Thursday, March 23, 2017

KNOTS LANDING Episode 107 of 344: LOVE TO TAKE YOU HOME


Episode Title: Love to Take You Home

Season 06, Episode 07

Episode 107 of 344

Written by Peter Dunne

Directed by Larry Elikann

Original Airdate: Thursday, November 22nd, 1984

The Plot (Courtesy of TV.Com): Mack is served with divorce papers. Karen says she wants to explain, but she will need time. Mack finds out that Gary Loader has been killed. Val and Gary feel responsible for the MacKenzies' divorce. Abby and Scott Easton watch them talking from her office. Joshua's father, Jonathan, comes to Knots Landing determined to bring Joshua home with him. Joshua tells Cathy how confused he is and they make love. Afterwards, Joshua feels dirty and disgusted, and is horrified that Cathy doesn't feel ashamed, too. Joshua goes to see Reverend Kathryn, who has a religious show on the station, for advice. Joshua decides to stay and talks with his father. Scott Easton has lunch with Mitch Ackerman. Val goes to see her obstetrician, but she has been called away to a conference, and there is a new doctor - Mitch Ackerman. After Val's appointment, Ackerman calls Easton and tells him that he gave Val the pills, and that it will be two or three days at the most.


                Oh God yes.  In our last ep, which I still thought was very very good, I said how I don’t think Robert Becker is quite up there with “the big guys” when it comes to our KL directors, and so it’s with great pleasure that I note television auteur Larry Elikann is back in the director’s chair this week to give us a little masterpiece of television with Love to Take You Home, and he’s obviously aided immeasurably by the fact that this ep is written by the genius Peter Dunne, my new favorite person in the entire world (even though he never responded to my E-mail asking for an interview, sniff, cry).  Right away this ep is more visually dynamic and stimulating than our last one, as we open up on a preacher guy giving a little sermon to TV cameras for some religious show that Pacific World Whatever plays.  I like how this is shot by beginning in a tight closeup of the guy talking and then sorta pulling out to reveal that we are seeing him through the camera monitor.  Then Joshua comes walking by to deliver coffee (I think we’re still in the era where people pretty much just drank regular old coffee, and the main thing was asking whether they wanted cream and sugar or not; the era of the super snooty and entitled Starbucks customers who drink lattes and stuff feels like it’s about, erm, maybe ten years into the future).  When he sees this guy sermonizing, he pauses to look on with interest; obviously this is something that feels nice and comfortable to him, like if I was walking down a hallway and then saw they were filming a nighttime soap or a gay porno, I would probably feel right at home and pause to watch them continue.

                I’m noticing how, even in the super soap era of the series that we are now cozily nestled into, with long ongoing story arcs and all that stuff, individual eps will still manage to have their own flavor, their own themes running through.  The theme of this one is religion and religious oppression, so I appreciate how it begins right here in our very first scene.  This is not to say that this preacher is into oppression, by the way.  I actually think this preacher guy is pretty cool, kinda having a more modern and open minded aura about him than some religious people can have.  I also wanna note with surprise that this character (Reverend Kathryn, who will wind up being in six eps altogether) is played by Sandy Kenyon, who I was surprised to see was the voice of Jon Arbuckle in the first ever Garfield special, the absolutely soul-crushing Here Comes Garfield.


