The Colbys

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The Colbys
Colbys.jpg
Main title card
Also known as Dynasty II: The Colbys
Genre Soap opera
Created by Richard & Esther Shapiro
Robert & Eileen Pollock
Developed by William Bast
Paul Huson
Starring Charlton Heston
John James
Stephanie Beacham
Katharine Ross
Emma Samms
Joseph Campanella
Maxwell Caulfield
Tracy Scoggins
Claire Yarlett
Ricardo Montalban
Michael Parks
Barbara Stanwyck
Theme music composer Bill Conti
Country of origin United States
No. of seasons 2
No. of episodes 49 (list of episodes)
Production
Executive producer(s) Aaron Spelling
Douglas S. Cramer
Richard & Esther Shapiro
Running time 45–48 minutes
Distributor Warner Bros. Television (1984-2006)
Warner Bros. Domestic Pay TV (1994-2000)
CBS Television Distribution (2006-present)
Release
Original network ABC
Original release November 20, 1985 (1985-11-20) – March 26, 1987 (1987-03-26)
Chronology
Related shows Dynasty
Dynasty: The Reunion

The Colbys (originally titled Dynasty II: The Colbys) is an American prime time television soap opera which originally aired on ABC from November 20, 1985 to March 26, 1987. Produced by Aaron Spelling, it was a spin-off from Dynasty, which had been the highest rated series for the 1984–1985 U.S. television season.[1] The Colbys revolves around another wealthy, upper-class family, who are relatives by marriage of the Carringtons of Dynasty and who own a large multi-national corporation. Intended to surpass its predecessor in opulence, the series' producers were handed an immensely high budget for the era[2] and cast a handful of well-known movie stars among its leads, including Charlton Heston, Barbara Stanwyck, Katharine Ross and Ricardo Montalban. However, The Colbys was ultimately a critical and ratings disappointment, and was canceled after two seasons.

Origins[edit]

Throughout the 1980s, ABC's Dynasty had been promoted as the network's answer to successful Dallas on CBS. Dynasty finally over-took Dallas as television's highest-rated weekly series in 1985, being viewed by more than 150 million people globally and achieving an average 25.0 rating. With this success, ABC wanted to duplicate their profits by producing a spin-off of their biggest hit. ABC announced their plan to have a spin-off from Dynasty to press on February 21, 1985, and that its title would be Dynasty II: The Colbys. It was revealed that the synopsis would center on the wealthy Colby family of Los Angeles, California. In the early stages of development, actor John James (Jeff Colby from Dynasty) was the only confirmed cast member attached to the spin-off. ABC stated that they had contacted actress Pamela Sue Martin, who had left Dynasty in 1984, to return as Fallon Carrington for the spin-off, although she declined the offer. It was also speculated that Heather Locklear (Sammy Jo on Dynasty) would be a star on the spin-off, although this never came to pass. There were also rumors that Diahann Carroll and Troy Beyer (both Dynasty regulars) would be regulars on the spin-off, but this also never came to pass. An early idea was to have multiple Dynasty cast members, particularly Linda Evans and Joan Collins, guest star on the new series; the majority of the cast members from the parent series agreed to appear in the spin-off in guest roles, with the exception of Collins, who expressed her thoughts that a spin-off would "kill" Dynasty.

In March 1985, ABC executives were quoted as having said that "great care [would] be [given] not to jeopardize the parent series [Dynasty]". Around the same time, while The Colbys was receiving massive publicity, several industry observers speculated that the soap opera genre would decline in popularity because of a series of failed soaps and mini-series. They also felt that the new-found popularity of several new situation comedies would squander the soap genre's success. By May 1985, ABC released word that The Colbys would not premiere until November, and, until then, the police drama Lady Blue would air in its time slot. That same month, actor James Darren (of the recently axed T.J. Hooker) had been offered a role on the spin-off; however, once T.J. Hooker was picked up by CBS, he decided to decline the offer. Meanwhile, daytime soap opera actress Emma Samms had been cast as Fallon. Although many felt that Samms "did not have the appeal" of Pamela Sue Martin, co-star John James considered her a "good little actress" and backed her in her efforts to do justice to the role.

