Review of the 1980 pilot / other reviews / Season 5 & 6

Discussion in 'Dynasty' started by Snarky's Ghost, Aug 22, 2019.

  1. Snarky's Ghost

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    Here's a really condescending one --- and it makes me wonder if Mr. Shales read a pre-filming script or an overview (instead of watching the program) as he thinks Matthew was the one injured...

    https://www.washingtonpost.com/arch...ja-view/b6e32eba-cce1-483b-846d-ed3917e19138/

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    'Dynasty' Deja View


    By Tom Shales
    January 12, 1981

    Dopey, stupid and uninteresting in that tolerable television way, "Dynasty," ABC's unashamed clone of the CBS hit "Dallas, " premieres as a plush and bulbous three-hour movie at 8 tonight on Channel 7. The movie is unpredictable only in the sense that it's hard to foresee in precisely which order the cliches will plop out, and whether there will be any that don't show up in one form or another.

    Being blatantly derivative has never been much of a handicap in television; it may be an asset, since viewers appear to like new programs that seem cozily familiar. Though obviously patterned after "Dallas" -- it has the same serial form and preoccupation with the filthy rich -- "Dynasty," which concerns itself with a Denver oil family, is really yet another flash back to the silky, sudsy women's pictures" that Universal cranked out in the '50s.

    It is retro kitsch -- yesterday's much toned down and streamlined for the soft focus of '80s TV.

    John Forsythe, still drab to beat the bland, actually played a similar role, the of a superrich gazillionaire who weds a woman from the other side of the tracks, in "Madame X," one of about a dozen old movies from which "Dynasty" borrows characters and situations. It would look and sound exactly like those films if not for its sprinkling of selected topical tidbits about oil, energy and flare-ups in the Mideast.

    Whether or not Dallas-in-Denver catches on depends largely on whether the public takes to its gallery of characters, including Forsythe as nabob Blake Carrington, rich as Rockefeller and slightly to the right of Alexander Haig; Matthew Blaisdel (Bo Hopkins), a middle-class schmo in love with the secretary who becomes Mrs. Carrington; callow Fallon (Pamela Sue Martin), Carrington's rebellious nymphomaniacal daughter; and surely Steven (Al Corley), his rebellious homosexual son.

    In addition, there are such smaller-than-life, much-smaller-than-literature stereotypes as the stud chauffeur (Wayne Northrop); the nervous-breakdown housewife (Pamela Bellwood); rough-and-ready wildcatter Walter Lankershim (named after an avenue in Burbank and played by Dale Robertson, on whom a large paunch and tossed salad of gray hair look very good).The part of the criminally air-headed Krystle Jennings, Carrington's middle-class heartthrob, is played by Linda Evans, who resembles Bo Derek in more ways than two.

    The characters are efficiently introduced in the premiere, in which Carrington marries Jennings only after she momentarily huffs off and he woos her back with a trip to San Francisco in his private jet. It seems the man has a 48-room house -- the biggest in Colorado -- $200 million "and," says one character, "his own football team," most of whose players have apparently scored first downs with his daughter.

    Writers Richard and Esther Shapiro are careful not to jar anyone with originalities. Forsythe says things like "Now, what's the bottom line?" and Hopkins offers such advice as "Don't ever look back." There is scarcely an utterance that doesn't reverberate with deja vu; this is less a drama than a trivia quiz for shmaltz buffs who like to torture themselves with questions like "in what movie was that line first used?"

    Virtually the only performers who appear capable of human emotions are Robertson, whose blustery entrance is a healthy gust of hammy bombast, and Bellwood, who as the emotionally disturbed wife of Hopkins gets the film's best line. When a door-to-door evangelist asks her "How do you know you won't be going to hell?" she replies, "Because I've already been there."

    The writers Shapiro and director Ralph Senensky don't do much dawdling, really, but they have a little trouble with time frames. When Blaisdel suffers a broken leg on a defective oil rig, Lankershim, thinking it's a case of Carrington sabotage, grabs a gun, gets in his jeep and heads for the Carrington mansion.

    Before he gets there, Blaisdel has been admitted to and released from the hospital without so much as a limp and gone home for long chats about love and marriage with his wife. Senensky intercuts shots of Robertson driving with scenes of the wedding; either it's 10,000 miles from the oil rig to the Carrington place, or this is the longest movie wedding since "The Deer Hunter."

    When Lankershim finally does arrive at the house, the guests and Carrington's new wife and family stand by motionless while Dobermans knock him to the ground and chew on him. Later he is taken into the livery and soundly walloped. Carrington's new wife appears completely unfazed by the display of barbarism, and the son and daughter just gape. They're rebellious, but not so rebellious as to get in the way of a good old dog attack.

    Like J.R. Ewing, Carrington is a ruthless and calculating robber baron, but we're not supposed to despise him, just admire the fact that he gets what he wants. It's a peculiar strain of anti-heroism and whether it represents a new, resigned wrinkle in popular attitudes toward Powers-That-Be or just an extension of materialist deference, it's not the kind of thing one likes to see spreading like Dutch Elm Disease.

    The nature of the son's disenchantment with Dad is kept very vague until about midway through the film; there seem to be deep, dark, East-of-Eden psychological hatreds at play, but then when father and son finally have a scene together (they keep missing each other in the big house), the son barks, "At least I didn't rob from the people of this country by artificially pushing up the price of gasoline!"

    To which Daddums paternally replies, "Now that is an allegation that has never been proven by anybody!"

    The smatterings of sex are about what would be expected of an Aaron Spelling Production -- which this all too obviously is -- but despite the fact that almost every character in the story is smoldering about something, the temperature never really gets into the torrid zone. Bellwood sums up the show succinctly when complaining to her husband about their uneventful conjugality: "It's got all the flash and fire of two snails mating."

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    Last edited: Aug 22, 2019
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  2. Snarky's Ghost

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    https://slate.com/culture/2011/05/d...me-soap-s-surprisingly-arty-debut-season.html


    The Dynasty That Could Have Been
    The legendary primetime soap’s surprisingly arty debut season.


    By Alex Mar

    May 25, 2011
    1981 gave America its first female Supreme Court justice, its first test-tube baby, a resolution to the Iran hostage crisis, and, most important of all, Dynasty. At first only modestly popular, the series eventually became the top-rated show on television, and its excesses became synonymous with those of the decade. It endured for nine seasons—220 episodes rife with catfights, amnesia, look-alikes, and even a wedding disrupted by terrorists from a country called Moldavia.

    Thirty years after the series premiere, it’s possible to look back and see the unrealized promise of its less-than-blockbuster first season—the Dynasty that could have been, before ratings pressures and the introduction of diva Joan Collins put an end to challenging story lines. As improbable as it sounds, the series’ first 13 episodes represent what might be called Dynasty’s “arthouse” era, a brief period before its characters were flattened into the caricatures that came to define the prime-time soap genre.

    Dynasty debuted in the shadow of CBS’s Dallas—also about an oil baron and his family, but, you know, in another state. At least during its debut season, however, the series was more than just a cheap imitation of a rival’s success. The pilot alone managed to touch on class tensions, gender inequality, the impact of Middle East instability on American oil prices, and even homosexuality—all while showcasing Linda Evans’ impeccably blow-dried hair. Though always unabashedly a soap at heart, Dynasty, in its first season, established a number of compelling narratives that broke free of genre convention.

    Initially, the series followed two families from different socioeconomic strata: that of oil baron Blake Carrington and that of middle-class striver Matthew Blaisdel. Through Blaisdel and his wildcatting partner we learn about the scrappier side of the oil business, and with surprisingly gritty realism. (The Blaisdel plots tended to unfold at glamour-free locations, from the rig to the crew’s dive bar to the boxing gym.) The Blaisdels’ story line was meant to give the series the epic scope and struggle of Giant, but primetime viewers didn’t respond. “The audience told us almost immediately: All they wanted to do was be in the mansion,” Esther Shapiro explains on the DVD of the first season. “[They] couldn’t care less about the oil fields. They didn’t want to see grubby rooms.” By Season 2, a caricature of upstairs-downstairs life complete with butler and housemaids (but absent any real class resentment) replaced the middle-class world of the Blaisdels.

    The anguished Season 1 story line of Matthew Blaisdel’s wife Claudia suffered a similar fate. Claudia is first introduced in an artful, extended sequence: Matthew drives their teenage daughter to pick up her mother, who is checking out after 18 months in a sanitarium. In a delicate talk in the parking lot, he prepares his daughter for a fraught reunion, only to discover that Claudia has checked herself out unannounced weeks earlier. Ultimately, the family comes together at the diner where she has quietly been waitressing. All of this is handled with a naturalistic touch, free of the expected histrionics and melodramatic musical cues. (In their own prime-time way, Claudia’s family scenes evoke A Woman Under the Influence.) Claudia struggles through her transition back into suburban home life with convincing pathos and impressive spirit. (At one point, she recites Dorothy Parker poems as a pick-me-up.) But by Season 2, with the writers pandering to viewers who wanted to be “in the mansion,” the Blaisdel family could not survive. By the middle of the second season, Matthew and Lindsay had been written out of the series with a handy car crash and by Season 3, Claudia had gone from struggling painfully with an illness to being full-on, soap-operatically crazy.

    The foil to vulnerable Claudia was Blake Carrington’s razor-sharp daughter Fallon. Whether intimidating the household staff or greeting an entire football team of former lovers, Fallon was the classic spoiled bitch. But in the show’s early episodes, she has our sympathy, thanks to her completely unrecognized intelligence—she’s as ruthless a risk-taker as her father, and a natural talent at business and backroom dealings. During her father’s wedding reception, she has a fantastic monologue, berating a moderate Republican suitor for criticizing big oil: “Some people would say this country should be divided up into collective farms and run by a politburo. … There ought to be dancing and singing in Washington over oil-company profits!” But a role in the family company is not in the cards for her: “There are no blacks, no Jews, no Eskimos, and no women,” she explains. And so she applies her talents to destructive pursuits, whether it be seducing her father’s business partner or competing with her stepmother, Krystle (Evans). The idea of Fallon as a stifled modern woman had no place in the series once Joan Collins joined the cast. With the introduction of Collins as Blake’s exuberantly wicked, two-faced ex-wife Alexis, potentially nuanced female characters were reduced to a Madonna/whore dichotomy: You can either be a Krystle (gentle, soft-spoken, essentially good) or an Alexis (scheming, sexual, essentially evil).

    Fallon’s brother, Steven, is the prodigal son, leaving Denver for a decadent life in New York’s East Village only to return to his father’s arms and his role as heir apparent. As the first openly gay central character in a prime-time drama, Steven struggles with his sexuality in a way that book-ends the first season, which opens with his coming-out to his father and culminates in Blake’s trial for the murder of Steven’s lover. In the pilot, Steven and his enraged father have an impressively honest eight-minute confrontation (exceptionally long for television) in which Blake reveals that he knows of his son’s boyfriend. Flailing, he tries to bridge the gap with Steven, awkwardly espousing his own view of gay sex as a temporary, curable “sexual dysfunction”—before demanding that his son “straighten [him]self out.”

    As played by Al Corley, Steven is right out of another James Dean film, Rebel Without a Cause, harboring a sensitivity and inner life that he can’t share with his father. These qualities inspire surprising moments that would make no sense in the later iteration of Dynasty: Steven and his boyfriend, Ted, trade lines from Ben Jonson and Jonathan Swift; Claudia Blaisdel, with whom he unexpectedly begins an affair, tells Steven that he has “a tenderness that transcends gender.” Steven ultimately witnesses Ted’s death at the hands of his father: the network’s coda to his life as a gay, or bisexual, man. With the hope of a second-season ratings boost tightening ABC’s grip on the show, Steven straightened himself out with an affair (and eventual elopement) with racy blonde Heather Locklear. Corley, who protested this reversal, was soon replaced by another actor, with the only-in-a-soap excuse of an “accident” having led to emergency facial plastic surgery.

