“I realize that the Kensington deposits havent exactly been matching up with our withdrawls lately, but I need $250,000 desperately and I was wondering if the bank might see fit in lending it to me. I am willing to put up everything I own in collateral, my jewels, my furs, my works of art, those GOBS and GOBS of little raisin boxes we have!!!!!” – Charlotte Kensington.
I have so many fond family related memories of this absolutely fantastic mini-series that aired on CBS in 1986, of which the very first is the most important, albeit not all that exciting. The point of this post is to raise awareness of how great this show is, and hopefully to get you to watch it and enjoy it the way I have over the past few decades. It was November of that year and I was living in Martinsburg, West Virginia at the time. It was one of our last months there before we moved to good ol’ Halifax, Massachusetts, so my grandparents on my Mom’s side who were living in the Scranton / Wilkes-Barre area came to visit us there for the last time, and for my birthday which was just a week earlier. Fresno started on a Sunday night but right at my bedtime, so I had to set our relatively new VCR to record the premiere that night, and for the following four nights, and I remember having to tell my family what to do while it was recording, which was do NOT touch the VCR and keep the television on channel 9, which was DC’s CBS station, and is to this day. As I went to sleep upstairs I could hear the show playing and my family laughing along to it, but I had to wait until getting home from school the next day to see it. And boy oh boy was it worth the wait. I’m not sure why I was so obsessed with the show when it came on. Maybe because I loved Carol Burnett from watching The Carol Burnett Show with my parents. Or that I loved Dabney Coleman from 9 to 5 and various other flicks. Or Terri Garr from Mr. Mom. Or that the mini-series was created and written by the crew of Newhart, another great show I watched with the ‘rents. Whatever it was exactly, I’m not sure, but I’m glad I was. Obsessed, that is. I actually still have the same video tape after all these years. I don’t dare play it anymore as it would probably fall apart, it being 27 years on. Luckily it’s now available to watch in full on YouTube (click on the Fresno logo below!), and bootleg DVD’s are still floating around, as strangely it’s never been released officially by any company. That completely baffles me as the cast is large and prolific and the entire thing is pretty darn funny, but alas it’s basically drifted into obscurity. How a pitch perfect spoof of all the prime time soap operas of the 80’s such as Dallas, Dynasty, and Falcon Crest amongst many other can be forgotten is beyond me. Wikipedia describes the plot better than I can: “Set in Fresno, California, the story focuses on the once-wealthy Kensington family, whose raisin-growing empire has fallen on hard times. The Kensingtons are led by widowed matriarch Charlotte (Carol Burnett), who is locked in a deadly power struggle with rival raisin magnate Tyler Cane (Dabney Coleman) for domination of the Fresno raisin industry.” So, yeah, absolutely fantastic. What are you waiting for? Binge watch it now, all 4 hours.