Introduction to Santa Barbara


Technical information


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It is immediately after the Summer Olympics of 1984 that a daytime soap-opera of a new kind appears on NBC in the United States. Santa Barbara is officially born on screen on Monday, July 30th 1984.


Created by Bridget and Jerome Dobson, the couple of writers at the origin of the program, the show gets noticed at once by its innovative aspect: a steady rhythm, a light tone, permanent humor... The writing of the scenarios as the dialogues reach a level of requirement still never seen in the soap-operas. The storylines are linked and are ceaselessly renewed, the outdoor shootings are legion, and numerous comedy scenes clash for this type of program.
From 1984, some main characters immediately mark the televiewers: Mason Capwell, the black sheep of the family, seems as he just came from a Shakespeare's play; Augusta Lockridge frightens as much as she fascinates; Santana Andrade overwhelms by her fragility and her will to find her son... And especially, a first emblematic couple immediately meets its target: Kelly Capwell and Joe Perkins, the young heiress and the worker
's son unjustly accused of murder.
But in spite of very strong storylines, the ratings do not follow. In November 1984, an earthquake occurs to question a good number of stories and to review the situation of every character of the show. In the end, few main characters disappear, but the storylines tighten around both Capwell and Lockridge families on the four initially present.


At the beginning of 1985, the storyline of the carnation killer leads to the disappearance of two very important characters: Peter Flint and especially Joe Perkins, who had already had to suffer from a change of interpreter in autumn 1984. Some new "bad guys" make their entrance (Marcello Armonti, Jack Lee / Jerry Cooper, Kirk Cranston), whereas others reveal themselves: Gina DeMott takes off, becoming the queen of machinations and blackmail. 1985 is also the year when the thread-driver storyline from the first year: Channing Capwell Junior's murder is finally solved.
In parallel, a new couple takes over from Kelly and Joe, and this is for the remainder of the show: Eden Capwell and Cruz Castillo from then on become the iconic figures of the program, between passionate love, separations and repeated reunions. Especially, it is the new difference of social status between these two heroes which creates the attraction of the public: she is a rich fair Californian girl, he is a modest policeman, son of Mexican immigrants.
The comedy is always there, but the group of young actors customary of the genre is dissolved: Danny Andrade, Jade Perkins then Laken Lockridge disappear one after the other, leaving the young Ted Capwell darker and more grown-up storylines, as the accusation of rape on Christie DuVall. Some storylines are sometimes too fast (the Christie DuVall affair, from the rape to the trial, then to the final outcome, spreads out only over two months), and a large number of characters appear then disappear, sometimes too fast (Elizabeth Peale, Jackie Parks). So, at the end of 1985, there is nothing left of the Perkins, and the Andrades are represented by only two of their original members.
The year ends in a blaze of glory, with the patriarch C.C. Capwell in a coma, and Gina's memorable strategy to accuse Eden of having tried to kill him by pulling the plug of his life support system.


1986 is maybe the year when Santa Barbara reaches its peak. Many of the best storylines of the show are gathered this year and delight the fans: the discovery of the real identity of Brick Wallace, the killing frenzy of Kirk Cranston, the affair of the videotape acquitting Kelly of Dylan Hartley's death... And especially, two characters diametrically opposed are going to mark the televiewers forever: the sweet Mary DuVall, whose unexpected death leaves the fans as orphans, and Keith Timmons, the shady and eccentric district attorney.
Only Santa Barbara can take pride of such a cast, capable of giving life to characters unthinkable until then in a soap-opera: besides Keith Timmons, Pearl Bradford, original and slovenly, clashes but immediately takes the sympathy.
Sophia and C.C. finally form as a real couple, even if Gina watches to make them separate. The character of Gina continues its ascent, whereas Eden and Cruz, who have just overcome the last obstacles to their reunion (Kirk and Santana), see the arrival of a new schemer named Victoria Lane. On the other side, the show suffers from the departure of Louise Sorel, which sees the Lockridge family reduced to its chieftain, Lionel.


