Thursday, January 30, 2020

KNOTS LANDING Episode 190 of 344: CEMENT THE RELATIONSHIP


Episode Title: Cement the Relationship

Season 08, Episode 30

Episode 190 of 344

Written by Bernard Lechowick

Directed by Nick Havinga

Original Airdate: Thursday, May 14th, 1987

The Plot (Courtesy of TV.Com): Val tells Lilimae that she knows Ben went after Jean Hackney and is not coming back. Mack tells Paige that he called Anne and Anne admitted Mack really is Paige's father. Greg can't reach Peter, but is more interested in playing with Meg than finding him. Abby hears that cement is going to be poured for the new children's playground at Lotus Point, so she decides to bury Peter there. With several interruptions and near misses of getting caught, Abby buries Peter, only to dig him up for his car keys and rebury him. She brings his car to the airport and takes the bus home. Olivia tells Abby she is not worth what Abby did (meaning Abby shouldn't have killed him). Abby, thinking Olivia means she shouldn't have buried Peter on her behalf, assures Olivia that she did it for her, and that no one will ever know. The cement is poured in the children's park, and Karen and Abby go to inspect it. Karen points out that there is a structural crack in the cement, and it will need to be done over.




                Well, we’ve finally arrived.  We’ve sat through 29 season eight eps and now we are finally at our season finale.  What exciting cliffhangers lay in store for all of our characters?  Well, even though there’s involvement from pretty much all the characters in the cast this week, it’s hard to argue that the primary focus of this ep is not totally and 100% on Abs as she gets to work taking care of that whole dead Peter situation from the end of our last ep.  Even so, we have a few small things with the other characters, so let’s start with them.

                Actually, before we talk about characters, let’s talk about opening credits.  Why?  Well, because this ep marks the end of an era for KL, the end of the classic scrolling squares that we’ve been seeing since the premiere of season three.  Yes, we will see a return to this style in a slightly different, more 90s way for the last three seasons of the show, but this is it for the style that we’ve grown accustomed to since 1981.  Even though I detest the opening credits and theme for season eight because they look super cheap and computer-y and the theme song is terrible, but I still consider the scrolling squares to be the greatest design of the opening and it’s the opening I always think of when I think of KL, probably because we spent six years in a row with it.  Next season, we will unveil a brand new opening credits sequence, the one involving a painting, but I’ll save my thoughts on that for season nine.



                I forgot to mention in the last ep that Greg and Laura picked out a name for their baby girl, Marguerite Catherine, or simply Meg.  Once I heard that name, “Meg,” I started to get pretty excited, and not just because I enjoy the actress Meg Tilly.  No, it’s more the fact that I know the very existence of Meg promises drama and excitement in the years to come.  The writers didn’t do much at all with Laura’s actual pregnancy, but now that the baby is here, she’s going to affect situations and storylines all the way up to the 1997 reunion movie.  I’m excited for that, but I continue to wag my finger and say "shame on you" to the writers and creative team of season eight, who have given Laura possibly 60 minutes of material total throughout this entire year.  Laura will be leaving the series very shortly and it’s a shame that in her final full season on the series, she is given so little to do.



                Since that’s about all that Greg and Laura are doing this ep, let’s discuss Paige.  In this ep, Mack gives an off-screen phone call to Anne, reminds her not to come back until season eleven, and also learns that his sperm is the sperm responsible for entering her egg and conceiving an embryo that eventually grew bigger and was then expelled out through her vagina as Paige Matheson.  Okay, so Greg’s not the father, right?  We had a Sepia Toned Flashback last ep that I neglected to mention that showed the two of them not shagging, and now we’ve got this development. I think this is pretty much our confirmation, if anyone was in any suspense about this.  Anyway, I’m still completely bored and disinterested by this storyline and I’m just waiting for it to finally finish, which I’m predicting will happen in either the first or second ep of the ninth season.  



                Ben does not appear in this ep or any ep to follow this ep.  The fact that his 9PM phone calls stop coming Val’s way helps alert her to the fact that he’s probably gone forever.  Oh yeah, and there’s also the fact that last ep she called up his boss at the paper or whatever and the boss was like, “Huh, assignment?”  So now Val is convinced that Ben is going after Hackney, but I’m not so convinced.  Ben’s lies about having this great new job opportunity seemed to me like an excuse for him to blow town simply because he was totally unhappy and his life was coming apart.  He had tried to make it work with Val and be a good husband and it’s just not meant to be.  Plus, all that Hackney silliness that took up so much of our time turned Ben into a total paranoid maniac, so I’m guessing he’s gonna move somewhere far away, probably change his name, and then try to make a marriage work with some new girl.  Or hey, now that I think about it, maybe he’s going after Cathy?  I mean, why the hell not?  He’s probably flashing back to a year ago and thinking of how he should have left town with Cathy back then, so maybe he’s gonna track her down and resume the shagging?  You know what, I really really like this idea that just immediately popped into my head as I was sitting here writing.  I am officially going to make my own personal beliefs be that Ben left town, found Cathy, resumed shagging, and the two lived happily ever after, doing nothing but shagging and singing fabulous cover songs.  This is my official belief and I am sticking to it.



                Okay, let’s get to the main meat of this ep.  Peter is dead, he’s got that weird sharp receipt stick thing jutting out of his back (I just looked it up and it’s called a “spindle,” which makes me now realize why the title of our last ep was funny), and the body needs to be disposed of pronto, as there’s about to be a great big Lotus Point celebration.  I confess I simply don’t have the energy to write about all the little details of what Abs goes through in this ep, but just take my word for it that it’s all great.  This ep really cranks up the black comedy in a way that I completely approve of.  I completely approved of it back in college and I completely approve of it now.  I remember thinking that the L & L years of the show were the funniest and used comedy the best, and this is probably the first sign of that instinct that we’ve seen since they became the big people behind the scenes.  Basically, this situation is just inherently funny.  It’s funny to watch Abs, dressed in pearls and a fancy dress and high heels, have to haul a heavy corpse across the room.  It’s also very funny later when Abs, still dressed in the same outfit, drives the corpse out to the Lotus Point construction site where they are about to pour cement. 

                You know what, actually I think I will give some quick details about all the shit Abs deals with throughout these 48 minutes.  Okay, so the first order of business is getting the damn body off the floor of the dining hall.  Abs locks the door and then drags poor lifeless Peter across the floor and stashes him in the little closet where the music comes out of.  Naturally, Abs leaves a big bloody trail all over the previously very tidy floor, so she quickly gets to work cleaning that up, slopping it up with a big towel or maybe a table cloth, and then we get some good suspense when Karen comes to the door and starts knocking and hollering to find out who’s in there.  Then she asks one of her Lotus Point employees to go fetch the key from her office, and Abs finishes up her cleaning by very cleverly throwing coffee all over the floor.  Oh Abs, you’re so wicked smart, for now when Karen comes in, she’ll notice the big mess of coffee on the floor and not any teeny tiny little microscopic bloodstains that might still be lingering about.



                Okay, so then the night of the party comes, and Abs is making sure to stay close to the door of that music room, ensuring that nobody enters and asks, “Hey, how come this not-very-interesting character who’s been on the show for two years is dead in this music closet room?”  We also get some nice humor when Abs says how there’s no music because they are having problems with the equipment, but then suddenly music comes blasting out and she’s like, “Oh, um, let me go fix that,” and she gets into the little room and shuts it off.  By the way, the music that comes blasting out is the same music that Sonny (the evil saxophonist/reporter guy who wasted our time for awhile during season seven) was playing on his saxophone back in the episode The Confession.  Either the powers that be are recycling music again or Sonny quickly became a successful musician.  Oh yeah, and one last little detail, but we learn that this is a double celebration because Eric is now a college man.  It’s a good thing I double checked this scene before I started writing about it, because in my notes I wrote “college graduate” and I was just about to go on a long rant about how Eric couldn’t possibly have had time to go through college while also working as the big cheese over at Knots Landing Motors (which I know he hasn’t been doing for about two years, but you get my point).  However, now I see that Abs actually says, “Congratulations, Mr. College Man,” so I take that to mean he’s going to be heading off to college in the fall.  I remember this because I remember Eric kinda leaving for awhile and only showing up sporadically, and then of course he doesn’t show up at all after 1990 because of Steve Shaw’s tragic car accident and death.  Anyway, it’s a small detail but one I appreciate, and it helps to explain where Eric will be disappearing to next season.



