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KateW

Any Capitol Fans Here?

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I didn't see a thread for Capitol so I decided to start one.

CBS premiered Capitol as a prime time special on Friday March 26, 1982, and the daytime premiere was three days later in the timeslot previously occupied by CBS's then-longest running daytime drama Search for Tomorrow.

Capitol was best described as Dallas meets the Reagan administration, with its Washington DC political backdrop combined with the glitz and glamour that characterized CBS's biggest primetime drama.

Despite being middle of the pack ratings-wise during it's run, Capitol ended a little less than 5 years later on Friday March 20, 1987, and three days later CBS premiered Bill Bell's 2nd show The Bold and the Beautiful.

I feel Capitol went on the air so CBS could draw a younger audience to compete with ABC (who pretty much owned daytime in the early 1980s with the action/adventure plots on General Hospital and the young love plots on All My Children). I also feel Capitol was used as a placeholder as CBS was probably waiting for Y&R (which became CBS's highest-rated daytime drama in the 1982/1983 season) to be established among the top 3 daytime dramas (which it was from the 1983/1984 season onward) before they were ready to give Bill Bell a 2nd show.

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I didn't see a thread for Capitol so I decided to start one.

CBS premiered Capitol as a prime time special on Friday March 26, 1982, and the daytime premiere was three days later in the timeslot previously occupied by CBS's then-longest running daytime drama Search for Tomorrow.

Capitol was best described as Dallas meets the Reagan administration, with its Washington DC political backdrop combined with the glitz and glamour that characterized CBS's biggest primetime drama.

Despite being middle of the pack ratings-wise during it's run, Capitol ended a little less than 5 years later on Friday March 20, 1987, and three days later CBS premiered Bill Bell's 2nd show The Bold and the Beautiful.

I feel Capitol went on the air so CBS could draw a younger audience to compete with ABC (who pretty much owned daytime in the early 1980s with the action/adventure plots on General Hospital and the young love plots on All My Children). I also feel Capitol was used as a placeholder as CBS was probably waiting for Y&R (which became CBS's highest-rated daytime drama in the 1982/1983 season) to be established among the top 3 daytime dramas (which it was from the 1983/1984 season onward) before they were ready to give Bill Bell a 2nd show.

I fondly remember CAPITOL from my early childhood for only one reason: the dramatic opening sequence and theme! Back in the day before I started school, I would watch TV during the day with my nanny, and she was a faithful lifelong viewer of WORLD TURNS, which back then aired from 12:30PM-1:30PM CST. When ATWT finished, she was usually cleaning up after our lunch in the kitchen, so the TV stayed tuned to CBS long enough for me to be seduced daily by CAPITOL's powerful sweeping opening with the thundering theme song and visually stunning scenes of Washington, DC. However, that was pretty much all I ever saw of the show, because my nanny soon settled back in and switched the dial to catch the last half of ONE LIFE on ABC and then GH.

What I find ironic about CAPITOL is although it had its fans and most who saw it regard it as an okay show, I've yet to run into anyone who say it was "their favorite" or that "they loved it" or had any particular devotion to it...I remember that Marj Dusay did an interview with SOD back when she was on SANTA BARBARA and she commented that when she was on CAPITOL as Myrna Clegg, her parents watched the show "because they HAD to," while in the case of SB, "they watch(ed) it because they LIKE it".

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Sedrick, I had a similar experience. I remember the "dunh-dunh-dunh" (Ca-pi-tol) as my grandmother watched it on a small black and white TV in the kitchen while she let me watch cartoons on the big TV in the living room. I remember the first day I realized the "dunh-dunh-dunh" was gone, replaced by that blaring elephant of a saxophone in the B&B opening.

There were also promos where a male chorus would sing "CA-PI-TOL!" I'm from Washington so the show sparked a special interest in me. I remember our local CBS news anchor diva J.C. Hayward (sort of a black Linda Dano?) making a special appearance on the show. I was also into The Addams Family at that age, and I recall my mother saying that Carolyn Jones was "on one of mama's stories." It's funny how the young mind works, because I imagined Morticia slinking around Oakdale in her tight black "octopuss" dress complete with long black wig. It wasn't until I was a teen that I realized Carolyn was on Capitol, looking VERY differently.

I've become much more familiar with the show over the last ten years, and I have quite a few eps on tape. If I ever get technologically astute, I'll upload them to YouTube. I'd really like to see more of the earlier eps though. They really did have an interesting grainy filmic look, and there were very interesting shots. The show eventually looked more traditionally soapy, still luxe, but now it looked just like Y&R.

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Can anyone answer the following question for me?

Was the one hour CAPITOL premiere episode, broadcast on a Friday night in primetime following the-then #1 DALLAS, shot on videotape or film?

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I am pretty certain the Capitol premiere was on tape.

The show did well in the ratings ,as the Dallas lead in had huge ratings at the time.I remember Capitol had a 32 share,which while good,was well below what Falcon Crest did in that timeslot.