1987 marks the beginning of a new couple which, in spite of ups and downs, is going to pursue its development till the end of the show: Julia Wainwright and Mason Capwell. But the big storyline which is going to stand out this year is the one surrounding Elena Nikolas, who alternately kidnaps Eden and Mason and makes them pass as dead, tries to seduce Cruz and commits suicide by accusing him of her death. Another couple is born, for a more limited duration this time: Kelly and Jeffrey Conrad. In spite of the importance given to their relationship, it will never succeed in equaling the couple Kelly and Joe, even after a luxurious wedding at the end of November.
If love triangles are legion in the show, one clashes by the links which unite the characters. Within the triangle Julia, Mason and Victoria, a real relationship of friendship unites both women and it is together that they suffer from Mason's absence. 1987 is also the year when the Capwell family takes control of the storylines. If the Lockridges resist a little, it is only by opposition to their forever rivals. The departure of the character of Santana Andrade for a while closes the presence of the other big families in the storylines.
The storylines go with the flow, always with a great control. But already Santa Barbara loses a little of its freshness. The writing is more planned, mixing dramatic storylines closer to what can be expected from a soap-opera (Cruz
's trial, Victoria's addiction to cocaine, Caroline Wilson's disease) with new developments and scenes of pure comedy. It is because behind the scenes, things begin to change. Gradually, the Dobsons are pushed towards an exit by New World Productions which takes control of the show alone. At the head of the production and the scripts at the end of year is Jill Farren Phelps, who is going to lead Santa Barbara towards a little more classic road, but especially two years of success.


In 1988, the show suffers from the strike of the American writers, preventing the new characters from delivering all their potential. It is in particular Pamela Conrad who pays the price for it. The first big storyline of the year, an affair of espionage leading Eden and Cruz in Mexico, is short of credibility and seems too ambitious for a soap-opera. Others that almost fail follow: the manhunt after Cruz by a mad scientist, Gina indoctrinated by a sect... But the writers put things right when, on April 1st, they offer to the televiewers the scene they were waiting for three years: the wedding of Eden and Cruz. Around them, new characters get in presence on screen: in particular Dr. Scott Clark and Pamela Conrad, Mason and Jeffrey's presumed dead mother, who unfortunately disappears after a few months while she was promised a more long-lasting fate. If new faces arrive (Andrea, the Donnelly family, Celeste), Santa Barbara loses this year one of the most likeable characters, Hayley, Gina's niece.
1988 is also the year when Marcy Walker announces her pregnancy, which makes Eden a future mom for baby girl Adriana. The show waits for the fall in September to launch its shocking storyline: the rape of its heroine, Eden Capwell Castillo. The direction is so realistic and the act is shown in such raw violence that the fans share their emotion to the direction of NBC. Furthermore, the discovery that the rapist turns out to be Eden
's gynecologist, Zack Kelton, is only increasing the malaise among the televiewers! Other themes with rich emotional potential (sometimes particular to the United States) are tackled, in particular the memory of the Vietnam War and its traumas, like the discovery of children coming from both cultures for the former G.I.s.
At the Daytime Emmy awards in June, Justin Deas wins an award for his performance as district attorney Keith Timmons, whereas Santa Barbara is crowned for the first time the best drama of the year. Finally, the show is recognized by the profession and its quality and its innovation are publicly rewarded.
But on the other side of the coin is the departure of Justin Deas and especially of Robin Wright, replaced in her role by a former playmate who has a great deal of difficulty in
pulling the wool over the eyes.


