Thursday, March 4, 2021

KNOTS LANDING Episode 217 of 344: DISCOVERY

 

Episode Title: Discovery

 

Season 09, Episode 27

 

Episode 217 of 344

 

Written by James Stanley

 

Directed by Lawrence Kasha

 

Original Airdate: Thursday, April 28th, 1988

 

The Plot (Courtesy of TV.Com): Paige invites Sexy Michael to Mexico. Manny instructs Johnny to send Paige home because she's causing delays, but she won't leave. The piece of art is found and declared a fake. Angry, Paige decides to go to a reporter. Manny tells his men to kill everyone at the site, and to make it look like it was done by Mexicans. The police tell everyone at Lotus Point to act natural as they investigate Manny. Then the police halt the investigation, saying Manny works for the government in covert operations. Olivia goes home, but refuses to speak to Abby. Jill calls Val and plays another tape of Ben and hangs up. Val plays "Ben's" tape to Gary, but it's blank. Jill convinces Gary that Val's probably going crazy and might be suicidal. Dropping off the twins, Jill overhears Val tell neighbors that she is so wound up about Ben that her doctor prescribed sleeping pills, but she won't get them. Jill steals the prescription and gets it filled.

              Welcome to Discovery and, well, let's just say that I already have problems with this ep.  In fact, so little of importance happens in this ep that my notes are perhaps the sparsest I have ever taken, with just a couple of notations about what's going on and that's about it.  If you opened up my little red spiral notebook and found the page where I wrote about this ep, you would only see these notes:

·         -Val plays the tape for Gary/Gets crickets

 

·         -Nice shout-out to season six Verna storyline

 

·         -Sexy Michael mentions he wants to go to Mexico/Paige says he should

 

·         -Sexy Michael tells a sob story about him and Paige/I lose some respect for him/Not his best acting

 

·         -This Mexico storyline is pretty boring

 

·         -Nice scene between Val + Pat drinking wine + talking about Ben

 

·         -Another Sid callback with reference to the stolen auto parts

 

·         -End on Manny saying something cryptic + evil.

 

 

 


Yup, and those are all the notes I got.  I told you this ep was sparse.  In any case, with my notes laid out before me, let’s go ahead and work our way through them, starting with Val playing that tape for Gary.  As you guys can probably already guess, all the stuff related to this story is my favorite portion of the ep.  When J.B. stole that key and snuck into Val’s house last ep, I think we all knew what plan she was cooking up.  She has erased the phony Ben tape and left nothing but a blank tape in its wake, leading to a humiliating scene where Val calls Gary over and is like, “Alright, I’m gonna play the tape,” and then discovers there’s nothing on it, finding herself having a sudden kinship with John Travolta in Blow Out.  I like the small details in KL, and in this scene, I like how Val plays the tape, hears nothing, and then is like, “Oh, I’d better rewind it,” but that doesn’t help, so then she plays a different tape with a message from Gary to show that her machine is working fine, and then she puts the other tape in and the tape is still as empty as my conscious. 

 

I also like Shack’s acting in this scene, which is nice and subtle, the way he looks concerned as Val fumbles with the types, the way that when Val says there was a message on the tape, he says, “Yeah, sure,” not in the dismissive way, but more in the way where he’s kinda placating her but she sees through it.  With that, Val gets kinda angry and is like, “Don’t think I’m crazy; there was a message on this tape.”  The thing is that Val does look crazy and that’s why I appreciate one of the next scenes, which is that shout-out to Verna Ellers in Shula, Tennessee, that I mentioned in my notes.  See, we cut from Val being like, “No, the message was real!” to that one wonderful and glorious character known as Psycho Jill, who is busy throwing the tape into the fireplace and saying, “Bye bye, Ben,” a fabulous line delivered impeccably by a brilliant actress.  Then Gary walks in and tells her what happened and when Psycho Jill asks, “You don’t think Val’s making this up, do you?” Gary says, “I dunno, she’s always been a little high strung,” which is a tremendous understatement.  Then he says, “A few years ago, when she thought the babies were dead, she did go a little crazy.”  Again, a tremendous understatement.  Val went totally batty and turned into another human being for something like seven or eight eps.  “Going a little crazy,” is more when you get angry and act nutty for a little while and then get over it.  Val really went deep when she went off the, um, deep end.  You all know how much I love KL’s rich character backstory and past history, and I love whenever we get callbacks to what’s happened before, especially when it helps to intersect with what we are seeing right here and right now in front of us.  In this case, I feel like other shows would maybe not mention Verna Ellers again, wanting the viewers to forget about how nutty Val went, but KL remembers what’s gone before.  I also have to wonder if this is the first that Psycho Jill is hearing about this.  In all the time she’s been with Gary, has he ever walked her through the history of the last nine seasons?  Or hell, he would technically have to walk her through a history that starts around 1962 or thereabouts, when he first walked into that diner and fell in love with Val.  But do you think Gary has ever just gone point by point through his history with Val for Psycho Jill?  Probably not, and I imagine Psycho Jill has kinda had to piece it all together from Gary’s disparate stories about his one true soul mate.

