Thursday, March 29, 2018

KNOTS LANDING Episode 166 of 344: FOR APPEARANCE'S SAKE


Episode Title:  For Appearance’s Sake

Season 08, Episode 06

Episode 166 of 344

Written by Bernard Leckowick

Directed by Joseph L. Scanlan

Original Airdate: Thursday, October 16th, 1986

The Plot (Courtesy of TV.Com): Gary moves back to the ranch to help out his family image. Gary catches Abby in bed with Peter, but doesn't care. Olivia smokes pot and is suspended from school and steals Abby's car. She's in a minor accident and picked up for driving without a license. Gary gets her, and misses a debate. Mack tells Karen about Paige and they invite her to dinner. Roses are delivered from Phil with a card that says "You won't get away next time." Greg changes his tires and gives Phil's name to police, saying he recognized him from the police sketch. They show his picture to Karen, who ID's him. Mack is shocked. Seeing his picture on TV, Phil shows up at Greg's office and says that police think two people were in on the kidnapping, and he'll tell police that Greg hired him unless he will help him get out of the country.




                Welcome back to the wonderful world of KL and I am so very pleased to be here.  For those who are curious about my own brain and the way things operate in there, I should say that I often experience this bizarre thing when it comes to these essays in which I know that I love the show and I know that I love writing about the show and sharing my thoughts with the world and I especially love it because once I’ve written these thoughts down, it means My Beloved Grammy and I can gather again for another viewing.  However, sometimes we will watch our eps, I’ll be ready to write about them, and then I just keep putting it off and putting it off, and by the time I sit to write about them, I have forgotten and need to look at them again to refresh my brain. That’s what happened last time and the time before and the time before that and it becomes this thing where I start to dread writing about them because it’s become this scary thing that I’ve put off doing for so long.  Happily, this time I made sure to start writing about them right and quick when we were done viewing, because I really want to finish this damn series with her and we are still not officially halfway through (I did the math and we will be officially halfway through after we pass episode 172, Touch and Go).  So anyway, this time I was good and well behaved and got to writing as soon as possible, so let’s dive right in.

                I’ll blow my wad right away and say that, overall, this disk of eps, spanning For Appearance’s Sake through Over the Edge, was a vast improvement over our last disk, which kicked off the season and I found myself enjoying it very much, although I recognize there are still some problems.  I feel like this is probably what I will be saying a lot throughout this season as we deal simultaneously with storylines and characters that I love along with ones that I do not care for very much at all.  Anyway, we actually pick up this ep following on a storyline that I’m not exactly in love with, that of Karen and her kidnapper.  We start on Karen and Mack alone in their bedroom, shot in a rather stylish silhouette.  I noted this because, even though I’m shitting on the picture quality and the music of the series at this point, I still see the directors striving to keep the show looking stylish.  It’s a hard thing to explain, but basically I like the way this is shot, I appreciate the artistic camerawork, but I confess that the show is a little sullied for me right now by the inherent cheapness within its look.  I still see the directors working to be arty, but there’s just something about how the show is being made right now that irritates me.  I really want to know if they did flip from film to video at this point, because the show just continues to look so damn ugly.  However, similar to the absolutely atrocious season eight theme song that makes me ears bleed, I’m just starting to get used to it now, so it’s not bothering me as much.  I think it was making that jump from season seven to season eight and being like, “Oh, suddenly everything looks dark and washed out and shitty,” that made the first disk a bit hard for me, but now that we are on the second disk, I’m just getting used to it.  Will the show ever look as vivid and cinematic as it did during its glory run of seasons four through six and 1/3 of seven?  Probably not, but I’ll pay attention to see if it starts to look better in future seasons on the horizons.



                Anyway, like I said, we open on Karen and Mack, so let’s focus on them for awhile.  Since Karen was kidnapped for seven hundred years (meaning five eps), she’s already missed a lot, such as the fact that Mack actually has a daughter.  We cut to her repeating the news to herself, “You have a daughter,” without actually hearing her receive it, which I thought was kinda cool, and then I also thought it was cool how she doesn’t freak out or act weird about it.  I would never assume Karen to behave that way, anyway, since we all know she’s a cool liberal chick who understands that people have pasts and lives before they come together.  In this case, she does say it’s gonna take awhile for her to process this, but she also says that should invite Paige over to dinner so she can get to know her.  That’s all fine, well, and good, but there’s still the danger of Phil Harbert lurking, as evidenced by the closing moments of our previous ep.  In this one, Karen meets Paige for the first time (and Paige is wearing a very unflattering shade of lipstick that’s hard to describe except to say it’s really ugly), she gives her a hug, everyone’s happy, Sexy Michael is standing in the background looking sexy as ever (even more so, as a matter of fact), when the doorbell rings and Karen receives a rather lovely bouquet of red roses.  What a thoughtful gift!  However, when Mack takes a peek at the card, it says, “You won’t get away next time,” and he quickly hides the card from Karen’s sight.



                What is the motivation for this card, by the way?  You know, let’s just take a moment to dissect Phil Harbert and explore why I’m maybe having such a problem with him.  I don’t understand his psychosis and I just don’t really get what the deal is.  Is he just an angry man who still feels like Mack screwed him way back in the long ago Sepia Toned Flashbacks?  If that’s the case, then why this nasty, creepy, serial-killer type behavior with the roses and the card?  Why is he playing with fire (no pun intended) in this way by continuing to send evil little messages to Karen?  Why not just cope with the fact that he really sucks at kidnapping and killing a person and try to move on?  Why not listen to Greg’s advice and get out of town and start a new life somewhere else?  I just don’t get Phil and I don’t understand what kind of psycho he is and I’d say that’s my problem with the character along with him just being generally uninteresting.



                In this ep, Greg learns from Laura that the police found two sets of tire-tracks leading up to the barn where Karen was hiding out.  Additionally, Karen gives a description to the police sketch artist and the photo shows up in the paper the next day, stressing out both Greg and Phil.  Greg decides to do the somewhat noble thing and call the police and name some names, claiming he just recognized the face in the newspaper and remembered his old law school buddy.  This leads us to our climactic scene of the ep, in which Phil pays Greg a visit at his skyscraper office and asks him to help him get out of the country, threatening to expose him as the owner of the other car if Greg refuses.  Greg asks, “Who’s gonna believe an ex-con over an ex-senator?” and Phil says how Greg probably can’t afford this bad publicity during Peter’s campaign, and then adds, “For appearance’s sake,” before trailing off.  I only note that because it’s the title of the ep and Phil is hardly the only person to drop the title within the ep this week; Olivia also does at some point and I’m pretty sure at least one other person does.  Actually, I found this kinda annoying even though usually I appreciate stuff like this.  I like when the title of the ep serves as a theme for what’s going on throughout, but here I feel like people just keep dropping the title and you can sense the writers (Leckowick this week) grinning and being like, “You see what we’re doing there?”  Okay, anyway, that doesn’t matter; what does matter is that just as Phil is threatening Greg, who should come walking out of the elevators leading directly to Greg’s office?  Why, it’s Karen and Mack and what will happen if they see Greg conspiring with Karen’s kidnapper?!  This is how the ep ends and this is another ending that I remember being mesmerized by upon first viewing, but has somehow lost its luster for me.  Like, you know, it’s fine, it works, it gets the job done by leaving us on a cliffhanger, but for some reason, watching it now, I’m just kinda wanting all this Phil stuff to be done and over with so we can move on to new material.

