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EricMontreal22

Peyton Place

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I know we have a Return to Peyton Place thread that, due to lack of any Return episodes, has become equally a PP thread, but I thought Peyton deserved its own thread, especially since now I know there are at least three of us currently watching it (you others are missing out :P ). But Chris B and anyone else, feel free to copy and paste any of your dicussion from there to here.

I've always been intrigued by this show, and intended to get the *ahem* less than legal DVDs some have been selling of it, but never did. Then with some of my Xmas money I took the plunge and got both sets from Shout Factor--the first 65 episodes in general (which I think is Sep 1964 to May or so 1965, I wish they'd date the episodes). Besides dating the episodes, and a complete lack of special features, they did a great job with the DVD sets (some of the episodes are in very rough state, with a few having unclear sound which is my only complaint, and a a couple in the first box set are the syndicated versions which cut about 2 and a bit mins--all that remains apparently, but most of it looks and sounds wonderful).

Anyway, within about three episodes I knew I was hooked. I'm already on disc 3 of box 2 and, since Shout Factory says they're having some trouble obtainign the rights to future episodes, I bit the bullet and ordered a set of (apparently) every single episode (over 500) plus both tv movies (and the unrelated two theatrical movies which I had seen many times already) from one of those aforementioned sellers--as I know by the time they arrive I'll be desperate for more.

What I love so much about the show-- Well honestly I wasn't expecting something of such high quality. Having seen the one episode of the primetime "rival" created, the ATWT spin off Our Private World which looked just as cheap as any mid 60s daytime soap, I expected something that would look like a 60s soap but shot on film. I know with 2 and later 3 episodes a week for a year, it obviously had to be rushed, yet the actual directing is often really great, even a few spectacularly shot moments that remind me of classic 1950s melodramas by Douglas Sirk (fitting I guess since the only thing I knew, and loved, Dorothy Malone from before this, was his great oil soap opera Written on the Wind where she plays essentially the Betty Andersen character).

The actual scriptwriting is equally great--so far there seems to be about 4 different writers or writing teams they cycle through, fairly big names in tv at the time like Robert J Shaw, and I was surprised at the literary quality of much of the scripts. Really good stuff. Finally the acting is basically the best you could hope for in a show like this--from the great older movie stars like Malone (she seems to have started the obligato Prime Time soap trend of having a just slightly past her prime female movie star headline the show), to the future stars like, of course, a note perfect Mia Farrow, Ryan O'Neil (knowing him now it's hard to think of him as the teen hrthrob back then) and a delicious Barbara Parkins. Ed Nelson, as Dr Rossi who is used to introduce us to the town and its citizens, may be the most typically "soap opera" of the major actors (by that I mean what the industry would deride as a soap actor) but he's certainly adequate for his role, is totally handsome and dreamy in a 1960s tv kind of way, and I think quite endearing as someone for the audiences to identify with (which is no small feat as he's had some rather bizarre and off putting speeches and character moods especially when ti comes to Connie--dated "me, man, you, woman" type stuff).

The other thing I love about it is how it really is in many ways a true daytime soap opera except speeded up and amped up (production wise--with location shots, etc) for primetime. In other words, while I love the Dallas and later primetime soaps, this feels like a bridge between them and daytime shows--the pace is still relatively slow, with story points carried through more with dialogue scenes then any action sequences, everything's lower key. It's great to see--I know Irna Phillips helped with the writing but I believe she just helped shape the book to work as a serial--she was out by the first episode. Similarly, so far anyway (I think this changes as the show gets a bit more over the top in later years with falling ratings--but I haven't read spoilers), the characters reflect more the older daytime soap traditions. There are no real out and out bad guys the way primetime soaps (and modern daytime ones) usually had--you usually get to see everything from everyone's perspective so even when someone does someting awful, as Agnes Nixon liked to say about her creations, they did it for good reasons--you get why they did it.

