Series / Knots Landing

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Life in The '80s in an upper-middle-class cul-de-sac in California.

In the mid-1970s, David Jacobs (Family, later Lois and Clark) and Michael Filerman (later Falcon Crest) created Knots Landing, a concept for a Prime Time Soap inspired by Ingmar Bergman's 1973 film, Scenes From a Marriage. It would center around four families in suburban California. Initially rejected in 1977, Jacobs went on to create Dallas, which proved wildly popular. Jacobs then re-visited Knots Landing, turning it into a Spin-Off by inserting one of the Ewing brothers, Black Sheep middle brother Gary.

On the Dallas second-season episode "Return Engagements" (December 20, 1979), Gary (Ted Shackleford) remarried ex-wife Valene Clements Ewing (Joan Van Ark), and Gary's mother bought them a house in California to get away from the other turmoil in the Ewing family. Their daughter Lucy, already almost an adult herself, did not resettle with them, and only appeared on this show as a guest in the first season. The house was one of several his brother Bobby (Patrick Duffy) was flipping to take advantage of California's housing boom at the time.

The pilot episode has them meeting their neighbors in the cul-de-sac, Seaview Circle. One of those neighbors, Karen Fairgate (Michele Lee), was the real star of the show.

During the first few seasons, occasional guest appearances by Dallas cast would occur, especially Gary's brothers Bobby and J.R. (Larry Hagman). However, the last crossover between the two series would occur when Gary got the news that Bobby died at the beginning of their 7th season. Though Bobby's death was retconned from Dallas, Knots Landing was not treated in the same way. In that series, Bobby remained dead, and the two series were treated separately from that point on.

Knots Landing ran from December 27, 1979 (literally the tail end of the decade) until 1993. It's fondly remembered by its fans, but wasn't nearly as popular as Dallas, though both were equal Long-Runners (both went 14 seasons). Like Gary, it became something of a black sheep. It's only seen its first two seasons released on DVD, and isn't available online yet.

This trope page needs to be expanded, and probably re-written by somebody with more first-hand knowledge of the show.

This show provides examples of:

  • Ambiguous Situation: The audience is never given an exact answer of what happened to Val's second husband Ben Gibson, as he went to South America and never came back.
  • '80s Hair Karen Fairgate, Abby Fairgate, Cathy Geary and Valene Ewing are some of the more prominent examples. Joan Van Ark refers to Val's "fe-mullet" 'do on the 2005 re-union show.
  • Cain and Abel JR Ewing and Gary.
  • Crossover with Dallas (at least until Season 4, completely cut off by Dallas' "Dream Season")
  • Dying Alone: Laura Avery Sumner when she goes off to a clinic to die of a brain tumor.
  • George Jetson Job Security: Paige Matheson, numerous times at the Sumner Group.
  • Hostage Situation happens in season 2.
  • Icy Blue Eyes: Donna Mills' amazing blue eyes are perfect for flashing a wicked grin or dirty look — whichever is required.
  • Identical Stranger: Ciji Dunne and Cathy Geary were played by the same actress, though were completely different people. Unlike many examples of this trope, Cathy and Ciji never met as the former arrived at Knots Landing after the latter's murder.
  • Jerk With a Heart of Gold: Gregory Sumner.
  • Jerkass Richard Avery takes the cake, also Gary when he's been drinking.
  • Killed Off for Real:
    • Sid flatlined in surgery after a car crash, at the start of season 3. His actor, Don Murray, was credited as a regular for the first episode of the season, so viewers would be surprised by his death.
    • Laura died of a brain tumor in season 10.
    • Joshua fell off a roof and died from his injuries, in season 7.
    • Ciji was murdered in season 5, prompting a murder mystery.
    • Jill accidentally killed herself while trying to frame Gary for her kidnapping, in season 10.
    • Subverted. Val was believed to have died in a car explosion at the conclusion of season 13, though turned up alive at the end of the following season, the series finale.
  • Large Ham Karen Fairgate on a few occasions, most notably in the pilot episode where she confronts Sid's Bratty Teenage Daughter who was staying with them for a week.
  • Not Herself: Val — after the abduction of her twins sends her over the edge and into schizophrenic state, she takes on the personality of "Verna Ellers", a diner waitress back in Tennessee.
  • Only in It for the Money: Abby's main reason for marrying Gary Ewing.
  • The Pollyanna: Poor, poor Val — despite all that life throws at her, as Karen says, she's like "the little engine who could". However, Michele Lee (Karen) wanted her character to be a "Pollyanna".
  • Pretty in Mink: Fancy furs are worn, as was the norm for these series.
  • Put on a Bus: Numerous examples of characters ultimately leaving Knots Landing for various reasons, including Kenny, Ginger, Richard, Diana, Michael, Olivia, Cathy, Ben (who actually disappeared), Frank, and most notably, Abby.
  • Really Gets Around Kenny Ward; who has been having extra-marital relations behind Ginger's back since the first season. Could also extend to Gary Ewing.
  • "Shut Up" Kiss: Cathy Geary does this to Gary when he yells at her for trying to be look-alike Ciji Dunne.
  • The Three Faces of Eve: The three main women fill these roles perfectly: Karen is The Wife, the wiser, calmer aspect, and someone around whom one could build a home life. Abby is The Seductress — sexually experienced and independent. Val is the third, The "Child" (who does not have to be a child literally) and is innocent, perhaps to the point of naïveté.
  • The Alcoholic Gary Ewing.
  • Title Sequence/ Evolving Credits: For the first season, an opening montage featuring overhead frame of the cul de sac and the cast members in alphabetical order. Also accompanied by a catchy jazz tune composed by Jerrold Immel. This was replaced in Season 3 by the most well-known version, a montage of clips of the show playing in small boxes going by from right to left. Replaced again in Season 9 by a slow panning shot over a painting similar to the splattered style of Jackson Pollock. That was soon replaced in Season 11 by sandcastle structures of the cul-de-sac houses as well as some skyscrapers representing Los Angeles on a beautiful beach, which was replaced in Season 12 by..... the return of the across-the-screen style of scrolling clips. Although this time, it had faster moving, color-framed boxes.
  • Witness Protection: The Williams family (Frank, Patricia and Julie) who moved next door to Karen and Mack Mackenzie. Their real names are Jerry and Samantha Sollars. Samantha testified against some mobsters who are after them so the whole family assumed new identities and moved to Knots Landing to be safe.
  • Your Cheating Heart: Richard Avery very much so. Gary Ewing as well; Kenny Ward as well plus he Really Gets Around


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