DFCF standards & practices for
- the use of sources related to the series,
- interpretation of the plot and historic information,
- specific phenomena and
"Falcon Crest" has its unique place among the top rated classic prime time dramas of the 1980's.
"Dallas" was the mother of prime time soaps, but lost its credibility with its revolutionary dream season.
"Knots Landing" was the most down-to-earth soap and probably the one with the best overall continuity in terms of storytelling and character development, but, as a "Dallas" spin-off, naturally began to suffer from the loss of credibility of its mother show, which offered no way out of Bobby Ewing's "death" for it.
"Flamingo Road" was more of a comic series with cartoon characters, which did not take itself very seriously.
"Dynasty" and "The Colbys" were deliberately so over the top that they oftentimes lost reality completely.
"Falcon" was a blending of the best elements of prime time television. It could be down to earth at times, but close to being over the top on other occasions. It sometimes had a great helping of self-witted humor, a tongue-in-cheek attitude to its own setting and plotlines and a certain sense of escapism that you got the feeling anything might be possible on "Crest". However, it always stayed within the extreme borders of reality.
The German FALCON CREST Fan Club DFCF tries to do justice to that hallmark of the show — staying within the extreme borders of reality.
Primarily changes in the producing and writing staff over the years led to both deliberate and unintentional plot holes and changes in storylines. Some of them resulted in contradictions or inconsistencies or some other lack of continuity now and then. The same problems came from simple writing errors and other mistakes in the production process, some of them caused by negligent writing without consulting previous story bibles, scripts and other old reference documents, in particular in season 9.
Other typical reasons for plot holes and similar inconsistencies are the shortening and editing of scenes during the production process for the final version to be aired. Writers, producers and editors usually know the development of an episode very well because they were instrumental in its entire production. Therefore, they often do not realize the loss of important information in the editing process by taking out a single line, for instance, because they still have the development of the episode in mind — contrary to the average viewer, who does not have any information about the previous stages of the episode.
Because of all that, there is a need for interpretation or, at least, for ways to construe the dialog and explain certain actions on film in order to straighten out the plot holes and other problems in the fictional setting.
For the Behind the Scenes section — as the core of the club's website — and the Family Bibles and Family Trees in the Show – Introduction menu in particular, but also for any other section on this website dealing with the aspects of continuity in storylines and character bios as well as the setting in the fictional Tuscany Valley, the DFCF board of directors codified the following standards and practices on academic grounds as the basic guidelines for understanding, construing and interpreting the plot.
1. Use of Sources
1.1. Hierarchy of Sources
In roughly descending order of reliability, the DFCF analyzes the series by using the following materials as the basics of its interpretation work:
The foregoing list is an important guideline, but its order is not to be slavishly obeyed.
- Primary Source
The primary source for any "Falcon Crest" related question whatsoever is the content of the show itself, particularly
Unless stated otherwise, this website refers to the original CBS broadcast of the series only, but not to edited reruns and dubbed foreign versions, which might be misleading due to negligent translating.
- the dialog,
- character actions,
- props, especially documents and signs, and
- any other information that can be gathered from the series, including the credits as a subordinate component.
- Secondary Source
The secondary source is the scripts, the final shooting script being the most important one.
Contradictory information in earlier script drafts is usually ignored because they only give evidence of a previous status in the production process, but might be helpful to gather information about the development of the show. Unless they are contradictory, however, they might also be useful to find answers whenever something in the final version of an episode itself appears to be incomplete, arbitrary, illogical, or otherwise confusing.
- Subordinate Sources
- other production documents (for definitions refer to the Making of section), such as — in descending order —
- seasonal bibles,
- shooting schedules,
- production reports,
- call sheets,
- editing notes,
- memoranda between members of the writing and producing staff,
- statements of people involved in the production process and
- real-life references, such as maps, calendars, etc.
1.2. Dealing with Unreliable Information
Unless confirmed, the DFCF does not rely on rumors or other unreliable information provided by anonymous contributors or stated on websites using obscure or anonymous sources, such as fan sites and web encyclopedia, including Wikipedia and the Internet Movie Database, etc., because they all have not demonstrated a rigorous standard of fact-checking up to now. Whenever the DFCF board quotes an obscure source, it is referenced as such or the citation is marked as a rumor, etc.
