Thursday, December 3, 2020


 Episode Title: Mother Knows Best


Season 09, Episode 24


Episode 214 of 344


Written by Julie Sayres


Directed by Joseph L. Scanlan


Original Airdate: Thursday, March 31st, 1988


The Plot (Courtesy of TV.Com): Gary confronts Jill on her drinking, and calls her sick when she tries to get him to drink with her. Karen is shocked when Manny tries to kiss her. In Mexico, Paige meets Debbie, an archeology student, who tells them of a pre-Colombian dig. Paige tells Greg she can get him statues, and he agrees to finance it. Paige is upset to find Johnny in bed with Debbie, but they make up. Manny sends a goon to Mexico to stop the wedding. Harold breaks up with Olivia, blaming it on his uncle. Harold tells her his uncle is dangerous, and he can't cross him. Olivia goes home and cries on Abby's shoulder, and Abby agrees to talk to Manny about letting Harold date Olivia. Olivia goes to Harold, and Manny knocks on the door so he hides her in the closet. Manny tells him he has to leave, as Abby said if he doesn't send Harold packing, Abby will back out of the yacht deal. Olivia hears the entire conversation.




Time to talk about Mother Knows Best, and I say we get started straight away with my favorite storyline, Gary and Val and J.B.  In the closing moments of our last ep, we found out that J.B. was the mastermind behind the mysterious letters from Ben to Val, courtesy of that old forgery machine, Mrs. Bailey.  We also saw that J.B. was starting to develop quite a fondness for the alcohol, most specifically the white wine, which she poured very liberally throughout our last ep, even pouring it out all over the telephone at one point.  Well, the plot only thickens this ep, with J.B. continuing to hit the bottle and act sassy towards Gary.  In fact, let’s just jump right to one of the most memorable sequences from the ep, one that has always stuck with me.  Basically, Gary comes walking into the Westfork house late one night and J.B. has also tied a few ones on and, once again, Teri Austin’s brilliant brilliant acting is just totally brilliantly brilliant.  I think she is playing a drunk person just perfectly, with that bizarre mix of jolly and nasty that drunk people tend to have. I like the way Gary walks in and J.B. is like, “No, wait wait, don’t tell me…..Gary Ewing!”  Then he says, “Sorry I’m late, but I was…” and J.B. interrupts with, “Out with the kids.”  Then they start to fight when Gary says how Val is having a hard time and J.B. says, “Oh, Gary, Val is always having a hard time,” which is actually a pretty valid point.  In case it sounds like I’m turning on Val, please don’t ever think that; I will love Val yesterday, today, and tomorrow, and I will love her for all time, but I appreciate how we viewers can understand J.B.’s point of view, since it’s kinda correct.  Val sorta is always having a hard time and Gary sorta is always running to her rescue.  Now, to be fair, you could argue that absolutely all the characters on the show are always having a hard time because they live inside of a soap opera and there’s never any shortage of drama.  But, there is something way more needy about Val when placed up against other characters on the series.


                However, the big drama of the scene is not even what J.B. says about Val, but that Gary confronts J.B. on how much wine she’s had.  “Don’t blame me for your drinking; that’s what somebody does who has a problem with alcohol.”  It gets way more intense when he says, “You’re the one who’s been sitting around here all day, drinking alone,” and then J.B. pours a second glass of wine and holds it out for Gary and says, “I don’t want to drink alone; let’s do something together.”  Gary looks positively horrified by this display, which is probably how I looked the first time I watched this.  You all need to picture a younger college Brett lying around his dorm room, probably naked, watching KL and drinking alone (how fitting!) and getting to this scene and, when J.B. held that glass out for Gary, I literally gasped aloud.  I would literally gasp aloud pretty frequently throughout my first trip through the series, but this was a big one, and I remember being like, “Where is all this heading?”  I could see that something was changing within J.B., but I couldn’t quite figure out what.  Possibly I thought, as MBG seems to think right now, that she was gonna head down the alcoholic rabbit hole and go on some big bender or something.  But yeah, when I hit this scene, I was like, “Holy shit, what are you doing, J.B.?”  Gary tells her, “That’s a very sick, stupid way to get my attention,” and then he tells her that how she lives her life is her decision and nobody else’s, and then he walks off and we end the scene.  Overall, a pretty great couple of minutes.


                Oh yeah, and also, we get the ep started off good and strong with a killer scene of J.B. at the airport.  I love how the writers are crossing their T’s and dotting their lower case j’s with this storyline, because last ep, when we found out J.B. was the one behind the mysterious Ben letters, Brother and MBG questioned two things: How she got the handwriting to match and how she would get the letters to be sent from Soap Land Hell of South America.  Well, we saw how she’s getting the letters forged last ep, and this ep we see her at the airport near a gate with a plane departing for South America.  All it takes is a simple request from a stranger headed that way; J.B. stops him and asks if he could send this letter from South America, and he agrees.  Ugh, I love it.  I guarantee you that Dallas and Dynasty wouldn’t even bother with this kind of cleverness; they would just have the letters arriving from South America and we would be expected to go along with it, not questioning anything.  Here, you can tell the writers want to make sure everything tracks, that it actually makes sense, even in that melodramatic nighttime soap opera kind of way. 


                Meanwhile, we’ve got this strange burgeoning romance between Karen and Manny.  Honestly, I should probably be way more critical of this plot point than I’m being, but that’s just because I’m in a kinda warm blanket mode with KL right now; after everything seemed to go so hideously wrong in season eight, I’m just so glad that season nine has been such an improvement and I’m just enjoying being in this world with these characters and I’m less inclined to be harsh towards them.  However, the Karen/Manny stuff is done in a pretty crappy way, to be honest.  It’s way too fast and pretty implausible, too.  Basically, we have a scene of the two of them having a lunch together and the powers-that-be choose to do the super lazy thing where you establish a growing bond between two people by just doing repeated dissolves, showing that time is passing.  Like, we begin the scene with Karen getting Manny some coffee and they’re talking about whatever, and then we dissolve to a little later and she’s right in the middle of this epic story of her life stuff, saying, “After Sid died, I felt like I couldn’t go on; I had three kids, I was all alone, and along came this smiling Irishman who made terrific blueberry pancakes.”  By the way, please note that line because I believe the exact same line is going to be recycled pretty much word-for-word in our next ep, when Karen is having a conversation with Paige.  I’ll bitch about that when we get to it, but for the purposes of this scene, it’s just a little silly how we keep dissolving and with each dissolve, Karen is deeper and deeper into her intimate stories with this Manny character, whom she only met, what, three eps ago?  Honestly, I can’t really remember where this storyline leads, but I’m just saying for the moment that it’s moving very fast and we are being asked to believe a lot with Karen becoming so infatuated with this guy so quickly.


                Speaking of Manny, his nephew Harold starts the ep in Mexico (or a series of sand-filled regions in the California area that we can all pretend is actually Mexico) along with Paige, Johnny, and Olivia.  He and Olivia are going to get hitched, at least until Abs marches up to Manny and tells him he must stop this wedding at all cost.  Manny takes her seriously and calls up Harold and tells him to abort this marriage plan, even sending some goon along to Mexico to make sure that Harold does as he’s told.  After a bit of hemming and hawing, Harold decides to tell Olivia it’s over and, well, she doesn’t take it too well.  I love me some Olivia, as you all know, but she pretty quickly turns into a pathetic crying teenager here with such declarations as, “But you said you loved me!” and “Just a half hour ago, you said this was the happiest day of your life!”  This obsession women have with getting married has never made any sense to me, but then of course why anybody in the world would ever get married has never made any sense to me.  In this case, I think Olivia is being silly and Harold is doing the right thing (even though he’s only doing it so he doesn’t get his fingers busted by his uncle).  I think Harold could probably have been a little smoother and maybe told her that there will be marriage in their future, but just not right now.  Instead, he lets her down cold and says he doesn’t want to get married and that’s that.  Due to this, Olivia returns to California before the ep even concludes. 


                The big ending of the ep involves Olivia at Harold’s place and her discovery of the true puppet master behind their recent breakup.  See, she’s assumed that Manny is the man who put the kibosh on this wedding, but when Manny suddenly shows up to speak with Harold, Harold shoves Olivia into a closet and she is privy to their whole conversation.  Through her little Blue Velvet vantage point, she hears Manny confirming that he could give two shits if Harold and Olivia get married, but that he was really working under the direct orders of one Abby Fairgate Cunningham Ewing.  Oh my, how the plot thickens!


