"Television is your true mirror of reality," Jessica Savitch observed. Constance Towers added, "In soap opera writing, which I never really appreciated until I analyzed it as an art form, what they write today may not weave in for a year. It's like knitting argyle socks. Some of the colors are the main colors, like gray, and those are the basic characters. Then you've got these little green and red lines that will crisscross at some point. And you've got the yellow and blue as the diamonds, and that's the amazing story arc that goes over 2 or 3 years."
When 'Knots Landing' first went on air in 1979, David Jacobs pointed out, "We weren’t a hit and we weren’t a flop." By the 1983-84 season, 'Knots Landing' was ranked the 11th most popular program on TV. That season, Joan Van Ark enthused, "was the best so far. We beat 'Hill Street Blues.'" David acknowledged, "Most shows peak in their 3rd year. We’re peaking in our 5th, which means we have at least 3 more ahead of us." As it turned out, 'Knots Landing' lasted another 9 seasons.
Michael Filerman recalled, "We were always a stepchild to 'Dallas' and were always treated as such." David maintained, "'Dallas' has been about the acquisition of power and money and 'Dynasty' about the things that money can buy. 'Knots Landing' is what you get when you have to sit down every Friday to pay the bills." Esther Shapiro believed, "'Dynasty' is about women's fantasies and 'Dallas' is about men's fantasies. My favorite moment was the first wedding between Blake and Krystle. That took place in the first episode of 'Dynasty' (in 1981). I love it because it was the culmination of a fantasy."
David had said, "When 'Dallas' goes to Paris they'd be bumpkins. When 'Knots Landing' goes to Paris they'd be tourists. But when 'Dynasty' goes to Paris they'd have apartments there. 'Dallas' is about money while 'Dynasty' is about things money can buy." Ted Shackelford remarked, "…We represent the average (people). We paint on a relatively small canvas, compared to 'Dallas'. We are more fragile. We cut closer to the bone." Michele Lee explained, "We've always been a service-oriented show. We're always giving subliminal messages to the audience."
In the 1983-84 season, politics was introduced on 'Knots Landing' and in the 1984-85 season, lobbying was explored. Lobbying was described as "a form of free speech and petition and these are constitutional rights … In its widest sense, it merely means getting people (legislators, lawmakers) to do what you want them to do." One commentator stated, "In a perfect world every individual would have equal influence on the government. But I don't know any democratic government that operates without lobbyists. So there’s no point, passing a law saying it can't be done."
William Devane played Senator Gregory Sumner made known, "I'm the product of a lower middle-class Irish background and I think we've always had an instinct to support the underdog and look out for the disadvantaged. On TV, I'm one of those wealthy, well-suited guys. But I come from working-class Irish people. My neighborhood was a world away from places like this ('Knots Landing'). I wasn’t a very good student and probably a disturbed youngster to some extent. But the Italian/Irish neighborhoods I grew up in were not unlike black and Puerto Rican neighborhoods now (in 1986). It was the same psychology. Combat and survival, every second, from the time you wake up until you go to sleep. I think that has been a kind of detriment to my career. I always has a real quick tendency to get defensive and say what I think."
In the 1984-85 season, 'Knots Landing' hit the Top 10, ranked the 9th most watched program on television, attracting a rating of 20% of the 84.9 million households with TV sets in the United States. 'Dynasty' was the No. 1 program with a rating of 25%. That season Abby Ewing accidentally found out Gary Ewing, her husband, was the father of his ex-wife Valene’s twins. 'Soap Opera Digest' recounted, "Fearing that Valene Ewing’s unborn babies would inherit Gary Ewing’s fortune, Abby Ewing inadvertently set in motion a chain of events that would have a profound effect on cable news station manager Ben Gibson and Valene."
In the end, Ben and Val decided to tie the knot at Lotus Point. However before walking down the aisle, Val and Ben extracted a promise from their best friends, 'Open Mike' host Karen MacKenzie and her husband Mack, to keep the identity of the father of Valene's twins a secret. Then before they could make their wedding vows, Gary confronted Val. Joan Van Ark elaborated, "It's Rhett talking to Scarlett just before she goes off with Ashley."
On reflection, 'Soap Opera Digest' wrote in 1989, "That poor Valene – all her life she's only ever had eyes for Gary, and look where it's gotten her. Nowhere. She's lost her memory and been forced by Jill Bennett to take an overdose of pills. And for what? The love of that Gary. Val and Gary have been in love since their teens. It has been a rocky relationship – both of their marriages to each other failed. However Gary never got Val out of his system and usually stood by Val during her darkest moments. When Ben left for South America on an assignment, Gary and Val got another chance (to be together)."
Joan Van Ark reasoned, "They are each other’s best friends. It's the kind of thing that is a lifetime bond. It’s not necessarily sexual – it can be sexual, but the ultimate lasting, important relationship between a man and a woman is friendship. Other than Miss Ellie (Gary's mother), who might know Gary better – might – Valene knows him better than anyone knows exactly what makes him tick."