One of the forerunners for the role of Colby family patriarch Jason Colby was Burt Lancaster, who, for unclear reasons, was not cast. In June 1985, it was announced that Charlton Heston had been cast as Jason and that Barbara Stanwyck was contracted to play his sister, Constance. That same month, Academy Award winners Faye Dunaway and Elizabeth Taylor were offered roles on The Colbys, but neither accepted the offer. There was also speculation that actress Ali MacGraw, that had joined Dynasty in 1985, would survive the "Moldavian Massacre" cliffhanger and transfer to the spin-off and provide a love triangle for Jeff and Fallon. Meanwhile, Doris Day had been offered a role on the spin-off, but she had no interest, and by July 1985, it was reported that Angie Dickinson was being considered for the role of Jason's vengeful wife, Sable. When Dickinson was dropped from consideration shortly thereafter, Sussanah York and Elizabeth Ashley auditioned for Sable, but the producers eventually cast British actress Stephanie Beacham instead. On July 15, 1985, it was announced that Maxwell Caulfield would play Jason and Sable's playboy son Miles, and that Tracy Scoggins would play his twin sister, Monica. On August 5, 1985, ABC stated that Ali MacGraw would not be joining the spin-off, and on September 4, it was confirmed that Ricardo Montalbán had joined the cast. Later that same month, it was announced that Katharine Ross had been cast as Sable's sensitive and exiled sister, Francesca, and that Claire Yarlett had been cast as Bliss, Miles and Monica's younger sister.

Premise[edit]

On Dynasty, presumed-dead heiress Fallon Carrington Colby (Emma Samms) reappears alive, suffering from amnesia and using the name Randall Adams. Drawn to California after recognizing the name "Colby", she meets playboy Miles Colby (Maxwell Caulfield), not realizing that he is the cousin of her ex-husband, Jeff (John James). A mutual business venture brings the Colbys of California to the Denver mansion of Fallon's father Blake Carrington (John Forsythe).[3]

Set in Los Angeles, The Colbys focuses on the extended Colby family as Jeff relocates to California to start his life anew – and comes face to face with Fallon, now married to his cousin Miles. A fierce rivalry is sparked between Jeff and Miles, and the love triangle spans the series. Miles's father, billionaire Jason Colby (Heston), has a rocky marriage to the icy Sable (Stephanie Beacham), in part due to his longtime attraction to Sable's sister Francesca (Ross) – Jeff's estranged mother, and the former wife of Jason's deceased brother. Other characters include Jason's powerful sister Constance (Stanwyck), Miles's twin sister Monica (Tracy Scoggins) and their third sibling Bliss (Claire Yarlett).

In addition to Forsythe's Blake, Dynasty characters Adam Carrington (Gordon Thomson), Steven Carrington (Jack Coleman) and Dominique Deveraux (Diahann Carroll) also made guest appearances on the show between 1985 and 1986.

Characters[edit]

