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‘Knots Landing’ Premiered 40 Years Ago Today: Remembering The Greatest Primetime Soap Of Them All

Photo: JPI

It wasn’t Dallas that was proved to be the longest running primetime soap opera, but it’s spin-off Knots Landing, and forty years ago on this date, back on December 27th, 1979, the characters we loved from the Southern California cul-de-sac of Seaview Circle, began to capture our hearts and strike our fancy.

Originally, when the show made its debut on CBS, the series episodes were self-contained, but shortly thereafter, following the sudsy cliffhangers of Dallas, ‘Knots’ changed into the serialized storytelling format, especially with the arrival of bad girl seductress Abby Cunningham (Donna Mills), and when all was said and done, it gave viewers some of the juiciest cliffhangers ever, serving them up on a weekly basis, better than anyone else.  ‘Knots’ lasted 14 seasons and would end its run on May 13th, 1993.

‘Knots’ creator, David Jacobs said part of his inspiration for the series came from the classic 1977 film by Ingmar Bergman’s”Scenes from a Marriage”.  And as ‘Knots’ fans know, the show revolved around several couples in its humble beginnings; the Ewings (Val and Gary), the Fairgates (Karen and Sid), the Averys (Laura and Richard) and the Wards (Ginger and Kenny).  After Don Murray exited the series as Sid, it opened up the canvas for ‘Knots’ heroin, Karen played by Michele Lee.  In fact, Michele received the series only acting Emmy nomination for her performances in Sid’s death episodes.

Even though the other primtime soaps were glitzier,(Dallas, Dynasty, Falcon Crest), and in the public conscience (Who Shot J.R? – Dallas), ‘Knots’ continued to be the little engine that could, bringing more realistic stories and issues of the day to the forefront.

Photo: Lorimar

The series finally cracked the top ten, just once, back in 1985.  Over the years the cast included: Ted Shackleford, Joan Van Ark, Michele Lee, Kevin Dobson, Donna Mills, William Devane, Costance McCashin, Nicollette Sheridan, Julie Harris, Alec Baldwin, Lisa Hartman, and so many more.  In addition, well-known daytime soap stars came to ‘Knots’ including: Jane Elliot, Peter Reckell and Kathleen Noone.

In its 344 episodes during its 14-year run, who can ever forget when … Val’s twins were taken for her, and the cliffhanger when she is almost reunited with them! Karen’s drug addiction, Abby’s daughter, Olivia’s (Tonya Crowe) drug addiction, Laura’s videotape that she leaves for her friends and her beloved Greg Sumner when she succumbs to cancer, an unhinged Jill Bennett forcing pills down Val’s throat at gunpoint to make it look like she committed suicide, and all the other familial storylines, affairs, revenge plots, murder, corporate intrigue and takeovers.

In this primetime soap, it was the women who were the key and central figures of the story and they were played to perfection each in their own right by longtime series stars: Michele Lee, Joan Van Ark and Donna Mills.  (And Constance McCashin up to when she was killed-off the show).  One thing is for sure … Thursday nights at 10pm have never been the same since its departure.

So, today on its 40th anniversary, check out the videos below which include: the original pilot opening of ‘Knots”, the opening title sequences over the 14 years, the gut-wrenching cliffhanger where Val sees her twins, the emotional moment when Sumner sits alone and weeps as he watches Laura’s goodbye message, Abby dealing with her daughter;’s drug addiction, and the now classic Karen “polyanna” speech.

Then, share your remembrances and favorite moments as we celebrate Knots’ 40th anniversary via the comment section below.

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I sure miss this show! The storyline with Jill Bennett forcing Val to take pills just tore our hearts out. This show emphasized relationships as well a storylines (in contrast to today’s shows that emphasize storylines only). First class show all the way.

YES. & didn’t Jill kill herself, in order to blame Val or Gary?

Yes she did. Took pills, stuck her finger in a little hole in the trunk to shut it. Oh the random things we remember!

