Modulating the "camp" on DYNASTY

Discussion in 'Dynasty' started by Snarky's Ghost, Feb 3, 2017.

  1. Snarky's Ghost

    Snarky's Ghost Soap Chat Oracle

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    A lot has been said and written over the decades about the camp factor on DYNASTY, whether it was a help or a hindrance.

    I'd argue that it was both.

    During the first season, the show was a straight drama -- no catfights, no bitchy barbs (except those delivered from Fallon) and no haute couture. And not yet a major hit.

    In Season 2, here comes Alexis, the show's pacing speeds up, and there are catfights, bitchier barbs and the entrance of high fashion. But, whether one considers the occasional slap or barb or bauble to be "camp" (and I don't, necessarily), the rest of the show was still not all that outrageous.

    Alexis was outrageous.

    But from Season 3 onward, the rest of the show around Alexis seemed determined to become as over-the-top as Alexis herself was.

    Was this a mistake? I always thought it was...

    It's not that you couldn't do the specific plotlines DYNASTY did from Season 3 thru Season 8 --- the issue seemed to be tone and detail: once the producers had settled on a "camp" paradigm for the show, they apparently decided that that meant that the show no longer needed to build a storyline and that the dialogue only had to be provocatively hyperbolic, but that really fleshing out any kind of complexity to the plot or the characters wasn't needed.

    At first, in Season 2, Alexis seemed outrageous because she was occurring in an environment of relative reality. But once the entire show went increasingly "camp" beginning with the third year, Alexis' outrageousness somehow seemed less effective because everyone else was acting just as bizarrely.

    When Alexis killed Krystle's baby early in Season 2, you not only felt Krystle was truly tortured by the miscarriage, you also felt Alexis was a jaw-dropping sociopath. The yin-yang dynamic between the two characters was palpable and almost believable: Krystle was a substantive, good person you genuinely liked who was being targeted by her husband's jealous ex-wife, Alexis, a mysterious, sophisticated, stunning-looking, criminal personality who must have God-knows-what in her shadowy background and for whom normal standards of moral behavior simply didn't apply -- at least in her own mind.

    That made Alexis slightly creepy.

    But after the show itself decided to go as campy as Alexis, she suddenly seemed like everybody else, because everybody else was suddenly like Alexis... Or kinda. Everybody was now a bit loopy and acted loopy, so Alexis was only different in that she was dressed a little more exotically and delivered the most insults.

    To me, this was deadly for the show. And, with the static acting directive added at around the same time, Krystle became a squealy, squeaky stock character you no longer felt anything about (much less sympathy).

    This eliminated the metaphoric, almost biblical, two-sides-of-everywoman aspect of Season 2 (even though the show seemed to still think it was doing this) and, afterward, nothing really quite worked, as if the series was about nothing anymore other than sequins literally.

    Should DYNASTY have kept its camp elements mostly constrained to Alexis, while not necessarily shying away from Adam's own original, wounded criminality and Fallon's original sarcastic bite (both of which were also lost in the series' quick slide into total camp)?

    And the trademark fashions, put-downs and feminine fisticuffs could have bloody-well continued.

    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    In the beginning, Krystle was kind of regal and poetic -- and the perfect counterbalance to Alexis' grasping sociopath.

    But before long, Krystle began shrieking and living out The Perils of Pauline to Alexis' Wicked Witch of The West.

    And everyone began acting as loopy as Alexis. So the whole thing soon become a tired cartoon.

    Certain characters and corners of the show should have remained grounded. That way, Alexis would have remained kind of creepy in contrast just as she should have, the viewer not quite knowing what she was capable of.

    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Jan 27, 2019
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  2. Willie Oleson

    Willie Oleson SoapLand Battles Moderator

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    Yes. Outrageous is often confused with camp. It's not, because by that standard most fiction (including all genres) could be qualified as camp.
    Alexis was the one to get away with more "fabulous" behaviour, but what bothers me the most is that Alexis was pastelled down in terms of villainy, especially compared to season 2. Perhaps her marriage to Dex had something to do with it because, as a married woman, she was no longer the mysterious and totally unpredictable socialite.
    A lot of her post-season 3* villainy was told from the other character's perspective, as if suddenly they all realized they were supposed to hate her.
    It's not that I expected her to kill a baby every season, but, you know...just something more than bitchyness.

    *season 3 still has a lot of the good parts, I can't dismiss it as much as you do.
     
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  3. Ked

    Ked Soap Chat Enthusiast

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    She got her grove back in season 9, though, when she publicly announced that Jason was not the father of Monica and Miles. Now THAT was beyond just bitchiness. In fact, there was another low moment in season 9 where she casually remarks to Sable, "I'm surprised you don't hire one of your goons to go to Switzerland and pull the plug on Krystle." Even Sable was caught off guard.
     
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  4. Ked

    Ked Soap Chat Enthusiast

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    Yes. Plus, don't forget Sammy Jo, she was one of the more outrageous or campy characters too. But it worked for her.

