Thursday, June 29, 2017

A Brief DALLAS Interlude Part 11 of 12: THE FAMILY EWING


 A BRIEF DALLAS INTERLUDE: PART 11 OF 12

 

Episode Title: The Family Ewing

Season 09, Episode 01

Written by Leonard Katzman

Directed by Nick Havinga

Original Airdate: Friday, September 27th, 1985

The Plot (Courtesy of TV.com): The Ewings come together for Bobby's funeral; Dusty tells Sue Ellen he loves her; Miss Ellie is happy to have Gary back for a time.
 
 

 

                Welcome back to A Brief Dallas Interlude.  Do you realize it’s been nearly three years since we’ve covered one of these?  Remember the old days when it felt like these Interludes were popping up kinda constantly?  Then Jock’s Will came along in 1982 and Gary showed up for that, but since then, we haven’t had any stops off in Texas and it was a rather interesting feeling to return to that world again after so much time away.  In fact, I should mention that I feel like I’m gonna end up talking about Dallas a lot more in this writeup than I might have thought before My Beloved Grammy and I watched the ep.  With the previous Interludes, I’ve tried to strictly focus on what Gary/Val do in their appearances and kinda ignore all the Dallas storylines and shenanigans going on, but with The Family Ewing, it’s gonna be a little trickier, mostly because I just have so much to say about, well, so much different stuff.  First off, this is the last time we are going to see something happen on Dallas and then directly effect the stories over on KL, so that’s significant, but also I just found a lot of interesting points within this ep that are just interesting on their own merits.  Let’s just go ahead and dive right in.

                First off, this was one of our smoothest transitions from a KL ep to a Dallas Interlude, in my opinion.  Usually, we’re watching KL and then I feel somewhat apologetic when I get up to take out the KL disk and put in a Dallas disk and I’m kinda like, “Yeah, sorry, we gotta watch a Dallas now,” and it usually feels like it’s sorta killing the momentum we’ve been building over on the better series.  This time, however, our penultimate scene of The Longest Day was Gary receiving the news that his brother Bobby had died, and then we had one more short little scene after that before the ep concluded, and then we make the jump into The Family Ewing and it immediately starts with everyone reacting to Bobby’s death and it felt rather seamless, actually.  Even though we were pausing the events of Val and her babies and Laura and Greg and all that stuff to go off and visit Texas for 48 minutes, it still felt surprisingly organic and not whiplash inducing as previous Interludes have felt.  Even better, when The Family Ewing concluded and I switched us back over to KL for Here In My Arms, that felt super organic, too, for reasons I’ll explain further down the line. 

                Basically we open up with everyone in the cast reacting to Bobby’s death, with some displaying better acting than others.  Right away, I’m sorta torn two ways here, because on one hand this ep ended up playing a lot better than I had remembered it, reminding me that very rarely does a show simply turn to complete crap between eps; it’s usually a slow and steady decline.  So even though I tend to go on about, “Just watch seasons 1-8 of Dallas and then never watch 9-14,” it’s honestly not like you start this episode and you’re immediately like, “Oh, this is awful!”  In fact, it reminded me that, when watching the dream season, it actually played pretty okay for about five or ten eps and started to decline rapidly around the middle section of the season (whenever the hell Barbara Carrera shows up).  So on one hand, I’m watching this ep and thinking, “This is actually kinda sorta almost good,” but then at the same time, I recognize that it’s so clearly inferior to KL in absolutely every way, and the most obvious example is the acting and the writing.  I’m not gonna shit on too many people here, but let’s just look at this early scene where Pam is gathered around her bed with Cliff and, um, that forgettable chick who is in a couple of seasons (Jamie?) by her side, and she’s crying and freaking out about Bobby’s death and saying, “It was my fault,” and it’s just all very over-the-top and campy.  Ken Kercheval is clearly drunk in the scene (although I’m pretty sure he’s clearly drunk in every scene of the series he’s in from start to finish), but that’s not even what I’m focusing on; it’s more the way Pam expresses her grief.  The music is pounding and super loud and everything is just very extreme.  Contrast this with how it would be handled on KL, where it would probably be a much more quiet and realistic thing (go on back to my writeup on Critical Condition and that amazing moment when the characters found out Sid had died).  So right off the bat, we see a good clear example of some Dallas shortcomings that KL usually manages to avoid.
 
 
 

                Another good example of Dallas shortcomings came pretty much right away when we got to the stuff involving Sue Ellen being drunk again.  Yeah yeah, I know this is the season where she hits rock bottom and then finally sobers up and Bob Loblaw, but I’m just talking about how seeing her drinking made me reflect on the difference between the two shows.  Over on KL, Gary goes on exactly two benders, the first in season one and the second in season four.  The season four bender is not just the writers being like, “Uh, we need something to do with Gary; let’s just get him drunk again.”  No, rather it was an almost spiritual journey in which he hit his own rock bottom and then came out of it and was able to get his life back together and start becoming a mature, adult person.  With Dallas, however, I feel like Sue Ellen returning to the booze was just a crutch the writers would fall on when they couldn’t think of anything else to do (and if there’s one thing the Dallas writers were not good at, it was giving their female characters interesting storylines and things to do). 

                This weaves well into what I want to discuss now, which is the glorious appearance of Gary within the confines of this ep.  Man, in my memory, Gary just sorta showed up and had a brief scene or two and didn’t make much of an impression, but my memories must have been very wrong.  See, the first time we see Gary in this ep, it’s during a phone conversation with Miss Ellie (who at this point has morphed into Donna Reed and, now, back into Barbara Bel Geddes).  I paid real close attention to this scene, by the way, because I wanted to see if Gary is clearly standing on the same set as his ranch on KL, but I fear my eye is not sharp enough.  All I can remember is that he’s standing in front of some venetian blinds, and I can’t remember if those venetian blinds are part of the KL Westfork set or not; anyone else know?  Also, and to me very significant for the next batch of KL eps we have to watch, Gary says to Miss Ellie, “He’s gone and I never got a chance to tell him how much I cared for him.”  Wow, this line actually hit me kinda hard, probably cuz I have a brother of my own and I love him about as much as anyone in the world.  After that line, Gary says how he’ll be there soon for the funeral and then we don’t see him for a couple of minutes.
 

