Reviews of select episodes —
reflecting the respective author's opinion, but not necessarily the editorial staff's.
Fans are welcome to write reviews of additional episodes (e.g. a favorite), which may be published here after being checked by the editorial staff. The DFCF remains the right to shorten or edit, will discuss any changes with the respective author prior to publishing though.
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# 069 <4.01> Requiem
This is a fabulous season opener.
Acts 1 and 2 handle the search for the survivors of the plane crash and their rescue well and effectively. Melissa and Cole standing at the rescue site together foreshadows their growing friendship and their finally getting back together.
By act 2, Gustav Riebmann, one of the new major characters this season, and his father Johann Riebmann, who was mentioned several times in dialog last season, are introduced. The cartel storyline and Jacqueline's past will continue to play an important part this season.
Act 4 introduces Greg Reardon, the young and very self-confident lawyer, who is very blunt in his words to Angela and will finally become her new attorney.
This episode is the beginning of the series' second era. After BOB McCULLOUGH's departure, ROD PETERSON comes in as the new executive supervising producer, and his wife, CLAIRE WHITAKER, mother of supervising producer and head writer ERNIE WALLENGREN, joins the writing staff as executive script consultant. It is clear for everybody to see that they bring a lot more humor to the show — particularly in the funny scene when Melissa tries to cook spaghetti for Joseph. With the PETERSONs, friends of EARL HAMNER's since their collaboration on "The Waltons", the show lightens up in a positive way, and we will get to see the softer and more human sides of many characters.
The series also lightens up as far as set design and set dressing as well as cinematography are concerned. Moving from THE BURBANK STUDIOS (nowadays WARNER BROS. STUDIOS) to CBS/FOX (nowadays CBS STUDIO CENTER), all the interior sets underwent major redecoration and refurnishing. The picture quality is also enhanced. All in all, an episode that creates hunger for more!
THOMAS J. PUCHER
# 076 <4.08> Pain and Pleasure
Whereas up to now, the fight for Falcon Crest was between Angela and Chase only, now for the first time, a third party challenges Angela, claiming for legal title of the estate: Francesca Gioberti. Although she is a family member and Angela's half-sister, Angela is not very happy to share her land with the new family member. Nevertheless, she makes plans right away how to handle this new situation and to regain control over her property (Francesca: "With the Giobertis, business matters are family matters." Angela: "Spoken like a true Gioberti.").
Author GREG STRANGIS gives valuable background information on the Gioberti family in Italy. He even compares the lives of the Giobertis in the U.S. and in Italy in various humorous ways (Francesca: "They [the Giobertis in Italy] work the land. It is difficult sometimes." Lance: "Oh well, it's difficult here, too, at times."). Furthermore, the viewers can see one of Angela's famous "sweet" ways of letting the bomb burst: At Riebmann's (de Bercy's) housewarming, she introduces Francesca to the stunned Tuscany Valley high society and announces her half-sister to be the legal owner of one third of Falcon Crest. Cheers...
INGO A. KÜPPERS
former Senior Editor and CFO
# 086 <4.18> The Showdown
The past gets its hands on the Tuscany Valley's inhabitants:
Richard is threatened by the cartel again. Riebmann (de Bercy) sabotages his plan to establish a new table wine label in the valley. The Giobertis and Channings become aware that the cartel is still present in the valley, just like during season 2 when Jacqueline was in the valley and Richard arrived in Tuscany. Richard, trying to cover the cartel's tracks, defames Cole of the truck hijacking — resembling Richard's hunt for Cole in season 2 when Cole was the suspect in the Agretti murder case.
The big "Showdown" takes place when Angela, Chase and Richard discover that de Bercy is Riebmann's alias identity, i.e. de Bercy is the unscrupulous head of the cartel.
This episode has another typical shot of the "funny years" of "Falcon Crest", the era which began with the 4th season when ROD PETERSON took over the duties as executive supervising producer and author of some episodes: When Richard tries to hit Chase, he flattened Angela! The PETERSON era ("the funny years") lasts until the end of season 5, when PETERSON, his stepson ERNIE WALLENGREN and their friend EARL HAMNER leave the show's production staff.
INGO A. KÜPPERS
former Senior Editor and CFO
# 087 <4.19> Retribution
The cartel storyline was axed by CBS executives — untimely and, therefore, very abruptly.
Almost anything in this episode revolves around the cartel so Gustav Riebmann can be written off in this episode's finale, which will be the last we heard of the cartel.
It is probably one of the most controversially discussed topics in the show's history if it was a curse or blessing to abolish that storyline.
We may often have heard that the American audience had not been ready for a storyline involving Nazis in the mid-1980's — although EARL never intended to imply Gustav had been a Nazi, but just wanted to establish that his family's wealth came from a Nazi background. Equally often, however, it was said later that particularly the European audience loved the cartel / Nazi treasure storyline, and more and more American viewers started to share this point of view in the 1990's and 2000's.
Some people even go that far to say that axing that storyline led to a serious break in the show's storytelling that the series never recovered from.
Although I personally would not go that far because "Falcon" was never one-dimensional and always had many different storylines going on at the same time, I also regret that the cartel plotline had to be discontinued, and I really hope we will get access to ERNIE WALLENGREN's original season 4 bible with the allegedly spectacular outline for further developments in the cartel storyline spanning over the whole season.
THOMAS J. PUCHER
# 098 <4.30> The Avenging Angel
Once again, the inhabitants of the Tuscany Valley are on their way to the seasonal culmination — the final cliffhanger of season 4.
Everybody is involved; everybody in a different way. In the end, Falcon Crest seems to be lost to Cassandra Wilder and her mother, Anna, a woman, who, for years, has been determined to avenge her husband's death, something she blames Angela for. But she does not get back at Angela and her family, but she gets back at Angela and her most favorite "child": Falcon Crest.
It has been sizzling for a long time: Maggie and Richard share their first kiss. Maggie out of desperation after Chase's unfaithfulness, and Richard out of grief over Lorraine's death. They are both very much attracted to each other — finally, the dream couple of the show!
But their first kiss ends in an enormous fireball.
Again, a mind-blowing cliffhanger; everybody fights somebody, somebody fights everybody else; everybody fights everybody. Falcon Crest goes into hiatus with a big blow — literally!
Senior Editor and Art Director