Joseph Gioberti, a passionate Italian immigrant and his wife a mystical Swedish woman came to the United States just after the California Gold Rush (1848–1855) and planted a family vine he had brought over from Italy. When the series made its television debut in 1981, the Gioberti wine empire would to become known as Falcon Crest. By the time the series ended in 1990, only Angela remained to carry on her grandfather's heritage. 

During the 9 TV seasons, Angela tried to train her grandson, Lance to be prepared to take over the running of the Falcon Crest winery when the time came. Her brother, Jason had already died when the series began. Jason's son Chase, daughter-in-law Maggie and grandchildren Cole and Victoria had since moved on. "People come and go but the land endures," Angela recognized. 

In one scene, Angela reminded Lance, "I have told you again and again. My grandfather paid for this land with his sweat and his blood. Now every generation since has sacrifice themselves in order to keep that legacy alive. Now you can turn your back on me whenever you like but never, never let me hear you say anything against Falcon Crest again." In the 1984-85 TV season, 'Falcon Crest' attracted a 7-month average household rating of 19.9% (of the 84.9 million homes with TV sets in the U.S.) and a 34% share of the audience. 

The 1985-86 season premiere episode of 'Falcon Crest' attracted 32% share of the audience ('Dallas' attracted 37%). Gerald Jaffee of NBC made the comment, "I don't believe in death on television unless they're actually buried in the ground. And then, I'm not so sure." Michael Eisenberg of CBS noted, "These shows drop off quite a bit (during summer reruns). That’s primarily because people who watch these shows have made their emotional commitment during the year. They prefer not to re-live participation in the summer months (June, July, August). They know what's going to happen."

Inspired by Colleen McCullough's 'The Thorn Birds', about 4 generations of Irish family life in Australia's outback from 1915 to 1962, 'Falcon Crest' introduced a similar storyline that season. 'The Thorn Birds' was made into a 10-hour TV mini-series in 1983 which attracted an average 59% audience share over 4 compelling nights. On 'Falcon Crest', Ken Olin played Father Christopher, the son of Julia Channing and Dominic Rossini. 

Dominic died before Christopher was born and Julia was led to believe her baby was stillborn. Christopher was raised by priests and decided to join the Order himself. Dominic at the time Julia was pregnant with Christopher was married to Anna (played by Celeste Holm on the series) and had a daughter, which viewers were introduced to as Cassandra Wilder. "I get to play a bit of a villain. It's more fun than being a goody-goody. You have a double-edged sword," Anne Archer expressed. 

Melissa: It's important to own land. It means wealth, power, belonging. A place of your own for all time. 

Christopher: Well, the belong, I understand. Wealth and power, I wish I could figure out why that's so important to everyone. 

Melissa: I hope you never do. 

Ken Olin recounted, "Father Christopher also becomes romantically involved with Melissa. One of the reasons I wanted to do it is that they're really exploring the relationship. It isn't sensationalized. This isn’t a conflict between good and bad. It's a conflict between 2 equally good truths. Most people believe it's good to have a deep moral and religious belief. And most people believe that love is good. He is deeply in love with this woman, but he’s also deeply committed to his religion."

Ana-Alicia added, "When I first saw the script, I got very concerned. I only cared about the integrity of the story. I didn’t want to exploit my religion. I had to do some thinking about this storyline. I went to the writers and said I wanted to see everything ahead of time. I wanted to give it as much depth as possible. It has to be done right. Melissa falls in love with this man because he’s the first man to accept her for what she is.

"It will be the first time Melissa is not making something happen. She's not controlling; something else is controlling her. She falls in love. She will meet someone who accepts her as she is. To her, he poses no threat. She reveals herself to him. And then she discovers that she is falling in love. That's a real problem because Melissa holds religion very dear. Her feelings are tortured."

Of being Angela's grandson, Ken Olin continued, "They’d (Angela and Christopher) had a relationship in the past but he never knew then that he was part of the family. All the characters brought in have relationships with people already on the show. I think that’s good. It keeps the characters fresh because they're mixing with new people." Morgan Fairchild played lawyer Jordan Jennifer Roberts. Susan Sullivan mentioned, "You have to have new story lines each year and in order to do that you have to juggle people. It seems cruel, but sometimes it works out best."

Ken Olin observed, "I don't think there's any question that when you have a show as popular as 'Miami Vice' opposite you, you have to keep your show fresh." Ana-Alicia argued, "That won't affect us. The shows are such totally different things. People who watched 'Miami Vice' wouldn’t have watched 'Falcon Crest' anyway. Oh, there might be a slight effect when the wife wants to watch us and the husband wants to watch 'Miami Vice'. But I don't think there will be an overall effect. If we drop in the ratings, it will have to do with whether or not we are pleasing our audience. We've had them for 4 years (1981-85). I feel strongly about that."