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The pilot movie was taped, but it looks quite good and has held up rather well. There are a lot of outdoor scenes that look better/more realistic than the interior scenes. I think the fact that it was so cold and wintery helped greatly with the look of the telefilm, it lends a darker, more realistic tone. Had it been a bunch of bright sunny days, I think it would have looked a lot cheesier. Sloane and Mark riding their horses along the C&O canal is a very nice sequence, the setting, the witty banter, it's very primetime. Trey's limo almost mowing down Clarissa in the VA burbs, and Myrna in fox hat and muff marching up the Capitol steps are also great outdoor sequences.

The earlier daytime eps of Capitol have a more filmic look. I don't know exactly what process Conboy was using, but there is a film-like graininess, akin to the look The City and more recently AMC adopted. Of course, a more primitive version of this, but nonetheless, later eps look typically Y&R/B&B.

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I'm a HUGE fan of Capitol. Ironically, I discovered the show many years after it had been canceled. I had become a fan of Constance Towers from watching GH and learned that she was on this 1980s soap called Capitol and I was able find a lot of episodes via tape trading. As I watched them, I fell in love with the show, especially the McCandlesses. There are still a lot of episodes I haven't seen, but I've seen enough to be able to follow most of the storylines. I wish that some network would air reruns of the show so that I could fill in the blanks and see parts of my favorite storylines that I haven't been able to get through trades.

Since I'm such a fan of Ms. Towers, Clarissa was/is my favorite character. As much fun as she was on GH as the evil Helena, it was nice to see her play the sympathetic character, one I didn't have any qualms about rooting for. The rest of the McCandlesses, including Judson Tyler, were also high on my list. I'm glad someone started a thread for this show.

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From what I've seen of this show on YouTube and the old WOST site - especially that horrendous final episode - and everything I've read about the various phases it went through during the revolving door of writers and cast members, I can see how people would have watched this show but never really fell in love with it to the point that it was their favorite show. It seemed like everything it tried to do had already been done - and done better - on another show. The spy/mystery stuff that Slesar tried to do had already been done better on Edge of Night; the soapy young love stuff had been done before on so many other shows, often even with actors instead of models being cast; and sadly even the political stuff was done better on Ryan's Hope, which wasn't even set in DC and had to keep coming up with political scandals to wreck Frank Ryan's latest campaign so he could stay on the show! And then of course the laughable nonsense at the end involving the made-up Middle Eastern monarchy to which the blonde Irish hunk was the long lost heir to the throne, culminating in the show's longtime heroine facing a firing squad, had never quite been done on a soap because it should not have been done.

Too bad...this show seems like it had so much potential. The DC setting should have been better used, because the initial concept for the show, with the feud between two political families dating back to the McCarthy hearings - has anyone before or since on a soap ever discussed the McCarthy hearings? - was really groundbreaking. From what I know of John Conboy, it seems like he was the wrong producer to realize a groundbreaking concept, though, because he seemed to prefer style over substance. Why wouldn't they just come right out and say that the McCandlesses were Democrats and the Cleggs were Republicans (McCarthy was a Republican...it seemed pretty obvious) so they could do genuine political stories with depth that actually pushed the envelope? CBS primetime was successful at the time with political shows like Murphy Brown and Designing Women, which featured characters openly and frankly discussing politics every week and the audiences loving them. And why on earth did a show set in DC (OK, I know it was a fictitious Virginia suburb of DC, but close enough) in the '80s not have any black characters?

It seems like this show just took the worst cliches of soaps and transplanted them into the DC political setting, and the writing and acting were not consistent enough to compete with other shows that were already doing it better.

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Apparently, the lack of chocolate in Chocolate City was an issue raised during the show's tenure. What's crazy is that in the original story bible, the young female lead was a biracial Halle Berry/Randi on AMC-type named Merle. This (among several other things) was scrapped, and the Cleggs vs. the McCandlesses took center stage. The Cleggs seemed pretty peripheral in the bible, but of course an '80s glamour soap needs an Alexis Colby, and the role of Myrna Clegg got beefed up. Capitol would eventually get its own Dominique Deveraux in the form of Lola Falana as Charity Blake. Beah Richards also guest starred as a voodoo priestess. I think Falana was the only black actor ever on contract.

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Apparently, the lack of chocolate in Chocolate City was an issue raised during the show's tenure. What's crazy is that in the original story bible, the young female lead was a biracial Halle Berry/Randi on AMC-type named Merle. This (among several other things) was scrapped, and the Cleggs vs. the McCandlesses took center stage. The Cleggs seemed pretty peripheral in the bible, but of course an '80s glamour soap needs an Alexis Colby, and the role of Myrna Clegg got beefed up. Capitol would eventually get its own Dominique Deveraux in the form of Lola Falana as Charity Blake. Beah Richards also guest starred as a voodoo priestess. I think Falana was the only black actor ever on contract.

