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TV Guide Cover featuring Falcon Crest

Lorenzo! Lorenzo! Lorenzo! Even fuzzy, you stir my soul. Sigh.....

Despite its reputation as merely being “Dallas with grapes”, Falcon Crest soon found its own niche amongst the prime-time dramas of the 1980s, occupying the middle ground between the two extremes of the genre — being more glamorous than Dallas yet not quite as outrageous as Dynasty. The distinctive location filming in the Napa Valley and the dry, wryly humorous tone of the scripts gave the series a personality of its own. And to this day, the series is still sought after in reruns and on DVD by thousands of fans.

The rivalry among Angela, Chase and Richard stayed at the core of the show for years, as more romantic entanglements spun around them. Lance and Cole found themselves not only caught up in their family battles, but also competing for Melissa’s affections. – The Jane Wyman Fan Club

A friend just posted on Facebook that she’d love to find the entire series of Falcon Crest and start a weekly viewing party, sparking a fantastic memory from my own childhood that I had to share.

For years my Grandmother would threaten us (Spring, Taffy and myself) to within an inch of our lives if we didn’t settle down while she was watching Falcon Crest on the “telly-vision”; also known as “the boob tube”, “the idiot box” or “that damn thing” when cartoons were on.  Even at the age of seven, I knew the drinking and the philandering and the bitch-slapping was highly inappropriate content for little kids to see but I also suspected that Robert Foxworth was subliminally sexing-up my grandmother and she just didn’t have the power to turn him off when we were spending the night.

My sister’s and I became huge fans of the show, I’d bet money we were the only preteens in Atlanta who knew that Angela’s full name was, Angela Gioberti Channing Ericson Stavros Agretti… not because she was Catholic but because she was married 4 times in the Napa Valley. The ladies on the show were beautiful with their drop crystal earrings brushing the tops of their anvil shaped shoulder pads… at 10 am. And of course the plots with all their screaming and fighting and four-letter words were absolutely whacktastic! If you were sitting here right now you would have just watched as I put my fingers to my lips and did one of those French blow kiss things that bursts my hand away and gestures “absolutely scrumptious!” Considering the alternative Friday night activity would have been to start a new sewing project, Spring, Taffy and I were always more than happy to comply when grandma looked us squarely in the eyes and said “If you tell your mutha I let you watch Falcon Crest you’ll never come back”…which quite possibly meant we’d never come back to this mortal life.

At 4:30 pm on the Falcon Crest nights, Grandma would cook us our “meat-n-three…like in the soup lines during the Depression” (she never missed an opportunity to educate us on the struggles of the Depression) and tell us to eat fast so she could get the dishes washed and us bathed in time to catch the scenes from the previous week.  As soon as we were clean and sitting still on the right side of the bed she’d push her dresser out just far enough to plug in the TV and then spin the television left, at a 45 degree angle (away from us) swearing that it knocked down a glare on her glasses. Once the television was in position she’d pull out the power switch, turn the dial to “5”, and then begin whacking the sides and finessing the rabbit ears until a clear picture formed on the screen. As soon as the reception was satisfactory (and in color) she’d turn out all the lights and then take her spot on the entire left side of the bed. Somehow she was able to fit “don’t move an inch” into the two seconds of black between the last commercial and the beginning of the show.

Needless to say, the angle of the television made it impossible to see anything from the right side of the bed so my sisters and I would wait until Grandma’s eyes were wide enough to reflect the images on the screen and then we’d slowly creep to the front left corner to get a better view. If the drama was really heating up we could get into position without her noticing a thing but most of the time one of us would bump her legs and then she’d accuse us of being “squirmy” and ban us to the floor or, if it was a love scene, kick us out of the room entirely…to sew on the old foldout sofa in the living room.

Interesting note about the old foldout sofa, grandma replaced the back legs with cans of peas wrapped in aluminum foil because she thought the cans offered a much better balance then the legs of the original design. Sometimes at night our tossing and turning would knock the sofa off of its cans and we’d wake up, terrified, fully expecting to see grandma beating the hell out of an intruder with the greased pole she kept behind the front door…it was greased so that she could slip it out of the intruder’s hands should he try to grab it from her.

I never got the sense that grandma actually wanted the Falcon Crest lifestyle. Nothing about her suggested a sneaky desire to be a sexy vineyard baroness with multiple exes. But what it did suggest is that deep down, this 5’2″ “German battle tank” (mom’s words, not mine. Mom would have killed us if we ever repeated the things she mumbled while laying on the couch in a state of delirium, trying to recover from the weekly grocery trip with grandma) had a romantic side that countered her very no-nonsense depression era approach to everything else in life. I like to think that her delight with the Falcon Crest twist and turns were a sign that maybe she did have some fun as a young woman and that perhaps she wasn’t telling the truth when she swore the only time she ever kissed a man on the mouth was at the alter with “Old Man Andrews” (our grandfather)… then again, my mother was an only child so one can only assume the other thing she swore she only did once was actually true.

Grandma would have been 100 this week, she passed away in ’07 just as cantankerous and opinionated as ever.

Great memories!!!

Jayne Wyman from Falcon Crest

Every week grandma would fuss “Angela was the President’s FIRST wife and if you ask me, she’s much better looking than Nancy!” One time I pointed out they looked exactly the same and she sent me to the living room.

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