 


Psycho Jill is a busy bee this ep (though not as busy as she will be in the next two eps), because after she burns the tape (and what I wouldn’t give to have a working fireplace that I could throw things into), she stops by Val’s house for, you know, some alleged reason.  Oh yeah, I remember, it’s because the twins are staying with Gary and Psycho Jill and so Psycho Jill comes to the house looking for Binky and Boots, the twins’ beloved stuffed animals.  She arrives to find Val and Pat sipping wine in the kitchen and being cute together, which I loved.  I keep saying this because I’m like a broken record and can’t stop repeating myself, but I love seeing Val and Pat being friendly and I love the way the Williams family is becoming an established part of the cul-de-sac. I’m gonna say something probably very contentious that lots of fans will probably not agree with, but here it comes, a possible hot take.  I really am not missing either Laura or Lilimae at this point, even though I loved both characters dearly.  I think Laura’s death has opened up a box of new storytelling that I like a lot and I just don’t seem to be thinking that much about Lilimae at all; I’m just glad she’s off living happily ever after with Red Buttons, driving that big obnoxious trailer around the world and having bad A.D.R. together.  Also, my love for the Williams family means I don’t really miss those older characters because I’m glad to see these new ones getting settled down.

 


Anyway, there’s a lot to digest in this scene.  We’ve got Val and Pat sipping their wine (which looks really shitty to me; there’s something about the big, weirdly shaped bottle that just looks cheap and gross), and we’ve also got an interesting line from Psycho Jill.  Val asks her if she’d like some wine and Psycho Jill says, “I promised Gary I’d stick to water.”  This is an interesting bit of candor; is Psycho Jill basically admitting she has a problem and saying she’s not going to drink anymore?  I just think it’s interesting that she is so blunt in saying this, not caring about saying it in front of Val or Pat.  Has Gary mentioned to any of his circle of friends how Psycho Jill was drinking too much and acting really mouthy?  Well anyway, that’s not really the important part of the scene; what’s important is that Val says the doctor gave her a prescription for sleeping pills, Flurazepam, as confirmed via Pat.  At first, I wondered if this was a real pill or just something made up for the show, but Dictionary.com gave me this description when I typed in the word: “A benzodiazepine, C 21 H 23 ClFN 3 O, used in its hydrochloride form as a sedative and hypnotic in the management of insomnia and to alleviate anxiety states.”  So there you go, it’s a real pill and it’s something that a real doctor would probably prescribe.  By the way, as of this writing, I have just started a new medication to help me sleep (and it’s working, thank God), but mine is called Quetiapine.  Val says how she feels weird about taking sleeping pills and I wanna jump into the TV and tell her no, sleeping pills are great, you finally are able to sleep like a rock and you have cool, trippy dreams.  Anyway, as Val goes on about how she’s not gonna fill the prescription, Psycho Jill sips water and looks wicked and then we cut to her at the pharmacy pretending to be Val and getting the prescription.  Now this I do have to question; how does she manage to just waltz into a pharmacy and pick up someone else’s prescription?  Doesn’t the pharmacy ask for ID and stuff like that?  When I get my prescription, the pharmacist asks for my name and ID and my date of birth and all that stuff.  I can’t just walk up and ask for whatever the hell pills I want. I kinda wondered if Psycho Jill found some clever way to make a fake ID or whatever, but nah, she probably didn’t, this is probably just a writing oversight.  But then again, I was not alive in 1988 (we’re getting close; we are now negative two years away from my birth), so maybe it was easier to swing stuff like this back in the ‘80s. 

 