                Once the party is finally finished, Abs returns to Lotus Point late at night to go bury Peter at the construction site.  I love all the detail that goes into this; we really see that disposing of a corpse is not an easy feat, and in many ways it reminded me of a scene from Hitchock’s Frenzy involving a killer trying to pry something out of a corpse’s hands.  In this instance, we just see that all of this is taking a lot of effort for Abs and we get the sense that it’s hard to get the corpse out of the truck and rolled into the big hole, and then we have a fabulous moment in which Abs has to pry the murder weapon (spindle) out of his back.  I gotta say, even though this is network television and there’s nothing too horribly offensive or grisly, I still found this pretty bloody and was somewhat surprised that it made it to network TV.  Did KL just have clout by this time because they’d been on the air for eight years?  Was CBS allowing them to get away with a little more than they might allow for a show in its first or second season?  Again, this isn’t torture porn or anything, but there’s a lot of blood and we see the bloody rag in Abby’s hands when she pries the spindle.  Also, more good suspense when Abs is in the hole, working on burying the body, and a Lotus Point security guard shows up out of the blue and starts poking around.  Abs lays low and waits for him to leave, but it’s a pretty exciting sequence, made even better and funnier when Abs goes through all the work of burying him only to realize she needs his car keys.  Naturally, she has to dig him back up and get the keys.  See, it’s small details like this that I appreciate when KL is really firing on all cylinders, and I’m gonna go ahead and say that the show is really firing on all cylinders in this ep, that this is all really good stuff.  You got action, you got murder, you got suspense, and you got humor.  



                Finally, Abs has gotten Peter’s body buried and has obtained his keys, so she drives his car out to the airport and ditches it there.  Not only does she ditch it, but she even wears her hair up and puts on a big pair of sunglasses to try and hide her face.  See what I mean about little details?  I don’t think the Dallas team would include all these little things if they were having a character dispose of a corpse.  The fact that Abs is able to immediately snap into action and start taking care of business and the fact that she is so cautious about doing so add a nice extra level to proceedings.

                The final scene of the ep is a doozy.  Abs and Karen are surveying things at Lotus Point, taking a look at the new area that’s been built and the fresh concrete.  For all intents and purposes, Abby’s job is finished and it’s a rousing success, but then we get that last curveball in which Karen spots a big crack in the foundation of the cement.  She says how maybe it’s not that big a deal, but that there’s also the chance that all the cement will have to come up, and she finishes with, “What do you think, Abby?” and we get a nice closeup of Abs looking like she’s about to shit her pants.  With that, the season concludes.



                I’m happy to say that this was a fabulous season finale.  I would say it’s much better than The Longest Night, our season finale the previous year, although I don’t think it can compare to the cliffhangers of my beloved 4, 5, and 6 era.  This whole ep is very clever and very funny, and I enjoy the mix of suspense with dark humor, the way the writers show all the different problems Abs encounters as she goes about trying to get rid of Peter’s body.  Also, that very final scene is a perfect button on the whole thing and I remember watching it and eagerly starting season nine right away, wanting to see what happened.  Even so, I can’t be completely complimentary, mostly because I have found this season to be a real slog, so the fact that it happens to finish off with a fantastic season finale doesn’t exactly redeem the season as a whole.  For me, the cliffhangers have the best punch when we’ve been really invested in an exciting story all year and then the cliffhanger is the culmination of that story (think of the fantastic Val’s babies storylines).  When the season has been as spotty and even just-plain-bad as season eight has been, one good finale is not going to erase my memories of the eps that came before. 

                It’s fun to get some other perspectives, so let me go ahead and tell you what MBG and Brother had to say about this whole ep.  Brother said it was a highlight and that he thought it was a hilarious ep, and he also said he’s eager to find out who killed Peter, though he didn’t venture a guess.  MBG, however, said that she thinks Paige killed Peter and, well, I’m not gonna say one way or the other.  We’ll have to wait until season nine to find out.

                That about wraps up my thoughts on Cement the Relationship.  Honestly, this might be my fave ep of the season, though I’ll have to chew on it and think over whether one of the Olivia-on-coke eps might not actually be the best.  In fact, I’ll chew on it and then tell you all what I’ve decided in my next essay, my “Reflection on Season Eight.”  After that, we’ll power right along to the premiere of a brand new season with Missing Persons.  

Thursday, January 23, 2020

KNOTS LANDING Episode 189 of 344: DO NOT FOLD, SPINDLE, OR MUTILATE



Season 08, Episode 29

Episode 189 of 344

Written by Lynn Marie Latham

Directed by  Joseph L. Scanlan

Original Airdate: Thursday, May 7th, 1987

The Plot (Courtesy of TV.Com): Laura names her baby Marguerite Catherine (Meg) after her mother. Val calls Ben's news service, and they tell her he's not on assignment for them. Olivia confronts Paige on dating Peter, and Paige tells her about Abby and Peter. Olivia and Abby scream at each other. Peter thanks Jill for burning the letter, and she throws him out. Abby screams at him for leading Olivia on. Paige throws plates at him and screams at him for not telling her that Greg is her father, and Peter laughs at her. At the Lotus Point Club, Abby hears Olivia scream, and comes out of the Ladies room, drying her hands. Abby sees Olivia leaning over Peter's dead, bloody body, and Abby thinks Olivia has killed him. Olivia sees Abby wiping her hands, and thinks that Abby has killed Peter. 




Welcome to the penultimate episode of this most inconsistent and often arduous eighth season, a season that, I confess, has been a real struggle to get through.  In fact, now would be the perfect time to mention that I’ve been putting off writing these essays forever, mostly because I just don’t really feel like writing about them.  This is very sad, but I feel confidence that once we leave season eight behind us and get into some new storylines for seasons nine and beyond, I’ll be able to regain my enthusiasm.  But yeah, as it stands right now, MGB, Brother, and myself watched these last five eps like forever ago, and I immediately wrote about the first one, but then I took forever to write about the next two and then I took even longer to get to writing about this one.  If I can just power through this and the next one and a quick “Reflections” essay, we’ll be finished with this season and we can move on to (hopefully) brighter pastures.  Oh yeah, and also, one last little thing; if it seems like I’m rushing through this essay, it’s because I kinda am.  I made the colossal mistake of dropping my computer on the floor last night and my poor baby is now in a laptop repair shop where, I’m fairly certain, they will conclude there’s nothing that can be done to fix.  Hence, I am currently sitting in the public library and writing this essay on one of their computers and, if my computer can’t be fixed, it’s highly likely that this is how I will be writing all these essays from now until the end of time.

Most of this ep is about Olivia and Peter, but let’s get started by discussing Paige and the recent “reveal” that Greg Sumner is her true biological father.  Okay, so you’ll all remember that Anne threw this claim at Mack right before she blew town, and I’d say that in and of itself proves that this whole thing is a lie.  During her batch of eps, didn’t Anne pretty much immediately prove herself to be deceitful and duplicitous?  She’s lied about tons of things, including faking a suicide attempt to gain Mack’s attention, so why would she suddenly be telling the truth about Greg being the giver of the sperm that created Paige?  I don’t even remember this story coming up from my first watch aside from one very visceral memory of Greg making out with Paige to prove he’s not her father (I feel like that’s gonna happen somewhere in season nine).  But let me just say that even if I was watching this first-run in 1987, I wouldn’t be fooled and I wouldn’t even think there’s a small chance that Greg is Paige’s father. 