                When we next see him, he’s arriving at Southfork and, here’s another interesting thing to note, he shakes Clayton’s hand and says, “Good to meet you.”  It’s very strange to think that, yeah, Gary has never met his mother’s new husband; he’s been too busy having his amazing and exciting adventures over in California.  I’m not pointing this out as a flaw, but just as an interesting observation, although I do think it’s a flaw that Lucy is nowhere in sight and all we get is Gary having a phone call with her, hanging up the phone, and then declaring that Lucy can’t make it to the funeral.  This is a flaw, but it’s a Dallas flaw, not a KL flaw.  Charlene Tilton had just left the show (or been fired or something), so that’s the real reason she’s not here, but it’s clearly asinine to think that she wouldn’t be able to show up for her own damn uncle’s funeral, plus you’d also think she’d want to see her daddy (they throw in some shitty line about, “She and Mitch can’t get a plane on time,” or something ridiculous like that, as if the Ewing family with all their money and power couldn’t just pull some strings to get her here).  Anyway, I noted this because it also further illustrates how truly estranged both Gary and Val are from Lucy by this point; her little crossover appearance way back in season one feels like nothing but a distant memory now.
 
 
 

                The best Gary scene, and one that really came alive in a special way when viewed through the lens of only including these Interludes when they pop up, was the one where he takes a walk around the ranch with Miss Ellie and they have a little chat (and yet another example for my continuing “KL is better than Dallas” argument pops up here, because Southfork is so boringly shot and visually uninteresting compared to how sprawling and epic Westfork feels over on KL, where everything is just shot with more cinematic flair and life).  In the chat, Miss Ellie encourages Gary to stay in California, saying, “Your show is really quite good and the most recent season ranked #9 in the ratings, so I think you should stay there.”  Okay, she doesn’t say that, but she does say that Gary belongs in California and then she gives him this big hug and says, “There’s a strength in you that wasn’t there before.”  It’s this line that really stuck out to me here, and let me try to explain why.

                A long time back, when my brother and I got heavy into Dallas, we only cared strictly about Dallas and whenever Gary would show up, neither of us cared all that much; we’d just be like, “Oh, there’s that drunk black sheep brother from over in California.”  Even by this point, when we were starting the freaking ninth season of the series, I still don’t think I had even bothered to go do some research on the spinoff series yet.  I knew it existed, but I just didn’t care (can you imagine?!).  So with a scene like this, it was just like, “Oh, there’s Gary from California,” and Miss Ellie’s line about strength didn’t really have any meaning for me.  Now, however, I see that it’s tracking very nicely with what we have spent the last three seasons of KL watching.  The last time Gary showed up on Dallas, he was a complete mess who was headed rapidly back to the bottle, but over the course of seasons four, five, and six, he managed to strengthen up and become this awesome, sexy, confident, mature Gary that we now know and love.  So suddenly I’m watching this brief little scene with a whole new context and everything has so much more meaning to me; it’s really kinda a cool feeling.
 
 
 

                The last significant Gary scene occurs late in the episode in the Ewing family’s favorite room, their cocktail room (oh wait, every room at Southfork is the cocktail room).  Basically, J.R. is all upset because, you know, his brother died, and Ray says how he could help J.R. out with anything he needs help with over in the Ewing Oil offices, and then J.R. gives this really nasty speech about how, “I only had one brother and now he’s dead and nobody can take his place, least of all the two of you,” and he gives a really evil glare to both Ray and Gary.  What I noted in this scene was Gary’s under reaction; he doesn’t get all offended or pissed off with J.R., but rather remains mellow.  If this was a few years ago, he’d probably get all upset and run for the bottle, but now he lets J.R.’s comments roll off of his back because he’s the new, self actualized Gary.  Ah, what a fabulous thing to witness.

                That about does it for the Gary footage for this ep, but I feel like I would like to address a few other things, some of which will be me talking some crap about Dallas and some of which will be me giving it some praise.  Let’s get the trash talk out of the way first.  I said that Victoria Principal’s acting when she’s crying on the bed left something to be desired, but it’s award worthy when put up against Priscilla Presley as Jenna, a character who wasn’t around when we did our last Interlude three years ago.  Fuck, is she a bad actress.  I grew up watching her in the Naked Gun trilogy and she’s perfect there (perhaps because the ZAZ team was smart enough to see that they could harness her bad acting and then channel it into the crazy goofy-but-still-being-played-as-serious world of The Naked Gun), but she is easily the worst cast member ever on Dallas and I feel like I must have blocked much of her bad acting out of my mind.  In The Family Ewing, there’s a really painful scene in which she comes upon her daughter, Charlie (who is also not one of the most impressive actresses), like, petting her horse in the stables and talking to the horse, and then Charlie says, “Why did Bobby have to die?” and Jenna makes a really goofy face and then they have some dialogue or other.  Basically it’s awful and I turned to My Beloved Grammy and said, “They would never allow acting this bad over on KL,” and I stand by that.  I’m open to listening to other people’s opinions, though, so please, if you think there was ever anyone, either a main cast member or a recurring member or even just a small walk-on role for one episode of KL, if you really think there was ever anyone on KL who was as bad an actor or actress as Priscilla Presley is here, please write in and tell me and I will seriously consider your opinion. 
 
 
 

                But now I’m ready for compliments, and I guess what it boils down to is that this particular episode was just much, much better than I remembered it being and I enjoyed it enough that, God help me, I really think I’m gonna devote to watching all 31 eps of the dream season just because I enjoyed watching this particular ep.  I actually saw a lot of good stuff coming out of the story of Bobby’s death, and I thought the acting by Hagman as he deals with his grief was rather fabulous (although you’ll never hear me saying a bad word about Hagman or his portrayal of J.R.).  Jesus Christ, I even liked Miss Ellie in this ep; what’s happening to me?  I think maybe I was just more willing to forgive her for being a mopey old hag because her son had died and I could understand why that would make her mopey.  However, I also think part of it is just that I like the stuff I’m seeing in front of me, and it’s making it very clear to me that the big problem was not the fact that they killed Bobby, but the fact that they went and erased it a year later.  Watching this, it actually makes me think of season three of KL and the death of Sid.  He died right at the start of the season and then we spent the rest of the season watching the characters going on with their lives with this tragic event hanging over them.  I feel like that’s what they’re trying to do right here in this season of Dallas, but the problem is that they just went and retconned it the next season and turned the whole thing into a big, terrible joke. 
 
 
 

                Oh yeah, and one last thing I liked about this episode was that it was much more well shot than I tend to think of Dallas being.  It had a cool, colorful look and even some real style, like a sexy dissolve shot to Miss Ellie sitting at Bobby’s funeral.  I always rant on and on incessantly about how KL is more visual than Dallas, and obviously that’s true, but maybe they were making some conscious effort to up the style this year, because it sure looked a hell of a lot better than I remember it looking (though still not comparable to what’s going on visually and stylistically at the same time over on KL).
 
