Even Angela made the comment very early on in the series that there's just something about Falcon Crest which pulls you back in. Likewise, her ex-husband, Douglas Channing, described the place as having a mesmerizing effect on all of them, even himself. And a few years ago, JfL started a thread on it (wiped out by the 9/11 site crash of 2016). But, indeed, what is it? I, myself, who never dreams nocturnally of the soaps, has nevertheless dreamed off-and-on since the early-'80s about the Falcon Crest foyer, and for decades had no idea why... I have also said that while I loved DALLAS the most, had the most aspirations for DYNASTY but was most disappointed by it, respected KNOTS the most for its intelligence and relative consistency, I cared the least about FALCON CREST yet felt somehow the closest to it. Was it those elaborate mancaves, set back against the orange mountains surrounding the valley, that the Channings and the Giobertis lived in? Now, why would I "care the least" about FALCON CREST? Even though DALLAS slid in its last few seasons, it had provided nearly a decade of good-to-excellent seasons, so its eventual decline can be chalked up to the usual creative fatigue associated with a series running a long time... KNOTS only succumbed to daytime-TV-itis in its last couple of seasons in terms of the incoming youthful cast, while maintaining story quality nearly all the way... And DYNASTY seemed to commit suicide early on, an innate '80s-style insecurity and neurotic rigidity quickly cancelling out its immense potential... But FALCON CREST was murdered, or at least mortally wounded, after about Season 3 or 4, due in large part to a Lorimar executive demanding the show's brain and de facto show-runner, Robert McCullough (and his writers, Stern & Black) be fired at the close of S3, studio politics the apparent culprit. Someone close to the show also once stated that FALCON CREST was the most harassed Top 10 show in the history of television, referring to constant interference from executives, not just at Lorimar but also at CBS (among other things, the network demanded that the Nazi treasure plot be immediately dropped just 10 episodes before the end of Season 4, that year's main storyline, forcing the writers to cobble together enough fractured narrative to complete the season --- this point being where I see FC derailing permanently). Subsequent seasons just didn't work: Season 5 was too drab and cluttered (and could've used a new murder mystery), Season 6 felt at first like a renaissance for the show before turning to excessive campiness by the end of that year, a shlocky vibe which devoured Season 7; CBS demanded that producers "fix" the show after the S7 droop in the ratings, but Season 8's attempt to go straight again just resulted in a greater decline in the Nielsen numbers as the show no longer seemed to know how to tell a serious tale without becoming boring; and while some argue that the writing improved during Season 9 after another internal staff shake-up, the show no longer looked nor felt like FALCON CREST, be it good or bad. Yet during the first few seasons of FALCON CREST, the series just seemed to have had ..... something. Something unique... But what was it?? All the four successful nighttime soaps of the '80s were particularly well-cast. That had a lot to do with why they worked (for a while) and why they lasted well-passed the point the producers seemed to drop the ball in terms of their narratives. But in their key seasons, FALCON CREST possessed an element even the others didn't quite. For one thing, early-FC was the most earth-bound, the most organic, of the bunch; DALLAS had its earthy moments, shooting on location six weeks every summer to obtain as much Texas-based footage as possible for the year, with a fair amount of chatter, mostly from Miss Ellie, about the hallowed nature of Southfork Ranch; KNOTS LANDING had the beach right there, but literally countless shows over the decades have filmed in southern California; DYNASTY, of course, filmed inside a closet -- with room for everyone but Steven... there was no sense of location, geographic or otherwise, to DYNASTY (especially after Seasons 1 & 2, when they'd at least made a nominal effort). It was FALCON CREST which initially had the most pronounced atmosphere. The sense of the land, the vineyards, the family legacy --- shadows, secrets, mysteries, treasure, all buried and ready to be exhumed. DALLAS tried for this, too, and came the closest to succeeding, but CREST had the edge.... Again, what was it?? Along with the perfect casting, CREST had the enigmatic beauty of Napa Valley, the appeal of the rolling and hilly streets of nearby San Francisco with its chic shoppes and restaurants, the quaint backdrop of the local village, those aforementioned mancaves, and a corporate product derived from the ground itself: haute vino -- top-shelf wines. There was something gently hypnotic, quietly gothic about early-FALCON CREST, shrouded, rural and hidden away. And the program's popularity increased tourism in Napa pointedly, leading some guileless yuppies to attempt to adopt the vintner lifestyle, sometimes losing their shirts in the doing, locals and long-timers frequently resenting the invasion (just as Angela would've). But the vague séance quality of the series made it distinctive, even among the other shows of the same genre. The Spring of 1985 seemed the spiritual precipice of the primetime soaps, the forlorn point at which they all could have ended and it might have felt right -- and you could detect that at the time: Bobby died on DALLAS, the Moldavia massacre occurred on DYNASTY, the return of Val's babies saw KNOTS hit #1 for the week the only time in its history, and FALCON CREST cried out for that earthquake cliffhanger which I'd read someplace had been planned for the end of Season 4 but got delayed by a year (at which point it seemed almost extraneous)… Yes, I'd've hated to miss Season 10 (per DVD count) of DALLAS (with the alleged Ghost of Jock and the terrorism of BD Calhoun), or Season 9 of DYNASTY (which David Paulsen tried valiantly to heal), or the next five seasons of stalwart and dependable KNOTS, and even Season 6 of FC (which I mostly liked). But, let's face it, these series largely lost their mojos: DALLAS began turning to the self-conscious camp for which they'd derided other shows to stooping, DYNASTY became overly-enamored of itself and imploded strangely, and FALCON CREST -- which had once had as strong a personality of any of them, lost that identity utterly as its final five years seemed to wander from one mahogany-turned-pastel room to another like a cheapy, over-lit daytime drama. All of which were further damaged and down-marketed by Lorimar's blurry post-production video look which kicked in circa 1986 (DYNASTY, produced by Aaron Spelling Productions, did something similar, but it looked incredibly splotchy and grainy as opposed to blurry). Some of which can be visually corrected with today's technology, some of which can't. In their later years, DALLAS needed to become darker and dustier (but did the reverse), DYNASTY needed to become more lavish and majestic (yeah, they wish!), KNOTS was fine (until the '90s, at least), while FALCON CREST needed to become even more gothic, sort of like The Wizard of Oz (which clearly did not happen, any gestures in that direction done for misguided laughs and purposes of parody). One wonders how these shows would have fared (and how their reputations might have been positively impacted) had they not gone off track so very badly in the mid-'80s. It's a mystery as great as the deaths of Hutch McKinney, Carlo Agretti, and Roger Grimes --- and at least we got the answers to those eventually. But the first three or four seasons of FALCON CREST offer up a taste of something tribal, some well-aged vintage which teased the palate and suggested something deeper, darker, more primal. One can only imagine where it could have gone had the '80s phantoms of fate not interceded.