Thursday, July 9, 2020

KNOTS LANDING Episode 206 of 344: IF NOT NOW, WHEN?


Episode Title: If Not Now, When? 

Season 09, Episode 16

Episode 206 of 344

Written by Lynn Marie Latham

Directed by Kate Tilley

Original Airdate: Thursday, January 28th, 1988

The Plot (Courtesy of TV.Com): Judith and Charles don't want to divorce until a merger goes through, so Abby enlists Greg's help to mess it up. Judith secretly tapes Abby, and tells Charles that Abby used inside information. Charles says he doesn't care - he loves Abby. Michael fends off Jody's advances and tells her he doesn't love her. She's very upset. The MacKenzies have the Williams over for dinner, and Frank acts strange. Mack is sure Frank is a cop. It's too late for Gary to appeal for paternal rights to the twins, so Jill draws up an official sounding letter for Val to sign, naming Gary as the twins' father. Val's upset and decides to get her own attorney. When Gary comes to visit, Val goes off, screaming that he is not the twins' dad, and to never come back.

                Welcome to If Not Now, When?, and I wish to begin with a quick confession, which is that I do not have notes for this episode and so I am, once again, winging it, as I did with a couple of eps back in season eight (I think the really bad one where J.B. fell off the cliff?).  I actually kinda liked those essays because I thought they sounded a little less stuffy or something, so maybe it’s not a terrible idea to try it every once in awhile.  It also kinda helps demonstrate how much of an impression a certain ep may have given me; if I can’t really remember all the details without my notes, perhaps the ep wasn’t all that great.  For instance, sitting here right now, with no notes before me, if you asked me to tell you why, say, season six’s We Gather Together is a brilliant ep, I could immediately rattle off five thousand things off the top of my head that I remember about that ep, but if you picked some random season eight bottom dweller, I might not be able to remember much about it.  With that said, let’s get started talking about the ep and let’s start by discussing, oh I dunno, how about Abs and Basil Exposition.

                I pick Abs and Basil Exposition both because it is boring and my least favorite storyline going on and I’d rather just get it out of the way upfront, but also because I think some stuff actually does happen in this ep as far as that story is concerned.  As we get started with the ep, the first scene we see is Abs in bed and Basil talking to her about how they’re gonna get married soon.  Oh yeah, did I mention that at all in the last ep?  Probably not, since I’m just glazing right over this storyline and barely paying any attention to it, but yeah, they are now engaged, which only makes it odder that Basil’s cunty wife, The Ice Queen, is still hanging around.  In this ep, Judith (that’s The Ice Queen) tells Basil that she’s been tape-recording conversations with Abs and other people, all very Richard Nixon.  These tape recorded conversations all involve boring business deals and mergers that I don’t care about.  If I wanted to hear about boring business deals and mergers all day long, I would be watching Dallas, thank you very much, and I don’t know what all this boring rich-people nonsense is doing over here on KL.  Anyway, later Abs and Basil are hanging out and talking on the bed (I think it’s Abby’s bed), and she says how she can’t wait for Basil to divorce The Ice Queen and kick her to the curb, but then he starts to act like a big pussy and talk about how he can’t divorce The Ice Queen quite yet because they’re about to acquire E.M.G. (Eastern Mining Group), which sounds a lot like a company My Beloved Grammy used to work for (E.G.& G.), which we both noted with amusement.  I confess that we both kinda just talk over the scenes between Basil and Abs because we don’t care; My Beloved Grammy doesn’t like this storyline and neither do I.  We are both just waiting for it to end.

                Anyway, later we get a scene between all three: Basil, Abs, and The Ice Queen.  See, a bit before this scene, The Ice Queen said how she thinks Abs is using the information Basil is giving her to commit insider training (which is true, as confirmed by a quick and cute scene between her and Greg Sumner).  In the climactic scene, The Ice Queen produces a tape and is like, “This tape shows that Abby’s doing really evil stuff or, you know, something,” and then Basil asks if that’s the only tape and, when The Ice Queen confirms it is, he takes the tape and hands it over to Abs.  I guess this means he’s showing his official loyalty belongs to Abs, or maybe it’s all part of some other conspiracy, or maybe I don’t care enough to keep talking about it, so let’s move on to something interesting.



                Remember a few eps back when Sexy Michael heroically saved Kristy Swanson from drowning?  Well, by this point he’s probably wishing he had just let her drown, because she’s become terribly annoying and won’t shut up about how she wants Sexy Michael to sleep with her and how she, God help us all, thinks she and Sexy Michael are ready to have a baby.  Look, I don’t judge the poor girl for wanting to have sex with Sexy Michael; I spend every waking hour wishing I could have sex with Sexy Michael myself, but I do judge her for being annoying and clingy and especially for that ridiculous nonsense about having a baby.  What are you, twelve years old?  What the fuck are you doing talking about having a baby?  Why can’t you just have sex without making a baby, like a normal person?  No wonder Sexy Michael doesn’t want to come anywhere near Jody; nothing kills a man’s erection faster than the idea of some disgusting screaming infant, especially when you are nineteen or however old Sexy Michael is supposed to be (I think he’s nineteen).  Jody also shows herself to be utterly pathetic and devoid of any self-confidence when she declares, “I love you, and I know that you don’t like to say that you love me, but you don’t have to.”  Ugh, the man doesn’t say he loves you because he does not love you.  I feel like I might be sounding misogynistic right now, so let me remind everyone that I am a good little liberal feminist and I’ve always voted for Democrats and I’m one of the good guys, and I think a lot of my rage and annoyance towards Jody has less to do with her clinginess and more to do with the fact that I wish Sexy Michael was fucking me and I’m jealous that he’s spending any time with Jody.  The fact that I continue to find myself jealous of fictional characters in an old ‘80s nighttime soap that went off the air 27 years ago probably speaks a lot more to my own mental issues than to anything going on in the show.



                Let me take a moment to tell everyone that I still love Sexy Michael.  I got a little annoyed with him for acting like a whiny little bitch throughout season eight (“Oh, boo hoo, Paige doesn’t want to sleep with me anymore"), but I still love him.  I love him not just because he’s so very unbelievably beautiful (although I confess his season nine hair, that kinda mullet look, is not doing it for me and I’d prefer he went back to the hair he had in seasons five and six), but also because he’s unbelievably sweet.  Even if I might make fun of him for putting up with Jody instead of just getting rid of her, part of my love for Sexy Michael is that he’s a nice person and tries to treat other people well, which is why he’d make such a fabulous gay boyfriend.  Oh yeah, and that brings me to a nice little detour I’ve been meaning to take, which is that I believe this would have been the perfect time for the writers to turn Sexy Michael gay.  Rather than waste everybody’s time with stories about Sexy Michael and Kristy Swanson, why not have him finally discover his true calling and become the beautiful homosexual God intended him to be?  Not only would it provide us with the opportunity for lots of locker-room hookup scenes between Sexy Michael and any number of beautiful boys, but it could also help to explore complexities within the character of Karen, who I feel has become a bit boring by this point in the saga.  I think that Karen likes to bill herself as a good little liberal and I think she would proudly brag to everyone about how it would be no problem if her sons were gay, but I think that, if Sexy Michael really turned out to be gay, Karen wouldn’t be so cool with it.  This would have been a good chance to explore liberal hypocrisy (and I’m a big old liberal but I know that we can be major hypocrites on some issues, just like I know we can be annoyingly smug and douchy) and also just, you know, deeper complexities within the characters.  Unfortunately, this never happens, and Sexy Michael sticks to the boring, square heterosexual life for the rest of his time on the series.  Oh ho hum.



                Let’s see, what else is going on in this ep, ah, Gary and Val!  As I said before, Gary and Val’s material at this point in the saga is my absolute favorite stuff going on within the series right now, and whenever we return to this story, I am riveted.  Things get started this ep when Gary pays a visit to Val, asking her to sign a paper he is planning to send her, a paper that acknowledges one Garrison Arthur Ewing as the true father of twins Bobby Ewing and Betsy Ewing.  He gives Val a really lovely speech about how he loves the kids and he has bad dreams at night about losing them somehow, and how he “just wants to know that I’m connected to them officially.”  He tells Val her permission has been on again/off again and that he’s worried Ben might come back and suddenly Gary won’t be the father anymore.  He says he’s looking for assurance, not custody, just some rights as a father.  To the surprise of Gary, Val flat rejects him saying, “No, I can’t sign a piece of paper like that; I just can’t.”  I love both characters and I understand both, so I can see where Val is coming from.  After a life of abandonment, Val is worried that, by signing this paper, Gary could conceivably show up and take the kids away from her.  She’s lost Gary twice before, way back in the ‘60s and then again in 1982, and she just lost Ben, and she just lost Lilimae (kinda) when Lilimae went running off with Red Buttons.  At this point, all Val has is her twins, so I’m sure the idea of losing them, especially after the brilliant drama of season six and the babies being taken away from her and all that, I’m sure that idea horrifies her. 