Okay, so Psycho Jill and everything surrounding her is brilliant, as I expected, but unfortunately the rest of the episode is a snore.  In fact, it’s a literal snore because Brother actually fell asleep and slept through the entire ep.  At first, I threw a hissy fit and told him not to sleep through something as divine as KL, but later I realized that, if you were gonna sleep through one ep on this disk, this is the one to pick, because nothing much happens.  The other stories going on are all about Mexico and Manny Vasquez, two things I just don’t care that much about.  I do wanna take a little detour and say that I was watching Basic Instinct again the other day, a movie I love (big Paul Verhoeven fan here), and I noticed that Sharon Stone’s dead ex-husband is also named Manny Vasquez.  Coincidence?  As far as I know, Joe Eszterhas has never had anything to do with KL and has never seen KL and was probably too busy throughout the ‘80s going up to women and saying, “I like your ass; call me.”  So anyway, I’m pretty sure that this Manny Vasquez business in Basic Instinct is just a coincidence, but it’s still something I noted, and writing about Basic Instinct is more interesting than writing about this storyline.  However, write about this storyline I must, so here we go.  Karen and Mack continue to fret and overact, both Michele and The Dobsonator giving some of their worst performances.  I think we’ve definitely reached the point where it’s fucking season nine and the actors are going to do what they want, damn it.  I wish someone had the balls to reign Michele in at this point, but she’s been around since the Pilot, and if she wants to scream and hyperventilate and overreact, she’s going to do all of that.  The Dobsonator is suffering a similar problem at this juncture in which he just seems to yell a lot, as if the sheer act of yelling will make this material more exciting. There’s a bad scene where Karen and Mack drive around and Mack screams, “He’s running drugs through Lotus Point!”  Why are you shouting like you’re at a football game, Mack?  Karen is sitting right next to you; talk to her like a normal person. 

 


Anyway, I wasn’t really paying that much attention to this storyline, but I guess there’s some plot twist where the feds tell everyone that Manny isn’t actually evil, that he’s, like, some sort of government plant that’s helping to go undercover and bust the drug guys or, you know, something.  Is this all bullshit?  We keep seeing scenes of Manny making evil phone calls and wishing desperately he was Don Corleone, even though he’s not worth a strand of Don Corleone’s pubic hair.  Also, the end of the ep has him making some sort of an evil phone call and telling someone to kill, I think, Paige, and make it look like the Mexicans did it, so I guess he is evil. 

 


We also get a scene I didn’t love between Karen and Abs in which Abs goes on this big soliloquy about how she wants to stop drugs forever by getting “whoever’s at the top,” and while I like that we get a callback to Olivia’s coke problem from last year, I just find Abby’s speech to be silly.  This is probably gonna sound weird and might be hard to explain, but I just kinda don’t care that much about drugs and who takes them and who sells them.  I’ve never been one of those people who thinks a “war on drugs” is necessary; if people want drugs, they will get them, and some people take them in moderation or just for occasional fun and it’s not a big thing, and some people get addicted.  It’s sorta like how there’s this idea that, say, cigarettes are inherently evil because they kill people.  Cigarettes aren’t evil; they are just cigarettes, they are just a product, and it’s the choice of individual people whether to smoke them or not.  I feel the same way about booze and about most drugs.  The whole idea propagated by cinematic landmarks like Death Wish 4: The Crackdown that drugs are inherently evil and that all the people who sell them are evil, well, I just don’t cotton to that idea.  I’m also gonna be bold here and say there’s no way Abs has never done coke.  I’m absolutely positive that, at least on one occasion, Abs snorted some coke at a party or perhaps while shagging some random guy; there’s just absolutely no way that she hasn’t at least tried one bump in her life, so this silly little speech of hers just feels disingenuous to me. 

 

Aside from that, we’ve also got the colossal snore of everything going on in Mexico.  Who in the world cares about this story?  Why do shows always make the horrible mistake of sending their characters to foreign locations and why does it almost always work out so poorly?  I read that the powers-that-be were starting to consider possibly spinning off the young cast into their own show, and yeah, now that I think of it, that’s what this story kinda feels like, cuz they’re all so isolated in their own world and it almost feels like it doesn’t relate to anything going on back in California.  I was about to write in my notes that at least this ep gives us some amazing shirtless Sexy Michael, but that’s actually the next one, so this ep officially has nothing to offer in the Mexico department.  No wonder so many fans have a hard time getting into Paige at first; she entered the series with a long, boring, drawn out storyline that went on forever and thought it was way more clever than it was, and then just as she’s starting to come into her own and be a great character, she gets shipped to Mexico with Johnny Rourke for this unbelievably boring Indiana Jones Lite story.  By the way, when I say some people have a hard time getting into Paige, I am referring to many people, but MBG is one of them.  She continues to say she doesn’t like Paige at all, but I do think her feelings will change as we get deeper into the show.  At this point, she says Paige is a conniver and just an unpleasant person.

 


I don’t talk about MBG and her opinions on things enough cuz I’m a complete narcissist who only cares about himself and his own opinions, so I decided to do a little interview with her before we watched these eps and see where she stands on characters and such.  I asked her who her favorite character on the show was and said it could be anyone, including someone who isn’t on the show anymore, and she surprised me by saying Sid.  Saint Sid (who is referenced in this ep, by the way, which I appreciated) has been dead since 1981 and it’s now 1988, plus the man only appeared in 33 eps out of 344, so I’m kinda surprised My Beloved Grammy holds him in such high esteem.  She also said that, by the time Lilimae left the show, she liked the character, and to that I say fucking finally, cuz it took her almost Lilimae’s entire time on the show to warm up to her.  Then she said how she doesn’t like Paige at all and that her favorite character who is currently on the show is Sumner, which is a fine choice. 

