Knots Landing: The Best Damn Soap Opera Ever!!!

Okay, all this talk about Lisa Hartman-Black (Ciji/Cathy, Knots Landing) made me run out and find a clip for all the young uns—and Luke—who may have never experienced the best damn primetime soap opera ever!!! For 14 seasons CBS fans followed the lives of Dallas‘s JR Ewing’s "good for nothing" little brother Gary (Ted Shackelford), his hayseed wife Valene (Joan Van Ark) and their friends, neighbors and enemies on the famed So Cal Cul-de-Sac.

A lot of kids I grew up with wished they had lived with the Huxtables on The Cosby Show, screw that. I wanted to be peeping through windows on Seaview Circle, especially if Abby Fairgate Ewing (Donna Mills) was up to no good!

Knots Landing was the rare show that only got better with each year. In fact, the soap wasn’t cancelled due to ratings, unlike Dallas (a close second on my list), Dynasty (which I had enough taste to know was a tacky, hot, drag queen mess even then. Are you listening Mr. Carlivati?) and other soaps that had bottomed out at the end of their runs, Knots was still a ratings hit when CBS made the decision to cancel the show.

The only reason Knots had to go was because of the astronomical, and in this rare occasion, well-deserved salaries of its veteran cast, especially the fierce Michelle Lee as Karen Fairgate MacKenzie. Ironically, Lynn Marie Latham, who damn near dismantled the House that Bill Bell Built over at The Young and the Restless, wrote for Knots Landing for many years and also created Homefront, the quaint WWII soap I adored. Don’t ask me what happened. I think it was seeing Blood Diamond.

After the hugs and kisses from old faves like Shackelford (currently Jeffrey, The Young and the Restless) and Kevin Dobson, who before filling out Uncle Mickey’s suits on Days of Our Lives honed his legal skills as lawyer Mac MacKenzie on Knots, a video montage of some of the amazing soap’s classic moments airs, set to Hartman-Black’s version of the Journey hit "Open Arms". Be sure to check out a fresh-faced, pre-30 Rock Alec Baldwin opposite Hartman-Black. He played Val’s crazy religious nut brother Joshua. I still have nightmares about him falling off that roof after his mama Lilimae gave him a stern talkin’ to! Okay…no I don’t, but it sounded so good there! Enjoy.

26 Responses

  1. Profile photo of gush900

    Jamey i used to watch this soap with my mom every thursday.My favorite bitch has to be abby cunningham.I love the abby/gary/val triangle.I was hopeful that b/b wouldve cast donna mills as beth logan could you imagine the banter on that show if donna mills was cast as beth logan a soap fan can hope i guess

  2. Profile photo of Jamey Giddens
    Jamey Giddens

    Gush, I can’t imagine why one of the Bell soaps hasn’t snagged the bra-zilliant Donna Mills. She is MEANT to play a soap opera ice queen! I would love her as JT’s mother. She should go head to head with Nikki or Jill.

  3. Profile photo of luverica

    Jamey, Jamey, Jamey, I couldn’t agree with you more. I too thought Knots Landing was the best prime time soap ever. In my opinion, it was the best written, best acted, and best directed of all the prime time soaps. I miss not one season. There was no better friendship than the one between Valene Ewing and Karen Fargate, no better love story than Valene and Gary Ewing, and no better slick man stealing bitch than Abby Ewing. CBS Thursday nights at 10…great memories.

    Do you realize that Jo Van Ark originated the role of Gloria Fisher Abbott on Y&R and she was so good? With Ted Shackleford playing Gloria’s husband, could you imagine if Jo was still playing that role? It kills me to think about it.

  4. Profile photo of Christine_in_Wisconsin

    Oooooh love love love Knots Landing!! If they threw that up on Soapnet I’d have to quit my job to stay glued to the TV.

    Don’t forget some of the supporting cast… Hunt Block, Nicolette Sheridan, Brian Austen Green

  5. Profile photo of J Bernard Jones
    J Bernard Jones

    My favorite exchange on Knots Landing ever:

    Laura (after hugging Greg): Are you happy to see me or is that a gun in your pocket?

    Greg: It’s a gun in my pocket. And, no, I’m not happy to see you.

  6. Profile photo of luverica

    Gregory Sumner: I thought I heard someone splashing out here.
    Paige Matheson: I hope you don’t mind.
    Gregory Sumner: No, suit yourself.
    Paige Matheson: I couldn’t find a bathing suit.
    Gregory Sumner: I can see that.
    Paige Matheson: Well, why don’t you join me?
    Gregory Sumner: No, I never swim in shark-infested waters.

    There’s also a couple of great YouTube clips of scenes of Abby getting slapped by both Valene and Karen, and they’re good slaps too.