                We haven’t seen Olivia smoke pot in a stretch of eps by this point, but she’s clearly fallen off the weed wagon this week, when we see her sneak into the bathroom and blaze up a joint from her stash that she keeps hidden in a band aid box (clever girl).  This is following a whole series of Olivia scenes in which we see that she’s sorta spiraling out of control.  First Gary gets called to her school because she was caught cheating on an exam.  The principal suspends her for three days and tells her that, should she ever cheat again, she will be expelled.  From there, we go to a rather excellent confrontation scene between Olivia, Gary, and J.B., who also came along to pick her up.  See, Gary forgets his speech notes or something and so he runs back into the school to get them, at which point J.B. tells Olivia to remember that what she does effects Gary’s election chances.  To this, Oliva retorts with, “What you do effects our family.”  Gary comes back and Olivia declares that she isn’t riding in the same car as J.B., that she knows what she’s reading about Gary and J.B. in the newspapers is true.  Gary says, “I thought you understood that the reason I moved back to the ranch was for the sake of appearances” (there it is again!), but the scene ends without a productive resolution to this issue.  Later, Abs has a little chat of her own with Olivia, also equally unproductive, but she makes the mistake of walking off and leaving her keys still in the engine of the car.  Uh oh!  Olivia eyes the car, the music swells up, she contemplates her choices, and then she decides to go for it and takes off in Abby’s car.



                There’s this big senate debate scheduled for the night, a kind of backdrop to the entire ep, but when the time comes for Gary to go out there and speak, he isn’t able to do it because, you guessed it, Olivia got into a little card accident and of course didn’t have a license.  In a way, this is a relief, because when we first see her speeding off, our minds are tempted to go to her getting horrible maimed or even killed, so this is fairly light.  Gary goes to pick her up in a scene that I appreciated, because the first thing he does when he sees her is not yell at her, but give her a big hug.  I kinda loved this, because it shows us a number of things all at once.  First, it shows us that Gary is inherently relieved that Olivia is alive.  He knows it’s not the time to yell and scream and say, “You were so stupid!”  Instead, he’s just grateful she’s alive and he gives her a hug to show that.  It also shows that Gary has some special understanding of Olivia.  After all, it was not so long ago (only three years ago, really, although it feels like way longer) that Gary was a drunken mess screaming, “WE’RE RUINING LIIIIIIIIIIIIIVES” and waking up on the beach next to dead bodies himself.  I think he looks at Olivia and sees himself in his wayward youth and he sympathizes and wants to help.  This is different from Abby’s reaction to Olivia at this point, which is mostly one of anger and frustration.  Since Abs doesn’t have a crazy alcoholic past like Gary, she can’t quite understand what her daughter is going through in the same way.

                While we’re on the subject of Olivia, I wanna say that I continue to feel sympathy for her and feel no need to condemn her for her actions.  Am I being too soft on her?  My Beloved Grammy often refers to her as “a brat,” but I don’t see her that way at all.  I see a mixed up girl who’s had a lot of abrupt change throughout her life and has an extremely contentious relationship with her mother, who she justifiably has a lot of trouble trusting or respecting.  Now she feels she’s losing Gary as her father figure to J.B., all at the same time that Gary is moving back onto the ranch “for appearance’s sake.”  This would all be very confusing for me, so I can understand Oliva and not feel too judgmental towards her.  Also, I feel we are witnessing a real uptick in Olivia-related stories right now, something that started in season seven.  I honestly feel like it would be justifiable for her to be in the opening credits at this point, although of course they don’t choose to put her there until her very final season, when she is given way less to do.  I think Olivia is going to be a consistent shining light in this season, someone I always find compelling and watchable, and any fan should know that it’s only gonna get more intense and dramatic and amazing as we make our way through the season. 



                Let’s see, what else is going on this ep?  Oh yeah, Abs and Peter, duh!  How could I forget this one?  In this ep, we have a very memorable scene that begins with a sensual foot massage from Peter to Abs.  I’ll take this moment to retract some comments I made way back in season six somewhere.  In some ep or other, we saw Greg rubbing Laura’s feet and I wrote about how I find that gross and not sexy.  Well, things have changed for Brett since I wrote those words and now I totally love foot massages.  They feel awesome, tingly and tickly sensual, and they are also awesome to give to other people, so long as they have nice feet.  It’s totally awesome to rub someone’s foot and give them that special pleasure, and also lately I find myself on this whole body kick where I love to explore another person’s entire body, not just one or two certain parts.  So yes, as of right now, I officially like foot massages and am no longer repulsed by seeing them in movies or TV shows. 



Okay, anyway, Peter’s giving that foot massage and saying something about how he needs an endorsement from Mack in order to win the election, but then things kick into sexy mode and the style of the scene gets rather, well, intense.  Remember way back in the season five premiere (The People vs. Gary Ewing) when we got INTENSE EYEBALL CLOSEUPS from Karen towards Laura?  Well, this scene kicks it up 1000% because we don’t just get INTENSE EYEBALL CLOSEUPS, we get INTENSE CLOSEUPS OF EVERYTHING.  We start with Abby’s eyes (those luscious baby blues) and then we cut to an INTENSE CLOSEUP of Peter’s eyes and then an INTENSE CLOSEUP of Abby’s lips, which are draped in a fabulous soft pink lipstick, and then as her lips start talking, we cut to an INTENSE CLOSEUP of Peter’s chest as he unbuttons his shirt and then an INTENSE CLOSEUP of Abby’s white outfit being untied and opened up and then return to another INTENSE CLOSEUP of Abby’s pink lips as she says, “Olivia and Brian are away with friends,” then an INTENSE CLOSEUP of Peter’s shoes being kicked off.  There might be two or three more INTENSE CLOSEUPS in this scene, but I’m getting tired of writing about them.  Anyway, in case you couldn’t tell from all these INTENSE CLOSEUPS, Peter and Abs are getting ready to shag, but then we cut to Gary’s car speeding up to Westfork.  Now, we can all predict that Gary’s gonna walk in on Peter and Abs in the middle of their shag, but I don’t think we can predict his reaction, which is utter indifference.  He walks in, he looks over at the two of them, they pause in the middle of their shag, Peter’s peter most likely still lodged firmly into Abby’s special lady parts; they’re looking all guilty, but then Gary just walks over to his closet and grabs two ties and says, “Tell me, which one do you think will look better on camera?” 


