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Knots Landing Best & Worst: From Wolfbridge to Tidal Energy

Well, as the title of this thread says, Wolfbridge was one of the best stories this show did, and Tidal Water was one of the worst.

 

Some other best of stories:

 

* The Val/Gary/Abby triangle

* Val missing babies

* The who-killed-Ciji story (love or hate Ciji, it was still a good story)

* Abby covering up the murder of Peter

* Lilimae running over Chip

* Strip croquette!

 

Some of the worst:

 

* Karen being kidnapped by Phil

* The Mexico story

 

Of course, this isn't an exhaustive list, but just something to get the discussion going.

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Another of my favorites was Olivia on drugs. That was one of the best "teenager with substance abuse" stories I've ever seen. There was a lot of that on TV in the '80s, but Olivia Crowe and Donna Mills made it special. The story built gradually. She wasn't a raving addict within two episodes. We saw little hints and dreaded that it was going to get bad, and it did.  

 

Anything from the first half of season 13 would qualify as worst. Not just Tidal Energy, but Val teaching the illiterate waitress to read, guilty Karen stalking the family of the boy whose death she accidentally caused, Anne's get-rich-quick schemes with Benny Appleman, the suddenly crazy architect ("suddenly" because there was no hint of it when he was introduced) slitting Linda's throat and then holding the Mackenzies hostage...

 

Paige was one of my favorite TV characters ever. I think she is controversial with fans of KL. Some think she was made too prominent at the expense of the veterans; others think Nicollette Sheridan's charisma gave the series a new lease on life, and that Paige was the last great character to be introduced and become core (after the founding members, Lilimae, Abby, Mack, Greg). I am definitely on the pro-Paige side of that debate. I just can't imagine the years from about 1988-1993 without her. NS was at that time such a stunning woman, and she had chemistry with every guy they put her with except for Bruce Greenwood (whom I have liked a lot in everything else I've seen him in, besides Knots). 

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I liked Paige too. She was a good sparring partner for Abby, and I wish we seen more of that. Plus, it helped that NS had tons of great chemistry with William Devane.

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I see I called Tonya Crowe "Olivia Crowe" above. There must be a time limit on editing, because I don't see the edit button.  

 

I was trying to think whether they ever successfully integrated a character into the main cast and had the character "stick" after Paige (and, with her, Anne) in 1985-86. Frank, I guess? Claudia and Kate? Most of the others just stuck around long enough to serve their purpose, or they came and went.

 

Someone I wish had stayed longer was Lance Guest as Steve. That one scene in which he made Paige crack up was so sweet. I think it was a speech about how he loved his van.  

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Claudia would probably be one good example of someone else who stuck around and was integrated into the cast after Paige joined.

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Out of all the nighttime soaps of the 1980s, "Knots Landing" was my favorite. I think I always felt a kinship with Gary Ewing, and Ted Shackleford was hot.

The first season was slow, but the introduction of Abby Cunningham -- much like the introduction of Alexis Carrington -- totally changed the dynamic of the show.

As with most of the soaps, my interest started waning the longer the show went on, but "Knots" had some amazingly powerful moments that I still remember 30 years later.

What's the policy here on spoilers? The show is three decades old, but some people may just be discovering it.

Sid Fairgate's death was one of the most heart-wrenching things ever. I don't remember if the actor wanted out or that was where the writers wanted to take the show. Sid and Karen were the rocks of the cul de sac.

And in one of the more gruesome moments,

Linda Fairgate, Michael's wife, having her throat cut by her ex-husband after he held her hostage. If I remember correctly, she had reached the point of accepting her death at his hands.

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I think it's safe to talk about plots in this thread, since it asks for best and worst stories. So if someone says, for example, "Jill Bennett forcing Val to take all the sleeping pills," then the cat's gonna be out of the bag that the Jill Bennett who first appears takes a sinister turn a few years down the line. It's just the risk anyone runs when reading a series-retrospective thread. If this were a higher-traffic forum and there were individual threads like "Season 3 discussion," then I'd be careful about mentioning anything later than Season 3.  

 

What I've heard about Sid is that it was a salary dispute. Don Murray wanted more money and the producers didn't want to pay him, so he walked. I have also heard that he had some input in the way the character left the show. I thought it was sad, of course, but I have to admit it led to some great episodes and it opened up new story possibilities for Karen and the other Fairgates. It's hard now to imagine the show without Mack.  

 

Knots was also still a young series in 1981, so Sid didn't have years and years to settle in as the patriarch. If the same story had been done in the seventh or eighth season, it might have hit harder. I personally was more broken up about Laura.  

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In a lot of ways, Sid really ended up being nothing more a footnote in the show's overall history.

 

And truth be told...I'm not sure how he would have fit into the direction the show took after the third season anyway.

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The cliffhanger to one of the best storylines and seasons on this show.

 

Edited by AndySmith.
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I've been re-watching the series for the first time in probably three years and it's probably my fifth or sixth time watching it, but I'm shocked at how much my opinions are changing. The first episode I ever saw was the season six finale and I was instantly hooked. As a result of starting there I've always preferred the later years. This time, I'm finding myself completely in love with the earlier seasons and I also found a newfound love for Abby. I always loved Abby, but never realized how nuanced Donna Mills' performance was or how complex her relationship with various cast members was. 

Now getting to the purpose of this thread, I find now that most of my least favorite things are happening in the later years. I'm currently at the midway retool of season 13 and for a season I never paid much attention to, my god is it bad. Not only is the writing bad, but they've completely changed the look as well. Season 12 (which was also a mixed bag) had re-energized the music and costumes. It was fast and felt current and was fun, even if the writing was sloppy at times. With season 13 everything is so dark and drab and the continuity errors are just unbelievable. Paige and Pierce is shockingly bad. What serialized show has a main character fall in love off screen and expects us to care? It didn't help that they had no chemistry either. Claudia is a snoozefest this season as well. Having her kill her own son was just a silly storyline and the fallout (lack of, I should say) made it even more pointless. If anything they should've turned her into a complete sociopath and amped up her crazy antics. All the efforts to make us feel bad for her were dumb.

