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Peyton Place While waiting for the bus to Far-Away-From-Peyton Place...

Discussion in 'Sundry Prime Time Soaps' started by Willie Oleson, Jun 1, 2017.

  1. Willie Oleson

    Willie Oleson drilling for soap

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    ...I couldn't help but noticing that there are still quite a few things going on here.
    I had hoped to leave this town with a happy "bon voyage" - like Jill & Joe - but as things stand, I'm not so sure about that anymore!

    Let's start with the shocking discovery that Valene Clements works as a nurse in Doctors Hospital.
    upload_2017-6-1_20-14-56.png
    Or is this a scrapped Verna Ellers psychosis storyline?

    Another new staff member is Chuck Atwell, a physiotherapist with an attitude, who reminds me of another therapist who used to work at Doctors Hospital.
    upload_2017-6-1_20-47-7.png
    Here they are...
    Russ Gehring's resentful guitar performance has to be one of Peyton Place's most bizarre moments.
    Chuck likes to argue with Betty, and that's why I like Chuck too.

    Rodney's behaving like the typical soap patient, either too pessimistic or too optimistic.
    "Don't lie to me" - when the doctor tells good news, "Just because you're a doctor doesn't mean you know everything" - when the doctor tells him to take it easy and not overdo things.

    Rod's biggest problem isn't the fact that he almost broke his neck, oh no, nothing as trivial as that.
    The real problem is "between his ears" (probably not the correct translation, but whatever).
    Just as with Allison and Rita, the doctors and townspeople are very busy trying to figure out what to say and what not to say, who should visit and who should stay away from the patient.
    Because that, and only that, will determine whether the patient will be cured or not.
    Eventually, it's ex-Reverend Tom Winter who triggers the exact right emotions - that elusive, soapy state of mind that will help Rodney to recover as swiftly as possible.
    Incidentally, whatever happened to Reverend Jerry Bedford?

    Personally, I think a soap writer's biggest challenge is to both prepare and surprise the audience.
    The viewer is being tempted with various hints about the characters and possible story developments, hoping for a big pay off or a romantic happy ending. And then again and again and again.
    But predictability is the enemy, so every now and then they have to think of an alternative narrative or outcome.
    A perfect example of doing both (prepare-and-surprise) is the Adrienne van Leyden + Lee Webber storyline.

    But this formula is not always a winner.

    Martin Peyton is dead, and there's a nice little throwback at oldskool Peyton Place.
    Betty's role as initiator, taking charge of the funeral arrangements, as well as her indiscreet pleasure about becoming the richest woman in town, is frowned upon.
    To say the least!
    upload_2017-6-1_21-35-23.png
    In all fairness, Betty has always acknowledged her desire for wealth and status, without coming across as an out-and-out gold digger. Therefore I don't find it uncharacteristic at all.
    Furthermore, when Peyton was still alive, everyone (except Steven and Hannah) seemed to enjoy throwing Peyton's help/gifts/money back in his face. To be "above all that", sometimes in a moralistic sort of way. But what would be the point now Peyton is gone?

    However, thanks to Peyton's will, the Rodney & Betty love story came with a twist: the inheritance. It was easy to avoid the how's & why's when Peyton was still alive, but now they actually have to deal with it.
    Does Rodney think his marriage is stained by the money, and especially Betty's enthusiasm about how to spend it? Will it make him doubt her intentions?

    Well, surprise!, Peyton has changed his will again and no-one will inherit anything! Everything will be transferred to the Peyton Foundation. To me, this seems a bit childish, rather than wicked and manipulative. I had expected a bigger twist e.g. leaving the entire estate to Dr. Rossi. Or Hannah, or even Steven.
    Nevertheless, it causes Betty to go ballistic in front of Rodney, which causes him to become completely paralysed again.
    upload_2017-6-1_22-36-51.png
    "Don't upset the patient!". They never learn, do they? *sighs*

    Eli Carsons helps Rita and Norman with their (minor) marital problem, and as usual that problem is being solved rather quickly and in a sensible way. And then I thought, why can't they write a female companion for Eli?
    Literally 5 minutes later, Rita and Norman decide to matchmake Eli with the grumpy and slightly snobbish Mrs. Riggs.
    upload_2017-6-1_22-26-6.png
    Needless to say, this results in a series of predictably awkward misunderstandings and friendly bickerings, but it all looks very charming really.

