This month our ATV Icons strand takes a look at the career of actress Tracy Scoggins whose roles in Dynasty, The Colby’s Babylon 5 and Dante’s Cove has made her a familiar face on television since the 1980s.
Tracy Scoggins is probably best remembered for her role of Monica Sable in The Colby’s and its parent show Dynasty during the 1980s and for her role as Captain Elizabeth Lockley in the final season of Babylon 5 in the 1990s. These two roles across two memorable and still fondly remembered shows have helped the actress to remain a familiar face on television during the 1980s and 1990s – and won her legions of fans. This month we take a look back at her career which has spanned several decades.
Tracy Scoggins first big break in television came in 1984 when she appeared in the Hawaii based cop-drama Hawaiian Heat. The actress appeared in all ten episodes of the cop-drama as Helicopter pilot Irene opposite Robert Ginty and Jeff McCracken. However, the actress had already appeared on television in a variety of roles up until this point but her previous roles were one-off appearances; Hawaiian Heat represented her first major starring role.
One of her earliest television roles was in 1981 in Dukes of Hazzard followed by roles in Remington Steele (which starred future James Bond actor Pierce Brosnan), Renegades, The Fall Guy, T.J Hooker and Toy Soldiers. Scoggins also appeared in a 1983 episode of Dallas and would return to the drama in the 1990s, as a different character, for its television movie Dallas: War of the Ewings. The roles in Dallas and Dynasty, and its spin-off The Colbys, makes Scoggins one of the limited number of actors to appear in both dramas. Others to have had roles in both include Dale Robertson (who was a regular in the first season of Dynasty and appeared in five episodes of Dallas) and Peter Mark Richman who appeared in the first four seasons of Dynasty and a 1979 episode of Dallas.
Dynasty had launched on ABC in 1981 created by husband and wife team Richard and Esther Shaprio with legendary Aaron Spelling as the producer. The series was created as ABC’s answer to the phenomenally popular Dallas which had launched on CBS in 1978. The drama about a powerful, rich family who ran an oil company had caught the imaginations of audiences in America and it spoke volumes about society and values of the late 1970s and early 1980s.
Dynasty borrowed heavily from the Dallas format with its setting in Denver around the warring Carrington family who owned Carrington Oil. Ruthless tycoon Blake (John Forsythe) ruled the divided Carrington family with new wife Krystal (Linda Evans) feeling out of place at the lavish family mansion while daughter Fallon (Pamela Sue Martin) craved a proper job and her father’s respect while gay son Steven (Al Corley) struggled to deal with his sexuality and his father’s business values. The first season of Dynasty was not a huge success but the arrival of Joan Collins as the vengeful, scheming and glamorous as Alexis, the ex wife of Blake, propelled the drama to new heights.
By 1985 Dynasty had reached the height of its popularity and had overtaken Dallas in the ratings to become the most watched show in America. The introduction of newer characters such as Sammy Jo (Heather Locklear) and Dex (Michael Nader) had proved popular with audiences while storylines such as Alexis scheming to steal Carrington Oil from Blake had proved popular with audiences. Such was the popularity of Dynasty had it was decided to launch a spin-off of the series with the same basic format but relocated to Los Angeles.
Dallas had launched its own spin-off, Knots Landing, in 1979 which was also set in Los Angeles and followed the younger Ewing son Gary (Ted Shackleford) and wife Valene (Joan Van Ark). Knots Landing was a successful drama in its own right and the occasional crossover with Dallas proved to be a treat for viewers. The success of Knots Landing led ABC to believe that same would happen to a spin-off from Dynasty – The Colby’s was born.
The Colby’s would revolve around the extended family of Dynasty regular Jeff (John James) who would crossover to the new spin-off as a regular. Joining him would be Jeff’s ex-wife Fallon (now played by Emma Samms) who had previously assumed to have died in a plane crash. Fallon, with amnesia and calling herself Randal, was re-introduced into Dynasty in its final few episodes of its fifth season. To set up the new spin-off key characters from The Colby’s were introduced first in Dynasty before the spin-off launched to allow viewers to get the drift of the new set-up. Tracey Scoggins was cast as Monica Colby, the daughter of Sable (Stephanie Beacham) and Jason (Charlton Heston) while her twin Miles (Maxwell Caulfield) married the amnesia Fallon little realising who she was.
It was also revealed that Sable and Alexis were cousins with a deep rivalry between them – something that would be explored in greater detail several years later. Barbara Stanwykc was also introduced in Dynasty as Connie – the sister of Jason and who gave Jeff half her shares in Colby’s Enterprises. This served to bring Jeff over from Denver to Los Angeles to work for the family company and so Connie could bring back his mother Fran (Katherine Ross). Fran had given Jeff up as baby to his uncle Cecil (Lloyd Bochner) under pressure and because there was an attraction between her and Jason – Sable and Fran were sisters and so any relationship with Jason was strictly taboo.