Anyway, I think it's essential viewing for any classic soap fan. I knew I'd find it fascinating, but honestly I didn't expect to get so completely *hooked* on it, I thought I'd appreciate it more solely for historical value. It really really holds up (even if I already have a few probs with some of its inconsistant writing--one of the writers in his Museum of Broadcast youtube clip admits they never had a bible for the show, something ABC desperately wanted and there have been a few, minor but still there, instances I feel already of characterization changing a bit to motivate plot. As well, because the stories are so good at overlapping each other I do feel that some of the big moments of payoff haven't been as ssatisfying or, well, BIG as I might like.). All said, it's wonderful.

And I'd like to discuss it :D I think we're all at different places in our viewing, which makes plot discussion harder than with the currently airing soaps--Chris, I know you're past episode 200 and into the colour ones, and I'm not sure where you are, YRBB, with your viewing, but I think beind me. I admit I'm still trying to more or less avoid spoilers, so any serious discussion of plot should, I think have spoiler warnings.

(My one complaint is, if you skip the credits and previews like I do, each episode is just a bit over 20 mins and I tend to watch it late at night with the intention of just one or two episodes before bed--that always becomes at least three episodes, as watching one more 20 min segment seems so easy--and some nights has meant watching 10 or more... :P )

Edited by EricMontreal22

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I also think it might be interesting, for those of us who've read the book or seen the earlier movies, to discuss the changes made to the basic setup of characters for the soap aspect (this is where Irna, helped out apparently--I'd love to see the original pre-Irna rejected pilot). I haven't read the book since jr high (I never read the sequel) and haven't seen either movie in a while either, but I think I actually prefer the show as a soap opera... Some basic changes were due to tv censorship (just like they manage to, magnificantly well, make it clear that Betty early on has had sex with Rodney without even remotely saying it!), but others like making Rossi the doctor and not newspaper man helped shape the soap--as doctor he could actively interact with characters much better, for example. That said, while they still have the wealthy Peytons/Harringtons and the much poorer other characters, they all but eliminated the important aspect of the original with the very poor characters on the "wrong side of the tracks" (literally).

Edited by EricMontreal22

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Great post, Eric! I'm glad you started the thread.

I'm only on episode 10 so it's all pretty new; however, I have remained basically completely unspoiled (I believe I only know of something bad that happens to Betty in a few episodes' time) and it's amazing discovering the show. I have shared many of the same thoughts concerning the show. I am amazed with the wonderful production values; the show looks terrific, very cinematic and very, for the lack of a better word, moody. The acting is also wonderful. I had never seen the actors of the show in any other roles before, so it is very easy for me to accept what I see. But, to me, the biggest success is the writing; such wonderful, layered, multi-dimensional writing and the scripts, as you say, are ALL top notch. Not one moment of bad writing, no WTFs or ridiculous dialogue. At all. It's really fascinating for I don't think I have ever seen writing like this.

Who's your favorite character? I definitely adore Betty. That moment in, I think, the second episode were she "reveals" her more angry, vengeful self is probably one of my favorite soap moments ever; up until then, she was sweet, wholesome, just a tiny bit slutty. And, when she is terribly hurt by Rodney's leaving her, she adopts this look. And you knew inside that this would happen, and at the same time you didn't. Just amazing. They're doing a great job of showing her hurt, thus being able to really justify her actions.

But--I don't know how popular this will be--I am also completely fascinated with George. I LOVE the character and I LOVE the actor. Such a multi-faceted, complex character. He is not turned into some monster, even though he is an abuser, and the actor imbues him with such heart and unspoken pain that it's hard to describe. The scene were Dr. Rossi confronts him about his addiction to pills and then George goes into this looooooooong monologue about something that happened to him when he was an athlete is just chilling. I hope great things are in store for George (please don't spoil meeeee!)

I'm surprised to hear they didn't have a bible, though.... Everything is so well-planned out that that seems impossible! But who knows. By the way, this Robert J Saw, didn't he also write for FALCON CREST? Or am I just making that up? And you skip the titles? Tsk tsk tsk, never! laugh.gif All the soap's titles are part of the experience for me. I cannot imagine watching DALLAS without listening to that theme first! Of course, I do not watch the previews, those are evil. But I do watch the previous episode's preview to remind me of what happened before I go on to the next laugh.giftongue.gif

I also have one episode of OUR PRIVATE WORLD and I remember it looked cheap. It was a few years ago, so I'll probably rewatch it and see how I feel about it now.