  7. Profile photo of ssjohn

    :( This is a show that ended when i was 3 so i never watched it ;(. If i ever get around to watching Dallas on DVD i’ll check out Knots as well, Season 2 will be out on DVD in 09 so maybe i can watch it and stay up to date with the dvds.

  8. Profile photo of SoapSnob

    My favorite Knots Landing exchanges…

    During the last episode…

    Abby Fairgate Ewing Sumner: By the way, are you still sleeping with Greg?
    Paige Matheson: Every morning, every night, twice on Saturdays. He’s just getting better and better.
    Abby Fairgate Ewing Sumner: I didn’t think so.

    And early in its run…

    Valene Ewing: Gary’s GOT someone who believes in him. Now I mean it Abby, I just want an answer. (To the question, Are you sleeping with my husband, Gary.)
    Abby Fairgate: Well I am not saying we are having an affair. And I’m not saying we’re not. I am saying I can have him anytime I want him.

    A horrified and heartbroken Val turns to leave; Abby goes after her and continues: That answer your question Val?
    Val turns and slaps her in a way that was only done in the 80s.

    I LOVED Knots Landing. It was the BEST nighttime soap of the late 70s, 80s and early 90s.

  9. Profile photo of season1217

    “I guess God got me for doing that, since I got sprayed by a skunk walking home one night.”



    //**It’s the writing, stupid!**\\

  10. Profile photo of daisyclover1938

    Loved Loved Loved Knots Landing!!!

    Btw, Alec Baldwin played “Joshua” (not Jonathan) and I loved him, he was just so *BAD* For years, everytime I saw him in movies I would always say “There’s Joshua!!” LOL In fact, I loved the bad guys: I liked Richard, Laura’s first husband who started out being a sweet guy and ended up being a total psycho. And Sam Behrens played Danny, another psycho that I just loved!

    I liked the Olivia/drug addiction story, Jill trying to kill Val (I remember asking my mother why Gary’s psycho ex wives/girlfriends couldn’t just leave poor Val alone, lol) I remember when Val got her twins back (they’d been kidnapped) and I cried and cried!! And Abby/Gary/Val was just the best triangle on a nighttime soap, ever!

  11. Profile photo of elbugten

    Another Knots fan here!
    Thanks for bringing back such great memories. Favorite s/l’s of mine included Val getting her twins back, Jill trying to kill Val, Olivia’s drug addiction Abby and Greg, and later, Greg and Paige (strip croquet, anyone?!).

    Did you guys know that the “Bible” for KL was written before Dallas? The TPTB at CBS thought the cul-de-sac idea was boring, but were more interested in Gary’s family. So they developed and produced Dallas first. Then when that took off, they spun off KL.

    Another actress from KL that no one’s mentioned is Kent Masters King (Lainey, GH). She played Frank and Pat’s daughter, Julie on Knots, who was responsible for killing Danny by crushing his fingers causing him to drown in the pool.

    One of the things I liked best about KL is that the characters and circumstances were more relatable than on other primetime soaps. Karen and Mac were often seen paying the bills or talking about money. Everyone had a job that they actually went to on a regular basis. Karen and Diana’s mother/daughter relationship as well as Abby and Olivia’s were much more realistic than anything seen on other shows. Kids on TV before that were either little angels or cute and sassy. No one ever dared talk back to their parents on TV! I still remember the scene where Olivia locked herself in the bathroom (to take drugs) and Abby actually got an ax and started chopping away at the bathroom door! Donna Reed never would’ve done that! KL also did simple every day scenes, like the one where Karen asked Val to help her stretch a aweater, while she was wearing it! What woman has never done this?

    I loved KL. I’d like to see it back on SospNet again, too. I’ll have to look for the DVD’s.

  12. Profile photo of Darren Lomas
    Darren Lomas

    I loved that show!  Paige and Greg were it, and then Anne came along and made it even more watchable… it was sooo good. 

    That damn Danny Waleska was a piece of work flattening Pat… so glad he ended up face down in the pool. 

    I vaguely remember Marcia Cross and Bruce Greenwood too, they’re both great… the later seasons (that was when I had a serious Knots addiction) need to come out on DVD ASAP.

  13. Profile photo of hrfmom

    I was not a Knots Landing watcher…yes we do exist in the world!
    I was raised on Dynasty, Falcon Crest (loved Jane Wyman and Lorenzo Lamas before he started marrying porn stars) and Dallas!

    Isn’t somebody in Hollywood planning a Dallas Movie?

    Those were the days…big hair, big shoulder pads, lots of makeup! Those were the days where you would find me in tight rolled jeans.

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