 
 

                The real reason that I’m considering rewatching this entire dream season (still haven’t made my mind up on it yet) is because I’m fascinated to study Peter Dunne’s contribution as the producer and showrunner for the year.  I just can’t fathom how you go from three such brilliant years of television as seasons four, five, and six of KL to running a season of Dallas that pretty much everyone remembers as terrible.  I’m also fascinated and slightly disgusted to discover that Peter Dunne actually writes way more eps of Dallas than he did of KL, and I’d be interested to watch those eps and look for the Peter Dunne touch in them.  As I sit here typing this, yeah, I think I am gonna go ahead and watch the dream season, but I won’t do an episode-by-episode breakdown of them on this blog; this blog is about KL and that’s where my heart belongs.  I think what I’ll do is just watch the season, on my own time, when I feel like it, by myself, and then afterwards I might write a little thing about it that’s not strictly related to KL but would just sorta be my thoughts on this season as its own individual little year, trying to watch it without the filter of knowing it all turns out to be a dream.
 
 

                Okay, enough about all that.  I’ll finish off by saying that this was probably my favorite Brief Dallas Interlude we’ve done not just cuz I enjoyed watching it as its own individual episode, but because I thought it gave us some great Gary material and felt like a very organic crossing over from spinoff series to parent series.  I’m also eager to discuss how Gary’s appearance here has ramifications within the stories on KL in the next eps up for discussion.  In fact, let’s go ahead and move right along now, away from Texas for a very, very long time (it will be a whopping six years before we have another Interlude, and that would be for the final ep of Dallas in 1991, Conundrum) and back into our glorious California world.  Next up, we shall discuss the second ep of KL’s seventh season, Here In My Arms.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

KNOTS LANDING Episode 131 of 344: THE LONGEST DAY


KNOTS LANDING SEASON 7 (1985-1986)

THE CAST ROSTER


Episode Title:  The Longest Day

Season 07, Episode 01

Episode 131 of 344

Written by David Paulsen


Original Airdate: Thursday, September 26th, 1985

The Plot (Courtesy of TV.Com): Laura gets a call to show a house, but it's really Greg, who has a romantic dinner set up. At the Fisher's, Mack and Ben follow Harry, but lose him. Val meanwhile tries to break down the door. Mack says he'll get a court order so the Fisher's can't leave, but the Judge won't grant it until there's more evidence. Mack stations men outside their house. Val refuses to leave, so Ben waits with her. He tells Val that Karen believed her all along, and worked for months to find the babies. Val's upset that no one told her they believed her. Harry arrives home with a police escort, who tell Val she has to leave. She loses it. At home, Joshua tells Val that her babies were found because he and his viewers prayed that she would be forgiven of her sins. Val drives back to the Fishers and waits all night in her car. Mack has Karen bring Val to the hospital to get the birth records, but the clerk says there are no records of the twins. Abby tells Gary that there was a call from Southfork and Bobby is dead.

 


Welcome back to a brand new season of KL.  There’s nothing quite so exciting as getting started on a brand new year of KL, is there?  It’s always such a feeling of joy to know you are embarking on another year long voyage with these amazing actors and these incredible characters and this dynamic storytelling, and I’m willing to bet that no season premiere of the series could have ever been more anticipated than this one, coming an agonizing four months after the concluding moments of season six way back in May of 1985.  Can you imagine just having to sit around for four entire months not knowing what’s going to become of Valene or her babies?  Oh, the suspense and agony of waiting must have been just crushing, but, I’m willing to bet, also terribly exciting, as well.


 

Oh man, there’s always so much to talk about with the season premieres, and this one is obviously no exception, and I really don’t know where to start.  I suppose I’ll start right at the beginning, which is of course our classic opening credits sequence.  Actually, the very first thing we see is our usual thirty second preview (and it looks pretty darn exciting; there are car chases and stuff in it!) followed by the opening, so let’s talk about the glory that is the season seven opening and how it stacks up to the previous batch of seasons.  Well, in the layout, we are still comfortably within the era of the scrolling squares, and we’re gonna stick to the scrolling squares through season seven and eight before getting a big change in the opening with season nine.  Also, the cast layout is exactly the same as with season six (and that’s a good thing; if you’ll recall, I believe I declared the season six cast lineup to be the very finest in the entire series’ history) and also the basic gist of the theme song is about the same, although with some changes.  I always seem to struggle when it comes to trying to describe how a piece of music sounds.  In my brain, I can hear the music and understand that it sounds different than the previous seasons, but when I try to articulate why, I seem to fail.  My Beloved Grammy helped me out here as we were watching, cuz I tried to point out the little intricacies and differences from this theme to the season six one, and she said that the season six one was more sweeping and orchestral while this one is more jazzy, and I’d say that’s right.  Also, this version sounds louder than the previous two, like more booming and bombastic, a little more grab-you-by-the-balls.  Also, this is without a doubt the longest version of the opening, because at about the 1:07 mark, right about as Donna Mills' name is scrolling past us, it sorta reloops and starts to play the theme, like, again, if that makes any sense.  Honestly, it’s almost comical how long this goes on (nearly two minutes!) but I say that with love, and I’m so deeply and sickly obsessed with this style of opening that I feel I can just watch it all day.  In terms of pure sound, I don’t know where I’d rank this version.  In case I haven’t made it clear, the trilogy of openings that span seasons five, six, and seven are my three favorite versions of the opening, and I seem to alternate constantly between which of the three I like the best.  Right now, I think I might like season five and six better than this version, but this could easily change day in and day out, all based on nothing more than my moods.
 
 
 

Okay, how about those squares?  Well, I’m glad you asked, because we actually get quite a bit of new shots this season, which is a cause for celebration.  Some of the credits seem to look pretty much the same, but it seems like we get some more new footage as we move further through the cast.  Some of my favorite shots within this title sequence are one of the very first squares we see, Abby and Gary taking a stroll through Westfork, and then I also love Laura wearing her huge, ridiculous Librarian Glasses, mostly because I don’t know who could have possibly been drunk/stoned enough to think that The Librarian Glasses were glamorous enough to be in the fabulous opening credits.  Do you think this was a Constance decision?  Do you think the actors were consulted about what they wanted their credits to look like?  Do you think Constance went to the powers that be and said, “I’m wearing The Librarian Glasses in the opening credits and you can suck my dick if you don’t like it”?  Or do you think the images in the titles were decided by somebody else altogether?  Such mysteries!

Let’s think of a few other images I especially like.  Oooh, after getting kinda obsessed with that random one-off sex session that Greg and Abs had somewhere in mid season six, I now noticed right away that the shot of Greg pushing Abs up against the wall is now in the opening, and yay!  I also like Abs trying to walk away from Gary and him grabbing her arm and I like the shot of Val and Ben dancing together (Ben peeking out from behind the tree is now gone forever).  I’ve ranted on about the sheer genius that is these opening credits quite enough, I think, but suffice it to say that I still never get bored watching them and I love trying to focus my eyes on all the different images at once, although it proves impossible.  What a brilliant opening this really is, and so vastly underrated in the grand TV landscape.