I agree, the show was very "vanilla" for having taken place in the DC area. It would have been interesting to see the biracial storyline in the original bible, or another interracial dating storyline play out.

I don't remember the Cleggs having even been in the original bible. There was a Clegg-like family with a different last name (Renselier or something like that). Also, Clarissa seemed to have some Myrna-like qualities in the original bible, in that she was written as a social climber.

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I agree, the show was very "vanilla" for having taken place in the DC area. It would have been interesting to see the biracial storyline in the original bible, or another interracial dating storyline play out.

I don't remember the Cleggs having even been in the original bible. There was a Clegg-like family with a different last name (Renselier or something like that). Also, Clarissa seemed to have some Myrna-like qualities in the original bible, in that she was written as a social climber.

IIRC, in the original bible Trey (referred to as Sam) is written as a satellite character and Sam and Myrna get a passing reference. In the revised bible, the Cleggs are descibed as "new money" with an ostentatious home, Myrna adorned with gold, silk, reptile, and Blackglama. I'm assuming it's the network who pushed the Romeo (Tyler) and Juliet (Julie) thing, the Montagues (McCandlesses) vs. the Capulets (Cleggs). That's a perfectly acceptable beginning, but unlike a primetime series, a soap has 52 weeks a year to try everything under the sun... the show really should have fleshed out and explored more.

For example, D.C. has a huge black population and I'm sure a lot of people not familiar with the area associate that with the high drug/murder rate of the Southeast quadrant that the city has become infamous for. Georgetown (where Trey and Sloane lived in a townhouse) is in Northwest, along with all of the other affluent neighborhoods. But D.C. also has a high (it's suburbs in Prince George's County, MD have the highest in the country) concentration of wealthy blacks. The 16th street cooridor in NW is nicknamed "the Gold Coast" for being synonymous with rich blacks. To me, Capitol could have had two more families at odds, perhaps two brothers or two sisters and their families, one stuck in SE, the other prosperous in NW. I could sit here and list several potential storylines/plot points on that simple concept alone, there are so many stories in the black community that have yet to be told. Conboy could have beat Bell to the Winterses, and NBC to the families on Generations. I know social relevance was never really his thing, but black folk can be glamorous too. :P Especially on Sunday morning in D.C.

Edited by SFK

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IIRC, in the original bible Trey (referred to as Sam) is written as a satellite character and Sam and Myrna get a passing reference. In the revised bible, the Cleggs are descibed as "new money" with an ostentatious home, Myrna adorned with gold, silk, reptile, and Blackglama. I'm assuming it's the network who pushed the Romeo (Tyler) and Juliet (Julie) thing, the Montagues (McCandlesses) vs. the Capulets (Cleggs). That's a perfectly acceptable beginning, but unlike a primetime series, a soap has 52 weeks a year to try everything under the sun... the show really should have fleshed out and explored more.

For example, D.C. has a huge black population and I'm sure a lot of people not familiar with the area associate that with the high drug/murder rate of the Southeast quadrant that the city has become infamous for. Georgetown (where Trey and Sloane lived in a townhouse) is in Northwest, along with all of the other affluent neighborhoods. But D.C. also has a high (it's suburbs in Prince George's County, MD have the highest in the country) concentration of wealthy blacks. The 16th street cooridor in NW is nicknamed "the Gold Coast" for being synonymous with rich blacks. To me, Capitol could have had two more families at odds, perhaps two brothers or two sisters and their families, one stuck in SE, the other prosperous in NW. I could sit here and list several potential storylines/plot points on that simple concept alone, there are so many stories in the black community that have yet to be told. Conboy could have beat Bell to the Winterses, and NBC to the families on Generations. I know social relevance was never really his thing, but black folk can be glamorous too. :P Especially on Sunday morning in D.C.

I think having a black core family on the show could have widened its appeal as well as made the show more representative of the DC population. You're right about the storyline possibilities. I wish the show could have lasted longer because there was so much more that could have been done. I would have liked to have seen Julie and Tyler try to have a natural child through surrogacy. That storyline might have been a little before it's time, but it would've been interesting to see how it would play out. Had they continued a few more years, however, they would have had to address the issue of Bill Beyers' passing. Would they have re-cast Wally or would he have died on the show as well? So many things we'll never know... I often wonder what the show would be like if it were still on the air today.

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I remember reading somewhere online that Richard Egan (Sam Clegg) was very ill at the time of Capitol's cancellation and had the show continued he would have soon retired. Sam would have been murdered, and there'd be a murder mystery s/l with Myrna, Leanne, et al the likely suspects.

Yes, Bill Beyers and a few other cast members have passed. Just think, had Capitol continued we'd probably have never seen Marj Dusay in her many other soap roles, or Catherine Hickland on Loving/The City and OLTL, and perhaps most notable seeing as how it's the #1 show, Jess Walton as Jill on Y&R. Who would have been our Jill for the last 20 years!? I can hardly believe it's been that long.

Edited by SFK

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