    I suppose this is how the characters should have rated in terms of camp/outrageous behavior:

    1) Alexis
    2) Adam
    3) Sammy Jo
    4) Fallon (she rates the lowest because she's supposed to be "one of the good ones", haha)
     
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  5. Gatsbyesque

    Gatsbyesque Soap Chat Fan

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    When Alexis was the jaw-dropping, sociopath in-house villainess everyone feared, the show had kind of gone beyond excellent (but in the view of some, boring) coffee-table drama and become a kind of heart-pounding dynastic thriller. It was a classic pharaonic killing, done for power. It was equally insane and logical. From the first moment that we found out Krystle was pregnant, we feared what Alexis might do. So when she did it, the world gasped.

    Unfortunately, the show missed an enormous opportunity when they drove everyone else mad, too. The infanticide probably shouldn't have been Alexis' last heinous act. And the ultimate exposition of the aspects of her past that drove her to downright criminal insanity would seem to have been essential if not inevitable, considering how central it was to the show's plot. That "god knows what" you referenced. There's so many directions they could've gone with it. Inexplicably, the details of Alexis' background actually never got discussed, throughout the show's entire duration. Which is as crazy as making the whole show... crazy.
     
    Last edited: Feb 4, 2017
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  6. Gatsbyesque

    Gatsbyesque Soap Chat Fan

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    What do you think would've happened if "Alexis" would have remained a multi-episode stint and not become full-blown character addition? Would she have been the one banished to the asylum, after killing Krystle's baby and a multitude of other wildly abusive acts, and not Alycia Anders? When Kirby arrives, would it have been with the knowledge that she was the secret daughter of Alexis and "the butlahhh?"
     
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  7. Willie Oleson

    Willie Oleson SoapLand Battles Moderator

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    That surprised me too, well maybe not - but that comment wasn't really about Krystle, or murder. And I tend to believe that Alexis knew what kind of person her cousin was: someone who's very dedicated to the cause.
    :think:
     
  8. Ked

    Ked Soap Chat Enthusiast

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    I suppose. ...I suppose that comment was really more about getting a rise out of Sable rather than anything against Krystle.

    You really have to think about that? What about all those times Sammy Jo outdid Alexis - in season 2, no less: when Alexis ran into her in the fur shop when SJ was purchasing a fur coat that Steven couldn't possibly afford, but Sammy Jo got Alexis to shut up by threatening to tell Fallon about her "real" father; and later on, after SJ did just that, Alexis tried to bribe her daughter-in-law into divorcing Steven and leaving... only for Sammy Jo to turn the tables on her mother-in-law and blackmail her.



    Plus there's the infamous scene where Sammy Jo "danced with no embarrassment":



    And then there's Sammy Jo trying to sell her baby to Blake and Krystle, and then later on she lays a verbal smackdown on Alexis:



    And of course, most famously of all, Sammy Jo did also replace her aunt with an evil lookalike. ;):lol: Hard to get much more outrageous than that.
     
  9. Willie Oleson

    Willie Oleson SoapLand Battles Moderator

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    Is it outrageous and camp when you:
    -refuse to be blackmailed?
    -dance? (there was a party going on)
    -don't sell your baby to Alexis? (this was a good scene until Alexis, rather unconvincingly and off-topic, called her a tramp, but Sammy Jo saves the scene when she refers to Alexis' rotten heart. It's like watching Joan Collins vs. Bette Davis)

    -Rita: an outrageous storyline that wasn't nearly as awful as it could have been because they played it straight instead of camp. Linda Evans' new accent was a bit giggle-worthy though)

    The verdict:
    Sammy Jo is not guilty of camp or outrageousism.
    [​IMG]
     
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  10. Ked

    Ked Soap Chat Enthusiast

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    Hm, very good points. X) Although Sammy Jo didn't refuse to be blackmailed, she refused to be bought off, or told off by Alexis. But either way...



    ...hah, though I am reminded of how people reacted to the scene where she put peanuts in a bottle of coke, and even dedicated an entire thread to it. What exactly was up with that thread, anyway? :lol:
     
  11. Willie Oleson

    Willie Oleson SoapLand Battles Moderator

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    I don't think we had reached any closure yet?

    Personally I always think of camp as a side effect (and often a retroactive perception, especially when a sense of "dated" comes into play), and if it's true that the writers regarded their show as "camp" then I'm not sure if I'm buying it.
    It's exactly those scenes that were supposed to carry some weight (e.g. Adam's pompous outbursts) that come across as camp, and I'm not sure if that was the intention.
    Silliness and catty exchanges (e.g. most of the Dominique vs. Alexis scenes) is lighthearted entertainment, but it doesn't really fall flat because it has the desired effect.
    It's really funny to quote them on forums.
    I can see why, overall, Dynasty is considered as "camp", yet I often struggle to pinpoint exactly what it was.

    To me, a prime example of camp is the Return To Eden series (the sequel to the mini-series) because it's trying too hard to copy Dynasty, and it's all so very hideous - so bad it's good.

