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Wyman, The former wife 39th President Ronald Reagan triumphantly
returned to television in the nighttime soap opera "Falcon Crest". For
most of the show's nine-year run, no one could best Jane Wyman's
"Angela Channing," the writers providing her with the best lines, the
best wardrobe, and, in most episodes, the final scene. It wasn't until
the show's last season that poor health prevented her from appearing in
no more than the first and last installments.
However, she was surrounded by a cast of superb performers. Though Robert Foxworth received second billing, it was evident that other characters were more popular. Susan Sullivan, already a favorite from the daily soap "Another World," gained a wider audience as Chase's wife Maggie, following his dream to achieve success as a wine maker. William R. Moses and, initially, Jamie Rose were their children, brought into a community to which they were ill-suited. Lorenzo Lamas and Ana Alicia as Angela's grandson and granddaughter-in-law provided enough tension, in and out of the bedroom, to supply several soap operas. Margaret Ladd as "looney" daughter "Emma" was a treat to watch each week, as was Abby Dalton as her manipulative sister and the mother to Lamas's character. Chao Li Chi played the chauffeur and confidant to Mrs. Channing.
Possibly the most popular characterization was David Selby as "Richard Channing," Angela's chief nemesis that would later be revealed as her son. Their ongoing battles were priceless.
Other cast members came and went, a veritable "who's who" of "Old Hollywood". Lana Turner, Mel Ferrer, Cesar Romero, Eve Arden, Celeste Holm, Kim Novak, and Rod Taylor were just some of the famous that entered the gates of Falcon Crest.
There were some major casting "snafus," from rock star and Prince-protégé Appolonia, playing to type as a character sporting her same name, to Gregory Harrison as a rival for Richard Channing's empire. Both seemed ill-at-ease with their roles.
Though the show drifted into absurdity in season four with a "Raiders-of-the-Lost-Ark-like" search for a treasure buried beneath the estate/vineyard (complete with the film's star Paul Freeman as the sinister leader behind the search), it still maintained its cutthroat machinations for most of its run.
Another plus were the thrilling season-ending cliffhangers. "Dallas" may have started them all, but "Falcon Crest" had the best.
The show never had the ratings success of "Dallas" or "Dynasty" but it was still an enjoyable way to spend an hour on a Friday night.
Set in the fictional Tuscany Valley of California, Falcon Crest focused on a large family of wealthy vinyardists, who were either bickering with each other, plotting against each other, and occasionally swapping mates. Legendary film star Jane Wyman played the ambitious matriarch Angela Channing, constantly at loggerheads with her nephew Chase Gioberti (Robert Foxworth), an airline pilot (and ex-Vietnam vet) who returned to Falcon Crest to claim his inheritance following his father's mysterious death. Others in the FC's large cast included Chase's long-suffering wife Maggie (Susan Sullivan), their children Cole (Billy Moses) and Vickie (Jamie Rose, Dana Sparks); Angela's children Emma (Margaret Ladd) and Julia (Abby Dalton), Abby's irresponsible son Lance (Lorenzo Lamas), who married the conniving Melissa (Ana-Alicia), when she was pregnant with Cole's child. A solid soap during its first season, FC got a major boast with the arrival of nefarious Richard Channing (David Selby), who turned out to be related to the Giobertis and would stop at nothing to get his share of Falcon Crest. The first 5-6 seasons of Falcon Crest remain among the best television has ever offered, with terrific acting, strong storylines, suspenseful and unforgettable cliffhangers, and a wonderfully dry wit. Currently, SoapNet runs episodes 3 times daily, Mon-Fri; try to see it if you can, Falcon Crest is an absolute must.
I loved this drama. I thought this was better than Dynasty. I loved Jane Wyman playing the role of matriarch. The casting was first rate and the writing was stellar if not better than Dynasty and Dallas combined. The cast included Kim Novak, Ana Alicia, Lana Turner, Lorenzo Lamas, and so many others not to mention who graced this show at some point. The show always carried itself more like a drama than a soap opera. I always felt that Falcon Crest was treated unfairly in favor of the more outrageous Dynasty or Dallas. There were no cat fights or explicit or outrageous behavior. They always appeared with class, style, dignity, and grace. That is why I think it was superior to it's other shows. Falcon Crest came on and stayed with us for nine years. We're waiting for DVD.
I love this show and this is a lot coming from a 16 year old. The show is
deliciously humorous and dramatic at the same time. The show is headed by
Jane Wyman as the conniving and manipulative Angela Channing. I feel as
though this is one of the best shows of the 80s along with Dallas,
and Knots Landing. The show also had other great actors and characters
as Robert Foxworth as Chase, Susan Sullivan as Maggie, David Selby as
Richard, Lorenzo Lamas as Lance, Ana Alicia as Melissa, and Cesar Romero
Peter. The number of guest stars was amazing. The wardrobe was fabulous.
