Friday, September 30, 2011

Return to PEYTON PLACE, Part 2

Yesterday I explored the "roots" of PEYTON PLACE, the hit primetime serial which debuted on ABC in the fall of 1964. I recently began watching the show on DVD and am becoming slightly obsessed with it.
The show originally aired twice a week (Tuesdays and Thursdays at 9:30PM) for it's first season and and both half-hours ranked in the Top 20 and leading the expansion to three nights a week (Tuesday, Thursday and Friday) in June 1965.
The lovely Dorothy Malone assumed the role of Constance MacKenzie (following in the footsteps of Lana Turner and Eleanor Parker), the single mother who ran the local bookshop and raised sweet, naive Allison (played by 19-year-old newcomer Mia Farrow).
In the very first episode Dr. Michael Rossi (Ed Nelson) arrives from the big city to set up shop following the death of Doctor Donald Brooks. Turns out Rossi was present at Alison's birth and knows something about her absentee father. This freaks Constance out - and clues to the baby daddy's true identity are dropped.
Sweet innocent Allison is drawn to bad boy Rodney Harrington (Ryan O'Neal, wearing some very revealing trousers) and mama Connie is none to happy about this - mostly because Rodney already has a girlfriend.
Meanwhile, Rodney's father Leslie Harrington (Paul Langton) is about to enter into a torrid affair with his secretary Julie Anderson (Kasey Rogers), when Rodney walks in on them! We soon finf out that Julie's husband is an abusive salesman and she's much better off in her boss's arms.

Soon Julie's not-so-pure daughter Betty (played by future VALLEY OF THE DOLLS diva Barbara Parkins) is dumped by her boyfriend. Guess who? Rodney! Meanwhile Rodney's brother Norman (Christopher Connelly) is in love with Allison...
All these romantic entanglements and mysteries overlap and intertwine like the best of daytime soaps, though the show is not videtaped and scored with organ music, but filmed to look somewhat like a cross between a feature film and a sitcom.
The lush cinematic score and the gorgeous New England scenery elevate the show and give it a warmth and richness which I find very comforting.
The show ran for 5 seasons in total, and along the way it converted to color and featured great performers like Lee Grant, Ruth Warrick, Gena Rowlands, Ruby Dee, Barbara Rush, Mariette Hartley and even pre-AIRPLANE! Leslie Nielsen.

The show was canceled in 1969, but resurfaced on NBC in 1972 as the daytime series RETURN TO PEYTON PLACE. Several supporting actors returned in their original roles, but the major roles were recast. RETURN was axed in January 1974.
NBC aired MURDER IN PEYTON PLACE (1978) in primetime and it reunited many of the original cast members. Another NBC sequel, PEYTON PLACE: THE NEXT GENERATION aired in 1985 and was intended as a pilot for a new series, which never materialized. Maybe the CW has a revival up it's sleeves?
As a continue watching the first season, I look forward to future releases of PEYTON PLACE from Shout! Factory


Writer said...

Talk more about this Boy From Peyton Place album. What's that about?

Doug said...

I wish I owned that album - it just popped up when I did a Google image search, so I figured I'd include it as a conversation piece. Interestingly there was talk at one point for a Barbara Parkins spin-off called THE GIRL FROM PEYTON PLACE.

Andy Zam said...

The lovely Barbara Parkins, the only female star to be in all 5 seasons of the show along with Ed Nelson and Chris Connelly, also recorded two records "A Tiny Little teardrop" and "Unbelievable" on Barrot records in the early 1960's. She has a beautiful singing voice!

Andy Zam said...

Barbara Parkins supposed spinoff series, THE GIRL FROM PEYTON PLACE was first drwn up in 1965 as a result of her character Betty going to New york. But with the coninued abd attitude of mia Farrow threathening and eventually leaving the series it was shelved. Aslo in 1969 when the show was cancelled again the producers want to do the spin off with herc Character Betty and her then husband rodney in Boston. When Ryan O'Neal refused to do the series ( he had already left the show) producers were going to hirer Dennis Cole in the role, but again it was shelved.

Doug said...

Thanks for the comments Andy, I also read that the original plan was to kill off Betty after the first 13 episodes, but she proved too popular with viewers.

Barbara is a doll. I had the pleasure of speaking to her last Thanksgiving when a friend in common called her up to tell her we were watching VALLEY OF THE DOLLS as part of our holiday gathering. She was delighted to be part of the screening.

John said...

I found a bootleg dvd set of the entire series and am now on episode 248. The show just gets better and better as it goes along.