The Colby’s, sometimes credited as Dynasty II: The Colbys, launched in 1985 part way through Dynasty’s sixth season. However, the drama had passed the point of its popularity by season six with the poor resolution of the Moldavian Massacre proving a turn off to viewers. The fifth season of Dynasty ended with the royal wedding of Amanda (Catherine Oxenberg) and Prince Michael of Moldavia (Michael Pread) with armed terrorists bursting into the ceremony and gunning down all the guests – expect when the cliff-hanger was resolved in seasons six only a few minor characters had perished amidst the hail of bullets!
With the decline of Dynasty already beginning and Joan Collins leading a boycott of the spin-off signs were not good for it. However, despite Collin’s refusal to appear in the series other Dynasty actors such as John Forsythe and Diahann Carroll did crossover for several episodes. Monica Sable was determined to prove herself to Jason, her father, as a capable business woman and craved him to accept her skills and talents. Early in The Colby’s Monica offers to fly to Hong Kong to deal with problems out there within Colby Enterprises, as she spoke fluent Chinese, but Jason refuses to allow her to go. However, Dominique (Diahann Carroll) was suitably impressed with Monica’s abilities and honesty and offered her a job at her record company which Monica took.
The Colby’s was renewed for a second season but ratings were still low for the spin-off and as a last ditched attempt by producers to boost ratings it created the most memorable, and daft, soap cliff-hanger of all time. The second season ended with Fallon driving through the desert and being abducted by a UFO – it was the most costly episode in The Colby’s entire run but also it most watched. Despite being the most watched episode the spin-off was cancelled by ABC. The high production costs, roughly $1 million per episode, mixed with low ratings sealed its fate.
However, fans argued that ABC aired the drama in a highly competitive slot against other popular shows and when it was paired up with Dynasty it rated better – but ABC refused to make any pairing of the two dramas permanent. The cancellation of The Colby’s meant many of the storylines were left unresolved although Emma Samms and John James returned to parent show Dynasty. In 1989 Stephanie Beacham reprised her role of Sable on Dynasty for a season-long ‘Battle of the Bitches’ between Alexis and Sable – later in the season Tracy Scoggins was invited to reprise her role of Monica and she returned to Dynasty to fight alongside her mother. However, Dynasty too was cancelled at this point because of declining ratings but it did return in 1991 for a reunion movie.
While the movie featured Maxwell Caulfield as Miles there was no mention of either Monica or Sable – despite their storyline from the 9th season being unresolved. Following the cancellation of Dynasty in 1989 Scoggins continued to make guest appearances in a wide range of dramas such as Burke’s Law, Raven, Renegade and Dead On. In 1993 the actress was cast in The New Adventures of Superman which is often referred to as Lois & Clarke: The New Adventures of Superman. The actress played the comic character of Cat Grant opposite Teri Hatcher as Lois Lane and Dean Cain as Clarke Kent/Superman. Cat clearly had a crush on Clarke flirting with him openly and often in front of Lois – much to her dislike and jealousy. The actress only appeared in the first season of the drama and her character, Cat, disappeared from the line-up for its second season. In all Lois & Clarke: The New Adventures of Superman ran for four seasons between 1993 and 1997 – a fifth was planned and even ordered but cancelled when ratings declined rapidly.
In 1995 Tracy Scoggins guest-starred in an episode of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine as Cardassian scientist Gilora. As with her roles in Dynasty and Dallas Scoggins is one of a few actors to have appeared in both Star Trek and Babylon 5 with the other notable actor to have appeared in both being Walter Koenig who played Chekov in the original Star Trek series and several of the spin-off movies and the ruthless psi-cop Bester in Babylon 5.
Koenig appeared alongside Scoggins in her role in Babylon 5 during its fifth season and such was his popularity in the role with fans that he was due to appear in the B5 spin-off Crusade but it was cancelled before this could happen. The actresses other guest roles before she joined Babylon 5 included Highlander, High Tide and Wings. In 1996 she appeared in the Dallas TV movie, JR Returns as Anita Smithfield and reprised the role in 1998 for Dallas: War of the Ewings.
It was also in 1998 that the actress joined the cast of science fiction series Babylon 5 for its fifth and final season. The “five year” drama had been created by J Michael Straczynski who wrote the majority of the episodes and planned the story-arcs for the series in great detail. In essence the theme behind Babylon 5 was the battle between good and evil – or light and the darkness. The drama was a critical hit and while never a huge ratings it quickly developed a loyal fan base. Amongst the stars of the series were Bruce Boxleitner as Captain Sheridan (introduced in the second season), Mira Furlan as Ambassador Delenn and Richard Briggs as Doctor Franklin.
