming from a real person.  While I will say he’s easily my least favorite character in the main cast at this point, he’s not as bad as, say, Kenny and Ginger circa seasons two and three, for instance.  He’s perfectly adequate, but just a little underwhelming.

                But if you wanna talk about two character who are the exact opposite of underwhelming, you need look no further than Abs and Sumner, who continue their delicious flirtation this week and almost, but not quite, start to get busy.  See, they’re having another one of their little meetings in Abby’s sex office and then the two lean in for a kiss when the door bursts open and in walks Laura.  Abs and Sumner back away from each other real fast but we see the look in Laura’s eyes and we know that she’s smart enough to see what’s going on.  Laura’s a great still-waters-run-deep character and Constance is able to say a lot while saying very little, a rare feat of acting that’s difficult to pull off. 


                Speaking of Laura, she starts to pull some positively J.R./Abs maneuvers this week when she gets Westmont all nice and liquored up at the office and manages to get him to spill the beans on exactly what is happening with Abs and Lotus Point and all of that.  Now, this is the sorta corporate intrigue/big business dealing stuff that often flies right over my head, but fortunately My Beloved Grammy was able to help me along here.  I paused and asked her what exactly Abs was up to with all this Lotus Point stuff, and she explained it to me.  Basically, Abs learned that she had some property on Lotus Point, but that due to the property also being left to Sid, that meant Karen was also entitled to half of it.  Okay, so Abs decided to just go ahead and buy the entire Lotus Point management outfit, so that way Karen continues to get her checks, but really the checks are coming from Abs.  Laura manages to figure out this information when she gets Westmont drunk and loosens his tongue.  What’s she going to do now that she has this information?  We’re going to have to wait and find out.



               For the topic of A Change of Heart, I have saved the best for last.  My favorite storyline this week (and next week, and the week after that) is Gary’s quest to find Cathy.  We start on him making some phonecalls to hotel management, trying to figure out who exactly the mysterious room service lady is.  He finds out that she came from a temp agency, so he goes to speak with the temp agent guy.  Now, while watching this ep, the actor who plays this temp agent didn’t exactly stick out to me.  However, I looked at his IMDb and started having heart palpitations when I saw that he was in landmark cinematic masterpiece Critters 2: The Main Course, playing the greasy, disgusting, dog-food-eating guy who winds up getting eaten by the crites right after they hatch out of their eggs.  The entire Critters franchise is near and dear to my heart and may, in fact, be the series I watched the very most when I was a small child, and I happen to think Critters 2 is a dynamite sequel that’s almost, but not quite, as good as the original.  One last thing, the actor (Douglas Rowe) is actually a Tangled Knot as he will be back in 1985 for One Day in a Row (season 06, episode 28), in which he plays Greene, so I’ll keep my eyes open when we get there.  Anyway, moving on.


                At first, the guy from Critters 2 doesn’t wanna give Gary any information, but then Gary slips him some money (I think it’s a hundred?) and the guy is more than happy to talk.  He directs Gary to some restaurant where Cathy is working, but she’s busy pouring coffee and taking orders and doesn’t really feel like chatting.  Ever the stalker, Gary then waits outside the restaurant for her to get off shift so he can continue to harass her.  She still doesn’t bite, so the next time we see her, she’s in a grand ‘80s gym working out with other sexy and sweaty hard bodies.  God yes, when I think of 1983, I immediately think of people working out.  Fitness was very trendy in the ‘80s with the Jane Fonda Workout and all that stuff.  I love working out at the gym and I wish the people at my gym looked as good as Lisa Hartman or the random extras pumping all around her.  This is yet another instance where I just wanna pull a reverse Purple Rose of Cairo and climb into the TV and just live in this world forever.



