Chase (Robert Foxworth) and his wife Maggie (Susan Sullivan), his grown son Cole (Bill Moses) and his nearly grown daughter Vickie (Jamie Rose) begin settling in to his father Jason Gioberti's old house in Tuscany Valley. Inheritance taxes have put them $50,000 in the red and they will need to make payment soon.
They have tons of choice grapes ready to be harvested and think they have a buyer (Dana Elcar) from a winery who can give them an advance covering what they owe. Angela Channing (Jane Wyman) Chase's ruthless aunt secretly scuttles that deal in trying to force Chase to sell her the grapes for less than half market value - a deal she subjected his father to up until his mysterious death.
It was a deal that she and her private label - Falcon Crest came to rely on not merely for the cut-rate price but because the integration of the superior grapes were essential to the product. She becomes more determined than ever to hasten his departure from Tuscany when he asks for what they are actually worth.
Inadvertently Angela actually cements his stay in the valley when he is forced to sell his brownstone in New York severing his ties there to make up the shortfall in revenue. She has underestimated her nephew's character and resolve in running the vineyard. She has also discounted his wife and two children figuring they don't want to be there.
Vickie doesn't and Maggie is not yet enthusiastic but Cole sets aside his ambitions of becoming an archaelogist to remain a pillar of the household backing his father's initiative and seeing a reflection of himself in the family legacy.
Chase has also gotten on famously with his foreman Gus and is quickly making inroads with the community by treating people right and standing up to Angela who has maintained power via a very different style of doing business more suitable to her frosty personality. Her spoiled and arrogant grandson Lance (Lorenzo Lamas) also wants Chase gone even though he and Angela project a very different countenance when the Giobertis are around.
I wonder if this was supposed to be the second episode rather than the third one. The second episode didn't show much of the Giobertis actually moving in and severing their ties with New York. The gradually drawing in of Chase and his family treats the viewer to feeling invested in why this family has settled in Tuscany and what they have sacrificed to be there.
We see the beginnings of what made Falcon Crest different and special compared with daytime and night-time soaps i.e. figures epitomizing honesty, maturity, work ethic and character being glamorized as they fight a continuing stalemate against a more powerful but morally bankrupt foe they happen to be blood relatives of.
Bill Conti who had written the theme for Dynasty (Which debuted in January 1981) did the same for Falcon Crest giving it a similarity to the prime-time soap operas of the day. But the narrative was still reaching family drama in the vein of the Waltons for much of its first season. After embracing scripts better suited to the genre and adding performers like David Selby who had been successful within the niche Falcon Crest became arguably the best prime time soap on TV.
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