    Season 2’s embrace of revenge scenarios and saucy zingers from Collins saved the show from its ratings purgatory, but creators Esther and Richard Shapiro have been open about their disappointment with the direction the series took as it grew in popularity. “Had the series been left to us, and been a less huge hit, I think we would have seen these characters realized pretty much the way they are [in Season 1],” Esther says in the season one commentary track. “When Alexis came into it, it changed the tenor. … And that’s the way they are now on television: you have your traditional villain, and I think that plays to a different denominator.”

    The legacy of Dynasty can clearly be seen today in the primetime soap Desperate Housewives, which revitalized the genre, and even in the hysterical pitch of the Real Housewives reality franchise. But Dynasty’s first season stands apart. It was an over-the-top melodrama, sure, but one that, against all odds, had an honest, emotional core. Lurking beneath the facade of monochrome pantsuits and epic shoulder pads were convincing glimpses of failed American ambition. At least, until 1982 rolled around.

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  3. Snarky's Ghost

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    DYNASTY - SEASON ONE
    Home Entertainment Review
    'Dynasty' Sparkles in Season One DVD

    by Scott Holleran

    Like a crisp Rocky Mountain morning, ABC's Dynasty (1981-1989) premieres on DVD in its sparkling first season, featuring the best scripts and cast of the glamorous series' nine-year run. With a manufacturer's suggested retail price of $39.98, the 13-episode season includes the original three-hour movie, Oil, and additional features on four double-sided discs in two plain snap cases. The package, lacking printed material, is a bit chintzy, but fans will welcome the transition of this larger than life television soap opera to DVD.

    To many, Dynasty undoubtedly means catfights and actress Joan Collins as Alexis—she didn't star until season two—yet this one-hour drama did not earn ratings for clothes and camp—that, too, came later—and what made it work is laid bare in these first episodes. Dynasty's melodrama is powered by the oil business—through old-fashioned, hardscrabble work. As creator Esther Shapiro, who produced and wrote the show with her husband, Richard, explains in the audio commentary: "oil comes from the earth and all that paper on Wall Street comes from industry."

    Dynasty gets down to business after composer Bill Conti's memorable musical score towers over Colorado's Rockies and glassy Denver's glistening skyline. The core is a pragmatic businessman named Blake Carrington (John Forsythe, who supplied the title voice on Dynasty producer Aaron Spelling's Charlie's Angels), who falls for his secretary, Krystle, played by tall, tan and gorgeous Linda Evans. Carrington's plans for his and Krystle's wedding are resisted by daughter Fallon (slim, cavalier Pamela Sue Martin), whose brain for business is masked by her petulant manner.

    Carrington also has a son, Steven (Al Corley), though he is gay—well, at least as gay as 1981 TV allowed, which means he'll be making a play for the boss's wife by the fourth episode. Steven has returned for his father's wedding from New York City, where he was living with one Ted Dinard (Mark Withers), whose fate forms the first season's central conflict. Look for Brian Dennehy in a pivotal role.

    True to soap form, Dynasty is the saga of two families—the rich Carringtons and the suburban Blaisdels—with Bo Hopkins as geologist Matthew Blaisdel, who becomes Blake Carrington's unwitting nemesis. The lower class stuff is not so much less interesting as merely out of place; Mrs. Blaisdel, Claudia, (Pamela Bellwood) struggles with mental illness and their teenage daughter, Lindsay, (Katy Kurtzman) seems to weep whenever the wind blows. Blaisdel's friend, an old salt named Walter (Dale Robertson), shows up determined to strike pay dirt and he keeps things gritty, even taking Steven Carrington to a whorehouse to cure his homosexuality.

    Dynasty crackles with good writing, taking a cue from Hollywood's Golden Age and Western epics like Giant and The Big Country. Mouthy Fallon skinny dips her way into the best lines, but everyone gets their turn, particularly the show's real star, Linda Evans' Krystle, whose buxom physical presence is a throwback to bygone Hollywood glamour. The Carringtons are a lusty, handsome, Western family—not a bunch of soft, inheritance types—who pound tennis balls, fight with fists and ride a horse with the same gusto with which they talk. When sulking Steven questions how his father does business, Blake Carrington fires back: "It's nice to know that you think anything about anything, Steven. I wasn't aware that you did."

    Take that, spoiled rich kid, and Dynasty relishes more than once in a sort of "up yours" against the anti-business college-bred crowd. But half the fun with the Carringtons is the plausibility of each character's viewpoint and, while Dallas treated Southfork as a meat market where everyone was willing to be branded for a buck, Dynasty is rather romantic and noble about its intentions. Fallon really wants to be loved—Steven is man enough for the job—the Blaisdels are a family worth rooting for—and, together, Blake and Krystle form that perfectly happy second marriage.

    The Shapiros—and a top production team—make it romantic enough to make it pump and gush and realistic enough to keep things drilling. With Conti's lush music, writer Edward De Blasio's sense of operatic subplots and the Shapiros' affection for pioneer women and individualistic men—Esther Shapiro calls Colorado's sweeping grandeur "intrinsically American"—Dynasty's season one culminates in a simple, elegant and orchestral wedding which is—like Blake Carrington's wealth—essentially earned and entertaining.

    This is soapdish so, of course, the well runs dry. Carrington practically prostitutes his daughter, Steven's integrity stops where his boss's kindest gestures begin and no one, including benevolent Krystle, is fully consistent. Creator Esther Shapiro's audio commentary doesn't address what's happening on screen, and she assumes too much knowledge about a series that hasn't been on the air since 1989—including her own, with such slips as a reference to Jeff Colby (John James) as Cecil Colby's (Lloyd Bochner) son (Jeff was Cecil's nephew). But Shapiro is generous and frank about her early salad days. Al Corley's commentary is polite for an actor—now Hollywood businessman—who vacated the role he originated, though it sometimes seems like he is holding back. So-called character profiles of Fallon and Steven amount to five-minute episode snippets interspersed with interviews with Pamela Sue Martin and Corley, who both look great.

    Dynasty may not be a flawless diamond, but its appeal was certainly not limited to big hair, shoulder pads and a B-movie British actress—and its first season ages better than the series' flamboyant reputation.

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  4. Snarky's Ghost

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    https://www.dvdtalk.com/reviews/29693/dynasty-the-second-season/

    Dynasty - The Second Season
    Review by Paul Mavis

    Highly Recommended

    Ah, Dynasty: the bastard child of night-time super-soap Dallas. Fans of the series who bought Season One on disc, and who very well may have thought that CBS/Paramount had forgot about them (Season One was released over two years ago), will be pleased to see that Season Two of the slap-happy bitch-fest that featured big hair, big shoulder pads and big-time over-acting, is now available in all its campy glory. With the wise decision on the producers' part to ratchet up the gloss and the backstabbing this season, while adding all-time favorite villainess Alexis Carrington (Joan Collins), and super-tramp Sammy Jo (Heather Locklear), sleepy Dynasty suddenly became a ratings contender, with audiences clamoring for more.

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    In 1980 and 1981, as ABC enviously watched the meteoric rise in the ratings of CBS' powerhouse Dallas, naturally they looked to exploit their own night-time sudser; after all, ABC had been a leader in the field, bringing out the iconic smash Peyton Place back in the 1960s. Pushing through a project entitled Oil, developed by TV vets Esther and Richard Shapiro, the network had the newly titled Dynasty ready for the viewers as a mid-season replacement in January, 1981. Not unlike aspects of Dallas (with the later spin-off of Knots Landing), Dynasty explored the intersection of a super-wealthy family (the Carringtons), who controlled a vast, powerful oil company, and a middle-class family (the Blaisdels) who worked in the lower tiers of the oil industry, and whose family struggles mirrored those found at the Carrington mansion.

    Unfortunately for ABC, audiences stayed away. Too obviously an inferior Dallas knock-off, with viewers particularly indifferent to the boring domestic tribulations of the middle-class Blaisdel family, an immediate re-tooling of the expensive series was undertaken by producer Aaron Spelling. Something was needed to make Dynasty stand out. Where Dallas had nasty, mean-spirited financial subplots focusing on the oil industry (and a relative realism to its dramatics), Dynasty was going straight for the women viewers, emphasizing glamour, glitz, romance, and dirty, nasty sex. A mysterious, beautifully dressed stranger was seen walking into the courtroom during the season's finale (Blake was on trial for murdering his gay son Steven's lover), with the network subsequently orchestrating quite a lot of hype over the summer, priming viewers for the mystery revelation at the start of Season Two. As well, the entire Blaisdel angle of the series was dropped, save for keeping mentally unbalanced Claudia Blaisdel (Pamela Belwood) in the cast. Dreary middle-class worries be damned; Dynasty was going to wallow whole-hog in the lives of the super-rich and super-powerful.

    Expectant audiences tuning into Season Two were rewarded with the introduction of one of the all-time best TV villains, Collins' Alexis, Blake's ex-wife. Dynasty was no longer a semi-serious attempt to do a standard family drama set against big oil, but an amped-up, glitz-heavy soap seething with sex and sin. The re-tooling worked spectacularly - as did a judicious day and time change. Escaping its deadly 9:00pm Monday night slot, where it was getting slaughtered by M*A*S*H and the NBC Monday Night Movie, Dynasty moved over to weak night Wednesday at 10:00pm (so as not to scare the kiddies who may have stayed up for ABC newcomers Greatest American Hero and The Fall Guy). Limp competition from failing series vet Quincy, M.E. over on NBC, and non-starter Shannon on CBS, no doubt helped Dynasty's chances enormously. Audiences responded overwhelmingly to the changes; Dynasty went from almost being canceled, to finishing out this second season 19th for the year in the Nielsen's, climbing higher each subsequent year until it hit the coveted number one position in the 1984-1985 season.

    I hadn't seen the series since it first ran, so I wasn't sure what to expect when I started wading through the 22 episodes of Dynasty: The Second Season. Having reviewed the past three season releases of Dallas, I was a little spoiled by that series' superior scripting, direction and performances, and I wasn't sure how well Dynasty was going to hold up in comparison to the mighty Dallas. Well, I have to admit that I had a marvelous time watching Dynasty: The Second Season. In comparison to Dallas' "realism," Dynasty's presentational style may be cheap, but it's engaging as hell, with the plots never pausing for a moment to ponder subtleties of character motivation. Don't let the expensive gowns, beautiful cars, and the lavish sets of Dynasty fool you: this is cheap, crude melodrama at its most basic - and most enjoyable.

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    The dramatic framework of Dynasty is as old as the hills, with tit-for-tat revenge in both business and personal lives creating the most base thrills for the audience (it's hard to imagine today, considering the almost X-rated material that's available on basic cable shows, that Dynasty caused quite a bit of controversy when it came out). Of course, audiences always "rediscover" such devices when they're repackaged to fit the times, and Dynasty did this quite adroitly, enhanced by ABC's slick house style in the production design and lensing. The series' main story arc ostensibly revolves around oil baron Blake Carrington's (every woman with a daddy complex's dream, John Forsythe) efforts to keep his family united. In reality, most episodes of Dynasty devolve into Blake, knee-deep in financial trouble (which is usually background filler), trying to stay out of the way of the squabbling wildcats in his life, best illustrated by the epic battle between former wife - and obvious spawn of Satan - Alexis (played to utter perfection by delicious Joan Collins) and current wife Krystle (played as well as can be expected, considering the sometimes sappy character, by Linda Evans). As much as business matters in Dallas, where complicated oil deals and financial setbacks involving wills and probate courts are routinely strung along multiple season story arcs (and the viewer is expected to remember them), business doesn't matter in the slightest in Dynasty. Only games of sexual one-upmanship and constant, bitter emotional betrayals are deemed necessary here.

    And while later seasons of Dynasty increasingly spun out of control because the series became too self-aware of its own camp aspects (the "Moldavian wedding massacre" would be a prime example), we're seeing just the beginnings of those leanings here in this second season. Collins' character, designed as a direct knock-off of Dallas's J.R. Ewing, is a monstrous "Joan Crawford on steroids" creation that started Dynasty down its self-reflexive road. And she's a character that never fails to entertain, precisely because Collins plays her right to the back stalls. Shoulders always held back at a haughty angle, with an imperious upward tilt to her nose (unless she's coldly peering down at her next victim), Collins is hysterical in her late-career making role. There's no time in Dynasty's plots for subtlety, and Collins compensates by sweeping into her scenes to start immediately chewing the scenery. Delivering dialogue that would mortify Jacqueline Susann ("I'm glad to see your father had your teeth fixed...if not your tongue."), Collins proves a more than adept comedian. And let's not forget our other prime-time vixen added to this year's cast: little sex shooter Heather Locklear as white trash angel turned spoiled Carrington, Sammy Jo. Her scantily clad appearances definitely helped skew Dynasty towards the more desirable younger demographics, and it's not hard to see why, considering the almost spooky fixation the series has on showcasing her rear end, episode after episode (why, you may ask? Because it's perfection, that's why).

