Master of the Game
Another of the many Sidney Sheldon novels given the TV-miniseries treatment in the 1970s and '80s, Master of the Game yielded a three-part, nine-hour extravaganza, with enough corporate and romantic intrigue to fill an entire television season. Covering nearly 100 years, the story (which remained astonishingly faithful to the book) begins in the late 19th century, when ruthless young Scottish entrepreneur Jamie McGregor (Ian Charleson) emigrates to South Africa, in hopes of accumulating enough wealth and power to get even with his longtime enemy, Dutch merchant Van der Merwe (Donald Pleasence). Thanks to an extremely prolific diamond mine, the money comes quickly -- as does vengeance, when McGregor deflowers Van der Merwe's convent-educated daughter, Margaret (Cherie Lunghi). The result of this indiscretion is a daughter named Kate (Dyan Cannon), who turns out to be the "Master" of the title. Upon attaining adulthood, Kate assumes control of her father's vast financial empire, ruling her inherited international conglomerate, and her husband, David Blackwell (David Birney), with an iron fist. The story continues into the next several generations, with Kate's lily-livered son, Tony (Harry Hamlin), giving birth to twin daughters, Eve and Alexandra (both played by Liane Langland). One is good, the other evil; the evil twin threatens threaten to destroy everything that Kate has so painstakingly built up. Eventually, they both become the victims of a sneering, malevolent gigolo (Fernando Allende) with a penchant for beating young women senseless. Told in flashback, the narrative comes to a head during Kate's 90th birthday celebration, an event tainted by the efforts of a mysterious killer to wipe the domineering matriarch and her family from the face of the earth. Largely filmed on location, Master of the Game was telecast by CBS from February 19 to 22, 1984.