Telling the exploits of the lesser Ewing brother from Dallas, Gary and his neighbours in California…
The original Dallas spin-off with the cast including early appearances of the biggest Baldwin brother, a Bond girl and the future Alexis in the Dynasty reboot. And Indiana Jones’ screen-wife.
Knots Landing FULL PILOT CREDITS, WETHOTCANADIANSUMMER, http://www.youtube.com
So for the second of my Cinema Shame posts, I’m writing on a TV series that I started the review a while back, and had put on my to finish list this year. On January 1st 2018 – so nearly 3 months later – I can finally score it off the list. So Knots Landing (1979-93), the spin-off from the Big D – Dallas (1978- 91) – finally makes it appearance on Realweegiemidget Reviews. Knots Landing lasted longer than Dallas but had less episodes with 344 compared with Dallas’ 357. It’s link to Dallas was that it told of the middle Ewing brother Gary and his wife Valene’s lives after their remarriage – yup, all those Ewing brothers remarried the same woman (apart from Ray) – and the other couples and their families, with whom who they shared their cul-de-sac. Which to my surprise was called Seaview Circle and not Knots Landing.
The series centred around Gary Ewing , the sandy blond, black sheep, Ewing brother to JR and Bobby. And an alcoholic. Notable in Dallas only for being Lucy’s dad, Gary Ewing and who only guest starred in Dallas in a few occasions (as two different actors) when he kept to his fatherly duties when Lucy was marrying or remarrying Mitch Cooper. Gary (David Ackroyd then played by Ted Shackleford) would appear with on-off wife Valene (Joan Van Ark) – a woman more boring and drippy than Dallas‘ Donna – tagging along for those last-minute essential mother-daughter pre-wedding talks. And usually his mother, Miss Ellie would beg him to stay. He’d rant on about JR and how evil he was and then fxxx off home to Los Angeles (and his own series).
Gary and Valene did return for the final episode Conundrum (1991) with the Sliding Doors (1999) scenario of how their life would have turned out had brother JR not been born. They were the most boring segment of the show. I’d have easily replaced this story with one featuring the much more memorable and likable, Katherine Wentworth. Like Dallas and Dynasty, the Knots Landing spawned a cast reunion and a follow-up two parter mini series., And so far
so good no signs of a reboot or a remake. Although it appears some of the characters made an appearance in Season 2 of the Dallas reboot.
Back in the 1980s, I didn’t watch this show religiously for several reasons. Firstly, the exploits of the most lesser Ewing brother Gary and his wife Valene didn’t entice me whatsoever to watch their doings. They were the second most boring couple in Dallas after Ray and Donna. And between them produced Lucy Ewing or the poisoned dwarf as she was affectionately known by British telly darling, Terry Wogan. Or as she would be known now, Blonde Smurf, that’s if she appeared in Californication (2007-14) no doubt with a comedy scene coming literally face to face with fellow five-footer Pamela Adlon. As she would no doubt be a date for Runkle.
Secondly, at one time Knots Landing was on after way after my bedtime in BBC Scotland. Which meant I hardly watched it, unless it was the showings on a Friday. When the public complained, it was later shifted to an afternoon and during school hours. So being a teen at school at this time really sucked, especially when Larry Hagman was billed as a guest star as JR. Other Dallas stars included his other screen brother, Bobby (Patrick Duffy) and Lucy (Charlene Tilton). Mary Crosby (Kristen Shepard) and Eric Farlow (Christopher) appeared as different characters in both the soaps. Knots Landing took note of Bobby’s death, but chugged on continuing to believe his death. With Valene naming a kid after him, and played by Penelope Ann Miller’s screen-kid from Kindergarten Cop (1990), Joseph and Christian Cousins). This belief in Bobby’s demise continued after Pam woke up from that dream to the end of the Knots Landing series.