                In Mexico, we’ve also got some generally uninteresting stuff involving Paige and Johnny that I’m gonna quickly gloss over.  Basically, Paige catches Johnny with another woman in this ep, but I fail to see what the big deal is.  Isn’t Paige yearning for Greg Sumner?  Wouldn’t she let Greg Sumner enter her the second he expressed an interest in doing so?  And it’s not like Johnny is her one true love and her steady boyfriend right now; she told him herself that he’s only good for sex.  With that kind of perfect arrangement in which you get the sex without the messy emotions, why get mad at him for having a fling on the side?  In any case, they get over it pretty right and quick, so let’s not dwell on it.


                Really the only other thing I wanna note about this ep is that I wrote in my notes, “Nice heart to heart between Pat + Karen talking about Manny’s kiss.”  I wrote this down just because I like to see that the Williams family are starting to become a nice, comfortable part of the cul-de-sac life.  After Full Disclosure, these characters are no longer so shrouded in mystery and now we all know officially that we can trust them.  Indeed, Frank also seems to be in much jollier spirits nowadays, not so prone to come running out of the house in his wife-beater with a pistol drawn.  As a big fan of Frank and Pat and Julie Williams, I’m just glad to see them getting nice and established.


                So that was Mother Knows Best.  Again, despite some storytelling hiccups like the goofily quick romance between Karen and Manny and boring stuff in Mexico, I think season nine is chugging along just fine, a rather remarkable example of self-improvement after things got so silly and so bad in season eight.  I’ll write more about this in my reflection essay, I imagine, but I gotta say I’m super impressed by how KL manages to fix itself and stay consistently of a high quality.  If I was watching season eight in real time, I would probably have predicted the show has jumped the shark and will be quickly cancelled, or perhaps continue on for another bundle of terrible seasons like the way Dallas turned bad and then just kept going for six more painful years.  Instead, I feel like KL has its ups and downs, but even after something really stupid like season eight and Hackney and all that nonsense, they are able to pull themselves up by their bootstraps and keep going, a very impressive feat.  With that said, let’s move right along to With a Heavy Heart

Thursday, November 19, 2020

KNOTS LANDING Episode 213 of 344: HER LETTER

 Episode Title: Her Letter


Season 09, Episode 23


Episode 213 of 344


Written by Bernard Lechowick


Directed by Robert Becker


Original Airdate: Thursday, March 24th, 1988  


The Plot (Courtesy of TV.Com): Val is excited and prepares for Ben's return. Paige tells Greg she likes him and he says she must be joking. During a meeting, Manny is taken with Karen and flirts with her. Abby tells Karen to use this to get a better deal from Manny. Mack isn't jealous until he sees Manny. Harold and Olivia declare their love, but he says they can't sleep together until they're married, and he proposes. Abby is furious, and tells Manny she'll back out of the deal if he doesn't stop Harold. Abby calls Gary to help with Olivia, and a drunken Jill is furious. Paige agrees to go to Mexico with Johnny, and Harold and Olivia decide to go with so they can elope. Jill works out a deal for the little old lady forger, and has the woman write another letter to Val from "Ben."




                When we last left off, Val was basically shitting her pants in excitement because she had just received a letter from Ben, the very first letter since he disappeared almost a year ago.  As we begin Her Letter, we pick up right where we left off, with Val rushing around the neighborhood to find Karen and tell her what’s going on.  The fact that Val has received a letter quickly becomes the talk of the neighborhood, although I find myself wondering if perhaps I shouldn’t have announced so boldly to MBG that Ben would never be returning to the series.  When people leave the show, I generally tell her if they’re gone forever or if they’re going to show up again, and when Ben hit the road at the end of season eight, I confirmed that he would never be back.  I suppose knowing that might take some suspense out of this story, but the thing is that we don’t have to wait too long to find out who’s really sending the letters.


                See, we’ve reached a point where something is definitely changing within J.B.  She is growing and blossoming into the J.B. I know and love, the J.B. I think of whenever I think of J.B.  Throughout our last bundle of eps, we’ve seen her growing resentment at all the attention Gary pays to the twins and the lack of attention he pays to her.  Now that Gary is the confirmed father of those two, they’re at the ranch practically every day.  Gary plays with them all the time and he can’t even make time for sweet lovemaking since he’s so occupied with the kids.  Because of this, J.B. has begun to laze around the house and drink and, in the case of this ep, she wears fabulous leather pants while she does it.  The scene begins with her wearing her fabulous leather pants and then Gary comes walking in with the twins in his arms, fast asleep.  He says he took them camping and they fell asleep and he didn’t want them to wake up and not have him there, so he’s gonna sleep with them tonight.  At this declaration, J.B. quietly returns to the couch and pours herself another glass of white wine.  When this occurred, MBG predicted that J.B. was going to quickly fall down the rabbit hole that Sue Ellen fell down so often over on Dallas and become a complete, screaming, “WE’RE RUINING LIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIVES” drunk.  Turns out that’s not quite what’s going on here; yeah, she’s drinking too much, but I don’t think she’s necessarily an alcoholic like Gary.  Rather, she’s using the alcohol to dull her pain at this moment in time as she feels her place in Gary’s life slipping away. 


                A few minutes later, we return to J.B. for a glorious scene of her sitting alone and drinking.  The phone rings and it’s Val, as predicted by J.B. in a nice bit of dialogue to herself.  See, she looks at the ringing phone and says, “Fifty dollars says that’s Val,” and when she picks it up and it is, indeed, Val, she says, “I win!  I just won fifty dollars.”  I find all of this very amusing and I like the way that Teri Austin plays J.B. as slightly drunken.  I’ve read that the liquor flowed freely over on the set of Dallas, so I wonder what the alcohol policy was here on KL.  In a scene like this, do you think Teri tossed back a few to get her properly into character?  She plays the part so well, like a real slightly drunken person, not over-the-top and not too aggressive, but just aggressive enough to be slightly uncomfortable.  Later on, while talking to Gary and, of course, drinking white wine, J.B. starts to get a little vicious, but she does it in a subtle way.  They’re talking about how Ben is going to be returning home soon and J.B. says how, “What will the invisible man think when he comes back and finds you spending so much time with his kids?”  Note the way that she says his kids; I think she’s doing that to get under Gary’s skin, and you can tell it works. 


                These are all small little clues planted throughout the ep that J.B. is up to something, but it’s all gloriously confirmed in the last five minutes of the ep when we have a sexy dissolve to J.B. working on a fake letter from Ben to Val.  This is beautifully done because, just as I am wondering how J.B. is able to forge his handwriting properly, we find out how.  In A Fair Race, we met up with Mrs. Bailey, an old woman who was in trouble for forging signatures on some checks.  Now it looks like J.B. has called in a favor from Mrs. Bailey; if she helps J.B. with these forged letters, J.B. will tell the judge that Mrs. Bailey is a good lady who cooperated with them.  Whoof, all kinds of wicked, no? 


                The revelation that J.B. is the mastermind behind the mysterious letters excited Brother greatly.  From day one of this series, Brother has had an agenda of rage against Val that I’ve never completely understood; he just hates this character so much and takes great relish in seeing her tortured and in pain.  I confess that, at this point in the series, I can see where those feelings might come from, and I also wonder if some of that is the result of the L&L team hating the character and the fact that they inherited the character.  You all know that I love Val dearly as if she is a real person and I want her to be happy and all of that, but some of her annoying little qualities are becoming more apparent by this juncture.  Even simple stuff like the way she busts into the Williams house while they’re all gathered together with Karen and Mack and starts hyperventilating about how she got this letter and how Ben should be returning.  I could see how it would be annoying to be in the middle of this nice little social gathering of beer and card games or whatever and then have it interrupted by the manic blonde from a few doors down, who has come to make announcements about her long lost husband who disappeared into the Soap Land Hell of South America last year.  I think that somewhat pathetic quality that Val has, that quality of being something of a kicked around puppy, would prove irritating if you had to spend an extended amount of time with her.  I also think that the writers are doing this rather deliberately so that we as viewers can enjoy or even take some relish in the evil plans that J.B. is currently enacting.


