In "The Early Show"'s "Time Machine" series, cast members Michelle Lee, who played "Karen MacKenzie," Joan Van Ark, who played "Valene Ewing," and Kevin Dobson, who played "Mack Mackenzie," reunited on the show to reminisce about their record run.
Blast to the Past, 1983, with "The Early Show"
Photos: Back to 1983!
Blasting Back in Time to 1983
1983: Year of Toys
Cool Gear of 1983
Pointer Sisters Push Forward
Originally started as a spinoff, "Knots Landing" followed Gary and Valene Ewing, relatives to the popular Ewing clan from "Dallas," as made the big move to a small California cul-de-sac where passion and heartbreak ruled.
Although the street had it shares of bad girls, at the show's heart was the loyal friendship between Val and her next door neighbor Karen.
Lee said the relationship between her character and her husband were the moral center of the show. However, she added, that Valene's character wasn't amoral, just had problems.
The show also tackled many social issues, including alcoholism, rape, and illegal prescription drug abuse. However, it was the scheming, cheating and backstabbing that helped "Knots Landing" become TV's second longest running drama before leaving the air in 1993. At the time, the show tied with "Bonanza" as the longest running drama series on television. It has since been passed by "Law & Order" and "ER." "Knots Landing" is now tied for 4th place.
"Early Show" co-anchor Harry Smith remarked that the show was widely considered a primetime soap opera, so they didn't get credit for their long run.
Dobson agreed, saying, "They got the ink, we got the ratings."
Several actors appeared on "Knots Landing," including Alec Baldwin, who played Joshua Rush, a televangelist who becomes mentally ill and violent. Baldwin's character died when he tried to kill another character and accidentally fell off a roof. Nicollette Sheridan also appeared on "Knots Landing" as Paige Matheson, Mack's daughter. Other guest stars included Helen Hunt, Gary Sinise, Halle Berry, Marcia Cross and Billy Bob Thornton.
Van Ark said, "It's six degrees of 'Knots Landing' that everybody in the business and superstars to boot have all filed through the make-up room at 'Knots Landing.'"
Reflections on 1979
As for the style on the show, it was all '80s.
Lee said, referring to the show's sex intrigues, "I heard someone before say that the high hair gets you closer to God. I believe the high hair gets you closer to the head board. In our show at least."
But why was "Knots Landing" such a hit?
Lee said because the show depicted the aspirations of middle-class people.
"We followed America," she said. "As America was changing, 'Knots Landing' was changing."
But what is the cast of "Knots Landing" doing today?
Dobson just finished a national tour of "12 Angry Men." Van Ark will be playing a recurring "cougar" character -- an older woman seeking a younger man -- on the FX drama "Nip/Tuck." Lee will be acting in New York in January.