    Dynasty! The catfights! So camp!
    Uhm..no. The first two fights between Krystle and Alexis were definitely warranted. I as a viewer wanted to smack Alexis and it felt like a payoff when Krystle did it.
    Both fights are derived from the same storyline. I remember reading on this forum that there was not enough reason or build-up to justify the lily pond fight.
    Well, if someone would cause me to have a miscarriage, and then later had the f***ing nerve to taunt me with the fact of that very missing baby...if that's not reason enough then I don't know what is.
    I'd rate it as one of her (Alexis) most despicable moments.
    My only complaint would be the sequence (or "choreography") of the scene. They didn't start to fight and then happened to fall into the pond, they just jumped into it.
    Obviously, Krystle wants to hit Alexis, therefore it seems like an odd decision (or just: a decision) to push Alexis into the pond first and then start to hit her. It's not exactly the most instinctive reaction imo.
    Nevertheless, to me, it didn't look like they were doing it for laughs. But it's the idea of these sophisticated ladies, dressed in haute couture, having an out-and-out Western brawl that makes it so outrageous. But at the end of the day they're still humans, and like I said before, Alexis deserved a second comeuppance.
     
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  12. Snarky's Ghost

    Snarky's Ghost Soap Chat Oracle

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    They did start referring to DYNASTY as "camp" as early as 1983, if not the producers themselves then people close to the show.

    I think the reason that DYNASTY, then and now, is considered "camp" goes right to our complaints about the show: from Season 3 onward, there is the eternal feeling of DYNASTY somehow "faking" it -- the writers no longer seem genuinely interested in their characters and no longer have a story they feel compelled to tell about them. Linda and Joan no longer seem like Krystle and Alexis anymore, as they did in the first couple of seasons, but they now feel like Linda and Joan playing Linda and Joan playing Krystle and Alexis.

    It's the pantomime tone that takes over which serves to illegitimize even plausible scenes (and S.A.D. obviously doesn't help).
     
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  13. Willie Oleson

    Willie Oleson SoapLand Battles Moderator

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    What else could they do if they weren't challenged by a good script, dialogue and direction? Yes, it often looked like a stage play, where the acting HAS to be a little over the top to get the point across.
    And if the Dynasty actors were left to their own devices...(apart from restrictions)....

    But is it camp? Perhaps it was never awful enough to be camp.

    [​IMG]
     
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  14. Willie Oleson

    Willie Oleson SoapLand Battles Moderator

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    I was not aware of that at that time.
     
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  15. Snarky's Ghost

    Snarky's Ghost Soap Chat Oracle

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    Yes, and it irritated me even then, and yet I knew why they were saying it.
     
  16. Willie Oleson

    Willie Oleson SoapLand Battles Moderator

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    But that's like, when you trip and fall, and people start to laugh and then you say "haha I did it on purpose, it was just a joke".
     
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  17. Alexis

    Alexis Soap Chat Warrior

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    There are certain storylines and plot points that I think just are camp. No other way about it. There are good camp and bad camp, DYNASTY just wasn't selective about it.

    Blake being blind and getting those nasty letters is camp. Alexis suddenly on live television announcing to the world that LB's kidnap is not the first Carrington kidnap, that she and Blake's first son was stolen in his stroller is camp. Jeff's poison paint madness is camp. Sammy Jo being behind all the dastardly deeds is camp. Claudia's Sunset Boulevard departure is camp. Big fairytale royal weddings are camp. Massacres where nobody dies are camp. Everything (and there isn't all that much there anyway) about Dominique is camp. La Mirage is a big pink camp puffball of camp. Even the name! Alexis' ever changing supply of handsome beefcake male secretaries is camp. Rita/Joel/Sammy Jo is camp. Dana knowing/stalking/obsessing over Adam from like 20 years ago is camp. Anything Blake and Krystle did on a fur rug in soft focus with a fire blazing and champagne on ice is camp! Alexis' entrances and exits are invariably camp. Adam's purple prose spoken to anyone who happens to be around or failing that his own reflection in a mirror is camp. Fallon and Steven switching heads is camp. Ben Carrington was wonderfully theatrically camp. Caress was hammer horror camp, but not enough!

    Then the show just looks so damn camp. It's all pink and lilac and lots of vaguely art deco meets 1980s styling which is camp!

    Then the clothing is camp! All over beading is camp, ostrich feather trim is camp, satin and silk gowns just to wear around the house is camp. More furs than Liberace's enormous closet could handle is camp. Picture hats and hats with veils are camp. Gloves to match your outfit/hat is camp. Capes are camp. TURBANS are CAMP!!!!

    Swirly, swirly, swirly spiralling out of control music is camp/nauseating.

    Yea... DYNASTY was camp.
     
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  18. Ked

    Ked Soap Chat Enthusiast

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    Yeah... but which was the GOOD camp, and which was the BAD? ^^
     
  19. Alexis

    Alexis Soap Chat Warrior

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    I don't think they knew that. It could probably be a subjective thing too. I mean the film Mommie Dearest is known as a camp classic but I always think of it as a real horror story.
     
  20. Ked

    Ked Soap Chat Enthusiast

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    That wasn't what I meant. I was asking what *you* thought was the good camp and which was the bad. X)
     

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