 

I think that oughta do it.  I didn’t much care for this ep cuz 2/3 of the storylines were boring, but at least 1/3 is devoted to Psycho Jill, which is riveting television that everyone should see and which is only going to get better as me proceed along to The Perfect Alibi.   


  

Thursday, February 18, 2021

KNOTS LANDING Episode 216 of 344: JUST DESSERTS

 

Episode Title: Just Desserts

 

Season 09, Episode 26

 

Episode 216 of 344

 

Written by William Devane and Don Mueller

 

Directed by Kevin Dobson

 

Original Airdate: Thursday, April 14th, 1988

 

The Plot (Courtesy of TV.Com): In Mexico, Johnny has orders from Manny to make sure the archaeological dig doesn't stop highway construction. Paige wants the highway stopped to find art. Hoping to stop it, she buries one of Greg's pre-Colombian statues for the students to dig up. Johnny sets the encampment on fire. Karen's furious that Mack is checking out Manny, and thinks it's out of jealousy. Frank tells Mack that the yachts are a front for bringing cocaine in from Mexico, but they don't have enough proof to hold up in court. Val listens to the tape from Ben over and over. Jill steals the key to Val's house and replaces the tape with a blank one. Olivia is found passed out at Harold's after overdosing on pills. Abby's very upset and waits at the hospital with Karen and Gary. Olivia wakes up and screams for Abby to get out. The doctor tells Abby that it's better if she doesn't visit Olivia.

 

 

 

                Hello to all my lovely readers out there in the internet world and welcome to Just Desserts.  This ep marked the first of season nine’s final disk of eps for myself, MBG, and Brother.  We all gathered together in the evening and powered through the final four eps in a binge of excitement and joy.  Anyway, when we last left off, J.B. was starting to go a little nutty and was turning into the J.B. that I know and love so well, the J.B. I’ve been waiting to see since she first emerged in the tail end of season six.  That story is going to continue blossomly nicely this week and I have no complaints in that department, but unfortunately the other stories are far more lacking and sorta kill the momentum we’ve been building throughout the season.  Let’s start with the negative stuff and just get that out of the way first and then we can focus on the brilliance that is the one and only J.B.  Oh yeah, and before I dive in, one thing I’d like to note is that this ep was written by two people, Don Mueller and the divine Devane.  I must have not been paying attention to the ep credits as we got started, because I didn’t notice he worked on this one until I started to write this essay.  I wish I had known in advance, because then I would have focused in on that aspect of it more.  Devane has written, at this point, two eps, Survival of the Fittest (which was terrible) and Bouncing Babies (which was great).  I’d say his work on this ep falls right in-between those two; this is not as good as Bouncing Babies but it’s miles above Survival of the Fittest

 

                We open on a panicked Abs talking to a cop about how Olivia vanished and she has no idea where she is.  Honestly, even though Olivia related drama was a big factor in our last disk of eps, I had kinda forgotten all that, and so had MBG and Brother, so perhaps the story was just not that compelling for any of us. In this ep, we have a lot of Abs fretting and wringing her hands about Olivia, and then we find out that Olivia overdosed on, um….pills?  She doesn’t return to the nose candy, probably because that takes forever to kill you and she wants to do her suicide right and quick.  She’s discovered all overdosed and passed out and then, I think, she might slip into a Plot Contrivance Coma.  Even though I just watched this the other day, I can’t quite remember, mostly because I wasn’t paying that much attention to her storyline this ep.  Maybe she doesn’t slip into a Plot Contrivance Coma, but I’m pretty sure she does, or is it just that she’s overdosed and she’s gonna be passed out until they get the drugs out of her system? 

 

                In any case, when Olivia wakes up, she is not happy to see her mother and she screams at her to get out and, a little later, the doctor tells Abs that she’d best leave Olivia alone for awhile so that she can get better.  That’s about it for the storyline, which is kinda boring, but what I found most notable about it was the use of not one, not two, but three flashback scenes featuring Abs and Olivia.  I am ashamed to say that I can’t recognize which eps these clips are coming from, but I know they’re all from seasons two and three, when Abs was still fresh and new to the cul-de-sac and Olivia was just a tiny little girl.  I like the use of the flashbacks because, first of all, they aren’t too overpowering, meaning we don’t enter the territory of the dreaded clip show.  Around this period, Dallas had completely run out of gas and the tank was empty and running on fumes and they started to way overdo the use of clips from old eps; it became this almost comical, constant thing.  This isn’t nearly the same since the clips are short and they actually do relate to the story at hand.  I also liked seeing this cuz it just kinda reminds us of how long we’ve been watching the show.  It’s fun to see the younger 1980 Abs and just get a quick reminder of how the show looked and sounded at that period.  I’m not jumping around in the show at all; we are watching start to finish and I don’t sneak back to look at old eps again and I won’t do so until we’ve finished the series, so this sorta stuff is like a friendly reminder of times gone by. 