                But enough about that.  To be clear, all the stuff with Gary/Val/J.B. is my favorite stuff going on right now, and I’ve been kinda waiting for us to reach this juncture ever since way back in season six’s A Price to Pay, when she first saddled her amazing self into Mack’s office and became a character on the series.  I have been glad to have J.B. around ever since that moment, and I particularly enjoyed her acting and stories in season seven (not so much season eight, when she was a persistent victim of bad writing), but now I feel she’s really coming into her own.  It’s like the writers and directors are just now realizing what a gold mine they have in this actress and this character and they are ready to use her talents to their fullest potential.  So even though I love all this stuff, we must move on because there are other characters on the show worth discussing, starting with, say, Karen. 


                Karen is developing a rather strange and unexpected attraction towards Manny Vasquez.  Now, at first I was just laughing at this cornball Italian stereotype and wondering what gas Karen could possibly be huffing that would make her get a crush on this guy. However, after looking at this man’s IMDb, I have new feelings of respect.  His name is John Aprea and he played Young Tessio in The Godfather: Part II.  Who knew?  He’s also in The Stepford Wives, which I love, so that’s cool.  Actually, I’m getting my eps slightly confused, because I was about to write about a long and intimate lunch scene between Karen and Manny in which the two start to share secrets, but that’s actually our next ep.  In this ep, we get little hints that Karen is getting an infatuation, but nothing too overt.  I’ll save the rest of my thoughts on this for the next few eps.


                Manny intersects with Abs and Olivia this week, as well, courtesy of his nephew Harold.  See, Harold seems to be developing a genuine affection for Olivia, really doting on her and making her feel special.  Near the end of the ep, the two are getting hot and heavy in Harold’s car up at Make Out Point, and Olivia is aching to give up her flower, but Harold stops her and says how, “I want to make this beautiful, I want to make this right, I want you to be my wife.”  Yikes, don’t you think you’re jumping the gun a little bit on that one, Harold?  After all, Olivia is in high school.  She’s only seventeen years old and Harold is…….40?  (EDITOR’S NOTE: I AM KINDA KIDDING, CUZ I JUST LOOKED IT UP AND HE WOULD ACTUALLY BE ABOUT 25 YEARS OLD RIGHT HERE).  From the proposal scene, we then rapid cut to Abs saying, “Over my dead body,” and then we rapid cut to a scene of Harold holding Olivia while she cries.  I actually like how fast this is all done, how we just swing from one scene to another and then right into another one, making things feel fast and alert.  This also glides us nicely into the final scene of the ep, in which Paige, Johnny, Harold, and Olivia all meet up at the airport for a nice little trip to Mexico, a trip in which, presumably, Harold and Olivia will become man and wife. 


                We’ve also got stories involving Paige and Sumner this week, but I’m tired and don’t really feel like writing about that stuff right now.  Suffice it to say that there are hints of romance blooming but that Greg is continuing to give her the cold shoulder, hence why she’s still shagging Johnny and why she’s running off to Mexico with him.  Aside from that, let’s see, what else is in my notes?  Well, I did write that I’m noticing more cool little cinematic tricks as of late, something that I felt was missing throughout season eight.  In this ep, we have a very arty, rather Brian De Palma-ish shot in which Karen and Abs are in their meeting with Manny.  Karen arrives wearing a very sexy leather miniskirt (which she picked up in the scene before while out shopping with Val and Pat), and there’s this cool shot where her legs are in the foreground, in a tight closeup, while Manny’s face is in the background, framed sorta behind the legs.  At first, I was just like, “Wow, random cool shot,” but then I watched the scene again and I see what the purpose of it is.  Karen is feeling a little out-of-character wearing this sexy miniskirt and she seems aware of the fact that, from his vantage point, Manny could probably look up her dress, so she adjusts herself and crosses her legs, which is where we get this cool shot.  I think it’s a way of making us viewers hyper aware of her legs, the way Manny probably is.  Real fast, I also gotta say that it’s nice to see Karen as sexy again; I feel like it’s kinda been forever.  I thought Karen was sexy back in season one when she got all dolled up for her afternoon delight in Let Me Count the Ways, but for the last bundle of seasons, I haven’t really seen her that way, despite my intense burning love for her character.  She’s been more like the rock, the den mother, someone who makes me think of, you know, mothers, women who are maternal and make you feel good.  Seeing her rocking the miniskirt here reminds me that Karen can still be sexy when she wants to.  I used to watch The Love Bug all the time with my dad and I think he had a little crush on Michele cuz he would always say how sexy she was in that movie. 


                Oh yeah, and one last thing related to Karen this week: We get a Diana shout out.  In a scene between Abs and Karen discussing Olivia’s new romantic interest, Karen cautions Abs against pushing back too hard, saying, “I remember what happened with Diana.”  We should all remember what happened with Diana since Diana/Chip Roberts fueled some of the most brilliant storylines during two of the most brilliant seasons of the show.  I also appreciate this, much as I appreciate any and all Sid callbacks, because Diana has been gone from the show since the opening hours of season six, when she hit the road for New York.  So many others shows throughout television history have had a revolving door of cast members, and most of them tend to forget these characters ever existed after they are booted off the show, but KL still mentions Sid and Diane, both of whom are long gone, and I appreciate that little detail.    


                That’s about all I got for this ep.  Things are really heating up and season nine has been shaping up nicely pretty much the whole year, sans some of the boring stuff like Basil Exposition.  I’m excited to discuss where this stuff all leads, so let’s move on to Mother Knows Best.

Thursday, November 5, 2020



Episode Title: Full Disclosure


Season 09, Episode 22


Episode 212 of 344


Written by Alan Goldfein


Directed by Joseph L. Scanlan


Original Airdate: Thursday, March 10th, 1988


The Plot (Courtesy of TV.Com):  Paige starts to work for Greg exclusively, and is frustrated when he doesn't pick up on her hints that she'd like to date him. A man can't pay Johnny and Harold money he owes, and gives him a diamond bracelet. Harold roughs him up anyway. Harold gives the bracelet to Olivia, saying it was his grandmother's, and encourages her to respect Abby. Gary invites the twins to a sleepover, and makes Jill stay in the guestroom. They don't include her as they play, and she starts drinking again. Pat is a doctor, and is testifying against another doctor who had mob ties and was a drug dealer. At her testimony, a man stabs her but only gets her arm. Karen and Mack see this on the news, and when Pat returns with a bandaged arm, they realize that she is the doctor. Val gets a letter that says "Out of Danger. I love you and will see you soon. Love Ben."






                Welcome back, everybody.  When we last left off, we were watching A Fair Race, which was a good episode but was missing something very important: The Williams family.  Fortunately, Full Disclosure will rectify that by giving us an entire episode focused on our newest arrivals to the cul-de-sac and we will finally start to get some answers about who they really are and what they’re really doing here in Seaview Circle.  I love the Williams family and am eager to discuss them, but first let’s discuss some of the other characters, starting with Paige and Greg Sumner. 


                In this ep, Paige starts to work exclusively for Sumner, I guess as his secretary or something.  Honestly, I can’t completely remember, but I think that’s kinda the point, because it doesn’t seem like Greg is taking this hiring very seriously.  Paige shows up one morning, adorned in black and looking fabulous, and she says how she’s ready to work, but Greg is being weird and aloof.  When she says, “Don’t you want me to work for you?”, he responds with, “Do you wanna work for me?” and then starts asking if she’ll need filing cabinets or whatever to do her work.  Personally, I get the feeling that Greg doesn’t really need a secretary; that he’s really more interested in keeping Paige close by.  After all, what exactly does Greg do at this point in the saga?  When we first got to know him in seasons five and six, he was a big shot politician running for the senate, but then all that drama with Paul Galveston caused him to give up his senate seat and go to work for the James Bond villain lair at Empire Valley, but then that got blown up and, since then, I feel like Greg mostly hangs around his ranch.  We haven’t even seen him in his big skyscraper in a long time, maybe not since Ben was going to shoot him in the brain during the climax of that appalling Hackney storyline.  Since that storyline disappeared into the gutter where it belongs, I feel like Greg’s been pretty much hanging around the ranch.  Now, I don’t begrudge the man at all; his wife just died and he’s sad and has a right to hang around his ranch as much as he wants.  Mostly I’m just observing and I don’t think Greg has a legit need for a secretary but anyway, Paige is now that secretary. 


