Episode Title: Touch and Go
Season 08, Episode 12
Episode 172 of 344
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.