Episode Title: My True Love
Season 08, Episode 18
Episode 178 of 344
Written by Lynn Marie Latham
Directed by Lorraine Senna
Original Airdate: Thursday, January 15th, 1987
The Plot (Courtesy of TV.Com): Paige tells Karen she'd better worry about Anne's intentions with Mack. She then packs and goes to stay with Peter. Anne tells Mack that he's the only man she ever loved, but didn't tell him she was pregnant, because she found out her father paid him $5,000.00 to leave her. Mack says that isn't true. She says she's afraid she'll fall in love with Mack again. Karen is jealous of Anne's looks, and they talk uncomfortably while waiting for Paige. Anne says Paige did this to bring her and Mack back together and she is snide to Karen. Olivia goes to AA with Gary, and apologizes to Brian. Abby still wants to postpone the divorce, but Gary says no. Jean has Ben bug Greg's office. They hear Peter ask Greg where he sent Sylvia on vacation, but Greg won't tell him. Then Jean calls and says she wants Ben to break into Greg's computer.
Welcome back to the wonderful world of KL. I must confess that, yes, I still love KL and always have and always will, but sadly it’s already becoming very clear to me that season eight is going to wind up ranking very low on my list of all fourteen seasons and I’m finding it rather difficult to muster up the energy and enthusiasm necessary to write about these eps. I bring this up to once again provide a little context for the way I am doing these writeups, so follow me along here. My Beloved Grammy and I gathered and watched a whole disk of eps, spanning The Unraveling through A Plan of Action. After this, we parted and I began to work on writing about those eps, but then My Beloved Grammy and I wound up gathering and watching another ep of disks (Survival of the Fittest through Deadly Combination) before I was finished writing about our previous batch. So now here we are and I’m sitting to write about My True Love, but then I will have a rather heavy load of seven whole eps left to discuss, all because I allowed myself to get behind and we watched more eps before I was prepared to do so. Will this negatively affect my writing or my ability to remember all the nitty gritty and details? I guess we’ll find out cuz I’m gonna start writing about My True Love now.
I wanna make sure and devote a lot of special attention to our newest character, Anne Matheson, and the fabulously fabulous actress who plays her, Michelle Phillips, but I think I’ll try to cover the other story beats first and then save the best for last. Okay, so what’s going on in the cul-de-sac right now? Well, you should all vividly recall our last three or four eps and all that heavy focus on Olivia and her predilection for nose candy. After Bobby Briggs beat the shit out of B.A.G in the concluding moments of No Miracle Worker, Olivia seemed to finally and fully reject her coke habit and choose the path of a better life. One might be tempted to wonder if this path to sobriety will continue as we move forward, but I’m happy to say that we open our episode in question at an AA meeting with Gary in attendance and Olivia coming to join him. Ah, such bliss. Since I seem to be bitching so much about my problems with season eight in general, I’d like to take a moment to say that I love this, and I love it for more reasons than I can probably even express.
First off, I always love seeing Gary at AA or having some sort of dialogue about his AA visits to help remind us that he still goes to the meetings regularly. I flash back to the very final seconds of season one when Gary made the bold announcement, “I’m Gary and I’m an alcoholic,” and then I think of the voyage we have been taking with Gary since that defining moment. We’ve seen him have his ups and downs with AA (such as becoming the sponsor for The Other Paul Rudd and then almost immediately starting to shag his wife) and we’ve also seen him fall off the wagon once (“WE’RE RUINING LIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIVES!”), but then we hit season five and Gary started to become all cool and responsible and self-actualized and a model citizen. Now here we are in season eight and, as I look at Gary sitting calmly in his AA meeting and showing his support for a fellow alcoholic (this one’s name is Margorie and she hasn’t had a drink in eight months and sixteen days, so you go, girl!), I just want to climb into the TV and give Gary a big old pat on the back and say, “Good job, Gary, you haven’t had a drink since season four and you’re doing great!” So yeah, I love this scene for what it shows us about Gary’s continued growth, but then I love it more when the music swells and Olivia comes walking in and Gary looks over at her and you can tell he’s super proud. The meeting is kinda crowded so Olivia isn’t able to sit next to him, but she sits a few rows behind him and then Gary has this smile on his face that is super cute and I love it and I want to write poetry about it.