                The basic gist of the Paige story this week is that she wants to go out with Sumner and she keeps trying to make that clear but he’s either super dense or just ignoring her.  I go for the latter option; I’m sure Greg can sense that Paige has a little crush on him and he’s kinda enjoying teasing her.  In any case, nothing romantic happens with the two this ep, although I did add Cigar #35 to the Sumner Cigar Counter, but I have to confess I’m not sure if I should add this one or not.  The reason I’m hesitant is because we don’t actually see him light the cigar and begin to smoke it.  See, he’s adorned in his trench coat and is about to head out when he announces to Paige that his date for the opera got sick and can’t come.  This scene is pretty funny, by the way, because Greg is like, “Gee, I don’t want to go to the opera alone and have to talk to people at intermission,” and then he says, “I know this isn’t your job,” and Paige gets a little excited and says, “I’d love to,” but then Greg continues his sentence with, “Will you call Abby Ewing and ask if she’d like to go with me?”  Then he walks off and leaves Paige looking bummed.  Anyway, the scene ends before he lights the cigar, but I have decided to count this one because he puts it in his mouth and he’s holding the lighter in his other hand, so I feel pretty comfortable saying he lit this cigar after the scene concluded.  So yes, that makes Cigar #35, at least according to my calculations.


                Since Paige is not getting it from Sumner, she continues to get it from Johnny Rourke, although I don’t think we see any actual shagging between the two of them this ep.  However, I did wanna note a quick scene in the kitchen because it shows how perverse both Brother and myself are.  See, Johnny is washing his hands at the sink and Paige is doing whatever over at the counter, and then Johnny sorta throws his arms around her and says how sexy she is, to which Paige replies, “You’re getting me wet.”  Both Brother and I sorta gasped at that line and were like, “Wow, how saucy,” before quickly realizing that she is merely referring to Johnny’s hands being wet from the sink.  Oh sigh, I liked my original interpretation of the line much better.


                Meanwhile, romance is blooming between Harold and Olivia.  We first catch up with Harold sitting in a car with Johnny and getting ready to threaten some dude for the money he owes them.  The guy shows up and says how he had a little trouble coming up with the cash, so then Harold shoves him into the back of the car to continue making threats.  The guy busts out a suitcase full of jewelry or whatever to try and sway Harold, but he ain’t impressed.  However, he does keep a bracelet and winds up giving it to Olivia that night when they go out for a romantic car ride together.  I have to confess that this whole romance does strike me as a tad askew, and I’m gonna say it’s because of the age thing.  Everybody always seems to focus on the Paige/Sumner age gap, but that’s never really bothered me too much, but I find it a little harder to believe that Harold, who I believe is supposed to be somewhere in his 20s, goes out with Olivia and nobody really seems to mind.  Olivia is seventeen now.  Abs makes some brief mention about how Olivia should go out with kids her own age, and then she says how Harold is out of college and Olivia is still in high school, and it’s that line that seems sorta creepy.  The idea of Harold rolling up to the high school to pick up Olivia is just kinda icky, for some reason a little ickier to me than him threatening people with mob violence.  Harold’s gonna be around awhile, so perhaps I’ll get used to this and not think about it as much.


                J.B. is really blossoming nicely even as we speak, inching us ever closer to that superb season finale that I’ve been talking about for the last several years.  The jealousy is continuing to brew as it comes to Gary and Val and the twins, and this ep J.B. gets more reasons to be jealous.  See, Greg has twins Bobby and Betsy over for a sleepover and it’s all fun and games and roasting marshmallows in the fireplace, but then as everyone’s getting ready for bed, Gary tells J.B. she oughta sleep in the guest room because they’re not married and he doesn’t want the kids to get the wrong idea by seeing them sleeping together.  In typically fabulous KL fashion, this problem is presented in a fabulously grounded way and I understand the thoughts of both characters.  Gary is thinking of the well being of these kids he loves and not wanting to confuse them, but J.B. is feeling more and more secondary, now being relegated to sleeping in the guest room so she doesn’t risk warping the fragile young minds of these twins that Gary and Val conceived together so long ago.  Also, I don’t mean to sound like a square and I’m not entirely sure what’s happening to me, but I think I agree with Gary.  I’m a free love kind of guy and believe in live and let live and not judging people for what they do in the bedroom, but I guess a little streak of my conservative side comes out sometimes because I do think it’s better that these twins not see Gary and J.B. sleeping together, at least not until the two have decided to finally get married.  In any case, the significant thing to note is that J.B. decides to hit the bottle in order to drown her sorrows, and we see her making an entire bottle of wine disappear, sorta gulping the wine from her glass and looking upset before the scene cuts.  This phenomenon of J.B. drinking too much will be further expanded upon as we move through the disk. 


                Okay, that does it for all the characters not named Williams; let’s move on over to Frank and Pat and Julie over at the house that used to belong to Laura.  As we first get started with the ep, it’s a sun shiny day and everyone is outside having fun and shenanigans, including some guy from Coyote Construction.  He’s here to check, you know, something, and so he gets his ladder ready and leans it against the side of the Williams house and then, wouldn’t you know it, the ladder accidentally smashes through the window.  At this point, in an effort to be more appealing to his new neighbors and to show that he’s a mellow, relaxed guy, Frank comes rushing out of the house with a pistol in hand and wearing a wife beater.  He orders the Coyote Construction guy to freeze and then pins him against the car and holds the gun to his head.  There’s a big commotion as Mack yells at him to put the gun away and Pat tells him that she hired the construction guy herself.  Frank says he’s sorry to Coyote Construction guy but he only gets a “Go to Hell!” in response.  This scene is good and intense, but also rather funny.  The first time I watched this, I didn’t see the funny cuz I was too engrossed in the drama, but now I can see it.  Two seconds before Frank comes busting out with his pistol, we have a conversation between Karen and Pat in which Karen invites her to a comedy club and Pat says, “Frank loves comedy; he’s got a great sense of humor!” Well, that’s kinda contradicted when Frank comes out screaming and nearly blows the brains out of the construction guy, a nice bit of irony that I found amusing.


                If you as viewers are getting tired of this continuing mystery involving the Williams family, fear not, for this ep will finally start to answer our questions.  See, next up, Mack calls the police and informs them that they have a wild and crazy neighbor who loves to wag guns around the neighborhood while children and families are out and about enjoying the morning air.  However, things get more mysterious when the police arrive, talk very briefly with Pat and Frank, and then immediately leave without filing any charges.  Mack is a smart guy and he knows there’s no way the cops would ever pass up the opportunity to harass a black family and ruin their lives, so he knows something must be up, leading him to believe that perhaps Frank used to be a cop.  In that regard, he’s correct, as we find out this ep, but we also get some very useful information about Pat and what has really lead the family to living in Seaview Circle.


                Remember a few eps ago when Pat disappeared in the middle of the night with some random chick?  And remember how Karen and Mack thought that was weird and didn’t know what the hell was going on?  Well, now we know, because this ep we see Pat disappear again to go to, um, some place.  She has to fly a plane to this other place, but I can’t quite remember exactly what place it is that she goes to.  In any case, she is flying to this place in order to testify against some big evil doctor that she used to work for.  It turns out that Pat used to be a doctor (which the smart viewer should have already figured out after Baby Meg got sick and Pat said “Stat!” in that one ep) and that she worked for this big evil doctor who was, like, also a drug dealer and a murderer or something like that, so she and her family have been in witness protection this whole time.  The big trial provides us with lots of helpful information; we learn about how Pat spoke out against this big evil doctor and lost her job and her life was ruined and now she’s in hiding with her whole family.  The courtroom scene is filled with lots of objections and sustained and all of that good stuff, but the big moment comes when Pat tearfully explains how much joy being a doctor brought her and how her life will never be the same again.  She says how her husband used to be a cop but can’t find work now, how her daughter can’t really make friends and settle down the way they want her to, all good stuff.  I love Lynne Moody’s acting and character on this show, but I confess that this witness stand stuff is maybe not her best moment.  I think she does mostly a good job, but I think the camera lingers on her too long as she breaks down and cries and that the director and editors should have snipped a bit out of this scene.  I’m with the scene and the acting for the most part, but then it just goes on a smidge too long and starts to threaten drifting into camp.