    With these two hellions butting heads - and rutting in-between the sheets at every opportunity - it's not surprising that the more serious aspects of the series seem rather tame by comparison, including Krystle's gradual disengagement from Blake, Steven (Al Corley) finally coming out of the closet for good, Fallon's (Pamela Sue Martin) near-abortion, Claudia's further mental derailment, and mysterious Dr. Toscanni's (James Farentino) murderous revenge plot against Blake and his family. Certainly, Collins scores the season's highlights, including a hysterical catfight with Krystle (where the stunt doubles are so obviously not Evans and Collins that it must have been intentionally shot that way), that became an audience favorite and a much-anticipated staple in later seasons. However, the season's final episode, where Collins makes love to Lloyd Bochner's Cecil Colby, has to be one of the greatest moments in camp TV history. As we see dissolve after dissolve of Collins and Bochner in what looks like bizarre G-rated porno shots of them making love, Bochner, no doubt not used to the almost supernatural quality and duration of Alexis' lovemaking skills, suffers what appears to be a fatal heart attack. As he screams and grasps his chest, Alexis responds by viciously slapping his face, over and over again to the point of hilarity, as she berates him for spoiling her plans to get back at Blake. While he's dying. Too ridiculous to be sick, it's one of the funniest scenes I've seen this year, and deserves big kudos for being so blatantly audacious and crude. No wonder people couldn't wait for Season Three of Dynasty to start in the fall.

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    Last edited: Aug 22, 2019
  5. Snarky's Ghost

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    https://www.dvdtalk.com/reviews/33987/dynasty-season-three-vol-1/
    https://www.dvdtalk.com/reviews/37700/dynasty-season-three-vol-2/

    Dynasty - Season Three

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    The Series
    When last we left Denver, the Carrington and Colby clans were in all sorts of turmoil: Blake lay unconscious on a cliff after his horse got spooked by a snake, as nemesis Dr. Nick Toscanni left him to die in the rain; Claudia was getting more cuckoo by the second; Fallon and Jeff's newborn, Little Blake, was kidnapped from his crib; Alexis had finally tracked down a man she hopes to use as a weapon against Krystle; and Cecil suffered a heart attack while having sex, with Alexis frantically trying to slap him back to life in one of the funniest scenes ever in the series--and in television.

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    That's why I love Dynasty, that quintessential '80s indulgence that was nothing if not entertaining. While it was outlasted by the other three heavyweight soaps of the decade (Dallas, Knots Landing and Falcon Crest), Dynasty was always the most outlandish. It was the least realistic, the loudest and the most fun.

    After the shorter Season 1 finally got a release in 2005, it took more than two years--a delay caused in part by the rights moving to a different studio--for Season 2 to get released last year. Thankfully, we had a much shorter wait for Season 3, although in an odd movie, Paramount decided to release it in two volumes: this installment has the first 12 episodes of the season on three discs. The rest of the episodes will be released in Volume 2 on October 21, 2008. Season 3 had 24 episodes, two more than Season 2--but Season 4 clocks in at a whopping 27, so if we (hopefully) get another release, I'm imagining we'll see a similar pattern.


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    With Season 3, Dynasty was still laying the groundwork for what was yet to come, setting the stage for its meatiest years in Seasons 4-6. The plots were still ridiculous, but not quite as wacky as what would follow. The cliffhangers are soon resolved--Toscani (James Farentino) is gone, and Claudia (Pamela Bellwood) makes only a few appearances in this volume as both become prime suspects in the Carrington kidnapping case. But one of her scenes is a doozy, a beautifully tasteless sequence on a rooftop that epitomizes the essence of the show: jaw-dropping, high-class trash.

    Meanwhile, Cecil lies near death's door in the hospital as an anxious Alexis tries to marry him--and take over ColbyCo--before it's too late ("I've heard of shotgun weddings, but deathbed weddings?!" says Blake), leading to another unforgettable display of hammed-up acting.

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    A few overriding story arcs take shape, the biggest being the introduction of Adam (Gordon Thomson), the long-lost child of Blake and Alexis. Or is he? During the media circus of Little Blake's kidnapping, Alexis reveals that her firstborn child with Blake was kidnapped as an infant and never found. In Billings, Montana, an old woman sees the newscast and tells her grandson Michael that she was the culprit--and that he is Adam Carrington.

    The lawyer hops on a plane and works his way into the family--but not without quickly alienating Blake. Thomson would stay with the series through the rest of its run, and immediately asserts himself as one of the show's smoothest villains. An intelligent and ambitious ladies' man, Adam also has a violent temper--a frightening side that frequently surfaces, cutting through his suave veneer. He makes an enemy out of almost everyone, but his biggest targets become Blake and brother-in-law Jeff Colby (John James), who leaves Denver Carrington and takes a job at ColbyCo to keep an eye on Adam. That comes after a new revelation about a stockholder in Denver Carrington puts the company's future in jeopardy.

    The new son also makes a play for Fallon (Pamela Sue Martin), who asserts her independent womanhood this season by transforming daddy's La Mirada dump of a hotel into La Mirage (her costume-laden Roaring '20s party provides the most opulent moment of this set) Unaware that she is his sister, Adam pours on his womanizing, resulting in one of the show's more cringe-inducing kisses.

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    Two more cast members make their debut this season. Mark Jennings (Geoffrey Scott) is brought to Denver by the scheming Alexis--the handsome tennis pro was Krystle's first husband, and an apparent divorce snafu may mean they're still married. Scott flirts his way through the cast, setting his sights on getting Krystle back. One episode later, the daughter of Carrington butler Joseph (Lee Bergere) arrives from Europe: Kirby (Kathleen Beller) immediately reveals her crush on Jeff, and sees some hope as his marriage to Fallon is on shaky ground.

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    Season 3's Freshman Class
    But Jeff has bigger problems--namely the poisonous paint fumes that are slowly destroying him, a gift from the jealous Adam. His dementia starts to trouble his loved ones, and sends the meek, emotionally fragile Kirby into the arms of Adam for a night that will come back to haunt her.

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    As the first half of the season progresses, another subplot begins to take shape. Having left Denver at the end of Season 2, Steven Carrington is M.I.A.--until the family learns that he's working on an oil rig in Indonesia. But word of an explosion sends shockwaves through the clan. Unable to accept that his son is dead, Blake heads overseas (and even hires a psychic!) to track down Steven (at which point I laugh, the perfectly appropriate--and funniest--line from Heathers dancing through my head: "I love my dead gay son!").

    Fans of the show know that actor Al Corley left over a character dispute (the studio apparently wanted Steven to be "cured" of his homosexuality), and was replaced by Jack Coleman (now of NBC's Heroes). Despite being pictured on the back of the box, Coleman actually doesn't appear--save for one brief scene where you can't see his face--in these 12 episodes. (Another box snafu is the picture of the pond fight between Alexis and Krystal, which also happens in the latter half of the season).

    And making one appearance is Heather Locklear, who always added a great spark to the show as trampy gold-digger Sammy Jo, the white trash princess. Not yet a regular (she was pulling double duty with her nicer role on T.J. Hooker), she shows up in episode 12 with a surprise for the family (Locklear appears more in the second half of the season). I also laughed (actually, I cried) when she fills up her gas tank for $14.85. If that wasn't enough to make you yearn for the "Me!" decade, Blake is worried about the health of Denver Carrington because of the oil glut that the country is in. Sigh...those were the days.

    I'm a little miffed that we don't get the whole season in one package, but as long as they keep coming, I'll be a happy man. Each episode runs about 47 minutes. As my esteemed colleague Paul Mavis notes in his review of Season 2, the DVD sleeve notes that "some episodes may be edited from their original network versions." I'm not sure what content that may be (if at all), but most of the goods seem intact--although there are no "Last time, on Dynasty..." recaps preceding each one (I seem to remember those from the original broadcasts, and it would have been nice to have them here). I'd advise against reading the episode summaries on the inner sleeve, as they reveal a little to much and spoil some of the surprises.

    It's impossible not to get caught up in the fun of this series--it knew what it was doing, and it didn't care. Glitz, glamour, sex, scandal...it was melodramatic escapism at its most luridly entertaining.

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    So when that slutty Sammy Jo showed up on the Carrington mansion doorstep carting in the family's newest member--young Danny, the result of her tryst with the confused, gay and presumed dead Steven--us Dynasty whores had to wait a little longer to see the rest of the season play out. Sure it makes me angry (seriously, how long is it going to take for all of these volumes to be released?!), but all was forgiven as I popped in the first disc and picked up the action with Episode 13.

    Just one look at the leotard-clad Sammy Jo--showing off her inner redneck by stuffing sausages into a croissant (the classy Carrington version of Pigs in a Blanket!) as a disappointed Krystal watches in disgust--is enough to get me giddy. But there's so much more! What about the porno-worthy sequence with Alexis rubbing her hands into Mark's hairy chest (captured in close-up!) as the sultry sounds of saxophone music kick in?

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    Sammy Jo also tries to auction off her son ("I don't care what you think, Aunt Krystal! What's important is me! I have one life and one body, and I wanna use it for me!") and has a standoff with Alexis that ends with a zinger: "What's a matter? Didn't one tramp hear what the other tramp just said?" And how about the cartoonish sight of that mystery man, his face covered in bandages after radial reconstructive surgery?! (Hmm, wouldn't that be a convenient development if an actor had to be replaced?!)

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    And that's just one episode! How can you not eat this rich trash up?! Here are some crucial points to remember from the first half of the season: Alexis (Joan Collins) inadvertently caused Krystal (Linda Evans) to have a miscarriage, but that wasn't evil enough--she also decided to lure tennis stud Mark Jennings (Geoffrey Scott) to Denver in the hopes of causing Krystal more heartache. It turns out the two are still technically married, much to Blake's chagrin: "We had no way of knowing that your Mexican divorce wasn't legal...I'm sure they'll understand that!" (Who writes these gems?!)

    Meanwhile, the sinister Adam (Gordon Thompson)--the newest addition to the Carrington clan--was up to no good. When he wasn't busy raping Kirby (Kathleen Beller), he was poisoning Jeff (John James) with a deadly paint in his office walls. As for Steven? He was assumed dead after an oil rig explosion in the South China Sea.

    As the season progresses in this volume, the storylines heat up: Steven returns, but now he looks like Jack Coleman (not Al Corley) and sports surprisingly few scars for someone who underwent so many facial surgeries. Apparently, the eyes leave no doubt that he truly is Steven, a point made obvious with a funny close-up during his reunion with Blake. (And pardon my crassness but I can't resist...the phallic imagery for Steven's sequence during the opening credits has got to be on purpose, right?)

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    Still bitter over his homophobic father's treatment of him and a perceived indifference from his family, Steven only agrees to return home when he learns about Danny. But when he meets and befriends super-sexy lawyer Chris Deegan (one of my childhood crushes, Eight is Enough's Grant Goodeve), Blake (John Forsythe) worries about how the "lifestyle" will affect Danny's upbringing. It also disturbs Sammy Jo (Heather Locklear), who assumed Danny would be in Blake's rich hands.

    While Dynasty was always seen as a guilty pleasure of excess, this is one of the instances where the writers showed some social responsibility--injecting gay characters and issues that were ahead of their time on the television landscape (although Steven and Chris never kiss, dammit!). Goodeve gets a nice moment when Chris shares his coming out struggle with Steven, who also has some spirited arguments with his dad and ex-wife that give the season even more passion ("Let him grow up with a straight family...don't stick him with you for a father!"). Even if the language show's the fears and limits the writers were working with (when did people stop saying "a gay"?), it's so nice that the show devoted so much time to the issue.

