For 2 special nights in May 1997, the cast of 'Knots Landing', one of prime time oldest fiction shows, reunited in 'Back To The Cul-De-Sac'. David Jacobs recalled, "I thought 'Knots Landing' was going to be an American 'Scenes From A Marriage' (the 1973 Ingmar Bergman's Swedish drama)." Set in southern California, 'Knots Landing' centered around an upper middle-class community living in a cul-de-sac known as Seaview Circle.
By the end of the 1988-89 season, 'Knots Landing' was syndicated in 53 countries. David Jacobs pointed out, "'Knots' and 'Dallas' have both performed well in the foreign markets so a lot of this complaining you hear about soaps being a bad rerun risk is just a lot of whining. Overseas, 'Dallas' is still a phenomenon. 'Knots' is big in places like French and Polynesia."
"Everyone who is born in America should live in Europe and everyone in Europe should live in America," Lorenzo Caccialanza believed. In his native Italy, Lorenzo Caccialanza played professional soccer for 11 years. He had lived in the United States for 7 years before playing Nick on 'Knots Landing', "America is a country that puts more value on the individual. You are concentrating more on yourselves. In Europe, you are more of member of a group." Lorenzo reportedly spoke 4 languages fluently.
"'Knots' has changed throughout its time on the air. 'Knots' was always more a reflection of my own juices. I like to keep things changing. 'Dallas' was always the fight for Ewing Oil every year. 'Knots' flowed with the times. I didn't want to duplicate 'Dallas'. I wanted a different scale. The changing character has become the rule of television. Before that, television characters were cast in stone.
"They did change on 'Family', 'The Waltons', 'Eight Is Enough' and 'Dallas' but 'Knots' was the show that opened the door. We could have been renewed (for the 1993-94 season and beyond) if we'd take a few hundred thousand dollars off the license fee. We got renewed this year (in 1992-93) because we took a big cut in the fee. That made it hard to tell good stories."
Michele Lee added, "I will tell you this: We have this incredible audience out there. With every series, there's a little bit of erosion after 5 years. We were on for 14 (1979-1993). We weren't really taken off the air. It was by mutual discussion. We were, at that time (in 1993), getting a higher rating than anybody gets on television today (in 1997). We 'eroded' to about a 22 share (of sets in use), which is considered a huge hit today (in 1997). We still get so much correspondence, and so many people will come up on the street with an enthusiasm for 'Knots Landing'. Also, when it's played in syndication, it gets big numbers."
David Jacobs maintained, "The 'Knots' characters were never bigger than life like the 'Dallas' characters have been. I think the same thing that prevented 'Knots' from being the megahit that 'Dallas' and 'Dynasty' were also gave it the ability to be flexible." Kevin Dobson made the observation at the end of the 1988-89 season, "I think we've been able to maintain and then build our audience.
"These are characters you can touch. We've never had any peaks or valleys. We've always just been there. Those wild peaks can hurt a show because after all that excitement, there is always the inevitable letdown and decline. 'Knots' has never been ridiculous silly. We've always been fun silly." David Jacobs acknowledged, "We have done some pretty absurd stories in the past, but we got away with it because the characters always behaved in a way that remained compelling to the audience.
"I'd always seen 'Dallas' as being very much a show of its time, while 'Knots Landing' changed and evolved with the times. I've heard it said that 'Dallas' was about Reagan's first term (1980-84) in office and 'Dynasty' the second term (1985-89). 'Dallas' has been about the acquisition of 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."
Joan Van Ark remarked, "In the beginning (back in 1979), it ('Knots Landing') was high on the relationships of the characters. It was more on their marriage and families. Now (in 1991) it moves more rapidly." Michele Lee explained, "We've kept the cul-de-sac concept and the touchability. People love the characters. You have to remember that 90% of what we do really relates to people. This was the show of the people, the show with the common touch. That's why it lasted for 14 years (or 344 hours)."
For 7 straight months (October-April) in the 1983-84 season, 'Knots Landing' overtook one of the most prestigious and innovative programs on television, 'Hill Street Blues' in the ratings on Thursday nights at 10:00pm. By the end of April 1984, 'Knots Landing' had averaged 34% of the viewers each week compared to 27% for 'Hill Street Blues'. That season, 'Knots Landing' produced 26 first-run episodes compared to 22 for 'Hill Street Blues'.
Harvey Shephard of CBS offered, "They've ('Hill Street Blues') made a lot of mistakes that we've capitalized on. The stories on 'Hill Street' got to be very repetitive and the program also had very little appeal to female viewers. We jumped on that by adding two major male characters to 'Knots Landing' - Kevin Dobson and William Devane, both of whom attract female viewers.
"We saw the first signs of a swing toward 'Knots Landing' late last season (1982-83), and this year (1983-84) it just built into something that couldn’t be stopped." On reflection, David Jacobs enthused, "It ('Knots Landing') does seem to keep rolling right along." Michele Lee recounted in 1987, "During the first few years our only thought was: 'Are we getting picked up next year?' People on 'Knots Landing' sometimes come into work all excited after having read our very good weekly ratings numbers.
"I keep telling them networks never look at ratings. They look only at 'share!' (the percentage of those with TV watching). Nor do they actually care where in the ratings you rank. What they care about is: 'Are you beating your competition in the time slot?' And at the same time, 'Are you making money for the network?' A series costs X amount of dollars to produce, for which you get X amount of dollars per advertising minute.
"Well, those advertising dollars might not meet the show's costs. The show might be considered a hit, but it could be losing money every time it's on the air." Producer Andrew Solt mentioned, "The show never tried to be hip. Bill Devane said something about that. He said 50 years from now (in May 1993), people might remember 'Knots Landing' more than they do 'L.A. Law.'"