                You know what, let’s take a moment to go on a wild tangent about Here Comes Garfield and it’s dominance in my life and the fact that even thinking about it can make me cry.  This is a thirty minute short that is mostly fun and shenanigans with Garfield and Odie until the main plot kicks in, which is that Odie gets sent to the pound and then Garfield finds out he’s about to get put down.  From there, we have an agonizing scene in which this super sad song called So Long, Old Friend plays while Garfield flashes back to all the fun times he’s had with Odie.  I first saw this emotional rape when I was about eleven years old and was spending the night at a friend’s house.  We went wandering to the grocery store and found this VHS tape (back when those were still common; you kids today probably don't know what those are) of the special and we bought it for a buck or whatever and went home to watch it.  Little eleven year old Brett wasn’t quite as comfortable with his emotions and feelings back then as he is now (probably also cuz I was still wrestling with my sexuality and all that stuff), and when we hit that scene with the song and the montage, I started to cry uncontrollably, but I was embarrassed and didn’t want my friend to see me, so I spent most of the time hiding my face and letting the tears fall silently down my face.  I was convinced that if my friend saw me cry, he would make fun of me for crying at a thirty minute children’s cartoon, but when the special concluded, I finally turned to face my friend only to see that he was also crying uncontrollably and had tears just streaming down his face.  At that point, I was a little less embarrassed, though I still retired to the bathroom to sit in the bathtub for a few minutes and sob quietly to myself until I felt a bit better.  For years I never watched the special again, simply remembering how much it made me cry and how awful it made me feel, until I rediscovered it in college and decided to face my demons and watch it again and, of course, I cried like a little baby when I watched it again in college, and I probably haven’t watched it since then because it simply makes me feel so awful.  Now, make no mistake, the special ends with Garfield and Odie escaping the pound and living happily ever after, but it’s one of those instances where nothing can take away the pain of what we have seen or the emotions of that beautiful song that plays.



                Anyway, that was an unrelated tangent, but I felt like sharing, and, like I said, it very slightly relates because it appears this guy provided the voice of Jon in that special, although I don’t think he did the voice for the Garfield and Friends TV show that I used to watch which was, generally, much less emotionally rapey to sit through.  As for the character, I like him, although I might be getting ahead of myself and thinking of stuff he does in upcoming eps and not this one.  I’m not a big religious guy and I’m generally afraid of priests (mostly cuz of the whole I-don’t-want-to-get-raped thing), but this guy seems like one of those cool priests who actually believes in love and understanding and all that crap.


                This is in stark contrast to Joshua’s father, who we finally meet this week.  Before I move on to the character and what he does and all that, let’s talk about the actor, Transmorphers, and the fact that I think IMDb is wrong.  Okay, first off, Jonathan J. Rush is played by Albert Salmi (pictured above), a character actor who follows me around and always seems to be popping up in the things I watch.  I was just watching a James at 15 ep and there he was as James’ sleazy uncle.  Now, what’s funny about this guy is that he looks distinctly different to me based on whether he has a goatee or not.  Sometimes he’s got a goatee, and I’m like, “Oh, it’s that guy,” and sometimes he doesn’t and I usually don’t even recognize him without it (like for instance he’s in Caddyshack and I never realized it until I just looked it up).  As for Transmorphing, well, he played the super sleazy and rapey Gil Thurman (probably one of my favorite made-up names ever) over on Dallas during the 1982-1983 season.  This is the guy that J.R. sent to, like have a meeting at Sue Ellen’s little condo and then purposefully showed up real late so that Gil could get, erm, a little bit Trumpy with Sue Ellen.  God, he was a sleazeball on that show, but once you take away the goatee and have him morph into Jonathan, he no longer feels sleazy but, instead, frightening.  The reason I think IMDb is wrong is because they have him credited for three eps of KL; there’s this one, Tomorrow Never Knows, and To Sing His Praise.  Well, I’m not sure about To Sing His Praise because we haven’t gotten to that episode yet, but I’m almost 100% certain he’s not in Tomororow Never Knows, because we did watch that one and I have no memory of seeing him.  Was he cut out but still credited?  Is this a case where my copies are missing scenes?  In any case, I’ve been noticing lots of flaws and problems within IMDb’s cast crediting for eps of KL, so this is probably just another example.


