Episode Title: One Day in a Row
Season 06, Episode 28
Episode 128 of 344
Written by Joyce Keener
Directed by Robert Becker
Original Airdate: Thursday, May 9th, 1985
The Plot (Courtesy of TV.Com): Ruth tells Abby that she will get her the notebook pages, and to keep her TV station. She tells Abby that she is like the daughter she never had. At dinner, Ruth constantly puts Laura down, so Laura tells her off. Later, Laura wants Greg to tell her he loves her, but Greg says everything except that. Greg tells Ruth it's time for her to go back to Africa. Joshua tells Cathy he doesn't want to move out because he can't abandon Val. Val says not to blame it on her. Ben has a reporter check out Ackerman. He finds that Ackerman has gambling debts, and they think that was his motive for agreeing to steal the babies. The reporter gives Ben a list of unethical adoption agencies. Ben and Karen go to one, posing as a couple who wants to adopt, and say they were recommended by Ackerman. When they leave, the lawyer calls Ackerman and tells him Karen came to see him, and she was just as Ackerman described her.
We concluded our previous ep, A Price to Pay, with Ava happily inviting Abs to stay for breakfast, and it was immediately clear that she deeply preferred Abs as a potential wife to her son than Laura. With One Day in a Row, we expand greatly on that and get to see a whole lot more of this dynamic, something I found endlessly amazing, but first let’s talk about Gary.
Gary is starting to become something of a paranoiac this week, but not without good reason. We open the ep at Empire Valley with Gary peering through a gigantic telescope, Craig Wasson-style, and trying to spy on what Greg is doing. Now, what Greg is doing is standing in the middle of the land and having a conversation with, um, some guy. Tell me, am I supposed to recognize this guy? Is there any significance to this guy? Have we seen him before? Is Gary just spying on Greg with his telescope because he feels like it or is there some special, epic significance to the fact that Greg is talking to this guy? I ask all these questions because I did not recognize the gentleman in question; he looked like yet another ‘80s white guy, the kind you couldn’t pick out of a lineup, yet Gary has a look of real concern on his face as he watches this interaction, as if he has caught Greg in the act of doing something bad. It’s like in Licence to Kill when James Bond is spying on Robert Davi and then he sees his girlfriend of the movie show up in the office and he thinks he’s been betrayed. In that instance, we recognize the girlfriend since she’s been a significant part of the movie prior to this scene, but for this particular example, it’s just some white guy and I can’t remember if we’ve seen him before or since.
However, a little later Gary is taking a nice drive around and he winds up in a high speed car chase. This car chases him all up and down the road and gets really close up to him and almost crashes into him and Gary just barely manages to avoid being hurt, successfully getting the scary car off of his ass and ditching him. Who is chasing Gary, and why? So far as I can remember, this question remains unanswered throughout this ep as well as the concluding two eps of the season, but I shall pay attention to see if/when it is answered. Honestly, this is quite a mystery to me, and we are reaching a storyline and a juncture that I really don’t have as much memory of. A lot of season six, particularly anything involving Val’s babies or her turning into Verna in Tennessee, remains seared in my brain forever and feels very visceral whenever I think it over, yet all this Empire Valley stuff that’s been popping up in the latter portion of the season is something of a blur, a storyline that I’ve kinda completely forgotten about, so I’m eager to watch it unfold and see how everything develops.
Now, I’m actually going out of order here, and perhaps that’s why I’m a smidge confused. See, prior to the epic high speed car chase, Gary meets up with, like, his creepy contact or whatever at a car wash. I like this setting, because I think there is something creepy about car washes. I’m gonna share a detail of my childhood with you now, and that is the fact that when I was a little boy, I was terrified of the car wash and would never go through it. My mom would drive to the car wash and before actually sending the car through that gigantic cacophony of cleaning fluids and huge, terrifying rags that attack your car like some sort of monster, I would always get out of the car and wait outside for the whole cycle to be finished. One day, however, I chose to display courage and actually take the journey through the car wash with my mom, but I became very upset and started to cry once we went through, and by then it was too late, for we were directly in the middle of the cycle and I couldn’t just jump out of the car at that point. But oh boy, those big scary spinning rag things that come out to wash your car…..just utterly terrifying. I wonder what it was that caused me to be so frightened of the car wash, but now I’m getting extra reflective and I realize in all my time as a car-driving grown up, I’ve never gone to the car wash. Perhaps I’m too terrified? Perhaps I need to drive my car to the car wash and face my fears and just go through the entire cleaning cycle of terror, but I don’t know if I’m emotionally ready for that kind of thing yet.