2. Plot, Historic Information and Interpretation
The foregoing rules concerning the use of sources are also applicable as far as plot, historic information, such as the backstory of active and off-screen characters, and interpretation are concerned.
The interpretation work done by the DFCF does not only refer to a single (isolated) episode, but the series as a whole.
The following rules give an overview of how information from the above sources is gathered and what it is used for.
2.1. Academic Basis for Interpretation
This website uses the sources described above for interpretation on the following academic basis (in roughly descending order):
- historic and future context (information from previous and later episodes)
- systematic aspects
- teleological aspects
- real-life comparisons (logical or actual events, characters, entities and objects, etc.)
2.2. Derived Content
As with all fiction, the characters, entities, events and other aspects of the series are not always fully explained or defined. Due to this, the DFCF board adds intriguing interpretation and explanation into an article's content, primarily in the Behind the Scenes section, provided that the addition is based on the academic grounds listed above. The entries in the Behind the Scenes articles usually give an overview of the line of reasoning for the choices the DFCF board made for the explanation presented in that section; they also cite the episode numbers or other sources to make it as transparent as possible where the information comes from. This practice is referred to as derived content.
As far as this practice is concerned, the following tools are applied to fulfill the goal of assembling the known parts from what the creator of the show and the writers have given with as little speculation as possible:
- Plausible Speculation
This method works best in filling the gaps of data on character motivation or plot direction based on the behaviors or motives expressed by any and all characters as appropriate. Plausible speculation occurs when the sources listed above are sparse on a particular subject, but substantially important events and results occur in these sources that logical possibilities can be generated. Plausible speculations are highly fluid and subject to extreme editing.
- Conclusion / Logical Deduction
This approach differs from plausible speculation insofar that much more information is available from the sources listed above despite the fact that the subject matter per se may not be discussed in any of the sources, but over a series of sources. Logical deductions usually lend themselves best to explanations of fact-oriented matters, such as technology, terminology or procedure.
An example is one aspect in the Agretti family history: the number of brothers of Carlo and Frank Agretti. Although never mentioned explicitly on the show, it can be concluded that there must have been five Agretti brothers in that generation. Carlo and Frank are known from their on-screen appearances on the show. Augustino Agretti, another brother, was introduced as a dead off-screen character in historic information given by Carlo in # 020. In # 091, a reference about Robin's father, Philip Agretti, another off-screen character, was made; the same episode established Robin as her parents' only child. When Chris Agretti was introduced as Frank's nephew in # 211, it became obvious (i.e.: logical deduction) that he must be the son of a fifth Agretti brother because none of Frank's other three brothers had a son. The logical deduction concerning the fifth brother, as another off-screen character, is the only possible conclusion in that context.
3. Specific Phenomena
Besides the "usual" errors and inconsistencies in lengthy productions involving a large number of rotating producers and writers, such as "Falcon Crest", there are some specific phenomena, which have to be taken into particularly careful consideration in the interpretation work.
A specific problem with the plot and historic information about character backstory is gathering data from the show, such as the point of time of certain events, a character's date of birth or death (primarily the years) and the time frame of an episode or season, etc.
- Time Frame
The time frame of an episode is primarily determined by the number of days and nights depicted. There might be a time lap (an unseen period of time going by as "off-screen action in the background"), e.g. between certain scenes within an episode or, more often, between episodes and, in many cases, between seasons. This is sometimes difficult to be noticed. One example is a little reference in dialog to a certain day in context with a particular event depicted in the episode. On rare occasions, the chronology of scenes or the stage directions in the script might indicate a time lap.
Each season usually depicts the year of the original broadcast with minor adjustments, i.e. some episodes may depict a slightly earlier or later period of time than the time of their original airing.
Whenever there is a reference to a certain day, week or month or even a real-life event, the calendar of that particular year can help identify the exact point of time depicted in the show. The real-life calendar, in combination with other sources, can also be helpful to determine the exact day or night within a month, e.g. when a scene is established at full moon.
- Dates of Birth and Death
A character's dates of birth and death can be derived from the sources listed above.
In case none of the usual sources gives a clue about a character's age, the actor's or actress' real-life year of birth is considered to be the only logical conclusion to determine the character's age.
If the year determined by the method of real-life comparison fails because it would lead to a conflict with other established facts in the plot, the year closest to the one determined by the real-life comparison is considered to be the most plausible speculation.