Edited by YRBB

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Thanks for the reply :D I'm actually surprised there aren't more on here who seem to watch it--especially with the commercial release. ShoutFactory (to my honest surprise) have actually said it's been one of their top sellers out of their pre 1980s titles. I guess to most people on here it would have less name recognition and instant appeal compared to Dallas, Dynasty, etc... Like I said, it's much more like a daytime soap, even how it's structured--those primetime soaps usually have each episode end with a huge cliffhangar--Peyton Place ishappy to have each episode just be a series of scenes, often with no real episodic structure...

I'll promise to stay away from spoilers--I'm on about episode 45 or so... I was going to read the entry on the show in Schemering's Soap Encyclopedia but then realized I didn't want to know any spoilers... It's hard though. robert J Shaw has a crazy primetime resume (including, oddly Our Private World, and Dallas--not Falcon Crest, as well as some early 80s General Hospital)--like in the 50s and 60s he wrote nearly any show that mattered. The writing team of Theordore and Mathilde Fero who script many of the best early episodes did lotsa famous sitcoms like Leave it to Beaver and were a very early, shortlived writing team on General Hospital pre Peyton Place. Paul Monash, who developed the story and refused to call it a soap (LOL) calling it instead a television novel (he was instigated to create it when he saw the success of Coronation Street in the UK) has an awesome resume as well (going as far as helping with the 80s version of V).

I LOVE Betty (and Barbara Parkins) as well. She's so... well layered. Entitled but also sympathetic--I won't get into her more cuz of spoilers, btu she's prob my fave. That said, I honestly like all of the characters, even the lecturing Matthew Swain! I'm surprised you don't know any of the actors--particularly Ryan O'Neil and Mia Farrow (never saw Rosemary's Baby?) Both grew up to look quite different I think though when Allison talks I always think of Mia's voicework on the Last Unicorn, lol. She only took on the show expecting it not to be a hit apparently, which is why the much older Frank Sinatra who she was dating, finally broke her out of her contract. I lvoe when Betty and Allison have their discussions and you get that Betty doesn't actually blame or hate Allison. Great scenes.

However if you ever are looking for a quintessential soap opera movie--many say the impetus for Dallas, please rent Sirk's Written on the Wind, from 1956 I believe. Douglas Sirks' 50s melodramas are essential soap viewing--through his inspired directing he raised the "women's picture" in all its contrivances into an artform (the four to watch are his first hit, the really ridiculous Magnificent Obsession, the much better All That Heaven Allows which was the inspiration for Far from Heaven and of course both of those stared Jane Wyman, Written on the Wind his most controverisally sexual film, and then the most over the top Imitation of Life). But Malone is just amazingly awesome as the sexually forthright, near villainess in Written--which i think she won an Oscar for. It's a long ways from Constance McKenzie (I love her fake endlessly fluttering eyelashes!)

And I love George and the actor whose name escapes me--he does a dynamite, near schizophrenic job. It's just so compelling--and yeah he's not just some abusive monster, through the writing and the acting you really get why he is as he is. It's an example of how layered the show is.

Well when I watch a big batch of episodes I watch the titles for the first episode, and then skip the rest usually watching the closing titles for the episode I've finally resigned myself into accepting will be it for the night ;)

Edited by EricMontreal22

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This has very very slight spoilers, next to nothing specifically about story. It's from the Museum of Broadcasting interview with Del Reisman. He's been involved in a TON of major tv and was hired early on with Peyton to be story editor/consultant I believe.

Starts at 17:15

And the beginning of this has him mention working on the bible for Return To Peyton Place

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From the credits he was the headwriter for most of Peyton Place.