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    Unlucky with Krystal, Mark now focuses his energy elsewhere by bedding both Alexis and her daughter Fallon (Pamela Sue Martin), who slowly warms up to him after some initial reluctance: "Don't color me as a dude on the make in the take, Fallon! I make my living as a tennis player. I'm not a tennis bum!" (How much fun were these writers having?!) But when Alexis gets wind of Fallon's infatuation, the wheels in her diabolical mind start turning--leading to one of her signature schemes, an unabashed display of selfishness that crushes two people at once. It's jaw-dropping scenes like this that made Alexis--and the show--such a hit.

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    Elsewhere, Jeff continues to lose his sanity and his grip on reality (although his grip on Fallon's neck seems to be doing just fine!). It all culminates with an unintentionally (?) funny collapse on the tennis court (nice tennis outfit, Jeff!) that has everyone questioning the source of his sickness. His weakness gives Alexis an idea to take over control of Denver Carrington and create an oil empire with Colbyco, thus driving Blake insane ("I would love to see you strangle on your own arrogance!"). She works on winning over the board of directors, leading to a ball-busting meeting where she gets to channel her inner Joan Crawford circa Mommie Dearest ("Don't f#@! with me, fellas!").

    Seeing his own chance for more power, Adam dotes on his mom like a good ol' Norman Bates ("Yes, mother!"). But Jeff's condition comes back to haunt the elder Carrington son--and if that isn't making him nervous enough, Adam becomes increasingly jealous of the attention directed at Steven: "I've been around a lot more than you...I mean sleeping with girls!" (Well said, Adam...but what about the raping?) He also has to worry about the pesky return of that doctor from Montana, who's concerned about some addictive behavior from his former patient's past--vices that that start to resurface.

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    Then there's Kirby--poor, sad sack Kirby. When she isn't annoying me by calling Joseph (Lee Bergere) "Pa Pa!" (and talking about ex-lover Jean Paul), she's making me laugh by going on a date with her rapist (always a great idea!) and continuing to pine for Jeff. She's at her crush's side during his recovering, leading to one of the most hysterical scenes of the season (again, I wonder whether it's intentional): Kirby pours her heart and soul out to Jeff, admitting she once considered suicide before finally professing her love to him--only to realize that he's dozed off, unaware of her confession (poor thing...stop embarrassing yourself, Kirby!).

    But the Debbie Downer never gives up, and her pathetic persistence finally pays off when--after admitting her love again when she thinks Jeff is asleep (!) and nearly getting raped again by Adam (!!)--Jeff makes an impromptu, ill-advised proposal that (temporarily) gives the woman a respite from her grief.

    As the season winds down, the tension mounts in the cliffhanger, where Kirby gets some startling news; Chris moves in with Steven, reigniting Blake's homophobia ("I'll be damned if I'm going to let two gays raise that baby!"); Fallon starts to become suspicious of Adam; and Alexis starts to anger a lot of men, including Blake, Adam, Mark, Joseph, private investigator Morgan Hess (Hank Brandt) and congressman Neil McVane (Paul Burke), fuming after Alexis exposes his "tawdry affair with a governor's nymphet daughter!" Her evil plotting causes one of those "miserably ungrateful men" to a cabin, where Alexis has lured Krystal for a confrontation that soon turns more fiery than expected. While it's not one of the more memorable cliffhanger events from the series, it still has its moments (Oh Alexis! Did you really think the sink water was going to help?!).

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    What else could you possibly want from Dynasty? Glitz and glamour are mixed with blackmail and back-stabbing, the action filled with all the lurid behavior you've come to expect from the series (against all logic, characters never call the police here--but what fun with that be?!). Did I mention Joan Collins' lips, which pout and glisten off the screen with a life all their own? What about the rotating male secretaries that Alexis uses, or all of the opportunities the show uses to get John James and Geoffrey Scott shirtless? This is pure fun, just as campy and entertaining today as it was 25 years ago.

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    This volume also provides another round in the Alexis/Krystal Catfight Series--the two claw at each other in a lily pond, a scene mistakenly pictured on the Season 3, Vol. 1 box. It's another fine standoff in their rivalry, highlighted by Collins slamming Evans over the head with her wet hat. The slaps and punches are so mild (you have to laugh at the overblown audio effects that accompany them), but at least they do their own stunts this time (the same can't be said of the finale in the cabin, where obvious stunt doubles--one looking quite manly--are inserted in some shots).

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    The most fun is had during any scene featuring Collins or Locklear--the diva and the understudy get to have all sorts of fun bitching it up, and you can't help but lap up every drip of their cattiness. Sadly, Locklear--doing double time on T.J. Hooker--only appears twice this volume, while Pamela Bellwood gets one appearance as Claudia, recovering in the sanitarium after she went bonkers with that baby doll. I wish the writers gave Fallon more sarcastic quips--her little joke with Krystal in "The Vote" is one of the few honest, natural laughs of the season.

    But the writers clearly had a sense of humor, a point made clear in "The Downstairs Bride" when Sammy Jo learns about Steven's resurrection via The National Enquirer--whose cover loudly advertises Dynasty's biggest rival. Have a look for yourself...I dare you not to smile:

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  6. Snarky's Ghost

    Snarky's Ghost Soap Chat Oracle

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    https://www.dvdtalk.com/reviews/37722/dynasty-season-four-vol-1/
    https://www.dvdtalk.com/reviews/40614/dynasty-season-four-v2/

    Dynasty: Season Four

    By the end of the 1982-83 television season, Dynasty had leapt from No. 19 in the ratings to No. 5, closing the gap on Dallas--a show accustomed to a comfortable life in the Nielsen's top two spots. Sensing blood, Dynasty upped the ante in Season 4, where the stakes got higher both in front of and behind the camera. More opulent than ever, the show was nearing the apex of its popularity--attracting more viewers and more guest stars than ever before.

    Continuing with its money-grabbing trend, Paramount is still releasing the seasons in split sets, so this three-disc collection includes the first 14 episodes of the 1983-84 season. Things weren't going so well for the residents of Denver at the end of Season 3: Blake was ready to sue for custody of grandson Danny after realizing gay son Steven was sharing an apartment with another homosexual; Kirby discovered that her unborn baby was fathered by rapist Adam, not husband Jeff; Fallon started to suspect that Jeff's illness was the result of foul play; and poor Alexis and Krystal were trapped in a cabin set on fire by someone out to kill Alexis. But who was it? Six suspects were established at the end of Season 3, and all of them had a motive.

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    It's interesting to note that in the beginning of season opener "The Arrest", we experience some revisionist history at the hands of the editors. The cabin sequence where Alexis (Joan Collins) and Krystal (Linda Evans) try to escape is replayed, but with a few differences meant to make Alexis look more sympathetic. Here, the line "Look out behind you!" is inserted just before Krystal gets trapped--it's a warning Alexis didn't issue at the end of last season's cliffhanger, where it's clear that the diva is happy to see Krystal in peril. In Season 3's version, Alexis turns her back and fends for herself, a glint in her eye making us think she's kind of happy to see Krystal in peril. But the editing here is different and removes that bit of bitchy behavior (the line "We're gonna die!" is also added, as if to create a bond between them). Perhaps the show's creators thought they went too far and didn't want to make Alexis quite that evil (I probably wouldn't have even noticed if I didn't watch the episodes back to back).

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    Thinly veiled contempt

    The two are quickly saved after a mysteriously convenient arrival by Mark Jennings (Geoffrey Scott), who is soon arrested for the crime. But that doesn't sit right with Krystal, and another attempt on Alexis's life in the hospital (or is it just a dream?) has us all thinking someone else is responsible. The mystery is soon solved and a series regular departs, but Alexis is still convinced someone is out to get her--a paranoia that continues throughout the season.

    This volume is highlighted by two memorable events. The episode "Carousel"--one of the most talked about and publicized of the entire series--places the cast at a famous Denver ball to benefit children's diabetes research. That cause--and the show's popularity--led to cameos by some unlikely guest stars, including Barbara and Marvin Davis, whose wealth and status helped support diabetes research; and Nancy Zarif, another socialite who may be more famous now as the mother of Brandon Davis (you know, the rich brat who hangs out with Paris Hilton).

    Wait, you don't really know any of those people, do you? Did I mention that "Carousel" also has cameos by Gerald and Betty Ford? That's right, the former freakin' President and First Lady! Don't worry...he doesn't trip, and she doesn't drink (how much fun would that have been?!). Take that, Dallas! And how about former national security advisor/secretary of state Henry Kissinger, who schmoozes with Alexis in an awkward exchange? "Henry! Hello! It's good to see you...I haven't seen you since Portofino! It was fun!"

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    Another episode has a cameo by piano player Peter Duchin, a name I'm guessing was more glitzy in 1983 than it is now. But even if some of these guests were C-level celebrities, it still showed how popular Dynasty had become. But Season 4 doesn't rely on stunt casting to make its mark, and I was far more impressed with the story arc in the first six episodes dealing with the "controversial" issue of gays raising children. We got hints of the storyline last season, but it takes center stage here, culminating in the two-part "The Hearing" episodes.

    Disgusted that son Steven (Jack Coleman) plans to bring up child Danny in a home with gay friend Chris (Grant Goodeve), Blake (John Forsythe) decides to sue for custody ("I will not allow him to live in your kind of a house!"). The move divides the family--and brings Sammy Jo (Heather Locklear, who appears in three episodes this volume) back to town to spread lies on the stand. While Steven isn't dating Chris, he refuses to use that defense as a matter of principle. That leads to some heated debate both in and out of the courtroom, and it's (unfortunately) easy to image many of these conversations still taking place today (a sad sign of slow progress--but a welcome sign that Dynasty was ahead of its time).

    While I initially laughed at some of the more unbelievable opinions and treatment by the judge, I'm not so sure it was off the mark for 1983. The solution ends up being a copout--Steven marries formerly cuckoo Claudia (Pamela Bellwood, back as a series regular) and ignores that he's gay for the rest of the volume (a move that results in surprisingly little shock from the rest of the family), while Chris just disappears (sniff...I miss you, Grant! You filled that "Mile High Athletic Club" t-shirt beautifully!). But it's still an intelligent, passionate and addictive storyline that proved Dynasty wasn't all about mindless fun.

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    Just have a look at this exchange between Blake and his lawyer Andrew (Peter Mark Richman, who does great work throughout this volume; I wish he was made a series regular):

    Blake: "This legal action that I instituted is on a clear-cut basis that a gay man living with his lover has no right to ruin his child's life by subjecting him to that kind of environment."
    Andrew: "And do we forget about the total lack of proof?"
    Blake: "What does that mean?"
    Andrew: "That there is no proof that a child raised by a gay will necessarily become gay himself."

    Meanwhile, Adam (Gordon Thompson) senses that his poisoning of Jeff (John James) is going to be uncovered, so he gets to work on framing mommy Alexis for the dirty deed. That forces her to reconsider her oil merger plans, leading to Adam's expulsion from Colbyco (and his entrance into Denver Carrington and daddy's mansion). The stress causes him to resort to the destructive behavior of his past--booze, drugs and women, something Alexis soon discovers.

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    Jeff starts to exhibit some very un-Jeff like behavior--his indifference toward wife Kirby (Kathleen Beller) leads him back into the arms of ex-wife Fallon (Pamela Sue Martin). "I know you couldn't make love to me last night, and I understand that, really!" says doormat Kirby before begging for sex, leading to one of my favorite lines of the season (drum roll, please): "Love means more to me than just performance!" (Try that the next time you're cheating on someone and let me know how it goes...)

    That development turns out to be a convenient out for the writers, who still have Kirby keeping her rape by Adam a secret. They even have the basket case attempting to miscarry her baby on purpose (!!!) by orchestrating a fall off a horse ala Krystal in Season 2 (sigh, the poor loser can't do anything right!).

    But the secret is eventually out in the open ("You slept with him...just like an ordinary tramp!" yells an insensitive Jeff), and Adam tries to turn over a new leaf with his impending fatherhood. His machinations result in some fights with Jeff, including a physical altercation atop a building that shows Dynasty was an equal-opportunity employer of stunt doubles (the writers also haven't lost their touch: "That's it! Crawl! That's how you'll get through the rest of your life!").