Gary’s busy this ep because, after his AA meeting, he also takes the time to speak with Abs about their impending divorce. He tells her that now that he’s lost the senatorial race and Empire Valley has stopped being a storyline on the show, he’s ready to be officially divorced. I’d say he’s right to get the wheels moving, since he first asked Abs for a divorce at some point in mid to late season seven and now here we are in mid to late season eight and they are still legally married. Anyway, we quickly see that just because we saw some whole new layers to Abs character in the last batch of eps, that doesn’t mean she can’t switch right back to being calculating and wicked again, and she does it quickly here. See, another reason Gary wants to get this divorce rolling is cuz he wants to marry J.B., but Abs gives a lovely little speech here that is, in truth, probably very accurate, starting with, “J.B. is nothing more than a brunette Valene.” She continues by telling Gary, “Of course being with J.B. was exciting, but not because you were with her, but because you were cheating. Cheating turns you on, not J.B.” Even though I just praised Gary for all his growth and conquering his demons throughout the last few seasons, that doesn’t mean there aren’t still a few flaws in his character, and yes, this love affair that he has with cheating on people is one of his less admirable traits and I’d say Abs is correct to call him out on it. Will Gary wind up cheating on J.B. just as he cheated on Abs and Valene before her? I wish I could tell you, but I honestly don’t remember, and maybe, just maybe, Gary will be a really excellent husband this time around. Oh yeah, and also, the scene ends with the soon-to-be-ex-couple discussing the settlement Gary has arranged and Abs saying, “I’ve very nice, but it’s not enough.” Clearly Abs is going to want something more, but just what that something might be remains a mystery throughout the confines of this ep.
Meanwhile, Peter Hollister is still on the show, so I suppose we must talk about him even though he’s not doing anything too terribly interesting at the moment (and I’m gonna make a rather glass-is-half-empty prediction and say Peter won’t be given anything too interesting to do for the rest of his time on the series, which shouldn’t be lasting much longer). The only thing I can really think of to talk about here is that, I think, Paige officially goes to move in with Peter. She arrives at his apartment eager to avoid her mother, telling Peter how she was going to check into a hotel, but then she thought she’d hit him up and see if she could stay with him. Peter says how it’s fine if she wants to stay with him, and then some truly awful music (sounding both saxxy and yet tinny all at the same time) comes blasting out of the soundtrack while Paige and Peter exchange a rather pathetic bit of “sexy” dialogue. See, Paige asks if he’d mind her sleeping on the couch, and he says, “No, but I think you’ll find my bed more comfortable.” Then they start making out. Can I go ahead and make a bold declaration and say that it’s impossible for any scene with Peter in it to be sexy? I’m not calling Hunt Block an ugly man, because he’s not, and when he has taken his shirt off in the past, we’ve seen clearly that he’s been hitting the gym on a regular basis, but there’s just something totally unsexy about this character, and I’m starting to find it rather funny how seemingly every woman in town is eager to spread her legs open in front of Peter. Perhaps it’s just that thing about power being the best aphrodisiac? Peter is hardly in the same league as, say, someone like Sexy Michael, and yet all the women are wanting to shag him, so I must conclude that it’s the fact that he’s a senator and has power. Anyway, this scene is not sexy, but then neither were any of the other Peter shag scenes, including that silly one from way earlier this season in which he and Abs shagged and the entire sequence kept cutting to EXTREME CLOSEUPS of their various body parts. Yeah, I’m gonna go ahead and call it right now: I am ready for Peter to leave the show. Whatever interest he provided for me back in season seven (and I do remember finding him interesting throughout that year), that interest has now expired and I’m just waiting for this character to be retired.
Speaking of characters being retired, where the hell is Ruth Roman lately? I’m glad you asked, because this ep answers that question for us….sort of. Basically, we are having a scene with Sumner hanging out on his ranch or whatever, and some character brings up Sylvia Lean and how she’s Peter’s mother and whether she’ll be around at some point, to which Greg replies, “Peter’s mother is permanently not available for comment.” When I heard this line, I immediately jotted in my notes, “Huh? She’s just gone?” A little later on, we get a few more details from Greg and he says that, basically, Sylvia just wanted to go away and so she went away. Boy, is this ever some clumsy writing. Sylvia’s been around since the second half of season seven and she was getting a fairly large chunk of material to work with in season eight, most especially with Peter poisoning her for, you know, a few eps and then just, you know, not poisoning her anymore (not to imply the writers were just desperate to fill up time on the show or anything like that), and then she hung out at Westfork for a little while, and then she gave that note to Olivia, and then she just sorta stopped showing up on the series. Now we just have this tossed off bit of dialogue from Greg about how she’s gone and she won’t be coming back, and uck, I don’t like it. What really happened here? Ruth Roman is maybe not A GIGANTIC MOVIE STAR, but I’d say she’s a known actress and was probably something of a get for the series. Was she supposed to be in more eps and then she didn’t renew a contract or something? Did she get sick and wasn’t able to finish the season? Why on earth would you give this character so much material for roughly a solid year and then just ship her out inauspiciously and then, several eps later, throw in a quick line about how she’s gone and won’t be coming back? It’s shit like this that is really annoying me as we move through this year, because I know for a fact that if the master genius of television Peter Dunne was still running the show, this kind of crappy storytelling would not fly. Peter would be able to find some way to organically ship Sylvia out of the series or build a really great drama out of her leaving the proceedings; this is the man who ran seasons four through six, when the show was brilliant and perfect and could do no wrong, and he would never allow this kind of shitty storytelling to pass by under his watch.