Even still, Paige wants to figure out the truth about her upbringing, so we get some scenes throughout this ep of her trying to do so, including calling the Winston family to find her mother, who it turns out is now in France.  It must be great to be a rich white person and not have to actually do anything with your life.  What the hell is Anne doing in France aside from hanging out there and sipping espresso because she has the money and the wherewithal to do such things?  I highly doubt she’s actually gaining anything from the cultural sophistication and fine arts of France; I think mostly she’s just rich and white and bored and she has nothing better to do than fly to France and just sorta hang out there for while before, you know, flying somewhere else.  Anyway, Anne doesn’t show up in this ep and I’m pretty sure we don’t see her again until somewhere around 1990, so we won’t really be discussing her again much until that time comes.



Oh yeah, the only other thing worth noting about this story is that it propels us into another Sepia Toned Flashback, and I feel fairly confident that this will be our last one, although I’m not certain.  In this Sepia Toned Flashback, we get a quick needle drop of I Can’t Help Myself.  In case you’re confused, that would be the song that starts out “Sugar pie, honey bunch, you know that I love you.”  Now, until this very second as I sit here typing this, I thought the title of the song was, in fact, Sugar Pie Honey Bunch, although I’ll go a step further and say that I actually thought it was Sugar Pie Honey Butts.  Only now, as I look at the lyrics online, do I realize that my whole life I have mistaken “Bunch” for “Butts.”  This is not a new problem, as I also always thought the lyrics to How Deep Is Your Love went, “And you come to me on a submarine,” and I also always thought the lyrics to Beat It were, “Show them how funky soldiers fight.”  Oh yeah, and apparently when I was a kid, I would always sing the song Nobody Does It Better wrong by singing, “Like heaven above me, the spy who loved me is keeping all my cigarettes safe tonight.”  Now, I confess I don’t actually remember singing it this way but it’s something my parents said I did a lot.

The Sepia Toned Flashback starts with Paige’s call to Harry Winston, who tells her that Greg and Anne never actually dated, but merely made it look like they were dating so that he could sneak her out and get her to Mack, her true love.  Then we go to the flashback and see Paige getting dropped off by young Greg (played, as always, to complete perfection by Joshua Devane).  Harry Winston (looking exactly the same as he does in 1987, only with his hair dyed black) looms from a high window, watching them, so the two start to talk about how they’d better make it a convincing act, so they kiss.  After the kiss, Anne asks if she thinks her father is convinced and young Greg is like, “I don’t know about him, but I’m convinced,” and then he says something about how one of these days, Mack might not be able to make it and they’ll just have to “go it alone.”  Clearly all this is being presented to us to make us think there’s a possibility that he fathered Paige, but I’m gonna ruin it right now and I don’t care about spoilers: GREG IS NOT PAIGE’S FATHER.  I don’t know how many eps we have to get through before this is finally revealed, but this is not a storyline I’m caring much about at all.  However, MBG was really digging this, showing how there’s different strokes for different folks.  Between eps, she said how she was really hating the whole Hackney storyline (like everyone in the world who has ever suffered through that storyline) but that this whole Greg/Paige business was very exciting for her.  Maybe I’m just impatient cuz I’ve seen this and I know he’s not her father.  Maybe I’m also annoyed because I’m just getting tired of so many quote “exciting twists” being thrown at the Paige character.  She’s barely been on the show a year and yet we’ve already had to deal with “Is this really Paige?” and then, “Is the real Paige dead?” and then, “Okay, I guess she is the real Paige but her mother is dead,” and then, “Oh, never mind, her mother is alive,” and now to, “Her mother’s alive, but Mack might not be her father.”  It’s enough, already; just let Paige be a character and exist and become one with the rest of the cast.  I think this is a Paige related problem that will be solved in coming seasons, but who knows?  All I can say is I remember enjoying the Paige character very much, and yet as we finish up season eight, I’m not liking the character or her stories the way I remembered.  We’ve got six more years with her, so I’m hopeful that I’ll return to liking her the way I did upon first viewing.



Okay, so that’s about it for Paige and all that, how about Val and Ben?  Well, last ep Ben drove away in a taxicab and we all got the sense that he wouldn't be coming back.  Had you asked me before doing this rewatch whether we would ever be seeing Ben again, I would have said no; I would have said that the shot of him driving off is the very last time we see him, but I would have been wrong.  It turns out Ben makes his official last appearance right here, in a scene that starts with some light bickering between Val and Lilimae.  See, Lilimae is cutting up a gigantic cake and Val is hiding her face with a paper and trying to ignore her mother, who’s going on and on about how she doesn’t think Ben will call.  However, two seconds later the phone rings and it’s indeed Ben, being shot in a very tight closeup as he sits at some sort of bar.  I’m willing to bet this is just a teeny tiny bar set and the reason we’re in such a tight closeup is to hide that fact, but anyway, not important.  I think Val starts to get an uncomfortable feeling in this scene, as do all of us, because when she tries to get the number of the hotel Ben is staying at, he deflects and says how he’ll be somewhere different tomorrow, and then when she says she could call the news station in case of emergency, he’s sorta dismissive and says, “Yeah, well, I might be hard to get a hold of.”  Then they exchange the “I love yous” but when they hang their phones up, we hold on Ben for a moment and can tell he’s not being straight with Val.  Also, he’s nursing a drink, and I do wonder if I’m supposed to take any note of this.  On Dallas, all the characters just drank all the livelong day and nobody besides Sue Ellen was ever called an alcoholic, but on KL I feel like there’s much less drinking and, when there is drinking, it’s usually for some purpose.  We saw Ben drinking bourbon near the middle of the season and that Val was unhappy with that, so is it significant that in his last scene on the series ever, he’s also drinking?  I think it is.  The writers could have put him anywhere on the phone; he could have been sitting in a hotel room or speaking from a pay phone or someone’s office or anywhere you like, but they chose to have him call her from a bar while he’s drinking.  I think we should infer that Ben is going to leave her forever (well, duh) but also that he’s drinking because he’s just a deeply unhappy man who is finally giving up on this idea of marriage in suburbia that he’s been wanting since season five. 

Since this is Ben’s last appearance, let us take some time to honor Mr. Douglas Sheehan.  Oh Doug, how wrong could I have been about you?  Before this rewatch, if someone were to ask me about your character, I would have told them Ben was boring but generally inoffensive and that he is the least interesting person in the cast for seasons five through eight.  Well, this rewatch has proven me completely wrong and has elevated Ben way high up in my pantheon of characters.  I’m not sure where I would place him now, but I’m pretty sure he would make the top ten, though probably not the top five.  Now I see what fabulous qualities Mr. Sheehan brought to this character, that dry sense of humor, that silliness that he would occasionally bust out (such as dancing in a kilt while playing bagpipes for Val), and just the fabulous realism he brought to this part.  I feel like Doug Sheehan played Ben pretty much perfectly as a regular dude who has somehow become trapped in a soap opera.  It is specifically that regular dude quality that made him so appealing to me, and it also helped to keep the stories from seeming silly (well, eh hem, most of them) because he kept it feeling real.  Also, he did such an admirable job of filling the role of Val’s lover, a role that could be completely thankless and lacking in personality.  After all, when looking at it in a pragmatic sense, we know that Ben is, at the core, a character designed to keep Gary and Val apart for an extended length of time.  The writers could have made him a total nothing, just a boring dude filling a suit for a few years until the writers are possibly ready to get Gary and Val back together.  Instead of being boring, I really thought this character had a fabulous life of his own, and I love the fact that, even though I want Gary and Val together because they are soulmates, I could also see all the good qualities of Ben and how he tried so hard to make a good husband to Val, even though he knew deep down Val was meant for Gary and he was essentially raising the living, breathing proof of Gary and Val’s star crossed love. 



