Thursday, May 24, 2018

KNOTS LANDING Episode 174 of 344: GIFTS

Episode Title: Gifts

Season 08, Episode 14

Episode 174 of 344

Directed by Nicholas Sgarro

Original Airdate: Thursday, December 11th, 1986

The Plot (Courtesy of TV.Com): Ben gives Abby his resignation. Greg tells him his job is to keep Peter's nose clean. Peter tells Ben that he is not Greg's puppet. Jean's lover asks her what Ben will do if he finds that she is no longer with the CIA. Sexy Michael is jealous when he sees Paige fawning over Peter at the Lotus Point Christmas Party and at the mall. He blames Karen. Abby shows up at Peter's nude under a fur coat. Karen leaves a message for Paige's grandparents, the Winstons. When Karen tells Paige, she flips out and says her grandparents hate her because they hated Mack. Mr. Winston calls Karen and says that she's sick, because Paige is dead. Laura tells Greg she is pregnant, and he's not happy. Olivia buys some drugs, and then Abby and Gary give her a sports car for Christmas. Olivia takes Lilimae for a ride, and they get into an accident.

                When we last left off, we viewers were all staring at a grave that declared that one Paige Matheson, born 1967, had died in 1985 and was now buried right here, in this graveyard, wherever it might be.  This all glides us nicely into one of the main story points of our current ep, Gifts.  Indeed, there’s a lot going on with Paige and Sexy Michael and Karen and Mack and the entire gang of Fairgate-MacKenzies at, you know, whatever the hell address they live at (I notice the helpful “Who Lived Where” section of the Wikipedia page has mysteriously disappeared).  In this ep, Karen decides to go ahead and call up the Winstons. Who are the Winstons?, you ask.  Why, they would be Paige’s grandparents, the parents of the late Anne, R.I.P., the wicked old WASPs who gave Mack the cold shoulder and made sure to effectively destroy his relationship with Anne; we can’t have a person of Mack’s character dating our snooty daughter, you see.  Only really rich white people can even speak to our precious Anne!  Anyway, Karen gives them a call and speaks to the butler, an actor I immediately recognized because he plays the reverend in Critters 2.  Karen leaves a message with him and he assures her that someone will get back to her.

                Well, a little later in the ep, the phone rings and Paige goes to answer it.  When she hears the voice on the other end of the line declaring that this is Mr. Winston, she kinda freaks.  Actually, I guess she doesn’t freak right away, but she looks pretty panicked and hangs up the phone real fast.  A little later, she’s talking to Karen and realizes that Karen’s the one who called them, at which point she really freaks out.  She starts to cry and give this tremendous speech about how awful her grandparents are, about how she never wants to speak to them again, about how much Karen has ruined her life by doing this, at which point she goes running upstairs, still sobbing and being all dramatic.  When this occurs, Karen gets death glares from both Mack as well as Sexy Michael.  The Sexy Michael glare relates more to the fact that he’s blaming Karen for absolutely all of his relationship troubles with Paige.  I reiterate that Sexy Michael should just be going out and getting laid with everyone he sets his sights on, but it seems he prefers brooding and getting all bent out of shape over this one girl rather than accepting his God given mission to fuck and be fucked by as many boys as humanly possible. 

                Later, Karen gets a phone call from the Winstons, or maybe she calls them herself, who the hell knows, and this is when she gets the news that Paige is supposed to be, you know, dead.  Mr. Winston says that she’s a very sick woman and that Paige is dead and buried and that’s all there is to it.  That about does it for that story this week, but I want to take a moment to note a few things.  One is that I feel bad for Karen right now, because she’s honestly doing nothing wrong and has actually been fairly modern and progressive in dealing with the shagging of Paige and Sexy Michael, yet she keeps getting herself into these situations where she comes off looking like the bad guy.  I didn’t like the part where Paige freaks out on her, mostly because I know Paige is just pretending and is not really all upset about this, but also cuz I hated those death glares Karen received from her husband and her glorious sexual spectacle of a son.  Also, shouldn’t the family just be treating her better in general?  Wasn’t she kidnapped by a fat slob psycho for the first five eps of the season?  And didn’t the fat slob psycho only retire from his earthly form in the eight episode of the season?  And isn’t this the fourteenth ep of the season?  So basically, Karen has only been not kidnapped for nine eps, and you’d think the memory of her being missing and her family stressing about it would cause them to be nicer to her here, but nope, it seems everyone’s clear forgotten all about her little kidnapping and incarceration in a cozy little apartment room.  Fuck, this is annoying me, mostly because I’m finally having to admit it, that this season is suffering from, gulp, some bad writing.  Ugh, I hate saying it, I really do, but don’t you all remember how gloriously flowing and magical those beautiful seasons of four, five, and six were?  It always felt like the seasons were mapped out and pre-planned down to the last detail, that they had a great vision for how things would go.  This year, I feel like stuff is just happening, and then after a few eps of it happening, we move on to new stuff and start focusing heavily on all that, forgetting about the previous stuff almost immediately. 