Anyway, let’s get away from my bizarre childhood issues with car washes and focus on this scene. Gary meets up with the contact in that little area with the windows where you can watch the cars getting cleaned. The contact is wearing sunglasses inside, for some reason. Personally, I think if you wanna look inconspicuous, the last thing you should do is wear sunglasses inside, but then I’m not some secret government agent knee deep in conspiracy or whatever the hell this guy is supposed to be. I liked this scene because it had the right dose of humor to defuse whatever campiness could possibly threaten to overtake this story. Again, KL is just so good at this. I feel like if this was Dallas, and J.R. had to meet some creepy contact in a car wash, it would be played as deadly serious even though it would be kinda goofy, and the fact that everyone is playing it so straight would turn it into camp. Here, though, it still seems grounded, even in simple ways. For instance, Gary walks in and sees the guy wearing sunglasses inside and he’s like, “Your name, um, Bill or whatever?” The guy gives him a little glare to remind him that he didn’t say the secret code, so Gary is like, “Oh yeah, I forgot,” and then he looks at the vending machine and says something like, I think, “They’re all out of lifesavers.” Then the contact says something like, “Try the malt balls.” I might be screwing up their exchange, but you get the gist of it, it’s kinda like, oh gee, look at this, the James Bond movie From Russia with Love. In that one, Bond has this whole secret code exchange he has to do involving cigarettes whenever he meets a new person, and that one goes, “May I borrow a match?” This is followed by the contact responding with “I use a lighter,” Bond saying, “Better still,” and then the contact concluding with, “Until they go wrong.” I’ve always enjoyed that little exchange, and I can’t say the whole vending machine secret code shenanigans work quite as well, but it’s still fun.
A little later on, Gary’s paranoia grows quite a bit, and again, I feel he is right to be suspicious. See, he gets to Lotus Point and finds some random guy in his office fiddling with his phone. He’s all upset and asks him what the hell he’s doing and the phone guy is like, “Relax, I’m just updating your phone system,” and he shows him all the cool modern sexy 1985 things that this new phone can do, such as call waiting and group conference. Gary asks him if this new phone gets WiFi or can connect him to FaceBook and the guy stares at him blankly, so then Gary rushes out to find Abs and is all pissed and is like, “Why am I getting a new phone installed when I hardly even use my old one?” Abs tells him she doesn’t know anything about that and that she’s not responsible for the installation of phones or whatever. As soon as this scene occurred, both My Beloved Grammy and I became convinced that there was a bug in the phone, and obviously we were right, although it takes Gary a few more scenes to discover that for himself. See, later on in the ep, he’s hanging out late at Lotus Point, doing whatever, and the phone is looming in the foreground, basically saying, “Touch me, Gary, pick me up, whisper sweet nothings in my ear.” Gary picks the phone up and starts fiddling with it, yanking pieces of it off and peering around inside, looking desperately for that bug, which he eventually finds hidden in, I believe, the area where all the buttons and such are. With this discovered, Gary realizes his suspicions are valid.
The last thing Gary related this ep involves his paranoia negatively effecting his ability to shag Abs. You know you’ve got a lot on your mind if you can’t get it up for Abs, and in this instance, they are in bed, getting ready to shag, and you can tell Abs wants/needs it really bad, that she’s gotta have it, yet Gary keeps getting distracted by noises he’s hearing throughout the house. Honestly, I don’t think this is paranoia so much as, you know, hearing noises throughout the house. I think it’s kinda funny that Abs is like, “Relax, put your penis in me,” and doesn’t seem too concerned about these noises, but then the scene concludes with the sound of a cat meowing and we realize that, I guess, it’s been a cat making all these noises the whole time. This causes me to ask some questions, starting with: Do Gary and Abs have a cat? I think cats are great (they’re better than dogs; that’s right, I said it) and I also think cats are awesome to have around when you have little kids. Brian and Olivia would go crazy for a super cute kitty running around the house; wouldn’t you agree? However, I’m willing to bet this cat is a stray and not one that Abs and Gary went and got themselves. They live on a big open ranch with a ton of animals running around, so it seems feasible that stray cats would just sorta show up and hang around the land, and that’s what I think is going on here.