    There's nothing charming about this pretty girl, who terrorizes Dr. Harry Miles' family.
    upload_2017-6-1_22-37-48.png
    I have forgotten the reason why she wants to marry Lew so desperately, but I'm sure they'll mention it again.
    While I'm still waiting for the soapbus to arrive.
     
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  2. Willie Oleson

    Willie Oleson drilling for soap

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    Good heavens, I had not expected these last episodes to be so tense and dramatic. Is there enough time to solve all these problems?

    Fred Russell's personal crisis started with having second thoughts about the exciting life of high business and sexy, young secretaries. A lonely life away from his family.
    His fear that he and his daughter will end up being strangers is understandable, but it was very inconsiderate to put Carolyn on the spot. She herself was still struggling with the new situation, and her mother's relationship with Michael Rossi.
    I think they've handled that story in a very honest and objective way. But it seems that the Carolyns, Lindsays and Dianas aren't very popular amongst soapfans.

    Carolyn is slowly adjusting to the situation - Michael Rossi is pulling out all the stops as the fun stepfather - but Fred's state of mind is getting increasingly worrisome.
    upload_2017-6-2_17-49-35.png
    He witnesses an angry quarrel between Carolyn and her sort-of-ex-boyfriend, Thunderbird Jeff. When he attacks the boy, Jeff tells him that the argument was about the relationship between Carolyn and Lew Miles.
    And, oh boy, how this thing spirals out of control!
    It's interesting to watch the trappings of racial prejudice, and especially how these things can just happen. I'm sure no-one in Peyton Place saw this coming.
    White people, eager to believe the accusations addressed to the black man (guilty until proven innocent), and the black man's suspicion of everyone and everything around him. Dr. Miles almost accuses therapist Chuck Atwell of plotting against him.
    upload_2017-6-2_19-0-51.png

    I thought it was peculiar that they created a new opening credit (this time for actor Percy Rodrigues) considering that these are the last 11 episodes. (Panic!!)
    Or was the series supposed to go on longer, in other words (and to use that infamous word): was it cancelled? I don't dare to look for information, afraid to stumble upon some last-minute spoilers.
    upload_2017-6-2_18-18-23.png

    This is his house:
    upload_2017-6-2_18-19-18.png
    I'm gonna miss posting these pretty pictures.

    My favourite scene: when Maggie Riggs opens up about her marriage to Mr. Riggs.
    upload_2017-6-2_18-29-59.png
    "Cold people can do that to you, Eli. They squeeze the beauty out of your life.
    He never sat with me, like this".

    It was just as unexpected as when nurse Esther Choate confided in Betty, when she talked about her rather loveless life, and her three dogs - all named Brandy.

    Rodney has to decided to go back to college, and he and Betty move to Boston.
    When Betty returns to wrap up some unfinished business, Steven arrives at her house with a woman who nursed Martin Peyton during his last days in the clinic.
    This woman tells Betty that Peyton was mentally ill - and therefore legally incompetent - when he made the changes in his will.
    And this could render the last version of Peyton's will null and void.

    What now, Betty?
     
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  3. Willie Oleson

    Willie Oleson drilling for soap

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    And she visits Betty again, this time alone. Betty still insists that she has no interest in contesting the will.
    When the nurse (Jennifer) leaves the house, a limousine is waiting for her.
    upload_2017-6-3_4-58-50.png
    It turns out that it was Hannah Cord who had approached Jennifer to testify. Her plan is not only to challenge the last version of the will, but also the one that mentions Betty as the main beneficiary. The Peyton fortune will be inherited by the oldest child, or in this case the oldest grandchild: Steven Cord.
    Steven then confronts Betty with the fact that she could fight him if she wants to - and I get the feeling that's exactly what he wants. To him, it's almost a substitute for sex. After that, Betty discusses the situation with Norman, and...oh I can imagine how this would go on for another 50 episodes!

    The women of Peyton Place are having a talk about the awful situation created by Fred Russell.
    upload_2017-6-3_5-13-28.png
    In these days, Alma Miles' comment is almost unthinkable: "I'm glad they're not seeing eachother. I can live with the gossip, but...."
    Or is it still relevant?