Promotional cast photo from The Colbys
Jason Colby (Charlton Heston (original cast), 1985–1987)
CEO of Colby Enterprises and brother of Constance, Philip, and Cecil. As the series opens, Philip and Cecil are both deceased – the former in Vietnam, the latter in Denver during the third season of Dynasty. Jason is married to Sable, and their children are twins Miles and Monica, and youngest daughter Bliss. Jason's affair with Francesca Langdon, his wife's sister and his brother Philip's former wife, ends his marriage; he later discovers that he is the father of Francesca's son Jeff. When he first appears in Season 6 of Dynasty, he is diagnosed with a terminal illness and given only one year to live. However, it was later revealed that he was never sick at all and the mistake was due to a computer error.
Constance "Connie" Colby Patterson (Barbara Stanwyck (original cast), 1985–1986)
Jason Colby's strong-willed sister, who sets the stage for the series by inviting Jeff Colby to California, hoping to mend the rift between him and the rest of the family. Believing her brother Jason is dying and in need of an heir who can run the Colby empire, Constance gifts to Jeff her 50 percent of the company's voting stock, which incurs Sable's anger, leading into one of the first season's major storylines. Stanwyck left the series after the first season, with the character being killed in a plane crash while traveling in Asia.
Sabella "Sable" Scott Colby (Stephanie Beacham (original cast), 1985–1987)
British-born art gallery owner, wife of Jason, sister of Francesca and mother of Miles, Monica, and Bliss. The first cousin of Dynasty's Alexis Carrington Colby (Cecil's widow), Sable is protective of her family but vengeful when Jason casts her aside for Francesca. She is also frequently at odds with Constance over her decision to give her shares of Colby Enterprises to Jeff--even going so far as to making her believe she is going senile and attempting to have her committed. These actions cause irreversible damage to her relationship with Jason as time goes on, leading to the eventual disintegration of their once-happy marriage. Sable and Alexis share a rivalry hinted at on The Colbys but further explored a number of years later in Dynasty.
Jeff Colby (John James (original cast), 1985–1987)
The son of Philip and Francesca Colby, raised in Denver by his uncle Cecil Colby on the Colby estate, Nine Oaks, which neighbored the Carrington estate. He is invited to Los Angeles by Constance and soon becomes embroiled in the dynastic intrigue of the Colbys, reuniting with his presumed-dead wife Fallon and estranged mother, and eventually discovering that his uncle Jason Colby is in fact his biological father. At first, he is angry and resentful over the revelation, but with help from Constance and Fallon, Jeff eventually accepts Jason as his father.
Fallon Carrington Colby (Emma Samms (original cast), 1985–1987)
Daughter of Dynasty 's Blake Carrington, and Jeff's on-again, off-again wife; she also marries his cousin Miles. The role had been originated on Dynasty by Pamela Sue Martin, who had left the series in 1984 and the character presumed dead in a plane crash. Fallon (Samms) reappears briefly on Dynasty in 1985 with amnesia before transitioning to The Colbys, the subsequent love triangle between her, Jeff, and Miles driving much of the drama for the first season. She later returns to Denver and Dynasty for its final seasons.
Miles Andrew Colby (Maxwell Caulfield (original cast), 1985–1987)
Jason and Sable's playboy son, noted mainly for his bad attitude, his disastrous relationships (first, with the amnesiac Fallon, and second, with the emotionally unstable Channing Carter) and his rivalry with cousin Jeff, who is later revealed to be his half-brother.
Monica Scott Colby (Tracy Scoggins (original cast), 1985–1987)
Jason and Sable's daughter, and general counsel for Colby Enterprises until she quits to run Titania Records for Dominique Deveraux. However she returns to her old job after Dominique sells the company to help Blake. Monica is protective of her twin brother, Miles, but also holds a high regard for his rival (and their cousin) Jeff Colby. Monica has short-lived romantic involvements with both singer Wayne Masterson and married Titania Records executive Neil Kittredge. It is revealed that Monica's past affair with Cash Cassidy had produced a son, whom Constance had arranged for Cash to raise with his wife Adrienne, ending their relationship to preserve his political career.
Bliss Colby Rostov (Claire Yarlett (original cast), 1985–1987)
Jason and Sable's youngest child, a young and idealistic woman who has strong political beliefs which often put her at odds with her father, an oil and industry tycoon. Bliss has ill-fated romances with Sean McCallister and Spiros Koralis, the nephew and former stepson, respectively, of the Colby family's greatest enemy, Zach Powers. She eventually becomes involved with Koyla Rostov, a Russian dancer who defects to America with his sister Anna.
Lady Francesca "Frankie" Scott Colby Hamilton Langdon (Katharine Ross (original cast), 1985–1987)
Philip Colby's widow, who returns to Los Angeles after years in "exile" as the wife of diplomat Lord Roger Langdon (David Hedison). She is Jeff's mother, but had abandoned him as an infant, bending to pressure from brother-in-law Cecil. Francesca reappears at the invitation of Constance, who is anxious to make amends. Frankie, as she is known, is also Sable's estranged sister, and Jason's lover.
Zachary "Zach" Powers (Ricardo Montalbán ("guest star"), 1985–1987)
European shipping tycoon who falls in love with Sable. Born into poverty, Powers blames the Colbys for his father's suicide.
Philip Colby (Michael Parks, 1986–1987)
Former husband of Francesca and the black sheep of the Colby family, presumed killed in Saigon in 1957. Initially a mercenary using the name Hoyt Parker, Philip makes his presence known at Jason and Francesca's wedding and proceeds to disrupt the lives of the entire Colby family.
Henry "Hutch" Corrigan (Joseph Campanella (original cast), 1985–1986)
Rugged, aged cowboy and boyfriend of Constance Colby who is also killed in the plane crash in Asia.
Garrett Boydston (Ken Howard (original cast), 1985–1986)
Levelheaded though sensitive lawyer for Colby Enterprises, who loved and pursued Dominique Deveraux.