YES! I miss that show

This was the best of the prime time soaps…since Peyton Place but i liked them all..Alec Baldwin should had been included as a daytime star as he played Billy on The Docotrs!!!

Donna Mills, Ted Shackleford, Joan Van Ark and and kevin Dobson all did daytime too

Awesome show, simply the best, they don’t make this way anymore!

When will this be on a streaming service!!!

The best soap ever the baby storyline was done so well Joan Van Ark deserved a Emmy just a great soap

Oh Kay, the memories that storyline brings back! I remember rewatching that “Val sees her twins” scene over and over….so powerful. With all the dreck available on DVD, WHERE IS KNOT’S?

Oh, I did the exact same thing. I kept rewinding our Beta vcr over and over. The score music from that scene has been in my head ever since. I still get chills and tears watching it-so glad I’m not alone.

I agree 100%. After she gets the twins back and she lets the Fishers say goodbye to them – there has never been a more moving scene in television.

Knots IMO was by far the BEST nighttime drama on television and like you said Michael, Thursday nights have never been the same…of course TV hasn’t been the same in years but that’s a whole other subject…I didn’t start watching Knots until the second year when they decided to make it into a serial…By the way, Jaime Lyn Bauer actually guest star on Knots for an episode.

OMG! I remember watching on Thursday nights. I remember when Sid died & how sad that episode was-
I LOVED Abby and her affair with Gary; WOW. I remember Olivia’s escalating drug addiction. Remember when Paige slept with Karen’s son? OMG. #fire

Oh God,those were the days! I so loved that show, also Dallas, Falcon Crest, starting with Peyton Place and many others. There were so many of those night time soaps, as I called them. Never missed one!

Violet and all…Add Dynasty to list. What a cast. Also on my list, and while not a traditional soap, was The Thornbirds.

rose, I replied days ago, but maybe everyone’s on vacation as none of my replies have been posted, to you and others as well.Anyway, I just wanted to say I also loved Dynasty and do you remember Flamingo Road and the night time spin-off of Lisa with Eileen Fulton, from ATWT? Don’t remember the name.

Violet, wasn’t it called OUR PRIVATE WORLD? The great Eileen Fulton will never be forgotten in DAYTIME history. My mom started watching ATWT in 1968 (ish) just for Lisa.

Was it Our Private World or Our Private Lives?

Rose, thanks for mentioning my all-time favorite, THE THORN BIRDS. We watch the DVDs twice a year and reread the novel every other year. Talk about appointment TV!

You and me both, Violet. All the great actors and good writing that made those shows a part of our lives even today. Looking forward to them got me through many a dull work day!

You just had to go & rebreak my heart with that Grey & Laura clip. Sobs……

Thanks for sharing those clips. I started watching at 10 years old with my grandmother the very first night (yep, she let me stay up until 11). Knots has endured as my favorite television show of all time. The saga of Val’s twins, which culminated from multiple seasons worth of stories involving Lotus Point, The Wolfbridge Group, Dr. Ackerman and every character on the canvas, was the greatest soap umbrella story I have ever seen. To me it was Shakespeare. And that frustratingly fantastic season finale sent my teenage self into a tailspin for the entire summer. Happy 40th!

Yes! I agree with all of this! I was 11 when I started watching, the very first night (it was Christmas break, and we were all at my grandparents’ house)… and I watched every week till the finale in May 1993. Season 6… oh, Val’s babies. It was just… phenomenal stuff… like you said, Shakespeare. Joan Van Ark was just incredible. Goodness, I love and miss this show. So glad I’m not alone.

Knots Landing lasted 14 years and is one of the best. Great cast, great stories and great cul-de-sac! Can we go back for a re-union on CBS?

Great acting by the entire cast! One standout among many was when Val finally saw her twins. Riveting!

