When it comes to 1980’s primetime soaps, I was all about Dallas. I had a little bit of experience with watching the original Dynasty, and I definitely knew of it — especially Joan Collins’ deliciously devilish Alexis Carrington — but it wasn’t until adulthood that I had seen any of the original show which ran for nine seasons and most of that decade.
Tonight, The CW premieres their updated version of Dynasty, and guess what? It doesn’t suck. Quite the opposite, actually.
What works about this series, for starters, is that the show quickly establishes that modern pop culture is full of dynasties. Whether it’s in politics like the Trumps, or in reality TV like the Kardashians, we either can’t stop loving them or we can’t stop loving to hate them. At this new Dynasty’s core is Fallon Carrington (Elizabeth Gillies), and if you wanted to think of her the same way you’d think of Ivanka Trump, you might not necessarily be wrong. We aren’t expected to identify with the Carringtons, but unlike the original series, where the glitz and glamour were something to aspire to, this Dynasty is more aware that we might not be down with these people.
Times have changed. The setting has changed (Colorado to Atlanta). And the biggest change of all might be that there is no Alexis — but then again, the original Dynasty didn’t introduce her until the Season 2 premiere. Don’t fret, though: There is enough cattiness from Fallon that a modern day viewer doesn’t want or need for an “Alexis” just yet — but when they do, they’ll probably call Teri Hatcher or somebody like that. If fans of the original series remember how Pamela Sue Martin’s Fallon was, especially in the early pre-Alexis episodes…. you’re going to see some more of that. The pilot episode has a scene right out of the original Dynasty pilot “Oil” — if you’re a fan of the original show, you will certainly know it when you see it.
This new Dynasty is also more diverse than the original series, though it is full of characters, even some obscure ones, from the original show. Michael Culhane. Matthew and Claudia Blaisdel. Monica Colby. How long before Sable or someone like that comes in? Being more diverse can only help this new version of the show. For example, it’s pretty much a sure thing that Blake Carrington’s gay son Steven (James Mackay) will not suddenly find himself liking women, though it is a sure thing he’ll still be sleeping with Sammy Jo (the reason for that being that Rafael de la Fuente’s “Sammy Jo” is now a male and not Heather Locklear. De la Fuente’s character is a lot like the one he played on Empire, so he’s
really hot a lot of fun).
Nathalie Kelley plays Cristal and she’s definitely different from what Linda Evans brought to the screen as Krystle. Cristal has her own secrets, and her own story, which almost makes this a “Dynasty meets Revenge” sort of deal. Not surprising that former Revenge producer Sallie Patrick is involved with this show alongside Gossip Girl’s Josh Schwartz and Stephanie Savage.
The first draft of the original CW Dynasty pilot threw a little bit of shade at the original series’ theme song and thankfully, wiser minds have prevailed and now it’s been changed to a nicer tribute even though some notes are a little off. Clearly, the producers of this show did their homework and they all seem to know what elements to take from the original show to make things pop. I do wish, though, that they had an extended opening sequence like the original show did, right on through to the spinning around to face the camera.
Do I have any concerns? I do wonder if the characters being “the haves” rather than “the have-nots” will hurt rather than help the show as far as getting people to check it out. Also, the show is following Riverdale which has totally subverted the Betty vs. Veronica trope, and this is “cat fights in the lily pond” all over again.
I guess we’ll see. I’m definitely tuning in to see more. And who knows — if this does well, maybe Dallas will be next?
Dynasty premieres at 9PM ET October 11 on The CW.