Reviews of select episodes -
reflecting the respective author's opinion, but not necessarily the editorial staff's.
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# 128 <6.01> Aftershocks
The season 6 première is what I consider a second pilot.
The new season manages to wrap up nearly all of the storylines from the preceding years well. This episode, however, already launches a new era of the series. After the transition from the "McCULLOUGH era" (seasons 1 through 3) to the "PETERSON years" (seasons 4 and 5), this is a really big change because EARL HAMNER no longer has executive producing duties, but JEFF FREILICH and JOANNE BROUGH come in as the new execs. They change the direction of the show and put more and more emphasis on crime and secrecy, particularly with KIM NOVAK's storyline. Despite eliminating some of the regular cast members (I pretty much regretted losing LAURA JOHNSON, SIMON MacCORKINDALE and MORGAN FARICHILD) and introducing new ones, they handle the difficult task of developing a new style and being true to the origins of the series at the same time very well. They keep up typical "Falcon-ish" elements, but also add new spice; also as far as the technical aspects are concerned, particularly with new synthesizer background music, almost entirely composed by MARK SNOW this season, a faster paced way of storytelling and a great new visual impact by advanced cinematography and a revolutionary main title conceived by Emmy award winning design specialist BILLY PITTARD, which forms the visual identity of the "Falcon Crest" series and trademark like no other.
Watching "Aftershocks" is like the rebirth of a series you have known for so long, but that constantly keeps surprising you by holding and unveiling something new almost every minute.
THOMAS J. PUCHER
# 137 <6.10> Maggie
Moral support from Richard. A poem explaining why abortion is out of the question. An emotional moment near the Golden Gate Bridge while Cole's sailboat disappears on the horizon. A shock when Chase moves out. It's all about Maggie...
As the title underlines, this episode puts very much emphasis on Maggie, whose life is at the crossroads now.
She is pregnant, but does not know who the father of her baby is - it might be Jeff Wainwright, the stalker and rapist.
This season has focused more on the difficulties in Maggie and Chase's marriage, difficulties resulting from Chase's self-righteousness and arrogance - features that have always been there, but became an obvious problem when he was unable to deal with the fact that Maggie had been raped.
In the midst of all the trouble, Maggie's son Cole, whom she has always loved very much, is disgusted by Chase's behavior and sees no other possibility than leaving the valley.
It is an extremely difficult time for Maggie, whose friendship to Richard continues to grow. The episode closes in Chase finally walking out on Maggie.
I personally have always thought Chase was an extremely dislikeable character because he was so self-righteous. But at the same time, this is just what made this character interesting. He was certainly meant to be the good-natured guy, but I loved the fact that both the writers and ROBERT FOXWORTH gave the character so many despicable qualities, including being so moody. Those facets made the character a real-life figure. The interesting thing is that those "bad" qualities, which were often hinted in the previous seasons, have fully come to the surface this year.
This is another episode where SUSAN SULLIVAN's brilliant qualities as an actress become apparent. She puts many emotions into her scenes, particularly when Maggie reads the poem "After Surgery" to her family.
Besides ERNIE WALLENGREN's fabulous writing, all the other elements of the production also underline the emotional moments, whether it be the cinematography with great close-ups zooming in on Maggie when she reads the poem or the long farewell scene when Cole leaves for Australia on his boat - sailing into the sunset with the Golden Gate Bridge in background. This episode also introduces MARK SNOW's famous "Maggie's Theme", a very emotional score that will be used several times during seasons 6 and 7 in highly emotional scenes involving Maggie.
THOMAS J. PUCHER
# 141 <6.14> Dark Passion
This episode is about the children:
Richard's son, Michael, is kidnapped by Mr. Green. He was hired by Meredith Braxton in order to find out her sister's whereabouts as she concludes that Richard has something to do with Erin's disappearance.
In addition, Peter, Angela and Tony are upset as Peter's stepdaughter Skylar (alias Kit Marlowe) disappeared and left a suicide note.
Kit Marlowe reunites with her little son.
When Melissa freaks out due to Lance's many affairs, he calls for his father's help.
Furthermore, a concierge is featured at the Del Oro Spa & Country Club. The actor is MICHAEL REAGAN, JANE WYMAN's adoptive son. JANE WYMAN managed that he gained the rôle in no time, without an audition. She just called him at home and asked him to come to the set, they needed a concierge for a scene.
A tape with bloopers was made based on some of the scenes of this episode. An excellent souvenir which was shown at the "Falcon Crest Reunion" at the Paley Center in October 2010.
INGO A. KÜPPERS
Senior Editor and CFO
# 146 <6.19> Dance of Deception
Maggie's having her third child. At Falcon Crest, she gives birth to Kevin. The scene is brilliantly played by SUSAN SULLIVAN; it took a great effort for her to play the scene. She even had influence on the baby's name: As she did not like the names the producers chose for the baby, she suggested another name, which finally made it to the script.
The birth scene is a typical example of the producers' great humor. The whole situation is sort of surreal: While Maggie is in labor with Chase's and Richard's help, Dan Fixx is playing Chopin on the piano, Emma is hiding behind a plant, frightened as she has never experienced a birth before, Angela's secretary faints, and Angela asks Chase and Richard whom to congratulate as a father...
The humorous scene perfectly reflects the atmosphere on the set back then. Executive producer JEFF FREILICH brought some fresh air to the show at the beginning of season 6. During his reign, the cast and crew got along off-screen very well and often spent their spare time together.
