Episode Title: All Over but the Shouting
Season 08, Episode 07
Episode 167 of 344
Directed by Robert Becker
Original Airdate: Thursday, October 23rd, 1986
The Plot (Courtesy of TV.Com): Mack thinks Greg has something to do with Karen's kidnapping. Greg puts Phil up in a motel until he can make arrangements to send him to Hong Kong. They agree to meet the next morning. Phil orders a pizza. The delivery boy recognizes Phil from TV and calls Mack. Sexy Michael is uncomfortable with his attraction to Paige, but they begin to kiss. Jean introduces herself to Val as an old college friend of Ben's, and Val invites her to dinner. Ben tells Jean to leave him alone or he'll expose her on TV. While grocery shopping, Ben loses Bobby and later finds him with Jean. Scared, he goes along with her and supports Peter on TV. Abby is furious, but tells Peter it was her idea. Peter wins the election.
Welcome back. When we last left off, Phil Harbert was talking to Greg in his big skyscraper office that makes me think of the Ewing Oil offices, things were getting heated between them, and then suddenly the elevators in the hallway opened up and, wouldn’t you know it, Karen and Mack came stepping out, intent on speaking with Greg right away. As we pick up now with All Over but the Shouting (a title I really like a lot), Greg is explaining to the two of them why he called the police and why he named Phil as the kidnapper. Of course, this is news to Phil, who’s hiding behind the door and listening to everything. He knew that someone had named him because of that whole pesky police sketch that he’s been dodging, but he didn’t know it was his friend Greg. Phil is understandably pissed, and after Karen and Mack evacuate the premises, he confronts Greg about it, to which Greg says, “You didn’t give me much choice.” I enjoy the way Greg speaks, and as I’ve said time and time again, I always find myself wondering where Devane improvised his lines. In this scene, he says to Phil, “You kidnapped the poor woman, you almost caused her death; that is not very nice.” I had to laugh at the “not very nice” part and wonder if Devane made that part up, and of course the best part is the way he just casually tosses it out like that. Let’s reflect a bit and remember that Phil locked Karen into that cozy little apartment and then lit the entire house on fire, a rather slow and horrible way to kill someone. It’s one thing to march in there and put a bullet in her brain; it’s quite another to leave her alone with the smoke and flames billowing in, cremating her alive. Yes, “not very nice,” indeed.
Even though Greg wants Phil out of his life as soon as possible, for the time being he is somewhat stuck with him, since Phil holds the threat over Greg about how Greg knew he kidnapped Karen, even caught him being possessed by the spirit of Jack Torrance while Karen was trapped in that barn, and yet all he did was tell him to take a hike. Of course, Greg is smart and has made sure to cross his T’s and dot his lower case j's by changing his tires, yet he still helps Phil out by checking him into an exceptionally shitty little motel where he is to remain isolated until he can get him to Hong Kong. Phil voices some opposition to this plan, asking why he has to go to Hong Kong, to which I retort, “Why would anyone not want to go to Hong Kong?” If I had nearly murdered a person and my punishment was to go live in Hong Kong, going to bathhouses with all those supple young Asian boys for the rest of my life, I would certainly not be complaining. Still, I can sympathize with Phil being bored in the shitty motel, as he has nothing more exciting to do than play solitaire and watch cartoons on a horrible 1986 TV (he’s just lucky it’s a color TV).