Nor is this the only bad storytelling that Greg is getting sucked into this ep. The ever toxic Jean Hackney is still hanging around, hellbent on polluting everything that is good and pure about KL with her ridiculous dialogue and stupid-as-hell story. At this point, you all should remember that we viewers have been clued in on the fact that Hackney wants Ben to kill Greg, but I don’t believe Ben is aware of that fact quite yet (when it comes to putting the pieces together for this Hackney storyline, Ben is moving very, very slowly). In this ep, Hackney gives Ben the assignment to put a bug in Greg’s home office (like a Nixon/Watergate bug, not like a spider or a cockroach), and of course no scene with Hackney would be complete without some truly wretched dialogue. In this case, I kid you not, we actually begin a scene with her and Ben walking through a park and poor Doug Sheehan being forced to spit out this line of “dialogue”: “You’re the woman with a thousand faces and a million disguises.” You can tell I really hated this line because I wrote it down in my notes and then added, “Or some such nonsense.” Seriously, this is bad. Every single scene with Hackney is bad, but this is really really really incredibly bad (oh yeah, and since I know you were all wondering what ridiculous outfit Hackney was wearing in this scene, I shall tell you that it appears to be some sort of purple leather zip-up jacket and a pair of blue gloves that don’t even match the color of her outfit) and I again find myself feeling sorry for Doug Sheehan as I watch this unfold before my eyes. After three years of finding Ben to be a remarkably amazing and wonderful character that I adore watching, it hurts me to see him being handed such pure human feces as his main storyline for his last year on the show, and I find myself really watching his performance and trying to figure out what’s going on. Okay, so the way he delivers that “thousand faces/million disguises” line really makes it sound like Sheehan can barely get this dialogue out without having to vomit, and so it creates this weird effect where I can’t tell if he’s giving a bad performance or if the disgust in his voice is supposed to register the character’s disgust. I’m gonna have to say I’m leaning for the former option; I think it truly hurt Sheehan to deliver this dialogue and I think you can tell he’s gritting his teeth and tightening his sphincter as he tries to say these words out loud. I keep saying this, but I feel I must stress again how much happier I would have been if Ben had just run off with Cathy and left the show at the end of season seven. Would our memories of Ben have been tainted by the fact that he cheated on Val and then blew town? Perhaps, but at least we would have three solid seasons of him being a great character and we would never have had to hear the words “Jean” or “Hackney” for the rest of the series’ run. Also, even if the whole cheating/blowing town thing did sully our esteem for Ben, it couldn’t sully it any worse than this storyline, which has been dragging on for an agonizing eighteen eps and counting, is already doing.
Ugh, I guess I have to talk about this, so here we go. Hackney wants Ben to put a bug in Greg’s office, and even though she’s “the women with a thousand faces and a million disguises,” it seems Ben is the only person who can handle this assignment since he’s currently on Sumner’s payroll and has easy access to his home and office. Anyway, the scene where she gives Ben his assignment comes and goes and then we don’t really see Ben too much until we hit the final ten minutes of the ep. We catch up with him playing the piano in the living room in the loving company of Val, but then the phone rings, he picks it up, and Hackney (dressed in a humongous brown suit thing that would be right at home in Mike Brady’s wardrobe) tells him, “They’ve gone,” obviously meaning Sumner and Laura. Then we get another example of the writing forcing characters I love to act stupid and oblivious, because Ben pauses for a second and then does a terrible job of making it sound like he was on the phone with a magazine salesman, delivering this way-too-long little speech about how, “I have so many magazines I can’t deduct them from my taxes, and by the way, I don’t like people who canvass for magazines.” Okay, so that sucks because he does a terrible job of making it seem like a magazine salesman was on the phone, but what sucks even more is that after this bizarrely angry tirade he delivers to nobody, Val is just sitting right near him and is like, “Did you ever have a chance to read my final draft?” Okay, so you’re gonna tell me that Valene doesn’t notice her husband acting like a complete psycho to a “magazine salesman” on the phone? She just lets it come and go and doesn’t say, “Gee, Ben, what’s up your ass?” I’ll cut her a small break because at least she puts up a protest when Ben abruptly grabs his coat and announces he must head to the office immediately. Still, it’s not enough. I believe Valene is a smart woman and I believe she would be way more observant about her husband’s weirdo behavior as of late, but that would overly complicate the story, so instead the writers keep her acting stupid, a problem that I predict we will be encountering a lot throughout the Latham/Leckowick era.