I thought that story arc with Olivia’s drug problem was phenomenal. If Val had been Olivia’s mother, she would have just utterly collapsed; if it had been Karen, she’d have spent her time wringing her hands and agonizing over what she’d done wrong and trying to be “supportive” and what not. But not Abby! No indeed; she handled it in true Abby fashion, got right down to work and starting taking care of business–and from that moment, the drugs did not have a chance! It was totally different from the way I had seen kid-is-taking-drugs storylines handled on any other show, and it was totally in character for Abby, and it was a riot to watch. I can remember laughing out loud at that scene where she took the hammer to the bathroom door. Bravissima to Donna Mills; that storyline was probably her best work on Knots–and that’s saying something.

Is the series available on any of the streaming services?

I have searched everywhere and can only find clips on YouTube whereas the others like Dallas are available in full episodes. Anyone have any info on streaming this show?

Knots Landing was much more satisfying than any other nighttime soap because it took itself seriously in the right places. Noteworthy were the use of music, lighting and editing. A lot of classic scenes have already been discussed but I remember one in which Paige went to a hospital to visit her mother. The scene opens with Paige walking towards the camera down a long hallway all alone carrying a flower. Then there’s drama in the hospital room. Then it closes with Paige walking away from the camera down that long hallway and pausing to drop the flower either onto the floor or into the trash. Very well done. Also, the scenes with Anne and Klaudia in which they have voice over thought conversations as well as what they actually say. So clever and fun to watch! One more that I remember is Greg’s monolog with his father’s portrait. At the end of the scene, they used lighting to fade out as though it were on stage instead of in a tv studio. So well done.

General Hospital

Elizabeth MacRae, ‘General Hospital’s’ Meg Baldwin, Passes Away at 88

Veteran actress, Elizabeth MacRae best-known as the third Meg Baldwin on General Hospital and as Gomer Pyle’s girlfriend, Lou-An Ann Poovie, in Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C has died at the age of 88. MacRae passed away in Fayetteville, North Carolina, where she grew up.

On General Hospital, Elizabeth played Meg Baldwin who had a young son, Scott (Kin Shriner) from a previous relationship and who married Lee Baldwin (Peter Hansen). The role was originated by Patricia Breslin from 1965-1969. Breslin was temporarily replaced by Jan Shepherd for three weeks in the summer of 1967. MacRae took over the part from Breslin full time from 1969-70 and again from 1972-73.

In story, the character of Meg suffered a nervous breakdown and Lee had her committed to an institution. In 1971, Meg was released and came home, but suffered from severe hypertension. In 1973, Dr Lesley Webber was assigned to her case. Meg became jealous of Lesley and began to think that she was trying to get to have sex with Lee. During an argument with Lee, Meg died of a stroke and soon after Lee adopted Scott.

Photo: ABC

MacRae also appeared on other notable soaps, having roles on Another WorldDays of Our LivesGuiding Light, and Search for Tomorrow.  Elizabeth’s career spanned over two and half decades having also appeared in classic TV shows and countless movies such as: Route 66Surfside 6RendezvousThe FugitiveJudd for the DefenseGunsmokeBonanzaI Dream of Jeannie, and The Andy Griffith Show.

Photo: CBS

She is survived by five stepchildren, Terry Halsey, Peter Halsey, Hugh Halsey, Cate Halsey, and Alex Halsey Topper.

Share your remembrances of GH’s Elizabeth MacRae via the comment section below.

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Days Of Our Lives

Ron Carlivati Reveals When Days of our Lives Episodes From His Head Writing Regime Resume Streaming

Days of our Lives viewers have not been watching material from head writer Ron Carlivati and his writing team for many months. Well, things are about to change.

Circle this Friday, May 31st when the first new script from Carlivati and company will stream on the Peacock soap opera. If you recall, Carlivati had to step away from the writing gig at DAYS due to the writer’s strike, but because the soap tapes at least seven months ahead of air, it is only now that fans will see how the stories shift or finish out that were started by Carlivati.

According to Ron’s conversation with TV Insider, when Carlivati and his team resumed writing the show in late October of 2023, the stories were already written well into 2024. Carlivati explained, “For me, as of us talking right now, the (replacement writers’ material) is still airing, so that has been very tough. I’m just very anxious and eager for our stuff to start airing again.”