After the credits are over, we get a very long recap of the concluding five episodes of season six.  This might be annoying if My Beloved Grammy and I had finished season six and then immediately put in season seven, but it’s helpful when you remember the big gap of time between seasons, that 1985 viewers in the fall needed a little reminder of what went down last season.  In fact, the recap remains helpful to this very day, because there was a gap of a few weeks between My Beloved Grammy and I getting together to finish season six and then getting together to start season seven, and she herself had forgotten some details.  Rather surprisingly, when they recapped the part where Dr. Ackerman blows his brains out, My Beloved Grammy said she had forgotten about that part, which is funny just cuz it’s stuck in my brain ever since I first watched the series.  Also, this recap is actually done very smoothly cuz we are getting all this old footage we’ve already seen, leading us right up to the concluding moments of season six, but instead of making it obvious where the new footage begins, it all just sorta keeps going and we’re into new footage without even feeling the switch; very clever.  Oh yeah, also, and perhaps wisely, we do not see the slow motion “Harry; they’re gonna take the babies” again; instead, she just says this line like normal, not in slow motion. 

As soon as we enter the new footage, Harry goes speeding off in his station wagon with one of the babies (I think the boy one?) and Mack and Ben hop into a car for an exciting high speed car chase.  I’m noticing that the season premieres tend to be very action packed; have you noticed that?  When I say ‘action packed,’ I mean that in the literal way; there is always a lot of pure action going on.  The season four premiere already feels so far away and from such a long time ago, and I remember that one being very slow and deliberate in its pacing, but then seasons five and six have both premiered with big, exciting eps in which people are speeding along in cars and having adventures, and season seven continues that tradition.  In this instance, we get quite a lot of Ben and Mack pursing Harry, all while some very loud music blares over the soundtrack.  I’m immediately seeing a good case for why Harry and Sheila should have the babies taken away from them, and that is the fact that Harry is driving a car with a small baby in it like an absolute madman and nearly causing some wrecks (I appreciate that this is pointed out in dialogue when Mack screams at him, “Don’t be crazy; you’re gonna kill that kid!”).  Anyway, the chase goes on for awhile until Harry manages to lose Mack and Ben, who return to the Fisher home to report on their failure.

Back at the Fisher place, we’ve got a lot going down.  First off, there’s Val pounding and screaming at the door like a crazy person, shrieking about, “Give me my babies; they’re mine!”  We also have Karen trying to explain the situation to a cop, which I enjoyed.  This is another good example of that special KL writing style that allows soapy and over-the-top things to occur without ever drifting too far out of the realm of reality.  If this was some other series, I feel like the characters might just, sorta, you know, walk into the house and snatch the babies back and then the writers would find someone to end the story all fast and abrupt.  Here, interference comes in a realistic way from this cop, because when Karen tries to explain to him what’s going on, she has a hard time.  She says how the couple in the house have twin babies that don’t belong to them, that they belong to her friend, that the babies were taken from her friend when she delivered, Bob Loblaw.  The problem is that the cop is like, “Well, do you have any actual proof of this?” and Karen of course has to say that she does not.  It also doesn’t help that, a few minutes later, Harry shows up with a certificate of live birth.  Hmmm, now where the heck did he get this?  In between the high speed car chase and his return to the house, we saw a quick scene of him stopping to talk to that sleazy adoption guy (Cavanaugh, last seen in the ep One Day in a Row when he made an evil phone call to Dr. Ackerman), so I guess that Cavanaugh pulled some strings real fast and was able to forge a certificate of live birth.  I feel like once you get into the business of baby stealing and illegal adoption, you just keep shit like this lying around in case of an emergency, so that must be how Harry got it. 

By the way, I feel like I’ve got a shit ton to say about both Harry and Sheila, but I feel like perhaps now is not the best moment.  They are obviously very active and very important to this ep, but it’s really the next three eps that provide me with such fascinating thoughts and questions about this couple.  I will say that, right here, right at this exact juncture meaning this exact episode of the series, I like Sheila but I don’t like Harry, but we’re gonna see some stuff in the next three eps that may cause me to change my mind.  We get just the barest hint of it here, and it’s when Harry calls Sheila from a payphone after the high speed car chase and he makes a comment about, “Don’t lose it again.”  As soon as I heard that, I got very intrigued and was like, “Lose it?  What does that mean?”  We didn’t have any dialogue like that in the previous season, although of course we barely spent any time with the Fishers in the previous season.  Again, I reiterate how much I love the KL writing and I love how they aren’t giving us all the details of the Fisher marriage or how they came to obtain Val’s babies in the first place; they let these things unfold very organically over the course of time whereas other shows would be making this as painfully clear as possible right away.
 
 
 

Oh yeah, and one more thing before I move away from the Fisher house and focus on some other stuff for the ep: I just love any shot of Sheila at the window, peeking through the blinds.  Again, who to credit for the fact that KL always looks so God damned good?  The shots of Sheila peeking through the venetian blinds and the light coming through in that fabulous pattern on her face, almost like Janet Leigh in that famous publicity shot from Psycho, just marvelous, simply marvelous.  Is shit like this decided simply by the director while they’re shooting?  Or does it come from an overall team of creative people who work together to make sure the show consistently looks good?  In any case, it’s one of those things that I just love and adore about the show, and it’s nicely on display here.
 
 
 

Basically, Harry showing up with that certificate of live birth makes him look like the one who’s in the right and Val and her friends the ones who are crazy.  The cops tell them to take a hike and Val has a big meltdown where she screams and freaks out and the music pounds and I think we might go to a commercial from there, but I can’t remember for sure.  While on the subject, I’m not sure how much I like Val’s screaming at this point.  I’m cutting her a break since she’s gone through a lot and this is a big moment in her life, to be near her babies and close enough to touch them but to then be told that she must leave.  Obviously it must be real hard but I think I might prefer to see this displayed in a slightly more mellow way.  The problem is that I’m trying to decide how this could play better for me, and I’m just not sure.  All I know is that I didn’t exactly love watching her scream and freak out and maybe if Peter Dunne was still here, he would use his magic to find a way to demonstrate the same emotions in a more quiet and subtle way.

After their exoneration from the Fisher neighborhood, the characters all go off to do their own thing in the pursuit of Val’s babies.  Val decides to drive her car to the neighborhood and hang out there all night like a stalker, which is really not that bad an idea considering how quickly Harry tried to make a run for it earlier.  Who’s to say the Fishers won’t disappear to Europe or something as soon as they have the chance?  Also, Mack goes to visit the lady judge, Judge Spaulding (who I really like a lot for some reason and who’s also a Transmorpher cuz she was in a 1982 episode of Dallas called Where There’s A Will…) but she tells him they need more evidence before they can forbid the Fishers from leaving the area.  Again, I like these little realistic touches of the characters running into regular bureaucratic problems.  I’m sure we’d all like to think that if our babies were stolen from us and we managed to track them down, we could just waltz in and say, “Hey, these are my babies and I’m taking them back,” but it would probably prove to be much less simple than that.  In real life, you would wind up bumping into the same kinds of roadblocks are characters are experiencing right now.