After Robin Wright, 1989 sees the departure of two other symbolic actors: Lane Davies (Mason) and Todd McKee (Ted). One is replaced in his role, the other is not. To boost the always sluggish ratings, numerous new characters make their entrance within a few weeks: the DiNapoli sisters, the couple Laura and Ethan Asher, Megan Richardson and her son Greg... But little are going to survive beyond the year. Around Cruz gets established a family, with his brother Ric and his father Rafael. It is especially the arrival in June of the character of Robert Barr which boosts the interest, by creating a new love triangle with Eden and Cruz. Concerning the eccentricities, if the public lost Keith, it catches with Bunny Tagliatti, the big-hearted transvestite mafia - a character as only Santa Barbara can invent.
A part of the team also goes to Paris for the shooting of the episodes of the kidnapping of Adriana by Cruz
's sister-in-law. These episodes had to be of use as thanking to the French audience for its loyalty in the show,. In any case, they allow the acquaintance with the new Kelly, Carrington Garland, who immediately enters the heart of the televiewers with storylines finally worthy of the character for one year.
Santa Barbara pursues its metamorphosis: if the secondary characters change, they darken not at all the fundamental characters of the show who remain faithful to their original lines. Only Mason, from now on played by Terry Lester, loses in gravity to form with Julia a lighter couple, more capable of comedy. The bend concerning Mason had been in any case widely started with Lane Davies, during the story of his double personality, Sonny Sprocket, especially treated on a comedy tone.
At the ceremony of the Daytime Emmy awards, Marcy Walker (Eden), Nancy Grahn (Julia), Justin Gocke (Brandon) and again Justin Deas set off with a trophy. And Santa Barbara is again named drama of the year!


In 1990, because of decreasing ratings, Jill Farren Phelps is dismissed and replaced by John Conboy, who worked among others on the soaps The Young and the Restless and Capitol. His first decision is to re-form the Lockridge clan which had completely disappeared years after years since 1985. Here are thus again Augusta, Lionel and new Laken and Minx. Other founding acts to leave his print: he rebuilds the set of the imposing and emblematic Capwell villa, and gradually replaces the accompanying music which played as landmarks for the televiewers since the creation of the show. New characters are integrated (Stephen Slade, Derek Griffin, Amado Gonzalez, the Richards family), but none succeed in really making an impact. Without doubt the fault is small personalities and the time is not given to make an impact. Some storylines drag on (the four avenger orphans) and others are little credible (the kidnapping of Cruz in a Middle East harem). Two characters are however going to stand out this year: Cassandra Benedict and Flame Beaufort. Beyond the attraction for their characters, their respective interpreters have undoubtedly a lot to do with that. The storyline around Quinn Armitage, who takes the place of his twin brother Robert Barr, boosts the interest by putting several characters in danger.
One year after his arrival, Terry Lester leaves the show and is replaced by Gordon Thomson, more adapted to the role. The comedy scenes also flow with whimsical characters very well written as Phyllis Blake, Gina
's mother, or Annie DeGeralamo.
The same year, A Martinez and Henry Darrow (Rafael Castillo) win a Daytime Emmy award for best actors, respectively for a lead and a supporting role, and Santa Barbara goes out still victorious of the ceremony as the best show.


After a long two years trial with New World Productions, the Dobson couple is reinstated at the beginning of 1991 as writers. Marcy Walker, after having made several infidelities to the show to shoot TV movies, announces her intention to leave definitively in July. To organize the departure of Eden, the character finds herself in the center of a harrowing and very fascinating storyline of a split personality, which damages her relationships with her family. The Dobsons being in control, they bind these disorders with the events on the basis of the show: Sophia's infidelity and lies, her presumed death and her guilt in the death of Channing Junior. But the public is disconcerted.
Paul Rauch is named the new executive producer in June and gradually takes the Dobsons
' place. Accustomed to soap-operas, he launches into a complete reorganization of the show. Carrington Garland is dismissed and replaced by Eileen Davidson in the role of Kelly. The televiewers, who have just lost Eden, have the feeling of having also lost Kelly. Many new faces come to embody characters who had disappeared over the years (Ted, Warren, Santana, Lily Blake…), whereas some new developments seem to come out from nowhere (the past love-affair of Cassandra and Warren, Kelly finally in love with Quinn and not Robert, Warren being Lionel's illegitimate son).
A new set, a restaurant The Oasis, occupies most of the scenes, which get lost in endless dialogues to the detriment of the progress of the action.