    The fight proves to be one of the season's silliest moments, mostly because it comes across more homoerotic than anything else (and don't get me started on the scene in the gym!).


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    Yes, his hand is where you think it is...

    Adam still proves to be one smooth villain, looking out for his own best interests (money and sex) and wasting no chance to insult everyone around him. His taunting of Fallon in Episode 9 is quintessential Adam, giving Thompson a chance to show why he was the perfect choice to portray the seductively smooth yet unapologetically evil character:

    Adam: "What's your problem, really? Is this excess of hostility on your part due to the fact that you're simply going through a period of starvation? Kind of sexual anorexia?"
    Fallon: "How dare you talk to me like this!"
    Adam: "I dare! And I also dare say that what you really need is some guy to help you out. I understand you were quite a free spirit in various beds. Maybe you should revive an old talent. It would probably make you a hell of a lot more fun to live with." (Ouch!)

    Three new faces also make their first appearances this volume: Deborah Adair is Tracy Kendall, a Denver Carrington PR assistant who becomes bitter when Blake makes Krystal her boss ("Ambition is not a dirty word in my dictionary!"); while Austrian-born Helmut Berger is Peter De Vilbis, a suave playboy who catches Fallon's eye--but is really just a creepy drug-addicted asshole in debt, out for Blake's money. His presence also creates some Jeff jealousy: "How well do you know him?" he asks Fallon. "Not as well as I intend to!" (Oooookaaaay!)

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    Adair is a breath of fresh air--smart and sexy, she adds a needed punch to the mostly dull female cast. Berger, on the other hand, is a total zero, a dullard who was probably cast because his accent seemed exotic. He just seems out of place: He isn't comfortable with English dialogue, stumbling through his simple lines (a few of them seem re-dubbed) in a wooden performance.

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    But the biggest addition to the cast is Michael Nader as Farnsworth "Dex" Dexter, who would stay with the series to the end. As the son of an ailing Denver Carrington board member, he instantly clashes with Blake over perceived mistreatment of his father. He's also instantly attracted to Alexis (although her newfound mullet isn't doing her any favors), and the two soon become partners in business and in bed. Nader is similar in smoothness to Thompson, but Dex is a more rugged, masculine character who is good at heart (although why he is frequently dressed in mom jeans hiked up to his mid-chest is a mystery to me).

    Nader and Collins play perfectly off each other, and his addition to the cast allows Collins to show off a few welcome sides to Alexis that we haven't seen before. She's caught off guard by her feelings, and the result is a more vulnerable yet playful woman with a better sense of humor (dare I say happy?!), which Collins plays just as well as the bitchy parts (I particularly love how Collins conveys mild contempt so well; she has just as many subtle weapons in her arsenal). Their scenes and chemistry together give the show a juicy jolt: "Nobody takes me to the cleaners and to bed in the same day, Mr. Dexter!"

    Kirby isn't quite as annoying this volume, but she still has her moments ("I wasn't brooding! I promised I wouldn't!"). The character is so timid and annoying, it's hard to feel bad for her even when she's being treated terribly by all the men around her--even good guy Jeff. Her face plant on the piano in "Lancelot" gave me the heartiest laugh of this volume, but running a very close second is her meltdown over her puffy man hands (which actually served as the "dramatic" conclusion to Episode 13!).

    I was worried about having Kirby and fellow fragile flower Claudia around so much in one season (how many abuse magnets can we take?!). But it's a manageable problem; Claudia isn't as crazy as she was before, but jealously takes over when Alexis demands all of Steven's time (Bellwood also has some questionable hair moments this season, and I have no idea what's up with her Baby Jane-like lipstick).

    There aren't any Alexis/Krystal catfights this volume (although the two engage in some delicious verbal sparring bound to make you smile), but you do get Claudia and Sammy Jo (sort of) slapping each other, and Kirby uses her feeble hands in a sad attempt to choke Alexis (c'mon! Choke her like you mean it!).

    As the first half of the season winds down, Blake and Krystal--who had moved out of the mansion and into La Mirage--rekindle their romance and get married again following Krystal's divorce from Mark, who soon becomes a bodyguard for Alexis (Geoffrey Scott is given less and less to do as the season progresses). An odd stranger also seems to be stalking Danny in the park, which spooks Claudia. She is soon given more to fret over when a mysterious box arrives at her doorstep.

    What's in store next? Hand over that next volume, Paramount! This is when the show really starts to get good!

    A side note: I was distracted twice this season by some bit players--and not just Carrington mansion regulars Virginia Hawkins (Jeanette) and William Beckley (Gerard; don't get too attached to Joseph this season!). Dynasty continues its gag of having multiple hunks get brief screen time playing the man candy male secretaries to Alexis. I knew I recognized one of them: Yes, that's Thom Matthews (of The Return of the Living Dead and Jason Lives fame!) playing Brian in Episodes 7 and 8 (who knew my love of Friday the 13th films and Dynasty would overlap?! And yes, Richman starred in Jason takes Manhattan...it's like a reunion!).

    I was also smitten once again with stable boy Tony, played by the gorgeous Paul Keenan--whose kind-hearted energy radiated off the screen. He gets very brief screen time and appeared in 10 episodes from 1982 to 1984; sadly, he passed away in 1986. But the lasting image of him on the horse will live forever in my mind (is Fallon crazy telling him to put his shirt back on?!). Thanks for the memories, Paul...you are missed!

    As much as I've lamented Paramount's decision to break the Dynasty season sets into two volumes apiece, it might not be such a bad idea. You see, I love writing about the show as much as I love watching it--so this release schedule gives me double the pleasure. And when a juicy episode like "Seizure" comes along--the 15th in the season, but the opening installment here--it feels like a full season anyway. I had enough notes from that episode alone to write a full review--it's overflowing with all of the qualities I've come to love in the show, from glitz and glamour to ham and cheese.

    Where do I begin? How about with basket case Kirby (Kathleen Beller), who reaches new levels of shame this volume? (If you thought she was timid and helpless before, brace yourself.) The pregnant mess gets off to a rocky start in an episode named after her, violently shaking her hands and hyperventilating as she loses her cool in the hospital (she gets even more manic at the end of the episode, practically breaking the crazy dial). It's a funny fit that got even better with this line from her doctor, who tells Jeff (John James) and Adam (Gordon Thompson) what's wrong with her: "I'm afraid it's not the best news. Kirby has severe pre-eclampsia, which--if we're not careful--can quickly lead to eclampisa." (Brilliant!)

    Even writing the line makes me smile--and hearing it sent me into a silly seizure of my own. But it got even better with Adam's response: "Doctor, we're not on staff here! What are you talking about?!" (Paging Dr. Sulu! "Dammit Adam, I'm a doctor, not a rapist!") But if I had to guess, I'd bet Kirby's shakes were panic induced, the fear of Rape #2 just around the corner. Yep, the possessive Adam ("It's my baby!") is just as sinister and violent as he ever was, crazed to have a Carrington heir and daddy Blake's approval: "I'm the only one you have left. Your father is gone, your marriage is broken up. I'm the only one who really loves you. We need each other, Kirby!" (Only Thompson could say those lines with odd sincerity.)

    As for Rape No. 1? Blake (the late, great John Forsythe) seems to have forgiven it: "That's all been settled, Adam! You did a terrible thing to the girl, now you're trying to make up for it!" (And just wait and see how both Blake and Jeff forgive Adam when they find out it was him who poisoned the paint, not Alexis!). Yep, it's back to the beautifully sick and twisted business at Dynasty. was a boy, all I had to love was this little ugly mongrel dog. I used to pick him up and love him so much, I'd nearly squeeze him to death. I wanted him to love me as much as I loved him...but I frightened him and he ran away. Why?!" (Maybe because you almost squeezed him to death?)

    Where were we? Oh yeah, all of those fantastic scenes--and all of them are from just the first episode here, reason enough to add this three-disc volume to your collection pronto. Not only is it entertaining on its own, it also wraps up the star-studded first volume of Season 4 and set the show up for its most successful season ever (hey Paramount, where's that Season 5 announcement?!). This is quintessential Dynasty--the show was at its best and rising in popularity, helping it snag the Golden Globe for Best Drama and a No. 3 finish in the Nielsen ratings for the season.



    [​IMG][​IMG]

    In addition to Kirby's tailspin (oh Kirby, you can't even win when you try to be tough!) after the loss of her baby, the bulk of the season revolves around a lucrative oil deal in the South China Seas that pits Blake and Alexis against each other--with the future of Denver Carrington in jeopardy. Claudia starts to lose her own already-fragile grip on reality (having her and Kirby in one season is almost too much to take) when she gets mysterious phone calls. Watch (and laugh) as it takes her and Krystal forever to arrive at the obvious conclusion (Nancy Drew, they ain't). Also watch in delight as Claudia freaks out over...napkin rings?! ("Look!" yells Krystal. "These are napkin rings...they're not violets!") Meanwhile, husband Steven (Jack Coleman) seems to have completely forgotten he's gay, despite a brief flicker prompted by Owen (handsome Philip Cocciolettoi), an old Princeton squash pal (insert joke here). Sadly, Steven doesn't take the bait. Even sadder, Grant Goodeve is nowhere to be found this installment (despite his character getting a shout-out).

    Jeff and Fallon start to reconnect, but the clouds get murky for her after an accident in Episode 17 (entitled "The Accident", natch) sets the stage for a long and frustrating road ahead. It's the season's most ridiculous moment--watch in awe and horror as Jeff and a negligent La Mirage valet let a belligerent drunk man get into his car--and then proceed to hit Fallon after Jeff lets her wander into the street afterward (!). Then to further prove his complete lack of common sense, he invites Fallon to go skiing just days later after it's revealed she has a skull fracture (!!): "The way I feel, it's my fault wanting you to ski a few extra runs with me when I should have realized you were tired." (Ya think, Jeff?!)

    And in addition to her jilted business partners and rivals, Joan Collins better watch out for disgraced politician Neal McVane (Paul Burke) and slimy private investigator Morgan Hess (Hank Brandt), who are up to no good. Geoffrey Scott also lingers in the background as Mark Jennings, the bodyguard/bitch boy to Alexis ("I had your necklace fixed, Alexis! And my testicles!"). She has a blast hurling insults his way, making for some of the season's most entertaining quotes: "Mark, the table is set for two...don't you have an appointment at the muscle factory or somewhere equally intelligent?" Poor Scott isn't much of an actor, but he's still underused and just biding his time until he can make himself useful (i.e., get murdered) in a highly telegraphed development toward the season's end.

    Other episodes segments this volume include a birthday bash that made me think of The Omen and a maudlin near-accident by the pool shamelessly inserted by the writers and editors. We're supposed to think Fallon's recovery is a miracle; I just think her lazy, attention-seeking ass finally decided to stop faking it (the scene had me hearing Dr. Frankenstein yell "It's alive!" into my ear). The show also takes exotic trips to Hong King, Lima, Aspen and...Bismark! (Actually, the show gives us stock exteriors, then tries to impress us with lush interior set design fakeouts...if it's red walls an dcarpet, it must be China, right?!)

    It may sound like I'm mocking the show, but I wouldn't have it any other way. Coming from me, snarkiness is a good (if I'm too nice to you, something must be wrong). Dynasty is like family--I'm allowed to make fun of it because I love it so much, and the show brilliantly succeeds at being exactly what it wants to. There's no pretense at art or intelligence--this is pure fantasy in all its lurid and opulent glory. The show is not only a diabolical pleasure filled with shady dealings in the boardroom and the bedroom, it's an unapologetic dose of '80s excess. Just watch and drool over the gowns, the jewelry, the mansions, the cars, the parties, the extravagant penthouses and hotel suites...and the food, oh dear lord the food! (The breakfast buffet at the Carrington mansion gets me every time, while Alexis sure loves giant vegetable trays!)

