Hoping to ride the crest of its success with Dallas, CBS spun off this series featuring the black sheep of the Ewing Family, Gary Ewing. Gary, a reformed alcoholic remarried his wife, Valene, and moved to the Southern California community of Knots Landing. Originally, the series focused on the four married couples who resided in the cul-de-sac of Seaview Circle in the quiet beach town of Knots Landing.
In addition to being neighbors, their lives intertwined in other ways. Gary worked for Sid Fairgate, owner of Knots Landing Motors, the local c car dealership. Sid and his wife Karen Fairgate had three teenage children: Eric Fairgate, Michael Fairgate, and Diana Fairgate. The other two couples on the cul-de-sac were young recording executive Kenny Ward and his attractive wife, Ginger, and Richard and Laura Avery. Richard was an obnoxious, aggresive, unprincipled attorney who was always lusting after other women and resented Laura's success selling real estate.
In 1980, Sid's recently divorced sister, Abby Cunningham, moved onto the cul-de-sac with her two kids, Brian and Olivia Cunningham, and immediately began undermining the relationships of her married neighbors, spreading gossip about affairs, and setting her own sights on Richard Avery. Gary, a member of Alcoholics Anonymous, sponsored a new member, Earl Trent, and ended up having an affair with Judy, Earl's passionate wife.
In the fall of 1981, Sid Fairgate was paralyzed and later died as a result of an auto accident, leaving Karen to run KL Motors with Abby and Gary. Val's mother, Lilimae Clements, came to live with Val to resolve the pain and suffering that she had caused her over the years. Abby started having her sights on Gary, while Val wrote a novel, "Capricorn Crude", that was a thinly disguised chronicle of the manipulations of the Ewing family.
In 1982-1983, Gary eventually divorced Val, married Abby, and inherited part of Jock Ewing's fortune. Val became quite a celebrity with her book and began dating reporter Ben Gibson. Another plot involved Chip Roberts, who worked for Val's press agent and who was simultaneously having affairs with Diana and Ciji Dunne, a pretty singer. When Ciji got pregnant, Chip killed her, but because of circumstantial evidence, Gary was indicted for the crime. Diana and Chip skipped town together; later she returned alone and moved in with Abby. In the next season, Chip was subsequently caught and convicted of Ciji's murder, escaped from prison, and died in a freak accident at Gary's ranch where he was hiding out with Diana. Meanwhile, Richard's marriage and career were falling apart. Laura wanted to leave him but held off due to her pregnancy and his nervous breakdown. Richard's attempt to open a estaurant, "Daniel", financed by Gary and Abby, was unsuccessful and his philandering with Abby finally caused Laura to divorce him.
In the 1983-1984 season, Abby continued to build her power base. She had part of KL Motors, was married into Gary Ewing Enterprises, was heavily into the Lotus Point real estate development, and was having another affair- this one with powerful underworld-connected State Senator Gregory Sumner. Sumner was an old friend of Attorney Mack MacKenzie (Karen's new husband), and offered him a job as crime commissioner. When Sumner realized that Mack could be a serious roadblock to his own schemes, he sought to dicredit Mack. Gary began to have an affair with Cathy Geary, who looked exactly like Ciji adn was an excellent singer as well. She was also a convict who was pursued by her ex-husband, Ray. When all cleared up, Cathy lived a normal yet formidible life in Knots Landing.
The 1984-1985 season brought problems for three of Knots Landing's leading women. Karen was shot by a bullet meant for Gary, and was paralyzed for a period; Abby was taken hostage by St. Claire, whow as eventually killed by Sumner; and Val gave birth to twins (by ex, Gary). The babies were stolen from the hospital and sold in a black market scheme that took an entire season to unravel. Sen. Sumner continued his political machinations, pressuring Mack to drop his investigation of unscrupulous tycoon Paul Galveston (Sumner's father) and trying to force Gary out of the Empire Valley development project. The Senator also made a play for Laura and they were married. Handsome Joshua Rush (son of Lilimae, half brother of Val), entered the scene as a preacher turned successful local TV personality. He wooed Cathy and even proposed to her on the air. Eventually they got married and there were problems from the start.