In 1992, the end of the show is announced for July. At the last moment, six months as a last chance are given to Pamela K. Long, the new head writer, to try to raise the bar. It is her who creates the characters of the Walker family towards whom the main storylines refocus. This is to the detriment of the "historic" characters, confined for the greater part in lighter storylines or to play comical stooges (Gina, Lionel…). Julia and Mason, lost in a first storyline of a haunted house, are going to appear in their turn in the background. Priority is also given to new young characters, supposed to get the teenagers back in front of the show. But the frustrated passing fancy of Lily, Rafe, Lisa, Sawyer or Aurora do not enthrall much, in particular not the fans from the very beginning. Only the storyline around the sexual abuse lived by young B.J. Walker maintains an appearance of interest, whereas the fans cry foul by seeing Cruz falling in love with his sister-in-law Kelly. The televiewers have the impression to discover a new show in which would have lost the characters of the past.
In front of the in any case inevitable disaster, A Martinez prefers to leave the ship in July. After his departure, the show knows an ultimate fall of its ratings, from which it will not get up. After many timetable changes, several channels affiliated to NBC decide not to broadcast the show any more. The last episode, centred on the wedding of B.J. and Warren, ends on credits paying tribute to the technical teams, without a word being said about Eden and Cruz, the couple which nevertheless carried Santa Barbara during its first seven years.

And so Santa Barbara breaks off definitively on Friday, January 15th 1993, after 2137 episodes.

Technical information
Airing : July 30 1984 to January 15 1993 on NBC, 2137 episodes (2127 episodes of 43 minutes and 10 episodes of 22 minutes)

Creators : Bridget Dobson and Jerome Dobson

Production companies : Dobson Productions, New World Television

Executive producers : Bridget Dobson (1984-1987, 1991-1993), Jerome Dobson (1984-1987, 1991-1993), Jeffrey Hayden (1984), Charles A. Pratt (1984), Mary-Ellis Bunim (1984-1986), Jill Farren-Phelps (1987-1990), John Conboy (1990-1991), Paul Rauch (1991-1993)

Producers : Gerald Ament, Diane Asselin, Debbie Bachtell, Leonard Friedlander, Julie Hanan Carruthers, Lisa S. Hesser, Francesca James, Steven Kent, Jeffrey Lerner, Edlyne (Pat) Lloyd, Angelika Markus, Daniel McCaffrey, Eric Preven, Charlotte Savitz, Dennis Steinmetz...

Writers : Bridget Dobson, Jerome Dobson, Sheri Anderson, Anne Howard Bailey, Meg Bennett, Kim Beyer-Johnson, Bettina F. Bradbury, Richard Culliton, Charlotte M. Dobbs, Christopher Dunn, Josh Griffith, Robert Guza Jr., Hoyt Hilsman, C.L. Johnson, N. Gail Lawrence, Pamela K. Long, Joan McCall, Patrick Mulcahey, Lynda Myles, Charles Pratt Jr., Thom Racina, Pete T. Rich, Michael Russnow, Frank Salisbury, Courtney Sherman, Maralyn Thoma, Gary Tomlin, Jack Turley, Michele Val Jean...

Directors : Rick Bennewitz, Gary Bowen, Peter Brinkerhoff, Linda Day, John J. Desmond, Ellen Falcon, Bill Glenn, Michael Gliona, Norman Hall, Jeffrey Hayden, Grant A. Johnson, Bob LaHendro, Stephen Messer, Karl Messerschmidt, Gordon Rigsby, Robert Schiller, John Sedwick, Nicholas Stamos, George Thompson, Andrew D. Weyman, Jorn Winther, John C. Zak...

Music : James Patrick Dunne, Joseph Harnell (theme), Anthony R. Jones, Dominic Messinger, Randy Padgett, Art Phillips, Rick Rhodes...