Photo: JPI

Ron explained before the writer’s strike, he and his scribes had written up through the 2023 Thanksgiving episodes. Speaking on how the replacement writers tried to handle stepping in for the regular team, Ron expressed, “I think what they tried to do was move things slowly in the hopes that the strike would end and respect where my storylines were so that I could play them off when we came back. Unfortunately, the strike dragged on, so I understand that the show needed to make story decisions.”

The award-winning writer made clear that, “from January to May (2024), those were not my stories. I had nothing to do with those.”

Having lived through a writer’s strike before (when he was at One Life to Live in 2008), Carlivati explained how he dealt with coming back and adjusting the stories including that the plan was to, “blow things up, jettison anything that I did not like, and get back to a show that I understand and can enjoy and tell. ”

Photo: JPI

Look for a Carlivati-style ‘wink-wink’ on Friday’s episode. As he puts it, “I did want to make it clear that this was the line of demarcation, that the writers were back and there was a change happening. We have a little nod or two to what was going on in the first day and I think it will be very obvious and clear to the savvy viewer. Luckily, story-wise, certain things were coming to a head already.”

Photo: JPI

Stay tuned for how Ron resolves a Sloan and Nicole showdown, how Eric will find out he is Jude’s true baby daddy, what happens when the new Gabi returns from Salem from out of the slammer, the Maggie/Konstantin wedding, payback time for Theresa and more.

In addition, and as previously reported, when Carlivati returned, he crafted the series 15,000th episode which is set to air in early December, and will also pay tribute to the late Bill Hayes with the passing of his on-screen beloved character, Doug Williams.

So, glad to know Ron and his team’s material will start to reveal itself this Friday and moving forward on DAYS? Comment below.

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General Hospital

LAPD Continue to Seek Johnny Wactor’s Killers Who Remain At Large; Asks Public for Tips and Leads

The Los Angeles police department is ramping up its search for to the whereabouts of the three thieves, who got away after one fatally shot former General Hospital cast member, Johnny Wactor (ex-Brando Corbin) in the early morning hours of Saturday, May 26th in downtown Los Angeles.

Law enforcement sources told the LA Times that police are trying to pull fingerprints from Wactor’s vehicle and are looking for video from the area. They also are checking to see whether there are any connections to other nearby catalytic converter thefts.

The thieves were attempting to steal the catalytic converter from Wactor’s car at the time of his death. Sadly, the LAPD investigators shared they have seen an uptick in violence when these types of thieves are confronted.

Photo: ABC

Catalytic converters contain precious metals in which thieves can make hundreds of dollars selling them to auto parts suppliers or scrap yards, where they can be melted down and the valuable metals extracted.

In addition, on Tuesday May 28th, the LAPD shared more on the incident that took Wactor’s life, stating, “Without provocation, the victim was shot by one of the individuals. The three suspects involved were wearing all dark clothing and driving a dark-colored sedan. The suspects fled northbound on Hope Street. Central Bureau Homicide is investigating this case and is requesting the public’s help.”

Photo: ABC

If you have tip: y0u are urged to call LAPD Detectives Gonzales or Martinez at Central Bureau Homicide, at (213) 996-4142. During non-business hours or on weekends, calls should be directed to (877) LAPD-24-7 (877-527-3247).

In addition, Anyone wishing to remain anonymous should call the LA Regional Crime Stoppers at (800) 222-TIPS (800-222-8477) or go to http://www.lacrimestoppers.org.

Wactor played General Hospital’s Brando Corbin from 2020 to 2022. According to the LA Times, “Wactor recently had been exploring opportunities in screenwriting while working as a bartender.”

Share your thoughts on this developing story as the LAPD tries to seek justice for the death of Johnny Wactor via the comment section below.

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Peter Reckell returns for a second visit with Michael Fairman following the wrap-up of his recent run as Bo Brady on Days of our Lives.Leave A Comment

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