Sunday, February 26, 2017

Classic TV: Peyton Place (1964)

It is the father of the modern primetime soap opera, although Paul Monash, who developed Peyton Place for television, preferred not to refer to it as such. The book upon which the show was based had only been published eight years earlier, followed by a pair of feature films.

There were some changes in the transition from big screen to small. The Cross family, at the center of the original novel, had been removed, putting more emphasis on an ensemble of characters. Peyton Place served as a launching pad for a number of cast members, including Ed Nelson, Ryan O'Neal, Mia Farrow, Christopher Connelly, and Tim O'Connor.

Peyton Place ran for five seasons on ABC (1964-9), airing twice a week, as opposed to the daytime soaps that aired five days a week. The show was such an instant hit, that ABC added a third night in season 2, which turned out to be a big mistake, resulting in the program going back to two nights in season 3, and dropping down to just once a week in season 5 due to declining ratings.

Three years after the series ended, 20th Century Fox decided to bring it back, this time as a 5-days-a-week daytime soap, but there was no room on ABC's schedule. Instead, Return to Peyton Place aired on NBC, and flopped. Two subsequent TV-movies also aired on NBC in an attempt to resurrect the franchise.

I never saw the show, so there won't be a rating. We'll leave you with the series opener from 1964, introduced by announcer Dick Tufeld.

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