 


                The other thing that I enjoyed in this storyline was Abs getting very sad and reflective and saying, “Back in Philadelphia, I had things under control.”  I wrote this in my notes and also wrote, “I forgot where she came from.”  If I went back to early season two, would I discover that they told us way back then that Abs was arriving from the city of brotherly love?  If they did, I had totally forgotten it, so this was also a nice reminder.  Also, as I’ve said before, I always enjoy those moments where Abs shows her naked emotions, and this is one of them.  She is sad that her life is this way now, that her daughter hates her and wants nothing to do with her and has almost killed herself, and so she’s reflecting back to simpler times, when Olivia was small and untroubled.  I’m pretty sure Abs is wearing some rose colored glasses in this regard, because back in Philadelphia she was married to boring square Transmorpher Jeff Cunningham and I’ll bet she wasn’t too happy with that, but we all tend to do this when we’re in the middle of a crisis and we think back over our pasts; suddenly we forget all the bad stuff about that era and only focus on the good stuff.

 


                Meanwhile, we’ve got continuing developments in the storyline of Manny Vasquez and his cocaine shipping and Karen’s weird little romance and all that crap.  Let me just blow my wad and say that none of this is compelling and I know that’s why I had forgotten all of it.  Throughout this whole disk, this storyline is Nyquil, plus it feels too much like a repeat of the stolen auto parts of season two and the evil Wolfbridge corporation of season five.  Anyway, in this ep, Karen is still going about thinking that Manny Vasquez is this great, awesome guy, refusing to believe Mack when he tells her that he thinks the man is dirty.  Now that Mack and Frank Williams have teamed up to be awesome together, we get a lot of Frank lurking around Lotus Point while wearing sunglasses inside and listening to Manny’s conversations.  Yeah, nothing says inconspicuous like a gigantic black man walking around and wearing sunglasses inside.  Considering that black people can’t even walk down the street in the year 2021 without being shot or slowly strangled to death for nine minutes by the police, I’d say this is a pretty unrealistic scene, but whatever, it’s still Frank and I love Frank and I’m glad to see him getting something to do.  Anyway, Frank quickly discovers that, yes, Manny is dirty and mixed up in cocaine and all sorts of bad things and he reports that to Mack, who reports it to Karen and, yeah, that’s about it for now.  This storyline is boring but it’s gonna stick with us for the rest of the season, so I’ll focus more on it in future eps.

 


                Let’s see, what else have I got in my notes.  Hmmm, looks like I wrote, “Oh Sexy Michael,” and that was the entire notation.  I wonder what Sexy Michael was doing that prompted me to write that.  Oh yeah, of course, it was because we had a scene of him and Karen talking in the kitchen and he’s wearing a white shirt and some of his chest is showing and he just looks unbelievably sexy, as always.  He gives a pretty bad performance in this scene, pounding his fists on the table and saying, “I should have spent more time with her!”, but I don’t really care because he’s so beautiful that it doesn’t matter whether he can act or not.  Also, I usually think he’s a pretty good actor and very natural; it’s only every now and then when he has to get really emotional that he comes up short. 

 

                Meanwhile, back in Mexico, absolutely no viewer could possibly care about what’s going on with this storyline involving Paige and Johnny.  I remembered the Mexico stuff, but I guess I forgot how long it goes on and how stupid it is.  I’m pretty sure this is also gonna stretch into the start of season ten, so yikes, prepare for boredom and lots of trips to the bathroom and to the kitchen to brew some strong coffee, black as midnight on a moonless night.  I don’t remember hating this storyline, and even right now, sitting here and thinking about it, I don’t hate it, but I certainly don’t like it all that much.  Part of it is the fact that this is clearly not Mexico, it’s that fake and kinda offensive Hollywood version of Mexico where there’s just a lot of sand and random chickens running through the roads.  The other part is that the story is just stupid, even though it involves Paige, a character I really like.  Johnny I’m fairly indifferent to but, you know, he’s fine, I guess.  Also, the powers-that-be are very foolish to allow the Mexico-related story to serve as the cliffhanger for the ep.  See, what happens is that Paige needs to prove that there are actually artifacts at this archeological dig or whatever, so she steals an artifact from the art gallery she worked at, the one that is called “Art Gallery” (MBG quipped at this, “Art Gallery is my favorite art gallery”).  Alright, so she and Johnny manage to smuggle this artifact out of America and into Mexico and then their plan is to bury it in the dig so that someone else can “discover” it the next day.  The big cliffhanger is that they are in the middle of burying the artifact when they are spotted by, um, some guy.  Yeah, not exactly the most thrilling climax, and the writers would have been smart to make a J.B. scene the last one of the ep, as that would better hook in the viewers for next week’s ep.