This show was a perfect example of prime time soaps in the
A TOAST TO YOU FALCON CREST AND LONG SHALL YOU LIVE.
I got hooked on this show after the first few years had passed. These nighttime soap operas were known for their season-ending cliffhangers and this one was no exception. The best seasons of the series were 1986-1989, when they experimented with a faster-paced style of storytelling that was quite smart and exciting. This had by far the best sense of humor of all the soaps and featured excellent acting from Jane Wyman, Ana-Alicia, David Selby and Susan Sullivan (now on "Dharma and Greg") Interesting note: during many of its later years, this show's music was composed by Mark Snow, who went on to do the famous "X-Files" theme and score. I wish they still showed reruns of this show somewhere!
I love this show, i started watching it last year on soapnet and i absolutley love it, i taped every episode and i still watch it everyday. Angela, Richard and Chase when in scenes together have great chemistry. The cast is incredible, Abby Dalton as the psycho daughter of Angela and Margaret Ladd as her looney but very intelligent other daughter Emma are brilliant in their roles. Also stars Susan Sullivan, Ana Alicia, Laura Johnson. I can go on and on, i wish i watched this when i was younger but i was 3 when it started. I highly recommend watching this show.
Initially dismissed as "Dallas with grapes" Falcon Crest was created by
Earl Hamner Jr. who also created such TV series as The Waltons and
Apple's Way. His more wholesome take on a night-time soap was similar
to that which you might think - one that romanticizes family values
(While providing an examination of complicated family interpersonal
relations) and work ethic. The Northern Italian roots of his maternal
grandfather was an influence upon his crafting of the backstory of
But the main inspiration for Falcon Crest was Hamner's own experience owning an unsuccessful vineyard in the Napa Valley in California in the 1970s, an unprofitable investment which nevertheless inspired him via his experiences. His own time as a struggling writer is doubtless an inspiration for Maggie Gioberti - hapless freelancer.
Beginning as a more family friendly night-time soap airing right after Dallas on CBS Angela Channing was set to be portrayed by Barbara Stanwyck reflecting her matriarchal role on The Big Valley TV series in the 1960s. Barbara Stanwyck passed on the role which was then taken on by Jane Wyman.
The original unaired pilot for the series starred Clu Gulager as Chase and Samantha Eggar as Maggie. The roles were recast and Robert Foxworth who had been approached with playing the role of J.R. on Dallas was brought in to play Chase, a very different character on what would be a different kind of prime time serial.
The series inevitably declined in its later years long after it had said what it had to say. Hastening the decline was the departure of series stars and recycling of plot-lines.
Falcon Crest was such a great show! It stood apart from serious-Dallas and campy-Dynasty and rivoted viewers for 9 seasons. Headed by Jane Wyman, the cast and crew rose to the challenge of taking their place beside the classic dramas of Dallas, Dynasty and Knots Landing. With gorgeous on location photography and crisp screenplays....the show was able to capture its own following. Currently airing on SoapNet, this vintage drama has finally been uncorked!
Who could have thought that Earl Hamner,the creator of The Waltons would follow in the footsteps of series creators Lee Rich and Aaron Spelling? Well,Lee Rich was the brains behind "Dallas" and "Knots Landing",while Aaron Spelling was at the helm behind "Dynasty","Hotel",and "The Colbys", Hamner was the creator behind "Falcon Crest" one of the solid classic soap operas that ever came to prime-time. While it rivoted viewers from 9 seasons on CBS-TV,it was one of the top ten shows of the 80's and early 90's. This show was totally different and it didn't take it stories too seriously since it was set in the Tuscany Valley of California which consisted of wealthly vinyardists who would bickered at each other,and plot and scheme their way to the top of the empire. Leading by some heavy hitters including legendary actress Jane Wyman,Susan Sullivan,Robert Foxworth and Lorenzo Lamas and not to mention special appearances by Ursula Andress and actor Eddie Albert,this show was to make the expected the unexpected and so forth. Great series! Catch it on SoapNet!
Throughout the 80's, I pretty much grew up on the 2 best family-drama-soap shows off all time (on my list). The "Dynasty Clan" & "Dallas". Whether a Sunday afternoon "pull-hair" fight between Alexis & Crystal or a Tuesday night shooting in J.R.'s office, these shows were/are my favorite. You come to ask yourself though, who comes in 3rd place? In my mind, its the one and only "Falcon Crest" . A high-quality drama about two families & their daily intrigues & plots. Well I simply enjoy that to the max. The Bad one "Angela" against the good one "Maggie". If you have never seen any of those episodes, and i doubt you have not, there is the media library in NYC which has all episodes of all TV shows ever made. Archived. Give it a try if you visit the city.
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