    It's all brought to life by a cast that's in on the joke. Collins created an iconic villain with Alexis, a character that will stand the test of time. She's on fire once again, and it's her "I love you! I hate you!" relationship with Dex that gives the show its hot-blooded temper. The two ignite the screen and play off each other perfectly, and Nader is one of the show's underappreciated strengths. Thompson is also an undeniable force, by far the most despicable character of them all--which is really saying something for Dynasty. That he can still make Adam charming and alluring is incredible. And for every bad actor here (*cough*Beller and Scott*cough*), there's a talented Adair to pick up the slack (although Tracy proves to be not nearly as smart as we think, what with that giant phallic hair dryer and incriminating photo stuffed in her travel bag...WTF, Tracy?!).
    t's quite a hair dryer you have there!"
    And thankfully we get three appearances of Tony this round (but sadly his last: Keenan passed away from AIDS complications in 1986). He gets some handsome company, too: I'm delighted with the show's continued gag of giving Alexis a hot new young male secretary nearly every episode (she can't keep them straight...pardon the pun). You just know some smart gay man behind the scenes was happy to write these small roles into the scripts and cast these cuties, who are each given at least one line and a close-up to show off their smile (the series also gives some La Mirage bellhops similar treatment). So I'd like to salute all of the bit players who make the show even more fun...hey, sounds like it's time for another photo essay! Here's a tribute to the forgotten bellboys, secretaries and masseurs...

    Two other nice surprises are in store as the volume nears its end: Diahann Carroll shows up in the last two episodes as Dominique Deveraux, a high society woman with a curious interest in Blake and Alexis (wait for her startling revelation in the finale!). She sings, she makes demands and she insults Alexis's caviar! And Heather Locklear returns as Sammy Jo--excuse me, Samantha--in the final four episodes. Not only is Krystal's niece up to old tricks and her bad eating habits (a trait that always makes me laugh, as I'm sure the fitness-conscious Locklear never ate like that in real life), she also prances around in some of the most colorful leotards this side of an Olivia Newton-John video (listen for the symphonic versions of "Thriller" and "Girls Just Want to Have Fun" blaring from her boombox!). She dishes out plenty of trash, but she also gets put in her place a few times--my favorite moment coming from Fallon at La Mirage (Martin has a natural quality that leads me to believe she would be a blast to know in real life).

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    We don't get any major Alexis/Krystal cat fights this installment, just some tense words in the ladies room--and a quick mud-slinging affair at the salon. But the claws come out elsewhere in a handful of verbal smack-downs and physical altercations, most notably a fierce smack and shove across the room to Sammy Jo (what a shiner!) and an Alexis/Dex scuffle that leaves him scarred (I'm still trying to figure out if Collins used a stunt double for basically standing...). The season finale is its usual chaotic self, although the main development is kind of a disappointment in retrospect--it leads to a long-lasting mystery that (in my opinion) ate up too much time and eventually ends with one of the worst twists ever (and is never really explained to my satisfaction).

    But I love seeing Alexis in trouble, and Kirby gets the hysterical shakes one last time for good measure (I love how her climatic scene unfolds at the beginning of an episode, proving that even the writers didn't have confidence the character could carry a cliffhanger). Another surprise that I forgot is also revealed, resolving another mystery. Oh, and that mysterious miscarriage Alexis alludes to? Just wait for Season 5, which includes one of the show's most memorable additions. (Seriously Paramount...where's that announcement?! The gaps between releases are killing me!)
     
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    https://www.dvdtalk.com/reviews/49615/dynasty-season-five-v1/

    Dynasty: Season Five (Volumes 1 and 2)

    In the annals of primetime network television, it remains etched in stone tablets as one of the most memorably audacious events to ever grace (disgrace?) the small screen--tablets that are also stained with blood from the likes of such esteemed stars as Joan Collins, John Forsythe, Diahann Carroll and the Academy Award-nominated Ali MacGraw, whose bullet-riddled bodies draped over each other at the end of Dynasty's 1985 cliffhanger. The "Moldavian Massacre" epitomized what had made the series so popular (it also really came in handy for renegotiating the salaries of supposedly replaceable talent)--and it helped Dynasty finally surpass rival Dallas to become the No. 1 show in the ratings.

    For a series that wears its excess as a glitter-gowned badge of honor, the shoot-out should have come as no surprise. Too much? Too far? Too tasteless? Considering the drop in the ratings that would soon follow, perhaps. But given the infamy the event immediately enjoyed, it was all worth it. Remember, this is Dynasty we're talking about here! (At least those 29 episodes didn't turn out to be a dream, right?) Everything about Season 5 is bigger, brighter and bitchier, including the addition of perhaps its most glamorous character ever in the form of a British princess (in a year when Diana fever was as strong as ever). The season also holds an unfortunate place in Hollywood history: guest star Rock Hudson was supposed to appear in more episodes, but his deteriorating health (he would die from AIDS-related illness shortly after the season ended) shortened his stint and was splashed across the tabloid headlines, causing further paranoia about a disease that was still in its infancy.

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    Season 5's Freshman Class

    But we're getting ahead of ourselves. Pardon my excitement, but it's been far too long since Paramount has released the most anticipated of all of Dynasty's nine seasons--nearly a whopping year and a half (?!) after the second installment of Season 4. It's a small saving grace that the studio decided to release both volumes at the same time, compiling the season's 29 episodes across two sets (and eight discs), available in a bundle or separately. (This review will take the whole season into account and be the same for both volumes; I don't recommended buying one without the other).

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    When last we left Denver, headache-stricken Fallon Carrington (Pamela Sue Martin) was frantically fleeing from her wedding to Jeff Colby (John James) on a dark and dangerous stormy night, while Alexis (no last name required, especially because there are like six of them) was being carted off to jail (in a ravishing red gown!) for the murder of Mark Jennings (Geoffrey Scott)--who took a tumble over her penthouse balcony near the end of Season 4: "You can't believe what it's like there! The foul language, the stench! I am not going back!" Also making a memorable entry was Dominique Devereaux (Diahann Carroll, whose addition to the cast was fantastic--and highly publicized)--or, as she prefers it, dominique devereaux ("I like to use the lowercase 'd's on my name...that's my signature in Europe!"), a world-renowned singer with a mysterious agenda set to make a splash as she moved into La Mirage ("Blake, she has something against you...I can feel it!" warns Claudia). Sad sack Kirby (Kathleen Beller) was sent packing by a fed-up Alexis (no need to worry, fans! We still have Claudia to fill the "pathetic" void), while scheming Sammy Jo (Heather Locklear) was in desperate need of money and custody of her son (okay, really just the money) from waffling ex-hubbie ("I'm gay! I'm not gay"!) Steven (Jack Coleman):

    "I'm gonna say this straight, Sammy Jo: I want you out of this house!"
    "My gay ex-husband saying it straight? That must be kind of hard...a real chore for you!"

    By the end of the season opener, Fallon was missing, Alexis was prepping for a murder trial, Blake Carrington (John Forsythe) was facing a potential crumbling of his empire (some continuing silliness about South China Sea oil leases), the allegiances of the Carrington children were once again shifting, Steven was spurning the advances of his beard--excuse me, wife!--Claudia (Pamela Bellwood) and we had an official kidnapping on our hands ("My two best dresses were in that suitcase, honey lamb...but if everything goes the way I planned, your mom's gonna have more...lots more!"). Oh wait, Fallon's dead? (Um hmmm. Sure she is!) You'll also be happy to note that Adam Carrington's (Gordon Thompson) offensive treatment of women continues this season, as does his intense hatred and jealousy of Jeff (if he didn't get arrested for that while paint poisoning subplot from Season 3, why stop now, right?). He also isn't too fond of Steven, as evidenced by this indictment at the salacious trail of Alexis (where Adam serves as attorney):

    "The truth is that you hate your mother! Love/hate...now that is the sick name for it, isn't it? Now we get down to the truth of it, don't we? That really strikes a nerve! The same one Alexis strikes in you, cause you blame her for turning you into the sniveling fag that you are and always have been!" Whoa, hey Adam! What's with the homophobic anger? Spending too much time with Sammy Jo? I'd say I can't even write this stuff, but I probably could...which doesn't make it any less enjoyable: "Damn that check! I should have killed Mark Jennings before I ever gave it to him!" vents Alexis as the realization of her words dawns on her face. "Oh, Adam...I didn't mean that! That was just a figure of speech!" This show is never more of a giddily guilty pleasure than during its trial sequences, which put Judge Judy (and the entire Italian court system) to shame:

    Alexis: "Adam! I insist that you move for dismissal immediately!"
    Adam: "I can't do that...there are no grounds for dismissal!"
    Alexis: "Then you must make grounds!"

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    But it gets even better: Watch as Alexis channels her inner Susan Hayward when she gives her own closing statement, violin music rising in the background. This particular circus ends just in time (with perhaps one of the most hysterical twists you'll ever see in the series thanks to some detective work by Dex and Adam, some remarkably advanced photo technology for 1985 and some cross-dressing tendencies by a crook) for us to see one of the show's most memorable introductions ever: that of Catherine Oxenberg as Amanda, who we soon find out (spoiler alert!) is the daughter Blake never knew he had with Alexis.

    While a little rough around the acting edges at first, Oxenberg is a regal addition to the series--her accent ("Mummy!") and her timeless beauty presented with an icy visage and an arresting gaze. Amanda is elegant, feisty, determined...and bratty, pouty and spoiled. It's clear the writers are eager to fill the daughter role vacated by the now-presumed-dead Carrington ("God knows she's got Fallon's temper!" observes Stephen; adds Alexis: "Of all my children, I sometimes think she's the moodiest..."); once her paternity is settled, she wastes no time flirting with an all-too-willing Dex (Michael Nader).

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    It's a good thing, too, because it gives us exchanges like this:

    Dex: "If teasing is a hobby of yours, little girl, I'd give it up and learn how to bake brownies instead!"
    Amanda: "I am 20!"
    Dex: "Well, in that case, you can bake a whole big cake!"

    But wait, there's more! Dex: "Well, Amanda...your mummy's been worried about you!"
    Amanda: "So worried she kicked you out of her boudoir?" [pecks Dex on lips] "...she made a big mistake."
    Dex: "You know something Amanda, you should have your bottom smacked."
    Amanda: "...any time."

    The sexual tension between the two builds to a fateful decision in the early part of the season, one that comes back to haunt the duo as a slowly suspicious Alexis sees the giant flashing neon warning signs (giving Collins some great material to feast on). But Amanda is given a new distraction with the introduction of Prince Michael (Michael Praed, sporting a regal mullet) of Moldavia in Episode 18, a young and dashing charmer who instantly sets his sights on the hard-to-get beauty. On his side is Alexis, who spots an opportunity for her daughter to move up the social scale:

    Alexis: "Do you realize you've just turned down--if not turned off--the catch of your generation?!"
    Amanda: "I thought he was a Prince, mummy...not a tuna fish."
    Alexis: [sighs] "Amanda, sometimes your sense of humor is as sorry as your judgment."

    Mummy quickly applies the pressure to her daughter--and to King Galen (Joel Fabiani, sounding a lot like Seinfeld's J. Peterman), who she (surprise!) had a fling with back in the day. Standing in Michael's way is jilted lover Elena Kerry Armstrong, whose accent I'd question if the country actually existed), the Duchess of Branagh (a place that Alexis doesn't respect very much: "It's so small and Dutch-y that I never remember its name..."). Also standing in Michael's way are his own cheesy come-ons: he likes to talk about specialties from "The House of Moldavia" (his penis, get it?!), which Amanda apparently falls for hook, line and sinker.

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    Perhaps she got confused given her love for specialties from "The House of Dex" (as in "I just happen to know a painless cure...a specialty of the House of Dexter!"). The DexSex (can I trademark that?) later causes some jealousy from our typically cool cowboy, who isn't too keen on Amanda's flirtations with the Prince: "Did you enjoy your dance with His Highness? Heir apparent to the Rhode Island of the Carpathians?" (Burn! Or not. Oh, Dex...you really need to work on those insults...)