 


                Oh yes, and before I move away from Mexico and over to the glory that is J.B., I would be remiss in my duty if I didn’t note a Tangled Knot who shows up in this ep.  The character is named Dr. Robert Hayland and the actor is Thom McFadden (sometimes Tom).  Well, in 1988 he may be Dr. Robert Hayland, but in 1982 he was Chris Wilson in Expose'.  If I’m remembering correctly, he was the guy who was giving the assignment to that hooker or whatever to tape record her conversation with Richard.  He’s also a Transmorpher (and appears to have played two characters over on that show, so wow) and he was in A Nightmare on Elm Street Part 2: Freddy’s Revenge as the father of Meryl Streep Lookalike (there’s a hysterical scene where he points a shotgun at Freddy Krueger and then misses the shot by like two miles even though Freddy is right in front of him).  So yeah, Thom McFadden, ladies and gentlemen.

 


                Okay, so that does it for the boring parts of the ep, now let’s move on to the brilliant stuff, the stuff I’ve always remembered ever since first watching the show.  J.B. continues to be up to no good this week, and I feel it is time to change her name, at least the name I use for her on this blog.  Obviously the character’s name is Jill Bennett, but since she’s been introduced, I’ve just been referring to her as J.B.  Well, as we enter this era of her character, I think it’s finally time to rechristen her into Psycho Jill.  I’m so glad Psycho Jill is here to entertain us all, and entertain she does in this ep.  What’s on the agenda for Psycho Jill?  Well, she’s continuing to work on her plan to drive Val insane, so she shows up at her house to make nice, saying something about how she came for the twins’ stuffed animals or whatever, but her true motivation is to steal the key to the house, which she does successfully.  As soon as she stole the key, I remembered what was going to happen and how brilliant it is, and that is Psycho Jill returning to the house later to erase the “Ben tape.”  It helps that Val labelled it, “Ben’s tape” and then put it right in the center of the table like a trophy. This is a good scene of suspense because Psycho Jill is doing her thing when she realizes that Val is about to return home.  Since Brother hates Val and is completely in support of Psycho Jill, he found this very exciting and was like, “No, Jill, get out of there!”  He really wants her evil plans to work out, you see.

 

                Actually, I think that’s about all Psycho Jill does this week.  Maybe it seems like I’m getting too excited for her stuff, but it’s more about the slow burn and the buildup, how this entire disk was a buildup to that finale, so everything Psycho Jill is doing is leading us closer and closer to that occasion, and that’s why I love it all so much.

 

                Anything else worth noting?  Oh, yeah, I was about to wrap things up when I took another glance at the cast and crew for the ep and realized that The Dobsonator directed this ep.  This is his first directorial credit for the show and it looks like he’ll end up behind the camera for nine eps, ending with The Invisible Man in 1993.  Again, I didn’t notice his name at the start of the ep, so I didn’t do a very good job of paying attention to the directorial style of this ep.  I remember the ep being well shot and all that, but I don’t particularly remember anything that unique or special in the way it was shot.  I’ll pay more attention to his future efforts (the next one will be Double Jeopardy in 1989).

 

                That does it for Just Desserts.  This ep actually serves as kinda a microcosm of my problems with this final run of eps for the season, and that would be that while we have the absolutely stunning Psycho Jill storyline going on, everything else is pretty blah, even downright boring.  Mexico is boring, Olivia’s overdose is boring, and the evil cocaine dealing Manny Vasquez is pretty boring.  So while the episode isn’t bad, it’s a little schizophrenic and I would feel very alert whenever Psycho Jill was onscreen and then rather bored whenever anything else was going on.  Anyway, let’s go ahead and move right along to Discovery.