Okay, enough about Gary, let’s move on to some other characters, and let’s start with the currently most dysfunctional couple on the series, Joshua and Cathy. You’ll all remember that our last ep concerned itself with these two trying to find a nice apartment to live in. Cathy wants the independence, wants to start her new life with her new husband in a place they can call their own. Joshua wants to stay at Val’s house, although honestly I’m not entirely clear on why. Is it because he wants to keep an eye on her? Is it because he enjoys degrading her and hurting her? Is it because he enjoys the power he has in that house and the fact that Lilimae pretty much lets him speak to anyone any way he pleases without reprimanding him? I think it’s a combination of all those elements, that Joshua enjoys the little power trip he’s found himself on lately and that by staying at Val’s house, he can continue to exercise that power, which might be diluted if he went off to live somewhere else.
At this point, Val seems to be one of the only people who is sticking up for Cathy and standing up to Joshua. See, in this ep, while Joshua and Cathy are having a discussion about moving and looking for apartments, Joshua says something akin to, “I can’t abandon my sister Val; she needs me.” At this point, Val is in another room and she calls Joshua in to speak with her, and she has this very serious look on her face and says, “Don’t you blame me,” or something like that. I was reading either the KL Soap Chat forum or perhaps just the IMDb page and a poster wrote something saying that Val was tougher when she was first introduced on Dallas and that she turned weaker for the spinoff, but I disagree. This poster described her as “a spitfire” in her first four Dallas appearances, and I can agree with that, but I think she still has a toughness and a directness now, deep into the KL series. Yeah, she’s sweet and tries to be nice to everybody, but look at how tough she can be with Joshua here. If she was all meek and mild and weak, she wouldn’t speak up to him; she’d be like her mother and just look the other way at his nasty behavior, but instead she is direct and confrontational with him, which I like. Also, let’s be frank here; is it fair to say that Val just plain doesn’t like Joshua by this point? I imagine she’d be fine with him moving out of the house because she’s sick of seeing him and hearing him and listening to his little manipulations. I think she wants him gone and now she sees that it’s gonna be hard to get rid of him and, not only that, but he’s using her as the excuse for why he must stay even though that’s a blatant lie.
In any case, Cathy tells Joshua that they have an appointment to see an apartment the next day or whatever, and he says he’ll be there but, to the surprise of no one in the viewing audience, he never shows up. We get this rather sad little scene of Cathy just waiting at this apartment for him to show up, eventually kinda getting shuffled out the door by the realtor guy, who informs her that he’s got somewhere else to be and can’t be hanging around much longer. This is another Joshua manipulation, one of many that we have seen throughout this second half of season six. Remember when he didn’t want Cathy to sing with her band so he took her on a picnic and, under the guise of being real romantic, kept her sufficiently distracted until he insured that she’d miss her practice? It’s a similar thing here; he knows that if he simply doesn’t show up to the apartment, she won’t sign a lease or give first and last month’s rent or anything like that; she’ll just stand around for awhile waiting for him to show.
I love Cathy dearly and she’s a great character and she’s played perfectly by Lisa Hartman and I love listening to her sing, but I confess I feel slightly judgmental of her character at this exact juncture. Why? Well, mostly because there were red flags all over the place long before she married Joshua. He was already acting like a controlling psycho during their dating phase, then he continued to act like a controlling psycho when he forced her to sing Amy Grant covers on his stupid little religious show, and then he continued to act like a controlling psycho when he declared that, after they were married, she would no longer be singing at all, and then it only got worse when he wanted her to wear the Puritan wedding dress for the ceremony that even the most conservative and hateful Republican would never ever be caught dead wearing, then he kept pressuring her and trying to rush her into marriage when she was unsure, and this is all before they tied the knot. I get that Cathy is in love and all that, but it’s not like his controlling behavior came completely out of the blue as soon as they were married; there were plenty of signs beforehand. I guess what I’m saying is that I have a hard time feeling too sorry for Cathy, because I feel it was very obvious far in advance that marrying Joshua would be a grave error.