                Honesty, not too much happens with Cathy and Gary this week.  I name this as my favorite part of the ep more because of where it’s gonna lead in the next few eps.  This week, Gary mostly tries to get her to speak to him and she wants him to leave her alone.  She also makes some vague mention of, like, “Did someone send you?”  It’s this weird cryptic thing that hints that she has some sort of bad past history, but we’re not sure what.  In fact, at this point My Beloved Grammy opined that she predicts Cathy will turn out to be Ciji’s twin sister who has some sort of wicked backstory.  Is it ridiculous that Cathy is now here being played by the exact same actress who played Ciji?  Well, yeah, kinda, but that’s part of the joy of the whole thing.  Of course it’s ridiculous that one character could be killed and a few eps later, here she is, back as a totally different character.  But camp and silliness, as I’ve said from day one of this blog, are part of what make KL so appealing.  While it was certainly more realistic than Dallas (and certainly much, much, much better written), there is still plenty of stuff we’ve seen before or will see in the future is silly or a little outside of the realm of plausibility.  For me, the remarkable thing is that it doesn’t feel ridiculous or completely unrealistic.  Somehow, in the world of KL, when even the most goofiest things are happening before our very eyes, it still feels rather grounded in a pretty cool way, and I think that’s a testament both to the great writing and also the great actors who make their characters feel like real people.  Since we can believe in the realism of characters like Karen, for instance, when strange or silly things happen around them, they don’t feel all that silly, all things considered.



                That about does it for this ep.  Like I said, bad sound kinda tampered my enjoyment of this ep, but I’m sure one day when all 344 episodes come out on BluRay digitally remastered and with a 3D James Cameron restoration, this ep will come alive in a new way for me.  Even with the bad sound, I still enjoyed this and found a lot of good points to talk about.  Every character stays busy busy busy this week and the ongoing saga just continues to kick along.  While I don’t recall as many cool cinematic flourishes as I’m starting to get used to, that might also be a result of the bad sound, so you know, what are you gonna do?

                Next up, we will continue to further explore this Ciji-reincarnation known as Cathy with Money Talks.

Thursday, December 22, 2016

KNOTS LANDING Episode 082 of 344: SACRED VOWS


Episode Title: Sacred Vows

Season 05, Episode 07

Episode 082 of 344


Directed by Nicholas Sgarro

Original Airdate: Thursday, November 10th, 1983

The Plot (Courtesy of TV.Com): Eric goes to the hospital and tells Diana he's glad that Sid isn't around. He reminds Diana that Sid died in order to bring someone to justice and would be disgusted with her. Diana tells the police that she will testify. Laura tells Gary that if he doesn't have plans to get back together with Val, he should leave her alone, as stringing her along is cruel. Gary tells Abby he'll marry her and they do. Dr. Bovine suggests that Lilimae be put in a sanitarium. Lilimae begs Val not to commit her, but Val reluctantly does. At home, Val calls Gary for support. Olivia answers and tells Val that Gary and Abby are on their honeymoon. At the hotel, Gary orders room service. Gary is shocked when the waitress is a dead-ringer for the late Ciji.

 

                Back in 1983, viewers had to wait a whole week, seven long days, to find out whether Abs would be able to get Gary to the marriage altar.  Fortunately for My Beloved Grammy and I, we only had to wait mere minutes to jump from …And Never Brought to Mind to Sacred Vows, just long enough for me to pee and heat up my teriyaki and top off my glass of beer.  Once those tasks were completed, we were ready to dive into this exciting KL episode.

 

 


              Obviously, the first thing we see in this episode is our thirty second preview, and this one’s really packed, as it culminates with a quick shot of Gary and Abs at the altar, the priest asking if they take each other as man and wife.  Oh my God!  So, based upon our own powers of deduction, we can kinda assume that Gary and Abs are getting married this week, no?  Of course, the thirty second preview has been known to trick us; sometimes they show us something that winds up being contradicted like two seconds later (like back in Celebration when we saw a quick flash of Val pushing Ciji down and Ciji hitting her head and lying motionless on the floor) or the scene is somehow removed from its context to make it appear to mean something different.  In this case, however, I think we all feel fairly confident to what is going to happen this week, and this preview along with the title of the episode create a tremendous sense of foreboding throughout all the proceedings this week.
 

