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6 Degrees Entertainment

'Falcon Crest: The Complete First Season'
(Jane Wyman, Lorenzo Lamas, Susan Sullivan, Robert Foxworth, Ana Alicia, et al / 4-Disc DVD / NR / (1981) 2010 / Warner Home Video)

Overview: Uncork the complete first season of Falcon Crest, the popular, long-running series centered on the rich vineyards and richer people of Northern California’s wine country. Academy Award® winner Jane Wyman stars as winery matriarch Angela Channing, who will let nothing – family, honor, the law – stand between her and power.

DVD: I don't know if Jane Wyman was chosen to play the lead of hard-as-nails Angela Channing because she was then newly-elected President Reagan's first wife or not. The rumor back then was that the producers wanted her in the role as a kind of side-swipe at Reagan, whose right-wing politics they detested.

Then came the rumors that first lady Nancy Reagan wouldn't let the president watch the show because Jane Wyman was in it. Back when we all had a common culture at the dawn of cable, this was all really very amusing. However, regardless of why and how she got the part, Jane Wyman owned that role and made it something special.

Starting out playing the lead at age 64, she didn't miss a step until the last season or so, when bad health finally got the best of her.

The setting is the fictitious Tuscany Valley of California and its lush vineyards. Chase Gioberti, played by Robert Foxworth, was Angela's nephew who was always going round and round with her. This was the principle conflict - Chase's principled stand versus Angela's dog-eat-dog approach to all problems. This first season has a kind of Romeo and Juliet theme to it as Chase's son and wealthy heiress Melissa Agretti fall in love and Melissa finds out she is pregnant.

Fate being what it is on soap operas, Melissa ends up in an arranged marriage to Angela's lazy grandson-heir, Lance, with everyone outside the principle trio - Melissa, Angela, and Lance - believing Lance to be the father. Angela arranged this marriage to give her eventual ownership of the Agretti vineyards.

This show was one of the popular night-time soap operas of the 80's along with Dallas, Dynasty, and Knot's Landing. Most of the characters weren't as rich as in Dallas - after all, we're talking grapes here not gasoline - but the stories didn't have the goofiness that Dynasty always had and Dallas eventually descended into.

Highly recommended for people who remember this old show and loved it like I did, and also for people who like soap operas in general. [CM] This is a Full Screen Presentation (1.33:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs, but does not come with any Special Features.