The big final scene of the ep is Karen and Val going to the hospital where Val delivered to get proof that she gave birth at this hospital on this particular day (which I notice keeps changing; in this ep, Karen says it was November 18th but somewhere back in season six, they said it was November 24th, although the episode in which she gave birth actually aired on November 29th, so who the hell even knows?).  The big roadblock they run into at the hospital is the front desk lady saying the hospital doesn’t have any records of twins being born in this hospital on that day.  Hmmm, where do we go from here, then?  It’s a good little cliffhanger ending to the episode, but I’ve also got two other very important things I wish to discuss before I wrap up my thoughts for the episode.
 
 
 

First off, let’s talk Greg Sumner and Laura Avery; what are they up to as we premiere our seventh season?  Well, you’ll recall that Ava Gardner and Abs teamed up at the end of last season to effectively terminate the relationship between Greg and Laura, and so far it appears to still be working.  Laura has gotten back into real estate (which strikes me as super fast, because hasn’t it just been, like, a week since she saw Abs at Greg’s ranch and went running off?) and when we first catch up with her, she’s getting back into the groove since I think it’s been, what, three years since she did this?  In any case, she’s working closely with some very ugly guy and this very ugly guy tells her how she has to go and show a house that evening, which she does.  However, she gets to the house and it’s all dark and empty and scary and there’s no one there to meet her, and just as I’m starting to worry that Laura might be about to get raped again, some dude in a fancy suit pops out of nowhere and says how Mr. Sumner would be honored to have dinner with her, and then of course Greg appears looking all charming and sexy in a tux, making me realize that, yes, I would definitely let William Devane put his penis in me.  The guy in the suit whips out a violin and starts playing for them while they sit down to this really nice and elegant meal that includes fancy wine and everything.  Laura is a much stronger woman than I am (oh wait, that sentence didn’t really make sense…) because she is able to kinda resist his charms, at least for the time being, saying how she’ll enjoy the nice meal and the music, but that doesn’t mean they are getting back together.  I have honestly forgotten about this entire development; I’ll go ahead and do a minor spoiler and say that I know, at some point in the future, probably within this season, Greg and Laura will get back together, but I didn’t remember them splitting up at all, so this is playing as all new for me.
 
 
 

The other development, and the one I am actually most eager to discuss, is the death of Bobby Ewing.  You all remember Bobby Ewing?  Even if a person has only watched KL and never seen an episode of Dallas in their life, they could still conceivably know this character cuz he showed up three times on the series.  First off, he was in Pilot dropping Gary and Val off at their brand new house, then he showed up in season two for The Loudest Word and actually wound up being one of my favorite parts of that ep (mostly because as soon as Bobby Ewing is put into the KL world, he suddenly transforms into a far more interesting character than he ever was in over 300 eps of Dallas) and then he made his final appearance in a very brief little scene in season four’s New Beginnings.  Anyway, for those who have also watched Dallas, you should all vividly remember what went down in the concluding moments of the 1984-1985 season of that series, which is that Bobby got hit by a car and died.  It was a big fat deal upon first airing and, of course, nobody knew that a little over a year later, the whole thing would be erased and written off as a dream and the whole thing would just be the worst thing to ever happen on TV, ever.  But that’s in the future.  At this exact time, late September of 1985, Bobby Ewing was dead and nobody expected him to come back in a super shitty and awful retcon that effectively undoes the entire series around it. 
 
 
 

Our penultimate scene of The Longest Day is Abs talking on the phone at Westfork, looking real upset before she puts the phone back down.  Then Gary comes walking in and he’s got something on his mind and Abs has to kinda get his attention, and then she says, “I just got a call from Dallas.  It’s Bobby.  There’s been a terrible accident.”  I wrote this down in my notes, by the way, because I noticed that she doesn’t say he died, just that there was a terrible accident.  Make no mistake, he did die and I’m actually gonna have a lot to say about this in our next Brief Dallas Interlude as well as the coming KL eps, but I just noted with interest that all she says is, “There’s been a terrible accident,” before we cut to a new scene.
 
 
 

Man, I don’t know how much or how little to say about this development.  I’ve been kinda weirdly waiting for this moment ever since My Beloved Grammy and I embarked on this wonderful voyage together.  I even think as we were just getting started with Pilot and Bobby was dropping Gary and Val off, I said to her, “By the way, Bobby dies on KL, too, except he stays dead on this show.”  Ever since I first discovered Dallas, I’ve been obsessed with Bobby dying and coming back from the dead, and then I got even more obsessed when I found out that he died on KL, too, and now that I think back on it, that might have been part of the reason I even got interested in watching the spinoff in the first place.  Basically, what we are seeing now is going to result in what I like to call The Bobby of Two Universes, a Bobby Ewing who can be alive and well on Dallas but remain dead on KL, effectively turning the two shows into parallel universes in which a member of the family might be dead in one universe but he’s fine in the other.  Uck, it all gives you such a headache.  I think I’ll save most of my thoughts on Bobby’s death and how it affects the two shows and specifically Gary’s character as we proceed forward to our next eps.
 
 
 

That about does it for The Longest Day.  The very last thing I wanna note (I promise) is the fact that this ep is written by our new showrunner, David Paulsen (pictured below).  This is something I’m gonna focus on real hard as we move through season seven, because this is the year of the big producer swap, of David Paulsen moving from Dallas to KL while the genius Peter Dunne moves over to run Dallas.  I guess I wanna focus on David Paulsen’s contribution to see if he brings a more Dallas flavor to the proceedings (much like I’m considering watching the dream season of Dallas again just to see if Peter Dunne brings a KL flavor to proceedings over there).  The first time I watched the series, I just powered through it so fast I couldn’t even focus on who was writing and producing and directing and running the show and all that stuff; I just devoured the whole thing really fast.  Now, having really grown to love and respect Peter Dunne’s contribution to the series, I think I’ll notice what changes David Paulsen brings, and we’ll see if I find it good or bad; at this point I’m not really sure. 
 
 
 

The Longest Day is clearly a solid 48 minutes of KL although it does suffer from a bit of that “season premiere” feeling.  They never seem to be my favorite eps of any season, probably because they are getting us caught up with what’s gone down previously, reminding us of stuff, and hardly have time to proceed forward with new business.  However, that doesn’t mean it’s bad in any way; this was a great ep of KL and did a great job of continuing from where season six left off while also kicking off the new season in an exciting way.  Honestly, I remember really loving this season upon my first viewing of the show, so let’s see if my feelings stay the same or not as we move forward.