    The Prince isn't the only amorous distraction thrown into the fray this season: The love of Blake and Krystle, seemingly solidified by the birth of daughter Kristina halfway through the season (an unintentionally funny sequence of unplanned home childbirth), is soon thrown two curveballs in the form of some Hollywood royalty (billed as "Special Guest Stars"). Entering the fray first is Rock Hudson as Daniel Reece, the former boyfriend of Krystle's (now deceased) sister Iris. Seems it was "Krysti" that Daniel truly held a flame for, which is news to the new mother. (There's another secret that's soon revealed, which will have ramifications for seasons to come.) Daniel quickly sets his sites on stealing away Blake's wife ("I have a rule: I never go after anything that can't be taken")--and he uses her love of horses to do it, helping Krystle realize her dream of being an Arabian expert (watch for a Very Special Horse Whisperer Krystle segment in Episode 13: "Somehow, that little colt helped you discover the truth about me!"). That equine ecstasy leads to some laughable exchanges, like when Daniel forces Krystle to choose between two horses:

    Daniel: "It's time to take that risk...start choosing."
    Krystle: "I think she's well muscled, excellent legs, wide chest." [turns to Horse 2] "I like her...she has a good long neck, nice eyes, stern shoulders..."

    (See, she's technically talking about horses, but deep down we know she has to make a choice between her two suitors! Clever Dynasty writers...I see what you're doing here!)

    Daniel also has ties to Dex, the two sharing a history of secret agenting for covert rescue missions in dangerous locales under the cover of darkness (saving soldiers in Cambodia!), which proves to be a convenient excuse for Hudson to disappear for various stretches during the season. That was undoubtedly due to his failing health, which was later revealed to be due to the AIDS virus--which caused an explosion of tabloid headlines (was Evans at risk from her on-camera kiss?!) and perhaps contributed to the reported difficulty Hudson had memorizing lines. It's sad to see the man in his final days, but despite the turmoil he was going through, he still carries himself with the assurance and presence of an A-list star--that voice and those eyes still have the ability to melt the screen, and if I knew nothing of Hudson's personal battles off camera I wouldn't question his commitment one bit. And if nothing else, you get to hear him utter one of the most sultry lines the show has ever given us: "Do you remember one hot August night back in Dayton?" (Stop! I can't take it!)

    Hmmm, is that a script behind those flowers?
    Soon following him through the guest star door in Episode 16 is Ali MacGraw as Lady Ashley Mitchell, a jet-setting photojournalist rich off her dead husband's fortune. A former acquaintance of Alexis, Ashley has an eye for older men--and quickly wants to make Blake (who is happy to accept Ashley's influence in securing some South China Sea oil leases) the subject of one of her photo essays. Along with Daniel, Ashley serves as a convenient counter-distraction for Blake, threatening to rip apart the core of the Carrington family--and it's clear that someone is on to the potential affairs, a private investigator dressed like Zorro snapping shots of the two couples in potentially uncompromising positions.

    MacGraw is certainly another regal addition to the cast ("Lady Mitchell is always where it's happening!"), adding a level of poise and grace that fit perfectly with the show's image. And Dynasty sure is lucky that she's so beautiful because (hmm, how do I put this delicately?) her acting skills are perhaps the most atrocious the show has ever seen. I'm not quite sure if MacGraw has always been this wooden (she has an Oscar nomination? Really?!), but her rigid demeanor and delivery make her appear lost in every single scene. Hudson reportedly needed cue cards, but it's MacGraw who looks like she's staring right at them--and I'd swear she had a script in front of her in various scenes, hidden by props placed every so conveniently (her scenes with Collins are particularly excruciating--she gets eaten alive, and you'll gain a new appreciation for the talents of the show's biggest star).

    It's like MacGraw doesn't understand the words she's reading (literally: listen to her pronunciation of "gallant" in Episode 16, which had me rolling my eyes), with almost no variation in tone or inflection to convey any emotion or feeling. She's reading, not acting, and comes across as mannered, affected and robotic (she makes Oxenberg, who has some initial growing pains as an actress, come across like a seasoned pro). She appears highly uncomfortable, and she can't even trash talk properly, her biggest insult referencing the Boston Tea Party (Aw, for real?! Zing!). I are you not to groan when she plants a platonic peck: "I thrive on impulses, Blake...I just gave in to one of them!" (Stop it, Lady Ashley! You're embarrassing yourself!). Speaking of her kissing skills, get ready for some seriously silly smooches (at least three!) with Jeff Colby, the two looking like baby fish stumbling their way through adolescence (has there ever been less chemistry between two co-stars?).

    Speaking of Jeff, he spends the early part of the season either drunk (some of his slurred words and eyes-half-closed gazes are to die for), yelling at his wife's funeral or man-whoring himself around, doing his best to insult every woman in his path:

    Claudia: "I care very much...you helped me one time when I really needed it, and I want to help you now, if you'll let me."
    Jeff: "By going to bed with me? Like we did the last time? Okay?"

    And when he isn't busy insulting Fallon to her family ("When are you gonna admit to yourself what kind of a girl your sister was? She was a tramp!"), he's a paranoid mess, convinced she may still be alive. He's soon distracted by red-headed spitfire Nicole "Nikki" Simpson (Susan Scannell), who moves in on the newly single bachelor as her own secret is soon revealed (remember how I called MacGraw the worst thespian to grace the show? Nikki's secret involves her closest competition). In one of the more head-scratching subplots this season, the two soon find themselves in Bolivia (how do I know this? Because they're eating at the "Cantina de Bolivar", of course!) in search of hidden treasure (precious stones!) using a map that looks like a children's menu from Denny's.

    Back in Denver, Nikki moves into the Carrington mansion and the claws come out, especially when she's scowling at the giant portrait of Fallon in the living room--a recurring standoff: "Well, you're winning again, aren't you?" she pouts in one sequence, reminding me of a silly cartoon (I half expected her to shake her fist at the picture in exaggerated anger). And lord help Nikki when Jeff catches her wearing Fallon's signature red dress oh no she di-int!): "These are not scared garments! Even if these are Fallon's clothes, they're just old clothes!" Equally amusing is the beat down Nikki gets from the smartest person in the room: Little Blake, who wants nothing to do with this Faux Fallon: "I don't want her to come! You don't like her, either...you want mommy back as much as I do!" he whines to daddy before turning to Nikki: "I'm never gonna love you, only my mommy!' (Dayum, L.B.!) It gets so bad for poor Nikki, she has to resort to this: "Come to bed with me. If you want me to beg, I'll beg...please?!" Stop, Nikki! You're embarrassing yourself!

    Nikki: "I'd like you to give your son brothers and sisters... a real family."
    Jeff: "Not a family...a dynasty. Just like the Carringtons?"

    Ooh, he said the name of the title! As for Fallon, if you're a Dynasty fanatic like me I shouldn't have to "spoiler alert" this next bit, but just in case...spoiler alert! Apparently ready to move on with her career, Pamela Sue Martin left the show at the end of the fourth season. Her character's departure was mysterious enough that it gave the writers leeway to solve the mess at a time of their choosing, and the "Is Fallon dead or alive?" mystery continues throughout the season. It culminates in the final two episodes, where a flashback (with James playing opposite a different actress as Fallon) and a "revised" portrait in the Carrington mansion clue us in that the character is being re-cast with Emma Samms, who gets a post-episode credits billing in the season's penultimate episode before working her way into the opening credits (donning that sparkly red dress as the horse gallops behind her) in the finale. Seems she's been suffering from some amnesia (you can call her Randall Adams), a mystery that will have to wait until Season 6. For viewers, the reintroduction doesn't have the same power and punch it would have if Martin was returning; in fact, for some, it might be unclear given the character's own confusion ("Wait, are we really supposed to believe this is Fallon?").

    The end of the season also brings is the always welcome return of Sammy Jo, a character we still don't see as much of considering Heather Locklear was still pulling double-duty by also appearing on ABC's T.J. Hooker (fear not: in her absence, Oxenberg picks up the slack with the loud colors and sillier "young" outfits that look more out of place than any of the fashions here). But the devious tart makes the most of her minutes, her grudge with Krystle growing more intense by the episode. (We also get some of her trademark junk food devouring, bread crumbs stuck to her mouth as she complains about her burger: "I should send it back...I told them lots of onions!")

    While some may point to this year's cliffhanger as the turning point in the ratings, I actually think it's a major plotline from Season 6 that does the most damage to the show's popularity. The seed for that infamous storyline is planted at the end of Season 5, when Sammy Jo runs across a down-on-her-luck lady in a bar: country gal/aspiring actress Rita, who happens to look a lot like Auntie Krystle. That has the gerbil wheel slowing squeaking in Sammy Jo's pretty little head: "That dumb lawyer said there was nothing I could do, but you talking like that makes me think..." she says in Homer Simpson fashion after hearing Rita practice her speech lessons ("I find your fondness for fondue phenomenal!"). "I was just playing with an idea," Sammy Joe thinks aloud. "A dumb idea..." (You got that right!). Perhaps Evans relished the chance to play Bizzaro Krystle, but just the sight of her in that silly wig and Baby Jane makeup (seriously with the lipstick?!) should have been enough to slap some sense into the writers (sigh...more on this big mistake next season).

    Upping the glamour quotient this season is Carroll, who becomes a regular after two appearances late last season. Her arcs revolve around claiming her birthright ("I just want what is mine! I am a Carrington! I'm not gonna stop what I'm doing until it is acknowledged by the entire world!"), staying healthy and staying married to her increasingly frustrated music mogul husband Brady (new occasional regular Billy Dee Williams). She also likes to be a thorn in the side of Alexis, the two getting a few stare-down scenes where they trade barbs ("Unlike your talent, Dominique, timber is a resource presently increasing in value..."). Carroll is absent from a handful of episodes, and is a little underused for my tastes--especially as a foil to Alexis, the two sparring beautifully together: "I have no intentions of crawling into the gutter with you. You should know that I am a street fighter, and I can get very dirty...very dirty." (That's how it's done, Ali!) And given that the Krystle/Alexis cat fights are almost non-existent this season (save for a tame exchange outside a jeweler), we need more of this.

    [​IMG][​IMG]

    Meanwhile, Adam Carrington spends the majority of the second half of the season fretting over his standing with daddy dearest ("No matter what I do, I'm the interloper!" he whines. "I'm his oldest son! I'm his heir! And I will have what is mine!"), tossing the clueless Claudia around like a rag doll and wasting no opportunity to fire off homophobic insults at brother Steven:
    • "I've always been fascinated by deviant behavior, and you're classic...you're living life as a masquerade party, Steven! During the day, you're the loving father, the laughing friend. At night? Oh, what a difference at night!"
    • "I know why your marriage is crumbling...you're back to your old ways, aren't you? You're having an affair, the little fag you're working with..."

    To be fair, Steven is such a pill this season: "I don't know what's wrong with me lately...I've been fighting with everybody..." (hmm, I think I know what the problem is). He starts by trying to exert his masculinity over Claudia (sigh, whose lipstick is still applied from the Baby Jane Beauty School): "You're my wife! It's time you started acting like it!" (Oh Steven, you aren't fooling anyone!) Their charade of a relationship reaches its wimpy pinnacle in Episode 12, where the two engage in the lamest affair fight ever (thanks to Claudia's indiscretion with cute art dealer Dean, played by Richard Hatch):

    "Steven, I've been desperate and lonely...it won't happen again! I promise! Please say that you believe me!"
    "Oh, I understand..."
    "Yes, and that you forgive me..."
    "Aren't I man enough for you, Claudia?"

    Yawn...these two can't even argue with passion. Imagine my joy when Steven finally succumbs to who he is and officially decides to date Luke Fuller (fresh faced Billy Campbell), the new PR assistant at Colbyco! Yay! Oh...before breaking up with him after one episode?! Boo! (Sigh...). And imagine my joy when Blake finally accepts his gay son with a big bear hug: "No matter who you are or what you are, I'll be damned if I'm gonna lose you!" Yay! Hmm, before seconds later (?!) pleading with Claudia: "You're his only chance!" Boo! I have to remind myself that for the mid-'80s, this was still pretty progressive stuff.

    And on a personal note, this season holds a special place in my heart. The introduction of Luke signaled my first official crush (would you just look at Billy?!), and the dynamic between him and Steven became the first time I began to understand what it meant to be gay--and more importantly, to identify with it. I eagerly hoped and waited to see Luke on screen during each episode (I was crushed when he wasn't), and to see Steven be with him; anything that stood in the way of that was agonizing, but even then the storyline gave me hope--and made me realize (at age 11 and 12) that it was okay to be who I was. It was the only exposure to that world (a gay bar?! Gasp!) that I had known at the time, and even just hearing them use the word "gay" was comforting--helping to offset the pain of Steven's resistance.