It was unclear during the course of the fourth season if Babylon 5 would return for a fifth season or not and as such storylines were wrapped up quicker than planned to accommodate a possible cancellation – a final episode of the series was even filmed as it was widely expected to be cancelled. However, TNT picked up the rights to Babylon 5 and ordered a fifth season along with several television movies to be produced afterwards. The filmed final episode of Babylon 5 was held back for the big finale of season 5 and a new episode was filmed. It was originally intended that actress Claudia Christian who continue in her role of Susan Ivanova, a fan favourite. This would not be the case though with, for disputed reasons, the actress departing the series. Producers therefore had to create a new character to replace Susan and take on the planned storylines for her character – so Captain Elizabeth Lockley was created and Tracy Scoggins was cast in the role.
The character was revealed to have been in a short-lived marriage to Sheridan when they were teenagers and its perhaps their past connection that resulted in Sheridan choosing Lockley for the Captaincy of Babylon 5. It is hinted as well that during the Earth Civil War – a storyline during the shows fourth season – Lockley fought on the opposite side to Sheridan but when questioned on this Lockley merely states she was on the “side of Earth” and doesn’t reveal exactly which side that was. The main storyline during the fifth season to involve Lockley was the telepath colony that formed in Babylon 5 which later led to tragedy when some of them killed themselves rather than be arrested by Bester (Walter Koenig) and the Psi-Cops.
When Babylon 5 concluded in after its fifth season production immediately started on the four television movies also ordered by TNT. The first movie, In The Beginning, told the story of the Earth-Minbari War which was ten years before the open of the series but often referred to throughout Babylon 5. The second movie was Thirdspace set between the Shadow War and the Earth Civil War during the fourth season while the third movie was River of Souls and featured Tracey Scoggins as Elizaebth Lockley. The fourth and final movie was A Call To Arms and was the backdoor pilot to the spin-off series Crusade.
A Call To Arms saw allies of the Shadows attack Earth in revenge for Sheridan’s war against their masters – the Earth was attacked with a virus. The premise of Crusade was following a crew of the advanced ship Excalibur as it attempted to find a cure for the plague. Crusade starred Gary Cole, Daniel Dae Kim, David Allen Brooks, Peter Woodward and Marjean Holden (who appeared in Call To Arms as a different character). For the spin-off Scoggins also reprised her character of Lockley for several episodes – becoming a season regular. Crusade suffered from creative problems from the beginning with TNT wanting more violence and sex within the series and a new opening episode having to be filmed to accommodate TNT’s requests.
Reportedly midway through production they changed their minds and increased the shows budget so it could concentrate on its original premise but then after 13 episodes, which at this point weren’t aired. the series was cancelled. It was hoped that if the episodes rated well TNT would relent and order a second season but it didn’t. It was also hoped that another broadcaster such as the Sci Fi Channel would step in and pick up Crusade but this never happened either and the spin-off stayed cancelled. However, Scoggins would reprise her Babylon 5 role for one final time in 2007 in the straight-to-dvd Babylon 5: The Lost Tales. The two interconnected stories were set after the conclusion of Babylon 5 but before the final episode which was set 20 years after the events of the series.
The Lost Tales were originally to be an on-going series of DVD adventures featuring characters from the series in an on-going story-arc but despite strong sales for the first release no further DVDs have been released. The reasons for this are disputed but allegedly down to the budget for the DVDs not being enough for the storylines.
While the actress continued work throughout the 2000s guest starring in shows such as Nip Tuck it wasn’t until 2005 that her next noticeable role came along; Grace Neville in Dante’s Cove. Grace Neville is an English Witch living on the small Island of Dante’s Cove off the coast of America in the 1880s and is engaged to Ambrosius Vallin (William Gregory Lee) but discovers her husband-to-be is really gay and only marrying her for her powers. In revenge Grace kills her servant lover and locks him in the cellar beneath her house – trapped in time. Over 100 years later Ambrosius is set free thanks to the help of Kevin (Gregory Michael) and is determined to have revenge on Grace – who is still alive and very well. Dante’s Cove aired on the gay network Here TV!
and its first season consisted of two feature length episodes filmed in the Turks and Caicos Islands while the second season – of five episodes – saw production shift to Hawaii. The gay supernatural soap proved a hit with Here TV! viewers and also DVD buyers around the world such as in the UK. It’s blend of the supernatural with the ‘Queer as Folk’ style of drama helped it become popular. The first two seasons mainly deal with the rivarly between Grace and Ambrosius as they battle it out for supremacy. Grace is aided by the young Van (Nadine Heimann) while Bro has help in the form of Diana Childs (Thea Gill) – Grace’s sister. The romance between Kevin and Toby (Charlie David) and Adam (Jon Fleming) coming to terms with his sexuality are also features of the first two seasons.
The third season saw a slight shift in the storylines as Grace and Ambrosius are forced to join forces to battle a new evil – the house of shadows. A fourth season of Dante’s Cove was ordered but production was delayed by the Writers strike in America. Production was then put back until Autumn 2009 but as of yet its believed production has not commenced – for unknown reasons.