Let’s talk about the sheer joy that courses through my veins every single time Ava and Laura are onscreen together, because this ep is just overflowing with juicy goodness. I remind you that we only have one more ep with Ava (it’s our very next one, Vulnerable), and then we never ever see her again, so try to soak as much of this up as you can. This ep, Ava is on a real roll with constantly insulting and degrading Laura. We’ve established that she likes Abs, that she wants Abs to marry Greg, and we know this because she tells her so directly early on. I think Ava sees a lot of herself in Abs; she sees the way Abs operates, how she can be so wicked and is so good at manipulating people and situations to get what she wants, and I think she respects that power. It’s similar to the olden days of the show when J.R. could still pop in for a visit at any time and we saw how much he enjoyed being around Abs. I think wicked people just enjoy the presence of other wicked people; they respect them because they understand them, and that’s why Ava likes Abs so much.
In this ep, Ava, Laura, and Greg all go out for a nice fancy dinner together, but it’s ruined by Ava’s constant putdowns. I wish I had written some of these down, because I’m sure they were great, as any scene between Ava and Laura is guaranteed to be sizzling with great dialogue, but I neglected to do so because I was too caught up and enraptured with the sheer genius on display before me. Suffice it to say, Ava finally goes one put-down too far and so Laura gets up to leave, being fabulously confrontational and direct, the way I like her, saying, “You are probably one of the cruelest women I have ever met.” Then she declares that she’s gonna go home and take a bath, to which Greg happily replies, “I’ll join you,” only to be shut down. Laura tells him to stay with his mommy, and good for her. I myself am starting to wonder why Greg is allowing Ava to hang around so much. Have Laura and Greg been able to enjoy a quiet dinner together, one on one, no old movie stars from the ‘40s hanging around and degrading them, even once since Ava arrived in town? We already know Greg doesn’t like his mother too much, and he’s pretty direct about that, but he remains strangely passive about her sorta being at all these functions, always at breakfast, lunch, and dinner, no matter what. He’s a powerful man with lots of money; you’d think he could fairly easily sneak Laura off to some other restaurant where they could dine together.
Later, we have a classic scene involving Laura in the bath, a scene all KL fans should remember. She’s enjoying her little bubble bath (which, by the way, looks positively divine to me, as she’s got the glass of wine and the candles and the whole works; the only thing that could make this bath better is some soft Carpenters playing in the background) when there’s a knock at the door. At first she thinks it’s just Jason 3 and so she’s like, “Go back to bed, Jason 3,” but then the sweet voice of Greg replies, telling her, “Jason 3 is in bed; I know that because I tucked him in myself.” Then they have an amazing banter and she tells him to go away and he says, “I don’t want to break this door down; it would be too theatrical,” and Laura replies in her fabulously droll Laura way, “Not to mention stupid, since it’s not locked.” Oh God, yes, this dialogue; did we ever see an exchange this witty over on Dallas? Anyway, Greg lets himself in and they have a nice exchange about his mommy issues and all that, but what I wanna focus on is how fucking kinky and risqué this scene is. I’m not wrong, right? See, Laura’s got the classic TV Bubble Bath going on, in which all the bubbles work to hide any naughty bits from the viewing audience (much like the L-shaped blanket that people always have on TV shows when they are lying naked in bed), but at a certain point Greg reaches his hand under the bubbles and, well, who knows? We don’t know where his hand is going, and we can’t see it, but we know Laura is lying naked in the bath, and I’m smart enough to put two and two together and say that Greg is either fondling one of her breasts or fingering her. I greatly prefer to think he’s fingering her, because it just works for me better, and if that is so, damn is this sexy. Considering this is not a modern cable show on HBO or Showtime where you can have someone jizzing in someone’s face and then rubbing it in like lotion and nobody bats an eye, I think this stuff is all the more sexy. This is a network primetime show in the ‘80s, when we were all super conservative Republicans, so I think this kind of sexuality on TV seems extra special and more subversive than it would nowadays.