Oh, what a glorious scene in so many regards.  Obviously the INTENSE CLOSEUPS are amazing and hilarious (they remind me of the brilliant scene in Weird Science where Ilan Michell Smith and Anthony Michael Hall are hiding in the shower in the bathroom), but Gary’s reaction is really the best part.  Once again, I could write volumes on this one sequence alone, but I think the most striking thing about it is that we see, by this point, nothing about Abby shocks Gary.  He can walk in on her fucking anyone and hardly bat an eye.  He’s known her for six years now, been married to her for three years, and he’s well aware of her nympho ways.  If this had happened in season four, Gary would walk in and go, “My God, Abby!  What are you doing?!”  Here, however, he’s not shocked at all, just resigned to expecting her to behave this way.

One last thing I wanna ask: Does Abs even like Peter?  Yeah, we get the INTENSE CLOSEUPS to emphasize how hot and sexy this is, and I’m sure Abs likes getting fucked because she’s a nympho, but does she really like Peter in any way at all?  I honestly don’t think so; I think she just needs a penis and Peter happens to have one, so she’s happy enough with that to deal with a guy that she really doesn’t care all that much about.  As for this business about helping him out with his campaign?  Again, I think she just really doesn’t care.  I don’t think she’s felt any particular passion for Peter as a human being ever, but he’s there, he’s around, he’s willing to do her, so she’ll put up with talking to him or helping him out with his race to the senate.  



You know, that oughta about do it for this ep.  How was it?  Well, it was pretty good.  I do wanna note that I find myself just feeling a little less passionate about everything going on right now.  I happen to be putting my season six essays at the same time that My Beloved Grammy and I are working through season eight (yesterday I put up Message in a Bottle, for those who wanna get some timeline of how things are going down), and reading over my essays from that brilliant year, you can just tell how enthused I was about the whole thing, what passion I felt for every single fucking second of that year.  I’m not feeling that same passion at this point, even though I still enjoy watching the show and I still enjoy writing about it.  I maintain that season six was such a triumphant work of art and the greatest season of television I’ve ever seen, so perhaps anything to follow after it will pale by comparison, or perhaps my own life changes are distracting me from enjoying the show in the same way as I was before, I dunno.  I suppose this is just my way of saying that if my writing feels a little lacking now, it’s because it probably is, because watching the show doesn’t fill me with quite the same awe inspiring joy that it did back in those glory years.

One thing that was refreshing about this ep was the total lack of Hackney. Sadly, that trend does not continue as we move on to our next ep, All Over but the Shouting.




Thursday, March 22, 2018

KNOTS LANDING Episode 165 of 344: SLOW BURN


Episode Title: Slow Burn

Season 08, Episode 05

Episode 165 of 344


Directed by David Jacobs

Original Airdate: Thursday, October 9th, 1986

The Plot (Courtesy of TV.Com): News of Gary and Jill's affair hits the papers. Abby's furious, and has a little talk with Peter.  At a debate, Peter makes it clear that Gary's personal life is not an issue. Gary and Jill resume their affair. Greg has Phil's license plate traced to an address in Dillon, CA, and drives there. Jean keeps trying to call Ben, and he keeps hanging up on her. Karen escapes the burning house. Phil sees her on the road and tries to run her down. She escapes into the woods and eventually comes across a vacant house. She breaks in, but Phil finds her. She throws a bucket of ammonia in his face and runs out back to the barn. He is breaking down the barn door when Greg shows up and stops him. Greg says he'll let him go for old times sake, as long as he goes back east and never gets involved in their lives again. Karen is confused when she hears two cars leave. Police tell Mack they received a tip about where Karen is. Mack and Karen run into each other's arms, and he brings her home.more



                Time to discuss Slow Burn, the culmination of a disk of eps for My Beloved Grammy and myself.  The first thing worth mentioning, something I find rather significant, is that the genius David Jacobs directs this ep himself, his first directorial effort since A Price to Pay near the end of season six.  This marks his fifth directing job out of eight altogether, although I confess I’m going to have some problems with this one.  I think these problems reflect my problems with this season so far, the fact that, no matter what’s going on and how much I care about the characters, things just look and feel kinda cheap right now.  In the last four eps that David Jacobs directed, I always felt the style just oozing out of every frame, but this one just feels kinda regular, and that’s too bad cuz I got all excited when I saw his name in the credits.  Anyway, let’s explore.



                This might be a pretty fast writeup because the majority of this ep is strictly focused on one thing: Karen and Phil.  Before I talk about them, though, let’s talk about what’s going on with the other characters, if anything.  My favorite storyline continues to escalate nicely, although I confess that now I need to backtrack a bit and admit that I wasn’t totally clear on something.  See, I kinda assumed that everyone knew that Gary and J.B. were fucking and nobody cared.  Nope, that’s wrong.  Gary is trying to keep his relationship with J.B. on the D.L. and, last ep, Peter made the decision to release the affair to create a scandal and get Gary all mired in a controversy.  Obviously, this creates drama in all sorts of ways, most especially between Peter and J.B.  In case you’re having trouble keeping track, I remind you that Peter and J.B. (AKA Dorothy Simpkins) are brother and sister and their parents died because of the evil Paul Galveston’s evil ways, but only we viewers know about their relationship to each other, at least I think.  Does anyone else in the cast know Peter and J.B. are siblings?  Well, if they don’t right now, I’m sure they’ll find out in time, perhaps on the next disk we are all scheduled to watch.



                Greg and Laura connect directly to the Phil Harbert shenanigans, because, see, last ep, Greg jotted down Phil’s license number real fast as he was hauling ass off the ranch.  This ep, Laura gives him some gentle prodding about how, if he knows anything about Karen’s disappearance, he ought to do something about it.  Since he does love and respect his new wife, Greg kicks into action and looks up the license plate and traces it to the scary house in the middle of nowhere, a house that’s on its way to burning to the ground at the start of the ep.  When we begin the ep, we get a quick review of the last minute from our prior ep, showing Phil lighting the matches and turning the house into the prom at the end of Carrie, all while Karen frantically looks for an exit.  She winds up sliding through a hole in the ceiling or something; to be honest, both My Beloved Grammy and myself had a hard time figuring out how she gets out.  Where did this hole come from?  Is it a new hole?  Did she create the hole herself and I just wasn’t paying attention?  It doesn’t really matter because, suffice it to say, Karen manages to escape from the house right before it dramatically explodes, and then it's off to the races for a very Friday the 13th chase through the woods.

