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Buffaloed as to who killed Laura Palmer? Bamboozled over what Rebecca's fling with Sam will lead to? Baffled as to how J.R. will get out of the insane asylum? Staff Writer

These are some of this past TV season's cliffhangers - shows that left story lines in limbo to ensure an eagerly awaiting audience this fall.

That audience included ``Twin Peaks' fans, many of whom rallied en masse for the resolution to the mystery this past April, only to be left holding the, er, log, and feeling betrayed.Never fear, disgruntled viewers.

The News & Record asked area writers to resolve the cliffhangers as they would plots in their books. The authors are mystery writer Margaret Moran, romance novelists Patricia Hagan and Judy Simpson, fiction writers Marianne Gingher and Jill McCorkle and biographer Keith Farrell.

So turn off the TV, sit back and get the jump on your favorite shows.


Maianne Gingher

Premiere date: 9 p.m. Sept. 20, WXII, Channel 12.

Synopsis: Rebecca and the Cheers guys discover that Robin Colcord is getting inside information for a hostile takeover on the company that owns Cheers by using Rebecca's personal computer. Sam wants to blow the whistle, but in the meantime, Robin proposes to Rebecca, who surprises everyone by accepting. Sam blows the whistle and must implicate Colcord to save Rebecca from prosecution. The hostile takeover attempt fails, and the company rewards Sam by letting him buy back the bar for $1.

Robin isn't finished yet. He disappears with no explanation, leaving Rebecca in the lurch. She turns to Sam for solace. Of course, he's more than happy to provide it on the sleeper sofa in her office. In the last scene, Robin Colcord returns to Cheers unexpectedly to find Rebecca and Sam under the covers together.

Author's resolution: Robin Colcord, whose empire seems on the brink of crumbling, will succeed only in making a fool of himself - not Rebecca. (She'll continue to make a lovable fool of herself all by herself.)

I think that, unlike Donald Trump, Robin's going to get some kind of financial comeuppance that will render him impotent (Dr. Frazier Crane could come in handy here with some doctorly advice) or not quite as attractive a catch as a pauper.

Sam, on the other hand, is indomitable. He's reacquired the bar; maybe he's finally won Rebecca's heart (Did I say heart? I meant loins.) If, last episode, they were indeed engaged in one of the most protracted physical consummations in sit-com history, imagine Rebecca returning this season, smitten with Sam. His conquest can only have made him more winsomely arrogant. Now he's in charge of everyone's fortunes.

He runs the bar. He runs Rebecca's love life. And since his largess just won't quit, he offers Robin Colcord a job bartending at Cheers when Robin goes bust!

Marianne Gingher, 43, a Greensboro resident and Cheers fan, is author of ``Bobby Rex's Greatest Hit' and ``Hard Place to Get To,' an essay in ``Summer,' a collection of essays recently published by Addison-Wesley.

`Twin Peaks'

Margaret Moran

Premiere: 9 p.m. Sept. 30, WGHP, Channel 8.

Synopsis: The most burning question in television history, up there with ``Who killed J.R.?,' is ``Who Killed Laura Palmer?' Unlike J.R., Laura is really dead. Or is she?

In the last episode, writer / directors Lynch and Frost strew a path of clues that one hopes will eventually lead viewers, however circuitously, to the murderer. When last we saw the show, Catherine Martell and Shelly Johnson were trapped in the burning sawmill, Audrey Horne was about to encountered her father at the brothel One-Eyed Jacks, Dr. Jacoby headed out for his ill-fated rendezvous with ``Laura Palmer' and Bobby Briggs carried out his revenge on James Hurley.

Author's resolution: I don't know how many remember ``Peyton Place,' which was probably the very first prime-time soap opera. It, too, had shocking sex, murder and convoluted plot lines that owed very little to logic and common sense. ``Twin Peaks' has flashier trash, a patina of parapsychology and an artsier self-consciousness. But it's basically an update on ``Peyton Place.'

I wonder if it will be as good for its young players as ``Peyton Place' was for Mia Farrow and Ryan O'Neal.

Anyhow, I vote for Laura's father, Leland Palmer. As a lawyer, he's concerned with the judiciary, which, if you stretch a point, adds him to Agent cooper's J-list. Leland had a deeply repressed incestuous love for Laura.

He killed her because he was afraid he was going to rape her or, worse, because he had learned that she was working in the brothel at One-Eyed Jacks, which outraged and horrified him. He knew that if he didn't kill her, he wouldn't be able to resist arranging a tryst with her. So Leland killed Laura for all sorts of murky and quirky psychological reasons: to remove temptation, to restore her lost purity and to maintain his own paternal chastity.

Margaret Moran lives in Johnston County south of Raleigh and is the author of eight mystery novels, including her latest, ``Past Imperfect.' Her theory about solving whodunits comes from Agatha Christie's Miss Marple: ``If you give a dog a bad name, he'll usually live up to it.'