And thirdly the cast was less glittery, interesting and shiny than the Dallasers. Apart from Donna Mills who outglammed the rest of them. And for some reason, I never knew her character Abby had a thing for
boring old Gary. And even married him after a torrid affair. Mills to me was the only recognisable member of the cast, starring in Play Misty For Me (1971). Co-starring Clint Eastwood and Mallory Archer Jessica Walter as his bunny boiler fling. A film I watched after starting watching the series. And well worth a look and a reference to this film in Archer (2009) is long overdue. Abby was the villainess of Knots Landing, making her much more enjoyable to watch than Valene (and her inflating nostrils at the smell of anything less than virtuous. Which was an impersonation, my wee sister did perfectly.)
In fact the only times I watched it was when a Dallas‘ lovely JR would make an appearance usually bedding Abby … implied by a close up of his cowboy boots. I remember that close up of the boots, more than the plot. As for the other couples in this fictional close, I can remember their faces but that’s about it. Familiar faces – then and now – included Don Murray from Endless Love (1981) and Constance McCashin from The Two Worlds of Jennie Logan (1979).
So basically it was a soap by the numbers. But known more by me anyway for introducing us to the talents of Alec Baldwin and Nicollette Sheridan from Desperate Housewives (2004-12). And to my surprise, Karen Allen. Baldwin.. I’m sure he needs no introduction being the man who stole the show in Rock of Ages (2012) and in puppet form in Team America (2004). Baldwin starred as Joshua, a long abandoned son and grown up, tele-evangelist. With Allen appearing in the first series pilot, as Don Murray’s daughter (and her youthful face now really dating this series). Allen last seen on-screen by myself as Marion in Indiana Jones and the Crystal Skull (2008).
Sheridan years later became my favourite character as superbitch Edie in the Desperate Housewives series. Then kinda ironically crossing paths with the actress who would become Bobby’s new wife in the rebooted Dallas (2012), Brenda Strong. And the best series being the one where she married Dastardly Dave (Neal McDonough), or as we know him here as the albino Larry Hagman. And now stepping into Joan Collins’ shoes as the villainess from the other big D, Dynasty as Alexis. Her Desperate Housewives co-star, Brian Austin Green also appearing in Knots Landing.
Other notable names included Hollywood star, Halle Berry.,Golden Hollywood star, Ava Gardener and seventies heart-throb, Michael York who also joined the series. Sadly I missed most of those appearances. Despite the fact I did watch it more than the rebooted Dallas of which I’ve seen none. And which I’m gearing myself to watch right from the start with the box sets soon. As when I mentioned this on Twitter I got a nice wee like from Jesse Metcalfe. So, watch this space, and back to Knots Landing.
So possibly inspired by the location of this series, we were introduced in Britain to our very own series set in a cul-de-sac, Brookside (1982-2003) set in Liverpool with scallies and scams galore and much more British and gritty plots. The Jordaches body under the patio, Jimmy Corkhill’s drug detox and Simon’s cult.. to name just a few of the story lines.
Meanwhile in Australia, there was and still is Neighbours (1985). Which set in Erinsborough was a more sunny location and more crazy plots such as Bouncer’s dream – Bouncer was a dog – and Harold Bishop, the bumbling shopkeeper’s disappearance to return later in the series. Now Neighbours – unlike Brookside – and a wee bit like Knots Landing, with more memorable Hollywood names. With probably the entire cast of Danny McBride’s spoof movie trailer Dundee, with Margot Robbie, Russell Crowe and of course lovely Chris Hemsworth. So in this particular battle of memorable addresses, Ramsay street was streets ahead of the rest…but Knots Landing fans shouldn’t tie their knickers in a knot about it.
Weeper Rating: 0 /10
Handsqueeze Rating: 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 /10
Hulk Rating: /10
Bonus Trailer: That JR Guest Appearance.
JR and Valene in Knots Landing, Damien Sheets, http://www.youtube.com
This cast is also seen in the following reviews. Ted Shackleford and Joan Van Ark starred in Dallas and Conundrum. Constance McCashin starred in The Two Worlds of Jennie Logan (1980). Joseph and Christian Cousins star in my review of Kindergarten Cop. Alec Baldwin stars in Rock of Ages (2012).