PRIME-TIME SOAP OPERAS--This is the week of the cliffhanger.
"Dynasty" and "Dallas," television's two most popular series, have reached the end of the season. The time has come for the traditional "Perils of Pauline"-type episode that leaves as many characters as possible in jeopardy so that viewers will be anxious to return in the fall.
All that and a new version of their forebear, "Peyton Place." It makes for quite a week for fans of the prime-time soap operas.
With a polite bit of scheduling that allows the oldest to come first, "Peyton Place: The Next Generation" will be available first. The two-hour TV movie (illustrated on the cover) airs Monday at 9 p.m. (Channels 4, 36 and 39) and features much of the original cast of the series that ran on ABC from 1964 to 1969, including Dorothy Malone, Barbara Parkins, Ed Nelson, Pat Morrow, Chris Connelly, Evelyn Scott, Ruth Warrick, Tim O'Connor and James Douglas. The story begins 20 years after Allison MacKenzie mysteriously left town just as she was about to marry Rodney Harrington.
Then on Wednesday (9 p.m., Channels 7, 3, 10 and 42) it's time for "Dynasty," which edged out "Dallas" as the top-rated program on TV this season. The season finale centers on the impending wedding of Amanda and Prince Michael, for which the Carrington and Colby clans have gathered. You can bet that this love story won't run smoothly, though; before the hour is up, Amanda (Catherine Oxenberg) is looking to call off the marriage. Meanwhile, that tart Sammy Jo is scheming against Krystle for control of an inheritance that could give her wealth and power beyond her wildest dreams.
The best is last. "Dallas," never as stylish but always more entertaining than "Dynasty," concludes its season with a special 90-minute episode Friday at 8:30 p.m. (Channels 2 and 8). This show is more notable than others in the series' six-year history because two of the original cast members--Patrick Duffy and Charlene Tilton--are leaving. Duffy, who plays Bobby Ewing, chose to depart the show to pursue other career opportunities. Tilton, who plays Lucy Ewing, was dropped by the producers.
How their departures are to be explained will be part of the suspense Friday. So will the question of whether J.R. is able to institutionalize Sue Ellen. And what is to become of the marriage between Cliff Barnes and Jamie Ewing?
CBS, perhaps feeling that viewers can take only so much soap-opera excitement, is holding back the cliffhangers on its other two prime-time serials. "Knots Landing" concludes May 23 and "Falcon Crest" winds up May 24.