Jill McCorkle

Premiere: 10 p.m. Sept. 25, WGHP, Channel 8.

Synopsis: Michael and Elliot secretly assist Minnesota Brands in its hostile takeover of DAA while Miles takes action to fight the buyout. The buyout seems unsuccessful, putting Elliot's job on the line. Michael, however, is much admired by his boss and will stay. Meanwhile, Hope is very pregnant and still involved with her environmental group.

Author's resolution: For ``thirtysomething,' I predict a very topical season. Rumor has it Hope and Michael's baby will be coming soon (first episode?) and that there will be much discussion as to the pros and cons of circumcision. Given Michael's roots, this should prove to be a multilayered topic, though one much less critical than Nancy's ovarian cancer, a diagnosis that does not give great odds.

Nancy will be OK because I can't imagine that Patricia Wettig would leave the show, particularly while real-life husband Ken Olin's (Michael) part is thriving. Much time will be dedicated to educating viewers on chemotherapy and ovarian cancer. This story will also prove to be the issue that pulls the other characters up straight and makes them realize the importance of their lives.

Certainly, Michael will take note of the importance, since late in the season he realized he'd been neglecting Hope, who was becoming involved with her toxic waste group (and a man therein). Nancy's situation, as well as the new baby, ensures that Hope and Michael will make it. But he will continue being a worrisome workaholic (though a bit more attentive), and she will continue folding the laundry and doing radon testing. I predict there will also be lots of natural recipes and proper vegetable scrubbing procedures delivered along the way.

Ellen, who is living with Jeffrey and his daughter, will never be able to survive the situation. Even though she is trying very hard to settle her personal problems, such a situation does not allow her enough time to analyze her life. I see another bout with an ulcer and / or nervous breakdown in her near future. Chances are she will leave him and then, after many hours of therapy, feel weak and like a failure and (probably near the end of the season) decide that she is mature enough to handle it.

Gary and Susannah will feel social pressure and make the step into marriage. It will be for the sake of the child, since they do not have to prove anything to each other. Parenthood will continue to bring new anxieties into their lives, but Hope will be there to advise.

There will be lectures on breast feeding, maintaining their sexual identities while also answering their infant's demands, separation anxiety and, eventually, toilet training. Gary and Susannah will swear by toys such as basic black-and-white objects created by a neonatal nurse and bring Hope a gift of one. They will quote Dr. Brazelton often.

Melissa definitely will have an affair. Either back with Lee, or with someone much older, or with someone very different from their circle in some way or another so they can all whisper over Hope's dining room table while Melissa goes in the kitchen for some wine. But it won't work. She's too good as a single person who has absolutely wonderful daydreams. However, to balance her life, Melissa is going to start having great success with her work.

Melissa's good friend the photographer, who disappeared after the episode when he was in bed with a male lover (there was great public outcry!) may reappear. Though I fear, if he does, he will be HIV positive. It's a topic that has to be dealt with, and this is the show to do it. However, this can't happen until Nancy is much better.

And speaking of Nancy, Elliot will be very loving and supportive of her throughout. He will not tell her how bad things are getting at work. And they will get bad. If Michael and Elliot are both satisfied with work at the same time and doing very well, then the show will fold. They need that up-and-down struggle. Michael will throw his weight around and Elliot will get his chance to look at him and say, ``What have you got to whine about?' and again, Michael will be reminded how lucky he is and what a wonderful life he has.

Jill McCorkle, 32, is a Durham writer and University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill creative writing teacher whose books include ``Tending to Virginia' and her latest, ``Ferris Beach.'

'Star Trek: The Next Generation'

Keith Ferrell

Premiere 7 p.m. Sept. 29, WNRW, Channel 45.

Synopsis: The Borg, implacable devourers of worlds, are one of the greatest threats faced by the Federation. Placed squarely in front of the Borg's assault on Earth are Jean-Luc Picard and the crew of the Federation Starship ``Enterprise.'

At season's end, Picard has been captured by the cybernetic Borg and converted by them into Locutus, half man, half machine. An attempt to rescue Picard has failed.

Will Riker, acting captain, orders the Enterprise to fire on the Borg ship, knowing that Picard will be killed, but knowing as well that he has only one chance to stop the enemy.

Author's resolution: Riker's order comes too late. The Borg are damaged, but not destroyed. The Enterprise and the Borg craft move in a deadly dance toward Earth. Picard/Locutus demands the surrender of the Enterprise. It is only a matter of time before the Borg can repair their ship and enforce the threat. A Federation battle fleet forms around Earth, but may not be enough to stop the Borg.

A desperate plan takes shape. Data, an android, will be altered by the Enterprise surgeon to look like a Borg. Thus disguised, he'll board the Borg ship and raid their information banks in search of an Achilles heel.