    Russell is getting more irrational and violent, and after the physical attack on Marsha (who's preparing for a trip to some other place where she and Mike will be married) Dr. Rossi goes to search for Russell in order to end this madness once and for all.
    But the only thing that ends is Fred Russell's life (well, he dies in the hospital 2 episodes later) and the police (alarmed by Marsha) find Dr. Rossi in the hotel room, together with Russell who's lying on the floor unconscious.
    This is another not-really-murder-mystery, and Dr. Rossi is the not-really-but-possible culprit. An impossible and implausibe situation, kinda like Joe Chernak's death.

    Various local residents visit Dr. Rossi in jail, and there's already a sense of "saying goodbye":(
    upload_2017-6-3_5-39-58.png

    I hadn't noticed before how much he looks like Richard Channing.
    upload_2017-6-3_5-45-33.png
    I mean, 15 years later - if Ed Nelson hadn't aged - he could have been Dr. Michael Ranson, instead of Sam Dexter #2.

    Anyway, the judge decides there's sufficient evidence to prosecute our beloved soap doctor.
    Not quite the ending I had in mind, but there's nothing I can do! This is it - no more "preview from the continuing story of Peyton Place".
    upload_2017-6-3_5-55-34.png

    upload_2017-6-3_5-55-56.png

    !!

    Well, it's time for me to move on. Next stop is

    upload_2017-6-3_6-10-34.png
    Oh bugger, I've missed the bus!:r&r:

    It looks like I'm going to stay here a little longer.
    upload_2017-6-3_6-14-9.png
     
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  4. James from London

    James from London Soap Chat Star

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    Aww, lovely stuff, Willie. Congratulations/sad times for making it all the way through PP. I'm pleased you liked the later characters as well. The black family were fascinating - the fact that their blackness was verbally acknowledged in a way that Dominique's and the Williamses wasn't (couldn't be?) 20+ years later. And Lee's naughty girlfriend who gives the lie to the claim that Dominique was soap's first black bitch.

    I kind of like the way it ended, or didn't- the idea that the drama on PP will never end, we just stop visiting it.
     
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  5. Willie Oleson

    Willie Oleson drilling for soap

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    It's been on the top of my must-see list since the mid-eighties (together with Knots Landing), especially after watching the Next Generation movie. I remember liking that movie, and it made me very curious about the original. So, yes, I was determined to watch all episodes, but it didn't feel like a chore. There have been a few times when I found myself adjusting to a new story or narrative, my least favourite being Allison's baby (so soon after the Rachel Welles story), but even that had a satisfactory conclusion. Or at least it was an interesting set up for the next storyline.
    And in a way that everyone could understand. There must have been thousands of movies about this subject, but somehow it feels different when you're practically sitting at that family's dinner table.
    None of the white PP characters were being overtly progressive, you know - standing on a soap box, telling the viewers why they shouldn't be prejudiced. But they questioned themselves: are we being prejudiced?
    Yes, and they even started to like this blackmailer, and she's still living with them!
    I guess it was difficult for DYNASTY to have the only black character being portrayed as an unpleasant person, a black person threatening the nice white people.
    So they went for fierce & fabulous instead, and I don't think Dynasty needed more of that.
    Neatly wrapped-up happy endings often feel forced, as if the writers are being held at gunpoint. It's actually very unnatural to end a soap series, because the structure of the narrative feels indefinite, like real life.
    But that doesn't mean the tv episodes have to go on and on forever. And I think that's what PP's THE END stands for.
    We can imagine that Steven Cord is going to do a great job defending his client, we can imagine that Mike Rossi and Marsha Russell will be married, we can imagine... etc etc.

    It's a shame that the first discussion was erased because of the site's crash, I would have loved to read all the comments and impressions. Needless to say, I couldn't do this before watching the complete series myself.
     
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  6. Willie Oleson

    Willie Oleson drilling for soap

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    I've just finished the first (and in my case, the last) 30 minutes of
    upload_2017-6-3_22-12-28.png

    I...I...don't know what to say! This has to be one of the worst tv movies I've ever seen in my whole life!
    And I liked "The Lonely Lady", and "Once Is Not Enough" - for all the wrong reasons, but I enjoyed them nevertheless.

