Discussion in 'Dynasty' started by Richard Channing, Apr 15, 2019.
No. But didn't Sue Ellen pour something over JR?
In part I think this was the success of Dallas. Though the Ewing family was supposedly rich I could easily identify with the characters struggles. The perfect blend of oil business and cattle ranching. The transition of characters from their everyday working lives to attending the Oil Baron's Ball was seamless and believable.
Dynasty was different in that it offered the opulent lifestyle how rich people went about their daily lives. Dynasty was a different kind of escapism which I was enjoying. In Season 1 the characters were grounded and relatable. When Alexis arrived I could still identify with her attempts at developing a relationship with her children.
It's a pity the writers believed Alexis needed to be on the same playing surface as JR Ewing...and at the expense of Cecil. Dynasty and Alexis could have been served better if she was played from the sidelines. I was kind of hoping there would have been some kind of spark between Blake and Alexis. A chemistry much like JR and Sue Ellen. Was there still some sexual hangover after all those missing years? Of course we will never know because - as some soapchaters have stated - John and Linda did not wish for the relationship between Blake and Krystle to be tampered with. That killed any kind of potential.
It's a strange thing that the producers of Dallas thought they had to overreach on the opulence. They didn't need to change the DNA of Dallas. Sure make some subtle changes here and there. Give Sue Ellen a vehicle worthy of her position....not this.
But could it be Dynasty executives after witnessing the juggernaut that was Dallas start their series with furs and jewels because they believed viewers did wish to watch rich people suffer. Dallas and the Ewing's may not have been splashing the cash but Dynasty certainly exploited the idea.
Relatability was the network's concern, and from your testimony it did work for Dallas.
But Dynasty had a different philosophy about the social stratum it portrayed, and they had Fallon explicate that to Krystle in an early episode--quoting Fitzgerald's "The Rich are Different" no less. She explained in "The Dinner Party" that the rich play "Million Dollar Spit in the Ocean," meaning they like to portray the strength of their resolve and faith in their success through spending.
Speeches like these by Fallon, or earlier ones about the sexism and racism in Denver Carrington, showed a self-awareness about Capitalism in early Dynasty which was unheard of in Dallas. Of course later Dynasty erased all that.
I think they did explore that in second season, including in fake Rome, but when the revelation about the rifle came to the surface, Blake remembered how vicious Alexis could be. It was right to bury that flame then and have Alexis thrown to the arms of Cecil. It was foolish to have Cecil croak and make her empress of Denver.
12 minutes in:
As David Jacobs said circa 1985, "DALLAS is about money, while DYNASTY is about things money can buy."
So DALLAS was about the game, and DYNASTY was about the vanity of those who'd won the game. Yes?
Yes, absolutely. But season 1 didn't celebrate that vanity. I'm sure they wanted us to enjoy the opulence, but they also showed that there were strings attached.
Krystle accepted them and moved back into the house, they ended the Blaisdel drama and Dynasty lost that part of its critical approach of The American Dream.
I don't know what they should have done to continue the challenging writing, but I do understand that it would have been ridiculous to create a fantastic character like Alexis and then not do anything with her.
But when the big drama comes from one character it reduces the complexity of the story: she's right/she's wrong. Season 1 was much more a group of people trying to fulfill, maintain, pretend or even escape from the American Dream. There were rotten characters, but it wasn't a simple A versus B.
Season 2 was fantastic soap opera and Joan Collins delivered in spades, she did what she had to do, and there was still enough conflict and dilemma that challenged the Dynasty life.
I guess at some point they fell in love with their own show and characters, and it couldn't be dirty anymore. They were all heroes, nice heroes and bitchy heroes.
Characters like Peter De Vilbis didn't stand a chance, and Dynasty reeaallly needed a dirty character at that time. Alas, it couldn't and it wouldn't.
I think the big enemy of Dynasty's superb season 1 was timing: the time for US introspection was over with the new era ushered in by Reagan. It was time to shout "USA Hurrah!" and a show that called for a critical approach to the American/Capitalist dream, as you correctly called it, was out of place. Dynasty has been called the Reagan-era show, but it itself did not know that until Alexis (and the Pollocks) appeared.
Dynasty season 2 was amazing soap opera, probably the most delectable the genre ever produced. Dynasty season 1 was a very sophisticated drama. In today's era, such a show on a pay network could be done. Back then, I am amazed ABC even put it on its schedule.
I'm now curious what it would be like if another remake of Dynasty was made, only it was done in the style of Season 1, with the intent of keeping that style, even with the introduction of Alexis. I see a show like that on AMC or some other similar channel.
Although it today seems far superior than the years that would follow, it seemed painfully obvious to me at the time with the very first episode of Season 3 that TPTB at DYNASTY had made some pointed decisions about what would "work" or make the show "better" -- which seemed perverse and wrongheaded. (And they stuck to those thru S8).
But that means there is no "could-have-been"...
...unless it had started a few years earlier.
Imagine that, the launch of Dallas and Dynasty.
Season 8: Moldavia.
Blake and Alexis are the only survivors!!