               Our next KL ep is called Here In My Arms, but I’m not ready to talk about that quite yet.  See, this ep aired on Thursday, September 26th, 1985, and then the very next day, Friday, September 27th, 1985, Shack crossed over to Dallas for the first time in three years so that Gary could go to his brother’s funeral.  Therefore, we shall be taking a small detour to Texas for our penultimate Brief Dallas Interlude, this one the season nine premiere of the series entitled The Family Ewing.
 
 
 


Thursday, June 15, 2017

A Reflection on Season Six of KNOTS LANDING (1984-1985)


KNOTS BLOGGING UPDATE: I HAVE BEEN POSTING TWO EPS PER WEEK SINCE I STARTED DISCUSSING SEASON THREE.  STARTING WITH THE SEASON SEVEN PREMIERE, I WILL BE RETURNING TO JUST ONE POST PER WEEK, EVERY THURSDAY.  THIS IS MOSTLY DUE TO ME BEING BUSY AND NOT HAVING ENOUGH TIME TO DO TWO PER WEEK, BUT WHEN WE HIT SEASON EIGHT, I WILL MOST LIKELY SWITCH BACK.  I HOPE MY ADORING FANS WON'T BE TOO UPSET BY THIS.


A Reflection on Season Six of KNOTS LANDING (1984-1985)



And so we’ve come to the end of season six, the season that, upon embarking on this voyage with My Beloved Grammy, I was most excited to revisit, the season that I remembered being the absolute best of the entire series run.  Were my memories accurate?  Absolutely yes.

Honestly, I don’t even know where to start on this reflections essay.  How can I even begin to demonstrate how fucking amazing this season of television was?  I guess I’ll start off by saying that, for one thing, there’s not a single bad episode in this entire season.  Of course, I think I said the same thing about season five, but season six is even more impressive because it leaps up to thirty eps after season five had a 25 ep count.  A good deal of my respect for this season comes from the fact that it’s so long, that the creative team have to fill thirty solid eps with dramatic material and storytelling, and yet it’s never, not for a single moment, boring.  Dallas was also doing thirty eps per season by this point, and when I think of those seasons, I think of really long, boring, drawn out storylines that take forever to get finished with but essentially lead nowhere (this is the last time I’ll ever bring it up, but Jenna Wade’s trial, oh dear God Jenna Wade’s fucking trial).  This is absolutely not true with season six of KL; every ep feels dynamic and alive and really moving us along in the story, yet at the same time the length of the season allows plenty of time for the characters to live and breathe and feel like real people.  Look at how well done the whole portion of the season was in which Val ran off to Tennessee and turned into Verna, for instance.  That storyline alone is good enough to be a full season on some other show, but with KL it’s just a series of eps near the middle of the season, yet it’s stretched out in such a way that we really feel like we get to live and breathe in this world with Val/Verna for quite some time, and that helps it all to feel very realistic and truthful, versus having to rush through the story like you would have to do with a shorter season.

Really, that’s also a good portion of what inspired my awe for this season, which is that so much stuff happens.  There’s enough drama and excitement in this season of KL to fill three seasons of any other show, and by the time you reach “They’re gonna take the babies” in the concluding seconds of The Long and Winding Road, the season finale, all the shenanigans with Karen shot and in the hospital and Abs kidnapped by Mark St. Claire from Buying Time, the season premiere, feel like they happened eons ago; it’s rather amazing to reflect and realize that it’s all been a part of the same season of television.  But drama for the sake of drama is not enough; plenty of shows can claim to have a lot of drama but you never feel all that impressed when you watch them, and that leads me to my next point.  This season has easily the greatest storyline in KL history, and that is of course Val’s babies.  I remembered this being the best storyline from the show, and it not only lived up to my expectations, but exceeded them.  The first time I watched this, I was basically just drooling and staring at the screen and trying to cram as many eps into one day as I possibly could.  I was watching so fast and was so compelled by the sheer dramatic force of what was happening, that I don’t think I was able to pause and reflect on why it was so compelling.  Now I am older and wiser and realize what makes this storyline so good, and that’s actually a number of things.



First off, this storyline continues in the grand tradition of the Ciji story from season four and the Wolfbridge story from season five, in that it really brilliantly manages to use this central storyline as a way to link the entire cast together.  Absolutely everyone in the series is involved in the saga of Val’s babies, yet it doesn’t feel like the writers have to stretch to link them.  Instead, it feels super organic and well done, and this would also probably be a good time to mention that season six has easily the best cast lineup of the entire series.  Every single person in the opening credits this season is an extremely interesting character played exceptionally well by the actor bringing the character to life.  There are still characters I love that we haven’t even met yet (Paige and Anne Matheson spring immediately to mind), yet the cast as a solid, full unit will never ever be as perfect as it is at this exact moment in time with season six.  Watching the scrolling squares for season six (which, random interruption, I’ve actually decided I like even better than the season five version, so I’m officially voting for the season six opening of KL as the greatest opening credits in television history), I feel like I’m looking at royalty pass by me, that these are all awesome people who I love and want to spend as much time with as possible.




However, the absolute star of the season is Joan Van Ark, who gives the best performance of anyone in the cast during this season.  When I first started doing this blog, I said how Karen was my favorite character start to finish and that I predicted that would never change, but now I’m realizing that it’s silly to just pick one character out of such a huge cast and simply say “She’s my favorite and that’s that.”  Now I’m realizing that the different seasons really emphasize the different characters in a pretty profound way, that I might have a favorite character during a particular juncture of the series and then I might have a new favorite during another portion.  While I’d say Karen was my favorite character and the best actress on the show during season three, during season six it’s easily Val.  J.V.A is stunning throughout this season, and it’s such an incredibly marked improvement from where we began in season one, when I was kinda making fun of her for hamming it up during certain eps and scenes.  Here, she is perfect, and I can’t believe anyone could  watch this season and not feel just devastated for her and for all she goes through.  She has so many moments that are simply incredible, but one of the first to spring to mind is when she gets the news that her babies are dead, and that look on her face that tells us she knows this isn’t true.  She’s equally amazing just a few minutes later when talking to Karen and Mack and realizing that her friends won’t believe her when she says the babies are alive.  J.V.A played all that stuff so quietly, but you could understand everything just by looking at her, and then of course we have her giving some really Emmy worthy stuff in eps like Distant Locations, where she does that one-take scene with no cuts of scrubbing all the makeup off of her face, and then of course the Verna Ellers stuff that I love so much that occupies the next chunk of eps.  Ugh, there are just too many great moments to name, so hopefully I’ve done them justice when discussing the season episode-by-episode.