 


                After the thirty second preview, we of course get the classic season five opening credits sequence (during this ep, I narrated the opening by telling My Beloved Grammy what some of my favorite scrolling squares are, such as Gary riding on the horse with his muscles flexing or Val and Ben running on the beach) and then the episode starts and I actually have an immediate problem right in the first couple of seconds.  I know, shocking, right?  What could my beef possibly be?  Well, it’s a pretty small one in the grand scheme of things, but it’s one that makes me question what the creators were thinking.  See, we get our usual list of guest star characters, such as Michael Sabatino as Chip, and then the last guest star listed is, “And Lisa Hartman as Cathy Geary.”  Now come on, why would they do such a thing?  Yes, spoiler alert, this is the episode in which Lisa returns to the series as the dead-ringer Ciji lookalike Cathy, which is very exciting and good, something I’ve been waiting for since we started season five, but why put this information right here in the episode credits? 

 

Cathy’s appearance occurs in the last two minutes of this episode and serves as the cliffhanger that makes us want to watch next week’s show, but it’s spoiled right away here by putting her in the list of guest stars.  Remember when a certain very important main character “died” on Twin Peaks and this certain person’s name was removed from the opening credits for a good seven episodes or so of the series?  Then, when this person returned to the series, it was a big surprise, because they were in a disguise, so this person’s name was then put in the end credits of that episode before they returned to the main cast list at the opening credits the next week (I know it seems weird to be so vague and avoid spoilers of a show that ended 25 years ago, but I try to respect Twin Peaks and all its secrets and not give away anything to someone who hasn’t watched the series yet).   This is how they should have handled Lisa’s return to the series, in my opinion; keep her name in the ending episode credits during Sacred Vows and then promote her to the start of the episode guest roster with A Change of Heart.  I can just imagine a 1983 viewer sitting down to the watch this, seeing her name, and being like, “Wait, she’s back?”  It ruins what should be a perfectly good surprise.  Very fortunately for me, My Beloved Grammy didn’t seem to notice her name in the credits, so the surprise still worked on her just fine. 



Anyway, that’s a little gripe that I managed to get over as we moved through this ep and the glory and splendor of KL continued to wrap its fingers so lovingly around me.  As usual by this point, there’s just so much going on this week that I hardly know where to start, but I think I’ll start with Chip and Diana.  Chip is still in his coma for the time being, and the doctors aren’t sure when/if he’ll come out of it.  We get an early scene of Diana asking some nurse when he’ll be back, the nurse saying she doesn’t know, and Diana going a bit ballistic on her: “WELL THEN WHAT GOOD ARE YOU?!  Also, while Diana continues to give Karen the cold shoulder, she and Eric actually seem to be getting along somewhat.

 

Follow me along here, because this strikes me as a tad bizarre.  Early in the ep, Eric announces that he’s going to the hospital to visit Diana and bring her some stuff.  He says it a bit nervously, like he’s afraid Karen will be mad at him, but Karen assures him that she wants him and his sister to continue to have a relationship.  This is the mature and right attitude for Karen to take, and I’ve got no problem with that, but do you all remember that Eric just gave Diana a big fat slap on the face just a few episodes back in One Kind of Justice?  Considering the anger and hostility Diana can hold for anyone and everyone that she doesn’t like, it strikes me as a tad askew that now she and brother Eric are getting along well enough for him to drop stuff off at the hospital.  Remembering that these characters have lives that we are not privy to as they move and exist throughout their days (we never see a scene of Gary or Val taking a shit, for instance, but we can probably assume that they do, in fact, do that every now and again), I’m gonna go ahead and assume that Eric went and apologized to Diana for the slap, maybe said something like, “You were being really mean to Mom and I got mad and I slapped you, but I’m sorry.”  With this little imaginary scene in my head, I’m able to get on with proceedings much easier.

