Fresno (miniseries)

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Fresno (TV miniseries).jpg
Written by
  • Mark Ganzel
  • Barry Kemp
  • Michael Petryni
Directed by Jeff Bleckner
Theme music composer John Morris
Country of origin United States
Original language(s) English
Producer(s) R. W. Goodwin
Editor(s) Andrew Chulack
Cinematography Robert Steadman
Running time 360 minutes
Production company(s) MTM Productions
Distributor CBS Television
Budget US$12 million[citation needed]
Original release November 16, 1986 (1986-11-16) – November 20, 1986 (1986-11-20)

Fresno is a 1986 television comedy miniseries that parodied popular prime time soap operas of the day such as Falcon Crest, Dallas, and Dynasty. Starring Carol Burnett, Teri Garr, Charles Grodin, Gregory Harrison and Dabney Coleman, it chronicles the struggle of matriarch Charlotte Kensington (Burnett) to keep control of her dysfunctional family and declining raisin empire.[1]


Set in Fresno, California, the story focuses on the once-wealthy Kensington family, whose raisin-growing empire has fallen on hard times. The Kensingtons are led by widowed matriarch Charlotte (Burnett), who is locked in a deadly power struggle with rival raisin magnate Tyler Cane (Coleman).

Parodying elements from other prime time soap operas of the era, Fresno centers on the ruthless battle between the Kensingtons and Tyler Cane for domination of the Fresno raisin industry, and follows the marital conflict between Charlotte's scheming son Cane (Grodin) and his wife Talon (Garr), the travails of Charlotte's "sensitive" younger son Kevin (Heald), who at one point announces that he is becoming celibate as a protest against whaling, the appearance of a mysterious, perpetually shirtless ranch hand named Torch (Harrison), and the gradual exposure of Byzantine hidden relationships between the main characters sparked by the quest by Charlotte's supposedly adopted daughter Tiffany to find her real parents. As the story reaches is climax, it is revealed that Tiffany is in fact Charlotte's biological daughter, fathered by her mother's arch-rival Tyler shortly after Charlotte's husband's had died in a tragic raisin dehydrator accident.[1]



Fresno was created and co-written by Barry Kemp, Mark Ganzel, and Michael Petryni, and was produced for CBS Television by Mary Tyler-Moore's MTM Productions. The miniseries was directed by Jeff Bleckner, who had previously directed episodes of some of the shows parodied in Fresno, including Dynasty, Knots Landing, and Falcon Crest.[1]

The miniseries starred Carol Burnett and Dabney Coleman, with Charles Grodin, Terri Garr, Valerie Mahaffey, Bill Paxton, Anthony Heald, Gregory Harrison, Luis Avalos, Jerry Van Dyke, Charles Keating, Pat Corley, and Jeffrey Jones.[1]

The production shot for two days in the city of Fresno, California in July 1986, completing its remaining 53 days in Los Angeles.[2] The music was composed by John Morris, and the Emmy-nominated gowns worn by the female leads were designed by Bob Mackie. It was executive produced by Barry Kemp.

Fresno was run twice. The 1989 showing had an altered soundtrack, with canned laughter added.

Awards and nominations[edit]

  • 1987 Casting Society of America Artio Award for Best Casting for TV Miniseries
  • 1987 Emmy Award for Outstanding Achievement in Hairstyling for a Miniseries or a Special
  • 1987 Emmy Award for Outstanding Art Direction for a Miniseries or a Special
  • 1987 Emmy Award for Outstanding Costume Design for a Miniseries or a Special
  • 1987 Emmy Award for Outstanding Editing for a Miniseries or a Special
  • 1987 Emmy Award for Outstanding Sound Editing for a Miniseries or a Special


Title Directed by: Written by: Air date
1 "The Raisin Basket of the World" Jeff Bleckner Mark Ganzel,
Barry Kemp,
Michael Petryni
16 November 1986 (1986-11-16)
Raisin Baron Tyler Cane seeks to cut off the Kensington Ranch water supply so he can control the raisin crop of Fresno, but Cane Kensington will fight him for every last drop.
2 "Episode 2" Jeff Bleckner Mark Ganzel,
Barry Kemp,
Michael Petryni
17 November 1986 (1986-11-17)
The Kensingtons need the Duke tract of land for access to the water they need, and Charlotte uses her female wiles to get it. Charles frames his brother Kevin to cover up his own foul deed.
3 "Episode 3" * * 18 November 1986 (1986-11-18)
Tiffany finds a kindred spirit in Torch, a drifter without a shirt, while searching for her true parents. Tyler uses Juan as a spy to get the goods on Cane.
4 "Episode 4" * * 19 November 1986 (1986-11-19)
Skeletons come out of the closet at the Annual Raisin Festival Masquerade Ball, and an attempt to kill Cane goes wrong.
5 "Episode 5" * * 20 November 1986 (1986-11-20)
The identities of two killers are revealed amid courtroom pandemonium. Cane has to be in two court rooms at the same time and tell two different stories.

* Unknown


  1. ^ a b c d Richard Zoglin (November 17, 1986). "Video: A Raisin in the Fun: Fresno". Time. Retrieved 29 August 2011. 
  2. ^ Steve Harvey (July 17, 1986). "TV Film Crew Gives Fresno Day in the Sun". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 29 August 2011. 

External links[edit]