Another reason that the Val’s babies storyline is so good is that we’ve built up to it.  If they’d done this story in season two, it simply wouldn’t have worked, and that’s because we wouldn’t have had the necessary time devoted to fully understand Val and her past.  By placing it in season six, we begin the season with exactly 100 eps under our belt and we’ve had 100 eps (plus those early Dallas appearances) to get to know Val and understand Val and see how her life has been.  We know that she had baby Lucy when she was fifteen or sixteen and that Lucy was taken away from her, and we’ve seen five seasons of her wanting so desperately to be a real mother to someone.  We’ve seen this through her relationship with Olivia as well as in tons of other ways throughout the prior years, so when we get to the point where her babies are taken away from her and she is told they are dead, we fully understand how devastating this is for poor Val (POOR VAL!). 

Okay, and this just came to me as I was sitting here writing, but I also realized another thing that makes this story brilliant.  If this had been another series, I could very easily understand the temptation to play the story in a completely different way.  I’ll bet another series would show Val deliver and then show us, the viewers, as the doctors and nurses take the babies away and send them off somewhere and do their evil thing and then return to Val to tell her the babies are dead.  We would be a step ahead of Val throughout the season, knowing something she doesn’t know.  However, the KL team goes the much more artistic route by allowing us to follow Val along on her journey.  When she delivers the babies, she’s all drugged up and then she passes out, and while she’s passed out, she’s not privy to what happens, but neither is the audience.  Instead, we sorta return to consciousness with her and get the news that the babies died.  We certainly have the suspicion that something is up, that things are not as they seem, but we haven’t been shown this directly.  Therefore, as the mystery starts to solve itself closer to the end of the season, we really feel like we are along with the characters in solving the mystery, as well.  We are never ahead of the characters, waiting for them to play catch up, but rather we move along with them and feel like we are a part of the series, as well, working to find out the truth.  This just shows how switching things one notch in a certain direction can dramatically improve things.

But aside from all the Val’s babies stuff, which everyone who’s ever seen this season instantly remembers, absolutely everything else about the season is great, too.  There’s not a single storyline in here that I would call bad.  We have the cast at its absolutely most fabulous ever, and everyone within that fabulous cast is getting really great stories that are awesome to watch.  Just look at the whole Joshua thing, for one quick example.  Joshua is introduced at the start of the season, in the second episode.  Throughout the season, we watch him make the switch from meek and mellow and really very sweet and cute to thoroughly reprehensible and evil, yet it never feels too fast or inorganic.  Also, despite the fact that he’s the new kid on the block at the start of the season, he almost immediately feels like a part of the cast that deserves to be there and is a very fascinating character in his own right, a skill that KL always remains really good at.  I also wanna take a moment to say how fucking great Baldwin is in this role, which is especially impressive when you consider that this was one of his first gigs ever.  So often when watching old shows and movies, you’ll stumble upon something where an actor who is now super famous is there, but not super famous yet.  Sometimes you find yourself making a bigger deal out of the character than is warranted, simply because they became famous later.  With Joshua, I feel like you immediately see that you have a great actor on your hands, and rather than being the thing where you’re like, “Oh yeah, Alec Baldwin was on that show before he was famous and he was, you know, alright,” I actually will say this is my favorite Alec Baldwin performance ever (followed closely by his hilarious and biting portrayal of Trump).  He is just perfect in the part and inhabits him so organically, making his arc from nice guy to asshole all the more believable, because he plays the part so well and with such subtlety.


The arrival of Joshua to the cul-de-sac also provides great material for both Julie Harris and Lisa Hartman.  We’ve already discussed at length how amazing Julie Harris is in all regards, but I think she really gets some of her finest material near the start of this season, particularly when interacting with Joshua’s father, Jonathan, and exploring their complex and tumultuous past relationship.  She’s frankly stunning in all the scenes with Jonathan, as well as in her early scenes with Joshua in which she is just starting to get to know him.  Meanwhile, Lisa Hartman gets some really great material through her interactions with Joshua as her romantic love interest.  Lisa always strikes me as so sweet and kind and very real world, so I feel bad watching her fall in love with this seemingly sweet boy and then have him turn so nasty on her.  I was critical of her a bit for not being more active in putting her foot down with him, but I also understand her as a woman in love and Lisa portrays that well.  Oh yeah, I’m also willing to bet that this season has the most Lisa songs of her four years on the show.  You may remember I actually had a bit of a gripe with season five for only giving us two or three Lisa songs, but season six more than makes up for it by giving her many, many fabulous songs throughout the year.  I lost count pretty fast as we were going through, but off the top of my head I can think of Jehovah, Time After Time, Beat of a Heart, Words, and We Belong, and there are obviously a ton more.  In terms of pure musical satisfaction, season six really hits my ‘80s sweet spot and I think it has the best collection of cover songs for Lisa to sing.


Another thing to love in season six is the whole saga with Karen having a bullet lodged in her spine, something that could come off as hopelessly campy and melodramatic on any other series but that comes across as fantastically grounded over here on KL.  Some fans say this storyline goes on too long (occupying fourteen eps of a thirty ep season), but I disagree, and I actually like the length of time it takes to resolve this story.  This was the big cliffhanger of season five, I remind you, and while another show (like, say, Dallas) would be tempted to heal Karen right away in the season premiere or maybe throw in some sort of retcon nonsense like “The bullet just grazed me” or whatever, the KL team goes all out with this story and lets it span nearly half the season.  And yet another thing worth noting about this story, and perhaps all the very best KL stories, is that the drama comes from within the characters and their core.  On another show, it could just be like “She’s got a bullet in her spine and if it moves, she will die; how dramatic!”  On KL, the storyline results in Karen having to do some serious thinking about the end of her life, her relationship with her family and her children and with Mack, her thoughts on the way she wants to leave this world, not to mention the fact that she tells Gary her secret and he keeps the secret until she gets the bullet taken out, which to me says a ton about the beauty of their friendship with each other.  Oh, it’s just all so good, and when we reach those concluding moments of #14 With a Bullet and those close-ups of Karen blinking her eyes, I’m fighting hard to keep the tears back because it’s just soooooooooo good.