                Now, this I liked a lot.  I didn’t like it as much as I did the first time I watched it, back in college, when I remember just clutching myself and being in unbelievable suspense, peeing my pants a little bit.  This time, I wasn’t in the same type of suspense, but I still appreciated the way that Karen just can’t get away.  Seriously, all this stuff goes on forever.  She runs through the woods, she hides in the woods, she flags down on a car only to reveal that it’s being driven by Phil.  Oh yeah, that’s one little arty touch that I liked in this ep.  We’ve seen that Phil has a fondness for classical music throughout the last couple eps, and he likes to blast the classical while driving his car, so it creates this cool effect where the music almost serves as his theme music, like the shark from Jaws.  If we hear classical music getting quieter, we know that he’s getting further away, but if the music is getting louder, it means he’s getting closer and closer to Karen.  I thought that was stylish and cool, and another fringe benefit of it is that it means we don’t have to suffer through an awful episode score.  Instead of listening to terrible New Wave synth garbage spreading its filth throughout the KL aural experience, we just get silence for awhile as Karen runs through the woods and then we get classical as Phil gets closer.*  Phil’s definitely crazy, by the way.  I was kinda giving him the benefit of the doubt the last eps, thinking he wasn’t that bad, that he was just kinda weird and a smidge unstable, but this ep proves that he’s coo-coo. Why?  Well, cuz when he’s near Karen and trying to figure out where she is in the dark, he keeps chatting with her casually, trying to draw her out, busting out an apple and being like, “Hey Karen, I got you an apple!”  Apples are great and an apple a day keeps the doctor away and all that, but if someone had just locked me in a room and then tried to burn me alive, I don’t think an apple would get them back on my good side; it would at least have to be a pineapple.



                The chase continues well into the next day.  First, Karen manages to fall asleep in the woods under a tree, and when she comes to, it’s bright and sunny, but danger still looms.  Phil is still hot on her tail, and we do get a pretty nifty scene in which Karen accidentally stumbles upon him, fast asleep on the hood of his car.  I enjoyed this very much, watching Karen have to sneak around him and hope not to wake him up; it reminded me of a very suspenseful scene in Scream 2.  Anyway, Karen manages to find this abandoned house that, well I dunno what the deal is with this house.  Is it just abandoned?  Is it on the market and not yet sold?  The inside of the house is a mess and there’s just random crap hanging around, including a big jug of, like, rubbing alcohol or something.  Karen suffers from the same affliction that strikes many female leads in horror movies by making some questionable decisions here.  Most obviously, she finds this house, smashes the window of the front door so that she can unlock it, and then she goes inside and locks the door.  Okay, that’s great, but I’m pretty sure Phil would be able to stick his hand through that window you just smashed and unlock the door from the outside.  I guess it’s unfair for me to pick on Karen too much, since I’ve never been chased all night through the woods by a psycho hellbent on killing me; who knows how I would behave? 



                Phil busts into the house, but Karen cleverly throws that bucket of rubbing alcohol or dish soap or whatever in his face, a nice little move that made me cheer, but then she immediately makes a dumb move by rushing out of the house and into a, um, barn. Ugh, stop locking yourself into buildings that you can’t escape from when the killer is chasing after you!  Things take a real Shining turn when Phil grabs an axe and starts trying to bust through the door, but wouldn’t you know it, in the nick of time Greg shows up to put a stop to this, ordering Phil to leave the state and never come back, and Phil obliges.  Throughout this whole, rather large exchange of dialogue, I guess Karen never peeks outside to see Greg and Phil talking or she never hears their voices or anything like that, which is maybe a bit hard to swallow, but whatever.  While I’ve enjoyed the suspense of this ep, more or less, I’m just ready for Karen to get back home and be safe; I’ve had about enough of her kidnapped and/or being chased around.  The ep ends on a happy/scary note, because Karen is reunited with Mack outside of the barn, and then later with both Eric and the sexiest of the sexy, Sexy Michael, back at the house.  It’s a real touching family reunion, but it’s marred by the camera panning out away from her house to reveal Phil lurking in his car, listening to, you guessed it, classical music, telling us that he’s not actually leaving town any time soon and Karen had better watch out.



                So yeah, that was Slow Burn.  I think I enjoyed it, but not as much as the last two eps we discussed, and certainly not as much as I remember enjoying it in college.  I still can’t quite put my finger on what has changed, because I was fucking loving all of this in college, but now I’m just sorta meh.  Like, it’s fine, it’s good, there’s suspense and I like how the ep is really just 48 straight minutes of suspense and action, yet I still felt kinda un-involved, not terribly gripped, and still unable to fully explain why.  Also, I am aware that this is probably the shortest essay I’ve ever written about a KL ep, so allow me to provide a little context.  I am sitting in a dandy little coffee shop, one of those real hole-in-the-wall places that are quiet, darkly lit, and very cozy, and I’ve been sipping coffee and writing about three damn eps in a row, which is more than I would usually do at one time.  This is the last of those three, so it’s been a marathon session of several hours of coffee and writing and I think, at this point, I’m just tired and I wanna go home and relax.  If I failed to give the proper attention to this ep that it really deserves, well, sorry.



                Okay, so coming up next will be the ep entitled For Appearance’s Sake.

                *I just want everyone to note that I actually like New Wave music and I like synth very much; I just hate the awful, badly done soundtrack attempting to sound like New Wave that is polluting my much cherished KL at this precise moment in time.




Thursday, March 15, 2018

KNOTS LANDING Episode 164 of 344: PAST TENSE


Episode Title: Past Tense

Season 08, Episode 04

Episode 164 of 344

Written by Sandra Smith Allyn

Directed by Nick Havinga

Original Airdate: Thursday, October 2nd, 1986

The Plot (Courtesy of TV.Com): Flashback Scene: Mack tells Phil that the firm he is working for is involved with the mob, but Phil says he has a wife to support. Later Phil is indicted, and asks Mack to lie on the stand, but Mack says he can't.

The polls begin to shift in Gary's favor. Peter decides to use married Gary's affair with Jill against him, although they've decided to hold off until after the election. Mack has a phony story released that they found the kidnapper's fingerprints and know who he is. This makes Phil very nervous, and Greg figures out that he is the kidnapper. Greg confronts him and gives him one day to undo the situation. Phil pours gasoline all over the house and lights a match. As the house starts to go up in flames, Karen discovers a trap door to the attic.



                Welcome to Past Tense, which picks up directly where we left off in the closing moments of Reunion, with Greg getting all excited to hear that he was getting a visit from his old law school buddy, Phil Harbert, and then the shocking reveal that Phil Harbert is, OH MY SWEET JESUS, Karen’s kidnapper!  Actually, this glides us nicely into another thing that I can bitch about regarding this current juncture in the series, although I confess I think it’s really only a flaw that relates to my bootleg DVD copies of the series and not the original broadcast. See, the copies that I have on DVD don’t merely show us a thirty second preview for the next ep, but when you jump into the next one and immediately have to sit through an unbelievably long “Last on KL” recap, all set to the tune of that absolutely dreadful season eight theme song.  Okay, so that sucks, because when you watch five eps in a row, you really don’t need a recap at the start of every single ep, and it also sucks that you have to hear the theme again, and then after the recap is done, we, you know, hear the awful theme song yet again, and it’s just too much.  Like I said, I’m pretty positive that this is a result of my copies using the syndication package edits, cuz when I rewatched these five eps one more time via the dark corners of the internet that I am privy to, they used the original broadcast edits and the eps just start with the credits, no thirty second preview, no seventeen minute recap, none of that, and it’s much better.  Of course, you might wonder why, if I hate these so much, why do I force myself and My Beloved Grammy to sit through all of them every single fucking episode.  The answer is that I am insane and dangerously unstable.  Also, since I know you guys like to hear about me peeing as much as possible, now would be a good time to mention that I pee a lot and so the fact that it takes a year or two for the eps to get started just means that I can go take a nice leisurely pee and guarantee that I won’t be missing anything of import.