                Later, when Mack and Frank Williams (more on him in a minute) are meeting for the first time out on the cul-de-sac, they are making nice and exchanging some pleasantries about Frank’s busted couch, when suddenly Gary and Val come bursting out of Val’s house screaming at each other.  Val is all like, “You get out of here and don’t ever come back,” and Gary is like, “Those children are mine!” and then Val is like, “You are not their father; Ben is their father!” and then she physically attacks him and Mack has to hold her back while she calls Gary a son of a bitch.  I gotta say, this kinda shocked me, which is funny because we’ve heard both “bitch” and “son of a bitch” before on the series, but there was something about hearing Val say it towards Gary that was just like a major whoa, man moment.  It also caused my brain to take a radical detour and reflect on how people don’t really say “son of a bitch” anymore.  I never quite fully understood that as an insult, because are you insulting the man or are you insulting his mother?  If you’re insulting his mother, it’s doubly super offensive, right?  If you wanna get painfully literal, I’m not sure it really makes sense for Val to call him that, since I’m sure she doesn’t think Miss Ellie is a bitch, despite all their past drama.  The Texas Ewings are hardly Valene’s favorite people, but of that merry band, I’d say Miss Ellie is the one who’s nicest to Val.  She even bought the damn house for Gary and Val way back in 1979 and gifted them their own television show and she told Val how she didn’t stand up for her enough back in the ‘60s.  In any case, I’m sure Val is just angry and screaming whatever profanity comes into her head at that moment.  For the record, my go-to profanity when something bad happens or I stub my toe or whatever is, “God damn it, anyway.”  That’s what always pops out when I’m really pissed off, and it just comes out real fast before I even think about it.  Also, while on the subject of curse words, my favorite curse word is “bastard,” which I think remains the perfect way to describe someone who is just really evil.  To say that someone, “Is a real bastard,” to me means that person is truly vile.  Anyway, after the “son of a bitch” (which Val actually says twice), Gary goes speeding off and the music gets dramatic and that’s about all for the Gary/Val footage this week, but it’s obviously leading us into something new and exciting and I’m eager to get to it.



                Let’s move on over to the new folks on the block, the Williams family.  After a few eps with just Patricia and Julie, this ep we finally meet the father, Frank, played by the wonderful Larry Riley.  While at first glance this guy might seem a little scary and intimidating, I’ll just let the cat out of the bag now and say he’s not; he’s a wonderful character and a wonderful person and I just loved him for the entire time he was on the show, or at least I remember just loving him when I first watched the series.  Larry Riley is the member of the Williams family who will chalk up the most eps, even being promoted to main cast member status for seasons twelve and thirteen, and IMDb (often faulty, I know) tells me he will be in 99 eps.  Very sadly, Larry Riley died of AIDS in 1992, inbetween seasons thirteen and fourteen of the series.  He was only 39 years old which just tears at my heart, because I love him on the show and I think he’s a great actor and I also like the music he contributes to the series a little later down the road.  Also, some interesting random trivia: I just finished watching Hill Street Blues and the entire Williams family appears on that show at one point or another, so if fans wanna see more of them, there you go.  Also, that was just a really good show so everyone should watch it.



                But I’m getting way ahead of myself here.  At this moment, we the viewers in 1988 still don’t really know what’s going on with this family.  When Frank is first introduced, he is wide eyed and consistently looks like he’s going to piss his pants in fright.  Also, he gets very mad at the movers when they tell him how his couch is going to be delayed a few days, and then a little later, when the couch actually arrives on time, Frank flips it over and goes to town on it with a knife.  He slices the bottom up to shreds, desperately looking for some sort of bug or other recording device in the couch.  It’s this bit of couch dissection that leads us to his first interaction with Mack, who observes the gutted couch lying outside on the street.  Frank says how the movers were careless, and Mack is like, “Looks like they went at with a knife.”  Later, the Williams go a nice dinner at the MacKenzie house and Frank tells them that he sells chemicals like chlorine or whatever to, you know, companies.  Then he asks if the neighborhood is pretty safe and Karen delivers the ultimate lie of the 20th century with, “Well, we have to lock our doors, but it’s pretty quiet.”  She fails to mention that in the last eight seasons, we’ve had a violent biker invasion, her first husband was killed by mobsters, a crazy sociopath moved onto the block and then killed a popular young singer, who then came back from the dead as a different character who, coincidentally, also became a popular young singer; that a young son of a preacher man moved into the neighborhood and quickly went insane and tried to kill that second iteration of the popular young singer, and that Val’s husband recently disappeared to South America after becoming part of a terrible espionage plot that the very worst of the daytime soaps would never even touch, and that’s just a few of the things that Karen neglects to mention towards the new family.  I’m not so sure that “pretty quiet” describes Seaview Circle at all. 

                I think that’s about all I’ve got to say about this ep.  Did I like it?  Yes, I did, quite a bit, with the main exception being (of course) the one going on between Abs and Basil, which is pure Nyquil mixed with Enya music.  Aside from that (and the Jody-related material that I’m fairly indifferent to), I liked all the stuff going on in this ep.  I love the Williams family, so I’m excited to see them all here and to meet Frank for the first time, and I love all the stuff with Gary and Val, who, in my eyes, remain the heart and soul of the series.  So yeah, good ep, if not exactly a stunning and brilliant 48 minutes of television.  Let’s move right along to In Too Deep.


Thursday, June 25, 2020

KNOTS LANDING Episode 205 of 344: ANOTHER MODEST PROPOSAL


Episode Title: Another Modest Proposal

Season 09, Episode 15

Episode 205 of 344

Written by Robert Porter

Directed by Lorraine Senna

Original Airdate: Thursday, January 21st, 1988

The Plot (Courtesy of TV.Com): The MacKenzie's miss Meg when Greg takes her home. Later, Greg asks them to watch her again. Johnny cons his way into staying at Lotus Point, and spies on another guest. He steals money from this man, then tells him, and gives it back. The man says he'll get Johnny a job. Charles brings Abby to meet his friends, and Judith shows up. She is very snide to Abby, so Charles tells Judith he has asked Abby to marry him. Val and the twins decorate the house for Gary's birthday, but Jill has planned a surprise party for him, so Gary doesn't get to Val's until the twins are asleep. Val's furious, and yells that he has no sense of responsibility. Their argument wakes the twins, and they call Gary "Daddy." Jill's upset that Gary didn't come home with her. Gary tries to make up with her, but she tells him he has to make a choice. Later, she apologizes and says that he doesn't have to abide by Val's terms. She reminds him she is a lawyer, and says she will help him.

                Welcome to Another Modest Proposal, and as I sit here, looking at my notes, I see that the very first thing I jotted down, right after the ep title and airdate, was “Sexy Michael with shirt unbuttoned at breakfast table.”  Yes, this is easily the most important development of the ep, so let’s discuss it in great detail.  It’s even better than it sounds in my notes, because it’s not just that he has the shirt unbuttoned; it’s that he has it fully unbuttoned, like Mark Patton in Nightmare on Elm Street 2, and omigod I love it.  This is a great way to start this ep.  Aside from that, I don’t have to much to say about him right now.  I should note that I’ve been kinda ignoring the story of him and his new girlfriend, the super clingy and needy Kristy Swanson, but I’ll discuss it a little later, as it becomes a more important part of the plot a few eps down the line.