I think they did quite good in that matter with Caress and Ben in season 6B. Ben was rotten to the core until they decided to turn him to the complete opposite after "A love remembered" in S7.
I meant dirty like, Fallon & Cecil-dirty, the wife & the shrink-dirty, killing gays-dirty. All those things that happened in DIRTYNASTY
Ben giggeled evilish while holding back Krystle while Blake was strangling Alexis. That's quite dirty to me.
THIS should have been the season finale freeze frame! Could someone please photoshop the executive producers credit on it, thank you.
This alone wants me to go back and view the first season. I've never watched Dynasty in its entirety during its first run or bothered to watch it again. But watching this scene between Fallon and Krystle had me curious and hooked how the other half live. Having Krystle enter the Carrington household from a common background served its purpose because I wanted to learn how she would fit in amongst the rich and famous. And Fallon eloquently informs Krystle how the rich people attending a Carrington dinner view the household; including its servants, furnishings, how the table is set but more importantly how Fallon and Krystle are dressed. Today (with the #metoo movement) this would be considered sexist.
Which is why I never like the Dynasty effect on Dallas post "Swan Song." I understood why the producers of Dallas did it; Dynasty had finally measured up against the once untouchable Dallas.
When Esther Shapiro and Spelling pitched their project to ABC in late 1979, Dallas was already the world-wide phenomenon, although they shot the George Peppard pilot in April 1980, just as the second complete series had aired, not counting the 5-episode mini-series. I think it was sometime in 1979 that Dallas became Dallas as we know it, a continuing soap opera rather than stand alone drama, as was the case back then with all dramas. The storyline the Dallas writers crediting with having to abandon the stand-alone format was the Cliff-Sue Ellen affair and the ensuing complications of John Ross' paternity.
So, Dynasty could have aired a year earlier, if it had not been for the writers' strike. But I think the overall atmosphere and ethos of season 1 when it came to characters and well-crafted plots could have continued into the 1980s--it is just the critique of capitalism that would not have survived. I remember Al Corley in an interview saying how the actors were noticing that Collins was getting more lines than almost any other character than Blake in season 2, and for a newcomer that was quite the upset. Season 2 was also a season that had mid-season retooling--we just don't hear about it much because of its ratings success and the praise for the rejuvenated tone over the melancholy first season. But they did scrap both plots and even some whole episodes--I remember a website (maybe the french one?) that had info on that. I think Alexis' success took them by surprise so much, that as you said, they fell in love with it, and out went any sense of an ensemble show.
For me all the main characters changed then: Fallon in season 1 was business oriented and even saw marriage as a business arrangement. She was attracted to Cecil because of the power he exuded. Fallon in season 2 was all about her affair with Nick. Steven and his straight car-racing days I think shows the most obvious character destruction. Blake went from ruthless businessman who was bribing politicians and unleashing the dogs on Walter to the victim of mafia bosses and acting as the voice against corruption. And Krystle went from having a panic attack after a discussion with Joseph about seating arrangements to asking Jeanette to assert her position as lady of the house before confronting Alexis because she cut some flowers. Such pettiness would be above Krystle in season 1, who was wondering if she belonged in that world. But now she was beyond such questioning. Later seasons continued with these changes, even if on the surface the characters tried to regain some of the ground lost in that season: Steven went back to fighting for his right to living with a man, even as a monk, before marrying another woman. Fallon was given a business to run--a hospitality one, domestic as could be. And Krystle found she was not married to Blake, only to go back to him and work for PR for two seconds before motherly bliss overtook all other concerns about sharing Blake's life.
So for me, the could have been is about keeping the characters in the same direction and having them grow from their own nature, not in whatever direction was convenient for the plot. Even Alexis did not escape that fate, much as she took the second season by storm.
But at least they had a strong start. CW Dynasty started right off with Trump and the Cardashians... and went from there to .. wherever.
Of course I agree with that, but could it still be the arthouse soap that was season 1?
I'm not going to discuss what happened after season 2 because the topic (the review) focusses on season 1 vs. season 2.
"before ratings pressures and the introduction of diva Joan Collins put an end to challenging story lines"
"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".
In essence I do not disagree with his assertion but he seems to overlook certain aspects of the show.
The network may have been responsible for the shift in tone, but the story itself almost demanded a new chapter.
The introduction of Alexis may have been a calculated decision but:
1) it would have happened anyway because the mother was already "there".
2) her return was the result of Blake's crime, it was a natural development in the story that she would appear at that particular time.
The network may have been responsible for reducing the story to a Carrington story, but Alexis returned after years of exile, how could it not be about bad feelings?
This part of the story simply wrote itself.
What I'm trying to say is that there were certain things that couldn't have been avoided, well, it could have, but it would have killed the narrative flow.
To continue to focus on the Blaisdels didn't make sense at that point although I don't think they should have disappeared altogether.
I think there was room for a story about Cecil and the Blaisdels (not just Claudia), an alliance that Matthew is going to regret (big time).
It's very easy to say that season 2 isn't as great as season 1 (which is true) but there's something paradoxical about the season 1-2 transition.
"Dynasty" didn't need it, but the story did.
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