In February 1986, it was reported Ken Olin's character would be written out of 'Falcon Crest' to allay fans' concern over the continuing relationship between Father Christopher and Melissa. CBS received "lot of mail from Catholic viewers." Earl Hamner ended the 1985-86 season by paying homage to the 80th anniversary of the April 18, 1906 earthquake, estimated at 8.3 on the Richter scale which struck San Francisco causing widespread devastation.

On 'Falcon Crest', the cliff-hanger showed a devastating earthquake that would cause heavy damage in Tuscany Valley. "It is a stunning natural disaster, a very serious event from which some regulars will not survive," Earl Hamner told the press prior to the screening of the season finale episode. "I won't confirm that it's an earthquake, but I guarantee you there’ll be a whole lotta shakin’ goin’ on. Some 'Falcon Crest' people are gonna bite the dust as we conclude this season." The episode 'Cataclysm' shown in the 'Knots Landing' time slot on Thursday night attracted a 17.9% rating.

On reflection, Robert Foxworth remarked, "Being an actor can be dangerous to the ego. Too many of them think the world revolves around them. We actors are not so important, even though a lot of us think we are. We’re not discovering a cure for cancer. We’re not resolving the nuclear issue, and we’re not trying to eliminate world hunger. We’re just pawns in this game of life, like everybody else. My job is simply to entertain people, for which I am handsomely paid.

"I've seen young kids being paid $20,000 a week to star in a television show because they look cute. Meanwhile, there are executives at the network, who don’t make nearly as much money, thinking, ‘Why did I hire this guy, anyway?’ Then these young actors start giving orders on the set, thinking only in terms of self-importance. It really makes me laugh to see it."

Susan Sullivan said, "When I hear people say, 'I am going to conquer Hollywood', I'm amazed. I came (to L.A.) in fear and trepidation. A friend of mine asked my L.A. agent, 'Are you going to make Susan a star?' And my agent said, 'Susan will never be a star, and if she thinks otherwise, she is going to be in big trouble.' Hollywood calls everybody a star. That's really a joke. But for that agent, I would be a star.

"If it hadn't been for the encouragement of a play agent, I would still be on a (daytime) soap. I felt I wasn’t pretty enough and I was too old. When I left New York, Gay Talese told me I was going to hate L.A. because no one there is interested in a woman over 30 who is intelligent. I'm 40 (in 1984). I don’t lie about my age, but I’d rather not talk about it because in Hollywood they say, 'Oh, this character is 37 so you’re too old.' They're looking for someone now (in July 1984 to play her on-screen father). I want a very young father. It’s disconcerting to play a grandmother at my age, so I need a young father. Twenty years ago (in 1964) if anyone had told me I’d be this age and unmarried and with no children I wouldn’t have believed them."

Robert Foxworth continued, "Luckily, on 'Falcon Crest', we’re all mature people who don’t go throwing temper tantrums. We have a professional attitude, all of us, and I like that. No one feels they are the big star of that show. We all think equally when it comes to lines and story plots. I think there is too much juvenile sexuality on television these days (by the 1983-84 TV season). Sexuality on television could be beautiful – if it showed loving, caring, giving people."

Susan Sullivan made the observation, "Our show goes in for a bit of that (glamor) but our characters are more grounded in reality. The bad guys have sympathetic corners. I mean, our villain drinks milk. Last season (in 1983-84), Maggie got more defined, certainly stronger, certainly more assertive. Chase started out the season in a coma. Maggie had a couple of strong scenes with Angela, went head to head with her and earned her respect, I think. Then, she dealt with going back to work, how she felt about that, what it did to her marriage.

"They are such a wonderful couple. There was no way Chase would be anything but supportive of a woman with 2 grown children going back to work. Maggie and her husband Chase have a unique love going for television. It’s certainly unique for this kind of show. It’s much harder to write for the good guys, but I think that would take away something fundamental if we changed.

"Still, I'd love to see us have a knock-down, drag-out fight, the kind of fight where you make up and go to bed. Everybody who could possibly renegotiate their contract is on that plane (in the 1983-84 cliff-hanger) – Jane (Wyman), Mel (Ferrer), Lorenzo (Lamas), Margaret Ladd, myself, Melissa (*), Richard Channing (David Selby), Cliff Robertson. That's why it is impossible to say who lives and who dies."

(*) Melissa's rival for Cole's affection, Linda Caproni (played by Mary Kate McGeehan) was on the plane.

Susan Sullivan continued, "Nobody has started contract negotiations as far as I know. Those who can't reach a contract settlement will get killed. I'd like to come back next season, but who knows? Actors in a hit series live under the illusion of security but it is an illusion. It's not hard on me because I'm not married. I have no family to support and no mortgage payments. I think we have too many characters and a couple should go.

"I know Bob Foxworth, who plays my husband, would like it to be me because that would give him more room. And I’d like it to be Bob, because that would open up stories for me. But I was in the beauty shop the other day (back in March 1984) and a woman said, 'You and Chase – that's Bob – teach me how to love.' I would hate to lose that. (Earl Hamner), he's a man of such integrity he wants to see his characters acting out of truth."

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