However, I must point out the elephant in room one more time and say that Ben should never have been a part of the eighth season.  As we moved through season seven, it seemed very clear to me almost from the get-go (not quite at the premiere, but probably somewhere around the time that Ben and Val tied the knot) that the writers were designing that season to serve as an exit for Ben.  His unhappiness at knowing that he’s raising Gary’s children combined with his belief that Val will never love him the way she loves Gary and then his special friendship with Cathy all lead to their affair in the closing hours of that season.  I think the organic thing to do would have been to have both Cathy and Ben leave town together and go off to live happily ever after, Ben being silly and sarcastic and Cathy singing her fabulous cover songs.  Instead, the creative team chose to remove Cathy from the cast and keep Ben around, propelling him and us into the worst storyine ever on the show, Hackney.  I think maybe the worst thing about this whole season (and there have been a lot of bad things) has been watching them soil this character for an entire year.  I suppose some viewers might have thought him soiled if he blew town with Cathy at the end of season seven, but wouldn’t you rather have that than Spy Ben?  Wouldn’t you rather have that than all the horrible dialogue and ridiculous situations the writers placed Ben in throughout the year?  And, if you think him leaving Val for another woman would soil our memories of the character, how about getting him involved in a horribly stupid spy conspiracy storyline and then having him just up and ditch Val and the kids with a blatant lie about how he’s going on assignment?  Is that any better than adultery?  So yeah, I hate the fact that season eight really managed to take a shit on this character and mar his beauty and purity; had he left after season seven, I would have nothing but memories of three great years for this great character, but now we have three great years and one shit year, and it’s just sad to see him leave the series after such a shit storyline that took up so much of our time.  Even so, that’s a negative way to look at things, and I’d rather focus on those three good years and how wonderfully Douglas Sheehan played this character.  Ben Gibson, you were a good man and you tried your best with Val and you will be sorely missed throughout the next six years.



Let’s finish up by discussing Olivia, Peter, and Abs.  This is kinda the big story of this ep and the one that will lead us into our finale.  You should all remember how Olivia paid a visit to Peter’s apartment only to see Paige dressed in nothing but a towel.  Now that she realizes Peter’s been slipping his peter inside of Paige nightly, she’s all distressed and heartbroken, and indeed we even open the ep on an upset Olivia.  It’s a bit much, really, as she’s got several photos of Peter strewn all over her bed and even has a book open with a red rose in it.  It definitely seems like Olivia’s kinda hoping someone will walk in and see her little shrine so that she’ll have someone to whine to.  Okay, so Olivia’s mad at Paige, but she’s not the only one.  Abs is also pretty pissed, as evidenced by a long fight scene at Lotus Point between the two characters.  He says how he managed to get rid of that stupid letter, like anyone cared, and then they start shouting at eachother about how she thinks he’s scum for using her daughter and Bob Loblaw.  Then Gary walks in and has a funny speech about turning up his radio as loud as possible to drown out their noise.  I have to say Gary is really the only character who’s going to be escaping from season eight unscathed and with his dignity intact.  Gary’s the character who’s come off smelling like a rose this whole year while pretty much every other character in the cast has had to suffer at least one horrible scene or bit of dialogue.  Even Devane has had to spit out some truly awful dialogue (“I didn’t want to disappoint you, but that was a pistol in my pocket”), although he has that special ability to make his dialogue work.

  
Olivia gets an especially rude awakening near the end of the ep when she confronts Paige for shagging Peter.  She says how she’s super pissed and can’t believe that Peter and Paige are “going together” (to which Paige corrects her with, “You mean we’re lovers”) and then Paige drops a big bomb when she says, “I figured if you didn’t care about your mother sleeping with him, you wouldn’t care about me sleeping with him.”  Well, now the cat is really out of the bag, bringing us to our next scene, taking place between Abs and Olivia.  We start with Abs planting some seeds for future storylines, or at least I think she is.  Follow me along here, but when Abs comes upon Olivia crying on a Lotus Point bench, she sits down next to her and starts talking about her first love, “the love of my life, or so I thought.”  We learn he was a graduate student and that Abs thought he loved her very much, but he went and married someone else.  Now, am I crazy, or is Abs bringing this up to get us ready for special guest star Michael York in the ninth season?  I remember Basil Exposition showing up to stir up some drama with Abs somewhere in that year, and I feel fairly confident that this is the person Abs is speaking about right now.  What do my readers think?  Anyway, Abs seems very pleased with her little love story, and as she stands up to depart, Olivia tells her she knows that Abs has been shagging Peter and that she’s damn mad about it.  This turns into an Olivia/Abs shouting match (I always enjoy these) and then Olivia runs off.

We’ve got less than ten minutes to go in the ep and next on the agenda is a big fight between Peter and Paige.  As soon as Peter enters the Lotus Point dining room, Paige starts throwing plates and glasses at him, screaming something about the letter (which she calls “the damn stupid letter,” speaking for the entire viewing audience).  Then she screams about how Greg Sumner is her father and then we just sorta dissolve to a new scene, right in the middle of the fight.  This is an odd stylistic choice, but it helps to give us the sense of time passing.  It was also at this dissolve that MBG did that psychic thing she sometimes does where she said, “If I was writing the story, I would kill Peter right now.”  Well, sure enough, our next scene is Peter dead, another scene that’s shown in an interesting way.  See, we begin the scene with Abs alone in the bathroom, scrubbing her hands.  Then we hear Olivia screaming and Abs goes out into the dining room to find Olivia down on the ground with a dead Peter beside her.  It appears Peter has been stabbed in the back with one of those super scary and super dangerous gigantic blade things that companies use to shove their receipts through (I’ve never understood why this large weapon is acceptable to have on a business desk).  The way the scene plays, we don’t really know what the hell is going on.  Is Peter dead because Abs killed him?  Is that why she’s washing her hands?  Or did Olivia do it and Abs is just discovering it?  Or could it have been some third party?  Reflecting on it a bit, I can see why MBG got the psychic twinkle that Peter was going to be buying the farm soon, because this ep really drips with a “Who Shot J.R.?” feeling.  You’ll all recall back in the final moments of season three of Dallas (back when the show was still legitimately good and exciting television), that the writers set up absolutely everyone in Texas to be super duper pissed at J.R. and have a reason to shoot him.  Here, a real shitstorm is coming down on Peter and everyone hates him, giving possible motive to want him dead.  I’ll go ahead and say right now that “Who killed Peter?” doesn’t hold a candle to “Who Shot J.R.?”, but it’s still a good development, mostly because I was beyond done with Peter and was ready for him to die probably right near the beginning of this season.  Both MBG and Brother agree, by the way, because when I said I was ready for Peter to die, they both said, “Me, too” at the exact same time.



Okay, that does it for Do Not Fold, Spindle, or Mutilate (a title I actually like a lot).  We’re almost there, with just one ep of season eight left to go, so let’s move right along to our season finale, Cement the Relationship.more

Thursday, January 16, 2020

KNOTS LANDING Episode 188 of 344: PARENTAL GUIDANCE


Episode Title: Parental Guidance

Season 08, Episode 28

Episode 188 of 344


Directed by Nick Havinga

Original Airdate: Thursday, April 30th, 1987

The Plot (Courtesy of TV.Com): Laura has a baby girl - 8lbs, 3 oz! Anne goes back East. Mack asks Greg if he could be Paige's father, but Greg insists he never slept with Anne. Jill intercepts Olivia's letter for Peter and burns it. Paige thinks she and Peter are getting married. Peter tells Abby that he'd rather marry her. Abby tells him to dump Paige. After he does, Abby tells Peter to take a hike. Mack and Karen tell Paige that Greg may be her father. Crying, she says Anne was just being vindictive, but thinks this is why Peter broke it off with her. Ben tells Val that his obsession is ruining the family, and she thinks he has come back to his senses. Ben makes plans to leave the country, but tells Val he got a job in South America. Ben asks Mack to keep an eye on the family, and tells Gary that he's glad that the twins have him as security, in case something should ever happen to him. Ben leaves for his "job" in a taxi, but one gets the feeling he is really leaving forever.