INGO A. KÜPPERS
Senior Editor and CFO
# 149 <6.22> Nowhere to Run
A very strong episode with seasonal cliffhanger-like qualities!
The two key components of this episode are the Kit Marlowe storyline - a major plotline of the whole season - with its effects on almost everyone living in the Tuscany Valley and the dramatic events around Kevin Gioberti, another storyline point that spans over the whole season.
Some of the best ingredients are applied to make this episode as thrilling as possible, including MARK SNOW's fabulous score in the scenes involving Roland Saunders and a lavish party in the Falcon Crest Victorian Mansion with all its dramatic events - from Maggie confronting Emma about her adopted son, whom she falsely believes to be Kevin, and the guests of honor (Vickie and Dan) not appearing or appearing separately at their own engagement party... over the many verbal fights and a few eye contacts between characters that say more than a thousand words... to the moment when Roland's body is found in the winery building; and eventually, a shocking cliffhanger with the revelation that it is Melissa, who adopted Kevin through a series of manipulations.
But I also think of the funny moments when the episode was shot, the moments that were shared with me on the crew's blooper tape...
The moment when Susan, Kit, Madeleine or whatever her name is pulls out the gun to threaten Tony in their farewell scene, and the gun gets caught in KIM NOVAK's scarf.
The moment when KIM NOVAK and various crew members take a vat spanner and hit a sandbag out of the camera angle, creating the illusion the victim is Roland, and ROBERT STACK having the time of his life and finally kissing the camera lens in the shot filmed from across when he pretends to be hit...
THOMAS J. PUCHER
# 154 <6.27> Chain Reaction
As time goes by... Maggie and Richard share their first night together - "Casablanca" style. Tony's murder trial begins. Both Kit and Peter surprise and shock the court - and the family.
This is my most favorite episode in the whole series. Although it is not one of the Wine Country based episodes (from the standpoint of location filming, the great hallmark of the series), in my very personal opinion, this episode combined only the best "Falcon" had to offer - great dialog and humor, surprising turning points, many revelations of secrets...
Just think of the many plans and alternatives Angie has ("plan A and plan B") and the hilarious moment with Angie and Melissa with Veronique's record in the foyer of the Falcon Crest Victorian Mansion as the most funny scenes this episode.
The many turning points in the storyline involving Kit when she is abducted first by Richard's staff, then by Lance; and when she finally sneaks away from Lance to make her spectacular appearance in court, resulting in a very long courtroom scene with gorgeous flashbacks, allusions to the "Casablanca" movie and in a shocking climax when no one else but Peter eventually confesses he killed Roland Saunders.
One of the biggest surprises is probably Maggie and Richard's "Casablanca night". Even the sneak preview of the episode already brings us a flash of their passionate kiss and Maggie revealing a totally different side of long-suppressed passion. The romance between Maggie and Richard was handled so beautifully by the writers over such a long period of time where there had been so many hints (sometimes even more than that if you think of their literally explosive kiss in the season 4 cliffhanger) about their attraction to each other, even during the time when Maggie was still happily married with Chase. This episode launches a new era in Maggie and Richard's relationship, and it seems that these two great characters have finally come full circle - becoming the ultimate dream couple of the show.
With its superb climactic overall structure, "Chain Reaction" feels like the first part of the seasonal cliffhanger. This episode and the subsequent season finale have always given me the impression of a most thrilling movie in two parts.
THOMAS J. PUCHER
# 155 <6.28> Desperation
A stolen baby. A disastrous car chase. A secret identity revealed...
While Peter, Kit and Tony leave the valley, the hunt for Melissa reaches its climax, and Peter's farewell letter is a Pandora's box that turns Angela's life upside down.
My favorite season finale!
It was not just the dive into the San Francisco Bay that made this episode so thrilling. With Emma on the rooftop of the Victorian Mansion threatening to commit suicide, and Maggie desperately standing at the bay with Kevin, it feels like a rollercoaster ride of emotions.
The revelation that Richard is Angela's son is probably the most revolutionary moment in the whole series. What a brilliant idea that was - particularly after Richard's past had always been such a mystery. What a great decision to use that old footage from "The Blue Veil" from a technical standpoint.
Almost five years after Richard's arrival in the Tuscany Valley (and Angela's first learning about his existence!), the whole storyline about Jacqueline Perrault being Richard's mother, which was an integral part of season 2, is completely reversed. JEFF FREILICH and his writing staff created a most shocking twist, rewriting the show's history in a convincing and believable way by putting emphasis on the feud between Jacqueline and Angela again and implicitly declaring Jacqueline's pretended motherhood a most devious scheme against Angela, something EARL never had in mind when he developed the character of Richard Channing in the course of season 2. By doing so, the writers, under JEFF's guidance, recreated EARL’s original idea and, in retrospect, spun it into a long-term storyline using an element that had always been a key factor of the series since Richard's introduction with the side effect of dramatic irony at its best: Nearly two years after it was revealed that Angela had taken Julia's firstborn son, Chris, away from her after childbirth, Angela has to discover she was (and still is) the victim of very similar manipulations. Just shortly after Angela supported Melissa in her kidnapping scheme of Maggie's baby, just when Angela had to see how much Emma was suffering from losing her adopted son, her own life seems to be crashing down around her, and we see one of the rare moments when Angela is weak, when tears are running over her cheek, and we know this time it is not all about Falcon Crest, this time it is about her life, her personal life, and it will never be the same...
THOMAS J. PUCHER