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Episode 22-23 (A Piece of the Pie/The Forest for the Trees): Ruth: So that's Abby Ewing. She's a pretty little thing. She ever been an actress or something? Laura: In what sense? Madison Mason just keeps saying "eeeeverybody" over and over when Greg asks who all is in on Empire Valley. Okay then. The many elements of this story I like so far aside, this guy is really a bit much. LOL at Laura lugging toddler Daniel around with her house up for sale as she prepares to move with Greg to D.C., while forever young Jason is embarrassed to get kissed in front of the school carpool. I love Constance McCashin clowning with what is presumably still her IRL kid in her arms, with some banter which can't be scripted: "You are so heavy I cannot believe it." She tells Daniel to "tell [Jason] to put his seatbelt on," and the little guy does! Even more cul-de-sac arena stuff: Cathy and Val jogging, followed by Joshua jogging with Ben as new celebrity Joshua is accosted by teen girls in a car. I always love this stuff. A nice beat this episode: Abby going to Sumner's office to visit him and finding Laura. Abby sneers about Greg and Laura's romance - the first time in ages she has referenced what must've been a deep humiliation for her last season. After Coblenz tells Greg everything about the Valley project we cut to Greg on horseback in a wilderness reverie, apparently accepting the mantle of his father, finally putting on the Galveston signet ring. Is his expression behind his opaque black sunglasses vaguely smiling, satisfied or simply resigned? Devane leaves it at least partly opaque. Do I totally buy Greg's acceptance after so much resistance to taking on the family business earlier? I'm not sure how I feel, but I do understand it and it's a point about total power - and his desire for it, superseding that of the courts or bureaucracy - that is illuminated more in later episodes I've viewed. There's a great scene where Greg tends the fire on the ranch as Ruth watches, monologuing about his youthful idealism and naïveté, his past choice to discard some of his ideals and move forward towards success instead: "Some people are really good at living that double-standard life," he broods. "The dishonesty of it never even dawns on them." But it does for Greg, for better or worse. He burns his hopes for a long future in the Senate in the fire and accepts the future, Paul Galveston controlling him from beyond the grave. Meanwhile, Karen is still on the baby case as this story prepares to hit a roadblock hinging, bizarrely, on national bridge tournaments for several episodes straight. We are not told that not one but two doctors were mysteriously sent away to a convention, presumably to put the creepy Dr. Ackerman in play for Val’s delivery. This begs the question of how far up does the entire baby scheme go if, as we were led to believe before, Scott Easton was in it alone at Galveston? I could swear I remember and wrote about a scene where Galveston discovered the late Easton's papers outlining the baby caper. So how did this come about and why? We still don't quite know. I'm not sure if we will. It is encouraging to see Val getting back to her writing, though we know a few eps later that she hits some major stumbling blocks. "I know they're gone," she tells her therapist, but that's not quite true. There is a very cute scene with Val and Lilimae perming Lilimae's hair. I love the return of a lot of these neighborhood scenes, they always keep the show in the right orbit. "Contains no lye," Lilimae says about her hair treatment. "Well, I should hope not! Ask me no questions, I'll tell you no lye!" Thank you, Lilimae. Suited Eric is still at it in the bubbling KL Motors subplot! He looks nice, but the one notable moment of it in the first of these two eps goes to Mack about his suddenly yuppie stepson: "He's gonna be 46 years old. Let him go out." Joshua is still demanding Cathy sing on his damn show and not at Isadora's. Once again he tries to use sex to silence her and make her submit, with Cathy pulling away crying "no!" But ultimately the ep ends with Cathy looking severely pressed in conservative white, singing pop-infused hymns on TV exhorting her love for Jehovah. The seductively catchy power of pop-rock religiosity aesthetics in Joshua's new empire echoes the rise of 'hip' megachurches like Hillsong today, and makes this story another one that is still relevant - especially with masterful, newly stylish Svengali Joshua watching his bride-to-be perform in a well-fitted suit, a far cry from