I have to say that Eric is really starting to grow on me.  As I’ve said before, I never tended to give him much thought cuz I was too busy drooling over his twink of a brother, but we get another great Eric scene this week and I’m gonna be controversial and declare this scene as better than the slap.  Obviously the slap was a beautiful thing and will go down in television history as a great audience-cheering-moment, but this one is even better and requires Steve Shaw to go on a bit of a soliloquy to Diana, which he delivers well.  Basically he tells her that it’s a good thing Sid isn’t alive anymore to see the way Diana is behaving; he goes on to remind her that Sid died in the name of bringing criminals to justice, and now his daughter is protecting a man she knows to be a criminal and a killer and a beater-upper of old ladies in Seattle.  Then he sorta storms out and leaves Diana to think about all the awful things she’s doing, and I believe his words really get to her, based on actions she takes a little later on.



This is a fabulous scene for many reasons.  First and most obvious, it’s always nice to see Diana get chewed out by anyone (I’m flashing way back to Hitchhike: Part Two when she was being a whiny little brat and Sid told her he has more important things to worry about than, “Her fragile little girl ego”).  Also, this shows Eric serving as a catalyst for plot change, which I appreciate, but what I appreciated even more was the reminder of Sid.  Let’s recall that Sid Fairgate died right at the start of season three, and we are now at the start of season five.  As I think I’ve mentioned before, it would be so easy for the writers to just shuffle him under the carpet and, by this point, start to forget he ever existed, but they don’t do that.  Again, when I watch this show (or any show or movie), I try to think of all the characters as real people who have real lives, so of course Eric, Diana, and that beautiful twink Michael would still be remembering and talking about their father.  He was their dad and they loved him and he died.  Also, Eric doesn’t just mention Sid, but the very circumstances of Sid’s death, what he died to fight for, which maintains a continuity from over two years back that I’ll bet many viewers in 1983 hadn’t even seen for themselves, since the show was still pretty low in the ratings at that juncture in time.  So for all these reasons, I’m declaring this scene to be Eric’s greatest moment, with the epic slap now coming in second place.

Like I said, Eric’s words clearly get to Diana, because the next time we see her, she’s talking to comatose Chip (which could come off as ridiculous, but I am one of those people who believes that people in comas can still hear us when we speak to them), telling him her reasons for testifying against him.  Next up, she walks up to the ever-cheesy Detective Morrison (quick interruption: super boring Detective Baines declared back in One Kind of Justice that she was taking herself off this case and so she left the show and took her boring and annoying flirtation with Mack with her) and tells him that she is ready to testify.  Of course, two seconds after this, we get a shot of Chip in his hospital bed, a pan down to his hand, and, you guessed it, some movement.  I like to think he heard what Diana was telling him, thought, “Oh no you don’t,” and decided to snap out of his coma.

Meanwhile, Abs and Sumner are starting to get pretty cozy, and this episode presents her first attempts at seducing him.  However, it’s not as easy as she thought, because he actually shoots her down in this instance (it doesn’t take long for him to crumble, though, cuz I think they sleep together in either the next episode or the one after that).  See, they are in her office of debauchery, talking about political things, when Abs plants her first big, wet kiss on him.  You gotta love the fact that Abs is still in the midst of trying to get Gary to marry her, but that doesn’t mean she won’t try to get an afternoon delight out of Sumner, as well.   After the kiss, though, Sumner walks himself to the door, opens it, turns around, says “My regards to your fiancé,” and exits the building.  Pretty boss moment, if I do say so myself, as well as a stunning demonstration of his ability to control himself.  If Abs planted a kiss on me, I don’t care where we are, I would disrobe as fast as possible and start looking for the nearest hot tub.



Now, as we head into this episode, Gary clearly has a lot of thinking he needs to do.  He slept with Val last week and impregnated her with the greatest storyline in KL history (although we the viewers don’t know that quite just yet), and last week we also got a lovely scene of him and Laura discussing his feelings for Val, the comfort and safety he feels whenever he’s around her, that he’s felt that way ever since he was fifteen (which I think might be a small flub on the part of the writers; wasn’t it established way back on Dallas that Val was fifteen but Gary was actually seventeen when they met?).  This week, I started to wonder exactly what would drive Gary to marry Abs after all that happened in our prior episode, and at first I thought it would just be one thing, but it turns out to be two.