                Pat gets escorted out of the courtroom and told, “One more round of cross examination and you’re all done,” but as she heads to the elevators, a scary looking dude dressed like a security guard busts out a knife and goes to slash her to death in the elevator, all very Dressed to Kill.  However, this knife attacker only gets one small stab at Pat, wounding her in the arm but doing no real significant damage.  It’s a nice little sequence and I liked how we get a closeup of the elevator door sliding shut with some blood on the ground.  The first time I watched this, I remember really thinking that Pat would die.  After all, these characters had only recently been introduced and were only credited as guest stars and not main players, so I kinda thought this would be it for Pat, but happily for all of us, she will be okay and she returns to the cul-de-sac with a little sling around her arm and that’s it.  The stabbing in the elevator also leads to news coverage which is very conveniently seen by Karen and Mack late at night in their bedroom.  The sudden emergence of a television in Karen and Mack’s bedroom even though we have, as far as I can remember, never seen a television in there before is part of what makes this a plot contrivance.  It’s pretty convenient that they just happen to hear this news report about a nurse testifying and being stabbed in an elevator, but anyway, it helps them figure out what’s the deal with the Williams family and stop being so damn nosy towards them.  Also, I can pretty easily explain away this television set; sure, we’ve never seen a TV in here before, but that doesn’t mean Karen and Mack didn’t just,  you know, go and buy one at some point within this season. 


                Actually, the very last thing we need to discuss this ep is the ending, in which Val suddenly receives a random letter from Ben.  The letter says only, “Out of danger and will see you soon.”  This is all we get with this story this week, Val opening the letter and reading it and looking all shocked and amazed.  Hmmm, are we to assume that Ben will be returning to the series again?  Well, no, but I can assure you that this letter is big stuff and will continue to grow into bigger stuff as we move through the season.


                So that was Full Disclosure.  As a hardcore fan of the Williams family, I’m glad we got nearly an entire ep devoted to them and I’m glad we got some answers to our questions.  Some of the wrap-up is a smidge convenient, but I still enjoyed watching it and I’m eager to see the Williams family now transition into just being neighbors, no longer so draped in secrecy.  With that said, let’s move along to Her Letter.  

Thursday, October 22, 2020

KNOTS LANDING Episode 211 of 344: A FAIR RACE

 Episode Title: A Fair Race


Season 09, Episode 21


Episode 211 of 344


Written by Lynn Marie Latham


Directed by Lawrence Kasha


Original Airdate: Thursday, March 3rd, 1988


The Plot (Courtesy of TV.Com): Harold Dyer, who breaks arms for a living, takes Olivia out for a date. His uncle Manny tells him that Olivia is Abby's daughter. Olivia invites Harold and Manny to meet Abby. Manny tells Abby he rents yachts, and Abby introduces him to Karen, hoping to get his business for Lotus Point. Karen suspects Paige has a crush on Greg. Gary's tired of Lotus Point and decides to become a silent partner. Mack and Jill prosecute a little old woman for forgery. Jill dresses up in lingerie and cooks a romantic dinner, only to have Gary come home with Val and the twins. Gary thinks it’s hilarious. Later Jill's upset when she comes home to find a note from Gary that he's with the twins. Upset, she begins to drink. 




                Hello all my beautiful readers, and welcome back for another fun-filled disk of KL excitement.  Before I get started talking about this ep specifically, let me just say how much I enjoyed the overall experience of watching this disk, which spanned A Fair Race through With a Heavy Heart.  It’s been forever since MBG and I gathered together to watch, and this time Brother was able to come, so we had a trio of happiness and joy as we watched the melodrama onscreen.  Overall it was a lovely night and all three of us were very pleased with the contents of this block of eps, so let’s get started and dive right in.


                We last left off with the excellent Bouncing Babies, ending with Greg giving Meg over to the MacKenzies to raise and torching the playhouse he’d been building for her.  We kinda sorta open this week’s ep on Greg, although we technically start with Paige trying on different outfits, preparing to go out for the day and, presumably, meet Greg.  I’m sure I’ve said this before, but Paige’s beauty stuns me into silence.  I happen to think Paige’s little pink outfit that she’s wearing in this scene is super sexy and then I love the black jacket she puts on over it (but she makes the poor choice of switching over to a white jacket a little later).  I think, at this point in the saga, that Nicolette is consistently getting the best outfits and I wonder if she picked them out herself.  Paige has a fabulous style that is all her own and she’s always trying out new looks but they seem to always work. I’m also a big fan of her myriad of hats, although she doesn’t rock a hat for her little date with Greg.  Posted below is a random picture of Nicollette along with Michele and J.V.A.; this is not the outfit Paige is wearing in the episode, but it's just a cool photo we should all enjoy.


                Oh yeah, Greg; I already got myself distracted.  See, we start with Paige getting herself ready, but we also cross cut over to Greg at his house telling Carlos that he’s going out for the day or whatever, and then in the next scene he arrives at the MacKenzies to pick up Paige.  This is definitely a significant scene because as he pops in, he doesn’t even pay Meg a glance, instead saying he’s here to get Paige and then pretty much running off as soon as she arrives.  The scene ends with Karen and Mack exchanging a look and I’m sure they’re thinking that it’s weird for Greg to so blatantly ignore his own daughter, but I’m still in Greg’s corner on this issue.  As I said last ep, I think Karen was being a bit of a bitch by showing up at Greg’s place just to shit on the very notion of him being a father to Meg.  Give the man a fucking chance as he deals with the grief of losing his wife.  Now, Greg has made the decision to give Meg up and yet I get the sense that Karen and Mack are still passing judgment on him, now judging him for not paying Meg a glance in this scene.  I think it’s obvious that Greg is trying to make this a clean break and let Meg be raised by the MacKenzies, and maybe it’s just plain hard for him to look at her and know others are raising her, so let’s go easy on the man.  By the way, while we’re on the subject of Greg and Paige, I would like to note that MBG, usually eerily accurate in her predictions of what’s going to happen on the series, flatly declared, “I don’t see these two together.”  Well, she’s going to be proven wrong, and pretty soon, if I’m remembering correctly.  I’ll keep you all posted as we get further along and tell you how she feels when these two do eventually start shagging. 


                There’s a good, sweet scene early in the ep where Val shows up at the MacKenzies to offer her apologies to Karen and their friendship is strong again.  I liked this a lot because it ends some lingering tension we’ve been having the last few eps, ever since Val asked Karen to lie while giving her deposition.  I’ve said before how I like the fact that KL doesn’t draw stuff out forever when it doesn’t need to be, and this is a perfect example.  If it was another show, they’d probably want to draw this out, keep Karen and Val not speaking for a long time, maybe give them some big fights to have, but instead they make up and tell each other that they love each other and they move on.  I like all of that and I also like that they both say, “I love you” to each other, but it’s not like this big corny scene; it’s just a real expression of love between friends.  It’s a small sequence at the start of the ep that’s easy to gloss over, but I think it’s a good scene and worth noting.


                Also Karen-related this ep: She and Mack get into a little fight when he finds out about how she went over to Greg’s place just to squeeze out a hot wet fart in his face.  Thank God that Mack gets kinda mad about this, because if he found out what she did and was just totally cool with it, it would make them both kinda hard to like at this juncture.  I also appreciate how Karen tries to explain what happened and that she didn’t specifically go over there just to squeeze out the hot wet fart, but rather she went to say hi and the hot wet fart just sorta happened organically.  I still think it was a shitty thing for her to do, but I’m also perhaps being too harsh on her.  MBG was a little confused by Mack’s anger, saying how Mack loved having Meg around the house for that last bundle of eps, but I get where he’s coming from.  I honest to God can’t remember how all this stuff plays out, if Meg just stays with Karen and Mack for the rest of the series or if Greg takes her back at some point or what; I really don’t remember.  However, I’m sure Mack is worried about what complications this might cause, wondering what will happen if Greg randomly changes his mind at some point in the future.  Also, maybe Mack just liked having Meg around when it wasn’t a full time lifetime commitment; suddenly holding the responsibility of raising her for eighteen years might seem a bit more daunting.


