Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Knots Landing season 13

By the late '80s, my passion for Knots Landing had become more like an obsession. I wasn't just watching it live and taping it to VCR in case I wanted to have another look (which I invariably did); I was watching it live and taping it to two VCR's, in case one broke down. I couldn't imagine a fate worse than missing an episode of Knots.

Then Season 13 rolled around, and within a few weeks, I stopped taping it to two VCR's. Was it even necessary to tape it to one? I remember being rather shocked at how quickly my devotion faded into disinterest. It's not like Knots hadn't gone through rough spells; I mean, even then, as I looked back at the history of the show, I was able to spot a half-dozen dry patches -- some of them bone dry. But there had never been anything like the first fifteen episodes of Season 13: a perfect storm of mediocrity. New writers, none with soap experience, let alone an understanding of these particular characters -- and an outgoing team who had left them with nothing to work from, merely a set of unpromising cliffhangers and compromised characters.

Saturday, October 21, 2017

Classic Doctor Who countdown: the index

In sixteen entries this past summer, I ranked and reviewed all 158 serials from the classic era of Doctor Who, from my least-liked to my most-loved. In case you want to know where a particular serial falls in my countdown, and jump to that review, I offer the following alphabetical index. The links on the numbers will take you right to the reviews.

Abominable Snowmen, The: #10
Ambassadors of Death, The: #9
Android Invasion, The: #58
Androids of Tara, The: #8

Monday, October 16, 2017

Knots Landing season 6

Knots Landing Season 6 asks: can you build a successful primetime-soap season atop just one great storyline? -- and surprisingly, the answer is "yes."

Season 6 is the one where Val's newborn twins are stolen, an event that impacts most of the core characters, but none, heaven knows, more than Valene Clements Ewing herself. And although there's a lot more than just "Val's babies" to the season -- it juggles at least as many characters and plotlines as Season 5, and probably a few more -- nothing else really and truly pays off. Some of the story-lines, in fact, go off the rails so badly, they're jettisoned early in Season 7.

But through it all, there's Joan Van Ark, in an acting showcase unmatched in the series' fourteen seasons. Oh, other actors have seasons that play to their strengths, as well as to their characters' (Michele Lee and Ted Shackelford in Season 3, Kevin Dobson and Donna Mills in Season 5, Teri Austin in Season 10, Kathleen Noone in Season 14), but there's nothing quite like the tour-de-force that Van Ark offers up in Season 6, as Valene -- struggling to accept an explanation she knows in her heart is false -- develops a dissociative disorder, becomes convinced that she's Verna Ellers (the lead character in her latest novel) and takes off for Tennessee.