                The majority of this ep concerns itself with Gary and Val (yay!), but we also get a smidge of stuff with the MacKenzie family.  See, the main story for them right now is the whole Meg thing.  Last ep, Greg took Meg back, so we begin this ep with the family in the kitchen (Sexy Michael with shirt unbuttoned) and Mack talking about how much he misses Meg.  It should be obvious to anyone with eyes, or even people without eyes, that Mack has fallen hopelessly in love with this little girl.  It’s not hard for me to sympathize with Mack, who would now be 45 years old.  He’s getting closer and closer to 50, he never even knew he had a daughter until she was a fully grown, super sexy Nicolette Sheridan, and so he’s never had the chance to create a human being and watch it grow before his very eyes.  Of course he would be starting to feel a special kind of love for Meg, who the family has been watching for quite awhile.  I also like the sweet way that Mack’s feelings are presented; for instance, early in the ep, he’s visiting Sumner at his ranch and noting the new paintings and general look of this very white-walled and sterile living space (a quick note: I really like all white walls and sterile houses; I’m also a big fan of Miles Dyson’s house in Terminator 2).  I did notice that when Greg asks him what he thinks of the space and the general feng shui, Mack nods and says, “It’s interesting, it’s different,” which usually is a nice way of telling someone you don’t like their place without actually saying so.  Then Mack whips out Meg’s little baby bib and is like, “Look what I found around the house, her little bib.”  It’s that last part, her little bib, that I find so cute, just the way Mack delivers the line, like he’s already nostalgic for the days of having Meg in the house even though that was only something like a week ago.



                However, a little later, during one of those classically KL bedroom scenes of a couple preparing for slumber together, Karen and Mack are talking about Greg and Meg and the whole thing, and Mack tries to make pretend like he doesn’t want Meg coming back again.  When Karen says how they’ll probably be seeing a lot of Meg because of Greg being a single parent, Mack is like, “No, not in this house, I’ve reached my limit.”  I don’t think he’s fooling Karen and I don’t think he’s fooling the viewing audience; he’s only trying to fool himself.  What he really can’t handle is the idea of having Meg for awhile and then having to say goodbye again when Greg returns to get her, so he’s trying to pretend like he was just being a good sport with the baby this whole time and that he’s actually relieved she’s gone now.  If anyone had any doubt that Mack is fudging the truth, we need look no further than the final scene and the freeze frame ending of this ep, in which Greg shows up again asking for the family to take care of Meg.  Rather than reject the request the way he claimed he would to Karen mere hours ago, Mack takes the baby and starts kissing her cheek and is like, “We’d just love to have her.”  Everyone in the room can feel the sheer love pouring through Mack’s soul as he holds this little baby girl.

                Meanwhile, new arrival Johnny Rourke gets some alright material this week, including the introduction of one Leland Palmer.  Yes, ladies and gentlemen, it’s Ray Wise himself, roughly two years before the mystery of “Who Killed Laura Palmer?” would sweep the pop culture.  I’d like to note that in addition to being Leland Palmer, Mr. Wise is also a Transmorpher who had already popped up on Dallas several years beforehand.  Over there, he appeared in eight eps, all in 1982, as Blair Sullivan, who was Lucy’s modeling agent.  Ray Wise is easily one of my favorite actors, and he’s one of those actors who has appeared in five thousand different things and it’s often just teeny tiny parts, but when you give him a big juicy role like on Twin Peaks, he really shows off his chops.  For those who are not Peaks fans, you may have seen this actor in Robocop, as one of the bad guys who brutally annihilates Frank Murphy at the start of the film.  He also showed up a few times on Mad Men and he just overall keeps busy.  Here, he is playing “The Dealer,” and I don’t believe we ever get a name, but he’ll be around until Bouncing Babies.  I would say that “The Dealer” is a drug dealer and we first see him when Johnny Rourke camps out outside of his little motel room and takes photos and shit.  Later, Johnny sits down with Leland Palmer at Lotus Point and exchanges random vaguely threatening dialogue and, you know, stuff happens.  I’ll return to Johnny Rourke and Leland Palmer a little down the line, when they have more scenes of consequence.



                Oh blah, Basil Exposition is still on the show (and will be until Lawfully Wedded), so he and Abs share some more generally uninteresting material this week.  Is it bothering any of you that I’m barely even attempting to write about this storyline?  I know I’m getting lazy, because if this was happening n the first batch of seasons, I’m sure I would go into great, big, agonizing detail about why I don’t like the story and why I think we need to move on.  Well, now we are past the 200 ep mark and I’ve written about all the eps before this one, and I’m tired.  At this point, if I don’t like a storyline such as this one, I’m more in the mood to just say it sucks and glaze over it.  Honestly, I’m not even entirely sure what this storyline is about.  It’s something involving big business and, well, murders and executions mostly (mergers and acquisitions), the sort of generally uninteresting business affairs that would usually occupy the Dallas plots.  In this case, I think Basil is trying to screw Abs (metaphorically) in some way and I think he’s in cahoots with The Ice Queen to do so, but again, I’m not really paying much attention.  We have Abs until the concluding hours of season ten, and with time ticking away rapidly on this character, I hate to see her bogged down in such a drivel storyline.  The interesting thing is that I don’t remember disliking this storyline much at all upon first viewing.  I again think this boils down to me watching so many eps in a single day; I would just power through so fast that if I didn’t like a story, I barely had time to notice it before it moved on.  Now, looking at each ep individually and in great detail, a storyline like this becomes far more noticeably boring.  Also, I remind you that my problems never lie with Donna and her fabulous acting; the main problem is that the story is dull and they picked a horrible person to pair her with, a person who looks like he’d really be on absolutely any other set for absolutely any other movie or TV show than the one he is currently on.  If I was running things, I would have fired Basil after one ep of him not even trying to give a performance.  If you think you’re so much better than the show just because you’re snooty and British and were in a famous Shakespeare movie, then I say take a hike and go make another Shakespeare movie.  Shakespeare is great, but we all know he’s lying in his grave bemoaning the fact that, in his entire career, he never managed to create anything quite as sublime as KL.


                So that does it for Abby’s boring storyline, but fortunately the material for Gary and Val is sizzling this week.  One of my favorite things about this season so far, in addition to an overall feeling that the show is returning to its roots and to what it is always meant to be about, is that we are getting such a heavy focus on Gary and Val.  I wonder if Ben had left in the closing hours of season seven, as originally planned, if this storyline would have come to us in season eight and saved us from the debacle of Hackney.  In any case, perhaps the pain of sitting through Hackney has only elevated my joy at getting such great Gary/Val stuff this year.  The main plot for them this ep is that Gary is having a birthday party, and yes, I have something to say about that, something I brought up eons ago and which is now finally paying off.  You all remember our backdoor pilot to KL, the Brief Dallas Interlude entitled Return Engagements?  Well, in that ep, we began with Miss Ellie being sad and mopey (so what else is new?) because it’s Gary’s birthday and she wants to see him.  Well, that ep aired December 20th of 1979 and, in my essay for it, I wrote this:

                “Let’s take a quick parlay here, shall we?  This episode aired on December 20th, right?  Now, presumably it takes place on or around that day.  Obviously the episode spans a couple of days in total (I think just two or three), but for the sake of argument, let’s just say December 20th.  I am very curious to keep my eyes open and see if Gary’s late-December-annoyingly-close-to-Christmas-birthday is ever mentioned again, or perhaps even contradicted on the KL series.  In fact, I’m thinking really hard now and I can’t even remember if Gary ever celebrates a birthday on KL.  Still, as we follow along, I shall pay strict attention to see if his birthday is ever mentioned again, and if it remains consistent with what is established in this episode, okay?”

                Well, here we are, and Gary is celebrating a birthday now, but the timeline doesn’t quite add up.  That was December 20th and this ep is airing January 21st.  Hmmm, should I just go with it because the birthdays are at least fairly close together?  Could I perhaps hypothesize that Gary is celebrating his birthday a little late now?  Or should I retroactively go back to that Dallas ep and declare that it was, in fact, not taking place on December 20th?  I don’t think I’m gonna do that, so I’m afraid I have to call this out as a flaw.  We already passed the Christmas ep this season, so we know it’s officially a new year and December came and went without a Gary birthday, which is now happening in January.  It might also be worth asking how old Gary is supposed to be by this point.  In real life, the man was born in 1946, which would make him 42 years old at this point, although I think the character is perhaps supposed to be older.  They say he was 17 years old when Lucy was born, somewhere around 1962, so actually I suppose his birthday does make sense and he’s probably playing a 42 year old character.  Probably nobody else besides me cares as much about this stuff, but it’s the little details I look for in a show, and one of my big peeves is when writers can’t even keep birthdays straight.  As you’re doing your first ep, you should write the characters down, give them official birthdays that always stay the same, hang that information on a wall in the writers room, and ensure that you will always stay accurate to what’s already been established.



