|The cast of Falcon Crest|
Jane Wyman is back as the ruthless matriarch and vineyard owner Angela Channing in the second season of the night-time serial Falcon Crest. This season introduces Richard Channing (David Selby), who is the illegitimate son of Angela's late husband, and who comes to the valley to pretty much get even with everyone, and take over a newspaper. Meanwhile there's some question as to the paternity of the child being carried by Melissa (Ana Alicia), who is married to Angela's grandson, Lance (Lorenzo Lamas), but who slept with Angela's nephew, Cole (Billy Moses). Cole's parents, Chase (Robert Foxworth) and Maggie (Susan Sullivan), develop problems after Cole is accused of murder and Maggie works on a screenplay with a Lothario producer played by Bradford Dillman. Lana Turner makes a few appearances as Chase's continental mother and old foe of Angela's, whose two daughters -- Julie (Abby Dalton) and Emma (Margaret Ladd ) -- have serious issues of their own, while Chase's daughter, Vicki (Jamie Rose), gets involved with a married man played by Roy Thinnes [The Invaders]. Frankly, the first half of the season isn't as entertaining as season one, but it picks up in the second half when the gang seems to be stalked by a ruthless killer who wants to get rid of anyone who might uncover his or her identity [which does indeed turn out to be a shocking surprise]. Some of the revelations and character reversals during the season finale are kind of suspect and silly, but the cliffhanger is a classic of its kind. Wyman is marvelous, never descending into chewing the scenery [a la Joan Collins on Dynasty, albeit she did it entertainingly], and most of the other cast members are swell. Guest stars include E. G. Marshall in a fine turn as Richard's adopted father, Joanna Cassidy as an older woman who falls for Cole, and Anne Jeffreys as a married girlfriend of Angela's lawyer, Phillip (Mel Ferrer). During their arguments Chase often throws Maggie's turn as a screenwriter in her face -- you wish just once she'd remind him of how the entire family was uprooted so he could pursue his dream of owning a winery, so what's the problem if she wants to pursue her own dream of writing a screenplay? It's amusing the way Richard imagines he'll be accepted by Angela when he's her husband's bastard. Choa Li Chi (who plays the similarly named servant Choa Li-Chi) is given more to do this season.
Verdict: Occasionally ridiculous, but a well-mounted and generally absorbing soaper. ***