In the 1985-1986 season, Cathy was featured regularly on Joshua's show and was receiving more fan mail than Joshua. Joshua had a mental breakdown and was eventually fired from his show. He tried to kill Cathy, but ended up dead himself. Also in this season, young Olivia had a bout with drugs due to all of the stress placed on her by Abby. Val had a rocky marriage to Ben, which ended up with Cathy flirting with him. There were more dirty doings at the Empire Valley project, and Abby's latest trick was Peter Hollinger, an up-and-coming politico who claimed to be Sumner's brother. The season ended with Mack's and Anne Matheson's (who we'll meet in the next season) illegitiate daughter Paige Matheson came to town and Karen getting kidnapped.
Politics was a major focus in 1986-1987, as Gary ran against Peter and for the Senate and lost both the campaign and his wife Abby to his opponent. This was when Gary took up with Jill Bennett, Peter's sister. Val, on the other hand, was trying to make her marriage to Ben work. When it didn't, Ben left for South America. Karen's kidnapper was Phil Harbet, who wanted to get even with Mack. Sexy, young Paige was causing problems for all. Paige began having affairs with Michael Fairgate and Peter. There was also a continuing story about Olivia's drug problem. Peter also tried to seduce Olivia, before he met a violent end at the end of the season.
When the 1987-1988 season began, there was a serious investigation of Peter's murder. Abby confessed to cover for her daughter Olivia. Soon after, it was dicovered that Paige did it, but Peter's death was ruled as an accident. Abby had by this time divorced Gary and walked away with $2 million in the settlement. She had also rekindles a long-ago romance with Charles Scott and had plans to marry him, but that was scraped totally. Laura had a baby named Meg and she died of a brain tumor. She was mourned in a two-part episode. With her death, Greg gave Meg to Karen and Mack so they can be her legally adopted parents. Laura's home on the cul-de-sac was taken by a black couple Frank and Patricia Williams and their daughter Julie. They were all hiding in the Witness Protection Program to keep safe from a hitman who was out to get them. The other main story of the season was Gary, Abby, and Karen getting involved in the Lotus Point luxury resort development with shady Manny Vasquez. Manny turned out to be an international drug lord who used the marina for his shipments. Gary continued his affair with pesky Jill, who wanted Gary all to herself. She was fed up with Val getting in the way and tried to do something about it. First, she wrote Val letters to make it look like they were coming from Ben, and she tried to kill Val by making her swallow a handful of sleeping pills and make it look like Val killed herself in the season finale cliffhanger.
In the 1988-1989 season premiere, Manny was killed by his nephew Harold Dyer, Olivia's love interest, in a kidnapping shoot-out in Mexico. Val survived but Jill continued to plot against her. When everyone found out about what she did to Val, she took revenge by bounding and gagging herself, hopping into Gary's trunk of his car, and died there so he can be accused of her murder! Other main stories of this season included Abby's plot to swindle her partners out of Lotus Point and illegally drill for oil, using the phony "Murakame Cooperation" as a front; several murders resulting from the cover-up; Greg's relationship with the younger Paige; his marriage of convenience to Abby as he vainly tried to restart his political career with the help of PR man Ted Melcher; and a computer theft story involving Michael, Ellen, and Johnny. As the season closed, Abby narrowly avoided exposure for her illegal dealings, was appointed to the U.S. Trade Representative job that Greg had been angling for and left for Japan.
In 1989-1990, dirty deals were afoot. Ted was accused of murder in the Lotus Point scandal and left for Japan, close on Abby's heels. Pension fund fraud at Oakman Industries (Greg's company) grew into a series of murders involving crooked cop Tom Ryan and investigator Mack, Greg's estranged daughter Mary Frances (killed by her boyfriend), and Greg himself, who was shot and then poisoned in the hospital with tainted pesticides from his own company. Things were certainly looking up for Karen when she began a TV talk show named "Open Mike", only to be undercut by producer Dianne and stalked by two maniacal fans, one of whom turned out to be producer Jeff. Eric came back to town and had constant fights with Michael over his wife Linda Fairgate. Tom Ryan had fell in love with Paige and proposed to her. Anne Matheson returned and tried to steal her daughter Paige's inheritance, and poor Val married charming but violent Danny Waleska (whom we met in the last season). Danny had a serious record during his tenure on the show: He raped his former wife Amanda, terrorized the twins Bobby and Betsy, and ran over Pat Williams while drunk.