    What I've seen so far is that Stella Chernak (played by Stella Stevens) is now an evil tycoonette who returns to Peyton Place to destroy everything and everyone.
    I can tolerate the re-casts, and considering the fact that this was made 8 years later, it was kind of inevitable. Therefore, no problem with NuBetty or NuSteven.
    NuSteven is now married to PreSue Ellen, btw.
    upload_2017-6-3_22-26-8.png

    Apparently, original Rita Harrington was too important and too iconic to be played by someone else, therefore she and Norman are divorced, and Norman is now married to....oh my god, dare I say it?...Jill Smith!!
    They could have created any other character as Norman's wife - but I guess they wanted to use as many familiar faces as possible. Joyce Jillson was available but they obviously had no idea how to fit her into Peyton Place '77.

    It suddenly dawned on me that this could be a reunion movie to the retooled-sequel-spin-off RETURN TO PEYTON PLACE (1972-1974).
    But nothing in this movie seems to match the sequel story as described on Wikipedia.
    Incidentally, there are no episodes of RTPP available online, and I'm not really interested in this daytime version, but I would have watched a few episodes out of curiosity.

    They also didn't want to re-cast Rodney and Allison (who are now married!) but these characters HAD to be a part of the story anyway, but only off-screen, so they both die in a car accident.:rolleyes:

    All actors look insipid (except, ironically, Joyce Jillson), the acting is lifeless (to put it mildly), and when Dorothy Malone gave the worst cry-performance ever, I knew it was time to stop.
    See, it's not that this could ever "tarnish my memory" of the original show, as they're two different productions, I just don't want to watch a horrible Peyton Place.

    And this...thing gives a whole new meaning to the word "trash".
    To add insult to injury, they use scenes from the original series. And then create a semi-misleading opening credit for that.
    upload_2017-6-3_23-3-58.png
    Really!:a2:

    I'm quickly moving on to the next one: The Next Generation (1985). The only thing I remember is John Beck playing the murderer.
     
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  7. Willie Oleson

    Willie Oleson drilling for soap

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    upload_2017-6-4_12-39-38.png
    There's also a murder in this Peyton Place movie, a movie that looks like nothing but an excuse to reunite the original cast, and thankfully most of them were available.
    It's a completely different town now, much bigger, and some elements from the original series have been changed - but everything from the 1970s series and movie has been ignored.

    Wrapping up old storylines in reunion movies is often risky, because it's very difficult to do without making it look like an afterthought, and that's how it comes across in this movie.
    Oh it's not awful at all, but to me personally there's nothing satisfactory about the explanation of Allison's disappearance.
    Apparently she was pregnant, and the story starts with that child (now a young woman) coming to Peyton Place. It's not Kelly, although Kelly's been added to the story too, as Constance and Elliot's daughter. I thought that was funny.

    So....Betty got the Peyton estate after all:D, but Rodney has already died, and she's living in the Peyton mansion together with her son Dana Harrington (!) and housekeeper Hannah Cord (she came with the inheritance).
    Dana turns out to be Steven Cord's son because Betty was already pregnant when she and Steven divorced. Well, that must have been a very long pregnancy.
    upload_2017-6-4_13-20-41.png
    And she's engaged to Dorian Blake, the man who had raped and presumably killed Allison all those years ago. But Allison is alive, sort of - she hasn't spoken since the day she was attacked.
    Allison (still catatonic) returns to Peyton Place, only to be murdered by Dorian a few hours later. Bummer!
    upload_2017-6-4_13-29-26.png
    And it's exactly this kind of "closure" I don't need.
    Interestingly, I was a bit moved when they showed Rodney Harrington's grave, but maybe it's not so strange after all. You can't watch a series like this without some emotional investment.

    The old cast members slide into their former roles very comfortably, as if they've never stopped playing those characters.
    Lord knows what went wrong with that 1977 movie.
    The performances by the "next generation" actors are adequate, but the extremely tight script doesn't allow me to invest in those new characters.
    It's like watching an episode of Murder She Wrote: pleasant, but nothing spectacular. According to wikipedia, they had hoped to turn this into a series, and I'm sure I would have watched that too.

    There's nothing great about this movie, but it will put a smile on your face, and maybe even bring a tear to your eyes (the few flashback scenes looked out-of- proportionally powerful).
    I must say it was a little bizarre to watch this movie almost right after I had finished the series. It actually felt as if I had watched the THE END episode 16 years ago...
    Ah, there's the bus!

    Next stop: England!
    upload_2017-6-4_14-12-1.png
     
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