Anything involving Frank was bad, but I blame that on an earlier mistake: killing off Patricia. That should've never happened. She was the PERFECT addition after the show lost Laura and there was so much she could've still done. Killing her off proved how vital she was for that family. You needed another female voice in the cul-de-sac to interact with Val and Karen. Linda's murder and writing of Michael was a huge mistake. They should've been married off and moved into the cul-de-sac and mirror Abby/Gary with the ambitious scheming wife and troubled but good husband. So much potential was lost there.

Another storyline that killed me was when Val hit her head and went crazy in season 12. Joan Van Ark maintains she believes the writers were purposely making fun of her and I can't see how she's wrong. It reduced her to such a joke after her character had achieved so much. We just went through an unnecessary story where she married Danny which was completely unplausible (and also a horrific story) and at this point it just felt like pileup. How the hell could she go through Jill Bennett, then marry Danny and now she done hit her head? Go somewhere with that mess. They could've brought on Lucy or explored her career again, ANYTHING but what they actually did. It's heartbreaking to think she finally got one of her best stories in years (writing a book about Greg) right before she left. I would give anything to see THAT Valene.

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The final two seasons had a lot of problems, yes. I thought the midseason retool of S13 yielded a big improvement, even if it never was the same after. The first half of S13 was the low point of the whole series. Bruce Greenwood is a good actor, but Pierce Lawton was hopeless, and yes, he proved that there was a guy that Nicollette Sheridan/Paige didn't have chemistry with. Meanwhile, they tried to sell it as this great love of her life. A lot of telling, no showing.  

I loved Lynne Moody/Pat Williams, and I also agree that when she died, the Williams family was on borrowed time. Larry Riley (RIP) was a sweetheart, and Frank worked well as Mack's partner and friend, but the show just went dead when we were watching Frank's attempts to re-enter the dating scene. Now people can say they saw the young Halle Berry in an early role, but at the time, that was small compensation. Then there were Riley's real-life health problems, which are so apparent in his final episodes. He looked so gaunt.  

I actually do remember reading Lynne Moody's much-discussed interview about her disappointment that Pat's crush on Gary never went anywhere. Then she was written out at the end of the season.  

I think Linda was a missed opportunity too, but in my opinion, the miss was a little earlier than her murder. The rivalry with Paige was fun to watch, and Lar Park Lincoln did a great job with that one episode where we met Linda's horrible mother, but the writing made Linda too nasty. It just didn't seem to be the same character who was shown as honestly conflicted during the "torn between two brothers" story, when Eric was away and she was pretending to be Michael's girlfriend for his business functions (what was her fake name, "Theresa"?). There were even scenes where she was alone and not putting on a show for anyone during that story, and we saw a person who had feelings and a conscience. Toward the end of S12, she has no heart.  

On Valene's mental illness story: That felt suspiciously "walked back" to me. She started behaving erratically after being thrown from a horse, and I suspect they got some negative feedback on it, because then there was this out-of-left-field conversation between Gary and a doctor where he finds out (and we find out), oh, it had nothing to do with the injury; she has a chemical imbalance. She'll be all better with medication. So...her undiagnosed chemical imbalance just miraculously coincided with the blow to the head? This never came up previously, when she thought she was a waitress named Verna? Okay. Let's just move on, then.  

The Danny story made Valene look bad, because she was too crazy about him too soon, and it was hard to see why. Then she was too slow to catch on. On the other hand, Sam Behrens made an awesome villain. He was a real love-to-hate character. Danny is a case where I don't think they brought the character on intending for him to be quite as vile as he became, and when you watch his early episodes, the change of direction is clearer. When Gary takes a swing at him and misses and hurts his hand on the door, Danny seems legitimately concerned. There are a few things like that, which don't match up with the murderous monster he is by the end. The best part of that story, for me, was the rape of Amanda and the sensitive handling of her trauma: how she has to hear police tell told her it's a weak case because she was married to the guy and willingly went over to his place (to get the dog), and later her depression and struggling with suicidal impulses. I really liked Penny Peyser in that role.  

For me, when I watched the whole series in syndication, the parts I least enjoyed were the very early self-contained episodes (too earnest, dated) and the first half of S13 (Tidal Energy, Benny Appleman, Valene's waitress friend, crazy architect). The middle years, from the arrival of Sumner/Mack through the end of S12, were my favorites.  

Edited by Asp Burger.
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For me, the glory days of the show would be seasons 4 through 10. There was some good stuff before, and some good stuff after, but those 7 years are the best for me.

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Just finished season 3 and I wasn’t as disgusted with Gary the first time I watched this show at 11-12 as I am rewatching it as an adult. He was a complete shit to Valene, rubbing his affair in her face. And also I feel his relationship with Abby was an extension of his addictions—Abby gave him a high & he had all those crabby behaviors of an addict when he wasn’t with her—especially horrible to Val & anyone who questioned him about his affair, like an alcoholic gets when questioned about their drinking. 

 

Just started season 4 so hopefully someone will join the conversation.

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I think Abby said it best in the scene where Val slaps her. Gary wanted someone exciting, someone who didn't mother him. And (imo) someone who was ambitious, too. Granted, that last bit turned out to be a bit too much for Gary, and backfired in Abby's face more than once.

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to this day, I totally covet that baby blue mercedes  Abby drove and that beach house that Abby and gary lived in. So sad when the character that played Frank passed from Aids, shortly before there was a good way to manage the disease.  

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