                However, the age of Gary isn’t the focus of this ep, but rather his relationship to Val and the twins.  See, the twins are all excited to prepare a birthday party for Gary, only he doesn’t show up until way later.  I had forgotten the exact circumstances leading to his tardiness, but I did a quick review over the ep and now I remember what happens.  Basically, he’s wanting to head out the Lotus Point doors to get to Val’s house for the party, but it turns out there’s this big epic surprise party for him being thrown at Lotus Point, and he gets sucked into it.  We see him trying to get away, telling J.B. how he really has somewhere to go, but it’s futile and he winds up being late to Val’s house, leading to a fabulous confrontation between the two.  You could play a drinking game for every time I go on about how “both characters have valid points of view,” so take a shot now, cuz I’m gonna say it again.  Gary did try to shuffle out of Lotus Point and he did give Val a call to tell her he’d be late, but I still understand why Val’s mad.  How do you just forget your husband running off on you with another woman?  You probably can’t, not really, and so even though that was six years ago, I think the memories are still painful for Val, and she’s worried about putting trust in Gary again only to have it betrayed.  In this case, she is trusting him to show up on time for a birthday the twins are throwing themselves, and then he tells her he’ll be a little late and actually shows up tremendously late.  After the twins have been put to bed, we have the confrontation, and it’s a doozy.  If I had more energy, I would transcribe the whole thing down, because Gary gets a tremendous speech detailing all the past history.  I noticed this speech and appreciated it because I think it does a great job of keeping viewers, especially potential new viewers, up to speed on what’s been going on for the last few years.  This is the ninth season, so a lot has gone down, and while a speech like the one Gary gives, going over how he and Val split up, slept together one last time, how she got pregnant and didn’t tell him about the truth, all of that is brought up in his speech, but it’s done elegantly, never feeling like the writers being like, “We need a quick exposition dump.”  Gary makes a valid point when he says he never got the chance to be their father because Val didn’t tell him the truth way back in 1983.  One of the main takeaways of this scene is that Val still views the true father of the twins as a deep dark secret nobody can ever know about.  When Gary brings it up, she covers his mouth with her hand and tells him never to say that again.  Then Gary says how he knows for sure that they are his kids and he goes marching off, leading us smoothly into what’s about to go down in our next batch of eps.

                Meanwhile, lurking in the background quietly and growing and growing in my esteem is one J.B.  One of my favorite little scenes in this ep involves J.B. coming home, only to nearly slip on a little toy truck that certain twins left on the floor.  She kicks the truck in frustration, which I loved, and that only prompts the toy to land on the ground and start taking off driving, to which J.B. says, “Great, so now the place is haunted.”  This is, like, a twelve second scene, but what a great way to show J.B.’s growing frustrations, because not only is it kinda funny, but also good foreshadowing.  Anyone who has seen season nine vividly remembers where things are heading for the season finale, and it’s all percolating right here before our very eyes, but in small, subtle ways.  Later, when Gary returns, J.B. says how, “We are all leading the same life, one great big Gary Val Jill Bennett Ewing life and I am sick of it,” to which Gary says dejectedly, “I don’t blame you.”  Later, J.B. fucks Gary in the car, which seems to be like a method to make sure he stays in her life.  She’s getting worried about his increasing interactions with Val, his one true soul mate, and while Val is sweet and great and wonderful, I imagine she isn’t too kinky or wild in the sack, so J.B. is going to be the wild woman that Val can never be.  I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Seasons nine and ten are where it’s at as far as the J.B. character is concerned.  These are the seasons she truly comes alive, much as I may have enjoyed her in the past.  When any KL fan thinks of J.B., I’m sure they head straight to these two seasons.  Everything that’s happened and everything that’s going to happen is unfolding in that fabulous slow burn KL way, and it’s going to pay off big time as we finish this season and begin the next.


                Aside from the boring and stupid Abs/Basil storyline, I really liked this ep.  I possibly liked it the best of the five eps housed on this disk.  I think the stuff with Mack and Meg is building nice and slow and I’m liking everything I’m seeing there, but it’s really the Gary/Val stuff that makes this ep come alive.  Both actors are doing great work and they play off of eachother so well now that they’ve been working together for so very long.  We also got Leland Palmer and that’s pretty exciting and so, yeah, I liked it a lot and thought this was a real good ep.  Let’s move right along to a new disk, beginning with If Not Now, When? 

Thursday, June 11, 2020

KNOTS LANDING Episode 204 of 344: TIES THAT BIND


Episode Title: Ties That Bind 



Season 09, Episode 14



Episode 204 of 344



Written by Lou Messina



Directed by Joe Coppoletta  



Original Airdate: Thursday, January 14th, 1988



The Plot (Courtesy of TV.Com): Johnny wants to blackmail Paige for helping her with her fake death, but she tells him everyone already knows. Mack invites Johnny to stay with them, much to Paige's chagrin. While Karen is out of town, Meg gets really sick. Pat comes to the rescue and tells the hospital what's wrong in medical terminology. Mack asks if she's a nurse, but she says no, the same thing happened to Julie. Paige tells Greg about what happened, and he and Mack stay with Meg at the hospital. Greg sings to her. Karen rushes back, and Greg and the MacKenzies realize what a bond Mack and Karen have to Meg. Meg is okay. Judith comes to town, and Abby is upset that Charles jumps at her every command. Judith tells Abby he will never leave her, and Charles packs to go home with Judith. Abby is really angry. At the last minute, Charles decides not to go home, and asks Abby to marry him.


Welcome back and welcome to 1988; what was going on when last we talked about our beloved friends on the cul-de-sac?  Well, the mysterious bearded “Irishman” Johnny Rourke showed up, so let’s get started by talking about him.  Oh wait, actually, before we start talking about him, let’s talk about the title.  We have already had, I believe, one recycled title on the series (there were two eps called, A Change of Heart, one in season five, another in season seven; the season five one was better), and this one comes close.  There was an ep back in season four called Cutting the Ties that Bind, and so I guess someone decided that was a good title that could use a little trim, and now here we are with just Ties That Bind.  Anyway, moving on.




 This ep, Johnny meets up with Paige and we get some random mysterious dialogue exchanged between the two of them, although one line I jotted in my notes comes from Paige directed at Johnny and it’s, “You still can’t keep your accent straight.”  I don’t remember if we find out that Johnny is an imposter Irishman or not, but I have the feeling that we do, or else why would this line be here?  I guess perhaps it could be here to make up for the fact that this actor is not really Irish, and the writers were worried his accent might slip?  Also, Johnny tells Paige, “I know all your dirty little secrets,” which is….interesting.  Are the writers still trying to keep Paige as this character constantly draped in mystery?  Must we do this?  When are they just gonna let her be Paige, the Paige I know and love?  A big part of the problem with season eight was all the Paige stuff, because we had to spend so much time deciding whether she was really Mack’s daughter, whether she was really alive or dead, whether she was the real Paige Matheson or an imposter, and then of course we had the Mack/Sumner baby daddy drama at the start of this season.  I’m ready for the writers to drop the mystery act around Paige and just let her live and breathe as Paige.



Speaking of Paige, I also jotted in my notes, “We’re getting a lot more of Paige + Sumner one-on-one,” and we are.  I already let the cat out of the bag and said these two start shagging at some point in the future, though for the life of me, I can’t remember when.  Does the shagging commence this season?  The next season?  The season after?  I honestly can’t remember, and since both Paige and Sumner will be with us until the curtain call in 1993, I have a hard time remembering when their time together begins or ends or what have you.  Ironically, I put that little bit in my notes, yet I can’t even remember the two of them sharing a scene in this ep, although perhaps they did and I just wasn’t paying enough attention.  See, the majority of Sumner’s action in this ep occurs by being absent.  See, Meg gets sick at some point (with….some….disease?) and so she has to be rushed to the hospital (a development which involves Pat Williams, but we’ll get to her) and during the whole drama, it becomes achingly clear that Mack has very special feelings for Meg, feelings of parental love towards the small little product of the recently departed Laura’s loins.  Yup, looks like Mack is turning into the father for Meg while Sumner stays out of the picture on his pretend vacation.  However, Greg does show up at the hospital at a certain point and stay with Meg, even singing to her at one point (Anything Goes, which always makes me think of Debra Winger singing it in Terms of Endearment and Kate Capshaw singing it in the opening of Temple of Doom), but the general point is to show that Karen and Mack are sorta turning into the unofficial parents of Meg.  How much longer can this go on?  I feel like I’m kinda brushing over this story, and part of that is the fact that I’m writing this at the library on a computer with time limit, and another part of it is that I have so many damn eps to write about, so I wanna make it clear that I really like this storyline.  I believe I predicted at some point that season nine would be Greg Sumner’s most interesting season, and I feel like that was an accurate prediction.  Watching the way he tries to move on from the loss of Laura and how he behaves towards Meg is just fascinating stuff.



