Reviews of select episodes -
reflecting the respective author's opinion, but not necessarily the editorial staff's.
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# 019 <2.01> The Challenge
After the final episode of season 1 already announced the introduction of Richard Channing in dialog, this episode presents him in person. This episode foreshadows that life in the Tuscany Valley will never be the same after his arrival. He will be the most challenging adversary for Angela and Chase and bring a new dimension to the valley and to the series: more dark elements, more violence, more crime...
Although Richard Channing is a character you love to hate, you also have to love him. In my opinion, he is one of the most fascinating characters ever written and portrayed in prime time television because he is so multi-dimensional. Despite his many bad habits, his scheming nature and his sordid, maybe even half-criminal past, there are many good aspects about his character and a lot of weak spots, and you feel empathy for this man, who appears so merciless and devious at first glance, when you realize what he went through as a child. He is definitely charismatic despite all the bad qualities he might have.
DAVID SELBY portrays Richard Channing with a credibility that not only adds to the many facets of his character, but that also contributes to the quality of the drama. He puts lots of emotions and passion into his portrayal wherever necessary. He always finds the right dose of emotion and spice to add to the many qualities of this complex character. DAVID and EARL created those wonderful features we will get to know in the course of the following episodes, including Richard's affection for his toy soldiers and his love for milk. What a great idea - the unscrupulous, ruthless businessman loves milk!
As much as I would have liked to see a third season of LORIMAR's "Flamingo Road", where DAVID portrayed Michael Tyrone, how fortunate we were DAVID became available when that series was canceled! I am thankful for it because I cannot imagine any other actor in the rôle of Richard Channing.
THOMAS J. PUCHER
# 020 <2.02> The Arrival
Richard Channing's arrival - and everyone wants to get to know him. But he acts like a recluse in the beginning. His first day at the Globe, and everything changes. Angela wants to meet him, wants to tell him where his limits are - the bastard son of her late ex-husband, Douglas Channing. Richard, however, does not give Angela the chance to manipulate him - he is the new, dangerous adversary for the Channings and Giobertis in the Tuscany Valley. He will be very adept at utilizing the (New) Globe against the families he hates so much.
Vickie still has her teenage dreams; it is kind of escapism. And Emma prepares to flee...
A brilliant episode that skillfully weaves the Richard Channing character into the Gioberti / Channing family history. He is mysterious, secretive and will stop at nothing to gain what he wants. Richard wants to destroy them all. His past, which everyone wants to learn about, remains a mystery; not even Phillip is able to dig out many facts in his investigation.
At the baby shower, the deep hatred between Lance and his father-in-law, Carlo Agretti, becomes apparent. Or does their argument even establish the idea of a dark past of both their families?
A well-executed episode that shows the battle lines: Gioberti vs. Channing, Channing vs. Agretti and even Channing vs. Channing...
The wonderful location shots from the Napa Valley are another contribution to this successful "Falcon Crest" episode.
Senior Editor and Art Director
# 037 <2.19> The Odyssey
This is a very strong and thrilling episode that makes it very clear we are on our way towards the season finale. The plot thickens, and the main focus is on the two key components of this season: the Agretti murder mystery and Richard Channing's past.
There has always been a lot of mystery about Richard's past since he was first mentioned in the season 1 finale. Angela's trip to Paris to investigate his past is a very exciting point in the storyline. Particularly the final scenes with Angela walking through the gothic hallways of the Convent Sainte Marthe and talking to the elderly nun, Sister Marie-Thérèse, foreshadow that there is a lot more secrecy around Richard's adoption. The episode finally culminates in the revelation of Henri Denault being a World War II criminal and Nazi collaborator.
The writers play a wonderful game with the characters and the audience by filling this episode with misleading hints who could have murdered Carlo.
First, Julia's automobile accident - at least it appears to be an accident at this time - is a great distraction and makes the viewers believe that someone else must be the killer and that this person also tried to get Julia out of the way. Of course, we all know from today's ex-post perspective that the crash was set up by Julia herself, trying to cover that she was the murderess.
Secondly, Angela's research about Richard's past also serves the purpose to create a welcome distraction from Carlo's real killer because the fact that Carlo had learnt about Henri's past as the "Dark Angel of Paris" also leads Angela to believe Richard might have had a reason to kill Agretti - only fitting after Chase learnt Carlo blackmailed Richard.
If we look back at that episode from a later standpoint (after episode 155), these revelations about Carlo, Henri and Richard were so overwhelming for Angela that they even distracted her from making further investigations about the details of Richard's adoption and Jacqueline Perrault. Although the writers - except EARL, who had played around with the idea before - never planned for Richard to be revealed as Angela's son at the time season 2 was written, the cross-over of the Agretti murder storyline and the investigation of Richard's past in "The Odyssey" created that great side-effect to the season 6 revelation that Richard was Angela's own son.
THOMAS J. PUCHER
# 040 <2.22> Ultimate Answers
The two major storyline points of the season are finally resolved - or partly resolved.
This episode brings another dimension to Richard Channing's past (and present) by revealing that his at-that-time alleged mother, Jacqueline Perrault, is the secret head of the cartel. No matter what will happen in future episodes (even the revelation that Jacqueline is not Richard's mother, but that he is Angela's son, kidnapped by Jacqueline and Douglas), Jacqueline's rôle as the cartel leader makes any scheme and any criminal activity she performed more plausible than ever.
The confession scene in the last few minutes of the cliffhanger is another highlight of the episode, even of the entire season. As we all know from today's perspective, there were various confession scenes filmed with several cast members. I have often been involved in discussions if the one that was chosen finally - Julia - was plausible or if it was out of character for her.
If I look at some of the others that were taken into consideration, I think Angie, although her confession was filmed also, was basically out of the question because she has always been the key character of the whole series.
I am also very glad that Richard was not chosen as the murderer because it would have been such a waste to eliminate DAVID SELBY from the show by sending his character to prison. I think the development of his rôle over the following seasons speaks for itself.
My personal opinion has always been that Julia was the best solution. That big surprise created pure chaos. What a great moment for the drama! Committing a murder may have been out of character for her at first glance, but on a second look, we all have to realize what a troubled person Julia has always been. She is like a captive princess on her mother's territory. She is in desperate need for love, but never gets love. There have always been many hints about her alcohol abuse, but she was never an alcoholic. However, those scenes also left no doubt she has always been close to the edge. As the following years will show, Julia was the perfect choice as the confessing character - with her, we will see a wide variety of insanity with perfectly lucid intervals, a totally deranged mind and anything else in between.
Finally, we are left wondering who is in the coffin... What a fabulous cliffhanger!
THOMAS J. PUCHER