The other thing I love about it is how it really is in many ways a true daytime soap opera except speeded up and amped up (production wise--with location shots, etc) for primetime. In other words, while I love the Dallas and later primetime soaps, this feels like a bridge between them and daytime shows--the pace is still relatively slow, with story points carried through more with dialogue scenes then any action sequences, everything's lower key

I totally agree with this. This is the format that the British soaps picked up. Better production values and a faster pace, but also very character driven and constantly flowing and evolving. Another great wonder of Peyton Place is how they can introduce a new character. No real spoilers, but the show constantly would add one or two new characters and almost center the show around them with the other characters being weaved into their umbrella story. With all these new characters so far I believed that they were truly living in Peyton Place off screen and heaven help those poor outsiders who dare to enter those city limits!

One thing you two need to wait for is Ruth Warrick as Hannah Cord. She is a page turner. Every single episode another layer is peeled off and she is just god like. It makes me want to see Warrick on As the World Turns (an oriignal cast member!) and All My Children. Since I never saw much classic AMC, she was new to me and boy did she make an impression. I know AMC let her do the reunion film, The Next Generation, but what would've happened if it was picked up to series? You guys probably don't know, but Michael Filerman (the EP of Knots Landing, Dallas and Falcon Crest) was hired to revamp the show as a new primetime serial. I haven't watch TNG in it's entirety, but from what I saw he updated it well. The writing is what annoys me. Like these modern remakes they completely rewrote history in several cases. Still, I look forward to watching it. Murder In Peyton Place is pure trash (pivitol roles are poorly recast including Betty, story sucks, etc.), but TNG got a ton of cast members back and seemed to be more choherent. I just can't decide if I should watch it now or save it to air after the final episode.

The actual scriptwriting is equally great--so far there seems to be about 4 different writers or writing teams they cycle through, fairly big names in tv at the time like Robert J Shaw, and I was surprised at the literary quality of much of the scripts. Really good stuff.

Again no spoilers, but I totally agree! People like to say the show went to crap when it went to color, but I totally disagree. The scripts are just as good and there are some of the most powerful stories the show ever had. What I love most is that in many ways this show is more daring than modern soaps, yet they don't actually spell it out for you. Sex was dealt with in such a powerful and graphic way, but only from the emotional aspect. They never say the word sex or rape, but the actors and writers are so vivid that you totally understand. Today I don't think a soap could get around with a young heroine talking about how much she enjoyed sex and not be considering some evil whore or the show being hailed as immoral. It's all about how you choose to deal with issues and PP knew that. They milked human situations for all they were worth which made every episode a page turner.

Some basic changes were due to tv censorship (just like they manage to, magnificantly well, make it clear that Betty early on has had sex with Rodney without even remotely saying it!), but others like making Rossi the doctor and not newspaper man helped shape the soap--as doctor he could actively interact with characters much better, for example. That said, while they still have the wealthy Peytons/Harringtons and the much poorer other characters, they all but eliminated the important aspect of the original with the very poor characters on the "wrong side of the tracks" (literally).

In the books Betty was never a major character and she was meant to be killed off early in the tv series. Honestly, most of the changes worked for me. I liked what they did with the Harrington/Peyton family and making Michael Rossi was perfect. You then got to use Matthew Swain as the newspaper head and a father figure for Allison. I am a little surprised as the series took off that they didn't look back to the book for stories or characters to bring on.

As for those poor characters from the wrong side o the track, just wait. I can think of several that come and shake things up in a big way. Class conflict is a major issue very soon. You see some of that with Betty, but it gets bigger until it just explodes around where I am.

And I love George and the actor whose name escapes me--he does a dynamite, near schizophrenic job. It's just so compelling--and yeah he's not just some abusive monster, through the writing and the acting you really get why he is as he is. It's an example of how layered the show is.

He's absolutely one of the best characters on the show. I loved just how tragic that Anderson family was. By modern standards they're good people, but back then and especially in this nosey town people could drive you mad. They were all victims of the time. I also loved Julie's relationship with Leslie.

I'd love to see a new soap set in the 60s and written like Peyton Place. WOuld just make fabulous viewing.

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I would love to watch PP on DVD,but the time commitment is too much for me at the moment.