Anyway, Ben goes to Sumner’s ranch and manages to make it past the butler guy and then we get a long scene of him fiddling with Sumner’s computer. Honestly, isn’t Ben’s plan already shot because he had to awkwardly saddle his way past that butler? If this bug is discovered, couldn’t Greg easily find out who planted it because the butler would tell him, “Yeah, Ben showed up real late at night for some reason and was acting super weird and made a beeline for your office and didn’t want me to come with him”? Okay, but whatever, let’s not think too much about that and instead focus on Ben putting the bug in the office, a scene that lasts for fucking ever and is then repeated in the opening moments of our very next ep, so we have to watch it twice (I will at least point out that, when they repeat it, they do shorten it down fairly significantly so it isn’t quite as long). After a few hiccups and little flirtations with Ben failing in his mission, the bug is successfully installed and we’re all getting ready to breathe a big sigh of relief when, GASP!, the doorknob to the office starts to turn! This is our big cliffhanger for the next ep, but it’s far from one of the best we’ve ever seen. The blaring music on the soundtrack doesn’t help much, either.
I clearly hate everything involving Ben and Hackney and all this gibberish, so let’s end on a positive note by talking about something I have absolutely no complains about, and that is the glorious arrival to the series of Michelle Phillips as Anne. Technically, she arrived in the last two seconds of our previous ep, but this is really the ep that introduces her to us, and she’s just perfect. I’ll go ahead and spoil my thoughts (or at least my memories of my thoughts) and say that Anne was one of my favorite characters upon first viewing and I loved the humor she brought to proceedings and thought she was one of the best aspects of the later years. Due to my fond memories, I immediately light up whenever she is onscreen, but I’m also already noting that this season eight version of Anne is a little different than the Anne we will have in seasons twelve through fourteen (and, I think, a little smidge of season eleven, as well). During that era, Anne is mostly a comedic character, having funny dialogue and getting into adventures and shenanigans with her friends and lovers. Here, as she’s first introduced, I don’t know that she comes off as funny. In fact, the immediate impression I get is that we are being introduced to another Abs, a hot older blonde who is set on stealing a husband away from his wife.
It’s hardly a spoiler to say that Anne is going to go after Mack, because it’s very obvious right away. When we first catch up with them in this ep, they’re in that hotel room in New York (even though obviously nobody from the production went anywhere near New York to film any of this footage and it’s all set-bound) and she says something about how great Mack looks and then she sorta sighs his name out, “Marion Patrick.” Just the way she delivers that line tells us that she’s getting wet just by being in the same room as Mack. We also get a nice little hint of her manipulative nature right and quick, because when Mack says how they need to get on a plane at four, she says how she needs to take care of all these different something or others and they should take a later flight, and Mack agrees.
I do want to say there are still stupid aspects to this story, most notably the fact that it was completely unnecessary for Mack to fly out to New York only to meet Anne and, um, fly back to California? Why on earth couldn’t he just call Anne and say, “You ought to fly out to California and see Paige”? Why must Mack fly all the way to the big apple only to then head to the airport and fly back? It’s pretty obviously a plot contrivance designed to keep Anne and Mack together for as long as possible, but even so, I’m still willing to go with it. In any case, the two hang around New York for a little while and get some drinks and Anne goes on about how Mack is the only man she ever loved, an exchange of dialogue that both My Beloved Grammy and I found a bit perplexing. Surely Anne must know that Mack is married to Karen, right? But she goes on and on about her love of Mack and how much she wants him to slip it inside of her to the point that it seems like perhaps she doesn’t know Mack is now married. Also, Mack has plenty of opportunities to jump in and be like, “I’m married, so you should probably stop hitting on me constantly,” but he does not. Anyway, I’m excited to see Anne and I’m glad Michelle Phillips is on the scene now, but I’ll save more thoughts on her for later, since she’s going to be hanging around and getting lots of storyline attention throughout this latter portion of season eight.
I think that’s all I have to say about this ep. I’m not even sure what to say in wrap-up as far as whether this ep was good or not. Clearly it had many aspects that bothered me and clearly I still detest the Hackney storyline, but I think I’m just starting to get used to being underwhelmed by season eight. This ep is only okay, but I’d say it comes off looking worse for following on the heels of the excellent The Unraveling and No Miracle Worker. We’re done with the excitement of Olivia on coke, so now we’re returning to proceedings a bit more standard, characters getting divorced, characters shagging each other, characters attempting to shag other characters, all that stuff. It’s alright and perfectly watchable but, as seems to be the case with the majority of season eight, also heavily flawed.
Shall our next ep prove better than this one? Tune in for my next writeup, which will be all about the episode called Never Trick a Trickster.