1 9 8 5 – 1 9 8 7 (USA)
49 x 60 minute episodes
The Colbys of California, cousins of the Carringtons, proved that as far as super-rich soap families are concerned, there is no such thing as viewer fatigue.
This show was subtitled Dynasty II – similar enough to the hugely rating series, but different enough they hoped, to have a style of its own.
They reasoned that if Dynasty was making them pots of money (and it was – over $200 million a year), why not go for it and be greedy? They were soon to find out why not . . .
First came the stupendous hype. Then came the starry cast. Then came the stupid plots.
The hype was that The Colbys would be more exotic and more explicit. We were talking serious, delirious sex and serious designer sportswear here.
The publicity said it was going to be “Richer, Prettier and More Shocking” than Dynasty. This fabulous family would be more outgoing than those stay-at-home types in Denver.
The established darlings of Dynasty – Blake, Krystle, Alexis – would “visit”, and Jeff and Fallon – who would arise from the ashes of her plane crash – would move to California to stay.
Half of Hollywood was clamouring to take part, including Burt Lancaster, Katherine Hepburn, Angie Dickinson, Gregory Peck, and Faye Dunaway.
Susannah York and Diana Rigg were tested for Sable but were turned down. In the end, Charlton Heston signed for the part of Jason Colby for $90,000 a week.
Barbara Stanwyck (then aged 78) took the role of his sister, Constance, and English actress Stephanie Beacham won the part of Sable, the superbitch.
The children were to be played by Maxwell Caulfield, Tracy Scoggins and Claire Yarlett. Who? Who? And who? Never mind.
The show debuted in the US in November 1985. The first episode rated only 50th in the American lists, the second 37th and the third 39th. Over on NBC, the comedy Cheers was kicking The Colbys ass.
Reviewers showed little enthusiasm for early plots revolving around Jason’s fatal illness, Sable’s fury that Constance gave half the Colby company stock to her nephew Jeff, and the two Colby daughters’ boyfriends, one a blind folk singer, the other a save-the-Earth activist.
Emma Samms, who was rushed in as the new Fallon, brought flak from critics.
By April 1986, veteran actress Barbara Stanwyck had freed herself from her contract and quit the show, declaring that The Colbys was “the biggest pile of garbage I ever did”.
The cliff-hanger for the summer of 1987 finally sealed the fate of the show. In what may have been seen as a way to rocket the show to the top, the genius behind the Star Wars films, John Dykstra, was hired to mastermind the effects of an alien spaceship landing in the desert where Fallon was lurking.
An alien (an extra in a body-stocking with bloodshot eyes) appeared in a haze of smoke and beckoned Fallon aboard.
She clambered aboard in her high heels, stood bosom to chest with her new friend as light bulbs revolved around their head as they began to take off. The five-minute scene cost a million dollars.
The scene was not received with enthusiasm and the decision to drop The Colbys was announced soon after. Only John James and Emma Samms returned to Dynasty.
The UFO scene was repeated as a flashback in Dynasty two years later . . . now that was living dangerously!
Sabella ‘Sable’ Scott Colby
Constance “Connie” Colby Patterson
Fallon Carrington Colby/Randall Adams
Francesca ‘Frankie’ Scott Colby Hamilton Langdon
Channing Carter Colby
Kim Morgan Greene
Charles Van Eman