                When we last left off, Anne had been humiliated via Mack and his invitation to dinner and his “Kiss the Cook” apron.  Spurned, Anne announced she would be returning to New York or wherever and then also threw a plot twist our way by telling Mack that Anne is Greg Sumner’s daughter.  Hmmm, is that true?  We shall explore this question a bit more as we discuss Parental Guidance.



                Actually, in truth we don’t explore this question all that much this ep, although it does come up.  Mostly it seems like the writers want to draw this mystery out a little longer, keep it going over the summer and not resolve it until we get started with the ninth season.  For the purposes of this ep, we have some footage of Mack wrestling with his feelings on how Anne was such a manipulative liar (“The more I spend time with Anne, the more I feel I don’t know her at all,” he opines in a scene that I have already forgotten about but which I put down in my notes as, “Good acting from The Dobsonator”).  Also, we get a little bit in which Karen and Mack try to tell Paige that she ain’t Mack’s daughter, but she’s having none of it.  Paige is more familiar with her mother’s manipulations and can see right through this little charade.  She tells Mack that Anne only invented this little bit of information after she got burned by him, that it was self-defense and nothing more.  That’s about all we get for this storyline this ep, and I do have to admit that while there’s nothing wrong with this story, it’s not really compelling me in any special way.  Is it because of my 20/20 hindsight vision and the fact that I know how this is going to turn out?  That’s a possibility, but I also think this just isn’t a particularly exciting story.  MBG seems to find it compelling, however, and she started talking about how she isn’t sure who the real father is, that this is a good plot twist and all that, but I think I disagree.  Mostly it’s the fact that Paige has only been on the show for a year and yet we’ve already seen so many examples of her being used as a plot function.  She’s introduced and the first mystery is, “Is she really Mack’s daughter?”  Then after we got past that, we saw the Paige Matheson headstone and the mystery became, “Is Paige actually dead and this girl is just an imposter?”  Now that we’ve added Anne into the equation and then sent her packing (for a few years), we are now faced with the new mystery of, “Who is Paige’s real father?”  I remember really liking the Paige character a lot and I have the feeling that I will still like her once we move a little further away from this year and she’s become more established, but I have to say the season eight Paige is not really doing it for me the way I remembered.  Part of it is the fact that she shows up to the series and immediately starts getting so much attention and so many stories built around her, while at the same time old veterans I love like Laura and Lilimae are getting absolutely nothing to do.  Part of it is that I just want this character to be; I want to get nice and settled on who Paige Matheson is and what she’s like and what makes up her core and then let her go about having her stories from there.  Instead, the writers throughout this year have been so eager to keep her shrouded in mystery, her true origins always cloudy or unknown, and it’s just getting old at this point.



                Hey, I just mentioned Laura and how she’s got nothing to do and, wouldn’t you know it, she actually kinda sorta does have something to do this ep.  Now, before you get too excited, I should mention that Laura’s entire story pretty much remains offscreen this week; in fact, off the top of the head, before doing any research to confirm, I have the suspicious feeling that Laura doesn’t even actually show her face this ep, that rather we just get a lot of offscreen Laura being mentioned by other characters.  I just took a quick look at the (probably wildly inaccurate) IMDb page for this episode and Constance is credited just like normal, none of that “(credit only)” business like they sometimes do.  However, I’ve got the ep pulled up in front of my on my computer and I can definitely confirm that Laura is nowhere to be seen during the biggest announcement of the ep, which is that she has given birth yet again.  Seriously, this is awkwardly done, because we start the scene with Mack in the bathroom (he’s just standing at the sink in his robe, not taking a shit or anything like that) and then the phone rings and we cut to Sumner on the other end, standing in a hospital and looking proud while that bad music I’m always complaining about this year plays over the soundtrack.  As soon as Mack answers, Greg is all enthused and is like, “Laura just had a little girl!”  Oh yeah, and a little later we get to add Cigar #28 to the Sumner Cigar Counter (in a scene on his ranch in which he’s talking with Mack).  



I’m happy for Laura for having this little girl (and for finally getting a girl after the double whammy of boys that was Jason 4 and Daniel), but Jesus, couldn’t we have at least seen….something?  This feels like footage was chopped out for syndication, but I’m pretty sure that’s not it, since I watched the ep via my DVDs and then again via my top secret internet measures, in which the eps are all original broadcast versions.  It’s just odd how we don’t get any footage of Laura going into labor, or making the journey to the hospital, or doing the whole “Push push” thing that’s so popular amongst women giving birth; we get none of that.  Instead, we just have Greg making a phonecall, in a static and boring shot of him standing in a hallway in which it appears the director (this week it’s Nick Havinga, who has done some very fine work for us in the past) decided to just plop the camera on a tripod and let the filming commence.  The fact that Laura is so disrespected by the writers at this point that they can’t even bother to give us some small bit of footage of her giving birth just shows that this character is better off retired.  I think I might have said something like this before, but fuck it, here it comes again.  Understand that when I say Laura is better off retired, it doesn’t mean I don’t love the character, because of course I love this character, and I have since the Pilot.  But we will be losing Laura very soon, just a few eps into season nine, and right now I think that’s the right decision, because why bother having her in the show, in those scrolling squares, a main cast member who’s been around since 1979, if you’re not gonna give her anything to work with?  I again remind you that neither J.B. nor Peter (nor Paige, for that matter) are main cast members right now; they are also credited as guest stars or recurring or whatever, and yet they get major, significant storylines that span all year, so why is Laura sitting off on the sidelines?  It seems disrespectful to the character, but it also reeks of the writers not even wanting to write this much for her.  I definitely get the sense that Constance got pregnant in real life (which I already knew, but I even went and double checked and confirmed that she gave birth to Marguerite Weisman on February 25th, 1987) and the writers just had to scramble to write this pregnancy into the story.  You get the sense that they just don’t care, that they’re maybe even resentful at the real life Constance for having the gall to get pregnant yet again (remember she was pregnant in real life the last time Laura had a baby on the show).  In my memories, this pregnancy and the baby and what winds up happening with the baby over the next six years provide us with great material and tons of exciting stories, but at this exact moment, only focusing in on this eighth season and how Laura’s pregnancy has been handled, it kinda sucks.  Laura’s an original series cast member and she’s a very interesting and funny character and she deserves more respect.



    We get an interesting bit of business between Olivia and Abs early in the ep.  If you’ll recall, our last ep showed Olivia catching a towel-clad Paige romping around Peter’s apartment, and that’s got her all upset now, so she shows up at the start of this ep to her new house with Abs (if I haven’t mentioned it yet; the two have now settled in a fabulous new place which I believe they will inhabit for the rest of Abby’s time on the series), all upset and distraught.  Abs asks her what’s wrong and then Olivia pulls a joint out of her purse and hands it to Abs.  She’s all crying and tells Abs how she wasn’t going to smoke it and doesn’t even know why she got it in the first place, and Abs says it’s okay.  I like that, by the way.  I like that Olivia stumbled and went and bought the joint but now she’s giving it to Abs and being direct with her, and I like that Abs doesn’t get mad at her because of it.  Also, even though I support Olivia’s path to sobriety and all that, I kinda like to imagine that as soon as Olivia gets to bed, Abs is gonna call up a boy and have him over to blaze up the doobie and hop in the hot tub together for a nice stoned shag. 