                Similar to the way that I like Karen and Val making up rather than spending several eps pissy with each other, I also like how Karen and Mack don’t have some big explosive fight and stay mad forever, but instead enjoy a midafternoon shag together.  This scene was cute and all, although Mack spends most of it with his hairy left leg propped upwards in a way that had me convinced his balls would come tumbling out any second.  Also, I think the scene might be trying a bit too hard to be cute because they’re lying in bed and then they hear Barbara (that’s the nanny) returning from a trip to the park with Meg.  When they hear her voice, they’re like, “Oh no!” and it’s this whole comedic thing, but I thought it was kinda annoying.  Just put on your clothes and go downstairs and greet Barbara, and if she knows you’ve been shagging, who cares?  You’re a married couple and you’re allowed to have an afternoon delight.  I’ve just never been a person who understands the idea of being embarrassed by having sex; everybody needs to have sex or else they go crazy and it’s an important part of our being.  Isn’t it more embarrassing to be not having any sex?  But then of course I remember that we are Americans and we are supposed to be deeply ashamed of our sexual needs and desires.


                Let’s shift our attention on over to Olivia and Harold.  You’ll all remember that we met Harold for the first time somewhere in our last batch of eps.  Well, this ep he meets up with Olivia and the music swells, but I should probably mention a scene that happens before that.  We first see Harold this ep as he pays a visit, alongside his uncle Manny, to some guy named Frank (weird to have another Frank on the show at same time we have Frank Williams, but whatever) who owns an Italian restaurant.  We find out that Harold broke this Frank’s arm because he owes them a lot of money, and then we get a nice little bit of mafia smoothness when Harold is like, “I’m very sorry I over-exceeded my authority and broke your arm.  I should have given you a 24 hour notice; this is your 24 hour notice.”  With that, he walks away, cool as a cucumber, and MBG reiterated her claim that she’s made many times in my life that she loves mafia and thinks they’re the coolest.  I’ve always found this to be a very endearing trait about her, the fact that she’s the sweetest and kindest old lady anybody could ever know in their life, but she loves super violent things and is really into mafia movies.  Anyway, this first scene helps us to see that Harold and his uncle Manny are into some shady dealings, which should make our sphincters tense up when he meets Olivia and takes her out for pizza.  Personally, I’m not too concerned about Olivia; she’s a big girl and she’s gotten over her cocaine habit and I’m not terribly worried that Harold is going to hurt her; why would he?  I guess we should be nervous cuz he’s in the mafia, but I’m just not terribly concerned.  Oh yeah, one last thing I appreciate in this storyline so far is when Olivia is talking to Abs about how she should be able to date whoever she wants and she says, “I’m seventeen.”  I appreciate the fact that Olivia has always played her actual age.  Tonya is seventeen in real life at this point, so Olivia is seventeen on the show.  I think her age has always been consistent and she’s never suffered from SORAS and I really like that.


                What makes all this Harold/Olivia business so sordid is that it also intersects with Abs and involves her recently-ended relationship with Basil Exposition.  Don’t worry, Basil is gone from the show and will never be back and we never need to speak of him or think about that storyline ever again, but I do remember Harold and Manny being introduced through Basil, like they were working with him, something about expanding the marina at Lotus Point or whatever.  This ep ends with Abs meeting Manny and then boldly announcing to Karen, “I’d like you to meet Manny Vasquez; I think we can do business together.”  I don’t remember where any of this stuff leads, but I’m sure I will like it because I like it so far.


                Let’s move on over to Gary.  In this ep, he decides he’s tired of Lotus Point and he doesn’t wanna work there anymore.  He’s super excited about it and has some brilliant line of dialogue towards Karen and Abs where he says, “If you’ve got a problem, work it out, and if you’re stuck and still can’t come to an agreement, I still don’t wanna hear about it, so figure it out yourselves.”  He delivers the line perfectly and is of course hilarious and wonderful and I love it all.  His excitement at leaving Lotus Point leads to a fantastic sequence in which my much loved and much cherished J.B. decides to put on a sexy outfit and wait for Gary to come home for a romantic dinner and a shag.  The only problem?  While she’s adorned in her sexy nighty and waiting on the couch, Gary shows up with, you guessed it, twins Bobby and Betsy.  The scene works as comedy because of J.B.’s nighty and Gary’s jolly reaction, but it’s also doing some tremendous seed planting for future stories, especially since we see J.B. starting to drink a bit too much, obviously jealous and upset that Gary’s attention is so focused on the twins and barely at all on her.  I keep saying how this is all leading us to the season finale, but I’m kinda hesitant to say anything else in the chance that someone reading this hasn’t gotten to the finale yet.  I would be so ashamed of myself if I spoiled what’s in store in the closing hours of this season, so I think it’s best I tread lightly and not say too much right now.


                I think that oughta do it for this ep.  The only other things I have written in my notes are, “Sexy Michael jogging with Johnny = Yes,” and “I missed the Williams family.”  Both of my notes are obviously true, because Sexy Michael goes jogging in a fabulous pink shirt and white short shorts that are so short the balls threaten to come out (and oh how we all want that to happen) as well as a super sexy headband.  Ugh, fitness is sexy and when you combine fitness with Sexy Michael in this amazing outfit, you just have pure gold.  I again wish I could enter this show and live in this world and go jogging every day with Sexy Michael on a California beach.  As for my other note, I did really miss the Williams family in this ep, but I don’t hold it against this one because they’re gonna get a lot of focus in the next few eps.  I would have liked to see them this week, but it’s not the worst thing in the world that they sit this one out.  Aside from that, a very solid ep that kicked off this disk nicely.  I’ve got no complaints except for the nitpicky stuff like the overly cute scene between Karen and Mack.  I’m liking everything going on right now and I wanna keep watching to see what else is gonna happen.  With that said, our next ep is Full Disclosure and I think we should move right on over to start discussing that one. 

Thursday, October 8, 2020



Episode Title: Bouncing Babies

Season 09, Episode 20

Episode 210 of 344

Written by William Devane

Directed by Nicholas Sgarro

Original Airdate: Thursday, February 25th, 1988

The Plot (Courtesy of TV.Com): Paige tells Johnny that he's just for sex, and she won't go out with him. Abby loans Lotus Point the $2 million to build the marina. Olivia's really upset that Abby called off the wedding, and yells at her for stealing husbands and not keeping a man or giving her a normal life. The MacKenzies are very upset and miss Meg terribly when Greg brings her home. Greg builds a playhouse for Meg, but realizes how tough it will be to raise her. Upset, he brings Meg back to the MacKenzies and asks them to be Meg's parents. He wants them to tell Meg about Laura, but says he will stay out of their life. Seeing how upset Mack and Karen are without Meg, Val has a change of heart. She signs the paper saying Gary is the twins' father. She gives it to him and says she knows he loves them, and would want him to raise them if anything ever happened to her. He says she's a good mother and rips the paper up. They hug.

                Welcome to Bouncing Babies, an episode that I predict will be a highlight of season nine.  Now that we’ve evacuated the toxically boring Basil Exposition storyline out of the show, we can move our focus over to more interesting affairs and we’re also gonna get to do some serious exploring of the character of one Gregory Sumner.  It’s worth noting that Devane penned this ep himself, his second writing effort for the show after season eight’s very mediocre Survival of the Fittest.  Season eight seemed to cultivate badness around it, so I won’t blame him much for that episode being pretty forgettable, especially since this one is going to prove so much better.  As you can probably tell from reading that description, this ep is gonna heavily focus on Greg, so I suggest we begin by talking about the other characters first and saving Greg for last.

                Probably last on my list of currently compelling characters would be Paige and Johnny Rourke.  Now, please understand that I love Paige and the way Nicollette plays her and all her fabulous outfits, but I’m fairly indifferent to Johnny’s existence and he’s kinda sucking Paige into his material right now.  I guess some fans really hate Johnny, but I don’t hate; I just sorta don’t care.  Anyway, in this ep, he meets up with Leland Palmer in the happiest place on earth, the men’s locker room.  Johnny compliments Leland Palmer’s little ‘80s yuppie tennis outfit and says something about how he spends a lot of money on clothes just to chase rubber balls around and sweat, to which Leland Palmer says, “I don’t sweat.”  Obviously this line is meant to come and go and we’re supposed to not think about it much, but I obsessed over it forever and wondered what it’s supposed to mean.  Is Leland Palmer just trying to sound cool?  If so, he has failed, because why else do you go a health club and play tennis or racquetball or whatever unless you’re going to, you know, sweat?  If you do an entire workout and don’t sweat at all, have you really had a workout?  Isn’t that why they provide the showers for you to clean up after you’re done working out and sweating?  In any case, I guess the line is meant to sound cool, but I just thought it was weird and dumb, but I still love Leland Palmer and I note with sadness that this is the last time we’re going to see him on this series.  While he didn’t really do all that much except give Johnny money and kill a blonde chick, I enjoyed looking at him and his unique face and line delivery, mostly because Ray Wise is such a great actor who can make anything interesting, even the tiniest of characters.  Anyway, let’s all say goodbye to Leland Palmer.