I mentioned how the Meg hospital drama coincides with the Williams family, so let’s discuss that.  First off, I want to say that I just love the certain sense of paranoia that’s in the air as we first meet these characters.  See, right near the start, Johnny Rourke is hanging around the cul-de-sac, looking bearded and slightly creepy, playing his stupid little guitar (I forgot to mention how Johnny later graces us with his musical talents, which can’t even hold a sad little Bic lighter to Ciji’s or Cathy’s brilliant work), and little Julie is out in the front yard.  Patricia comes out and tells her to get inside and then sorta whispers, “Because there’s someone here,” and then as they go inside, the camera just sorta stays on Johnny and, I dunno, but I just liked it.  I like the idea that the cul-de-sac is supposed to be a safe space, but it’s really not, and I like the kinda creepy aura of this stranger waiting on the street along with the new neighbors who have just arrived and seem to have secrets of their own.



Meg suffers a temperature or whatever for a good chunk of the ep, and then Mack is on the phone with her doctor when Pat and Julie come walking in.  Pat kicks into action immediately, getting all serious and saying, “She’s convulsing,” and then taking the phone from Mack and delivering some lines straight out, well, if not ER, then perhaps General Hospital.  See, Pat goes all doctor and is like, “Call E.R. STAT, we’ll be transporting a ten to twelve month old female who’s undergone generalized seizures through all extremities, also experiencing high fever.”  I guess maybe I shouldn’t make fun of the dialogue, but it’s just that “STAT” part that makes me laugh, like the writers were sitting around like, “We gotta kinda subtly show that this character used to be a doctor or nurse, how about we have her say ‘STAT’, all official like?”  Also, I’m pretty sure that later in the ep, when Mack and Julie are talking in the hospital, we hear someone over the intercom say “STAT” like seventeen times, which further amuses me.  Anyway, after that, we get an intense scene of baby transportation as they all take off in Mack’s Jeep, bound for the hospital.  After Meg is all taken care of, Mack says something to Pat about, “It sounds like you were a nurse,” or something like that, and Pat deflects and says that Julie had the same problem.  As I’ve said, I’m a big fan of the entire Williams family, and this ep gives them some good material, but I’ll save a lot of my thoughts for a little later, when we meet the glory that is Frank, a character we should be meeting, oh, STAT!



We’ve been getting some great Gary/Val stuff this year, but my notes don’t make any mention of them, nor does the TV.com summary, so I think they take a bit of a backseat this ep.  However, to the joy of absolutely nobody in the viewing audience in 1988 or in the present day, we do get a shit ton of Abs and Basil Exposition, plus we also get Basil’s cunty wife, The Ice Queen.  I looked the actress up on IMDb and her name is Eileen Barnett and she’s in, well, stuff.  She looks like one of those actresses who’s in one ep of every TV show ever, plus it also says she was in Days of Our Lives.



Anyway, I’m not a big fan of this character nor am I a big fan of this storyline.  Mostly what happens in this ep is that Abs goes out to dinner with Basil (and I did really like how an early scene of her getting ready in front of the mirror was shot) and then The Ice Queen shows up to ruin it.  Then she has a random bitchy encounter with Abs in the bathroom and they exchange bitchy dialogue.  Actually, before that, Basil does a super weird thing that makes me dislike him even more where Judith (that’s The Ice Queen) shows up and he’s just like, “Abs, this is my wife!” and then they try to…..sit down to a pleasant dinner?  This just makes Basil look like a spineless coward, or at least a total douche.  Anyway, this storyline is boring and I didn’t really even bother to pay that much attention to it and I don’t really feel like writing that much about it, so let’s just move on.


Actually, I do have one thing to say about this storyline, and it’s a compliment towards Donna, who always comes out smelling like a rose.  Through the course of this rewatch, my esteem for the character of Abs and the acting of Donna has only risen.  She was always in my top five characters, but I’m pretty sure she’s gonna make it to #1 by the time all is said and done.  The reason that I think she deserves special mention is because she never looks bad, no matter what the writers give her.  In all her time on the show, the only bad moment I can think of is “Noooooooo” from somewhere in season two (actually, I remember it was the season finale, Squeezeplay) but aside from that, if you asked me to think of moments of bad acting from Donna, I would have nothing.  I think the writers are doing her a disservice with this boring storyline, but she doesn’t look bad within it.  I feel like Shack has a similar power to always come out looking good, and it’s something I appreciate about him, as well.  Basically, I could see why Donna would be getting bored playing the character by this point if this is all the writers are gonna give her to do, but she doesn’t ever give a bad performance; she’s always bringing top quality.


You know, aside from that, I don’t think I have much else to say.  I thought this ep was good, even if, at the moment, I can’t really think of anything in particular that was, say, too visually interesting about it (aside from the mirror shot).  It’s more of a feeling of overall satisfaction with the series at this point.  I might not love every story, but in general, I like the way the show is making me feel right now and the paths we are headed down, so let’s just head on down to the next ep, Another Modest Proposal.

Thursday, May 28, 2020

KNOTS LANDING Episode 203 of 344: ONLY 'TIL FRIDAY


Episode Title: Only ‘Til Friday



Season 09, Episode 13



Episode 203 of 344



Written by James Stanley



Directed by Lawrence Kasha



Original Airdate: Thursday, January 7th, 1988



The Plot (Courtesy of TV.Com): Greg grieves for Laura. Paige is suprised to find Greg at home, but he tells her he's still in New York. He calls the MacKenzies and says he's been delayed and will be gone longer. Abby and Charles have a romantic day at an amusement park and horseback riding, but then Judith calls and Charles says he has to leave. Instead, Charles comes back and tells Abby he can't leave her and make the same mistake twice. Johnny Rourke, an "Irishman," tells a woman on an airplane that he is flying to see his girlfriend Paige Matheson. He steals the woman's credit cards and later buys a gun in a bar. Val tells Gary about Jill's visit and that they should just remain ex's. Gary's angry with Jill, but Jill says she told Val he's a free man, so Val must not want him. The Williams family, Pat and daughter Julie, move into Laura's house.






                Welcome to Only ‘Til Friday, an ep I’m very eager to discuss.  Now that Laura is dead and buried, Rest in Peace, we are ready to have some new characters move into her empty house, and yes, they are black.  As a smug little liberal, this makes me happy, because even though we have had black people in the previous eight seasons of KL, and even though I’ve always generally liked the way they were portrayed, not as horrible stereotypes, but as interesting characters in their own right (Karen’s amazing black Liar Liar doctor from season six comes to mind), we’ve never had main characters who were black, and now we do.  Should I discuss the new neighbors first or should I get some of the other storylines out of the way?  I think I’ll go with the latter, so let’s begin by discussing the dullest storyline right now, Abs and Basil Exposition.  Be sure to get your pillow and your nightcap.

                Oh sigh, how sad it is to watch a great character like Abs drift through such a boring and meandering storyline.  Even in the depths of season eight, when everything seemed to be going wrong with the show, I think Abs still came out smelling like a rose, being given the great storyline of Olivia on coke and working wonders with it through her topnotch acting.  Now, however, as the show rapidly improves itself from last year’s problems, Abs is feeling adrift.  Again, I get it, I can see what the writers were trying to do; they are trying to both explain how Abby’s first love turned her into the woman we see before us now, while also showing a more vulnerable side of Abs.  Unfortunately, it just isn’t working for me, mostly because she and Basil Exposition have absolutely no chemistry.  I’m a bit of a Basil fan from Zefferelli’s Romeo and Juliet and Logan’s Run and of course the Austin Powers movies, but could he possibly be less interesting on this series?  You just look at the man and you can tell that he thinks this series is beneath him, even though it’s obviously the greatest thing he will ever appear in and he should be honored to be around television royalty like Donna Mills.  I think Donna is doing her best to make this work, but she has a bad acting partner who doesn’t even want to try.



