And I Missed Last Night’s Dynasty!

So I’m still watching Dynasty, and right now I’m at the start of Season 5, so this is a good time to talk about how it changed after Joan Collins joined as Alexis. As I suspected, it quickly improved. She provides an actual strong villain, which was missing from the first season, because while Blake somewhat played the role, Krystal’s opinion of him and John Forsythe’s charisma caused Matt Bleisdel to be overwhelmed, and so we at least found Blake more compelling than Matt. Starting in Season 2, Blake shifts into more of a “hero” role and lets Alexis take over the role of the main villain. Since she has a rivalry with Krystal — at least potentially over Blake’s affections — this allows Krystal to at times take the lead in opposing Alexis, giving her something to do besides be conflicted. It also lets Blake shift into the role of someone who is overall good and someone we should cheer for, but who is both flawed and ruthless. This also allows for the more interesting — but, sadly, also overused — conflict between Blake and Krystal over how ruthless he can be, and over how badly he can treat Stephen. By the end of Season 4, this dynamic is established and carries the show along.

As an antagonist, Alexis is in a similar role to J.R. Ewing from Dallas, but is different from him. As a woman, it’s easier for her to use seduction to get her way, which provides an extra element to the character that J.R. didn’t really have. Yes, he seduced a lot of people, but he wasn’t really able to use that to get to the movers and shakers very often, for obvious reasons, while Alexis can. However, her plots tend to be shallow and not very interesting, while J.R. was a master manipulator. I blame that on the show’s writing being generally inferior to that of Dallas, though; none of the plots are as interesting or as well-written as Dallas’ were, and they often seem rushed.

Heather Locklear joins the show in Season 2 as Sammy Jo, and her plot is an example of this. The first impression we have of her from the show or from Krystal is that she’s a nice, relatively innocent girl with a less-than-successful but down-to-earth father who has remarried a grasping woman who doesn’t care for Sammy Jo at all, making her “vacation” to visit her aunt a good thing for her and something that was driven by her stepmother’s dislike. The problem is that very quickly Sammy Jo reveals herself to be extremely materialistic and manipulative. She didn’t start out innocent and get sucked into the manipulative, grasping nature of the rich and powerful, but instead pretty much started out wanting things and making plans to get it. She also ended up in a relationship with Stephen, who for a gay man certainly spends most of this time with women. First Claudia, then Sammy Jo, then Claudia again … I think at this point we at least have to call him bisexual [grin]. And the problem is that the show keeps bringing up that fact while continually throwing him into sexual relationships with women. So, no, the show is not at all politically correct.

Adam Carrington joins here as well, after a story where Fallon’s baby was kidnapped and it was revealed that Blake and Alexis’ first child was also kidnapped. As part of that storyline, Claudia was driven to utter insanity and committed to a sanitarium for a time, and Adam was revealed and returns to join the family after the death of the woman who kidnapped him, who he believed was his grandmother. Gordon Thomson does an excellent job with the part, as he has the overwrought and dramatic presentation that you need for a soap opera, and can pull it off without seeming like that’s what he’s doing. The problem is that the show starts him off as a villain, and as a moustache-twirling villain at that. He tries to poison Jeff, frames his mother for the deed when it is discovered, rapes and harasses Kirby, and in general pretty much acts evil for the sake of being evil. In the Season 4 timeframe, they start to give him a Heel-Face turn, which generally works, as they reveal that he had had a bad experience with drugs in his past that caused him to have a nervous breakdown that had an impact on him. After that, he becomes more like Blake — ruthless but generally on the side of the good guys — and so becomes more interesting.

I actually really liked Kirby. Not only was the actress very attractive, but she had a different inflection in how she read her lines that made her stand out. I liked how she interacted with Jeff and Fallon, where she was interested in Jeff — who was married to but estranged from Fallon at the time — but still wasn’t willing to just manipulate Fallon into dumping him, as she still cared about her childhood friend. After a number of bad things happen to her — her rape at the hands of Adam, discovering that her pregnancy was with his child, her father killing himself to hide a secret about her mother that Alexis was going to reveal, and divorcing Jeff — she decides to join up with Adam in order to get the prestige and wealth that she couldn’t get as a “downstairs girl”. This would have been the Sammy Jo plot done properly. Unfortunately, that happened at the same time as Adam was overgoing his Heel-Face turn, which made him less ruthless and directly ambitious, which then didn’t work because we needed the two of them to spur each other on, and that couldn’t happen at that point without undoing Adam’s development. Kirby leaves for Paris at the end of Season 4.

Michael Nader joins in Season 4ish as Dex Dexter, Joan Collins’ most frequent paramour and partner-in-crime. He plays the role well, again having the right sort of melodramatic presentation that works in a soap opera, and providing someone to side with Alexis when otherwise she’d be alienated from everyone, including her children.

Fallon also leaves at the end of Season 4, and when Fallon returns it will be Emma Samms playing the role. I think Pamela Sue Martin did a credible job of it despite my only remembering Emma Samms in the role, so it will be interesting to see what my opinion of Emma Samms is when she takes over the role.

So far, it’s interesting enough to watch, but not as good as Dallas because the writing isn’t as good. But John Forsythe outacts anyone on either show, and the cast, overall, does a good job with it, which helps to make it watchable.

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