In 1990-1991, Tom left Paige at the altar and Val and Gary were slowly getting back together again. Greg, dying from toxic poisoning, was saved by a liver transplant and took up with Paige again. Danny tried to kill Gary and was killed himself by falling in the Williams' swimming pool while tring to rape Julie. Paige's loser mother Anne tried raising cash by sending herself blackmail notes and asking a former lover for the payoff money, leading to an affair with shady Nick Schillace (aka Dimitri Pappas); the plan didn't work and by the end of the season Anne was homeless and on the streets. Greg's estranged sister Claudia Whittaker showed up with her daughter Kate Whittaker and rejected ex-con son Steve Brewer. Good guy Mack got in trouble trying to protect abused teenager Jason Lochner from his violent father Dick. Widower Frank had problems with his wayward daughter Julie. The season ended with Gary and Val suddenly getting remarried.
The 1991-1992 season saw Gary teaming up with Joseph Barringer and others in Tidal Energy, a grandiose plan to harness the ocean tides as an energy source. It failed, and Gary lost so much money that he had to sell his beloved ranch. Val began researching a book on Greg Sumner, to the discomfort of many. Linda was murdered and this led to long search for Brian Johnston, who terrorized a number of characters. Homeless Anne worked her way off the streets by posing nude for a men's magazine and eventually launched a successful radio career. Pierce Lawton, another casualty in the Tidal Energy scheme, stalked Greg and other characters in revenge, especially Paige. At the end of the season, Greg startled everyone by giving up the Sumner Group and retiring to a cabin in Montana.
As the 1992-1993 season began, Gary searched desperately for Val (Joan Van Ark had left the show at this time), who had disappeared while researching Sumner's book. Assuming that she is dead, Gary found solace in Kate's arms. After Greg's departure, the Sumner Group divided up among Claudia, Paige, and Meg. Greg returned from the wood (pursued by Ann, who was trying to use the old false-pregnancy trick to get him to marry her) and plotted to gain control. Another story had Mary Robeson trying to take little Meg away from Mack and Karen. This so unhinged good-guy Mack that he attempted to frame Mary for extortion, then was accused of her murder. As the series ended, a mysterious and murderous man named Nigel Treadwell was trying to wrest control of the Sumner Group. He tried to shoot Greg (unbeknownst to him that Greg was saved by a bullet proof vest he wore under his clothes), and tried to blow up his plane with a hidden bomb.
The two-hour series finale, which aired May 13, 1993, featured familiar faces that returned to say farewell to the series that had outlasted all the other 1980s soaps. Greg finds out about the bomb and, with the help of Tom and Paige, defuses it at the last second. Val, who had been captured by Treadwell, came back to Knots Landing and into the comfort of Gary, Karen and Mack. Treadwell had also taken Vanessa Hunt as a hostage and his cohort in his power was ABBY! It all ended when Vanessa killed Treadwell when he tried to kill Greg, and Val was free to go back to her old life again. As the show closed, Claudia, Nick and Anne left for Monaco and Abby bought her house on the cul-de-sac. Seeing her for the first time in many years, Val and Karen grabbed their husbands and walked away, thinking that Abby probably hasn't changed!
To tie up Knots Landing, The cast came back together for a two-part two night reunion movie called "Back to the Cul-De-Sac", which shows how the cast has changed since the final episode. It was a real gathering of sort that really brought an end to an era of primetime soap operas that stood the test of time.
Spinoff of: Dallas
First Telecast: December 27, 1979 Last Telecast: May 13, 1993
Episodes: 344 Color Episodes
CBS Broadcast History:
December 27, 1979- March 27, 1980----Thursdays----10:00-11:00 P.M.
June 5, 1980- March 26, 1981----Thursdays----10:00-11:00 P.M.
June 4, 1981- March 11, 1982----Thursdays----9:00-10:00 P.M.
March 25, 1982- March 31, 1983----Thursdays----10:00-11:00 P.M.
June 3, 1983- June 26, 1986----Thursdays----10:00-11:00 P.M.
September 18, 1986- November 6, 1986----Thursdays----9:00-10:00 P.M.
November 13, 1986- March 11, 1993----Thursdays----10:00-11:00 P.M.
May 13, 1993----Thursday----9:00-11:00 P.M.
Nielsen Ratings: (Top 30 or Better)
#30 in the 1979- 1980 Season #28 in the 1980- 1981 Season #20 in the 1982- 1983 Season #11 in the 1983- 1984 Season #9 in the 1984- 1985 Season #17 in the 1985- 1986 Season #26 in the 1986- 1987 Season #27 in the 1988- 1989 Season