First off, Olivia and Brian return to Westfork from their little night out at respective friends’ houses and they are both delighted to see Gary.  This reminded me that, for all the lying and backstabbing Abs pulls on Gary, he really truly loves her kids and he is actually a pretty great surrogate father to them, certainly better than their Transmorpher father from back in seasons two and three.  So I think Gary sees these kids who he really loves and he doesn’t want to hurt them by running out on them; he feels a responsibility towards them and I also think they fill a paternal hole in his heart that is not occupied by the ever-absent Lucy back in Texas. 

 

Now, at first I thought that was all the motivation Gary needed to marry Abs, but then we get a fabulous sequence between him and Laura.  We’re getting a lot of him and Laura riding horses together and talking about their lives this season, and I like it very much and hope to see it continue long into the future.  In this case, he starts to tell Laura how he thinks he can be friends with Val, but Laura quickly punctures that balloon by saying, “Val can no more be friends with you than you could have a glass of wine with dinner or a drink every now and again.”  At this point, My Beloved Grammy opined that it’s none of Laura’s business what Gary and Val do, but I reminded her that Laura is friends to both of them, loves them both, and spent the last year watching Val go through pain and heartbreak before finally pulling herself together and improving her life by becoming a successful independent woman.  Really, her words are probably true; Val is addicted to Gary in the way Gary is addicted to booze.  We get a nice shot of Gary’s face and Shack is able to convey all his emotions with just his eyes; we see the change take over his face and know that he has now made his decision.  Gary and Val have arranged a little lunch date together, and we get the most heartbreaking scene of the ep: Poor Val (POOR VAL!) sitting all alone in the café, drinking many cups of coffee, being pestered by the snarky cunty waitress (“Are you ready to order yet?”) as she waits in vain for Gary.  Then we go outside and zoom back to reveal that Gary is sitting out in the parking lot, in his car, staring at her, debating going in.  Instead, he chooses to drive away and, if you listen really close, you can actually hear America screaming at their TV screens, “NO, GARY, GO IN!”  Nope, instead he drives away.

 

Wow, what a painful scene, and despite having almost no dialogue, I have so much to say about it.  Many TV shows have had a central couple to focus on as the “Will they or won’t they?” couple throughout their run.  Sam and Diane from Cheers are a famous example, and of course in the ‘90s people couldn’t get enough of Ross and Rachel, for some reason.  But Gary and Val are so clearly the best “Will they or won’t they?” couple in television history and I think everyone, writers, actors, directors, is working at the top of their game here to make us want them to get together while also making us understand why they can’t be.  Also, I am able to understand Gary’s motivations even as I so desperately want to see the two get back together.  My Beloved Grammy and I talked about why Gary doesn’t even go into the restaurant to explain his feelings to Val, and my own theory is that he feels he must hurt her this one final, painful time in order to really get her over him.  After what Laura says, he doesn’t want to be responsible for stringing Val along in any way, so in his own way, he’s using this cruelty as a way to release Val from his spell over her.



Next up, Gary returns to Abs and tells her he thinks they should get married, and right away.  When he says “right away,” he means the very next scene, by the way, because next time we see them, they are having a very small wedding ceremony outside in the glorious open land of Westfork, with only Brian, Olivia, and the priest present.  This scene is also stylishly intercut with Val’s other big story this week, which is having to take Lilimae to a sanitarium to undergo some tests and find out if she’s nutty.  What cinematic style this shows!  We keep crosscutting between Abs and Gary taking their sacred vows (wait a minute, that’s the title of the episode!) with this tremendously sad scene of Val leaving Lilimae alone.  Now, I don’t get choked up over the Lilimae stuff because, well, I know that she’s going to be back from the sanitarium in just a few episodes and, in the grand scheme of things, this storyline isn’t really that big of a deal, but that doesn’t mean we don’t have some fantastic acting from both J.V.A. and Julie Harris.  Harris does really manage to pull on your heartstrings here, because after Val leaves her alone in her room, she looks out the window and starts crying and I really felt sorry for her.