                Let me think if there’s anything else in this Paige/Sexy Michael department that I wish to discuss.  Well, I note that Sexy Michael has a very hard time taking the hint that Paige is done with him, and he appears to be one of those guys who just doubles down hard when a girl rejects him, because we see him at the mall, having just purchased a locket for Paige that declares his love for her.  A smidge desperate after the woman declared she and Sexy Michael were finished?  Perhaps, but what’s really important here is that Sexy Michael catches Paige and Peter out on a mall date and then he looks all upset.  Also, a little later at the Lotus Point Christmas party, we catch up with brother Eric, who sat out the last few eps.  Eric has one of his cool straight shooter moments where he takes Sexy Michael to task for being so easily manipulated by Paige.  Again, I hardly ever mention Eric even though he’ll frequently waltz into eps and have some pretty boss moments, so here’s another example of one of those moments (remember when he slapped Diana?).  I also want to take a moment to say that I officially find Eric sexy now, although not even close to the sexiness level of Sexy Michael.  I think one reason I never thought of Eric as attractive before is because, when we first start the series, he’s at the peak of his awkward teen years and has bad hair and an unfortunate sorta moustache thing going on.  By this point, however, he’s become a fine and strapping young man, plus he does have a distinctive Don Murray quality about him that comes out every now and then and which I appreciate seeing.

                This little talk between Eric and Sexy Michael takes place at the Lotus Point Christmas party, so perhaps now is the perfect time to talk about the Lotus Point Christmas party and how I feel about it.  Well, I don’t like it, and that’s because it looks cheap.  Seriously, what are there, like, ten people at this entire gathering?  When we first shift our attention over to the Christmas party, we don’t even get a big establishing shot of the crowd or anything like that; we pretty much just start in a closeup with Laura (dressed like Laura) and Greg (dressed like Santa Claus) entering the proceedings and talking.  Why does this party look so cheap?  Why does this whole season look so cheap?  I know that we are going to lose two vital veteran cast members in the opening hours of our next season, and I know that the reason these two vital veteran cast members were let go is because the budget was being tightened, but I have to wonder if the penny pinching was actually getting started this season.  I feel like if this party had happened anywhere within seasons four through seven, it would feel like a vast, sprawling affair, and I would really believe there were a lot of people at the event.  Now, in the much more dreary and drab looking season eight, it’s not nearly so expansive, and I feel like the whole thing was probably filmed in a broom closet rather than at a real, exciting location.  

                Oh yeah, and while we’re on the subject of Greg dressed like Santa Claus, I would be remiss in my duty if I did not note that Santa is smoking a cigar for us to add to the Sumner Cigar Counter.  I’ve been slacking as of late because of switching notebooks and forgetting to bring my old notebook with me when I’m writing, but I announce right now that all of my notebooks are sitting to my direct right as I type, and now I shall do the proper research to get us back on track for Sumner’s cigars.  According to my notes, the Sumner Cigar Counter should now be up to Cigar #23, that being the one smoked while Greg is dressed like Santa.  Okay, so the number is currently 23, folks, and we are nicely back on track and shan’t get derailed again.

                Laura sure hasn’t had much to do for this first half of the season, has she?  Fortunately, the writers finally give her something this week, and it’s something that I’m excited to see introduced into the fabric and I’m eager to see where it will all lead.  This ep, Laura announces that she is pregnant again.  I can’t remember who she tells first, but I think it’s Val.  I might very well be hallucinating a scene that never occurred in my mind, but I think I’m correct in saying she tells Val before she tells anyone else.  Anyway, as we are nearing the climactic moments of this ep, we see Laura and Greg hanging out together at night.  Laura hands Greg a box and says, “Merry Christmas,” and when Greg opens the box, he discovers some small baby clothes packed inside.  “I don’t get it,” he says, to which Laura answers, “I’m pregnant, dummy.”  She says it with a little smile and all, but she also looks fairly uncomfortable, unsure of how her new husband will react to this surprising news.  Greg reacts by standing up and slowly walking over towards the window and slowly turning around before finally declaring, “Not a good idea.”  I liked this, and I also noted that we get thirty solid seconds of Greg just moving around, not saying anything, reminding us that we’re still in that era where primetime network TV had time, as the eps are still clocking in at about 48 minutes (this one is 47 minutes and 11 seconds, just to be precise).  I can’t imagine a network show now would be cool with killing thirty seconds just to have silence, but here, the silence works very well, because Laura and the viewers are both waiting to hear what Greg will say, and when he releases, “Not a good idea,” it’s an interesting moment.  I don’t know that it’s necessarily a surprising moment; I think we all know that Greg has some parenting issues, as he hardly ever sees M.F. and he clearly had a very contentious relationship with his own mother and father. 

                For the purposes of this ep, that’s about all we get on Laura’s new pregnancy and Greg’s reaction, but let me just take a moment to say how grateful I am that Laura is finally doing something.  I’ll just go ahead and let the cat out of the bag and release a BIG SPOILER right here in the middle of this paragraph, but Laura is one of the two characters we are going to be losing early in season nine.  I feel our time with her is now very limited, with something like 25 eps left, if I’m doing my math correctly.  Laura has been with us since the first ep and I’ve always valued the unique quality she brings to proceedings.  That’s why it makes me sad to see her getting nearly nothing to do at this point in the saga; I feel like we haven’t had the focus squarely on Laura in forever, and this season has really relegated her to the background pretty much since the premiere.  Therefore, I am pleased by this pregnancy because it means we can finally focus on Laura again for a little while.  This is also her second pregnancy on the series, as we should all remember she was pregnant with Daniel for the ending hours of season three and the opening hours of season four.  In fact, random detour alert, now that I think about it, I’ll bet Laura’s first pregnancy was one of the quickest in all of KL history.  I just looked it up and she announced her pregnancy in Reunion on February 18th, 1982, and then she delivered in Daniel on October 7th, 1982.  Hmmm, now that I do the math, that actually works out to a realistic pregnancy length, but of course we are ignoring those pesky summers that don’t seem to exist in the television land.  In terms of simply how many eps Laura was pregnant, it’s not that much, as Reunion is ep 44 and Daniel is ep 55.  I’ll pay attention to see how fast this second pregnancy is for Laura, and I have a feeling it won’t be quite as expedited as Daniel was.