- Rapid Aging Syndrome
A specific problem concerns the age of child characters in most drama series. As in many other soap operas, there are more or less problematic consequences of what is commonly known as "rapid aging syndrome" — a particular phenomenon of retroactive continuity (see chapter 3.2): Children sometimes age a lot faster than adults in soap operas because baby characters are usually quite uninteresting to write scenes for.
On "Falcon Crest", this was the case with Michael Channing, for example, whose second birthday was celebrated in # 161 although, from the time that had passed, it was obvious it must actually have been his first birthday. The DFCF decided to ignore such wrong references to a child character's age for character bios, family trees and family bibles as they are a contradiction to the previously established time of birth. The phenomenon itself, however, is described in the Behind the Scenes section.
3.2. Retroactive Continuity (Retcon)
This phenomenon, commonly contracted to the portmanteau retcon, describes two different elements of storytelling:
The first element is the adding of new information to historic material, i.e. character backstory that happened off screen some time in the past either before the plot featured in the first episode or some time during the previously aired episodes as "off-screen action in the background".
Mere additions usually do not cause any conflicts with existing storylines unless there are contradictions or inconsistencies the writing and producing staff overlooked. This is the reason why this aspect of retconning is often completely ignored or simply referred to as a "later addition" rather than a typical retcon.
An example is the cooperation between Richard Channing and Pilar Ortega, which season 8 established as having happened somewhere in 1986.
- Changes of Established Facts
Deliberately changing previously established facts in a work of serial fiction is the problematic element. Such a retcon typically causes conflicts with existing stories.
The most obvious retconning like that was done on "Falcon Crest" when the backstory of the relationship between the Giobertis and Agrettis, particularly Lance and Melissa, was changed. When Melissa was introduced in season 1, it seemed she and Lance met for the first time during Angela's dinner party in # 011 and that the Giobertis and Agrettis had not had much to do with each other before. Beginning in season 6, however, more and more backstory was added, creating a century-lasting Agretti - Gioberti feud with a number of historic (dead) off-screen characters and the "revelation" that Lance and Melissa had known each other since their childhood.
Whereas it is common among fans to use so called "krypto-revisionism" to ignore a particular retcon, itself a form of meta-retcon stating that either the original story or the new development was never established on the show, the DFCF prides itself on using the foregoing instruments for interpretation and giving explanations for inconsistencies as stated in the Behind the Scenes section.
Fanon is a portmanteau of the words "fan" and "canon".
Canon, in terms of a fictional setting or universe, is any material that is considered to be "genuine", or can be directly referenced to as material produced by the series creator and writers developing the show.
Fanon is an aspect of a television program, which was not established or explicitly mentioned on the show itself or in any of the subordinate sources listed above, but has been used so much by fan writers or among the fandom that it has been more or less established as having happened in or being an element of the fictional world depicted on the show.
In the context of storylines, fanon has its place in the instruments of analyzing a show, mostly as a particular result of derived content (see chapter 2.2). But it might be applied to matters of terminology also (see chapter 4).
Fanon is sometimes well known by creators and writers and may even be accepted as authentic (or at least as reasonable an explanation as any) to something they have not explicitly explained. Series creator EARL HAMNER's official biography, "EARL HAMNER: From Walton's Mountain to Tomorrow", written by JAMES E. PERSON in 2005, uses the term "Falcon Crest Victorian Mansion", a name for Angela's house devised by the DFCF, which is probably the most prominent example of fanon in the context of terminology (see chapter 4 for details). EARL HAMNER deliberately accepted that particular name for the building as quasi-official.
On the other hand, some creators of serial works introduce facts in subsequent installments of their work to invalidate specific fanon. This, however, has not happened in any case on "Falcon Crest".
3.4. No Fanwankery
With the foregoing rules, the DFCF distances itself from what is commonly known as "fanwankery", a somewhat derogatory term to describe an attempt by fans of a work of fiction to explain or justify plot holes or continuity errors, often through convoluted contrivances and self-generated ideas.
Although the DFCF acknowledges that interacting with the fictional setting to devise ways to explain an error can be entertaining, the board of the fan club emphasizes that the foregoing rules are considered methods to minimize the risk of drifting away into fanwanking. The DFCF board is aware of the subtle differences between logical or plausible interpretation of observed concepts and events of the show on the one hand and generating ideas of what fans of the show might believe has happened on the other hand. The articles in the Behind the Scenes section offer a suggestion for interpretation based on the academic rules the DFCF prides itself on codifying for that purpose.