Aboard the Borg ship, Data probes the alien information banks, learning more and more about the hive-like Borg. His mission accomplished, the android searches for Picard and finds him.

The great captain has been completely subsumed by the Borg; he has, in fact, become their speaker. With no hope of rescuing him, Data moves to kill Picard, but is deflected. Picard/Locutus, with the upper hand, can kill Data. Yet for just a second, we see the true Picard shine through, his face filled with pain and regret. A second is just enough - Data beams back to the Enterprise.

Data's new knowledge gives the Federation a weapon against the Borg. A battle ensues in which the Borg craft is damaged and forced into retreat. Picard/Locust sends a message - the Borg will return. At last the Enterprise has found a worthy opponent, and Star Trek a great villain.

Promoted to captain, Riker orders the Enterprise in pursuit of the Borg. They must be destroyed. Command weighs heavy on Riker; the loss of Picard haunts every member of the crew.

But Riker knows that to save Picard, they must kill him. ``We must put him out of his misery,' the new captain says.

``And ours,' says Data.

Keith Ferrell, 37, is a Greensboro science fiction fan, writer and a senior editor of Compute magazine.

'Knots Landing'

Judith Simpson

Premiere: 10 p.m. Thursday, WFMY, Channel 2.

Synopsis: In a Knotshell, Karen and Mack are horrified to discover an anonymous and vicious new threat on her life. The man they suspected as the menace is cleared. Could it be her producer's behind all the gifts of snakes and beef hearts? Frank's daughter, Julie, holds a rifle on Danny in revenge for her mother's death, thus causing an unexpected and bizarre twist in Danny's relationship with Val.

Tom comes under severe pressure to walk out on Paige before their wedding because people think he's a cop on the take. She's left at the altar.

Author's resolution: Anne has stolen Paige's trust fund with a forged marriage certificate. When the wedding doesn't take place, Paige contacts the trustee and finds out what Anne has done.

She confronts Anne, who admits it, tells Paige she had to have the money and persuades Paige not to expose her.

Greg Sumner tells Paige that Tom jilted her because Greg paid Tom off. Paige is heartbroken that Tom cared so little that he would take a payoff to leave her at the altar. Greg makes it clear he wants to resume his affair with Paige.

Tom Ryan, blackmailed by Greg Sumner to jilt Paige, uncovers something about Greg's political affairs that he can use against Greg. He returns and confronts Greg. If Greg exposes Tom for taking dirty money, Tom will expose Greg.

Tom goes to see Paige to explain why he jilted her, but she won't talk to him.

Having set Danny up and seen him captured by the police, Val insists on returning home with the twins. She feels sure she can force Danny's hand now and get a divorce so she can remarry Gary Ewing. But her plans and her emotions are complicated by the unexpected return of her second husband, Ben, who has settled his past and wants Val back.

When Wayne the security guard is cleared of threatening Karen MacKenzie, Karen and Mack must search further to discover who the real culprit is. They discover almost too late that it is Jeff Cameron.

Karen is further shattered by Michael's intention to marry Linda and is determined to prevent Linda from ruining the life of another of her sons. Karen finds unexpected support in this from Greg Sumner, who has his own reasons for not wanting Michael to marry Linda.

Greg Sumner's daughter was killed in a freak accident by an exploding computer terminal, but a subsequent investigation proved it was no accident. She was murdered.

Judith H. Simpson, 49, of Charlotte, writes historical romances under the pen name of Rosalind Foxx. Her fifth and most recent book is ``Surrender By Moonlight.' She likes ``Knots Landing' because ``everybody on the show has either been married to or slept with or victimized by somebody else.'


Patricia Hagan

Premiere: 10 p.m. Nov. 2, WFMY, Channel 2.

Synopsis: J.R.'s up to his old tricks again, trying to get controlling shares of Westar, an oil company. He finagles himself into the mental hospital where Jessica, Clayton Farlow's insane sister, is committed, in order to convince her to sign her shares over to him.

He succeeds, but little does he know that his wife and son have conspired to keep him in the sanitarium forever.

Author's resolution: J.R. makes a deal with the head shrink at the hospital to declare him sane, despite Cally and James' attempt to keep him locked up forever. He promises the head shrink a portion of the Westar shares he got Jessica to sign over to him.

The doctor agrees to help, but wants all the shares. J.R. has to decide which is more important - the shares or his freedom.

He comes to the ultimate conclusion that the shares won't do him any good anyway if he has to remain confined to a mental hospital the rest of his life.

When he gets out, he learns Cally and James are in cahoots with the doctor. They get the shares back and return them to Jessica.

Patricia Hagan, who lives in Black Mountain, writes romantic fiction. Among her book titles is the Civil War trilogy, ``Love and War,' ``The Raging Hearts' and ``Love and Glory.'

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