I gotta say, as we are moving closer and closer to our season finale and the end of our discussions of season eight, Olivia is really coming out smelling like a rose this year.  It seems that no matter what’s going on in the series around her, Olivia always delivers, proving my point once again that Tonya Crowe was a very underrated little actress.  I’ve loved watching her grow from the little nine year old girl she was when first introduced and start to become a much more important part of the series.  This year they gave her the big cocaine storyline to work with and I thought she did great, and I still think she’s great right here, even in a small scene like giving the joint to Abs.  I always believe in Olivia as a real person and I like that she’s allowed to be flawed and sometimes a little brat, but there’s a certain core goodness to her.  A lot of the stories this season have been wildly problematic, but Olivia has looked good the whole way through.



You know that whole letter that Sylvia wrote and that she wanted to be given to, you know, somebody or other in the event of her death?  Well, I’m not compelled by this plot arc either, but it’s still here and we’re still dealing with it.  Last ep, Olivia got angry and mailed that letter to Gary, information she volunteers to Abs in this ep.  As soon as she hears this, Abs kicks into action, calling Gary up and saying how Olivia was so upset and all that, and then she makes up a fib right and quick by telling him that Olivia wrote an angry letter and mailed it to him, but she regrets it and doesn’t want him to see it.  She suggests that Gary send the letter back to her and she’ll tell Olivia she destroyed it, to which Gary agrees, although I do have to question this.  As I’m watching this play out, I feel two ways.  I continue to marvel at Abby’s ability to swoop in and clean up a situation with some lies, but I also question whether these lies would still work on Gary.  After three years of marriage and another year or so before that in which they were shagging a lot, I’d think Gary would be able to recognize Abby’s manipulations when they come his way.  I’m not so sure I believe he would just believe Abs about this letter and agree to send it back; he’s seen her work before and he knows how she operates, how she’s able to talk in a way that sounds so gentle and genuine, even when every word she says is dripping with falsities.  At the same time, I can see how complicated these things are, that their long marriage would make Gary familiar with Abby’s lies but also with her moments of honesty, those times when she lets her guard down and just speaks the naked truth.  



In any case, Gary never sees the letter because J.B. gets word of its impending arrival and nicely takes care of it.  She shares a short flirtation with Gary, something about going off to sunny Acapulco to shag a lot, and then as soon as he vacates the room, she grabs the stack of mail and goes through it, finding nothing.  Fortunately, a little later the letter arrives and J.B. throws it right in the fireplace, making me wish I had a fireplace of my own.  In fact, since this story isn’t all that interesting, let’s just take a detour and talk about how great fireplaces are and how I wish they were still standard in all houses.  How amazing is it to just light a total fire and have a fire blazing inside of your home, but nicely self-contained in this little area made just specifically for the purposes of having a fire?  And why is the heat from a real, true fire so much better than the heat you get just by pushing a button and turning it on?  And why are fires so unbelievably romantic?  Why is making sweet love in front of the fireplace just so unbelievably appealing?  Finally, how awesome would it be to have a fireplace that you can just throw paper into whenever you feel like it?  If I had a fireplace, I would burn all my mail just for the sheer joy of it.

Let’s talk about Ben and then we’ll wrap it up.  Ben is achingly close to leaving the series forever, and in fact, this ep marks his penultimate appearance.  Watching it, I actually thought this might wind up being his very final appearance, because it sure feels that way, but he gets one small scene over the phone in our next ep, so that’s the truly last appearance.  Anyway, as we catch up at Val’s house this week, we see that Ben is becoming more and more unhinged, more and more of a paranoid maniac.  Sure, things looked bad when he was attacking Lilimae and nearly breaking her neck in the middle of the night, but I’d say they’re looking worse now.  Things kick off when the ever popular ice cream man comes rolling up to Seaview Circle and Lilimae gets ready to head out with the kids.  Val tells her to pick up a pint of ice cream for the grown ups later, making me wonder why Val doesn’t just walk the five steps required to go out to the ice cream truck alongside her mother and children, but whatever.  As soon as Lilimae opens the door, Ben appears at the top of stairs screaming and throwing a hissy fit, saying how it’s insane to think the kids can go outside, questioning whether anyone is listening to him, going on and on about all the planning they’ve been doing, and so on and so forth.  After a moment, he sorta snaps back and starts rubbing his forehead and going on about how weird he’s acting, then he takes the kids outside to get their ice cream.

Throughout the rest of the ep, we get a lot of Ben telling Val how he’s getting back to work, how he needs to get back to work “working for a crusty old alcoholic journalist” and not working with Abby or Gary or whoever.  Val is very pleased to hear this news, but I think us viewers should all be getting that sinking feeling in the pits of our stomach.  We all remember how Richard made his evacuation from the series, and this has a familiar ring to it.  Similar to Richard’s M.O., Ben acts casual about how he’s gonna have to go off to somewhere far away (I think South America again, but I wasn’t paying that much attention) and it’s no big deal, but then when he gets private moments with characters like Mack or Gary, he somewhat shows his hand.  In the case of Gary, he goes on about how it’s good to know Gary’s around in case something bad ever happens to him, that Gary will be around to take care of Val and the kids.  Really, this feels like Ben giving permission to Gary, that he’s admitting that Gary is Val’s true soul mate and the one she belongs with.

Our final scene of the ep brings us even stronger flashbacks to Richard’s final moments on the show, as Val walks Ben out to the curb and helps him climb into the cab and drive away.  They hug and Ben says how he’ll call her every night at nine, and she’s being all nice and supportive and everything seems nice, but when Ben gets in the cab and begins to depart, we hold on his face and we all realize what’s going on.  Ben is blowing town and he’s never coming back.  Now, if this was really Ben’s truly final appearance, I’d start going on about how great Douglas Sheehan was in this role and how much I’m gonna miss him and what qualities Ben brought to the table over the course of his four years, but we still have one more teeny tiny appearance from him next ep, so I’ll save my thoughts until then.

I’d say that’s about all I’ve got to discuss with Parental Guidance.  Overall, it was pretty good.  With these last few eps of season eight, I find myself enjoying them much more than I enjoyed anything that was going on concurrently with Hackney running around and spraying diarrhea all over the series, but I still think these eps are a little weak, a little lighter and fluffier.  I think the show is improving itself as we get closer to season nine, but I also think the season has been so inconsistent that it’s hard for me to get too excited about these eps, even if they are significantly better than most of what we’ve been given throughout this last year.  I think it will be easier to lighten up when we start season nine, a whole fresh year of television, and I can just officially leave all my traumatic memories of Hackney in the past. 
Okay, we've got a mere two eps left to go before we finish this year, so let's move right along to an episode with a very long title, Do Not Fold, Spindle, or Mutilate.




Thursday, January 9, 2020

KNOTS LANDING Episode 187 of 344: BREAKUP


Episode Title: Breakup

Season 08, Episode 27

Episode 187 of 344


Directed by Joe Coppoletta  

Original Airdate: Thursday, April 9th, 1987

The Plot (Courtesy of TV.Com): Peter pressures Olivia for the letter. Abby sees them kissing and is furious. Greg tells Abby that he is only after Olivia's letter. Olivia stops by Peter's, but when she sees Paige there, she sends the letter to Gary. Ben, thinking Val is Jean, freaks out. She thinks he is hallucinating from lack of sleep. Home again, Anne milks Mack's guilt over her suicide attempt. Anne tells Karen on the phone that she did it to bring Mack to his senses, that Mack is only with Karen out of obligation, and will never be happy in their little tract house on a dead end street with its barbecues and "Kiss the Cook" aprons. Mack overhears this. Mack invites Anne to dinner. He puts on his "Kiss the Cook" apron, and barbecues, while telling Karen how much he loves their life and home. Anne yells at him for insulting her. He yells that she insulted Karen. He says that he loves Karen, and not her. Furious, Anne tells him that he is not Paige's father - Greg is!more




                Welcome back and let us now discuss Breakup, which is aptly titled because this is when the bottom finally falls out on Mack and Anne having any sort of relationship.  After this ep, Anne is going to disappear for awhile, and we won’t be seeing her again until somewhere in the eleventh season, aside from a brief one-off appearance somewhere in season ten.  What leads Anne to take a hike for the next two years or so?  Read on.