                Okay, so what do they do in the confines of this ep?  Well, mostly it’s a bunch of the same old shit about how Basil is still married to his cunty wife and how he keeps promising to leave her, but then he doesn’t, Bob Loblaw.  One thing I put in my notes is that Basil shows up ready to take Abs to see Baryshnikov dance, but it’s the same night as Brian’s school play, so then we cut to the two of them at the play.  I guess that’s kinda funny, but I also found it almost offensive, and perhaps that’s the result of being raised by a mother who owns a dance studio and has danced her entire life.  To me, if you have the chance to see Mikhail Baryshnikov dance, you go and see him dance and you drop whatever else was on your agenda.  It’s sorta like how if a Kubrick or a De Palma film is screening in a theater; you drop what you are doing and you go fucking see it because it’s art and it needs to be seen.  I get that Brian might have been upset if Abs didn’t go to his play, but it’s Baryshnikov; go see him dance.  At the same time, I guess the fact that Abs chooses her child over a dancing legend further demonstrates that she’s not a shabby mother.  She has her problems elsewhere, but she loves her kids and treats them right.  Anyway, aside from that, Abs tells Basil he should go back to his wife, and then at the end of the ep, he shows up and is like, “Abs, I love you!”  Anyway, it’s boring and that’s pretty much all I have to say about that.



                Meanwhile, Greg is still enjoying his little staycation, having left Meg at the MacKenzie’s house last ep.  Everyone assumes Greg is in New York doing whatever you do in New York in the ‘80s (try not to get raped and murdered, I imagine), but really he’s just hanging around his house and enjoying some time alone.  However, his ruse, his cunning attempt to trick everyone, is discovered by one Paige Matheson, who is now enjoying her job at an art gallery and drops by Sumner’s ranch to leave him a painting.  Before this occurs, however, I would be remiss in my duty if I did not point out Cigar #32 on the Sumner Cigar Counter, this one smoked while he calls up Mack and lies about his whereabouts.  Anyway, after the scene with the cigar, Paige shows up to drop off the painting, she grab the phone to make a quick phone call, only to hear Greg’s voice on the line.  He comes marching out into the living room (wearing a Hawaiian shirt; I love it) and when Paige says, “I thought you were in New York,” he says, “I am in New York, in spirit,” another great line.  So now Paige knows his little secret, but I’d say the secret is safe with her.



                Let me take a radical and probably unexpected detour to discuss how stunningly beautiful Nicolette looks in this scene and, in general, during her entire tenure on the show.  I’m still gay and I’ll always be gay; I love having sex with men, but I’m starting to think that I could get it up for Nicolette and could probably have sex with her successfully (whether she would enjoy it or not is debatable, since I’ve never been with a woman and have no idea what the hell is going on down there).  I’ve often said Donna Mills is the only woman I would shag (in a hot tub, of course), but fuck, Nicolette is hot.  Her hair is the greatest, her outfits rock, and she just has this commanding presence about her.  I’m gonna go into some extreme hyperbole and say that I think she’s one of the most beautiful women I’ve ever seen, and she’s at her most beautiful here.  I suppose this somewhat relates to the stories on the show, because we are clearly started to get a romance sizzling between Greg and Paige, something a lot of fans don’t like.  Yeah, they are decades apart in age, but the first time I watched the show, I don’t remember it bothering me.  I’ve never been as obsessed with age as some people are; if someone is a consenting adult, I think they can have sex with whoever they want.  Is it a little creepy that Sumner is 24 years older than Paige (who hasn't gotten SORAS yet but I think is going to next season), that he would have been a young adult when she was just a newborn?  I guess so, but whatever.  My point is that Nicolette is so beautiful and so stunning that I could totally understand why Sumner would get a boner for her, and I don’t judge.


                I was so excited about the black people being introduced into the series that I almost forgot about another character, one who, well, I’m not sure I like him or not.  This character would be Johnny Rourke, a bearded Irishman (although I think he’s not really Irish cuz Paige has some line about how he was never good at keeping his accent straight).  Anyway, this character is played by Peter Reckell, and somehow I watched the entire series through once before and never bothered to look at this guy’s IMDb page.  Well, I just took a look at it turns out he wound up on a daytime soap (no judgment there, acting is hard and daytime soaps are good work if you can get it), Days of Our Lives, playing Bo Brady.  Actually, it turns out he started playing that character in 1983 and he’s still playing him as of 2015, pretty impressive.  So I guess his time on KL is kinda mixed in with his Days of Our Lives time.  Anyway, we first meet Johnny on an airplane, talking to an old woman about how he’s going to California to see his girlfriend, Paige Matheson.  However, after telling Granny this story, he also steals her credit card and uses it to pay for another flight (I guess the airport guy doesn’t notice that the credit card says “Granny” on it).  So right away, we are not quite sure about this character; on one hand, he yoinked the old woman’s credit card, but on the other hand, he subtly slips it back into her purse a moment later, so I guess he’s not completely wicked?  I’ll be honest and say I remember almost nothing about what Johnny Rourke contributes to the show (aside from some lousy singing that we will discuss in a few eps), but I do know he’ll be around for roughly 30 eps and will make his final appearance in The Perfect Opportunity in 1989.



                By the way, I feel like it’s been awhile since I shined a spotlight on a random one-episode character and discussed the person playing that character, so let’s go ahead and do that now with Granny, who is credited as “Mrs. Johnson” and is played by Natalie Core.  Well, I looked at her IMDb and she is in not one, but two childhood favorites of Brett’s, the first being landmark cinematic accomplishment Clifford and the other being the even more brilliant Dunston Checks In, a movie I watched so much as a kid that the VHS actually disintegrated.  And hey, look at this, she was also in Airport 1975 (that’s the most famous one cuz it’s the one where Karen Black lands the plane and it’s the one Airplane! spoofs the heaviest).  Anyway, Natalie Core, ladies and gentlemen. 


                For the time being, I’m fairly indifferent to Johnny Rourke, but we shall see how I feel throughout his time on the show.  Now, let’s move our attention over to the new neighbors on the block, the Williams family.  There are three members of this family, but we only meet two this ep, mother Patricia and daughter Julie.  The father will be showing up a few eps down the line, and I love him, too, but for the confines of this ep, we only meet these two.  Pat Williams is played by the exceptionally gorgeous Lynne Moody.  Seriously, not to sound like I’m objectifying women (although I also objectify men; look no further than every single thing I’ve ever said about Sexy Michael), but how gorgeous is Lynne Moody?  She’s so beautiful that every single time she comes onscreen, My Beloved Grammy says, “Oh, she’s just so beautiful.”  Also, she has a very impressive resume, with credits including Roots (which I’ve actually never seen, but has always been on my list of things I gotta watch) and All in the Family (interestingly, she was the only person recast when they spunoff into The Jeffersons) and she was also a Playboy Bunny, which is pretty awesome.  So that's Pat, but we’ve also got daughter Julie, played by Kent King.  It’s nice to see this actress is still busy, with her most recent credit being in 2017.  She’s also got credits for The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air and The Wayans Brothers and a whole bunch of other stuff.  

 

                The two Williams ladies don’t do very much in this ep, but there is a certain cloud of suspicion over them when we first meet them.  Karen is being welcoming by bringing them a chocolate cake, but she’s also being kinda nosy.  I’m flashing back to the Pilot and the way that Karen greeted Gary and Val as soon as they arrived, and I guess the same is true here, but she didn’t seem quite as nosy way back in 1979 as she does now.  What makes the Williams seem kinda suspicious is that Pat just seems a smidge too prepared to answer questions about where they’re from and how they wound up here on the cul-de-sac.  She sorta gives off this big speech about how she got laid off and needed a new job and it just sounds a smidge too rehearsed, like some kids who have worked to get their story straight before having to talk to the school principal.  I’ll just let the cat out of the bag right now, mostly because I’m now pretty sure nobody is reading this blog without having a full knowledge of the series and all the things that happened, so I’ll give a minor spoiler and say that, a few eps down the line, we find out that the Williams family is in witness protection.  I bring this up because pretty much the very second that Pat and Julie arrived, My Beloved Grammy was like, “I’ll bet they’re in witness protection,” and I was just like, “Yeah.”  When My Beloved Grammy makes her eerily accurate predictions, I usually just tell her if she’s right or wrong, and in this case, she called it almost right away.