                Fuck me, there’s so much style dripping from this episode.  One of the first scenes we see is Lilimae standing behind the gate of her house (I guess technically Val’s house, but you all get my meaning) and peering out through the bars, looking super sad and scared.  It’s framed in such a way that her face is center stage and the bars are around her, making it look like she’s in prison.  It’s a beautiful shot but also moves the story, telling us that Lilimae is scared about seeing this man from her past again.  When Gil Thurman (sorry, I meant Jonathan J. Rush) arrives at the house, Elikann shoots him from below to make him look tall, imposing, authoritative, and frightening.  The man immediately kills any fun that has the potential to grow in a room, because Joshua and Cathy enter the house in a happy, laughing mood, but as soon as Joshua sees his father, it’s very silent and spooky and Lilimae is just sitting in a chair looking all pale, like she’s going to be sick.  So I loved how Jonathan was shot from below, and then I loved the very next scene even more, in which this incredibly awkward pseudo-family dinner is shot from above, actually making it look like some sort of religious painting.  The sense of tension in the air is palpable, and you know that Jonathan is just not going to approve of anything, starting with this girl his son is running around with.  When he finds out that Cathy is a singer, he asks, “Do you sing religious hymns?” and Cathy kinda smiles and is like, “No, I don’t think Isadora would like that too much.”  Yeah, I’m gonna go ahead and say people who are smoking and drinking in a bar probably don’t want to hear a bunch of crappy religious songs, but hey, that’s just a guess.  After that, Jonathan moves on to Val, asking her about the babies and where the father is.  Right away we establish that we have a night club singer at the table along with a pregnant-out-of-wedlock woman; it’s a table full of sin!



                Jonathan is not just here for a friendly visit; he wants to take Joshua back to wherever they come from (they say it ten thousand times, I’m sure, and I’m just too dumb to pay attention or I’m too busy focusing more on the way some microscopic beam of light in the background exemplifies all the genius of television filmmaking).  He tells Joshua how it’s time to come back home and return to the church and continue his life of not having sex and not dancing and not singing and basically not having any kind of fun at all.  As appealing as that sounds, Joshua gets angry and declares he’s staying here with Lilimae and Val and then he runs off, Cathy hot on his heels.  Cathy finds Joshua up in some cliff area overlooking the water, all upset.  The music starts to swell as Joshua gives this big speech about how his whole life has been filled with shame and nothing was ever good enough for his father, and then the two start to make out and then roll around on top of each other and, well, we cut to a commercial, but I think we can all infer what happened, especially since when we return to the scene Joshua is gazing off into the distance and refusing to look at Cathy while she cries and asks why he thinks their making love is shameful (breaking CNN news alert: I am officially over my problem with the term “making love” and now I actually kinda like saying it, especially if a boy is special to me).  She says how Joshua is making her feel dirty, and he says, “What we just did is a violation of everything,” and Cathy says, “It’s the foundation of everything.”  Well, I’m definitely with her.  We are all sexual beings and sex is the very foundation of all life and existence and without it, we wouldn’t even be here; sorry to offend the delicate ears (or I should say “eyes”) of any potential religious fanatic readers I may have (I’m pretty sure I don’t have any).  While I could understand the temptation to be annoyed with Joshua and be like, “Get the fuck over your issues, dude,” I feel bad for him.  Decades of nicely ingrained shame every single day is a hard thing to shake off.  Obviously Joshua was a virgin until five minutes ago, so he’s probably quite certain he’s on the highway to Hell now and there’s no going back, which could probably ruin anybody’s day.


                Meanwhile, back at the house, Lilimae is much more forward and direct with Jonathan as soon as they have a private moment, which I think is interesting.  She looked like she was going to poop her pants at the dinner table scene and hardly spoke a word, but now that they are sitting alone, she gets rather authoritative and picks up his Bible and says, “I ought to beat you over the head with your good book.”  Then she gives a nice speech about how the foundation of religion is supposed to be love and she says how he doesn’t have any time for love even though, “You read about it and you preach about it; why can’t you feel it?”  What makes this scene extra interesting is that Jonathan just sits quietly and listens to her; this tells me that their relationship is much more complex than it appeared upon first glance.  I think it shows that he still has feelings of love for Lilimae; even though he condemns her as a sinner and says how she abandoned them, I think he still kinda likes being around her and listening to her talk.  He probably likes the fact that she is so direct with him, really. 