his former humble garments. Cathy is of course visibly shocked as Joshua announces their "engagement" on live TV. Cathy has become such a doormat this season, but while I would like better for the character I also think it's likely part of her background and nature, going back to her husband Ray who we know groomed and abused her from adolescence. A newly-permed Lilimae is thrilled about the engagement back at Val's, while Cathy quietly seethes to Ben. This carries over to Episode 23 and Joshua and Cathy's engagement party at Westfork, where Laura very clearly has zero time for Joshua forbidding Cathy from singing and walks off without a word because she just won't be a party to it. Ben and Mack are still a fabulous Ambiguously Gay Crime-Fighting Duo. They pick the Fisher house from a random name on a list they found at Galveston Industries - again, I am gonna need to review the crucial Galveston/Easton papers scene. Did Galveston investigate himself and find out about them? How and why was Scott Easton trafficking Val's babies independently? Just to get future leverage on Abby and therefore Gary Ewing to please his corporate master? I almost didn't remember the significance of the Fisher name at first, until I heard a baby crying upstairs in the home. The show cloaks this reveal beautifully: Ben and Mack, along with Laura and Greg's staff and then Gary, Karen and Abby at Lotus Point are all once again grouped together for a unifying event, bushwhacked by Sumner's TV press conference where he acknowledges Galveston's death and his place as his father's son, then resigns his Senate and becoming chairman of the Galveston board. The show has done Big Moments on TV like this before to bring the entire canvas together in one reaction, and so far it always works. Meanwhile, nobody watching live in 1984(?) is likely seeing the real ace in the hole plot-wise: Mrs. Fisher holding one of Valene's stolen babies in the background of her house. The Fishers are dismissed as an afterthought as a shellshocked Mack and Ben leave. Then the show begins to slyly tip its hand by going back to the Fishers alone and showing that Mrs. Fisher has not one but two babies! A fantastic, quiet reveal. Mack gives us some curious background on him and Greg in these two episodes, when he says that in their youth Greg spent so much time with his family that he knew Mack's family better than Mack did, and knew Mack's mother better than Ruth. How and why? Was the Sumner household that cold and isolated? Following the surprise press conference, Laura searches for Sumner who's moved out of his hotel to the Galveston ranch, only for her to get curved by a strapping young man who I swear to God is Don Diamont from Y&R and B&B though it's not credited anywhere, I've checked. Anyway: Laura is livid, having already put her house on the market for the move to D.C. Greg shows up at the house to try to turn on the charm, only to hides behind Laura's freezer door. Oh, William Devane. Greg drags Laura out to the ranch to meet Ruth, only for Abby to immediately cruise up and have Greg walk off with her! Ruth is clearly already taken with Abby, not Laura Avery. Nice to see Gary and Val still on point about their mutual love for Olivia at Joshua and Cathy's engagement party in Episode 23. Those bonds are still well-serviced, as is Olivia holding a grudge about Cathy an Gary's affair, then confiding in Val who wants to pull her out of doldrums. It's character building that isn't all plot, and that's what matters. Michael in short shorts handing all the men beers at Ben's swinging bachelor pad: No comment. It is nice to see Abby consistently overstepping her field of play again, just as she did with Wolfbridge, when she tries to work John Coblenz re: the FCC licenses for Pacific World in Empire Valley. She does not know who she's dealing with, and that (and her efforts on behalf of the babies, both before and later on) help to ground and humanize the character. I don't have too much to say about Ep 23 tbh, other than to say Karen and Lilimae's outre ensembles at the party are incredible. One more thing: The unexpected end credits freeze-frame of the babies on Episode 22 is very deliberate and surprising (c/o the defunct but never forgotten Knots Blogging):
