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An intriguing pilot episode featured the major characters of the Clegg and McCandless families and smartly set up their family feud with some interesting political back history. The memory of Carolyn Jones marching up the cold capital building steps covered in fur then sweeping the objects off the desk of a security guard who didn't recognize her remains in my memory to this day. Jones even had a villainous sounding character name (Myrna Clegg), and unlike Morticia Addams, there was nothing funny about her other than the fact that on occasion, she came off as extremely camp. The contrast was presented with the beautiful blonde Constance Towers as the heroine matriarch Clarissa McCandless (definately a heroine sounding name), and when Towers took over the role of Helena Cassadine on "General Hospital", it took a long time for me to accept her playing an evil character rather than who she had been on "Capitol".
Like the later "Dynasty" like soap, "Santa Barbara", "Capitol" started off with the reunion of two star-crossed lovers. Also like "SB", this storyline didn't stir the fans like another couple did. Tyler and Julie had their fans, but the bulk of the audience much preferred Trey and Sloane, much like "SB" took Cruz and Eden over Joe and Kelly. Ironically, Tyler and Joe were played at one point by Dane Witherspoon, a replacement for David Mason Daniels as Tyler.
What attracted me to "Capitol" was its cast of veterans-Rory Calhoun as Clarissa's noble dad, Ed Nelson as her long-time love interest (and Sloane's father), Richard Egan (as Myrna's powerful husband), Julie Adams (deliciously evil as Sloane's mom who tried to kill Clarissa), and much later on Beah Richards and Janis Paige who joined right before the final episodes as Sam Clegg's first wife and Trey's mother. The younger actors at first seemed somewhat lost when on screen with these vets, but most of them adapted quickly (especially Deborah Mullowney who dominated the screen as feisty heroine Sloane Denning) and were able to hold their own.
Unfortunately, Carolyn Jones had cancer during her stint as Myrna and as her prognosis worsened, she was unable to work fulltime. The beautiful Marla Adams took over while preparing to start her role as Dina on "The Young and the Restless", and finally primetime T.V. and movie veteran Marj Dusay took over, making the part her own while bringing more vulnerability into the character. Catherine Hickland took over the role of Julie and added some spark that the character desperately needed. A year later, Jess Walton took over the role of former prostitute Kelly Harper who had given birth to Trey's son, ultimately breaking up Trey and Sloane. Years later, along with Towers and the gorgeous Tonja Walker (Lizabeth Bachman), Dusay, Hickland and Walton would dominate other daytime soaps playing schemers, but modern audiences who watched "Capitol" first got to see them there although Towers and Hickland had previous soap experience.
The tide began to turn when soap vet Ron Harper joined as Baxter McCandless, Clarissa's presumed dead husband. While his return from the dead was presented as very realistic, it lead to plot developments that went from bizarre to outlandish. This storyline was tied in with Sloane's new romance with Muslim prince Ali and the fight for power in his native country of Baraq. The show began to forget its name and took place overseas more often than it did domestically. Several recurring players took the storyline into extremely dark places, and when Hickland began a second role (Jenny Markham Diamond, the supposedly deceased wife of restaurant owner Zed Diamond), the character of Julie basically faded into the woodwork.
The last months of the show were disturbing for fans, and even though the show still had good ratings, a lot of viewers left out of impatience with these changes. This caused the network to accept Bill Bell's offer for a new show, and the cancellation caused the writers to go berserk with even more changes. Most disturbing was the revelation that Mark Denning was a traitor, causing Ed Nelson to quit in disgust. The show had almost lost Rory Calhoun and Ms. Hickland, but they returned for the last months of the show, although Julie had basically nothing to do. Even suave Myrna became the unsuspecting victim of a cheating husband, Sam turning to her personal assistant Kate (Cheryl Ann Wilson).
The last weeks of the show dropped major cast members Bradley Lockerman (Zed) and Karen Kelly (Brenda) even though they were all listed in the credits. Bill Beyer (Wally) would make a brief appearance in the final episode, but his on-screen love interest Brenda was nowhere in sight. The story focused mainly on Prince Ali's presumed death and Sloane's capture by his enemies. The long unseen Matt McCandless was revealed to be Ali's younger brother, and Sam was blackmailed by Kate for being the real father of Kelly and Trey's son, Scotty. Myrna declared war on Sam for asking for a divorce and Sloane faced a firing squad. No conclusion, much speculation, and even more disappointment for a show that had started off with high promise.