 

                God, KL is so good.  I’ve said this before and I’m gonna say it again, so deal with it, but this Jonathan character could have been nothing; he could have easily just been this one-episode guy that is shipped in to create a conflict and then is shipped out unceremoniously, but even he winds up being fascinating to watch, and seeing how Lilimae interacts with him is fascinating to watch, and you know what, I’m calling it right now: If ever there was a season to give Julie Harris her Emmy, it’s this one.  She says so much with her eyes, even when she’s not speaking and you can just see how her eyes are kinda filling up with tears, so very expressive, and I feel like we’ve reached some new level of maturity and high art by this juncture in the series that is exemplified by just how fucking good her incredible acting is.  The way this portion of the ep ends could also have been a write-off, but it works brilliantly for me.  See, Jonathan agrees to let Joshua stay here, and then we get a fabulous final scene between him and Lilimae outside the front door as he’s about to leave, donning a cool fedora and actually looking rather boss.  He turns to her and says, “I forgot what a spitfire you were,” and it’s this moment of rather naked emotion that I found very enjoyable to watch.  Finally, when he turns to walk away, you can see that Lilimae is getting a little misty and she sorta whispers, “Goodbye, Jonathan,” to which My Beloved Grammy declared that she thinks Lilimae still loves Jonathan, and you know what?  I think I agree.  It’s not a love like, “Let’s get immediately back together so I can be part of your church choir again and you can make us all feel really bad all the time,” but a more complex thing, that there was something that attracted these two to each other in the first place and that it’s still there in some small way over twenty years later.


                Okay, I’ve gone on way too long about just this one particular facet of the ep, so let’s move on to our other beautiful and wonderful and fascinating characters, starting with Gary and Val.  I forgot to mention it last ep, but Val has asked Mack to be her Lamaze coach and he has agreed cuz he’s so awesome and cool and fabulous and a good friend.  Also, and this is an easy thing to forget since it happened so long ago, but he’s one of the only people that knows the truth about Val’s babies.  If you’ll flashback to somewhere in season five (can’t remember the exact one, please forgive me), you’ll recall that Val visited Mack at his office and pretty much immediately told him the truth, and Mack has kept that secret very well all the way up to this point.  So, for the purposes of keeping score, let’s go down the list of who knows the truth.  We’ve got Val, of course, as well as Ben, Mack, and, most recently Abs and, by extension, the wicked and creepy Scott Easton.

                Anyway, when Val arrives at Lamaze, she’s surprised to see Gary there, but it turns out he’s not really there to see her (although he expressed his desire to be her coach last week), but rather to talk to Mack and tell him the truth about what’s going on.  What an amusing little scene, and what utter cuteness it is to watch Gary and Val frantically try to explain to a confused Mack what’s going on, how they were trying to hatch a plan to get him and Karen back together, but it’s now backfired since Karen has officially filed for divorce from him.  Ah, such a sordid state of affairs.  The beautiful thing is that Mack has this knowing and rather amused look on his face, and when they’re done explaining things to him, he’s like, “Oh, so you guys think me and Karen should be together, huh?”  To that, Gary and Val both get these really funny expressions on their face and kinda look at each other, suddenly realizing the elephant in the room, which is of course that anyone on the cul-de-sac or near the cul-de-sac or living in the state of California or inhabiting the planet Earth can see that Gary and Val are soul mates who love each other deeply and are meant to be together.


                This whole thing is playing brilliantly for me, by the way, how Gary and Val are really and truly just spending so much time together because they’re hatching a plan, not because they are gonna get back together.  However, we can understand Abby’s growing paranoia as everywhere she looks, she sees Gary and Val talking and looking rather happy together.  There is a tremendous visual scene in which Abs is pacing her office with Scott Easton standing behind her, the shadows from the venetian blinds splashed across the dark backdrop of the wall to make the scene look creepy and secretive.  She goes over to the window and peers out and is able to see Gary and Val talking over in Gary’s office, and the shadows illuminate her face and accentuate her baby blue eyes.  Stunning, simply stunning, this is how you shoot an episode of television.