                Let’s move the attention to my favorite storyline, the one that’s going to be my favorite storyline pretty much from right here, this exact moment, until, maybe, the end of our next disk of eps.  Anyone who has seen KL before should vividly remember what’s coming up, and that is Olivia and the coke.  Fuck, how I’ve been waiting for this storyline, and now it’s finally here and ready to get kicked into high gear (no pun intended).  Okay, so in Gifts, Gary and Abs decide to bestow good holiday cheer on Olivia by buying her a car of her own.  I enjoyed how this scene played out, by the way, because both Gary and Abs show up at Olivia’s school at the same time (right after we watch Olivia purchase a smidge of cocaine from her lovely friend Michelle).  At first Olivia is confused about why both of them are here to pick her up at the same time, but then Gary says, “We’re both very proud of you for passing your driver’s test, so Merry Christmas,” and motions towards the sexy new car that Abs just stepped out of (oh, and by the way, Abs is dressed in a horrible outfit that’s, like, yellow, and has weird flower shapes all over it and looks like it belongs in Carol Brady’s wardrobe closet).  Olivia is obviously very excited to have her own car and immediately goes speeding off with it.

                The trouble really begins a little later in the ep when Olivia rolls up to the cul-de-sac to show off her new vehicle to Karen, Val, Eric, and Lilimae.  She asks if anyone wants to go for a drive and Lilimae is all like, “Oooooooooh, there’s a few things I need to get from the grocery store or something,” and Olivia is all like, “Hop in!”  Obviously our sphincters should all be clenching tightly up as we realize the danger Lilimae has now put herself into.  After all, we’ve seen Olivia blaze up a doobie a time or two since the latter portions of season seven, and now we see that she has added coke to her daily rotation.  Should we infer that Olivia has made a switch from pot to coke and now she just does the coke exclusively?  Or are we to assume that she is continuing to indulge in the pot, but has also upped her coke intake at the same time?  In any case, the next time we see Olivia and Lilimae, they’re still driving, it’s late at night and rainy out, and Olivia is driving far too fast while listening to some public domain rock music.  When an uncomfortable Lilimae timidly asks, “Could we slow down a little, please?”, Olivia simply answers with, “You don’t think I know how to handle this thing?  Watch!”  Uh oh!  Then Lilimae asks if they can turn down the public domain rock music and Olivia’s like, “Public domain rock music isn’t your kind of public domain music?  Let’s find something else,” and by focusing on changing the station, she has shifted her focus away from the road just as another car is coming right for them!  Lilimae puts her arm over her face as the headlights flood the screen and we get a freeze frame ending, a pretty decent way to the ep, although I’m more excited about where all this is heading than where it actually goes in this precise ep.  Oh yeah, and real fast, My Beloved Grammy predicted that Lilimae was going to die after this ep, which does not wind up happening.  Even so, I could see why her mind would go to that conclusion; perhaps she’s seen how underused poor Lilimae has been since Joshua took that nasty fall and is also sensing that the powers that be will be getting rid of Lilimae very shortly. 

                So that was Gifts.  This was a decent ep, though not too terribly thrilling.  The most exciting aspect of this ep, for me, is that I feel like it truly marks the beginning of the Olivia coke story.  I love everything about this story and where it winds up leading, so I’m excited to see it getting really kicked into gear this ep.  The other stories are only okay, though, with probably the most interesting thing going on right now being Laura’s pregnancy.  I find myself strangely indifferent to all the shenanigans involving Paige and Sexy Michael, which is odd because I remember this stuff being gripping, and then I continue to bemoan the fact that Gary and J.B. are getting nothing more interesting than a scene or two set at the hospital, and that’s pretty much all they get to do for this entire disk of eps.

                Let’s move on to our next ep, which accelerates the Olivia/coke stuff and also served as the final ep for our disk, Truth Will Out.


Thursday, May 17, 2018


Episode Title: The Inside Man

Season 08, Episode 13

Episode 173 of 344

Written by Linda Salzman

Directed by Paul Tucker

Original Airdate: Thursday, December 4th, 1986

The Plot (Courtesy of TV.Com): Greg makes out a will for Peter with him as the beneficiary. Abby brings Sylvia to stay with the Sumners. Jill tells Peter that she'll cover for him, but their relationship is over. Paige rejects Sexy Michael (!) and he takes it out on Karen. Paige agrees to go to a movie with him as "friends," but stands him up when Peter asks her out. Peter cancels a date with Abby to meet Paige. Jean gives Ben cash for his "services." Lilimae finds it while doing laundry and shows Val. Ben tells her it's the office pool. Val's worried about Ben's strange behavior. Greg offers Ben a job. He doesn't want to take it, but does when Jean threatens his family. Karen finds a letter that Anne wrote to Mack about Paige's birth, but they suspect Paige wrote it herself, and wonder if she's lying about anything else. In a cemetery, there is a tombstone that says "Paige Matheson, 1967-1985."

