Gary and Valene Ewing, relatives of the Ewing clan of Dallas, arrive in Knots Landing to make a new home for themselves. However, scheming Abby Fairgate-Cunningham later breaks up their marriage when she seduces Gary.
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A popular night time soap opera, it followed the adventures of five families living in a coastal suburb of Los Angeles in California: Gary and Valene Ewing, relatives of the popular Ewing clan of Dallas; Sid and Karen Fairgate, their all-American neighbors; the troubled Richard and Laura Avery; young newlyweds Kenny and Ginger Ward; and divorcee Abby Cunningham, Sid's scheming sister. Written by
Michelle Phillips first joined the series as scheming Anne Matheson in 1987 for a fixed number of episodes, but she was asked to reprise her role in 1989 after the departure of Donna Mills, the show's main villainess. When audiences felt that the character became too sympathetic, the writers created Claudia Whitaker (played by Kathleen Noone) who was seen as a more devious Abby-like character with whom Anne often battled with. See more »
Even though Dallas was much more popular, Knots Landing was a much stronger, more realistic, and better written show. First of all, shows like Dallas and Dynasty insulted viewers intelligence by constantly keeping a character and changing the actor. Remember how Barbara Bel Geddes turned into Donna Reed on Dallas, and then back again. Or how Jeff Colby went to bed with Pamela Sue Martin and woke up with Emma Samms on Dynasty. This is not Broadway where someone just takes over someone else's role. When Constance McCashin left Knots, did a new Laura come on...NO!...she died and we all cried. That's why Knots Landing was a far superior serial. For fourteen years, viewers were engrossed in these people's lives, because you felt like you knew them. The best characters on the show were Val and Abby. And they're friendship turned feud was riveting. It was actually Val who convinced Abby to move to Knots Landing early in Season 2 while they were on a picnic. And she grew a deep attachment to Abby's daughter, Olivia, mainly because she needed to fill the void left when J.R. took her daughter, Lucy, away from her. It was Val who comforted Abby when her ex-husband ,Jeff, stole her children. And it was Val, not their Aunt Karen, who was Brian and Olivia's second mom. All of this made it even more scandalous when Abby had an affair with Gary. These women lived across the street from each other, and cared about each other. But Abby wanted Gary. The best scene of the entire series is during the episode "China Dolls", when Val finally confronts Abby. The seconds when Val is walking across that street from her house to Abby's seem like hours. And when she opens that door and Abby comes down those stairs in that pink bathrobe...it was so HOT! When Val asks Abby if she is having an affair with her husband, she looks right in Val's eyes and says "I'm not saying we're having an affair, and I'm not saying we're not, I am saying I can have him anytime I want him". When Val slaps Abby in the face, Abby actually gives her a look like...I know I deserved that because I know what I'm doing is wrong, but I want Gary and I don't care, so I'll take the hit. You actually feel like your watching your neighbors fight. There are no women like this on television anymore. These ladies could act. Donna Mills makes Joan Collins look like a cartoon character. And Joan Van Ark makes Linda Evans seem like an empty vessel. The scenes between Val and Abby over the next few seasons continued to shine. Val finally gets her revenge by becoming pregnant with Gary's babies, who is now married to Abby. And then Abby makes a comment to Scott Easton saying that she wishes the babies were never born. The fact that Easton takes her seriously makes the way for the best storyline of the series, and it is when Abby finally comes to her senses that we see how she truly cares for Val. When Abby finds Val alone on the beach and tells her she knows where the babies are, Val immediately knows she is going to see her twins. If it would have been anybody else, she probably wouldn't have believed them. But Abby doesn't mess around. When Abby is driving Val to her babies, they are alone in the car together, and you can feel all the years of history these two women have together. They were once like family, then bitter enemies, but through it all they are still in each others lives. They may not like each other, but they KNOW each other very well! Years later, when Laura dies, Val and Abby hug each other, sharing the pain of losing someone so close to them. Even though they don't like each other, they are once again sharing a very intimate moment. When they hug, you can feel they are reaching out to each other, actually comforting each other. And when Jill tries to kill Val and everyone thinks she tried to kill herself, Abby genuinely seems devastated by the news. When Val gets out of the hospital, Abby confronts her in Karen's kitchen, offering to help her in any way she can. And she REALLY means it. And now having to deal with psycho Jill, Val realizes that Abby is not so bad after all. The dynamics between these two actresses was phenomenal and understated. While Karen may have served as the shows backbone, it was Val and Abby who gave the show life, and spice. Both characters added depth and layers to the show that are unfounded on any other soap. Joan Van Ark, as the passive-aggressive Valene, who manages to drag everyone into her dramas and make her problems seem like the greatest problems in the world. And Donna Mills, as Abby, the greatest bitch in the history of television. Joan Collins' Alexis, and later Heather Locklears' Amanda on Melrose Place, were nothing more than Abby wanna-be's. No other bitch in television history had the multi-layered humanity of Abby Fairgate-Cunningham-Ewing. Even though she was a schemer and a manipulator, she had morals. She loved her children, and she would hurt people to get what she wanted, but nothing they couldn't recover from. Mac Macenzie once said..."Abby doesn't kill, she gets even". And that about sums it up. How amazing for once to see a woman not be a victim, and not have to pay for not being a victim. Through all their fascinating story lines, Val and Abby seem most real when they are playing off each other. And their feuds were the most dramatic moments of the series. If there is ever another Knots Landing reunion, how nice it would be to see Val and Abby sit down together for a cup of tea, and reminisce about all the insanity they've been through together.
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