                We open Past Tense on Karen still kidnapped in that house in the middle of nowhere.  Right now, she’s working on a fairly corny letter to Mack about how much she loves him and Bob Loblaw.  I am oddly unmoved by this little speech, and it’s strange because I came close to tears with Sid’s little message to Karen on the tape recorder way back in season three’s Critical Condition.  I suppose the difference there was that, you know, Sid died.  I have that retroactive knowledge that Karen is going to be fine because she’s going to continue to be in every episode all the way until the very final one.  Therefore, I don’t put the same stock into her little letter to Mack that I did in Sid’s last message to Karen way back when.  The good news about this scene is that Karen finally decides to kick into action after three eps of basically just sitting around.  She’s kinda reading over her letter to Mack and then she crumbles it up and says to herself, “I’m smarter than he is,” and starts looking around the room for a means of escape.  I’ve already thrown out my opinion on what Karen should do (take a page out of the Looney Tunes handbook and smack Phil in the face with a frying pan), but she doesn’t take my advice and instead chooses to start Shawshanking her way out of the room by chipping away at the wall with, like, a knife or something.  


                At the same time Karen is having her lightbulb moment and getting to work on breaking the wall down (“Mrs. MacKenzie, tear down this wall!”), Phil and Greg are hanging out in his skyscraper office and catching up on what’s been going down since law school.  This scene is important because Greg brings up how Mack’s wife is missing and Phil has to feign surprise about it, and then later we get some badly written exposition to help emphasize how Phil, Mack, and Greg were all buddies together cuz Greg and Phil have a drink together and Phil declares a toast, “To Phil Harbert, Greg Sumner, and Mack MacKenzie, the three musketeers!” and I almost expect him to look at the camera like Dark Helmet in Spaceballs and ask, “Everybody got that?”  


                Actually, while we’re on the topic of these three characters and their past histories, let’s talk about this ep’s Sepia Toned Flashback, which takes place in a bar (random: I like the period accurate music that’s always being played in the background when we flash back to the ‘60s, and I fear that it would wind up being chopped out if/when KL ever officially makes it to home media or a streaming service) and involves something about Phil being in trouble with the law.  I guess Phil got involved with some bad mafia dudes, as tends to happen to everybody at least once in their life (paging Gary Ewing, season two), and so now he’s asking Young Mack to commit perjury in order to get him out of this jam.  Young Mack has the same staunch ethics that 43 year old Mack has, because he says no, that committing perjury is wrong, Bob Loblaw.  Well, there you go, the dots are now officially connected to why 1986 Phil is so pissed off at 1986 Mack and has kidnapped his wife.  Since Mack refused to lie on the witness stand, Phil went to prison and when he got out, his wife was dead, or gone, or moved away, or wouldn’t answer his phone calls, or something like that.  


                Back in the present day, we can add not one but two cigars to The Sumner Cigar Counter.  The first one occurs in his amazing rec room that comes complete with pool table (more on this portion of the ep later) and the second cigar is lit when we return from a Sepia Toned Flashback to find Greg relaxing outside on his ranch with Phil and Laura.  For those keeping track at home, this makes Cigar #17 and Cigar #18, respectively.  Greg has really picked up the habit strong since we first met him in season five, no?  I like cigars as much as the next guy, but they are a vice best enjoyed in moderation; if Greg keeps this up too long, he’s gonna have to go under the knife for some sort of icky gum cancer and his teeth are gonna turn all brown.  Anyway, the cigars really aren’t the important thing; what’s important in the latter scene is that Phil accidentally reveals that he kidnapped Karen (whoops!) by randomly dropping her name and saying something like, “I sure hope Karen is okay.” Greg pulls him aside and says how he never mentioned his name to Phil, so he now thinks Phil is the kidnapper.  He gives a good forceful speech in which he says, “I never heard about this because we never had this conversation,” and then he urges Phil to fix whatever damage he may have already done.  


                I might be hopping around here and going out of the order of events as they take place within the ep, but who cares?  Phil begins to panic later because Mack uses his powers with the police to have a phony news story released saying they found the kidnapper’s fingerprints.  Oh yeah, I forgot to mention that last ep, but they discovered Karen’s little rental car abandoned at, like, an airport or something.  In the phony news story, they claim that the fingerprints were all over the car and they’re about to make an arrest.  This frightens Phil, and then fright compounds with anger a little later when he discovers Karen’s ruse (her cunning attempt to trick him) of trying to bash through the wall.  He gets pissed and takes a frying pan (a frying pan; why aren’t you paying attention to this, Karen?) and bashes the wall really hard, revealing that, beneath the paint, there is nothing more than a brick wall.  Oh crap!  How’s Karen gonna escape now?  After both of these events occur, Phil is suddenly possessed by the spirit of The Trashcan Man as he begins to obsessively light matches and flick them towards a big jug of gasoline.  In case your parents never told you, this is a bad idea and you shouldn’t play with matches, because you might get burned.  Phil’s goal is not to burn himself, however, but rather Karen, because our exciting cliffhanger for the end of the ep is him leaving a lovely trail of gasoline throughout the house and then setting it ablaze like Norman Bates at the end of Psycho IV.  Oh crap!  I sure hope Karen is okay, although I have a strong suspicion that she’ll be fine.


                Okay, so that about does it for Phil and Karen and all that; let’s move over to my favorite storyline, Gary and the senate.  This ep had my second favorite scene from the entire first five eps of the season contained within it, with my very favorite scene being, of course, Gary laughing while trying to film that commercial in Distant Echoes.  This second scene is a real doozy and also gives me lots of thoughts about our current political climate and the idea of honesty. Okay, to set the scene, early in the ep Greg meets up with Peter and The Ned Beatty Lookalike (Sid Farkus) and they discuss how best to torpedo Gary.  Greg says how they won’t even have to try, that nobody would ever elect an alcoholic with an arrest record for murder.  This is a sound reasoning, but then we cut to this big auditorium where they are having the first big senatorial debates or whatever, and Gary unleashes a terrific wet fart into Greg’s face when he stands in front of the audience and says, “My name is Gary Ewing and I’m an alcoholic.”  God, this scene made me so happy, so much so that, after watching it, I keep thinking about it throughout my day and whenever I think about it, I’ll smile.  There’s something about the cut from Gary’s declaration to Greg’s deflated face that just makes me feel insanely giddy. Gary doesn’t just stop there, by the way, because he also explains how he got arrested in season four for the murder of Ciji (although he doesn’t mention her by name; I think neither Ciji nor Cathy shall ever get a verbal shoutout again on the series and that makes me sad), and he proceeds to explain how he was exonerated and didn’t do it.