                You know, that’s about it for this ep, which I found very enjoyable.  I think I liked Weak Moment better cuz it started with that ‘80s song and had a little more cinematic flair, but I also probably liked it because it was so heavily focused on Gary and Val, who are not as prevalent in this ep.  This one is more about getting new stories going, bringing us Pat and Julie Williams as well as the mysterious Johnny Rourke.  Now that both Lilimae and Laura are gone from the series forever, I can feel us shifting into a somewhat new era of the show, but I’m fine with it because I think these new characters (well, maybe not Johnny Rourke) show a lot of promise.

                Alright, that’s all I have to say about Only ‘Til Friday, so let’s move right along to Ties That Bind

Thursday, May 21, 2020

KNOTS LANDING Episode 202 of 344: WEAK MOMENT


Episode Title: Weak Moment



Season 09, Episode 12



Episode 202 of 344



Written by John Leasure



Directed by Lorraine Senna  



Original Airdate: Thursday, December 17th, 1987



The Plot (Courtesy of TV.Com): Greg hires Paige to buy him investment art. Charles tells Abby that marrying Judith is a mistake he's lived with for 20 years. She screams that she hates him, but he kisses her and they sleep together. Gary and Val make love. She feels guilty about Jill, and rejects Gary after he helps her and the twins decorate the tree. Val tells Gary it was a mistake and she doesn't want him coming over anymore. He storms out. Gary tells Jill that he doesn't love her, but wishes he did. Jill confronts Val, and tells her that she could give Abby lessons in manipulation. Jill moves out of Gary's, but then returns. Greg drops Meg off at the MacKenzies, saying he has business in New York.






                Welcome to Weak Moment, a return to the style of KL we all know and love after the more experimental nature of the Noises Everywhere double whammy.  While there were things I liked and things I didn’t like about those improvisational eps, I still respect the show for doing something new and different, but I’m also happy to get back to the style I am used to.  The question now is, will Weak Moment prove to be a weak episode?  Let’s find out.





                Well, I totally love the way this ep starts, and I have ever since I first watched the series.  We begin with a glorious night of nonstop passion between Gary and Val, all set to a delightful song called, well, Weak Moment.  I’m pretty much gripped right away as we begin the ep with a nice, slow pan across the bedroom and the reveal of Gary and Val in bed together, doing some serious cuddling.  Oh, what an image, enough to make the coldest of hearts thaw out a little bit.  You can tell just by looking at the two of them that they just had the kind of sex you can only have with someone you feel totally comfortable with, someone you’ve known for years and years.  It’s the kind of sex a person craves when they’re lying in bed by themselves on some lonely night, wishing for companionship.  Let’s just call it what it is: Sweet Lovemaking.  This isn’t just Gary and Val fucking; they are doing some Sweet Lovemaking like Jack and Rose in the back of that old car and you can tell they both love it.  Also a nice bit of business in this scene is the way that the director (Lorraine Senna, the second most prolific KL director after Nicholas Sgarro) crosscuts to some footage of Abs, receiving a nice bouquet of flowers from Basil Exposition.  Rather than put them in water and on display on her coffee table, Abs flings the flowers into her fireplace, and the little card from Basil Exposition, as well.  A small flaw I noticed in this scene is that, while Abs manages to get the flowers into the fireplace, the card doesn’t quite make it.  She tosses it towards the fireplace, where it lands on the ground right in front of the fireplace, and then we cut away.  It’s not exactly a mistake, but I do think they could have done a second take where Donna managed to get the card all the way into the fireplace.  Of course, I wasn’t on the set, and maybe that was the last bouquet of flowers they had to burn up and, when Donna failed to get the little piece of paper into the roaring fire as well, the powers that be probably just said, “Fuck it,” and proceeded to their next bit of business for the day.





                Oh yeah, and let’s discuss the song that’s playing, which I kinda loved.  The song is so much better than the general music we’ve been getting on the show for the last year or so that it was like slipping back into a warm bath, having a good female singer sing a good little ‘80s song.  The song even sounds kinda Lisa Hartman-ish at first, but I did my research and found out it’s a singer named Gail Farrell and that she will contribute a few more songs to the series, Surprise Me In the Middle of the Night and Are You Over Her?  I’ll keep my ears open for these songs a little down the road, but yeah, suffice it to say I kinda love this first one we’re hearing right now.  I will say it doesn’t come anywhere close to the quality of Ciji’s/Cathy’s songs from the orgiastic musical odyssey that was seasons four through seven, but it’s still pretty good and I love how it synchs up with the action onscreen.  If there’s any flaw to this beginning, I guess it’s that it’s a bit jarring to immediately start with Gary and Val in bed together post-shag.  We’ve seen the signs that the dynamic duo is starting to get close again, but our last ep ended with Gary leaving Laura’s funeral reception along with J.B., going up into the hills to toss Peter’s ashes away.  Somewhere inbetween that scene and the start of this ep, Gary and Val started shagging again.  This is a very small complaint, and perhaps it’s not even really a complaint.  I think this ep maybe starts that way deliberately to kinda surprise the audience into being like, “Oooooh, look who’s getting busy.”



                Next up, we have a little scene of misunderstanding between Gary and Val, a scene where, I confess, I think Val is being somewhat deliberately hurtful.  See, Gary shows up at the house with a pizza (and bemoans the fact that Val made him order a pizza with green peppers, broccoli, and zucchini, although that sounds totally delicious to me) and then Val puts on her coat and is like, “Cool, see you later; the babysitter should come by a little later.”  Gary is confused and says how he got the pizza for all of them, how he thought they were all going to spend time together, and Val is like, “Well, don’t assume stuff; see ya!” and she takes off and leaves Gary alone with the twins.  Do you guys think this is a bitch move?  I kinda do.  Val could have easily told Gary over the phone that she’s going out tonight and she needs someone to watch the twins, and Gary would have said yes because he loves the twins.  Instead, she deliberately invited him over and told him to get a pizza but didn’t tell him that she’d be taking off as soon as he arrived.  I imagine Gary is kinda bummed, waiting all day to spend time with his soulmate and one true love only to realize she’s just looking for a babysitter for the night.  I am a person who gets very excited about whatever plans I may have made with someone else for the day, and if that someone then bails on me, it makes me feel super sad and also kinda angry, so my sympathies lie with Gary in this scene.





                Next up, Gary pays Val a phonecall, but she’s sitting in her kitchen and screening.  He leaves a message about how he’d like to see her and he’s sorry if he got the wrong idea the other night, but this message doesn’t work to put Val in a nicer mood, because the next time we see them together, they’re having a fight.  Val says something about, “Did you expect to come here and jump in bed with your ex-wife for old time’s sake?” and then Gary says how he’s not embarrassed or ashamed by anything they’ve been doing, to which Val retorts, “Well, maybe I am.”  When Gary says he just wants to be able to see the twins, Val says he can, but not in the house.  At this point, Gary marches off and I have about a million things to say about this fabulous scene.  First off, I’m glad that we are getting so much Gary/Val footage in this season.  Gary and Val are the heart of the show and they always will be; indeed, there would be no series without them, as they provided our gateway from parent series to spinoff series way back in 1979.  Now it’s almost 1988 and we have reached a point where these characters are so familiar to us that they really do seem like old friends, and I again note that we’re at that point where the separation between actors and characters really starts to blur.  I imagine that both J.V.A. and Shack understand their characters better than anyone who comes on to write or direct the eps; they’ve been living with them for all these years now and probably know them inside and out.  Also, as I’ve said five hundred thousand times before, the brilliance of all of this lies in the fact that both characters are sympathetic.  Val has just recently been abandoned by her second husband and it was six years ago that Gary ran off with Abs and left Val all alone.  Can you blame her for having a hard time trusting men, especially Gary?  No matter how friendly their relationship may be at any given point, Val can still vividly remember the way he walked out on her and left her feeling so sad and lonely.  Conversely, I sympathize with Gary because he’s really cleaned up his act in the last six years; it’s been five years since he took a drink, five years since "WE'RE RUINING LIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIVES!" and he’s turned himself into a very stable and upstanding person with a great sense of ethics.  To him, it probably hurts to make all this effort at improving himself and his life only to be rejected by Val and told he can only see the twins at limited times.