Welcome back, and let us now discuss The Inside Man, starting with, hmmm, let’s see here, let’s talk about J.B. first.  In my notes, looks like I wrote, “Open on J.B. telling Peter she lost the baby; why introduce the pregnancy in the first place?”  Well, I agree with myself and my notes, so let’s further explore this.  Why do the writers introduce this pregnancy only to abruptly kill it?  For some context, we were told in the culminating moments of A Turn of Events that J.B. was pregnant and it was the first time, as viewers, that we were privy to such information.  Then J.B. lost the baby in the very next ep, Touch and Go, and that brings us right up to date, with me continuing to bitch about this pregnancy.  I’m holding out hope that the writers will use this to give us something interesting and organic within the grander context of the saga, but I also have a sneaking suspicion they will let me down.  The fact that I don’t even remember this whole J.B. pregnancy thing sends me a hint that it’s going to very quickly fall into the background and then just turn into this thing that happened that is never mentioned again.  However, I have already somewhat SPOILED proceedings by saying that we are getting closer and closer to Psycho Jill, my very favorite J.B., and I think it’s because of this bump on the head she just suffered that she’s going to begin the metamorphosis into Psycho Jill.  Perhaps this pregnancy and its very abrupt conclusion could also contribute to Psycho Jill?  Let me just say for the record that I hope this happens, because then I’ll be able to better understand why this is happening at this precise moment.  If her pregnancy just fades away and is never mentioned again, I will not be a satisfied viewer.

That’s about it for J.B. (since all she does on this entire disk of eps is hang around the hospital, getting only one or two scenes per ep), so let’s move over to some other folks.  I’ll start with Sumner, and that branches off into how he sorta tangles with other characters this ep, like for instance Ben.  Also, I want to make sure and note that Sumner smokes two cigars in this ep, meaning we must add two more cigars into the grand Sumner Cigar Counter.  Only problem?  The Sumner Cigar Counter is enclosed within my other notebook, full of notes about pretty much the last three seasons or so, and I have moved on to a new notebook at this point (only five pages deep!) and I forgot my other notebook at home.  To set the scene, I am currently sitting in a quiet coffee shop (a different one than I usually like to go to), my computer all plugged in and charging, my new notebook on my lap, but my older notebook left at home for the time being.  Rest assured that I will quickly get us back up to date on the Sumner Cigar Counter by going through how many he smoked on our last disk, adding the cigars from this disk, and then having a nice total all prepared and ready to go when I begin discussing the next disk.

In addition to smoking two cigars, Sumner is also busy with offering Ben a job.  I’m a little unclear on all this, mostly cuz I was still pretty bored and not really making a tremendous effort to pay attention, so I can’t tell you precisely what job Greg offers to Ben.  I do know that Greg has some ulterior motives to what he’s doing, but he’s also kinda sorta doing the right thing.  I think he’s offering for Ben to come and work on his team as a way of protecting him, really, but it’s all very circuitous and somewhat confusing.  It also relates to Hackney, of course, because we can’t go one episode without having to see and hear and deal with this this character.  Basically, Ben doesn’t want to take Greg up on his offer, but he ends up doing it after Hackney, like, threatens his family again, or something.  Hackney threatens his family a lot, and we all remember (or, better yet, perhaps we don’t) when she kinda sorta kidnapped Bobby at the grocery store and then was all like, “Ben, hello, what a coincidence seeing you here!”  I guess that was a not-so-subtle way of being like, “Watch your ass, because we can fuck your shit up good if you’re not paying attention.”  Do I really believe Hackney or any of her lackeys who I’m not paying any attention to would kidnap little Bobby and Betsy and murder them?  No, not really, but I guess Ben is nervous enough about these threats to keep doing the things Hackney asks of him.

This bad storyline is stressing Ben out a lot, so he starts drinking a bit of scotch.  This immediately raises Val’s antenna when the two are sitting in bed together and Ben is sipping a glass of scotch and, when Val questions him on why, he answers, “Because I want to sleep.”  Val gets rather upset by this and starts fretting about how never used to have a scotch before bed, and quite honestly, while I understand where she’s coming from, I think she’s being a little silly.  It’s probably because of the fact that my dad would always come home from work and have one or two glasses of some liquor, and it was usually scotch, so I don’t really see it as something all that strange.  Also, Ben’s drinking a glass of scotch; he’s not pulling a Gary and grabbing an entire decanter full of booze and just throwing it down his throat as quickly as possible.  I’m also amused by a later scene in which Ben is on the phone and Val sorta takes a peek at him and sees that he’s, GASP, refilling his glass of scotch with more scotch while somewhat ominous music plays on the soundtrack.  I get that Val is sensitive to alcohol because of the whole being-married-to-Gary thing, but for some reason I just found all of this rather amusing.

I also have to wonder if Douglas Sheehan had real scotch in that glass or if he, perhaps, insisted on his character beginning to drink scotch just because he, himself, wanted to be drinking scotch while having to film the footage for this miserable, miserable storyline.  Fuck, I am suddenly seeing sooooooooo much wrong with everything Ben is doing this year, and it makes me just wish achingly that he had left at the end of season seven, as was so clearly the original plan.  Now that I’ve spent the last three seasons going from thinking Ben was boring to becoming rather in love with him and all the fantastic charisma and realism Doug brings to the proceedings, it hurts me ever the more to see one season of bad stories soil the character in such a way.  It’s kinda like how I felt about Cathy in the latter eps of season seven; watching this character I love get shuffled around with bad storylines all before she leaves the show just kinda hurt me to watch, but Ben’s treatment is even worse, cuz he came back for a full, solid year and now he has to suffer through the entire year with all this Hackney nonsense.  Yup, I’m willing to bet that after nearly half a year of filming this footage and scene after scene of having to act alongside this ridiculous cartoon known as Hackney, he probably brought his concerns to the powers that be and said, “I’ll finish the damn season and this damn storyline, but you’ve gotta let me drink a little scotch to get through it, please, for the love of God.” 