                Aside from his rendezvous with Leland Palmer, Johnny also inserts his penis inside of Paige and then we later catch up with them in the morning.  Paige is getting dressed and complaining about her crumpled dress and getting ready for whatever her day entails (“Meeting a client” is all she says).  Then Johnny starts talking about how Paige only wants sex, not romance, not love, and Paige says affirmative, telling him, “I like to think of it as quality time, and when I do see you, I don’t want to waste any of it.”  Honestly, I don’t understand why Johnny is acting like such a girl here; what kind of a man turns down the opportunity for guaranteed no-strings-attached sex?  I would imagine straight men spend their lives trying to find that kind of arrangement, so why complain about it when you get it?  If I was able to plow Paige nightly, I would just be happy for the opportunity and I wouldn’t give a shit about having some deeper relationship with her.  I suppose Paige has some sort of magical sexual powers because she also turned Sexy Michael into a groveling twelve year old girl last season, something I hated to witness, and now here’s Johnny wanting some sort of deep, meaningful relationship with her. 

                Later, we get a quick scene between Paige and Greg where Greg is running off to the MacKenzies to pick up Meg.  It’s actually kinda a douche move, in my opinion, because Paige has gone through the effort of driving all the way out to Greg’s ranch (which, geographically, I’m having a hard time getting a handle on as far as its distance from Seaview Circle, but I get the feeling that it’s pretty far away) and when she arrives, he’s already speeding away in his own car.  When Paige says how she thought Greg wanted to see a sculpture, he just says another time.  Couldn’t he have called her?  Nothing pisses me off more than getting all prepared and going off to meet somebody only for them to ditch on you; it’s totally bad form.  However, I still enjoy the scene because of the sizzling chemistry between Nicolette and Devane, particularly when Greg gets wind of the fact that Paige never came home the night before and, when she tells him she was having a pajama party, he asks, “Who’s pajamas were you in?”  I’m gonna take a guess and say that this line was probably in the script, mostly because Devane wrote the script himself, but I also still wonder if he just improvised it on the set as they were filming.  Oh sigh, how I wish I could sit down with Devane to have a beer and discuss all ten glorious years of his time on the show.  How I would love to go through each and every line of dialogue with him and ask, “Was this improv?  Was this?  How about that?”  Bill, please, I know you’re out there, I know you’re reading this, please call me and we’ll set up a nice lunch date.

                The big drama of Gary and Val and the battle for parental rights continues and, I think, concludes in this ep.  We first catch up with Val and her lawyer, and real fast, I want to note that I was trying to figure out the actor who played this lawyer, but I couldn’t because I don’t remember the lawyer’s name (if they ever even say it) and I just sorta looked through the IMDb credits for this ep and tried to find a definite match but had no luck.  I have a feeling that this actor may have been in Freddy’s Dead: The Final Nightmare, playing the crazy teacher that Lisa Zane meets up with when they go to explore Springwood.  Am I way off on this?  What is this actor’s name?  In any case, I suppose that’s not as important as the contents of this scene, in which he sorta goes over the timeline of the babies with Val.  He asks if Gary raped her, and I really like Val’s reaction, which is like total horror, and the way she says, “What?”  I like the fact that rape is not this thing that happens on KL and then gets shuffled under the carpet like on, say, Dynasty.  I feel like on other nighttime soaps, they might have had Gary rape Val at some point and then they would have just sorta gotten over it and Gary could still be our lead male protagonist (again, look no further than Blake Carrington flat-out raping Krystle in early season one of Dynasty, and let's not even get into Adam raping Kirby and her proceeding to fall in love with and marry him), but KL is a better series that doesn’t use something awful like rape for such crass purposes.  I like that you can tell from Val’s reaction that Gary would never rape her or anybody.  Gary has his flaws but he would never do something like that, so it’s a small detail of the scene that I liked.  I also like how the lawyer asks her if she was married to another man when they conceived the babies and all that stuff.  Remember that this baby stuff has been going on since late 1983 and we are now in early 1988, so the writers are doing a good job of keeping us up to date and explaining how things went down without it feeling like a big exposition dump.  I also enjoy Val’s timid reaction to the questions; it’s like she’s kinda embarrassed to have to admit all this stuff to her lawyer.

                Anyway, the basic plan via Val’s lawyer who may or may not have been in Freddy's Dead: The Final Nightmare is that they will go to court, but the judge will probably dismiss the case.  However, things don’t quite work out that way, because after a bit of waiting, Val’s lawyer comes out and tells her the judge wants to keep reviewing some elements of the case; he didn’t just throw it out.  At this point, Val kinda freaks and starts screaming at Gary and J.B., telling Gary how he’s not going to win, that he doesn’t have a chance, and then she asks, “Did she put you up to this?”  I’d say this officially makes Val and J.B. into mortal enemies, something that will only grow and expand beautifully as we propel ourselves through the rest of season nine and then hit season ten.  I appreciated this scene because, even though there’s of course drama with Val yelling, it’s still done in that fabulous KL way in which it’s not too over-the-top.  Val screams and yells a little, but then Gary and J.B. leave and she sorta calms down and we move on to a new scene.  On the other nighttime soaps, I feel like Val would pick up a chair and throw it at J.B. and then they’d have some big cat fight right in the courtroom or something like that.  On KL, we get a little more subtlety.

                Another thing I love about this storyline is the way it concludes, which is also done in that most fabulously down-to-earth KL way.  On another show, this business with Gary and Val and the twins could lead into an entire year-long custody battle or something like that.  Instead, Val talks to Mack at the midway point of the ep, just after Greg has taken Meg back, and when she sees how sad Mack is to not be around Meg anymore, she realizes the cruelty of what she is doing to Gary.  Our next scene is her meeting up with Gary and, at around the 34 minute mark of the ep, something very significant happens.  Val gives Gary an official, notarized piece of paper and when he asks her what’s going on, she says, “The truth is that you are their father.”  Wow, this is big.  We viewers have known who the real father is and Val has known who the real father is and Gary has known who the real father is for some time, but this is the first time that Val has said it officially, out loud, and now there’s no going back from it.  This kinda concludes something that’s been going on all the way since 1983 with …And Never Brought to Mind, when Gary and Val shared their night of nonstop passion and conceived the babies.  Now here we are and Val is finally making it official; there shall be no more questioning about the true father of the twins, for we now confirm out loud that it is, in fact, Gary.  This scene is also very touching because Val tells him that, if anything ever happened to her, she would want Gary to raise the twins, saying, “I know you love them, and whatever differences we have, it’s just not fair to keep your children away from your love.”  I love that Val chooses to do the right thing without a lot of lengthy drama, and I love how she tells Gary the truth, and I love how she confesses that the twins love him and want to see him.  The whole thing is just mondo moving and almost brought tears to my eyes.  As I say over and over again, Gary and Val are the heart and soul of the series, and whenever the stories are really shining a spotlight hard on them, we get great material and I thought this whole storyline was great material.

