Final Thoughts on Dynasty

Season 9 is the Platonic Form of Dynasty, as it perfectly captures its essential nature in its strengths and weaknesses. It combines very strong character acting with an utterly ludicrous set of plots that make no sense and aren’t interesting besides.

As usual, John Forsythe does an excellent job, along with Gordon Thomson and Michael Nader. Linda Evans leaves part-way through the season, which removes a sometimes weak actress although she always worked well enough for the role she had (it’s hard for the good girl to get really good opportunities to chew the scenery). Heather Locklear finally seems to get comfortable in the role of Sammy Jo, which is especially shown in the friendship/rivalry she has with Fallon which is completely believable. Stephanie Beacham comes on from The Colbys to chew the scenery in a way that only a soap opera villain/villainess can. Tracey Scoggins also comes over from The Colbys and has wonderful chemistry with John James as friendly semi-siblings. But the real improvement is Emma Samms, who after taking over for Pamela Sue Martin as Fallon always seemed to struggle to capture Fallon’s snark while doing a much better job with the vulnerability that Fallon had to show at times. In Season 9, she manages to figure out the snark part and manages to keep the vulnerability part, doing an excellent job with the character. Joan Collins seems distracted in Season 9 — she is deliberately absent for a number of episodes, suggesting that she was doing something else at the same time — but a distracted Joan Collins is still Joan Collins.

Unfortunately, the plots are exceptionally stupid. The main plot revolves around the recovery of a perfectly preserved for some reason body of Frank Grimes, who was Alexis’ lover when Blake threw her out and then disappeared. The body is conveniently found when Krystle starts to lose her sanity due to a previous injury and runs off to a lake for … some reason. Fallon finds the body compelling for some reason, and so starts looking into the murder and hooks up with the police detective who suspects Blake had something to do with it. Meanwhile, Blake, Jeff and Dex are being cagey about the whole thing because it turns out that their family had gotten involved in smuggling some Nazi treasure into the country and hid it there, and Blake doesn’t want to let that get out for … some reason. Alexis, of course, thinks Blake killed Grimes. It turns out that Fallon had shot him after he got too rough with Alexis, and Fallon’s grandfather covered it up and they both blocked it out of their minds, which makes no sense whatsoever. The treasure itself was moved but finally found by Krystina and the boys, leading to a hostage cliffhanger which is where the series ends. The B-plot was Stephanie Beacham’s character trying to take Colby Co away from Alexis, with international intrigue and terrorism on both sides, which was dull.

However, one improvement on the plot front was removing Stephen from the show. Up until Season 8, his main plot was about how he was gay but still wanted to have sex with attractive women, which was dull and repetitive. In more ways than one, actually, because he repeated with the same women, doing it with Claudia twice and Sammy Jo twice. However, in Season 8 Blake makes him the head of the company in a triumvirate with Fallon and Adam, and he becomes pretty much a dictator, and the plot has to contort itself to make him both unreasonable enough so that Fallon — who is very close to him — can oppose him but also ultimately make him out to be right. The idea situation would have been to have Adam in favour of the deal, Fallon neutral, and Stephen opposed, but this would make Adam too stupid, so they give the strongest support to Fallon. Except Fallon is smart enough to get Dex’s advice, which forces Dex to both act like his instincts are telling him that there’s something wrong but that the deal still seems on the up-and-up enough for Fallon to use that as justification for pushing for it. It turns out to be a disaster, of course, but getting there was ridiculous and did no favours for Stephen’s character. It was a relief that he left for Season 9.

The show really didn’t do Adam’s character very well. In hindsight, he was the perfect character to mostly side with Alexis — because she accepted him as her son right away — while being available to do shady things for Blake when Blake really needed someone shady to side with him, and to pull away from Alexis when she went over the line (a role that went much less interestingly to Dex). Instead, they kept trying to pull Heel-Face-Heel turns on him, and it didn’t really work because they would continually try to make him a Heel immediately after making him sympathetic. A prime example of this is the arc with Virginia, Krystle’s cousin who had a past as a streetwalker that connected her with Dex. Adam is feuding with Dex, finds out about it, seemingly gets involved with her to get at Dex, asks her to wear what she did for Dex, which humiliates her into leaving, which causes Dex to attack him, which causes Blake to reject him for humiliating Virginia, which angers Adam and sends him back to work with his mother. But this happened right after he lost custody of his surrogate child, at least in part because his wife at the time didn’t support him fully with an angry outburst suggesting that she thought the child should go with the mother. This is even brought up during the relationship with Virginia. It’s hard for us to see him as that cold and manipulative at that point — although it is consistent with his character — to do all this just to get back at Dex. It would have worked at lot better if Adam had taken up with her because he found her interesting and it replaced Dana for him, then find out about her past, then think that that was great as he’d be able to get the nice girl in the world and the slut in the bedroom, and then have him try that which humiliates her and then kicks off the rest of it. That way we could see that Adam has a point in being upset that Blake won’t believe him but can also see why Blake would jump to that conclusion, thus justifying his return to his mother again. As it stands, Adam is made at Blake for believing that he’d do what the show implies he was actually doing, which makes his protests hollow.

So, ultimately, what did I think of the show? Well, it’s probably best to compare it to the show that inspired it and that it’s most like: Dallas. While the acting was overall better on Dynasty, the plots were far worse, and that’s even accepting that Dallas had some very stupid plots. Joan Collins was probably a better actress than Larry Hagman, but J.R. was a much more competent villain than Alexis and got to play the good guy more often and better than Alexis did. The show didn’t have the Bobby character to play off of, as Blake was more the main protagonist than mostly a foil for Alexis, and while both Stephen and Jeff played the good guy at times they didn’t really have the prominence to go toe-to-toe with Alexis. So, ultimately, it’s a deeply flawed show, even for a soap opera. That being said, it’s still entertaining enough to watch and does manage to mix sex with convoluted schemes and wealth that was the formula for success for night-time soap operas. I’ll probably watch it again at some point … but I’m likely to rewatch Dallas first.

One Response to “Final Thoughts on Dynasty”

  1. First Thoughts on “Pretty Little Liars” (End Season 1) | The Verbose Stoic Says:

    […] the worst it could possibly have been was a soap opera-type show like “Dallas” or “Dynasty”, both of which I liked enough to rewatch. Or it might be a flawed conspiracy show like “Twin […]

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