With the departures of many of the core cast, coupled with the shifting tastes of the public in the mid-1980s, ratings began to drop (as had ratings for all of the primetime soaps of that era). By the late 1980s, U. S. ratings were dominated by sitcoms and more realistic legal/crime dramas such as LA Law and In the Heat of the Night. During its eighth season, Soap Opera Digest gave Falcon Crest the title of "Most Ruined Show" (that season finished 52nd in the annual ratings). The series attempted to revitalize itself, much in the way that rival soap Knots Landing had successfully done, but by the beginning of the ninth (and final) season in 1989, Angela, Lance, and Emma were the only three characters from the original first-season cast remaining on the series. During the 1989–90 season, Jane Wyman was absent for most of that season due to her health problems (storylines had Angela in a coma). The final season then revolved around a battle between Richard and newcomer Michael Sharpe (Gregory Harrison) for control of Falcon Crest.