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THE COLBYS

"The new 'Dynasty II: The Colbys' is a brilliant piece of television," David Zurawik of 'Dallas Times Herald' proclaimed in December 1985. He reasoned, "What makes it brilliant is that 'The Colbys' is our fairy-tale version of Ronald Reagan in the White House. It wraps itself in the mythology of our current  (in 1985) presidency and never lets go." 

David pointed out, "The key is Charlton Heston. He was the perfect choice for Jason Colby, the character who each week will provide us with all the juicy details of power struggles. It is a corporate allegory for what we would like to imagine goes on behind closed doors on Pennsylvania Avenue. 'The Colbys' concerns private enterprise, but the governmental parallels are there. Heston is our fantasy Reagan." 

Seven weeks after 'The Colbys' premiered in its regular Thursday night time slot, George Maksian of the 'New York Daily News' reported, "The ratings for 'The Colbys' have shown a slight improvement (attracting initially 13% of the 84 million TV households, some 22% share of the viewing audience to a rating of 15.9% and a 25% share)." 

Esther Shapiro told the press, "I convinced Chuck that this would be an extension of all the authority roles he had ever played; prophets, presidents, cardinals, lawgivers." David made the point, "She (Esther) understood the essence of his film persona as an Old Testament patriarch who smites enemies and sires a sprawling, battling clan. That is the image the public has of Heston and Heston has of himself. That is also the image we have of the Great Communicator in the White House."  

John James told 'United Press International', "Charlton Heston, Barbara Stanwyck and Ricardo Montalb├ín have all been major movie stars. We look more like a weekly movie than a TV show. In one scene I watched the 3 of them doing the special things film actors were trained to do and it was like going back to the 1950s watching them do their work." 

By his own admission, Bill Kelley of the 'Sun Sentinel' confessed, "I don't know what John James did with his summer break (from June to August in 1985) from 'Dynasty', but apparently he spent some of it studying acting or at least poise. He holds his own in scenes with Heston, and doesn't appear to be struggling as hard to deliver lines as he used to on 'Dynasty'. He actually projects an effortless charisma and power, a leading man quality that will have as much to do with making 'The Colbys' a success as anything the scriptwriters concoct. They're also essential qualities on a show where loss of power is equated with loss of manhood."  

David also made the observation, "There are several similarities between Reagan's 4 children and Jason's 4. Jason's son, Miles, spends most of his time on the polo field. One of Reagan's 2 sons dances. Neither seems interested in carrying on the father's power-brokering. One of Jason's daughters, Monica, is a 'woman of the '80s'. In case we do not understand that, Heston says, 'I seem to have sired a woman of the '80s'. He pauses. 'God, help me'. The 'God help me' is to subconsciously suggest biblical overtones. One of Reagan's daughters, Maureen, has publicly challenged the President on the issue of women's rights. 

"The juicy comparison, though, is in wives. Sable Colby is the kind of schemer that makes Shakespeare's Iago seem harmless. Sable is always trying to manipulate Jason and really get a handle on the levers of power. How many stories have hinted that Nancy Reagan is really calling the shots at the White House? This is the character who is going to fascinate America in her interplay with Jason and all he represents." 

Stephanie Beacham told Pat Hilton of 'Tribune Service' in January 1986, "I couldn't turn this job down. It's too good a role. Just think: a billionaire's wife who's never satisfied. Charlton Heston has this wonderful line: 'Sable's happiness is a family myth'. If you gave her the bracelet and the earrings and the necklace, she'd want to know where the ring was."

"But in the end," David argued, "it comes to this: Charlton Heston is our fictitious Ronald Reagan, and 'The Colbys' promises to show us what goes on in his bedroom. And all of us in this great democracy are dying to know."

In one scene on 'The Colbys':

Zach: Let's talk about you Sabella. Once you're divorced, you're going to be an extremely powerful woman. You have an interest in one of the largest corporation in this country. But, you've got to know how to use that power! I can teach you.

Sable: Teach me? I seem to have managed rather well, thank you.

Zach: You've only just begun. With a man like Jason you've got to know where to strike - and when? You can't hurt him in the bedroom anymore - but you can hurt him in the boardroom! I can show you how?

Sable: Sometime you take my breath away. When do we start?

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