#1970s #1980s #1990s
The Dallas spin off telling of the exploits of the lesser Ewing brother Gary and his neighbours…
The cast including early appearances of a Baldwin brother, a Bond girl and a Desperate Housewife.
Knots Landing FULL PILOT CREDITS, WETHOTCANADIANSUMMER and photos from Lorimar
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. This was January 1st 2018 – so nearly 3 months later – I can finally score it off the list. Knots Landing (1979-93), the spin-off from the Big D – Dallas (1978- 91) – now finally makes its appearance on Realweegiemidget Reviews.
Knots Landing lasted longer than Dallas but had fewer episodes with the former having 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. This address was to my surprise called Seaview Circle and not Knots Landing.
The series centred around Gary Ewing, the sandy blond, black sheep, alcoholic Ewing brother to JR and Bobby. Gary was famous in Dallas only for being Lucy’s dad, and he only guest-starred in Dallas on a few occasions (as two different actors) when he kept to his fatherly duties. These primarily when Lucy was marrying or remarrying Mitch Cooper.
Gary (David Ackroyd then later 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. 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 likeable, Katherine Wentworth.
Like Dallas and Dynasty, the Knots Landing spawned a cast reunion and a follow-up two-parter mini-series. 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. Between them, they produced the equally dull Lucy Ewing or the poisoned dwarf as she was affectionately known by British telly darling, Terry Wogan.
Secondly, at one time Knots Landing was on after way after my bedtime in BBC Scotland. This meant I hardly watched it unless it was the showings on a Friday. However, 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.
Dallas stars as guest 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 after the dream season big reveal. Valene names a kid after him, and the kid was played by Penelope Ann Miller’s on screen-kid from Kindergarten Cop (1990), Joseph and Christian Cousins.
Thirdly the cast was less glittery, interesting and shiny than the Dallasers. This apart from Donna Mills who outglammed the rest of them. For some reason, I never knew her character Abby had a thing for
boring old Gary. She 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) and Night of Terror (1972).
Her co-stars in this were Clint Eastwood and
Mallory Archer Jessica Walter as his bunny boiler fling. This movie is 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. This 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 at the side of the bed (but in this case it was a futon). 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).
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). To my surprise, Karen Allen also appeared in an early role. Baldwin… I’m sure needs no introduction. He was also known as 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 now a grown-up, tele-evangelist.
Allen appearing in the first series pilot, as Don Murray’s daughter (and her youthful face now really dating this series). Allen was 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.
In this show, Sheridan kinda ironically crossing paths with the actress who would become Bobby’s new wife in the rebooted Dallas (2012), Brenda Strong. The best Desperate Housewives series being the one where she married Dastardly Dave (Neal McDonough). In this house, as we know him here as the Larry Hagman lookalike.
Sheridan is 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 Gardner and seventies heart-throb, Michael York.
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.
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). This was set in Liverpool with scallies and scams galore and much more British and gritty plots. The plots also included Jordaches body under the patio, Jimmy Corkhill’s drug detox and Simon’s cult.. to name just a few of the storylines.
Meanwhile, in Australia, there was and still is Neighbours (1985-). This soap set in Erinsborough was a more sunny location. It boasts more crazy plots such as Bouncer’s dream where Bouncer was a dog. Another was the disappearance of Harold Bishop, the bumbling shopkeeper who then made a return later in the series.
Neighbours – unlike Brookside – and a wee bit like Knots Landing, cast more memorable Hollywood names. These include probably the entire cast of Danny McBride’s spoof movie trailer Tourism Australia: Dundee – The Son of a Legend Returns Home (2018).
This “trailer” 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
This cast is also seen in the following reviews. Ted Shackleford and Joan Van Ark also starred in Dallas and the series finale Conundrum. Constance McCashin starred in The Two Worlds of Jennie Logan. Donna Mills stars in Play Misty for Me and Night of Terror. Joseph and Christian Cousins star in Kindergarten Cop. Alec Baldwin stars in Rock of Ages. William Devane stars in Family Plot.