The last storyline to talk about for this ep, and it’s a big one, is the continuing quest for Val’s babies. This ep, Karen and Ben join forces in a big way to get to the bottom of this mystery, to track down Dr. Ackerman and find out as much as they can about him. To help in their investigation, they ask for the assistance of one of the journalists or interns or something at Pacific World Whatever, played by Molly Hagan. I note this name because I believe she qualifies as a Transmorpher, and a pretty big one. While she never appeared in a standard episode of Dallas, she played the young Miss Ellie (the only version of Miss Ellie I actually liked watching, by the way, as I was not a fan of either Barbara Bel Geddes or Donna Reed) in the strangely brilliant Dallas: The Early Years. That TV movie came out at the exact same moment that Dallas was turning into a gigantic, steaming, smelly pile of shit, and the genius David Jacobs actually returned to write it, and the genius director Larry Elikann directed it, and somehow the movie manages to be kinda amazing and great and far more enjoyable than any episode of Dallas after 1985. Anyway, in that movie, Molly Hagan plays the young Miss Ellie and I thought she did a pretty great job, showing the character as really tough and cool and sassy, which of course goes away completely when she grows up to be a boring old shrew who just rings her hands a lot and draws out the last words of all her sentences and pronounces “J.R.” as “Jar.” In addition to that excellent TV movie that I think everyone should run out and see, she’s also been in tons of movies and TV shows, but usually as small characters. I won’t list all of them, but I will list the one I know her for best, and that is for playing Sister Roberta in the Seinfeld ep The Conversion. She was the nice nun who met Kramer and was entranced by his kavorka (I particularly enjoy a scene where she shows up at his apartment door and says, “I found a new toy I thought you might like,” and then literally hands him a child’s toy).
Anyway, Molly Hagan is tasked with doing some research on Dr. Ackerman, and she returns with some good information, such as the fact that he has some pretty bad gambling debts. Karen and Ben believe these gambling debts could provide sufficient motivation for him to steal Val’s babies, as well as maybe other babies. They manage to get a list of adoption agencies that could potentially be less than ethical and so they head to one of these adoption agencies, posing as man and wife, in order to get more information. This is great stuff, by the way, and reminds me that KL is always at its best when they manage to use an enthralling central storyline for the season in order to link the entire cast together. They’ve successfully done it three seasons in a row now. Season four had the Ciji storyline, season five had the Wolfbridge investigations, and now season six has Val’s babies. In all three examples, pretty much everyone in the cast gets heavily involved in the story and it links everyone together.
I particularly enjoyed seeing Karen and Ben posing as a couple. I feel like we don’t get too much one-on-one with Karen and Ben, do we? Maybe that’s why this example stands out as unique, but they are kinda cute in their little charade, talking to this adoption guy who, at first, seems pretty okay. He makes it very explicit that he’s not into anything illegal or unethical, that this adoption agency goes through the proper channels, all that stuff. However, when they leave, both Karen and Ben agree that it was a bit of a case of thou doth protest too much, that he went a little too out of his way to emphasize how legal and ethical this agency is. Of course, the very last scene of the ep is a mysterious phone call by this adoption guy to Dr. Ackerman. He says something like, “Yes, Karen MacKenzie just visited me; she’s exactly as you described,” and on that note we end the ep.
Yikes, I really wound up having a lot to say about this ep, huh? Sometimes, eps that seem, on the surface, a little bit less THRILLING than other eps end up bearing the richest fruit, because I found a lot to say and appreciate about this ep. We’ve got two eps left in the season and I feel everyone involved in the series is doing a top notch job of keeping this story moving, building, growing, yet never becoming boring. All this Val’s babies stuff has been going on for quite awhile now and I feel that, on another show, it could easily be going on too long or becoming boring, but that never happens here. In addition, everyone in the cast is well served by this ep, everyone has something to do, there’s a lot of drama going down, but there’s also a lot of wit in the dialogue and exchanges, most notably anything involving Greg, Laura, and Ava.
Coming up next, it’s our penultimate episode of this massive and epic sixth season, entitled simply Vulnerable.