Let’s move our attentions over to Olivia, the character who is very soon going to bless us with the very best storyline in all of season eight.  That storyline has been nicely percolating and getting ready to heat to a boil, slowly but surely, all the way since somewhere in mid season seven when we first saw Olivia blaze up a doobie.  We thought Mary Jane was the worst vice Olivia had going for her, but with The Inside Man, the careful observer will begin to notice through Olivia’s behavior that she has most likely moved on to a much harder drug.  In this ep, she comes rolling up to, I think, Westfork, along with Paige, super duper excited to announce to Abs that she officially has her license.  Now, this scene I liked very much, and let me explain why.  Peter is also hanging around the area since I think he might have just shagged Abs or something like that, and then Olivia hops out of the car and is like, “I got my license, omigod, it’s so exciting,” and everyone’s happy, but then her little car starts to roll backwards down the hill because, wouldn’t you know it, she forgot to put the parking brake down.  Then Paige and Peter sorta run after the car and are able to get the brake down safely and nobody is hurt, and that’s when their eyes lock and we see the mutual interest the two immediately have in eachother.  I like this because the scene seems to be about one character, Olivia, but then we have this parking brake business, which helps to alert us that Olivia’s mind is not clear and focused, and then the parking brake business also helps to organically get Peter and Paige to meet.  This is the kind of skilled, organic writing that I’ve come to expect from KL and which has been rather lacking as we’ve been working our way through this season.

Later, we see the continuing frustration of one Sexy Michael as he struggles to understand why Paige is shutting him out.  We get a pretty good little scene in this ep in which we see poor Sexy Michael tapping on Paige’s bedroom door and whispering to her, trying to get her attention, trying to get her to come out and talk to him.  Then we go inside of Paige’s room and see that she is happily ignoring Sexy Michael, choosing instead to lie scantily clad on the bed and peruse a magazine article all about Peter.  Again, I like the way this flows, that we are able to see Sexy Michael’s frustrations and we are also able to see that Paige now has her eyes set on someone new, and it’s done relatively free of dialogue, which I also appreciate. 

While we’re on the topic of Sexy Michael, he’s definitely having a hard time with all of this and he’s choosing to direct his anger at his mother, whom he’s convinced has sabotaged his relationship with Paige.  This I don’t care for, mostly because I think Sexy Michael is acting like a little whiny bitch.  Is it wrong that I just fail miserably to even get inside of his head and understand what he’s going through?  Despite his beauty, his absolutely stunning, monumental, earth-shattering beauty, I’m starting to believe Sexy Michael was a virgin before he met Paige, because why else would he be carrying on like this and acting like such a twelve year old girl?  Just because they slept with each other, he’s now convinced he’s in love with her?  I just find this terribly silly, and so, for my own sanity, I must make my own personal version of events in which Sexy Michael was a virgin, lost his virginity to Paige, and since he has not yet learned how to separate sex and love, he’s now convinced he’s in love with Paige.  Also, I want to feel sorry for Sexy Michael; I look at this happening and him being sad and in pain and I want my heart to go out to him, and I want to understand him, but somehow I can’t.  This might be because I’ve spent so much time creating an elaborate fantasy in which Sexy Michael is actually gay, deeply, deeply, deeply gay, so gay that he makes me and all my gay friends look like fat straight white men who drink beer and beat their wives by comparison.  I would just so much rather live in a world where Sexy Michael is gay and there is the possibility that I could violate him, so perhaps it’s causing my brain to block out his heterosexual behavior and reject it as some sort of weird mirage, something that’s not actually happening in front of me.  Finally, I think it just hurts me to see a creature as beautiful and divine as Sexy Michael get so tied up in knots (tee hee) because of one girl.  Does Sexy Michael not even look in the mirror? Does he not know what powers and gifts God has blessed him with?  Does he not realize that he could screw absolutely any man or woman in the entire world that he set his sights on?  He’s wasting so much time by fretting about his relationship dramas with Paige when he could be showering with the entire high school football team and then letting them all take turns gang banging him.

The last real important bit of business this week involves a love letter that Anne apparently wrote to Mack back in the long long ago.  This letter emerges when Paige gives it to Mack and is like, “My mother wrote this for you, but my evil grandparents who I hate hid it from you for all these years.”  Mack reads it and then the letter is just sorta hanging around and Karen is constantly eyeballing it.  Mack gives her full permission to read the letter and doesn’t seem too worried about it one way or the other, but it seems like it’s this great big moral thing for Karen, who can’t decide whether to read it or not, and even Val chimes in with her opinion and tells Karen that she should not look at the letter.  Even so, Karen eventually does read the letter, and while it’s a lovely little affair, full of yearning and talk about how Anne wants so desperately to be with Mack forever, something about the letter leaves Karen with a bad feeling.  She explains this bad feeling to Val later and says how it’s odd that Anne had just given birth to a new baby girl, yet she hardly mentions the baby at all in the letter.  It takes her awhile to get to her point, but basically Karen says how she’s very suspicious that Paige wrote this letter herself, and she admits that she’s having a hard time trusting Paige.  Well, our last shot of the ep shows that Karen has good reason to be suspicious.  See, she and Mack are talking about Paige and the whole issue of trust, and then Mack says some line or other about how they need to trust her, but then we cut to this random cemetery and the camera pans down to a headstone and, wouldn’t you know it, it’s got Paige Matheson’s name on it, and right underneath the name, the dates of 1967-1985.  Well gee, that’s weird, because if Paige is lying dead in this grave, who’s the woman played by Nicollette Sheridan that’s currently residing with the Fairgate-MacKenzies in their home?  I actually like this mysterious ending a lot, and it’s an ending that has stuck with me from my first viewing, one that I’ve always remembered, because I think it does a very effective job of making you want to tune in next week to see what’s really going on.