                The ever creepy 80s Rapist Beard looms in shadow behind Abs as she looks through the window, spending most of the episode reassuring her that “her bonus” should be arriving shortly.  In case it’s not clear, I’m talking about Scott Easton, who is making his penultimate appearance on the series in this episode.  Now might be a good time to sorta re-explain what’s going on with this guy and how it all relates to Val’s babies.  In truth, there are some aspects of this that I’m still having a bit of trouble completely figuring out, so forgive me any lapses, but basically Abs needs to make sure Lotus Point has a water supply and there was some reason or other that they were at risk to not be allowed any of the water, but she hired Easton to figure it out for her and so that’s what he’s doing.  So his main job is supposed to be figuring out the whole water thing, but “the bonus” that he keeps mentioning presumably has something to do with Val’s babies.  I’m not trying to create the impression that I don’t know where this storyline is leading; of course I know because I’ve seen this before and it’s probably the best storyline in the whole series history, but I am trying to explain it the way it’s occurring onscreen, the way this would play to a first time viewer in 1984, who would probably be as confused as Abs is every time Easton cryptically says, “Your bonus should be arriving any time, Mrs. Ewing.”

                What are Laura and Sumner up to this week, by the way?  We get a little less of them than usual, and I think it might even be as little as one scene, a rather lovely moment of intimacy between them at a hotel in….somewhere.  Clearly I don’t know my geography well and I don’t really pay attention to the dialogue when people say they’re going somewhere, but it’s really not all that important.  It’s enough to just say they are out of town, staying in a hotel.  Laura’s telling some story about her youth and a friend of hers that married a super sexy lifeguard and then the lifeguard died and left her with a bunch of money or something.  I love how this story has absolutely nothing to do with the plot; it makes it feel more like real people hanging out and talking.  Also, the way they are interacting definitely tells me that they are starting to feel love for each other, and we also get the sense that even if Greg was mad at Jane for asking for a divorce last ep, his heart is starting to belong to Laura.  My Beloved Grammy also noticed that and said how at first she thought Sumner just wanted another notch on his bedpost with Laura, but now she thinks he’s really falling for her.  The only thing I don’t love about this scene is that Greg is rubbing Laura’s feet.  Ick.  I know it feels good to get a foot massage and all that, but I’m not into feet and I’m not one of those foot fetish people (not naming any names here, Quentin Tarantino).  I don’t judge since I don’t believe in judging peoples’ fetishes and kinks, but it just ain’t for me and I could have lived without seeing him rub Laura’s foot.



                I feel like I glossed over Karen last ep, so let’s focus on her a bit.  Near the start of the ep, we have a heated argument between her and Eric, who is mad at her for seeking a divorce from Mack and doesn’t understand why she is doing this.  I like the way this scene plays, with them talking out on the driveway while he frantically tries to start a car that won’t work properly.  He gets all pissed and is like, “I hate this car!” and has to get out and open the hood and ask Sexy Michael to try revving the engine.  Then he angrily sorta grabs Sexy Michael out of the car and shoves him aside, which I did not approve of.  Look, I know you’re all angry, Eric, but it’s simply not okay to be rude or violent with one of God’s most beautiful and sublime creatures like your brother, Sexy Michael, a brother who is soooooooo unbelievably sexy that I think, in this instance, it would actually be okay to commit incest, and I think if he was my brother, I would simply have to do it; I would have no other choice.  Sexy Michael even gets the last line of the scene, cuz after Eric speeds off, Karen asks him if he’s equally mad, and he says, “No, but I am mad,” and then he gets real serious and asks, “How can you not love Mack?”  Yes, I understand his question, which is almost a rhetorical one, kinda like asking, “How could you not fuck the shit out of Sexy Michael as soon as you saw him?” 