Last thing I wanna mention: Watching Gary get married to Abs, I found myself briefly questioning why none of the Texas Ewings were there to witness this.  However, after a second of chewing on it, it was easy for me to justify.  Obviously the behind-the-scenes reason is simply that the show isn’t doing Dallas crossovers anymore, but I came up with a few good story reasons why none of them would be there.  First off, this was one rushed wedding, taking place about five seconds after Gary said they should get married.  Also, nobody’s at this wedding, so it’s not like Gary only excluded the Texas Ewings.  Karen’s not here, Mack’s not here, there ain’t nobody here.  Finally, I actually think, deep down in his heart, Gary might be a little ashamed of what he’s doing and he simply doesn’t want his family to know about it, at least not at this point.  I’ll bet you a million dollars if little Lucy was over here to see this, she would be upset, because she wouldn’t want her daddy marrying Abs; she wants both of her parents to be together forever.
 
 

We are about to wrap up the episode, but the creative team still has one more surprise in store for us (the surprise that was spoiled by the opening guest star credits, as I already ranted about).  See, Abs and Gary don’t go too far for their romantic honeymoon; they just get a nice fancy hotel somewhere in California and decide to shag there.  Like all red blooded Americans, the two get hungry after a good sex session, so they call up for room service and in walks Cathy to deliver it.  This is our first glimpse of Lisa since Ciji died, barring that little teeny tiny flashback they had at the start of Marital Privileges, and we see that, while she looks like Ciji since she’s, you know, being played by the same actress, she does have different and not-as-flattering hair, kind of a bleach blonde look. 

As she enters the room, we have a nice bit in which Gary just keeps not noticing her while she lays out their food and stuff.  He’s busy fiddling with the fire and then signing the check and getting her tip ready and all that, but then he finally hands her the money and the two lock eyes and Gary’s eyes get all big and wide as if he’s just seen a ghost, which, in fact, he kinda has.  Then Cathy disappears back into the hallway and into the elevator and the doors slide shut just as Gary comes out into the hall to try and get another look at her.  This is all set to some classical music (I think Mozart) which really helps to add a little special spice to the sequence.  And then boom, the episode ends and we are all left to wait another long week (or, in the case of My Beloved Grammy and I, a couple of seconds) to find out exactly how Ciji seems to have been reincarnated as this new character.



Boy oh boy, was that episode packed or what?  So far, season five is just nonstop; every single episode is loaded with stories and material and excitement and the plots just keep growing and accelerating at this beautiful breakneck speed.  By this point, the viewers should be deeply hooked; if you’ve been watching the show, it’s got a grip on you so the very idea of not tuning in next week would be completely ridiculous.  Because of the breakneck speed of all the plot developments, it’s almost hard sometimes to keep seeing each ep as its own individual snowflake, the way I was able to do back in the seasons one through three era, but before finishing up, let me mention a few things I liked about this episode in particular.  I liked the use of classical music to set the tone (not just with Cathy coming into the hotel room, but also an earlier scene where Abs is lazing by the fireplace and waiting to hear from Gary) as well as the stylish crosscutting of Abs and Gary getting married with Lilimae being dropped off at the sanitarium.  Also, I need to correct myself, because this is the episode with the shot of Gary riding on his horse that is used in the opening credits sequence.  I note that because it was a quick scene but just beautiful to look at, even on my shitty bootleg copies, in which Gary rides out to the middle of the ranch and just peers out over all the splendid land he now lives on, his mind clearly occupied with big life decisions (at this point, I turned to My Beloved Grammy and did my Miss Ellie impression by saying, “Gary loved the laaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaand”).  So overall, while keeping everything zipping along, the episode still shines in special, individual ways thanks to the little touches and bursts of style thrown in by veteran director Nicholas Sgarro, our most prolific of all KL directors.

Coming up next, we start to get to the bottom of how exactly Ciji has managed to come back from the dead as a brand new person with A Change of Heart.