                We all know that Anne only pretended to try and kill herself as a crass move to gain Mack’s affections.  The only person who hasn’t figured this out as of late is Mack himself, who we find doting on Anne like an ever faithful husband as she is returned to the cul-de-sac from her little stop off in the hospital.  What to make of this?  It’s complicated, because some might be tempted to say that Mack is a fool for allowing Anne to use him this way, but I think it just shows his big heart.  Mack has special feelings for Anne, even if he doesn’t love her the way he loves Karen, and he can’t even bring himself to fathom the idea that she would attempt suicide just to get something out of him.  I think he finds the idea so distasteful he can’t even entertain the notion.  Even so, we immediately get some awkward stuff between Mack, Anne, and Karen at the start of the ep, when they are picking Anne up from the hospital.  Due to shenanigans involving some sort of gigantic plant, Mack and Anne wind up cuddled up together in the backseat while Karen serves as the driver.

                Fortunately, Anne decides to completely morph into a moustache twirling villain at pretty much the precise moment that Mack walks in and sees her.  This happens late in the ep, when Anne is talking to Karen on the phone, lounging around the living room and listening to her old band on vinyl while they speak.  Karen gets direct and asks Anne to let Mack off the hook, saying how he feels responsible for her suicide attempt and that Anne is well aware of that.  Anne gets nice and wicked and is like, “You’re only with Mack now because I wasn’t here.”  Then she detours into a huge rant against suburban life and says how Karen lives on, “A little dead end street with your little dead end life with your little outdoor barbecue grill and your Kiss the Cook apron.”  Anne sounds so disgusted by everything she’s describing that you can actually hear the vomit and bile start to pour up through her throat and threaten to come out of her mouth.  This woman really hates the suburbs and really hates this cul-de-sac; I’ll be curious to hit season eleven and beyond and see where Anne finds herself living by the early ‘90s.  I honestly can’t remember how Anne is living and supporting herself by the time she returns to the fold, but I get the strong feeling she won’t be living anywhere near the cul-de-sac.  Anyway, the timing is fortuitous, although not exactly for Anne.  See, it’s just as she begins going into her anti-suburbs rant that Mack comes walking in, and we even get a pretty good camera move, because we are focused in on Anne as she says, “The truth is I never intended to die; I intended to bring Mack to his senses,” and then the camera sorta pulls out to reveal that Mack is standing right there in the doorway, hearing everything.  Now, I expected a big blowup here, for him to tell Anne he heard everything and he can’t believe she could be so wicked.  Instead, Anne hangs up the phone and Mack plays it cool for the time being, biding his time.



                What winds up happening is that Mack invites Anne to a big dinner at the house with him and Karen.  At first, Karen is upset, thinking that Mack’s not listening to her, that Anne will forever haunt their life, and of course Anne seems rather full of herself as she first arrives at this dinner and makes herself comfortable.  Then Mack busts out a big gift box for Karen and tells her to open it, which she does.  What’s in the box?  Well, it’s not a box of pain like in Dune, but it’s a box full of wieners.  Before you get too excited, let me clarify that these aren’t the kind of wieners I love and you love and pretty much everyone in the world should love; these are not male reproductive organs all packed up into a box, but rather a string of hot dog wieners.  Karen pulls this long string of wieners out of the box looking positively shocked, a bit of Michele acting that I actually think is way too much.  Okay, it’s weird for your husband to give you a box full of wieners, but the face Michele makes throughout this scene is just, I’m sorry, annoying.  She just has this SHOCKED expression on her face that’s way over-the-top and, again, I am yearning for some season three Karen, when she still knew the art of subtlety and underplaying her performance.  Anyway, after the wieners are revealed, Mack puts on his Kiss the Cook apron and announces he’s gonna go fire up the grill and cook the wieners.  The message to Anne is clear, and she is none too pleased about it.

                This scene is okay, I guess, if perhaps a bit much.  This whole situation and wrap-up seems like the kind of thing that can only happen in a TV show and never in real life.  I feel like in real life, Mack would have heard Anne talking on the phone and been like, “Yeah, I heard everything, you crazy bitch,” and that would be the end of it.  Doing this elaborate dinner with wieners packed into a gift box and a silly apron just seems like kinda a lot of fanfare to send the message to Anne that she’s a crazy bitch.  I also get the feeling that we as viewers are supposed to be very amused by this; that we’re supposed to think it’s just hysterical, but it didn’t particularly make me laugh, nor did it make My Beloved Grammy or Brother laugh.  It was just a sorta okay scene and that was the end of it.



                Hurt and humiliated, Anne marches across the street and prepares to march out of the series for awhile, as well, but not before throwing one final surprise at Mack.  This scene begins in a way I like very much, because now Mack is being all straight and honest, saying how he heard everything Anne said and now he knows how spiteful he is and that he loves Karen and his life on the cul-de-sac and that he’s never gonna leave it.  Then Anne declares how she’s gonna go back East, and when Mack asks her what about Paige, she says how Paige is not his concern and that, GASP!, Mack is not even Paige’s real father.  Then she drops the big bomb by saying how she’s not interested in Paige’s real father because, “Greg Sumner’s not really my type.”  Then she goes into her house and shuts the door and effectively ends the ep right here with this big revelation that I feel, well, pretty ambivalent towards.  Look, obviously I have some hindsight on the series having watched it once before, and so I can already tell you right now that no, Greg Sumner is not Paige’s father, but even if I didn’t have that hindsight, I don’t think this little twist would be doing much for me.  Obviously Anne is just feeling extra spiteful after her rejection from Mack, so she’s just trying to hurt him.  Is any viewer actually fooled by this?  If I was watching in 1987, would I be fooled?  Paige has only been on the show for a season now, and yet I feel they’ve really blown their wad too much when it comes to twists and turns and shocking revelations about this character.  First we were told she was Mack’s daughter, then we were told the real Paige Matheson was dead, and then we found out that Paige faked her death and that her mother is very much alive, and then we met the mother, and now we have the mother saying how Greg is actually Paige’s father and it’s all just a bit much.  Only now do I realize how strange it feels for Paige to enter the series out of the clear blue sky and immediately get so much attention from the writers and creative team. 

                I wanna move my attention over to some other characters, such as Olivia (yay!) and Peter (snore), but before I do that, let me give a quick wrap up for how I feel about Anne right now, at this exact point.  I have to say that, while I’m an Anne fan and always will be and enjoy the delightful relish Michelle Phillips displays whenever her character is being wicked, in truth this storyline didn’t work as well for me upon this viewing as it did once upon a time.  I remember the first time I powered through this epic voyage of a series and I just positively loved Anne’s arrival to the series and all the drama of  whether she would seduce Mack or not.  Now, it’s not nearly so thrilling to me as it once was.  Part of this might be that hindsight thing, that I can vividly remember the fact that Mack does not cheat with Anne, but another part of it is just watching this a second time with a more critical eye and, hopefully, a more developed brain.  Now I see that the writers have already leaned too heavily on stories of “Will Karen’s husband cheat on her?”  This was compelling way back in season two when Sid seemed to be getting a crush on Lynda Stryker (the lady mechanic), but now they’ve repeated it too much and it’s getting tiresome.  The worst thing is that they’re not even close to done; I know we are going to return at least one more time to a story of whether Mack will cheat on Karen. 