    Steven: "Luke, I care for you...but I love Claudia. And the life I want if I'm ever going to be at peace with myself is a life with a family. Straight. Because that other...lifestyle could never really satisfy me."
    Luke: "The gaylifestyle, Steven. You don't have to whisper it. They don't stone us in the village square anymore. It's not that bad."

    Hallelujah! And who was he kidding? Exhibit A:

    Luke: "Your wife is very beautiful."
    Steven: "Thank you."
    Luke: "She reminds me of a French film star...I can't think of her name off hand..."
    Steven: "...Bardot? Great figure."
    Luke: "No, before her..."
    Steven: "Michèle Morgan? Beautiful cheekbones and eyes."
    Luke: "After her...ah, it'll come to me."
    [spills club soda on Steven's shirt...the oldest trick in the book!]
    Luke: "Now you know why they called me the clumsiest clod in the call all though high school and college..."

    Season 5 also has a few more surprising moments of sincerity, my favorite scene of them all coming when Alexis visits the bedside of Blake's father Tom (Harry Andrews) in Episode 15 ("The Will"). Collins shows a softer side when sharing advice about love and life with her children, proving that she wasn't just a one-trick bitch. But let's be real...that's why you watch, and she doesn't disappoint this year. It's really unfair how little credit Collins gets for her performance, which some might write-off as easy and over the top. But there's so much required of her, and she delivers in spades with every eyebrow raise, every stare, every slap, every syllable, every purr, every twitch of her lip and every sultry smooch. My two favorite Alexis moments are just small touches in a huge sea of material: watch as she strikes a faux "sick" pose for Dex in Episode 16, then see the "Awww, shit..." silently creep across her face when Lord Galen gets suggestive in Episode 22.

    She's simply perfect, turning a cheesy line into a homerun in the bat of an eyelash--like when guest star Kevin McCarthy makes an advances: "Maybe after lunch, a siesta...in one of the cool recesses of my 'hot hacienda', as you used to call it." Alexis, without missing a beat: "Oh Billy, we tried that once and it wasn't such a good idea then. I'd much rather ride one of your gorgeous stallions if you don't mind."

    Delicious. Who else could pull that off?! She's so good, you can almost forgive her for eating doves. (Oh wait, that's pigeon?! My bad...and ewwwww!). And when you throw in all the other delicious treats Season 5 has to offer--more of Jeff's chest (sadly, no John Saxon chest his season), more homoerotic man-on-man fights (Coleman and Nader tussling in cheap lawn furniture and rose bushes!), more silly stunt doubles, more of Dex's mom jeans (!) and an insane amount of eye-dropping '80s dresses--it's impossible to resist.

    [​IMG][​IMG]

    But you don't care about any of that, do you? No, all you want is the money shot in Moldavia, that orgy of glittery gowns and guns that culminates with the entire cast strewn over each other in a pool of bullets and blood, edited together with a poetic grace (don't you just love the bells?!) that would do Brian De Palma proud. Too far?! This is Dynasty, folks...since when was subtlety and good taste in style?


    [​IMG][​IMG]

    [​IMG][​IMG]
     
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  8. Willie Oleson

    Willie Oleson SoapLand Battles Moderator

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    I'm not quite sure if MacGraw has always been this wooden (she has an Oscar nomination? Really?!), but her rigid demeanor and delivery make her appear lost in every single scene. Hudson reportedly needed cue cards, but it's MacGraw who looks like she's staring right at them--and I'd swear she had a script in front of her in various scenes, hidden by props placed every so conveniently (her scenes with Collins are particularly excruciating--she gets eaten alive, and you'll gain a new appreciation for the talents of the show's biggest star).

    I won't dispute the fact that it's really the result that counts, but the way Ashley Mitchell was written (to put it complimentary) didn't make sense at all. She was obviously a more silent and friendlier threat, pretty much how Sable turned out to be in season 9.
    Did she get the same terrific lines as Alexis? I don't think so.

    Instead of a less-is-more approach they decided to vamp her up because everyone and everything had to be fabulous and bitchy. And that's why characters like Ashley and Dominique ended up as poor man's Alexises. Because it doesn't and shouldn't work for every character.
    Ali MacGraw can't play Joan Collins, and certainly not on the Joan Collins Show.
    Jeff and Ashley's romance didn't make any sense either, it was based on absolutely nothing. Zero logic, zero plot and zero chemistry. They just happened to be in the same room every now and then, talking about Jeff's presumed dead wife. And that was reason enough.
    It's almost as if they were testing her for a potential new perfume commercial. And who knows, maybe it could have worked if they had made her play the thinking woman's diva.

    I'm not suggesting that MacGraw could have been the jewel in Dynasty's crown, but surely it didn't have to be that bad? It's amazing what one can achieve with a decent script and some kind of direction, especially if you want the audience to connect with a new character.
     
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  9. Snarky's Ghost

    Snarky's Ghost Soap Chat Oracle

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    Of course, one of us (probably me) started a thread late last year asserting that, for better or for obviously worse, Lady Ashley was the very definition of All That Is Dynasty.

    www.soapchat.net/threads/lady-ashley-mitchell-quite-simply-is-dynasty.5846/
     
    Last edited: Aug 23, 2019
  10. Snarky's Ghost

    Snarky's Ghost Soap Chat Oracle

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    God. Last night, I tried to view the first five episodes of Season 5 after not having sat down to watch the show for awhile.

    I almost got sick. It's sooooo awful. Every false moment. I almost had flashbacks.

    Yes, I know, it's the weaker part of the season, and it becomes a bit livelier as it moves along. But it just reminded me (as if I need it) of what we're up against: the writers have no idea how to tell a story, or even how to structure a scene... The characters just stand around talking smack about nothing while the actual plots float around completely ignored.

    Awful... Awful!

    [​IMG]
     
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  11. GillesDenver

    GillesDenver Soap Chat Fan

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    Yes the beginning of the season is awfully boring, which is why Esther Shapiro called the Pollocks back. If she had not called them back, the season might have been as dull as the penultimate season of "Falcon Crest".
     
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  12. Snarky's Ghost

    Snarky's Ghost Soap Chat Oracle

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    Well, no, this is not the only period of the show which is like this. And the Pollocks were just a major part of the problem.
     
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  13. Jermaine

    Jermaine Soap Chat Member

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    Ugh! I feel your pain. I detest season 5 and have promised myself to never ever re-watch it again :fp:
     
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  14. Snarky's Ghost

    Snarky's Ghost Soap Chat Oracle

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    Although it must be said that it's not just Season 5.

    As @GillesDenver states above, the Pollocks were recalled after the first four episodes and, although I'm highly critical of them normally, the season does seem to focus (is that the word?) once they're back. Although the stories are weird, and the pointless "why don't you share your pain with me??" exchanges are as eternal as ever.

    Michel Hugo's camerawork for Season 5 is as vivid as it ever got for DYNASTY.
     
  15. GillesDenver

    GillesDenver Soap Chat Fan

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    To be fair with Camille Marchetta, she had just a little time to write the first 4 episodes as they had to be shot in advance. They were shot in June rather than in July since the production was shut down in July because of the Los Angeles Olympics (no shooting in Los Angeles was possible).

    The same very year, ABC also ordered two extra episodes at the last minute in order to air them during the May Sweeps. That's why the end of the season is quite sloppy too. Amanda's kidnapping was not planned for instance. And Fallon was supposed to appear once, not twice, before the end.
     
    Last edited: Aug 24, 2019
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  16. Snarky's Ghost

    Snarky's Ghost Soap Chat Oracle

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    Even the "find" of the little ancient treasure in Bolivia no longer seems quite so dumb. I'm obviously deteriorating psychologically.

    [​IMG]
     
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  17. Jimmy Todd

    Jimmy Todd Soap Chat Well-Known Member

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    If I remember correctly, didn't Jeff and Nicole find the treasure map or the idol lying in the bushes outside a hotel n the most ridiculously convenient way possible?
    The plots were similar to what JR would say about Cliff Barnes: they just kept getting dumber and dumber.
    What would have been awesome is if Fallon entered the scene and said to Jeff, "See, this is why I got thode awful headaches that made me run away screaming. You're so dumb. Now ditch this broad, give me one final shag, and let me see if there are any openings on Joanie Loves Chachi where the level of intelligence is slightly higher."
     
  18. Snarky's Ghost

    Snarky's Ghost Soap Chat Oracle

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    That's how it always hit me. Now, not so much. I seem to be losing objectivity. Mad Cow, I'm guessing.
     
  19. Snarky's Ghost

    Snarky's Ghost Soap Chat Oracle

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    I didn't really mean to turn this into a thread about Season 5 --- do we have one of those? I looked but couldn't find one.

    It's so weird, Season 5, like so many of this show's seasons... The camerawork and/or processing, as I've said, is often more vivid than any other year.

    This season's globe trotting, if not more convincing necessarily, is most enthusiastic, and the production design is about as earnest as DYNASTY ever gets... It seems like Linda's usual high-pitched squeakiness appears to recede by mid-season, and her performance becomes a bit calmer. And even Rock Hudson's illish gauntness isn't overly distracting for a while. It varies from moment to moment (the scene in which Krystle appears at Delta Rho to return the absurd framed photo has Hudson looking awful, and the episode closes; the next episode opens on the same scene, and he looks quite good).

    Oxenberg is the right casting. Diahann Carroll and Billy Dee Williams have the right chemistry.

    I really wish Aaron Spelling had succeeded in getting either Candace Bergen or Angie Dickinson (both of whom had just done HOLLYWOOD WIVES for him) to agree to portray Lady Ashley (I would never have called her "Mitchell" -- it's much too quaintly GWTW and also makes me think of Krystle playing a hooker to repulsive Jo Don Baker). Ali Mac Graw is likeable in a knuckleheaded way, her preposterous pretensions of sophistication mesmerizing in their dilettantish lack of conviction, but it just doesn't work. (I still recall a mid-'80s interview -- perhaps with Oprah or Barbara Walters -- when Mac Graw asserted that one of her life's greatest disappointments was that she "never danced for the czars." Oh, boy). Bergen, and, in particular, Dickinson could sell the I-know-the-secrets-of-high-society that the role demanded. With Ali, you're not sure she knows the secrets of the bidet in the Parisian ladies' room from which she's just emerged. Poor, sweet thing.

    I like Prince Michael. I'm sorry. I just do. Sure, he's stiff and badly-used, but so is everybody else. His dad, of course, is all wrong. (What does anybody think about my idea of Ricardo Montalban, perhaps blending his role of Zachary Powers with the Moldavian king, so he can slip over to THE COLBYS once he's dismissed by Alexis?? Or maybe a swollen frog like Orson Welles, only months before his death?)

    It's so damned strange about this program. If it weren't so nervous and insecure with every frame, it would work -- even when the narrative is as giddy and goofy (as it so often is) with its endless, pointless story arcs which pop out of nowhere, and preachy dialogue which never has them saying what you want them to say. But Season 2 was almost as frenetic and wacky, and yet it all worked brilliantly because there was an innate confidence about it all which disappeared with the very first installment of Season 3. And almost never came back.

    [​IMG]
     
  20. Snarky's Ghost

    Snarky's Ghost Soap Chat Oracle

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    Yeah, they've definitely reined in Krystle's spasminess from mid-season 5 to the end of the year. I had never really noticed this before, but somebody did something -- either the producers (seems unlikely) or Linda herself (more likely) who was still able to adjust her own performance when necessary because she wasn't quite as automated (or "stultified" as Gordon Thomson once described Linda) to the degree she would soon be.

    Funny, you can easily see that the creators are really, really trying as hard as they can in Season 5. But between that Spelling Dumbness Vibe that all Aaron's shows display, DYNASTY's specific Static Acting Directive, a slew of tired romantic triangle plots, and the usual "Why Don't You Share Your Pain With Me??" dialogue which doesn't help move the stated storylines along, this colorful, stilted mess is about as good as you can expect.

    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Aug 27, 2019

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