                I have so many thoughts about this scene and I’ve been thinking about this scene for days.  As a person who believes in strict honesty and believes that you’ll never really get in trouble for anything so long as you tell the truth, this really spoke to me.  I admire Gary for this courageous act and I believe he is doing the right, noble, and ethical thing.  If I ever run for politics (and I know I can count on your vote), I would institute a similar policy of complete honesty and my enemies would never be able to dig up dirt on me.  One last small detail that I appreciate: Late in the ep, Gary calls Olivia up on the phone and they talk about having an early dinner and Olivia says that she’s going to be going to her drug therapy session later that day.  I appreciate this, because we haven’t seen Olivia blaze up as of late (and I think she is actually clean and sober at this exact juncture, but there’s a heavy chance that this will change later down the line) and I like knowing that Olivia’s doing her drug therapy thing.  It would be very easy to just sorta forget about her stoner period during season seven, but the writers don’t do that; they throw in this little line to tell us where she’s at in her life right now.


                That’s about all I got for this ep.  Even though I wrote less about this ep than the last three, I think I actually liked it the best.  While I still hate the opening theme music, hate the music throughout the eps, hate the visual style of the series at this point, and even hate the small things like the super cheap computer-looking font that they use for the ep credits, I still think the season is improving before my very eyes.  I think perhaps this particular season starts out at its weakest and then improves overtime, although I suppose we’ll see.  This ep barely had any Hackney in it, which I appreciated, and I found lots of good qualities to talk about.  I enjoyed the Sepia Toned Flashback, I enjoyed Greg smoking his cigars, and I loved the scene with Gary at the debates, so yeah, not too bad as long as you can get past some of the inherent problems taking over at this point.

                Let’s see if Karen can finally escape from the clutches of Phil Harbert.  For our next ep, series creator and undisputed genius of everything David Jacobs returns to the director’s chair for Slow Burn.

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

KNOTS LANDING Episode 163 of 344: REUNION


Episode Title:  Reunion

Season 08, Episode 03

Episode 163 of 344

Written by Lynn Marie Latham

Directed by Joseph L. Scanlan

Original Airdate: Thursday, September 25th, 1986

The Plot (Courtesy of TV.Com): Jean calls Ben and he tells her never to call him at home. Ben poses Val a hypothetical question: Should he do a report on a man who was once in a subversive group that bombed a building, but had gotten out and was now a responsible man with a family? Val says no, as it would hurt his family. Abby shows up at a speech that Gary gives, and tells Jill that she will be with Gary morning, noon, and night. However, she gives Peter copies of Gary's speeches and schedule. Phil tells Karen that he wants Mack to feel what it's like not to know where his wife is. Phil says that Mack sent him to jail and he didn't know what was happening to his wife, and then she died. He says he'll let Karen go in a year. Greg decides to really clean up Empire Valley. Phil stops by to see Greg. Greg excitedly tells Laura that he's a good friend from law school.




                Welcome back, readers, and it’s time to discuss Reunion.  But wait a minute, didn’t we already discuss Reunion?  Well, yeah, kinda, because you’ll recall that this was also the title of the boring and shitty season three episode in which Jessica Walter came to town to put on a ridiculously God-awful fashion show (remember Diana in that, like, Russian fur hat?) and caused Karen to briefly flirt with moving to New York.  Will this Reunion be more interesting than that Reunion?  Well, I took a shit this morning that was more interesting than the season three Reunion, so I’m gonna go ahead and say probably.

                We open with Karen and her kidnapper, which is pretty much the way we are going to start every ep for these opening five eps of the season.  In our last two eps, I said I’m having a bit of a problem with this storyline due to what I perceive as a lack of urgency, and that problem continues this week.  Remember how I said it’s hard to feel in suspense when we keep cutting to Karen sitting in a rocking chair?  In this ep, we see her cooking herself a nice hearty breakfast of scrambled eggs and bacon and whatever, a real classic American breakfast.  As I keep saying, this storyline would work a lot better for me if Karen remained locked in that scary basement and Phil actually seemed like a legitimate threat to her.  When he comes into her little room/kitchen and offers to serve the breakfast and says something like, “I always served,” it just feels like this regular domestic thing.  Honestly, if I was gonna get kidnapped, I’d hope my kidnapper would be as gracious as Phil and let me cook breakfast for myself and have a big soft bed to sleep in.  Yeah, it sucks to be kidnapped in any instance, but this is a lot better than the way Ted Bundy liked to treat the women he kidnapped, you know?  At least Phil isn’t shoving a bedpost up Karen’s vagina or anything like that. 




                I’m also having the same problem I often have when watching shitty horror movies (and I watch a lot of them), in which I keep managing to find all these different instances where Karen could hatch an escape plan.  Right here, I’m watching her cook the breakfast on the stove in a frying pan and I’m thinking of all the possibilities that yields.  Why not keep the pan on the stove for a long time until it’s super super hot and then wait for Phil to show up and give him a big fat whack in the face with it?  Or why not use the stove to “accidentally” cause a fire and while Phil is busy tidying it up, she could sneak out while he’s not looking.  Perhaps I’m wrong to even be thinking about this stuff, however, and perhaps Karen isn’t ready to fight back or hatch an escape plan quite yet.  Perhaps this has to do with the fact that, like I said, Phil is not Ted Bundy.  He’s kinda creepy and weird, but he doesn’t seem all that dangerous and maybe Karen is thinking he’s rational enough that she can reason with him after getting to know him a bit.




                Indeed, the two do have a bit of a heart-to-heart this ep in which Phil makes it easier for us viewers to put the pieces together for why he has kidnapped Karen.  He explains that he wants to make Mack feel the same pain that he felt when he was sent to prison and couldn’t see his wife and, when he came out of prison, his wife had died, or something like that, maybe she just ran off on him, I don’t fucking know.  Now, the TV.com plot description that I always copy and paste for these essays says that Phil tells Karen he’s gonna let her out in a year.  Um, does he? I watched this ep twice and I don’t remember any line about that, aside from Karen asking him if that’s his plan and him seeming to ignore her.  Did I just somehow miss this line twice?  In any case, Phil and Karen are enjoying a nice breakfast together and then she says something about his wife that really pisses him off, so he pushes her against the wall and makes some sort of vague threat and, you know, that’s about it for this ep, so let’s move on.