Douglas Sheehan offered, "We can't sit and wait for Gary and Val to find happiness. Life isn't like that. It’s not just 5 minutes in the sack, roses and flowers. It's living together – finding dirty clothes in the bathroom. Passion is but one ecstatic moment. This is a man (journalist Ben Gibson) who has seen people starve, children blown away, and knows how crappy and how wonderful the world can be. It doesn’t matter who spawned the children – it matters who raises them. Gary is so neurotic anyway. I think that any reasonable, intelligent person can see that Ben is a far superior choice to raise the children than Gary."
Joan Van Ark volunteered, "Ben and Val’s relationship is as much a friendship as it is a sexual partnership. There are men and women who have that, and they’re the ones who have better, longer lasting marriages. If the sex is too much in the forefront, those marriages may not last, but the friendship ones do. Ben and Val have a definite friendship. He’s a guy who’s giving at all times. Besides those babies are incredibly important to Val. They must have a father, and since they don’t have Gary Ewing, she has no choice but to believe she can be happy with Ben. She definitely loves him, they’ve been through a lot together, and she needs a father for her babies."
Back in 1980, Priscilla Presley told the press, "As a parent you have to realize what's going on. You have to be careful even in your conversation around a child. If you’re talking with adults in your home, and there’s a child present you must take that into consideration. The outside pressures today are so much greater than the pressures we had in the generation before. I would really have to think long and hard about having another child. The world has changed. It’s so much rougher. And parents have to be aware that it’s not the same as it was just a few years ago.
"Today's kids are subjected to things we never even dreamed of. Take the sexual revolution. I’m shocked by how far it has gone. When a lot of things are thrown at them at a tender age, they just can’t handle it. They should learn about sex, but in the right way – not through movies and TV. I was raised in a very, very strict family. My father, being in the military, was quite strict. I don’t think that was bad, now that I look back on it. But I think parents today are generally much more permissive than their own parents were."
Australian actress Penny Cook told Jacqui Johnson in 1983, "Marriage seems to be very fashionable and I feel Princess Di and Prince Charles have made it that way. I think marriage is a real commitment. It means a lot to me because I don’t believe in divorce. My parents got divorced when I was 14 and I was deeply affected by it. I never told any of my school friends because I was too embarrassed. But one girl found out and I still remember how I felt when she said she was sorry to hear about my parents. I think I was the first person in my class at school to have divorced parents. And as the years went on, I saw other kids trying to cope with their parents’ break-up … But divorce these days (in 1983) seems to be a natural progression after marriage. A lot of my friends have recently been divorced."
Penny's co-star on 'A Country Practice', Grant Dodwell stated, "I haven’t really thought about divorce, but if I got married and it wasn’t working out I’d get divorced. If I was getting married I wouldn’t be like Simon (his character on 'ACP') and have hundreds of guests. I’d prefer to hold a small party under a marquee in someone’s backyard. Simon was born with a silver spoon in his mouth and he wants to do the right thing. I think it’s ridiculous spending thousands of dollars getting married. I’d rather spend the money on traveling." Penny also made the point, "I get amazed when people who aren’t churchgoers get married in a church. They’ll probably never set foot in another church again."
Maggie Millar was 17 when a family friend told her Maggie was adopted when she was one week old. Maggie told 'TV Week' in 1981, "It was a pretty traumatic event. At that stage adoption was a dirty word. It was like sex – you never talked about it. My adoptive mother died when I was 13 and she was ill a lot of the time I was growing up, so I didn’t really got to know her. Then I left home at 18."
With the assistance of the Jigsaw organization, which specialised in helping adopted children search for their natural parents, Maggie found her real mother in late 1980. Maggie's story: "She had been in a relationship with a man and they planned to marry, but he left her just before the wedding. Her mother and her sister knew she was pregnant, but they were poor and there was no way they could take on a new baby in that situation. They were very sad about it. My mother got a lot of support from the family, but she just didn’t have much choice in the matter. She said my adoptive father was all right and she watched him carry me out of the hospital.”
"I found that she lived just 7 miles from me. I was born in Sydney and both of us have traveled around a lot but we ended up just 7 miles apart. She'd had a really rough time making the decision to give me up and she'd put it out of her mind. She just wanted to get on with living. Then she was confronted with the thought of meeting me. I thought she would knock on the door at any time. I was so nervous. I finally sent her 2 tickets for a play I was appearing in, but she sent them back and said she planned to go overseas. Another month went by.
"I waited 4 months for her to come to me. I didn’t just rush up to her, and I could have if I’d wanted to. It was all done in the most gentle way.When I first saw her she was standing on the step with a big bunch of flowers for me and she burst into tears. She kept saying, 'I wasn't going to do this.' We went inside and talked, and talked and talked and talked. She smiles like me. It really was a most extraordinary thing to meet her. One thing I have learned is that the women of the family have been a firm, resilient lot. Apparently my grandmother, who lived a tough life in the country, died at 101." At the time Maggie had a 7-year-old son.