Truth be told,I remember some of it first time around!

There was an episode on YouTube some time back.Betty was in New York going for a job and back in PP,I remember the Harringtons gathered in their living room.Someone was leaving townAallison was in this ep also and Dr Rossi had just arrived,I hope I'm not mixing things up.

Eric,could you tell me which ep it was?

I do remember how soapy it was,longish scenes with lots of'meaningful'conversations.I mean that in a good way, as the dialogue was not straightforward and there was an undercurrent of things bubbling beneath the surface.

Visually,I recall the Harrington scene was also daytime like-it was directed in a 3 camera live/tape mode.

The Ferros were the writers.They wrote General Hospital in the first few months.I think the Dobsons had to finish at Search For Tomorrow(a contractual thing?)and the Ferros were 'caretakers' of the show for that time.maybe some other posters know more.

Eric,are you familiar with the proposed spinoff 'The Girl from Peyton Place'?It was to debut in Summer of 65 as a once a week entry,before going to twice a week in the fall.It dealt with Betty in NY and would air Mon and Fri 9.30-10.00.Days after the announcement,plans were changed claiming there wasn't enough time to put together the whole show.Barbara Parkins was dismayed.

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I always thought The Girl From Peyton Place was meant to air after the show was canceled. I don't know if it would've worked having PP on air and a similar spin-off. Might be too much burn out. Now I do wish they had tried to launch another primetime soap in those days. I know in 1969 Lana Turner headlined a soap called The Survivors, but info is limited and episodes are not available at all. Other than Return To Peyton Place, I'd love to know more about the 1979 pilot starring Elain Princi as Betty Anderson and Adam West was cast as well.

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Minor spoiler for episodes 30-40

There was an episode on YouTube some time back.Betty was in New York going for a job and back in PP,I remember the Harringtons gathered in their living room.Someone was leaving townAallison was in this ep also and Dr Rossi had just arrived,I hope I'm not mixing things up.

Eric,could you tell me which ep it was?

It would be around eps 30-40, Jan-Feb 1965 (the first few discs of box set 2) I loved Betty's New York storyline (she meets a "party girl", Sharon Purcell played by Dayna Ceder who i loved, at work there who she moves in with) and felt it coulda lasted more than 6 episodes. Julie Andersen, Les' disaproving sister who is in love with Dr Rossi and who was married to the doctor whose practice Rossi took over when he died, is leaving on a world toru (I expect her to come back soon in the episodes I'm watching--I really liked her when her character became a bit more knowing). Rossie arrived in ep 1 though ;)

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I always thought The Girl From Peyton Place was meant to air after the show was canceled. I don't know if it would've worked having PP on air and a similar spin-off. Might be too much burn out.

According to Schemering, it was to air when the show was canceled. When Ryan O'Neil disagreed to join as well it was canceled.

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The Ferros were the writers.They wrote General Hospital in the first few months.I think the Dobsons had to finish at Search For Tomorrow(a contractual thing?)and the Ferros were 'caretakers' of the show for that time.maybe some other posters know more.

Eric,are you familiar with the proposed spinoff 'The Girl from Peyton Place'?It was to debut in Summer of 65 as a once a week entry,before going to twice a week in the fall.It dealt with Betty in NY and would air Mon and Fri 9.30-10.00.Days after the announcement,plans were changed claiming there wasn't enough time to put together the whole show.Barbara Parkins was dismayed.

That does make sense--I even wonder if some of her New York storyline was meant to lead into that...

The Ferros are listed on about a 1/4 (maybe a few more) of the episodes, but they're not listed as story or script editors or consultants in the main credits--just for that episode's script.

I always thought The Girl From Peyton Place was meant to air after the show was canceled. I don't know if it would've worked having PP on air and a similar spin-off. Might be too much burn out. Now I do wish they had tried to launch another primetime soap in those days. I know in 1969 Lana Turner headlined a soap called The Survivors, but info is limited and episodes are not available at all. Other than Return To Peyton Place, I'd love to know more about the 1979 pilot starring Elain Princi as Betty Anderson and Adam West was cast as well.