                Oh no, wait, that’s not about it, duh, how could I forget this?  The big cliffhanger at the end of this episode is that Greg and Laura are sitting in Greg’s palace skyscraper office and talking about Greg and Laura stuff when Greg gets a buzz from his secretary telling him that Phil Harbert is here.  Now, to be clear, at this exact moment, we don’t know the significance of that name because for the last two eps and almost all of this ep, the character played by Louis Giambalvo has just been, you know, Karen’s kidnapper. So anyway, Greg hears that Phil Harbert is here and his face lights up like a kid seeing Santa Claus for the first time and he goes, “Phil Harbert?!  Well, send him in!”  Then a body comes walking into the office, but we don’t immediately see the face at first, and then Greg is all like, “Laura, meet the guy from Real Genius!” and the camera reveals that it’s, GASP, Karen’s kidnapper!  The plot thickens, for how does Greg know this person, what’s their history with eachother, and how does it all relate to Karen’s disappearance?

                Once again, this just isn’t playing for me the way it was the first time, and I can’t figure out why.  I’m not gonna mince words; when I watched this back in college, I was loving this storyline, absolutely everything about it, and I remember getting to this end revelation and literally gasping aloud to myself (I did that a lot while watching the show) and thinking of what a brilliant twist and cliffhanger it was.  Later, I would read the IMDb boards (remember those?) or the SoapChat forum and see that lots of fans really don’t like this story and I’d think to myself, “What’s wrong with them?  This story is brilliant!”  Now I think I’m siding with those fans and seeing their issues with all this stuff.  The main problem with this is that it all feels very made up, like the writers are just figuring it out as they go along.  I guarantee you that if you took a time machine back to 1986 when they were just wrapping up season seven and said, “So, Karen’s getting kidnapped, huh?  What’s gonna happen when you come back in the fall?”, the response you would get from the writing team would be, “I dunno; we’ll figure it out in the fall.”  There’s just no way that The Longest Night was written and produced and broadcast with the behind-the-scenes talent actually having this grand idea of Phil Harbert and his past with Greg and Mack all figured out.  Again, I know this is not unique, that in Television Land, a lot of the great cliffhangers are done without any idea of how they will be resolved, but the problem is that, in this instance, I’m feeling it. 

                I’m feeling kinda negative right now, so let’s move on to a storyline I’m loving, my very favorite storyline going on right now, and that’s Gary running for the senate.  The wheels continue to spin this week in so many ways when it comes to this storyline, and again, I remind you that I had forgotten all of this.  How interesting that the story I remembered vividly and loved upon first viewing (Karen’s kidnapping) has faded so fast in my estimation while the storyline I had completely forgotten is proving to be the best one going on right now.  Let’s see, what’s Gary up to this week?  Well, he holds one of his first little campaign lunches or whatever you call it when a bunch of your supporters show up to give you money and cheer at your speeches.  Trump does this every five minutes and I obviously hate watching his Nazi rallies and his white supremacist supporters cheer and scream and get ready to lynch some dark skinned person, but I am much more approving of Gary and his message.  See, Gary says how everyone tells him not to get into politics because it’s a dirty business, but it doesn’t have to be a dirty business unless you make it that way.  It’s a good speech and if I lived in the universe of this show, I would certainly vote for Gary. 




                Unfortunately, Abs shows up at this event wearing one of her very worst outfits ever just to make things awkward and weird for Gary.  Before I talk about what she does, let’s just talk about the thing that she’s wearing and what she could possibly have been thinking.  Okay, so it’s a red outfit, and there’s nothing wrong with the color; red is a great color and Abs usually looks fabulous in red, but first off, this thing is covered in, like, weird white spots that make it look like she just superglued some rice all over herself in a random pattern that makes no sense, but that’s not all.  Don’t even get me started on her hat, which is one of those huge flying saucer hats that absolutely nobody looks good in (“You buy a hat like this, I’ll bet you get a free bowl of soup”) and it’s also red and it’s just so comically huge and it’s awful.  Abs is so stunningly beautiful (and still is today at well past age 75) that no bad outfit can take away from her inherent beauty, but fuck is this a bad outfit, and I’m gonna go ahead and declare it her worst outfit ever, barring some unforeseen wardrobe event in the future.  Ugh, fuck this outfit.  But anyway, the outfit is just one awkward thing about this scene, the other one being that she is running around, shaking hands and saying, “Hello, Abby Ewing, nice to meet you,” to everyone she sees, even though I think most of the people at this event know that Gary is slipping it inside of J.B. nightly.  So now Gary’s got two women at his shoulder, one he actually likes and wants to continue slipping it inside of, and one his treacherous about-to-be-ex-wife wearing an awful outfit that looks like it came out of a dollar bin at Wal Mart. 




                Abs knows what she’s doing, because she saddles up to J.B. and, in her classically sounds-nice-but-is-actually-wicked voice, tells J.B. something like, “Mr. Ewing can count on Mrs. Ewing being at his side morning, noon, and night.”  She gets even more wicked later when speaks with Peter Hollister at Lotus Point and, after explaining her reasons for continuing to be seen publicly with Gary as his wife, she slips Peter some of Gary’s stock speeches as well as his yet-to-be-announced endorsements and his schedule for the foreseeable future.  Yikes!  Now Peter will be able to take the wind out of Gary’s sails by knowing what he’s up to as well as what his speeches are gonna say.  Will Abby’s wickedness never cease?

 

                I’m wondering why I’m loving this storyline so much even though, so far in the season, really not all that much has happened with it.  I think it might be my sudden spurt of interest in politics that took over my life on November 9th, 2016 (a day in which I woke up crying).  I used to be very dismissive of political stuff and that tone can probably even be found in some of my early essays (see, another one of the fascinating things about my amazing and brilliant blog is that you readers can track my growth and maturity as a human being from the infantile and sad creature that I was when I first began this voyage).  Now, I’m finding myself much more interested in this stuff, and especially interested in the ethics of politics and whether a good person can get into politics and remain good and uncorrupted or not.  I think I’m also so horrified by our current political climate and afraid that someone wearing a MAGA hat is going to tie me to a tree and gut me and then get away with it because my gayness was offending their Christian values or whatever, and I'm so horrified and disgusted by the man in the White House that I just yearn to see a person like Gary Ewing show up in real life and run for politics, so that makes me enjoy this storyline ever the more.  I’ll return to this stuff next ep, when we get some really great stuff that I truly appreciated involving Gary’s run for the senate.




