1 9 7 9 – 1 9 9 3 (USA)
320 x 60 minute episodes
A spin-off from Dallas, this series concerned oil fortune heir Gary Ewing (Ted Shackleford) and his melodramatic Southern California lifestyle.
Knots Landing was probably the nearest Americans could bear to get to a soap opera about ordinary people. “Ordinary” meaning that nobody in the show has a private jet. Yet.
The principal married couples and their lovers lived on the same cul-de-sac in the “quiet” community of Knots Landing.
The show was a suburban soap opera taken to the extreme (sort of Neighbours-on steroids) with sordid love affairs, nervous breakdowns, alcoholism and sexual transgressions to rival all other prime time soaps.
Gary Ewing was an alcoholic no-good son of the millionaire Southfork Ewings, who remarried his teenage waitress bride Valene (Joan Van Ark) after Miss Ellie’s intervention, and moved south to where Bobby Ewing had constructed a bunch of houses on 20 acres of family-owned land.
Gary and Val left their troublesome daughter Lucy at Southfork, though she and her uncles dropped in from time to time.
The neighbours were Karen (Michele Lee) and Sid (Don Murray), who owned the local garage where Gary worked, Richard (John Pleshette) and Laura (Constance McCashin), a crazy lawyer and his battered wife who had to pick up men at a military base for revenge, and a young recording executive and his wife who moved away.
Later Abby Cunningham (Donna Mills), Sid’s divorced sister, a scheming blonde man-eater, arrived to tantalise and terrify all the men. Like Dynasty, Knots Landing improved with a large dash of female nastiness.
Gloom descended with the death of Sid in hospital after a road crash. Val’s Bible-bashing mother, Lillimae (Julie Harris), came on the scene, and as Gary submitted to Abby’s sexy ploys, Val became a best-selling novelist, discovered Gary’s betrayal and left him.
At this point, US audiences began to yawn and new characters were added to beef up the show. In came a new Mr Nice for Karen in Mack Mackenzie (Kevin Dobson), in came a sexpot called Ciji (Lisa Hartman), in came a new Mr Nasty- corrupt politician Greg Sumner (William Devane) and in came two celebrities – Ava Gardner as a mischievous widow wreathed in cigarette smoke, and Michael York as a devious publisher.
After Karen’s near-terminal happiness with Mack, she suffered every disaster in the soap book.
The triangular traumas of Gary, Val and Abby multiplied – there were murders, trials, drug problems, custody battles, kidnappings galore – AND they doubled their spending on the dresses Donna Mills wore.
Despite all this, the show never equalled the ratings of its predecessor.
The series ended with a two-hour special in which most of the storyline loose ends were finally tied up. It was preceded by a one-hour special called Knots Landing Block Party, on which current and former members of the cast reminisced about their experiences on the show.
Joan Van Ark
Laura Avery Sumner
Karen Fairgate Mackenzie
Bobby Jacoby (1)
Brian Austin Green (2)
Patrick ‘Mack’ Mackenzie