                Let’s get to the main meat of this ep, which concerns Greg taking back daughter Meg from Karen and Mack.  Meg has been staying at the MacKenzie house for quite awhile now, a good long stretch of eps, although I can’t remember exactly how many.  At the start of this ep, Greg’s nanny (Barbara) tells him she is quitting, that there’s really no reason for her to hang around if Meg is never here.  When Greg says how she could go work at the MacKenzie house and he’ll keep paying her, she says, “I don’t want to be around when things blow up,” and then she elaborates by saying, “You can’t just keep bouncing Meg back from home to home; she’s going to be a very confused little girl if she doesn’t have a stable home life.”  At first, Greg is kinda dismissive of her opinion, being like, “Well, whatever, I grew up at the MacKenzie house and Mack’s mother raised me and I turned out alright,” and then he dismisses her for the night.  However, Barbara’s words clearly ring in his ears, because next up he calls Mack and says how he’d like to come over the next day and take her back home.  Next, we see Greg enjoying Cigar #34 while lying on his outdoor patio bed, looking at the stars and telling Carlos that Meg will be returning home tomorrow.  He also tells Carlos he’s going to sleep outside, something that sounds just lovely to me.  I think I want to live on Greg’s ranch more than any other current location we’re seeing on the series at this point.  While I think my heart will always belong to The Beach House from season four, Greg’s home is pretty boss, too, and I love the idea of having a bed outside that you can just sleep in when the weather is nice.  Another thing I appreciate about the scene is that we see Greg looking sadly at a photo of him and Laura and Meg.  It’s a lovely photo and my heart goes out to Greg, who had finally found the true love of his life and was just getting started with her and their new baby only for her to be taken from him so abruptly.  This might be a bit of an interruption from my train of thought, but I have to say that, so far, I have no problem with Laura’s character being killed off.  I think it was perhaps done a little too quickly in the opening hours of the season, but aside from that I think her death is bearing rich fruit now, great stories that can keep us going all the way until 1993.  I lamented Laura’s lack of material in season eight, how she was still part of the main cast but barely got anything to do, so I think I would honestly rather have her character be killed and lead us to great stories instead of just sorta hanging around and not getting any stories of her own, you know what I mean?

                Anyway, Greg shows up at the MacKenzie home to pick up Meg, and we get some immediate tension between him and Mack.  See, Meg is having her afternoon nap, but Greg is like, “Well, whatever, I’ll just wake her up,” and then Mack gives him a scolding about how you don’t just go around waking up a sleeping baby.  Greg says something about, “She’s my baby and I’ll do what I please.”  I like the acting from both Devane and The Dobsonator and I like how they’re both conveying their own different emotions.  Mack is obviously sad that he’ll have to give up Meg, who he has fallen in love with over the course of the last five eps or so, while Greg is looking at it more like she’s his damn kid and he’ll do what he wants; he doesn’t need Mack’s judgment.  Anyway, he does eventually take Meg home and then he gets to work building her a big epic playhouse.  The playhouse is cool enough, I suppose, although Greg tells Meg that he modeled it after Gone with the Wind and says, “You’ll be the only kid on the block with a playhouse like Scarlett O’Hara’s.”  Now would be a good time to take a radical detour and say that I kinda hate Gone with the Wind and think it’s a terrible, annoying, bloated, racist movie that sucks.  To be clear, I’ve only seen the  film once and I’ve been known to change my opinions when I rewatch things and find more to appreciate in them, but I don’t know that I’ll ever watch that movie again.  My distaste for this film also links well with My Beloved Grammy, the same Beloved Grammy I’m watching this series with, because I took her and a bunch of her friends to see Gone with the Wind in the theater a few years ago when they were screening it.  I had never seen it and had always been waiting for a theatrical screening since I’m a pretentious film douche and I think moves are meant to be seen on the big screen, especially really old epic ones like this.  Anyway, I think I started to turn on the movie almost immediately when we first got started with a scene of jolly whistling black slaves working in the plantations and I was like, “Uh oh, are we going to be spending this whole movie being asked to sympathize with a bunch of white plantation owners?”  The answer is yes, and Scarlett O’Hara has got to be one of the worst characters ever put onto film.  What an annoying, shrill, awful, disgusting human being, and why the fuck are we supposed to care about her romance with Clark Gable?  Plus the movie is four fucking hours long and has absolutely no reason to be that long, and of course it’s super racist and the character of Mammy is just…  I wonder if my age and youthful beauty had anything to do with my hatred for this movie, because all of the 70+ year old white women I took to see it loved the shit out of it and didn’t think it was racist at all, but my research later showed that, yes, anyone with a brain in 1939 would be able to see this was racist the day it came out, but since white people have never exactly been the sharpest knives in the drawer, most of them probably didn’t realize it in 1939 and maybe don’t even realize it today, since white people are so insulated and unaware of other people with different skin colors.  Anyway, that’s the end of my rant about Gone with the Wind; take my word for it and never watch this film, because you could make the much better decision to spend four hours watching KL and you could probably squeeze five eps in and have a much better experience with much more interesting characters. 

                Later, Karen pays Greg a visit while he’s working on the playhouse and basically takes a big shit in his face.  Well, maybe I’m being unfair here, but I’m not quite sure.  Meg is Greg’s daughter and I personally believe that, if given the chance, Greg could shape up and be a great father.  The man just recently lost his wife and he needs some time to grieve for her, but I’m not sure that means he’s a totally lousy father who should give his baby away, but that’s kinda what Karen says.  I do appreciate that there are subtle things within this scene to show that, perhaps, Greg is just kinda inattentive with the baby.  See, he’s running a saw to cut some wood, and he says how he knows it’s kinda loud but that Meg shouldn’t be able to hear it from her bedroom on the other side of the house.  Then Karen asks if Meg is sleeping now and Greg says, “I don’t know,” and continues working on the playhouse.  It’s a small thing, but I think it shows that, while Mack would always know throughout all 24 hours of the day what Meg is up to, Greg isn’t as interested in things like that.  Anyway, Karen gets straight to the point and says how she thinks she and Mack should raise Meg.  Greg says, “You’re a very presumptuous lady,” and I think I agree with him.  Have I turned on Karen?  I don’t think I have; I still love Karen and find her an endlessly watchable and complicated character, but she’s definitely no longer my favorite character,  the way I declared way back in season one.  She can be annoying and she definitely has moments of a superiority complex and, you know what, I think this might be such a moment.  Aren’t you even gonna give Greg the chance to be a father before you shit all over the idea?  Greg has had Meg back for two seconds when Karen shows up and says how she’d be better off with the MacKenzies. 

                Now, the episode concludes with Greg giving Meg back to Karen and Mack, but I wonder if he would have even ever thought to do this if Karen hadn’t shown up and planted the idea in his head.  Right after Karen leaves, Barbara brings Meg down to see the playhouse and Greg is trying to get her all excited about this wonderful tribute to a boring and racist movie that he has built for Meg, but Meg seems to want nothing to do with it, crying instead of going into the playhouse to explore.  We’ve seen a scene like this before, back in TheGift of Life when Laura was driving away to go die and, just as soon as she handed Meg to Greg, Meg started to cry.  We see that again here and I think Greg notices it big time, because next up, he’s standing in Karen and Mack’s living room and giving a speech about how giving Meg to them will be the right thing.  It’s really a tremendous speech and some of Devane’s best acting, particularly how he says, “I’m nowhere near as bad as you all think, but I guess Laura was the only one who knew that.”  He says how Meg will be happier and safer growing up with the MacKenzies and then the really sad line comes when he says, “I’ll do this for Laura and for Meg; somewhere along the line, you might wanna tell her what a wonderful mother she had.  You won’t need to mention me.”  Then we cut to the final scene of the ep, which is him torching Meg’s playhouse.  This has always stuck with me as one of the most memorable episode endings; ever since I first saw the series, the image of Greg staring at the flames with his face in the background and the flames dancing in the foreground has always stayed in my brain.  It’s a very sad ending that could possibly make me cry, but I think I just wasn’t in the crying mood either time I watched this.  I felt moved, but no tears spilled.

                I really loved this ep, but are there any flaws?  The only possible flaw I can think of is that perhaps things move a little bit quickly in this ep.  Meg has been staying with Karen and Mack for a good long stretch of eps, but then we have Greg taking her back, spending a bit of time with her, and then returning her to Karen and Mack, all within the same ep.  I think we could have possibly stretched this out a little longer, maybe had a few eps of Greg trying to be a father and not being very good at it, but it’s all packed tightly inside of this one single ep.  However, it’s very well written and I think Devane shows a tremendous improvement from his last effort.  I’m always very interested in the blending of the actors and the characters, how the cast was allowed to have so much involvement in their stories and the way their characters would behave.  In this case, much like the brilliant eight scripts that The Plesh delivered to us throughout the first four years, Devane is being given the opportunity to write his own script to really explore his own character, a character he’s been playing for nearly five years now.  I feel other shows would just prefer to move their characters around like chess pieces and wouldn’t particularly care about how the actors feel, but on KL, the actors get to have some say in what their characters do, which I appreciate.

                This was the best ep on the disk and one of my faves of season nine so far.  Great script by Devane, some solid directing from veteran Nicholas Sgarro, and just a lot of interesting character moments.  Next up, we’ll start a new disk of excitement and joy with A Fair Race.