                There are many benefits to watching the show for a second time with some idea of how future events are going to proceed, and I noticed one instance here in this ep.  See, we are at a lovely looking restaurant with Val, but when the scene actually starts, we don’t begin on Val, but on a table occupied by the wicked Easton and the even more wicked Dr. Ackerman.  Now, we haven’t actually been introduced to Dr. Ackerman yet, so upon first viewing, when watching this, all you see is Easton sitting with some old white guy, but watching it this time, I was like, “There’s Ackerman!”  Like I said, we start on the two, then the camera pans over to Val’s table, and then Easton comes over to be creepy with Val and say, “Would you think me immodest if I said congratulations?”  He leers at her pregnant belly for awhile and then he leaves the restaurant, but not before turning around and giving Ackerman a look while Ackerman evilly sips a glass of white wine.

 

                I do wanna talk about the actor playing Ackerman real fast, mostly because he’s a Transmorpher.  His name is Laurence Haddon (pictured both above and below) and I got a big surprise when I peeked at his IMDb because I thought he was only in one episode of Dallas from around 1986 or 1987.  Turns out he’s in seventeen, going as far back as 1980 with Nightmare and spanning all the way to 1986 with The Fire Next Time.  Apparently he’s even in the most famous episode of all time, Who Done It?  He played Franklin Horner on the show, and I honestly remember nothing about the character except that he was, like, an oil guy who worked with J.R. or something (there was a lot of oil on that show; it all blurs).  I’m not gonna bother listing his credits because they are myriad; he looks to be one of those people who’s in every TV show ever made.  What surprises me is that he’s only in six eps of KL; in my mind it was way more.  Anyway, he’s here now and I’m excited/nervous to see him.


                Last scene of the ep involves Ackerman, cuz we see Val having a meeting with a doctor, but we can’t see the doctor’s face right away.  There’s an exchange of dialogue that nicely covers the bases from prior eps by establishing that her lady doctor is out of town for the month for some reason.  The still-faceless doctor gives Val some pills and tells her to take them however many times a day.  Then Val leaves and the camera pans up to reveal the face of Ackerman, who evilly picks up a phone and evilly dials the numbers and then evilly says, “Shouldn’t be long now; two, three days at the most,” and that’s how we end the episode.  What a spooky ending, and if I was watching this on original airing, I would be legit frightened at what’s about to happen, much like I could tell My Beloved Grammy was legit frightened.  Like I said before, she was utterly convinced that Easton and Ackerman were just going to flat out kill the babies, and she believed these pills were going to force Val into a miscarriage or kill the babies while they’re inside of her or something like that.  If I was watching this week to week in the ‘80s, I would probably think the same thing, and I would be scared.  Stuff like this gives me a boner, though (obvious not a literal boner, you understand), and I think it might be from watching Rosemary’s Baby a lot as a kid.  I’m a big fan of the idea of evil doctors or people we are meant to trust as authority figures who are actually duplicitous and lying to us and causing us harm.  It’s such a frightening idea, and it always works well to severely creep me out, and it’s working well here.



                In fact, I’ll just conclude and say everything about this ep is working well.  In my notes where I do the little “Overall Review” part before we move on to the next ep, I simply wrote, “Oh God Elikann,” and I think that says it all.  Elikann may be elevating into my top director, actually, because his eps are always so damn good and so stylish and distinctive; I’m starting to want to watch all his television work to see if he was actually some sort of television auteur that nobody except me is talking about.  The lighting and shadows and compositions throughout this ep were just great, but beyond all that arty farty stuff that I care about, the story is inherently gripping.  No fucking wonder this is the season that leapt to #9 in the ratings (the only year in KL history to hit the top ten, which hurts me deeply); if you were watching this in 1984-1985, could you possibly stop watching it?  I would be cancelling all my potential Thursday night plans for the entire year just to make sure I’d be home to watch this, and I can’t believe there could be anything better on television that year (this happens to be the year that Miami Vice started, actually, but I’m gonna let you in on a little secret: That show sucks).  So fuck yeah, this was clearly a work of genius and I suggest we proceed to the next work of genius, which is entitled Tomorrow Never Knows.

2 comments:

  1. Bug-eyed Ackerman is one of the best minor villains with a major villain rep in all of tv history.

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  2. Totally agree about Ackerman! The fact that he made such an impression in just 6 episodes proves that. And his last episode and final scene was one of the best moments of drama on any nighttime soap IMO.

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