The first episode of the eight I received is from March, 1984. Based on the previews, it appears to be Monday, March 5. The show has already switched over to the opening sequence that doesn't feature the main family pictures.
Anyway, the show features 3 storylines, which appears fairly typical for all the episode I've seen. In this episode, there is (1) a crisis at the hospital that Matt Catlin reacts to, (2) Dirk Stack and Cullen Quinn reacting to Cullen's arrest and release due to their drug operation, and (3) T.J. Catlin's proclamation to his daughter, Maggie Catlin, that he plans on selling the Catlin sawmill.
The least exciting story involves Matt Catlin. He is featured in a well decorated office space speaking to the chief of staff, Henry, about mundane things like the hospital coffee when Diane, a hysterical woman, comes flying in proclaiming "Craig is dead!' like we are suppose to know or care about Craig. Anyway, the thread picks up with Diane and Matt discussing Craig, now dead, who has been Matt's patient and golf buddy. Apparently, Craig broke his ankle and arrived at the ER just at the same time a bus load of school children arrived after a bus accident (I kid you not). Anyway, the ER is mess, Diane is hysterical, and Craig wakes up, walks around, undoes all his stitches, and bleeds to death. They end up sending Diane to a spare room (thankfully), but she ends up returning to cry on Matt's shoulder. This whole ordeal seems to pivot on the axis that the head of the ER is irresponsible and Henry, the chief of staff, asks Matt to consider running the ER because Matt is a gifted surgeon and independently wealthy. St. Elsewhere, this isn't, but the show does have Matt stand on his soap box and deliver a nice little (but possibly over the top) monologue about the importance of emergency services and why they are so important to the live saving system.
Not sure who was still around, but this might have been more effective if say Crissy Catlin rushed in because something happened to Bobby, the son she shared with Matt, that required him to be in the ER. Then, Crissy's whining about Matt's absence would have been more reasonable, while Crissy could capitalize on the situation to reconnect with Matt. Plus, I loved Candy Howard's Crissy, but I suspect she was given the boat fairly early on. In a June, 1983 article from the Atlanta Constitution, Howard received some criticism because she didn't sound like she was from the South.
Anyway, there is no resolution to this story in the previews, and it is the only that doesn't pick up in the next installment.
In the second story, Cullen Quinn is at his interestingly designed penthouse. I believe it's featured in the Christmas, 1984 episode available online. Anyway, Cullen answers the door for Dirk Stack, who has been working for the Catlin family for several months (as we will learn in the next scene). In all the previous episodes I've seen, Dirk was an ally to the Catlins, so I was initially thrown for a loop, but this story starts to change my perception of Dirk. Anyway, Dirk and Cullen play catch up; Cullen has been arrested because of their drug operation, but was released by Medger Quinn (Cullen's daddy) on bond. Cullen and Dirk attempt to figure out who snitched, but cannot figure it out. The only loose end seems to be a truck driver delivering the load.
In terms of establishing character timelines, Cullen mentions Truck Larson, his henchman for all of 1984, and, I believe, into 1985. Dirk mentions Bryce Draper, Medgar's lawyer who is credited in the July, 1983, episode featured online. In the previews for March 6, Bryce appears at Cullen's place to discuss legal matters. I have no clue if the same actor is playing the part.
Dirk's involvement with Quinns kind of spins everything that comes after this. I now see Dirk as more of a Roger Thorpe type, a man determined to make something for himself and use people in the process. Dirk's romance with Maggie Catlin seems to be the complication in his desire to achieve happiness. Maggie is smart, and, I suspect, initially, Dirk dated Maggie to keep an eye on her, but it is clear that by December, 1984, Dirk has fallen for her and lost her because of what he has done. The drug storyline, and the fall out, plays out throughout 1984 and probably into 1985. I didn't expect the show to have long term ramifcations like that.
Our final plotline plays off the drug storyline, as we will see. T.J. Catlin arrives at his office looking for the financial figures regarding the different divisions of Catlin Enterprises. Looking for liquid capital, T.J. wants to sell any division that is in the red, including the Catlin family saw mill. Maggie is mortified by T.J.'s decision claiming this was the start of the family's fortune. T.J. claims she is sentimental, and Maggie claims he has been blind to everything but the international division since Dirk arrived. T.J. admits he is impressed with Dirk's work in the international division, but he is simply tired of paying the payroll for the mill out of his pocket.
The characterization of T.J. in this episode is like nothing I've seen after. He's cold, aggressive, and driven by money. In the later episodes, T.J. is more human, more flawed. He owned his mistakes and seemed determine to make good with his family. I'm curious about when the change occurs.
An upset Maggie dines with Dirk at the country club where she goes into her long monologue about the importance of the mill to her and her family. It's a really well done piece explaining how Maggie and the boys played there as children, and how Maggie learned to respect the men who worked for the mill. Maggie talks about how Catherine ran the mill after the death of Catherine's husband, Gus. The conflict over the mill works well because both characters have sufficient reason for feeling the way they do. This story continues into the next episode where Matt tells Maggie she needs to inform their grandmother Catherine, at present in Alaska, before returning to learn the mill has been sold.
During Maggie's monologue, she states, "the boys, Matt, Jonathan, and James" and later worries about "James, who still work there." It isn't clear whether James is another Catlin brother, or possibly Beau's birth name, or James O'Neil, the character who is listed in the November 1984 episode. Anyway, in terms of establishing timeline, Dirk Stack has been in charge of the international division for 3 months, which means Dirk probably entered the story around October / November, 1983. He was definitely involved in the story set Catalan, which took place in November / December 1983. It's possible Dirk's been around longer, but this definitely secures his position in the story in late 1983.
Overall, not my favorite episode, but there were definitely some strong moments No cast is credited, but the credits are still run over a picture of the Catlin mansion. Empire Media is listed as the production company still, not Proctor & Gamble.