1 9 7 2 – 1 9 7 4 (USA)
427 x 30 minute episodes
Nearly three years after the cancellation of the hit ABC nighttime soap opera Peyton Place (1964-69), based in turn on the best-selling book by Grace Metalious, this far less successful follow-up came on NBC’s daily schedule.
It included some returning members of the nighttime show, including Patricia Morrow, who had told TV Guide in 1971, “I was never crazy about show business, but after I got to be one of the stars of Peyton Place, I really started hating it. The whole thing. All of it. Being an actress, I began hating television. I started getting sick and tired of what I was becoming. I lost myself.”
Apparently, she found herself in time to go back to her old role.
The series spent its first year using some of the earlier show’s plots. For example, Constance Mackenzie remarried Allison’s dad Elliot Carson (Eli’s son), and Norman Harrington waited on tables while his wife Rita Jacks (Adds daughter) ran the local tavern.
Other stories differed somewhat. Betty Anderson was pregnant by first husband Steven Cord, although she was now married to Rodney Harrington, his half-brother. (Rodney also was Norman’s brother and Leslie’s son.)
The Constance-Elliot marriage was troubled due to persistent arguments, pushing Constance into the arms of Dr Rossi, whose wife Selena Cross, not seen in the nighttime version, was also his nurse.
And Martin Peyton, descendent of the town’s founders, appeared even though he had died in the original.
The show’s central heroine had all new adventures. On Peyton Place, Allison Mackenzie (Constance and Elliott’s daughter) disappeared in 1966 when actress Mis Farrow left the show. Here, on the 19 April 1972 episode, Allison came home on the eve of Rodney and Betty’s marriage, elusive about where she had been.
This concerned Betty, given Rodney’s love for Allison in the past. But Allison had bigger problems to handle. She married Benny Tate, but his evil twin Jason took his place and hooked her on drugs. Benny eventually rose from his deathbed to murder Jason.
Yet on 21 January 1973, in a special nighttime show (probably the first for a daytime soap opera), poor Allison was found guilty of murder, prompting more misery until the actual murderer was found.
In retrospect, the main problem for Return to Peyton Place (besides the cast turnover, a rather large one given the show’s short run) was the producers’ uncertainty over whether to replicate, replace, or continue storylines from the earlier show. They tried all three approaches, but none satisfied weary viewers, who favoured One Life to Live on ABC and The Match Game on CBS.
In later years, some of the nighttime cast reunited in two TV movies, Murder in Peyton Place (1977) and Peyton Place: The Next Generation (1985).
Katherine Glass (1)
Pamela Shoop (2)
Bettye Ackerman (1)
Susan Brown (2)
Betty Anderson Harrington Cord Harrington
Julie Parrish (1)
Lynn Loring (2)
Lawrence P. Casey (1)
Yale Summers (2)
Frank Maxwell (1)
Stacy Harris (2)
Rita Jacks Harrington
Dr Michael Rossi
Selena Cross Rossi
Mary K. Wells
Benny Tate/Jason Tate