Later in the ep, Phil orders a pizza, and it’s only upon reflection that I realize how silly this scene is, specifically the way it is shot and scored (but we’ve already covered that the score is almost universally terrible throughout this season). See, Phil is hanging out all alone in the motel, and then he slowly glares at the corded telephone and we get a closeup of the phone and we’re thinking he’s gonna do something real wicked, like perhaps call Karen and threaten her some more, but instead he picks it up and orders a pizza. Look, I know it can cause anxiety to order a pizza, trying to figure out the specials and the best deals and just how many toppings you can get on there for the lowest price, but why is the scene shot like a horror movie? We really think he’s gonna do something awful, but all he’s doing his clogging his arteries more than they’re already clogged. Anyway, when the pizza boy arrives, Phil only opens the door as far as the chain goes and says how he just took a shower and he’s all naked, so the boy had better just hand him the pizza. Now, if Phil was played by a more attractive actor (my beloved Christopher Atkins, perhaps), I could see this type of scene easily drifting into the soft-core gay porn territory in which Phil declares he’s naked and the pizza boy says, “Oh, that’s no problem," and then the door opening and the two boys exploring each other in the biblical sense. However, since Phil is obese and unattractive, I’m glad that’s not what happens; instead, when Phil cracks the door open a bit further to get his pizza (I wonder what kind he got; my favorite is Canadian bacon and pineapple), the pizza boy spots his face in the mirror on the wall, leading us to our final scene of the ep, in which the heroic pizza boy calls the police and declares that he knows where this kidnapper guy is staying. Uh oh, looks like Phil’s in a bit of trouble!
That about does it for Phil this week, a character I’m getting rather tired of discussing. Fortunately, and I suppose this is a spoiler, but our next ep will mark his last appearance and then I won’t have to talk about him or think about him anymore. Anyway, let’s move over to a character I like more, Hackney. Oh no, wait, scratch that, I absolutely misspoke, as I dislike Hackney even more than I dislike Phil. See, Phil is just sorta there; I don’t even think I necessarily dislike him, but Hackney is already getting a special place in Hell, as far as I’m concerned. Fuck, how could I watch this whole season and not see what a fucking joke this character is? I remember powering through season eight just like I powered through the previous seasons and having absolutely no problems with any of this, but now I’m seeing vividly why all my fellow KL fans recoil in horror at the very mention of Hackney’s name. Our last ep was so blissful without her, but sadly she is back with a vengeance this week, starting off right near the beginning of the ep. Sweet God, the episode credits are still playing when Hackney shows up; the powers that be couldn’t even give us a couple of minutes of peace before unleashing her. Okay, so Ben comes home one night and he’s happy to see Val, but he’s feeling kinda tired and grumpy. Val says how she’s got something special prepared because they have a special guest, and Ben says, “I’m not really in the mood,” and Val grins all wide and says, “You will be!” Then, who should emerge but Hackney, dressed in white and purple and wearing a ridiculous purple party hat. She’s smiling and looking stupid and goes, “Hi, Ben, it’s me!” Ben looks profoundly upset and you have to wonder how much of this is coming from the character of Ben and how much of it is coming from the actor Douglas Sheehan staring at the scene being filmed and thinking, “I signed on to another year for this?” Yup, I’m hoping the producers cut Doug a mondo check to do this one extra season, because right about now I’m wishing he had run off with Cathy and the two could be living happily ever after somewhere, singing duets of fabulous ‘80s cover songs together.
Anyway, Hackney makes a stupid face and goes, “Oh God, I’ll just die if you don’t remember me,” and there’s this long pause as Ben glares at her before finally declaring, “Jean Hackney,” and then she screams like a stupid little bitch and acts all giddy and runs over and hugs him. From here, we learn that she has presented herself to Val and Lilimae as an old college friend of Ben’s who just moved out to California and saw him on the television and simply had to look him up right away. There’s a lot of atrocious dialogue in this scene in which Val says something about how, “Jean has been telling us how Flash was quite the ladies man,” and then Hackney says, “I only told them you broke Sarah’s and Carol’s hearts,” and then Val says, “I’ll let Sarah go by, but I will have some questions about Carol later.” Then poor Julie Harris, who is probably just yearning to have a storyline or something to do right now has to take a big gulp and deliver the line, “Mr. B.M.O.C.; Big Man on Campus,” and then everyone in the room laughs with delight as we finish up this most horrible, horrible, horrible scene.