The Survivors is apparently kinda infamous for being such a collasal flop/disaster.

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I totally agree with this. This is the format that the British soaps picked up. Better production values and a faster pace, but also very character driven and constantly flowing and evolving. Another great wonder of Peyton Place is how they can introduce a new character. No real spoilers, but the show constantly would add one or two new characters and almost center the show around them with the other characters being weaved into their umbrella story. With all these new characters so far I believed that they were truly living in Peyton Place off screen and heaven help those poor outsiders who dare to enter those city limits!

Yes I've already encountered this with the people connected to the pharmay--I dunno how they do that so well, on most soaps when they do have a new character who has meant to have lived in town for a while already (which they rarely do anymore--need everyone be newcomers?) it always seems weird--you never get the sense they actually were in, say, Pine Valley for all that time.

You're right that that's the British model (of Monash was inspired by Coronation Street maybe this is an example)

One thing you two need to wait for is Ruth Warrick as Hannah Cord. She is a page turner. Every single episode another layer is peeled off and she is just god like. It makes me want to see Warrick on As the World Turns (an oriignal cast member!) and All My Children. Since I never saw much classic AMC, she was new to me and boy did she make an impression. I know AMC let her do the reunion film, The Next Generation, but what would've happened if it was picked up to series? You guys probably don't know, but Michael Filerman (the EP of Knots Landing, Dallas and Falcon Crest) was hired to revamp the show as a new primetime serial. I haven't watch TNG in it's entirety, but from what I saw he updated it well. The writing is what annoys me. Like these modern remakes they completely rewrote history in several cases. Still, I look forward to watching it. Murder In Peyton Place is pure trash (pivitol roles are poorly recast including Betty, story sucks, etc.), but TNG got a ton of cast members back and seemed to be more choherent. I just can't decide if I should watch it now or save it to air after the final episode.

I am SOO effing excited to see Ruth and David Canary way back when, on this show. A number of other characters too.

Yeha when I get the DVDs I admit it may be hard not to check out the tv movies, or even a random episode in a later season. It does make sense that in the 80s they'd wanto revive it even if the setup of most of the primetime soaps of the era were every different.

Murder in Peyton Place was written by Richard DeRoy who wrote many fo the tv episodes (at least the early seasons) so it's too bad it's so trashy--I hear TNG was a marked improvement, and ignored much of Murder.

Again no spoilers, but I totally agree! People like to say the show went to crap when it went to color, but I totally disagree. The scripts are just as good and there are some of the most powerful stories the show ever had. What I love most is that in many ways this show is more daring than modern soaps, yet they don't actually spell it out for you. Sex was dealt with in such a powerful and graphic way, but only from the emotional aspect. They never say the word sex or rape, but the actors and writers are so vivid that you totally understand. Today I don't think a soap could get around with a young heroine talking about how much she enjoyed sex and not be considering some evil whore or the show being hailed as immoral. It's all about how you choose to deal with issues and PP knew that. They milked human situations for all they were worth which made every episode a page turner.

Right, of course in some ways when you can't be soaphic it raises the intensity anyway--as you say it makes the emotional aspect more graphic.

I'm looking forward to the switch into colour--the show is so engrained into my brain as a black and white show, I can't quite picture it (I've seen the credits in colour online)

In the books Betty was never a major character and she was meant to be killed off early in the tv series. Honestly, most of the changes worked for me. I liked what they did with the Harrington/Peyton family and making Michael Rossi was perfect. You then got to use Matthew Swain as the newspaper head and a father figure for Allison. I am a little surprised as the series took off that they didn't look back to the book for stories or characters to bring on.

Yeah I found that strange too, although maybe it was wise to, after using the setup, just go on their own path (which is kinda what Alan Ball has done with True Blood--to think of a very different adaptation although he does use elements of later characters and stories in his later plots)

I'd love to see a new soap set in the 60s and written like Peyton Place. WOuld just make fabulous viewing.

Period soaps--on primetime and daytime seem near impossible to sustain (Mad Men excepted). But yeah, so would I.

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