Other characters[edit]

Henderson Palmer (Ivan Bonar, 1985–1987)
Butler to the Colby family. Married to Enid.
Enid Palmer (Alison Evans, 1985–1987)
Maid to the Colby family. Married to Henderson.
Sean McAllister (Charles Van Eman, 1985–1986)
Environmentalist boyfriend to Bliss Colby and nephew of Zach Powers, who spied on Jason Colby.
Arthur Cates (Peter White, 1985–1986)
Longtime lawyer to Sable Colby.
Neil Kittredge (Philip Brown, 1985–1986)
Married Vice-President of Titania Records, who was involved with Monica Colby.
Wayne Masterson (Gary Morris, 1986)
Blind country singer at Titania Records who fell in love with Monica Colby.
Roger Langdon (David Hedison, 1986)
British diplomat and later husband to Frankie.
Spiros Koralis (Ray Wise, 1986)
Chief of the New York offices of Powers Shipping and Zach Powers' step son. He feels animosity towards his stepfather.
John Moretti (Vincent Baggetta, 1986)
California assistant district attorney with a vendetta against Jason Colby who put Jeff Colby and Miles Colby on separate murder charges.
Channing Carter Colby (Kim Morgan Greene, 1986–1987)
Member of the Carter publishing family, a slinky, sneaky, whom Miles Colby marries on the rebound after losing Fallon to Jeff.
Nikolai "Kolya" Rostov (Adrian Paul, 1986–1987)
Russian ballet dancer who was involved with Bliss Colby and opted to defect to the U.S.
Anna Rostov (Anna Levine, 1986–1987)
Pretty blond ballerina from Russia and sister of Kolya.
Senator Cash Cassidy (James Houghton, 1986–1987)
Senator, son of one of Jason Colby's adversaries, and former love of Monica Colby, with whom he had a son, Scott. He had to give up his relationship with Monica to further his own political career.
Adrienne Cassidy (Shanna Reed, 1986–1987)
Shrewd, sniping senator's wife who had to fight off Monica Colby's interest in her family.
Scott Cassidy (Coleby Lombardo, 1986–1987)
Monica Colby's biological son, with Cash Cassidy, a bright young boy with an interest in space technology, who was raised by Cash and his wife, Adrienne.
Lucas Carter (Kevin McCarthy, 1986–1987)
Uncle of Channing Carter and chief of the Carter publishing empire.

Storylines[edit]

Fallon (Emma Samms) is abducted by aliens in the series finale on March 26, 1987

The first season's storylines include the construction of an oil pipeline, Zach Powers' vendetta against the Colbys, the romance between Jason and his sister-in-law Francesca, the subsequent collapse of Jason's marriage to Sable, and eventually the revelation that Jason, not his brother Philip, is in fact Jeff's father. There were initially a number of cross-overs featuring members of the Dynasty cast, most notably Blake Carrington, his sons Adam and Steven, and half-sister Dominique Deveraux. At the end of the season, Fallon learns that Miles could be the father of her unborn child, Monica's plane crashes, and Sable has Jason arrested for assault and battery, claiming that he had inflicted the injuries she actually sustained by falling down a flight of stairs.

In the second season, Jason manages to divorce Sable and plans to marry Francesca, but the presumed-dead Philip reappears alive. Previously romantically linked to both Zach's nephew and former stepson, Bliss falls in love with a Russian dancer watched by the KGB, the son Monica had given up eight years before reenters her life, and Constance and Hutch are killed after a plane crash in India. At the end of the season, Miles's wife Channing phones to say she will abort their unborn baby, Sable kidnaps Monica's son, Francesca seemingly dies after a car crash involving herself and Philip, and Fallon, stranded in the desert, is seemingly abducted by aliens in the finale. The show's most infamous cliffhanger proved to be its last when the series was subsequently cancelled.

