Critique: ‘Knots Landing’ Episode 26 – ‘The Loudest Word’

Enter the hero

Enter the hero

Toward the end of “The Loudest Word,” Valene Ewing lies in a hospital bed, waiting to have surgery to determine if she’ll need a colostomy. The room is dark, and so is Val’s mood. Suddenly, the door opens and in walks Bobby Ewing. In that instant, we know everything is going to be OK.

Such is Bobby’s power. He’s our hero, and when this “Knots Landing” episode debuted in February 1981, it showcased his innate goodness in a way “Dallas” hadn’t done in awhile. At the time, Bobby had gone off the rails a bit over on the parent show. His rocky tenure running Ewing Oil had just ended and he was about to embark on a political career, unaware his neglected wife Pam was contemplating having an affair.

These developments added some interesting wrinkles to Bobby’s persona, but let’s face it: The character is at his best when he’s the white knight, which is the role he fills in “The Loudest Word.”

When Bobby enters Val’s hospital room and she confesses how frightened she is, he tenderly comforts her. Later, he delivers Gary a proverbial kick in the rear, helping his older brother find the courage he needs to stand by Val when she needs him most. As an added bonus, Bobby has an exchange with Gary and Val’s neighbor Sid Fairgate – a kind of summit of prime-time soapdom’s all-around good guys. Patrick Duffy is terrific in each of these scenes. His trademark is delivering his dialogue with breathless intensity, and he does it beautifully when Bobby gives his tough-love pep talk to Gary.

Joan Van Ark and Ted Shackelford are also really good in “The Loudest Word.” Shackelford’s physical performance, in particular, is something to behold. In the scene where Gary goes berserk, the actor (it doesn’t appear to be a stunt double) destroys Gary and Val’s bedroom with frightening efficiency.

But the real star of “The Loudest Word” is scriptwriter Joseph B. Wallenstein, whose dialogue is poetic. When Karen Fairgate notices daughter Diana’s troubled response to Val’s crisis, she tells husband Sid, “I work so hard at remembering that she’s a young woman, sometimes I forget how much little girl is still left.” Another nice line: Gary recalls hearing Val’s doctor deliver her diagnosis and says, “I heard that word, ‘malignant.’ And it was the loudest word I ever heard.”

Great writing is one of “Knots Landing’s” hallmarks, and one area where it often outshines its parent show. No wonder the Ewings made so many trips west during “Dallas’s” fourth season.

Grade: B


Last of the good guys

Last of the good guys


“Knots Landing” Season 2, Episode 13

Airdate: February 19, 1981

Audience: 17.8 million homes, ranking 13th in the weekly ratings

Writer: Joseph B. Wallenstein

Director: Kim Friedman

Synopsis: When Val is diagnosed with colon cancer and faces the possibility of having a colostomy, Gary falls apart. Bobby arrives and is at Gary’s side when he learns Val’s surgery was a success and a colostomy wasn’t needed.

Cast: Patrick Duffy (Bobby Ewing), James Houghton (Kenny Ward), Kim Lankford (Ginger Ward), Michele Lee (Karen Fairgate), Claudia Lonow (Diana Fairgate), Constance McCashin (Laura Avery), Donna Mills (Abby Cunningham), Don Murray (Sid Fairgate), Patricia Murray (Sandy), John Pleshette (Richard Avery), Arthur Rosenberg (Dr. Harper), Ted Shackelford (Gary Ewing), Steve Shaw (Eric Fairgate), Joan Van Ark (Valene Ewing)

“The Loudest Word” is available on DVD. Watch the episode and share your comments below.


  1. I never watched Knots Landing, but one day I will have to see this episode. “…in walks Bobby Ewing. In that instant, we know everything is going to be OK. Such is Bobby’s power. He’s our hero…”

    I love how you put that. It’s very true. I always felt that way watching Dallas, even when his character goes through troublesome times. He’s a guy you want to have on your side and you know he’ll do everything he can to help. It doesn’t hurt that he’s gorgeous and super rich either. ;D

    • Thanks for the nice words, Lady G.! Bobby is one of the all-time great good guys. Patrick Duffy is so good in the role. I’ve always felt he deserved more credit. He does such a nice job making Bobby seem “real.”

      Thank you for commenting, as always.


      • Your welcome! I’m surprised he was never up for an Emmy for his role. Maybe this time around he’ll get the one he deserves. Then the Emmy awards can do a nice little retrospective of Bobby Ewing and act like they cared all along. :eye roll:

      • … And that’s probably exactly how it would happen too!

  2. C.B., I wouldn’t say Knots Landing was better than DALLAS the parent show in terms of writing. I would say just different. It shows the Ewing brand is strong enough to be helmed from 2 sets in 2 states.


  1. […] “Knots Landing’s” second-season episode “The Loudest Word,” Bobby and Gary (Patrick Duffy, Ted Shackelford) sit next to each other in the hospital waiting room […]

  2. […] Van Ark) discuss her cancer surgery with Bobby (Patrick Duffy) in this 1981 publicity shot from “The Loudest Word,” a second-season “Knots Landing” episode. Share this:TwitterFacebookLike this:LikeBe the first […]

  3. […] the house on Seaview Circle that became their home and rode to Val’s rescue when she had a cancer scare. Is it any wonder Val always seemed to look at Bobby with dreamy eyes? Hey, if Sue Ellen can have a […]

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