I do have a bit of a problem with the dates on the headstone.  Are we to now infer that Paige was born in 1967?  That makes her only nineteen years old here, yet she feels much older, plus I’m almost certain that when she first showed up in the closing moments of season seven, she gave her age as 21 or 22.  If that was the case, her birthday would be more around 1963 (which happens to be the real year Nicollette was born).  If Paige is really nineteen, then why all this business about how she’s too old to have a relationship with Sexy Michael?  How old is Sexy Michael supposed to be, anyway?  I’ve been trying to keep track of his age, and while the human equivalent of a gigantic throbbing penis, Pat Petersen, was born in 1966, I think Sexy Michael is supposed to be two years younger than that.  Okay, so that would make Sexy Michael born in 1968, right?  So Paige is only one year older than him?  And that makes her too old to fool around with him?  I’m just getting very confused, and I predict my confusion will only grow larger a little later down the line, since I think Paige is suddenly afflicted with some minor SORAS and ages four or five years at some point in our future. (EDIT: I DID MY RESEARCH AND PAIGE SAYS SHE'S NINETEEN IN HER FIRST EP; I'M STILL PRETTY SURE SHE'S GONNA GET SORAS AT SOME POINT)

The last thing I want to note about this ep is how it’s got a real Christmas spirit thing going on.  In fact, I think our last ep also had the Christmas spirit, and the whole Christmas theme seemed to really permeate this disk.  I like this because there were never any seasons on Dallas and certainly never a celebration of Christmas, and I like seeing the holidays acknowledged over here.  It’s also interesting because, in my brain, KL had Christmas eps nearly every year, but now I’m seeing that my memories are way off, as we haven’t had a Christmas ep since way back in season three with One of a Kind.  Anyway, this ep gives us lots of little moments of merriment, such as a scene with Ben and Val putting up Christmas lights together, a visit from Abs to Sumner’s ranch that causes Laura to say, “I’ve suddenly lost my holiday spirit,” and a particularly dreadful sweater that Abs wears which, I must believe, she is only wearing in order to win some sort of Lotus Point ugly Sweater Contest.


That’s all I got for this ep.  I liked it fine and thought it was much better than the last two eps, but it’s of course got problems.  Hackney remains the festering boil on the face of this entire season.  I want to just ignore the boil and try to focus on the other aspects of the face, because I usually love the face, but the boil is just getting bigger and bigger and more full of pus and we all know that, any moment, when we least expect it, it’s going to explode and send a bunch of nasty goo and mucus running down this otherwise lovely face.  I liked the ending of this ep very much and a few of the other smaller details, but I also remain underwhelmed in general, suddenly realizing just how flawed and problematic this year truly is, and that’s honestly kind of a bummer, since I’ve heard fans bitch about this season a lot and, prior to this rewatch, I remembered it as being brilliant as usual.  Now I’m seeing that’s not quite accurate. 

In any case, we’re finally almost ready to move into a storyline that I truly and 100% love, and that storyline is going to really kick into gear with our next ep, Gifts.

Tuesday, May 8, 2018

KNOTS LANDING Episode 172 of 344: TOUCH AND GO

Episode Title: Touch and Go

Season 08, Episode 12

Episode 172 of 344

Written by Tom Citrano and Joel Okmin

Directed by Lorraine Senna

Original Airdate: Thursday, November 27th, 1986

The Plot (Courtesy of TV.Com): Mack and Karen confront Paige and Sexy Michael separately. Paige agrees to stop the affair, but Sexy Michael maintains they are in love. Sylvia tells Peter about the letter she gave to her attorney. The producer tells Val that they need the first draft of her script in a few days, so she hires a personal secretary. Ben is afraid he has ties to Jean. Jean tells Ben that if they bury Peter in the media, she'll get out of his life. Ben and Mack question the witness, Paul Kelly. They find holes in his story and Ben figures he is working for Jean and confronts her. Greg thinks someone is trying to ruin Peter's career, and tells Peter that he and Jill's story better match when she wakes up. Jill loses the baby. Jill wakes up and Gary is mad that she requests to see Peter instead of him.

                Our last episode was A Turn of Events and I was bored and underwhelmed by it since, you know, almost nothing happened in it aside from Peter driving around and having so many flashbacks that the ep could probably pass for a clip show.  Will this episode make up for the shortcomings of the last one?  Eh, kinda, I guess.  Let’s just get started right away and talk about, oh, let me think here, how about Peter?  Okay, just to keep us up to date, I remind you that Peter and J.B. were having a little secret meeting at the top of the cliff when she decided to stumble and fall off of said cliff.  Then there was that moment of her clutching the twig or branch or whatever and begging Peter to help her, him doing nothing, and then the twig or branch or whatever snapping.  Even though we all saw that event perfectly well when it was shown in Over the Edge, for some reason we had to see it again fifty times in A Turn of Events and then we see it again in this ep.  What is it with this shot?  Why must we just keep seeing it over and over and over again?  I remind you that the whole thing looks cheap and shitty, so why keep showing it to the audience over and over again?  What is the point? 