Meanwhile, we also have the continuing relationship between Greg and Laura, which I just love.  I loved Greg as soon as he entered the scene in season five, but he’s even better in season six, and I’m starting to see that fabulous blurring between the actor William Devane and the character Greg Sumner.  I find myself wondering which Sumner lines Devane improvised himself and I’m really seeing the actor and the character come together in this truly fabulous way.  Also, having Sumner on the scene allows us to get two of our best KL guest stars ever in the form of Howard Duff as Paul Galveston and Ava Gardner as Ruth Galveston.  Duff gets to be a big part of the earlier portion of the season while Ava occupies the later portion, and they are both perfect.  First off, I think Duff just brings this fabulously raw and masculine style to the performance and I think Galveston is a very interesting character who, while evil and duplicitous, remains very human and fascinating.  After he dies, we move over to Ava and she fucking rocks.  I had really brushed over all this stuff from my previous viewing; in my memories I was like “Some famous old Hollywood actress shows up for a few eps and she’s, like, evil or something,” but now I realize how truly amazing she is and it makes me want to, you know, go back and watch some old Ava Gardner movies.  What truly fantastic qualities she brings to the series, from the smoking and the cocktails to that amazingly gravelly voice and all her incredible little witticisms and snide remarks towards she makes towards Laura.  Oh God, such genius.


Another thing I appreciated about season six was its willingness to take chances in the way it told stories.  It had a fantastically experimental nature that I think remains very underrated.  Compare this to what else was going on in the TV landscape during 1984-1985 and I think you’ll see that this was pretty unique and that the show was being very bold in mixing up genres.  I’m immediately thinking of two things right off the bat.  One would be Val’s creepy and surreal dreams throughout Message In A Bottle and the other would be the thigh-meltingly romantic dream dance sequence between Gary and Val in Lead Me to the Altar.  I feel like I can close my eyes and easily imagine some sort of stiff, stuffy network suit talking to the producers and being like, “This is a nighttime soap, we don’t have time for all this arty stuff with dream sequences,” and the creative team holding strong and being courageous and allowing all this stuff to go into the eps, anyway.  It’s not just the dream sequences, however; it’s also in the very tone of eps, how we can dabble in one genre for awhile and then be in another genre for a different ep.  Tomorrow Never Knows is essentially a 48 minute horror movie about a woman alone going into premature labor and I found it legitimately horrifying to watch.  Again, I can imagine a network suit saying, “This is too dark, this is too weird, this is too scary, just do whatever the hell Dallas is doing cuz that show is more popular.”   

Let’s discuss season highs and lows before I move on to my wrap up on the season as a whole.  Okay, so what was the best ep of the season?  I didn’t even have to think about this before I wrote it, because the answer is obviously We Gather Together.  Not only is this the best ep of the season, but it’s the best ep we’ve seen of the entire series thus far, and perhaps forever, in all honesty.  The whole cast is linked together for the Thanksgiving feast, the ep is brilliantly shot and has some truly stunning camera work, plus it has a raw emotional undercurrent running through it that, honestly, can bring tears to my eyes just by thinking of it.  When I just imagine that scene of Val sitting alone in the baby nursery and Gary coming in to find her and the two of them talking together, I well up.  It’s a scene so good that it actually makes me believe in the idea of true love and soulmates and reminds me why Gary and Val will always be my favorite television couple. 


As for season lows, it’s hard to say because I honestly think every single ep this season was great and nothing sticks out as “a bad one.”  I finally settled on picking the premiere ep, Buying Time, as the worst ep of the season, but even saying that word, “worst,” seems unfair.  I think it’d be more accurate to describe it as “the least good,” since every ep this season is good.  The reason I pick this one is because, while of course compelling, it is just the least exciting of the season and is mostly concerned with tidying up affairs from the concluding moments of season five.  I actually feel like maybe the creative team is aware of that, as well, and gave the ep the title they did as a kind of meta joke, like, “Yeah, we’re just buying time until we can get to the really good stuff with Val’s babies.”  Even still, it was a great way to start the season and I have no complaints about it; I’m just picking it because I feel like I must pick a bottom ep for the season.

In the past, I have declared season six of KL to be “the greatest season of television ever made.”  I was planning to make that bold claim yet again after I was done writing about the season, but now I’m gonna backtrack a bit and use language that’s a little more realistic and less like hyperbole.  See, in the end, absolutely all art is subjective and there are no hard facts about art and that’s the whole beauty of it.  There is no “best” movie or TV show or whatever because it all depends on individual tastes and how one particular piece of art resonates with a certain person, so to say this season of KL is “the best” season of television ever made would really have no meaning, because I’m sure somewhere in the world is someone who thinks season nineteen of The Big Bang Theory is the greatest season of television ever (although obviously that would be a person who needs to go home and kill themselves right away).  Therefore, I have settled on saying that season six of KL is my personal favorite season of television ever made, based on all the television I have watched throughout my life.  I just think it’s perfect, start to finish, because it manages to remain compelling and dynamic but also super deep, with super interesting characters who are just a joy to spend time with, incredible writing and storytelling and wit, and a central story that provides a solid foundation for the entire season and all the characters in it.  The core cast is incredible, the guest actors are sublime, and the season just books along and never lets up and never stops being exciting.  In conclusion, it’s easily my favorite season of the entire series and is also my favorite season of television ever made.

However, I wanna make sure and note that this does not mean it’s all downhill from here.  Based on my memories, I loved the series all the way until the very final episode in 1993 and never felt it “jumped the shark,” to use a way overused expression.  I get annoyed when I see fans talk about things and be so dismissive of later seasons, basically saying, “Well, it never gets better than this, so just stop watching.”  What a sad way to look at the world, such a glass-half-empty perspective.  To stop watching the series after this season would be a great disservice to anyone who appreciates quality entertainment, and I remember the show remaining very strong for a very long time.  All I’m saying is that this is the most perfect season of the series as a whole, that it’s never at this level of artistic achievement again, but to not watch the remaining eight seasons would be a real crime, because there’s still plenty of great stuff in store for us.


In fact, I’m actually very eager to dive into the next season and I’m gonna be focusing on it in a whole new way.  The first time I watched the series, I would just power through and finish one season and immediately jump into the next one, not paying any attention to what was going on behind the scenes or who was running the show at one time or another.  Now, of course, I know that season seven is the year of the big producer swap, that my much cherished genius Peter Dunne moved over to run Dallas for a season while the Dallas guy, David Paulsen, moved over to spend a year on KL.  I’m gonna try to focus really hard on what different qualities David Paulsen brings to his year of KL (and I’m also considering watching the dream season of Dallas just for fun to see what qualities Peter Dunne brings to it, but I’m honestly not sure I can sit through that thing again) and what differences I see throughout the year, because honestly I remember this season being great but I’ve noticed a lot of fans not speaking too highly of it lately.  In any case, for the time being I should give you my ranking on the seasons as a whole, and then I’ll conclude this.  Clearly season six is getting the #1 spot, and I’d follow it with season five at #2, season four at #3, season two at #4, season one at #5, and then the contentious and controversial season three ranking at #6 (a season that I’m frankly surprised to see get so much love from so many KL fans).  That is my list and I’m sticking to it, but suffice it to say that everyone in the world should see season six of KL, because you’ll never see another season of television quite like it.  It’s really up there as a remarkable achievement of television and a prime example of the very best that the medium has to offer.