                Another enjoyable storyline going on right now?  Everything involving Paige.  I feel I’ve neglected to mention Paige the last few eps, and I’m sorry about that.  It’s just that there’s other stuff going on and I know we’ve got something like 181 eps with Paige, so I feel we’ll have plenty of time to talk about her and how much I enjoy her.  Anyway, the really important thing about this ep is that Paige finds Sexy Michael running on the high school track and then the two sit to enjoy, I think, a box of donuts together, although I have a hard time believing that a specimen as perfect and sublime as Sexy Michael would ever go anywhere near donuts, let alone put one in his mouth.  If I had Sexy Michael in my presence as well as a box of donuts, the possibilities are endless, but suffice it to say that I would get started by squeezing some jelly out over his perfect dark nipples and then licking it off.  Mmmmmm, Sexy Michael.  Oh wait, what was I talking about?  Oh yeah, Paige catches up with Sexy Michael running and then they sorta hang out and she helps him do some sit-ups, which gave me a boner.  When Sexy Michael lies on his back to do his sit-ups, he puts his arms behind his head, exposing that perfect little poof of dark hair under his armpits, hence my boner.  This is the one of the best scenes ever put into a film or television show, and the glory of it is that, in addition to allowing me to leer at Sexy Michael, it also provides some good plot information and another Sepia Toned Flashback. 




                This Sepia Toned Flashback gives us another chance to see Doug Savant as Young Mack (doing a fabulous job, in my opinion) as well as Nicolette as Young Anne.  Even though this stuff still looks pretty cheap visually and even though most fans seem to hate it, I’m still kinda loving it and finding it rather charming.  I think I just appreciate the ambition of it, that KL has always had and will always have an artier sheen over it than the other nighttime soaps of its era.  I can’t imagine Dallas ever attempting to do this level of Godfather: Part II storytelling.  I also enjoy watching Savant and Nicolette act together (two future Desperate Housewives stars, oh my God!) and I enjoy the whole thing.  In this instance, Mack catches up with Anne on the train and she is sad and says how she expected him to call her the other day and he never did, and she looks sad and kinda cries a little, if I’m remembering correctly.  It’s not like we get a whole lot of this flashback, but it’s all building towards this greater story and, no matter what the other fans think, I still really like all this stuff.


                Laura gets a bittersweet scene this ep in which she begins to officially move off of the cul-de-sac.  I feel like she’s been sorta half moved off the cul-de-sac since the start of season six, always kinda splitting her time between the house she lived in with Richard for so long and Greg’s ranch or skyscraper office.  This ep, she catches up with Val out in her driveway while she’s piling things into her car and getting ready to evacuate.  She tells Val how it’s gonna be pretty weird not living here anymore, how there are a lot of memories, and of course she adds, “Not all of them good.”  Yeah, I’m willing to bet her mentally unstable husband holding her hostage at gunpoint in the house is not one of her finest memories, nor is that biker invasion from way back in 1980 or the burglars taking over that baby shower in 1981 or, well, you get the idea.  Seaview Circle may look cozy from the outside, but when you add up all the different events that have happened in just seven years, it’s actually kinda a war zone. 

                I think I’m probably gonna spend most of season eight angry and bitter that Laura is not getting serviced better.  Spoiler alert, but the great Constance McCashin will be leaving us somewhere in early season nine, so season eight is our last full year with her in which she is a cast member from start to finish, and I really wish she was given more to do.  Even with seasons six and seven, when I made the point that she functioned more as a part of Greg’s plots than for her own individual plots, she was still dynamic to watch, had great lines delivered with that impeccable air of sarcasm, and she still felt well serviced.  Reunion gives us a truly pathetic scene that has to be seen to be believed, although I shall try to describe it now and perhaps you readers can understand what I’m talking about.  See, Greg is standing in his bedroom at night, dressed in his robe, talking to Abs on the phone, and in the bed, we see a vague shape underneath the covers that, I suppose, is meant to be Laura.  In the whole scene, however, we never actually see Laura, for the covers are never pulled back from over that lump in the bed.  Then, Greg sits down on the bed and says, “You would think that a guy who’s clearly as upset as I am, you would think that his wife would have the common courtesy to at least stay awake until he is finished bellyaching!”  Then the lump sits up in the bed, remaining completely covered by blankets, and we hear Laura’s voice in what absolutely has to be a bit of A.D.R. work saying, “I’m sorry you’re so upset; is there anything else?”  Then the lump returns to its resting position.  Seriously, what the hell is this?  Did Constance get sick or something and wasn’t able to make it to the set?  Did they just decide it was too much effort to actually put her in the scene so they threw some P.A. under the sheets and said, “Just make sure not to show your face and we’ll pipe her voice in later”?  I mean, seriously, what is this?  Where is Laura?  Why don’t we see her face?  I feel like this scene is sorta a symbolic representation of how Laura will be used, or not be used, throughout the entire eighth season, and it makes me sad.




                You know what else makes me sad?  The Ben/Hackney storyline, which continues to escalate this week when Hackney calls Ben at home and, you know, makes some sort of vague threat about, you know, something.  Then we get more bad A.D.R. when Ben meets Dr. Silverman at a bus stop and inquires about whether Hackney is back to work for the C.I.A. or, you know, something.  Dr. Silverman says something vague and boring about, “All I can tell you is that her code name is active,” and then a bus goes by and when it passes the camera, we see that Dr. Silverman is gone and Ben is sitting all by himself. 

Oh yeah, and since some of you might be wondering who Dr. Silverman is, I shall explain.  This random one-scene character that Ben meets at the bus stop is played by veteran character actor Earl Boen, best known for being in every single movie ever made.  His most prominent role is as the wicked Dr. Silverman in both The Terminator and Terminator 2.  You’ll recall that he interrogates Kyle Reese in the first movie and then he’s got Sarah Conner locked up in a mental hospital in the second film.  I think he also showed up in the third film, but that was a colossal piece of shit that I only watched once, projectile vomited all over the place, and never watched again.  Let’s do a quick rundown of his IMDb credits and you will see that I’m definitely right about him being in every movie ever made.  Let’s see here, we’ve got 9 to 5, Airplane II: The Sequel (although I have a very strong feeling that you only see him if you watch the old TV version of that with the extra scenes in it), and the dynamic conclusion to the Naked Gun trilogy, Naked Gun 33 and 1/3: The Final Insult (maybe the best title to a movie ever).  When it comes to TV, he’s also shown up in every TV show ever made, but what surprised me when I looked it up is that he’s, you guessed it, a Transmorpher.  Apparently he plays Cliff’s doctor in two 1988 eps of Dallas, To Have and To Hold and Dead Reckoning.  Earl Boen, ladies and gentlemen. 




You know, that oughta do it for Reunion, our second Reunion of the series.  Yes, it was much better than the last one, and I also enjoyed it more than the first two eps of season eight.  I still continue to have problems with Karen and her kidnapper and, most especially, the Hackney storyline (which is hackneyed), which I’m already seeing is clearly ridiculous and I simply must have been wearing severely rose colored glasses the last time I watched it.  Despite my bitching, however, I don’t think I can ever stress enough that I’m still enjoying the series.  There’s probably never going to be a point in the series where I’m not enjoying watching it; I’m always gonna love being in this world and surrounded by these characters and I’ll never hit a point where I’m like, “I wish I was watching something else.”  I’m just trying to be even and point out the flaws as I see them, and let’s face it, fourteen straight years of me saying, “This is genius!” would get real old real quick.




Let’s move on to our future episode, which is called Past Tense.