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.


3 comments:

  1. I agree about Carlos being underrated. I also feel the same way about Peggy.

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    Replies
    1. Agreed on Peggy, who some fans seem to really hate for some reason? I love Carlos because he's loyal to Sumner and you can tell that he loves him and you can also tell that Sumner loves Carlos in his own special, weird Sumner way.

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  2. What? Everyone loves Peggy. No one hates Peggy.

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