TV: Evening Soap Opera on ABC.
Peyton Place
Returns in Cleaner Version
By Jack Gould
September 16, 1964

Allison, Constance, Betty, Mike Rossi, Rodney, Catherine, and Leslie, 
seven frustrations with but a single thought, ushered in a new television 
era last night, soap opera in the evening.  The celebrated residents of 
Peyton Place came to the home screen under the nervous auspices of the 
American Broadcast Company, which is serializing their expectations and 
subsequent anxieties at 9:30 PM Tuesdays and Thursdays.  If all goes well 
the network may add Wednesdays.  

The sanitized derivation from the late Grace Metalious's novel will 
undoubtedly be greeted with understandable dismay by some viewers, who 
will wonder where TV will descend next.  If so, it will just go to show 
that they don't know what's been going on.  By the present, if little 
publicized, standards of daytime soap opera, Peyton Place is highly 

In purchasing the rights to Peyton Place, the ABC network acquired 
at one effortless stroke the basic need of a soap--a setting of dark 
unpleasantness that is the approved milieu for upstairs brinksmanship.  

But where Paul Monash, the executive producer of the TV serial, 
encountered instant difficulties was in the awesome task of exposition.  
Since he paid for all the liaisons, he apparently felt he had to use them.  
Two by two everybody goes up to the volcano's edge only to be left there 
while Mr. Monash trudges back to the waiting queue and brings on the 
next couple.  For evening wear, a soap should unroll its passions more 
leisurely, not on a yo-yo.  The première was almost a satire of soaps.  
It would be nice to think that Peyton Place will perish of its 
opening night boredom, and conceivably it could.  But the odds are not 
encouraging.  The program has nowhere to go in coming weeks but toward 
more contemplated considerations of the individual dilemmas of the 
distraught New Englanders.  Then will come the soap opera's hypnotic 
appeal of sharing in intimate close-up the ordeal of others coping with 
temptation and surrender.  There is no greater box office than life on 
the verge. 

Premiere of Serial Is Almost a Satire

In its introductory sequence, Peyton Place was fairly skillful in 
creating the reckless mood of ominous restlessness designed to last until 
the next installment.  What remains to be seen is whether the viewer will 
sit on his cliff from Thursday night until the following Tuesday, which 
is a long time to wait, and see whether the protagonists did or didn't.  

As Allison, Mia Farrow is notably effective in suggesting the hesitant 
girl on the threshold of womanhood.  Dorothy Malone, playing Constance, 
was impressive as the mother with her residue of unspent affection.  
Distaff viewers may have an entirely different opinion, but most of the 
TV men in Peyton Place have the dullness that goes with one-track 
minds.  The settings and camera work were first-class.  The disquieting 
aspect of the evening presentation of Peyton Place, of course, is to 
introduce the youthful nighttime audience to all the Metalious sordidness, 
to make a household attraction of love and romance bereft of the 
slightest redeeming trace of beauty, to dwell on a community that never 
knows the exhilaration of wholesome laughter.  

It is hard to down the thought that something else could have been chosen 
to fill an hour of nighttime TV.  But it might be well to note that it 
was the book publishing industry that first unloosed the blight of 
Peyton Place and that untold millions of adults obtained copies of 
the book in fine stores and libraries so they could cluck at their 
disapproval with personal authority.  

If self-appointed censors scream out against ABC, it would be interesting 
to learn if they looked only at their picture tubes or also in their 

Courtesy of Ryan