I can’t believe Hackney is already this bad and this painful to watch this early in the season. If I remember correctly, she’s going to stick around for pretty much the entire damn year (good God, I just looked it up and she’s in 21 eps out of 30 and will make her final appearance in the fucking 25th ep of the season; my sphincter is rapidly tightening up). If you thought that this awful, awful, awful dinner scene was the only time we’d have to deal with her this week, think again, because a little later in the ep, we cut to some scary grocery shopping with Ben and Lilimae. The scene starts with some bad exposition to establish why Ben is here, with Lilimae saying, “I sure do appreciate you coming along with me,” one of those lines that reminds me of that brilliant Simpsons joke with Homer saying, “After all, we did agree to attend this self help seminar,” and Lisa saying, “What an odd thing to say.” In this case, both Ben and Lilimae know that Ben agreed to come shopping with them, so why is the line only coming up right now, as we cut to the start of the scene? Maybe I’m being an annoying, pretentious prick (which is my nature) by pointing out these micro-details and then bitching about them, but it’s lines like this that really make me miss Peter Dunne bad. Remember how brilliantly written the show was at every single fucking moment when Peter was in charge? Remember how organically we could flow from scene to scene and character to character without ever feeling any awkwardness? How I yearn for some of that now.
Anyway, everything’s going fine until Bobby mysteriously disappears. The music gets all scary as both Ben and Lilimae start running frantically around the store, looking for him. The bad music blares for a little while, we get lots of shots of the camera flinging around from aisle to aisle, and then Ben comes upon Hackney in the produce aisle, Bobby hanging out in her arms just as cozy as could be. Ben yanks Bobby away and Hackney (dressed in another absurd outfit) is all like, “Oh Ben, I didn’t know you shopped here; what a coincidence!” When Lilimae sees her, she’s all relieved and says, “He wandered off just like that; thank you very much!” Another thing to detest about this storyline is how it requires our beloved characters to act so unbelievably stupid. Am I really supposed to believe that both Val and Lilimae could spend an entire evening with Hackney and not realizing how uncomfortable and horrified Ben is during the whole thing? Am I really supposed to believe that Lilimae would see Hackney at the grocery store and just think it’s a remarkable coincidence that she’s holding Bobby? Lilimae is sharp and has her intuitions and her psychic twinkles and I ain’t buying this; I think she would see right through Hackney from the moment she waddled her bad-acting self into their home.
What does Hackney even want at this point, anyway? Well, in another bad scene in which Ben pays her a visit at her stupid little dress shop, she says how she’s receiving orders from her superiors and that they want to know what Greg Sumner is really up to and, for some reason, they want Ben to endorse Peter Hollister. Ben snorts and takes a moment to think of how many more eps are in his contract before he can take the money and run and then says how he’s a newsman and it’s unprofessional for him to endorse a political candidate. Then he overacts by grabbing Hackney and shoving her in front of the mirror and saying how he’ll do a special news report on a certain CIA spy named Hackney or some such nonsense. However, all this happens before the scary grocery store scene, you see. After Hackney kinda sorta kidnaps Bobby in the grocery store, Ben gets scared and decides to do what she says, so he goes on his cable show and says how he officially endorses Peter Hollister for the state senate. I remind you that this is a pretty big deal because Peter’s opponent is, of course, Gary, and Gary’s wife is, for the time being, Abs, and Abs owns the news station that Ben works at, so she’s understandably pissed.
Anyway, Gary sadly loses the election this ep, but he remains rather chipper about it, saying how he did the best he could, he learned some stuff, he feels good, and he might run again. Later, he and J.B. take a walk over to Peter in the hotel lobby and Gary acts like the bigger man by congratulating Peter on his win and telling him to give him a call if he ever needs any help. Peter chooses to act like the smaller man by pulling J.B. aside and saying, “J.B., if you ever want a job on my staff, give me a call.” At this moment, a man comes walking by with a big bowl of mashed potatoes and Gary simply can’t resist taking a big scoop of potatoes off on a spoon and flinging it at Peter, a scene that I found mildly amusing but I think could have been better. Even though a pie in the face is such an old cliché, I think I would have greatly enjoyed seeing Gary shove a full pie in Peter’s face. Somehow, one little smack of potato on his suit doesn’t have quite the same effect.