                And while we’re on the subject, I wanna point out some behind the scenes info that is probably common knowledge amongst KL fans, and that is the fact that the writers originally had it mapped out for Mack and Anne to shag and a whole bunch of drama to develop from that.  Wisely, very wisely, Michele spoke to the creative team and said Mack wouldn’t cheat on Karen and that the show needed at least one solid, stable couple that’s not constantly stepping out on each other.  Much like Donna speaking up about how Abs would never do something so evil as to directly steal Val’s babies away from her, Michele showed here that she understands the characters and their cores better than the team of writers who are currently cooking up storylines.  Seriously, what idiot thought it would be a good idea to have Mack cheat?  Why would you throw away nearly five years of this man being a great character and a fabulous husband just for the sake of some soapy drama?  That’s the kind of thing I would expect from Dallas but not from KL, and so I applaud Michele for nipping that in the bud before it was too late.  At the same time, it kinda winds up making this storyline feel like much ado about nothing.  Anne moves to town, acts wicked for awhile, tries to seduce Mack, does a manipulative suicide attempt, all so that Mack can reconfirm what we viewers already knew, that he is a faithful husband and loves Karen. 

                That about does it for the Karen/Mack/Anne triangle, but honestly there’s not too much else going on in this ep.  Looking through my notes here, I think I’ll shift the attention over to Olivia (age sixteen) and her new romance with Peter (age way-too-old-for-Olivia).  This has been kinda quietly brewing in the sidelines for awhile, ever since Olivia kicked the nose candy and decided to become a spokesperson for anti-drug stuff.  She first met Peter awhile back and, of course, thinks he’s totally dreamy.  Anyway, romance is blooming between Olivia and Peter (who’s actual age is 34, which I just looked up a moment ago), but I don’t think it’s necessarily because Peter is actually interested in Olivia. Rather, Olivia has this mysterious lazy Plot Contrivance Letter that Sylvia handed her before she just sorta vanished off the show.  Then Sylvia died offscreen in our last ep (you remember; she fell in the bathtub and died, a death with no dignity cooked up by writers who are struggling to figure out what to do with this whole storyline) and now Peter desperately wants this letter.  I forget what all is in this letter, mostly because I wasn’t paying as much attention as I probably should have been (I’ll start paying more attention again when we hit season nine).  I think the letter basically just lays out the truth for all to see and says that Peter is not Sylvia’s son and that he’s also not Galveston’s son, either.  



                Sylvia’s funeral is this ep, and Olivia gets all dressed up to go, hoping to catch the eye of Peter, which she does.  Then the two sit off in some corner of the cemetery and talk about life and this mysterious letter of Sylvia’s, but then Peter plants a big old kiss on Olivia at the precise moment that Abs spots them from far off.  She comes marching up to them and demands Peter stay away from her daughter, a reasonable demand, in my opinion.  It’s not just that Peter is more than double the age of Olivia, but it’s also the fact that Peter has been inside of Abs.  How weird would it be if he started shagging Olivia next?  The man’s penis has known the very deepest crevices of Abby’s exceptionally popular vagina, and now it’s gonna go exploring the  vagina of her daughter?  Sorry, way too creepy.  If I was about to shag some older dude and then this older dude casually dropped how he had been deep inside of my own mother, I would throw that dude to the curb; let me tell you.

                The climax of this storyline for the week is that it’s late one night and Peter and Paige are shagging.  They finish their shag and Paige runs off to take a shower, and at that precise moment there’s a knock on the door and, GASP!, it’s Olivia, come to pay Peter a visit.  If I remember correctly, she’s planning to give him that letter because she knows he wants it real bad, but then she glances up and sees Paige, adorned in nothing more than a towel, stretching out and revealing herself in the big circular mirror on the ceiling.  Real fast, why is this mirror here?  It’s the kind of mirror they have at convenience stores to stop people from stealing, the big circle kind that effectively show you the entire landscape of an open space.  What architect puts this kind of mirror in an apartment?  It’s really only here so that Olivia can see Paige in the mirror and get the big eyes and realize what a man whore Peter is.  Not only that, but he’s man-whoring with the blonde that Olivia thought was her good, close friend.  Enraged, Olivia heads to the nearest mailbox and addresses that Sylvia letter to Gary and sends it away.  



                Real fast, I want to make it clear that I do not care about this storyline.  The entire handling of Sylvia as a character has been so sloppy this year, and the fact that she just randomly vanished from proceedings and then died offscreen has really given me a distaste for this whole thing.  The letter feels like a bad plot device designed to create some minor tension without this character having to be onscreen or, indeed, even alive.  I’m also getting a little tired of the device of one character paying another character a random late night visit only to spot a third character dressed in a towel or less off in the background.  Seriously, what is it with these women that they can’t just take a simple shower?  They need to come walking out of the bathroom and stand directly in front of a big mirror and do a whole series or stretching and hair maneuvers even though they know there’s someone else at the door.  This is only done to get characters from point A to B, to allow Olivia to see what shagging is going on within the confines of Peter’s apartment. 



                The only other character worth talking about this ep is Ben, who is still not coping well.  My asshole tightened up really violently when we got started with this ep because I spotted, in that block of credits that we see every ep after the opening, the listing of "actress" Wendy Fulton as Jean Hackney.  Oh God no, I thought to myself as the vomit came flooding up my throat.  She’s back?  I thought for 100% certainty that she made her last appearance in Deadly Combination, so what was her name doing in the credits here?  MBG also noticed her name and admitted to feeling nervous, afraid that this disaster of a character was going to be re-entering the proceedings.  No, no, no, we can all relax, ladies and gentlemen, because this is just another instance in which we get a really quick flash of the character because Ben is going crazy and he thinks all women look like Hackney now.  In this case, I think it’s Val.  I think Ben walks into the house and Val is doing something in the living room and there’s just a super quick flash in which she looks like Hackney, but then she turns back into Val.  The good news is that I’m pretty sure this is; this is the real last appearance of Hackney and she shan’t be tainting the series anymore after this little incident.



                Basically, Ben is unravelling.  We get a small but important scene between him and Lilimae here in which she encourages him to get back to work, to stop hanging around the house and being so depressed.  I’m glad to see that Lilimae has gotten past that whole awkward incident in which Ben placed her in a headlock and almost broke her neck (whoops!), and I tend to like any quiet scene between these two characters, mostly because it’s nice to see them getting along after such a long time of Lilimae being so difficult with him.  Also, let’s just go ahead and say it now; Ben is not long for the series at this point.  He’s only got two more eps to his name and then Ben goes to the same place in the sky occupied by Sid, Kenny, Ginger, Richard, Diana, Joshua, and Cathy.  Yes, it’s true, Ben is about to leave the series, and while I’ll save the little eulogy about the overall character for the time he makes his actual final appearance, let’s just say that we can all feel the writers getting ready to ship him off.  There’s an aura of inevitability whenever he’s onscreen, and I don’t think anyone’s going to be shocked when he makes his permanent exodus from proceedings.

                That’s about all I got for this ep.  It was, you know, okay.  I’m pretty underwhelmed by the eighth season in general at this point, but I do think we’re on an upswing right now, that Nightmare served as the rock bottom of this season and now the writers are beginning to get things back on track, gliding us into what will (hopefully) be a much better season nine.  So even though we’re on an upward trend, I am still just sorta passive about the drama unfolding right now.  I have a hard time caring too much about Olivia and Peter, for instance, and Mack and Anne isn’t nearly as sizzling or as funny as I had once remembered it to be.  We’re in a much, much better place than we were a few eps back with Nightmare, but there’s still a myriad of storytelling flaws going on right now.

                Three eps to go.  Let us now proceed onward to Parental Guidance.