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So after a ton of IRL work and exhaustion bogging me down for awhile and not leaving me in the proper creative headspace to dig into my notes as I viewed, I've been slowly wrapping up Season 6 (or was before the KL channel went down) and I'm going to try to break up these observations on the final third of the year into several posts staggered out because I have a few in the chamber from awhile ago. I can't promise I'll stick to episodic observations going forward beyond S6, though I am very, very intrigued by the Dallas/KL creative switch next season and will be checking out more of the Dallas Dream Season in tandem with it to compare and contrast how David Paulsen and Peter Dunne handle their respective new shows. I keep threatening to make my KL posts less individualized and more broad-reaching and I will eventually, but I also keep having more to say in the moment, yet I know I can't keep up this pace lol. Anyway: Episode 21 (The Deluge): It's Bill Duke Hours once more! This can mean only one thing:
Please register in order to view this contentThis is sadly Duke's penultimate episode directing for Knots, which is a real shame because he's done brilliant, atmospheric work over multiple seasons. One of his first and most interesting choices in this hour is the camera staying with the men in power in the Empire Valley conspiracy awaiting the news on the ailing Paul Galveston, their leader/cohort, not dissimilar to the various scenes throughout the show's run of people in the hospital waiting on news on Karen, Val, Sid, etc. When one of them takes the final phone call about Galveston's death, it seems to sadden the lot of the devious crew. Gary gets the news about Galveston when he barges in on the family ranch house, where we have two surprises: First, a young Nathan Purdee from Y&R and OLTL as a Galveston aide, then Hollywood legend Ava Gardner, finally! She's introduced as Ruth Sumner Galveston, and as it happens her name is noteworthy: Ruth was the wife of Galveston's beloved friend, the mother who cuckolded Greg's adopted father and the woman who finally married her true love on his deathbed to take his throne. Ava Gardner has never disappointed me in anything I've seen her in, from Seven Days in May or On the Beach to the insanely strange Pandora and the Flying Dutchman, and she still doesn't here though by all accounts on previous pages of this thread her experience doing '80s network TV was exhausting and stressful for her. She's instantly all charisma and panache like always; whatever Gardner's off-camera struggles with the material or pace she makes it look effortless and always seems to be having a blast - therefore, she is a blast to watch. This episode is another lulu for Bill Duke and a visual feast like his eps often are, and we'll return to that but one of the first, best examples is the scenes between William Devane and Ava Gardner as mother and estranged son reunite - in a floor-to-ceiling blood-red curtained chapel with a pale blue coffin for Galveston. Ruth's avaricious lust for power echoes some of the more mystical material with the Lords on OLTL, as like Victor Lord on that show years later, Paul Galveston's signet ring of power - 'the king's ring,' as it's referred to onscreen, I believe - is fetishized by the camera and in story as a symbol of Greg taking his father's throne. "Good for you, baby," Ava Gardner coos. "Take it. [...] I didn't raise you to be a civil servant." Even more atmospheric: Photographer-dilettante Ruth playing her wildlife photo slideshow in the dark as she and Greg get down to brass tacks about his birth father, revealing Galveston bought Greg's Senate election. Here, Bill Duke has them both in the black overlaid with imagery of wild animals on the savannah throughout, with Ruth framed within the silhouette of the slideshow projector's image of a gigantic, blown-up crocodile and its open jaws - not subtle, but glorious to look at. Leading into some very daring, suggestive dialogue for network TV in the '80s as Ruth tells Greg about her relationship with both his fathers. Ruth: We were all in love, the three of us. I married the romantic one, Sumner, who flew planes. Galveston built them, but they were both your father, Gregory. Greg: You sound almost proud of that. Ruth: I am proud, because it worked. Your genes, your upbringing, everything brought you right to this moment. […] You were brought up to be powerful and you love it and you want it. When last I left off with this season, Karen was fully onto the scent of Val's babies potentially being alive, and she just keeps tripling down on this as she goes ape this week: "A new baby, connected by living tissue!" she howls memorably to Mack, but you know she's right and you support her Broadway ass all the way. That's part of what I love about Karen. She plays the gumshoe out in public as an increasingly