                All this drama of course coincides with one of my very favorite characters, J.B.  This is the season that J.B. really starts to come alive and reveal her full potential, and it’s already happening right before our very eyes.  I’d say these seeds started being planted in late season eight when J.B. paid Val a visit and asked if she’s still in love with Gary.  Those seeds have been growing into beautiful flowers ever since and they will continue to grow and grow until somewhere in 1989.  Anyway, in the case of this ep, J.B. can’t quite make up her mind about how she feels about Gary.  First, she storms out of Westfork and leaves him all alone, but then later, as Gary works to build a little playhouse for the kids (a detail I loved because I am fairly certain I had the exact same playhouse when I was small) and J.B. comes walking in quietly and says, “I don’t want to beg, Gary.”  Okay, so for the time being, the affair between Gary and Val has ended and Gary is just going to stick with J.B. for awhile. 




                Let me go ahead and say that everything involving Gary, Val, and J.B. is not only my favorite part of this ep, but my favorite part of what’s going on in the season right now.  Whenever the writers turn their focus back on Gary and Val and explore that relationship, I am going to be happy and I am going to be riveted, two things I can’t say about Abby’s current storyline, which is a gigantic dose of Nyquil mixed in with some Xanux.  I’ll just let the cat out of the bag right now and say that everything involving Abs and Basil Exposition is just completely boring, plus it goes on forever.  In my memories, Basil Exposition showed up for four or maybe five eps and that was it, but no, IMDb says he’s actually in eight.  That number looks a little light to me and I’m fairly certain he’s in more than eight, but perhaps I just think that because he’s sorta shown intermittently, sometimes sitting out an ep or two before returning into the story.  In any case, the whole thing is boring and I think I might hate it, or at least intensely dislike it.  I’m starting to understand why Donna was eyeing the exit doors around this time, and I heard an interview with her once where she said she didn’t care for what the writers were giving her around this time and that provided the impetus for her exodus at the end of season ten.  I can’t say I blame her, because none of this is interesting and I kinda don’t even wanna bother writing about it.  I can see what the writers are attempting to do here; they are attempting to show a new, more vulnerable side to Abs, to show that there was once a man in her life who had the power to sweep her off her feet.  The problem is that I just don’t buy it, not after all we’ve seen Abs go through in the last years.  I can believe that she would be easily be manipulated by a man back in the ‘60s, but not now in the '80s.





                Anyway, what happens in this dull storyline this ep?  Well, there is one interesting scene that I kinda appreciated in which we get to hear both Abby’s and Basil Exposition’s inner monologue.  He pops into her Lotus Point office and hands her a file and says how he wants to work with her, and then we hear Abby’s inner monologue saying, “He can’t really believe that I’d do business with him,” and then we hop inside of Basil Exposition’s brain and hear, “How can anyone do business with her?”  This continues for a little while, and I liked it.  I don’t know that we’ve ever had inner monologue before (aside from Val’s absolutely awful, “Ben, I love you” scene from the wretched Nightmare), so I appreciate the show trying something new.  Also, it provides a light and comedic touch to the scene, something I associate with the L&L years, something I still appreciate.  By the time you’ve reached a ninth season, I think it’s okay to be more flexible with the storytelling structure and there’s no reason everything has to be super serious all the time, so I like this, but it’s about all I like in this storyline.  Giving a close look at this, I think the main problem lies with Michael York.  Let’s face it; he and Donna have basically no chemistry and you can tell that York thinks this show is beneath him and he’s only doing it for a check.  In addition to that, it’s just kinda boring writing, like the characters keep having fights and then he comes back to Abs and declares his love and then they embrace and, indeed, we end the ep with them in bed together (I did like how that was edited).  In any case, IMDb says he’ll be making his last appearance in Lawfully Wedded, so I guess we’ll just have to tolerate this until we get there.





                You know some characters who are way more interesting than Basil Exposition?  The answer is Karen, Mack, and Sumner, and we’ve got a storyline going on with them that’s really cooking, involving Laura’s baby, Meg.  We catch up with Sumner pouring himself a drink one night when Carlos, his faithful servant (another rather underrated character who’s consistently hanging around in the background) comes walking in.  Carlos says how he thinks they should hang up some Christmas decorations for the baby, but Greg just says, “Not this year, Carlos.”  Later, he pops up at Karen and Mack’s house just as they are getting ready to head off to Tahiti, claiming he needs to run off to New York and asking if they’d watch Meg for awhile.  Instead of being annoyed that Greg has ruined their vacation plans, Mack is delighted to have Meg around.  I like how both Karen and Greg say, “But what about Tahiti?” at the exact same time and Mack is just like, “Ah, whatever,” and goes walking off with Meg in his arms.  The sheer cuteness of Mack’s love for Meg more than makes up for his strange behavior in the last two eps; this is the Mack we all know and love, a nice, strong man who is also very loving.  For the purposes of this ep, that’s about all that’s going on with these characters, but rest assured this stuff will continue deeper and deeper into the season.



                Anything else?  Well, it’s worth noting that this is a Christmas ep, I believe our third Christmas ep of the series after season three’s One of a Kind and season eight’s Gifts.  This whole ep drips with Christmas spirit, as we’ve got mistletoe punctuating every scene, a big Lotus Point Christmas party (“big” meaning our main cast members and a couple of random extras and the party is, once again, being thrown in a broom closet) and I always like when the holidays are acknowledged on this show.  So yeah, this is a Christmas ep; anything else worth noting?  Well, Paige has some good footage in this ep, but she doesn’t really do anything too terribly interesting.  In my notes, I mostly focused on her absolutely dreadful fashion sense this ep, which is pretty much all red plaid.  See, Sumner is hanging around the art gallery that Paige works at, staring at some painting or other, when she comes walking up and quips, “Forget your bifocals, Pops?” to which I retorted, “Did you?”  Seriously, this is bad, and usually I’m a big fan of Paige’s fashions.  She has a fabulous quality that’s all her own and she usually wears fantastic outfits that are unique and cool, but this one missed the mark.  What the hell was she thinking?  In any case, I forgive her because I’m sure she’ll be adorned in much more proper attire in our next eps.

                Oh yeah, I almost forgot!  This is our very last episode of 1987 and our next ep will leap us right into 1988.  I always try to do some summation of what went on during the year before we finish it up on KL, so what all happened in 1987?  Well, I was still three years away from being born, but I do research and I am a learned person, so I can name some of the big things that happened this year.  First off, we had a new Brian De Palma film and readers may know that I love BDP, although this movie is hardly one of my favorites. The film in question is The Untouchables.  This is one of BDP's biggest financial successes, grossing 106 million dollars and winning an Oscar for Sean Connery.....for some reason?  I like Connery as much as the next guy but I don't know why this was an Oscar worthy performance.  This movie is fine and it's technically well shot and well put together and it's definitely better than the bottom dwellers of BDP's package like Mission to Mars or The Black Dahlia but I just don't feel like it comes from his soul.  Movies like Sisters, Carrie, Dressed to Kill, or Body Double are coming from the man's soul but this one feels like a paycheck.  My favorite thing about it is that the famous train sequence is spoofed wonderfully in the opening moments of The Naked Gun 33 and 1/3: The Final Insult, so that's definitely an important cultural thing to note.  Actually, the release of a new BDP movie is really the only thing that happened in 1987 that I particularly care about (along with the release of A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors) so let's just go ahead and list the top ten shows of the 1986-1987 season and move on.  The top ten shows, going from #10 to #1, were Who's The Boss?, Moonlighting, Growing Pains, Night Court, 60 Minutes, The Golden Girls, Murder, She Wrote, Cheers, Family Ties, and, eh hem, The Cosby Show.  Since this is a blog about KL and, in a way, the entire nighttime soap genre, I think it's worth noting that 1986-1987 mark the first season that absolutely none of the big four nighttime soaps are in the top ten.  Dallas almost makes it in, ranking at #11, but its days of ratings glory are in the past and the ratings for all the shows will continue to sink from this point forward.  The cultural landscape is shifting away from the nighttime soaps that dominated the first half of the '80s and are starting to flip way more towards sitcoms.





                I think that’s all I have to say for Weak Moment.  I quite enjoyed this as a nice refresher after the high drama and death of our last two eps.  This ep moves a little fast, which I found a bit odd, but it still worked for me, the scenes flowing from one to the next, the characters (sans Basil) remaining as fascinating as always.  With that said, let’s move along to our next ep, an important introductory ep for a whole new family on the block, Only ‘Til Friday.