                Anyway, Peter is just hoping against hope that nobody was in the nearby vicinity to see that he and J.B. were talking together, but today a witness emerges, some man named Paul Kelly who claims to have seen everything that went on between the two.  Somewhere near the middle portion of this ep, Greg calls up Ben and Mack and invites them over to his ranch to meet this witness, which is sorta odd, but whatever.  The two men grill the witness and at first he seems alright, able to name exactly what Peter and J.B. were wearing and all that, but the trio is quickly able to poke holes in his story when they get to the whole “what did you do after she fell” part of the story.  He says how he ran off to call 911, but then he starts to stumble over his story and get pretty nervous when the gang tells him how they can check the 911 tapes and listen for his voice.  The jig is up pretty fast and we all realize that this guy is not a credible witness and was probably nowhere near the scene when J.B. took her fall.  This connects us to our next character up for discussion, a character who was a fan favorite upon original airdate and remains a fan favorite to this very day, and that character is….

                …Jean Hackney!  Okay, obviously I was kidding about the whole “fan favorite” thing, because this character sucks, has sucked from the moment she first showed up onscreen, continues to suck now, and will be sucking all the way through nearly the rest of the season.  I kid you not, I’m not even really making any effort to pay attention to her or her storyline anymore.  We’ve seen her lying in bed with some mysterious stranger and making mentions about how Ben’s going to have to kill Sumner, we’ve had these little hints that she claims to work for the CIA, but she’s really not, and I just don’t care.  I’m not even trying to pay attention and I take full responsibility if I say something wrong about her storyline or if I seem dismissive of it.  I bring this up right now because, in this ep, she has a little talk with Ben and she says that she will leave him and his family alone if he “buries Hollister with this story.”  Hmmm, okay, but why?  I thought Hackney liked Peter?  Didn’t she ask Ben to publicly endorse Peter for the senate during the Peter vs. Gary battle?  Why, now, does she want Peter “buried”?  This was probably stated very clearly in the ep but, as I said, I’m not trying to pay attention.  This story is stupid and it’s gonna just keep being stupid for nearly the entire season and we’re all just going to have to continue to watch it and deal with it and make our peace with it.  Let’s move on.

                Oh yeah, one last thing related to J.B. and the whole 911 tape thing.  Something very strange happens in this ep and I don’t entirely understand it and perhaps my lovely readers can help me out.  Basically, Ben and Mack decide to go listen to that 911 tape, figuring that if Peter is the one who called it in, well, they’ll just hear his voice clear as a bell on the tape.  The only problem is that when they arrive to hear the tape, they are told it’s mysteriously gone missing.  Later, we cut to Mr. Gregory Sumner playing the tape on his gigantic 1986 stereo system, only for Jason 4 to walk in and start talking about how he wants to listen to rock music or something.  Since Lisa Hartman is no longer on the show to sing her fabulous songs, we are back in the land of the public domain music, or at least that stock non-music that TV shows like to use whenever they don’t wanna pay for the rights to a real song.  Basically, Greg blasts some non-music that sounds like generic rock for a couple of seconds and Jason 4 is like, “Alright!” and gets all enthused about it, making me think of Jan Brady rushing into the living room to tell the family, “Hey guys, listen to this groovy song!” before blasting out that stock De Vol mariachi sounding music that we’d always hear constantly.  Then Laura comes walking in and is like, “I really wish you wouldn’t play that kind of music around here; he hears it everywhere he goes.”  God, all of this is just terrible.  Why is it so terrible?  I think you just need to watch the scene to understand why it annoys me so much, but it all boils down to the non-music.  First we hear the non-music and we’re all thinking, “Well, that’s clearly just a lot of nothing,” and then Jason 4 has his way over enthused line reading of “Alright!” and then after that we have this bit of Laura dialogue that only further points out that this is non-music.  Of course, that’s not the main thing we’re supposed to be focusing on here; what’s important is that Greg appears to tape over the 911 tape with this non-music.

                My question here is: How did Greg obtain this tape?  This development confused both My Beloved Grammy and myself, and I’m quite sure we didn’t see any sort of scene indicating how Greg could get this.  We know he’s a powerful guy, but Jesus, a 911 tape?  How does one even go about getting a 911 tape?  Will this ever be explained?  I’m hoping one of our future eps throws in a line where Greg explains how he got this stolen tape, but for the time being, I am a very confused viewer.

                I actually am interested in the whole story of Val writing a script for Ramilar Productions, although I’m nearly positive this is going to go nowhere.  In fact, let me just give you my memories real fast so we can see if I am proven correct or incorrect by the end of the season.  I remember Val working on a script for Ramilar Productions for a good chunk of eps, maybe even as many as ten, and then it just sorta fizzling away into nothingness and not being mentioned again.  If my memories are accurate, something happens that leads to the studio deciding to put Val’s treatment on the back burner, and then it’s just sorta not brought up ever again.  Will I be right?  We shall have to wait and see.  However, that’s the future and we are talking about the here and the now, so for the purposes of this ep, what happens is that Ramilar Productions gives Val a call and asks her to step on it with this movie treatment, since they just found out that another network is working on something very similar and they want to beat them to the punch.  Knowing that she’ll have to work harder and faster now, Val decides she’d better hire a personal assistant, which she does.  Her personal assistant is named Bradley and he’s going to be in this ep and then one more, The Inside Man.  He’s played by Larry Cox (pictured below) and is not especially memorable for anything, but I did note that he appears in Friday the 13th: Part VII as, um, Russell.  By that point in the series, I’m surprised they were even bothering to give their characters names, and I have absolutely no memory of who this Russell is (also cuz I just really don’t like that one very much and hardly ever rewatch it, although a ton of fans suck that movie’s dick and seem to think it’s just the greatest, leading only to confusion on my part).  He also appeared in Heathers, a movie I love, although I once again can’t remember who he played.  I promise I’m not drunk or stoned as I write this essay, I’m really not; it’s just that I am seeming to have a hard time remembering the kind of mundane, trivial shit I usually can remember and also I’m just kinda having a hard time caring about what’s going on in the series right now.  The basic thing that’s important about Bradley is that Val hires him because she needs the extra help, but Ben is immediately suspicious when he comes home to find this stranger in his house, and he’s utterly convinced that he is a Hackney plant.  He asks Bradley a lot of uncomfortable questions and clearly frightens the poor guy a little bit and, I’m pretty sure, I think he fires him in the next ep, but not in this one. 