unnerved Abby chafes. Karen is finally engaged and on fire and tbh it's been far too long after she spent most of this season ailing or in recovery. The show also returns to faithfully playing the suburban cul-de-sac beats that have always served them so well, pulling the show's stories back down to grounded Earth over the next few episodes as we see a suited-up Eric begin his eager drive to push Karen to sell Knots Landing Motors, then watch him and his mother watching the Galveston executive drone visiting Greg at Laura's across the road to break the news of his father's death. (Greg's reply: "Let's hire a band!") This dovetails with Karen sighting Lilimae next door and buttonholing her for details about the twins' birth, then with Joshua scootering around Seaview Circle while Ben and Val jog together back to her place. Community time! Love it. Over at Pacific World, Joshua continues edging poor Reverend Kathryn out of a job. This leads to the stylistic centerpiece of the episode for Bill Duke: Joshua's latest right-wing TV sermon, a barnburner backlit by blazing neon and rich primary colors sizzling out of the soundstage's faux-stained glass backdrop. "Nobody wants to do anything hard anymore," Joshua declares in a spooky, mesmeric direct address to camera, similar to Duke's work with the Ciji murder reveal in Season 4 as her gigantic face stared down the camera onstage at Daniel. Joshua urges his audience to "face our mistakes," hammering on about personal responsibility and preaching Reaganite bootstraps gospel while bemoaning the plight of the American working class vs. invading foreigners - it's clear he is lumping in Val, his own sister, with the 'easy people' who make rash choices and pay for their sin. Joshua goes into overtime on-camera, ignoring the cue to wrap up. Later, he leverages his contract against Abby by demanding to put Cathy on-air with him. Joshua is transformed, squaring off with executrix Abby in a very smart '80s blazer getup, commanding and forbidding as he refuses to have oversight over his material before walking out on her. Shades of Alec Baldwin's later work in movies like Harold Becker and Aaron Sorkin's Malice. Joshua's growing tyranny grows back at the Ewing/Clements household, where a Chinese takeout dinner devolves as Joshua, the newly-crowned alpha male of the home, demands they all bow their heads, which doesn't sit well with Ben or Val. Cathy and Joshua continue to argue at Laura's, as she has no intention of singing on his show. "You're only comfortable singing in roadhouses," Joshua sighs, showing a very contemporary facility for manipulation and shaming. "That shows how little you think of yourself." The apparently-infamous Madison Mason is introduced as mysterious diplomat John Coblenz late in this episode, a very creepy dude with an over the top delivery. The final act of the episode is nicely cross-cut first with Greg and Laura having a ritzy dinner while she pushes him to admit he does want his father's power and influence, then with Karen and Mack cozily sandwiched on the couch at home as she begins to put some of the pieces behind the EV strangeness together and concludes "something creepy is going on in Gary's Shangri-La." This in turn is intercut with the men of power at Galveston arrayed together onscreen by Duke at the family ranch like some sort of dark pagan rite, as Ruth unveils Coblenz to Greg. Coblenz lays down the law with Sumner about the truth behind Empire Valley and its Deep State plans: "Your work in the Senate is inconsequential," he intones hammily. "Listen to me, Gregory. Listen to the words." Empire Valley being the hub of a global spy network and surveillance state control center is way, way ahead of its time as a storyline IMO. So why did people hate the story so? I guess I'll find out. For now, the '70s paranoia thriller/sci-fi vibes here are great. As is the final shot of Greg, drafted against his will as he eyes Galveston's kingly ring.
By DaytimeFan · PostedThe font change is a huge, huge improvement. That cannot be difficult to fix and Y&R should do so immediately.
Sure has been nice the past few days to see a show that resembles Y&R. And yes, it'll be jarring to go back to the desolate, tumbleweed version of Genoa City.
By slick jones · PostedGreat to hear Leslie Charleson's voice the other day. It's still March, isn't it? I see April's thread was already started again too early. Just wondering what the rush was before I get chastised for mentioning this again... or my post gets removed again. <coughs>
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