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Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Pre-review 'Falcon Crest' S3: The One-Percent Solution




Just as the DVD release of the sixth season of the '80s sitcom "Family Ties" inspired a post  regarding the kinder and gentler nature of political discourse in that era, the recent DVD release of the third season of the '80s primetime sudser "Falcon Crest" inspired sharing thoughts on the '80s views regarding conspicuous consumption that inspired the "Me" generation to coin the phrase "Greed is good."

In the spirit of both the soap opera genre of which "Crest" is a member and the May cliffhangers recently airing on broadcast and cable shows, a review of "Crest's" third season episodes will not appear for a few weeks. Readers who want to follow the action on this site in the interim are invited to either check back for new entries or follow it on Twitter at @tvdvdguy.

"Crest" was a companion show to "Dallas," which reinvigorated the prime time soap genre, and made staying home on Friday nights cool. Saying in a trancelike manner "Turner; is that you Turner" in reference to wonderfully daffy "Crest" character Emma's delusions regarding the hunky vineyard worker Turner Bates who "seduced" her is still great fun.

These shows that depicted the lifestyles of the rich and famous who, unlike the one-percenter reality show stars of today, acted more like Jay Gatsby than Honey Boo Boo were popular because the general hostility toward masters of their universes that is prevalent today did not exist. People painted their living rooms in Nancy Reagan red and dreamed of a fairy tale romance and wedding such as the one that Prince Charles and Diana were experiencing.

Perhaps the way that the Reagan era and royal marriage ended are why people no longer aspired to have "champagne wishes and caviar dreams." (Google it millenials.)

"Crest" substituted California's Napa Valley and the wine industry for the Dallas area and the oil and ranching industries. Jane Wyman's ruthless family matriarch Angela Channing was the counterpart of Larry Hagman's dastardly J.R. Ewing.

It is unlikely that many viewers wanted  to be part of the Borgia-like shenanigans in the Channing or Ewing households, but we loved seeing their lavish lifestyles and did not resent their wealth. No one complained about J.R.'s effective tax rate, and the Falcon Crest vineyards were never occupied.

That is not to say that the primetime power brokers were always benevolent. Profit or other personal benefits were the only motives behind J.R.'s decision regarding an oil field, and the Falcon Crest vineyards were most likely lousy with underpaid undocumented workers.

The recent controversy regarding people paying roughly $1,000/day to have handicapped people escort them around Disney World so that they would not have to wait in line for rides illustrates the change in public perceptions over the past 25 years. Headlines regarding this unsavory practice pinned it on the one-percent despite the fact that probably more people, who have also come under attack, whose annual incomes hover around $250,000 a year are the primary culprits.

This underhanded tactic is bad, but the facts that even the pandemic level of abuse of handicapped parking placards in this country and terrorist acts that occurred in the same period in which the Disney story broke did not generate the same level of outrage as that scheme shows how even indications of minor transgressions by "wealthy" people prompt the villagers to oil up the guillotine.

Further pondering on this subject prompted thoughts regarding how the Ewing family and the Channing clan would view every member of a middle-class family owning a $400 smartphone with their own number and replacing said telephone every two years, families of four owning one or more $35,000 SUVs, managing to remain living in relatively luxurious houses that are beyond their means, and spending $5 on a cup of coffee each day. These titans of industry would think that these folks are pretty lucky to still maintain that level of luxury despite their harsh economic realities.

Anyone with questions regarding "Crest," "Dallas," or another primetime soap is encouraged to email me. Those of you with hostile thoughts regarding the views expressed in this post are reminded of the rubber-glue rule.