This website tries to be as specific as possible as far as characters' names, entities, topographical names and buildings are concerned.
Information about such names, including the correct spelling, is gathered in accordance with the use of sources as described above.
The following examples discuss a few particular problems in detail:
4.1. Character Names
- Spelling Inconsistencies
One specific problem about character names are misspellings in credits, secondary and subordinate sources.
According to the foregoing use of sources, the correct spelling — as used on this website — can be derived from props, e.g. letters and signs, featured on the show. Different spelling in the credits, as a subordinate component in the primary source, is usually considered as an error and, therefore, ignored.
One example is the spelling of Jeff Wainwright: As primary sources, # 119 and 153 show the correct spelling "Jeffrey Wainwright" on the cover of his novel, "Consumed", and on his gravestone. "Wainright", as spelled in the credits, however, is contradictory and, therefore, considered as a misspelling.
Also compare similar problems with the names Vicki(e) / Vicky, Phil(l)ip Eri(c)kson and Skylar / Skyler as discussed in the FAQ section on this website.
- Unnamed Characters
In case characters do not have a canonical name (for canon, see chapter 3.3), i.e. are not referred to by a specific name on the show, and the foregoing rules for the use of secondary or subordinate sources do not help find the name either, this website lists them with a detailed descriptive term, such as "Tuscany Valley Inn Waiter" rather than an unspecific term like "waiter", for instance, in the credit lists.
The foregoing rules are also applicable as far as the names of entities, such as corporations and public institutions, etc., are concerned.
Entities are often referred to by short forms or "nicknames" by the characters on the show, such as "the Tuscany hospital" rather than the official full name "Queen of the Valley Hospital – Tuscany Valley Medical Center" as seen on the sign at the entrance to the main building. Whenever necessary, especially to distinguish such an entity from another, this website prefers the official full name.
4.3. Topographical Names and Buildings
In case places and buildings do not have a canonical name (for canon, see chapter 3.3), i.e. are not referred to by a specific name on the show, and the foregoing rules for the use of secondary or subordinate sources do not help find the name either, this website picks a name on the following basis:
- Famous Locations
Landmarks and famous buildings actually situated in the same place where the show is set, such as the Golden Gate Bridge in the San Francisco Bay as the most prominent example or the Mark Hopkins Hotel on Nob Hill in San Francisco, etc., are referred to by their respective real names.
- Other Locations
Other locations are referred to by a descriptive name picked by the DFCF. In these cases, the name is chosen very carefully to make it as distinct and descriptive as possible.
A courthouse in Tuscany featured in # 210 — different from the "usual" Tuscany County Courthouse — is referred to as the Family & Probate Court, for example, because family law and probate law cases were dealt with here. The "usual" main building, on the contrary, is simply referred to as the Tuscany County Courthouse or — to distinguish it from other buildings of the same court — as the Historic Courthouse.
Some names for places and buildings chosen by the DFCF from a fan based perspective even resulted in fanon as described above (see chapter 3.3). To come back to the example stated above, various characters called Angela Channing's house "the mansion", "the manor house", "the Channing residence" or — as a pars pro toto — simply "Falcon Crest", etc. In 1989, THOMAS J. PUCHER, who later joined the DFCF board of directors, decided to use a descriptive term rather than any of these unspecified names and to refer to the house as the "Falcon Crest Victorian Mansion", based on a real-life comparison because the filming location, Villa Miravalle, is often described as "Spring Mountain's Victorian Mansion". The DFCF board's decision to continue to use the term "Falcon Crest Victorian Mansion" in all its publications and its subsequent worldwide acceptance as the quasi-official name of the house led to the probably most prominent example for fanon in the "Falcon Crest" world.
5. Order of Notes in the "Behind the Scenes" Section
As a basic rule, all information in that section is listed chronologically within each episode.
Recurring filming locations are usually listed in the first episode to feature a specific location; unless other specifics or anomalies have to be discussed, locations are not relisted in each following episode that makes use of them.
Issues concerning more than one episode and affecting later episodes in a different manner, e.g. the multiple use of the same prop for different purposes, are usually addressed only in the episode in which said issue becomes apparent.
Exceptions of the above order can be made in single cases based on the subject matter.