I gotta say I really wish this storyline hadn’t wrapped up so quickly. For these first seven eps of the season, Gary’s race for the senate has been my favorite storyline going on. I just found it all wonderfully entertaining and exciting, plus it gave us some brilliantly funny moments like Gary cracking up while trying to film that campaign commercial. I honestly think all this senate business could have easily spanned the whole season, so why end it here in episode seven? It feels rather anticlimactic and returns us to a problem I had with latter season seven, in which it felt like stories were created mostly to fill up a couple of eps before being quietly retired (cough, Sonny, cough). I was just enjoying all this senate stuff so much that I would have loved to see it go further, plus it also just feels kinda fast in a real world sense. Didn’t Gary announce wanting to run for senate, like, five minutes ago? And now the race is over and he’s lost? Do these things really tend to happen so quickly? Anyway, moving on.
I feel like I’ve been kinda whining about most of the stories this week, but if there’s one thing you won’t hear me complaining about it, it’s the wildly sexy and erotic budding romance between Sexy Michael and Paige. This has been kinda going on since Paige first showed up in the last few moments of season seven, and I feel I’ve been kinda ignoring it as I wrote about other stories. However, I shan’t ignore it in this ep, because things really kick into high gear with the two of them this week. See, when we first catch up with the two hot blondes, they are out clothes shopping and Sexy Michael is in one of those changing booths. Anyway, Paige comes walking over with some new outfit for him to try on and then she gets big and bold by just climbing right into that changing booth with him. The sexiest, steamiest, most semen-gushingly good line of the episode comes after Sexy Michael protests that he won’t even be able to afford these outfits and Paige assures him that she is buying. Then she says, “It’s your choice; you can try them on and get the size right or you can let me guess your size and probably get it wrong.” If it sounds steamy written out, that’s before I even tell you that she glances right down at his lower regions before she says, “You can let me guess your size,” and she even throws a little pause in there to make it sexier. We all know what she’s talking about; she’s talking about his cock. She’s talking about Sexy Michael’s sweet, perfect, pink, probably circumcised cock and I love it. Mmmmm, what a yummy line and what a yummy scene.
The yumminess continues a little later when the two arrive at Paige’s hotel room and Sexy Michael declares how he’d better get going. Paige asks why he must always get going whenever they are alone together. Sexy Michael says how it’s sorta weird because his mother and her father are married, but Paige helpfully reminds him that they are not biologically related. Then Sexy Michael goes on about how much he enjoys spending time with her, how he feels he can talk to her about anything, to which she retorts, “Sounds like you’re describing a very nice friendship,” and then Sexy Michael gets all nervous and fidgety and says, “It’s not, because those good and friendly feelings always turn into something else,” and Paige finishes the thought with, “They turn sexy.” Ugh, this is all so hot and I love it so much. Then music that I actually don’t hate kicks into the soundtrack (it’s this sorta acoustic guitar) and the two start to passionately kiss like Jack and Rose flying on the bow of the Titanic and we end this most fabulous scene of this most fabulous couple. Mmmmm, yum yum yum yum yum yum yum.
That about does it for All Over but the Shouting. It clearly had its flaws, but it also had its good points, with the highlights being Paige and Sexy Michael as well the Gary senate storyline. The flaws are pretty much flaws that are going to be haunting us throughout the season, I’m afraid, so we’ll just have to get used to them for the time being, such as Hackney, who is just absurd. Even so, I still enjoyed watching this ep. I know I say this a lot after spending an inordinate amount of time bitching about an ep, but it’s still KL and I love KL and I would still rather watch this than almost any other show in the world. So anyway, let’s move right along to the conclusion of Phil Harbert’s time with the show (thank Christ) with Pressure Points.