Ayoung single mom, toting a teenage son and a racy past, defies with a flourish the adage that you can’t go home again in the hothouse premiere of “Angel Falls.” This new, sudsy serial, targeting meaty female demographics, takes off where “Peyton Place” and, by extension, “Knots Landing,” left off.
A potboiler with a bucolic sheen, the show centers on the return to cozy Angel Falls, Mont., of a former village heartbreaker with the goldilocked name Rae Dawn Snow (Chelsea Field).
Her arrival triggers raging hormones, from the guys in the pool hall to her old high school heartthrob (Brian Kerwin, as a rancher miserably married to Kim Cattrall, a lascivious farm wife).
Snow tries to be a good mom, but lust and infidelity swirl around her like locusts. In fact, it gets so bad that at fadeout her teen son (the solid Jeremy London) snaps at his mother’s married lover: “I’ll tell you what. I’ll stay away from your daughter (the flirtatious Cassidy Rae) if you stay away from my mother.” It’s that kind of continuing drama.
Among the premiere’s four sets of entanglements, James Brolin and Peggy Lipton, as an anguished couple still grieving over the death of their baby, are such nice folks, they appear to be characters from another show.
It’s Field and Cattrall who supply the heat. While Field’s character drips a kind of lazy sensuality and can’t seem to stay off her back, the down-and-raw prize for sexual aggression goes to Cattrall as a frustrated wife who sneaks to the woodshed while her husband’s off cheating on her and throws herself on a hunky ranch hand with a mysterious resume (Robert Rusler).
Series creator and writer Joyce Eliason does have a way with dialogue: “I want you to touch me, OK?” the yearning Cattrall pleads to the young guy (bare-chested, as usual). “I want you to touch me all over.”
So it goes in postcard-scenic Angel Falls.
Joyce Chopra’s direction is workmanlike. But her staging of the opening, murderous teaser, which features a brunette dead in her bed and the aforementioned young ranch hand leaping through her bedroom window, enjoys a flashy edge that the rest of the movie never achieves.
Femme fatales Field and Cattrall have a certain trashy appeal, but they resemble one another just enough to contribute to the confusing blur of identities, which are a touch tricky to sort through.
Veterans Shirley Knight and Jean Simmons make brief cameos.
Technical credits are classy, notably James Glennon’s cinematography and the score by Christopher Franke, performed by the Berlin Symphonic Film Orchestra.