Thursday, February 4, 2021

KNOTS LANDING Episode 215 of 344: WITH A HEAVY HEART

 

Episode Title: With a Heavy Heart

 

Season 09, Episode 25

 

Episode 215 of 344

 

Written by Lawrence Kasha

 

Directed by Michael Preece

 

Original Airdate: Thursday, April 7th, 1988

 

The Plot (Courtesy of TV.Com): Gary sees Manny unloading a yacht in the middle of the night, and thinks it's suspicious. He tells Mack, who asks Frank to investigate. Jill apologizes to Gary, and he says he'll give her another chance. Jill edits an old news tape of Ben's, and then leaves a message on Val's answering machine that says "Hi, it's Ben. God, I've missed you and the kids. I want to, I hope you can hear me, this phone system is..." then Jill cuts it off. When she hears it, Val's elated. Olivia tells Karen about Abby breaking her and Harold up. Karen tells Abby she knows. Olivia is too controlled, which worries Abby. Olivia starts giving away her possessions, and gives Manny a letter for Harold that says how much she loves him, and she'll think of him at the end. Manny shows Abby, who thinks Olivia will commit suicide.

 

 

 

                Welcome to With a Heavy Heart, the last ep on a disk of eps for MBG, Brother, and myself.  After this, we’ll just have four more eps left in the season and I’m very eager to talk about them, but for the time being, let’s talk about this one.  Okay, so let’s think, when we last left off, Val was freaking out and hyperventilating about the return of Ben; she got that mysterious letter saying he was “out of danger” and assuring her that he would be home soon.  Well, we viewers know something Val does not know, which is that the letter really came from J.B. and that she’s enacting some sort of wicked plan.  This ep, J.B. really expands on her evil plans by paying a visit to Pacific Cable Whatever to do a bit of editing of her own.  She tells the random lady who lets her in that the governor is wanting them to make a documentary about, oh, something, and then the lady gets a little nostalgic by saying, “Well, Ben Gibson was the best we ever had,” and then she asks, “Do you know how to work a VCR?”  What joy this line brought me, as learning to work the VCR is perhaps my first cogent memory, and I can remember the feeling of sheer power when I mastered the VCR and knew I could watch anything I wanted whenever I wanted. 

 


                Anyway, we cut away for awhile and then we return to J.B. hard at work in the editing room.  She’s going over an old speech of Ben’s that actually comes from an ep we’ve seen before, somewhere in early season eight.  I can’t remember the exact ep it comes from, but it’s the one where Ben goes on TV and endorses Peter Hollister because Hackney (vomit) told him to do so.  We see J.B. watching the footage over and over again, specifically the part where Ben says, “Voter turnout is high.”  Note that word, “high,” and note how perhaps J.B. is going to cleverly take that word and edit it into, oh I dunno, some type of phone message.  We have that fact confirmed for us right near the end of the ep when Val plays her phone messages and comes upon an especially choppy sounding one saying, “Hi, it’s Ben; gosh, I miss you and the kids,” and so on and so forth.  It’s a pretty quick fake message because J.B. is smart and knows how to build suspense and has the message cut off abruptly.  I gotta say it’s kinda funny in a campy way when we hear this message, because it’s sooooo choppy and sounds very edited; I guess Val just assumes that it has something to do with a bad connection when you’re making a call from Soap Land Hell of South America.  I wish I could better explain why all this footage gives me such a giddy joy.  When we see J.B. doing her editing and when we see Val receiving the phone message, it just lifts my spirits so much, even though J.B. is doing an evil thing to a character I love.  There’s something about seeing J.B. kick into action after all this time that is just rather thrilling, and even though I love Val and wish her happiness, I gotta say I get a real kick out of everything going on here and I even feel like sharing an evil laugh with J.B. at Val’s expense as she enacts this wicked plan.  Oh yeah, and also, one last little thing, but we do actually hear the voice of Douglas Sheehan as Ben when Val is reading the letter, so my question is: Does this count as an appearance?  I always said his last appearance was Do Not Fold, Spindle, or Mutilate, but we hear his voice here delivering dialogue that he presumably had to step into a recording booth to do, so I think it counts.  IMDb lists him as “Archive Footage,” presumably for the footage J.B. watches in the editing room, but I think we can also pseudo-count his voice as an appearance; what do you guys think?

 


                Meanwhile, things aren’t exactly rosy in the relationship of Abs and Olivia.  Last ep, Olivia found out that her mother was the one pulling the strings to end her little quickie Mexican marriage, and now she’s damn mad about it.  Actually, rather than acting damn mad, Olivia just kinda drifts into a mellow, depressed mood.  She’s not really freaking out about anything, and that concerns Abs, who buys her an unbelievably cute puppy as a way of lifting her spirits.  I like the scene where Olivia gets the dog for many reasons, starting with the fact that Abs asks, “You’re not doing drugs again, are you?” and Olivia replies, “Drugs wouldn’t do any good right now,” which seems to satisfy Abs.  As I said ad nauseum, one of my favorite things about the series is the callbacks and the fact that the characters have a past history and, when stuff happens, it becomes a part of their past history and can still be talked about.  Also, let’s recall that Olivia’s coke days are really only about a year in the past, so I imagine Abs would still be feeling a little worried about all that stuff.  Anyway, then Abs unveils the puppy, which is just the cutest thing I’ve ever seen, but Olivia isn’t so enthused.  She’s just like, “Oh, it’s great, a puppy instead of Harold,” and pretty much by the end of the ep, it’s become clear that BAG has adopted the puppy as his own, as we see him walking it and taking care of it.  The part where BAG comes home from walking the dog is just the cutest, cuz the dog is soooooo small and walks soooooo slow as it comes into the house and it just made my heart melt. 

