Shout! Factory // 1964 // 780 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge Brett Cullum // July 15th, 2009
This is the continuing story of Peyton Place...
In 1964, a nighttime soap opera named Peyton Place premiered, loosely based on the popular novel by Grace Metalious and a big screen adaptation that was wildly successful on its own terms. It aired twice weekly in the first year without any repeats or hiatus period, and so seasons have no meaning when we talk about this ongoing teleplay. Just know Peyton Place: Part Two is the next thirty-three episodes following the first set. It's a chance to see a major part of television history: this seminal serial-at-night set the stage for later shows like Dynasty, Desperate Housewives, or any popular prime time soap. The cast is great, including a young Ryan O'Neal (Love Story) and Mia Farrow (Rosemary's Baby), and veterans such as Dorothy Malone (Basic Instinct).
Part Two picks up after the holidays as the town celebrates the new year. Elliot Carson (Tim O'Connor, Buck Rogers in the 25th Century) is paroled and returns to clear his name of the murder of his wife. This all means trouble for Constance MacKenzie (Malone) and her daughter Allison MacKenzie (Farrow), because they are key to a big secret around all of this. Then we have Betty Anderson (Barbara Parkins, Valley of the Dolls) who has run off to New York after her shotgun wedding to Rodney Harrington (O'Neal). Her dad has to be institutionalized in this set, and her dreams shatter. Heck, seems like everybody's dreams shatter somewhere along the way in this small little hamlet of psychodrama and hidden agendas.
The episodes look to be in mostly good condition, but as the DVDs proceed over the shows you notice here and there a twenty minute installment with major damage to the quality of the print. It reminds me of the Dark Shadows DVDs where each episode looks different from the others depending on the condition of the source tapes or films they are using. Surprisingly the DVDs are bare bones without any extras exploring the legacy of Peyton Place. That's a bit of a disappointment since the show changed television, launched many careers, and established a major network.
The show still works after all these years, and it even looks handsome and well done for a series always shot on the fly to air twice a week. The stories are engaging, and the characters are interesting enough to hold your attention. It's a total guilty pleasure you can write off as an examination of television history. I'm very glad Shout! Factory has decided to release this show even if it takes them sixteen sets at the pace they have measured out for these first two releases. It's going to take a long time to get over five hundred episodes released. But hey, if Peyton Place ever revealed anything it was the value of time to change all things.
The show is guilty of creating a new genre of television, the nighttime soap.
Peyton Place is an addictive piece of history for the small screen.
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Scales of Justice
Studio: Shout! Factory
* Full Frame
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono (English)
Running Time: 780 Minutes
Release Year: 1964
MPAA Rating: Not Rated