Ratings and criticism[edit]

Although much hyped in 1985, garnering high ratings for its premiere episode, and also the winner of a 1986 People's Choice Award for New Dramatic TV Program,[4] The Colbys was ultimately a ratings disappointment. The first season finished in 35th place, in part due to competition with NBC's Cheers and Night Court on Thursday nights[5] (by comparison, Dynasty finished in 7th place the same season). The series was renewed for a second season but fared much worse. Now not only being scheduled opposite NBC's Cheers and Night Court, but also rival soap Knots Landing on CBS (for a few weeks), The Colbys finished a dismal 76th for the year prompting the network to cancel the show.[6]

The series did not fare well among critics either, with one of its main criticisms being that it was simply a copy of Dynasty. The L.A. Times stated "It's not a spinoff, it's a clone—as close a replica as ABC and the Dynasty producers could concoct, right down to the credits."[7] The Pittsburgh Press compared the scripts to Dick and Jane books for children.[8] In their Directory To Primetime TV Shows, television historians Tim Brooks and Earle Marsh stated that the series likely failed because it was "too close a copy" of Dynasty.[9]

Even some castmembers were vocal about their dissatisfaction with the series. In 1986, Barbara Stanwyck opted to end her contract and leave the series after its first season, reportedly calling it "a turkey"[10] and telling co-creator Esther Shapiro "This is the biggest pile of garbage I ever did" and that "It's one thing to know you're making a lot of money off vulgarity, but when you don't know it's vulgar - it's plain stupid."[11] On the contrary, Charlton Heston always had supported the show and stated its cancellation "was premature" as "we were coming closer to being a creative production team that could make the kind of show we'd planned on from the beginning." [12]

Dynasty star Joan Collins categorically refused to make any appearances in it herself, believing it would have caused "massive confusion between the two shows",[13] and urged her fellow Dynasty castmates not to involve themselves with it either.

Aftermath[edit]

Following the cancellation of The Colbys, the characters of Jeff and Fallon were immediately reintroduced into Dynasty during that series' eighth season premiere, "The Siege – Part 1". Sable (now divorced from Jason, who was still involved with Frankie, who survived the car crash) and Monica Colby (who no longer had contact with ex-lover Cash or their son Scott) also later reappeared on Dynasty for the series' ninth (and final) season in 1988–89. The only brief mentions of Miles and Bliss was that they too had both moved from the Colby mansion.

During the final season of Dynasty, it is revealed that Monica and her twin Miles might not have been Jason's children, as Sable had been raped around the time they were conceived. Miles (who refers to Jeff as his half-brother, leading to the assumption that Jason was his and Monica's father after all) later appears in the 1991 miniseries Dynasty: The Reunion, reunited with Fallon, and participates in Jeff's rescue from the Consortium. The Jeff-Fallon-Miles love triangle is finally resolved, as Fallon leaves Miles for Jeff once again.

DVD release[edit]

On May 12, 2015, Shout! Factory released The Colbys: The Complete Series on DVD in Region 1 for the very first time.[14] The 12-disc set features all 49 episodes of the series as well as all new cast interviews.

On July 20, 2015, The Colbys was released in Germany (Region 2). The DVD is split in two, the first season and the second season. The DVD's have a German cover (Die Colbys - Das Imperium) but are spoken in English and dubbed in German.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ 1984–1985 Ratings – ClassicTVhits.com
  2. ^ Gardella, Kay (November 20, 1985). "John James Hopes Luck Holds". The Ledger. Google. Retrieved August 25, 2010. 
  3. ^ Jason (Charlton Heston) and Constance (Barbara Stanwyck) are first seen in the Dynasty sixth season episode "The Californians" (October 9, 1985) and the rest of the Colby family are introduced a special two-part Dynasty episode called "The Titans" (November 13, 1985).
  4. ^ "People's Choice Award Winners: 1986". PCAvote.com. Retrieved September 30, 2010. 
  5. ^ The Modesto Bee
  6. ^ The Miami News
  7. ^ Lee Margulies (Nov 20, 1985). "From The Serene to the Ridiculous". L.A. Times. Retrieved February 3, 2012. 
  8. ^ Barbara Holsopple (Nov 21, 1985). "Dynasty II: Another Big Soap That Just Doesn't Wash". Pittsburgh Press. Retrieved February 3, 2012. 
  9. ^ Brooks, Tim & Marsh, Earle. The Directory To Prime Time TV Shows – 8th Edition, Ballantine Books, 2003.
  10. ^ Saluting Stanwyck : a life on film
  11. ^ Madsen, Axel (1994). Stanwyck. New York City, USA: HarperCollins. pp. 357–359. ISBN 0-595-19398-6. 
  12. ^ Heston Talks Of Many Things Including 'The Colbys'
  13. ^ As Dynasty returns to our screens... Alexis was a bitch, but she was nothing compared to my co-stars!
  14. ^ Shout! Factory Press Release Announces 'The Complete Series' on DVD!

External links[edit]