 


                I think seeds are being planted that Olivia may go off and kill herself.  I don’t remember this story at all and I have the feeling that, when I first watched the series, I never suspected Olivia would off herself.  I think I already knew retroactively that she would be on the show until 1990 so I knew she wouldn’t kill herself here and, if she was going to kill herself, it probably wouldn’t happen until 1990.  But anyway, we get a whole lot of fretting and worrying about what Olivia is up to this ep.  Sexy Michael takes her out and tries to cheer her up, but fails, and Karen and Mack also take her out for a lunch that includes a healthy dose of recycled dialogue.  What do I mean?  Well, I mentioned it last ep, but here it is again: Karen is talking about her life and she says, “You know, when your Uncle Sid died, I thought it was the end of the world; my life stopped, I was all alone, I had three kids to raise.  Then, in time, I realized that life goes on, and that you have to learn to live even with a tragedy like that.  Then along came this fast talking Irishman who made my life wonderful again.”  This is almost exactly the same speech that Karen gave to Manny Vasquez in our last ep, except just a little longer, and sans any mention of Mack's amazing blueberry pancakes.  What’s going on here?  I can make this make sense in my mind, and my explanation for it is that, in real life, people recycle their speeches and their conversations all the time. You will tell somebody some story and then, maybe later that same day, you’ll tell the exact same story to a new person, so it’s possible that Karen is just recycling this speech because it’s a good speech and she thinks it will work on Olivia.  But let’s be real, this is some sort of a behind-the-scenes mistake; somebody didn’t notice that Karen gives essentially the same exact speech, almost word-for-word, in one episode and then immediately again in the next one.  Somebody wasn’t paying attention and that’s why we get this speech yet again.

 

                Speaking of Manny Vasquez, he is spotted late at night by Gary and J.B. (Gary has forgiven J.B. for that little, “I don’t want to drink alone,” scene from last ep, by the way).  They’re enjoying a nice late night walk around Lotus Point, feeling romantic, when they see Young Tessio hanging around by the docks.  One killer aspect of this scene worth noting is that J.B. really wants to shag in public, something we’ve seen her do with Gary at least once before, according to my recollections (I think it was somewhere in season seven and it was in a car), so she must like the public shagging.  When Gary says how they should get home to shag where it’s comfortable, she’s like, “Oh, I think we can find a place that’s comfortable here,” but then the conversation gets derailed by Gary noting Manny hanging by the docks and unloading mysterious stuff.  This is all fine, well, and good, but I’m much more intensely focused on J.B. in this scene.  Has she knocked back a few?  The two characters are strolling around after a romantic dinner together, and during that romantic dinner, we see that J.B. only orders a mineral water, so I assume she’s sober, but she’s sure acting pretty silly.  Is she just drunk on Gary?  Did she get bored with the mineral water and switch back to wine at some point in the dinner?  In any case, she’s acting a tad askew. 

 

                The other big development this week is something I’ve been anxiously waiting for, and that is Mack and Frank finally teaming up.  In my brain, when I think of Frank Williams, I think of him working side by side with Mack as buddies, busting bad guys and being this awesome little ebony and ivory team, so it was kinda odd to return to the block of eps where Frank seems scary and mysterious and hostile towards Mack.  This week, Mack comes upon Frank in a bar, working on a bunch of job applications, and then he asks Frank how he’d like to team up with him and go to work against the bad guys.  Oh sigh, such joy this brought me, watching the friendship officially begin.  I’ve said this before, but I’m very glad we’re done with the “What is the mystery of the Williams family?” story.  I liked that story, don’t get me wrong, it was very compelling, but now we’re in the point where Frank and Pat and Julie can just settle in as part of the cul-de-sac and I really like that a lot.

 


                That oughta do it for With a Heavy Heart.  I feel like I’ve been a little more blasé when writing about these eps than they perhaps deserve, so I’d like to note that everyone, myself, MBG, and Brother, we all thought this whole disk was slam dunk.  We just loved it, and it was a joyous night of KL excitement to go through this disk.  The stories are exciting, the drama is heating up, and we’ve got lots of great stuff, the greatest of which is everything involving J.B.  I can’t wait to see where this all leads us, so let’s move along to a new disk, our final disk of season nine, with the ep Just Desserts.