                The only other big story point worth talking about is the continuing drama between Paige and Sexy Michael.  Okay, so last ep Karen walked in on the two of them spooning in their sleep and she was able to deduce from this image that the two are shagging.  We saw her tell Mack in our last ep, but the ep was almost over by that point, so we didn’t get a lot of time for his reaction.  In this ep, we see some debating between Karen and Mack on how to handle this, and personally I’m with Karen.  Again, remember this is all coming from the point of view of a hippie dippie super hardcore stereotypical liberal gay boy who is a total sexual free spirit in all regards, but I just don’t see what the big deal is.  So Paige and Sexy Michael want to shag, so what?  A lot of characters go on about how the two “are practically related,” but come on, the two ain’t related, it’s all by way of marriage and romances from twenty years ago; it’s not as if the two are actually brother and sister, so let them shag it up; it’s not like their kids are going to be born deformed or anything.  In fact, Paige and Sexy Michael would probably produce the most perfect batch of babies God ever cooked up, all infused with sexy blondness and the good sexy genes of one Sexy Michael. 

                When we first catch up with Karen and Mack, they are talking about this, and Karen says, “Sex isn’t wrong in and of itself.”  Yes, boom, you hit the nail on the head, Karen, and I agree with you 100%, but then Mack says, “Your son and my daughter had sex in our house,” and My Beloved Grammy spoke up and said, “Yes, that’s the problem,” and she opined that if the two must have sex, they shouldn’t be doing it in Karen and Mack’s house.  I listened to her and I’m like, “Okay?”  Who cares where they have sex?  Why would it be okay for them to take it to a motel but not okay to do it in the house?  I just don’t understand these things.  Let me just jump into the show and pretend for a moment that I am either Karen or Mack and I had just gotten wind of Paige and Sexy Michael’s little affair.  I would promptly sit the two of them down and explain that I am not mad at them for shagging, that they are young and beautiful and it’s important that they shag and shag and then shag again, but I would also give them a very thorough safe sex lecture and talk to them about all the scary 1986 STDs such as AIDS or the very worst STD of all: pregnancy. Then I would let them have a ball doing whatever the hell they wanted.

                Anyway, things don’t exactly play out that way in the show.  Instead, we see that Paige and Sexy Michael are suffering from some very different ideas of what their relationship means.  This is done through crosscutting, which is another thing that this Latham/Leckowick era of the show can’t get enough of.  First we crosscut between Karen and Paige talking in the kitchen to Mack and Sexy Michael talking while doing some sexy 1980s working out.  Oh fuck, can I just say how much I love to go out jogging and working out with Sexy Michael?  Then after we had worked up a good sweat and gotten our testosterone flowing with all the cardio and fitness, we could retire to the locker room and hose off our sweaty bodies together and then Sexy Michael could drop the soap and…

                I got distracted again, sorry.  Okay, basically we establish that Paige is ready to be done with this relationship, that she is not in love with Sexy Michael (insanity!).  However, via the use of more crosscutting, we see that Sexy Michael feels he is deeply in love with Paige, and we cut from his saying, “Paige and I are in love” to Paige telling Mack, “We are not in love,” and “It’s over between Sexy Michael and me.”  For the purposes of this ep, that’s about all we get on this front, although the talk between Paige and Mack does give us our first Sepia Toned Flashback in some time, and I was happy to see those coming back. In this Sepia Toned Flashback, we get to see a smidge of Young Mack and Young Anne on a picnic together, declaring their love for each other.  I liked this because, well, I like the Sepia Toned Flashbacks, but also because I can see the intended parallel going on here.  One reason Mack isn’t super angry at Paige and Sexy Michael is because he can remember oh so clearly the way he felt when he was young like them and deeply in love with Anne.

                That’s all I got for this ep.  Just to be clear, it was way better than our last ep, way better, but I still had a hard time getting into it.  A storyline that I love and cherish deeply is just around the corner, so I’m just waiting for that to show up, but I have to say, at this exact juncture right now, we are in a rut where I’m just kinda bored and disinterested by what’s going on in front of me.  Really, all this business with J.B. falling off the cliff and “Was Peter with her?” and “Will a witness emerge?” is just a total snore; there’s nothing I care about in this storyline and I just want it to be over and done with so it can go away.  The Paige and Sexy Michael stuff is pretty good, but also not quite as compelling as I remembered it being, and of course the less said about Hackney, the better.  This disk sorta improved itself as we went along, but it got off to a real rocky start with these first two or three eps, which were just, I hate to say it, kinda boring.

                One exciting thing is that there are 344 eps of KL and this is ep 172.  You know what that means?  It means that after finishing this ep, we are officially halfway through the series!  We are now officially in the second half of the series!  I felt such accomplishment when I came to this realization, a renewed confidence that, yes, My Beloved Grammy and I really can watch this entire series if we put our minds to it and make sure to keep our dates as frequent as possible.  With that said, let’s officially move into the second half of the series with our next ep, The Inside Man.